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!


Friday, 14 November 2014

Honking Winged Creatures

Winter is officially here.  Snow is on the ground and it is not going anywhere again until next spring. When I let Maxie out yesterday morning about 5 am, I could hear the geese honking.  I love that sound, especially in the crisp, cold, night air.  There is something magical about it.

Honking winged creatures crossing greycast clouds, 
soaring above gleaned fields.  
Steady onward, formed in flights of primordial instinct.
A shift from here to there.
Gazing at soft underbellies shaded in silvered slate,
trembling at dizzy heights attained.
Reaching upward, following, seeking, chancing.
Where are they going? 
I will go too.
                                  Leah Boulet

Speaking of geese, there's a fabulous artist I love who I also happen to know.  She is amazingly creative and an awesome teacher.  In the last few years she's spent time sharing her knowledge and love of art in the schools.  Her lastest project is crazy good.  Geese are involved along with feathers, flight, thoughts, hopes and dreams.  I just have to share the You Tube video she posted last month. Here is Roberta Laliberté and her video Future Flight Path.

The last of these soulful flyers are winging their way south.  Next time the songs of the geese fill the air above my head, spring will be around the corner.  

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Getting Messy With Paint

I felt like playing this week so I got into the paints.  Below are some photos I took while painting on remnants of cotton muslin.  Since I'm thinking of sewing these scraps into something I figured I'd try different techniques for the first coat to see what works.  There's a  piece with Golden Fluid Acrylic Titanium White, another piece with Liquitex White Gesso, and a third piece covered with some Daler Rowney Simply Acrylic Black mixed with a bit of Golden Acrylic Glazing Liquid.  The other black piece is a bit of cereal box I used to mop up the black paint/acrylic glaze mixture.  I had too much for the fabric. 

  You could say I am experimenting, but it is probably more like "I don't know what I'm doing so heck, let's try this".   All I know right know is it's sure fun to get messy!

I was tempted to try this because of one of my favorite artists to follow - the super creative Alisa Burke.  She does tons of stuff on painted canvas.  Since I didn't have canvas I used what I had in my fabric stash.  I'll be sure to let you know what becomes of these pieces as soon as I figure it out!!

Friday, 7 November 2014

Nothing Artsy - Just Pizza

So I'm going to step outside the art parameters of this blog because I just want to share.  Something my husband and I love doing is finding and trying new restaurants and food stores. Last weekend we hit two in Winnipeg.

We had a decent lunch at The Cornerstone Bar and Restaurant at the corner of Osbourne and River in Osbourne Village.  It was 2:00 pm in the afternoon yet the place was over a quarter full.  The atmosphere was warm and cozy even with the cool greys, whites and chrome theme.  Service was great. The food? Not our absolute favorite but if you are looking for something different, give it a whirl.  D had the seafood pasta special which was not overwhelming in size but had a definite fishy flavour. His house Caesar made with gin and srir-cha was spicy and delish. I tried the soup special made with potato, bacon and something else which I've totally forgotten. This something gave the soup a distinct flavour which I've never had in potato soup before.  Liked it. Didn't love it. Would eat it again though.  I also had an order of five spice salted chicken wings. Good, strong five spicy flavour. Salty. D says he could taste the sweetness of the sugar he remembers from those awesome, little dusted doughnuts you get from the food trucks at carnivals and fairs.  His palette is better than mine or maybe he just had a craving.  I couldn't taste it. This was a lunch of mixed flavours so maybe that was our problem. For the price we wouldn't order it again, but you know what? I'd like to go back and give it a second chance. The burgers looked great and apparently they have a pastry chef in the kitchen who makes killer desserts. Now that might make a great lunch!

Our second stop occurred because we had enough of the shopping scene and we're ready to leave the city earlier than planned.  If our son had been around he might have scored a free meal from mom and dad. Instead we decided to grab a pizza and noodle on home early to watch the Jets taken on the New York Rangers on the big screen tv with my dad.  I said to D, "Why don't we make the pizza. Homemade always taste better,". He was in total agreement since I'm the pizza maker in the house.  Easy out for him.  He just washes dishes.  Only we didn't have any meat for toppings. At this point we were making our way down Main Street. D spotted a store - Tenderloin Meat & Sausage. Never heard of it. Never  noticed it. So he pulls into the parking lot behond the store. Why not? We are always up for a new food shopping experience.

Walking through the corner door was like walking into spice heaven. Holy heck it smelled good.  In front of us were several long display cases of meats -- the usual steaks, roasts, pork tenderloins -- and then the deli meats which featured, oh my gosh, homemade salamis, pepperonis and more, and yet another case with homemade garlic sausage and other yummy stuff I just can't remember.  I would love to excite you with vivid descriptions using all sorts of mouthwatering adjectives but since I was so busy consuming with my eyes and my nose, I didn't make any mental or real notes about what exactly was there. But believe me, it looked good.

Though we wanted to buy about six bags of everything, we settled for our pizza toppings of all-beef salami, hot pepperoni and a bag of three cheese blend with gouda, mozzarella and white cheddar from Manitoba's own Bothwell Cheese (love Bothwell!).  The staff behind those long counters were plentiful, efficient, friendly and helpful.  There sure were a lot of them, and we had to take a number to meet them, which tells me this place can be really hopping, which further tells me it is a little gem of a store which I am sure glad we discovered.

So that is the end of my sharing of something completely non-arty.  The pizza was yummy, the hockey great and the Jets won!  A good cap to finish off a super day.  Thanks for listening to my rambling.


Leftover Pizza

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Cover Idea For A Book I Might Never Write

I had an art assignment to make a book cover -- something imagined or from my travels or even of a book I like.  It could be drawn in any style, even in the style of famous illustrators. I decided to play around with this idea below as it has been rattling around in my head for awhile.  I figured, "why not a book cover?" People are so interesting and it is our differences I think that make them so. While some would like to condem others for their differences, I think we should embrace and celebrate those differences.  Everyone should fit. No one should be left out just because they are a square peg in a round hole. When you get right down to it, despite all our differences, underneath we are all the same. We want to be loved. For who we are. 

With lots of love from me, because you are you!,