Saturday, January 29, 2011

Shadow of orange

This is the absolute best time of year for oranges--they're so sweet and delicious, and just the thing we need in the middle of winter.

A week or so ago my husband came home with a bag of the most delicious oranges ever.  I don't know what kind they were, some kind of hybrid I guess because they had a deep red orange colour and the most delicious fresh flavour ever.  This is what they looked like cut in eights.  Can you see the difference in the colour intensity from one segment to the other? 

These were the best oranges ever.  I just wish I could find some more.

And don't they cast lovely shadows?  I'm putting this up for Shadow Shot Sunday.  Check it out for shadow shots from around the world. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Painting progress

After three classes with Marney Ward I'm begining to get the hang of painting flowers.  It's a slow and meditative process and I have to say that I love doing it.

There's still quite a way to go with this painting but it's starting to take shape.

Just for background, here are photos of the process to date.

First, the drawing with a little of the background and one petal (which I think is too dark). This was taken at the end of the second class.

Then below is the painting I did at home.  Some of it was quite rough but last night Marney showed me how to refine the hard edges.   

The photo at the top was taken at the end of last night's class.  The pale yellow bits in the middle are actually frisket, a rubbery substance that's painted on the paper to preserve the white colour.  Later it will be rubbed off and the yellow stamens added.   There's a lot to learn with water colour painting, and that's a good thing.

Because of the joy this process gives me I'm linking to Share the Joy Thursdays on Meri's Musings.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My dear old dog

Maggie, my dear sweet dog, is showing her age.  She is twelve now and you can see the grey in her muzzle and above her eyes.  Her eyes are getting milky and her hearing is fading too. She's really slowing down.  Last night was, I think, the last time we'll be taking her to flyball.  We realized that she's unable to see the jumps so instead of running down the lane full speed as she's been doing for years, she's loping hesitantly towards them turning her head from side to side trying to see where they are.  When she got to the box she crashed into it and then couldn't see to get the ball properly.  It's so sad to see her struggle to do what she did so effortlessly in the past.  We've seen this happening gradually over the past couple of months but I've continued to bring her because she wants to come and play.  But last night I don't even think she enjoyed it, so there's just no point in bringing her along.   

It amazes me how quickly she's lost ground over several months.  She can't hear us call her any more and she can't hear cars on the road so we're unable to let her walk with us off-leash as she's always done.  Thankfully she still likes to go out in the field and chase after a ball.  She seems to be able to see a moving object still, so there's something fun in her day.  Otherwise she just sleeps the day away waiting for dinner.

She is my special girl and I only hope that we can have a few more years with her in relatively good health.  Seeing our sweet pets getting old is hard. 

Here's a picture of Maggie doing flyball in her younger days.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Did someone lose a cat?

What can I say?  Someone sent this to me and I can't stop looking at it quizzically.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A silhouette tells a story

Over at the Mortal Muses blog they're musing about silhouettes, so to pass the time this morning while my hair is drying I looked through my photo archive.  This one struck my eye because on of the subjects is in silhouette and the other is not.

I don't know the women in this photo.  I took it while having dinner at a restaurant last summer.  It tells a story of two friends enjoying a pleasant summer dinner.

When I cropped it to remove the dinner partner I think it tells a different story.  Here we don't know nearly so much.  Is she dining alone?  Is she waiting for a friend who is coming later?  There is something about silhouettes that creates an air of mystery.


If you're interested in other, more experienced photographers' silhouettes, check this one out.  Kat is doing an online course in photographic imagery and has a wonderful way of making you ponder your own photography.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The nadir of the year

Someone recently told me that the 17th of January is the most depressing day of the year in the northern hemisphere.  That's the day when dying people will often choose to exit.  I actually think it's not just one day, but perhaps an entire week--the third week of January.  It's the nadir of the year.  I can relate to that.  Christmas festivities are long finished, the weather's dreary, it's pitch black in the morning, and spring still seems far away.  

On a personal level this is always a tough time for me.  The 19th of January, 1985 was the day my little boy, age 9, died from a brain tumor.   And although it's been 26 years now, I still get very sad and tired and need to spend time alone to allow tears and remembering.  This is actually a good thing to be doing on a dark and drizzly day.  The dogs are hanging around ready to cuddle and the kitchen is there for a cup of tea or a warming stew.

That's how I get through the nadir of the year.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Creative every day

This totally relates to my resolution to do more art in 2011.  The Creative Every Day blog encourages people to find a little space in each day for something creative, whether it's cooking, drawing, knitting, decorating, taking photographs, writing....well, you get the picture.

I actually had quite a creative time over the weekend.  I went with a friend to Galiano Island to attend a small group workshop to learn some encaustic techniques.  Encaustic is essentially painting with hot wax with pigment added and it's usually combined with collage and other media (oil stick, gold leaf, etc.)... so it's very open ended and creative.

It was fun spending the day with my artist friend Maria and the seven other women who were learning and playing.  Here you can see some of the work that was done. 

But I wasn't all that happy with my results: two little square boards with very busy abstract designs.  I put them away in a drawer in my work room yesterday.

Today for me wasn't much about creativity as my task is to spackle and sand both sides of sixteen cupboard doors.  But in the spirit of finding a little creative opportunity I took my camera and decided to take  a photo of the two encaustic boards.

As soon as I looked through the camera I could see that sections of each of these boards were much more appealing than the whole.  I can't cut the boards up, nor do I want to but I can find some parts of each one that please me.  Here are a few.

These could be the basis for paintings or drawings.  It's all grist for the mill.

Now I must get back to sanding the cupboard doors.

If you'd like to see other entries for Creative Every Day, just click here.

Friday, January 14, 2011

What's for dinner?

Last night I made six different dinners in less than two hours.  I went with a friend to a new place in Victoria that offers help in answering that eternal question:  whats for dinner?  This innovative business accommodates groups of people in pleasant commercial type kitchen workspace with twelve different meal prep stations.

Each month they offer twelve different dinner menus. The idea is that you order six or more meals and the people at What's For Dinner will do the shopping and pre-prep so that you can go in and assemble the dinners ready to take home and put in your freezer.  Plus--they do the cleanup. Isn't that a clever idea?

Going with a group made for some fun and laughs.  It is very well organized as you can see.  Each station has all the ingredients ready for you, along with required kitchen tools and measuring spoons and cups.  You prepare the food in ziplock bags and package the meals together and take them home in a cooler.

Here's what I made: meatball stroganoff, sweet and sour pork, sumac chicken, spinach and feta pie, shredded asian chicken, and spicy Louisiana shrimp.  Of course it costs more than just buying the food and preparing it but it's far less than going out to a restaurant and there are days when it's just wonderful to have a selection of dinner entrees in your freezer ready to use.  So now I have some answers to that eternal question of what to do about dinner.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Beautiful, joyful peony

This is the photograph we selected last night as the subject for my water colour painting class: the beautiful tree peony.

It's gorgeous and it's simple...although when I started to draw it I found it actually quite complex.  Marney says that it will be good learning to work with a limited palette.  I'm so looking forward to discovering and trying her her techniques. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

This tree peony is such a joyful dish of blissful beauty.  I'm adding it to Meri's "share the joy" meme. See other joyful posts here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Which flowers?

Tomorrow I head off to my first painting class with Marney Ward, who does incredibly beautiful  water color paintings of flowers.  I'm trying to decide which of several flower photographs to work from.  It's been a process of winnowing down from hundreds taken over the past year or so.

Here are some of the final contenders.  I'm most drawn to the tree peony image second from the bottom and also the roses just above it, but I'll let Marney help me choose which one will be best to start with.  I want to choose one that will give me most likelihood of creating a successful result.  Which do you think would be a source for the best composition?

Since most of these have red in them I'm linking this posting over at the Ruby Tuesday blog.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Three funny books

Someone told me the other day that the middle of January is the time of year when most people who are subject to depression get depressed.  It makes perfect sense to me.  The days are short and the weather's bad, and there are still almost three months before spring arrives.

So what could be better than funny books?  I've spent the last week laughing a lot--as I read these three books.  All of them are excellent and laugh-out-loud funny.

The first is this collection of columns by Lisa Scottoline, called Why My Third Husband Will be a Dog.  She writes for an American newspaper somewhere (can't remember now).  What I do remember is that I couldn't stop reading...or laughing.

The second is Sloan Crossley's second book, How Did You Get This Number.  I enjoyed her acerbic New York wit in her first book (I was told there'd be cake) and found its equal in this one.

And lastly, Stewart McLean's latest collection of stories, Extreme Vinyl Cafe, from  his very funny weekend CBC Radio show, The Vinyl Cafe.

So if you're feeling blue, or glum, or down-in-the-dumps, get yourself to a library or bookstore and try one of these.  I just might get you through the month.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

It's been cold

 So cold that the ocean froze in the harbour at Cowichan Bay...

 Cold enough that there were frost flowers on the plants  (this rarely happens here)...

So cold that the frost decorated the old motorcycle parked on the wharf.

It was fun for a few days, but now it's back to our normal west coast rainforest weather:  dripping trees, splashing puddles and silvery rain. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Arbutus leaves magnified

The other day I went down to the lake fairly early in the morning and found lovely shadows and water droplets on Arbutus leaves on the grass.  This one's for Macro Monday over at Lisa's Chaos.  You'll find lots of sweet macro shots there.  I love the way the water drops act as little magnifying glasses for the veining of the leaves.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Simplicity and focus for 2011

The prompt today is resolution and since it's a new year I've made a resolution to bring more simplicity and focus into my life. I chose this photograph as a visual for my goal.  I plan to work towards it in two simple ways:

1.  No more multi-tasking

I spend way too much time running in circles in my life, trying to be efficient and managing only to get myself in a confused dither.   I resolve to choose a task and finish it before turning my attention to something else.  This may or may not be doable.  As a parent and a partner and a friend and a dog owner there are many pulls on my time and attention.  But I want to clarify which of these pulls are important so I can take control of my time and accomplish something more than just dealing with details.

2.  Do more art

I've been talking about getting back to art for a long time and I'm not managing to do it.  Of course this relates to number 1 above.  My goal here is to make my art a priority, rather than something I get to when everything else is complete.  I've signed up for a class in water color painting that starts next week and I resolve to take the time to really get involved with my painting. 

I've so enjoyed participating in the Nine Muses Musing process through this holiday season.  It's been interesting seeing other people's visual images and stories about the prompts and I'm inspired to explore photography a little deeper and to combine it with painting as well.

So that's it:  simplicity and focus for 2011.  I'm ready for it.

Happy new year to you and yours.