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.)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

21 May 2011 - Late

Catching up to Four-year-olds.

About thirty years ago my friend Ruth reported what her 4 year old grandson said while they were drawing together.  He stopped drawing and bounced around enthusiastically telling her all the things he knew how to draw; "I can draw a house, and a tree, and the sun, and a truck, and a boat, and a firetruck...and...and...I can draw anything I see!"  We realized that he truly understood what drawing was about - and then some.  When I drew this, I realized that I had now caught up with this 4-year-old!  How exciting!  I can draw anything I have seen - and some things I have not.

Heading North out of Lunenburg

I drew this just before going to sleep, to settle myself before turning out the light light as I was quite wound up from a very social day of visiting or meeting up with people I hadn't seen over the winter.  This was the Victoria Day weekend, the start of summer - not that the weather was summery.  Nevertheless, this weekend always brings a return to sociability after months of hibernation.

This is what I saw when I lived on the South Shore (of Nova Scotia) when driving from Lunenburg to Highway l03 or continuing north to the valley, where I now live.  I've always loved all those rolling hills spreading out before me as I come down this hill; the Mammary Hills I call those two on the right.  When I lived there I'd tried to draw this as it appeared to me, but could never fit the view onto a page, and a big canvas didn't make it any more possible:  the loomingness of these hills was lost when I attempted to put it into "standard" one-point perspective.  Then, last Saturday evening that grand computer in my head clicked in, opened a lost program for my imagination, and retrieved the file folder make this drawing.  One among the myriad of wonderful things human brains can accomplish...and none ever exactly the same.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

May 21-24

Drawings to add to my sketch journal to make a small book:

These are 5 drawings I did from my photographs taken on a painting trip to Long Island, Five Islands, up at the head of the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia in early May 2009.  I drew all 5 Saturday, and coloured three of them yesterday.  They are for connecting the pictures I did while on this trip so they'd make a better narrative.   The ones with their painted versions are below these first ones.  You need to click on Read More >> at the bottom of this post:

Rear (South) Side of Main Lodge

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

18 May 2011

Wharf in Cove Beneath Cliffs, Big Waves On-shore

For about 10 - 15 years I've been interested in bowl-shaped landscapes and have three paintings of villages set in hilly bowls awaiting finishing in my finish-soon stack.  As I lay down to nap, it occurred to me that I could try my hand at bowl-shaped harbours at the feet of steep cliffs.  Sleepiness evaporated long enough to take up my sketchbook and draw.  This is the result, a compendium of memories of Delaps Cove on the Fundy Shore near here and Chocolate Cove, Deer Island, New Brunswick.  I think it needs colour to separate its parts better...tomorrow, maybe.

17 -18 May 2011

Causeway, Through Windshield (Drwg #2)

Causeway, the Water on Both Sides (Drwg #3)
Causeway and Winter Fleet (Drwg #1)
Unable to sleep through the night, I read more in David Hockney's That's the way I see it.  He was talking about perspective and where it puts the viewer (p. 101 ff), and how time gets incorporated or left out.  This tied in with ideas in another book I'd read.  Last summer June Deveau lent me her book Bonnard, by Albert Kostenevitch, in charge of the Impressionist and Nabis collections at The Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia.  In it he talks about how Bonnard's paintings of dressers with mirrors put the viewer in the middle of the painting:  the viewer sees the things on the dresser in front, and at the same time sees what is going on behind via the mirror (a woman bathing).

I am not satisfied with the detailed and fairly accurate drawings I'd done this winter, especially those done at the causeway.  I've learnt a huge amount from doing them; about the causeway, about various boats there, about perspective, and about how I interact with my drawings.  I know they are good- enough for what they are; representational drawings, but they didn't satisfy me any more.  I felt cross about drawing, not conducive to doing decent drawing.  Scribble drawings help alleviate that a bit, but they're not what I want to do a lot of right now:  they lack substance, the substance of subject matter I love.  This is part of why I stopped drawing; I was doing too much reportage, like a news reporter.  I wanted to do opinion pieces, visual opinions, visual responses to those facts.

However, I don't perceive the causeway as I drew it, and didn't know what to do differently.  I wanted to say, "See how my world looks to me!"  My "just the facts ma'am" approach became boring, or at least the challenge wasn't where or what I wanted.  The ideas in these two books suddenly gave me a huge AHA! in the wee hours this morning so I got out my sketchbook and drew the causeway as I perceive it, which is not the way it looks.  The way I see it when I am "loving" it is from inside my body with the causeway all around me, not set off in some rectangle apart from me  on a flat piece of paper.   I am inside the causeway's universe, not a disinterested bystander waiting in some line, unaware of my own presence and location.  I wanted to show that; to show how it is full of curves; curving road, curvy boats, lightly loopy wires, curly frothy foam spewing up through the sluice;  signs of many shapes and leaning at many angles in some sort of counterpoint to the leaning hydro poles; curvy lines emphasized by straight ones among them.

I think these drawings are a step towards letting out my response, my opinion; letting it be seen and thought about - and responded to in turn.  I am happy with the direction in which they are prodding me, at least for today.

15 May 2011

Scribble Landscape
A scribble drawing, begun after making only a few suggesting lines with my eyes shut; top of mountain, tops of large trees, and river meander, a compostie of places in the Annapolis Valley, going south with North Mountain (a long ridge) here in the background.

It was only a month of no sunshine when I drew this one, and already I was feeling light-deprived.  We are solar creature and my solar batteries need charging.

Friday, May 6, 2011

5 May 2011: What began it all

The painting below is what began all the May 5 posts following this.  I took the photo in 1997 because the light on the waterfront was like a spotlight picking out the red and blue buildings (red is Adams & Knickle company, blue is Clearwater).  I wanted to do a large painting and bought a 4x6-foot canvas.  Once I'd brought it home from the art store, I couldn't get it back into my van, try as I might.  Fortunately Scott, a painting friend, came over and asked if I had a big canvas I might sell him as the art store was out and the owner, Betty, suggested I might.  I might and I did.  His van had a bigger back lid.

As it is not the sort of painting I usually do, I spent much time thinking about how I'd go about painting it.  And also I moved north from the South Shore of Nova Scotia to the Annapolis Valley in the meantime.  In the winter of 09-10 I gridded my panel and copied the photo onto it, but other things prevented my doing any more.  I've been working on it all this winter and have finally finished it...I think!  It is the originator of all the small paintings that follow.  Next I'm hoping to do an abstraction of it....

Lunenburg Waterfront from Hospital Hill
Because of solid fences and tree growth, this view is no longer possible to see when driving by.  I am glad I had my camera with me this day the sun shone so beautifully on Lunenburg's waterfront.

It will be in a show at the Lunenburg Art Gallery opening 30 August 2011.

5 May 2011 continued

Valley Trees in Hedgerow, 6x8"

This is the first in a series of hors d'oeuvres I've made this winter.  I had a little purple remaining on my palette and it suggested I get out some colours to make greens.  I did, and here is the result.
Valley Patchwork, 6x8"

This one was begun on the same day.  I was now mentally farther up the Annapolis Valley and I began thinking of the lovely patchwork fields I see there.  Thoughts places come to me, and then I travel to them in my mind to make these little paintings.

Bay of Fundy Little Sunset

This one came about (yesterday) because Holly, looked across the table and said, "Don't waste that orange!"  Cadmium orange is an expensive colour, and I don't like to waste any paint.  So I put the orange at the base of the sky and let it bounce off the rocks, too. 

The one below was done before this one.
Big Green Hill with Bog

This was actually done before the one above and is why Holly told me not to waste that orange paint.  I began it about a month ago, and was interested both in varying colours and also learning more about layering for texture.  I've also had trouble making big green hills look big; I think this one does loom behind the boggy foreground.

5 May 2011

Three smallies, or hors d'oeuvres
For about 10 years I have been making what I started out calling Palette Cleaners, because they began when I had excess acrylic paint at the end of a session and didn't want to waste it.  I invented designs on scraps of pine board I had on hand (intended for woodcuts some day).  I soon realized that these are teaching tools - for teaching myself about a lot of things; colour, value, and composition, as well as making me realize that although I say I can only paint from what is directly in front of me, these smallies graphically demonstrate this is a false belief.

I decided the term palette cleaner had pejorative connotations, and started calling them Smallies, but that didn't quite fit, either.  I now call them Hors d'Oeuvres, which means "outside of one's (regular) work", and this is what they are.  Cooks make hors d'oeuvres outside of their preparing the main meal; I make them outside of my current painting activity.  Thus they are outside the main work I am doing, and I find are leading me into broader ways of thinking about what I do. 

This avenue of discovery has accelerated since I began more intensive and more frequent drawing at the beginning of this year.  Above are three that I began a few weeks ago, using up acrylic paint, and finished yesterday, adding both colours from a new palette of acrylic paint and also some new colours which I wanted.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

2 May 2011, outdoors

View from the doorway of G F Hall

Roofscape from G F Hall

In the afternoon, the sun came out and was far enough west that it shone on the front of the Hall.  I went out to the ramp to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine:  I could take cards and give out information just as easily there.  In fact, it was less confusing for them, since they hadn't seen the voting tables yet and had nothing to lure them past me.  So I got my sketchbook (and permission) and drew in between arrivals.  This was far easier to do with those frequent interruptions:  not one of the buildings moved perceptibly while I was drawing them.

The house with two chimneys and an ell, at the top of the stack, is the same one I drew and painted last Monday.  I was happy to recognize and old friend when I got to that one.

The notes down the side are places people who looked at what I was doing invited me to come paint from their yards.  I hope this whole week's gloomy forecast is as inaccurate as yesterday's and today's have been.  I just need to rest up from yesterday's 13-hour day - and I got out early, since I didn't have to count the ballots!

2 May 2011, Election Day

Waiting to vote.

Waiting to vote - and one young thing getting registered (far right)

6:40 and not as busy

Slack period ended.  (And yes, those legs under the table are disproportionately large!)
Yesterday I was the Information Officer at our local polling station, the same community hall where I go to draw the Granville Ferals.  My job was likened to that of a Walmart greeter when they asked me if I were willing to take it.  I greet people ("politely", as they instruct) and say something like, "If you show me your card, I can tell you where to go."  (There were two region's polling places in this one hall.)   This card looks important, but is only to tell you where the polling station for your area is.  Unfortunately, our hall's civic address was incorrect, so one poor pair of newcomers saw an awful lot of Granville Ferry first.  Also, elections Canada would direct one of two people at the same address to an entirely different poll, one that wasn't even here.  However, the District Officers had ways to get the wrongly-assigned ones into their proper place, here.  They want us to vote and are as accommodating as is legal; no petty power plays. 
My day began at 7:30 AM, helping to set up, and ended at 8:30 PM, when the polls closed.  It was fairly busy all day and being aware of people entering, asking for and checking their cards, and directing them to the proper line made it difficult to get much drawing done.  Also the people were constantly changing position and leaving.  It is far easier to draw chickens; they all look enough alike that you can start with one hen in a certain position and the next one to take that position can be used for finishing that pose.  Not so with people!  They change too much in size and shape from one to the next, and also I am interested in the space around and between them, as well as their posture or pose.

Monday, April 25, 2011

25 April 2011

Drawing on 16x12" (40.6x30.4 cm.) canvas, with tree shadow across it.

Today's progress on painting.  Those green blobs in front of the house are chairs which are behind the verandah railing, put there to fill the spaces between the posts later..

The painting and the Myers' house itself.  This painting is in trade for Dave Myers having made all the frames for my November show at Swoon Gallery, and some extras besides.  (

Long time not drawing; busy with painting, starting tomatoes, flowers, &c, and having a social whirl over this long Easter weekend.  Holidays are for enjoying my friends.  This is the weekend that I like to "inaugurate" the outdoors painting season by going out to paint.  Today, Easter Monday, was my last chance and I seized upon it.  My only regret is not having got out for the other two gorgeous days. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

9 April 2011

Granville Ferals at the Hall again
Last week's practice time was supplanted by the monthly community potluck supper. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

7 April 2011

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....

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

6 April 2011

Three Bruised Pears

5 April 2011

Last of These Tulips

  I found more to draw on these stalks than the whole new flowers offered.  Perhaps they tell me that aging and falling apart don't end our being interesting.  As a mentor once told me, "The young have to be beautiful; they have nothing else to offer."

Sunday, April 3, 2011

2 April 2011

 Tulips' Last Day
Before my neighbour went in to the City last Sunday,  she brought me these tulips so I could enjoy the last of their beauty, which I did.  I gazed at them at every meal and other odd times besides.  I was daunted by their ethereal perfection and there was no way I could draw that beauty!

Finally, when they were ending their week with me,  I was moved to draw their fading, collapsing beauty.  I set them on the floor by my bed and drew them looking down and off to my side while lying on my stomach.  The distortion of that tippy pitcher reveals the awkwardness of doing this:  my teachers were right when they taught me to line up with my subject.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

1 April 2011

Mother & Daughter at Emergency

Waiting with Sick Daughter

Halls Harbour, Looking Down Hill

Halls Harbour, Looking Up Hill

Farm at Dempseys Corner 

Yesterday Holly had appointment in Kentville, after which, having found out what to do for me to see a dermatologist, she took me to Kentville Hospital emergency to get seen for a referral.   She's been after me to see about something that isn't healing on my face, and I was glad to be "forced" into action - and to have company doing so.  (Friends don't let friends ignore possible skin cancer.)  While Holly went for a walk, I drew the mother and child in front of me. 

Next, as snow began to fall thickly, we went up over South Mountain to drop her paintings off at a gallery in Halls Harbour.  We took the shore road home through Halls Harbour, where we stopped to draw in spite of the very thick and heavy snow.  I was thrilled that she chose to stop near the top of the hill, for I love looking down into villages with winding roads.  Just my thing!  Then we stopped at the bottom of the hill for her to draw boats and I liked the buildings in front of me and drew them.

Lastly, about half way home, we pulled up onto the Exit 16 overpass to get rid of a car tailgating us.  There was a farm I'd drawn before, and we both drew it.  Five drawings and one very long day in a whole week of long days; ended the week with a bang.  I came home very excited about the muted colours we'd driven through all day, and hoping to make some paintings next.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

29-30 March 2011

From Grace's Kitchen
I began this yesterday when Grace invited me to share super after our trip to Digby.  It is a two-day drawing because I noted the values yesterday but didn't fully fill in most areas until today.   I'm imagining all the buildings & trees in dark, cool colours, with the sky and pale shrub in warm yellows.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

28 March 2011

Three Views of Digby Waterfront

My painting friend Holly took me to Digby to renew my car's license plate as I didn't dare drive my car and risk getting fined!  Afterward we parked down on the waterfront and I tried to put that tangled complexity onto a 9x12 page.  I started with the middle one, the moved to the bottom of the page, and finally began drawing O'Neil's fish plant behind the cannon in the park right in front of us.  This ran into the first waterfront attempt and it was time to leave: we were both starved for lunch!

See Holly's work at  

27 March 2011

Another Sunday Evening with the Granville Ferals

I sat diagonally across the room from where I had been, to try to get better bunching of the people.  They themselves changed their locations a few times, or got up to look over the shoulder of another musician, so my first few pages had a lot of starts and nothing to take far enough to fill the page.  At the end they were really settled and concentrating - and so was I.  The evening ended before I could carry the last one any further.  (I'm trying to pay more attention to their individual head shapes this week.)