Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas!





Friday, 19 December 2014

Some of the Things I Love About Christmas

  1. The music -- from the cheesy songs to the beautiful and everything in between.  My favorite song as a kid was "Silver Bells".  I can't tell you now what my favorite song is - there are so many great  ones.
  2. The smell of a real Christmas tree.
  3. The mix of nuts in their shells that we only see in the stores at this time of year - walnuts, hazel nuts, almonds and the dark shelled one with a meaty nut (I forget its name).  Cracking them is   almost better than eating them.  I'm always trying to get two perfect halves of the walnut shell.
  4. Christmas movies!  I have been watching them since November 1st.  Thank goodness for a PVR!
  5. Walking around town at night looking at all the light decorations and how they chase away the darkness of winter.
  6. My mother-in-law's dainties.
  7. The light string on my tree.  This small light string has 14 different settings.  I love the blinky   one. 
  8. My reindeer decoration that we've had for years.  His nose is still glowing strong!


Monday, 15 December 2014

Christmas Photo Sketched Out

I love getting Christmas photos. I even have an album dedicated just for them.  It's fun to see the changes in people from year to year.  That being said, I am totally not good at sending out either Christmas cards or Christmas photos.  Sorry family and friends! Maybe one year I will get it in gear. In the meantime, I was inspired by a Christmas photo I received from my good friend Suzanne a couple of years back.  I love the photo.  For some reason it made me smile whenever I looked at it, so I left it on my fridge for months and months and months until I decided to use it as a model for my next art project.

I used a uniball pen to draw the family on watercolor paper even though I decided not to add any color.  There's a bit of a 3-D effect going on as Mom, Dad and the girls are done on three separate pieces, cut out with an x-acto knife and layered together with a matte medium. The background is a photo I took near my home, copied onto cream colored cardstock.

This is by no means a photograph copy of the photograph.  My lines are wonky in places, waggly in others and I took artistic license with a few of the shapes.  What I hope it shows is the love and happiness threading through the circle of this family.

Next time, maybe I will try color!

Friday, 12 December 2014

Color Your Heart Beautiful

I promised to share with you what I made from the muslin I painted.  
Ta-da!  Hanging hearts. 
This was a fun project from start to end.  You can see the fabric painting posts here and here

From my heart to yours!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Stream Drawing

Have you ever tried stream of conscious writing?  That's when you sit down and write, write, write anything that comes to your mind.  You don't stop to think a thought through. You don't stop to edit any of your words. You don't stop to correct grammer. You just keep writing.  Set your timer for ten minutes, thiry minutes or one hour.  The choice is yours.  When you are done, you look back to see what came out.

This is what I call stream of conscious drawing.  It's not a pure stream drawing since I was watching t.v. while doing it.  I had no timer going.  This came out over the course of an hour and a half.  The next morning I added the blue for some color pop.  My favorite bits are all the little people.  For some reason I love drawing little people!  Could it be because some of my favorite childhood books were titles like The Borrowers and Stuart Little?

This is such fun to do anywhere, anytime.  I've done this in airports, restaurants, bus trips, car trips, at my art table, visiting family, while talking on the phone, sitting at meetings doodling all over the agenda paper!  They are not always full pictures like the one above.  If I really like the pictures I've drawn on small pieces of paper, I save them to paste in my sketchbook.  Sometimes when I look back at the stream drawings, it inspires me for something new.

Give stream drawing a try.  You never know what might pop out!

Friday, 5 December 2014

Getting Messy With Paint Part 2

A few weeks ago I was inspired by Alisa Burke to paint on muslin and I posted the results here.  It was so fun I did it again on a larger piece of fabric and I love the the way it turned out. 


I think I was channelling Jackson Pollock a bit while I was working!

This past week I have been turing my painted fabric into something new. I'm not quite ready to show you yet so I will post photos once I get it all done!

Thursday, 4 December 2014

My Dad the Author!

This is my dad's latest book.  He is amazing!  He spent the last three years documenting the demolition of the Pine Falls Paper Mill with his camera and then made a book with them.

You can read more about Takedown and the other books he has written here, and you can read more about him here.

Congratulations to my dad who, by the way, will be turning 87 years old this month!
Way to go Dad!


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

First Day

In one of my Sketchbook Skool klasses we were given the prompt "first day of school".  I tried drawing in the style of the instructor Mattias Adolfsson who, by the way, is quite an incredible artist. 

The first day I went to school started in kindergarten when I was 5 years old.  It's incredible how fresh the memories are for a day I haven't thought about in years!

Here are the logistics of the classroom placement in the school 'cause it had such an impact on my first day:

The kindergarten entrance was at the back of the school while all the other children from grade one to grade eight went through doors at the front. I assume it was a method to not overwhelm the youngest scholars in their first year. There were three wings to the school, one each to the right and left, and a third poking out the back.  My classroom was at the end of the back wing right beside the back entrance door.  Two other classes lived in this wing - the grade seven and the grade eight classrooms. The result?  The oldest and youngest students were grouped in the same hallway.

I remember:

  • walking through the back door into a long, long hallway filled at the far end with the "big kids"; they were loud, noisy and very,very big!
  • stepping through the doorway of the kindergarten class into another world - a world I had never imagined.
  • big, tall, brown shelves, reaching to the ceiling, filled with all sorts of toys and books, like a toy store!
  • encountering a pile of craziness in the form of lots and lots of children - there were 20 in the class and I still know all their names.
  • my heart pounding with excitement and fear until I saw this beautiful lady with black hair and a blue dress smiling directly at me, then only the excitement remained.

Her name, I found out, was Miss La Blue. I loved her immediately and wanted with all my heart to make her happy.

                                                                        Can you spot me? 

It's funny though, I can't remember who brought me to school that day.  I know there was a comforting, familiar body behind me but the face  - I just can't picture it.  Maybe it was my mom or one of my big sisters. I don't know.  Perhaps this is because I was facing the future, taking the first big step towards the rest of my life, and I wasn't looking back.  Or maybe my memory is not quite what it used to be and I just forget!

Oh yes --  I am in the second row wearing a white turtleneck with flowers on it.


Monday, 1 December 2014

Big Head

She started out as a scribble in my sketchbook.  I am not entirely certain what creating a giant head means but I bet it could be fun poking around the psychological aspect of it!

Friday, 28 November 2014

A Different Take on Blues

When my daughter was in grade seven, I volunteered in her English class.  One of the poems she studied is below.  It has stuck with me all these years.  I love the idea of seeing the blue between, of seeing what is not obvious, of seeing from a different perspective.

If, like in life, there are periods of dark and stormy clouds, then the blue is the good that happens between those difficult times.   This is a good thought to carry when your life is grey, overcast and turbulant.

The Blue Between

Everyone watches clouds,
naming creatures they've seen.
I see the sky differently,
I see the blue between--

The blue woman tugging
her stubborn cloud across the sky.
The blue giraffe stretching
to nibble a cloud floating by.
A pod of dancing dolphins,
cloud oceans, cargo ships,
a boy twirling his cloud
around a thin blue fingertip.

In those smooth wide places,
I see a different scene
In those cloudless spaces,
I see the blue between.
--Kristine O'Connell George

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Focused on the Blues

In my last post I was pretty blue.  In the spirit of shaking off those blues I thought I'd show you what I did on a morning walk I took with Maxie last August when I was really "focused on the blues".

Often when we walk I take my camera with me, in case I see something interesting.  That day I decided to spice things up by only taking photos of "blue things".  Here are a few of the 30 photos I managed to snap in a 45 minute walk.  



Maxie wasn't too happy with me stopping so many times on this walk.  Usually she is the one stopping!

Monday, 24 November 2014

Sludge and Joe Bastianich

Sometimes my brain is sparking.  Ideas are coming fast.  Bam! Bam! Bam!  Everything is working like a dream. Paintings are flowing off my paint brush.  My pen is inking out like crazy.  The connection between head, hands and heart is working at 110% capacity.  Nothing seems impossible. I am an artist! I rock!

Other days the brain is a pile of sludge - a thick, dull, heavy grey mass of lifeless void.  No matter what comes out of it, flatness reigns. Of course, this is also the time when I burn the green beans, the dog wants to go outside 50 million times in one hour, and I accidently delete NCIS New Orleans from the PVR then find out Husband was not finished watching it.  *sigh*

So I've been having quite a few of those days lately, the sludgy ones.  I don't know if anything will come of the work I've tried last week.  It's sitting in a corner of the back bedroom, away from the seeing eye.  I still know it's there.  It taunts me with its clashing colors and pedestrian design.  I ventured out into the unknown and the unknown did not give back to me kindly this time.  I'd had such a good run of happy art lately that last week was a particularily hard blow to my fledgling confidence.

Then the universe spoke in the voice of Joe Bastianich.  Yes, one of the judges from Masterchef spoke directly to me.  This week.  From the television.

Masterchef is a cooking competition where home cooks go through intense pressure-filled elimination rounds creating gourmet restaurant quality dishes in order to please the highly critical evaluations of three extremely talented, experienced and wildly successful judges in the quest to be crowned the best home cook in the entire world.   The judges? Crème de la crème of the cooking world - Gordon Ramsey, Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot.

This week I watched an episode of Masterchef Junior, the competition for nine to thirteen year olds. Yes, young children competing in a gourmet cooking show.  I can't even pronouce much less cook some of the dishes they are making and they don't have recipes in front of them!

This is a hard competition for adults, so it is harder still to watch these kids deal with the results of mistakes, sudden problems and sub-par dishes.  Every episode has a winner and a loser and every loser has to leave the show. There is disappointment and tears.

One little nine year old girl Oona, who had been doing impressively well over the first two episodes, had a bad week.  She put out the worst dishes since she started and she knew it.  I felt so bad for her. Then Joe handed her a napkin (this is where the universe spoke to me) and told her to wipe up her tears. He wondered if she thought she was going to do everything perfect all of the time 'cause no one was perfect.  She was going to make mistakes and mess up many times. Failures, especially the big ones, are often the catalysts that brings you to the next level.  They move you to improve you.

Oona was disappointed, but no longer devastated.  She was ready to accept her fate if she needed to leave the show, but I could tell she would leave with her head held high and undaunted in her cooking capabilities.

Good advice for me too.  When I run into mistakes, sudden problems and sub-par work, I will grab a napkin and wipe my tears.  I am not perfect and neither will my work be perfect all the time.  I will own the obstacles and embrace my mistakes.  I will allow my failures to move me to improve me.  I will go to the back bedroom, look at my mediocre work, and figure out a way to go forward from there, head held high and undaunted in my artistic capabilities.

Thank you Universe and Joe for the advice, just when I needed it.  I will turn my sludge into something beautiful.

By the way, Oona survived the elimination round to cook another day


Friday, 21 November 2014

After the Fire

Painted with acrylic folk paint and charcoal on cardboard cut from the side of a Rice Krispie Box

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

An Angel Came

Recently I have been reading about some of the Masters like Henri Matisse, Vincent Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso.  I love looking at their work and learning about their lives.  One thing that struck me as I examined the photos of the art work is the use of black outlines.  I thought that was a 21st century phenomenon.  Go figure!  I have lots to learn about art.

Olga Merson
Painted by Henri Matisse

I decided to try my hand at an image with the black outlines.  It is not nearly as  expressive with depth as Henri's (or nearly as good!), but I'm pretty happy with my first attempt.  

An Angel in the House

How sweet it were, if without feeble fright,
Or dying of the dreadful beauteous sight,
An angel came to us, and we could bear
To see him issue from the silent air
At evening in our room, and bend on ours 
His divine eyes, and bring us from his bowers
News of dead friends, and children who have never 
Been dead indeed, --as we shall know forever.
Alas! We think not what we daily see 
About our hearths, --angels that are to be,
Or may be if they will, and we prepare
Their souls and ours to meet in happy air; --
A child, a friend, a wife whose soft heart sings
In unison with ours, breeding its future wings.
                                                 James Henry Leigh Hunt

Monday, 17 November 2014

Gotta Have Book

I confess to a weakness of the bookish kind.  I simply, absolutely, 100% cannot resist buying art books.  My collection is growing alarmingly fast.  Real life book stores that sell new books and real life stores that sell used books, online book stores, artist website "buy now" buttons -  I visit them all and I spend money at them all!  In my head I tell myself, "Leah, you need to buy this book. It's an investment into your art, your future, your very survival!!"  Not really my survival.  But I love reading these books, and I read them over and over again. I haven't even begun to try all the different projects and techniques in the how-to ones.  Osmosis is hopefully at work here.  

I came across the most perfect phrase a month or so ago, to help me justify my art book obsession but darn it, I didn't write it down.  Basically it told me that I should "always have an new art book on the shelf to read".  I saw it either in a book about Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse or in one about Paul Cezanne which I borrowed from the library. Oh yes, in addition to buying books I also use the local library, interlibrary loan and download library books on my iPad.  If I really like a book, I go buy it. If you happen to ever come across a quote like this, please, please let me know.  It will help me convince my husband when I need to buy another set of bookshelves.

Here are a few of my many favorites in no particular order.  



If you've got a favorite book or two you would like to share, let me know.  I just might like to buy it!