Monday, December 24, 2007
Illness can be a great motivator for creativity. I am learning to channel it.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Aside from the food (escargot! good wines!! baguettes!!!) the highlight of the trip had to be the Hotel Maison du Fort Bed and Breakfast, where we stayed. Charming and cat-themed, it was a balm for my soul, as was delightful owner Marielle, who made every effort to ensure her guests were well looked after.
NB: I will upload photos and expand this entry soon, and upload my languishing entries for Oakville and Niagara Falls. Forgive me dear friends for the delays of late. The blog took a back seat while I have been ill off and on since early September, but I am doing better this week; serious cancer has been ruled out and that is an incredible relief.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
We lost our beloved seal point Siamese Professor Rudie to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and a double thromboembolism last weekend, and I am alternately numb and raging with grief. Just at Thanksgiving he was front of the line for turkey when Heather was here.
On Saturday morning, I came into the living room and saw that he was paralyzed from the waist down on the floor. He was still playing with a toy with his front paws! 27 hrs later, he was gone. It happened so fast, and he died in my arms. I will be haunted by that for a long time. I told him we loved him and held him and stroked him, regardless of the mess that an exploding heart brings. That sweet, trusting, wily face with so much love... I would give anything to see it again and hear his loud alligator meow.
He was only 5. It is NOT FAIR. It was hereditary and we had no way of knowing. He was supposed to stay overnight at the vet for observation, but because they do not have anyone on site from 6pm to 9 am, we and our very kind, compassionate vet Dr Steven mutually decided that we would take him home overnight and bring him back when they opened. Thank the stars that we brought him home. It was his last night on this earth, and he spent it surrounded by love and in front of the warm fire with all of us around. He was sedated and on opiates, so he was fine, dragging himself around with his front paws and still trying to be our comical little Rudie. He died the next day.
Rudie was the fulcrum of our cat household. The lovable alpha. The other felines are depressed and at a loss without his star leadership. There is now another cat shaped hole in my heart that will never heal. I feel raw and angry and completely spent. How many tears can a person cry?
Good-bye, dear Rudie. I will never forget you.
Ohanaskye's Purrince Rudolph: June 6, 2002 - October 21, 2007
Rude-bear will be cremated with his favourite schmousie, his feather toy, a flower, and wrapped in my ratty old housecoat that he loved. We are trying to contact the caregivers of Rudie’s littermates; they need to know so they might save their kitties’ lives.
Monday, September 10, 2007
The first day is monumentally frustrating. I cannot find my way! The wind tests my good nature and topples my easel repeatedly. I end up crouching to paint via the protection of a low wall. What does cheer me is seeing Debi Harwick painting one of the caleche horses, whilst singing along with her companion on guitar.
The next day is better. I truly enjoy the Quick Draw portion, and my entry, "Cobalt Trees" finds a home with someone who sees it at the outdoor exhibit. Ohio's Debra Joyce Dawson worked quietly behind me, painting my portrait en plein air, as I painted.
(I promise to insert a photo here, really)
So, I did see something fresh and new on this trip, through someone else's eyes.
As for my results, I am most satisfied with this work: it carries on the theme that I am exploring with cadmium red light. I find myself moving away from realism once again, and seeing everything in terms of the dialogues of energy, shape, mood and such. The pull is very strong. Can you give me a solid reason why I should I deny it?
The opening reception at Eagle Valley Golf Club is somewhat bittersweet. Jacq Baldini announces that this will be the last IPAP World Wide Paint Out that she will host in Niagara Falls, Ontario. While I do agree that it is time for someone else to take up the torch in another fabulous location, it will be sad to close this chapter of Plein Air history. Kudos to you, Jacq and your team, for all your fine efforts over the years in Niagara!
Monday, August 13, 2007
(pic by Holly Walker)
I mingle, do the schmooze. I actually enjoy this part. Those who know me will laugh in understanding agreement. I am a born extrovert and just cannot help myself when it comes to meeting people and listening to their stories.
I must say, the best story from the Paint Out has got to go to Robert Amirault. Bob's painting of water lilies at Gairloch had somehow managed to tumble unseen into the busy parking lot, wet side up. After an exhaustive search complete with scent hounds on the trail, the poor panel was discovered. It had been run over by a good 10,000 tires. Demonstrating an extraordinary sense of humour, Bob submitted the black, gritty panel to the show, framed in an exquisite gilt frame, and titled it, "Ask Bob." Classic!
Afterwards, a bunch of us go to an Irish Pub for drinks and enjoy their version of the ongoing Oakville Jazz Festival. A perfect day. I hope that Plein Air Canada, Win Henstock Gallery, and Oakville host a Paint Out again sometime. Well done, all!
Sunday, August 12, 2007
There is also a Quick Draw event scheduled for this Paint Out, wherein we must show up at a specific location and paint and frame a complete work in one hour. My favourite!! What a rush.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Morning, coffee is good. It is a hot, humid day already. Hazy. Sunny.
I get my gear together and head three blocks down to the Win Henstock Gallery where we are all to register for the paint out. I wait on a bench out front. Along comes one artist, and then another and then a pair traveling together, easels in tow. The latter two head out to paint, saying they’ll register later. We three left chitchat about this and that. One is a likable teacher, teaches teens and adult drawing. The other has been a studio painter for many years, but wants to take the plunge and work from life outdoors. Both are champions of traditional realism. They heartily bash an abstract watercolourist juror who did not allow the studio painter's works into a recent show. He sees it as “too easy” “splashy” and she claims, “you have to have SOME form in there.” The war of the realists vs fast 'n loose abstractionists continues!
Soon, gallery manager Andrea unlocks the door and gives us our name tags and a tour of the gorgeous gallery. She is friendly and helpful. We head off to paint.
I go down to the harbour and start there, then biked over to Gairloch for the afternoon. The gardens are small. The waterfront has some potential, and I adore painting water. Was doing a dance of avoiding biting flies while attempting to stab at a values underpainting when organizer and accomplished painter John Stuart Pryce (of Arctic Quest fame) saunters over. He is such a gentleman, and easy to get along with. We bitched about the biting flies, as was everyone else apparently!
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Today, I must trek to the nearest city to purchase a whack of pro hanging hardware. I will be doing the framing in my room at the Inn for the Oakville show. I have an assortment of beautiful frames collected from here and there.
My muses for the trip: Carol (a collector from Florida who gives me inspiring feedback on my work in comparison to some really interesting artists); Pater Ludi in Bavaria, (truly generous with his comments); and Tonya, (a supportive collector in Illinois who has recently shared some personal insights) are all suitable choices.
But I dig deeper. The area is a port, surrounded by gardens and historical buildings. The inhabitants are wealthy commuters from Toronto’s Bay Street and the like. Homes are expensive, even a little Ontario Cottage is off the charts. I will be carless, and ride my folding bike everywhere, my easel strapped to the book rack. I shall be staying in what looks appears to be a frugal, sparse room above a Starbucks on the main drag. Who is such a marine painter’s muse? What can I focus on to get me through this, and paint brilliantly? My sister in America? She's been on my mind lately. She is the type of person who would live in historic Oakville. I heard from her about her own fabulous successes the other day and we emailed back and forth. She thoughtfully suggested I apply to be a consulting artist for the ice hotel in Finland. “You’d be gone for several months, but what an opportunity!” I’d love to, but maybe when I am an old lady. There's no way I could escape for that long with the ties and commitments I currently have to here. Think think think... Sz?
Yes, it is her. Writer, friend and supporter, she sees in my work the undertone of self-actualization, the thinking, meditating discovery as one is walking (or snowshoeing) through life. Sz goes off bravely to Taos writing workshops in spite of frenzied personal issues. She returns with stories of the good she found there, in spite of the politics and the seemingly insurmountable challenge of self-esteem. She steps aside from it. I shall follow her lead.
Friday, August 03, 2007
Monday, July 30, 2007
Monhegan is BYOB island-wide, and they have wonderful wines in the tiny grocery. You can purchase a beer and walk around with it. One can hold a paintbrush in one hand, a wine glass in the other. In public! One day, I was doing just that, whilst moving vivid colours dreamily across the large canvas as I rendered a loose acrylic of the late afternoon setting sun over a cedar shingled structure. Long shadows. Butter yellow sky. As I took down my easel for the day, I heard applause from behind me. This made my senses jump back to a kind of reality. I turned around, and saw several smiling faces peering out windows of an Inn’s dining room! I curtsied deeply to them, then I realized I had a paintbrush in my mouth.
While there are a couple of places to dine indoors, serious seafood noshing is done outside, on the beach, at picnic tables at The Fish House:
Fellow workshop mate Mel Zeoli, a seascape painter who looks more like he belongs here than I certainly do, and his sunny wife Janice, are at the next picnic table enjoying a similar feast.
I’ve read that Monhegan has an excellent, ecologically protected lobstering program. Only the large are caught, the smaller ones can escape the ingeniously designed traps. Over-fishing is not permitted, and the economy relies on the availability of lobster year after year. As a result the price is appropriately dear. Regardless, I indulgently partook of the sweet, succulent free-range lobster every single day. (And thought of P’s step-daughter Ilse every time! Ilse lives in Bavaria and lives for lobster dinners brought in via FEDEX by her doting mate.)
The Fish House offers up lobster chowder, lobster salad, lobster sandwiches (aka “lobster rolls”), lobster stew (a heavenly concoction of lobster, fresh cream, butter and herbs), lobster ice cream (kidding) and lobster in the shell. And of course… Where there are tasty crustaceans to be had…
Pointing a jeweled, buttery finger, J. said quietly: “Pssst… hey Brandy… aren’t those the cats you like?”
I leapt out of my seat and gasped for joy as two cobby, thick-furred rascals came sauntering towards us and our crab and lobster feast. Going into “cat lure mode,” I spoke to them; “Goood kitties! Here my sweeties, meowwwrr! purrr purr…… such HANDSOME fellows… crazy cat-loving person here at your service…!” Crawling on my knees, waving shreds of lobster and encouraging them forth from the yard next to the Fish House, my camera clicking for you, dearest cat-loving portion of my readers.
Aren’t they SOLID? Crossed eyed! They let me pet them as they rolled on the sandy beach. My companions at the picnic table howled.
Happy face in the mist:
My trip was complete. I had painted many paintings, eaten lobster, done a whack of thinking. I had found the Siamese.
The sun set, I slept without Nightmares By The Sea, and made my way back to the mainland on the scary vessel. The island did not captivate me immediately, but after seriously pulling on the reigns, ceasing all expectations of myself, and slowing down my pace I am now irreversibly drawn to the place. Yes, I will go back again next year.
Part One / Part Two / Part Three / Part Four / Part Five
One day, I roamed the rocky crags of Lobster Cove and gloomy Christmas Cove:
Indulge me, please? To follow are my usual collection of artsy texture shots, via the point and shoot cam. These really help me explore the shapes and pigments I will use in my paintings.
Check out those skies…
A group of us painters, taken by a passing tourist. I am holding my pochade painting of the beached ship above.
Part One / Part Two / Part Three / Part Four / Part Five
I have utterly forgotten who my muses are. I look at the list, and am surprised. They are so very far away. Strange.
Maybe they are the cats, Bear and Zsa Zsa.
Off to paint “Burnt Head” today. My setup:
I chat with with sparkly Carol and her daughter, the intensely beautiful Cynthia. Cynthia who has no TV. J. shoots a video as I help Betty with her easel and then moon the camera unknowingly. I throw laughs over my shoulder to Dan, the kind cancer doctor with the white shepherd like mine. Dan, a long-time drawer, is here to exercise his right brain. We both race back up the cliff when J. alerts us to the tourist above walking a big white dog just like ours!
Some pochades: sorry, the colour is way off. (I only brought a small point and shoot. Camzilla stayed in Canada due to the weight of all the lenses, etc.)
Paint-wise, I have found my groove at last, and I shout it from the cliffs! The other artists laugh. They know.
Part One / Part Two / Part Three / Part Four / Part Five
Felt better the second day. Very happy, not as wound up. I could live here, yes. People think I do. Asking directions, or if they can take my photo – as if I was some local “character.” (I wish!) Photographed by a pleasant gal from San Francisco, there on a day workshop. Photographed by someone doing an article on Monhegan for a US magazine. It’s the flamingo-medusa hair, (no hairdryer here!), the pigment spattered gear, the wrinkled blue eyes, the streaks of green paint on my forehead that I do not notice.
This is the local newspaper: people leave notes, news, ads and announcements on this shed.
As I was crouched snapping the above photograph, I turned to see this: name on tag = BEAR:
…and along came this formidable creature:
Jovial artist Molly is nearby, who tells me the cat’s name is Zsa Zsa.
The pair merely tolerate one another…
Not Siamese, but local cats nonetheless. Very healthy, de-sexed, and happy as can be on the little island.
Painted in the graveyard today, in the rain. Dipping into my big brush sepia. Raindrops making blossoms on the sky.
That is my yellow umbrella. Yes, I “WOOOOOOOHHHED” a couple of unsuspecting tourists as they traipsed whistling past the graveyard. ;-)
Found watercolourist Lawrence Goldsmith’s grave today. His wife Linda decorated it with rocks and bits of sea glass from their travels. Tear.
Talent night at the church: kids on violin, a lone boy doing a dance number to “Route 66”. A red haired cartoon kid told jokes. Lots of females doing folk songs and playing extinct instruments. I’ve heard the mermaids singing, or at least, the trio of chin singers doing something from Little Mermaid, followed by Monty Python. Goth Goth Goth, a parody on guitar. Slam poet from outta town, reads one about Kerouac and his being drunk and sober not mattering in the long run, his message still holds true.
Of course, there was also Sara, fifth in line. Sara, (friend of Rauschenberg, she was immortalized in a famous photo snapped at Studio 54 with Warhol and Bianca Jagger), who had knocked on my door at 7:20pm looking for costume help, and a spot near the church to get ready. Of course I obliged! I was delighted that she felt comfortable enough to tap at my door. I gave her makeup and scarves, for her rendition of a monologue/song as Edie from Gray Gardens. She was fabulous, dahling.
Sara helped me collect sea glass, and liked my graveyards. :-) Even better, she understood them. Pushed away the representational one of the lighthouse (that I did as a challenge to myself to see if I could still do realism, ha!) and pointed at the dark graves with a grin.
Here she is painting in the cemetery. We swapped paintings on the last day.
J. liked my graveyard pieces as well. Lots of praise today from someone who rarely gives it. But that is what makes her a great mentor.
Part One / Part Two / Part Three / Part Four / Part Five
I went to coastal Maine, to paint with my mentor J. for a week. We met up on Monhegan Island, population 75.
I make a list in my journal of my muses for the trip. I do that for all my painting adventures, and certainly some of you dear readers have made the lists over time.
My goals: to paint, to think, to spend time by myself, Capture that North light. Three generations of Wyeths worked here. Experience the smell. Sound. Taste. Synesthesia... And to find the legendary lone Siamese cat of Monhegan Island.
It was a long drive through Ontario, upstate New York, New Hampshire and then Maine… took two days. I reached the the ocean at dusk. After fried clams and lobster salad at “The Harpoon”, and a nightmare-laden sleep at Port Clyde’s Seaside Inn B&B, (in “The Captain’s Room,”) I awoke to dogs barking and babies squalling in the heavy fog. When it lifted, a glorious light revealed the dock:
Trembling with cymophobic fear, I took a small WW2 boat over to Monhegan. One sits atop one’s bags on the prow, as the boat lurches out into the Atlantic. It was a thrilling, rollercoaster crossing. Dramamine was my saviour for twelve long nautical miles…
A lighthouse en route, where Tom Hanks was filmed as Forrest Gump:
I arrived, mad with salt air and grinning, kissing the ground (well, not really but almost.) Cute German exchange worker Stephano is very kind with my insanely heavy, canvas-filled luggage, and tells me to just wander to the inn anytime, he will take care of my stuff. So, I do just that and take some photos as I climb to the hilltop to see the view.
Electricity is a novelty, they only recently brought over a generator for the isle. There are no cars, no roads, no phones, no streetlights. I packed a Faraday flashlight, a Petzl Tikka headlamp, and a small scope for looking at the stars. A home:
A one room school, for the five students on the island.
Humble is the order of the day. Winding goat paths for roads. Mud. No hotel, but a couple of spartan Inns, most of which have communal bathrooms. You pass dudes in lounge pants brandishing toothbrushes in the hallway. Yet, there is art everywhere! This is the Gallery, prices range from $300 for a tiny sketch, to the tens of thousands.
Bicycles are not permitted on the trails. Everyone walks, except for those driving a couple of old, hulking trucks or golf carts used to haul things. Fuel for cooking (propane) is brought over by boat. There is Crab and Lobster. There is “Hot Fat”, a fish and chip stand. What is it here that is the main desideratum?
Innkeeper Holden greets me by name at the Monhegan House. It seems my reputation precedes me. (Thanks a lot, J.!) After the Day Tourists have caught the last boat back, all is quiet and strange and serene. I am oddly anxious. I pace the shore clutching my sketchbook and brush, wanting to do perfect, brilliant work immediately and failing miserably. J. tells me to chill and just let it happen naturally.
People wander down to Fish Beach to watch the sunset. I asked myself, What will this do to my brain? Will I be lonely?
Part One / Part Two / Part Three / Part Four / Part Five
Sunday, July 01, 2007
In August, I will join some of my favourite painters in the beautiful waterfront town of Oakville, Ontario for their inaugural Plein-Air Paint Out, co-sponsored by the Win Henstock Art Gallery and Plein-Air Canada. The dates coincide with the Oakville Jazz Festival! Having not worked on location in Oakville before, I am really looking forward to this event. The Gallery will host a juried art show and sale which will conclude the event on Saturday evening.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
I made them using a variation on the lasagna method (layering of various natural materials and composts, I added fish guts, fireplace ash and seaweed) in above-ground Western Red Cedar frames, custom made to my specs by the fabulous Larry Rose. The cedar acts as a natural pest repellent, smells divine, and looks gorgeous, too. The wood will eventually fade to a silvery gray and last for many years.
I designed the layout so that the plants will get the maximum amount of sun during its arc across the sky, and wide enough apart so that my wheel barrow will pass in between the beds with ease. A small collection of succulents and perennial medicinal and edible herbs went in the center bed, and everything else will rotate from bed to bed around it once a year, to keep the soil healthy.
How I adore my garden, it gives me so much contentment, and serves as an artistic muse. It keeps me in shape, especially turning all that compost and hauling all that soil. And it produces such wonderful things to paint and eat!
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
From the web site:
Art in the County is the best summer art show in Ontario.
Each year, Art in the County displays the work of County artists and artisans. Now in its 14th year, the exhibition is a highlight of the summer season in Prince Edward County, attracting residents from around the Quinte area and visitors from across Canada, many US states, Europe, Asia and Australia.
All of the art displayed at Art in the County is carefully chosen by three distinguished and experienced art experts who are professionally qualified jurors.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Working on the larger paintings has its drawbacks. I may plough right through a frenzied mountainous section, but then the cirrus clouds will demand careful attention. I make a few large strokes of sky, and then I must wait for them to dry with zen-like patience. These times where I am literally "watching paint dry" pass slowly if I do not have something to occupy my brain. I have to walk away from the work for a bit, or else I'll screw it up and overdo it.
Some things I am unable to do, like accounting. It spoils the creative process. Reading, researching and listening to music is okay. Blogging is on the borderline, because you are putting yourself out there and are hence self-conscious. Running with the dog in the woods is best. :-)
Monday, May 28, 2007
A while back, I became quite absorbed in an article about Peak Oil that I found online while researching homesteading. I was on an airplane of all places. This reading triggered the resurgence of a series of recurring, post-apocalyptic dreams that I have had since childhood. These events have deeply affected my recent work.
In my dreams, and now in person while working on site, beautiful lands and waters speak in colours and shapes as a reaction to what humans have done to them. It is where I derive some of the emotional reds and oranges, the sharp points, and dark gapes in my recent landscapes. I try not to personify my 'scapes, but I do paint what I see, and I see this more and more out in the field.
There is a meaningful environmental theme threading through in these new works that I'd like to explore. I can see this developing quite distinctly.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Oh, what a beauty is Quadra Isle. Green green greeeeen jewel of the Strait of Georgia. A delightful, natural location to paint! One can certainly channel Emily Carr there. Rebecca Spit Marine Provincial Park, a fascinating finger of land that juts out into the sea, was my favourite spot to work.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
|Your Summer Ride is a Toyota Prius|
Sure you're a little sensible and quite green
But no one enjoys outdoors more than you do!
(No surprise here! But I'd way rather have an e-bike with extra batteries.)