Monday, December 30, 2013

McMichael Canadian Art Collection, or What We Did On Friday


So, yesterday, we decided to try something new, and we went to the McMichael Collection Gallery in Kleinberg.  I was awestruck by the work of Kim Dorland, You Are Here .  His paintings quite literally stopped me in my tracks.  I have heard people describe these moments but never had it happen.  But I'm getting ahead of the story, as it begins along the roadways that were lined with leaning glass trees.  The drive alone was a spectacle, and I was slow to make my way into the gallery as I could not take my eyes away from the beautiful destruction.  Once in, I could not keep my eyes from the crystalline spectacle outside the windows.  And then I saw the first of many Kim Dorland paintings, a towering thing of abstract forest competing vigorously with the sparkling forest it was displayed alongside.  I no longer felt torn between my visit and wishing I was outdoors.  Here were things I wanted to see and places to go, for these were paintings I could step inside.
Dorland's paintings are the forest
not as it is, but how it feels to be inside it, and they resonate with my own experience of the woods, full of mystery, unknowable, heartbreaking and beautiful.  We both enjoyed this show.
Next up, was Small Strange Worlds Karine Giboulo 
  Not as easy on the mind or eye by far, and so if I speak in less glowing terms of her work, it in no way reflects it's importants.  It's easy like a beautiful landscape, while hard hitting social commentary takes a little more work.  She turns polymer clay, the kind you fire in a home oven, into serious art, recreating in exquisite miniature detail whole villages of people and imbuing each figurine with character and story.  Her work juxtaposes the rich and the poor, the haves and have nots, the first world countries against the third world, and to see these miniature diaramas, the viewer must look in the mirror, literally.
So much to take in,
and then exit back to the world of glittering shattered trees, ice covered walkways, blocked roads, where ice proved the great equalizer, as it did not spare the tony neighbourhood of Klienberg.  We had the pure pleasure of pushing a BMW up and out of a slippery abyss. 

IMG_8128  IMG_8127
The Kim Dorland paintings are up until January 5th, so there is still time if you hurry. Karine Giboulo’s is around until late January.
Outdoor photo’s are part of the sculpture walk, which was mostly off-limits due to the ice-storm.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Chasing the Sun

I failed to have my camera with me at the right time, so for the remaining days of the ice storm, I kept running out of doors, just at sunset, hoping to capture sparkly pink trees. I never did catch that moment, but here’s the results of my attempts.
IMG_8095 IMG_8094
I actually did try climbing a hill to find the sweet spot, but the snow crust was as smooth as glass, and after sliding back down again for the 5th time, I gave it.
But I ran like stink up another trail that overlooks a pond, and this is what I saw.
And that’s it for crystal trees (I hope). We’ve had two days of thaw, and so the trees have lost most of their heavy burden and are done dropping branches on our heads and tearing down powerlines.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

IMG_7890Me, June, and Mr. & Mrs. Claus
For Christmas Day, I leave you with a little Christmas Story, about June, the lady I have come to know and love at the nursing home (Long Term Care) where I volunteer.

From the journal, December 19th, 2013
Christmas Party at the nursing home (Long Term Care Home).
Once again, it's party season, joyful celebrations and all that. What else to do in the creeping dark of winter. I shouldn't say it quite that way. We have snow, thick blankets of snow this year. It is wonderful and bright under the moonlight. I went skiing last night, and the night before and no light was needed. I could see perfectly well under the clear sky, and well enough under clouds--well, okay, last night (cloudy) I did rename the Big Hill, Blind Faith, as I bombed down the centre in the dark, taking each curve and dip with ease, I realized I was very much counting on the hope that no one had built a snowman, or a ramp, or dropped a rock in my path, in which case I would have smacked right into it. So skiing that hill in the dark is an act of blind faith that everything is as expected.
IMG_7863<—this is how the forest looks in moonlight. Another miniature. I’ll post it all properly to Etsy after Christmas.
Tonight, Randy and I went to the Christmas party at the home. It amazes me how much like family it feels when I visit. I had so much fun. June is great to be with, and even better to raid the snack tables with. We made several visits. She put our names down for the Limousine ride through the Festival of Lights in Elgin Park. It was wonderful to be thought of. Unfortunately, the ride was a disappointment, as the windows were so darkly tinted, the brilliant Christmas light displays were reduced to a baleful glow. But the leather seats were cosy. I sat between Randy and Richard. We re-joined June upon our return, cruised the food tables together, and had a great chat with Barbara A.
IMG_7886Barbara, June, and staff
She regaled us with the story of her shave, which goes like this: "so she asks me if I wanted a shave, and I look down at my armpits", Barbara lifts up her arms to illustrate, peers down at both arm pits, and continues the story, "you mean these?" "no", anonymous staff member says, and points at her chin. At this point, we three woman of a certain age start howling. Alas, yes, I too get the joke. This is a thing my mother never told me. So far,I find tweezers useful. Barbara went on to allude to more extensive shaves people indulge in nowadays, and I told them about the sights of Life Drawing. Poor Randy had to listen to the whole thing. If laughter is medicine, we are all in very good health tonight.
IMG_7894IMG_7893A little bolero crochet jacket for June.
June's jacket is done excepting a name tag to be sewn in (so it doesn't get lost on laundry day) and clipping the threads from the buttons. It looks fabulous, I'd wear it, but I think it will suit her well. I hope she will feel fashionable, modern and up-to-date when wearing it. And certainly, may it say very clearly how much I think of her.
IMG_7872Randy and June

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Crystal Trees—The Christmas Bonus Post

Dec. 24th, 2013
Christmas Eve, and we have power.  How nice is that.  I have a heating pad on my lap, the tree sparkles with light, it is warm in the house, and the oven works.  One appreciates these things when they are missed.  Randy's brother is still without power, but they have a woodstove, so are doing okay.  There are many people still without power, and it is bitter cold outside.  I just ran down the street to take pictures: 
IMG_8017   IMG_8025 
IMG_8003  IMG_8004
I was warmly dressed but it still felt like instant frostbite on my fingers as I snapped away.  I was too late to catch the moment of strawberry pink crystal trees, this is a thing I saw yesterday as I was driving home. I only caught brief glimpses of this beauty as I passed by.  And today, I meant to be out on time but such a wonderful day we had.  Breakfast by the fire, and then to town. We meant to pick up some last minute gifts but all the lights were down on our route, and by the time we got to Walmart, well, their doors too were dark.  Canadian Tire was open for business; they not only sell generators, they use them too.  We went home through town, more lights out, but the north side of main street had power.  For once, the small town merchants stood a fighting chance to compete with Walmart, and my breakfast place was open.  We had breakfast together.
After that, a walk around the lake with the dog, and a look at the sparkling crystal trees glittering in the noon day sun.
And then we went skating, because the lake is well frozen.  I had such a hard time getting my skates on as my socks were new and thick, my snow pants cumbersome, and I was refusing to take of my gloves to lace up--until I fell of my chair.  Yes, as I leaned back to haul on my laces, the chair slipped out from under me and dropped me on my well padded bum.  I was thankful for my insulation, both of fabric and flesh.
And then I had to crawl across the ice to chase my skates and boots, and finally relented and took my gloves off to finish lacing up.
Did I tell you it's cold?
Skating was fabulous, we found long wide stretches of smooth ice.  The sun was brilliant except for beautiful boiling rainbow clouds that occasionally passed by.  The rainbows were the result of ice crystals in the clouds, and you need good sunglasses to see this in daylight.  We found a crystal tree to skate under and look through, up at the blue sky and out at the sun. Lovely. There were other skaters across the lake, but the stayed in their little ice rink box and skated in tiny circles. We instead enjoyed the scenery.
350,000 people are still without power, and this is for the city of Toronto only.  Without heat homes will be unliveable.  Toronto has warming shelters set up--pets allowed. I'm not sure what is available in rural areas.  I think without power the crystal trees may look less beautiful.  I feel lucky today.
IMG_7936Dynamo having fun, ice-coated log is like chocolate smothered in ice cream
IMG_7969<possibly next years Christmas Card, spoiler, spoiler, spoiler
Enjoy Life everyone, and may you have heat and light in your home—seriously, tonight, many Ontarian’s don’t.

Frohe Weihnachten—Merry Christmas

And a blessed Winter Solstice too!
This is our tree, decorated by my husband Randy. This is the time when he too makes art, and turns a bare tree into a thing of beauty.  He takes his time and places each and every ornament with care, and steps back occasionally to survey his work.  I think it is utterly beautiful. And magical.
As my parents were German, I still celebrate the old way, with a real sacrificial fir tree, lights and  delicate blown glass ornaments.  When they were growing up, they used candles, and both had stories to tell of tossing burning trees out the living room window. Have no fear, my tree is lit with 21st century LED’s.  But we choose warm white lights, to harken back to the soft glow of candles without the fire hazard.
Tonight, Randy and feast together, and open gifts for one another, play some music, me guitar, he piano.
Tomorrow is Christmas Day.
Have a Very Merry Christmas, or whatever you wish to call it. I will be celebrating the absolutely amazing astounding reality of a universe that I and you and all of us inhabit, full of joy and sorrow, all the stuff of life, that even when you think you comprehend the gears and levers that makes things happen, remains utterly incomprehensible to the human mind.
I will also dance in any snow that falls.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Who Reads Blogs Anymore

A friend of mine, who adamantly does not read blogs, as in, regardless of content or authorship, if it’s packaged in a blog, he will not read it; asked me if I edit my blog posts. It had me thinking of how I put less and less work into my blog as time goes by, for lack of feedback, interest, or any awareness that anyone out there is actually listening.
Here is my answer to him (sent in the acceptable format of email, of course)
First answer: no one reads my blogs before I put them online, not even me if I'm in a hurry.  The same could be true afterwards.  Blogging is
much like talking to one's self.  It may begin with coherence, but
after a time, without feed back and conversation, it descends into
mumbling.  The people have moved on to twitter and facebook where they
are not ever burdened by sentence's or statements of more than 130
For myself, now that I have a wifi router in my home, I am now
searching out lengthy articles to read, as I now can read from the
comfort of my bed or a chair by the fire.
Those of you who know me here, I have the following blogs among others in my newsreader (feedly).  These three are in my ‘must read’ category.  Michelle Basic Hendry paints and writes. When she writes, she really makes it count. Unlike me, she obviously takes a great deal of time and thought to consider her words and craft her writing. Jennifer Rose Phillip blogs often, keeping things going with her adventures in art and life. When I read her blog, I feel like I’m sitting and having a chat with a friend and colleague, thanks for being such very good company.  Chrissy Stone. Since I’ve began blogging, I’ve watched her grow by leaps and bounds artistically. She spends more time on Facebook now, but, YAY! she’s back on the blog. I look forward to curling up in the easy chair with her next post.
Hi Chrissy, Michelle, and Jennifer.  We three bloggers; I’ve been reading you from the start, perhaps we’ve all watched one another grow artistically through the years…and mentally too. We’ve been through ‘things’, and blogged about those experiences directly, or indirectly, through commission or omission. Sometimes what we leave out speaks volumes. Thank you for sharing your voices with me. I hope there will always be more.
For me, watched or not, read or not, I will try to get back to journaling just a little more often. It feels right, and pairs nicely with my re-kindled interest in my 365 Art Card Project.
There are so many times when a camera cannot begin to capture the moment, and only art will do. Walking at night, with my husband, our dog, all three bathed in the light of a brilliant moon, from above, and below where its beams reflected off the snow, was one of them.
I created this miniature work of art using oil pastels and coloured pencil. It is a detailed, multilayered unique work of art, one of a kind. My miniature works of art are often moments in time, captured on a micro scale.

  Artist Trading Card, Oil Pastel, more info at Etsy

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Full Moon Tonight—Journaling and ART

Artist Trading Card, Oil Pastel and Coloured Pencil Painting, available at Etsy
My miniature works of art are often moments in time, captured on a micro scale. I was trapped in traffic on my way home. It was a glorious evening, and I knew there were thick layers of fresh snow waiting in the woods for me and my cross-country skiis. I was somewhat frustrated, to put things mildly; time was ticking by.  The consolation prize was being witness to a cherry red sunset at my back and a glowing golden moonrise before me. These things, in a flash of a moment, must be memorized for later retrieval.
IMG_7850 Creamy blended oil pastel close-up. This is why they get called paintings.
IMG_7849And the tools of the trade, including my scrap scribble sheet for testing colours.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Printmaking Tutorial—Hand-rubbed Transfer Technique

13120301life-drawing72cropped This original work of art is available for sale on Etsy
For this original finished work of art, I took my initial sketch, and using the printmaking technique of "hand-rubbed transfer", transferred the drawing onto an original gelatin monoprint for an interesting background.

What is a hand-rubbed transfer? It is the transfer of pigment from one surface to another using the hand, or hand-held instruments. In this case the pigment is oil pastel on tracing paper, and I used a stylus to apply pressure.
What is a gelatin monoprint? I cook up a large slab of gelatin, roll out ink onto it's surface, manipulate the ink with my hands, brushes and found objects for texture, then place the paper over top, rub the back of the paper (expect fingerprints!) to transfer the ink. Gelatin prints are often the culmination of multiple layers of transfers.
Need more info? Ask your question in the comments, but I’ll leave you with one more sentence. Think of this like an art sandwich, the monoprint (the paper that will be the finished work of art) is the bottom slice of bread, the pastel covered tracing paper is laid face down on top. (you colour is the middle of the sandwich) and your drawing is the top of the sandwich.
Happy Pressing!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

My Messy Desk—Creative Space

It’s amazing I get anything done, isn’t it?  Most days are spent digging for lost items, be it pens, pencils, paper or artwork. Not kidding.
And that doesn’t include wool-gathering staring out the window, which looks out onto the bird feeders, and beyond, the street. Birds, dogs and their walkers, slouchy teens, gnarly old dudes with cigarettes hanging from their mouth, etc…
And I didn’t even mention the blue jays that beg me to get up and throw peanuts in a shell. They love whole peanuts, which is probably part of being intelligent, self aware and capable of planning for the future. Peanuts in a shell can be cached for a long time, seen as they have their own natural wrapper in tact.
And then there is the computer, which I loathe. It is unbelievable how much time it takes to scan, post and describe a work of art, not to mention scratch my brain for useful keywords so that someone might actually manage to find my art on the web. By the time I’ve posted my work, any work, on Etsy, I’m pretty done in for words. 
And I’ve been posting a lot to Etsy. I finally have reach 100 items. That’s A LOT of paper!  I got it organized into folder, so hopefully the next time someone buys something, I won’t have to spend an hour hunting it done (been there, done that, didn’t like it one bit).
So, am sorry if I’ve been neglecting my favourite blogs, but that IS about to change. I have joined the 21st century and have WiFi in my home now (at $40—I have no idea why I held out so long, still no cell-phone though).  Which means I can read blogs, and other word worthy websites at my leisure in a comfy chair on my android tablet. So, bring on the words, I am looking forward to your next post.
And for those of you who read me, I will try to post more often. I will try to find some words again (which often escape me entirely) and continue filling in with my art, and brief notes on art, in the meantime.
See, now I’m tired, it’s lunch-time, I’m hungry, I’m out of here….enjoy life.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Life Drawing Tuesday

Life drawing on 9x12 bristol, using graphite, coloured pencil, and prismacolor sticks.
Life Drawing: here’s Jane.  Great model, and I love here short poses for the energy she displays. Here in the long pose, reclining, her energy is connects with the earth like a conduit that goes deep underground. As I often do, I finished this many days later, strengthening line and colour when time, and the original subject has passed from the scene.  Here is a ‘studio’ shot with the tools of the trade on displays. Yes, I do need the granny glasses to work up close.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Life Drawing Tuesday--Dark Thoughts

Life Drawing, Oil Pastel, Watercolor Pencil, Colored Pencil on Bristol
Our model this week is Jim, and he is our only male model for this session, so kudos to Jim for modelling. We need males; they are 50% of the population, and how else are we to learn to draw them. Jim is a retired gentleman, and his entry into the world of modelling for artists is an interesting story.
It begins with Alzheimers’ disease, his mothers. He was her caregiver and he found himself in need of getting away from the situation both physically and mentally. He also was aware of the genetic component of the disease and wanted to do something for himself that could be therapeutic.  Keeping active, mentally, physically, and socially is one of the best ways to minimize the effects of an aging brain…so he joined an life drawing group, as an artist—an interesting step for a man that had never before put hand to pencil.  It certainly was a way to step outside the comfort zone and train the brain to accept new experiences. It also gave a welcome weekly distraction during a tough time of his life.
Now he also models, and as an artist, he knows what we want.  Age is a factor, and for long poses, he can’t give us torsion and twist, but his short poses are stunning, full of action and emotion. This mixed media is worked up from a 2 minute pose that I’d sketched on A4 paper. In studio, I transferred it to Strathmore Bristol, and used a combination of oil pastel, coloured pencil and watercolor pencil to work up to the finished piece. 
We don’t like to contemplate age and aging, and this piece certainly deals with both the physical and emotional aspects. It’s not what I call marketable, not pretty, happy, svelt, decorative, but I’m posting it on Etsy anyway, as part of my life drawing portfolio.
Here’s the long pose, this was done entirely on site/live. This one I have mixed feelings about.  The technical aspects are off (proportions), but I really like the push pull of the heavy reds vs the light cool blues. So I’m showing it off for better or worse. Part of the advantage of life drawing is having scheduled time to experiment and take risks. Some experiments can be repeated later in another time and place, style gets developed here.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Are We There Yet? Gelatin Printmaking

Gelatin Monoprint using natural found objects, leaves and grass, 8.5x11"inches
Gelatin Monoprint using natural found objects, leaves and grass, 8.5x11"inches
Sometimes when I’m working with gelatin, I’m just not sure when done is done.  I’ve wrecked more than a few by adding in the one extra fatal layer. Sometimes this happens because the image was incomplete, truly needed a new element, a focal point, colour, etc… and I made a mistake on the final step. But there are times, when I add an element just because I’m afraid it won’t ‘read’ well as thumbnail on the internet, or requires a ‘keyword friendly element’ (ie. cat, raven, mermaid) to be found on Etsy. 
This time, I’m resisting the urge. If they are unfinished, if they need little birds or kittens, or even abstract pen scribbles, these things can always be added at a later date.  Maybe I’ll wake up one day, find them boring and draw on top of them, but today, I declare them done, finished, complete.
Available, on Etsy in the Nature and Outdoors Section

Friday, October 25, 2013

Ravens New and Old

Raven Gelatin Monoprint on 8.5” x 11” paper.
Raven Gelatin Monoprint on 8.5” x 11” paper.
Finally made myself a fresh batch of gelatin. My old one (from last February?) is still alive and well but in pieces. That plate was indestructible. My new plate is not.  In fact, it began to shred as soon as I tried to remove it from the mould, so after cutting the damaged ends off, I left it in the tray to print. It’s just big enough to cover the A4 paper, so all is well, although I’m not sure why it’s so soft this time around. I thought I was following my usual recipe.
New is the Akua Ink I purchased. I bought the liquid blue and LOOK! at that colour. See the bright bits of blue in the lower print. That is liquid Akua. Wow! Speedball just doesn’t have that intensity no matter how hard I try.  So far I just have blue, as it is one of the Speedball colours I’m most disappointed with (Speedball Red is another, unless I want Cadmium Hue, which it is). This experiment proves it can be mixed and matched within a piece, and good thing too, as I’m well-stocked with Speedball, it’s cheaper, and for earth tones and yellows, very nice.
And on the raven front, Yippee! I hear them more and more. Now, not only when I walk in the woods, but even as I sit and type at my computer. This is exciting! I still own a bird book that lists them as extirpated in Southern Ontario, which means locally extinct. It is Wonderful to hear them speak again. It’s no wonder that I decided to use my raven stencils today.
And these two fresh pressed prints are available at Etsy, in Nature Section.


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