Hello from Monday night…since it’s a holiday


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So I just had to wrap my head around this bank holiday weekend.

Easter Monday is no longer a statutory holiday in Canada because it’s been traded for “Family Day” a floating late February holiday. Go figure. Consequently, Monday wasn’t a bank holiday. Do you know how I found out? My bank called me on Sunday advising that I go into my branch Monday and change my pin because I used my bank card at some dodgy place where they are suspected of having some sort of spyware to track my pin. Sheesh! Good think I never have very much money in that account…lol.

But, apart form trying to puzzle out the dodgy place of business, I’ve had a wonderful Easter weekend and completely ignored Monday not being a holiday. Took Clove mooching around in shops for an afternoon, did some gardening, had Jon and Chantal over for Easter supper, and generally slept in, breakfasted in bed, had lovely, long morning talks with Robert, (also late into the night talks where Chloe joined in and we sang old Harry Belefonte songs together), lazy few days holiday weekend. Super nice.

Nevermind that I couldn’t get the lawn mower to work, and nevermind that I have a garden show to prepare for, and nevermind that I should have been doing a million other things. It’s been a wonderful, relaxing long weekend. (Except for the one Costco run which couldn’t be put off any longer!)

And, I’ve come to the decision that I think I would like to put some prints of some of the bird up on Etsy. I keep thinking about it and finally thought that a few archival quality prints for $20 might be nicer than one original for $150. Maybe. I hope that maybe everyone might like that. I’m completely at sea here and would love to know what you all think. 😀 Please?

Also, Clove changed the theme on her website, (yet again), but loves this one to bits. I love it too. I think she’s really coming along with her photography and am ever so very proud of her. She’s really getting the views these days! So nice for her. Right now she’s in the dining room drawing a design for the Sasquatch Music Festival. Next up is a design for the Shambhala Music Festival. Last year, she was asked to design a T shirt for Shambhala, and she did, asking for only a T shirt as payment. Her design sold over $2000! She’s so talented and the design was so good everyone wanted one. This year I advised a bit more for the design. You go girl!

Sharing (really late) with Judith and the mosaic bunch.

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? 😀

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.) 😀

The Unexpected, Joke’s drawing challenge

Oh the possibilities!!! When Joke first proposed this brilliant theme for our drawing challenge I just had so many ideas that I didn’t know where to turn first. Can you imagine the art which can come from THE UNEXPECTED? Oh I can, and I think I love it!

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So, here in Rain City, we got a bit of unexpected sunshine. It came streaming into the bedroom this morning and lit up my butterflies and made sparkly prism stars thru my collection of hat pins on the little window ledge in my closet.

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And as I sat there glorying in the sun and having my tea, I thought of all the new beginnings this year. I thought about all the art I made last year, and all the new art to come. and I planned and sipped my tea. And then I had a second cup…

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…and then it hit me. A new New Year is almost upon us. A Chinese Lunar year completely chock-a-block with the unexpected. New surprises, new challenges and new happiness to look forward to. Last year, the year of the horse, I painted myself those three horses symbolising so much to me. And this year is the year of the green, wood sheep.

Green wood sheep…hmm…that to me sounded like a bighorn sheep, running wild and free thru the forests and mountains, not a penned up lamb on a farm. A big majestic bighorn.

And so I picked up my oils, chose a piece of driftwood…which, to me, symbolises my Pacific West Coast, and I painted that bad boy right there on it.

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And there we have it. The unexpected…bring it on. 😀

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And when the Lunar New Year dawns on February 4th, I’ll be ready. 😀

Thank you so much Joke. Can’t wait to see everyone’s unexpected works. You all know by now that you can pop by Joke’s this weekend to visit everyone, don’t you? Sure you do. 😀 You’re drawing challenge savvy like that. 😉

Toast, my drawing challenge

Welcome to my drawing challenge with Toast.

I’m so very happy that so many people could come toast something this week.

We artists, writers, friends and strangers are: Katrin, Barbara, Marian, Kristen, Roberto, Renee, Nadine, Patrice, Lucia, Anneke, Eric, Joke, Linda, Sabine, Tammie, Mano, Stefanie, Carole, Renilde, Susan, Kelly, Dawn, Becca, Jennifer, Melodye, and Catherine and Dot 

I hope everyone can manage to swing by the blogs, FB pages etc. Such wonderful people as we are should really all know each other.

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When I was five years old my father put his cup of coffee down on the breakfast table, reached into his pocket and handed me a small test tube full of fossilised sea shells. I shook it like a rattle.
“Gently”, he said, “these have been dead a long time. Little things, little things are fragile.” He said.
“Remember”, he said, “time kills everything”, he said, “time kills everything.”
Those were the last words I remember him saying.
From time to time, I spill the seashells into my palm and count them. There are 146 sea shells in that test tube spiralling perfectly in simple geometry, according to the golden mean, by the law of nature.
I tip them from one hand to the other listening to them click against each other. They leave traces of prehistoric sand in my palms.
I close my eyes and I see the test tube on the breakfast table, I see my father’s tired eyes. I hear him speak.
Time kills everything, he said that day at the breakfast table while I sat beside him holding the test tube in my hand.
And the dead world inside the test tube remains exactly as before.
And he said nothing more and looked at the sky through the open window. On the table, an uneaten slice of toast, a half empty bowl of cereal, a cold cup of coffee, crumbs.

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A little story, half fiction, half real

A little collage half fiction, half real: a page made from various bits of pages, on an old ledger, directions for a swift chess win (not quite fool’s mate), a bit of music, a bit of a toast recipe, charcoal, a stamp, gold crumbs.

The page and the little story were inspired by this little test tube of prehistoric sea shells. It used to belong to my birth father and he gave it to me when I was very little. It’s about the only thing I remember of him.

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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 😀 ) 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. 😀

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a day in the studio

After yesterday’s hard time with the silver I decided to paint!

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My studio looks like a tornado’s gone thru it! I’m almost embarrassed to show you. I really have to spend a day cleaning up in there. But today, I decided to spend several hours getting some art done and ignored the mess.


Robert told me this morning that I should describe some steps in my painting process. The trouble is I’m never sure how the painting’s going to evolve. But here’s a little of how I went about painting today.

I toned a wooden panel with some stuff called sludge. It’s brilliant stuff! Inexpensive and high viscosity; nice and buttery. I used a violet hue rather than the green hue and I mixed it with black and unbleached titanium acrylic. Then I collaged a sheet of note paper on it and painted another blended layer of acrylics smudged with my fingers and a bit of paper towel.

The piece of note paper is a 1915 Chopin study Nocturne and this set the feeling of the painting for me.

Next I got my pencil and sketched a moon, an idea of some stones and trees, and decided to sketch a barn owl.


I drew the moon shape by tracing one of the large ceramic bowls holding some tubes of paint, then used a couple of blue and a white pastel to smudge some colour around. I used some acrylic paint and some ink and some more pastels…a black one…to put in the idea of a ground. I also dusted a bit of gold powder here and there and smudged it in.

Then I painted the owl in unbleached titanium and some burnt umber acrylics just blocking in bits of colour for the shading.

Next I got out my oils and began bending the owl’s body, toning down the colours, bring it to life.

Well, that’s as far as I got. You can see the body part of the owl has the beautiful blended oil while the wings are still blocked in acrylics.


Here is the not finished “Nocturne Owl” beside a finished “Night Music” painting. I’m planning to have six or so paintings along this idea, a few big oils and some watercolours done for the show at the end of this month.

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But that’s enough for today. Time to close the door on the studio and wash up the brushes.

Hope you all have a fantastic evening and happy mother’s day to everyone who celebrates mother’s day tomorrow.

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Friday random

I really have to pick up the camera more. I’ve been really lazy these days and not working on art and artistic things…as evidenced by the hopeless lack of posts.

But work in the garden for the Art in the Garden weekend is continuing. I’ve planted a sedum collection in a pot and I have dreams of a living wreath or living wall…but it’ll take time because all these sedums have been stolen divided and shared and have come from family and friends.

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Clover is using this amazing product called Sculpey baking clay to make a weird and wild taxonomy of fairies for a Cabinet of Curiosity display for her art history of museums course. Here, with Morgan inspecting, (as usual), she’s just placing her fairies into the shadow box she’ll use for the project. That clay was super fun for her to work with and there’s a little left over. I think I might have a go.

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I’ve been putting in a bit of time in the new jewellery studio. It’s working really well on the bench in the sun. The only slight drawback is that I can’t see the flame of my torch in the sunlight.

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And, as with almost any new art discipline almost anyone takes up, it’s going to be hours and hours of solid practice before I get good at it.

Chloe turned 22 this week and I was determined to make her a special birthday ring. So, after about three tries, (all of which ended up in the scrap silver for lost wax molding jar), I finally succeeded!

I made her a ring with a piece of beach glass she found in Mexico.

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She loves it. 😀 I’m so happy.

Sharing with Nancy and the random bunch.


The Magnificent Frigatebird…my tropical love

There was a time when I though I wanted to be an ornithologist.

Quite earnestly and sincerely.

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Either an ornithologist or a marine biologist, I imagined happy hours trampling thru forest and fields or wading in the ocean, scuba diving, collecting samples…But then I realised that what I really wanted to do is photograph and draw the things and creatures and not actually dissect them and pickle them in formaldehyde and that was that.

One of my biggest loves in the bird world is the Magnificent Frigatebird and I’m always thrilled when I see them, no matter where I am; can’t get enough of this aviary pirate, the Blackbeard of the sea.

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Today we were having a rest day. Every once in a while we declare a rest day and it seems to pay dividends in our future energy.

So today I decided to study the Frigatebirds and sketch some in my travelling sketch book.

I couldn’t really get up close and personal with them and so took a liking from some on-line images for the close-ups.

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We scooped ourselves one of the beach beds this morning, hung up our beach tote and stayed all day.

A certain freckle faced girl kept stealing my new sun hat. 😀

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And I watched the Frigatebirds and sketched.

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And C watched the people around us and chatted with some of our fellow holidayers.

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I used my water soluble charcoals and watercolour pencils, plus a light green and a grey crayon and India inks, and slowly, over a few hours, Magnificent Frigatebirds began to emerge and started to do their rolling, boiling, tumultuous flight on my journal page.

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So here they are. I figure I’ve drawn four males and two females. We’ll call them Demetrius, James, Heyreddin and Eustace, Rusila and Elise. All fine pirates, all Magnificent.

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Beach tote from old paintings

So, I guess I don’t have enough to do with organising the house for Eugenia to take over while I’m in Mexico, and besides, I’m not leaving till this afternoon and I needed an excuse to spend more time with my flowers, I decided to make myself a beach tote to take to Mexico with me.


Now I’ve been meaning to do this for a while and finally got around to it. I have a collection of old paintings. Either ones I’ve painted which I no longer love, or thrift shop finds, (because I get some idea or other in my head). In this case, because, as usual I have very little idea of what I’m doing or how it’s going to turn out, I used two thrift shop finds and leather straps from a thrift shop purse, (which was bought for the straps and purse was recycled.)

Total cost: seriously under $10.

Ran the paintings past C and we both liked a West Coast mountain one and a rich Mexican colours one. A sort of yin-yang balance.

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I’m sure you all know that my sewing skills are very limited by now, but a basic tote pattern is easy as pie and there are loads of how-tos out there. I winged it somewhat. No paper pattern, very few straight lines, and my wonderful little Bernina sewing machine chugged away straining a little to get thru the thicker parts of the canvas, but I managed.

C and I took turns sewing the handles back on by hand. The wonderful thing about re-purposing leather is that someone probably already made convenient holes in it for you. 😀

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And, so here you are, our wonderful new beach tote is all ready.

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I’m glad I used cheap thrift store paintings because all paintings aren’t made the same and all canvas isn’t the same either.

The thick, chalky “Mexican” side is sturdier canvas and a better quality of paint and didn’t peel or crack, (although some of the heavy bits did break off), but the “West Coast” side was probably painted with thin acrylics and maybe not a great quality, and in the turning right side out, a lot of the paint powdered and fell off.

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Not that that bothers us in the slightest. We love the well used/aged/loved to death look, and want this tote to show its wear and tear.

Next stop: THE BEACH! 😀

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Ok, one more shot of those amazing flowers before we go. 😀

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Trying the lost wax method of silversmithing…it’s a long one.

So this has been a very interesting experiment in yet another thing I knew absolutely nothing about.

This two day process isn’t as easy or as straight forward as all that and I can tell you right now that I’ve had a more epic fail than success with it, but the success is so astounding, (to my little butterfly brain anyway), that I’m not giving up. No way! I will find a way to make this work. 😀

I’ll try to describe it to you here although I can only tell you the basics.

Day one:

To make a silver cast I used organic matter, two sea shells and a branch, plus a wax ring form, understanding that all of this will be destroyed in the process.

The first step in the process is to fill the bottom of a rubber cup with a bit of wax. I did this by heating up the little sharp tool and touching the aqua wax buds till they melted.

Then the organic pieces are glued to a piece of wax stick with a tiny bit of yellow sticky wax, (peeking out of the upper left hand corner), using the same heated tool. Then they are weighed to determine the quantity of silver needed.

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Then a small part of the aqua wax is melted and the organic pieces stood up inside it.

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Here you see the organic pieces, the outside metal cylinder and a small lamp for heating the tools in.

It’s very important to keep the organic pieces away from the sides and well below the top of the metal cylinder and they mustn’t be touching each other. This is a bit of a juggling act.

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Then the pieces are sprayed with an alcohol coating to prevent bubbles from settling. Remember, the trick is to force molten silver into a mould and it’ll go into any bubble spaces.

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The metal cylinders are fitted into the rubber bowl around the organic bits and wax.

A white powder, called an investment, is mixed with water in a rubber bowl to the thickness of something like pancake batter…remembering to not mix in air and create bubbles, and the mixture is slowly poured down the side of the cylinder. Here Walt is demonstrating.

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The cylinders are filled to the top, or at least a 1/2 inch over the organic bits and the cylinders are tapped all around to dislodge any air bubbles.

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And now we wait overnight or so for the investment to harden.

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Day two:

This is a good way to use up all your silver scraps. The silver is measured out to the amount needed for each mould. Oh yeah, did I mention that one needs to keep a journal of this? One does. 😀

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This is the machine which will deliver the molten metal into the mould. It winds up clockwise and is held by a pin and, at the right moment, the pin is released and the metal is forced into the mould thru a centrifugal force.

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This is the bucket of water for the finished cylinder and for any emergencies.

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The crucible which will hold the silver is heated to make the melting easier.

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Heat proof tools are at the ready.

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The metal cylinders, with rubber bottoms removed, have been fired in a kiln to burn and destroy the organic matter leaving a mould.

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Now they are removed one at a time and placed into the machine.

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The silver scraps plus some fresh silver nibs are heated till they melt and are a red hot liquid. This is one of the most beautiful sights.

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Here it is puddling already, I know, not a terrific shot. It’s really hard to get the molten silver to pose for a portrait.

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When everything is red hot and glowing, the pin is released and the machine spins the silver into the mould.

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Then the cylinder is removed. Here you can see the molten silver in the space left after the rubber bottom was taken out.

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The cylinder is plunged into the bucket where it fizzles and spits and generally does its best Vesuvius impression.

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The water turns milky white with the melting investment and the silver pieces are released.

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Here in the first cylinder you can see my branch…which broke into three pieces…and the shell which failed to break down in the kiln process, and so failed to act as a mould.

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The process was repeated with the remaining two cylinders with epic fails each time.

Oh well, the silver isn’t lost and can easily be reused, and a lesson well learned so all good.

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Not willing to give up on my branch, I took it to the jeweller’s desk and placed it on a fire brick.

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Made a jump ring, fired up the torch and soldered the broken pieces back on, and threw it in the pickle for 20 minutes.

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Then, three hours later, it was time to go home.

So here is a rough silver branch. Unfiled, unpolished, (that’s all to be done still), but I think it’s rather spectacular.

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I love how this process made a one-of-a-kind silver branch complete with lichen and moss. I love the delicate simplicity of it, I love that I made this…with Walt’s generous help. I can’t wait to try this again.

So there you have it. If you ever wondered how this is done, it happens something like this. Pretty cool, isn’t it? Hope this has made some sense, and at least given you a small idea. 😀

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