Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Garden Tour


The bouquet above is not from my garden. It was bought as Easter decor for the house. Happy Easter, friends! I love the combination of the tulips and freesia. So pretty and the freesia is wonderfully fragrant.

I am excited to report that there are things happening outside! This year's slow, slow spring has arrived here in Montreal. It was only a few days ago that we had our last snowfall (Wednesday to be precise) but it melted quickly and my garden is finally coming to life.

Come on a little Easter garden tour with me.

These are all crocuses, but I also have scilla and botanical tulips blooming. Also one solitary, lonely dwarf iris. In the days ahead, they will be joined by daffodils, tulips, snowdrops, spanish bluebells and grape hyacinths. Oh, and I can't wait to see the leaves open on the trees.

I dug up some crocuses this past week just before the snowfall and did a little painting of them.

I love my garden throughout the year but spring makes my heart race. I hope the world is blooming around you.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Possibilities

So by the time my breakfast ended up in my lap the second time this morning, I decided I needed to plan my day v-e-r-y carefully! I didn't sleep well last night and my lack of coordination showed it, so it didn't seem like the right day to continue working on my latest painting. I am putting the finishing touches on my woodpecker feather painting. Click the link here to see a photo of what it looked like at the end of the day yesterday. It is so close to being finished.

I had an order to mail this morning and then I decided I would take advantage of the beautiful light today and retake some photos for my Etsy shop. The beauty of digital photography is you get to see what you took right away, so I figured I would just get rid of anything that didn't turn out. This morning, I wasn't convinced that anything was going to turn out right.

A few weeks ago, I went to our local home renovation store and bought two pieces of plywood that measure four feet by two feet. I paid about $5 a piece for them. I wanted to whitewash them to use them as backdrops for my Etsy photos. Previously, I had just used an extra sheet of watercolour paper underneath anything I was photographing but I wanted something with a bit more character. I had also seen a method online of making new wood look like old barnboard and I was intrigued to try it. It occurred to me that I could do the white treatment on one side of the plywood and the aged barnboard treatment on the other. Two in one. Less to store and less to carry.  I do my photography in our dining room so need to clear away my things regularly (although probably not as frequently as my family would like).

The white sides were easy enough. With a damp brush, I painted on a thin coat of a creamy white latex paint I had on hand. The effect is nice. It still allows the grain and character of the wood to show through.

For the barnboard effect, I consulted these two sources: Snovej and The Friendly Home. Both include good information and were very helpful.

First you put some extra-fine steel wool (#OOOO) in a jar of vinegar, put the lid on it and let it sit at least overnight. This will create an oxidizing solution.

As a first coat, you 'paint' the unfinished wood with strong black tea. This lays down tannins which allow the oxidizing solution to work. Once that has dried, you 'paint' on the vinegar solution.

For the barnboard effect, I treated the back side of the plywood as it was rougher. I didn't get the weathered grey initially that's in the source blog photos. My first attempt went quite chocolate brown (a pretty colour but not what I was aiming for). I put two coats of tea on the second piece before adding the vinegar solution. It went a better colour, kind of a brown-grey, but in the end I sanded back the surface of both pieces slightly and put watered down grey latex paint on top, wiping it with a wet cloth so that it was as transparent as possible and still allowed the grey-brown tones of the tea-vinegar stain through. I really like how they turned out.

I later read that if I had diluted my vinegar solution with the same amount of water, it might have given a more grey rather than brown effect. I can try that another time. You can read that advice here. I also read that different types of wood react differently to the stain so it could be worth experimenting.

The photos I took today were all on the white wood background. I've included photos I've taken recently on the darker 'barn board' side as well. Because I made two pieces of each, I can prop up one to use as my 'wall' and use the other as the 'table'.

For a day that I wasn't expecting to turn out that well, it was pretty good. I really like the photos I took. The light was beautiful. I bought fresh flowers on my way back from the post office and they definitely helped. I am enjoying how the wood backdrops are giving me more possibilities with my photos.

Oh and did I mention that the snow is melting outside? Things are definitely looking up!


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