Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas sketches

Self portrait
pen & ink, watercolour

pen & ink, watercolour

I've gotten through Christmas Day with not eating too much or being too lazy. A first for me! I also managed some sketching as well - a quick self portrait and a scene of Christmas from by the Christmas tree with a Rapidograph pen and watercolour wash. These were from life. I wanted to see what I could accomplish in a quick session of about 40 minutes each.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas 2008

As Christmas rolls around again, I wonder where the year has gone. As I get older, time does go by so much more quickly. As I get older I appreciate the simpler things in life: a kind word, a smile, a gesture and true friendship.

To all the friends I know through this blog and email and to those who I may not know as well, but who still drop by regularly to read my meanderings - Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah. Winter holidays, no matter what they are called or what the traditions around them, give us time to sit back and reflect on life and love.

And now one of my favourite pieces of seasonal music sung by Aled Jones in 1985 and the theme song from The Snowman.


Oils 8 x 10

I have fulfilled my promise of a Secret Santa piece for another site and its now safe to put it here without fear of letting the cat out of the bag!

I have a half day at work tomorrow then some final preparations for Christmas. The next few days posting may be sporadic as I take some time to indulge myself in the season. I hope to be able to review some of my year and consider what I want to do in the coming year. I won't make big plans or concrete ones, as I know time is my enemy and I can't fulfill all my needs, which leads to frustration.

My mantra for 2009 will be no stress.

Monday, December 22, 2008

100 things

Fruit series - Apple I
5 x 7 oils

I loved the colour of this apple and the strong contrasts in the shadow. This was a very quick one where I just slapped on paint to see if the simplicity and colour would help me create something recognizable. There are a few other fruits waiting for similar treatments.

I found this originally on Vivien Blackburn's blog, then again on Tracy Helgeson's and Tina Mammoser's. The idea intrigued me. Its a bit like those 100 things to do before you die books, so I thought I'd reveal my own, which I've put in bold text.

1. Started your own blog (nearly 3 years 0ld now)
2. Slept under the stars (Girl Guide camp and May 24th weekends in my youth) 3. Played in a band (no musical ability!)
4. Visited Hawaii (I'd love to)
5. Watched a meteor shower (yes, the choice was a stiff neck from looking up or damp clothing from lying on the grass. The grass won)
6. Given more than you can afford to charity (I work for a charity, I give everyday as a volunteer as well as paid staff)
7. Been to Disneyland (you couldn't pay me enough or drag me there)
8. Climbed a mountain (Butterpot Mountain - not fun)
9. Held a praying mantis (ewwwwwwww insects)
10. Sang a solo (does the drunken rendition at the Irish Navy Christmas party count?)
11. Bungee jumped (nooooooooooooo!)
12. Visited Paris (yes, drove in circles for 3 hours trying to get out of Paris)
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea (many times)
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch (some new techniques or new mediums)
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning (nothing officially diagnosed as such)
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables (have done so for many many years)
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France (the crowds were too large)
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight (yes and had to pick up feathers forever when the casing broke)
22. Hitch hiked (yes as a teenager)
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (rarely, I prefer to call them mental health days :))
24. Built a snow fort (as a child we build igloos and forts, sprayed them with water to freeze hard overnight)
25. Held a lamb (I lived on a farm and we'd feed orphan lambs. Their coats felt like hard brillo pads, not soft and fuzzy as they looked)
26. Gone skinny dipping (at the pool at Tom Greenshields. Whether you were the life model or the artist, everyone had the same attire - none)
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse (its always too cloudy here usually!)
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset (constantly, as I'm always up early)
31. Hit a home run (I don't do sports)
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person (the falls are spectacular, but the town is tacky and touristy)
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (I've traced back to 1600s in Dorset, England,but I didn't get to the actual town, unless you count Google Earth)
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (I was very comfortable at one point in life. Satisfying? Not really, it just took one element of stress away)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo's David
41. Sung karoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance (when I was pregnant with my first child)
47. Had your portrait painted (by many people in drawing challenges and portrait swap)
48. Gone deep sea fishing (I used to go cod jigging years ago)
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain (a long time ago - George....what was his last name??)
53. Played in the mud (my favourite thing to do as a child)
54. Gone to a drive-in theater (they were very popular when I was a teenager and I remember them well)
55. Been in a movie (nearly. I was asked to be an extra in The French Lieutenant's Woman, set in Lyme Regis. I couldn't get a child minder and the thought of lugging a 2 year old around all day wasn't good, so I didn't get in the movie. However, I did get to go to the final set party and met Meryl Streep who was very gracious.)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business (I sold medicinal herbs, lotions, creams etc. and still do if people request them)
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout cookies (called Girl Guide cookies in Canada and I've sold my share when I was a child)
62. Gone whale watching (3 hours off the southern shore of Newfoundland, close enough to whales to look into their eyes or almost reach out and touch them)
63. Got flowers for no reason (we grow flowers commercially so, sad as it is to say, I almost get sick of looking at them)
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma (they won't accept my blood here as I was in the UK in the 1980s and they think I have Mad Cow :))
65. Gone sky diving (nooooooooooooooo)
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp (it would be very sad but I would like that memory to stay in my head so I could work to ensure it never happens again)
67. Bounced a check (likely so)
68. Flown in a helicopter (they scare me)
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy (I have an old Christmas ornament from childhood, but no toys)
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar (tastes like salty ball bearings)
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job (once. personality clash)
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London (brought my girls to London and that was something they wanted to see)
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (don't like motorcycles)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person (one of the places I want to visit)
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car (twice)
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper (yes, but it always makes me uncomfortable)
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (well, not personally, but we do raise poultry and pigs for food)
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury! (I've avoided this so far)
91. Met someone famous (I used to work and live in a pub in Sunbury and met Eric Clapton, Denny Lane and several others there)
92. Joined a book club (they're as difficult as the Mafia to try to get away from!)
93. Lost a loved one (several)
94. Had a baby (2.5 to be precise)
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a lawsuit (see # 75 and I won)
98. Owned a cell phone (on my second and its a love/hate relationship)
99. Been stung by a bee (and a wasp, neither are fun)
100. Read an entire book in one day (never enough time)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Painting at -10

On the Horizon
3 x 5 oils

There was a lovely sunrise on Saturday morning and I promised myself I would try to capture it. The only problem was that the world was covered in snow and it was -10C. This is a glimpse of the sea on the horizon from far back in a field.

I have discovered several things about painting outside in subzero temperatures.

1. Fingerless gloves/mitts are a godsend. I have an ugly purple pair that I was given years ago so I grabbed those as it doesn't matter if paint adds to the current colour. The top half of the mitten unsnaps to allow me to hold brushes, etc.

2. Oils act a little like my car feels when I first start it in very cold weather. Its hard and sluggish and needs more lubrication to get going. I used more turps and medium to get the consistancy that I wanted, but even then it was still heavy and took a while to 'warm' to the idea of doing anything resembling a painting.

3. People think you are stark raving mad to stand in a field at dawn painting when its -10. Avoid eye contact and keep going.

4. Plein air painting is the art world's version of extreme sports.