Thursday, 28 April 2011

Artist Trading Cards this Saturday

Our monthly Artist Trading Card (ATC) trade is this Saturday so I hastily painted these little water colours - it has been a busy month and I didn't have a lot of time to do much. I don't usually do water colours - it is not really my medium (unlike my friend Fran, who is a marvellous water-colourist. To see some of Fran's work, go to I always try to treat water colour like oil paint, which is not what one should do. But I wanted to make something bright and colourful for spring, and water colour seemed perfect for doing cheerful stuff with lots of yellows and reds and blues.

I try to use a variety of materials and mediums for making ATCs, This is a photocopy of some cards I made last fall, using pieces of coloured foam to make masks. They were a lot of fun to make.

These little chalk pastel drawings were done for an ATC trade earlier this year. Chalk pastel is definitely a medium I feel more comfortable using. I love how one can get such vivid colours with them. To learn more about ATCs, go to

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Postscript - the Things One Finds Wrapped Around a Tree

Remember that chair stuck in the Lafreniere & Pai sign that I showed in my blog on April 7th? This evening I found it wrapped around a tree on the sidewalk in front of the gallery.

All very whimsical, making it look like the tree was growing up through the chair.

And this is a better view of the sign for the gallery, which was on the sidewalk right beside the tree with the chair wrapped around it - or is it a chair-with-a-tree-growing-up-through-it? Anyway - great sign! Fun play with the chair!

Seduced By the Garden Centre - Again!

This is a dangerous time of year. I went to the Canadian Tire store in Hawkesbury this past Monday to buy one simple thing - a halogen light bulb - and that's all - just one thing. I was going to be strong. I wasn't going to buy anything else. And then, just as I was approaching the door, I saw these pretty little Icicle Pansies on display. It all became a blur after that.

The next thing I knew, I was searching through larger baskets of different colours of pansies. Such a treat to contemplate growing things after all the horrible weather we've had.

These shelves full of chrysanthemums were wonderful eye candy and I started planning where I would put some in my garden. Then suddenly, I remembered the light bulb. I hadn't even entered the store yet. "Get a grip", I admonished myself and went in to buy the bulb.

But the experience set me up for noticing flowers in other places. This patch of dandelions was growing in the concrete of a parking lot in another part of town, among the rubbish, against a wall. They seemed just as beautiful to me as the pampered flowers in the garden centre. Love the happy yellow!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

A Visit to the Science Centre

This past Easter weekend, I visited my grandchildren in Toronto (oh yes, and my son Brian and my daughter Sarah too!). On Friday, Brian and I and his two boys, Max (who is 3) and Charlie (1) made an expedition to the Science Centre. The parking lot was a zoo and when we finally found a parking spot, we had to walk quite a way to the entrance. It was still rather cold -- winter coat weather!  

I had not been to the Science Centre for ages. There is a new area called Kidspace that has a number of interactive activities for very young children. It was a mob scene with dozens of kids and parents. Max is putting a ball on a roller-coaster-like ramp, that wound around and up and down and all over. Great fun! I tried it myself a couple of times.

On our way back, we walked through a great hall which had this marvelous installation consisting of hundreds of blue squares attached to suspended poles. They twirled around in the air and were fascinating to watch.

One corridor had a long measuring tape, showing events in the history of the universe. There were rocks on display that corresponded to the time on the tape. Max is standing beside a rock that is 1480 million years old. Mind-stretching!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Sights and Signs in the Market

This amazing copper elephant caught my eye as I was walking through the Byward Market late this afternoon so I had to stop and take a picture of him. He is in front of a store called "Giraffe", which has some wonderful African art and craft items. He looks like he is going to start walking down the street, waving his trunk and flapping his ears.  

After saying goodbye to Mr. Elephant, I turned around and noticed this strange .... uh .... whatever it is, painted high up on a wall across the street. Weird!

After that, I began to notice other signs on the sides of buildings as I walked around. This one is painted on a brick wall on the side of a building on Clarence Street. I guess the idea is that if you buy clothing in Elan, you will feel just like this, wanting to bend backwards with delight!

This painting is hung on a wall over the outdoor patio of the Cornerstone Restaurant, which seems to cater to a "young, hip" crowd. She sure looks cool and disdainful and "hip", doesn't she? But I like all the orange and red - very bright on a dull day.

This sign says it all - lingerie, games, oils, adult toys, leather/ much more! I am just curious to know, what else could be included in the much more? I think the stuff listed on the sign pretty much covers it! But one of the reasons I like this sign is that underneath, you can see a plastic ice cream cone sticking up. Sorta like, get your sex toys here, and stop for an ice cream afterward! Maybe that's what they meant when they said, "plus much more"!

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Checking On Sculpture in "The Outback"

This Sunday afternoon, I went for a walk to check on some of the sculpture done by my late husband, Peter. I wanted to see how these pieces, which are scattered here and there on our land, have survived the winter. The first I looked at was this very large (about 15 feet high) painted aluminum sculpture in the field behind the studio. This piece was shown in sculpture exhibitions in several places in the southern U.S. in the mid-1990's. It is surviving okay, but obviously needs a coat of paint.

On my rounds, I had a look at this piece, which isn't really a sculpture at all. It is a cement form that Peter used to shape heated copper before he welded it together. This was used to make the bottom part of a larger sculpture which is now in a sculpture garden in the U.S. But I like this cement form as is - it's just sorta fun, sitting in the yard.

In another part of the yard, this rather large (4 ft) white apple sits. It lost its stem, which had been made out of an axe handle. It also desparately needs a coat of paint.

This small bronze graces the entryway to my house, right beside the front door. It is not one of Peter's sculptures, but is a copy of a sculpture he cast in bronze in our foundry for a friend of his, a sculptor from China. The original was part of a much larger sculpture that is installed in a public garden in Vancouver. There is a long story behind all this, as you can imagine. But right now, this little piece looks like it really needs a good cleaning. Wow! seems like I have my work cut out for me. 

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Ronna's Art - A Cheerful Welcome When I Come Home

When I walk in the door of my apartment, these wonderful paintings by my friend Ronna are the first thing I see. They are such happy and bright little works, they always cheer me up.

Ronna is a dynamic artist who has produced many marvelous paintings and drawings, and whenever she shows her work, I always end up buying something. I love her cats. This is one of my favourites.

This happy cow was a gift from my daughter, Sarah, who got it at a show of Ronna's in Toronto. Also one of the works that cheers me up at my city apartment. Ronna is also my great inspiration for blogging. Check out her fantastic blog at:

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The Surprising, the Strange and the Bizarre in My 'Hood

I am often surprised by the things I see when I walk around my city neighbourhood. One day last year, when the National Art Gallery was having its blockbuster show "Pop Life", I found this car with Jeff Koons' rabbit ears parked practically in front of my building.

Just down the street, this garbage can full of balloons seemed so incongruous. They were hanging out in such a colourful mass. It was like someone didn't really want to throw them away.

More recently, I saw this pile of paper just lying around on someone's front lawn with this painting on top. I guess someone was throwing it out, but it was a strange way to do it. The house where I found this is also rather strange. It looks abandoned, but a neighbour told me that someone actually lives there, although nobody ever sees the person. Spooooky!

I find some store window mannequins rather creepy, too. These were lit from underneath so their faces were rather macabre - like they were preparing to be judges on an inquisition. Maybe they were designed to scare people into buying the clothes.

But this mannequin with the amazing hair-do takes the cake for bizarre. Love it!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

A Sign of Spring in the City

When the warm weather finally arrives in the city, the surest sign that spring is really here is the sight of restaurants opening up their outdoor patios. I noticed restaurants doing this last week when walking home from work. This is the patio of the Earl of Sussex pub on the corner of Sussex and Murray in the Byward Market.  

Around the corner on Clarence Street, there are many restaurants opening outdoor areas for dining and drinking. Some of them have built large wooden decks and enclosed them with fences. Some just put a few tables and chairs out on the sidewalk. (I was thinking this photo might be adapted for a painting. I did a couple of paintings of people in outdoor patios, just like this, several years ago.)

Some of the outdoor patios are up high, on the roofs of the restaurants. I think the people at the middle table in the photo saw me taking their picture and were wondering what the heck I was doing.

I really like this little table grouping outside a store that sells beads, on a street just off Clarence. The tables and chairs are so colourful. A very inviting little spot. But I'm not sure why they are there, since the place doesn't sell food or drink - just beads.

And just in case you were wondering what was in the window behind these colourful tables and chairs, this is it. A marvelous mannequin wearing beads.

I have taken photos of the mannequins in this store window before. I took this picture last fall when I was trying out my new camera. They are very much like those ancient fertility goddess figurines, don't you think? And I guess fertility goddesses and signs of spring sort-of go together (or I'm off-topic).

Monday, 11 April 2011

Back In the Studio

The past weekend was warm enough that I could work in my unheated studio. It was glorious to be back in there and able to get into painting again. But first I did a bit of house-cleaning, which is necessary after everything has been sitting for 5 months. I found some old work as I was dusting and vacuuming. I don't usually do landscapes, and this is one of the few exceptions. It is an oil painting, not very big (11x14), showing scenery typical of where I live in the country.

I did this painting at the same time, about 3 or 4 years ago. This is a field not far from my place. I like it because of the ghost of a road that pulls your eye into the space. However, this painting and the one above are my only attempts to do scenary and I decided it was not really my thing.   

I also found this little (5x7) chalk pastel drawing that I had done last year. Much more typical of my work.

And here is a view of my studio after I had finished cleaning and was starting to work, with my easel on the left and my drawing table on the right. This used to be Peter's sculpure studio but I had it fixed up and re-built last year so I could work in it. Don't you think it's fabulous? So light and airy and inviting.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Ah, Spring! Time to Clean Up the Mess in the Garden!

This weekend was perfect for that all-important spring ritual - cleaning up the mess in the garden. The snow was finally gone and it was warm, so I put on my wellies, gathered various tools, and faced the bleak, brown clutter of dead vegetation in my three flower gardens. Looks awful, doesn't ii? Nothing to do but get in there and start pulling and cutting and raking.

I filled up my wheelbarrow several times and hauled loads of dead vegetation and weeds down to my firepit to burn in a good roaring fire. Another spring ritual!

And here is my reward. I uncovered these pretty little crocuses that were hidden under the mess of stuff. They were just coming up. My first flowers of the spring! And as I yanked and raked and pulled, I found dozens more little plants just starting to emerge - the tender green tips of tulips and daffodils and perennials. All very exciting!

I had to stop because it was getting late - also, my poor hands were all scratched and sore. But just before I quit for the day, I put this copper sculpture back in place. This is a very special piece for me because it was made by my late husband, Peter. Actually, we collaborated on it. I drew the outline of the cat and flower, and Peter cut it out of copper and welded it to a piece of pipe. We made it as a marker for a cat we had had for many years. She died and we buried her in the flower garden and put this marker over her grave. Her name was Titi, and she used to love to sit in the garden and look at the flowers. About a month ago, I noticed Titi's marker had fallen over but I couldn't fix it because the ground was too frozen. It felt good to put it back in place this weekend - a final touch to set things right in the garden. 

Thursday, 7 April 2011

The things one finds on the sidewalk!

On my way home after work, I walked past one of my favourite galleries, Lafreniere & Pai. In particular, I love their sign, which sits in a welded metal cone-shaped sculpture on wheels on the sidewalk in front of the gallery. But today, there was something extra stuck into the sculpture/sign.  

It was a wooden chair-shaped thing-ie. At first, I thought that it wasn't supposed to be there, that someone had stuck it there as a joke. But when I looked in the window of the gallery, I saw hundreds of miniature versions of this chair form, about 6 inches high, all part of the current exhibition. So it was there on purpose.  

Down the street I found this wonderful display of mats, the kind you are supposed to put outside to wipe your shoes on. But they were so colourful and had such great designs. I couldn't imagine intentionally getting them dirty. And there they were, all lined up on the sidewalk in front of the store.

As I looked at them, I had this terrible urge to.....well, you know! To run down the length of them. They just looked so inviting, all laid out like that. But I took a deep breath and walked away. I wonder if other people have had the same feeling. I wonder if anyone has ever given in to the urge!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Bright-coloured things in store windows

This can be a rather dull time of year until the grass turns green and the leaves come out and the flowers bloom. But there are always lots of bright things to look at in store windows. I saw these wild sunglasses in a store in the Byward Market the other day and just had to take a picture of them. Love the guitar sunglasses!

Aren't the skull glasses great? But the beer steins are pretty cool too.

Just down the street, there was another store with some strange critters in the window. Very bright, though, whatever they are.

Finally, I passed by one of my favourite stores in the Market -- a wonderful greeting card and wrapping paper and stationary store called Paper-Papier. It had this brightly coloured display of stuff for a children's birthday party in the window. I like the way the bunny is peeking over the cupcakes.