Saturday, January 7, 2017

New Beginnings

Hoar frost on red viburnum berries backlit by the sun

It's a new year. A new year signifies a chance to do things differently. It represents hope. A new beginning. But I haven't painted in eight weeks. I have found myself to be in the middle of a creative block. It was partly triggered by the political uncertainty in the world since the US election and my desolation at how it felt like forces of intolerance and hatred were winning. I also was wracked with doubts about my art business and frustrated by the ongoing challenge of finding the right audience for my paintings.

It hasn't been a complete creative block as I gave myself permission to divert my attention from painting to other creative things--things that required wider focus and less concentration. I repainted the walls of our upstairs hallway. I installed new picture rails to display my art and others. I framed art, mine and pieces I had purchased from friends. I built a simple wood bed frame with Chloé for her room. I reorganized shelves and drawer contents. I've been reading. I walk with Meeko every day. I thought of all of the good people I know. I've spent time with family and friends.

Hoar frost on clusters of crabapples

If I was to look at the whole of 2016 in a personal way, it was the year of the neck and back. I had to slow down for several weeks in the early summer after being diagnosed with arthritis in my neck. Physiotherapy has helped so much. I've learned to stand and sit up straighter. This past week, there was a new challenge. I began suffering from dizzy spells. They were scary at first but they have been diagnosed as muscular in origin--my trapezius muscle probably irritated after a vigorous hike over the holidays. My physiotherapist thinks that the dizziness should be resolved in a few days. What a relief. I can't wait for them to be gone. My neck and back keep sending me signals. Don't take things for granted. Look after yourself. Stand up straight.

So I am determined to paint again. To feel hope about the state of the world. To help when I can. To stay aware but not to the point of paralysis. To take moments to appreciate the beauty of nature. To create. To concentrate on those I do reach with my art and to worry less about those I don't. To surround myself with caring people with good hearts. To listen to my aging body but to work with it and remind it that 'hey buddy, we still have plenty we need to do together'. To concentrate on art and love and hope.

Crabapples covered with hoar frost

This morning we woke to sunshine and a magical garden covered in hoar frost. I went out in my pajamas to photograph it for you! These photos of ice and light seem to be the perfect representation of where I've been lately and where I am right now. Frozen but allowing the light to get in.

I'm not sure what I am going to paint when I get back into my studio next week but I look forward to being there. And I want you to know that I'm really glad you are here with me.

Monday, November 21, 2016

First Snow!

Tiny yellow crabapples covered with first snow. Photo by Kathleen Maunder

We woke up to this season's first snow and it was extraordinarily beautiful. These are crabapples on a row of small trees in our backyard. This variety is called Sir Lancelot. The tiny yellow fruit remind me of jewels. It is particularly nice at this time of year to be left with bits of colour after the leaves have fallen from the trees and shrubs.

Meeko was very excited to see the snow and did two crazy fast loops of the backyard in celebration. I was able to convince Chloé to accompany us to the forest for a morning walk before she headed downtown for her classes.

I'm so glad we went as it was absolutely enchanting. All of the trunks and branches of the trees were covered with snow. These photos were taken in colour (you can see a bit of colour in the leaves at the top) but they look like they were taken in black and white. The marshy areas border parts of the pathway through the forest.

As Chloé and I drank the beauty of the morning in with our eyes, Meeko dipped his nose in it. To each, their own form of celebration!

Wheaten terrier with nose covered with snow. Photo ©Kathleen Maunder

❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Lovely Autumn Days

Autumn colour of serviceberry (Amelanchier)

Autumn days are truly here. The weather is cool and crisp. It's perfect for long, lovely walks. Many leaves have fallen and are providing that wonderful 'crunch crunch crunch' underfoot but there are still lots of leaves on the trees giving beautiful colour. We must be at the magical midway point.

The leaves above are on one of my serviceberry bushes. I have a few of them around the yard, both in shrub and small tree form. Their fall colour is hard to beat. Below is my viburnum trilobum which is on the brink of turning red-orange. Those berries won't last long once the birds figure out they are there.

Viburnum trilobum leaves and berries

Our town is edged by rural roads and fields. It's one of my favourite places to walk with Meeko. The cloud formations are often beautiful and there is a feeling of openness that you don't find even just a few streets away. It's a thinking and breathing place for me. I'm pretty sure that Meeko mostly thinks about the horses we see along the way.

Golden field and blue sky

I also often talk about the tiny forest where I walk during the colder months of the year. It's been cool enough the past few weeks that I've started walking with Meeko there again. During the summer, it's too swampy and buggy. I took this photo of Meeko on our walk there this afternoon. Do you remember when people used to get their 'colours done'? Do people still do that? You would be told if you were a winter, spring, summer or autumn according to your coloration. Meeko is definitely an autumn. (He also needs a haircut.)

Soft coated wheaten terrier with autumn leaves

A few weeks ago, I told you about my 2017 calendar. I'm so proud of it. It is truly a labour of love. Many, many weeks went into the creation of the paintings and the calendar is printed page by page by me in my studio. One challenge I've found is that it's hard to take a photo that gives a really good sense of a 12-month calendar. This morning I worked on Photoshop (actually until my eyes felt cross-eyed) making this poster of my calendar. I hope it gives you a full idea of how pretty it is. 

I originally only offered my calendar unbound which can be displayed leaning on a bookshelf, on a fridge with a magnet, or on a wall with washi tape, a clip or push pin. Some people said they would like it bound so I now also offer a version with holes punched in the centre and a loop of twine. Something for everyone! You can order the version you prefer here.

🍂  ðŸ‚  ðŸ‚  ðŸ‚  ðŸ‚

Monday, September 26, 2016

Edible Flower Print Series

Print of chives watercolor painting

I am happy to announce that my edible flower watercolor series is now available as prints in my shop. I really enjoyed painting this collection of flowers. I have printed them in my studio on beautiful paper. I mean paper so nice that you will want to sit there holding it instead of putting it in a frame. Or at least I would. Because I love paper that much.

A little while ago, I wrote about how I am trying to paint more series. I did it! These six edible flower prints are compatible with my herb series. I hope by having related images available that it will be easy for people to mix and match to create a collection of prints that is just right for their wall. 

Botanical watercolor prints by Kathleen Maunder: viola + pansy, crabapple and borage
Viola + Pansy - The flowers of these charming plants are edible. They can be added to salads or crystallized and used to decorate cakes.

Crabapple - The petals of crabapple blossoms are edible (apple blossoms too). I was delighted to learn this! They can be used in small quantities to garnish a salad or try floating them in a drink.

Borage - I grow borage from seed every year. It's such a pretty addition to the garden. I love all blue flowers! The flowers are edible and can be used to garnish salads and cold soups. You can float them in beverages or freeze them in ice cubes. The young leaves are also edible but I don't really enjoy how prickly they feel so I leave them on the plants.
Botanical watercolor prints by Kathleen Maunder: chives, nasturtium and violet
Chives - The stems of chives are a great, mild substitute for onion in foods. They are nice with egg and cheese dishes and are lovely baked into biscuits. I never used to think of eating the blossoms until I saw a photo on my friend Sonia's beautiful Instagram feed a couple of years ago. She was preparing toast topped with soft cheese and chive florets. I tried it and not only is it delicious but also beautiful! 

Nasturtium - This is another beautiful flower that I grow each year from seed in my garden. I line the sides of my square-foot garden with nasturtiums. The flowers have a peppery taste and are great in salads or as a garnish. The young leaves are edible too.

Violet - Wild violets are edible. I'm lucky to have some growing wild in our back lawn. Many people like to crystallize them and use them to decorate cakes and cookies. 

I really hope that like my new edible flower series. You can also find smaller versions of these images in my 2017 calendar.

I should mention that it's important to be sure that your flowers and herbs are pesticide-free. Eat in small quantities and always consult with a health professional if you have particular health issues or are serving to small children. The basic rule is, if in doubt about a plant, don't eat it. If you want to learn more about edible flowers, there are some good guides online. You can find two here and here.

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