Sunday, January 26, 2014

Abstract painting group

Since last January I've been attending abstract painting classes with Bill Porteous and finding they really pushed me into painting.  I now have a pile of paintings on paper that I've done and each one leads to another one.

That's the benefit of working with Bill. He continually challenges you to move forward with your work.

Here are a couple of small paintings done last year.  They're each about 10x10.   I like working with layers of colour and simple shapes.

But recently I've moved into a different format, a long rectangle about 11x22 inches, which I'm finding quite inspiring, and working without shapes but just with layers of colour.

Bill also holds a Wednesday afternoon  painting group, with about 10 artists who are working in abstraction on their own. They get together to look at each others work and continue learning from Bill. This group is "by invitation only" and I was thrilled to be invited to join this month.

I've now been to two afternoons and find that people are very welcoming and also very serious about finding time for their work amidst very busy lives.  Kind of just like me!  That's Bill on the right giving a serious look.  The group is also a lot of fun and very helpful.

We hang the work on the wall in front of the table and critique each others work.  It was a little nerve-wracking putting up my work the first time, but people are very supportive.  Last week I worked really hard and brought six new paintings on paper.  Here's Joan, one of the artists in the group taking a photo of them.

This week I'm going even larger. I bought two cradles 1 foot by 3 feet and will see what comes of those.  This abstract painting group is going to keep me very busy!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Fog on the hill

Last night we said goodnight to the starry sky; this morning we awoke to find ourselves in the middle of a fog bank.

 I love the way the trees appear out of the mist ahead of us as we walk.

 And the fences around the tennis court just fade away....

The fog didn't stop us from playing with Geordie.  And can you see another fellow walking his dog in the background on the photo above right?

The funny thing is that my friend Laura who lives on the other side of this little peninsula has spent the morning in bright sunlight. Just now at 1:00 pm it's starting to lift here.  I find it beautiful but somewhat stifling.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Silk artists

My friend Kath and I took in an amazing show at the Vancouver Art Gallery on the weekend. It was a Korean artist I'd never heard of by the name Kim-Soo-Ja.  She is well known in New York for her innovative work with silk fabrics, notably Korean wedding cloths.  

In one installation she hung these ancient fabrics from lines in a room with wavery mirrors on each side, allowing people to thread their way through.  It was a meditative experience.

Part of the show included some video. I liked the four-screen video called Mumbai Laundry, with scenes from different parts of India. One screen focused on the outdoor laundry area where men and women scrub and rinse incredibly coloured saris. 

Another video showed the artist picking up silk bedspreads from the ground and forming them into huge bundles. These are the traditional way of carrying goods in rural Korea.

After seeing the show we went home to Kath's house and I discovered that her living room floor was covered in silk. Kath is an artist and has worked with silk in the past. Recently she took some of the pieced work out to look at it again.  Here's what it looks like spread out on her floor.  

There is something so sensual about silks.  The colours and the sheen and the irridescence are transcendent, don't you think?

I can't wait to see what Kath will do with these resurrected pieces of gorgeous silk.

Monday, January 20, 2014

2013 Wildlife photography exhibition

We went to this year's  Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit  at the BC Museum.  Last year's show was so astounding that we were thrilled to see they were hosting it again this year.

This exhibit features images from the Natural History Museum in London shown on large backlighted screens, along with descriptions of the subjects, the photographers and how they managed to get such amazing photos. Often it's not easy. In some cases, the photographers hid under water or built blinds in the wilderness and waited for days to get the image they wanted. Some of the photographs are taken by children as young as ten years of age. 

Here are a few of the images from the show.  Sorry, I don't have the details as I just scooped them with my camera.  If you have a chance to see this remarkable exhibit, don't miss out. It's stunning.

Until I visited these exhibits I hadn't really thought about how much patience and dedication it takes to achieve photographs like these.

This image of the dead tree was taken just as the sun rose in the Nubian desert. The photographer would have been setting up his equipment in the freezing darkness and apparently he made several attempts over a number of days.

I would love to know what was going through the minds of both the lion cub and the photographer as this image was taken.

It's a world away from the photographs I snap with my little point-and-shoot. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Winds of change

So much has happened in the past week. The same day that we lost our dear Maggie, the listing for the house became active and we had to rush home and finish sorting out boxes in the basement suite.

There were three showings that day and even more arranged for the next day.  In the night a huge windstorm blew branches down from all the trees in the front yard. So Thursday morning we spent a couple of early hours raking it all up.

By Thursday night we'd had three offers on the house and we accepted the best one.

So the house is sold--in just two days!

This was what we wanted but it's all happening very fast.  We need to take some time to adjust.  So this weekend we're slowing down and trying to absorb the changes that blew through our lives last week. We still have nine weeks to sort things out and prepare for the move to our smaller place.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Maggie's last days

Today I am remembering my dear dog Maggie's last days in this world. On Wednesday morning, we had to make a tough, tough decision to let her go. She had suffered two massive seizures in the night that affected her vision and mobility and she was extremely disoriented and confused.

Our sweet angel had been in a decline for about a year and since last summer she'd been having periodic seizures, and increasing difficulty with balance and walking. There was one episode in October left her unable to move her hind legs for a while. We were away at the time and my friend Peggy cared for her until we returned. She made a marvellous recovery and managed to stay with us for her 15th birthday, a visit with her Japanese friend Aiko in December, and a short trip to Vancouver for a couple of days at Christmas.

This photo was taken on New Years Day at Parker beach, with Maggie wearing her "help me up" harness. We took the dogs to their favourite beach as Maggie seemed strong enough. She was so happy to be at the beach again playing "keep the stick away from Geordie" and even splashing in the water. Harry had to carry her back up the stairs to the car, but she had such fun. Saturday afternoon she got another nice walk in the woods with a couple of other dogs, but on Sunday and Monday she seemed very fatigued and confused.

Son Jamie came home on Tuesday to sort through some of his childhood stuff that's been stored in the crawlspace in preparation for selling the house.  So he was here on Wednesday morning when Maggie took a turn for the worse.  In fact, it was Jamie who drove Maggie and me to the vet on Wednesday morning and helped me with the tough decision, and held my hand as we all said goodbye with tears running down our faces.

Here's Jamie and Maggie in happier times. We got the puppy when Jamie was ten because he really wanted a dog, although I always knew she'd be my dog.  Maggie and I had such fun together doing flyball and agility. And we all went camping in the motorhome and travelling to the southwestern states and Mexico. She was a speed demon with dog sports but was also a sweet, gentle dog and loved playing fetch with kids.

Maggie had a wonderful long life so there's really nothing to be sad about really..... Except that we all miss her sweet disposition and presence in our life. The house is so empty without her, even though our other dog Geordie is still here. He seems at a loss and comes to lick my face whenever he senses I am sad. I'm glad he's still with us but it seems very strange to have just one dog.

As for Maggie, I hope she's somewhere beautiful with lakes and sticks and dogs to play with, free from seizures and confusion and pain and limited mobility.  I hope she's chasing crows and playing flyball somewhere over the rainbow.

Dearest Maggie, you taught me so much about love. I'll never forget you my sweet girlie.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Changes ahead for 2014

I haven't posted here because I've been up on a ladder painting windows and cleaning blinds, and down on my knees painting baseboards and washing floors.  We're readying our house to put up for sale and it involved a lot of cleaning and tidying too.

This morning the photographer came to take photos for the brochure so everything had to look just right.  The floors had to be waxed and all the stuff hidden away so it looks like the decorator has just left the premises.

Let me tell you, it's a lot of work to polish and stage everything. I didn't even dare make myself a cup of coffee in this spiffed-up kitchen.

We spent most of yesterday tidying up in the laundry room and Harry's workshop.  Quite a few loads went to the dump and other stuff went on a table by the sidewalk as giveaways.  It feels nice to clear things out.

We've been living up here on Haliburton Hill for almost seven years now and have done a lot with the house and the garden, but we're ready to move back into town and live a more urban lifestyle.  Once the house sells we'll move into the main suite of my house in Fernwood.  Our friend Sue is already living upstairs now that those renovations are complete.  

We will have a lot more clearing out to do though, as we will be moving into a much smaller space. This house is about 2,000 square feet and the main floor of the house in town where we'll be living is about 950.  So there's going to be some major purging happening. The timetable will depend on how quickly our house sells.  If it sells fast, I'll be keeping up the breakneck pace for a while yet.