Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Walk in the Snow with Meeko

Wanna go on a walk with me? If you say yes, I'll show you the way.

It's over that way. You remember, right?

First, you walk past the tall grasses. Wow, it's a really pretty day today.

Wait, you're taking my leash off? Weeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Now you need to walk over the board that someone put across the little stream. The stream is already frozen. It's been so cold the past few days.

Hey Kathleen, how come you're lagging behind? Don't worry. I'll wait for you.

It's so pretty here this morning.

Look at those dried leaves and the sparkly snow.

That was really a lot of fun.

Wanna go on another walk with me?

❤  ❤  ❤  ❤  

The weather changed abruptly here this week. Last week, I was gardening with a sweater on. This week I am wearing full winter gear. Yesterday was miserably cold. Everything was covered in ice. The wind howled all day long and was bitterly cold. It was about -12C or 10F with the wind chill factor.  I couldn't even face taking Meeko for his walk, a very rare occurrence. I did manage to harvest (hack out) some vegetables from the back garden though. You can see the photos here and here.

Today, it is completely different. The sun is out. There is no wind. Meeko and I were able to go on the forest path for the first time this season. It's too swampy to walk in the spring and the summer so we really cherish the months when it is walkable. As you can see from the photos above, we had a ball together. What a gorgeous morning. Thank you, Meeko my friend, for getting me out and into it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Gardening Season Draws to a Close

The snow hasn't arrived here yet. I was able to work in the garden a bit today. My fall clean-up is pretty much done. It's nice when the snow waits until I am finished. There have been many years when I have been caught by surprise by an early snowstorm.

I took these photos a couple of weeks ago when I was bringing some hydrangeas into the house. I discovered some spotted stowaways and thought I would share my photos of them. I saw ladybugs today too. The warm sun seems to bring them out.

There are several months in the year when I am very torn between painting and gardening. The winter months remove that pressure. When it's cold and snowy, painting is the obvious choice. As much as I will miss my garden, I look forward to cozy studio time.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

An October Baby

Last week I worked on a special painting. My friend Sarah had her first baby in October. I decided to create a painting with the baby's name and birth flowers as a gift.

I looked up October's flower and some sources said cosmos and others said marigold. So what did I do? I included both of them!

First I hand wrote the baby's names lightly in pencil: Isabel Winona. Aren't those pretty names? Then I widened the letters and filled them in with watercolour.

I surrounded the names with three each of cosmos and marigold flowers as well as some leaves, stems and a little heart. I worked on it over a period of three days. It was hard not to publish photos of it right when I finished it but I needed to keep it a secret. I mailed the painting last week and Sarah told me it arrived safely in yesterday's mail.

I had a moment of panic after I had put it in the mail. I found a piece of paper in my studio on which I had been sketching some initial ideas. On it, I had written both Isabel and Isobel. (Why? I don't know. It must have been a moment's inattention.) All of a sudden, I was terrified that I might have misspelled Isabel's name on the actual painting! I raced to the photos I had taken before mailing it and was very relieved to see that the painting said Isabel.

Here's my finished painting for a beautiful little girl and her happy parents, Sarah and Dan. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Leaf Collector

I have loved leaves as long as I can remember. Although I admire them throughout the seasons, autumn leaves capture my heart.  Whenever I walk with Meeko, I bring a handful of leaves home. So over a few weeks, my collection grows and grows.

Sometimes you can find leaves that are already perfectly dried on the ground and they will retain their shape. If leaves are still humid, they will curl up when left to dry on their own. This year, I figured out that if I placed light twigs on the top of a small pile of leaves, they dried in a very nice natural way. Previously, I've tried drying them by weighing them down with books but then you end up with leaves that are as flat as pancakes and you lose their lovely contours and curves. When I was in elementary school, I can remember that we used to iron them between two pieces of wax paper. Supposedly, they will retain their colour longer than way but they are, of course, completely flat. I prefer having some contour and curls.

When I return from walks, I tend to put the leaves I've collected in our dining room as I like to look at them. After a few weeks, the side table starts to look a bit like a display in a nature museum. A few days ago, I collected all my dried leaves into a box and brought them up to my studio. I couldn't resist arranging them by type and colour.

Last year, I bought a clear glass vase for my painting table and I now display some of my leaf collection in it, refreshing the leaves each autumn.

And I guess it will not come as a surprise that I painted some leaves too! Last November, I painted two maples leaves and a maple key. I thought the painting was finished at the time but it didn't feel quite right and I put it in my painting drawer. 

This week, I added a curled leaf and maple key to the painting and the composition feels much better! I also added more colour and details to everything. The first photo below was taken yesterday. The second was taken at the end of the day today. I think it's finished now although I always take the time to stare at a painting for a while to know for sure.

The finished painting today
An excerpt from 'The Autumn' by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them —
The summer flowers depart —
Sit still — as all transform’d to stone,
Except your musing heart.

How there you sat in summer-time,
May yet be in your mind;
And how you heard the green woods sing
Beneath the freshening wind.
Though the same wind now blows around,
You would its blast recall;
For every breath that stirs the trees,
Doth cause a leaf to fall.

Perfect soundtrack: Nick Drake 'Five Leaves Left'

❤  ❤  ❤  ❤  

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