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December 29, 2005

   To all my blog friends, I hope you had a great Christmas and that 2006 will bring you lots of health and happiness! I painted this from a photo I took last summer of my mother, getting ready to leave my cottage after she and my dad had been up visiting for a few days. I have to say my dad isn't the only one who saves things. I think I remember those sunglasses from our first family camping trip in 1962. I could be wrong about that, of course. Larry and I were just up at the cottage this week and the same scene looks totally different in winter. It was really pretty, with snow on all the branches, and about 2 feet of snow. That's all for now. Bye!

December 18, 2005

This is Piper's Lagoon. It's at the north end of Nanaimo. At low tide you can walk out to Shack Island and see the abandoned cabins left from the days of whaling. You just have to remember that the tide will come back in and you don't want to spend the night in one of those cabins! To get to this spot you take a long gravel path along the shore line, that ends at the driftwood. Then there are cliffs you can climb for a beautiful view of the lagoon and the ocean. Occasionally there are sea lions lolling on the rocks below. A friend of mine got married here, quite a few years ago. We all stood just back of this scene and watched as Nancy came along the path, her white dress billowing in the breeze. Her son, about 8 at the time, walked beside her, and as they came near, the wind made his hair stand up at the front. The sun shone on Nancy and Tony as they said their vows, and although the wind carried some of their words away from us, it didn't matter. They were obviously in love. And still are. I painted a picture for them later, with Nancy and Jason coming along the path, and Tony standing waiting.

  The trees you see here are Garry oaks. I think they are another rare species. They grow very twisted. I don't know if that's because of the wind or if it's just natural growth. They are great for climbing because they don't grow very tall and they have lovely low horizontal branches. But if you are a very tall person like my husband, it is painfully easy to scalp yourself on one of those low branches. He did, and was in agony through the whole wedding ceremony.
That's all for this time. You're going to see my mother in my next picture. Bye for now.        

December 14, 2005

 Hello. I did not paint this. Carol Evans did and she is a totally awesome artist. I decided to put this picture on here because I love her work and because Johanna, my blog slave, has been extremely busy and has not had time to scan my beach picture, which is finished and ready to display.  Jo will be finished her exams in a couple of days, and then we'll be back to blogging.

  Carol Evans has a website and lots of her pictures are displayed there. She lives on Saltspring Island and has everything I would like to have, like a studio among the trees on her property. She has made two books of her art, which you can order from her site. (I have both of them.) So now you know about a B.C. artist you might otherwise never have heard of. If you are interested in other West Coast artists, you might like to look up E.J. Hughes. He lives on Vancouver Isand and his pictures are really good too. He is about 93 years old.  Got to go! More blogging soon!     

November 20, 2005

 Hi. This is Cat. I don't know his real name but I have been told he is one of the most pissed off creatures on God's green earth. He belongs to my friend's mom and the original of this is going to the mom for Christmas. He won't tolerate being petted or anything but he is the most important thing in her life. He has been ill and it was felt that perhaps he should have his portrait taken before--well, you know. His eyes aren't quite as evil as they appear in this picture. I certainly made them glow, didn't I?  I trust this picture will bring joy to his owner. 
  My next picture will be back in B.C., on a lovely beach. I've already started working on it. By the way, anyone who reads this blog, I really love to get comments so don't forget to write some. Thanks! See you soon.

November 9, 2005

   Postcard from the edge...of Canada 

Two ladies sit at a table in the sun, deeply engaged in conversation and enjoying the break from their shopping. A shopping bag sits on the empty chair beside them. A dog waits patiently for his owner to finish his coffee and whatever he's eating, knowing that they will soon be continuing along the walkway, a popular exercise route for dog and man.( In Nanaimo, businesses put out water bowls for thirsty dogs.) A woman and man sit a bit farther back under the awning. This is a great place to enjoy a coffee, a muffin or a Nanaimo bar, and watch the parade of people and dogs go by. Behind me as I took this picture was the harbour with all kinds of fishing boats crowded together, the sky crisscrossed with dozens of their masts. There is a continuous cry from the seagulls. There are lots of little shops along the walkway, designed to trap tourists (like me and Jo) but I think Javawocky is the best place to just sit. Often in the afternoon there will be a busker performing. Behind Javawocky and above is a parking arcade .

  West coast people love their summer and really know how to relax. No one seems to be in a hurry to go anywhere and everyone seems content to sit and watch the world go by. I wonder how they get so chilled out?

   Jo and I heard a really good cellist playing Bach a little farther down the walkway when we were out one evening. Jo pulled out her mp3 player and recorded him.. So now we can listen to his beautiful music anytime, complete with the seagull sounds in the background.   That's all for now. Bye! 

November 1, 2005

  We are now back on Vancouver Island. The last blog entry, the squash on the chair, was in my dad's garden in Fonthill (near Niagara Falls.) Since I paint what interests me, I'm allowed to skip around the country as I please! Okay, now about this beautiful tree. There are several reasons why I keep having to go back to B.C. to visit and why I would really, really like to just live there again. One of my reasons is these arbutus trees. They are the first things I look for when I get off the ferry in Nanaimo and, ask Johanna, I can barely drive for looking at them.

  They don't grow in Ontario. I've thought of smuggling a small one back in my suitcase but I know it's not wise to mess with mother nature. And it probably wouldn't survive in the cold and hostile Ontario winter anyway. These trees need a special climate with a very mild winter and so they only grow on Vancouver Island, some of the Gulf Islands and in California. Heck, they are so picky you won't even see them farther north on the island. Or in Victoria, or Vancouver.

  They continuously shed their bark, and you can see in the picture that under the bark the trunk is incredibly smooth and pale green. The wood almost has the appearance of skin, with wrinkles where the branches fork. They shed their leaves and berries too, which means regular raking (and cursing and murderous thoughts of getting out the chainsaw) if you have one of these trees on your property. The worst thing is the berries, which are sticky and extremely acidic and if they happen to fall on your nice car they will stick and actually eat through the paint. The leaves do not disintegrate. They just lie on the ground. Arbutus are Canada's only true broadleafed evergreens, so the leaves are stiff and glossy and resistant to natural decomposition. So why do I love these trees? Well, I never had one on my property. And for painting purposes, they are irresistibly twisty and beautiful. If you want to see a really great arbutus painting done in oils, go to the internet and type "Emily Carr arbutus" in the search bar and click on images.

  I'm planning to do another Isand picture on my next blog. You'll see what B.C. people do to relax. No, not that!   See you!

October 26, 2005

 This chair is in my dad's vegetable garden. My dad is a great gardener; you can see how he worried that the squash might be too heavy for the vine so he put it on the chair. That chair used to be mine and my sister's when we were little kids. We had it in our playhouse. So my dad is not only a great gardener, he also never throws any thing away that might be useful later. Dad used to have a huge veggie garden from which we got tons of beans, squash, tomatoes and swiss chard. And we ate every bit of it. As the years have gone by, the garden has become smaller until now it is very small but he still enjoys working out there. He seems to specialise mostly in tomatoes now.

I will not be updating this blog again until I am done my report cards. That will make me get those report cards done very quickly!

I shall return soon!    

October 20, 2005

  This is Trixie. She belongs to a friend and she's part poodle and I think collie. She was pretty little, like 8 or 9 weeks when the photo I worked from was taken. I have seen her twice and she is much bigger now. She does everything with the utmost enthusiasm and she absolutely loves people. My friend got her as a replacement for her previous dog which died suddenly in the summer. The older dog was like mine, on the edge of being elderly, which has made me think a lot lately about the mortality of my own dog. (I'm trying not to think about it.) I found it easy to paint Trixie except for her nose. Dog noses are complicated because of the shape and the shine (from being licked.)

I'm looking forward to getting to know Trixie better as time goes on. Perhaps I will have the chance to paint her again some time. Thanks Jen, for asking me to do this picture.

That's all for now.

October 14, 2005

poop happens
   I painted this on the spot in the kitchen of the cabin. There was a nice high table and stool on the other side of the room where I had all my paints and stuff set up, so I just kept going to the window to look at the scene and back to the table to paint. It was pretty early in the morning so it was nice and quiet--Johanna wasn't awake yet!  I just kind of hung over the sink to look outside. I decided to use the frame of the window in the picture. The orange stuff on the tree is some kind of orange leaves. 

 Later that morning we wanted to find the path that led to the water, so we walked through the acreage and down a very steep path through the woods. It was very wet and slippery with fallen leaves and loose wood chips. When we got to the bottom, we still weren't anywhere near the water. There was a railway track which we crossed (I managed to trip over both rails) and then we tried to find where the path continued. We walked along the track in both directions looking for a gap in the undergrowth. Below us was another property and house. We thought maybe the path might run along beside this property but we couldn't find it. So we never did get down to the beach. We scrambled back up through the woods, carefully avoiding (and trying not to gag) where some drifter, probably stumbling along the track earlier, had taken a dump, right at the bottom of the path. We had seen it while climbing down so we were prepared to avoid it on the way back up. We also felt very fortunate, considering how steep and slippery the path was, that we hadn't wiped out and landed in it on the way down.

That's all for now.    

October 4, 2005

  It's hard to believe that we are into October already, and yet the weather is still so warm. Is there something wrong with the sun? I guess we should just continue to enjoy this because winter will inevitably arrive. This duck is a Muscovy. I'm not sure, but I think this was the male. Muscovies do not quack, they hiss. We stood by the pen taking his picture while he hissed. Then all his feathers stood out and he puffed himself up; even the feathers on his head stood up. That's why our friends call him Elvis. But he wasn't done yet. After the hissing and puffing, he started shaking as if he was about to have a seizure. So we decided to leave him in peace. But the next day we went back and took some more pictures. The female was sitting on a clutch of eggs which she was determined to hatch. However, since Elvis is apparently sterile, all her egg-sitting was futile. She had spent so much time sitting on the empty eggs that she had become somewhat weak and unhealthy from lack of exercise. Eventually our friend removed the eggs from the nest and threw them down into the ravine, making sure each one hit a tree and broke. The eggs were very, very rotten.

  I enjoyed painting Elvis very much, especially the head and eye details. I wasn't sure exactly how to deal with the feathers on his back but I did the best I could using a dry brush to get the effect I wanted. I painted his feet first. Muscovies have claws because they roost in trees. That's all. Bye bye for now!

September 20, 2005

Gord's truck
Hi and welcome to my blog again. I have to thank my daughter for getting all this artwork on here because I sure as hell don't know how to do it. It's a lot more complicated than posting photos. I'm honestly willing to learn how to do everything but its easier to just let her do it.  This truck picture is going into the book we're making but I know I'll be in trouble for doing it. The truck belongs to the friends we stayed with in B.C. and has become an issue between them. The wife would like it to be towed away or at least cleaned up but Gord loves it just the way it is, surrounded by trash and empty flower pots. (He's a landscape gardener.) She asked me not to paint it because if I did, he would say "See? It's art! I can't possibly get rid of it!" Well, I guess the truck will be staying, flat tires and all. There was more junk around it than I included; I decided to simplify things and clean it up a bit. 

  I guess some people who like to paint wouldn't consider a junked-up truck to be an interesting subject but I think you can paint just about anything. Art can transform just about any subject and sort of romanticise even an old truck surrounded by trash.

September 9, 2005

  Well, all good things must come to an end. Summer was great but it's now just a memory. These two cats belong to the friends Johanna and I stayed with for 10 days. in BC. . Every time we went down from the cabin to the house to visit or use the phone or otherwise make a nuisance of ourselves, they greeted us effusively at the door. There was a third cat also but we never got a picture of him. He was a little more shy. These guys were game show hosts. At one point when Jo was trying to make a phone call she had to remove one of them from the phone book it was sitting on. I, being quite allergic to cats, tried to avoid touching them or even breathing much around them but it was impossible--they would get their heads under your hand and pet themselves. I enjoyed painting this picture of them from one of our photos when we got home. It reminds me of their constant mewing.

    This is my first entry with a picture. I'm working on painting quite a few of the plants which were on the acreage where we stayed. I'll be posting some chrysanthemums as my next entry. See you!

September 4, 2005

Trip to B.C.
I've recently come back from a trip to B.C. where my daughter Johanna and I did a lot of sketching and painting. I plan to use this blog to display some of the painting I did there plus other pictures I've done. We stayed with friends on a beautiful acreage and we decided to do some detailed botanical pictures of the plants on their acreage. They had tomato plants and it turns out I can't paint tomatoes--not the half ripe ones that are sort of green and yellow and red. I think I tried 20 times and they all sucked. I finally sort of got the hang of it. And of course while I was struggling with my stupid tomatoes and wasting paper, my daughter sat down and painted one in two minutes. Well, hers wasn't that good either!Anyway, you might see a tomato picture on this blog soon.