Saturday, August 26, 2006


Living in a place called affectionately 'The Rock' its only natural to have an interest in rocks. I photograph them, draw them, hold them in my and and observe their formations from afar and up close.

So this drawing/painting of a huge rock jutting out of the sea off Scotland was a natural that attracted me. It is called Cathedral Cave or Conservation Cave just off Tanera Beag, Scotland. It was done in my Moleskine in pen and ink with watercolour wash.

When young, my daughter had an intense interest in stones too and I remember quietly redepositing piles of stones and pebbles into the garden when they threatened to overtake the house. This image of beach stones taken at Ferryland yesterday reminded me of her and yes, I did fill my own pockets with stones and other finds too. I can't resist a stony beach.

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Friday, August 25, 2006

Colony of Avalon

Today I drove to Ferryland on the southern shore of the Avalon Peninsula to visit the Colony of Avalon, an archaeological dig that over the years has expanded and uncovered one of the oldest inhabited sites in North America. I love history and the feel of ancient life that has gone before me. There is something comforting about walking the same ground that people did hundreds of years before and touching the same things that they did. All summer students and archaelogists dig in the area uncovering, cataloging and mapping sections of the dig. Here is one of the workers adding to the
drawing of the site.

So many other things catch my eye besides the site. On the walk to the dig area, I noticed the sea wall that was created out of old timber and large boulders. The disused dory resting in the long grass - near the water but never to be wetted by it again. Then wandering back along the shore line...the water stretched as far as the eye could see, glittering in the late afternoon sun with soft waves crashing onto the dark sand and rocks. There I found shells of crabs and sea urchins along with a collection of pebbles, worn smooth by hundreds of years of storms and waves. It seemed that it was a waste of my money to pay to see the museum and dig, as I had spent more time outside wandering the landscape and taking photos than I had spent inside viewing artifacts.

Leaving there, we drove back towards St. John's, through Calvert, Cape Broyle and stopped for a break in Admiral's Cove which is beautiful, quiet and idyllic. Without any pressure to work on me, I could live there.

I did get some drawing in today, but not enough. I abandoned the NL dog drawing. It wasn't going as I wanted and looked more like a large teddy than a dog. It needs to be larger and bolder. I will try again in another medium.

Today's drawing is of Rochdale Canal. Another quiet peaceful place. It is done in my Moleskine 8 x 5 in pen and ink and watercolour.

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Thursday, August 24, 2006


Did you know that blueberries may be the healthiest food on the planet? According to World's Healthiest Foods, Tufts University did a study and concluded that these little blue berries were the most nutritious of 60 fruits and vegetables, with the most anti-oxidant capability. The 'magic ingredient' is called anthocyanidin, a compound which gives the berry its beautiful blue color.

Today I wandered through the woods and fields in search of blueberries. And I found them in abundance. Amidst annoying flies and hot sun beating down, I picked til my back ached and I couldn't take anymore abuse from the elements. But I know where that good spot is and I'll be back! I also found partridge berries growing there too, not quite ripe, but getting there.

I haven't had a lot of time today for drawing, but this afternoon I've made a start on a new reference - a Newfoundland dog. This one was on a boat called The Scademia, a 90 foot tour boat which sailed out of St. John's harbour. The dog accompanied every trip and was called Bosun. On this trip Bosun had dozed off on the trip back to shore and just woke up when his picture was taken. He managed to intertwine himself in with the rope and looked a bit sheepish. The reference image hasn't scanned well, it looks better in real life.

I'm not sure what medium I will do this in yet. Graphite perhaps or coloured pencil. Its on 9 x 12 Bristol Vellum again. Yes, I do have other paper, but sometimes get stuck in a paper rut.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Grotesques and art prints

This gargoyle sits and lurks under the shade of a hosta plant by the front steps. Gargoyles have always had a fascination for me. The word "Gargoyle" shares a common root with the word "Gargle"; which comes from "gargouille", an French word for "Throat". A true gargoyle is a waterspout. An unusual carved creature that does not serve that purpose is properly called a "Grotesque."

My little "Grotesque" sits amongst the leaves and scares spiders. He's another drawing in the making I think - without the goose/duck/chicken barrier fence! And you can see why that barrier is necessary if you notice the carefully 'pruned' leaves of the hosta...

Currently this coloured pencil drawing is on my drafting table. It seems slow going and I'm losing interest in it. But perhaps I'll keep trying and see if I can make it come together.

Having just completed my 'Weeds' drawing, it would lend itself to prints, either as stand alone or in the form of notecards. The original is 9" x 12" on Bristol Vellum white. I haven't ventured into the print side of art previously so I know little about the process. However, it seems like a good idea to be able to offer my work at reasonable prices to people who don't have a budget that runs to original art, but happily can afford prints.

(jee-clay) is an advanced printmaking process for creating high quality fine art reproductions. The attainable quality that Giclée printmaking affords makes the reproduction virtually indistinguishable from the original artwork. The result is wide acceptance of high quality Giclées by galleries, museums, and private collectors.

Prior to the advent of giclee printing, the standard method of reproducing art was lithography. Because this process requires the creation of a printing plate, made by scanning and color-separating the art, lithography is a fairly expensive process. The bulk of the cost is in set-up, so to make affordable prints, large numbers are required to amortize the cost over a greater quantity. Hence, lithographs are usually made in runs of at least 500-1000. Lithography is also limited to printing on smooth paper.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Rural living

People who live in cities often have a romantic view of rural living. It usually runs to something like having a quiet existance pottering in an idyllic landscape, surrounded by peaceful 'cute' animals, with everything and everyone cooperating.

Why is it that when people from a city buy a piece of land and build a house in the country never accept that their view of country living and the real one are at opposite ends of the pole?

Each day I explain to people how eggs come into existance - and no, the hens don't need a rooster to lay eggs. They need a rooster to lay fertile eggs. Then there's the parents with small children who let them run everywhere unrestricted. Over flower and vegetable beds, chase the ducks, try to push their fingers up the horse's nose or hold a chicken upsidedown to see if they really do go into a trance. Sigh. It is at times like this that I must bite my tongue, but I'm not always successful at that and have had to interven when children are in imminent danger of being trampled or bitten by the horse or the animials are in danger from the children. It seems the parents have no idea that any of this is going on at the time. No idea until I raise my voice or pull the children physically away from whatever they are molesting at the moment.

I enjoy rural living. I enjoy the animals and being self sufficient in what I grow and eat. I enjoy the lifestyle for the most part. But interaction with the public who think my farm is a playground in a city centre drives me nuts! So if you're out there reading this and want to visit, please do so, I'd love to see you. But do me a favour, keep your kids on a leash while you're here, ok?

I am nearing completion of my 'weeds' drawing. I have probably another 3 or 4 hours work left to do on it then it will be finished. I am pleased with the depth and tones in it even if the detail is time consuming and a little like putting a jigsaw puzzle together at times.

And another self portrait started late last night. Its not complete but coming along. Another hopefully tomorrow if there is time.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Fried green tomatoes

At 6am, still sleepwarmed, I looked into the mirror and found this wildhaired, middleaged woman looking back at me. We never really see ourselves, we never have that luxury. We can only see ourselves as a reversed image in reflective glass or though the product of the lens of a camera. Is that image who we are? Each camera image of myself looks entirely different than the last, just as every self portrait is different also. I may test my theory this week and draw a new self portrait every day to track the differences. Are they in me or in my view of me? A little of both I suspect.

I was given a little watercolour Moleskine notebook that I christened today with an image of green tomatoes. Watercolour is still a medium that I feel I am learning each time I use it. It is as if it has a life of its own once water is added, rather like that little creature Gizmo, in the old Gremlins movie. I believe it was water anyway. I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong.

Fried green tomatoes are a delight to eat which I discovered a few years ago through a friend who offered them up for supper one day. They're so easy to make and wonderful to eat - also a great way to use up a glut of green tomatoes in the garden.

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Sunday, August 20, 2006

A week of Sundays

"To the Sea, to the Sea! The white gulls are crying,
The wind is blowing, and the white foam is flying."
-Legolas' Song of the Sea (The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien)

Usually Sundays are a day that I can relax a little and spend time catching up and wandering, exploring new places or rediscovering old ones and getting ready mentally to start my work week on Monday. Today was no different in some ways. I wandered down to the harbour and found it populated by lots of gulls, mostly herring and blackback gulls. What a racket they make, almost as bad as the geese!

The coming week will be one of Sundays. I have a week off work - an enforced holiday to please the board. I guess I'm a workaholic is some ways, perhaps habit in other ways. I'm not a holiday person, as I rarely have the opportunity to travel and escape to somewhere that doesn't feel like home. I think of a holiday as being somewhere that isn't familiar. It is eating foreign food on foreign soil and being immersed in a foreign culture. It is not being at home doing the usual things, including cooking, cleaning, etc. etc. However, it does provide me with some time to draw and photograph and I will indulge myself in doing so.

My holiday will include drinking coffee and eating croissants til 10am in my dressing gown while drawing and reading the newspaper.

It will include cocooning myself into my studio and spreading my work around me, losing myself in music and 'the zone' with strict instructions not to be disturbed.

It will involve me taking myself to lunch at some interesting downtown cafes and sketching other diners as I wait for local delicacies to arrive.

I will eat when I want and what I want - diets be damned. If I want ice cream for breakfast, I will have it.

So my week of Sundays will be indulgent and selfserving and delicious. It will be thought provoking and tiring. It will make new out of old and hopefully new out of me too.

I have worked more on my negative drawing image. It is slow work, but satisfying and seems to spill out over the page effortlessly.

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