Monday, January 30, 2012

January Countdown

I have had a real case of the January blahs.  Does that ever happen to you?  I finally put my finger on what has been bothering me:  nothing in particular and everything in general. Yup, that seems to be it. The good news is that there is only one more day to go until the beginning of a new month.

I had a lovely lift on Saturday.  There was an unexpected knock at the door and a dear, sweet friend was standing there with a bouquet of heart candles for me. Isn't that the nicest thing to do?
You can make them too. Wonderful Margie of Resurrection Fern posted instructions for three beautiful Valentine craft projects including these very candles on the Poppytalk site.  

I love my candles. They even smell nice because of the beeswax.  Now I just need to convince Emma or Chloé to make a beautiful Valentine cake.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Enough About Art

So here's what happened.  Meeko pulled me aside and I think 'Oh no, this won't be good'. He was pretty direct.  Briefly, he thinks I've been devoting too much blog space to art, Etsy, snow, family, that kind of thing.  He wants more Meeko now or he is threatening to hijack my blog (he's done it before, so I need to take this seriously).  I don't think the theme of today's blog needs any further explanation.






 And finally, here is Meeko with his favourite toy from Christmas.
And 532 kilometers away Meeko's 'cousin' and good buddy Marlowe (photo sent by my sister-in-law).

(Don't be too jealous of our snow. We had freezing rain this morning and now are in the middle of regular old rain right now--in other words, a sea of slush.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mama's Bear

I painted this bear many years ago.  I borrowed it so many times from Emma's room for my painting sessions that she started referring to it as 'Mama's bear'.

Most of the stuffed toys in our house have now been given away, shoved to the back of closets or moved to the basement (a sort of holding ground as decisions are made as to whether to part with old fluffy friends). This little fellow however has an ongoing place of honour in our guest room.

Yesterday, I worked at converting my original painting to a print. When Emma and Chloé came home, they both thought I had the original in my hands.  I think Teddy approves too. He is going into my Etsy shop this morning.

Here are two other animals I am very fond of:  Monkey and Meeko.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Cucumbers & Nail Polish

I don't know if you occasionally look at the Etsy shop listings at the right side of the page.  I've added a few new prints the last few days as well as some gift cards.  I just added the Cucumber Slices print this morning.  Emma has asked for the original painting to put in her room. I've done this print on lovely Fabriano Artistico cold pressed watercolour paper. My printing experiments continue!

I'll keep adding new things to my shop as I can. The scanning and photography process takes so much time. Today is a lovely bright day which certainly helps the photos.  There have been so many drab days lately.  I'm also enjoying using one of my Christmas presents--a camera tripod.

And did you notice? I put on nail polish!  I was getting so tired of seeing my ragged nails showing in photos. In the summer, no matter how often I clean them there are always stubborn bits of garden dirt under them. In the winter, they tend to be paint and food stained. (We've been eating a lot of beets lately.) Plus, I have the very bad habit of using them to pry things open. Nail polish lasts about an hour on me without getting chipped, but I do like looking at it on the rare occasions that I do put it on.  Emma and Chloé are much more beauty-oriented than I have ever been. They teach me more than I teach them in that whole area.  Funny how that is.

I haven't been painting the past few days and need to get back into my studio. I can feel it when I have been away from it too long.

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Nail polish update:  It's already coming off.  It looked pretty nice for a couple of hours. :)

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New nail polish update:  Emma says I need to put on two coats and an overcoat. (I told you the beauty advice moves upward in our house.) She has also offered to colour coordinate my nail polish colours with the paintings I am photographing. Not sure I'm ready for green nail polish. But who knows where this period of evolution will take me. :)

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Newer nail polish update:  Chloé passed me in the hall last night and says 'Whoa, you have nail polish on!'  Told you it wasn't a normal occurrence. :)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Wood That I Could

When I was a little girl, I read a book called A Little Maid of Newport.  It was set in the 1700s just before the American Revolution. In it, two cousins rescue a piece of Newport's Liberty tree and decide to use the wood to make thimble boxes.  I remember asking my father if I could have a piece of wood and use his chisels to make a box of my own.  It didn't really turn out to be much of a box (I didn't keep it), but I think my love of making things out of wood started in the pages of that book.

A few years ago, I took two woodworking courses at a local community college. Eighteen men, two women. Some of the men were a little more welcoming than others. Add woodworking terminology in French to the mix. Being lefthanded always complicates things. It was all quite intimidating but I was excited to be there and so eager to learn.

The first course concentrated on using manual tools (pencils, rulers, chisels, planers, saws--I really liked using a Japanese dozuki saw and bought one of my own).  By the end of the eight-week course, we had all made our own wooden box--the dream of my childhood had come true!

The next eight-week course concentrated on using the big shop tools.  We worked in teams to create a pine chest.  I really tried to feel comfortable with the shop tools but was terrified of them.  I am a person who works slowly and carefully on things and the pace of the teamwork and my fear of rotating blades made this course much less enjoyable for me. Wild thoughts of becoming a furniture-maker came to a halt.

In our house, I like using handheld power tools. I own a power drill, jigsaw, nailing gun and circular saw. I have a power mitre saw that I like very much.  I don't own a table saw and never will.  With what I do own, I have made several things around our home.  I'm not sure that my creations would win woodworking prizes but I am proud of them and I like that my girls have grown up seeing me make things.  I enjoy the challenge of seeing a need and creating something to fit it. I made a divided cutlery insert for our kitchen drawer. I made a wooden wall vent to replace a noisy metal one. I've made a picture frame and a wallmounted bookshelf.  I created built-in shelves in my studio closet to hold my big watercolour sheets.

The biggest and most complicated thing I've ever made was a six-foot tall headboard for Emma's room. I designed it and built it from scratch. Now I am in the process of transforming it for Chloé's room. It was hard to think of removing the beautiful beaded shell insert (table runners!) and changing its colour but it is turning out quite nicely.  Chloé and I have been painting it a lovely soft white. Her electric lime green room has enough vibrant colour. (One daughter with electric lime and the other with pale cucumber!) I am growing to like the headboard in white. We have another coat of paint to put on it before it is moved into Chloé's room. I am happy to know that it will be used and appreciated for several more years.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Uppercase

I just received my first issue of Uppercase magazine.  It arrived cold and frosty from our street mailbox.  Oh how I enjoy opening envelopes with my name on them. I love the soft feel of this magazine's beautiful coverstock, its gorgeous inky smell and the promise of its pages. I cannot wait to dive into it.

I am so thankful for the creative friends I have made this past year. I didn't even know about this magazine before taking a workshop with the wonderful Mexican artist Geninne, hosted by the amazing Canadian duo who own Bookhou in Toronto this past summer. I heard participants talking about it and then saw mentions of it on Geninne's blog. I particularly love the fact that it is produced in Canada. I put Uppercase on my Christmas list and was lucky enough that my lovely daughters subscribed to it for me.

Giveaway Winner

The winner of my Pink Heart giveaway is Rebekka Seale.  If you don't know her already, you can look at her beautifully written blog here and her lovely artwork here.

Rebekka, please contact me (kathleenmaunder at gmail.com) and provide me with your mailing address.

Thanks to everyone who participated. Your comments were so appreciated.

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I've enabled a different kind of comment formatting. Now I can reply directly under each comment.  It's a new feature on Blogger so it may have some bugs. I've noticed that the times noted beside the comments are wrong even though my time/date settings are correct. If anyone has any other trouble with them, maybe you can let me know. Hopefully, they will work the bugs out in the near future.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Pink Heart Giveaway (Closed)

I am so excited about my Pink Heart print.  I have just added it to my Etsy shop.  I wasn't sure if my first attempt was a fluke, but I now have been able to print several times successfully on the handmade Saint-Armand watercolour paper.  It takes time and care feeding it through the printer because of its thickness and the deckle edges but the results are absolutely amazing.   I cannot stop staring at these prints. They really look like original watercolours.

Because it is handmade paper, it means that each print is a slightly different, one-of-a-kind work of art.  I wish you could feel the paper.  It is thick, soft, luxurious and has a beautiful grain.  There are four deckle edges.  It is exquisite paper and is made right here in Montreal by the Saint-Armand paper mill.  Do I sound excited?

I have painted on Saint-Armand paper before, but it wasn't until this past weekend that I thought of trying to print on it.

Anyone who has followed my blog for a while knows that I have had an up and down relationship with my printer.  Well today I am a happy woman and I wanted to share the love by giving away one Pink Heart print (the exact one in the top photo).  It measures approximately 6 3/4 x 4 3/4 inches.  I will initial it on the front and then sign and date it on the back.

All you need to do is to leave a comment on this blog post.  I will close comments at 1:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday, January 18, 2012.  I will announce the winner on Wednesday evening.  Thanks so much to everyone for all of your ongoing support. It means so much to me.

I am not responding to each comment the way I normally do as it will be easier for me to do the draw if my comments aren't mixing up the numerical order. I just want everyone to know that I am reading them all and appreciate them so much!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Frosting & Hearts

We have snow and sunshine here today.  What a lovely combination.  Everything looks like it's covered in frosting.

Snowboy
Snowcake
I am having fun experimenting with my printer.  I never thought I'd see the day that I would use the words 'fun' and my 'printer' in the same sentence. :) I'm adding prints to my Etsy shop as I complete them. I added 'Loveknot' this week and will add others in the days ahead.

Loveknot (5 x 7 print on Velvet Fine Art Paper)
The image below isn't in my shop yet but will be soon.  It's called Pink Heart.  I did the original painting many years ago.  This image was one of my most popular images when I was running my Florescence card company fulltime. (My cards used to be carried in stores across North America.) I am completely sold out of the 5 x 7 Pink Heart cards but still have some gift cards that I hope to add to my Etsy shop along with some frameable prints of the image.  Yesterday, I tried printing the Pink Heart on several kinds of real watercolour paper and was blown away by the results. In my hand are two prints:  one on Fabriano paper (bottom) and the other on handmade Saint-Armand paper (top).

I know they are prints but, looking at them, I have trouble believing they are not my original painting. I'll do a bit more experimenting before choosing which version goes into my shop.

The Pink Heart image also has an interesting history.  It was once copied by a big U.S. company. They picked up samples of my cards at the New York Stationery Show where I had a booth. Then they 'created' their own version by changing the details slightly.  They admitted to it when I challenged them on it. They did pay to use some of my other images on their merchandise.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Living With Danger

We had snow overnight but we are now in the middle of freezing rain--a good reason to stay inside even if it wasn't Friday the 13th.  The task I've assigned myself this morning is to clear the stairway to my loft studio.  My 'Entrée des artistes' is a little bit 'dangereuse'.

It has a collection of mailing paraphernalia, frames, printing materials and art supplies.  Let's see. What else can we see in my photo?  A beautiful teatowel from Bookhou that was far too pretty to put anywhere other than on a wall. (I will have to show you my lovely Bookhou collection some day.)  Dogs toys on their way to my sewing machine in the loft to be repaired. And, oh yes, a Magic 8 Ball because you just never know when you might need to ask a question.

O, wondrous Magic 8 Ball, should I clear the stairway to my loft today?

Oh no, this can't be good. The Magic 8 Ball seems to be broken.  I can't even see its answer. On Friday the 13th.  I might need to go back to bed.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Paint Splatter & Mind Over Matter

Do you know those television programs where designers paint walls while dressed in fancy, pristine clothes? Well, that's not me.  I have spent the past three days painting my eldest daughter Emma's room and have been pretty much covered in paint from head to toe. Witness my paint-splattered Toms' shoes.  (I used a pair of old ones with holes in the toes. Do I have particularly pointy toes or does that happen to everyone? :)

Emma's room was previously a deep aqua colour which suited her perfectly six years ago. Now at sixteen, she has her own grownup taste. She chose a pale, elegant green.  It's called 'lime sorbet' on the paint chip but Emma says that it makes her feel like she's inside of a cucumber (a good thing, by the way).  The room is completely painted as of the end of yesterday afternoon but is not yet 'photo ready'.  I will let you have a peek in a few weeks once she has everything the way she wants.

A quick painting of cucumber slices to celebrate finishing Emma's room!
I wanted to share a story and have asked Emma's permission to tell you.  As I was about to paint the frame of her doorway, I noticed that she had been using it as a height chart. I asked, 'Are you okay with me covering this up?' As I spoke, I looked up and several inches above the last pencil mark and well above the top of my head was a line with the word 'Goal'.  I grinned and asked, 'What's this?'  She said, 'Yeah, that was my goal but I don't think I'm going to make it. I think Chloé is going to be taller than me.' That's my quirky, lovable Emma. Setting a height goal. Mind over matter. And why not?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Isn't She Lovely?

Before Christmas my sister Nancy, who usually spends her time making beautiful jewellery, made the sweetest mouse for my Mom as part of our family's rainbow project. Isn't she adorable? (My sister too.) Mouse is knitting a rainbow scarf. Nancy talks about it on her blog here. I can only look wistfully at something like this as I didn't inherit the knitting gene in our family.

It is an odd day when I am not wearing something that Nancy made.  I wore these gorgeous jonquil vintage glass earrings through much of the holidays.

This is another pair I wear very often.  They are quite small and delicate and go with so many of my clothes, plus, as I've mentioned here before, I have a thing for hearts.

When I was visiting her over the holidays, she made me a pair of these ones as a gift (lucky me!) and I've worn them all this past week!

I own a lot of earrings and necklaces made by Nancy. I actually try not to look at her Etsy store too, too often or I would buy something each time!  I like making things out of wood and one of the projects I have had in my head for a long time is to make a big storage tray for my earrings that can fit in my dresser drawer. Maybe this year I will finally do it. :)


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Arabesque Painting in Progress

I am painting large swatches of colour these days. You know those things called walls?  Meanwhile I have visions of my own paintings swirling in my head.

This morning I woke up far too early for a Saturday morning--at 5:00 a.m. (Trust me, it was not on purpose.) But that early rise made it possible for me to go quietly to my loft and start a painting.

I told you that I was stuck on the image of the tree that looked like a ballet dancer. That is the image that I have decided to paint.  I was inspired by the recent paintings of my friend Lucile and chose coloured paper (Canson Mi-Teintes Pastel paper). I have used a combination of gouache and watercolour.  This is a real departure for me--choosing a coloured background, using gouache.  What is happening to me? The new year is clearly shaking things up in my head and that is good.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Arabesque

I am reposting a photo I included a couple of blog posts ago as I cannot stop staring at it!  I just think it is extraordinary sometimes the shapes and forms we find in nature.  This tree trunk to me has human form.  I think of a ballet dancer doing a beautiful arabesque.  Nature as choreographer.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Paintings As Gifts

In December, I worked on two paintings that I couldn't show you previously because they were Christmas gifts.

I did one painting for a very dear friend who moved to a new house this past summer. I painted her former home complete with her sweet cat sitting on the front porch.  She spent many years in this house raising her three great kids. I can say that because I know them. :) (In case you are worrying, her cat was not left behind. He sits on the front porch of the new house now.)

The second painting I did was of my parents' Golden Retriever named Ginger.  If you have been following my blog, you will know that Ginger was a sweet girl who died in December at the age of 12.  I held my breath through most of the painting process as it was so important to me that it really look like Ginger.   I have never done a watercolour painting of a dog before.

Both gifts were very much appreciated but I made everyone cry which I didn't intend, although I knew that I had chosen subjects with emotional weight. I know that they were all touched and I told my friend and my parents that I wouldn't be hurt at all if they put their gifts away for a while.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Back at Home

Four different houses in one week
Two provinces
Four different towns & cities
The above two photos were taken in the Muskoka region of Ontario, Canada
Areas with snow and others with very little
Mild days and freezing cold days
Approximately 1,350 kilometers (838 miles) driven
Countless plates of delicious food, glasses of wine and Christmas baked goods
20 family members hugged
3 dogs patted

We are happy to have celebrated with everyone
But also happy to be home
Even the dogs are tired :)
My sister's dog Mabel
My brother's dog Marlowe
Meeko loved visiting and caused as much mischief as possible but is now
happily asleep in his favourite spot on our sofa
We will leave our tree and decorations up a few more days
We barely see them during the holidays

My routine will become more normal in the days ahead
My daughters go back to school on the 10th
I can't wait to start painting again

I hope you all had wonderful holidays
and I wish you the very best in the new year.

(The top photo was taken by my niece Katie, 
the others by myself and my daughters Chloé and Emma)


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