Saturday, June 19, 2010

Country life

I've spent a lot of my adult life living on working and hobby farms of various sorts.  It was always a childhood dream to be on a farm which turned into reality, with good and bad aspects. 

The romantic notion of living happily in the country with hens wandering  through neat rows of cabbages, the sun shining and everyone living off the land is just that, romantic.  The idyllic life that those not living in the country see, has a behind the scenes view that is based in hard physical work, disappointment, hardship and reality.  Of course there are pleasures and joy and contentment but they are always tempered by the reality of their opposites.

However, it doesn't stop me from being drawn to the traditional way of country life and to the houses and barns that represent it.  Probably because they are so familiar to me and seeing them or drawing them brings back memories.

This is a sketch that I did this morning or an abandoned farmhouse and barn in France.  I was having coffee and too lazy to go to the studio to get paper and pen so used an old felt tip pen and the back of a mail flyer to sketch this.  The coffee and the pen gave out around the same time, but this scene may be redone in pen and ink at a later date.

Friday, June 18, 2010


Ideas and images catch my eye when I least expect them.

The other morning very early, I was ironing a shirt for work and as I turned to leave the room the shadows on the door caught my eye.  The trees outside the window were softened by movement, almost rippling in the light.

I always find shadows interesting and seem to have a number of photos of them from various sources and times of day.  They turn the ordinary into something extraordinary for me.  Perhaps there is a painting in there somewhere waiting to come out.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Closer to the drawer

Its been a busy week for me with not a lot of progress on the pelican and the feathers on the body are giving me grief.  Well, that's not completely true.  I'm just not in the mood to work in detail on the feathers of the body right now.  I have washes of colour in and they need some form to them.  I hope to come to grips with this within the next couple of days, otherwise the bird is at risk of going into 'the drawer'. 

You know the one.  Its where paintings and drawings go that aren't finished, you don't like how they are going, or you think that if you don't see them for awhile, you'll be able to revive them at a later date.

So this is the little update of the bird just in case he disappears from site for awhile.

Meanwhile a little strawberry leaf printed on black paper to cheer  me.  The shape and smell of strawberry leaves is wonderful and they're a beneficial herbal medicine too.  But right now, the leaf is a harbinger of fruit still to come.  If it ever does in this miserable cold wet spring/early summer we're having.  Poor plants are out there shivering and tonight on the news a farmer on the west coast of the province estimates a $10,000 loss of strawberries when late frost zapped a lot of the flowers on his plants last night.  It seems the cold doesn't want to let go this year.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Capelin study

This is a graphite study of a capelin, drawn from life .  These little fish were a staple of Newfoundland food fishery and become synonymous with summer here when they come to the beaches to spawn.  Unfortunately, like fisheries all over the world, overfishing and changing climate as well as pollution affect fish habitat.  As a result, spawning times are later and fish numbers greatly reduced when they do reach the beaches.

I find these fish very appealing, not to eat - I find them too strong tasting for my liking - but the colours in them are perfect for painting and the shapes so interesting to draw. 

Capelin will be a featured in my grant project as they reflect the culture of the province as well as the fishery.

Monday, June 14, 2010

More pelican

Here's another update on the pelican.  He (or she) has that wonderful baleful look, just perfectly summing up its feelings regarding the disaster in the Gulf.

I watched the news this evening and the sight of oil covered birds, water and beaches is quite sickening and still oil gushing out into the ocean.  It makes me consider my gyotaku project and how it will become a marker of sorts for species in the future, should the Atlantic become the victim of a similar disaster. I hope that never comes to be.  I hope that safeguards are in place and that clean ups can at least begin to repair some of the damage already done before it gets even worse.

Until humans decrease their need for fossil fuels, companies will still mine the earth and incidents like this will happen.  You and I are also responsible for the Gulf disaster.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Fish five ways


I've been drawing fish and printing fish and thinking about fish.  I may soon grow gills!

In my experimenting with some collographs and relief prints I used a piece of 1/8" foam to 'sketch' my image on, then indented the lines that would remain uncoloured.  I inked the foam piece and used it on a sheet of TerraSkin that I had in my art stash.  The print worked well on the TerraSkin surface and perhaps the foam texture helped the ink adhere better.  Drying time even with water based inks is longer on TerraSkin as the paper doesn't absorb any moisture, similar to how Yupo behaves.

 Ink stained paper

I also used a piece of Somerset printing paper, a piece of handmade ACEO paper from India, ink stained paper, and a sheet of plain paper that was my initial test piece.

 Handmade Indian paper

 Somerset paper

I printed an edition of six pieces using the same foam plate but found that the pressure from the baren degrades the plate and it needs to be washed and re-incised again between prints to get a clear image. However, its useful for quick ideas and if there aren't linoblocks handy.  Its also easier on my hand and more like drawing than carving.

 Plain paper, test sheet

I tried a different plate on Somerset printing paper, but the paper was too damp and blurred the image a little.  Lesson learned.  I shall try again.

Japanese Chiri paper

These prints are about 6.5 x 8" and the small edition will be available to purchase on Etsy.