I caught my two clowns napping one day and snapped this photo. These boys were never the best of friends which was often a mild frustration. You can imagine my pleasant surprise upon discovering this rarity, considering their history. Something felt familiar about the pose until I remembered where I'd seen this image before. Here's your chuckle for #Caturday!
In November, while on our cruise, we received this image via text from my daughter. It was a follow up from the wonderful news we received just before departing. I expect my first grandchild in June.
I had accepted the possibility that I may never experience being a grandparent as my children are in their 30's so this was a pleasant surprise indeed and I am overjoyed!
Now I get to knit, and crochet and sew all kinds of neat things for baby! Yay!
Now here's the tricky part. We won't know the sex until it's born! Argh! I have a million questions....What can I make ahead of time? What size will they be in summer? What about winter? And when did they come out with so many different car seats and strollers?
I was asked to make a sun hat which was actually doable since I went hog wild before the trip and made myself some new items, one of which was a beach hat. Ever since I learned how to copy patterns from existing outfits, I've been on sewing obsession. I don't complain, I just go with the flow. To me it's just another form of artistic expression.
I just finished a maternity pantsuit in a light T Shirt fabric that will work right up until nine months. I'm no professional that is certain, but I did learn a bunch of new things like seam pockets and hidden belt sleeves as well as the challenge of making my own bias tape to finish edges and use for straps and belts.
If you're interested in learning how to duplicate your clothes, click here for the link!
An artist's supply stock is varied and superfluous at times. It can be challenging to keep track of all the products out there and knowing whether they are essentials or not. Being the thrifty sort, I try to resist the temptation to enter our local Deserres or Wallacks without a shopping list! I try to avoid redundancies and chose small samples before jumping whole hog into a new media.
One minor flub on my part was purchasing acrylics to begin with. The whole concept of being an artist had me dreaming of waling into a studio and smelling the honeys that I associate with art and ultimately oil in particular. At first all I did was pencil sketches until I got brave. I'd started with watercolour pencils only to learn that watercolours are a whole different animal and very unforgiving to a newbie. I wanted to paint like the masters and at the time it didn't occur to me to try oils. What deterred me was the news that oils aren't eco friendly and many venues don't allow it's use. Some people have become highly allergic! There are water based oils, but what the heck is that if not some form of acrylics? And where's that smell? That confused me and so I stuck with acrylics. The problem with them of course is the drying time can be a bit faster than I can paint! I have this hummingbird habit of painting in more than one place at a time. But because I have a full stock of acrylics, I'm not about to switch just yet.
Consequently the first "additive" to my tool box was retarder. After discovering dried out patches where I wanted to blend, I found it to be crucial when using acrylics. Just a small drop mixed in with the heavy body acrylics I tend to use (a whole other story), is enough to slow the drying time down sufficiently for me to move the paint around until I'm satisfied. I had tried using just water, but the paint if thinned too much won't adhere to the canvas for very long. Occasionally I can get away with a bit of water, otherwise I prefer the feel of the retarder as it gives my paint more flow without reducing the colour intensity. This is great when using rigger brushes for long hair etc..
The only minor issue I have is that the final result can show shiny spots where the retardant was used. My solution is to give the completed piece a spray coat of mat acrylic varnish to unify the surface reflection. (I prefer a mat finish so no glare obstructs the viewer from the artwork. ) You could opt for the gloss varnish too if that's your thing.
On a scale of 1 - 10 I rate this product a 9 !
It's tax time again and I've already washed my floors which is something I put off until something worse comes along....like income tax filing. Today is the dedicated day, but I feel a blog coming on.... and so the procrastination begins! Besides Buster is standing the way!
A lot has been going on in my life of late. Much of it has to do with my art and how I fit in as a self proclaimed artist. A recent disqualification from being considered as an artist worthy of grant application struck a low blow and it took me a couple of days to get over myself. In a most humbling experience, I have had to rethink my goals and ambitions and question my motives. Once again fame and recognition was the fuel, and a pitiful temporary fuel it is. I didn't feel the burning desire, nor the gushing bubbling passion come from within. It was more of a shallow need for validation.
At first I thought that maybe my lack of zeal to complete the tasks required to enter a direct purchase competition was due to VOD (Voice of Doom) and the whole "stepping out of my comfort zone" reaction. Putting yourself out there to be judged "worthy" is not the most pleasant activity by any means. I'd concluded that my fear of failure was slowing me down, yet I persisted in my determination to complete the goal I'd set for myself. To have one of my pieces installed somewhere in the city of Ottawa. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy! Then the disqualification news arrived and my world shook. It hurt and I'd be lying if i didn't admit that. But I had to ask myself why do I need to hear it (validation, praise, acceptance) from an outside source? Haven't I read every self help book there is out there? Yet I couldn't see the forest for the trees. Once again with the direct purchase application I feel that I'm falling for the hollow attraction that the promise of fame offers.
What I need to do is reaffirm my reason for painting and to be joyful in all I do. So far the volunteer ceiling tile art brings me immeasurable joy. There's no money and the fame is almost nonexistent. The art wall where I can make sales and donate a portion to the hospital cause is another win/win situation. I'm happy with that. Any other art from now on must be for me.
With my decision to pull out of the application process, I feel lighter already and can't wait to finish the art I'd started but so I can hang it on our walls instead! In fact I am ready to do my taxes now.
Do you find yourself questioning what you do?
Our annual trek to Cuba did not disappoint as usual. We chose a three star resort (Club Amigo Atlantico) that we've visited before, knowing what to expect. Actually, knowing Cuba, it's pretty much the same everywhere with minor variations on a theme of neglect ( I mean that in a most loving and empathetic way). Having been on many excursions here and seen much of the countryside, I enjoyed taking out my camera to capture the sights in more detail. This time I got up close and personal with the locals and was able to get some nice interesting faces I can't wait to paint! Check this guy out!
An excursion we took through Holguin and Gibara offered many awesome opportunities for my favourite architectural images. The cracked and peeling paint, the fallen parging and textured cement reflect the layers of history. I am drawn to these stunning specimens like a moth to a flame. The next few photos turned out so nice that I will be framing them as is.
While in Gibara, a small fishing village, I got some nice marina pics and another great face. While I won't show them all here, don't be surprised if they show up as painting projects further down the road.
Thanks for following me on my adventures as I try to paint my way through life! See you next Wednesday when I'll share my best photo of all that I've already started painting!
I survived a marathon day of painting safe for some sore hips from standing for 8 hours. I worked three large canvases at the same time. Mainly to alleviate boredom and to allow for each layer to dry before the next one.
My goal today is to finish the other abstract.
I'm a hopeless romantic when it comes to country living. In fact I think I'm just plain romantic ...period.
I always imagine putting my creative skills to good use to beautify our country home. I consider myself pretty handy so painting a boring white mailbox was going to be a joyful experience! To be honest it was! I knew my acrylics would not adhere to the mailbox let alone weather our Canadian climate so I waited for the right opportunity. That chance arrived when I found myself with a pint each of lavender and lime green exterior oil based paints. They were leftover from a couple of projects. I originally had wanted to paint chickadees (of course!) but you do what you gotta do eh? I decided on lime green Hydrangeas (there is a Limelight series in existence) against a contrasting lavender background.
The new project was accomplished on an unusually mild spring afternoon when the sun was warm and on a day I felt the creative juices flowing as free as the Maple sap that we'd soon be tasting. I was thrilled with the results too! Considering it was freehand without a reference photo to boot! A rarity for me. We proudly installed my work of art for all to see.
Unfortunately within a few months, unsupervised young adults in the country have more sinister (if not extremely dangerous) activities planned during the summertime. For some reason they get a thrill out of destroying other people's property. Yes I'm sorry to announce we succumbed to the "mailbox baseball" game of riding on the back of a pick up truck at night, swinging wildly. It's sad that they have nothing better to do with their free time. Oh well, you live and learn! Thankfully, I have an abundance of creativity and THAT you can't take away from me.
It's early Sunday morning as I sip my last coffee of the day. Breakfast is over, dishes are washed and I'm on my second load of laundry (housework always gets in the way eh?) . More importantly, I've already prepped a canvas with a 50/50 mix of tile grout with modelling paste. The modelling paste is the glue that will hold your grout together and provide flexibility, resulting in no cracking (I've been told according to many online technical artist sites.
Today's goal is to make significant progress in my latest adventure: entering into to a competition for direct purchase art from the city of Ottawa. I've been on their mailing list for 2 years now and have wanted to apply for new and challenging artist call outs. Saying I'll apply once I have a dozen completed pieces wasn't realistic and it has delayed this step for a couple of years now. This year, I almost have enough of a mix of photography and acrylic paintings to submit something with substance. The abstract I've started, is one of the filler pieces I need to round out my collection. This is it! The buck stops here. No more excuses.
It's a long drawn out process, something this artist is not fond of. Lots of red tape and plenty of hoops to jump through which goes against my free spirited ways. But I suppose it's effective in weeding out the less committed artists and in my case the less confident ones. However, this time I am going for it. I have been journalling regularly about the incredible resistance I feel. That small part of you that says "Meh! forget it! Too much trouble! They won't accept you anyway" is freezing me in my tracks more often than I'd like. Thankfully I have a month to get my act together.
I found this valuable article at Life Hacks blog for a list of steps to take in order to have a better chance at success too. If you are also suffering from the voice of doom questioning your abilities check it out here. It really is about planning and preparing. I have in fact been making lists of what must be done.
I've set myself a bigger goal that involves this first step and have also applied to the Canada Council on the Arts to see if I qualify for grants. My dream is to have a gallery showing, to really put myself out there and ultimately to see if I have what it takes. But, I need space in which to work. Our humble cottage requires tight scheduling of meals and activities in order to work on larger pieces. So I want to see about renting a studio to work on enough pieces for a showing. Yes it's a big dream but it is doable and quite realistic!
I have to remind myself that it's not the end all be all if I'm not successful the first time. I will have at least tried! Besides, I may learn a thing or two about myself and the "process" enough to make a second attempt!
Wish me luck!
One of my favourite things to do while on vacation is to capture vignettes of colour and texture that move me. They provide me with reference photos to paint when I get home and sometimes beautiful photos that are frame ready.
In November, our first ever 10 day cruise was a delight for the eyes as well as the stomach! (I know because I came back 5 pounds heavier!) In fact we joked that Princess Cruises should change their tag line from "Come Back New" to "Come Back Fat!"
The destinations were Princess Keys, St. Thomas, Grenada, Martinique, Bonair, and Curacao . I was able to knock off several items from my bucket list as well. From waterfalls, to volcanic crater lakes, to rain forests, we saw as much as our time on each island allowed us. It was a hectic pace for beginners like us who booked excursions at almost every port! Rushing around to finish breakfast in time to catch tour buses was a challenge I don't recommend on a daily basis. Nevertheless, we pushed through and got the most out of the cruise and do not regret a thing. The colourful buildings in Curacao where a delight as were the many brightly decorated market stalls designed to attract. It's always my favourite part of winter travel; getting away from the black and white dreariness that is Canada. Why don't we paint our homes in equally bright colours especially when we must endure several months of grey drabness? I just don't understand it.
Anyway, I did indeed capture some inspiring scenes that make me want to try a looser style. To be honest, even a detail oriented gal like me doesn't even want to think about drawing in all those tiny souvenirs as in that pic above! Gagh!
Each island had its own climate so that the scenery changed from one to the next, from rain forests to desserts. There was much to see and wanting to live the moments through my own eyes rather than the camera, I limited my search. However, our February trip to Cuba did not disappoint and will be fodder for my next blog!
On the morning of the first day of spring, I was cleaning up some old images I'd saved. This cartoon reminded me of my own personal struggles with knowing when to stop. Admitting that I can be a bit of a perfectionist at times is an understatement at best. Drawn to meticulous details and being self critical of my output in any media (including meal prep!) can wear a person out! It is a work in progress just to know when enough is enough. I feel that if I don't know, it means I've still much to learn about what makes art "good". It was a question that was on my mind a lot several years ago and to be totally honest, it still niggles at me a bit to this day. Unfortunately the other question I was asking was: "What makes art sell?" At one point I was studying which commercial art sold in order to determine what I was going to paint and here's the clincher....whether I liked the subject or not. Those pieces are buried somewhere in the basement collecting dust. Some I couldn't even bring myself to complete, so unmotivated was I. Scary eh?I was looking for answers in all the wrong places.
That was until I read an awesome book from the 80's called The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. Despite it's age, the wisdom is timeless and was (and still is) the most uplifting and cobweb clearing piece of inspiration that helped point me in the right direction. To this day I still do my morning Journalling. Through this physical putting to paper of thoughts, and feelings, I've been able to overcome many obstacles that stopped me in my tracks. From unfinished pieces, a sense of disconnect, or a lack of motivation to even start new art, it became clear that other more sinister thoughts were creeping into my psyche. This book walked me through 12 chapters of eye opening exercises that revealed what I call "the Voice of Doom", or VOD for short. You know the one...."you aren't original, all you do is copy from photos", "how can you call yourself an artist when you never took an art class in your life?" and " it's too late (read your too old) to even try to become a well known artist or even a good one"........ Yes VOD can be ugly and cruel, because it's the ego using everything thing it can dig up to stop you cold. That false sense of self that gets you into a lot of trouble by causing you to judge others, be arrogant, self righteous and play the whiney victim. Why?
Because the ego is filled with fear; fear of failure, fear of success and most importantly fear of not being heard which ultimately means the ego has been squashed. So if the ego's basic survival is dependent on you heeding it's ill gotten advice, you know you have a tough challenge ahead. The ego will pull out voices from the past that may have affected you when you were more vulnerable. Adults and teachers who through no bad intention said things that stuck and had you doubt yourself up until today. This book helped me see that and even better, overcome it by flipping the negative talk into positive affirmations. By the time I reached chapter three, I sold two pieces of art in the same week! And that's without leaving the house! To overcome doubt is very empowering! But what just happened?
You see there's another force at work here that I truly believe in. Some of you may not and that's fine, because we all believe in something just not necessarily the same things. Whatever floats your boat as my daughter would say. But for me the Law of Attraction is working its magic. I've seen it in action in my life and it is amazing. Sometimes I'm in the zone and unfortunately other times, I am not. I'm in a slump of sorts and nothing seems to be going my way. By changing how I was thinking and feeling about myself, I opened the floodgates to the things I was wishing for, hoping for and wanting badly to happen. The Universe was trying to send it to me but I wasn't "allowing" it. The lack of belief in myself was the biggest obstacle and it spreads itself into every facet of your art, from choosing subject matter to approaching galleries, Overworking a painting is another form of lack of self confidence. We're afraid of missing something, of falling short of other people's expectations. Therein lies the problem. Where's the joy? For when in the state of joy, we attract more joy.
You have to ask yourself the hard questions. Why am I painting? Who am I painting for? Painting for yourself instead of to sell or to please for others will change the results . Commercialism, and capitalism has a nasty habit of creeping into our lives. Without passion, the joy is lost and it becomes work. A dirty word in the world of artistic expression and creativity. When I decided to just paint the things I loved, that love was somehow imbedded into my art and it's a vibe that gets picked up by others who view it. If it moved me, then it has the power to move others. And sometimes, they're moved enough to want to take it home. Often I love them so much myself that I'm quite happy to keep them for me! I find myself in a "que sera sera" mode, and that's a good thing because that underlying performance anxiety is eliminated.
My first sale was a simple pear on an eight inch square canvas. I'd painted it because I've always wanted to paint a pear. There was none of the artistic jargon (which sounds phoney at the best of times) to accompany the piece. I just loved the shape and simplicity. In other words "I thought it was pretty". In that moment I also knew when to stop because I felt right about this piece. My motivation was pure. The second was a Sunflower that I lovingly poured over for several weeks, while sharing my adventure on Facebook. It was sold before I'd even finished it! The interesting part was that I became aware of a different vibe emanating from me when I was "in the zone". It's a feeling that can be quite elusive in this world of being bombarded with negative news 24/7 which somehow serves to validate the doomsday attitude of the ego. Another helpful solution to unsticking oneself from the plague of self doubt and fear is to turn off the news. This means the internet too, especially social media. It's better to be still and listen to the deeper higher self that has only love for you.
A creative soul writing about living and loving it in the country.