Thursday, April 27, 2017

Garden design in Victoria

This is a photo of our fountain, taken in June a couple of years ago. Just today I tried to start it up again and ran into some problems. The water wouldn't come out the spout. So I contacted Logan, who helped us design and build the garden in 2014. He came over today and sorted it out. Logan Thomas has a garden design business and he and I collaborated on the design for our back yard and the results were so fantastic.

These photos are from his website and they capture perfectly the serene feeling of our garden retreat.

This will be our fourth year here and the back area is such an oasis from the city. I'm so glad we were able to get it easily sorted out so the fountain works. Now we can look forward to a summer of relaxation and fun.

If you are considering a garden design, take a look at Logan's website. Our garden is front and centre there. We found him very responsible and responsive to work with.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Caledonia Street

Just a couple of blocks away from us is Caledonia
Street, which has some wonderful turn-of-the century houses. I walked down it the other day looking at the fences and the flowers and the paint schemes and the lovely houses.


I think this may be my favourite house. I love the colours and the funny little porch above the front doors. There's no way to get out onto this porch. It's just for show I guess.  Many of these houses are now subdivided into duplexes or apartments but that just adds to the interest of the street.

This is a view looking the other way. You can see that quite a few of these old beauties have been defaced by stucco, which is really a shame. Compare these grey buildings to the one above. No comparison. I think the insides are probably still quite nice though.

This next photo shows a small park just beyond these stuccoed houses. This park was taken over by homeless campers for a couple of years until the city came to its senses and restricted overnight camping here.

Since then there's been a new six-unit apartment built next to the park. It is built to suit the street and will be a nice addition, offering family accommodation in our neighbourhood. This is one of the front stairs entering an apartment.
I can't wait to see what the interiors look like.

Just a couple more photos of the houses on Caledonia. You can see that new building will fit right in.

Friday, April 14, 2017

The graduate

Congratulations to Toby for graduating from Puppy Manners Class.  Doesn't he look so cute in his cap and gown?

Toby is a five month old Havanese puppy who has won the heart of everyone he has encountered. My sister Jan has been working hard to help him be the best possible dog by taking him to weekly classes run by Smart Dog Training here in Victoria. Smart Dog uses all positive reinforcement techniques. Their motto is "train with your brain, not pain" and it's been super effective with Toby. Full disclosure: I worked with the founder of Smart Dog Training some years ago. Sherry Anntonishen has created a really excellent program for dogs of all sizes.

So often people who have small dogs don't bother to teach them them manners and they become little pests who jump up and bite and bark and don't listen. But Jan has worked with him--and continues to do so--so he will be polite and pleasant to be around.  Kudos to Jan and to Toby for this work.  

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Twelve by twelve paintings on board

For the past few months I've been painting on small boards sized 12x12 inches and have found some new ways of working. I've been making exploratory marks and then covering some of them up and going back in to reveal others later after it has dried. I've liked painting on board rather than paper and canvas because I can sand back through to reveal earlier marks.

Some of these aren't finished yet or are overworked so I'm posting them to look at them on the blog. I find that looking at a photograph of the painting set within in text like this can open my eyes to a new way of seeing it. This can lead to further changes down the road.

Although sometimes paintings can be overworked and can't be brought back to the original freshness. In that case I set them aside or else gesso over them to start again.

The three above paintings are among the most recent ones and I'm quite pleased with them now--although that could change, and probably will.

Here are some of the others posted in the order in which they were done.

These seem quite stiff to me now.

Here I was playing with dots and colour fields....

Some of the more recent ones have pieces of older paintings on paper collaged on and include marks made with oil pastel...

This week I decided to take a good long break from the abstract acrylic work. I've packed all the materials away and am going to pull out my watercolours and work with them for the summer. I've realized that doing abstract work is quite stressful for me--because with each addition or subtraction the composition changes and so I'm constantly judging and assessing as I paint. The most successful paintings are those where I am able to get into almost an altered state where the painting comes from intuition rather than judgment.

With the watercolours I'm planning to paint more realistically using my photos as a starting point. This will be a more relaxing way to paint for the next little while.