December 21, 2008

Snow on Snow

Itís still not officially winter, but out my front window, the cedar tree is laden with snow. Everything, even the hummingbird feeder, wears a snow cap. Weíve had about 30 centimetres of the stuff in the last three days. Itís beautiful to walk in, and the dog loves it. But it makes driving a bit treacherous. So we stay home, watch the storm(s) out the front window, and savour our hot chocolate. My husband has been enjoying his new toy ... a somewhat re-conditioned snow blower that's not new, but is new to us. Let it snow (or as Lt. Dan would say, "You call that a storm?")!

I think weíre just about ready for Christmas. Thereís a huge turkey in the freezer. Under the twinkling tree is a modest pile of gifts, and Iíve baked some of our favourite cookies and fudge. Any presents received which we suspect may be chocolate are on top of the buffet, to keep them away from the dog. He would open them. And eat them. My parents will be coming over on Christmas day to help us tackle the bird. Our eldest daughter will be here on Boxing Day. Middle daughter came earlier in December, and we had an early Christmas with her then.

I spent quite some time thinking about what to paint this time. Something Christmas-y, I thought. My poinsettia plant is beautiful, but Iíve painted quite a few plants lately. Iíve been knitting, and baking. I thought of painting a picture of some of my knitting. Finally, the tree outside with all the snow seemed the best choice. It looked so pretty, and I thought that in a few days, the snow might melt off the branches and Iíd lose my chance to capture it as it looks today.

I pray that you will have a blessed Christmas and a happy and prosperous 2009.

November 18, 2008

Stopping in Autumn on a Country Road

October has peeled away the green of summer
And set each leaf aflame
The old dog shuffles, nose down, through a carpet
Of red and gold
He pulls on the leash, but I want to stop
And collect the milkweed pods,
To carry home as a bit of autumn preserved,
To sit on my table in a jar.
They are shaped like small green gondolas.
I only take a few.
The ones left at the roadside will release their captives;
Thousands of seeds,
Each on a fairy silk wing,
Will soon drift where the wind wills,
Then sink to earth
Under a snow blanket
Until next spring.

November 1, 2008

From My Garden

While I was out in the garden with the dog this morning, I noticed that the euonymous bushes by my back gate have developed very pretty seed pods. The bush itself is not very interesting, although the green and yellow leaves are attractive. Being that I have been on the lookout for something to paint, in order to get myself back on track in the painting department, I ran in the house for the scissors and got myself a sample of leaves and pods. The little pottery cup I placed them in was a gift from my aunt. It came from her favourite pottery shop, in Chipping Campden, England.

So what have I been doing during this long spell between postings? Teaching, knitting, walking, and reading. (oh yes, and drinking coffee. I really like that stuff.) My next painting will be maple leaves which I've collected during walks with my dog. I've pressed them to preserve their beautiful autumn colours. See you soon.

August 5, 2008

The Heart of a Pioneer House

This old stove is no longer in use. There are cracks in its firebox and safety issues with the chimney, so it's been disconnected, but it stays on in the kitchen, so evocative of days gone by. I'm sure its oven, carefully heated with just the right amount of wood in the firebox, produced the most delicious food. Bread, pies, roasting meatÖ Stews and soups could simmer on the top, and coffee would stay warm. It was also the main source of heat for the family in winter, when cold winds whistled through the cracks between the logs. Wet mittens would hang above it on a little clothesline, and steam as they dried. I'm glad the logs are now covered with siding and stucco, and the cold wind stays outside. But sometimes I open the oven door and look inside, and I wish I could fire up its innards and bake some bread.

August 1, 2008

More Flora, and some Fauna

These pictures are a selection of my wildflower studies, done at the lake during my two-week holiday. I put all my work into a binder for cottage visitors. I did lots of walking up and down the road (not too far, though-bears!) with garden gloves and scissors to get samples, then rushed back to my painting station on the deck to get them into water before they wilted. Larry and I also drove a bit farther afield to see what else we could find, but my objective was to identify those plants that visitors would see right on my cottage road. Nature is amazing-some flowers are so tiny you could put three on a penny. And some plants are several feet tall. It's astounding to see Mother Nature's work close up, rather than whizzing by it in a car. Anyway, here is a sample of what I did.

July 9, 2008

Cottage Wildflowers 2008

We've been up to our cottage in Haliburton. The weather was a bit on the cool side and the mosquitoes and deerflies were flourishing. I sprayed Bruno with pet-safe insect repellent (two different kinds!) and they didn't even seem to care. In fact, I think they loved the stuff because they just swarmed around him. Our screened-in deck was almost insect-proof so I was able to do some wildflower painting, with only an occasional swat at a mosquito.

May 31, 2008

Family Heirloom

Since I talked about my grandmother, I thought I would post one or two of her works. I have some of her smaller paintings that come out of their frames easily, and can be scanned. This one doesn't have a date or signature, but she probably painted it sometime in the 1930's. On the back it says Little Lake, Barrie, Ontario. My dad and his brothers grew up in Barrie, so this scene probably wasn't too far from their home. When I was removing it from the frame and looking at it, I noticed charring along one side of the picture. When my dad was a kid, they had a fire in their home which went up through a closet in which my grandmother had quite a few of her pictures stored. Several other pictures were also singed. The fire also damaged the back of their piano (which became my family piano later.) The back was all black and severely charred in places. So it's fortunate that all of the paintings survived, although some have had their edges trimmed off.

May 15, 2008

It took me a long time to get around to painting this duck. I think I had it in my pile of "things I might like to paint" for about two years. I liked the challenge of the feathers and the driftwood the duck is sitting on.

In my previous post, the lady is my grandmother and the little boy beside her is my dad. He was probably about six years old when his eldest brother took the picture. About two years after the picture was taken, my grandfather passed away and my grandmother then had to raise her four boys alone. She was an artist, and because she never sold her paintings, they are all still in the family. Her paintings have been distributed among most of the family on my dad's side. I have some of her small field sketches which she painted "on the spot" when she traveled with my dad and his brothers. She would later use those small paintings as references when she painted her large canvases. She painted many scenes of Ontario countryside in the 1930's, as well as the East and West coasts. I asked my dad once what he and his brothers did when they stopped somewhere on their travels and she would set up her easel and get out her paints. He said that he and his brothers would get out their baseball and bat and have a game.

I never met my grandmother, as she died before I was born. I'm thankful to have her wonderful artwork, but I so wish I could have known her. I think we would have had a lot to talk about.

March 31, 2008

I've taken a break from painting for awhile but I'm going to try to get back to it soon. This winter I haven't had much opportunity to use my camera. Often my inspiration comes from scenes I see and photograph on my way to the cottage, but we haven't made very many trips up there this winter. I promise I'll get my paintbrushes out and get drawing soon! In the meantime, I'll leave you with this photograph, which I'll explain in detail later. See you soon!

February 3, 2008

Bruno, Relaxing

Bruno continues to be a great companion dog. In May, we will have had him for two years. This picture is from last summer, as he lay on our deck beside a pot of strawberries. Do you see how the fur on his shoulders sticks up, catching the sunlight? He has a curly ruff on his neck, which he really doesn't need when the weather gets hot, so I take the scissors and carefully give him a haircut to relieve him of all that heavy fur. What's left are the bristles you see. I dare not cut it shorter, for fear of cutting him. Perhaps this spring I will fork out the bucks and take him to a professional groomer and get him beautified and ready for summer. Then, you know what will happen, don't you. He will get sprayed by another skunk.

January 27, 2008

Mr. Wayne

Anyone from my school who sees this picture will know who this man is. Mr. Wayne is our janitor. He keeps the floors clean and shining, which is a big job in winter with children bringing snow in from the playground on their boots. He also goes quietly about all day, doing a hundred tasks to keep our school beautiful. Washrooms get cleaned, paint chips get touched up. The garbage gets taken out. He is never too busy, though, to come up with a really, really bad joke or two.

Previous post: Rhonda Lucy is a jazz singer and actress who lives in London, Ontario.

January 7, 2008

Holiday Painting

I worked on this picture during my Christmas break. I wasn't the photographer, but I really liked the composition and enjoyed painting it. The lady shall remain anonymous, for now anyway. I wish everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous 2008!