Saturday, August 12, 2006

Things you never thought you'd be doing...

Drawing lint.

Yep, that's what I was doing today. And ice cubes. Not ordinary ice cubes,but little ones shaped like fish and pineapples. At 6am. No, I'm not losing my mind - not that I know of anyway. I'm taking part in the 6th Scavenger Hunt at WetCanvas and these are some of the 26 items on a list to complete. As I'm slow and tied up with other tasks, its highly unlikely that I'll ever complete a scavenger hunt, but its fun to make myself draw on a daily basis from life.

I've also been putting together the bones of a beginner's drawing class to teach locally. People keep asking me to start one, and now seems a good time. Once I have a place secured, I will let people know then see what happens. I strongly believe that good drawing is the basis for all art. So many people dive straight into painting without any training in drawing and then wonder why they are frustrated and that nothing ever looks right. Its like trying to stand without a backbone. It just won't happen.

I have a couple of options of places and will offer intermediate and advanced drawing classes perhaps at the same time, working a couple of nights a week if demand is there.

I got the basis of the watercolour of my mother down on paper, but I"m not happy with the tones so far. Its weak and blah looking. I want stronger tones and harder edges in some areas of the face. I'll continue to work on it and see what happens. Watercolour is such a unique medium and so easy to fool up with too. This is a scan as I'm waiting for the batteries to charge for the camera, so I don't think its the true colours of this painting.

Technorati tags: , , , , , , ,

Friday, August 11, 2006

Feline approval

I emailed the final drawing of Horus to his owner, Mallika and this morning I found the following photos in my email. Horus has given the paw of approval! Thanks Mallika and Horus for letting me use the image and for sharing it with the world. Always a pleasure.

Tonight I'm starting a watercolour of my mother from a sketch I did the other day. I'm not sure if its going well yet or not. Perhaps tomorrow I will be brave enough to post something. Right now, its at the 'ugly' stage.

I was asked how many of my drawings never make the cut to be acceptable. I have been thinking about that and its a little difficult to say. All drawings have meaning at some level. But whether or not they are suitable, in my eyes, for framing or selling is another thing. What is the criteria for a 'good' drawing? It is so individual that I can't give a good set of criteria to use. For me, its mostly down to measurements being off and therefore not acheiving a likeness, as most of my drawings and paintings are of people and animals. In the case of commissions, if an image doesn't present what the client had in their minds eye, it can be classed and unacceptable. It is rare and usually then a fe minor tweaks are all that are necessary. Accurate initial line drawings are the essential backbone of any work and if the initial drawing is off, it won't matter what magic you try with paints or other mediums, it won't look good. Drawing is the basis of all works of art, with perhaps the exception of abstracts. And drawing is what makes or breaks the overall image's worth.

I have a portfolio full of 'mistakes'. I don't discard them, but I don't flaunt them either. There are there as reminders of what I have done and what I can do and what I should do. They represent differnt levels of expertise and experience and provide a record of movement across time. This is an image done 20 years ago of my daughter, compared to one done a few months ago. Aside from the passage of time, I see a difference in style too.

Neither are good or bad sketches, just different from each other.

Technorati tags: , , , ,

Thursday, August 10, 2006


I am calling the two portraits I was working on finished. I am still not completely happy with the first portrait as the beard was causing some concern in rendering it well. But the paper is losing its tooth and won't hold much more pigment so rather than ruin it, I will let it stand.

The cat is complete as well and was an interesting first attempt at an animal portrait in this medium. The pencils work well for animals and provide a softness that doesn't need to be worked at too much.

The cemetery I visited on Sunday opens out onto a lake in the middle of the city, called Quidi Vidi. On the lake every August fixed seat rowing races are held and have done so for the last 186 years, making it the oldest continuous sporting event in North America. To commemorate this, a sculpture was commissioned. This statue, is the work of Morgan MacDonald, BBA ‘04. It took him two years in his spare time to build The Rower using the lost wax process. It is his first major work of public art. Mr. MacDonald is a 24-year-old native of Corner Brook who moved to St. John’s at an early age. His art education includes a year at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College and a three-year apprenticeship at a bronze sculpture foundry. “This sculpture is an attempt to encapsulate the strength, athleticism and elegance of the sport,” said Mr. MacDonald.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


I've had a little time to deepen the tones more on Horus. I'm still feeling my way in rendering fur with these pencils, so its a bit hit or miss. They don't erase well either so I have to plan my strokes carefully. Hopefully, one more session and he will be done, then back to more details on the other portrait.

I was sorting out some insurance related details for my mother yesterday and caught her intently reading the letter from the company. I made a quick sketch in my Moleskine and may enlarge it and turn it into a watercolour when I get a chance.

Finally, I'll include the duck image that I mentioned yesterday as Blogger now seems to be cooperating. These are the Pekin ducks lounging in the shade of the laburnum trees.

Technorati tags: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

An eye for art

I find lately that my shopping excursions tend to have me eyeing up vegetables or fruit or interesting arrangements of bowls or glass with a new eye. I'm not there to buy groceries or household items for practical purposes. I'm buying items for their art appeal. I'm thinking about how they would look in a drawing or composing images in my head using the colours or shapes that I see in some of these stores.

That is how this sketch came about. Done in pencil in my Moleskine 8.5 x 5. I was in Shoppers Drug Mart looking for a bottle of water to drink and came across a display of Welsh bottled water - Ty Nant. (you never know what you'll find in Shoppers...) The shape of the bottle was so appealing instantly. It reminded me of an ice sculpture, like those I've seen in the Crystal Garden in Ottawa during Winterlude. For the exhorbitant price of $2.49 or similar, I bought my art treasure home and continue to refill it over and over as I can't bear to part with the bottle. Now I'm wondering how it would look with coloured water in it; with sunlight pouring through it; in shadow; frozen...the possibilities are endless. Good value for $2.49 I think.

The bottle itself has broken new ground it seems, according to Antiques of the Future.

Clear plastic water bottle with organic ripples. This has been noted in engineering magazines for being the first blow-molded, asymmetric PET bottle. The water is bottled in Wales.

Manufacturer: Ty-Nant

Copyright Date: 2001

Materials: PET Plastic

Museums: What is Design Today Exhibition, The Design Center 10/02

Awards: `Premier Award’ from the Bottledwaterworld awards in Italy - March, 2002. ‘Golden’ Grocery Advertising and Marketing Industry Award for best PR campaign 2002. ‘Oscar’s De L ‘Emballage’ Award France, 2002.

Publications: Modern Plastics 8/02, Bon Voyage, France Graphique, Joyce, L'uisine Nouvelle, and Emballages Magazin

When I arrived home today, the Pekin ducks were lounging in the grass (well more weeds than grass) and looking very relaxed in the shade. They are my favourite ducks, noisy and lively, always sifting through the grass with their beaks as if they're perpetually looking for something they've lost.

It seems Blogger is having problems again loading photos so the duck photo will have to wait awhile.

Technorati tags: , , , , ,

Monday, August 07, 2006


Everything in the greenhouse seems to be bursting with fruit or flowers right now. The grapes are so laden down on one of the vines that they have had to be propped up to keep the vine from sagging to the ground. These are white Interlaken grapes, seedless and sweet, wonderful for eating.

The other vine in the greenhouse is Pinot Noir, which produces small black berries that yield the famous French Burgundy wines. Neither variety are ripe yet, likely in September they will begin to be harvested and finish in October.

Cucumbers, and tomatoes are ripening fast and furiously to the point where I have to either do something with them or give them away. I am trying to grow eggplants this year and the large sturdy plants are flowering now.

Magnificent pale violet flowers that are works of art in themselves. I hope they do set fruit, it would be wonderful to have organic eggplants and make moussaka or ratatouille.

Then the updates on the birds. The baby geese are nine weeks old now and nearly as big as the parents. They stride around chasing the ducks or chickens for sport given half a chance. They will all have to be penned soon as they really are taking over the garden and becoming a bit of a pest. The second male goose's mate is sitting on some eggs now and he wanders aimlessly around all day, muttering to himself sounding rather like a trumpeting elephant. If you stand still long enough he rubs up against your leg like and old cat, asking 'Will you be my girlfriend?' Silly goose!

Then there are the Pekin ducks hatching today. As of writing, seven have hatched with 11 more due to hatch. Ducklings are always so sweet, but them I'm a sucker for most animals.

Finally, a sketch I started of Kit, the horse. Kits is such a sweet creature without a bone of malice in her. She is currently up for sale and I will miss her when she's gone.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, August 06, 2006


It all started today with a friend providing me a link to customs surrounding the Jewish grave, called unveiling. It doesn't differ a lot from other religions whose rites around life and death follow similar paths. But it started a day of discovery in cemeteries.

I went out this afternoon and we had to make a stop at a friends house to look at a lawnmower that wouldn't work. So while my husband looked at that, I wandered into the churchyard further down the road. St. Nicholas church is located in Torbay and overlooks the bay surrounded by cliffs. At the edge of the churchyard is a cemetery. I walked down the steep path to get closer to the water and something caught my eye. A grave, freshly dug, with a pile of earth and stones next to it and in the grave a pine box. There was no one around, not a soul and I couldn't figure out why a grave would be left open. It was as if it had been abandoned mid-funeral ceremony.

One thought did cross my mind and I'm hoping it is the right one as, out of curiousity, I stopped by the churchyard on the way home and the grave was still there, casket in it, untouched and still no one around.

There is a national program created and performed by Newfoundland actors called Hatching, Matching and Dispatching.

In outport Newfoundland, it is often left to one enterprising family to literally taxi the residents of the town from cradle to grave—offering wedding, funeral and ambulance services all under the same roof. Hatching, Matching & Dispatching is a new comedy about one such family—the Fureys.

Laced with Newfoundland’s singular black humour Hatching, Matching & Dispatching follows the adventures of the Furey family and their daily dealings with the lovesick, the plain sick, the old, the infirm, the newborn, the automotively challenged, the bereaved, the heartbroken, the dead and the dead drunk.

The ensemble cast includes Mary Walsh (Mambo Italiano, This Hour Has 22 Minutes) as the family matriarch, along with Mark McKinney (Saddest Music In The World, Kids inthe Hall), Shaun Majumder (This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Cedric The Entertainer), Rick Boland (The Divine Ryans), Susan Kent (Violet) and Sherry White (The Bread Maker).

Looking at some of the photos on the CBC site, it looks very similar to what I saw there and I'm hoping it was a leftover 'prop' for one of the shows as Hatching, Matching and Dispatching is filmed in Torbay and Petty Harbour. If not, someone may have a little explaining to do as to why the gravesite was left open...

Then on the Anglican Cemetery Forest Road in St. John's. This cemetery is one of the older ones in the city and has spread out of the years. Forest Road Cemetery had burials beginning in 1839 or 1849 and the older section has the ambience created by time in such a place. The trees tower over the graves which are close together and segmented by paths which tree roots compete with for space.

The headstones and markers are scarely visible in some, the letters worn away by over 100 years of rain, and snow and sleet pounding on them. Others have succumbed to the effects of frost and thaw and have splintered and cracked, toppling the stone pillars or crosses into the grass. The fragmented sunlight coming through the trees adds to the scene and always fascinates me. A number of my relatives are buried there, including my maternal grandmother and a number of her sisters - my great aunts.

I have visited cemeteries for years,exploring the older ones, especially in England, where Highgate Cemetery was my favourite. The age and architecture of momuments to people are an endless source of inspiration for drawing and for thought.

Finally, to the drawing update for today. If you've reaching this far, you've the patience of Job. This is an update of Horus, the sweet little grey tabby in Mallika's blog Under the Shade. I have deepened more of the face and started on the coat of the body. I'm still having a challenge with his eyes in achieving that luminous quality that I'm looking for. I'll work on those a little more and hopefully have the piece finished within the next couple of days.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,