Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

new year

Enjoy your celebrations all.

PS. That’s not fiction, those are my old ski boots, duct-taped together for the season, and finally, finally, finally I got myself a brand spanking new pair.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Scaling Up, from very tiny to…


Something bigger.

I’ve been doing my 365 Art Card Project for many months now.  Each card, is a little artwork in it’s own right (or a practice, experiment, therapy or any and all of the above). Some of them become the body of my Itty Bitty Little Books. When I want to work out a new painting now, I use the art cards also. Unlike rough sketches and thumbnails, the fact that I consider these little guys a  finished product makes me work at the details in a serious way. But often, I just do them. Just like that, no agenda, just to see what will happen. Like the one below, done with mechanical pencil on Yupo. Which I keep going back to, looking at, thinking, hmmmm… what about a larger mixed media. I decided the fine lines would scale up nicely to 18”x24” which, for me, is REALLY REALLY BIG.  But it will give me plenty of room for line and texture and colour in and amongst the negative space. I decided, since I really felt the atc was successful, to use technology to scale up, and printed it onto 4 pages, reconstructed with cello tape, and trace onto a graphite transfer sheet (8x10 paper, thoroughly coated in pencil, by hand). I had all the tools laid out for this photograph, but by the time I fetched my camera, Dynamo had inserted herself into the picture.  So instead of moving her, I snapped away, then worked around her to do the tracing. This project should take awhile, and I will pick away at it between printmaking and watercolour and Itty Books and 365 Art Cards, and now I’m getting a head ache. No wonder I feel stressed for time.

But I thought it about time I took of the brakes and just go….I mean the atc size has really done that for me already on a tiny scale, but sometimes you just need more room.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Walking at Night

November, December, January. These are dark times for Canadians, darker still for those who live further north than I do, and dark enough for me here in the bottom end of the sock of southern Ontario. Daylight hours are numbered, and seem darker still when in November we set our clocks back an hour resulting in even less available sunlight for anyone on a regular work day schedule. Sundown happens sometime around five o’clock, so there’s not much of it left for a pre-supper walk, and given that the season is also notorious for heavy overcast skies (not to mention rain in November hopefully snow by December) darkness falls fast.
It has it’s perks. Darkness, like snow transforms the familiar into something else entirely. How you interpret this depends on you and the weather.  It’s hard to get a good cozy feeling out in the woods on a moonless overcast night. Try it sometime, by yourself; if you think a dog helps, go for it. Just see how you feel when that dog starts looking nervously over her hairy should every half minute or so.
On the other hand, there really is nothing better than walking at night under the light of the moon, add in some snow and it’s easy to believe in elves and fairies, or whatever else strikes your fancy.
Or, you can just open your eyes and be in the world as it is and see that even in darkness the forest lives and breaths and glows with life, more than you will ever know.
Images: All 2.5”x3.5” cards, recycled (that means chopped up bits of aborted watercolours) paper, ink and watercolour pencils.  Top image inspired by the golden November tamaracks that fooled me into thinking the sun was still shining after sundown. The second inspired by a very dark session on an overcast moonless nights (not so much fun at all). Last, a beautiful full moon night with a gauzy overcast halo effect, and yes, there actually is a big rock in the Hollidge Tract. These are from my 365 Art Card Project.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Yes, there really is a Santa Claus


‘Tis the Season for giving; and I haven’t even begun. Instead, I’m the recipient. I think my jaw fell to the pavement when the mail lady delivered this to my door, and I’m still experiencing the joyful sensation of shock and awe of being spoiled from afar. Just look at all this stuff! Stacks of Art Calendar, a business magazine for artists, 3 reference books on figure drawing. A big glossy book on monotype printmaking, a video on printmaking (and yes I do still own a vcr to view it on), coloured pencils, watercolour pencils, magazines with articles on framing art, cat poetry and art, and a beautiful cloth bound blank sketchbook. Sorry if I sound like a kid at Christmas who was just visited by Santa Claus, but really, my Santa came through early.  And who but Santa could possibly know me so well as to send me such perfect and timely selection?

I was not expecting this, really not expecting this. All this bounty was sent through the mail from a fellow printmaker in the states, one of those I refer to as ‘anonymous donor’ (there are a few). Last year it was a big box of coloured printers ink, a gift that changed the course of my art in a large and permanent way (re: my VERY colourful gelatin prints). And this year, well, just look. Wow! I have a lot of reading to do. I already know it’s time to work on a portfolio, as per instructions in Art Calendar, and, well more…

Sorry for blathering on, but all I can say is that this packet arrived on a day when I was feeling particularly out of sorts and it really, really, changed the course of my day.

Well, now…I think I had better start working on this years Christmas card design. The snow is falling fast and thick, and time is rushing by. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Not Just a Walk in the Park


Hoover Park Drive, Stouffville: watercolour and graphite, 10”x 8”.

There is so much that remains untold in a landscape. Those pretty pictures of pristine forest, not  a human in sight, and I’m guilty as charged. There is so much untold in my personal story, much that I will not say. It’s lovely to present all the beauty of the forest, of stretches of woodland that thrive in the area, and I probably (and quite wilfully) present myself as surrounded continually by woodlands, a modern day Grey Owl. But like him, it’s a bit of a lie. I don’t, for instance, discuss my part-time job that takes place in the industrial bowels of Markham. The less said about that, the better, I say, but the experiences I have there are always lurking in the background. I do my best to hide them from public viewing.

And art is often like that, especially what I call living room art, the type of art that is easy on the eye, and fits in with the decor. We edit out the unsightly details, for aesthetics, we say. Because the parked car, the discarded cup, the power lines, etc. interrupt the composition, or flow, or colour scheme. The excuses are legion, but sometimes truth must be told.

There is so much of life that seems so devoid of meaning that it feels unmentionable. The mundanity of shopping, for instance. Every Saturday, or Sunday, I go shopping; how cliché. I drive down to downtown Stouffville (yes, there is such a thing), and head along Hoover Park Drive to the local Walmart (and one should never admit to shopping at Walmart, And it’s a pretty sad drive as one cruises along extra wide suburban streets, brand new yet oblivious to the looming crisis of our car culture, and the cookie cutter houses clustered around the big box stores with parking lots so vast I often park twice in one shopping session.  And along the way, a tiny beleaguered mini-forest, a last straggling stand of trees left untouched by voracious development, with a token plantation or ‘ornament’ trees, the tamaracks.  Behind the trees, there is turned earth, stripped bare awaiting more the back hoes and pile drivers for some industrial ‘park’. To the fore, a river of concrete and combustion engines and of course I’m there, driving one too. We are all complicit.

What I wonder is, what does all this do our collective souls as we cut ourselves off from nature, which could better be described as ‘the way things work’, as a forest is alive with life AND death, while concrete is a sterile space that denies everything. And even while I’m walking in the woods my view of the forest is always at a distance, comfortable or otherwise, as I am only a tourist there, not a denizen.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sunshine after Dusk

Darkness falls early in November, and I find myself in the woods after sunset, when the colours are leeched from the land, and all is shades of grey, followed by formless darkness.
Looking up, just after sundown, I see gold in the tree tops. I'm mystified and mesmerized. How does the sun, which has dipped below the horizon reach the tops of the trees?
Looking up, I invent theories of reflection and refraction, sundogs and high altitude ice particles, anything to explain the strange phenomena of sunlight shining high in the trees after sundown. The moon is up, cold and white. Could it be moonlight?
I finish my walk, in darkness. Both the ordinary kind and the knowledge kind, my question remains unanswered.
On the weekend, I recall the tamaracks that grow in the forest. They flourish in a plantation in the North Tract, York Regional Forest. I don't often walk the North Tract; it is a relatively 'new' forest, and too much of it covered by obvious row-planted trees. It has life, but lacks aesthetics, but this is the place to go if you wish to see the autumn glory of the tamarack.  I thought of it a little late, spending all October visiting Uxbridge's Glen Major Tract and enjoying the colours of the mixed maple woodlands. It's late in the season and it may be too late, but suddenly it all seems very urgent.
I drag my husband along. He his willing to the adventure, but time is limited, as he has tickets for the evening. I promise him a direct route through the woods, as I know exactly where that stand of tamarack lies.  And while this is true, I quickly realize that I don't know the path. I make choices that begin in the right direction and veer repeatedly away from the destination. This happens with each path I take, and while there are plenty of side trails leading away from my destination, none seem willing to take me there. I realize the origin of the enchanted forest archetype, and the living trees that move and reshape the trails to entangle visitors and leave them lost and wandering forever.
Well, it's not quite that bad, afterall, I am here, returned to write this post. Eventually, I found a trail the cut in the right direction, and quickly veered away again, and another trail, the cut in the right direction and then meandered dog style in a convoluted serpentine that eventually led us directly beneath a stately tamarack, still brilliant shining gold.
Looking up, my husband (not known for poetic flights of fancy) said, "It's just like sunshine". Looking up I thought so too.

The next time I walked in the woods after dusk, I looked up and saw the golden tops of trees shining amidst the gloom and finally made the connection.  The 'sunlight' I perceived in the tree tops was nothing more nor less then the autumn gold of the tamaracks still gleaming in the dusk.

I haven't been able to get the tamaracks out of my mind since, and so far am working on my third painting of tamaracks.

And as a brief synopsys of our adventure, we didn't get out of the woods quite on time, had hustle, really hustle back to the car, but my husband was so thrilled the phenomenon of the tamaracks that he didn't mind at all.

Watercolours are 9"x12"; I have a new batch of masking frisket, and have put it to good use. I don't think I want to be without it again.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

More on Gelatin Printmaking

It’s been awhile, as I found that during the summer, my gelatin plates were disintegrating in the most disgusting way far to quickly (they go mouldy).  For those of you who don’t already know, gelatin printing involves cooking up a batch of gelatin, pouring into a mould, letting it set (usually overnight) and the next day rolling ink onto it with a brayer.  The method itself ensures that each impression is unique, discarding the need for ‘editions’.
I use two plates for my printing, one a large slab of 9”x12”, and a second small square of 5”x5”. For the print above, I began by rolling out yellow onto the large plate, then presssed my relief linocuts onto the surface for texture, and then lay my paper on top and gently rub by hand. The process gets repeated many times (overprinting) as I change colours. I also used the small plate as a ‘stamp pad’. I ink the small plate, then lay the linocut onto the slab to ink it up, and then ‘stamp’ onto the large plate.  It has a distinctive ‘bubbly’ and translucent quality. The finally layer in two shades of blue is inked the traditional way by apply ink directly to the linoleum with a brayer which adds an opaque top layer.
I never know where I’m going with these, I only know when I’m done (if I’m lucky).  If I’m unlucky, I’ll add one layer too many and kill the whole thing. I usual work several sheets at a time and watch them as they each develop into unique works of art. Usually, I spend a certain amount of time ‘listening’ the work as it progresses as I decide on what the next layer should be.  Out of all my artwork, I’d have to call the gelatin prints the most serendipitous but also enjoyable. Like walking into an unknown maze, I never know where I’ll end up, but eventually I get to somewhere interesting.
Here’s an example of one I need to ‘listen’ too. It may be finished, but a little low contrast. The red top lay is achieved using the second small plate to ink up. Below, two details so that you can see the ‘bubbly and translucent’ texture this extra step give. After scanning and blogging this one, I’m thinking the image is finished but it took me a few days to come to this conclusion.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mess coalescing into some semblance of order.

An Update from my 365 Artcard Project.
I’ve been at this since (some undefined time), but suffice to say, at one point in time, there were none, then some, now many and it’s only just begun. Since ‘whenever’ I’ve kept close at hand tiny 2.5” x 3.5” pieces of paper, often recycled from failed artworks (sweet revenge). At night before bed (while in bed, btw), while visiting (before guitar) and while in the car waiting  for doors to open, I work on these small works of art.
I named it the 365 Artcard Project, a name nondescript enough to leave the field wide open to experiment and explore all sorts of avenues. A project to plenty of room for discovery.  Because I didn’t want to set myself up for failure or impose limits, I never pledged to do one per day. Instead, I do as many as often as I can; days go by without progress followed by spurts of multiples.  While I do keep most, as even the worst of them can reveal germs of ideas and threads to riff off of, I do allow myself to discard, reuse or destroy those I wish to disappear.
After many months I have a huge amount, and nope, I’m not counting them. I’d rather just watch the pile grow.  Threads and themes emerge as I sift through the pile and I sort them, more or less, accordingly. Dropped months previous are pulled forward into my mind, and abandoned ideas seen with fresh eyes.
Above is their home; looks like an expanded wing should be on order. The piles are loosely sorted by their apparent themes.
By the Sea
Faces, etc…
Actually, I’ve put a bunch up in Picasso photo album.  You’re welcome to rummage through. The singles featured in the album are all from the first month when I ambitiously intended to scan and post each one individually (quickly abandoned because it would leave no time for art!).  At the time, I was trying anything and everything, but styles and methods developed from those scattered beginnings and now coalesce into some semblance of order. 
This is my idea factory, you can peak at more here:

Friday, November 12, 2010

Finding the Line


If you follow this blog, you already know that I paint in water colour, off and on, but I have to admit, that often enough they don’t feel like ‘my’ paintings (the more realistic the less I like them).  Lately, I’ve had another ‘bout’ of continuous watercolours, as I was feeling rusty, I just kept at it, over and over again (some get recycled into my artcard project so you won’t see them here).  I have always been fascinated by wet in wet wash technique but it’s very difficult to control and I’m very frugal meaning I don’t experiment enough. 

So in the past, I’ve felt a real disconnect between styles of my watercolours (most of them, not all) and my other works of art.  But this one is really mine.

I love lines, lines of all kinds, and this is the major reason I love coloured pencils as one can compose full colour paintings made up entirely of lines. What, then, am I doing in watercolours? I suppose it was somewhat of matter of faith that things would come around if I keep hammering away at it.  And yes, sometimes art (or a lot of times) art feels just like that, kind of like jogging while wearing a 50lb backpack in order to learn how to fly.

Top Image: Exotics: from Uxbridges Glen Major Tract, top of the hill, reclaimed gravel pit area.


Above: Staghorn Sumac (this one is the 3rd try, the two previous are have been sliced up into  future 2.5’x3.5’ art cards for my 365 Art Card Project, yep, I’m THAT frugal. (and I’ll be blogging about that later, but you can see the pics on Picassa now)

Below: Maple Line, more from Uxbridge Glen Major Tract.  Fall colours were astounding in the soft damp weather of October.


These are not on Etsy yet, but others that have not been blogged are.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


I’ve been working through a number of watercolours since my return from holidays. Some of them you have seen, some of them you will see, and others will never be seen except by me. I’ve worked in watercolour on and off, most often when I want to work with photo reference, and I’ve always been very careful as mistakes are, for the most part, indelible. I consider it a good medium for discipline in this regard, but much of what I’ve done in the past was more or less ‘realism’ which is not my style. I suppose I felt a need to ‘go there’, perhaps to prove a point, and it was also a ‘safe’ direction to go while learning. Well, I’m still learning  (and hope that process never stops) and this week I needed to abandon my masking frisket as it became all but unusable. With that crutch out of reach (but on my shopping list, I like the stuff) I felt free to just load up the page with colour and see what happens. It helps that there was a scene in my head that never had been translated into a photograph, and here it is. Fall Fantasy, inspired by South Glen Major Tract, Uxbridge, during peak colours in October. 
I’m still scratching my brain out trying to come up with my next mixed media/coloured pencil project. I have not a clue what I want to settle down with for a few weeks of time. In the meantime, there’ll be plenty of water colour.
Fall Fantasy is available on Etsy.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Some of my favourite fungi are slime.  Introducing the red raspberry slime, aka tubifera ferruginosa.  This little creeper was found in the Hollidge Tract, York Regional forest, and yes, the slime moulds are capable of movement, defying the definition of animal vs vegetable. They are also shape shifters, here appearing as its name sake, but over time will change to a darker colour, and from this tasty looking cluster will turn tubular and cigarlike.
Below is an unidentified white slime.  From a distance, it looks like frost formation on wood. Since it was well above zero when I found it, I knew it had to yet another slime mould. If anyone can identify it, I would be happy to hear it. It might be tapioca slime, brefeldia maxima.  Shapeshifters that they are, I can’t be sure.
When you’re walking in the woods, never forget to look down, and not just for reasons of safety. There’s a wonderful world down there, if you take the time to observe closely.
More on mushrooms here: The Mushroom Pages
PS. New watercolours are up at Kaslkaos Etsy store. I’ll blog about some of them later.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

More Life Drawing

Maybe I should call it adventures in colour. Most folks sketch in black charcoal, grey pencil, or conte, although I’ve seen my habits spreading to my neighbours.  Somehow, applying colour to the blank page just does something beyond the black. The colours speak to me and on I go. Sometimes I select colours to go with a pose, other times on a whim. I did find using the bright red quite exciting, and it may end up becoming my default colour for quick monochrome sketches.  Here, I had somewhat more time, and indulged in two, and three colours respectively. The lower is on grey Stonehenge paper, the upper on white. As these did not fit my scanner, I did my best with photographs. Scans always work out better, but the 9x12 bed is a little limiting.
Now I’m asking, any fellow artists that engage in life drawing. What is on your mind while you draw? Sublime thoughts, deep philosophy, food?  Taking note of my thoughts; here’s a snippet of mine.
Nice pose/and or challenging/or boring, etc.
Wow, this one inspires.
Did I finish my coffee already? Maybe there’s a drop left over, lets check (tips mug all the way back and sighs in disappointment)
I’m hungry.
Which snack shall I eat when I get home, cheese? Baloney? A sandwich, no, it’s too late for a sandwich. Maybe a pickle, straight from the jar…
What time is it? I’m tired. Oh jeepers, an hour to go (yawn), I hope I can stay awake for this (yawn). I hope the model doesn’t take all this yawning personally (yawn).
OMG, I’m drawing a sausage (when the sketching goes south)/or WOW! This one rocks! (sometimes on the same night, but usually I have off nights followed by on nights). Also noticed that the more ‘off’ the night, the more yawning and food thoughts go on. Not sure of the relationship though; tired and hungry and therefore off or having trouble with a pose and seeking distraction?
So how about you? When creating art, is your brain sublime or banal or wandering about like rabbit?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hors D'oeuvres will be served…


Gargantua River, Lake Superior Provincial Park. Mixed media: coloured pencil, watercolour, acrylic and fine sand. 15”x15”, 23”x23” matted and framed.

Hors d'oeuvres will be served, and what better excuse can you find to get yourself out to a gallery to view some art. (Gosh, I had to look up the spelling for that one. Even the invite didn’t get it right and don’t ask me to pronounce it as I’m not normally part of the wine and cheese set.) 

I am pleased to announce that Gargantua River, Lake Superior Provincial Park is selected to appear in the juried art show, Where They Are Now, OCADU Alumni Association, “Opening reception will be Friday November 12th from 6:00pm - 9:00pm with complementary wine and o'horderves. All are welcome.” Art Square Gallery Cafe, 334 Dundas Street West, Toronto.

I’ll be there, probably showing up hungry as the proverbial starving artist; you can too.

And here’s the original blog post when I had just completed the artwork.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Nature’s Calling

Morning on the Magnetawan, 8x10 watercolour (available at Etsy).
I have friends that live in the woods, literally. They inhabit a small cottage on the Magnetawan River, a property which is now nestled well within the boundaries of Magnetawan Provincial Park. They live a lifestyle that is a strange contrast in luxury and austerity. For instance, they watch opera nightly on their flat screen tv, they read classic literature to one another within the comfort of their lakeside gazebo, but, lacking plumbing, they must venture into the great outdoors for each and every call of nature be it during the warmth of the day, or depths of a cold winter night. When I visit them, as I did this Thanksgiving, I share the lifestyle for a few brief days.
During the day, the visits to the, um, gravity operated facilities, are not a bad thing. If you leave the door open, live entertainment is provided in the form of tame chickadees that converge on nearby saplings. And while it takes no small degree of multitasking, one can reach into a handy can of birdfeed, and share a moment with these little friends. The phrase, “must feed the birds” of course has a whole new meaning at their house.
At other times, of course, this ‘call to nature’ may be less than pleasant, but there are compensations, being called forth to venture out beneath starry skies for instance, or on my last visit, forced out of bed far too early, I was so privileged to bear witness to a beautiful sunrise.  Upon seeing that their was a thick morning mist that suffused the sky with a pink glow, I grabbed my camera detoured down to the dock, knowing that such moments are brief, ephemeral and not to be missed. So there I stood, sleepy, yawning, chilled and crossing my legs rather tightly so that I could make proper homage to the rising sun, delaying the most necessary tasks for as long as possible.
All well worth it, and worth noting that even the most banal of moments can lead to the sublime.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Peat Mountain—Lake Superior Provincial Park


Peat Mountain—Lake Superior Provincial Park, 8x10 watercolour, looking easterly from the peak.

I tried to figure out the elevation gain, but I’m absolutely hopeless at it. If you like maps and want to figure it out for yourself, map below.


But let’s put it this way. You begin at Rabbit Blanket Lake Campground, just off of HWY 17, and you start walking up, and then up some more, and then more up. Then, just as you think you are peaking the edge of a vast ridge, you begin walking down again, and then up, and up and more up, and once again, just as you think you are about to be led to a breathtaking view, you have to walk up some more. Well, eventually, you do get to the top. This is a day hiking trail, perfectly doable for ordinary folks in reasonable shape—maybe you’ll need to take a breather or two on the way up and make sure you have 3 or 4 hours (which will include enjoying the views, and stopping for lunch). Maybe you’ll need to eat an energy bar or a handful of peanuts when you get to the summit, but that’s really about the worst of it. The scenery on the way up, is, of course, gloriously deep and shadowed deciduous woodlands, heavy on maple, and by mid-September, usually colouring up nicely. It smells like nirvana—something about the odour of freshly fallen autumn leaves. And when you do reach the top, the views are magnificent. One vista lets you glimpse the North Shore of Lake Superior as a deep blue line on the horizon, but mostly you see the endless undulation of high granite hills. If it’s overcast, you may find yourself right inside the clouds, which is a little disappointing if you came for the view, but this year we hiked under glorious blue skies and enjoyed the fall colours at their best. The painted view is looking eastwards across the wetlands leading to Peat Lake.

This one’s available for sale (unframed) at etsy. Peat Mountain. Sealey’s Lake is also now listed.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Quickies in Red—Life Drawing


1 & 2 are 1 minute poses, the last one is a 10 minute pose. I finished it rather quick and as I have trouble drawing this models face I thought it was time to practice a portrait. I love colour. I swear, had I chosen the black my drawings would just not have been the same. I choose a bright red prismacolor pencil sticks for the warm-us (quickies). The stick is shaped just like a conte crayon but much less messy. I hate smudging and blending (even on purpose) in my work, and really like the wax pencils as the line stays exactly where I put it, even if my hand slips. Given the speed of the process, and the fact that I don’t erase lines, you can get a pretty good idea of how I build up a drawing from initial sweeping lines for the general form, more added for the substance of the body, and then shading and or dark line definitions once I feel I ‘know’ where things are. (ps. cropping due to scanner size, they all have feet and heads).

So in other news…I finally knuckled down and committed to forking over continuous $$$ to the local cable company in the interest of connectivity. I am no longer on dial-up. Hopefully I will be more sociable with you. I can check out your blogs, follow links and make comments in reasonable time frames. I’m hoping this will free up time for more blog posts. I qualify the latter, as scanning and writing takes up an enormous amount of time all on it’s own. Already, I enjoyed a glorious internet free Saturday morning (I used to spend up to 2 hours using their wifi connections) and instead, finished off the shopping chores so that Sunday could be devoted to hiking in the woods, playing guitar and a bit of gardening.

As for the cable hook-up, yikes, it was an absolute ordeal. Poor Victor (technician) spent hours, literally, fishing lines through our rickety house and replacing old inadequate cable lines outdoors. He has a place in my heart as he also was very impressed with my art (aw, gee shucks, blush). The modem was flaky and he had to return to replace it on Sunday, wherein he was greeted by me practicing guitar. More compliments, (aw, gee shucks, blush).

In other news (and I’ll be crowing about it more later). My submission to the Where They Are Now art show with (OCAD alumni) has been accepted. It’s the image on my art for sale page (the river and fish) if you want a preview.

Enough said for now. I need to paint.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010



If you were looking at this scene, you would be trespassing. The land itself has been up for sale for more years that I can remember (it predates my moving into the Musselman’s Lake community). Left fallow, it becomes more beautiful with the passing years as the forest grows and encroaches on the field areas, and the fields, especially now in the autumn glows with blossoms of goldenrod and asters.

This is where my husband walks the dog; I mostly avoid it due to the dirt bike and atv traffic (this year, thank fully curtailed by frequent police presence (Yay!)) I always view this place with a level of sadness, a fragile landscape that with the stroke of a pen could be bulldozed into oblivion at any moment. Oh well, I suppose I should just appreciate what is, as all things end sooner or later and trespass…

8”x10” Watercolour, Arches Cold-Pressed paper. Colours used, gamboges yellow, brown madder, prussian blue, paynes grey and dioxanine purple. In this case the purple was a late addition as it’s impossible to mix purple with the chosen palette and the asters were an important element. To integrate the colour, I added just a touch of madder, and then added the purple to shade shadows, sky and distance.

I’ve been busy with watercolours in part to practice speed and commitment. Wet in wet wash technique does not tolerate any of the dithering, picking and poking and other procrastinations that I’m in the habit of when working with dry media.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Natural Beauty—figure drawing

available at Etsy

Life Drawing Tuesday is back.and I’m in for another ten weeks.  Ursula was the model for class #2, and she was fabulous.  All of her poses where dynamic and inspiring and the fact that she was beautiful was undeniable. She was a natural beauty, and I don’t say that lightly. It is a term we quickly give to things like landscapes and endangered species, but women’s bodies, especially the beautiful ones are so commoditized and objectified in the media that it seems crass to mention it. But the truth is, Ursula was gorgeous, and a talented model, and very easy to draw. While personality and creativity were part of the package the sheer physical beauty was at least a third of the package (and dare I mention that for the men in the group, I’m guessing more than a third?)  Is it wrong to say so? Is it somehow insulting to mention sheer physical beauty? If I was a guy, and saying the same thing, would this post be even less acceptable? So much of who we are, and what we are capable of is influenced by things beyond our control, genetics and environment, how is complementing, say, artistic talent, any different from complimenting someone’s beautiful body. Questions, questions, questions, not to mention, is their anyway to discuss a woman’s body without being politically loaded?
Back to drawing: also had a discussion on the traditional ‘art school’ method of life drawing, which seems to be block in the shadows and the rest will follow. I can attest, from four sad years of this, that without a good grounding in proportion and anatomy, I was lost, all lost. Zipping forward into now, I suppose my style is an anathema to that time honoured tradition because I draw lines, lines, and more lines. Some of my lines are shadows.  Sometimes the weight of the line stands in for shading. If I get a seat that gives me some really good contrasty lighting, I may revisit the traditional approach, but I’d really miss playing with the line.
I’m not trying to knock the method, btw, but since it frustrates a lot of people, just say, first, you need a grasp of proportion and anatomy or the innate ability to ‘see’ the finished drawing on the blank page (if not, it comes with experience) and second, and super important, you need great lighting, which is rare in a group setting where all angles must be accommodated. So don’t beat yourself up, just draw.
I was going to post these for sale on Etsy, but my line is WAY too slow. $25 if they get there. Which is a lead in to; I’m planning on getting internet cable. Given that procrastination is very tempting when it comes to shelling out money, I may go offline for a bit after October 15th when my dial-up expires. So if I disappear for bit, don’t worry. It’s just me being cheap and lazy.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sealey’s Lake-Killarney Provincial Park


Sealey’s Lake—Killarney Provincial Park, 8x10 watercolour.

A more traditional take to illustrate the holidays. This is Sealey’s Lake on the La Cloche Silhouette Trail, from the east side. While the entire trail is a serious 78 km backpacking trail, my husband take on the near portion for day hikes. Sealey’s Lake is a bit of a slog, being 2 hours one way, but the scenery changes from deep hemlock woodlands, to rocky heights & towering pines, through lush deciduous woodlands and into the heart of the fens. Sealey’s Lake is more of fen than a lake, being shallow and surrounded by peat bog, but it is beautiful nonetheless and a favourite destination. This little rocky outcropping is the point where we stop for lunch to enjoy the view—usually.

This time around, it was raining, and we hid under a sheltering pine to stop only briefly and take a reference snap. The fact that the weather was terrible and getting worse was the main reason we decided to push on to Sealey’s Lake, as there is nothing worse than trying to kill time at a campsite on a rainy day.

We had had plenty of warning, as the morning sky offered up a most accurate weather report. We woke to a low formless ceiling of grey sky, and utterly still stifling air. I joked, sort of, that the weather for today would begin with a fine mist and increase by unnoticeable increments into an all day rain by noon. For once, I was fervently wishing I would be proven wrong, but alas it turned into a prophecy by the time we reached Sealey’s Lake there was a steady light rain from leaden skies. I won’t bother showing you the reference photo, as all was blank and grey; thank goodness for artistic licence. By the time we returned to camp, we were pretty well soaked in spite of raingear, and things got worse from there. This all happened on our second last day of our holidays, and I confess we packed up early and cleared out (still pouring rain) the next day. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to end a camping trip and curl up in a nice warm bed under a real roof.

It’s good to be home.

PS. for those of you interested in such things, the painting was done in a limited palette of brown madder, gamboges yellow, prussian blue and paynes grey.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Really Big Show


Well, maybe not REALLY BIG but I really wanted to use that title. The day before I left for holidays in Lake Superior and Killarney Provincial Parks, I had a show date at Hollidge Tract, York Regional Forest. As I enjoy tech free holidays (not counting an ancient b/w Palm Pilot upon which I read books—this time Dostoeyevsky’s ‘The Gambler’), the show synopsis just had to wait until I got back, physically and mentally.


Here’s the spread. The table was provided, and the facilities had a beautiful natural pine wall. The gridwall (white grid) is a recent investment and it made for a really great display that was quick to put up, and take down. If you ever need to buy any, just do local search on ‘gridwall’ for your area. It’s a specialty item, Toronto has about 2 stores that sell it. I could not find anyone selling used gridwall at the time.


In the afternoon we took a break and enjoyed a horsedrawn wagon ride through the woods. This was courtesy of the York Regional Forest staff, who manned the booth for us so that my husband and I could enjoy the break together. The staff were wonderfully welcoming; coffee was provided, and as I’d showed up the day before (on my regular walk, actually) I was given a choice of locations. They also spelled out other vendors (some of whom showed up alone) for more necessary breaks.

It was an exciting day for both myself and husband, but I must admit that by the end of it we were both exhausted as we contemplated a 9 hour drive to Lake Superior the very next day.

This was my debut show in a way, as friends and blog readers showed up throughout the day, and their support was priceless! One of my husband’s friends travelled quite far just to say ‘hi’ at the last hour. I was so tired by then that I was a less than gracious host, and mostly provided ‘the long stare’ of exhaustion. I owe them a ‘thank you’ note for sure. Someday, I hope to stress out just a little less for these events.

PS. Thank you blog readers, who put up with my ‘Wish You Were Here’ postdated holiday posts. Given the nature of google, I wanted to make sure there was fresh content during my absence. I’m just getting back into the swing of things this week, and hopefully by Saturday noon, I’ll have been sociable with all of you.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Abstract Explorations


This year, I’ll be participating in the OCAD University's Whodunit! Mystery Art Sale. All art is 5.5 “x 7.5” in size, any medium, $75.00; the mystery part is that the buyer has no idea who did it and must choose not by name and reputation but by visual preference. Imagine that.

My two submissions are ready, but of course I won’t spoil the mystery. They did lead me to wish to explore more in the way of texture, painted background and successive layers of coloured pencil, not just light to dark, but light over dark using sand and acrylic gel to hold the pigment.


& the obligatory close-up. The ochre is the ground colour, painted in gouache.


Here is the phone doodle seed of the works I’ll be submitting. I’ll be exploring the theme more, and after the sale, will post them.

Holidays are over, but it may take me until next Saturday for me to get the library’s wifi connection—see you then.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Wish You Were Here Part 4


Rhyolite Cove, Lake Superior Provincial Part—It’s a very long dayhike!


Early autumn colours at Killarney Provincial Park, Cranberry Bog Trail

Photo’s from 2009


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