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!

Friday, April 22, 2011

People Watching


Yesterday marked the first day in over five years that I have taken public transit….and I must admit I had a very good day. I am a people watcher! I had forgotten how enjoyable it was to ride public transit and share space with so many people. I cannot go up to each of them and say “How Do You Do” and shake hands. As I taught my children eons ago …nor can I ask them ‘What’s your name and business?’ But I can watch and imagine.

I wonder who they are, where they are going and why. I wonder where they have been, what roads have taken them here. I wonder what their hopes and dreams might be. Such a diverse collection of people from many walks of life and from many ethnic groups.

The 6:40 a.m. trip comprised mostly business and work people; well groomed and well dressed in preparation for the day ahead. The 12:20 p.m. trip included a different mix of passengers entirely.

You could pretty well tell something about the early morning passengers – dressed for their respective jobs; from nurses to business or retail workers to construction or steel workers. But the afternoon group was a great guessing game. People who were very quiet and restrained; those who looked bone weary, others carrying on converations as though they were the only two people in the world.

I wondered why the young lady across from me looked so angry. Her entire demeanor was one of anger – her facial expression was tense, her mouth firmly set, a look in her eyes that could cut through steel at a hundred yards. About ten minutes into the ride; coming to the end of the bus route her expression changed from anger to such hurt and pain. Her eyes glistened with tears. I sort of wanted to give her hug and tell her all would be well.

So many in the afternoon crowd trying so hard to hold on to youth. I believe mini skirts should be left to the ‘mini age’. Well. at least not to the overweight and those sporting as many wrinkles as my three score and ten face! The lady next to me sported such a skirt and very, very expensive wrap around sunglasses! Granted her ‘bod’ was in pretty good shape but not her face. Or the lady with the brilliant sienna hair and green eyeshadow with a facial expression that denied approach.

Many expressions were just blank; as though if they didn’t look at anyone they could remain anonymous in the crowd. And I love the ones with the ‘music’ plugged into their ears ….chatting on hand held devices at the same time. So many now are what I call ‘plugged in’ with cords attached to their ears.

Interesting to check out their shopping as well. Mother’s with small children trying to conceal ‘easter goodies’ out of sight; an upscale boutique shop for the lady next to me; a couple grocery bags from the farmer’s market for some others.

Love people, love watching people. Love to sketch as well if I can do so without being ‘caught’!

The three portraits included are from people on the bus; the sitting figure was done from a distance at the bus terminal.

Enjoy.  And Happy Easter to all; however you celebrate.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Good or Bad Paintings

A friend asked yesterday which painting I thought was my ‘best’ Immediately I knew which one I considered “my best”.

Interesting subject … how do we know when a painting is “good”, “excellent” or a “throw that one away"

I’ve never entered a juried show, and cannot anticipate every doing so; so don’t know the criteria established for these shows. Would some ‘jurist’ deny my ‘best’ as garbage, and by what measurement?

I was taught that a good drawing is the underlying precedent for a good painting; that without first identifying all compositional aspects in a drawing, the painting would not succeed. Sometimes, very rarely actually, I pay attention to all the aspects of a ‘good drawing’ …. Identifying scale, proportions, form of composition, emphasis, focal points, motion. Sometimes! Usually I simply work from an initial sketch and hope for the best.

It seems to me that ultimately a painting must ‘speak’, it must have a VOICE if you will!  First, to the artist saying ‘here I am, this is what “I” feel, this is what “I” see! The trick of course is to convey to the viewer the same message.

I look at the painting included here – which I’ve titled “Indigo” and I know what it says to me; I have personal reasons for considering this my best. From a compositional aspect or ‘design’ flow I see changes I should make; but will not as I may wind up altering the moment I ‘felt’ this painting. I will not divulge what I see or feel in this painting at this point because I am more interested to know what readers of this blog ‘feel’ when they view “Indigo”.

I firmly believe that a “good” work of art must move the viewer; must provoke thought and recognition of ‘something’ personal to that viewer.   What do you think of “Indigo” ? Does it speak in anyway to you?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Frost Along The Way - Palette Knife

And here I am once again.  Sometimes life just becomes too involved to allow free time to do what we would 'rather do' ... such as posting a blog.

Been very busy of late, not too much in pursuing my artistic endeavours.  Family and so much else. 

Returned my leased car; and I must admit being 'wheel less' hasn't quite registered yet.  Not paying the exhorbitant auto insurance rates is quite enjoyable!  My insurance went up nearly 40% for the next year ... and that is accident and ticket free!  Three areas in Ontario have been designated 'highest claim areas' and unfortunately Hamilton is one of the locations.   Consequently a $600 hike for the year.  So I've renewed my shoe leather, purchased a local transit pass and will be joining the masses standing in bus lines!

One thing I did miss recently was my computer.  My daughter took 'old Lizzie' away to try and load Windows 7.  It didn't work!  Looks like I am in the market for a new one soon.  In the meantime I now have my computer back as it was and all is right with the world!

Oh yes, right!  This is supposed to be my painting journal. 

Attached is another palette knife endeavour.  This one I call 'Frost Along the Way'.  Am loving working with the palette knife; but haven't been doing much lately.  The gallery where I displayed my work has closed shop so I am currently looking for a place to hang my paintings; all 32 of them.  Looking with little success; it seems no one wants to hang landscapes.  I am certain landscapes will again become the art purchase of choice; and my children will be able to unload them long after I have departed for sunnier climes!

Thinking about what I might paint next; perhaps work on some of the old trees I have sketched.  Without a car I will not be able to visit my favourite painting haunts and may have to change subject matter.  Perhaps being without a car will be beneficial in may ways. 

Meanwhile, enjoy the latest palette knife painting!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Palette Knife Paintings

I’ve been painting and painting the past year …. And painting! And painting, but I haven’t felt any elation over what I have been producing. The odd canvas has turned out to be rather alright …. But certainly those that reached that status were achieved only by accident. I’ve been painting without ‘joy’ and I do believe it shows in the final product. ‘Product’ … now there’s a word! That is what I have been doing …. ‘producing’ like a manufacturing plant…one with an assembly line. Producing the same product - canvas after canvas!

I began my artwork with a vision … I was going to translate the music, the exhilaration, the mood I feel in the Canadian landscape. Somewhere along the way the music stopped and I found myself simply painting ‘pretty’ pictures…..nothing awe inspiring whatsoever on the canvas. A photograph could achieve the results I see in my finished works.

I’ve been struggling to get away from detail…..but every time I pick up a paint brush I feel ‘control’ sweep in and obscure the message I had intended to convey….I was beginning to feel I would never scale the cliffs of ‘control’.

I’ve been working on several waterfall canvases lately …. And no matter how you slice it … there they are … waterfalls! Recently while setting up my palette for another waterfalls scene I thought I might begin as a friend of mine …. By applying acrylic matte medium and texturing the canvas. To do this I used a palette knife ….. and suddenly a life line appeared along the cliff … and I discovered a new frontier (for me) in my artistic search. The palette knife!

I spent ten minutes on each of these ‘waterfalls’ paintings …. Using the palette knife.

I love it. This artist’s tool has set me free! It is very difficult to ‘diddle with detail’ when the palette knife is loaded with paint. I’ve discovered freedom from ‘control’ and have recovered the joy of painting with expression …. Using the palette knife. A frontier I look forward to exploring as I wonder just how much I might be able to do with this tool.

A return for me  … to a limited palette. I selected only blues, yellow, a touch of crimson and white!

And …. Now I am again having FUN painting!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Aplogies and Futility

Apologies are in order. So sorry, I have been away from the world of ‘blogging’ for quite some time without any explanation and I apologize.

The second apology is for the quality of the photos attached to this blog. I still haven’t replaced my ‘water logged’ camera.

About my absence, I got caught up in the day-to-day tasks of living from December to March with mother in residence with me. I found that I was really reluctant to spend time on the computer or painting as I felt I was taking away time to spend with her. She is as you know almost 93 years of age and I know how important it is for her to spend time with her children; doubly important for me to spend time with her. And, unfortunately it takes time to adopt a new routine. So here I am once again, ready for the blogging world.

The paintings attached here are the results of a ‘self taught course’ I’ve been pursuing in my artistic development. The course is called “FUTILITY, FUTILITY, ALL IS FUTILITY’.

I give up, I concede. It doesn’t matter how much paint one plasters on a canvas… cannot ‘fix’ a canvas that is not working. But I’ve been working diligently, determined to succeed ….. ‘ah ‘tis futile’.

I am reluctant to give up on almost anything; the waterfalls is a large 30”x36” canvas … and to think I stretched it myself!

However, off to the bin with these two. I am determined to look at neither again. But, who knows I may get lucky in the next few days and be invited to an event for someone I really don’t like …. And they get the waterfalls!

This lesson has not been without rewards however, I have discovered a new approach to painting, which I will discuss tomorrow.

Once again, apologies; hope I still have a few readers out there.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Tweaking a Painting

I’m guilty. I admit it! I never know enough to ‘leave alone’ and have been busily ‘tweaking ‘ my current paintings.

Which leads me to the big question……when is it time to put the painting on the shelf and leave it alone? How do other artists decide? I have a friend who paints frenetically with abandon for an hour or so and …. Voila ….. masterpieces every time. Never revisits the finished canvas, never tweaks .... seems to know exactly what it is he wishes to convey and doesn't 'sweat it' when not satisfied -- simply 'bins' the work.  Oh how I wish!

I know of someone else who works sort of ‘piece meal’ and takes considerable time to finish a painting but never ‘tweaks’; rather leaves what has been previously painted.

It must be in the planning, perhaps I need to sketch more; although my first friend mentioned doesn't sketch but does have a definite ideas in mind. 

Every time I look at something I think is ‘finished’ I see a further change. I need someone to stand outside my studio door who will skirt the painting off somewhere so I can never ‘change’ or ‘tweak’.

Anyway, for what it’s worth. Here is the result of ‘tweaking’ my earlier waterfall.  I've attempted to 'break up' the solid wall of darkness in the forest area and added more swabs of colour to the rocky outcrop on the left.  Apologies - the photograph is not showing changes too well.  Must replace this 'water logged' camera.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I am feeling stagnant! Stagnant in my production of visual art! I am going nowhere….just painting pretty pictures! Such as the one included here.

This is not what I want my art to portray. It’s a pretty forest stream in autumn, I’m certain you can see that. But….it does not say what I intended.

I remember the day well – a beautiful sunlit autumn day. The temperature was perfect, the air so clear and clean. The bubbling brook just sang, the autumn colours were magnificent, the day was glorious and the remote location a dream come true. No one for miles … just me, the glorious silence of the moment, the wonder of an undisturbed scene, the ‘take you breath away’ feeling when viewing perfection. This painting was supposed to translate my feelings of the day – to be a representation of the heightened emotions of the moment – a representation which others could feel and recognize – one which would cause the viewer to take a deep breath and say ‘ah!’.

I look at it and cannot identify the exhilaration I felt the moment I sat to sketch the scene. Perhaps I lost the moment relying on a photograph of the scene for colour – I just don’t know.

I believe it is my duty as an artist to take a moment and ‘capture’ it in all its splendor on canvas – to translate the feeling of the storm, the whisper of the rain, the torrent of a storm, the tranquility of a forest surrounding. To recognize and paint the light, the dark … the joy, the sadness, the exhilaration – whatever moved ‘me’ onto the canvas.

I have two other such canvases in my studio to finish up; then perhaps in order to grow as an artist I need to do some serious ‘thinking’ about my work as a visual artist.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Building Bridges

My past weekends have been occupied by my grandson and his latest school project.

So… I have been busy building bridges! Two bridges - Pratt and Warren to be exact.

His hypothesis was to prove which bridge would withstand the most weight…..oh, so simple you say.

He is like me, his grandmother … a procrastinator and puts off projects until the dire last moment, shattering the harmony in his home as his parents struggle with his last moment endeavour … merely adding to the frenzy. I learned early in life to overcome my tendency to procrastination so have been trying the past few years to help him over this hurdle and assisting him with his school projects. Responsibility to ensure he has planned said projects with ample time for completion….trying hard to ‘bridge’ the gap between his natural inclination for procrastination and the importance of doing tasks in a timely fashion. It has been a ‘fun’ journey with many surprises along the way and well worth it as  this year he has called me and made proper arrangements to tackle this current project.

We shopped for materials before Christmas. He took one weekend to do research and develop his hypothesis. The following weekend he thought we would begin building, however I advised he would be required to draft scale drawings of his proposed bridges, compile materials lists, write up stages of construction …….etc. And he did all these things with enthusiasm and in a timely fashion.

So the last two weekends he has been busily building Pratt and Warren on a one inch equal one foot scale; using balsa wood.

I endeavour to stay in the background offering advice or suggestions on how best to utilize materials and supplying all necessary tools. When frustration sets in I am handy to encourage. I’d like to say, I do not do the work for him but check what he is doing and keep him concentrating on the chore at hand.

Anyway enough, these are his completed bridges. I understand that he will now add weights to the bridges and see which collapses first. I think he did a pretty good job for his first engineering project … draft drawings and all.

He called last evening …. His tests collapsed the bridge he expected to be strongest. He was quite discouraged; I suggested he record his findings and conclude that perhaps he would need to revisit the ‘engineering’ process. We had little time for discussion, I will have to wait a bit to see his entire presentation and his conclusions and discuss what he has learned from ‘building bridges’!

My sincerest hope is that the ‘bridge’ fused in sharing this time with him will assist him in the future when he must cross bigger bridges

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Waterfall Painting

Finally a measure of success.  I am calling this waterfall painting complete ... at least for now.  Maybe after hanging and 'aging' a bit I may decide to make improvements.  For now, I will leave alone.

I was trying to become more 'painterly', looser in my approach to this painting and started with wide swabs of colour....but inevitably I start detailing and adding.  However, for the moment this is it.  Waterfalls located on stream running through Neustadt, Ontario.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Painting in Progress

Nothing much to say today; except it's 9:30 a.m. here and I've been at the easel for four hours......without Wilf Carter.

Good old Wilf is serving some good however; mother usually 'naps away' the entire afternoon.  Yesterday with five hours of Wilf she stayed wide awake ... and it was worth Wilf to hear her sing along and smile!  So more Wilf today I guess.  I will just have to close my studio door to paint!

Here it is ... progress .... and yes I am slow; the canvas is 36 x 30 and I'm finding I have to work in sections.  Hopefully will make a strong dash today and on my way to finish tomorrow.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Painting Music - Work in Progress

When I paint I put on one of my favourite cds….usually a Mozart, Beethoven or Vivaldi. Currently, with my mother visiting I try very hard to consider her music preferences … country music! I am not one of country’s greatest supporters … however at the moment I am listening to Wilf Carter; and becoming somewhat agitated.

For those of you who are not familiar with Wilf Carter; he is considered the ‘father of Canadian country music’ … popular in 30’s, 40’s, 50’s. The ‘yodelling cowboy aka Montana Slim. Right now I am hearing about ‘Old Shep’ … some dog on his way to ‘dog heaven’; I’ve heard ‘Down the Old Cattle Trail’, ‘The Little Shirt My Mother Made’, 'Drunk, Broke and Sorry' and Rye Whiskey. Apparently one of his greatest fame makers was ‘You Are My Sunshine’.

It may be time to put painting aside for today … I can feel a sort of tension building by the moment with all this yodeling going on!

So here it is for today. Progress slowly made on my latest waterfall attempt.

Will have to continue in the silence of 5 a.m. tomorrow without Wilf!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

In Progress - 92 Year Old Suggests Collage

I have my 92 year old mother spending some of the winter months with me. The fact that she was here for Christmas was in itself quite an accomplishment for getting my mother to come ‘south’ for the winter is as about as difficult as extracting wisdom teeth. She just does not want to leave her northern home, the six foot high snowbanks and very minus zero temperatures!

So my children and grandchildren are delighted; it has been wonderful to have her share our holiday season in our homes!  And it is indeed quite an experience. In her home mother still rules with an iron fist….but away from her familiar surroundings she becomes what she is; a 92 year old who is legally blind and navigating with a cane. She will not agree to a white cane because ‘people will think I am blind’. She will not agree to a walker because they are a ‘pain…you know where’! In her home however she knows where everything is and moves like a small tornado. In my home she needs much help and attention. Our day begins with pulverizing her medication and administering in a spoon of jam and special foods … must be a certain brand or the food is quite simply not edible! I wonder if I will be as feisty and stubborn …. My daughter says ‘shades of things to come’!

However, these are not why I mention her here. Although she is legally blind she has a bit of peripheral vision in shades of grey. She knows how unhappy I have been with my latest painting effort and knows I am trying to ‘loosen’ my style. The more I work at 'loosening' this painting the more it is becoming a 'labourious task' and the more distratous it becomes!  This morning mother suggested that perhaps I needed to go collect some ‘thin, flat bits of rock’ and glue to the canvas along the edge of the waterfalls …. ‘maybe that could be a “new” style’ she says; unaware that 'collage' is an art form or style. 

I just think it is quite phenomenal for a lady of her age who has known nothing but hard labour and the cultural offerings of a small Ontario mining town to be so perceptive and to be able to ‘see’ solutions at 92!

Just had to share.

Anyway, I am leaving this attempt at loosening my painting approach and returning to what I do best and hopefully the detail won’t become too boring to view.  I will at some point gather some 'thin, flat,bits of rock' and glue to another smaller canvas so she may "feel" the art.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year Resolutions

Right! It’s time for New Year resolutions! Do you make these resolutions?

Once upon a time, and far, far away ….. I made New Year Resolutions. The list inevitably consisted of ‘lose weight, be a nicer person, lose weight, show understanding to someone I absolutely could not tolerate, quit smoking, lose weight’. Had I resolved to ignore the person I could not tolerate I would have succeeded; had I resolved to smoke like a chimney, eat like a hog, I would have succeeded.

I don’t know about you, but by midnight January 1st my resolutions had taken wing and would line up to be considered anew the following new year. Finally somewhere along the years I realized these resolutions had as much commitment as giving up chocolate. And that year I made a resolution I could keep ….. I resolved never, ever to make another new year resolution. Finally I met with a measure of success!

Why is it we look inward at the beginning of a new year and identify what we would like to change about ourselves, why do we not do this daily. If these resolutions made at new year are so important, why do we not pursue them every day; without a ‘resolution’?

I struggle daily with ‘things’ I would like to change – about myself and who I might be, about my environment and the ‘path’ I walk … so this year I will continue as I did last year and the years before, I will continue through life’s journey without the crutch of a new year resolution; endeavouring to meet each daily new beginning headlong with courage and faith. I will probably continue to make wrong moves … but that will be fine; and who knows I may unknowingly do some good along the way. Whatever evolves the only resolution I will take with me is to give “it my all”!

I did however, make a commitment to myself last night; to start the new year painting and that is what I am doing and include here today’s work in progress. Apologies for the quality of the photograph, wet paint not copying too well.

Good luck with the resolutions.