Sunday, 14 December 2014

Light Effects - City and Country

When walking around the city recently, I have been finding wonderful light displays that have been installed to celebrate the season. Like this configuration of decorated trees in a little courtyard. They looked like strange creatures from outer space, or under the sea, waving their arms and dancing.

In another courtyard a few streets over, I found another set of trees decorated with lights. But this time, they were red and green instead of blue. These ones looked like tall thin creatures stretching their arms.

The light effects I have seen in the country have been quite different. They were not man-made but rather caused by beautiful sunsets and the lovely evening light on the new fallen snow. Truly gorgeous!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Full Moon in City and Country

We had a full moon this past week. I took this photo of the moon when I was in the city, at dusk just as it was becoming visible. It somehow seemed appropriate that it would be framed by the very industrial-looking structure of the bridge - the moon in an urban setting.

In contrast, when I took a photo of the full moon from the back yard of my home in the country a day later, it was framed by trees and a long silver jet trail. Very appropriate to the country setting.

Monday, 24 November 2014

The Importance of Windows

When the cold weather comes, I find I spend a lot of time indoors. That's when I realize how important windows are, for expanding my view and seeing the world outside. This is one of the windows in my apartment in the city, and I really liked the pattern of the shadows on the glass.

I realize I have been taking a lot of pictures of windows lately, and of the views through windows. This is a skylight in my house in the country, showing the top of a maple tree outside. It is such a pleasure to look up through this window and see the immense blue sky above.

Sometimes I take pictures of the sunrise through a window, as I did one morning at my apartment in the city. It was such a beautiful start to the day.

And sometimes I take pictures of the sunset through a window. This was taken from a window in the building where I work. I was looking westward over the city of Gatineau towards a bridge crossing the Ottawa River in the distance.

And sometimes I take pictures when I am outside, looking in. I took this picture when I was walking around the Byward Market, passing by a coffee shop. I was impressed by the fact that all the people inside were staring at their laptop screens. Oh well - I guess that was another kind of window for them. So I was looking through a window at people looking through windows! Cool!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Imitating Jack Bush (the sincerest form of flattery)

This past Sunday, I went to the Jack Bush retrospective at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. I loved the show, primarily because the paintings were so bright and colourful. My favourite paintings were called the "Sash" paintings, which he did in the mid-1960s. When I went home, I decided to try some drawings in the style of these Sash paintings.

This is my first effort. I discovered that it is not easy to imitate a Jack Bush Sash painting. His colours and shapes and lines worked so well together. But I had fun trying.

This is my second attempt. I was imitating one of my favourite of his paintings, called "Tight Sash". Again, I found it really difficult to replicate what he had done with his work - the almost perfect composition of colour and shape.

Here is a photo of Bush's "Tight Sash", from a National Gallery brochure. Isn't it amazing? I really liked Bush's work when I looked at the paintings, but I have even more respect for it now that I have tried doing the same sort of thing myself. Anyway, it is a good show - highly recommended.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

First Day of Autumn in the Byward Market

I was off work sick today - very bad cold in my chest. At one point I had to go out to the pharmacy to get more supplies to keep my cold under control and I walked through the Byward Market in Ottawa. The farmers' market was a mass of beautiful autumn colours!

Everywhere I looked, there were stacks of produce coloured orange, russet, brown - perfect for the first day of Autumn.

This table full of gourds was amazing!

It wasn't very warm out (only about 17 degrees Celsius) but there were lots of people  milling about. I bet most of them were just like me - enjoying the wonderful sights and colours of the market.

Isn't this display of peppers wonderful? Almost makes up for the fact that summer is over.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Back in the Studio Again

It seems like ages since I spent time in my studio. The summer always presents a lot of distractions - like gardening and mowing grass and just lounging on the porch. But two weekends ago, I managed to get back in the studio again, and it was so much fun.

I had taken a photograph earlier this summer when out walking through a park, and there were such wonderful colours in the landscape I really wanted to try painting it. I started with a super rough sketch, just plotting the position of things and having fun with the underpainting.

A week later, I worked on it again, softening some things and sharpening others. Again, it was a lot of fun. It still needs a lot of work but I think I will keep going. Life would be so boring without colour, wouldn't it?

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Another Installation in the Park

On the last Saturday of August, the intrepid members of FEH (Fran-Evlyn-Holly) set off into the Park to create another "found materials" installation. This was the 3rd installation we have set up. The first one was an assemblage of various things we found on site - I blogged about it earlier this summer. The second involved making a woven sculpture using branches, grasses and vines. For the third one, we decided to do something quite different.

Our intention was to make garlands using vines and other plants. We found a great spot for this, then Holly and Fran and I began collecting things we could use. We kept finding more and more interesting plants and got excited whenever we saw something that we thought would look great in our creations.

We collected rushes and goldenrod and asters and a beautiful flower which I think is called Joe Pye Weed.

Fran began assembling her garland using this rock as a table.

We approached the making of our garlands in different ways. Holly made a wreath. It was fun to see the variations in the way we created our works.

I used a really long thick piece of vine and wound many plants and rushes around it. Holly helped me hang it between some branches on a couple of trees near the path.

Fran attached her garland to one end of mine and looped it to another tree branch. We continued to add more plants and wove more flowers into them.

The finished garlands were fabulous. I had to have my picture taken, standing behind my creation. I think we were channelling our inner Druids this day!

Holly decided she wanted to float her wreath on the water. There was a pond near the path and that's where she launched it. It looked so beautiful among the water plants. What a terrific day - we were very pleased with our creations.

Monday, 25 August 2014

A Tale of Two Balconies

Because I live in the country and the city, I get to experience the pleasures of both. Some things are the same in both places, but with little differences. For example, I have outdoor balconies at both my city apartment and at my country house. This is my country balcony (a deck, really). It is spacious, surrounded by trees, and has a view of my garden. It is very private and there are no people around, just a lot of birds (especially hummingbirds, who come right up to say hi to me) and the occasional small wild animal. 

This is the balcony at my city apartment. Unlike the deck at my country place, it is very small, up high, and looks out over a city street with cars and buildings and people walking by. I enjoy sitting in the sun on both balconies and appreciate their similarities and differences. I like to think that there are lovely simple pleasures like this no matter where we live!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

A Tuscan-like Setting for a Wonderful Meal

Last Saturday, I went to the wonderful country home of my friends, Bonnie and Greg, for dinner. We sat outside at this table. Isn't it beautiful? We decided that it looked like a scene from Tuscany. What a fabulous way to enjoy dinner on a gorgeous summer evening.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

A Funny Thing Happened When I Participated in the Office Pool!

Just this past June, the people I work with set up an office pool for the FIFA World Cup. I was asked if I would like to participate and I said "Sure", not thinking very much about it. I don't watch sports and know nothing about Soccer (or Football, or Hockey, or Basketball, or anything like that). So I put in my money and made my picks and didn't pay attention after that. Well - lo and behold - I WON! I got the highest score! Wow! People in my office were as surprised as I was. Just last week, they took me out to a victory lunch and gave me my winnings. They also presented me with this fabulous little whistle, shaped like a soccer ball.

So here I am, holding my victory whistle!

A couple of blasts and everyone pays attention. This is going to be fun!

I decided to try it out on one of my colleagues - Alex. I told Alex that he should work harder or I am going to blow the whistle on him! As you can see, he took it very seriously!

Monday, 16 June 2014

An Installation in the Woods

Last Saturday, my friends Holly, Fran and I went for a walk in the woods in Voyageur Park. We planned to make an installation out of found materials somewhere along the walk.

Our route took us along the edge of the river. It was very lovely in places.

We found a nice spot where there was an opening to the river and a tree that was leaning over. Holly wedged some branches upright at the base of this leaning tree using rocks and placing one of the branches in a crack in the tree. I found a piece of red plastic and placed it between the branches.

We added various found materials to the branches. I found some tin foil from an empty cigarette package that someone had tossed in the woods, and wrapped it around the branches. We also made paper loops from the package and hung them here and there.

Holly and Fran foraged for more materials by the water. There was a lot of litter - pieces of broken glass, bottle caps, a fish hook... Everything got added to our installation. Happily, the sun came out while we were working (it had been such a dull grey day until then!).

We kept adding our bits and bobs, placing more rocks, hanging, weaving things together.

As we worked, a beautiful pale white dragonfly landed on one the branches in our installation. It was like a living addition to the work. It also felt like nature sending us a sign of approval!

The final installation had a lot of colour!

Anyone walking along the path would be able to see it. We are hoping that other people will add to it.

Finally, we signed our work. F(ran) E(vlyn) H(olly). So we decided our little group was called FEH, which could stand for all sorts of things (some rather funny!)
It was a really interesting, mind-stretching and fun way to create something. We hope to be able to do this again.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Going to the National Art Gallery to see the Gustave Dore Show

The National Art Gallery in Ottawa just opened a new exhibition of the work of Gustave Dore, one of my favourite illustrators. I visited the show this evening and really enjoyed it. These very large posters hang outside the building on a wall near the entrance.

I always enjoy going into the National. Last year they underwent some major renovations but they are all finished now. It is nice to see all the windows again - they were covered over completely last summer.

I was not able to take any photographs of the work while I was inside the Dore exhibition. I will just have to recommend seeing the show, if you can. It was interesting because I always had thought of Dore as an illustrator, but this show demonstrates that he was much more. He was also a very good painter and sculptor. There were also some fascinating photographs and videos that showed his influence on film makers. Worthwhile seeing.
Anyway, although I couldn't take photos inside the show, I could take photos in the foyer and had lots of fun getting these really abstract-looking shots of the ceiling. Aren't these great patterns?

Here is another pic of the ceiling. I think the light was just perfect for taking this picture. The weather was cloudy and overcast so although this picture is in colour, it looks like it is in black-and-white. It looks like a geometric pattern - and also has this lofty, cathedral look. So I enjoyed a feast for the eyes both inside the Dore show and outside in the foyer, looking up at the ceiling.