Tuesday, July 28, 2015

sketching, organizing and a lesson on Acadians

hi everyone!
I'm posting a little sooner than I expected I would.
When inspired to post - post!
I got this little book for my birthday a month ago.
I'm carrying it around with me as much as I can
and sketching little things here & there.
Sometimes, all you need is a few minutes.
I love contour drawing or "blind" drawing.
That's when you draw something
without looking at the page.
In this case (below), I drew a plant.
Years ago, I taught a few classes at Community College
and whenever I did this exercise with the students,
they would immediately tense up,
as if I had asked them to fly a spaceship.
We have this fear with art about doing it wrong
when in reality,
there IS no wrong in art.
This fear that it might be ugly,
or not as good as the others.
As you can see from the drawing above,
"looking pretty" is not the objective.
The objective, I believe,
is getting over the fear.
And getting over fear of anything
creates confidence.
I have a fear of cleaning.
This table is in my studio space
and it seems to be piling up with more junk every day.
This is the space I use right now for working.
When I first set up this upstairs loft,
my intention was to use it for painting
but that just never happened.
Not sure why.
The space just didn't feel right
and I always ended up painting in my
small, cozy, blue room on the main floor.
So the loft became a space for my computer and junk.
Lots of junk.
Binders that I've kept for years.
Old magazines & books.
Paper, paper & more paper.
So I decided to sort some things out,
while I have some time to myself this summer.
And of course, what better excuse than to buy another book!
There are some great tips in here,
some of which I have already done,
but most of which I will never do. ;)
With all due respect Marie Kondo,
I won't be de-cluttering my house
while wearing a skirt & blazer,
and I won't be talking to my socks
anytime soon. :)
To each his own.

I totally agree that many of us
have an excessive amount of 'stuff' around the house
and it's important to weed it out now & then.
This book is not only about getting rid of stuff,
but it's about respecting the stuff you have
and keeping ONLY what brings you joy.

Oh my.

How many of the things you own
bring you joy?
How many of those things could you NOT part with?
How many of the clothes you wear
make you happy?
Should it matter?
When your cupboards start to look like this,
yes, it matters.
At least to me it does.

It's only two cupboards,
but this is what i'm tackling next.

When I start feeling like there's too much stuff around me,
i hyperventilate.
I don't watch those hoarder shows on TV
because I feel like I can't breathe.
A few of the books I'm reading lately.
I am loving this one, by Steve Martin.
(yes, the comedian).
And this one...
which I was inspired to read
while painting mom's portrait.
Ironically, I am reading this in English.
(I am Acadian, my mother tongue is french but i read mostly in english)
The Acadians have a rich history.
Long story short, in the 1600's,
the french established a settlement
in the eastern provinces of Canada,
on what is now Nova Scotia & New Brunswick.
By 1755, after more than a century of living
in peace with the Mi'kmaq natives,
over 10,000 Acadians were deported by British soldiers
(with the assistance of Massachusetts)
to different parts of the world,
including the English colonies,
France, Louisiana, the Caribbean, etc.
Thousands died along the voyage,
and thousands more spent years
hiding in the woods,
in hopes of returning to their beloved land someday.

Happily, for hundreds of years after,
carrying on to this day,
Acadians from all around the world
have found their way home again
and the Acadian World Congress,
Le Congrès Mondial Acadien
was established to let the world know
we're still here. :)
It's so important not to hate people
let alone hating them based on
language, race, culture, or religion.

If interested, you can read more about the Acadians here.
And here's a sneak peek at mom's portrait...
almost done.
thanks for hanging out & reading my rants.
Wishing you all a great week.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

fun in the sun and death.

Hello folks!
It's been cloudy & rainy here for the past few days.
Perfect weather for art & reading. :)
When the weather is beautiful,
I wanna be outside.
I took these about a week ago...
a place nearby called the Bouctouche Dunes.
You'd think nothing would grow in sand,
but beach grass does. 
This place is sort of an Eco-Center
and bird sanctuary,
so they keep it as green as possible.
A lovely boardwalk...
Part of it was demolished by a rough winter storm one year.
They repaired part of it, but it's not quite as long as it used to be.
Granddad & his little girl...
having fun with the rocks.
how precious is that...
 Beach bums... :)
 A quick little sketch of my bathroom counter.
It was Ernest Hemmingway's birthday this week,
so a painting on paper in honour of the man & his stories.
I chose blue, because like Van Gogh & other artists,
writers also have blue periods.
I think Hemmingway's blue period lasted a lifetime.

I've discovered that the only way i can paint looser,
is to use a really crappy, bigger brush.
This shot was taken at daylight.
A lovely difference...
When I'm doing a painting quickly
(this one took about 30 minutes),
I want to avoid too much detail.
If I start getting caught up in details,
the painting is gonna take 3 hours 
instead of 30 minutes,
and sometimes, just like you,
I don't have 3 hours. :)
 These were mom's glasses.
Watercolor on paper.
I've been working on her portrait this week too.
I think i'm finished, so i'll be sharing that with you soon.
I usually like to leave it for a few days,
just to make sure i feel ok with it.
It's true what they say about grief coming in waves.
Life goes on, but sometimes, 
something as small as a piece of clothing,
or seeing mom's handwriting
makes me miss her all over again.
Of course I miss her everyday,
but sometimes, the grief catches me off guard.
Death is a strange thing.
I'm grateful that mom enjoyed her life to the fullest.
She may not have been happy all the time
but she was honest
and she made the most of each day.
Too many of us lose sight of that during our lives.
We get caught up in the 'busy-ness'
and the buying
and the doing
and the accomplishing
and we forget about the BEing.
We forget that we could not wake up tomorrow.

Once in a while
I read the top 5 regrets of the dying, just to remind myself:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to 
    myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

I'm sure most of us can relate to many of these.
I know I certainly can.
There are so many lessons we can learn
from those who have gone before us.
My mom worked in nursing homes,
with old people who sometimes died in the night,
with her by their bedside.
Maybe this is why she had deep gratitude for life.
Because she understood how fragile it was.
Mom was deeply compassionate & caring.
Maybe this is why I have deep gratitude for life...

Sunday, July 12, 2015

summer scatter brain

hello lovely people!
First, I'm sorry I disappeared for so long.
It's summer here
and it's been hot, hot, hot!
Need I say more?
I am spending as much time as I can outside
and as little time as I can on the computer.
Secondly, I have several pics to share,
so i hope this post doesn't explode on me. :)
It is the annual Lobster festival here in Shediac
and these few photos were taken on July 1st - Canada Day (evening)
Shediac is the Lobster Capital of the world...
which basically means nothing,
but lots of tourist come in during July to share in the excitement. ;)
And yes, the big lobster is always an attraction.
Kids love to play on the big claws
and have their photo taken with Mr. Fisherman. :)
I thought this little girl admiring the flowers was so cute...
Guess where I've been spending some time? 
We have several beaches around here,
and the above sketch was done in the morning.
I love the beach during the morning or evening.
Too hot for me during the day now,
and crowded with too many tourists.
Another beautiful one (Parlee Beach) 
where I often go for walks during the evenings.
So beautiful, especially when the tide is low.
Even the seagulls are cooling off.
I had to take a picture of this.
When my nephew was about 5 years old (he's over 30 now),
he rarely swam in the ocean  because he said
he didn't like the lettuce. :)
Makes me smile every time I see it now.

A friend got me this book
and i've been sketching like a madwoman
along with drinking wine
because his mom also got me this glass
and i have to use it. 
Because that's what friends do for one another.
 Beautiful clouds...
"Is that thunder I hear"?
dad's dog Fluffy is terrified of thunder. :(
My son works in a Vietnamese restaurant in Shediac
and I wanted to give the owners a little something
because they've been so good to him.
She is from a small coastal village in Vietnam called Sa Dec
so I found a few images on line
that I hoped would bring back fond memories for Binh.
I did 2 small paintings (6" x 6") on canvas...
And in the end, I was happy when my son told me
that they both loved them
and hung them in the restaurant.
A quick little Paul Cézanne watercolor on thick board.
And a few books I got from Amazon
to give me the kick in the ass I need
to take that LAST step towards publishing my book.
Or maybe these books are actually distractions?
Either way, summer has always been a 
"running on empty" kinda season for me.
I sketch a bit and paint a bit
but far less than I do in the fall.
It's a slow motion season.
It's a "do what you want" season.
It's a "pay attention to what's around you" season.
It a gestational period.
But come the fall -
I get a burst of energy like no other time of the year
and I "make something" with everything I gathered in my head
during the hot summer months.

I suspect most artists do the same thing.
I want to post more consistently - like once a week -
and have smaller posts ;)
You shouldn't feel like you're reading a book
when you visit here.
I'll probably aim for Friday posts,
although I'll be leaving myself lots of flexibility
cause I don't do well with rules
or with anything that constrains me.
The minute you say: "don't think of a cow",
you can bet your butt
i'll be thinking of a cow.

Wishing you all a wonderful week ahead!
Thanks for visiting here - I appreciate you all.
Now get off the computer
and go outside if you can. :)