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December 3, 2006

I wanted to paint some of the little treasures I have from my grandmother, so here are two of them. She had a whole set of these dishes and although most of the pieces are gone, I have a few plates, and this pitcher and two egg cups. I have a tiny black and white snapshot of her, probably taken by my aunt, standing at her kitchen sink with her dishmop, washing the pitcher you see here. I actually found another piece, a gravy boat, at a garage sale when I lived in Saskatchewan. By the time I remember my grandma, she had other dishes and I never remember seeing her use these. But they still remind me of her. I'll have to see what else is in my china cabinet.

November 12, 2006

I have quite a few things that were my grandmother's and I thought I'd paint some of them. This was her orange juicer. My aunt had it in a cupboard and was glad to give it to me when she was moving. My collector's heart almost skipped a beat, there in my aunt's kitchen, as I'd always wanted one just like it to add to my collection. Now, I have to tell you that I didn't really think I could paint it, and now that it's done, I know I didn't do a great job. There is a definite lack of symmetry. But, it's still one of my favourite possessions, and that's why I painted it. So all is well.

October 22, 2006

Hello, my name is Marjorie and here are my excuses for not updating my website since the beginning of August. Well, I was at the cottage, and there was a huge storm, and like thousands of other people in this province, we had no power for a week. We stuck it out up there for several days, but without a generator we didn't have the basic necessities. For every flush of the toilet, you had to carry a bucket of water up from the lake. Want food? Barbeque it, if it hasn't gone bad yet. Other people were far worse off than we were, though, with damage to their properties from falling trees. So finally we gave up waiting for the power to come back on, and we came home. The day after we got home, I learned that one of my students had suddenly died. She was 13 and her heart failed. Unknown to anyone, her heart had never grown since birth and it could no longer support her. Everyone on my staff is still grieving and missing her. So the school year started out on a very sad note.

Continuing with the excuses. In the summer, I bought a circular sock knitting machine. I have been learning to use it and I can now make a pretty decent pair of socks. So, I've been spending time with the very fun knitting machine and not with the paintbrushes. Knitting takes a different kind of energy from painting. I felt like making things, but I didn't feel like being creative. So I cranked out socks. The next pair I make will be for Larry. I bought some really lovely yarn. It's Austermann Step, with Aloe Vera and Jojoba oil right in the yarn. I had to say that, because my sister will want to know.

Well, here is my first painting since August. A humble…cow. I really do like cows, and find them quite charming. The photo I worked from was one of my aunt's, so I believe this is a British cow. I hope you can tell that it's chewing its cud. I feel sorry for it, with all those flies.

August 3, 2006

July 27, 2006

Cottage Life

I've been at the cottage and I'm returning there tomorrow. I've been looking around the cottage property for inspiration for some drawing and painting. Each time I take the dog for a walk along the country road, I see more wildflowers, and I'd like to have time to paint them all. I never noticed before this holiday how very tiny many of them are. There is a whole world of miniature beauty out there. Walking slowly along a country road is the best way to see them. It helps to have a nine year old dog who doesn't walk very fast. He gives me lots of time to look around at all the natural beauty. I'm working on another watercolour of a window in one of the bedrooms, but it's not finished yet. I'll finish it and post it when I'm home again next week. Oh yes, and I've had time to knit too. I love summer.

July 6, 2006

A Dog's Eye View

I did this sketch of Bruno, stretched out on the deck at the cottage after his swim. He was relaxed and happy. Dogs know how to savour the moment much better than people do. He has no appointments, no cell phone to answer, no pressing commitments back in the city. I like this picture because it's a dog's eye view of the world. If you have a dog, try lying on the floor beside him to see things from his vantage point. It's a whole different world. Plus, you might get a wet kiss from your friend.

June 29, 2006


This is Bruno. He is a very well behaved dog, quiet and very affectionate. He is extremely happy to be out of the dog crate he lived in for the past year. This new life he got when we adopted him suits him very well. Who would complain about walks, good food, endless petting and attention, and trips to the cottage? He has met many of the neighbours on his frequent walks with me, and everyone likes him. He met one neighbour on his own, the day he opened the side gate and set off to explore the neighbourhood. He won't be doing that again. There is a padlock on that gate now. I painted this picture of him at the cottage, the first time we took him up. He was damp from his swim. I'm sure we will be smelling wet dog every day of our holidays, because he loves the lake. He will swim all the way across to the other shore if you're not watching him. For now, he stays on a rope at all times, even in the water.

June 12, 2006

In Memory of Purdy-1993-2006

Purdy was our dog for twelve of her thirteen years. We adopted her when we lived in Nanaimo. She was a quiet, gentle Lab mix. In her early years she loved to chase balls and dig holes in the backyard. She settled down to become a loving and loyal companion. Anytime was a good time for a nap but she was always willing and eager to go along with whatever we were doing. When we moved to Mississauga in l996 she came with us. Going to the cottage was one of her favourite things, although she never really enjoyed swimming. On the May long weekend, Larry and I took her up there and we noticed that she wasn't eating but seemed very thirsty. Twice she went down to the lake and got in the shallow water by the dock and took a long drink. The second time she did this she couldn't get back out of the water. We called a vet who came and opened her office just for us. The dog who a few hours earlier had walked down to the water, now couldn't walk and seemed barely conscious. The vet was extremely kind and gentle and after examining her and doing some bloodwork, said there probably wasn't much we could do for her. She probably had canine Addison's disease. So we made the decision to let her go, which was so easy, and yet so hard. We called our children at home to let them know they wouldn't be seeing their dog again. And we said goodbye to our friend.

I painted this picture from a photo I took of her last summer on our deck.

May 14, 2006

I cannot believe that more than a month has gone by since I did the drawing for this cat. It didn't really take me long to paint it. There just, literally, was no time to do it until this weekend. We performed our school show this week, so that is done, but now I'm doing four clubs, three of which are after school. I also have a violin and a piano student on Monday nights. And I promised the CNIB that I would canvass on my street to collect money for them during May. Guess how many houses I've done so far? Four. Anyway, that's life. This cat's name is Princess and she lives in a house with a fixed male cat. (She is not fixed.) She is hopelessly in love with him and, having the brain of a cat, and being frequently in heat, she simply cannot understand why he refuses to return her affection. She's tried everything to get his attention, but he just lies there. Then when she least expects it, such as when she is sitting quietly on the hall table beside the plant, he sneaks up, launches himself into the air, and sends her and the plant flying off the table. Somebody please get the broom and dustpan. Again.

April 10, 2006

I'm working on another cat picture so I thought I'd show you this drawing. I'll be using this drawing to make my watercolour, which I'll post when I get it done. Then I'll try to get off the cat fixation so no one will get bored. It's just that cats are so great to paint. I can't have one of my own because I'm so terribly allergic to them, so I have to enjoy them in pictures. I've been getting spammed really badly so I've temporarily closed my guest book. But you can still send a comment to Larry's email.

April 2, 2006

I've been going through some of my aunt's photos (she took thousands of pictures) and I found this cat. I really like cats, and I couldn't resist this picture. I don't know whose cat it is, but I like the way it's kind of hiding under the chair. Maybe it's a shy animal, but I think it's probably just enjoying the warmth of the sun flooding in onto the carpet through the sliding glass door. I can tell my aunt got down to almost the cat's eye level to take the picture. I left out one detail which was in the photo. There was a string hanging down from the back of the chair with a little cat toy dangling from it. Now I wish I'd included it. Anyway, it tells me almost conclusively that this chair belongs to the cat.

March 17, 2006

This week has been school spring break. For me, it's a one-week holiday. For Johanna, who has already had her break and yet can't go back because of the strike, who knows how long it will be? We've been checking the news daily on-line but no progress is being reported. I've had lots of time to work on this picture of wheelchair athletes. This was hard work, and I'm still not happy with the wheels. You try drawing one. I thought I'd show my work in progress, but what you're not seeing are the drawings that went into the garbage. There's one more athlete who wasn't drawn yet when Jo took these pics. You'll see her next time. All through this work, I kept thinking about these athletes and how good they are at their sport. Now I really want to meet them and watch them play.

March 11, 2006

I took the photo for this picture last year in the spring, while driving around the back roads near my cottage. I liked the way the little white house was kind of tucked in amongst the trees on the rock. Last fall, while looking for more scenery, Larry and I went past the same spot and lo and behold, I noticed something that completely escaped me the first time. It's not really a little white house. That's just a little side porch on a really big house. I guess, from where I was standing the first time, I couldn't see the rest because of the trees. So, sometimes it's good to go back and take a second look. I suppose that can be applied to lots of things in life, not just photography.

The exact location of this scene is at the south end of Canning Lake, just off Ingolsby Road, in Haliburton.

February 21, 2006

This is Chester, who shares the farm with all those ducks you saw. He basically hangs around the barn, enjoying a great life of eating and more eating, and not much else. He is a workhorse but he doesn't do any work. The people who own him, owned his mother and saw Chester born, but sold him as a foal because the farm they lived on at that time was not very big, and he was destined to be a big horse. Later, they moved to their current farm, and when they went to a horse auction, there was Chester. Of course they bought him. I did this picture awhile ago and I only have a really bad print of it. Sorry about the wrinkles in the paper.

February 12, 2006

This is my cottage in Haliburton. I took the photo just after my parents left. They had been up for a few days. My mom would say this is the back of the cottage, as the front of any waterfront property is the side which faces the lake. I'm not trying to disagree with her, but I've never heard anyone else say that. To me, this view is the front as it faces the road. You are free to make your own decision on this. The cottage is about 135 years old and started out as a log cabin. The previous owners lived there for 50 years. They covered the logs with siding, and then with stucco because they had such a problem with insects getting into the siding. Just before we bought the place, they added the barn garage as the owner was a carpenter and he needed a big space for his power tools. In the old days, the logs let in a lot of cold air as there were always spaces where the chinking had fallen out. The only warm place in the house in those days was right beside the wood stove with a roaring fire going. There used to be a summer kitchen attached to one side of the house but it has long since disappeared. One of its big beams was saved and now is over the kitchen doorway into the living room. Like the Garry oak, it occasionally makes contact with my husband's head. He's learned to duck and avoid it, most of the time.

January 20, 2006

  On the way to our cottage in Haliburton, there's a farm with a little gift shop by the road. We often stop there to stock up on unusual cheeses, homemade butter tarts and garlic stuffed olives. I tell Larry what to buy and he goes in to shop while I walk back behind the gift shop towards the barn to take pictures. I've already done a painting of their huge Percheron workhorse. The owners have a print of it and my dad has the original. On our way up to the cottage at Christmas we stopped and I took pictures of the ducks, huddled close to the barn. It was pretty cold that day. One of the ducks in this picture is facing the barn wall. Perhaps he had a disagreement with another duck and is having some quiet time. However, I just thought I should clarify that his rear is towards the viewer, just so no one is confused about what they are seeing (as Johanna was.) The gift shop proceeds help pay for food and other necessities for the animals, since this is a rescue farm. I have a commission to do soon so I might be busy for a few weeks but I will update again as soon as I can! Bye for now.     


January 10, 2006

   Well, this is the cello player I talked about in the Javawocky picture. While I was painting him there was an accident with his arm and some black paint but Photoshop did a nice job of healing him. I really didn't want this picture to end up in the paper shredder. The day we saw him and heard him play we were on our way to dinner with relatives at a really great Greek restaurant. But since we had some time, and the restaurant was only at the top of the hill, we stopped and relaxed for a little while, sitting on a bench to listen to him play. Behind and above him was an upslope and one of Nanaimo's oldest hotels, under renovation. The wall of the hotel behind him gave the music an unusual resonance and natural amplification as the sound was reflected off the building.

                           That's all for now.


January 5, 2006

Hi, and welcome to my first entry for 2006. There's no picture today because Johanna, the blog slave, is sick. I don't think she's really that ill but it is to my advantage to be nice and coddle her a bit so that blogging can continue into the future. I've had plenty of time over the holidays to do some more painting which you will see eventually.

One of the things I don't know what to do with when I start to paint is foliage. Bushes, trees, grass, the world is full of green stuff. When I'm looking through my photos on my computer, I choose what interests me based on the central object,not all the greenery around it. After I've decided what to do, I print the picture out. Its a crap shoot at that point because I don't really know how to size things before printing. I might get a huge closeup of someone's nose, for example. Luckily it usually comes out okay. If it doesn't, I scream for Jo or Larry to come size it for me.

Then I spend some time looking at the picture and deciding if anything looks really challenging. But I'm still not looking at background too much. I just want to know if I'm going to make a big mistake and have to start over. I look for good contrasting areas, shadows, and clarity of details especially if there are people in the picture. If there are people, I'll try not to paint it too small.

Then I take my scrap paper and start drawing. I do lots of drawing and take my time. Anyway, eventually I have a drawing I like. I do lots of erasing too. And sometimes I use grid lines. Then, after my drawing is finished, I take it over to my light box and transfer it to my watercolour paper. That way I don't have to do any erasing on the good paper. And if, God forbid, some paint catastrophe does happen, I can start again because I have the drawing saved.I have to be careful because I am a messy painter. And I hate starting again. How do those little flicks and dots of paint get on the paper where I never wanted them to go? Such as a brown dot in the middle of a pristine blue sky. I've thought of turning them into seagulls. Sometimes a tiny spot of white paint can cover a tiny mistake, but if its a huge horror, like what happened to the cello player's arm, there is no hope. Except, Jo tells me, the Healing button on Photoshop. At the cottage, I was happily painting the cello player and all was going well. I was quite proud, in fact, of the way the side of the cello was looking, with nice reflections in the wood and all.

Larry and I were talking and laughing and probably having wine and I put my brush into the skin tone paint to work on the guy's arm and OMYGOD a huge gob of BLACK PAINT got on the arm! How did it get there? In a second I had a tissue on it but a second is too late when its black. So I went to work with Rescue plan B and C. (B is more blotting and scrubbing with a wet brush, and C is erasing to remove a layer of paper--Its only for extreme disasters.)Then I let the spot dry while I went away and tried to ignore what my heart was telling me. I came back later and touched it up with more skin tone, but on the edges of the erased "hole" the paint formed a dark ring so his arm looked like he'd been shot. So if he is going to appear on my blog, his arm will have to have the Photoshop healing treatment. Jo assures me its just a click away.I hope so because I liked that picture and I spent a lot of cottage time on it!

I've been working on another picture this morning with lots of vegetation and I tried something different with it. It looks good so I think, maybe, I've come up with a technique for handling greenery.

More blogging soon.

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