Friday, 13 October 2017

october pop in

Hello dear viewers. Thank you, once again, for popping in. I know it's been a while...

Not much has changed around here. Muji is still his sweet, dopey self.

Many artist/illustrators have got on board with the practice called Inktober, honing their skills with ink for the month of October. I haven't got the discipline for such a long term commitment so
I just did this quick sketch with my Pitt brush pens and Crayola coloured pencils. 

I recently bought some water soluble pastels called Gelatos. 
I've done the Lion and the Lamb many times in my past, but this time I felt compelled to do
The Tiger and the Lamb

I do have an October project I am working on. Perhaps I'll share some peeks into it next time.

peace on Earth

Thursday, 28 September 2017

last days of september

It is a dark and gloomy day ...

but Boy! Is it welcome!
It's been quite the drought these many weeks. I don't remember the last time it rained. July?
The irony is not lost on me, considering the devastation that wind and rain have brought to so many this last month while we have waited longingly for a bit of that rain. Nature, for all her beauty, well, I have my reservations.

One can't help but admire her, keeping a huge amount of respect in reserve.
Here, one evening, we pass the Agricultural Centre on our way into town. This is where I saw a fox nosing around on the lawn a few weeks ago, oblivious to the cars; a rare sighting.

New Minas is a big box town, full of little plazas and a mall. 
Since this is one of the few pictures that turned out on this balmy evening after the heat of day, I thought I'd share it, especially as the moon and the sweet light lend a beauty to almost anything.

A grand Victorian that stood on the market for quite a while
is most wonderful when it is decked out for Christmas. The rest of the time it is a little spooky as some Victorian houses are wont to be.

Little houses like this one on the main drag get bought up for business,
this one by a discreet professional.

I've been promising myself to remember to bring my camera when we go out in the evening as we see the most amazing sunsets across the wide expanse of parking lots, this one at the mall.

The primordial roar of triumph!
After Wally assembled the first wall unit, we searched for months for the dowels, bolts and brackets for the second one til Wally finally searched the hardware stores for the missing pieces, even travelling to Berwick for them. In the meantime, he stripped wallpaper, patched plaster cracks, sanded, primed and painted the room, researched the best way to preserve our vintage linoleum floor and proceeded to clean it as well.
Imagine his chagrin when he realized that he had assembled the first unit with a top part on its bottom and now had 2 bottom parts with which to assemble the second unit. Patient, dear Wally replaced one of the "tops" with a bottom on that first unit and proceeded to assemble the second unit with a proper top and bottom. Hence his out-of-character rejoicing! He holds my father's mallet that came in handy for pummelling the dowels into place.

This narrow room once was our guest room. Then it was where Wally set up oil painting. It began to fill with more and more random supplies til it was a holy mess. I measured the units, each 6 feet long to run the length of the room, but it only exaggerated its narrowness and created a corridor where a planned table is to go. It is actually an "L" where it turns to the left by the half revealed window and opens into a closet that creates the ceiling of the stair landing below. How to keep it open and welcoming, functional and cheerful, that's been the question. I'll show you what we come up with as it progresses. I have a feeling I won't love it so much as I do when it's empty.

Now we move onto my boys. Babu looking most fetching.

Muji admiring my art,

then hunkering down for a nap

Babu on another day, licking his chops after breakfast

Try to get this boy when he's not moving.

oh-oh, two little monkeys squaring off. These little tiffs don't last long and often break up with a licking session or just plain obliviousness. You know, the cat kind where "it never really happened".

Muji was feeling particularly needy this day and needed lots of cuddles.
I forget just how small he really is until I see him in context like this.

I've been pulling out my watercolours lately. This one embellished with white details with the uni-ball Signo and outlined with a fine Pitt pen in black india ink. The busyness of the washi tape border gives me a Persian miniature vibe that I really like.

Then, as often happens after I use a lot of colour, I turned to the monochromatic palette of a mechanical pencil, but ended up adding some paint pen because I can't help myself. It was interesting going over the bright pink roses in her dress with more graphite to help them recede.

And now I must continue restoring the new studio. Hopefully I'll have some pictures to share of it by next week. Til then, be well, be centred, be present for everything you do, you see, you hear.
It is the gift.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

little houses

Finally the wicked heat has lifted and the forecast promises rain though we've only had a trickle so far. Still, it makes for longer seasons here so that early autumn still has the flavour of late summer here in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia.

On Saturday, Wally and I made a trip to Wolfville again, he for kerdi-board, "waterproof building panels allow for quick and easy installation and achieve flat, level, plumb and square tile substrates" for our bathroom reno and me for cut-rate veggies.

The short cut is actually a little longer but faster as we always seem to save these trips for after lunch and many shops close early around here, very much the world of my childhood - which always reminds me of the saying, "Be careful for what you ask for because you just might get it!"

The route, however, is scenic,

with a mix of old and new, small and large country homes,

and barns

The road leads to Port Williams, a small town that has grown substantially as a suburb to Wolfville which bustles with university life. There are new subdivisions built to mimic the old. They are rather well done except for their proximity to each other, the sad lack of mature trees and of course, their newness. This oldie, was once new of course , but it was built on a substantial plot with older trees.

The mature landscaping really makes a property homey.

The long, late summer shadows that these old trees throw are fabulous.

Turning, we cross the Cornwallis River at high tide, meaning the Bay of Fundy hasn't sucked the water out from the river faster than it can flow out to sea, a fascinating phenomenon as it goes on for miles up river. These low laying farm fields are dyked to take advantage of the lovely silty earth.

Turning onto the road that leads us into Wolfville, we must first pass through Greenwich.

It has many charming Victorians still on it

and the usual assortment of 20th century homes like this cutie probably from the 1920's.

I will close here today as I have to make lunch for the working man. Wally is plumbing the bathroom, on his day off, to accommodate a laundry room next to it in the little room at the top of the stairs. A little part of me wonders how wise this is as the future comes barreling down upon us. It means I'll have to get wet clothes down the stairs so that I can hang them outside on the line. I'm jockeying for a laundry chute.

And so it goes. I hope to have a post up tomorrow with some of my latest work.

Be well, dear viewers, 
and walk in kindness

Friday, 22 September 2017

an early evening drive in the valley

Hello and welcome back, or just plain welcome to those of you who have never been to this site. It is a gorgeous day here in the Annapolis Valley after a post Hurricane Jose dreary start to this week that culminated in much needed rain on Wednesday. Wally told me that hurricanes start as thunderstorms in Africa and escalate as they move westward out to sea. The results here are generally benign though that can be a different case altogether on Nova Scotia's south shore. So far so good this year.

It has been super dry this last month. Though there is some colour change, the leaves on the trees are crispy and somewhat brown from dehydration so we're glad for a little rain. Today is the first day of Autumn and we're sure to see some change in the weather. Already the nights are cold, the days temperate, sometimes warm.

Last week we drove to Berwick to find some bits and pieces at a specialty nut and bolt shop to assemble a no longer made Ikea shelving unit that we'd like to put together alongside its twin that Wally already put together. I'm sure the package of elements will show up one day (we've looked for many months), but in the meantime we'd like to get on with it. So last Thursday, after quite a bit of paper sorting on my part and much painting and plumbing on Wally's part, we rewarded ourselves with an afternoon drive. These are my best shots from a moving car:

A big grey house in Berwick with signs of ongoing renovation on the front porch

one of many apple orchards that line the drive home

another apple orchard with old apple wood stacked

an old country home tucked back from the road

an old barn turned garage, roadside

pride of ownership, an old home, landscaped and in good repair

a humble old country house

a corner house in Waterville looking quaint and somewhat European

a maple lined drive with a tire swing hanging from an old maple out back 

the old Waterville Community Centre (I think)

evening country homestead

raised bungalow with a courtyard installation

Cambridge Baptist Church with a promise of "ham potato scallop bean supper" on September 30th

The yellow door makes it

Muji in the vestibule after breakfast. I just missed him rolling around on his back which always means he's in a good mood.

Babu has taken to exploring under the rolling laundry cart which we use for a recycling divider.
Here he does the combat crawl. There's a conch shell in the stew can where I'm softening the  periostracum outer layer to make it more presentable. I change the water every now and then; it sure smells like seawater. 

Worked and reworked, I struggled with my propensity for muted colours, trying to bring the children (cut-outs from a Tim Holtz pack) into the foreground by colouring them with pigment markers. The muted washi tape colours didn't help, nor did the outer border in Winsor & Newton pigment markers and Gold Sharpie paint pen. Eventually I blacked and smudged an ink background over the original brown coloured pencil background which helped immensely, and added the quotation from who-I-don't-know in white Sharpie pen. It says:

"Do not let your fire go out spark by spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet and the not-at-all.  Do not let the hero in your soul perish in the lonely frustration for the life you deserve and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It is real. It is possible. It is yours."

Enhancing the subject with a darker outline,
this mixed media piece is a mix of watercolour, coloured pencil, paint pen, ink, and a washi tape border. The chair is based on my 1930's pink chair in the living room.

 Another mixed media piece starting with an inked circle for the face and coloured in watercolour with a little coloured pencil on her pathway and in her hair and dress. I used some white paint pen for details. The wing of this Flower Fairy is done with triangular points of colour cut from a magazine, the border done in various washi tapes. I felt the border was encroaching too much so I used some white China marker and white paint pen to enhance the separation between the picture and the border.

Late last night I completed this circle face group of a mother and her children.
There was no black outline for this watercolour but I felt it needed the distinction once again and added it afterward in fine-lined India ink with a  Pitt pen . The little boy's hair and teddy bear are blacked with a Derwent Colorsoft pencil.

Thank you for dropping by dear viewers. 

 with conscious breath that pulls us into this moment

happy Fall Equinox