Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Old Mouse reincarnated from Mrs. Mercy Studley

She is available to a home who understands historical significance
When we moved here last May, I made introductions with Mrs. Studley. Let me recreate the scene:

While feeding, I came upon a beautiful little mouse in the pig food can, as I had left the top slightly ajar.

"Hello!" I said.

"Oh, hello, I figure you might come as I heard the animals rustling. I am Mrs. Mercy Studley," the mouse said.

I felt the hairs lift on my neck. You see, just the other night I had been reading the history of Bremen, our town here, and Mrs. Mercy Studley was one of the early inhabitants of a nearby village and at the time our house was newly built in 1760 era, Mrs. Mercy Studley was already 106.

"There was a woman from way back with your name, in a nearby village," I said.

"Yes," the mouse said.

"Did you perhaps know her?" I asked.

"Oh yes. She is me, or I am her. It is I."

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spring is hovering


I imagine the bees hovering high above, watching the snow melting, feeding the underground of hungry seeds. We are having a 24 hour cold snap with gusts, but sun. All is well.

{This is available as a print, and a slightly different original.}

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Friday, March 17, 2017

It's Monthly Movie Day at Apifera!



I'm going to have Monthly Movie Days on the blog, for free, and if you feel it is worthy of a little monetary 'tip', you can toss us some change. If you can't, you still get to enjoy the movie.

Today's movie is Fred, Memoir of a Frisbee.

I thought this is a good time to show this-many of you have been hit with huge snowstorms this past week, and I think Fred, and his friends in the movie will give you some hope for spring. This is a movie about friendship, never giving up hope and living with the rhythms of nature and one's own preferred lifestyle. Yes, this frisbee has worthwhile things to share with you! Enjoy.

You can leave a voluntary tip at my private payment link.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Cloud room of comfort


I've been working on smaller pieces and I really have been pulled into the intimacy of the size. I think this is all part of my transition to this particular place, and my particular evolution as an artist and person. everything at our new Maine farm is more intimate than in Oregon-the size of the house, the barns closeness to the house, the paddocks...I typically like to paint on 12" board, and still do, but Martyn cut me a lot of smaller 7" pieces when he was working on the barn, and I thought it would help me do some pieces that were less costly than my 12" ones, helpful to interested buyers. But I find they are so intimate, and end up being very sensitive little works, like this one called "Cloud Room for Mother & Daughter".

Sometimes I sit down with a general idea in mind to paint, but most of the time it is all intuitive. I suppose this helps me from going crazy, and it keeps me grounded. I admire people that can sit and paint a 'scene' and make it look like the scene-but it doesn't inspire me to paint like that. Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day, and the clouds were really strong. My studio is on the second floor, which is different than any studio I've ever had, I am sure that influences what I paint.

I think I was missing my mom, maybe as it was my birthday recently and that makes you think of the past occasions, and the passing of decades is so fast, and faster even as you age. The party has an end time, it is very apparent. When you are 30 you can party all night, when you are 59 you know there is always a time to go home and you feel it. My brother sent me a care package with lots of Trader Joe goodies and a bottle of Oregon wine which was really nice. But it did make me miss my mom, and dad, as they were avid gift package senders.

Now that we are getting the upper loft ready for workshops, I think there might be some large paintings in my future, again. Part of being a self supporting artist is the constant balancing act of painting what you want, and need, and trying not to let sales dictate what you should be painting. Like the gallery owner who once said to me he could sell anything if it was red and had a horse in it-people comments can lead you astray. I have a lot of larger pieces out at Riversea Gallery in Oregon that are not moving, and Sundance has quite a few. At some point, in my small space here, large, unselling canvases become sort of...heavy load.

The world is agitated more than usual right now, so am I. It seems to be affecting sales for many artists I know. I try to share things with other artists about such matters because I think it is easy to get down, and to assume it's your lack of something that isn't bringing you new work or customers. When I look all the way back to 1997 when I began as a freelance artist, sales always came in surges, and droughts were no different. I learned to tolerate the droughts, and use them wisely-or use them to do something really non art related-like walk, garden, visit my mom, or ride my horse. The worst thing you can do is think that when the sales are high, they will always be-they won't. But it is also counterproductive to think droughts will last forever. every time I have a drought though, i still go through 20 Questions with myself-what am I doing wrong, what is wrong with everyone, blah, bawaaa blah. Then I remember, just like spring has always returned, sales always return.

But see, I still deal with this part of being self employed, and being an artist. I just get up every day and basically forge on, pick myself up and do something, anything to keep going. I try to be kind to myself. And I think that's why my insides painted this yesterday...a cloud room with a mother and daughter seems very comforting.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Pig plows and wind inspirations

I did this little painting yesterday as I was tucked into my little studio with bunny at my side. The storm began in full strength around noon or so, with lots of strong winds. I'm still amazed and infatuated with the wind here. It has its own particular language and voice, much different than in Oregon. I guess because of the sea being so close. And the other intriguing thing-the house talks in the wind. I really mean it. Sometimes, we are sitting have done at night in a wind storm, and I'm constantly saying,

"Did you hear that?" and I'd turn the volume of the tv down.

But it's always the wind, but it can sound like voices. Very mysterious.

We were prepared for two feet, and I'm happy to say we got about 10-12". It's a bit heavy so it is not as easy to deal with and I didn't bother trying to shovel out to the far barn, I let the pigs help me out.Some people in upstate and west of us in NY and Vermont got 30-40". Spring is in less than a week and it looks like temps are going to be colder than normal next week-like in the 20-30's. Bwaaaa. I am ready for 45 and could be happy with that for a long time to be honest. No flies, no humidity!

So we are fine. Had a nice bottle of wine last night, didn't lose power and all the animals took it in stride. Even Little lonely, who hasn't even seen sky or sun yet since he and Cornelia are still in the heated cat room until I feel it's okay to come out-which it probably is, but I'm giving him some more time.



Tuesday, March 14, 2017

This ain't for sissies


White Dog guards the farm against wind gusts and white out -the official storm began around 1 and I'd say we are getting at least inch an hour right now - the winds are pretty fierce. Ideally, I got a belated gift from my brother for my birthday loaded with Trader Joe goodies and an exceptional bottle of Oregon Pinot I can open in a couple hours. Stay safe to all my east coast friends!

Morning communion with Marcella

When I do my morning chores in winter, I make it a goal to commune with the animals, usually picking out one or two that day and just sitting with them quietly. Often no words are spoken, that is my language, but we have our other language we speak-or at least we learn to interpret. I think the animals are far superior to that interpreting than we humans, but I truly believe we as people can hone our lost sills as communicators with creatures. We used to speak this way in earnest, and with grunts that each had a different meaning I assume. Just like the pigs-they have so many variations of a squeal and a grunt. I should start recording them.

This morning I sat with Marcella while the goats ate. Marcella is a glutton for this. She is not 'soft' either-meaning she has not turned into a marshmallow guard dog as we used to hear of when we researched guard breeds. Marcella has adapted to the new place as stoically and enthusiastically as I expected. Her area is smaller now, and often at night she is in the goat barn where as Benedetto is always free to go to the fields to patrol, but he lives in the field barn, and Marcella lives in the front barn.

Marcella takes her guarding here as seriously as she did in Oregon. She recognizes the front road and traffic that might be 'unusual'. She knows the nearby neighbors but will still alert them she is here. But mainly, she has taken to guarding her charges from birds, and squirrels, and eagles. She witnessed a duck killing of a chicken in Oregon, and from that day on both she and Benedetto will chase birds in the high up sky and alert us there are flying predators. I doubt a squirrel will do much harm, but I appreciate that she has that covered. She also has kept the rats away, at least out of sight. They had easy living when we arrived, but things changed for them with Marcella. I often find small holes dug into the stall bedding, going about 6" down. I'm sure she's tracking rats under the barn.

Now two days ago, we saw a beautiful little black mink by the bird feeder, which sits outside the kitchen and is not part of the barn. As beautiful as he was, I worried he might be on to the chicken coop even though they are penned up, he could get in if he really wanted too.

I told Marcella about him.

"What am I saying," I told her today, "I'm sure you knew all about that mink."

She is strong and independent, in command of her domain. Her success has nothing to do with beauty but is from her genetic makeup and willingness and desire to be useful in her breed's capacity. But her beauty is apparent, and watching her guard, or take charge, I have to admit her looks enhance the experience for me. She understands our relationship–something we both have had to work towards.

Her eyes still mesmerize me.