The Black Sheep
I took a break from painting for a few years to raise my babies. It was hard enough to keep up with with two babies, running a household, moving a few more times, dealing with more deployments, and taking care of my mother. There were more pertinent things happening at the time, that I couldn't focus on painting. Also, anytime you get paint out near a toddler, it becomes quite the project. So, because I'm an artist and I need to be creative to feel like myself, I just channeled that energy into other creative passions like cooking for my family and gardening. I turned that creative urge into something more functional that I could incorporate it into my daily life. I had packed away my paints and brushes for years, almost embarrassed to say how long. Long enough that tubes of paint had dried up. I knew one day I'd get back into it, and my babies would get older. I'd have more time in the future to focus on myself. I never thought though that I'd get my groove back with the help of a sheep.
Claus is a funny irreverent sheep who doesn't obey the rules of the herd, and he marches to the beat of his own drum. At the time when I painted Claus, we were living in Stuttgart, Germany on an Army base near a hilltop vineyard that overlooked the city. It was such a wonderful area to live, with vineyards all around, and a huge field in front of our apartment with the best views. The locals would use the fields there to raise their sheep. They would partition the field for the sheep rotating them to other areas every few weeks. I've never been a farm girl, or really lived in an area with livestock around, so having roughly 50 sheep in my front yard was quite the experience. My daughters and I would go see and talk to the sheep everyday, and feed them whatever veggie scrapes we had. One day, the sheep got loose, probably from the influence of a sheep like Claus, and the farmer had let his "Sheep Dog" herd them back. Now, that doesn't sound very funny, but the "sheep dog" wasn't your typical herding dog, it was an orange, long-haired Dachshund, running like crazy biting the ankles of the misbehaving sheep. It was the funniest sight, watching that little dog terrorize those sheep. Those sheep were quite the attraction in our neighborhood, and everyone loved them. I felt so inspired and I started creating paintings commemorating them and their personalities. I called my series of sheep paintings, "I am the Black Sheep" series. I had made up the character of Claus, the mischievous, irreverent sheep, who's not afraid of anything except for maybe an orange long-haired Dachshund.
My sheep then became more stylized, and simplified in form, with big puddles of water and primary colors. Of course I had to add the drips. The drips are my signature, they are my little love note to one of my favorite artists, Jackson Pollock master manipulator of the "drip." I'm infatuated with the idea of organized chaos. Manipulating the puddles of water, adding colors just so they mix and then adding an element of disarray with the drip. It's a process with calculation, but a bit of chaos in the sense that there are so many opportunities for things to go wrong. I intend to make a brand or label with the sheep, that would show that personality of Claus or black sheep mentality. A mantra for myself of thinking outside of the box and going against the grain.