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. :D

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

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. :D You’re drawing challenge savvy like that. ;)

Who’s a spoiled princess?

That would be me! And it’s not even Christmas any more. :D

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The other day I spied the first snowdrop in my garden. So I ran out, picked it, and put it on my bedside table inside the little ink bottle where I’ve forced some forsythia, pussy willows and poplar twigs. Waking up to this little bit of captured spring makes me feel so very pampered.

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But then, you’ll never believe what happened next!

A gift arrived from Norway, from my wonderful friend Vibeke. In it was this beautiful hat, the rosebud hat, which she knitted herself. Isn’t she so clever to be able to knit such a beautiful thing? But I didn’t just get the hat. V also included a lovely notebook and some tea. I absolutely love notebooks and absolutely love tea.

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I’ve already worn rosebud on a walk at the beach and it’s so soft and warm that I can tell it’ll be a treasure for years to come. The notebook will be filled with daily positive thoughts, and, in that way, will also become a treasure for years. Thank you so much dearest V. If you all have a chance, go visit Vibeke’s beautiful blog “a butterfly in my hair”. Guaranteed you’ll love it…and her…as much as I do. Oh, and I have a big secret to tell you. She will be hosting a humongous giveaway in the month of March as part of her birthday celebration, and some of my stacking rings will be involved.

So I was just feeling spoiled to the max, when a lovely lady came to the door. Her name is Rosemarie and she reads my blog. She came to my Art in the Garden weekend, and has been keeping in touch ever since. She is so sweet. She brought me a beautiful little book and some Ms Grey tea.

She had to send away for this sweet little book to Castleton, New York!!! It’s called “If You’re Afraid of the Dark, Remember the Night Rainbows”. It’s written and illustrated by Cooper Edens.

I love each and every page, like this one; which says:
If tomorrow morning the sky falls, have clouds for breakfast.

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And this one:
If you have butterflies in your stomach, ask them into your heart.

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Butterflies in the heart. I love that. Much better than asking them into my brain…which I must be doing because it’s where they usually end up…butterfly brain…that’s me. :D Thank you so much for your thoughtful gift Rosemarie.

I also have to show you two other little gifts from two more thoughtful friends. My neighbour to my East snapped this photo of Morgan sitting on the old window box supports outside my bedroom window. My neighbour loved it so much that she made some cards from it and gave one to me. And, the last time I visited Dalyce, at my most favourite used book shop, she threw this little booklet into my selection of books for free. She’s incredibly generous and always saves me old books, photos, pictures, old magazines, anything she thinks I would love or can use in my art.

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Love this little booklet. It’s written in that strong salesmanship style which promises financial freedom, untold riches and fame if only the customer buys the course. The 4 page, hand signed letter was written to a Mr. R. T. Williams P.O. Box Drawer 687, in Victoria BC on May 3 1921. I wonder if Mr. R. T. ever took the school up on it’s SPECIAL OFFER FOR TWENTY DAYS ONLY SO ACT TODAY splashed in red all over the newsletter, and, especially since the cost is “a trifle” at $65, and 15 yr old Rob Brennan is already selling cartoons to a newspaper just days after beginning the course.

Somehow, I suspect not, because the stamped return envelope is still there in the pocket on the first page.

What fun for me to have this pristine little piece of history.

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What ever shall I do with it now. I think I want to paint on it. Hey, do you know about my FB friend Mark Powell? He’s the most incredible artist, and, like me, loves to draw on old documents. Except he uses black pens. He’s amazingly talented. Bet he’d fill the pages with some wonderful portraits.

Off now to gather my thoughts and maybe do some painting.

Oh, Drawing challenge, if anyone would like to join, is hosted by our friend Joke right over here, and the the words are: The Unexpected. Pop over and tell her you’re in and she’ll link you up for the weekend. What fun we’re having. :D

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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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Hello from Sunday night

Oh what full days we’re having! :D

Robert and I even managed to fit in a day in Seattle.

We went to visit a friend, to pick up some specialty car parts R had sent to our friend, and to visit the Museum of Flight and our favourite plane, The Blackbird.

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I’m in awe of this beautiful piece of aviation sculpture, and each time we come visit, I just stand transfixed staring at it for as long as I can.

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And I love to sit in the pilot’s seat and pretend I can fly it. Wouldn’t that be fantastic to actually fly it?

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Not sure what’s with that photo. R probably said something rude just as he snapped it. :D

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Anyway, I love this plane so much I even wrote a long ode to it a few years ago. Each time I stand there I say the poem to myself. Here it is: Blackbird

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There are plenty of other beautiful planes at the museum. Here is R’s favourite. It’s practically silent.

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I also love this reproduction of Amelia Earhart’s plane. It once completed her famous flight, the one where she was lost.

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One of our favourite area is the WWII exhibition. It always takes our breath away to stand there and listen. So very humbling.

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Of course, we had to stop for lunch and supper. Oh my. I love American diners! And Olive Garden! I came back two pounds heavier! (I know it’s so bad for me, but once a year or so I can’t resist the chicken fried steak!)

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On the weekend we got out to the country. I love mooching around the vintage shops.

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I found this lovely book called “Counting one’s Blessings; The Selected Letter of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother” I really wanted it but the $29 price tag put me off. Thank goodness for iPhones. It costs $5 on Amazon!!! I’m getting it. :D

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We also popped into C’s favourite boutique The White House, where she spied a lovely necklace a couple weeks ago and wanted to go back to get it.

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I’ll leave you with this silly thing: My two at lunch exploring their inner teen angst. :D

Sharing with Judith and the mosaic bunch.

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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A mid-winter picnic

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Take my hand and come with us. Come high up on the mountain, away from the winter ocean fog, above the clouds, into the sun. Come hike the sky line Baden Powell trail for a while. Fall in love with the dogs and mourn as their owners tug them away. Explore the winter weeds and the new spring greening. Don’t worry, I’ve packed some hot tea and some nourishing soup.

Listen to the birds.

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Walking with the Sandhill Cranes

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A bit of a distance from my mountains is the delta of the Fraser River. Across this rickety little bridge is a small island full of organic farms and the George C Riefel Migratory Bird Sanctuary.

On this drippy winter day I drove out there to see something spectacular, special and rare.

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Walking thru the sea of mallards, the occasional American wigeon, wood duck, teal and moor hen, along the paths being serenaded by red winged blackbirds, chickadees and towhees I came to the objects of my affection.

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The glorious and elusive winter visitors, the sandhill cranes.

I knelt on the ground and stayed with them a while.

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Then I walked thru the sanctuary and found all 11 birds. I made a small video to share with you all.

If you’re anywhere around the Lower Mainland, I encourage you to make your way here to walk with these magnificent birds before they fly away.

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Drawing challenge 155 “Toast”

Hey all my friends!

I’d like to invite you all to the 155th drawing challenge around the word “Toast”. :D

Take a photo, do a sketch, write an ode to your breakfast or just grab a glass of bubbly. Join me this coming weekend for our informal link-up of sorts where you leave me a comment this week saying you’d like to join in and then write a post for next weekend showing us your toast and I write a post for Saturday January 17th including everyone’s website, FB page or some other links to see your toasts. Then, we all have a laugh and visit each other.

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Everyone welcome to join our silly, organic and lighthearted challenges.

Big hugs. :D

Matchbox, Eric’s drawing challenge

Whew! This took a little time. :D

Eric called for this lovely drawing challenge. He chose “Matchbox” and I tried to think outside the (Match) box.

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I took to my silversmithing studio to craft out a few gem rings which can be stacked like matches.

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Then, find one vintage matchbox and…

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:D here we go!

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Much nicer stacked on fingers though.

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Come pop over to Eric’s site for more matchbox art.

Rings: sterling silver with oval bezels for these cabochons: Amber, yellow jade, green jade, coral and howlite.

PS, six more rings to go. :D