Friday, February 27, 2015

My Art at the 2015 Canadian Screen Awards!

In January, I was very excited to be contacted and asked to provide some of my art cards to the presenters at the Canadian Screen Awards taking place in Toronto on March 1st.

This prestigious awards ceremony which honours excellence in Canadian film, television and digital media will be hosted by actress and comedian Andrea Martin. Confirmed presenters include Kiefer Sutherland, Julianne Moore, Kim Cattrall, Megan Follows, Tatiana Maslany and Eugene Levy, along with many others. My cards will be going into gift bags along with lots of other wonderful products.

Above is the collection of note cards that I assembled--five cards featuring some of my favourite watercolour paintings. I think these images provide a good sense of me as a Canadian artist. The paintings I chose were inspired by my garden, forested areas in our region and a beach visited on a vacation. I chose my popular 'Maple Leaves' image as the centre of my collection, since the maple leaf is an iconic symbol of Canada.

I considered including my 'Winter Forest' painting but then thought 'No...we've all had enough winter at this point!'. Instead I included two of my spring garden images.


Because I print my cards in my studio, feed them into my printer one by one and finish them by hand, it took me about four days to print, trim, score and package everything. These cards were produced with love and care!

What an amazing thrill to share my watercolour art with such a talented group of people! I really hope that they enjoy my artwork.

For those of you in Canada, the Canadian Screen Awards will air on Sunday March 1st at 8:00 p.m. on CBC (8:30 in NT).

This special note card collection is now available for purchase in my art shop: http://www.trowelandpaintbrush.com/product/nature-collection-set-of-watercolour-cards.

I am constantly adding new work to my art shop and will continue to add things in upcoming weeks. I hope you'll take a peek every now and then.

❤  ❤  ❤  ❤  



Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Unfrozen

With Valentine's Day over, I changed my Facebook profile photo from a heart painting to one I did of a snowdrop about seven or eight years ago. I've used it as a profile photo before.

Seeing it on my Facebook page made me want to get out the original painting. I still have it in one of my studio drawers. It's one of those paintings that I think I will hold onto forever as it has special significance to me.

It was the first painting I did after a long creative hiatus. Emma had just started high school. Chloé was still in elementary school. I hadn't painted for a few years and I was feeling very stuck. I wanted to start creating art again but had somehow convinced myself that I couldn't. I was spending an unreasonable amount of time reading books on painting techniques and consulting art websites (I spent weeks on 'Handprint'--an amazing source of information on watercolour paints and materials.)

The thing is that I already knew how to paint. I had painted for decades previously. What I needed to do was to sit down with my paper and paints and start again. (It sounds easier than it seemed to me at the time.)

This snowdrop painting was the first watercolour I completed after that period. I wasn't trying to choose a subject with deep meaning. I just sifted through reference photos I had taken of flowers in my garden and selected it.

Without trying to choose a subject with a deep meaning, I did. The snowdrop (Galanthus) is one of the first flowers to emerge in the garden after the winter. What better subject could I have chosen after a long period of creative block.

I still like the painting. It is simple and elegant.

It seems like the perfect image of hope as I deal with my annual case of February blues and as many of us deal with this difficult winter. In Montreal, we have had ongoing snow accumulation and intense cold but nothing like the extraordinary blizzards and snowfalls on the east coast of Canada and the US. I feel for you.

If you need a little spring encouragement, I sell my snowdrop image both as a print and note card.

My 5 x 7 snowdrop print
One of my snowdrop note cards
Here's to spring flowers, hope and becoming unfrozen.

❤  ❤  

TO A SNOWDROP 

LONE Flower, hemmed in with snows and white as they 
But hardier far, once more I see thee bend 
Thy forehead, as if fearful to offend, 
Like an unbidden guest. Though day by day, 
Storms, sallying from the mountain-tops, waylay 
The rising sun, and on the plains descend; 
Yet art thou welcome, welcome as a friend 
Whose zeal outruns his promise! Blue-eyed May 
Shall soon behold this border thickly set 
With bright jonquils, their odours lavishing 
On the soft west-wind and his frolic peers; 
Nor will I then thy modest grace forget, 
Chaste Snowdrop, venturous harbinger of Spring, 
And pensive monitor of fleeting years! 

William Wordsworth (1819)


I also wrote about my snowdrop painting in this post from 2012: 
http://trowelandpaintbrush.blogspot.ca/2012/03/spring-garden.html


Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Sign of Spring?


At this time of year, especially after the intensely cold January and early February we have had, we become anxious for signs of spring. This morning a big, fluffy robin spent some time in our garden. While I would love to take this as confirmation that warmer weather is on its way, I've noticed robins in our neighbourhood throughout this winter, even during the freezing temperatures of past weeks.

I looked up the behaviour as it seemed unusual. Some sources suggested that if food sources are available, robins may overwinter in order to claim the best spring breeding territory. When I think about it, when I've seen them in past weeks, they have usually been perched on fruit trees (indigenous serviceberry) at the edge of a nearby forest.

Today, this big fellow sat long enough in a tree in our back garden that I had time to run upstairs to get my long-range lens. I just love how he looks with the snow-covered branches behind him.

Then he moved to the trees lining the back of our garden that are still covered with frozen crabapples.
He carefully selected one. When he tried to swallow it, there was an awkward moment and I was worried that he had chosen an apple that was too big. He readjusted it in his beak and then everything seemed to be fine.

So, I think I will just have to consider this as a sweet Saturday visit rather than a sure sign of spring.

❤     

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Reading Resolution

We are book lovers in our house. We have bookcases everywhere. You may be wondering then why I have this large pile of books on the floor. This is my 'to read' stack beside my night table.

I don't always make New Year's resolutions and, when I do, I don't always make them public. Sometimes, they are just small private goals. I read recently that most New Year's resolutions are broken in the first week of January. I wonder if it's because they are too severe and unrealistic.

This year, I set myself a gentle goal. It is simply to read more. There are no quotas. It is a positive goal (rather than 'don't do this' or 'don't do that') that, as I pursue it, will probably set off a ripple effect of other small improvements.

In the past four years, as I became more and more involved in social media, Etsy teams and other online activities, my evenings have been spent on the computer. I've been reading books less and less. Instead of reading one more chapter, I was checking one more thing on my iPad before bed. My 'to read' stack became a daunting mountain.

One of many bookcases in our house
I have always loved to read. I loved taking out books from the library when I was a young girl and I would regularly read past my bedtime at night. I thought I was being surreptitious but, when my father would come upstairs, he would feel the lightbulb in my bedside lamp and know that I had just turned it out when I heard his footsteps.  My degree in university was in English literature. I would ask for books for gifts and have continued this tradition by including books in every birthday and Christmas gift I have given to my daughters. One of the sweetest memories I have of Emma as a child is her coming into my bedroom at age eleven or so with this extremely serious look on her face. As she said 'Mama' and began to speak, I remember being worried what she was going to say. She said 'Mama, I just wanted to thank you for giving me your love of reading.' My heart melted.

So this year is about getting back to the heart of what I love. It's about moving away from the computer earlier in the evening, not worrying about refreshing tabs yet again, and reading before I turn out the light. I am happy to report that I am reading my third book since Christmas and can't wait to choose the next one from the mountain beside my bed.

❤  ❤  


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