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Thursday, 28 July 2016

Inspired by a Community Garden

Mural painted on the side of the garden shed.

We have a community garden close to where I live that is used to teach students in the local high school about vegetable gardening. The school and a community organization work together to maintain the garden. At this time of year the garden is full of mature plants, vegetables and fruit trees so the edibles are regularly harvested and set out for sale each Friday. I'm sure the money they earn is used to continue the program.

It is wonderful to wander through the rows and see what's growing. Besides vegetables there are also flowers blooming here and there. It would be wonderful just to sit there and sketch and I plan to take that opportunity when I have the time. For today, though, I just took some photographs.

I loved the look of these various gloves
hanging on the inside of the shed door

Thursday, 21 July 2016

The Well of Inspiration is Full Again

We had a very damp beginning to our canoeing weekend but that didn't stop us. Eventually the sun came out and we very much enjoyed our surroundings, the fellowship we had with each other, the activities we engaged in, the outdoor smells and sounds and even surviving for four days with minimal luxuries.

My little art kit was just what I needed to document the trip a little bit. I even enlisted my sister and her daughter to sketch. It is really nice to lose yourself in a sketch of your surroundings.

Sitting on a life jacket helps keep your bum from going numb while being perched on a log bench for an extended sketching time.

Our camp site on Booth Lake, Algonquin

A shady spot in the grass is much more comfortable.

Old ranger cabin built in 1939 on Tattler Lake, Algonquin

We saw these inch long catfish in the water where we moored our canoes.

Water bottles of every shape and size can be found all over the campsite in and attempt to keep hydrated in the hot weather. They are regularly filled with water from the lake that we filter and purify with a UV light.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Creativity and Innovation

It is July and that time of year when I take a group of women on a 4 day canoe trip. This year was going to be a trip to Killarney Provincial Park but, it seems, Killarney is a very popular back country destination in summer. We were unable to get sites so we had to adjust our plans. We will be going back to that beautiful Provincial Park, Algonquin again.

Each time we go on this trip, I bring some art gear along and each year I try to streamline it and make it as small as I possibly can but still be able to produce something lovely with it. If you have to portage and carry all your equipment and clothing as well as a canoe, you want to have just enough stuff but not too much and it needs to be fairly light. For example, the stove I bring fits into a 5"X 7" pouch! And we do all our meals on it.

So when I saw a link on Facebook on how to make a paint kit out of an "Altoids" container, I thought this was the perfect solution for my canoe trip.

All my art gear fits into a 7"X 8" zippered freezer bag. It is clear so I can see everything that is in it.

The items include a small sketchbook and another small sketchbook that is long and narrow for landscapes, a uniball pen, a mechanical pencil, a watercolour kit and a waterbrush.

The watercolour kit is a variation on the "Altoids" container kit.

It is a container I found among my stuff and apparently it used to hold "10 sinoritas". I believe those were tiny cigars made for women smokers. They were made in Holland and were called Uiltje D'or or in English Golden Owls. The brown label on the lid is evidence that this little tin was used for something else after the cigars were gone. It says, "veilig hieds spelden" which is Dutch for safety pins. I think this tin may be considered an antique now.

I found some used bubble packaging for pills and glued them to the bottom of the tin then squeezed watercolour paint into them. Seeing as you can make almost any colour out of the primary colours yellow, red and blue, I included those but also added burnt sienna, yellow ochre, paynes grey and viridian green. I put a small piece of white felt in the top to clean off my brush on. The tin is only 2.75" X 3.75" in size.

The last item I included in the kit is a water brush which has a reservoir for water in the handle so you don't need a container of water with you.

I hope to paint many lovely sketches on this canoe trip as well as photographing lots of inspiration for future art.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Artful Decisions

As this Spring and Summer have been busy for me not only with my job but also several circumstances that have happened in my life, I haven't had large spans of time to dedicate to my art. That can be a little frustrating. As I look at what I have produced in the last little while, it doesn't amount to anything grand or substantial. I am satisfied that I have kept up doing art even though it has been mostly sketches which are done quickly and they help to grow my technique and accuracy in drawing. I am itching to get into a larger project such as a painting or another art quilt. I know that because I have this urge, subconsciously, I will be looking for subjects for this larger project. Now I have to patiently wait until I find that perfect subject.

In the meantime, I am involved with World Watercolor Month 2016. July is World Watercolor Month and so I am trying to work my sketches in watercolour. As a matter of fact, after finishing this blog post, I was going to head outside and find some garden flowers to paint with watercolour. It has been stinking hot this whole week so far with not a drop of rain in sight. Wouldn't you know that now it is pouring cats and dogs outside!  Well, the ground is loving it!

This week I also found out that the art quilt I entered into a show called Fibre Content 2016 was rejected. Oddly, I don't feel very disappointed. I have come to realize that often just what appeals to the jurer that gets a piece into a show. This was the show that I was accepted into in 2014 with my piece called "Algonquin Rapids".

Here are a few of my sketches from this week for World Watercolor Month.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Inspired by History

Have I told you my daughter lives in an historic house in Toronto? It is said to be the oldest home in Etobicoke. It was built from ledge stone found in the Humber River which flows behind the home. Historians believe it was built between 1802 and 1820. I've been captivated by this house ever since we moved to the area. It is a wonderful house for a small family and has great character.

I decided that this was my chance to sketch the home and so I have begun to do that. My plan is that as long as my daughter is living there I will try to document the home, inside and out by sketching it and it's surroundings.

I've made a small beginning. You saw the first sketch I did in my last post. Today I'll show you some others that I have done. I'm going to have to be quick because they may have to move in September.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Squeezing in Time for Art

This time of year is really busy for us at work. Springtime at a Garden Centre is really, really hectic and that also means my book keeping workload is increased. So, along with all my other chores around our home, I'm not left with a lot of art time.

I find that really difficult because this is the time of year the Irises are in bloom as well as the Peonies and so many other beautiful plants and I just want to get out an sketch them all. And I am the type of person that puts everything before art. That is why I designate Thursdays as my Art Day. But sometimes even Thursdays don't work in the Spring.

What I have discovered is that I can get art done in little snippets of time throughout the week and that is what I have been trying to do. Today I had one of my grandsons with me in the studio. He was fortunate to have me all to himself because usually he has to share me with his sisters. While I had him situated at my table and supplied with PlayDoh, I was able to get some art done as well.

I will also often take a sketchbook or some artwork I'm working on along as I go to babysit my grandchildren. When I am at their homes, my computer is not calling me to the paperwork and so I can relax and get some sketching done. I even try to get projects done while I am cooking dinner but often that ends up in a burnt meal.

Today, I continued to work on my May calendar page. I used a piece of silk scarf for the background and stitched the calendar part onto it. The flowers surrounding the calendar are done with dyed tea bags. I will still have to enhance the flowers with stitching and then it will be done. Next will be June and I am already percolating ideas in my brain for that one.

Another day this week, I was able to sit outside the house next door and sketch a part of the garden.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Scavenging for Inspiration

I'm sure I got a few strange looks a few weeks ago while on my neighbourhood walk. I was once again walking with my focus on the ground to see what treasures I could find. Every once in a while I would stoop and pick something up, inspect it and decide to keep it or toss it.

When I went to the "My Corner of the World" art quilt show I was inspired by a quilt that was made from a rusted gate. Well, I was inspired by many of the quilts there but this one made me want to try this technique. I think the artist just let a piece of white cotton hang over the gate for a length of time and allowed the rain and sun to work it's magic on it. It slowly became dyed by the rust.

On my walks I had noticed many rusted bottle caps and nails on the ground so on this day I decided to collect any rusted metal I could find to try this technique myself. In the process, I would also be cleaning up parts of my neighbourhood and recycling.

These are the items I found on that walk. I hope to lay them somewhere outside on a piece of white cotton where they won't be disturbed. Each week as I find rusty things I'll add them to the arrangement. Hopefully I will get some areas that are darker than others depending on how long the items have remained on the fabric.