Sunday, April 16, 2017

Hello, Garden. I've Been Waiting For You.

White and yellow crocuses

My garden is waking up again. Each trip outside brings intense moments of joy as I discover more plants inching their way up through the soil and bits of autumn debris, first revealing green tips and then, a few days later, the flowers with their beautiful colours. Goodbye grey and brown! The crocuses in the backyard were the first to emerge. Now they have started to bloom in the front too. There are dwarf irises and scilla too. Interesting that the tiniest flowers are the most courageous ones, daring to appear when the snow has barely melted.

I often say that 'I need my garden and my garden needs me'. This year, it could not be more true. I found this winter to be tough. Ever since the U.S. election, I've been feeling a lot of anxiety about the world. That made it hard to think that painting flowers was important when there were so many scary things going on. I got stuck for a little while. But I think I've come to terms with the fact that small things are important. Like paying attention to nature. Celebrating it. Respecting and nurturing it. Creating art. Painting flowers. Being true to myself. All of these things are valid and positive ways to contribute to the world.

I don't make a big income with my art but I have also tried the last few months to contribute, when I can, to organizations who are trying to make a difference in the world. I believe that tiny gestures do count and they are a way of being engaged in positive change.

Clump of white crocuses

Two pale yellow crocuses

Bright yellow crocuses with purple stripes

Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know that the past few weeks have been particularly stressful as my dog Meeko needed to have unexpected abdominal surgery four weeks ago, just days after his seventh birthday. What seemed like minor digestive issues initially were actually much more serious. He has been diagnosed with a chronic intestinal condition. There were some very emotional days the week of his surgery but I am happy to report that he is doing really well. With medication and a strict diet, our vet is confident that his condition can be controlled. He got his stitches out a week ago and we can now go on our walks together again. He is happy and acting like himself (once again monitoring the neighbourhood squirrels and cats). I am so glad to have my buddy by my side again.

Oh! And another bit of good news. My tea cards were featured in the May 2017 issue of Romantic Homes magazine. It's a really lovely magazine and the May issue is available on newsstands now.

 Tea Lover Note Cards by Trowel and Paintbrush

Today I picked the first garden bouquet of this year. It contains dwarf irises, crocuses and a scilla sprig. It was a way to celebrate Easter and the return of my garden. An emissary of more positive days ahead. A sweet handful of hope.

Tiny bouquet of dwarf irises, crocuses and scilla



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.




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