Thursday, 31 August 2017

and that's august

Welcome dear viewers, on this last day of August, unusually balmy with a gentle breeze and wispy clouds on this late summer afternoon. I hope you've been well and have taken time to figuratively, if not literally, stop and smell the flowers. It all goes so soon.

Wally continues to be very busy at work, and I continue my quiet days at home with the cats. They put me through the moves each morning as I will soon describe, but now they are both passed out as cats are wont to do, enjoying their naps with fresh air from the windows wafting through.

One day last week...

Muji was awake one afternoon and caught sight of something fluttering, most likely a leaf.

My pretty boy makes a pretty picture

Babu was on hand waiting his turn in the window.

On another day, Babu was "stalking" a sparrow- through the window screen.
Oblivious, the little bird  fluttered and preened on the railing after a splash in the bird bath.

This morning I caught a rare sight of my two companions sitting together.
Babu is usually the one who doesn't stay still except when he's asleep, but this morning they were waiting for "seconds" in the kitchen.

Actually, it's just Babu who wants seconds. Muji hasn't finished firsts.

This is the new routine as I try to wean Muji off of his demands for his beloved kibble before he's finished his tinned therapeutic food.

Babu has elected himself clean-up committee. 
This includes cleaning up Muji's plate before Muji has finished.

This keeps me on my toes as Babu is already a touch overweight and that tinned food is expensive.

That doesn't stop Babu from kitten mewing plaintively for my attention to his appetite.

As long as I stay on top of them (and myself for I must not soften up to their demands) things are under control.

 Muji didn't finish his breakfast this morning.

And Babu can't understand why I lifted Muji's plate.

Lots to show you, this piece is done in coloured pencils with a few dabs of white paint pen.

Experimenting with a all my different black pencils, the one that came out the darkest was,
surprisingly, my 55 year old Laurentian coloured pencil- another allusion to the better quality available in the past.

After watching some videos about printmakers, I found myself intrigued, once again, by the new retro palette in somewhat earthy pastels. I themed this picture using some animal symbols of love and did a variation on Botticelli's Venus. Sketched in grahite mechanical pencil, I went over the lines with extra fine Pitt pen, then coloured in with Jane Davenport coloured pencils, or as she calls them, "magic wands." The surround is washi tape.

It's back to school season in the stores and I found myself in front of a display of school supplies pondering the value of Crayola coloured pencils. I found a 100 pack for $12!  That's outrageous. So I bought them.  This is what I did in place of a swatch test, using as many colours in the pack as I could. I then, like a crazy woman, proceeded to colour in all the negative spaces in black Pitt pen with some coloured pencil blends down the middle. More washi tape, these are by Tim Holtz, went on the border.

Continuing to experiment with the Crayola coloured pencils I began to scribble first one...

and then a second abstract. I worked them from every which way and am pleased with the balance I found in design by doing that.

Last night I began making these little "C' shapes, again trying to use an ever-changing variety of colours from the Crayola pack.  This morning, I carried on, eventually summoning the courage to draw the rabbit in a Pitt brush pen and then continued colouring it in with the Crayola coloured pencils.

Here's a little footnote: I was surprised to see that the label on the box spelled "Coloured" with a "u". I see now that these, as well as "All Crayola Art Materials are Nontoxic". Crayola is now a Hallmark company. My pencils were made in Brazil and imported by Crayola Canada out of Lindsay, Ontario. I found this news comforting somehow... ethical comfort.

peace on earth

Friday, 25 August 2017

last friday in august

Friday from my little part of the world.

Nothing much has changed, though Wally is working like crazy organizing cars for the flight squadrons, crew and support staff who are performing at the air show in Greenwood this weekend.
Wally has free tickets but I won't join him as it truly is his thing and not mine.

a crystal and beach stones on a window sill

Muji watches me take the picture.

Then it's off to the front porch to check the mail. Yes, we still get home delivery here. Sweet.

The lilies are spent in the lily garden but the mallow keeps blooming.

Muji has been waiting for me to come in 
and then he hears Babu clunking around in the kitchen.
Could he be cleaning up?

Muji was once an outdoor cat and the world outside continues to hold great fascination for him.
He continues trying to make The Great Escape through the bathroom closet, kitchen cupboards and the basement door. Some things never change. 

This is where I left off this morning at the kitchen table.
My ancient box of Eagle Prismacolor coloured pencils is getting a good workout these days.
The Jane Davenport set lays to the left. It is also useful for its unusual colours.
I don't usually use a mechanical pencil but I've bee working on a sketch of Botticelli's Venus and finding this fine graphite easier to work with, easier to rub out with that school grade eraser that has worked amazingly well for me on the cheap paper of my little sketchbook.

a bunny sketch in Derwent Black pencil with that marvelous "light green" Prismacolor that fairly glows in the background

and that picture I showed you as a work in progress 2 days ago, now complete.
Done in coloured pencils with some fine Pitt pen outlining.
I played with a similar fantasy background in the fox picture I showed you earlier this week.
It's a fun way to fill in the background but this time I had to subdue it with sepia pencil because it competed with my main characters- hence the extra outlining as well to help bring the characters forward. I have no purpose in having them petition the cat with open bags. I call it Collecting.

The weekend is upon us. So is cooler weather. I hope yours is pleasantly spent.

in peace and presence my friends

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

windy unwinding of august

The wind picked up last night and was still going at it this morning when I ventured into the yard just as the faintest fine drops of mizzle were blowing my way.

It still gave me time to peek out from the side deck into the middle garden with its new gladiola beginning to bloom and the Ninebark having thrown out new growth taller than I. The Japanese Maple continues to thrive and you can see the height that the yellow-flowered Ligularia Dentata has gained in the garage garden.

Walking down the deck, I have already been plucking cherry tomatoes for snacks.
I walked out to straighten that free-standing twig trellis that has blown askew. Clearly we're not committed to installing them as anything but decorative. 

The bit of view we have now that the old aluminum tool shed is gone.
On Sunday, as I hung laundry,  I heard a squawking as the mated pair of pheasants
flew by in succession.

The wind tossed little maple is gaining height, at the foot of which is the honeysuckle that has stayed quite well trimmed since I pruned it in April.

I wasn't sure I'd find any peas, but must have picked a dozen.
The blossoms promise more to come.

On Sunday, as went out with the laundry, I was quite confused by the gray lump I saw in the far corner of the yard. My distance vision is poor and it took several seconds for me to realize that it was our little peach tree bowed right to the ground. I called Wally to straighten it out, amazed that its little trunk hadn't snapped.  It will soon be time for picking. 

With nowhere to put my peas, I rolled up the bottom of my shirt to make a basket and added this fine bunch of green beans.

Heading back towards the house I stop for a visit with the friendly bumblebees in the lemon thyme

It's time to do something with all this basil.

Last night I sketched out this little scene in coloured pencil. I wonder how far I'll get with it today.

The previous picture was partly inspired by the fantasy background I did for this fox,
all done in coloured pencils.

Let us be grateful and release.
Wisdom is letting go of something every day.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Babu and Muji

Well here we are on a late summer day with all the potential that comes of being alive.
It is a quiet day with the windows closed to keep the stifling humid heat out - and the cats get bored.

Babu wants to play.

This is the routine.
There are so many ways he tells me.

For a cat, he can be quite eloquent

I get a lot of arm taps,

and sometimes my cheek

He is always gentle; never claws out

and tries to tell me with meaningful looks and purrs and myow's 

what I already know

pul-leeze play with me

His sweetness charms me.

I've learned a lot from Babu.

Though he can be annoyingly catlike,
I've learned how dense I can be as his communication is usually subtle and quick,

He only amps it up when I'm not responding

I've learned to respect his intelligence, and after all, play is the way we all express our true natures.

Now Muji comes in, never one to miss some love and attention,
he gives his head a ghostly shake. 

He inspects my camera strap

a sober little guy, 

Muji doesn't have the predator instinct like Babu and I often wonder how he would ever fend for himself outdoors where he'd love to be.

He much prefers cuddling

though he is learning to bat and jump at the mouse on a string that Babu loves so well,
"copy cat"-ting Babu's behaviour.

When Babu is exceptionally bored, he plays at taking Muji down like a gazelle, 
grabbing him by the neck and forcing him to the floor

Muji, in his sweetness, tolerates this predator play from his "little" (Babu's not so little anymore) "brother" (adopted)

I've never had a more loving animal than Muji

who also taps my arm, my cheek, the top of my head

for attention and love.

I'm a big fan of Cathy Cullis ever since I discovered her work at least 7 years ago. She has a big following now.  This piece is my interpretation of her gouache Tudor women, mine done in coloured pencil on that cheap kraft paper in my sketchbook.

Then a complete switcher-oo as I'm wont to do. The idea of groundless figures came to me and I used this format for exploring more with composite subject matter and colour. All done in coloured pencils save for some white Sharpie paint pen, I used a combination of pencil brands.  I became quite smitten with my old "light green" Eagle Prismacolor, a blue turquoise that I used to outline the figures. Waxier and more lush than my modern day pencils, it quite surprised me with its longevity as the name changed in 1969 and I'm pretty sure I got them well before that.

"Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant...Making your unknown known is the important thing."
                                                                                                 Georgia O'Keefe