Monday, January 28, 2013

Return to blogging

Greeting for 2013!  I am back to my blog!  First I got busy with 2011 summer.  Then, January 2012, I fell into my stairwell and had two gifts from that fall.  One was the best bone density test there is; a fall with no broken bones in spite of some Technicolor bruises.  So much for allegedly having Severe Osteoporosis.  Recovering cost too much time spent catching up, until now.  Then, as I had a show opening in April 2012 at Swoon  Fine Art, just outside Halifax, I had to get painting.  (You can see much of my recent painting at

I got my second gift I got myself together to prepare for that April show:  I was painting with a great deal more confidence, sureness, and satisfaction than ever before; the work turned out stronger than almost anything I'd painted before; and others noticed this step forward.  I have been continuing on this path, preparing for a show this coming May, also at Swoon.

This morning I woke up with images in my head, and above are the thumbnails I quickly drew out.  If you care about the order I did them: I began with the middle one on the left, then did the 3 of about the same size on the right, then the bottom left one, the bottom right one, and finally, the upper left one.  I don't think it matters if you cannot read my notes to myself. 

I am eager to get my January reorganizing (two Januarys worth!) done enough that I can make painting my priority, not a treat fitted into the rest of my day.  More later....

Sunday, January 27, 2013

FYI:  those straw bale beds were a total disaster:  nothing at all grew.  Naive me; I never thought to ask if the straw was unsprayed, and it must have had a lot of broadleaf herbicide sprayed on it; nothing grew beyond what little growth it could make on the food reserves in the seed itself.  And flowers set out alongside these bales did not grow, either.  I tried some test plantings this year, and growth after germination was no better, although flowers and strawberries planted alongside did grow better.

I have replaced all that straw with new unsprayed bales and am looking forward to their being productive this coming gardening season.  Of course, at this time of year, my garden is always the perfect garden.

Friday, June 17, 2011

17 June 2011

My Garden from Back Deck
Having spent the week first making strawbale beds and then having a pond dug on the 14th, Tuesday, I thought I ought to draw what it looks like now.   We had over 3"/77 mm of rain Tuesday night and Wednesday, and the pond is more than half full today (Friday)! 

Most of the strawbale beds have seedlings set out in the peat  topping.  The lower right one has bean seeds which I expect will burst out any day now.  The pond is just below the baby barn.  Those fenced-in piles are what's left of the mound of leaves piled there last fall. 

The rumply stuff on right near foreground shed and beyond the 5 blueberry bushes is silage plastic, pulled back to dig the pond and drop the diggings into raised beds at either end of it, and covering a new raised bed-to-be beyond the Blueberry bushes.  That area is perennial fruits, so I'll put in a strawberry bed.  Near the pond will be an asparagus bed with summer lettuces interplanted to get some shade from the asparagus fronds.  I intend to pull the plastic back over that bed so the weeds won't fill it up this summer.

13 June 2011

Fish Shacks & Poles, Parkers Cove

This week, I went cat- & house-sitting in Parkers Cove so I'd be closer to one of my favourite places to draw.  Unfortunately, it rained every day but my last day there, when I was mostly cleaning up and clearing out.  I did this on Day 1, sitting in a friend's van which she has fitted out as a studio on wheels.  I was very tired, having slept little the night before in my effort to bring the garden building project to a close before I left.  I notice fatigue makes me both unable to deal with colour and also unable to deal with anything other than being concerned with "getting it right", so another careful drawing of my beloved fish shacks.  I'd intended to do a loose painting of this, emphasizing the sheds and poles and probably heaving out that hill and road rising behind, other than whatever the poles might reveal of it...later, now.

7 June 2011

Swoopy Landscape 1, North Mountain & Valley Fields

I did a quick series of swoopy landscapes this morning, drawing what was in my head when I awoke.  Because I did so many, I used both sides of the paper, and the drawing on the reverse shows through.  Another lesson learnt.

Swoopy Landscape 2, More Valley Fields

Swoopy Landscape 3, View from Long Island, Five Islands

Swoopy Landscape 4, Long Island View, square format

Monday, June 6, 2011

5 June 2011 A Gardening Diversion

A page from my Projects Notebook

I've been flat out gardening, both preparing ground to plant and building straw bale raised beds for planting in early spring when my ground is too soggy to touch without destroying the soil's structure.  Next year I can get an early start in these raised beds.

Making a garden takes both brawn and brain.  The brain work I do in a scribbler, laying out on paper what will work and what will not.    I often have to rethink - and redraw - things; hence the red pen to clarify what is the intended information.  Drawing to think is so helpful; I can see how things will (or won't) work.

The size of the straw bales  determines the size of the cement block "wall" around them, so my plan could not be finalized until I'd laid out a set of bales and measured them.  The walls need to be of a size to surround the bales and also of a size that I can easily make row covers to fit, which means no longer than 8 feet, so all side pieces can be made of standard 8-foot stock.  Making their widths uniform (determined by the bales' length) means all covers can be used on any bed in this set.  The covers can be for spring shelter from the cold, summer screening for bug protection, shading lettuces from too much sun, or late fall protection from the cold again.

These enclosures will contain the straw as it rots, keeping the paths as paths and marking clearly where to add more organic matter (leaves, seaweed, or straw). Later I can lay a second tier of blocks, or just 2" thick solid topper blocks, but this is enough for now.  The blocks are set down without mortar so whoever comes after me can remove them if they wish - or I can change my mind if I so choose - doubtful after all the work of putting them in place!

Monday, May 30, 2011

29 May 2011

Delaps Cove Sheds
After days & days of waiting for a clear-enough day, two friends from the French Shore finally made it up this way for a little tour.  I needed a break from heavy gardening and to rest my knee, which I landed on full force just after they came.  We toured both sides of the peninsula I live on, stopping for lunch at a picnic table in Delaps Cove. My knee couldn't manage rough ground, so I stayed at the picnic table and drew these sheds while they peered and photographed.  I had many photos of this cove at home and drawing is what really interested me, so we each could do what we wanted to.  (Done with ordinary blue ballpoint pen in a 4 1/2 x 7" sketchbook.)

I find I get more immersed in a subject when drawing on site than I do with a camera, possibly because I have to pay attention for longer, and also think more about what is before me.  Perhaps it is this evidence of time in the drawing that engages me more; a photo is taken in a fraction of a second, all at once.  I draw over several minutes, one part of a line at a time, moving my hand all over the page.

Of course, I cannot bring home as much of what I see in a day.  I also took some photos, just for that reason;  I could be more present in the passing scenery than if I were trying to put it all down on paper.  To see this contrast for myself, I drew from a photo of the rocks I'd also looked at and didn't have time to also draw.  I knew I could do something with the rock photo as a reminder of rock shapes in general.  Below is a quickie I did today from a photo of the rocks atop the seawall between those sheds above and the Bay of Fundy.  I could bring home the shapes, but don't think I got the "air" around the rocks that is there and is lost in a photo.  I believe I can use such a drawing as the one below for a guide to laying down paint; a sort of colouring book which I can lay paint onto in any way I choose.  An outline for embellishment or embroidery with paint.  Hmmm...Trying several ways, using the same general drawing, might be an interesting exercise....

Delaps Cove Riprap Rocks (from photo)
The concrete wall these rocks sit atop is high above normal high tide level; yet a really strong storm surge would probably shove them right off onto the roadway below, like so many golf balls on a fence.  Each rock probably weighs a ton-and-a-half and would fill up the inside of my car - if there were any way to get it inside in the first place.  Then my car would become a permanent part of the breakwater.   (Same sketchbook, 05 Micron Pigma felt tip pen.)