Monday, November 18, 2013

A Craft Fair and a Christmas Card

The snow fell... it got slushy... then froze solid. The world is patchy and white.  The children squeal and run with mittens trailing from coat sleeves.  It is still November but the cold has brought about an early Christmas spirit despite the perpetual grumblings about weather.  If it is not too hot, or too rainy then it’s too cold and what is this white stuff anyway. 

Brush each salmon fillet with 1/2 teaspoon of oil 
Squeeze lime juice over salmon then rub contents
 of spice packet to completely coat the fish; 
Grill the salmon, flesh side down, until charred.
Saturday was the Annual Kaien Island Craft Fair.  A 38 year tradition.  A busy day for all involved.  Crafters and vendors alike, poured into the local gym an annual community event took place.  It is a social event as much as anything.  A celebration of crafts, a community social event, an opportunity to shop local and support local artisans, a Herculean effort to organize and a good time had by all.

I sold reproductions of my art, cards, and the most popular item – spice packets.  A2 Sized Envelopes ( 146mm x 110 mm) Printed with reproductions of Original Artworks of RiverWalker Arts and filled with an assortment of delicious Spices and easy to follow Recipes for their use. Perfect Stocking Stuffers or ideal hostess gifts. Space on the back for a stamp and address - mail them like a postcard to your favourite folks away.

Gently simmer 750 ml. (1 bottle) red wine, 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar (to taste)
 and whole packet of mulling spice for up to 20 minutes.
Remove the spice packet and serve the wine hot in mugs 
For 8 hours I watched the crowds, talked with folks, socialized and had a great day.  By 5pm I was exhausted, and glad that I don’t work in the retail business. 

For my next project....   This white stuff has got me thinking about my annual Christmas card.  A tradition I started in 1990 with a lopsided candle ringed with pine boughs and bits of holly.  Since then I have put out a different card each year...  what might 2013 bring?  I don’t know. I have little inspiration for this as I think the part of my brain devoted to art is stuck in a Dutch lullaby.  Birds? Reindeer? Snowmen ? Hockey?  Wreaths? Stockings? Nutcrackers?   It’s a dilemma... but I’ve got to start soon or I’ll never get them printed in time!

Here is a peek at a past Christmas Card: 

“When the Snow Flies”
© RiverWalker Arts
The lake is frozen over and the ground is deep with snow.
We are children once again.
Brew me a cup on this winter’s eve and hold me near
For the frosty winds do howl and the glittering snow does fly.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

you know those things you've always wanted to do..... you should do them...

The Family has a cold, we are all hacking and doing our best.  The  washing machine is doing overtime as I’ve transitioned my Peanut from disposable diapers to cloth as he weighs about 8lbs now and the super tiny little chicken legs have put on enough meat that those cloth elastics aren’t too loose.  Part of my problem is I didn’t bother with super mini cloth diapers.. but favour the one size adjustable kind... He will use  the same 24 diapers I bought for Chicken Little that saw him through from 10 days old until I Potty Trained him 2 months ago.  At 26 months – he’s a potty pro! It only took a couple weeks before I was able to transition back to normal after being a complete wacko, obsessed with my son’s bodily functions trying to  - Time it, Predict it,  Anticipate it.... and inevitably mopping up pee off the floor.

It is amazing.. 8 weeks in and I’m on top of things for the most part again.  I’m swings kids, and housework, and dinners and laundry and all the domestic tasks of a mom.  But I’ve also found some balance in my life.  The kind that creates sanity and provides its own rewards. 

The Fishermen Three - Wynken, Blynken and Nod
© RiverWalker Arts
Namely I’m painting again. 
I’ve also learned something very cool. 
Did you know that the average children’s book is 32 pages long.
Yup. Bet you didn’t know that.  I certainly had never noticed.  In fact some books will leave 2 or 3 completely blank empty white pages at the end of the story just to fill up that standard 32 pages.  Wild.  I have been counting pages like a lunatic since I found this out.  I don’t think I’ll ever look at a picture book the same way again. My kids are going to grow up frustrated as I count spreads while I read to them! 

A very lovely lady who runs the local “mother goose” program for babies told me this... and I’m just so amazed that even with some gagillion children’s books in my collection – I’ve NEVER noticed this.  Apparently Picture books are in increments of 8 because of the way the paper is cut from the printed sheets.  So... with my Wynken Blynken & Nod project at 14 completed image spreads.... I’m looking at 28 pages... plus end pages?  I’m closer than I realized..

Not that any publishing company is going to pick me up, and this will be entirely a homemade affair, but I might as well follow the standards!

Now to prep for the craft fair next weekend, and then there are all those Christmas gifts that need a personal touch of a homemade something....  and maybe  shortly after Christmas I’ll have a book to share...

Life is about Living.
You've got a lot of choices.  If getting out of bed in the morning is a chore and you're not smiling on a regular basis, try another choice.  ~Steven D. Woodhull

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A little bit on Art. homeostasis, variety and novelty...

Jack Shadbolt was one of those artists who never flagged in his pursuit of variety. A great reader, writer, speaker, teacher, wanderer, visitor to museums and observer of nature.  

While an artist's hand may naturally slip toward homeostasis and repetition, the human heart reaches for variety and novelty. Whether our work is representational or abstract, monumental or modest, here are a few of Jack's thoughts... things for me to keep in mind when i paint:

Make a little thing and then a large one. 

Make a simple shape and then a complex one.

Make conjoining edges soft, hard, run over, or falling short. 

When repeating motifs, vary size and direction.

Don't fear winking, blinking, teasing, humming humour.

Cruise the work for further potentials for imagery.

Obfuscate, cover up, smudge or overhaul boring passages.

Make gradations where possible, both wet and dry.

Mix things up--numbers, owls, flags, butterflies. 

Look for opportunities to monumentalize and feature.

Let motifs cross over and interfere with other motifs.

Look for things that suggest other things, and hint further.

Relish the opulence, lusciousness and seduction of paint.

Point, and let things react against one another.

Patch, and let things lie close and love each other.

Try to think of and live in the fineries of Nature: cocoons, flowers, birds, butterflies, eggs, reflections, leaves, sticks, bones, echoes, etc. Think also of emblems, badges, mandalas, signs, glyphs, totems, birth, wonder, light. Rawness, death, decay and disfigurement also have their place. Life and art is a bombardment of variety.  

Saturday, September 14, 2013

a new beginning

The forecast was for sun, and while the sea fog provided a thick cocooning blanket through the night, my second son was born at dawn.  It was a truly special and magical moment, one I will never forget.   Perhaps I am riding the high of having accomplished something so primal it cannot be truly conveyed through words, but only by shared experience.  However millions of women have accomplished this before me it is still a miracle of nature each time a child comes into the world.  Birth takes a woman's deepest fears about herself and show her that she is stronger than them.  And so as my son took his first breaths the cocooning fog began to dissipate and the sun rose in all its fiery wonder. The warmth of an Indian summer flooding the land and sea while we rested. 

Soon the pace of life will change again, picking up again and this time of rest and seclusion will end.  But I wish to embrace at this time the peace of moment, and thank the friends and family that I have for their outpouring of support and love during this special and magical time in our lives. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Wynken has been resurrected

Wyken, Blynken and Nod took a little hiatus.  But all you die-hard fans (yes all 3 of you) will be thrilled to know that Wynken has be resurrected as the pace of life slows for me as I wait for the birth of my second child.

I have stopped working to rest and take this time to meditate on the upcoming meeting with this little one I’ve been growing inside me for the past nine months.  As I grow ever larger and heavier,  I find that I need the rest and the peace of reflecting inwards.  And in so doing I’ve found again that creative spark that sinks into dormancy when confronted by stress and tensions beyond my ability to control.   So with the excitement of summer camping adventures past, and the turning of the season I’m moving again into a mind space I can enjoy. 


©RiverWalker Arts

©RiverWalker Arts

©RiverWalker Arts

I've been spending my time with Chicken Little who has just turned two amid much singing and blowing out of candles (both activities he took to with relish!).  We play build the castle and knock it down, we drive trucks around the house, and dump water over a water wheel to watch it go round and round....  we also are learning one of life’s more important skills – to use the toilet.  All this time together has been precious.  One on One time before the next little one makes its entrance and forces me to divide up my time and my lap.

I’ve also spent time alone.  With the breeze flowing through my window I’ve put paint on paper again and watched the colours flow together and blend into whimsy. Resulting in the next page of my story book project – “ ‘Twas all so pretty a sail it seemed as if it could not be, and some folks thought ‘twas a dream they’d dreamed of sailing that beautiful sea –“ 
© RiverWalker Arts

“ ‘Twas all so pretty a sail it seemed as if it could not be, and some folks thought ‘twas a dream they’d dreamed of sailing that beautiful sea –“
~Eugene Field  (1889) 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

my-first-ever-“real”-not-a-rag-quilt project

Life is what happens when you are busy doing something else… 

I was forcing my sewing machine to do all sorts of things.  I doubt it liked them - ertainly it has protested quite heavily about the layers and layers of jean, corduroy, batting, flannel, and mystery fabric I’ve jammed through it while making rag quilts out of recycled materials scavenged from the thrift shop.   I broke my fair share of needles too.  I learned to wear safety glasses while sewing before any of those needles hit me in the eye causing lasting damage.  It is a workhorse of a machine.  It was a hand me down from my grandmother, who replaced it 20 years ago with a fancier and newer model.  The original date of purchase for my beloved machine is totally beyond me.  My beloved sears Kenmore might be older than I am.

I wonder if the age of the machine could be said to be “vintage”?  (Vintage is what you call something that is old enough to be trendy and cool, as opposed to just old and heavy.)

Anyway the old girl finally had enough of the abuse I’d been throwing at it and it coughed sputtered and SNARLED.  Yes – sewing machines don’t seem to die they seem to SNARL.   The thread coming out of the bobbin looked like a first rate birds nest, and nothing I could do changed that fact.  It needed a Dr. plain and simple.

My quilt project -  my-first-ever-“real”-not-a-rag-quilt project sat stalled too.  Not that it hadn’t been over a year in the making, but I HAD actually been working on it when the sewing machine broke down.  A little boy’s bright coloured blanket.  Nothing so short lived as baby bottles, pacifiers and diaper pins…. But rather bright bold colours with trucks, owls, and numbers. 

So while the quilt languished, and my painting projects collected dust, I went camping.  Chicken little at almost two is a much nicer age to camp with than he was a year ago before he could walk and when he was still putting every rock into his mouth.  We camped locally, but then we took off on a two week adventure.

We loaded up the snail… and set off to drier turf and hot sunny places to sit at the lake and to swim. It was divine….  Some how in the process of all this camping and hot weather.  We traded our camper (for more than we paid for it) in for a small trailer.  The day we did that I was quite in shock.  I had not anticipated this turn of events. Although in the long run it was positively lovely to camp in. 

Chicken Little at the Beach

After two weeks of heat, of sun, of swimming, of ice-cream and sand we returned with our trailer, stopping en-route at my grandmothers house.  When I told her the sad story of the sick sewing machine she said to me – you can take my old machine.  (I thought I did have her OLD machine. – turns out there was a newer old machine) . Thus I became the happy owner of yet another sewing machine… this one only 20 years old and running like a top.

Thus I was able to finish the FIRST “real” quilt I’ve ever made.   Now the rules are – you are not allowed to look too close to the stitching, nor how well the corners line up.  You are simply required to say “LOVELY!” in a chirpy and pleasant voice.  The flaws are many and I am not asking for advice or for them to be pointed out.  I am simply proud of myself for having completed this quilt.  And just in time for my second child to be born!
Finished Quilt

Also an update on the sick sewing machine -  it has been taken to the Dr. and will return home in a few days apparently feeling much improved. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Hazy Days of Summer

Summer is here. Or at least we have had some sun and that is something to take full advantage of as sometimes it only last for a few days before the forecast is nothing but rain. Although it isn't always called rain -  because either the weather people get bored with forecasting or they try to justify even bothering to make a forecast they will often vary how this is worded:
Monday: Rain, Heavy at times.
Tuesday: Rainy with cloudy periods.
Wednesday: Showers.
Thursday: Cloudy with rainy periods.
Friday: Rain.
You get the idea.

If we get two warm weekends in the year we are pretty happy about it all.  So imagine my delight when we decided to go camping and the weather actually cooperated. 

We packed up the Camper (aka Snail) and set out for the first trip of the season up a logging road to a lovely green hued lake surrounded by snow capped peaks and place I’d never yet been too. Chicken Little slept almost the whole drive up  and the dog sat panting with anticipation.
our campsite

The breeze blew in off the lake and kept the mosquitoes to a dull drone, and we noted we were the only people there.  With our pick of campsites we chose an out of the way little space at the end that afforded a great deal of privacy and gave us our own little slice of beach. The water was predictably cold, and yet beautiful.  Chicken Little played in the sand and I started reading a new book. 

My sewing machine is broken and needs to see a Doctor, not that I would have taken it camping with me, but it has stymied my attempts at creativity (not to mention basic hemming requirements), and camping has never really inspired me to paint.  So I read my book, I played with Chicken Little, I threw sticks for the dog, and I toasted my feet on the camp fire.  It was lovely, it was relaxing.

On Sunday morning we packed up in a frenzy as a dark cloud consisting almost entirely of mosquitoes had descended into camp.  Even the dog did not want to venture out of the snail. So while I have a few itchy bits as a reminder of the bugs, it was well worth it. 

Not once did I worry about laundry, or taxes, clean floors or an endless stack of work.  Nor did I think once about work and the beige cubicle I inhabit for the majority of my waking hours.

Would that all weekends be so relaxing.

Monday, June 10, 2013

fish in a bucket and an art battle

© Joan Mostad 
On the mist soaked Saturday morning this past weekend, kids and their families lined the streets to watch figures clad in clear plastic ponchos march in the parade for the annual summer community festival.  The local garbage truck was all scrubbed down, and after a preparatory cigarette hastily smoked while waiting for the parade to being the two riding in the dumpster took on the roles of Oscar the Grouch and a Blue Rat.   The local Indo-Canadian Sikh Association danced along in the brightest costumes, so very vibrant in contrast to the lingering and mournful wail of the much loved bag-pipes and the local hockey team kept the morning beer drinking moderately discrete.  
© Joan Mostad 

Kids laughed and clapped and got soaked before heading off to find some meat on a stick and other festival favourites. 

© Joan Mostad 
I sent my Chicken-Little home with DH and set up what turned out to be an enormously successful event.  The Fast and the Furious Paint-Off.   Set up on the sidewalk under the cover of a storefront awning, three contestants at a time faced off against each over in a mad competitive art battle.  The goal of which was to complete a painting in 20 minutes.  Paintings were displayed and the public voted on their favourites.  We ran the artists on the hour and on the half hour,  with an intense 10 minute scramble between painters.   The crowd swelled respectfully silent around the painters and in the end we had a collection of artists works to donate to the community.

© Shawn Thomas
It was crazy, and crowded and I was not as well organized as I could have been – but somewhere in the end it was perfect.  The rain let up and held off until the last set of painters, and I received almost nothing but complements for the event.  Now a deep breath in… and a deep breath out.. .another successful event for the Arts Council!

© K. Lyon 
© K. Lyon 
Sunday brought more mist into the harbour,  as we headed out for some fishing fun in the kids Bull-Head derby.  I felt honoured to teach three little ones as well as my own about the joys of catching “pile perch” off the end of the dock.  The excitement to be had in watching a small fish in a bucket is never to be underestimated!  Although it ended in a torrential downpour the smiles made it all worth while! 

© RiverWalker Arts 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Art is the only way to run away without leaving home

It has been more than a month since I checked in here.  Which in the world of the hourly facebook status update is positively dismal.  I could blame any number of factors all of which are just excuses because the reality is that the priorities always get done.  Somehow come rain, shine or power outage I still manage to get my teeth brushed everyday… and Chicken Little’s too. I always manage to send him to daycare clothed, (in more than just a diaper) and I haven’t forgotten him there once.  

But the Blog languishes.  Fortunately I don’t.  I’m catching on to the swing of things (work, kid,  and getting stuff accomplished.  I have another installment in my Wynken, Blynken and Nod series to share, and I am one step closer to finishing off my first “Real” Quilt.  Meaning – not a rag blanket.. but a REAL quilt.

But on a more exciting personal note… Art workshop. Oh yes  I joined the local artist guild in a full weekend workshop dedicated to the acrylic medium and learning new techniques.  Where I’m taking this I’m not sure – but I pulled out those acrylic brushes, and prayed my paints hadn't completely dried up… and I started on Friday night at 7:00 with a 16x20 canvas.  It isn't a masterpiece… but everyone has to start somewhere.

Acrylic on Canvas 

We painted all day Saturday and Sunday.  It rained outside and inside we dipped into colour and tried to learn a way in which to do things.  I learned a lot, and it was exhausting.  But I did enjoy it. The worst part was that the weekend was followed much too quickly by Monday and a return to work and the real world.  That in itself wouldn’t be much more than draining but what is truly disappointing is that I really have no idea when I might next be able to put paint on canvas, as life itself is catching up with me.  

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Starlight Inspiration...

Wynken, Blynken and Nod is about a Journey.  The Poem written by Eugene Field and published in 1889 is about three little fishermen who sail off in a wooden shoe to fish among the stars in the night sky.  It is a dream, it is a lullaby, it is a gentle pull into the mysteries of bedtime stories.   However the Journey for me is the series I am painting.  I’m doing it for myself, I’m doing it for the children in my life, I’m doing it because I can.  But it is a journey.  With ups and downs and spurts and pauses. 

I have about 6 paintings done, more or less.  I’ve stuck with a 22 x 16” size for my paintings and they are all watercolour on Arches Cold Press Cotton Rag paper. I figure I have maybe 15 more to go in the series,  but what I’ve decided is that I can’t plan it all out.  I just have to keep painting, and eventually I’ll just know that I’ve reached the point where I’m through. 

" The little stars were the herring fish
That lived in that beautiful sea — "
~ Eugene Field
© RiverWalker Arts
I got hung up for a while and while I was hung up I started to read a few blogs. I’m not a Blog creeper by nature. But sometimes inspiration can be found in a myriad of places.  Actually I started googling illustrators,  specifically ones that work in Watercolour, and from there I found images that spoke to me, which lead me to reading blogs written by illustrators…   specifically I found  an older blog from pre 2009 written by illustrator and watercolour artist Jackie Morris.   I read back through much of her blog.  She writes about the growing pains of the book Starlight Sailor,  the rejection of her designs and ideas, the fully finished paintings for the cover that were turned down by the publisher.  Until finally the whole thing came together and the package with the final book arrived in the mail.   It was inspirational.  It was at this point I realized… I just need to keep painting, and maybe all of my paintings won’t make it into my little series. But that is ok.  And because I’m not trying to please a publisher.. I’m only trying to please myself in my spare time that I’m really ahead of the game and that this is really just a love affair… between me and my paint and a poem that captured my heart…  and so I’m back to painting again with a smile.

By the way… I bought Jackie Morris’s book Sarlight Sailor (written by James Mayhew) &  Tell Me a Dragon

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

This is the next installment in my Wynken, Blynken and Nod series. 

"...they sailed on a river of crystal light, into a sea of dew...." ~ Eugene Field (from Wynken, Blynken and Nod)

16" x 22" Watercolor on Cotton Rag Paper.

© RiverWalker Arts 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Back in the Groove.... Game on!

It’s taken a while.  I am not sure why.  I wonder if it is because I doubt myself in terms of my ability to draw.  Or maybe I just got a look at what other folks can do and felt small and insignificant?  Or maybe I just got busy being a mom, and working full time, and organizing events for the Arts Council, and trying to come up with activities to keep 13&14 year old girl guides interested for 2 hours every Thursday night?  Or maybe I was just tired.  Really Tired. You know the kind of tired that creeps up on you when your nose is a bit stuffed, and your sinuses ache, and your throat is scratchy, but you aren’t really sick enough to justify taking a day off work.   Tired.

Whatever it was I lost my groove.  I lost my inspiration, I lost the desire, it trickled out  and every time I looked at a blank sheet of paper… it was just that… BLANK! Empty! Daunting… even my scratch pad next to my phone at work sat sterile,  a few quick names, numbers jotted down in short clipped script.  Not one embellishment, not one doodle.  Empty. 

But I’m BACK! I’m ready, I’m excited again. And as mysteriously as my inspiration died it has come crashing back!  It might have been the Creative Jam – where I got to meet the lovely Ms. Redhead who can get seriously excited about painting!  And taught us all how she pours her paint.  (see image below).  Or it might just be that the pressure of organizing the Creative Jam has ebbed.. and with that stress out of my life I can bloom again.  Or it could be the upcoming Arts and Culture week in April where we are hosting a PostCard Art show on the theme of “Hello Neighbour!”  Or maybe it was finding a whole new line of Children’s Books – Barefoot Books and some spending some time looking at the wonderful illustrations that grace their covers. (  What ever it is it feels great!

Sentinel Spirits
poured watercolour from workshop by Leslie Redhead
© RiverWalker Art

So the first bit of inspiration was that my spice collection needs a new item.  Cioppino – a versatile fish stew that is a classic of the West Coast and related to various regional fish soups and stews of Italian cuisine.  Traditionally it is made from the catch of the day, which can look like a combination of Dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, mussels and fish in a tomato based broth.  My painting – a small 5x7 watercolour!  Now to add the text, do a little digital magic and get the envelopes printed! (oh yeah and place an order to my favourite spice dealer!)  What fun!

© RiverWalker Art

Perhaps even more exciting than Fish Stew with a fancy name (although who doesn’t like a good fish stew) is that Wyken, Blynken and Nod are back on the Easel!  I’ve got one more painting almost finished – one ready to apply paint, and 2 more full-sized sketches that just need some fleshing out before I will be ready to transfer them onto the cotton watercolour paper and add paint. 

Wynken Blyken & Nod
© RiverWalker Art

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Creative Jam in a Weekend.

Tired… I said I wanted a weekend now that I survived the actual weekend.. but what I think I really want is a room with a view and a big bed and 2 days in which to curl up in a nest of blankets and warmth and sleep on and off like a cat in the sunshine.  No interruptions, no responsibilities and no organizing.   I’m tired.  The kind of tired that makes the grubby brown floor in my office look like a comfortable place to lay my head.  That little alcove near the photocopier looks remarkably like a good place to nap.  So does just about anywhere. 

It’s been busy.  I mean really really busy.   It takes at least five people to organize the Creative Jam. One for each discipline… and one to over see them and worry about them.  Two of our organizers left town.. for destinations as exotic as Cuba and as obscure as Oona River (tiny little town of 30 or so people on a tiny little island in the middle of nowhere).  So that left three of us to pull off the event.

And we did it.!  Photography, Quilting, Painting, and Creative Writing workshops help simultaneously over a weekend, with roughly 50 in attendance.  The Quilters lugging their sewing machines and creating havoc with threads and pins, the photographers snapping photos and dragging tripods.  The Painters with stained fingers literally watching paint dry while others scribbled in their notebooks a written record of life. We started after work on Friday hauling tables and easels and I found myself at 7pm on Sunday night vacuuming up the last evidence of all that had transpired.

It was worth it. I might finally have my artistic inspiration back.  The rain hasn’t stopped, the grey sky hangs as low as ever and the wind howls at night – but I seem to have been re-inspired.  My paints are wet again and I’ve put brush to paper.

Here is a look at what the lovely LeslieRedhead helped me create in her Watercolour Workshop: 

Piece from weekend workshop: Sentinel Spirits.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

and my mind is crushed by the pounding rain...

I talk about the weather a lot. It’s a Canadian pastime, and there truly are people who can’t hardly start a conversation if it were not for the weather.   Although I do spend my fair share of time commenting on the weather, I try not to complain about it overly much.  But holy rain batman!  Seriously. We are less than 2 weeks into the month and already we have had 246.8 mm of rain – they measure this on top of city hall and every hour or so the number creeps up.  That is over 20mm of rain a day for 11 days straight.   If we were to compare the amount in snowfall – you are looking at about 8 feet of snow in the last 11 days.

(and while I admit conversion is sketchy with averages varying between ratios of 1:6 to 1:10  - t it turns out in weather forecasting they use the 1 to 10 ratio in order to make snowfall forecasts.  That's because the computer projections can tell us how much liquid will precipitate out of a column of air, but not how much snow. )

My yard is a swamp. Thick spongy moss which normally soaks up the water has drank up more than it can hold and so it sits there – growing puddles on a hillside –yes it is possible.  Patches of what once was grass are now thick mats of slippery dark green slime as the algae grows in mats.

My dog has thick fur that takes hours to dry.  Even going outside to do her business three times in a 24 hours period means she smells like wet dog pretty much always.  And inevitably I find damp spots where she has laid down… like on my pillow…  *sigh* 

So far I’m not finding inspiration in this rain, I’ve not touched my sewing machine except to hem a pair of pyjama pants, and I’ve not lifted a paint brush in weeks.  My goal to sketch more and let myself be free about it has stalled… although I did dig out my sketch book and I did rummage through my stuff to find the accouterments of mucking about in a sketch book… felts, pillbox-sized painting pallet, pens, pencils, erasers, ink, and glue (you never know what will need to be stuck in) now if only I could put aside some time….

Watercolour on cotton rag paper  ©RiverWalker Arts 

Maybe if it ever stops raining…. ? 

Monday, January 21, 2013

a sad little worn down town

I wonder about where I live sometimes.  I know my fair share of people that have left to get away from the rain, the isolation,  the disproportionately high property taxes,  they have fled to more southern pastures, bigger centers, drier, less remote. More than a few have pangs of loss,  feelings of regret, remorse, and of not realizing how good it was….

I was looking on line last night at much newer homes in much more desirable locations.  I was looking at housing prices and amenities.  I was wondering what it would be like to decide to move.   It’s not like I’ve been planted for a long time.  There was a time when I changed communities and hopped from one province to the next on a whim,  rarely more than a year in one place, sometimes not even that long.   I followed work and I moved easily,  everything I owned fit in my little red two door hatch back.   But now I’m here.  I mean really HERE.   I have a house, filled with furniture and all the paraphernalia that comes along with that.  It is not so easy to throw the skis on the roof of my car and leave. But also I’ve put down some roots….

Fragile ones at first but I’m part of this community now. 

I went for a walk at lunch the other day.  The rain had stopped and it was dry enough to take a walk to clear my mind.  I tried to look at what I’d miss, I also tried to look at what a tourist would see.   I wandered over cracked sidewalks, and past potholes that could hide small Volkswagens,  I noticed the bricks missing in the paving stones,  I wondered how many others noticed the green algae and slime streaks that ran down the side of the buildings.   How the windows in the second story of the Chinese food restaurants and over empty storefronts were covered in cardboard and the black scum of too much moisture collected in the corners.   I looked at the cracked concrete walls and the abandoned store fronts. 

It was a sad picture I saw.  One of decay, of neglect.  Of a sad little worn out town at the end of the road.  A town I wouldn’t choose to visit. But somehow it’s still home. While I would not miss the mould, the decay, the rot, the neglect and the sense of abandonment… there are still things that make this place a good one.

I think about what it would pain me to give up – friends certainly, the 7 minute commute to work, the slower pace of a small town.  The fact that I know more than half the shoppers in the grocery store on any given day.  The winds that howl like mourning women and send the garbage cans tumbling end over end down the street.  The storms that are wild and raw and powerful and we withstand them month after month without declaring any sort of disaster.    I would miss the ease at which I move within this community, the ability to get things done because I know who to ask and where to go.   The other thing that I have here is that I’m known in my own way as an artist.  I’m not just another one of dozens of people who dabbles in doodles but some people in this town actually know me for my art, and my art alone.  (how cool is that??) 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The more "NEEDS" you put in the way of your art, the less art you will do.

We have passed the darkest day of the year.  Now the light should be coming out sooner – and staying longer.  But who am I kidding, I still go to work in dark, and leave it once it is dark again.  The fact that I don’t have a window to look out of means that there are in fact days where I don’t even get to witness daylight.  This also bodes ill for the dog. She needs a bath – she is starting to smell… like a dog.  While I accept that she is a dog , that doesn't mean I want her to smell like one.  My realization has been that in the past I walked her more often, and thus needed to hose her down more often to rid her mud and other less savory odoriferous articles she had rolled in, and therefore she did not get a chance to smell like plain old dog.

While I am not one for new years resolutions, I have decided that I do need to spend some time and walk the dog more often.   Which I suppose you could call a resolution – but what I really have thrown out to the world is a commitment to spend more time with my sketch book. 

There is a movement afoot. It is called “Art journaling”  this isn’t really a new thing.  Or even something very defined.   Basically it is about the creative process of pulling together color, words and images as you wish on a page. The nice thing about it unlike many other forms of art, it is not about the outcome, it is about the process.  I need that.

For some people art journaling is more like scrap booking with ephemera (clippings from old textbooks, maps, receipts, recycled stuff from other art projects, product packaging, scraps of scrapbook paper quotes, lyrics, lottery tickets, Polaroid photos, grocery lists... ) all glued into collages.  For others it is an experimentation of mediums – pens, paint, pastels, chalk, crayons all mashed into colourful explosions. For others it really is a journal about life, done in words, and sketches.  Go ahead Google it!

©RiverWalker Arts
For me. What I want out of the exercise is a place to free up my art.  A place where I can sketch without the pressure of completing a painting or a drawing, a way to write down my thoughts, and to loosen up!  I need to work on putting aside the pressure of completing an “art work”.   The more art we do the more constrained we seem to get. …I’m finding myself less free with my creativity and more critical of my work.   Fear - perfectionism - procrastination - pick your poison  are all standing in the way -  between me and my sketch book. 

 I have come to the conclusion that I need to loosen up, and give myself permission to play with paint, and pencil and pens on paper… to make a mess, to make mistakes, to worry less about “ruining” my sketch book.  My  Art should be a river of imagination....  2013 is a blank book.  Today is but a page waiting for ink. What kind of chapters will spring forth. 

 I might even share some pages if I’m happy with the results.