a bitter bean

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It has been a week since the arrival of the new pups. Despite our efforts to make Caskie feel included in the household, he is maintaining his aloof, grumbling position with regard to River and Iris. A positive sign is that he seems all right with them when away from the house on a leash walk, but once back on home turf, he maintains his distance and growls if they try to play with him.

We adopted Caskie as an adult dog from a local rescue center and he was a huge project to take on at the time. We weren’t told why he was given to the shelter but my guess would be because of his unruly behavior. To put it plainly, he was a maniac – jumping on people, running all over the furniture. He had zero boundaries. It took a long, long time to reign him in. For months, I had him tethered to me on a leash, even indoors, so he could learn how to properly conduct himself around people.

There was an upshot to this boundless energy. Our old lab, Jakey was getting on in years – grumpy and a little chunky, as he could not longer go on runs with us. Caskie was just what he needed to put a little spring in his step. And he did. Old Jake wound up living to almost 15 years of age, which is pretty old for a large scale dog. He and Caskie had countless walks and hikes and camping trips together.

When Jakey finally passed, Caskie was devastated. He grieved visibly and really only perked up when we moved here to Chez Bogard where there so much space to run and play. Perhaps we waited too long to get another dog (0r 2). Perhaps we are in for another long, slow wait for Caskie’s behavior to change. I’m not sure. I will just keep doing what I’m doing: respecting his need for space, getting him a good out-of-yard walk everyday, and giving him love. It’s all I know how to do.

Hopefully he’ll stop being a bitter bean sooner than later. I know what joy looks like in a dog. I swear they smile when they’re happy. Although he’s not smiling too much right now, I have faith that the puppies will eventually sweeten his senior years, much as he did for Old Jakey.

state of contentment

Puppies (all 3- Caskie too!) are sleeping, the house is clean and ready for the Family to come over and celebrate Maddie’s 11th birthday. There is chili simmering on the stove. The sky is pretty much falling outside with snow this morning that changed into sleet and rain this afternoon. Even so, Jack and I attended rehearsal this morning for the Riley School of Irish Music‘s Peace and Merriment concert which is tomorrow, weather permitting.

I love this sort of day when the feeling of “all my ducks in a row” pervades. I am very aware that this is a complete state of mind – that I could feel this content in the midst of our usual state of chaos, if only I weren’t so easily affected, to the positive and negative, by my immediate surroundings. But there it is, and for the moment, things are calm and warm and cozy here. It’s a lovely feeling.

I did some drawings of musical instruments that may make it onto the Riley website. I find that drawing them is like getting to know a beautiful piece of sculpture more intimately. It has been good exercise. Sort of like drawing dogs. Maybe I’ll go get a sketch or two of them done while they aren’t in motion…

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A Quote for the Day

“Passionless design (read ART here) is like a grill with no propane. If you’re not passionate about what you do, your work will show it, your character will show it, your life will show it, so find some charcoal or do something else.”

The above quote is from a blog I read on occasion called Layers of Meaning put out there by textile artist/ designer Serena Fenton. Visually it is beautiful and the content is always thought provoking and inspiring.

Meanwhile, my friend and fellow artist Tina introduced me to an artist she found named Lisa Kokin who’s use of mixed media in her sculptures and installations is brilliant. Her use of found photographs has me thinking about my own personal family photos and a potential long term project involving the use of these photos printed on fabric… more to come on that later.

Next week another dear artist-friend, Lisa, is going to show me how to make some blank books. This is exciting as not only will they potentially make great gifts but the skill will also be a natural progression in my sketchbook work as artist and teacher.

I am fortunate to be surrounded by passionate artists in my sphere of friendship who are constantly inspiring me with their work and abilities, which they readily share with me. And often it is through my friendships that I discover artists whose use of materials or content inspire my own work.

Go find your passion….

Studio stand off

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With the new puppies around, not much work is getting done in the studio this week, yet day by day, boundaries are being set and things are settling into a routine. Tomorrow I am going to work with Kim on the Don’t Understand video. The Pups seem to be ok with time in their kennel-crate so I am venturing out for much of tomorrow. Like any new mom, I will miss them, but it will be good to get back into work mode.

In between tidying up piddles, I have also been working this week on some sketches of traditional Irish musical instruments to give to the webmaster of the Riley School of Irish Music. She is thinking of incorporating them in some way in the design of the new and improved website for the school. I’ll certainly post a blog about this if /when it happens!

And that is basically all that’s going on. The holidays fast approach and I still have some thinking, buying and making to do in the gift department. But all will be well in the long run, in spite of the occasional studio stand off…

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Daily dog (s)

Life is good here in puppy-ville. I have made a couple of sketches of the new additions, River and Iris, but mostly I have been puppy proofing the house and trying to get some Christmas shopping done in between.

We are getting to know the puppies and they are settling in to their new surroundings. Poor Caskie is a bitter bean and walks around sulking as if we have ruined his life. In the long run, his life will be enhanced by these new dogs – he just doesn’t know it yet. We have been taking care to get extra trips to the park with just him to make sure he feels loved.

Iris, who is older by a week and a good bit bigger, is by far the more rambunctious of the two pups, at least thus far. I just now had to pull her head out of the cat’s litter box. Mmmmm…. pecan rolls. River is only 8 weeks old and is just a tad more careful and laid back – for now. Both of them have slept through the night in their kennel which they share until they get bigger and both do most of their “business” outside (random piddles notwithstanding) Both show positive signs of the classic retriever behavior of The Endless Fetch Game, otherwise known as Slave to the Ball. It is one of my favorite games to play and look forward to many hours of tossing a slimey tennis ball for them to fetch.

With all this exhausting activity, puppy nap time is also something we see quite a bit. It is a good time for them to get some sleep and for me to get some writing and drawing done. I still can’t believe we have opened our lives to such joyful chaos and yet, it is now hard to remember life with out them.

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Here’s Iris, pink belly for all to see, having an afternoon nap yesterday.

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River looks a bit like someone out of an LL. Bean catalog. Especially when sleeping!

2 by 2

Today it rained and rained. The creeks were filled to overflowing. It was the sort of day when people tend to bring up the notion of Noah’s Ark. Today was also a day that we had planned to go out east of the city and get a puppy at, ironically enough, Noah’s Ark Animal Rescue. We went out with intention of meeting a specific little dog named Iris who is a Golden Retriever/ Lab mix. We knew also that there was a litter of Labs that had arrived a day earlier who were up for grabs, so we were keeping an open mind. Objectivity is of utmost importance when choosing a dog, of course.

Iris turned out to be a gem. Smart, full of spunk and cute as an absolute button! That said… there were those labs, a little yellow one in particular, that were looking pretty nice as well. My husband went to take a look at them, next pen over. “What if we were to take two?”, he said – non-chalantly, I might add. I was floored. “Whadda ya mean, ‘two’? ” I said… surely he was not serious. But he was.

Long story short, we took two puppies; the original Iris for whom we had originally made the trip, and the little yellow lab, named River (Joan at Noah’s Ark is a great dog namer by the way!) We suddenly are parents of twin puppies, completely unexpectedly, and yet now that we have them, I can’t imagine having only adopted one of them.

Now that we have them home, they are keeping each other entertained, which is nice as it has given old Caskie a chance to just sit back and observe, and grumble a little, as he figures out what this all means to him. They nap and play intermittently, as puppies do, and frankly, I don’t want to go to bed, lest the puppies grow overnight, while I’m not watching them.

This will mean some new and exciting things in the Daily Dog column for sure. Below are some photos of the new babies and a funny one of Caskie’s first response to their arrival (he peed!).

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A good day

Yesterday was Family Saturday at the Carnegie Center for Visual Arts. That place is pure magic. The room where our monthly art-parties are held is such a beautiful space, filled with light, all kinds of imaginable supplies and space in which to experiment. Every school and community (and home!) should have a place like this where kids and adults alike can play and ask “what happens if….” I am enjoying getting to know the families that return month after month and am thrilled at the new families that find their way to us each month. I have lots of jobs… this one is quickly becoming a favorite.

Later in the evening, I was honored to be a part of my friend Carol’s 50th birthday party celebration. Carol and I have been friends for years. She was a huge inspiration to me when my art wings were first unfurling. I wish her many more happy years to come!

Although near dead on my feet, I wanted to listen to some Irish Music after Carol’s party. The problem was that there were two choices. Some friends of mine, the Roving Rogues, were playing about 35 minutes away in Lebanon. Meanwhile, about 2 miles from my house, Liam’s Fancy, accompanied by harpist extraordinaire, Jeni Westerkamp were playing. Geography and exhaustion won out and I dropped by a pub in Pleasant Ridge to hear Dan, Bev and Jeni (and for a few tunes Geoff!) play wonderful tunes and even sing a few songs (nobody can do this like Dan can!). Irish Music is the balm for my soul and I enjoyed sitting and listening to my talented friends play while I sketched some of the tipsy patrons, who were very good sports when they realized I was drawing them.

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Snowy Day

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It’s a lovely snowy day here in the 1.00 acre wood. I have spent the day making up some samples of the art projects I have planned for the weekend’s Family Saturday at the Carnegie Center for Visual and Performing Arts. The theme this month is “Homemade for the Holidays” so the projects all use recycled and found materials. We will be making shiny ornaments out of old cd’s and dvd’s. We’ll also look at some creative ways to make handmade wrapping paper, bows and gift tags.

Using old magazines, I’ll be showing folks how to make beautiful paper beads to create one of a kind jewelry items for gift giving.

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I have also pressed some flowers into service to make some colorful votive candle holders out of recycled jars. The fun will last from 12-5, a little longer this month to coincide with Carnegie’s holiday craft sale. I hope you can stop by and try your hand at some of this month’s exciting projects!!

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Sketchy Business

An exciting thing occurred to me today. I was at a local art store getting some Christmasey gifts for some of the children in my life (I believe early artistic infection is a positive thing…) and I glanced at the piles of catalogs, brochures and such at the end of the counter. There among the stacks was a purple catalog from the Art Academy of Cincinnati listing the winter/spring courses available in their Community Education program. I grabbed the catalog to check….and there it was…my sketchbook course! I will be teaching a four-week, one evening per week course on creating and keeping a Journal / Sketchbook.

My own sketchbook is something that I share on a regular basis with those who know me and those who just happen to catch me in the act of drawing and come to look over my shoulder. It is a place where I capture interesting moments and images, big and small, momentous and meaningless. It is a place where things come together and begin to make sense. In my sketchbook I collect quotes and photos, sketches and thoughts. It is an extension of myself and my process. It is the place where my life and my art work meet and mix, with unpredictable results. It’s my stew pot for ideas and memories.

Over the years I have kept a fairly steady number of books, each one better than the last, I think. I take chances and experiment more now than I did even a couple of years ago. In my Art Academy class I plan to share with students how I got started sketch-journaling, and how I start each new book. I will help them get their own books started and encourage them to begin collecting their own life bits. Everyone’s individual life has purpose and meaning and this is often forgotten in our fast paced world these days. This is why I blog. And this is why I keep a sketchbook; not just for art work, but for the life moments in between the work.

So here’s hoping at least a handful of folks sign up for my class so it can move forward. I am excited to get more “sketchy” people out into the world at large!

part rabbit warren, part spin on art & life & etc. art, illustrations & workshops by amy bogard