Friday, April 30, 2010

Nature's Pinnacle

This painting 'Frosty Spectacle' accompanies by ‘first impressions’ blog about my high school days. Hoar frost is a common site on trees and shrubs during winter and particularly spring months when night temperatures drop drastically and capture the days moisture in frosty wonder.

A common site, a ‘first impression’ passed by many. On closer inspection one can see the wonder of the frost, the dancing lights where sunshine strikes; a spectrum of blues not to be found anywhere else.  I really wanted to capture the magical feeling of the blues, greens and reds I saw in this spectacle.  I hope I have succeeded.

This scene was brought to my attention two winters ago and finally found its way to my canvas. I can still recall the moment; and many other such moments of frosty delight growing up in Northern Ontario

This painting is used my other blog:-
High School - First Impressions

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Copper Daze

I painted this from a quick sketch and a backup photo. 

The lastof the oak leaves shining with a copper lustre that just seems to sing against the landscape  Reminded me of walking through autumn leaves on my way to school and walking my children on their school days.  Romping and raking leaves always leaves such a song and the 'coppery scent of the leaves as they gather on the ground!

I had bought some metallic paints and was so fascinated with the capabilities of these paints.  Used separately or mixed with other pigments.I went overboard here I think with the copper paint.

I used this painting on my other blog:-High School - Turning Points

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Taxation and the 'Starving Canadian Artist'

I haven’t been very productive in the ‘creative’ sense the past number of days. I have been toiling under the taxing task of taxation. Taxation and the producing artist! And, trying to be honest about income earned, have attempted to claim the pittance earned from the sale of a few canvases last year.  Big mistake! After two continuous days at this task I am convinced I should have listened to those who proclaimed ….”don’t bother….who’s to know”!

Sooooo……much to my stupidity I dutifully read Business and Professional Income bulletin….backwards and forwards. Called taxation offices; they referred to me to yet another bulleting T?something or other; and a follow-up call to another bulletin T?something or other!

I need to know how other “starving Canadian artists” handle taxation. Any pointers, other than a chartered accountant would be most welcome!

Did you know that I am supposed to know how much of a certain tube of paint was used to produce a certain canvas; and the cost of that canvas…..”well”, says she “you must buy your canvas by the bolt; figure out how many and what size!” WHAAT. I am a “starving artist” remember; I buy canvas by the piece and eke out as many as possible.
Did you know that I should be able to tell you exactly what the attached painting – ‘Jackpine Sunrise’ cost me to produce. How much paint from which tube was used for this canvas; how many canvases I have produced using said tube of paint!    I am squeezing some of these tubes with pliers to get every lost drop of paint.  Some I purchased twenty-five years ago a student; some I purchased at a sidewalk art sale!  Am I supposed to calculate the price of the paint twenty-five years ago and convert to today's inflated prices?  What about wastage I ask....."wastage" says she;  "well, that must be considered under....." and this point I stopped listening!

Wonder they didn’t tell me to calculate how much graphite I used to produce a sketch or how much shoe leather was worn away seeking out the special spot for that special sketch.

Anyway, enjoy the painting……..but I definitely do not know how much it cost to produce. I informed the kindly taxation person if they wished to know, they could figure it out! Because next year I am going to produce ‘Wally’s Widgets’; there’s a complete text book out there on this venture and taxation!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Reworking A Rejected Canvas

After much to do about this canvas; trying to save it from the reject bin.  This is the final.

I can't say its the best I've ever envisioned and it may never see the light of any other space other than my studio.  But for now this is it.  And at least I am feeling creative again and enjoying the beauty and visions around me.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Conquered - Painter's Block

I read a few other artistic blogs, not many four or five. On one blog concerning an artist's rework of a canvas I read the words “Rethink, Revise, Reshape and Resolve”. I have been going through a horrendous seven weeks of no painting, no drawing, nothing connected to producing artwork.

I posted these words on my refrigerator and see them daily.

Happy to say with these words, and the encouraging words of another artist friend I have retrieved paint brushes from hiding and am again painting.

The attached painting is not the best I’ve done, but it is a new beginning. Had I known it was this easy I would have started six weeks ago. This is a seldom-visited scene by tourists; a view of Lake Huron’s sand dunes in April with willows bursting their furry blossoms….the pussy willows. A rainy, wet, cold spring day that left only my footprints in the sand. Hope you enjoy.

This painting is linked to my other blog:-
Lessons on Giving

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Summer Pinnacle

One of the highlights of my childhood summer days was when the pony game to town! A young man would walk door to door through town offering to take pictures of children on the pony. I think every child in our town had his or her picture taken on the pony. Loved horses!

This is of myself … the one at the back and my younger sister. My sister got to wear little strapped shoes and light dresses….I had oxfords. Sturdy, brown oxfords …. because I scuffed the life out of them, climbed trees, fences, waded through mud and into the swamp. Tore belts off dresses, tore down hems and popped buttons in some sort of scuffle. Almost always had a scraped knee, scratches and slivers. Wonder why my sister didn’t?! I’m surprised I have a light colour dress in this photo…. they usually dressed me in red or brown! Any way this is linked to school days….this was the summer we moved to our new home and miss meany school teacher.

This article is linked to my other blog:-
Childhood Turning Points

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

School Day Doodles

This is primarily what I did throughout my school years.  I doodled.  Often received a wrap across my knuckles by a ruler-wielding teacher.  However, I doodled my way through.    This doodle was done when I was about 11 years of age.

This post is linked to my other blog:-

Turnng Points and Identities.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

January In Mom's Backyard

This is a painting of a typical January in my mother's backyard.... the snow depth would be about fourteen feet.  It is where I spent my childhood days playing with siblings.  It is where my stepfather would clean the pathway; sometimes three to four times a day.  Hope you enjoy the blog accompanying this painting.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Reworking an Old Canvas

Welll, here it is!  As you can see the composition has changed.  I couldn't quite remember my original thoughts of sunset over the lake whenI started this I have inserted recent memories into the illusion.  Don't quite know where I am going with this yet.....will leaveit alone for awhile and look at it again at a later date. 

This post linked to my other blog:

Another Blog

Turning Points and IdentitiesI have created a new blog and will be posting to this one occasionally.  My new blog can be found

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Reworking a Painting

I've tried to recapture the moment for the glowing sunset seems to be an impossible the painting is evolving into something entirely different; something to suit today's mood and inspiration.

Left the studio yesterday to take a deep breath of spring!  Each year as spring returns I breathe a sigh....I am still here and able to enjoy another spring!
So today I will only post some of my wanderings of spring.
The first photo show Japanese Shakura Cherry blossoms in full bloom....wish I could also send you the heady aroma of these beautiful blossoms!

This photo shows the glowing forsythia.  We don't have fields of daffodils here in Ontario so many gardens include this brilliant herald of spring.

So fortunate this year, I have seen four white swans.  They had all but disappeared from our bay so it is a wonderful sight to see them.  Here mother sits awaiting her brood, oblivious to all eyes watching.

And dandelions gracing fields and abandoned properties.   Who could deny spring is here when these golden heads appear.  Apparently dandelions are not native to Canada but were brought here by early settlers.  Now considered a 'weed' many 'lawn proud' owners go to extensive length to obliterate the plant from their landscape.  They really are quite invasive.
My grandmother would send me into the fields to collect first the leaves for salad, the roots ... but I can't remember what she used those for....and the flower heads to make dandelion wine!

And, you just have to love the vibrant russet tones of these poplars before they turn green.

Soon to be white flower heads....almost like snowballs.  And look at the red branches of the dogwood. 

And finally a pink bud tree in full bloom.  

Yes finally it is spring and I feel my spirit soar as it does every spring.  New beginnings for flora, fauna and mankind alike!  I am blessed indeed to see another spring and simply cannot remain in a painter's pothole when everything around is striving to reach its pinnacle of perfection. The robins are 'chirrupping' their calls at 4 am and start my painting day.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

On Painter's Block

I belong to a local non-profit art gallery and for the first time four of my canvases have been included in a group show.  Working in the gallery today I was indeed surprised to find that my work stood on equal footing with those of other artists and now find the desire to paint again creeping to the surface. 

However the desire is not the problem; I've been reading through articles posted by other artists who face a dormant period and 'tips' on how to get started again.  One quotation in an article stands out.....on Art and Fear..."What separates artists from ex-artists is that those who challenge their fears continue; those who don't quit".  Mulling over this quote I find that indeed I have been afraid to start again, and I do so loathe being called a back to business!

A 'tip' for me to get started again is to resurrect what I considered to be a 'bad' painting.  I've put it on the easel and will begin by trying to retrieve the original vision I had for this canvas and see where my paint brush leads me.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Artistic Potholes - Creatve Block

Well, headed north to Lake Huron for four days this week.....with thoughts to rekindle my artistic spirit.  Did it work?  I don't think so.

The day I left the temperature plummeted from 26 degrees to 6 degrees.....lovely and cool and rainy.  Just the weather I love.

The north was still there in all its spring glory.  The forest was absolutely enchanting....the evergreens bright and green after their winter dowd, the cedars looking bright and sparkling, moss so green I challenge any artist to capture exactly the green.  Raindrops dripping off branches in waterfall spray.
Lake Huron and its sand dunes and beaches looking more beautiful than ever; the wet sand taking on a lustrous pink hue; the dune newly sculpted from winter's wind, snow and rain....with nary a footstep to mar their beauty.  Pussy willows (catkins) all in footsteps the only ones on the shore.
And then a monstrous black cloud wind whipped across the lake and on its edge a swathing all encompassing fog!  Melancholy and blue wrapping lake, sand, trees and cottages in an all encompassing blanket.

Now surely with all this inspiration I can paint again!?  Not so!  Surrounded by atmosphere and nature's beauty surely I can paint again!?  And here I sit, not painting.  The visions are there, the paints lie waiting, the canvas is on my easel.....what to do?  Over a month since I have painted.

I've read all the tips....'It's the fear of not being able to do it that is making you feel you've lost your inspiration .... approach your painting as if it were a job and DO IT".  Trouble with this art is not a JOB.
'Force yourself to set a goal of  'x' number of paintings in a period of time', ' change medium', 'play the 'what if' game and paint an old subject using different medium, a different style....etc'.
Need to digest these and other tips and see if I can't climb out of this    creative fallow pothole!

Monday, April 5, 2010

On Family Pets

When my children were just little gaffers they witnessed the birth of puppies.  "When can we have a puppy" became the daily plaint.  So a puppy was welcomed to our home.  She was a cross between a Rhodesian Ridgeback and a Golden Labrador and we named her 'Brandy'  after her colouring.   What a dog....she was beautiful, she was gentle, she was loving and so sensitive. 

She was sensitive to the personality of each family member. My youngest son loved to rough and tumble and she would romp with him until one of them tired.  My  daughter would dress her up in all sorts of garments and she would look at me raise her eyebrows as if to say what is this.  My eldest son carried the world on his shoulders and often was the brunt of bullying;  Brandy, our dog, would sense his need and would cuddle next to him, nose thrust next to his and sigh with him.  

Where we went, Brandy went, except for a seven week cross Canada trip when we thought it may be too much and we boarded her.  The kennel owners were so concerned she would die of lonliness and lament.the first night they brought her into their home to live until our return; their children trying to comfort her. 

She travelled to my mother's for Christmas; my mother did not allow animals in her home; but when I advised if she wanted us for Christmas, our family dog was part of us; she relented.  And Brandy sensed that mother was nervous of dogs and didn't approach her.  She immediately became my father's closest buddy. 

Our home was surrounded by cornfields so no need to worry about the dog wandering, she would occasionally disappear into the corn to flush out the odd pheasant.  We lived in a neighbourhood without fences, lots of children and dogs.  A real estate development was planned for the cornfields so we fenced our yard to keep our dog safe.  Someone left the side gate unlatched and our dog disappeared one week before Easter. 

We searched and searched. No Brandy.  Easter morning dawned and my eldest son had also disappeared.  A light snow had fallen during the night and we could see his bicycle tracks through the snow.  No easter egg hunt that morning, noone cared.   We followed the bicycle tracks through the village to find our big brother.  He was all over town following dog tracks hoping to find Brandy.

Brandy had been missing for two weeks when I received a telephone call at the high school where I worked from the principal of the public school.  He said he had a dog named Brandy in his office. 

I will never forget the gym teacher who was in the office at the time.  Without hesitation he insisted  he would drive me to get my dog.  When I arrived at the school, Brandy was curled up on the principal's shoes...dripping mud and water on his shoes and trousers.  He didn't give a hint of having been inconvenienced, he was glad to have helped.  Without a word the teacher picked up Brandy in his arms and carried her out, placing her on the backseat of his immaculate new car.  I will never forget the selfless immediate response of these two people to assist my beloved pet.  It never occured to either of them to do otherwise.

A trip to the vet confirmed Brandy had been badly beaten.

We don't know who would have mistreated such a gentle, loving creature.  The only time we saw the Rhodesian ridge across her back was whenever  we crossed a certain intersection in town; a low growl would emerge from her throat and the hair along her spine would stand straight up.  She knew who had hurt her, we never found out. 

We no longer have Brandy, but each one of us carries this gentle, loving creature in our hearts and we are better persons because of the love she gave each of us; she brought joy and taught valuable lessons of caring and sharing we may have otherwise missed. 

Sunday, April 4, 2010

On Family Pets

On Family Pets

Pets are love.  There is no two ways about it ....pets are love.  They give all their trust and love to you ... and you can give them all the love you wish without ever giving too much!

I grew up without a pet. I still remember being about four and dragging every cat in the neighbourhood home with the hopes my mother would let me keep this one. Then I graduated to dogs. No pets allowed in our home cats, no dogs, no fish, no birds!

When I became a parent I was determined my children would have whatever pet they desired. We began the pet routine with a warty toad my daughter dragged in at three years old, next came a collection of spiders, then to a baby kitten she found in the corn field. We named the kitten ‘smokey’. Well kitten ‘smokey’ failed to return one evening… with three little children watching out the window I am out in the dark of night calling here ‘smokey, smokey’.  So another cat, named; you guessed; 'Smokey'.  ‘Smokey 11’ grew to adulthood and turned out he was a tom…..and when he did return after a night on the prowl he was infested with fleas. Turned out I am allergic to cat fleas….the bites turning to huge red welts……’smokey 11’ found a new home on a friend’s farm. We then ran the gamut of goldfish that quickly expired, to gerbils….and then…..

The next pet was a pure white prize rabbit. Built a hutch with a runway in the backyard for ‘snow’ my son’s rabbit. All went well for about six months when a brush wolf tore through the chicken wire of the runway and ‘snow’ escaped from his hutch. Once again in the middle of the night….only this was a snowy night….three children watched from the window while their mother wandered the fields calling ‘here snow, snow, snow’!

Our next family pet was a dog which was named 'brandy'.  More on our dog another day, as this blog will grow to be too long.

Having been deprived of a pet as a child I still believe I was denied a window of love, an opportunity to learn of unconditional love; the giving without expectation of return so freely given by our pets.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


It's Easter, and along with that many traditions.  Don't know if you remember when the ultimate Easter tradition was a new spring bonnet and spring coat!  How well I remember! Where I lived in Northern Ontario Easter always meant deep snow still on the ground and the temperature could still be quite cold, it could even be freezing.  But no matter, that Easter bonnet and spring coat were worn to church.....along with the new shoes; through the snow or spring melt.  Of course the new shoes changed shape as they dried out after slogging through the snow; vinyl shoes hadn't yet been invented and shoes were leather; leather could get wet and would dry to very strange shapes without a shoetree.   No matter, you looked your finest on Easter morning.

The new bonnet and coat have now gone by the wayside to be viewed only in memory.  As has our family trip to church on Easter morning;  I grew to loathe  the easter morning finery competition; seemed to me as I got older that the only reason many attended Easter morning service was to check out who was wearing last year's bonnet; which was usually me; almost like walking the fashion show runway.

When I had my own 'little' family I decided to keep only the 'fun' holiday traditions (especially because by then I had become quite agnostic towards religious rituals).  The  traditions I kept were the hiding of, and hunt for easter eggs, special breakfast and dinner menus and invitation of friends. One Easter one of my husband's friends arrived as I was hiding the goodies all over the house.  He followed me round with his palette of poster paints and painted bunny prints all over the hardwood floors....lovely colourful bunny prints, red, yellow, pink, blue, green.  Then posted a sign at the end of the follow the bunny trail.  A major riot ensued when I attempted to wash off the bunny prints....the wails from my three little ones you'd have thought I was trying to snare Mr Rabbit himself.  Needless to say it took a few months before the prints disappeared as I could only obliterate two at a time.

The only dark cloud on our Easter mornings was when our family dog went missing and had been missing for two days.  It had snowed lightly during the night and when we awoke we found our eldest gone and saw bicycle tracks leaving our drive.  Noone cared about the hunt.....our eldest had taken his bicycle and was searching the town for his dog.  We all piled in the truck and followed not the bunny trail that Easter, but the bicycle trail to find our eldest.son and brother.  The hunt lacked spirit that year....our beloved pet wasn't there to help.  Just to let you know it was another week before our pet was found; but that is another story for another time.

Now my only Easter  MUST HAVES include many chocolate bunnies, coloured and devilled eggs; and a traditional family menu.  I was about to alter this year's dinner menu....planning King Crab and steak.  Couldn't do it, my eldest son would feel he had been cheated.  Must keep at least the traditional dinner its smoked know the real rack smoked by a farmer in a smoke house ham....the aroma alone brings tears to my son's eyes.

No matter the celebration during these special times tradition is what binds us together.  The rituals may change or alter with the passage of time; but the family sharing of these traditions will always be remembered in the heart. 

To all of you who may read this, a happy Easter, whatever your tradition!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Artistic Spirit

Visions - round and round in my head!  I'm not really 'losing it'; at least I hope not.  Visions of masterpieces I would love to paint!
My artistic creativity level has been at an all time low this past month of March, but now I am itching to paint that masterpiece.   The itch is there but the vision is clouded.
I live in a city, fourth floor of six storey apartment building;  the 'visions' from my windows are not that bad. Look out on a residential street of trim home; or beyond to a bay of Lake Ontario....lots of green, and highrises popping up midst the green.  For some artists enough vision to keep them painting I am sure.
I recall one artist saying (Milne I think) to be successful as an artist one should paint one's own backyard.  You would think a cityscape would be my backyard, I've lived so long in cities.
I cannot find a creative spirit here; someone said 'close your eyes and imagine'.  I really did try this.....see only thunderclouds. 
So time for my creative spirit to take a hike out of this area and head the sands, water, waves and wind of Lake Huron.  Will let you know in a week if this lowly 'wannabee' artist has rediscovered her vision embracing the wind and water of Lake Huron.
Wonder what other artists do to rekindle their creative spirit, or if they even need to rekindle!