Monday, May 31, 2010

work and love

Work is love made visible. (Kahlil Gibran)

Grandpa Walton once said something along the lines of, "The only important things in life are hard work and love." I think the old coot was onto something. Better yet, if you can find work you love you're very lucky indeed.

Yesterday morning I was aware of a growing sense of unease and a feeling of being overwhelmed by all the things I had to do. Then I remembered that when this happens, nothing calms and centres me like work. As someone with a mood disorder I have discovered that the best medication is exercise. Always. So I ignored the laundry list of duties, went to the gym for an hour and a half, then spent seven hours on the above drawing. By bedtime I was calm and happy again.

Yes, I'm very lucky indeed, but now it's time to tackle all those things I avoided yesterday. :)

Friday, May 28, 2010

wild creatures

This weekend we get to see the start of the high school graduation shenanigans of this handsome young lad, but last weekend we escaped to the Okanagan for three days. I've only ever been there in hot, dry August (many, many Augusts actually) so seeing it in spring was a treat of the verdant, green variety. We were there to visit my cousin on her Paint horse breeding farm, so Greg could run the Peach City Half Marathon, and to visit the family of Carlos. But we managed to squeeze in visits to several wineries as well...

Lots of scenic vistas were captured and a lot of wild (and not so wild) creatures were observed. These are just a few.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

up there

A bunch of guys painting beer signs on the side of a building in New York City. It's not the sort of thing that you would expect to bring a lump to your throat, but it is so beautifully filmed and is such a silent and dying art that you'd be surprised. Check out the Ritual Project's Vimeo site to view this short documentary. (Thanks once again, Rudy.)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

five years

Five years ago today I wrote my first blog post and here I am, 788 posts later, still doing it. Who knew a whim would turn into an ~ahem~ 'institution'. It's not the same blog it was in its heydey, but since then both the interwebs and I have changed. I still love the format and the way it's connected me with so many amazing people. As long as I keep producing artwork and taking photos I suspect I will keep blogging, and occasionally I might even have something to say (!), but I save most of that for Facebook now. (I have a lot of nothing to say on Facebook, too...) I wanted to do something to celebrate this milestone but it's just not happening today, so stay tuned.

My new painting direction isn't happening yet either, but that's because I have a backlog of commitments to clear up first. Soon!

I'm thinking of changing the URL of the blog to my name by just switching the whole thing over, as is, to The problem with doing it that way may be that I immediately lose access to this URL so won't be able to write a re-direction post after I do it. Has anyone ever done this before? If so, what are the negatives? I know I'll lose a lot of Google traffic, but since I'm still using the Old Blogger template, am afraid to do anything that might also lose the closest thing I've ever had to a journal. Suggestions, anyone?

Thanks for five great years.

Monday, May 17, 2010

sweet silence

I'm pretty proud of the fact that I managed to finish this drawing. From a dog that got skunked on Friday and brought it inside (not to mention her resulting overnight bowel issues -- in the most difficult spots to clean! -- caused by ingesting that poison) to losing my studio entirely, to being so frustrated with the background that I was on the verge of tearing it into tiny pieces, this large-ish coloured pencil drawing almost never made it.

And here's the happy wanderer, post skunking, post vinegar/baking soda/dishwashing liquid and pre tomato juice bath. "I'm miserable! Let me in!"

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

art economics 101

I don't know who the cartoonist is, but if I did I'd give him/her full credit as this is right on target. So much of the art I'm looking at these days is all about the artist. The market-savvy artist knows that artist-as-celebrity sells better than almost anything else in the current tabloid-mentality marketplace.

I'm in a really foul mood about society's shortcomings and government shortsightedness today. My boys, who are heavily involved in arts programmes, came home with information on the slashing of the district's and therefore school's fine arts budget. No more extracurricular theatre company, which affects Adam, only one or two multi-level art classes (it's a very small school but...) and no jazz band, beginner band or guitar being offered any more. Fortunately that doesn't affect Carl as he is graduating in a few weeks.

One good thing (the only good thing?) about former elitist societies is that art-making was not all about the bottom line. There was a purity of purpose when it was being made for the privileged classes, who often thought anything to do with money was unclean. Along with this economic freedom for the elite came buckets of education, and the resulting art patronage delivered many artists from the need to spend as much time on marketing as making art. Art was often about (gasp) art.

Please, feel free to argue with me. I'm itching for a fight today. :)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I don't do portraits as part of my painting practice. Human portraiture requires a different kind of focus and doesn't really interest me as an artist, though I admire it when it's done really well. That said, I have done the occasional horse or dog portrait for special occasions/people. I even painted Zappa a couple of weeks after I lost him.

This is Carlos. The painting (more an illustration really) is teeny tiny, only 4" x 4", in acrylic on Stonehenge rag paper. Carlos was the first Australian Shepherd I bailed out of a shelter (in Bellingham, WA) and found a home for after adopting Zappa. Carl named him. Julian and Connie, who eventually adopted him from us, are snowbirds who
gave a gentlemanly dog with a rough start a really good life. Carlos died last year when they were in Arizona. Connie is turning 80 this month and doesn't have very long to live herself, having just last week been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

On impulse I decided that Carlos and his precious Blue Boy, who he
never went anywhere without, needed to be painted for Connie's birthday. It was a bittersweet painting experience and I could've kicked myself for not double checking the drawing before I started painting as the proportions aren't right. What else did I learn? That I really need to invest in a pair of reading glasses (!*&$?!#!). This photo is of Carlos and Zappa, two peas in a pod.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

happy mother's day

Life in the fast lane finally eased up yesterday after the band exchanges (Carl) and the school's annual theatre company production (Adam), which was Footloose this year, finished on Friday night. I slept for over 10 hours last night! This morning, Greg and I got up long before the boys (they're teenagers after all) and took the dog and canoe down to Deas Slough where we discovered this lovely Mother's Day sight from the water: a pair of nesting eagles.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

hidden gem

12" x 9"

coloured pencil on black archival paper

I drew this from a photo I took when I visited Ruxton Island almost four years ago. There's something so dramatic about the colour and shape of the arbutus trees that are everywhere on Vancouver Island (and surrounding Gulf Islands) that always make me want to draw and paint them. I loved to peel the bark off the one in the garden where I grew up.