|Posted on 25 July, 2017 at 19:20||comments (0)|
Ah Meaford. A small town nestled on the shores of Georgian Bay off of Lake Huron in Ontario, Canada. My parents' neighbours in the city moved there after retiring so when it came time for Dad to think about his own retirement they traveled up to have a look, and liking what they saw contacted a realtor to find a suitable home. At first the agent took them to nearby Owen Sound, which is a much larger community but it was on the trip back to the agent's office in Meaford that my parents fell in love with this place. You see, on the road back from Owen Sound there's a hill, and when you descend that hill there's the most beautiful clear view of the Bay and the town of Meaford. They were sold, and bought the house that I also plan to retire to.
Meaford's population is quite small with less than 5000 people. There's a "downtown", which consists mainly of a short strip of independent shops, restaurants and offices. It's charming, typical of a small quaint Ontario town with it's different brick storefronts and nineteenth century buildings. Some of the shops' floors are uneven and the oddly shaped floorplans add to the atmosphere. There's a large Hall, which is home to an art gallery and hosts many different shows, films and concerts. There is a warm sense of community here and there are annual celebrations including The Scarecrow Festival, something unique to Meaford. There's a parade, and the town is decorated with whimsical scarecrow effigies, hanging from the streetlamps and arranged in gatherings on public park areas and buildings. A lot of home and business owners join in the spirit of the festival, decorating their homes, shops and churches with scarecrows. During the Christmas season there's a themed window unveiling by the shop owners. The windows are covered for a week or so while they're prepared for the public view. On that night the street is closed to traffic and shoppers can wander about enjoying treats and hot cider or chocolate while they shop or just browse. It really puts you in a holiday mood.
All of this is a stone's throw away from the beauty of Georgian Bay. There's a small harbour with a pavilion which often used for community events such as fish fry dinners and art or antique shows. The water is often a brilliant blue, even in the winter, quite startling in it's intensity. There is always somewhere to walk and to see here, and I feel quite fortunate to be able to capture a lot of this gentle beauty in two paintings which I have shared below.
This is Meaford Harbour at sunrise. Further along the shoreline.
If you'd like to visit Meaford, it is located on Highway 26, in between Collingwood and Owen Sound. It's a lovely place.
Have a blessed week.
|Posted on 18 July, 2017 at 18:45||comments (0)|
Today is my mother's birthday. To simply say " I miss her" would be the understatement of the century. I spoke to her every day by telephone and she often came to stay with us throughout the years. We still lived in the city, some two hours drive from Meaford where she and my Dad retired. The C.S. Lewis quote sums the feeling perfectly: "Her absence is like the sky; spread over everything." The profound change in me that began when I lost Dad was complete, and influenced the next chapters of my life. This year will be the tenth anniversary of that dreadful year....the year that everything changed.
On a lighter note I'd like to share now a story that is a sort of sequel to my last blog entry although it happened some ten years after. It's about my very first seahorse painting and it came to me in a dream, right down to the exact colours (burgundy and silver) and it's "chessboard" background. When I awoke I just couldn't wait to paint it. I like to think it was another "divine" experience. I've subsequently painted many other seahorses but this one is special to me. I never take that painting anywhere, but keep it in the house at Meaford. I can't explain why I was given that dream, that thought, but it started my love relationship with these fantastic, mysterious creatures....almost prehistoric in their appearance, yet wonderfully agile and graceful.
I sometimes feel the need to break out of painting realism, and seahorses have provided me with that bit of an outlet. I've painted very colourful pieces, as shown below, and in other works have incorporated symbols as in 'Yin Yang Seahorse'. I've never painted a realistic seahorse.
I use that first seahorse painting as my logo, you can see it at the top of this page. Funny I never thought of a title for it....I just realised that as I'm writing this piece.
Have a blessed week!
|Posted on 11 July, 2017 at 18:20||comments (0)|
One day, about fifteen years ago I was sitting at my easel facing a blank canvas, unfortunately in a bit of a slump. What to paint? This is the same thing I'm sure that writers face from time to time. A complete block. It's very frustrating and the wisest thing to do when experiencing a block is to simply pack away the paints and brushes and leave it for another day. This day, however, for some reason I did not do that, instead I sat gloomily contemplating all that empty white space. I decided I'd paint some flowers. Nope. That wasn't working out, I changed my mind, covered up the flowers and thought I would try to paint some fruit. Again I wasn't happy with the result. I covered the whole surface with black paint and while it dried sat deep in thought. I was seated near a window and gazed outside trying to get some sort of inspiration. As I turned once again to the canvas I was struck by the light hitting that (now lumpy) canvas. The lumps of course, caused by the underpaintings. I picked up my brush and took up some white paint. I could see, as the light hit the uneven surface, the image of an angel. That piece is pictured below.
Once I'd highlighted the image, I was amazed at how easily this painting took shape. The face and hands especially almost painted themselves. My mother found it a little bit disturbing, and wasn't keen on the piece.
I never thought to sell this work, and kept it unframed, propped up on a shelf in our living room. One sunny morning, many years afterwards, I happened to glance at it and to my amazement, just the angel was completely highlighted by the rays of sunlight shining through the blinds. I rushed to get my camera, but by the time I got back, the sun had moved. I tried unsuccessfully to watch the sun for a few mornings but it never happened again. A missed opportunity.
Have a blessed and inspiring week.
|Posted on 4 July, 2017 at 18:50||comments (1)|
My latest work is a 12" x 12" painting of a dragonfly. I have always been fascinated by these amazing little creatures, the delicate nature of their wings, their vibrant colours and the speed and agility of their flight. I took this inspiration from another photograph taken by David Connolly.
The following quote is taken from the website www.dragonfly-site.com/meaning-symbolize.html
The Meaning of a Dragonfly: What Does a Dragonfly Symbolize?
"The dragonfly, in almost every part of the world symbolizes change and change in the perspective of self realization; and the kind of change that has its source in mental and emotional maturity and the understanding of the deeper meaning of life."
As I was sitting in Ormsby's Garden Centre last Saturday at the Artisan Fair in Meaford I noticed a small dragonfly at my table, landing on one of my paintings. I also noticed that it was the exact same species as the one in David's photograph, which I had painted a couple of weeks prior to the show. I hadn't brought that particular piece with me, as I had not decided if it was finished or not. I often place "is-it-finished-or-not" pieces in my dining room so I can study them for a while and reach a decision. This little dragonfly paid me several visits that morning and afternoon, landing here and there amongst my work. I've decided that this painting is indeed finished and might inspire more of the same subject.
Many thanks to David.
Have a blessed week.
|Posted on 27 June, 2017 at 19:40||comments (0)|
I have been under the weather since my last blog, having the misfortune to have caught a particularly nasty bug causing constant coughing, loss of voice and fatigue. However, the show "must go on" and last Saturday was the first of the summer shows that I'm participating in this season. It's one of my favourite venues, taking place in a beautiful garden centre in Meaford known as Ormsby's. I was in the greenhouse surrounded by spectacular plants and flowers. As it's my fourth time in this particular show, I was happy to see familiar faces as well as meeting some new artists and artisans.
Naturally my voice decided to desert me during the hours of the show and it was a bit of a challenge engaging in conversation with the visitors, but with a steady supply of water and cough drops, it was at least manageable.
I received a wonderful compliment on one of my paintings, a 12" x 12" piece entitled 'Early Macs'. I painted it from a photograph I took, a downward view of a box of apples that our neighbour was kind enough to give us one Autumn. The person who purchased it said it gave her chills....and that she'd been looking for that exact piece for ten years. I think that might be the nicest thing that anyone has said to me regarding my work.
I can't quite get my head around the fact that it's almost the end of June. I am always amazed at the speed at which the summer months seem to go by, and of course that thought is always promptly followed by "why can't winter go by that fast...?". We have had a lot of rain lately which has saved me from having to water my vegetable garden. Some say that a wet summer will result in a dry winter....maybe it'll be worth it.
See you in July! Have a blessed week.
|Posted on 20 June, 2017 at 19:50||comments (0)|
As Father's Day has just passed I'd like to pay tribute to my father.
Dad was pretty good at drawing and when I was small, he used to give my older sister and I each a sheet of paper which we'd divide into small squares. Then he'd think up various topics for us to draw and decide which of us had the most successful result. My sister was more accomplished than I, and it was a real challenge to try and compete but I eagerly looked forward to and loved these little competitions anyway.
In my early teens I turned from drawing and sketching to oil painting and Dad promptly built me an easel which I still use it to this day. It's a simple piece of equipment which has stood up to years and years of use. My parents' walls were covered with my early efforts, usually bowls of fruit or flowers. The smell of oil paint, turpentine and linseed oil, along with the music of Pink Floyd and Steppenwolf send me rocketing back to those early creative sessions in my little bedroom studio.
As I got older, other things got in the way of my painting. I didn't actually stop, but slowed down considerably to attend college, started working full time, and later to raise my daughter and son. I kept a journal of drawings, a great habit introduced to me by one of my college instructors.
In late 1990 the unthinkable happened, and my strong, invincible father became seriously ill. That Christmas I bought him some canvas and acrylic paint in the hopes to spark his failing interest in his life and surroundings. It was to be his very last Christmas on Earth, sadly we lost him in the early morning hours of May 5, 1991. The canvas remained empty, the tubes of paint unopened, the brushes pristine in the box I had wrapped so hopefully in festive paper. Mum packed it away. It was many months before I could think about that gift but one day I had the thought to use the canvas and paint a scene of the waterfront where my parents had retired and give it to my mother. Facing that blank canvas, especially one that I had given to Dad was a daunting prospect. I took a photograph and taped it onto the easel and just sat looking at all that stark, white space. Once I started however, the painting took form very quickly and my mother was delighted with the completed work. It hung for many years prominently in her living room. I like to think that Dad really inpsired me to continue my artistic journey; I have not stopped painting since that day.
Thank you Dad for always encouraging me, supporting me and putting me back on the track.
This weekend is my first show of the summer season. and it's taking place in the small town of Meaford, where my parents retired. I'm pleased to say this is my fourth year to participate in this particular event, in the lovely Ormsby Garden Centre's greenhouse.
Have a blessed week.
|Posted on 12 June, 2017 at 14:15||comments (0)|
Hello! Welcome to a new week. Yes I know I usually blog on Tuesdays but today feels like Tuesday for some odd and unknown reason.
The previous week, for me, wasn't the most pleasant one I'm afraid. Nothing major, it was just, for lack of a better term, grotty. Perhaps there is something somewhere, in the air, that seems to be having an effect on my moods.
I spent the last four or five days in solitude as my little household had plans which caused absence. Did I paint? No. Did I read? No. Did I research anything for future works? Today I did, but apart from that the last few days have been filled with.......nothing really! I'm not used to that at all.
I suppose I needed just to have a break from being busy. But it feels very weird, and I haven't enjoyed it. I've got nothing to show for the past few days except a basket of clean washing. My cats haven't been much help, most of the time fast asleep in their daytime sleeping positions on one of the couches. They did manage a few minutes dozing in front of the window by the front door while the sun shone in, just to spice things up a bit.
It occurs to me I could learn much from The Two, as I like to call them. They simply don't care if they don't achieve anything all day other than a series of long uninterrupted naps. My little grey girl Chubs is an expert couch potato. She suits the name. She doesn't like it if you cough, sneeze or laugh loudly while she's napping, and responds with a sharp quack-like meow. She's got a strong jealous streak and snores.
Her brother Nibs is more active. He plays more, loves to sit in his basket with his head between the blinds looking out the window to make sure nothing is going on outside. He never descends the stairs quietly, he prefers to thunder down making it to the bottom in as short a time as possible. Going upstairs is the same thing, leaping onto the dresser at the top in one graceful motion. For some reason he loves to put his toys in the water bowl.
The Two were rescues. Mum was a stray cat, small and grey like her daughter. Unfortunately she became ill and disappeared, leaving her babies in a flower pot on our deck. I like to think she knew we'd take care of them. This might explain their neediness. I've never encountered two such affectionate cats. They are always with us, in the same room as us, and love to be picked up and cuddled (when they're not asleep). It usually starts in the kitchen, when I'm attempting to cook a meal. Nibs comes out first and paws my leg until I look down. Then he gazes into my eyes until I lift him onto my shoulder. The purring begins. Sometimes if I"m in the middle of something and can't immediately pick him up the claws might make an appearance to remind me he's still there. Once he's aboard, Chubs wanders in from her nap and sits slapping her tail hard against the floor until she gets a turn.
They like helping me paint too. I've painted many a picture with a cat on my shoulder. It's difficult. But it's hard to resist their beautiful faces.
Cats have their own comfort off to a fine art. Their faces while napping or taking in a few rays through the glass are the perfect picture of contentment. And yet their needs are small really, love, a comfortable place to sleep, food and water, a lap or a shoulder.
Yes a lot can be learned from The Two.
Have a blessed week.
|Posted on 6 June, 2017 at 22:00||comments (0)|
Through Facebook I've "met" many interesting people, from all over the world, among them many talented photographers who often share their experiences through their photographs. One such person, David Connolly, posted what I thought was a simple yet intriguing study of a dog in a river in his native England. I commented to him that I thought that photo would make a great painting, to which he most graciously replied with permission for me to paint it. I saved the photo and yesterday I completed the work which I simply titled 'Hooper' which David advised me is the dog's name.
Upon the completion of the piece I posted a picture of the painting to David's timeline on Facebook, to which he responded with such obvious and unmasked delight that I had painted one of his "little piccies" that I felt immediately both humbled and honoured.
This is why I love to paint. That feeling that something I have created can actually cause another person to feel happiness or more simply just make someone smile. I feel this more strongly than ever considering the recent tragic events that are occurring with alarming speed around our world.
A tiny sliver of light in these dark days.
Blessings. Meet Hooper below. Thank you David.
|Posted on 30 May, 2017 at 20:25||comments (0)|
This past weekend I was very lucky to have a wonderful burst of energy which enabled me to complete a number of chores of the household kind, that have been bothering me for some time. In turn, this led to my having some time, and the inclination, to finish three paintings. Two of them were almost finished, but somehow weren't making me feel that they were completed. There was just something about these two that was shouting "we're not yet finished!" as I looked at them daily. As I usually do, I posted the two finished pieces on my social media sites and received such positive responses, it gave me a huge sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.
The third painting, was a new one, surprisingly a piece that I was able to complete in one day. Sometimes my work goes very well, and I found it very interesting to note that the two aforementioned pieces have taken me months to complete, and look so simple in their content, while the third piece looks very detailed and complicated, yet I was able to completely finish it in a few hours. The contrast I mention in the title of this article, is just that, ironic isn't it?
1) 'Morning Strollers' 2) 'Foggy Morning' 3) 'Fragrant Memories'
The title 'Fragrant Memories' was inspired by a lady who admired the work and said it stirred up memories of her grandmother's lilac tree.
I'm always very grateful for inspiration to help me name my work. I owe many titles to my long suffering friend and guide, Hazel.
Wishing you a blessed week.
|Posted on 23 May, 2017 at 20:55||comments (0)|
My heart has been heavy today, learning about the tragic events that took place after Ariana Grande's concert in Manchester. I haven't been able to shake the terrible sense of forboding and deep sorrow for all those affected by this cruel and senseless act of terror. Part of me is very, very angry, part is defiant, and yet another is fearful of what our world has become. I heard someone say today that love is the only thing we have left to fight this evil scourge. I believe that.
Love and blessings to you all. Hug your family, and tell them that you love them.