June 30, 2015

It's My Birthday

It's my birthday on July 1st. Canada Day. I have always loved having my birthday the same day as a national celebration and holiday.

Today, I was walking Meeko and thought I am going to be 48 tomorrow. It took me a few more steps to do the mental correction. No, I am going to be 58. Kind of hilarious that I lost a decade but nice that I am feeling younger than I am.

When I initially launched my internet life, I hid my age like a closely guarded secret. I felt like everyone was younger than me. That was especially the vibe, although perhaps not factual, on Etsy. I worried that people wouldn't like or value me as much if they knew how old I was.

I have made many wonderful friends over the past few years of all sorts of ages. We have connected because of mutual interests and values: a sense of humour, art, gardens, music, nature, pets, food, family, life.

Over time, I have realized that creativity is not age-related. It just is. And really, if you're counting, maybe having a few more years under your creative belt is a good thing.

Plus, the age we are is not really relevant every-day conversation, unless you are under five. The people who spend time reminding others that they are younger are not talking about achievements or values. We don't choose when we are born. That's done for us. We're all on a timeline, just at different places. It's better to spend time appreciating connections, celebrating creativity and being who we are.

The photo above was taken three years ago. I found it in my files when I was looking for photos for my new website this past month. I didn't choose it because I wanted to look three years younger. The pickings are slim when you are as camera shy as I am (!) and I just love that it captures a sweet moment between me and Meeko.

To celebrate my birthday and Canada Day, I am offering a 20% discount in my (Shopify) shop www.trowelandpaintbrush.com  on July 1st. Use the coupon BDAY2015. It expires at midnight (EST) at the end of the day on July 1st.


June 28, 2015

Saying Goodbye from a Distance

This past week, my parents moved from their lakeside home on the shores of Lake Muskoka, a special place that has been part of our family for about thirty-five years. They purchased the cottage when I was in my early twenties. In those days, I worked and lived in Toronto so I would often go there on weekends and during my summer holidays.

When my parents retired, they rebuilt the cottage into a beautiful four-season residence and moved into it on a permanent basis. Although it had changed completely from its simple beginning and use, we continued to refer to it as 'the cottage' in our family. I moved to Montreal when I was in my early thirties. The eight-hour drive from Montreal to Gravenhurst meant that visits were much less frequent but the cottage continued to be part of each summer. Emma and Chloé, now 20 and almost 16, got to know it from when they were babies.

I had really hoped to go and help my parents with their move and to say goodbye to the cottage but, by the time Chloé's final school exams were over and we could have travelled there, it was too late to be of help.

If you are on Instagram and Facebook and noticed a reduced presence on my part in the past couple of weeks, it was because I was barely looking at my feed. Every time I saw a photo posted by a family member from the cottage, I would start to cry. So I stopped looking. I'm sorry if I missed other things.

As one friend noted, not being there means that my memories of the cottage will not be of its packed-up, empty state but the way it was over the years. Among the layers of things I will remember will be swimming out to a big submerged rock with my younger sister, Karen where we could stand and dive--'our rock' we called it. I'll remember laying on the dock on my stomach with Emma and Chloé when they were little, catching minnows in a fish net, observing them and then putting them right back in the lake. I'll remember the camaraderie and group nuttiness of the cousins--Emma, Chloé, Duncan, Mac, Katie, Erica and Sydney. I'll remember the beautiful sunrises and the late-night stars. Falling asleep to the lapping sound of the lake and the occasional haunting call of a loon. Reading books sitting in the big Muskoka chairs on the dock with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.  The boat rides to get ice cream and long walks with the family dogs. I'll remember the gatherings, the chats and the laughter.

The cottage and its gentle natural surroundings have also figured frequently in my art over the past thirty-five years. I have painted many Muskoka scenes, some in oil and then, in recent years, in watercolour.

I spoke to my parents yesterday. They are in their new home in town, a place that is more suited to them now. They said that the family who bought the cottage seems to really love it so it is in good hands. I have managed to write this blog post without crying so that's progress. We will be visiting my mom and dad's new place sometime soon. As for the cottage memories, they will always be ours.

June 22, 2015

My New Website is Open!

Happy summer, friends! (And happy autumn to those on the opposite side of the seasons!) In tandem with this lovely season's beginning, I am excited to announce that my completely revamped art shop/website is open! I hope that you visit and look around. It took me three weeks to get it ready and I hope it conveys a sense of me, my art, my heart and my appreciation for all those who support my 'métier'. 

If there is something on the website that could be better (whether big or small), I would appreciate you telling me. I value your opinion.

Thank you to all those behind the scenes I asked for advice and who gave me encouragement while I was building my website. I you.

To celebrate my opening, I will be tucking extra goodies in all orders received this week on www.trowelandpaintbrush.com. (Up to June 28th.)

And, of course, I will be adding more art to my shop on an ongoing basis.

Thank you for your support and inspiration! 

❤  ❤  ❤  ❤  

June 7, 2015

Ladybugs, Gardening, HTML and Change

A ladybug with its wings spread
I feel a bit like this ladybug right now--about to spread my wings and take flight. I have been working very hard the past week on my own website. I opened a shop on Big Cartel in January. It was nice but it felt limited. I decided recently to move to Shopify. I have been able build a website there that is much more dynamic and beautiful and I can't wait to show it to you!

I am feeling positively nerdy with my newfound HTML skills. The internet is wonderful. You get stuck and a google search can help you out. Stubbornness helps. Curiosity is a motivator. For particularly puzzling problems, I turned to my two savvy daughters and a talented friend. Figuring out how to make HTML work for you is the closest thing I can think of to reading a mystery novel. The answer is there somewhere. You just have to find it.

For now, the shop links to the right will take you to a page letting you know that my website is under construction. I will post here and on Instagram and Facebook when I open it up. It will be sometime in the next few days.

I have been freshening my products listings for my new website so have been going through my very disorganized photo files this weekend (on my hard drive, memory cards and external drives). I found this fabulous photo today of a ladybug on my paint palette. It was taken two summers ago when I was painting outside at my parents' house in Muskoka. My mom and dad are in the process of moving from their year-round lakeside residence of almost twenty years (and the family cottage of about 35 years) to a new home in town. Lots of changes.

A ladybug on a watercolor paint palette
A couple of weeks ago, I took some new photos of my ladybug print. I did the original painting over 20 years ago and it is still one of my favourite watercolours. I have held on to the original. The print looks so much like it!

This gardening season, I have commited to redoing some of my product photography when the corresponding flowers are available in the garden. I love the combination of my paintings and prints with their real-life inspiration. 

Ladybugs, gardening, HTML and change. What my June is made of.

Watercolor painting of ladybug and flowers
Ladybug art print ©Kathleen Maunder (Trowel and Paintbrush)
Ladybug climbing up my gloved finger

❤  ❤  ❤  ❤  



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