Friday, November 26, 2010

Work in Progress

My studio is fast accumulating many 'works in progress'.  And here is another one. 

I worked on this one quite a bit yesterday but still am unable to identify where I am going with this painting.  Lately I feel as though I am merely 'painting pictures'.  Until I can begin again to identify some sort of 'feeling' in these works .... they will remain works in progress.  Hope 'feelings' return to my paintings soon as this small studio is getting somewhat overcrowded.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my U.S.A. friends.  Hope your day is as wonderful as mine was; with family, friends, sharing and thanks!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Foggy Morning - 1

The past few days have left me running the gamut of emotions. I have recently said goodbye to a friend and compatriot, my brother-in-law. I shall miss his hearty belly laugh, his bear hugs of welcome and departure. I shall miss ‘him’ and his sincere simplicity. I shall not miss watching Altzheimer’s consume his body and mind; so although it is with regret I accept his leaving I am thankful not to have to visit his further deterioration.

In the midst of this, late yesterday I attempted to paint, perhaps to put some emotions and frustrations to rest. A work in progress….

                        And the mists beckon me come follow
                          Its mysteries to reveal
                        I lingered on the edge and laughed aloud
                         You tempt but are not true
                       You are mere illusion, a temptress
                         Eddying round on air and  over ground

                        If I but follow I will find
                         Where you lead is further bound
                        By mists and mysteries yet never to reveal.
                         The answers I seek are as your mist
                        Shrouded and floating always from grasp
                        Leaving me in foggy drifts.

                        And I wonder
                          ‘Where has love gone?’
                         And the mist replies “It never was”
                           But I sensed  it here
                        ”No, it but lingered near”
                           But I grasped in my heart I am sure
                        “ No... it was but illusion”

                       And in the mist as I turn
                        The illusion that is you is gone…..

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Changes, Accidents

Today's painting evovled by accident; it sort of 'spun' out of nowhere turning and rotating like the 'wheel' of life described in my other blog - without my control or regard for who I 'am'.

It started out to be something completely different, a landscape actually.  And by letting go of control ended up being what you see here.  One of my first attempts at using texture on the canvas (very limited as I was intimidated by texture); and using gold and silver paints.

When I finished I could see a road into 'somewhere' and could only wonder ...."And.....?"..... thus the title.   It has sold, so perhaps someone else is wondering about life and the roads one faces as we spin through this life into a mysterioius and unknown tomorrow.

This painting is used today on my other blog:-turningpointsandidentities

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Respite

So sorry, family emergency has taken me away; have not been able to post the past couple days and will be away for a few more.  A good time to let the paint on these canvases settle and perhaps can begin with a fresh outlook upon return....or decide to paint over and begin anew.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Foggy Morning

We live in a ‘creative’ paradise with our changing seasons and weather patterns…so much to see, so much to express and share. Whether the artist uses written or visual expression the palette is endless. The rage of gales, the whipping of the wind, the velvet softness of snow! The palette varies from season to season and day to day.

Foggy days have a special allure for me. But, come to think of it. .. so do rainy days, stormy days, windy days, frosty days, snowy days, grey days and blue days; not much on sunny days though.

The special qualities of a 'shrouded' day … the light constantly changing as sunlight penetrates the fog … you may start off with a blue or grey atmosphere changing to halos of yellow, pink and gold as the sun breaks through and basks the surrounding with an aura of light which can be seen under no other condition.

There seems to be a silence in the fog as it quietly floats and penetrates everything it meets. A silent mystery inviting exploration of the mind and eye. Wondrous depths to be explored by artistic spirits!

Our part of the country has been engulfed in fog the past two days and I did manage to take time to snap some photographs in the midst of a busy schedule.   Just want to share them here with you.  Possible subject matter for a later painting.  I love the  elements of foggy days; all objects seem to stand enshrouded in mystery awaiting discovery of the passerby.

Back to painting today.  Enjoy the photos.My latest painting took a back seat the past two days as I was enjoying the days in company of my thirteen year old grandson.  We had a great time doing many things, but not painting.

And in the mist there lies
A tender presence
Before my eyes
Hark, are you there
Midst my despair
Do not hide in foggy
Come walk with me
As mist unfurls

Friday, November 12, 2010

Progress - on Black Background


Very slow, but progress is being made.  This is not what I hope the final will look like.  I am finding it quite interesting building up the image against a canvas painted entirely in black.  I usually tint my canvas with either a red, a yellow ochre or burnt sienna wash. 

This is fun, will see where the process takes me. Apologies for 'blurred' image.  My camera seems to have some water still floating about somewhere inside.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

November 11th - Remembrance Day

Armistice Day, Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day. Whatever you call it – in Canada November the 11th is the day we set aside to honour our war dead. It has always struck me as odd that we needed one day to remember – many I am certain over the years needed one day to forget.

So many lives lost, so many people changed forever.

Canada was far removed geographically and did not suffer first hand the devestation and heartbreak suffered by those in Europe.. My uncles served ‘overseas’ in the European theatre ( odd to call it a theatre, I am certain it was not entertaining at all). I know very little about their service, one uncle served with the Black Watch, another with the tanks, another with the RAF.

I don’t know what youngsters did in Europe; many were transported away from their homes to other countries for safety. In my country little boys donned pots on their heads, took up wooden rifles and banged on pot lids as they marched off to ‘war’ like their dads. They played their war games with a ‘bang bang, you’re dead’ For the fathers of many of these little boys the game was real, and their fathers were dead.

I was barely a toddler when my one uncle went away and I repeatedly asked “why”. I know that at the end of the war the medals were stashed away and we were not allowed to discuss the war with my uncles. They left young lads and returned grown men; many with nightmares to follow them through life. One of my uncles left in high spirits and returned an alcoholic. He worked every day of his life and drank every evening to forget. Another uncle was on leave in  a liberated country and a native of that country slit his throat, robbed him and left him for dead in an alley. Another uncle lied about his age to join the ‘fly boys’ – when they discovered his age he had already flown missions over Germany and was celebrating the birthday that now made him of legitimate age.

Many died and did not return. Many returned with war brides. Many returned strangers to those who loved and knew them. Many children were left ‘fatherless’. Many orphans.

I remember one grandmother busily knitting toques, socks, scarves and gloves. My other grandmother used to unravel the nylon threads from parachute rope pieces and knit into the stockings – they lasted longer with the nylon threads. I remember them assembling care parcels and shipping off with knitted goods, chocolate, cookies, tea, tobacco and various other items. They gathered and made up red cross bandages, the women took on men’s jobs.

When the ‘boys’ were on leave my grandmother hosted a party and dance …. The huge dining room turned into a dance floor complete with band and loads of food on the kitchen table. Particularly I remember the huge cello and the violins and dancing couples.

Many, many stories to tell about this time in my life; too many to include here today. Mostly I remember my best friend in the whole world, my uncle, leaving to be a soldier – I was barely a toddler butI was definitely going to do the same ‘when I grew up’, I would go with him.

I remember the town parades on November 11th folllowing the end of the war. One uncle would dress and march in the parade, the other got ‘stinking’ drunk instead. The whole town attended waving little flags and cheering. Never cared much for those parades … I couldn’t find anything to cheer even as a very small child.

I remember, I know many of you do also; and now that I know more of those involved in the conflict; and in conflicts of other wars – I still ask “Why”.

And I apologize for this not being an ‘upbeat’ blog. Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New Beginnings

Enough time spent on re-working canvases where I have lost grasp of the vision. Re-working is fine for me if I still hold the vision; but I have been struggling with canvases that are winding up being courses in futility! So onward!  The reworks are being resurfaced with a wash of solid colour and will hopefully become new beginnings.

I was recently reading Bruce Sherman’s blog - Journaling With Paint;  where he describes painting a landscape scene by initially covering the canvas with black paint. He describes the process and supports with progressive pictures of the painting.

Looks pretty interesting. And, yes I am giving it a try. Now what I display here is barely a beginning and not as refined as what you will see on Bruce’s blog; but it is my beginning and I will see where it takes me.

So … in progress. Another northern Ontario scene!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Working With Wood

I said yesterday that I preferred working with wood over clay. I guess I should clarify that comment....I love sculpting.... but not pottery!  Over the years, when I had a home with a basement and work area I would refinish old ….. the older the better …. furniture. Now I am an apartment dweller and this passion of mine has become difficult to persue.

The piece shown here was retrieved from a very old home. It had been used in the basement for decades as a wash stand. It was covered not only with dirt and grime but bleach stains, cigarette burns, gouges in the surface, huge dents, mould… and nails driven at all angles.

The original piece was entirely tongue and groove, not a nail to be found. It appears to have been constructed using different woods – there’s oak, maple and ?. It took many months using only hand tools - steaming the dents back to proper level, removing cigarette burns, bleaching out acid burns … and removing all nails. The piece was totally disassembled and carefully fitted back together, glued and clamped. Finally I rubbed with the piece with tung oil and over the years it has mellowed to this wonderful patina. There is no wax or varnish on the piece. This is the only piece I have retained in my apartment dwelling.  The top drawer still bears signs of where nails were driven in ... mabe someday I will have another look. 

I would very much like to find the missing 'door' .... it appears to be a door that was attached, the wood has been chipped away to accommodate hinges. I keep looking at junk yards and antique shops but have not been able to find one.

The second picture here is of a doll house I constructed for my granddaughter. It was built totally from scratch, beginning with enlarging a paper pattern and cutting out all pieces with a jig saw. It is built to an exact 1/12 scale. Each piece has been hand constructed using hand tools… including the 22 windows … they are sliding windows … that took a bit of figuring out … but it worked.

I have lost the interior pictures. … the floors are all hardwood constructed of individual strips of wooden coffee stir sticks each individually glued in place and finished with tung oil. The bathroom floor is constructed to resemble tiles floors found in turn of the century homes. All detailing including wainscoting, ceiling mouldings, the porch turnings and trimmings were hand made by ‘me’. It is wired and lighted … that was probably the most difficult part. The roof is constructed of a potter’s clay …. Which I sanded with a palm sander (the only other electric tool used on the house was the jig saw used to cut the initial pieces. The bag on the palm sander didn’t do as promised… did not collect the sanding residue with the result I inhaled enormous amounts of white dust permanently burning and damaging my lungs. But hey, it looks like a slate roof.

I will try to get pictures of the interior again and post at a later time.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Artists and Pottery

The next time you pass a potter’s shop….please stop and pay tribute! I say this because I am finding out just how difficult it is to be a potter... to fashion a vase, a plate or a bowl with  artistic flair (one you want to take home and display as a treasure) requires not only vision but an enormous amount of talent and patience!

My daughter registered me to participate with her in an evening pottery course. Now let me say from the outset……pottery is not exactly “my thing”. However it just gave my daughter such pleasure to have me doing this ‘mother-daughter’ activity, how could I disappoint that grinning face and say ‘no thanks’!

Oh my, what an ordeal! My clothing is covered with mud, mud in my hair, on my face, on my shoes, on my backpack and all tools! My art apron is so caked it cannot be redeemed.

We started off by rolling out a slab of clay then wrapping around a cylinder, fashioning a handle of some sort…and after a couple firings….voila my ‘pencil holders’. I managed to pawn one off on my kindly granddaughter who is actually using as a mug, bless her heart!

So….three left, rolled with a rolling pin, three cylinders that will make great pencil holders if one can bear to look at them.

And then….a pinch pot; for this you start with a round ball of clay and pinch with fingers into a bowl - easy you,no....there are only certain fingers you use and in a certain manner!  Don't ask me which - I've forgotten!   And a rolled slab bowl and a coil bowl! Oh, and there is a special technique for rolling a coil as well!  Have you ever passed a yard sale and there’s a ‘Free – Take Me’ box on the curb. That is where these will end their bitter fate; I was going to take them to a charitable operated store but have decided the donation of the items seen here would not at all be a charitable act!.

And that’s not all….there is more to come! Yes, oh yes, I have progressed to ‘throwing’ … “things” on the potter’s wheel!   And they are indeed very strange "things".  They are in a kiln right now doing their thing.  I threw one such 'thing' while the girl next to me made five beautiful bowls in half the time.  And she did it with such expertise and calm ... AND  all her clay stayed on the wheel whereas I even managed to spatter the person across from me; she had to wipe my clay off her forehead!

To add insult to injury the instructor suggested I might want to try one of these finished models again….that is if I was concerned about my final mark. WHAT! You mean I am to be MARKED for this effort …. I’m only here enjoying the ear-to-ear smile and shining happy eyes of my daughter!

So my salute to all potters…..turning out a vase, a bowl or whatever is not easy. It is time consuming, exacting, and definitely requires a level of concentration and patience I do not possess!  I'd rather get a haircut and that's not exactly one of my favourites!

Working with wood is a different you some of my woodwork tomorrow!

Friday, November 5, 2010

I seem to be spending more time out of my ‘studio’ than in lately. Camera in hand I just can’t drink in enough of this beautiful autumn. I’ve been walking and walking …. Perhaps a little more strenuously than recommended but that’s okay!

I made sure I was out on a local trail before dawn two days ago, just had to make sure I captured on film the magical world of frosty mornings….when everything is painted with nature’s paint brush.

As you know there are different degrees of types of frost, depending on the prevailing weather conditions. The painting included today depicts hoar frost (or radiation frost) coating branches and shrubs along the edge of a Northern Ontario lake. A cold, clear night is a requisite for these precious ice crystals to form.

I am also including some photographs taken two mornings; the frost is barely a coating, not as thick and lasting as the frost in the painting. Love frosty mornings; I was getting cold, my toes starting to feel the temperature after four miles of ‘snapping photos’ but I could not leave this beauty of the day without recording in some way.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Artists and Gamblers

The sketch and painting here were done two years ago.

Have you ever had a song running through your mind? One you didn’t know where on earth it came from? That’s where I am at with the horrid golden aspen canvas I have been attempting to ‘rework’. For the past day the gambler song is running through my mind….I haven’t heard it recently so don’t know where it came from. You know the one….”you have to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run”.

It must be an omen, a “sign”, a bolt our of the blue - or whatever you might call it…..although I don’t believe in either. Looking at this aspen painting I know it was a gamble from the start…..I just couldn’t get a handle on it. So time to “know when to run”. And believe me I am running from this latest attempt.

I wonder how many artists feel at this moment as I do. “Art” is a gamble! More precisely the creation of this vision in one’s mind on paper, canvas, board or whatever … is in fact a gamble. And perhaps that is what ‘life’ is. With hard work, diligence, faith in one’s self and the courage to try….we may achieve the elusive goal, whatever that may be.

The painting attached here is one I did two years ago … a thought out of nowhere … and it worked. It was so much ‘fun’ to paint this one … it just seemed to flow and I knew it would work. From the moment I attacked the second canvas I have been working away on I had questions….and like the gambler should have ‘known when to run’!

So my current attempt is now a paint over and will never see the light of day again. I will be happy with the one shown here and move on to ‘a new game’.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tree Identification, Autumn

They say you should not ‘look back to the past’ but forward to the future; some say only for today. But I am not so disciplined that I can walk through gorgeous autumn days without remembering the past and my place in the world today because of ‘my past’and where my roads have taken me.

Autumn leaves, the colours, the crispness underfoot and still how wonderful it is to kick one’s toes through the piles as one walks! The crisp, cool and frosty mornings!   Raking leaves into piles and piles. I know my sister is glad not to have to rake leaves as she has in the past….raking over one hundred leaf bags and more on her country property. But, I still love the piles and still derive joy running and jumping into the leaves! I still smile when I take off my shoes and discover my socks and feet are dirty from leaf debris!   Past joys and present ecstasies!

To walk through the forest and listen as the leaves break away from the tree and fall with an almost imperciptible 'plop' to the ground or are picked by a swirl of wind and wind their way through the air, round and round about your head as they float to the ground.

This is a time of year when I revisit my grade five level ‘tree identification; course, identifying trees from their bark, colour, texture and bud shapes!

The strengthof the mighty oak can be seen in the deep ridges of the bark, the way the tree spreads wide limbs and hangs on to some of ts crispy bronze leaves.  A tree of might and strength, straight and tall that wears its scars with pride.


The black willow, the trunks always seem to 'lean'.  Usually found on water edges they seem to lean towards the source of their nuture and survival. 

And sometimes, if you're really lucky you can find one you haven't seen before or can't identify! 

Enjoy autumn....past and present and hopefully the future!  I am thankful to bask in another autumn.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Reworking Canvas - Golden Aspen

I’ve been working on this ‘rework’ of golden aspen and still don’t know where it is going or why!

It is a large 40” x 36” canvas, worked in oils.

I really did not do enough planning before I jumped headlong into this one and have now made chalk marks all over correcting a very bad composition.  So some major changes to be made.  For the moment I will let it hang on the wall and continue to stare at it for the next couple months. Maybe the ‘paint fairy’ will come in the middle of the night and ‘fix’!

I have left canvases hang for a period in the past and suddenly seemed to visualize what it was I really wanted the canvas to ‘say’..

Hopefully that will happen with this one in the next couple months; otherwise it will be a discard come January.

The photographs are not particularly good, the one of the full canvas unfortunately seems to show the ‘yellow’ with a brilliance not on the canvas. Having submerged my camera in the river I am using my son-in-law’s and it doesn’t have the photographic options my doused camera had.

The first two photos are portions of the canvas and the third is the entire ‘picture’... which after the chalk marks has changed drastically.  Now that I have marked it all up, I am feeling an "itch" to get back into it!
We will see.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sketching Paradase

Don’t you just love this time of year…..when the leaves have mostly fallen; there are some still about; but you can see beyond the foliage and discover what was hidden from view a few weeks ago.  An opportunity to view the 'hidden' jewels of the forests and fields!

Walking along the bay a few days ago I, once again, took many photographs. 62 as a matter of fact in under an hour. Just so much to see!  It was a very cold and windy day.  A wonderful most people remained indoors!  I pretty much had the trail to myself and enjoyed every moment to indulge in the beauty present under a gloomy sky; and just missed the rain as well!
Look at these berries clinging to branches. They will remain for sometime yet, at least until the birds have picked them clean. Some will get missed and turn wonderful shades of browns, purples and blacks.

And the tree limbs, bark and branches.

Beautiful blue branches of some shrub; textured barks of maples, oak and willow! The angle of the branches, unique to each tree – the bones of the tree laid bare for analysis. And just look at how the vines twine round and round the trees fighting for their place in the sun.

Patterns everywhere, underfoot and rising high.

Here I include the brilliant ochre/red berries of the sarcoxy, the white berries of the dogwood; wonderful purple clumps of berries which I know nothing about; and wild grapes rambling along a fence.

The tufts of the sumac will remain throughout the winter adding its sculptural signature to the landscape.


I thought the mallards would have gone 'south' but here they are nestled in a protective cove out of the reach of a raw wind.