New paintings

Painting of Great Pyrenees approaches viewer, alpaca mama and cria in background

‘My Work Here is Done’ • oil on panel • 10in x 8in (click to enlarge)

Showing this Friday at Artisan Gallery’s Painting Invitational….

(Opening this Friday, March 1, 5-9pm, Artisan Gallery in Paoli, WI)

If this big white dog–the Great Pyrenees–looks at all familiar, it’s because she’s Betty, our neighbor dog who guards her herd of alpacas. I photographed her in action helping with the birth of that baby alpaca (cria). You can see the photo sequence of ‘Alpaca gives birth’ here. The Mama alpaca is Maggie, and the cria is T-cup. This scene is from Galpaca farm, the place just down the road, to the southeast of us.

painting by s.v. medaris of yorkshire cross hog

‘Getting Close’ • oil on paper • 4in x 6in

Yep, I finally picked up the brushes and started painting with oils again, after a 4-year hiatus, while I went to grad school and learned how to do relief printmaking, then spent last year perfecting the print extravaganza that was the Tunnel of Mortality.

Last month I was invited to take part in Artisan’s Painting invitational, and just figured it’s time to get back to it. It was a little slow going at first, but sort of a relief–just color, you know? And not having to think too much about it–just mixing up hues and values that work immediately. No planning out layers of colors for print.

painting by s.v. medaris of dog under tractor

‘Constant Companion’ • oil on panel • 5in x 7in

Roughed out 4 paintings to work on simultaneously, so I could keep working without stopping and waiting for something to dry…. I started out really small with 3 little oils (before finishing Betty and the gang, at top). Here are 2 of them… above, one of our hogs from last year, ‘getting close’ to that time. And a portrait of Oreo, this great, faithful companion of a farmer on hwy 78. Oreo could often be seen patiently waiting beside the driveway entrance whenever his master went away. And here, in this shot, he lay with a very watchful eye, in the closest spot of shade, while his master worked on one of the farm vehicles.

Alpaca gives birth

newborn alpaca's head and neck

Newborn alpaca (1 hour after it enters the world).

Pretty amazing morning. But before I show photos, you should know that the scenes below are from the actual birth of a baby alpaca, so if you are squeamish about that sort of thing, you shouldn’t scroll down.

So, our neighbor Mindy (at GalPaca Farm) called to say the mama alpaca’s water broke, and she was going to give birth soon. We’d talked earlier and Mindy agreed to let me come take photos of the birth, etc., to use as reference for future art (any alpaca art I do, they get a print in the edition, as owners of the models…).

The alpaca mother’s name is Maggie. In the sequence below, you’ll also see some of the rest of the herd as well (mostly all females–males are kept in another pasture). And that big white dog is named Betty. She’s a Great Pyrenees. She was brought to the farm years ago, specifically to guard the alpaca (from coyotes, etc), and although she was never taught how to care for alpaca young, you will see below that she always knows exactly what to do. This is not her first experience at caring for newborns, but Mindy tells me that from the very first one, she knew it was her job to help the mama alpaca clean and protect the newborn.

So, anyway, the call came and I got over there just as the head/feet of the baby were showing.

(Click on any photo to enlarge it)

And so it follows…

head and feet appear

Everybody come see

birth of alpaca

Betty starts cleaning the baby even before it’s out

birth of alpaca

Wait for it…

birth of alpaca

Fell to the ground totally healthy. It’s a girl!

That’s the mama on the left looking at you

birth of alpaca

Betty and Mama Maggie begin the cleaning process

birth of alpaca

Betty pulls off all of the gunk

birth of alpaca

Cleaned up considerably…

…the newborn picks her head up, and starts to try to stand up.

birth of alpaca

Betty on guard

When one of the others gets too close or starts being too rough with the baby, Betty steps in and pushes the offender back (or gets between her and the baby). Here, she’s confronting the potential trouble-maker.

birth of alpaca


birth of alpaca

She’s up!

birth of alpaca

Welcome to the herd.

birth of alpaca

Drying in the warm sun and cool wind.

Here she is one hour after she first entered the world.
What a perfect morning for a birth.

birth of alpaca

Last light on the longest day of the year

Almost perfect ending to the longest day of the year (June 20, 2012). Almost? Because those awesome rain clouds in background just missed us, and we NEED rain! (NOTE: click any image to enlarge)

stormy sunset with dogs, woman and beer

Perfect in every other way

closeup of Potosi Brewery's Steamboat Shandy

Great Shandy–better than the others (local and not) I’ve tried. Click to enlarge photo.

(those of you not in this area should know we have been without rain for a long time now).

Hey, what’s the awesome beer you’re drinking (you ask)? Well, it’s the best shandy I’ve tasted yet (already mixed shandy that is, since you already know–Mom–that the best shandies are made with “regular” beer and real lemonade that you physically mix together yourself). It’s Potosi‘s Steamboat Shandy. Not only does it taste great, but I just noticed on the label that it says All Profits to Charity. That’s awesome! Wait, all?!? Is that even possible??! I think this calls for a trip and tour of Potosi Brewery to find out, sometime soon :-)

Where’s the boy(s) you ask? Right here. Chillin’…

man and his dogs relaxing in evening light


…and guardin’:

Little rat-jack terrier sits in lap and looks out for possible coyotes

Dex is on high alert watchin’ for coyotes. So far, he’s always the first to spot them coming from the west.

woman smiles and scratches small dog
Favorite place in the world to be…
Zuzu, jack-rat terrier lies in grass

…at home with the family–relaxing after a run, and AFTER several weeks/months of hard-core production on The Tunnel of Mortality (currently at Artisan Gallery, Paoli, WI), with the install behind me…

Here’s my girl (at right), sort of on the lookout too. She’s better at seeing small bugs, microscopic critters and possibly invisible beings.

And the fireflies came out before the light disappeared completely:
firefly in dark field

Pretty perfect evening.

Giant Leopard Moth visit

closeup of moth faceA Giant Leopard Moth (Hypercompe scribonia), also called Eyed Tiger Moth blew onto our front steps, to get out of the wind on an extremely windy, hot Monday here on the ridge. In the background, Ivan is resting out of the warm wind and hot sun….

I saw it from far away, it was so starkly black and white. The coloring is meant to warn off predators that it tastes bad, but I’m wondering if a more camouflaged coloring would keep it safer from well, everything?

Sometimes evolution amazes me.

Enjoy the photos, and click on any to enlarge.

black and white moth on steps, Great Pyrenees in background

Perspective is everything.

Giant Leopard Moth from side

Brilliant patterning is visible from a long way’s away.

black and white moth faces camera

Giant Leopard Moth (Hypercompe scribonia) faces off.

Ivan and the Wily Coyotes

linocut coyoteThis scene usually happens at dusk or at night. In fact the most breathtaking chase that I witnessed took place on a moonless night in pitch blackness, save for my gazillion candlelight flashlight I used to watch the chase. As always, the coyote seemed to just taunt Ivan. This one night, there was only one (they almost always work in pairs or more) the scrawny thing didn’t even start running till Ivan–a 120 lb puffing and snorting and bellowing freight train–was practically bearing down on him.

When being chased, the coyotes always look back to see how close Ivan is, and they will actually slow down so they don’t get too far away. It really looks as if they are toying with him–teasing him enough to get him to jump the fence and start chasing them, and then they just mess with him. Ivan will chase them off the property–past the barbed wire–then come chugging back up the ridge to the house. Often, the coyotes will reappear on the crest of the hill that Ivan just chased them over, and they’ll bark and bark at him. I swear it sounds like they’re hurling insults at him “Your mama wears combat boots, sucka….” Wily coyotes indeed.

reduction linocut of great pyrenees chasing coyotes

‘Ivan and the Wily Coyotes’ • 3-color reduction linocut on Rives BFK cream • 6in x 24in • (click image to enlarge)

And the print after color #1 (blue, at bottom), carving (linoleum, at top) for color #2, which will be orange:white dog against blue background