|Posted on 4 March, 2019 at 18:40||comments (0)|
March honey, I'm home!
After two beautiful weeks in more favourable climes, I've returned to some pretty cold temperatures. I'm always amazed at how quickly I forget the windchills, the sting of snow in my face and the layers and layers of garments required to deal with The Canadian Winter. It was time for our annual trek to Florida. The drive down was very smooth, despite the tiny hiccup of being selected "at random" for a closer inspection by the US Customs upon arrival at the border, We had to leave our phones and everything else except our wallets and ID and enter the building while they searched the vehicle. We were told to wait while there was a shift change and I pondered on whether that was designed to make us just a bit more uncomfortable. Not that I had anything to hide, but those guys make you feel that you might....even though you don't. It was over quite quickly however as the officers decided we were quite boring and didn't even look through much. The Holiday had begun.
As we travelled south, I shed garments gradually, as it really wasn't until we reached the state of Alabama that it was warm enough. My favourite part is always finally being able to kick off my shoes and socks and slide my toes into my flip flops, which is the last item in my winter wardrobe to go.
We spent a few days in the Florida Keys area, walked thousands of steps and took in the wildlife and gorgeous scenery of Biscayne National Park, a favourite spot of mine. I took lots of pictures and a short but beautiful video of a cuckoo singing. What I miss most during winter is the song of birds and the flowers and foliage growing outside. The next leg of our trip was to the more commercial area of Orlando where we stayed in a resort. There were activities every evening and the weather was wonderful. Of course shopping featured largely in our daily routine and I spent a lot of time in the baby sections of most shops, scouring the racks for outfits for my little grandson.
The last part of the holiday is perhaps my favourite. The oceanfront hotel in Daytona Beach. The long walks by the waves, breathing in that sea air, the early morning watching the sunrise..... it's just so therapeutic. That's where most of my recharging takes place and I'm always sorry to leave. I took many photos of the different seabirds, the black and white gulls, the occasional Ibis, and the amusing little Sandpipers. Pelicans flew by in precise formations, dipping and gliding over the waves in search of a tasty meal. Unfortunately I was always just too late to capture them, or they stayed too far offshore to get a good shot. Alas, all things come to an end and it was time to say goodbye.
So I'm back into the socks, boots or shoes and sweatshirts, heavy coats and gloves. Today the wind whipped up and the temperature has dropped into alarming numbers comparable to what I think the Arctic might be like. The piles of snow on my lawn from the driveway have reached an impressive height and have just about covered my little garden of shrubs. It's going to be a long time before I see any greenery here, but I've got an amazing collection of photographs to start a new series of works.
Many Blessings to you and yours, and I hope that by the time I write my next blog, Spring might have made an appearance.
|Posted on 14 February, 2019 at 19:55||comments (1)|
After what had been a relatively uneventful winter, Mother Nature decided to stop toying with us and unleashed a series of vindictive storms. The first bout arrived at the end of January but as February took over the snow begain to pile up. The first round was a nasty mix of ice pellets, freezing rain, rain and snow. The variance in the forms of precipitation made for an interesting digging experience. My car was encased in a crusty slippery shell of glistening white. The driveway was thickly covered in the same crispy layers, causing one have to crack the surface before actually being able to shovel. I fervently hoped that the weather didn't interfere with my chores at the flower shop, being Valentine's Day, I really didn't want to add travel worries to my anxiety. Of course Mother Nature decided to thumb her nose at my feeble human concerns and blasted us with yet another smorgasbord of wintery weather two days before Valentine's. Snow, ice, freezing rain and ice pellets, then snow. a slow moving storm too, so the accumulation was quite heavy. Luckily it calmed down enough for things to return to normal the next day and I geared up for rushing about getting things ready for the onslaught of customers. Thousands of roses were unpacked, cut, dipped in hydrating solution and placed in buckets ready to be cleaned, dethorned, arranged, bundled and boxed ready for the lovers of the world to prove their affections. I sit here now, on St Valentine's night, typing this blog as my feet and back are protesting and I'm questioning my sanity as to why I'm not lying prone somewhere, chin pointing to the ceiling. It's a grueling time for a florist, as most of the chaos is experienced in just one day. Tomorrow I must go into the shop, mostly to restore things to normal and also to prepare a wedding. I don't want to go. But there's a saving grace in the fact that after work I will be going on my annual holiday trip to warm temperatures and sunshine. What gets me through the Valentine's madness is the thoughts of two weeks break from snow, ice, slush and briny windshields.
I will be escaping to the sunny climes of South Florida. I can hardly wait for the simple pleasures of seeing green plants and colourful flowers, of hearing the delightful song of birds, and most importantly, the absence of my daily commute through the slush and endless construction. I will take dozens of photos to add to my collection to paint later. I will have long refreshing walks on the beach in the early morning to recharge my batteries and hopefully by the time I return to the chilly North, Winter will be winding down somewhat and thinking about passing the torch to my second favourite season, Spring. The time when Earth renews itself and starts us on another growing season.
Blessings to you and yours.
|Posted on 22 January, 2019 at 19:15||comments (0)|
Hello, and Happy New Year. This might seem a bit late for New Year's wishes, but this being my first blog for 2019, I think it's an appropriate start.
Of course we are in the throes of the winter season, not my favourite time of year but to be perfectly honest it's been quite a kind winter so far. We've had very little snow, and none that has impeded my personal travel to date. We just came out of a rather cold few days however, with mind blowing windchills in the high minus thirties. This was accompanied by a short burst of snow that thankfully didn't live up to the days of gloom and doom preceding it's arrival. "Huge Storm!" "Major Snow Event" screamed all the headlines, making me sweat with anxiety. We traveled to Meaford, which was apparently to escape the worst accumulations. It was pretty cold mind you, and the wind was whipping up The Great Snow Machine of Georgian Bay. I was apprehensive about the journey home on Sunday, especially on a certain road which has a notorious reputation for being closed due to wind-causing whiteouts. I'm getting ahead of myself though. During the weekend I pushed the weather worries aside and finally started work on my 2019 Twitter Art Exhibit submission. Last year my painting was of green apples, and was received so well that I decided to do another apple piece, this time I chose red apples.
Once I finished my painting, which I've called 'Red Apple Trio' I posted the image to Twitter. The response has taken me completely by surprise, with over 11,700 views, over 110 likes and almost 40 retweets. I couldn't be happier! Today I posted the painting today to Edinburgh, Scotland and I'm sincerely hoping that it sells in support of Art In Healthcare. I can't say enough about the Twitter Art Exhibit organisation. The incredible hard work that goes into putting on these exhibits is mind boggling and the support for all contributing artists is immense. The opening night is May 11 so I'm looking forward to that very much.
So, about that trip back to the city....it was, thankfully quite uneventful. There were a few visibility issues in the usual spots, but nothing too scary. The cold snap has finally come to an end and after several days of minus double digits, we are going to see a positive number tomorrow.
So that's my first blog of 2019. See you in February.
Many Blessings to you and yours
|Posted on 11 December, 2018 at 19:15||comments (0)|
Last Saturday was the last art show of the season for me. It took place in a small community hall in Nottawa, Ontario which is just before Collingwood. It was fairly well attended, and I met some new friends during the time I was there. There were so many lovely items for sale all handmade by some very talented artisans....it was hard not to spend a lot of money!
I got news this weekend that my commissioned painting of the Ontario Provincial Police car will be hung in it's new home at the station very shortly. I will be posting a photo of the piece in situ in a future blog.
So...that's a wrap as far as shows and news is concerned, now I really have to concentrate on the upcoming holiday season. I haven't been able to do any sort of baking and I'm still not finished my Christmas shopping. Of course it goes without saying that my house has been sadly neglected as well. This will also wrap up the blog for this year. Next year will bring a few changes as far as my blogging goes, as I've decided for now to reduce them to monthly entries instead of weekly. I've got the Twitter Art Exhibit to prepare for and there's two paintings that I'm really excited to start on. These are going to be painted from a couple of wonderful photos taken by a very talented photographer friend, who kindly has consented to allow me to paint them. These works will be the third and fourth pieces I've been privileged to paint from photographs taken by this person.
I wish all a Blessed Yule and Happy Holidays however and whatever you choose to celebrate this festive season, and I'll be back in January.
|Posted on 4 December, 2018 at 18:20||comments (0)|
Last Saturday I participated for the first time in the Unique Christmas Market held in the little town of Clarksburg near to my house in Meaford. I didn't get to Meaford until the wee hours of the morning....5am to be exact...and had a meagre two hours of sleep before my alarm went off. The venue where the show was held was a place called The Marsh Street Centre and was available at 8:30 for set up. The show opened at 10 and was packed with shoppers partly due to a clever idea that the organisers came up with called The Cookie Bar. Part of the admission fee for this show was the donation of home baked cookies by the participating vendors, which are sold by the pound with the proceeds going to the upkeep of the Centre. I was really surprised by the response to this. There were so many delicious varieties and people lined up and could choose which ones they wanted then the volunteers working the table weighed them and packed them up. The show itself was very enjoyable, seeing familiar faces that I've met over the years in various shows as well as meeting new friends. I sold a new piece, a small painting of northern lights (that I also had a Christmas card made from) to a very agreeable young man who was very enthusiastic about my work. Always a huge boost. I must also add that the support given by the organisers was tremendous, from the offer to look after vendors' tables if a break was needed, to the homemade muffins and coffee offered in the morning to us all. There was a delicious catered lunch for us as well, for a very reasonable fee. A most enjoyable day.
The enjoyment continued post-show, as the annual Meaford merchants window unveiling and Santa Claus parade was that evening. Although I was pretty well done in after not much sleep I still managed to summon the energy to walk up to the town, clutching my wobbly hot chocolate. It was bitterly cold walking past the open water but I had dressed for the occasion and of course the "wobbly" in my hot chocolate helped a great deal. As always I enjoyed the evening, there's nothing like Christmas in a small town, and Meaford never disappoints. The shops stay open and most offer treats, cider or hot chocolate so you can replenish your cup. An added bonus was that I was able to do a bit of Christmas shopping as well.
For me, a great start to the holiday season. I'm a little behind with my personal preparations though. I've not baked anything except the donation I made for the Marsh Street Centre, which was shortbread, a favourite of mine. I've got another show next weekend and sfter that I've got to get busy.
Have a blessed week.
|Posted on 27 November, 2018 at 18:25||comments (0)|
Something I often have trouble with is titling my work. When I first started showing my work I thought it absolutely necessary to bestow a title on each piece and if the appropriate name didn't come to me immediately I worried about it and struggled to think up something catchy. I was under the impression that if the work wasn't named then it was somehow incomplete. I found it added almost a stressful element to painting so for some years I decided not to name anything. I understand the reason why so many artists simply call their work 'Untitled'. A friend of mine, upon visiting an art gallery commented recently on this being a somewhat lazy approach by the artist but I knew why. It's a daunting prospect unless you've got an idea before actually starting the work. Painting someone's pet presents an ideal situation for instance, you can just call the piece 'Max', 'Fido', or 'Kitty".
When I started sharing work on social media the feeling that my paintings should have titles returned. Additionally, there were a few shows that I submitted work to that required titles. Faced with that old dilemma, I tried a few different approaches. If nothing came to mind immediately I asked friends and/or followers on Facebook for input and was rewarded with some good ideas, other times I simply took the title from a comment made about the piece. In the case of a couple of my seahorse paintings, I looked up the word "seahorse" in other languages; I'm particularly fond of the Spanish "caballito de mer" and did in fact use that. I had to stop asking my daughter for ideas however as she usually came back with 'Dave' or 'Phil'. Hilarious...but not helpful at all. There have been occasions where the title has come to me as a random thought. I sometimes wonder if that's some kind of divine intervention, or a perhaps even a message from a spirit guide.
Lately I've been very direct in the naming process, and just title my work after what the subject is. For example I've just titled a work of green apples 'Green Apples', or in another instance 'Grannies'. If I've used a photograph provided to me by another photographer, I'll often use their name in the title, such as 'John's Dragonfly', or 'David's Heron' thus also giving the credit that is due. I'm actually planning on painting the latter, a truly magnificent photograph taken by a friend of mine.
On occasion I've used a title twice, and just added a one or two after the name.
So next time you see a piece that's simply called 'Untitled'....you'll know that it's indeed a struggle at times to come up with a title, and not simply laziness on the part of the artist.
Have a blessed week.
|Posted on 20 November, 2018 at 18:55||comments (0)|
It wasn't much past the middle of November when we got our first taste of The White Stuff. Now I've stated many times that I'm not a fan of snow. I've never really adapted to the Great White North, despite having now spent most of my life here. I tend to feel down during what I call the dark months. It's dark when I get up for work, and getting dark on my way home. Last Thursday night there was what the weather people called the first major snow event. It started right on time in the afternoon as I hurriedly packed up at work and left early at the urging of my boss. He didn't have to tell me twice and I cleaned up in record time and scurried across the parking lot to my car. The journey home was much slower than usual but fortunately pretty uneventful until I neared my house. Then snow started rudely accumulating on the roadways. Of course there were the usual overly timid drivers, mixed in with the over-confident ones. As someone recently pointed out sometimes the auto manufacturers are partially to blame for that over-confidence; constantly showing us their products blasting through deep snow-covered roads and rough, yet pristine terrain without any problem. They should show instead the ugly city driving complete with traffic jams and construction.
That night the snow fell relentlessly, eventually piling up to an annoying 4-5 inches, or 10-15 centimetres, whichever you prefer. It was heavy, wet stuff, what you might enjoy making a snowman from should you feel inclined. It was, fortunately, quite mild, with the temperature hovering around the 1-2C mark. I had spent the night in my usual fashion, anxiously waking up every hour or so thinking about my morning commute the next day. I had already decided that I'd wait until things cleared up if it was really bad.
As I live on a little court, naturally there was no sign of anything resembling snow-clearing equipment. In the morning someone had deposited pounds of road salt in the centre of the court and it sat uselessly in the midst of the deep tracks where people had driven. I'm not sure what purpose that served other than a total waste of money. As we cleared the cars off and shoveled the drive the snow decided to change to light rain and drizzle. It stayed drizzly for an hour or so then changed back to snow. I left for work before it got any worse and was pleasantly surprised to find that after my own street (which was a disaster) the main roads were just wet. I wasn't even late.
I must admit that although my preferred method of dealing with snow is looking out of a window while sipping a hot beverage, perhaps with a cat or two on my lap, this first snowfall made me feel like Christmas shopping. I started on the weekend and actually got some done.
Still. Roll on Spring. Have a blessed week, and stay warm.
|Posted on 13 November, 2018 at 18:10||comments (0)|
The Loft Gallery Square Foot Show ended last Sunday, November 11, so I'm going to share with you my submissions for this year. I submitted four pieces to this very popular show, and I will have no inkling as to whether they were sold until the end of November. The Gallery requires this time to get all the paperwork completed, and as there was over 700 pieces, it's totally understandable - it must be a most daunting task.
The first painting I'm going to share is one I called 'Early Macs'. Some years ago, our neighbour in Meaford presented us with a huge box of MacIntosh apples, locally grown. Meaford is in the middle of apple growing country, with many lovely orchards surrounding the town. I took a couple of photographs of the box from the top and saved them to paint later. I've always had quite a lot of success with apple paintings, and painted and sold one from the same series of photos quite soon after taking them.
The next one Is 'Chinese Lanterns'. I've always loved these unusual plants. I grew them one year and was fascinated by the formation of the pods. I've been known to draw tiny Jack O'Lantern type faces on them as they remind me of miniature pumpkins. They're certainly a very beautiful representation of Autumn.
The third painting was suggested to me by my daughter. We were working on a wedding, which featured the wonderfully soft foliage of Dusty Miller. We had stripped the lower leaves from the stems to use in the wedding party bouquets and it seemed such a shame to just discard them. We placed them in water and saw that the silvery leaves made such a lovely display in a vase just by themselves. I took a photograph to paint later. I added the ladybird as a tiny point of interest to liven up the piece. Another very popular subject for paintings are ladybirds, but I left her out of the title, calling this piece simply 'Dusty Miller'.
The final and perhaps my favourite of this year's Square Foot submissions is what I called 'Garden Tomatoes'. I've painted tomatoes in the past but I'm particularly proud of this one, I felt the red really popped from the darkness of the background foliage and contrasted with the small green tomato. Of course I had to add some water drops! I felt that was the final touch to this piece.
I hope you enjoy seeing some of my process in creating this year's square foot pieces. I'm looking forward to finding out if they've found their forever homes.
Have a blessed week.
|Posted on 6 November, 2018 at 19:00||comments (0)|
I had last Monday off last week, feeling fairly normal until later in the evening when I caught the inevitable pre-winter cold. I experienced the full treatment.....starting with the irritated, scratchy throat which escalated into a full-blown rawness that can only be described as having the inside of one's throat thoroughly scraped with a rough bottle brush. My appetite quickly disappeared and I could only think about cups of hot tea. Coffee is off the table once I get the slightest inkling that a cold is developing. I decided to stay at home the next day and gathering my pillow, blanket, iPod and phone I migrated from bed to the couch. I shivered miserably, stuffy and feeling extremely sorry for myself surrounded by my box of tissues and plastic grocery bag (for the used ones) and throat lozenges. I spent the day huddled there, clutching my tissues and peering blearily from my blanket cocoon at various TV programmes getting up only to replenish my cup with strong tea or hot Ribena. As the day progressed the blowing and coughing began; my nose was like a tap needing a new washer and rapidly became sore and red from the constant wiping. Coughing began a thing to dread as my muscles began to rebel at the new and constant activity. Sleep was impossible even though I felt exhausted. The bags that were under my eyes could have held a weeks worth of groceries. This continued over the next few days. Unfortunately I had to return to work. Having to keep on going into the big walk-in cooler felt like a trip to the Arctic and I bundled myself in a thick hoodie coughing and wheezing my way through the days. I couldn't wait until Friday. However, I'm happy to report that I am pretty well recovered as I write this. There's usually a silver lining and in this case it manifested as a glorious bottle of elderberry syrup. My son made this discovery as he was searching for something to ward off the evils that were emanating from my person....and came home with this remarkable product. Not only is this syrup packed with vitamins, but it's pleasant tasting as well! Win-win.
I'm happy to report that I'm feeling much better today. It's over!!
Have a blessed week and stay healthy!
|Posted on 31 October, 2018 at 21:45||comments (0)|
Happy Hallowe'en, Blessed Samhain. This is the time of year when it's a common thought that the veil is thinning between the two worlds, the now and the afterlife. I will place my light into my upper hallway window on Hallowe'en Night and leave it open a crack to let my ancestors pay a visit. I love this time of year and decorate my house with all the traditional ghouls, ghosts and spiders, (although I'm quite terrified of the real versions of the latter). A favourite thing for me is to carve Jack O' Lanterns from pumpkins and this year I have three different shaped ones. They remained expressionless while a little snow fell on them Saturday night....I'll have to give them some faces soon. I enjoy the Trick Or Treaters but unfortunately as I live on a court I don't get many customers. Kids are wise nd realise that there's not many houses on my little court and sometimes avoid coming down. This also leads to my ingestion of too much chocolate and salty snacks. Update: Only ten little Trick Or Treaters knocked at my door this Hallowe'en!
Exciting weekend coming up; the Square Foot Show opens in Thornbury this Saturday. Next week I'll post pictures of this year's submissions. I don't like to post them until the show has opened. Just a self-imposed rule of mine. It's a mixture of superstition and respect for the show. I've just ordered some more square foot canvasses from my local art supply shop in anticipation of next year's show. I took advantage of Curry's Art Supply's generous "free shipping" promotion. I love Curry's. It's such a great source of not only terrific art supplies but also inspiration. So many great products to choose from!
Another event happening this weekend is the Christmas show at Ormsby's Garden Centre. I'm sorry to be missing this one, but unfortunately there's just too much on the go this time. I've participated in all the previous shows except one, which took place too close to Mother's Day for me to be able to leave my floral work. Wishing all my fellow Meaford Artisans much success and letting them know I'll miss them.
Last Sunday I looked after my sweet little grandson for the afternoon while his parents attended an event. He was very sweet and happy. He has added so much to my life, I can't imagine him not being here even though he's just five months old. He's captured all our hearts with total unawareness.
Have a blessed week....and enjoy Hallowe'en however you choose to observe it.