Saturday, March 04, 2006


Dishes are waiting in the sink to be washed, but other things call me first.

Today I have been creating lists of things that I must do. Weekends provide some time to play catch up during the week, but are never long enough to immerse myself completely in something without the interruptions of life.

I have been reading about other people's lists too. Lists to inspire creativity and work and life. Kerri Smith has a wonderful site with lists and I like her 100 ideas. Here's a sample :

1. Go for a walk. Draw or list things you find on the the sidewalk. 2. Write a letter to yourself in the future. 3. Buy something inexpensive as a symbol for your need to create, (new pen, a tea cup, journal). Use it everyday. 4. Draw your dinner. 5. Find a piece of poetry you respond to. Rewrite it and glue it into your journal. 6. Glue an envelope into your journal. For one week collect items you find on the street. 7. Expose yourself to a new artist, (go to a gallery, or in a book.) Write about what moves you about it. 8. Find a photo of a person you do not know. Write a brief bio about them. 9. Spend a day drawing only red things. 10. Draw your bike. 11. Make a list of everything you buy in the next week. 12. Make a map of everywhere you went in one day. 13. Draw a map of the creases on your hand, (knuckles, palm) 14. Trace your footsteps with chalk. 15. Record an overheard conversation. 16. Trace the path of the moon in relation to where you live. 17. Go to a paint store. Collect 'chips' of all your favorite colors. 18. Draw your favorite tree. 19. Take 15 minutes to eat an orange. 20. Write a haiku. Read more.

Lists are guides and inspiration to continue. I may take some of Keri's listings and work on them, posting them here when inspiration wanes and my mind won't form words or create images. They are a gentle push to boost me over the block.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Time Management

I'm still gosling-sitting. I feel like Mother Goose. Cute as he is, it becomes rather like watching a two year old. 'Don't eat that piece of lint', 'Don't go into the kitchen', 'come here'. Does a week old gosling understand? Who knows.

As I sit on the floor of the living room, he runs laps around me, looking for all the world like a little wind up toy. He discovered the joys of water tonight, as in total body submersion. A tray of water in front of the fire and he was in heaven. It kept him happy for a solid hour. As I write this, he's sitting at my feet, like a well trained dog, peeping occasionally to let me know he's there.

Art has suffered this week and I have a few things in progress but nothing far enough along to share with confidence. I am still searching for the perfect reference for a female portrait. Finding the right image with the right lighting is harder than anticipated. I am now recruiting friends and family of friends to come up with something suitable. I have an urge to draw something early 1900s and capture an era of simplicity.

A sketchbook is always near by and I try to draw every day if I can. This week is the exception as I have been too busy with the gosling and work and life to dedicate much time to drawing. But I will share a couple of sketches done to keep my hand loose.

There is a weekend drawing event that I participate in when I can. This weekend is images of San Francisco. You have 30 minutes to choose an image of 16, or more if you want, then 2 hours to draw, paint, create your image. You can continue after that time if you want but you must post at the 2 hour mark. Its a challenge to see what can be produced in that time frame. Sometimes its a pleasant surprise, other times a disaster. Tomorrow I will try the images. I have sifted through the references and have found some that appeal. One in particular of Alcatraz in the fog with a sailboat drifting by. Very San Francisco.

Another element that I want to try is a 'sketchcrawl' Similar to a pub crawl but without the alcohol...well perhaps that is an option too. Might make for some interesting drawing and painting.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Well another blizzard is forecast tonight with 20cm+ of snow. Just what I need. The horses will never get out again poor things with all the snow.

The orphan gosling is still going strong, but this little guy has attached himself to me which is good and bad. I've put a little stuffed toy in his brooder box to keep him company while I'm at work but he's lonely and when I go into the room he jumps up and starts squeaking.I let him out to run around the living room tonight and he loved it. He follows every move I make. If I move, he follows, if I stop he stops then sits under the shadow of my skirt when I stand. Its so funny. Then when he gets cold I put him under my sweater and he settles down and has a snooze while I get on with what I have to do.

Yes I am writing this with a gosling asleep on my shoulder. The things I do for animals... Now what do I do when he grows up??

Thinking of eggs hatching, reminded me of this drawing of a pan of eggs, but they're not for hatching. It still does amaze me that the difference between using an egg for eating or hatching is simply a matter of applying the right level of heat to a fertile egg. :)

Tuesday, February 28, 2006


One of the goals of finding my way to the top of my artistic abilities again is to be able to draw animals. Years ago, it was my mainstay in life and commissions flowed. I will reach that point again and am slowly building a portfolio, but I do take little journeys in other directions too and that is a good thing.

I don't have animal portraits from the past, only current. The past is lost and gone and paintings or drawings of Prince or Fitzroy(yes I know..) may be collecting dust in a back room or attic as the then beloved animal has long since died and another is lying in front of the fire. Or maybe the artwork is still in place and the animal fondly remembered. I like to think it is the latter.

My own dog is here in the January 1st posting. Sixteen years is a lengthy life for a dog, mongrel or not. His portrait is on a dining room wall, with his eyes looking out the window to the woods where he loved to run. His friend Blue, the cat died shortly after he did and both are buried together at the edge of the woods. She was 18. There was a bit of a Garfield/Odie relationship between them as there is with most cats and dogs. Towards the end, they were both elderly with eyesight and hearing fading and squabbles ceased as there wasn't the energy or interest in defending territory. Just an acceptance of each other, even to the point of sleeping on the same sofa -unheard of previously.

To celebrate animals here is a drawing of Blue in her dotage. The original calico cat.

Black animals are the most difficult, aside from white, to draw. Choosing highlights or shadow is all you can choose to make the creature come to life on the paper.

Here is another black animal...a Newfoundland dog.
Dogs and cats are common pets and the most frequently asked for in portraiture. However, horses, birds, ferrets, even guinea pigs have been immortalized for proud owners.

Here is an early acrylic painting of a macaw. And an even earlier one of lions in watercolour. The variety, colour, shape and size of animals always provide endless material for drawings and paintings .

Monday, February 27, 2006

Ink spots

Many, many years ago I experimented with pen and ink, but not until fairly recently did I attempt anything on a grander scale. I armed myself with some basic Micron pens and started my adventure in ink.

These are the first attempts of 25 years ago.

Fast forward to 2005 and into a pen and ink class.
I located a Koh-i-Noor Rapidograph pen then quaked after with the horror stories everyone told me about how tempermental they were. I found none of the stories were true in my case. Either that or I lucked into a forgiving Rapidograph. I didn't intentionally abuse it, I used it. I also lost it. Temporarily. I went to Winnipeg and was drawing while waiting for a taxi to the airport and in the flurry of gathering things,forgot the pencil case with the pen in it. Luckily the hotel staff found it and mailed it to me. Two weeks later. First time I tried it, it worked. I left it standing for days and weeks on end despite threats that it would clog from others. Nope. Still worked. It stopped working only when it ran out of ink. I cleaned it, refilled it and its still going strong.

I llike Rapidographs, despite their price and their supposed temperment.

But I needed different sizes of nibs. And I liked colours that I saw. So I bought more Koh-i-Noors, but the Nexus line and found a true sepia colour that my first pen and ink drawing was done in.

Then I tried a new technique - stipple and wanted a smaller nib so I tried a Staedtler pen. Quick refills, clean, crisp lines and dots that I wanted for the pointillism effect I was looking for so I continued on with the next drawing using that pen. I now have an assortment of pens in an assortment of colours. Pen and ink is more forgiving that I imagined it would be providing that you have the bones of the drawing laid down in pencil before you make a mark in pen. It can be adjusted a little with tones by diluting ink with water and using different size nibs.

I still haven't had a chance to scan in some sketches done over the weekend. Tomorrow it will be done. But I will share a sketch done a long time ago. Its a simple and bright watercolour and makes me feel that winter will be gone soon. Rhubarb shoots pushing through the cold earth are one of the first true signs of spring here.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


What does it take to create art? Every artist has their own rituals and formulas to get the right side of the brain to that place where creativity takes over and the world disappears. It can be a change of surroundings or light, music, or solitude.

In my case, I need solitude to produce anything of worth. If someone is looking over my shoulder, I find it impossible to put a mark to paper or canvas. There is a remarkable shift in thinking for me once I start the process of drawing. It brings me to a place where nothing else exists, just the drawing that I am working on and even that isn't a conscious thought. It is a feeling of watching from outside myself, which I know sounds very odd and Twilight Zone-like. But in fact its just the way my mind takes over the creativity and provides total concentration.

It doesn't happen everytime that I draw, but often enough and usually signals my ability to control hand/eye/brain coordination to produce something that actually looks like it should do!

This is an example of one of those times. A foray into coloured pencil which I hadn't used a lot previously. Now I am hooked.

One of the Chinese goose eggs hatched yesterday and a single lonely little gosling has attached itself to me, so I take it out of the incubator and carry it around tucked under my sweater where it stays burrowed for warmth, peeping occasionally. Tiny claws on big rubber feet scratch my skin and the gosling keeps trying to eat my necklace, often continuing on with nips on my throat. Finally,having other things to do I have to put him back into the incubator where he protests vehemently and bounces around demanding to be taken out again. He is cute and nicknamed 'Blizzard' due to the day of his birth but adulthood turns cuteness into aggressiveness. I will take advantage of the cute factor while I can.

Snow! Close to 70cm fell in yesterday's storm so most of today was spent digging out. My chore was to tackle a chest high snowdrift blocking the greenhouse door where the wood is stored for the winter. Just getting to the greenhouse was a challenge in its own right with thigh high snow in the way, so I half walked, half rolled to the greenhouse, shovel in hand. Here I am having a break from shovelling. Guess I won't need that treadmill workout today!