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Archive for the ‘Animals in Fashion and Art’ Category


Even St. Patrick’s Day has its animal element. 

We attended a St. Patrick’s Day gathering where this young Irish setter, Kevin Rory (call name of Kevi), sported a Kelly-green shamrock cravat. And hoped for a morsel from the table where the theme was green, as in pesto, guacamole chips, spinach dip, minty green frosted brownies, green M&Ms and cupcakes frosted lime.

Kevin Rory is the fourth Irish setter for owners Bill and Carolyn, of Irish descent themselves. Kevi was quite the party gent, and that’s no Blarney.

Kevi came to Bill and Carolyn, who live in Oregon, through the Internet Irish Setter Rescue Group in Oklahoma. He was found roaming the streets when he was four months old.

The couple’s late Irish setters are: Toby, given to Bill as a gift by his aunt; Carnelian Dun Conor, a six-month-old pup with a genetic eye condition that the breeder was going to put down; and Donegal, a stray Irish re-homed by the Houston Rescue Group.

For many years Bill, Conor and Donegal marched in the Houston St. Pat’s Parade. (It’s a huge parade like those in Boston and Chicago.) All three sported green.

Of course, horses are a big part of Ireland and its history. So I had to find some Irish horse art, too.

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The Apifera Farm greeting committee includes a variety of hens and a rooster or two. Gesture drawing by Janet Herring-Sherman

Autumn’s eve was approaching the weekend I tried my hand at art. I attended a workshop with a barnyard as studio and farm animals as models. The subjects, rescued donkeys, goats, sheep and a pot-belly pig, plus chickens, ducks and a horse named Boone, were quite willing subjects. Well, all but Rosie, the somewhat grouchy little pig.

I figured since animals were at the heart of the exercise, I might stand a chance at drawing something that looked at least a little life-like. Several of the six women who attended the workshop are quite gifted and well-established artists.  A few, like me, are “nouveau art.”

Our instructor and host, artist and author Katherine Dunn, insisted artistic talent wasn’t a requirement to attend. All we needed, she’d said on registration, was curiosity and a soft spot for animals. So there we were on a drippy, chilly Oregon morning gathered in a weathered barn at Katherine’s  Apifera Farm in Yamhill, an hour south of Portland. The workshop, “Gestural Drawings to Capture the Essence,”  began with instructions to sit silently and commune with the critters.

Being in Apifera’s old hay barn, as regal as an old growth redwood, seemed déjà vu. I felt much as I had the time I walked into the majestic St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. Each of these places has a well-preserved  awe, a particular quiet and a distinct smell of must and earth – from hay and manure traces in the barn and from incense and burning candles in the church. That old barn felt a lot like a place of worship. I mean that as praise not blasphemy: The times I’ve felt nearest to God have been in the company of animals.

Inside that barn, with three pair of donkey eyes watching, our group seemed to breathe a collective sigh – as if shedding the hustle-bustle world. It proved impossible to worry about jobs, school,  bills or families while under donkey scrutiny.

My very-novice gesture drawing of a member of the trio of rescued mini-donkeys now enjoying life at Apifera. By Janet Herring-Sherman

Katherine describes Apifera as a place where animals and art collide. I see it more as comfortable collusion than collision. I’m convinced, for instance, that, the Pygmy goat, Old Man Guinnias, and the piebald donkey, Matilda, conspired as to when one would stand and pose, and the other sidle up and nibble at our tablets.

The Apifera herd members really were most accommodating as we attempted to capture them in gesture drawings: These are quick, fluid drawings, often completed in short spurts, that capture the essence of a movement, a line, a shape or a feeling.

When I was young and yearning for a horse of my own, I drew hundreds of horses to keep me company. I learned to draw them pretty well. But getting the essence of these donkeys onto paper eluded me much of the day. As my sketchbook filled with my attempts, I reminded myself that my only “formal” art training was an elementary drawing class I took with my son when he was young.

In her art and writing, Katherine pays great homage to donkey ears. Now I know why. They are, well, captivating in a warm, fuzzy way. The donkeys have a secret language of ear play. I found it hard to turn away.

The real Matilda at rest in the Apifera barn, donkey ears and all. Photo by Katherine Dunn.

I’m especially fond of the splayed-ear look. When donkeys are at rest or feeling content and safe, their ears relax and fall sideways. Catawampus my dad would have called it. My attempt at drawing ears-at-rest ended with what looked like a donkey wearing a floppy hat. It was so out of whack, it made me smile. During show-and-tell, the others chuckled, too. It was all in good fun.

Gesture drawing of Matilda, Apifera's rescued donkey. By Janet Herring-Sherman

Matilda is the two-toned donkey Katherine most recently rescued from a life of neglect. I was struck by the strength of Matilda’s cheeks and jawbones. Since she’s about as tall as my torso, I could reach out and feel the curves, angles and muscles in a way I haven’t with taller horses. I tried to show that solid, rugged part of her donkey physique in profile.

Everyone at the workshop was taken with Matilda’s eyes and ears; as we were with those of the smaller mini donkeys, Pino, Paco, Lucia. Each in the trio was diminutive and demure. It’s easy to see why these barnyard muses so frequently appear in Katherine’s paintings. You might say that Pino has hee-hawed his way to a place beyond the farm: He’s evolved into a puppet, created by Katherine, that stars in her clever Apifera videos.  You can see Pino at http://www.apiferafarm.blogspot.com/.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t yet hugged a donkey or scratched a pair of donkey ears, I suggest adding “dancing with donkeys” to your bucket list. Apifera proved a place of respite. The donkeys and company made it so.

To see a video of Apifera animals, the workshop and some of the illustrations that resulted, click on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pdyBbR1ePg&feature=youtu.be.

My attempt at catching a goat on the move during a gesture drawing workshop at Apifera Farm in Yamhill, Oregon. By Janet Herring-Sherman

 Special Note: I just learned that two of the senior-citizen rescued goats at Apifera, Honey Boy and Granny, died last week. Katherine buried the old gent and the old gal in a special place, the pumpkin patch, on her farm. May they rest in peace as they lived at Apifera.

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Fresh and fragrant bundles of lavender harvested at Apifera Farm. Photo by Katherine Dunn.

It doesn’t get much better than riding horseback through fields of lavender.  That’s the delightful way I spent some time on a recent morning when I trailered my horse, Callie, to Apifera Farm a few valleys east of our own.

Donkeys may be telepathic. It doesn't seem to matter whether a thought is spoken or kept silent, donkeys seem to know what's on your mind. You can tell by the manner in which they twitch their ears--delicate ears that mimic the pointed tops of pickets in a fenceline. Photo by Katherine Dunn.

Apifera Farm is a magical place where “art and animals collide,” according to the description on the farm’s website. It’s the kind of place that takes caring for critters and crops seriously while fostering a sense of humor and lightheartedness about life in general. On the lane up to the cozy homestead, there’s an indicator of what’s ahead. A rough-edged, hand-painted wooden sign reads, “Watch for cats falling from trees.”

Mind you, I’ve seen no cascading cats on my visits to Apifera, but I’ve seen many other things that engage my heart, including the art of farm owner Katherine Dunn, which she describes as a combination of melancholy and hope.

Photos and poster by Apifera artist, Katherine Dunn, provide a hint of what's in store at the farm's annual fund-raising event.

My first visit to Apifera was during a small fundraiser for neglected donkeys. Billed as Pino Pie Day, Katherine and her husband, Martyn Dunn, have made this an annual summer affair with a country picnic feel. Basically, you share in a feast of delectable pies baked on-site the day prior by Katherine and a group of devoted pals.

In exchange for a few slices of pie, it’s hoped visitors will leave behind a donation to help fund the Dunns’ efforts to care for senior and/or physically challenged animals that come to Apifera for sanctuary. While the farm raises Katahdin sheep, it adopts old and crippled goats. Just this month, the Dunns brought home a senior goose and donkey plus a pot-bellied pig. Rosie, the pig, came from an 80-year-old woman a six-hour drive from Apifera.

Donkey-inspired aprons are treasured by cooks young and old at Apifera Farms' Pino Pie Day. Photos by Katherine Dunn.

Pie Day guests sit and savor pie slices between clotheslines hung with an apron array. The aprons, some handmade by Katherine and others from far-away spots on the map, are sold to benefit animal charities. Blowing slightly in the June breeze, the eclectic apron collection creates an artful back drop as well as an effective “for sale” display.

Fragrant outposts with armfuls of farm-grown lavender to purchase abound, too. Still, the donkeys are the main attraction, especially the event’s namesake, Pino. I found especially endearing the donkeys’ party dress — daisy-chain necklaces and artful messages carefully painted on their small hooves: “Hug Me,” and  “Love Me.”

Endearing messages painted on donkey hooves created a fashion statement at Apifera Farm's 2011 Pino Pie Day fund-raising event. Photo by Janet Herring-Sherman

Katherine claims there’s something healing about the combination of fresh pie, forest-scented air and hugs from donkeys with no hidden agendas. I agree: It’s impossible to look at a pair of donkey ears and not smile all the way to your heart. When you touch those soft, fuzzy ears, troubles disband and disappear for awhile.

Boone and Callie (right) tacked up and ready to tour the lavender fields at Apifera Farm in Yamhill, Oregon. Photo by Janet Herring-Sherman

Pino and his slender-eared partners, as well as chickens and livestock, wander through Katherine’s colorful contemporary folk art. Her horse, Boone, is another that shows up in Apifera art and blog posts. He’s a paprika-colored fellow that matched nicely alongside my red dun Callie.

As we rode the field’s perimeter and wove through the rows of lavender plants, Katherine explained that soon, hungry honey bees will gather on the purple-flowered stalks. That means harvest time for the lavender has arrived. Probably best we don’t wade into the lavender on horseback when bees are about: Katherine says the bees don’t mind, but I’m thinking the horses might!

You can see Katherine’s art at http://www.katherinedunn.com; and meet Apifera residents at http://apiferafarm.blogspot.com.

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Nancy, a friend and former-co-worker, who is an animal lover and AMAZING artist, posted this charming video on Facebook. Since we are “into” elk these days (That means observing them as they make their seasonal stay-a-few-days stroll in the meadow below our house.), well I just have to share this video of an elk and it’s puddle. As I commented on my Facebook page, some of this elk’s moves remind me of a cutting horse on a cow; or of my horse, Callie, when we ride through, hello it’s just, a puddle. Thankfully, her moves aren’t as swift as this guy’s. Click on the following link to view the YouTube version. Elk and its puddle video:

And while I’m thinking about it, if you admire animal-related art, take a few minutes to visit Nancy’s blog.  Here’s a sample of her felted animal creations.

"Maka," a felt sculpture by artist Nancy Lorenz, smiles on a beach in Hawaii. The real-life Maka, a Labradoodle, is "spokes-dog" for the Hawaiian Humane Society.

http://red-o-rama.blogspot.com/

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Valentine’s Day and love is on our minds. This seems the ideal time  to launch a blog, devoted to everything about the animals we love.

For starters, there is the unconditional love they are capable of demonstrating for us. We have a thing or two to learn from the animals about that. I’m convinced animals remain devoted to us, because they can forgive us for our human foibles.

But how readily do we forgive one another for a cross word, a broken promise? I’m betting most of us, when hurt or disappointed, seldom stop to ask ourselves, “How important is it in the big picture anyway?”  I know, for the most part, my life got easier when I started applying a  philosophy heard from someone in a 12-step recovery program, “Would you rather be right, or be  happy?”

The first reaction to that question was to say being right was more important. But the next time I had an argument with a loved one, I stopped and asked myself, “Am I going to insist my way’s the right way and inevitably set a bad mood for the day? Or would I rather just let the disagreement go and enjoy my day?” I dropped it, had a lovely day and even managed to resolve the issue peacefully later.

KOBE LOOKING AT LIFE                         Photo by Adam Sherman

My black and chocolate Labrador retrievers are like that when they engage in a tug-of-war for an old sock. They square off for awhile, holding their ground, necks stretched taunt in an “I’m NOT letting go” stance. In awhile, one will tire of the drill and decide a nap would be just as satisfying as leveraging the old sock away. Neither really wins or loses.

They teach me a lot, those dogs, if I sit still log enough to really watch them. Realizing what I can learn from animals has been one of the most important life lessons for me.

This blog is about loving and learning from the animals around us. We hope you’ll join us in our journey. To learn more about the blog, it’s people and pets, please check the “About us” option in the menu to the right. We hope you’ll scroll to the bottom of that menu, and subscribe to AnimalsOurEVERYTHING!

ANIMALS: They make us grin aloud. They make us sigh. They make us proud. They make us cry.

HERE’S ANOTHER GREAT REASON TO INTRODUCE THE BLOG, AnimalsOurEVERYTHING! today.

The 135th Westminister Dog Show starts today and runs through tomorrow.

USA Network and CNBC will be home to The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show presented by Pedigree®, for the 28th consecutive year in 2011. USA Network and CNBC air exclusive live coverage from Madison Square Garden on Monday, February 14, and USA Network airs exclusive live coverage on Tuesday, February 15.

Schedule

NIGHT 1:
Monday, February 14
Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding Groups
8-9 p.m. (ET) live on USA Network
9-11 p.m. (ET) live on CNBC

NIGHT 2:
Tuesday, February 15
Sporting, Working and Terrier Groups, Best In Show
8-11 p.m. (ET) live on USA Network

Breed judging highlight videos are available throughout the day on Monday and Tuesday on the Westminster Web site. These highlights will be available after the show, as well.

To our West Coast viewers: Please note that the West Coast telecast is delayed for your time zone. Since results are posted to our Web site as they occur live, if you want to enjoy the drama of the moment, please avoid the Westminster Web site after 5 p.m. Pacific Time on each evening.

http://www.westminsterkennelclub.org/

Watch it on Facebook, the web or TV.

http://www.facebook.com/WKCDogShow

http://www.westminsterkennelclub.org/videos/fullep/index.html?id=1001381

(Post created while listening to “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong)

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A zebra conundrum: "Hey look, that's you in the mirror! No wait, I think that's me. Whose stripes are whose anyway?"

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