Drawing Challenge: Grass

Because little things are practice for big things, I decided to roll around in the grass at the house next door, (which is about to be torn down), and count the clouds! To me, little things and baby steps are key. They are a form of reassurance.

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Art: watercolours, inks, watercolour pencils on (shock) Arches white paper! :D

Come visit this lovely spring grassy group: Becca, Tammie, Renee, Marian, Ariane, Carole, Renilde, Viola, Nadine,  Eric, EmilyPatrice, Renee, and Melodye.

Announcing a new Drawing Challenge: Grass

I’d like to call a new Drawing Challenge: Grass

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How about it? Is it fresh and spring where you are or still under a foot of snow? Is it blue and musical, or greener on the other side of the fence? Full of weeds like mine, (actually, just misunderstood flowers), or a pristine, evenly cut carpet? Do you play golf, croquette, polo, Badminton or tennis on it? Do you love it stacked into hay stacks or do you love to lie in it chewing the ends of the stocks and counting the clouds?

So go roll around in some grassy ideas and we’ll wash the grass stains off later!

Let me know you’re in and I’ll link everyone in Friday April 10th and we’ll all have a visit over the weekend. :D

Drawing challenge: The Key

I took a little time to think about this one.
I discussed it with Robbie, who’s imagination is wilder and more wonderful than anyone I know, and he suggested a colour wheel. Then we somehow got to a bunch of colourful budgies around a bird feeder, like a colour wheel! Isn’t it amazing when you have someone who understands you to talk to? :D

And the end result…finally, way late into the night last night…is this:

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May I explain?

To me, this fully represents the key to my art.
– An old map of Hawaii, not particularly valuable at all, unwanted, recycled to the thrift shop.
– The colour wheel and colour theory, each bird borrowing a bit of colour from the one beside it.
– Conservation, saving an old document, an old piece of paper.
– Awareness, choosing to paint an endangered plant, the Hawaiian Acacia Koaia.
– Birds! I know I paint almost anything and everything, (well, I’m pretty naff at portraits, so try not to paint those…lol), but I just love the birds.
– A community. A community of artists, all of you who I’m so grateful to know and love, a community of friends and acquaintances, either here, or in my personal life. Everyone who I have the privilege to interact with. You all support me, criticise me, help me grow and learn. Thank you, I treasure you all.
– And finally, it’s a large map which requires talent, materials and the space and time to create something.

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Come fly away with this flock and join us if you can.
Becca, Roberto, Carole, Tammie, Tania, Sus, Eric, Sharmon, Patrice, MarianJoke, Ariane, NadineKatrin and Stefanie.

We love anything artistic, (writing, painting, sketching, sculpture, collage, photos…decorated cookies…anything at all you can think of.) :D

A bespoke pencil case

Here’s some terrific fun!

Recently, I booked us a week away in Mexico, and, having C’s children’s art class self portraits and Frida Kahlo on our minds, we thought we’d make a couple pencils cases to take with us. After all, how hard can it be?

So we got a little bit of raw canvas, cut four identical rectangles, and got to work.

We drew our designs in pencil, traced over with a sharpie, and filled in with acrylics.

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front and back

It took a couple of days, but by this afternoon, when the sewing machine was transferred from the craft room into the studio, it looks like a bomb went off in here! :D

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I’m not a very good seamstress, and so had to look at a couple of videos about fitting a zipper, but, in the end, it wasn’t too difficult.

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Bless the person who invented sergers!

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A few final snips and…

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Ta-da! A bespoke pencil case!

I love it. Now to finish C’s. :D

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Birthday cake, Katrin’s drawing challenge, and a little tutorial

I have three children and they were all born as very special presents to me. Jonathan, my oldest, was born in July, and I took him home from the hospital on my birthday. Kerstin, my middle child, is a February baby, and I took her home on Valentine’s Day, Chloe, my baby, was born on Easter Sunday. All three had their favourite birthday cake which I always handmade for them. For Jonathan it was usually tiramisu, for Kerstie, it was fruit flan, and Clover wanted black forest cake.

But it’s still February, so we will focus on Kerstie’s birthday and and I’ll tell you what I used to always do for her.

Kerstie’s favourite flowers are violets; so much so that she named her middle child Isla Violet, and, here in the West Coast, they come up around her birthday. As a special treat, and if spring was threatening to be late, I used to cover and force a few buds, pick them, and candy them to add them to her birthday cake.

You all know that loads of flowers are edible, don’t you? And you all know how dead easy it is to do this, don’t you? Of course you do, you’re flower savvy like that. :D

So it’s been years since my girl has been home for her birthday…she’s the mom of my three precious granddaughters and rather busy these days, but because it’s February, and because it’s tradition, I decided to candy some violets anyway for the next time I see the gang.

So here we go, this is all you have to do: Grab some violets from the garden. Equally easy to do this with violas, pansies, rose petals, borage, calendula…the list goes on. Grab a very fresh egg, and some super fine sugar. Grab a small paintbrush and your manicure scissors.

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You only use the egg white, but what’s the point of separating the egg for the infinitesimally tiny amount you use? And, besides which, you’re going to scramble that delicious egg for breakfast tomorrow anyway, aren’t you?
Just get your brush and brush a bit of the egg white on the flower. It doesn’t have to be all Martha complicated….sheesh!

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Now sprinkle some super fine sugar on it. Don’t have/can’t be bothered with super fine sugar? No problem, use ordinary sugar, just not icing sugar or you’ll obliterate the violet.

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Now put it on a dry plate and snip off the stalk.

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It takes almost no time at all, since we’re all a crafty and clever bunch, to get a whole plate full of sugared violets.

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Now they just need to go in the cupboard overnight to dry. Then they can go into an airtight container where they’ll keep for a while. Not sure how long because they just never last round here. They look and taste so great on everything from ice cream to creme brulee.

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But wait! This is a drawing challenge. :D

I’ve been dying to do some more lino cutting. I’m not that good at it, and the more I practice, the better it gets, so, in honour of Kers’ birthday, violets it was and a hand made birthday card to go with the cake.

I drew some little violets on a piece of transparent paper, copied them to the back of the paper, and traced them onto a piece of lino. The pencil mark really transfers easily.

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Then came the hours of cutting and decision of crossed lines and how to handle the edges…etc.

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Then the exciting part: the first inking and pressing to see what I got!!! :D

I’m always so anxious and excited to do this. Like a kid in a candy store!

Aaannd…there it is: mistakes a plenty. (shrug)

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But, after all, this is a handmade birthday card, so out came the inks, my funky plastic tray, requisitioned for an ink mixing surface, and my small roller.

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Please bear in mind that I have very little idea of what I’m doing…and I should really go and bug our Patrice for some advice…either that or learn reduction lino cutting…but I have a very limited amount of patience…and inks, and so I decided to mix a few inks and go for a sort of green.

Then I decided to wipe off the green from the violet blossoms.

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Now what? I don’t have a super small roller, can’t be bothered with figuring out how to make a mask, so I dragged a firm oil brush into some purple ink and applied it to the blossoms.

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AND: Voila!

One ink mess on the tray, one bespoke violet birthday card.

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Come help blow the candles out on Katrin’s cake and wish her a happy birthday and then stop by the gang and share a slice!

Happy birthday dearest, thank you for a fun and wonderful challenge. May this next year bring you happiness and joy. :D

The important thing is the rhythm.

Always have rhythm in your shaking. Now a Manhattan you shake to fox-trot time, a Bronx to two-step time, a dry martini you always shake to waltz time.

But our annual grow your blog time…that has a rhythm of its own!

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Hello everyone, my name is Veronica. Welcome to my world.
It’s full of art. All kinds of art.

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I was born here in Prague,

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and now live with these two: Robert: mad genius, inventor, engineer, builder of brilliant machines which race at 200 mph, and Chloe, communications expert, saver of the world, bilingual blogger extraordinaire,

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in this quirky 1950s cottage in Oxfordshire, England,

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and this 1920s cottage in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

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That means I log a lot of travel time, can pack a suitcase in my sleep, and am experienced in the fine art of jet-lag survival.

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I photograph pretty images for stock agencies, but all the photos you see here on my blog are all for you. I’m big on sharing.

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I’m also big on learning, and love of learning and sharing means that I post a lot of how-to posts. Everything I’ve tried, from enamelling to silversmithing to wood carving, every one of the practical classes or lessons I’ve taken can be found here, usually under the “Try This, a Tutorial” tag. If you find that you want more info than what I managed to show in a post, then just ask. I’ll tell you everything I know.

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I have a love for vintage, exploring, gardening, and often you’ll find us somewhere far away at some car boot sale, thrift store, specialty rose grower, botanical garden…museum and so on. I also love anachronistic British cars, and, with Robert’s generous help, have restored a vintage Austin mini, and a series 3 Land Rover, (which were both saved from the scrap yard). I love to drive my cars.

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And, along with saving bits of the past, I save old papers from the recycling bin, and give them beauty and new worth thru art.

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Mostly I like to use paper which is close to or more than 100 yrs old, but in reality, I’ll paint on just about anything, and, when I get my act together, you can find little bits of art or silver in my Etsy shop.

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So won’t you stop by for a cup of tea with me and say hello while you’re here? That way I can come visit you too.

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I’m here most days. :D

2014 grow your blog link
2013 grow your blog link

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About the January drive for fresh, new, spring, clean

You know what I do when I need to clean up?
I buy flowers!
And what’s better than one hyacinth? Two! :D
At the moment they are gracing both sides of the kitchen sink, but they might want to move to follow me around the house.

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So I swept the floors and got to the dining room floor and suddenly the cat hair and dust stuck to the hardwood. I thought, “what the heck?” I thought it’s my miracle orchid. It tends to drop sap drops from its blooming spikes. So I washed the wood underneath it and kept going.

Imagine my surprise and then imagine my horror when I discovered sap under my saved palm! “Oh, oh”, I thought, and had a good look and my worst suspicions were confirmed. The dreaded scale!

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Oh boy! I’ve thrown plants out for less. But this palm is already four feet tall and luxurious and I actually love it. But scale is so hard to control…and there was a huge infection! Right here is the reason I don’t really do house plants! So what to do? Save or compost?

Oh alright then…Save!

I got a large (2′ x 3′) plastic tub and filled it with warm, soapy water, stuffed newsprint into the pot to stop the soil from falling out, and tipped it sideways into the soapy suds and grabbed an old toothbrush and scrubbed the living daylights out of each and every piece of that palm for over an hour!

After the palm, I really wanted to put away the few Christmas decorations which got missed…

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…but ended up playing with Morgan instead. She commandeered the box anyway.

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Last night C took down my spotlight and vintage tripod to take some photos for her work.

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She finished her photography and said, “Mom, I think your spotlight might have an electrical fault because it really smells like it’s burning.”

Oh no! Not another thing wrong round here! :D

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Then we investigated and guess what we found!!!
A wasp nest? What? A little wasp nest was burning under that super strong light bulb.

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Well, that makes sense. I haven’t actually touched this spotlight since since last May or so. (Counting back, May and June were fine for light, summer I was in E, and since Sept there has been that other bit of nonsense happening…so that makes sense)

I should really get back to work, but today is cold and rainy, and so we all feel like Morgan looking out into the drippy world. Well, maybe I’ll put the rest of those decorations away since Morgan is out of the box. :D At least I will have accomplished something today.

Boy, I really have to get back into my strong work ethic.

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Mostly Ameliorated

There was an idea circulating around my Facebook.
An idea of part silliness, part self help, part inspiration, part community togetherness…one of those warm and comfortable ideas which comes around at this time of year.
The idea of finding a one word to focus on for 2015.

I thought about what this might mean to me.

As I read some of my friend’s reviews and some of the other lovely participants ideas and words, it seemed to me that 2014 had kicked a lot of butt!!! I mean, seriously! Not a lot of people are reflecting on 2014 with happiness and satisfaction.

And still we all carry on, trudging along in the muck of life, our Dunkirk spirits, our chins held high; we are all hoping for something a little better, a little softer, maybe a little kinder from 2015.

There were some wonderful words settled on. Words like, “trust” “grace” “release” “light”, but I kept coming back to AMELIORATE.

I like that word.

Make a little better each time. That’s what I would like for 2015. Small increments of improvement in my whole life. Not a massive MUST CHANGE EVERYTHING rush (which, for me, always leads to disappointment and self berating for not being perfect and achieving that change), just a gentle, imperfect, and perfectly wonderful amelioration.

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So, this morning I picked up a page of the 100 yr old Chopin. A page which has been torn twice and taped together. Probably a difficult page to master if it was so well gone over. Such is life I thought. Somewhat difficult to master, yet we keep going over it again and again.

I sketched my free spirit. I sketched flowers and swallows. I sketched mountains and fields.

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A perfectly imperfect little sketch, possibly the beginnings of a future painting.

So here we go, small changes for the better, like substituting a buttery croissant for my morning toast, I plan on having a mostly ameliorated year. :D

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Cookie, Stefanie’s drawing challenge

Stefanie says “cookie is a nice word, isn’t it?”

Oh it SO is!

I’ve done so much of the painted cookies in the past, that I decided to do something completely different.

So when is a cookie not a cookie, but still is? When it’s a little silver cookie necklace.

Here is a little fortune cookie with a fortune to keep you happy and lucky all the time you wear it.

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I had something in my mind, and as usual, I took the approach of, “how hard can it be?”

I cut out a small disk of silver, which I then bent and hammered out and bent and hammered out about a half dozen times. (yes, that is a hockey puck, we are Canadian after all :D ) Anyway, turns out, bending a small silver disk in two opposite directions is bloody hard! But, after heating it red hot, it became a bit more pliable for a few seconds, but that was enough to get a good bend.

Then I cut a little fortune in which I engraved, “Love is” one one side and “you” on the other.

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Then I punched holes and soldered jump rings and chain, and pickled and filed and polished and polished and polished.

And then I got a certain freckle faced girl to model it for me.

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I’m really happy with it.

Come visit Stefanie over the weekend and check out other cookie enthusiasts, and please pardon my absence till Monday afternoon, I’m getting out of town to a friend’s cabin for our Thanksgiving weekend and will not have internet, but I’ll be around just as soon as I get back into town. Sending big chocolate chip cookie hugs your way. :D

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Hello from Monday night (Can’t get my act together these days…lol)

It’s been a quiet, low-key weekend round here.

Nice for a change.
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But we did have Kerstie, Adam and our little girls come for supper.

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Mom came too, and we had a lovely visit.

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Jonathan was missed. He originally said he would love to come for dinner, but double booked himself with the new girl friend, (who we know nothing about 8O )

Oh well, we had a lovely time.

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Today dawned bright and sunny, and, after I did some laundry, I got into my silversmithing studio.

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I turned on some Bowie music and contemplated an ancient flint with a hole thru it.

And, although I haven’t finished that piece yet…
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I did make some earrings for Clove. She was admiring some earrings similar to these at Blue Ruby and another chic little boutique and they cost somewhere in the neighbourhood of $50, and I thought, “are you kidding me? There’s like $5 worth of silver and a half hour worth of work!”

And you all know my motto: How hard can it be?

Not that hard as it turns out. :D

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Now it’s evening and everything’s quiet and calm and I’m trying to resist the urge to get back out into the silversmithing studio tonight.

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