May 02, 2017

Flowering Tea

Hi everyone, 

 Happy May!  We've been having a few lovely warm, sunny days. It's so liberating to be out and
about without winter clothing.  I've been traveling without my camera, so I don't have any pictures other than cell phone pics of the wild flowers. They are everywhere this year and in places where I haven't seen wildflowers before. A bumper crop. Lovely!

 Since I love tea and flowers, it will come as no surprise that I like blooming tea.  Normally, I brew two pots from one flower ball, but apparently you can brew three. I love the colour and if you like green tea it's tasty, too.

 Transcending Beauty ~ Green tea, jasmine and lily flowers.  It takes 45 minutes to tie a flowering tea ball.  Once you add hot water, a quarter sized ball quickly unfurls in the pot before your eyes.

                                                                  
For the drawing board, two fresh sprigs of reasonable priced Tiger Lilies from the florist.
                                                    

           

Art for art's sake...

                              Hawthorn berries The frost-bitten berries turn bright orange in the fall.

   Trying out Bockingford hot press 300g/140lb. watercolour paper.  I decided on a practice run before I start a Crab Apple painting. I've transferred the drawing to the Bockingford paper, but since I have one good Fabriano block left, I think I'll stick with the tried and true. In the meantime, I'll keep practicing on Bockingford. I'm trying to familiarize myself with it because the Fabriano company is still working out some issues. 
Bockingford is nice and sturdy. You can lift colour well too, but just at the right time. I found it's tricky to add more colour to a wet into wet wash that, because of a fraction of a smidgen of too much water, doesn't like to be disturbed.
 I've also tried Moulin du Roy hot press by Canson.  It's very smooth much like illustration board so it's easy for a wet into wet wash to dry out too quickly.  Windsor and Newton's Blending Medium slows the drying time. I haven't tried mine yet.  Recently, I heard that some people are having great success using the wrong side of the Moulin du Roy.  My O my, the intrigues of paper!

I am enjoying Season 4 of  When Calls the Heart. If you haven't seen it, it's a wonderful Hallmark production.

Thanks for reading. Enjoy the week...


April 29, 2017

Now that we know better...

For me, it's time to speak up.  Today, I stand up and protest in blog land, not only for climate change but also against racism and for women's rights.  If you do not wish to read what I have to say, that's okay and it's probably better that you skip out now.

Because my blog is also a diary, I definitely do not want my descendants or any other people in the world thinking, especially on the day of the Climate Change March that I approve of the destruction of the planet.

As most of you know, I live on the North American continent, and that makes me an American, although perhaps for delineation purposes a Canadian American. I am also a citizen of the world and, therefore, I do NOT support the pipeline. I do NOT support the Canadian or American portions of the pipeline.  I do NOT support the Canadian tar sands project. I do NOT support drilling in the Arctic. And I do NOT support widespread destruction of the earth by any means, on any continent, at anytime!

And, further, I do NOT support the rampant overthrow of environmental protection laws instituted by President Obama, allowing oil companies to frack along the Eastern seaboard, and on the Western seaboard namely along the California coast, nor do I support fracking in National Parks.
(While the news feeds us a diet of acerbic wolf cries from the new president, many environmental laws are being changed and passed behind our backs that will wreak havoc on the world's climate.) I also do NOT support any racist laws. Or the robbing of the poor to give to the rich. I mean really! Reinstate meals on wheels. And the lunch programs for children. 

However, I do believe that now that we know better, it's time to do better

We have the technology to go green. It can and will create jobs. I have seen the brilliance of young inventors: for example a young woman invented a sidewalk that produces power--every step you take creates energy. And there's a plan to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by 2020. (A worldwide ban on dumping garbage in our oceans would also be a clever move.) Thankfully, the list of brilliant minds and innovative thinkers that want to protect the earth and also enhance living standards for all the earth's people goes on and on.

There are, of course, green regions.  Eco watch rates the top ten greenest countries. Nine of those countries are in Europe.  For your reading pleasure, here's the link.

Venice has also taken steps to stem the tide.  They have build a Mose Flood Barrier, costing billions of dollars. But if we continue with our heads in the sand, will it be enough to protect this historical marvel? And what about the people in poorer nations who are as I type facing rising waters? One wonders what, if any, world wide emergency plans are in place.

Unfortunately climate change threatens. The oceans are rising and we cannot continue the inane argument about whether climate change is cyclical or man made. Either way, it's time to do what we can to stop it. Why? Because its the right thing to do. If it doesn't work, we can at least say that we did all we could to protect the earth, it's people and the plants and animals that depend on the earth for survival.


If these two could speak, I am sure a they would say climate change is real too.
 

These bears could use man made ice platforms. I don't know if that's even possible, but without ice they can not hunt. Last year, I heard about polar bears swimming in open water without, sadly, the possibility of ever reaching shore. For bears, the emergency is now.


Finally, as Jane Goodall keeps saying, "There's still a lot left worth fighting for."  It's sad that we have to fight for what's morally decent and right, but since our lives and the lives of future generations depend upon it, it's urgently imperative that we do.



Stand up, speak up! Do all you can!


April 04, 2017

Maple Sugar Lane

Hi there,

Yesterday, it was off to the sugar camp only to find out that it's closed on Mondays.  Undaunted and since it was okay with the friendly owner, we set off for a walk down sugar lane.

Sadly the restaurant was closed too. We strolled by, while vision of a breakfast of pancakes flooded with maple syrup danced through our heads.


The gift shop also closed and filled to the rafters, no doubt, with tasty maple syrup and other sweet treats.


I was looking for taps (sprouts) and sap buckets, and was disappointed not to see any of the old- fashioned gear.  But less labour intensive high tech extraction methods have hit the sugar camp. The lines run from tree to tree and then on to holding tanks. Later, the syrup is pumped to the sugar shack where it boiled down to pure maple syrup. Since there's a lot of water in the sap, the general ratio is 40 to 1~ 40 liters of sap are boiled down to produce 1 liter of maple syrup.

It takes cold nights and above zero day time temperatures for the sap to run. We had unusually warm weather in February, so they tapped on the 19th. But March was cold and I am sure the sap wasn't running for two weeks or more.
Other than sugar maples, they can also tap red and black maples.

Other trails. Guess who took this trail?
Traffic signs? When the sugar camp is open, they have wagon rides, and, who knows, maybe four wheeled vehicles zoom by sometimes too.

A hunters' blind? I prefer to think it's a camera blind covered with oak leaves.  If you stayed up there awhile, I bet you would see deer and other animals walk by.

A high tech tap and an unusual white fungus.

Back at the sugar shack. The stove with the holding tanks above and to the right.

A wood burner. They boil down the sap twice a day. Having a inquiring mind, I wanted to ask more questions, but since they were not officially open and the owner had cleaned everything and was getting ready for another go, I thought I'd better bow out gracefully while thanking him for his hospitality.


Across the road. A quiet place to sit and think. And look no snow on that sunny hillside! For a hemmed-in snow bound person, that patch of open ground made me take a deep breath and filled me with a sense of freedom. . . . definitely a sight for sore eyes.


Maple trees and the bounty they provide make up a huge part of the Canadian identity.  So it's fitting that our flag sports a sugar maple leaf.
 I was hoping to buy some maple treats and a bottle of syrup, but since they weren't open that was impossible, but, luckily, I still have a stash in the cupboard from Quebec.



"Shoot for the moon and if you miss you'll still be among the stars." 

Les Brown 
Enjoy the week...

March 21, 2017

Hello Spring

Hi there,

Yesterday was the first day of spring. And late last week three feet of snow fell; it will be awhile before we see blossoms like these, but, hey, a girl can dream. The good news: each day brings with it twelve hours of daylight.

A snowy white world.
Recently, I was hanging out at a bird feeder, but most of the birds were too fast for me and my camera. Since I can't take pictures with gloves on, my hands were freezing but I enjoyed watching my feathered friends.
*
The robins have arrived and they look bewildered because of the snow. I saw two pecking at old berries. If the temps stay above zero, hopefully the snow will melt soon and they can get to the business of feeding on succulent worms. In the meantime, they could use some help. As far as I know they will eat raisins, apple slices, berries and the pet stores should have meal worms for sale.

A Starling tries to get a big mouthful of seeds. Obviously, he thinks he can snip the wires with his beak, or maybe he's just angry because he's hungry.


I emailed a few photos and a photo of a painting off to Vistaprint to have stickers and this calendar made. Not quite the calendar I had in mind, but it will do for this year. In case you are thinking of getting stickers ( not shown) made from photos, the high gloss are very nice.

WIP ~ A Botanical Blue
The mess on the desk. Yes, I've been drawing aliens too. Meet Srinda and Zelgog.
Apparently radio signals have been coming in from a certain area in the Milky Way. Speculation is rife. So far I've heard it may be from a neutron star (Hence the star in my cartoon drawing), stellar bursts, etc. etc. Further speculation:  the signals may be from a planet in the Goldilocks zone ( not too hot, or to cold).  All that info made my head hurt and drove me to doodle aliens. :^)

"Spring has returned.  The Earth is like a child that knows poems."-Rainer Maria Rilke

And . . . from yours truly.

Cultivate a dream.
Thanks for reading along.  Have a lovely week . . .

March 07, 2017

Watercolour ~ In The Tropics

Hi,

Generally I don't keep track of the time it takes me to complete a painting, because timing yourself can take the fun out of it. But in case you are wondering, I worked on this painting for over thirty hours. Seems long doesn't it? But for me it was rather fast. Detail takes a long time. A looser style might be faster, but I know a lot of control goes into it. 
The finished painting compete with the delightful mess I make.

If you are new to painting, it's not wise to set your work station up like mine. As you can see I use foam board as a drawing board and balance it on the end of the tray that holds the water. That, of course, means that each time I wet the brush, or dip it into the clean water I pull it back across the paper. That could be disastrous, especially if you are using brushes that don't hold the paint well. 
The ideal set up: if you are right handed the water should be on the right hand side and vice versa for left handed people.  I learned that later, but love my set up so I don't want to change it. ( Definitely one of those don't do as I do things.)

Somewhere in the middle of things...


Please excuse my picture taking today. I have a bully of a cold.  I have not had a cold for a long time, and I had forgotten just how undignified they really are. If Rudolph could see me now, I know he would be envious of my nose. Swathed in comfortable clothes, all I am really missing is the moose slippers. Being a Canadian girl, I really should own a pair. My son said, "You don't complain." (and then after a long pause) said, "Much Mom." The poor young man missed his calling, he should be in the diplomatic core. 


Up next:
A prayer plant. A first for me. It's so beautiful.  I've drawn a leaf to paint. I am thinking the lighter one might be easier, but O those dark greens with the pink are glorious.

Enjoy the week...  

"If you love nature, you will find beauty everywhere."

Vincent Van Gogh

March 03, 2017

Books, Books, Books and A WIP


It's world book day so I thought I'd post today since books are important to me. Where would I be without books? Good question. And it's a question that I can't answer definitively, or short and sweetly. I will say, I'd be a whole lot poorer. Over my reading life, books have allowed me to armchair travel; they have also given me joy, understanding, and I hope enhanced my compassion. They have provided me with many different ways of looking at the world and the people in it. Further, I am sure that certain books have save me a few times.
Looking up at my poetry shelf, I'd  also say that, for me, books have, thankfully, been The Road Taken.

So today, I like to say a great big thank you to all the writers and illustrators out there who have poured out their hearts and souls into their work.

~ If you feel so inclined, I'd love to hear you thoughts about books and a few of your favourite titles. 

One of my favorites: Love in The Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends." 
Charles W. Eliot

One of the books I'm currently reading with a lovely blue jacket.

Not a book but plants have the power to uplift too.

On my Desk . . .WIP

 
It's coming along. Hopefully four colourful birds will tweet their way around this watercolour painting. 
These days I'm working by daylight. Unfortunately, I had to send back my daylight lamp. It was  wonderful--you might say illuminating, but it hurt my sensitive eyes so much that I couldn't use it. So...it's back to the drawing board before the light fades.

“One must always be careful of books," said Tessa, "and what is inside them, for words have the       power to change us.”💗

Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel
 (haven't read it but what a great quote)
 Have a lovely weekend...

February 28, 2017

A Shadow Box and Gift Tags


Hi!

I've been meaning to post, but the fact is there hasn't been a whole lot going on. Mostly I've been drawing, and impatiently waiting for my watercolour paper to arrive. The paper that I bought in the fall and did  love to use turned out to be defective. The company is working on it, but who knows when they will have it fixed.
 In the meantime, I've been trying out other wc paper without success.  Recently, two Bockingford blocks arrived and I've transferred a crab apple drawing. For the past week, I've been avoiding trying it out.  Maybe it's that twelve times bitten, or should I say twelve times disappointed thing going on. Who knows? But tomorrow, tomorrow is the day for sure.


Colours fit for Easter...
More gift tags. They are fun to paint, but as I've mentioned before really messy to make.  I used coarse and fine salt, and splashed one with rubbing alcohol for a different look.
The reverse.


One of the two Maestros paintings that didn't quite work out. Since Michaels had a 50% sale on shadow boxes, I thought I'd try to selvedge this fellow.
You may remember the other one...
On the needles . . .


A beret using a pattern that I am making up as I go along. Now to figure out the decreases. I hope it works!

And . . .

A compilation of items I gathered while walking. I foresee a rainy day drawing.

And there have been more winter walks. . .


 Where the wild fern grows and soon well, maybe not so soon, but soon, once again, it will look like this...
I know. Call me obsessed.  If you've been reading along, you'll know that the ferns are one of my winter picture posting habits. Uplifting or what? I love these so!

On our walk, we spotted a dove, but when the poor creature saw us she shrieked and bolted in fear.

'Til next time... 

"May this lovely day, bring in loads of joy and sweetness in you life.
May your beautiful face shower smiles and shine the world with brightness." 

 Author Unknown

January 31, 2017

Changes


 Hi there,

As you can see, I've made a few changes. Call it a blog lift. It's scary. There's hardly any blue left in sight! (If you are new here, I readily admit to being crazy about blue.)  I don't even like to use a black pen, and will walk a mile to find a blue one. Although for easy reading, I usually type with black/grey ink in blog land. I occasionally draw with a black pen but it's difficult for me. In loving blue,  I am not alone. Survey says: blue is the favourite colour. Period! What a slap in the face to one's concept of uniqueness, but, then again, we are all kindred spirits at heart.  It seems my original blue scheme lost the plot next the snowscape pic, so red lettering it is until spring arrives, or until I have a change of heart.
Speaking of colour, I've been craving it. So here we go...



                             Standard January fare...tulips and daffodils. Puts a spring in my step.

 I always hope for a cool spring so that I can stroll by the neighborhood gardens to stare at the tulips.  If it's too warm, they fizzle. Stunted and struggling, they take on that sad this is it look.

* Tip of the day. For cut tulips, drop in a few ice cubes into the vase now and then to cool down their  toes. They love it!

Back in the day, (And a very long day ago it was--say early 17th century.) you could trade the farm, furniture, implements, and your animals for a tulip bulb. (Think Jack and the Bean stock.) Wouldn't the wife and family be pleased? Fortunes were made and lost. It sounds a bit more romantic than  pork belly futures, and once the craze hit, it hit. M-A-N-I-A! "Step right up, secure your future, buy a tulip bulb!" It's a good thing that I was not alive at that time. She did what, son? Yes, mother you heard it right. She sold the farm for a tulip bulb. Rack and ruin! 
That wifee though, she doth protest:  But, but, BUT I must have beauty!!!

 The movie, Tulip Fever will be released next month. I'll be watching.

  Here in Canada, Maple Leaf Tulips will be popping up all over this spring
               in honour of Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation.  (Top row second and third from left on the link page are prime examples.) They are so pretty and were, of course, bred to resemble the flag.

             


  Yet another reason I'm looking very forward to the Tulip Festival in Ottawa ~ Gatineau in May.
                                     
                                           Not until May, you say? Pity!                                                               



  "Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine to the soul." Luther Burbank



                           Purple for royalty. That's how it used to be. Purple cloth was too expensive
                           for mere mortals way back when the dye was cast from sea shells. 
Amaryllis.  A never fail winter favourite of mine. They are easy and fun to grow. Every 
year I hope to find different colours. 
Besides being beautiful.  They also hold the keys. 💗
                              I love old keys, and have recently started a collection.  I sometimes wonder 
who carried them, which clocks were wound nightly and by whom, or which house doors they 
locked and unlocked.  I'm not certain the skeleton key on the right is old though, but a keeper it is.

                                        

After Christmas, I try to catch the Amaryllis sales. I can't resist.

Such a lovely blooms and what a colour. (Looks like I may have nailed the colour 
on the breast of the little bird below. Who knew? Serendipity!)
*
"Flowers don't worry about how they are going to bloom.
They just open up and turn toward the light.
And that makes them beautiful." Jim Carrey

 I started this little painting on the wrong side of a bit of scrap paper. It's difficult to tell which
 side is the right side if it's not marked, but I didn't have a plan...simply the time and the will
 to create something.
 
                    "With freedom, books, flowers and the moon, who could not be happy."

                                                                  Oscar Wilde  
                                                          Did he mention birds?


A line drawing in basic black and white with a touch of red thrown in.
Arches scrap paper--frayed edges and all.

                                           "I must have flowers, always and always."

Claude Monet

Truly a man after my heart.

'Til next time...
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