Monday, October 31, 2011

Rationing Painting Time

Time spent in front of  my easel is becoming a rationed commodity. I can only work as long as the hand permits and when the pain rises the painting must stop. Yesterday I thought I would paint using my fingers hoping to prolong my painting time …. Guess what; that didn’t work, as a matter of fact it was only a few moments and my hand cramped. So back to brushes and left hand attempts.

I also find if I spend time on my computer I cannot hold a brush …. So time is now rationed according to the tasks at hand. I do try to fit in some painting each day; each canvas now takes a little longer to complete but each day finds extended time spent so there is hope on the horizon.  At least with the assist of all the medication I now must consume.  I am beginning to think the pills may be the killer .... not the disease!

As you know I grew up in Northern Ontario … the flora of the area being primarily a boreal forest …. That is to say mostly evergreen trees such as spruce, pine and balsam fir. Deciduous trees included poplar and birch….our climate did not support  the towering beauty of maple and oak such as is found in southern Canadian climes.

For the past two years I have been attempting to capture the beauty of autumn poplar trees….this is my latest attempt. It is a small canvas, only 8”x10”. It seems no matter the size canvas I use I cannot successfully capture the golden beauty of autumn poplars. Anyway for now I’ll not ‘sweat it’……one compensation of rationed time is I am learning to appreciate what I’ve accomplished…..even if it falls short of what I had hoped .


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I've Been Inactive

Well here I am again and sincerely hope that this time I may have some ‘staying power’… at least enough to read and write ‘blogs’!

I have been waging war with my aging body and all the ‘golden years’ attacks on said body. Primarily I have been learning how to live with rheumatoid arthritis and a debilitating lung condition … both of which have depleted my body of strength and energy and inflicted pain such as I have never experienced.
Failing the resources to move to drier clime … such as Arizona I am now reliant on modern medicine to keep these woes at bay and am slowly returning to some semblance of normalacy …. Especially with the aid of ‘mega’ steroid dosage. Briefly my hands have been inflamed to the size of sausages and stay for periods of eight to ten days … other times my feet don’t want to co-operate much either.  So my involvement with paint, paper and keyboard has been very limited.  As a matter of fact my involvement with day-to-day functions is somewhat limited; but improving.

It seems I can no longer accomplish simple everyday tasks without planning and calculation. My handiest tool just now is a hammer … can no longer twist caps off bottles but a hammer makes the task possible … mind you the cap shards are swept away. Without the assist of my grandson I would not have been able to prepare thanksgiving dinner…. I was incapable of lifting a seven pound turkey, could not dice vegetables! For the first time in my life I’ve had to ask male members of my family to do tasks I accomplished in, for instance, May. I have large window air conditioners and always install and remove on my own. I could not remove them this year. Damned!

So…..long story short! Day to day life is becoming  a careful calculation!  Looking for ways to continue. Hopefully my next visit to the specialist will come up with some strengthening exercises!

I have been painting although only for 15 minute to half hour intervals; when the hands cramp I must abandon the task; so have been painting ‘miniatures’ or ‘small paintings’ for the past couple months.  They are not academically correct 'miniatures' but perfection is no longer possible.   These paintings require less movement and involvement and have kept my ‘hand’ in the process …. Some days my right hand, some days my left depending on which one is flexible.

These small canvases measure 4” x 5” and when finished, for me, are mini treasures. I find I have become closer to the creative process working small … concentrating not on great flourishes and grand vistas but on composition and colour. When working on large canvases I tend to paint over and over … not really looking at colour and placement on the canvas … always correcting with more paint.  Perhaps not being able to paint in a sustained manner, and not so certain of correcting with additional paint I have renewed my sense of ‘seeing’ the subject not the canvas.

Posting a few for you to look at. A couple autumn scenes such as we find in various areas of Ontario. They are currently part of a miniature show at a local gallery; I hope they bring joy to the viewer.

I may not be able to post daily but will try to stay back on 'blog' at leastonce a week.  Hope you are still there!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tiger Group Studio and Gallery

In late May I joined a group of “professional” artists. “Professional” I discovered identifies an artist who seriously works at his/her craft; as opposed to ‘art as a hobby’; and who is selling. Well, okay, I am working like hell, but not selling’ so therefore I am an associate, not a full member.

I wandered into the gallery when seeking a gallery to hang my work; the group viewed my work, thought I showed promise and invited me to meet the members. The Tiger Studio Group was established in 1974 ….. and get this …. is an all male group; no females allowed! Wouldn’t you know it … so here I am breaking ground as the first female member. I don’t know if I should be flattered or if I should run for the hills!

Seriously they are wonderful and each has taken it as his responsibility to critique my work and to assist me with composition and colour theory. I have learned so much and feel truly blessed to have so much help. It is so great to enjoy the camaraderie of other artists; to discuss the production of art, to share ideas and discuss ‘art’ in general.

The ‘real’ upside of the group are the art shows and competitions they organize, and I get to participate!

There is a ‘but’ in the stew. I am finding it somewhat intimidating to work with members who have international reputations in the art community and am now opting to work in solitude at home at least three days a week. Here I play ‘my music’, talk to the painting and the walls. When the objects start talking back I head to the gallery/studio to paint.

A few of my recent works for you to see.

Thanks for dropping in!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Thank You

First of all .... Thank you!  Everyone who commented yesterday; truly uplifting to read your support.  Many, many thanks. 

I did not rent comedy movie tracks; but I did watch six hours of Lord of the Rings; one of my favourites; and a couple John Grisham; and you know what a 'good day' ensued!  Albeit, by the time I watched nine hours of movies there wasn't much day left to worry about!

Yesterday on his blog, 'Hang Art' Jerry talked about the changes in weather patterns …. happening worldwide by the way. Please take a look, Jerry has such interesting blogs.

Yesterday in my area it was 40 degrees Celsius (factoring in the humidity); Thursday it is expected to be 46 degrees Celsius with humidity! My window air conditioners are working overtime now; heaven help Thursday.

Humidity! Dog days of summer! So I went walking at 5 a.m. attempting to exercise before the day truly heats up. Forget it … not a chance for the sweat to dissipate today …. Left feeling clammy, returned soaked;  walking was like slogging through thigh high water … each footstep an arduous pull. Clothing clinging, eyes stinging, you can smell the carbon in the air … humidity mixed with southern Ontario’s living particles … a great combination!

On a clear, non-humid day, looking at the horizon one can see a lovely pale yellow streak stretching as far as the eye can see. Don’t be fooled …. this is not one of nature’s ‘beauty marks’; it is a mixture of emissions from our refineries and steel mills on Lake Erie mixed with the emissions from Detroit across the lake….. it is sulphuric acid and floats merrily over lake and land!

So on humid days, people with respiratory problems check the ‘air quality advisory’ before venturing out of doors for any labour tasks. Not only do we have industrial emissions; we mix in car exhaust as well, and whatever you may imagine to create a cordial cocktail for all our beings to inhale. 

Yeah, it’s going to be a hot one today! Would be nice to head north to the forests; however those recesses aren’t as refreshing or soothing as years past; weather change is affecting northern landscapes as well.

So lots of water today and stay indoors.  This is the water I long for today … about four hours north of where I live; painted en plein aire … and finished in my studio last year.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Over the Edge

For any readers who may have ventured to this site; and possibly thought I had ‘dropped off the edge of the earth’; I very well might have. Suffice to say that most of this year has not been the most positive I have experienced. I’ve been surrounded by negatives and in a very dark place ….. everything about me is at an all time low … health deteriorating; finances depleted, spirit erased; as a matter of fact the only thing that hasn’t gone down hill are commitments; they’ve multiplied!

So, sorry!   Haven’t been able to find the spirit to write even a greeting card.

But no, I’ve not dropped off the edge; I’m close though.

I’ve been ardently trying all the ‘tricks’ to pull myself out of this mire. Planted veggies and flowers in pots on the balcony, harvested some beans; love the flowers. I always derive such joy from planting and watching the bloom of flowers. Okay, so they are doing fine … no joy!

I’ve walked and walked and walked; thought to add a positive to health issues; hasn’t done much; legs are stronger. And I’m smoking like a chimney which isn’t helping the financial end either.

Art work … I won’t even venture into those dark waters. My mind wants to paint again; I stain canvas and look at the blank.

What is this path we tread?
Where is the end, do you see?
Why here, not there,
I wonder?

Once laughter, once light!
Once challenge, once hope!
Once dreams!
I wonder?

I fear this path
To endlessly roam
Without laughter or hope

So, I’m searching just now for positives.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Spring Cleaning

Spring has finally arrived; sure signs are the daffodils and dandelions. Bright, shiny accents against walls and posts; love the way they carpet hillsides and lawns although I am sure the lawn owner may not be as thrilled .

Another sure sign of spring is ‘spring cleaning’ time. I swear my almost 93 year old mother is related to ‘Mr Clean’. Scrubbing, scurrying, chasing dust that doesn’t exist! This is very serious business with my mother…. It means every cubby and cubicle is stripped, turned upside down, washed, polished and put back in order. Everything must absolutely gleam … in preparation of what I don’t know. Spring cleaning , and fall cleaning MUST BE DONE come hell, high water or whatever else. No excuse! She’s barely five feet tall and a regular little tornado.

Growing up with Mrs. Clean was a nightmare! Being her daughter at this age when it is spring cleaning time is beyond description The short of this is … she is legally blind, getting quite frail and these cleaning antics could cause serious injury. So, for the next ten days to two weeks my sister and I will be cleaning mother’s house!

Where she can no longer reach she uses her cane to empty cupboards. She is standing precariously on chairs with a sponge mop trying to clean windows that she can’t even see well. We hear all about her balancing acts and at such a distance we conjure all sorts of disasters. Better to go get it done and over with than to spend worrisome hours over what damage she may eventually do to life and limb..

So, Hi! Ho! … it’s off to mother’s we go with brooms and mops and pails.. Hope to be back to posting on my return in … well I am hoping for ten days, but it may well be two weeks.  And, if I am really nimble I may be able to escape for a few hours of sketching, definitely no painting of blog postings. 

Meanwhile, happy painting and enjoy spring!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spring and Easter

Spring is a late-comer in our part of the world this year and I for one am quite happy with the development.  Temperatures have been cooler and until the past couple days we have still had minus zero temperatures, factoring in wind chills.  However our area has been free of severe flooding or violent weather experienced elsewhere so the only complaint we could possibly have is …. The flowers last longer!

The photograph included was taken at 6 a.m. this morning. Hamilton is located on the shores of Lake Ontario and we are subject to heavy fog whenever air temperature changes quickly, so looks like we are in for warmer weather. Don’t you just love foggy mornings when objects are surrounded in soft veils of  silence and subdued light;  like finding a surprise around every corner.

‘Surprises’ reminds me of Easter egg hunts. When my children were younger I worked very hard to hide Easter goodies in many, many places and as they got older, in more difficult to find places. One Easter a friend arrived with a pot of poster paints and he proceeded to paint ‘bunny’ footprints all over the hardwood floors. Wherever I concealed a treat a trail led right to the hiding place. There were pink prints, yellow and green for ‘Mr. Rabbit’ had hopped on the flowers as he went from home to home. It took me forever to wash the prints away and they had to be removed a few at a time after the children were asleep. When I started to wash them away I was met with a wail from my five year old twins “the bunny prints mom, you can’t take away the bunny prints”.  So a new Easter tradition was added to our family. 

Unfortunately the children are now adults and the grand children are beyond the hunt stage so it is now all about a huge Easter dinner, and a bunny for my 47 year old eldest son.  Easter wouldn't be Easter for him without his favourite chocolate bunny!   After two ham  dinners this year I am ready for long walks in the cooler than usual spring air …. Walk away the calories!

Another sign of spring which I so enjoy is the arrival of ‘pussy willows’. I don’t know the correct name, I’ve just always called the catkins which appear on willows ‘pussy willows’. And for your enjoyment here are some I collected from this year’s bounty.

Back to painting tomorrow; today must be dedicated to filing my income tax!  Horrid chore!