Sunday, 31 July 2011

A Visit to Hudson Quebec

Last Saturday, I went with my friends Holly and David to Hudson Quebec. There was a music festival and we decided to check it out. The main stage was near Cunningham's Pub, where we had a bite to eat and some cold beer, perfect for a hot day. Many bands played - some rock, some jazz. People were having fun, listening to the music and even getting up to dance.  

We decided to take a walk and look around the town since it had been a long time any of us had been there. I found this sign above a defunct antique store quite fascinating. It was a work of art in itself. If you look closely, you will see that the hour hand is a violin. 

There is nothing like an old-fashioned ice-cream cone on a hot summer evening! . 

We checked out some of the other music venues. This sculpture is in front of an old train station where one of the main musical acts was playing. I thought the sculpture was a bit harsh and militaristic-looking, but David had fun with it.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

A Gem From the Photo Scanning Project

My project to scan old photos has got me looking at them again and the memories are flooding back. When I scanned this one, I thought what a gem it is. My sister Marilyn and I (Marilyn on the right, me on the left) used to like to put on my mother's clothes and play dress-up, as all little girls do. So this photo is more than a memory for me - it is also an archetype of little-girlhood. Don.t you love the old hats? The funny thing is - I wanted so much to dress and look like a grown-up then. Now I wish I could dress and look like a young girl again.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

ATCs and My New Scanner

This Saturday is ATC (Artist Trading Card) day when I will be trading cards with my fellow ATC-ers in Dunvegan, Ontario. I finished my cards this week and was really pleased to be able to scan them using the new scanner I bought a couple of weeks ago to digitize all my old photographs. Here is one of my cards, which is based on an old photograph of my daughter Sarah sitting in a rocking chair we used to have. I used guache and water colour and felt tip markers to make this card and took a lot of liberties with the colour. Lots of fun to do.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Bright Shiny Things and Places

This evening, I went on a small shopping expedition and noticed lots of bright shiny things en route. For example, I saw these big, bright-coloured stars in a store window. Aren't they great?

My destination? The LCBO on the corner of Rideau and King Edward. It isn't very shiny on the outside, I admit.....

...but on the inside, downstairs, it is a fabulous place. The downstairs part of the store is their Vintages section, with wines from all over the world. The store is shaped like a wheel, with a circle in the middle and small interconnected rooms around the edge. One room has Italian wine, one room has French wine, one has Canadian, one has new world wines, and so on. 

The ambiance is wonderful, with soft music, pleasant clerks (who really know about wine), and some great-looking wines, most of which I can't afford. But I did manage to pick up a nice Cotes-du-Rhone. 

The LCBO shares a parking lot with a Metro Store, where I often buy groceries. The Metro is open 24 hours - so different from the stores in the towns near my country home, which usually shut at 6 pm or earlier. I have often thought it would be interesting to try grocery shopping at this Metro at 3 a.m. I wonder if it would feel bright and shiny at that time of the morning! 

Later, I took a walk to Parliament Hill to see the annual light show on the Parliament Buildings. But the show wouldn't start until 10 pm and I didn't want to wait. It was cool enough that people were huddled near the eternal flame while they waited. The flame was certainly bright in the darkness. 

On my way back, I passed by this bronze statue and thought she looked very bright and shiny in all the headlights from the passing cars and streetlights (and my camera flash, too). Nights in the city look bright and shiny to me..... (with apologies to Joni Mitchell)!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Bright Colours on a Hot Weekend

This weekend, the weather was quite warm, although not as hot as it had been at the height of the heatwave last Thursday. I wanted to use really bright colours when I was working on my ATCs for next Saturday - perhaps because I associate hot summer weather with vivid reds and pinks and greens and yellows. I bought some inexpensive tempera paints and decided to try them. When I opened the little jars, I found the rainbow of colours so pretty - almost like ice cream colours. 

Alas, the tempera paints were not very pretty when I painted with them. They were streak-y and seemed almost dull when applied. So I put them away and took out my trusty water colours and guache. After I had set them up, I thought they were just as bright and colourful as the tempera. 

The water colour and guache worked very well and I got all my little ATCs painted for next weekend. It was fun! This is what my drawing table looked like as I was working. Luckily, my studio wasn't impossibly hot inside - only about 32 degrees (Celsius).  

When I went outside later in the afternoon, I was impressed by the sky with its classic white clouds. I hope more clouds roll in and we get rain. My garden is really unhappy with the drought-like conditions and I notice the ground is all cracked with the dryness. But in the meantime, seeing this sky felt like a postscript to an afternoon full of colour. 

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Cooling Off Many, Many Years Ago

I recently bought a special scanner for photographs and have begun a project to digitize several shoe-boxes full of old pictures. Many people I know have great old photos like this and feel like I do - it would be a shame to lose them all to time and decay. I have found dozens of pictures of my family doing summer things, cooling off at the lake in hot weather (just like we are having now). This photograph was taken at a place called Scotties Island on the Lake of the Woods in Northwestern Ontario when I was about 6 or 7 years old. I am on the left, my sister Marilyn is on the right, and our brother Paul is in the middle. Don't you love Paul's hat?  

When I was a child, my mother used to drive us to a place called Rabbit Lake so we could go swimming on hot summer days. This is me, climbing up (or down?) the ladder. And in the background is our car. Wish I could remember what year it was. But I do remember that all our cars had big fins in those days - emulating rocket ships. And I remember that bathing suits were heavy affairs because they didn't have the light nylon materials they have today. But the lake was clear and refreshing. Wish I were there now - I would be in swimming in a flash!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Signs That It Is Hot....

This sign was out on the sidewalk in front of the Murray Street Diner in the Byward Market. I thought it was a great comment on the hot weather we have been having lately.

It was also surprising to see several fans on display in the window of a posh little jewellery shop on Sussex Street. There was a sign that said "Pretty Fans On Sale", which seemed rather quaint to me. I've never seen anything but jewellery for sale in this particular store, so perhaps these are a seasonal offering in response to the hot weather (sort-of like those stores that suddenly start selling umbrellas when there is a prolonged spell of rainy weather). I thought this was the prettiest of the pretty fans, and I bet it would be very effective.

In another part of the Market, I saw this man with a balloon construction on his head and a balloon "flower" nearby. I don't know what he was doing there - he wasn't making balloon sculpture for kids or anything like that. He was just standing there, having a cigarette. This doesn't really have anything to do with signs that it is hot, except that I have noticed stranger than usual behaviour in people lately and  I attribute this to the heat!

(Note to anyone who has wanted to leave a comment and couldn't - I have been having problems with my blog for over a month now, including the fact that people told me they couldn't leave comments. But I tried a solution to this problem recommended on a Help site and today, my friend Ronna told me she was able to leave comments again. So it seems the problem is fixed. Please leave a comment if you'd like. I would be so happy to hear from you.)

Monday, 18 July 2011

More Wild Things (in the Garden and Elsewhere)

About 15 years ago, I planted some yellow daisies in my garden. I only put in a couple of plants, but they have gone wild and spread all over the garden and the yard. I love them because they are big and bright and cheerful. When I bought them at the nursery so long ago, the label said they were "Gloriosa Daisies", but I have heard other people refer to them as Black-Eyed Susans, and other names. Whatever! This clump has taken over a corner of my flower garden. 

These volunteers planted themselves down near the fish pond. They are sharing this spot with some Hosta, which doesn't seem to mind.

But this is the most unlikely patch of all. These daisies are growing wild on my front lawn. I cut the grass there all the time, but they managed to seed themselves down somehow. When I saw their leaves among the grass while cutting the lawn in the spring, I steered around them and decided to let them do their thing. Now they look great on the otherwise barren boring stretch of front yard.  

And speaking of wild, how do you like the wild red of this nail polish?  I used to paint my nails every summer when Peter was alive (he liked it) but haven't done it for a long time. So it was fun to revive the tradition. Here's to a wild summer!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Hot Summer Days of Childhood

Hot summer weather always makes me a bit nostalgic, thinking about what a great time I had when I was a kid in the summer. Ah, the freedom. Spending all day at the beach, swimming, playing in the sand, eating picnics.....This is a photo taken a long time ago, when I was about 5 or 6 years old. I am on the left (I don't know who the kid is behind me). My sister Marilyn is on the right, and our grown-up cousin, Eileen, is in between us. We are on the beach at a place called Coney Island (I kid you not) in Kenora. Makes me think of the song - those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer!

This picture was taken several years later, when I was probably about 9 or 10. We were staying at the cottage of some friends. I am on the left, my sister is in the middle, and my sister's friend, Madeleine, is on the right. We spent all day splashing about in the beautiful clear water. Those were the days!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

The Thursday Street Market in Gatineau

Every Thursday during the summer months, there is a market on a street in Gatineau, near the place where I work. The street (Laval) is closed off, tents are set up, and merchants and craftspeople display their wares. It is very popular and thousands of office workers from the nearby government buildings come out for the fresh air, the social pleasure of a community market, and the very high quality goods they can buy.

Most of the products for sale are organic, locally grown and produced food items, such as honey.............. fresh veggies...............

.................and varieties of items like the jams, herbs, and baked goods being sold by this nun from a local monastery. 

There are also craft items, like these neck cloths for your pets. And there are wonderful natural soaps and cosmetic goods and candles - a feast of choices.

I always gravitate toward the jewellery on display. There are some wonderful and unique necklaces and bracelets for sale. This was a display of pendants made of glass. I loved the bright colours. People who know me will not be surprised to learn that I bought a pair of earrings.  

To top off the pleasure of going to the street market - there was a musician playing Bach on a flute. Lovely! His music wafted over the crowds laughing and talking and buying and selling. I love the fact that community markets like this have been going on for centuries and will go on for a long time yet, as long as people have a need for social interaction. It is so much nicer than buying from some big indifferent corporation. It gives me hope for the future. .

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Evening Walk in the City

There are always surprises to be found when I go for a walk in the evenings. I was near a busy intersection - lots of cars and people - but I could hear music somewhere nearby. I crossed the street and went down some steps and there was this band playing really good blues. The singer also played harmonica and the lead guitarist really cooked when he played solo. Many people stopped and listened, some sitting and some standing. I lingered for a couple of songs, too.

But it was getting dark and I had to go. As I was walking along a street, I saw the full moon rising in between some buildings. Everything looked so deserted, almost abandoned. Time to go home. Sadly, it is already noticeable that it is getting dark earlier these evenings. Oh well - there is still lots of summer to enjoy.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

More Really Old Work

Scanning slides of old work has been like time-travelling for me. I have forgotten so much of the stuff I did 30+ years ago. For example, I don't remember doing this drawing, although it was typical of the kind of work I was doing when I was learning how to use pastel long ago. I was trying to loosen up because my painting was very tight at the time. It was fun to just scribble and see what came out of it. Still is! 

I do remember this painting, which I had in a show in Toronto. This was done during a very busy, hopeful time in my life and there are many happy memories associated with it. Amazing how looking at old work is like looking at old family photographs - we shake our heads and say, "My, how I've changed!"

Monday, 11 July 2011

Sleepy in the Heat

It was a really hot and humid day today - the kind of day when the air is thick and makes you feel too tired to do anything. I really empathised with this little boy, who I saw curled up on the floor at the entry-way to a very posh little store in the Byward Market. His mother was inside talking to the salesperson, and he was getting a breath of fresh air by the door. I felt like lying down somewhere too, because I had just been walking for half an hour in the heat and humidity. His complete relaxation was an inspiration.

Sunday, 10 July 2011


This past weekend, I began a project to scan a large number of slides. Remember slides? We all had them at one time, before the digital revolution. I decided that I better make a copy of all the slides I have of Peter's work and my own, before they deteriorate and are lost forever. As I scanned them, they brought back so many memories. This is a slide of one of Peter's sculptures in a sculpture garden in the southern U.S. I remember him making it and going to the States with him and helping him set it up.  

This is another of Peter's sculptures. It is quite large - about ten feet high. It was installed in a show on a university campus in the southern U.S. We were told later that the students liked to climb on it, which Peter really liked. He always wanted people to enjoy his work, not just pass it by.

I scanned some slides of my own work, too. I had forgotten about this painting, which I did a long time ago when I was in a photo-realist phase. I remember how much fun I had painting the plastic wrapping on the flowers. It was a much larger painting than I do now, and my style has changed a lot. So many memories!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Strange Juxtapositions

This store window mannequin caught my attention as I was walking past today. It seemed like it was wearing such a weird combination of stuff - a shirt and jacket, pants, swim goggles, snorkel, inner tube....

Same weirdness in a window down the street a bit. Again, the mannequin is wearing a jacket and pants, but also a bright-coloured inner tube and swim goggles and a snorkel. I really like the way this picture turned out because the reflection of the buildings is so clear, it looks like the mannequin has just dived from the city into the water.  

Perhaps this is the strangest of all. I was walking past the Chateau Laurier when I saw this strange form on a street sign. I got closer and saw that it was a jacket, all smeared with oil paint and covered with various objects used for painting - old tubes of paint, a plate that had been used as a palette, filthy old cups used for mixing, an empty varsol bottle, some wrecked brushes, and so on. The whole things was really grimy and filthy - just like something worn by a painter while working and later discarded. I don't know why it was mounted on this sign, but it was placed above one of the "Pretty Ugly Art" signs that I have seen all over Ottawa lately. Maybe there was a connection? Maybe someone was making a comment? Whatever. I also noticed something else very strange. I was the only person to stop and look at it. Everyone else just rushed past as if it were an everyday sight. Oh dear!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Another Busker in the Byward Market

This busker performed two nights in a row in the Byward Market. He was pretty good. He juggled torches and performed all sorts of tricks, like tossing them under his leg and up into the air and so on. 

The whole time he kept up this running patter of stories and jokes to keep the audience amused. I was finding it a challenge to photograph him because he was constantly in motion. Also, the torches were being tossed in the air and just looked like fiery blurs or smears.   

Here he is again on a different evening. I noticed he did the same tricks and told the same jokes both nights. It didn't matter - he was a good performer and fun to watch.  

I call this photo "Magritte's Torch Juggler" (with a nod to my friend Ronna, who also had a "Magritte" photo on her blog recently).