Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pssst! There's a Pinecone in Your Purse

I love pinecones. I pick them up where I see them. Sometimes my purse gets a bit lumpy. 
Part of a long, thin cone.

Practicing line work

It's all about etching really. An Urban Sketcher acquaintance of mine, Sigrid Albert, was recently involved in a cool, creative collaboration. She and poet, Christopher Levenson put Sigrid's etchings and Chris' poetry together in a book called Getting to Know You. They worked with master printer Peter Braune to produce a lovely, hand printed,  limited edition tribute to Vancouver. Check out Sigrids blog to get a taste of the book. http://www.urbansketcher.ca

As with all things creative, finding the money to do projects like this requires lots of creativity in and of itself. So the trio decided to crowd source the money through the website Indiegogo. (to great success - they raised $5000) The cool thing about this fundraiser was that, instead of just making a donation, you actually buy something, in my case, an etching session with Peter's printshop, New Leaf Creative Solutions.

Oh my gosh! Great idea, right?! Except now I have to be able to draw something worth printing, straight onto a metal plate! I pride myself on adding watercolour to make lovely my less than amazing drawings. As far as I can see, there is no watercolour involved in etching. The whole premise is that the drawing part is lovely from the start!

Do I sound panicky? All this to say, I am practicing with fine black pens. And yes, I am panicky…..and excited. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Camp Mustard

Camp Mustard Buoy Pole 
Tent and Boots

We had an idyllic weekend camping trip to a beach on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Many of our tents and tarps coincidentally turned out to be mustard coloured (until ketchup red arrived).  Hence the name Camp Mustard. The beach was also scattered with many abandoned buoys. We erected a mustard buoy "flag" pole and had some fun playing beach buoy bocce with the hard black orbs. Some of them were enormous and took quit a lot of strength to hurl. We had a particularly fun and random round when the red buoy pallino ended up tossed in the waves at the edge of the beach. Rather hard to pin down who actually won that round.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Fall Gifts

My daughter often presents me with  an unusual leaf that she has picked up between home and school. This time, it is a maple leave with the flesh nibbled out from around the veins. Around the same time, my friend arrived with a box of coronation grapes. These grapes always remind me of my grandma and make me think that fall has arrived.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Of Cheap Materials

I was fooling around in a small 4 X 6 inch sketchbook, trying to get a handle on hatching (pens not ducklings). The paper was very light weight and did not take the watercolour all that well.  And yet, the results were surprisingly fresh and satisfying. I worked with intent but had nothing to lose on this cheap paper. I still have that crazy inhibition when I work with nice materials that I have to be better. I have to draw and paint more skilfully. But often that mind trap  sets me up for tighter work. So here is to cheap materials and uninhibited expression.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Making Contact

 One of the reasons I have tried to make myself brave enough to draw and paint in public is that I think it is a great way to make contact with people. I always feel self conscious and like a bit of a fraud as I am sketching and painting, but people who come up to me are inevitably curious and generous with kind comments. And in return, I get to have some interesting conversations with all sorts of people.

I often find myself in New Westminster with time on my hands while I'm waiting for my car to be serviced. The Quay down buy the Fraser River is always a good source of inspiration and places to sit for a while. This day, I was working away on a tug boat when a little boy and his mom approached. He seemed really curious so I encouraged him to have a go at painting. I only asked that he paint on the left side of the page so I could do the painting of the tug. He made beautiful bold strokes and enjoyed mixing the paint, as is obvious. And he just could not resist adding a bit of blue to the bow of my tug, just above the textured tire bumper. I have to say, Oskar improved my boat. He even agreed, with the help of his mom, to co-sign the painting.

As I drove home, I spotted a Korean restaurant and spontaneously decided to treat myself to lunch. As I waited for my cold noodle soup and kimchi, I pulled out my pen and paints and did a quick sketch of the traffic lights. The waitress, who spoke very little English, was very interested and turned out to be a painter herself. She was too shy to show me any of her work, but carefully noted the type of Moleskine notebook  and reservoir paint brush I was using, with the thought that she may give them a try herself. My lunch arrived before I got too far along with the painting but, in the end, I decided I liked how the traffic lights hung in the middle of the white page.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Cypress Finale

It is the end of an era for our family. After 67 years at Ghost Lake Cabin in the Cypress Hills, my parents and aunts sold the cottage. I went out for a last visit in July, and spent part of my days drawing and painting.

 The first thing that strikes me when we drive east towards the Cypress Hills from Medicine Hat, are the enormous skies with puffy white clouds as far as the eye can see. The sky feels like a huge bowl above your head. In the evenings, we go up to Lookout Point, to Grandma and Grandpa Rae's bench to watch the setting sun turn puffy white clouds to every shade of pink, orange, red, purple and blue.

We spend lots of time on the front porch communing with the lodgepole pines, birds and scolding squirrels. The wildflowers are always amazing.

Cabin details remind me of my childhood and my daughters' years at the cottage. The snap of the latch on the screen door takes me back to crafty days, painting rocks, doing batik, weaving lichen and noggin knockers  into wall hangings and my girls making quilts and sun prints with grandma Maxine. 

 These are the trademark logs of Ghost Lake Cabin, their beautiful details fully visible inside and outside the building.

I fully intended to paint this scene but never quite got to it. And then the moment was lost. This is Grandpa Rae's odd penthouse bedroom above the biffy, defying gravity and all architectural logic and yet his beloved night time haven.