Thursday, December 29, 2011

Commissioned work

Life has been so very busy and has left no time for a moment to sit and reflect or to pass away idle time.  This is a picture of a painting I recently finished which I was commissioned to do of a grand daughter, to be presented as a Christmas gift.  I don't know how I managed to get it done, having taken a week or so to complete just two days before Christmas eve.  Sam took many pictures of the painting inside minutes before it was collected and so without proper lighting this is the best of them.  No matter how successful I might find the work to be, I am always a bit nervous as to how the work will be received when showing the client. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Class 6- Tree Paintings

For this week the lesson was based on the theme of the week which was "Earthly Treasures," so we did paintings of trees, allowing students to make their own color choices.  We began by reading "The Giving Tree," by Shel Silverstein, a complete classic to evoke a deeper appreciation for what trees/nature provides for us.  We named the many parts of the tree and embellished them with leaves and little details of nests, fruit or animals in the scene.  Here we get to see all the roots deep in the ground, a shade darker or tint lighter than the color of the tree above the ground depending on the color of the earth. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Art Camp Class 4: Modern Abstract Mandala's or Gobstoppers

 This weeks theme was patterns and I was given the day for painting and so I thought it would be fun to make these nifty Mandala inspired paintings that actually are more like gobstoppers because of their concentric circles of color.  The students were of ages 6-12 so as you can see by the work there is a diversity in the execution of the paintings but I think everyone did a really super job.  We worked on 16x16 inch canvas and used acrylics. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

New Origami Sets Now Available

Geograhic Origami Lanterns
Sam just added these neat little items to her shop which can be found at

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Art Camp Class 3- Imaginary Animals in the Wild

 So this weeks theme was "art safari" and I had the day to do mixed media with the students and so came up with a neat idea to do imaginary animals with drawn textures in a Rousseau inspired setting.  Students were given a brief mini lesson about mythological creatures and the visiting of distant lands in the time before photographs when artists created elephants from their description.  We then created a drawn jungle or landscape scene which students could do as they chose with some Rousseau reproductions to inspire and some foliage brought in from my backyard.  With some watercolour added the scenes came to life around their animals which have been given raised from the picture surface by foam board squares glued on the back.  Students could also, if time permitted add other pop-out elements using scrap paper and foam board. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Monumental Structures

This weeks theme was "The Skies the Limit" and I had a day to do sculpture with the kids (ages 6-12) so using the Eiffel tower as a take-off point we designed our own tallest structures but with a amusement park theme added to it.  The students were given very lengthy pieces of cardboard for the walls of their structures to which they could draw in windows, doors and other entrance ways for me to cut out for them (some doors to open and close).  Students constructed their pieces themselves on a cardboard base using masking tape first and then gluing cardboard brackets to secure the work to the base.  We then added embellishments of paper strips and paint to complete our monumental structures. 

I love that each one is very unique from any other and that each student chose to take their own course in this
Haunted House structure with tombstone and broken front door which is falling off its hinges.

One of the eldest students made for herself a decorative castle tower.  If only we had more time I would have had them create a backdrop or a panorama to help create an environment for their work and give a greater sense of scale to their structures.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mischievous Mouse

Mischievous Mouse painting is a new work now available for purchase in my shop  This is an original oil painting on wood mounted nicely on a frame and ready for hanging.  The subject of the painting was from an earlier commissioned work in which I was given permission to the photographs for other paintings.  I did a bit of alteration in the look of the subject to give the boy a more sinister look and the costume colors are made up to suite the overall color scheme.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fun with Frogs

 In the little creek behind the house sheltered by tall summer grass is a frog sanctuary where we have a bit of fun catching these slick green beauties with a butterfly net.  They are very evasive little guys but with some luck and patience we nab a few for Isabella and Jude to look at.
 Isabella with frog thumbs, gives the thumbs up.  This isn't as bad as it looks.  We were very tender with the little cold blooded creatures and by a deeper connection or sheer terror they ended up reluctant to jump away when we attempt to place them back in their habitat.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Our Stick Fence Garden

Here are some of the latest pictures of our developing garden which is really taking off.  I am surprised to find on one day a plant is just beginning to vine along the ground and the very next day is off seeking away into the Morning Glories.  I was surprised that much of anything would grow because so much of the soil is clay like and tends to dry out very quickly.  If anything I hope to make a contribution to the soil with composting and the growing of legumes which will put some nitrogen into the soil.  The garden is now one of Jude's favorite places to venture, a paradise of green leaves and vines all about his own size.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Another Handmade Sketchbook Journal Sold

 This is one of my favorite cover designs and this book has been in several treasuries on Etsy so I am glad it finally sold.  I make these books by hand, choosing decorative papers available from various fine paper sources and art shops for the cover designs.  The pages are selected from large high quality sheets of medium weight Stonehenge paper which I cut to size.  All the materials used to make the cover and the book bound pages are measured, cut and glued by hand to create a really authentic handmade one-of-a-kind item.  Each book fits a good 72 pages front and back which has a smooth surface good for writing and drawing.  I think these books would be perfect for a travel journals.  The work that goes into them and the cost of the materials is such that I don't make much profit on them but I have a love for making books so that is why I do it. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Public Swim

 I still haven't caught up with the little moments of our trip in the Maple Leaf area.  Here is a place where we took a little swim which was in an undisclosed area off the beaten path.  On the trip to another spot we stop to take a picture of a wild grouse and rabbit who happened to be chatting on the road together. 

Isabella in her element

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Teaching Art to Kids- Earth Invasion

Today was my first day of teaching art summer camp at Meta4 gallery and I had a blast. Each week has a given theme and every day is geared towards a specific medium (Mondays/clay, Tuesdays/Painting, Wed/Mixed Media, Thurs/Sculpture, Friday/Clay (again), so students who come for the week of classes get to explore a theme in very different ways. This weeks theme is 'wide open spaces' and I had mixed media so I initially thought some obvious things like hayfields and the ocean but decided to think more of what would be fun for kids, so I came up with an outer space earth invasion project. We had to imagine ourselves floating out in space looking back at our little planet earth which was being attacked or visited by our own alien beings. We made up a list of what neat beings could descend upon earth for an invasion and came up with giant squid, french toast, pizza men,, etc.. It was good to encourage the kids to really be wild with their imagination to come up with something very unique and they came up with some great ideas. For a 2 1/2 hour class the time went by really fast and I had to constantly keep my eye on the clock so that we could get it all in.. Here is some of the kids work.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Old Schoolhouse Tea Room in Ormsby

I would love to get up to the present but there are still many things of which I would like to speak of about my trip with my family up in Maple Leaf which was such a wonderful break to have for one looking for simplification and clarity.  No job searching or worries about our future and money but simply time spent with my wife and children, walking in nature, taking long drives, eating ice cream, watching movies, swimming in lakes, finding turtles and rocks and flowers and wildlife.  On of our memorable experiences was a trip to the Ormsby Tea Room that exists in a fully restored School House that dates back to the early 1920's, run by a delightful man named Ernie who took the time to talk with passion of how he has restored this place as well as another school house, his farm house home and currently a log cabin which once was the residence of Joni Mitchell's grandmother named Sadie McKee who grew up there.  The place has a delightful dainty quality of a tea room with all the table dressings and polished china and silverware and the food is simple country cuisine in modest proportions but does the job of filling one up nicely.  It so happens that Ernie is associated with the The Old Hastings Gallery by his sister-in-law and that they are all musicians in the family.  He was very impressed with the idea that Joni Mitchells family had roots to Ormsby where her grandmother played a significant role in Joni's life and to whom Joni dedicated her first album.  I was shown all the pictures of the restoration work of the school house and other projects available in binders amidst antiques and several bookshelves with antique books.  The closeness of the interaction fit so nicely with the quaintness of the place and made me feel blessed to have made such a meaningful connection with someone new.  Both with Andre, the farmer and Ernie I found two men who lived by their ideals and carved out something beautiful for themselves despite the odds and the impracticality of their devotions.  Neither of these men have websites for their businesses or even Internet I am sure, but I hope that anyone who happens to stay up in Bancroft can take the time to experience these treasures themselves. Use this link to my wife's blog to see the pictures of the tea room

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

More than Organic

At Old Heritage Farms: One of the most meaningful experiences on our trip up north was a visit to a local farm that does everything above organic.  The word "organic" is more of advertisement pitch to convince you that what you are eating is from an ideal and most natural source.  Often this just means that the "organic" milk you drank comes from confined cows that are fed corn grown without fertilizer rather than with, but comes nowhere close to the image in your mind of cows grazing in pasture.  Since the word "organic" is truly tarnished by industrial systems at work, one has to seek further to find a name for food created the way nature intended.  We drove up on a hot day to an old house, nestled in by nature and two other buildings, one as a sort of crude processing room and a smaller green house growing dozens of tomato plants.  At first I wasn't sure anyone was home or whether we would be welcome so I walked up to the small building next to the green house and peeking through the door I saw a man carefully washing and drying eggs.  He introduced himself as Andre and we soon got into a conversation about the uniqueness of his farm.  Andre, of course uses no fertilizers and he doesn't feed his cows or chickens corn which they are not meant to eat, but has a system which involves a portable perimeter that he uses to keep his cows on select area of pasture in the interest of maintaining the lush variety of grasses in his pasture.  The chickens, as "the clean up crew" are then moved to areas the cows have grazed some days before and they eat up the bugs, grass and the fly larvae in the cow patties, and help to spread the manure around to fertilize the grass.  The moving perimeters are part of a ecological system that aims to support the balance of life to all parties involved.  There is so much more to talk about but in essence Andre's farm is self sustaining which is great for the environment and on production costs for him.  The benefit for us is healthier and better tasting food.  His chickens make real eggs, eggs better than I have ever tasted anywhere and a difference you can see with your eyes; the yolk has a slight orange hue due to the beta-carotene the chickens get from the grass by the sun's energy and the white of the egg has a significant body to it (unlike the watery egg whites that are so common) giving you a heartier egg altogether.  I didn't even know such an egg exist, being so used to the commercial eggs that are everywhere.  The chickens which get to be chickens and do what chickens do have a happier existance and produce healthier eggs and tastier chicken.  I ended up buying a whole chicken, plus two dozen eggs and a morrel mushroom that Andre found growing wild in areas of his property.  What Andre does is unique and beautiful despite all struggles he faces by industrial efforts (he is not allowed to sell his at the market and can't process the chickens or animals at his farm due to regulations).