Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rainbow

I just saw the most amazing rainbow--so wide, bright and beautiful. I scrambled for the camera and, of course, it didn't have a memory card in it so I scrambled for that too.

That means it's still raining here but the sun has managed to come out briefly to do some magic.

This post is for my Mom.  She knows why. 


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Studio Time

I was in my studio all day today working on two paintings.  I can only show you one of them, as the other will spoil a Christmas surprise.

I had two live models with me (no, no, not that kind of model!).  Two little violas were still alive on that lovely tangled bouquet I started working on last week.  My painting is almost finished now.  Did you notice the one upside down viola near the base of the bouquet.  I just left it that way instead of rearranging it.  It's a good reminder that things don't always need to be right side up to be beautiful.
I've taken these photos using artificial light.  The natural kind seems to be in short supply these days. It is pouring here. So much for snow.  Meeko and I got absolutely soaked on our walk this afternoon.

My desktop computer was in for repair today.  It was a good thing as that meant I wasn't tempted to sit down and work on any new prints in Photoshop. The computer will be back tonight but I'll try to walk past it and head up to the studio tomorrow. Hope you are all having a good week.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Approach

It smelled so good in our house this morning.  Emma made gingerbread cookies.  It's funny how simple things can be such powerful mental triggers.  The spicy scent of those cookies wafting up the stairs started to get me in a Christmas mood.  The snow helped this week too, although sadly it has already melted. It'll be back soon enough.

We've put our Christmas lights up outside.  I love approaching our house from a distance and seeing the golden lights.  They'll be even prettier once the snow returns.
The decorations in the house will be next.  Chloé has already brought up the box of Christmas books and DVDs from the basement and I have tranferred them to a basket.  Even the books they have outgrown stay in that box. Tradition.
I held onto one of my Christmas books from my childhood and it still puts tears in my eyes when I read it. It's a beautifully written and illustrated book about family members making gifts for their little girl (and of course she makes gifts for them).
It seemed too soon to be thinking about Christmas before and all of a sudden I'm wondering if I'll have time to do everything I want and need to do.  It's that way every year. It's exactly one month away today.

In the end, it's important not to hurry and worry too much as I think this is the best part of Christmas:  the approach.
(Every Day in the Year by Phyllis Rowand - out of print, but still available used)

*  *  *  *  *

If you have started to think about your Christmas shopping, just a reminder that I have a special in my Etsy shop all this weekend right until the end of the day, Monday November 28th.  Just apply the coupon code THANKS2011 when you check out and you will receive 15% off your entire order.

Enjoy your weekend.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

The wall of snow arrived this morning.  My little viola seems to be bowing down to the inevitability of it all.  I don't mind.  I found myself singing 'Let it snow' the other day when I was walking Meeko.

Someone was quite happy about this morning's condition. It's not his first winter but he looked a little surprised when we opened the back door.

Then he did what we refer to as the 'weasel run'.  This is a wild, high speed run that he does back and forth from one side of the yard to the other, running precariously close to hard, jutting objects and incorporating as many fancy airborne moves as are possible.  I caught part of it with my camera.  Thanks to Meeko, I was able to test out the action function of my new camera. :)

It's not just the furry kids who are happy today.  The snow is that lovely packable kind.  School kids will be having a ball today. My two are in high school.  They said 'Oh no' when they looked out the window, but they were in a cheerful mood this morning. I guess we are all still young kids at heart.

Have a good day.  Safe travels if you are in the States moving towards a family celebration.  I'll announce a sale in my Etsy store later today.



The sale has begun and lasts until the end of the day Monday November 28th in my Etsy store.  Use the coupon code THANKS2011 when you check out and receive 15% off your entire order.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Late Gifts

I worked on a painting this weekend of a small bouquet of violas I picked as I was emptying some pots in the garden.  I never have the heart to toss anything out if it's still remotely in bloom.  There are some people who tend to their gardens according to their watches and calendars.  I will wait as long as some flowers are there which means occasionally I can get backed into a wall of snow.

Here's the mug of violas in progress alongside a pansy painting I did a while ago
As I was working on my painting, I was thinking that for sure it was the last bouquet of the season. Then yesterday, I found a bunch of verbena still growing in a pot that I usually abandon outside all winter.  There was enough for not just one bouquet, but two! Talk about late garden gifts.

I think it points to what a temperate November we have had.  I would have enjoyed a little more light some days but it's hard to complain when I am still gathering flowers in late November! The temperatures are definitely changing.  The high didn't go above zero yesterday and tonight they are calling for freezing rain.

I have spent more time indoors than outdoors this week.  I have been working hard on converting my paintings into prints and have added a few more to my Etsy store.  Here's one of them:

I received a couple more orders on the weekend. When you open a new shop, it's hard waiting for the orders but so exciting when they do start coming in.  My youngest daughter Chloé saw how happy I was and, spur of the moment, decided to make me this cake to celebrate. (I posted this photo on my Facebook page, but decided to share it here for those who don't go on Facebook.)   She was limited by what we had in our kitchen drawer so my Etsy celebration cake was decorated with Winnie the Pooh candles, smurf-blue icing and sugar pearls we bought in Paris this past summer.  It was beautiful and delicious!

Here's a funny little story. A few days ago, Chloé asked me if we were going to have any guests at our place for Thanksgiving.  I said 'Pardon?'--not because I hadn't heard her, but because I wanted her to repeat the question to see if she realized what she had said.

You see we live in Canada and we celebrate our Thanksgiving in October!  It shows you what a big impact the U.S. celebration has on us. Chloé is not a kid who gets confused easily. We see the American Thanksgiving mentioned on cooking shows, in magazines, on blogs and on television shows to the point that we feel that we are celebrating along with you!

To all of my U.S. readers, good luck with all of your preparations, travel and celebrations.  I will be offering a special in my Etsy shop over the weekend, so be sure to have a look!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Birds!

Every now and then you watch something beyond words. (Thanks to my beloved 101 cookbooks site for posting the link--Credits:  Sophie Windsor Clive and Liberty Smith.)

Posts from me about painting (a late, late bouquet from the garden) and other things later this week.  Enjoy.

Murmuration:
http://vimeo.com/31158841

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Come Walk With Me

I've spent most of the last two days on the computer trying to improve my relationship with Photoshop and my printer. I might need a therapist on this one. My family will vouch for the fact that I am definitely in a better mood on the days that I paint.  I literally floated after finishing my little chickadee painting on Sunday. Gravity and I have had a closer relationship the past couple of days. :)  

It occurred to me that it might be a good idea to take an extra long walk today with Meeko and my new camera.  Fresh air and focusing on nature can be a good way of recharging the batteries (and avoiding complete insanity).  Come along with me and Meeko.  Despite the grey clouds, it was a very pretty walk.  I was astonished by the life and colour that is still in our neighbourhood and my garden this late in the season.

I call this photo 3M (the m's stand for mushrooms, macro and Margie, the owner of a beautiful blog that involves all three!).  Hey Margie, I got my knees wet taking it!


Aren't these golden cutleaf maple leaves beautiful? I saw them a couple of days ago and didn't have my camera with me.

Meeko decided they were the perfect backdrop for a modelling session. He was very intrigued by some noisy ravens which helped him stay in place.

This maple leaf was just waiting on the pathway for a photo.

Back in our garden now.  Guess who's been eating my beautiful crabapples? (Shameless, isn't he?)

Apparently they are delicious.  Actually I am surprised that there are that many of them left on the tree as this is a regular snack.  If I go into the yard and ask him what bad things he has been doing in my garden, he joyfully runs to my crabapple tree to show me. (I don't think he understands the weight of adjectives.)

I found this verbena still flowering in its pot.

This is a gorgeous oak-leaved hydrangea shrub which has never flowered for me in eleven years.  I can forgive it for that when it gives me an autumn display like this.

I couldn't believe it when I saw how alive and well the diascia was.  This pot is not visible from the house.  It's a great annual if you're ever looking for one that is frost hardy and doesn't complain about being in the shade or sun.  It also comes in pink and white.

My delight in finding the pockets of colour is because most of my garden right now is the colour above--brown.  I am one of those messy gardeners who leaves most of the perennials in place until the springtime.  It may not look beautiful but the birds appreciate it. The chickadees and goldfinches will enjoy the echinacea seeds in the months ahead.  I love watching them tip the stems with their weight as they harvest the seeds.

Notice the leaf in Meeko's hair (wheatens have hair, not fur).  He comes into the house regularly with the evidence of his activities attached to him. Not a clever criminal. But cute.


These are crabapples from my Sir Lancelot tree, a sweet, small crabapple that gives just enough height to provide us with privacy from the back neighbours  (when it has its leaves of course).

There are many violas still blooming in my square foot garden that is normally a vegetable plot.  I can't wait to show it to you in the springtime. It's an efficient and pretty way to grow vegetables in a small yard. Actually the classic method is more efficient than pretty, so I added the 'pretty' to my method.  That way, it appeals to both the left and right sides of my brain (which is important to me)!

Remember this little guy?  My alyssum growing in the crack of our front steps made it to the end of the season!  I think it may be be hugging the oak leaf for warmth. :)

Thanks for joining me on my walk.  It did me a lot of good.

I hope to do some more painting this week. I appreciate all of the warm and encouraging comments about my recent paintings. I hold your comments to my heart.

It occurred to me this week that when I write about my painting, I lose the garden, nature and dog enthusiasts.  When I write about my garden and nature, I may lose the art lovers. When I write about Meeko, I lose the not-so-crazy-about-dogs readers. (He's going to have a hard time believing that one!)  I hope it all makes sense over time as they are all things that are part of me and my life.  I appreciate you coming here to share them. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

My Little Chickadee

It was a pretty quiet weekend--lots of homework being done in our house.  I took advantage of the quiet time to paint.  I haven't painted many birds before.  I did a painting of a snow bunting earlier this year but I wasn't happy with it.  I decided to try again and I'm glad I did.

The chickadee is one of my favourite visitors to our backyard.  It is a polite, delicate and joyful bird.  I find the sight and sound of it to be uplifting.

I did this painting on a paper I've never used before.  It's actually paper that is mounted on a thick board (Crescent Watercolour Board).  I normally paint on textured cold press paper but this paper is hot press and therefore has a very smooth surface.

Maybe it was the new paper. Maybe it was because I am constantly inspired by the gorgeous bird paintings of Geninne and some of her beautiful 'birdieness' has rubbed off on me. :) Whatever the reason, I think it turned out!


I just might have to give that snow bunting painting another try.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rocks and Hearts

Some days I think it would be very useful to have a crane, the mechanical sort or the bird.  Either would do but, come to think of it, the bird sounds like more fun. Anyway, I imagine it plucking me from wherever I am and whatever I am doing and placing me gently but decidedly at my work table in my studio.  Oh, how I get caught up in doing other things.  I don't know why it is so hard to climb those stairs some days, as I am always happier once I am up there painting.

This morning I decided to work on a painting that I started when we were in Ogunquit, Maine a couple of summers ago.

I love rocks. I love hearts.  I guess it should be no surprise then that I love heart-shaped rocks.  I originally had two rocks in my painting but found a third small one this morning in my rock collection and so added it to the composition.  They look like they belong together--a family of rocks, a family of hearts. I like the symbolism.

The painting is on paper that I don't often use.  It was in a old, small Canson Montval sketchpad that seemed the right size to pack for our trip.  I quite like the texture of it and the way it handles the paint.  I definitely will use it again.

As I was working today, I was feeling the echoes of another painting I did a long time ago.  I dug it out so that you can see it. It's actually half a painting. I did it from some photos that my brother took many years ago when he worked for a week or so in Pond Inlet, a remote Inuit community on the northern shore of Baffin Island in Nunavut. (He was there as part of his medical residency. He's a psychiatrist.) I was very unhappy with the top part of the painting, the water, so I cut the painting in two.  I don't remember ever having done that before but it worked:  I was happy with the rocks, spent a good deal of time painting them and there was enough interest in them for them to be the focal point.


To give credit where credit is due, my daughter Emma took the photo of me working in my studio.

(I have retaken some of the photos I took yesterday.  I may post them in yesterday's post--a before and after--or in a new one. I'm making some progress working with my new camera.)

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