Sunday, 22 November 2015

An Afternoon at the National Art Gallery

There are a couple of new shows at the National Art Gallery in Ottawa and I spent a happy afternoon there, checking them out. One of the shows is about a group of paintings Monet produced during an early part of his career. They were really interesting and some of them were very beautiful. People were not allowed to take pictures in this show, but I did take a shot of the entryway, with a big portrait of Monet himself at the entrance, and a large copy of one of his paintings overhead (and a rather tired-looking guard leaning against the wall on the right!). 

The other show is called "Beauty's Awakening" and consists of a large collection of drawings that were recently donated to the National. This large poster of one of the drawings was hanging near the entrance to this show. 

The public is allowed to take photos in this show so I took some pics of drawings I really liked. This is a drawing by the pre-Raphaelite artist, Edward Burne Jones. 

This is a beautiful drawing (I didn't make of note of the artist's name). Seeing these drawings really made me want to pick up my charcoal and start sketching again. 

William Holman Hunt drew this sensitive portrait of his second wife, the sister of his first wife, who had died. It sounds like they had a difficult life at first, but this drawing shows how much he must have loved her. Beautiful! 

After an hour or so looking at the many lovely drawings in the "Beauty's Awakening" show, I wandered into another part of the National. Across the hall were the galleries with contemporary art. Wow! What a complete change of pace. This bold sculpture struck my eye as soon as I walked in the door. The top part has what looks like car parts inside and the white base is an old freezer! 

This room has a huge piece that covers a whole wall. The images are very provocative when you get close to them. 

Then I wandered back in time a bit and found this Henry Moore sculpture in a part of the gallery with mid 20th century British artists. Moore's people always look like they just sat down, leaned back, and don't intend to ever get up again. 

One of the things I like about going to big art galleries like the National is that you really can time-travel there. My afternoon had started in the late nineteenth century, jumped to the present day, then wandered back to the mid-twentieth century, then back even further to the Romantic period. It really was refreshing to the eyes and mind to see all these products of artists from various times and places and to see them all so beautifully presented. Truly a delightful afternoon!   

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Thanksgiving Al Fresco

Monday October 12 was Thanksgiving Day, and it was an unusually warm one. It got up to about 23 degrees Celsius, which is almost summer-like weather for this time of year. I went to my friends', Mac and Brenda's, for Thanksgiving dinner. It was so beautiful that we decided to eat outside, al fresco. Margaret and John were also there, and Margaret took this picture just before the main course. 

It was so warm I was wearing sandals. I can't remember the last time I was able to wear sandals on Thanksgiving!

I took this picture of Mac and Brenda's driveway. The light is amazing at this time of year!

After dinner, we had coffee and pumpkin pie (Yum!). I took this pic of Brenda, Mac, John and Margaret (and Betty the dog), still enjoying being outdoors, even though the afternoon was waning and it was starting to feel chilly. 

Margaret explored Brenda's garden and took this picture. When she sent it to me, she called it "Secret Garden". It really does look like a secret place! Great shot, Margaret. 

 The sun started to set and it really began to feel like Autumn, with the tree branches starting to look bare and the browns and golds and reds everywhere. A beautiful day!

Thursday, 1 October 2015

FEH Strikes Again! - with another site specific installation

Last Saturday (September 26th), the members of FEH - that is, Fran, Evlyn (me) and Holly - got together to explore the possibility of creating one of our site-specific installations in the woods somewhere, as we have been doing for a couple of years now. The last time we did this was very early in the Summer, and now here we were, hoping to do one last one this year before it got too cold. We went to Hudson, Quebec to try a different venue (most of our installations in the past have been at Voyageur Park). It was a beautiful, clear, sunny day - perfect for a walk in the park by the river, looking for a good site and for some good ideas.

We ended up on a sandy beach but still didn't have any ideas. However, it was such a nice day we decided just to enjoy the sun and the emerging Fall colours and the lovely view. 

There was lots to see and enjoy. We were lucky to spot this big Blue Heron among the Canada Geese swimming and plunging down for something to eat. 

We were just sitting on the sand when suddenly Fran had an idea...

She was inspired by the light shining through a water bottle on the sand, creating a beautiful green shadow. We added other objects to make different kinds of shadows on the sand. 

We also sculpted the sand with our fingers to make patterns that would enhance the effect of the shadows. 

This installation was different than other FEH installations because it was not the objects themselves that made the artwork, but the shadows of the objects. Fran and I took a bunch of pictures to record the piece, created by light and dark on a sand canvas.

Later, we removed the bottles, but the shadows were still beautiful. I continued to take pictures. I really like this one. 

Then we realized we had a problem. How would we sign our installation? We usually use some of the materials we have been working with to make the letters F, E and H in some corner of our work. But this time we were working with shadows! Not easy. Then we got an idea. We stood beside each other and decided to sign our installation with our own shadows somehow. 

Like kids playing with flashlights at night, we decided to use our fingers to make shadows of our initials on the sand. So in this picture, Fran is on the left with two fingers making an "F", I am in the middle with three fingers making an "E" (and trying to hold my camera at the same time), and Holly has made a fabulous "H" on the right. 
FEH strikes again! 

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Summer Painting

It has been a good summer for painting. Inspired by a walk in Voyageur Provincial Park in June, I started this painting and worked on it when I could throughout the summer months. I still have changes to make, but have decided to let it sit for a while, think about it, and finish it later. It has been a lot of fun to work on. 

My studio is unheated so I can only work when it is warm enough. I started another painting quite recently to make use of the late summer days. I hope we have a sunny and pleasant autumn so I can continue to paint for another month or two. This painting is already starting to be fun to work on, too!

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

The Annual Fall Festival in Dunvegan Ontario

Every year, I go to the Annual Fall Festival at the Glengarry Pioneer Museum in Dunvegan, Ontario. So last Sunday (September 13), I kept up the tradition and went even though it had been a very rainy day. Despite the soggy weather I had fun! Lots of good food, music, animals, activities and people wearing pioneer costumes. I was taking a picture of the town crier when he came over and handed me his bell. My friend Mac took a picture of the town crier and me, holding the bell (I didn't want to ring it because then people would think I had something to announce!). 

The music was appropriately down-home-y and old fashioned, like the music out of the movie "Oh Brother Where Art Thou". These guys were really good - playing banjo, mandolin and guitar. 

There were sheep. These guys were waiting their turn....

...because there was sheep-sheering exhibition, and they were next. This guy was a pro at sheering sheep. 

Nearby there was a man giving a demonstration on rope-making. He had a special machine to do this. It was fascinating to watch. 

There were a number of roosters in cages. I missed the rooster-crowing contest, but it was nice just to see the roosters in all their glory. 

There were also chickens. 

The blacksmith was hard at work at his forge. This was a very popular exhibition. 

And finally, there was more music. The fiddler was dynamite. Altogether, a fun day and worth slogging through a few puddles to enjoy.  

Monday, 24 August 2015

A Late Summer Party

This past Sunday, I went to a wonderful late August party. My friends Susan and Vlasta held the party at their beautiful place in the country. People sat near the pond for a while and soaked up the gorgeous evening. It was one of those times where you realized summer was coming to an end but we were happy just enjoying what was left of it. 

Then it was time to eat. Susan and Mac got ready to barbecue burgers and boil dozens and dozens of cobs of corn for the hungry masses. Mmmm! It was yummy! Food always tastes so good outside on a late summer evening. 

As the sun began to set, a bonfire was lit and people gathered to chat and watch the flames. Food, friends, and a last beautiful summer evening. What more could one want!

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

A Concert in a Barn

Last Saturday, my friend Lisa and I went to a concert in a barn which turned out to be a truly magical experience. This was held at By Chadsey's Cairns Winery, Prince Edward County, by the shores of Lake Ontario. As the brochure advertising the concert said, there was "wine, food, hay bales, and light streaming through the barn boards."  

I took a shot of the exterior of the barn because I really liked the way you could see through, to the opening on the other side.

Across from the barn, there was a wine store that sold wine made from the grapes growing in the fields behind. Lisa and I tasted a couple of different wines before purchasing some bottles - white for Lisa and red for me.

Before the concert, we sat outside overlooking the vineyard and drank some of the delicious red we had chosen.

We were served a meal by an Ottawa chef named Jonathan Korecki, from Restaurant 18 in the Byward Market. These appetisers were really yummy!

Then it was time to go into the barn for the concert. I loved this cathedral-like view of one wall, with all the light coming in through the boards.

The musicians were all members of the National Arts Centre orchestra. Here is Michelle Gott, the harp soloist, warming up.

There were three other musicians from the NAC orchestra. In this picture, Yosuke Kawasaki, concertmaster, and Joanna G'froerer, principle flute, are playing Beethoven's Serenade for Flute, Violin and Viola (I couldn't get Jessica Linnebach, the viola player, in the picture). It doesn't get any better than this - music, food and wine on a magical summer evening.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Playing With My New Camera

Alas, the camera I have been using for many years died recently. I replaced it with a newer, fancier, and more technically enhanced camera, and then set out to see what kinds of things it could do. It has a lot of bells and whistles that I haven't mastered yet, but in the couple of weeks since I bought it, I have had a lot of fun playing with it. I took this pic when I was at the Ottawa Jazz Festival at the end of June. Those sax players really cooked!

The new camera takes better close-ups than the old one. This is a picture of some Oenothera (also called Sundrops, or Evening Primrose) in my garden.

I went to Toronto to visit family shortly after getting my new camera. I took this picture of my granddaughter asleep in her stroller when we went to an ice cream parlour for a treat. She looks so completely relaxed!

This picture was taken in the National Art Gallery in Ottawa. I was a long way away from these people so tried the zoom function to take this pic. I wanted to capture their relaxed human gestures in the stark, industrial setting of the gallery. Everything around them is so abstract, except for the poster for the Chagall show (which was quite good, by the way).
I have a lot to learn about my new camera, but so far I am happy with it.