August 28, 2008

Fall has arrived!

I am so glad that fall has arrived. Without a doubt, fall is my favourite season. Oh, I like summer well enough, when everything is hot and slow growing. And spring is exciting and full of anticipation because winter is over, and summer is on the way. But for me, fall is really the best season of all. The only thing I don’t like about fall is that it doesn’t last long enough.

I have a hard time getting motivated to do anything in the summer. Gardening is hot and dirty work that seems totally futile, because everything just dies in the fall. Working in the studio is counterproductive because the heat adds to the frustration and makes most activities more difficult than they should be. There are a lot more visitors, too. So summers at our house are slow and lazy and not particularly productive.

But then comes fall, and that old ‘back-to-school’ excitement provides fuel for starting all kinds of projects, from house renovations to art.

The temperature dipped low enough the other night to put the trees into hibernation mode. Not cold enough to frost, but the leaves have started to loose their color and the birds are congregating around the ponds in preparation for their annual migration. In case that wasn't enough to end summer, the temperature is supposed to dip below freezing this weekend.

Even the rain feels different – it has that ‘fall’ quality to it. There is a beautiful soft rain falling today, gentle and misty, like a west coast rain. I absolutely love the rain, and I often question why I live in a part of the country that gets very little rain. People say that my love of rain comes from its uniqueness – we love it because we don’t get it very often. But the real reason that I love the rain is that, when I was a teenager, I figured that I could complain about it and be miserable every time it rained, or I could enjoy it and be ecstatic. I chose the latter.

I can understand and (reluctantly) empathize with people who live in the city who don’t like the rain. In the city, the rain is just wet that makes your shoes soggy and your hair look bad. The scent is barely there, and it smells mostly like dust and car exhaust. But a hint of the fresh forest scent is there, if one breathes deeply enough, and how one’s hair looks can’t be that important, can it? Really?

Although I totally enjoy walking in the rain in the country, where the smell is so strong it is almost overpowering, and the rain transforms the light so that every view is magical, I also take every chance I get to walk in the rain even when I am in the city. I carry an umbrella, but I seldom open it, unless the rain is pouring down so heavily that it will ruin my clothes. I don’t really care if my hair gets plastered to my head, or my shoes get soggy and wet. I would rather focus on the joy that rain brings to the world as each precious drop falls to quench the thirst of a plant or a bird, to wash away the dirt and grime accumulated through the sunny days, and to replenish the ponds and creeks that support the pockets of wildlife trying to survive despite mankind’s greatest attempts to exterminate them all.

I have been spending the summer gathering ideas and inspirations, and now that fall is finally here, I feel all that September excitement and motivation coming with the rain. Time to dig out the paint supplies!

August 21, 2008

School and new ideas

I finally decided to register in the fine arts certificate program at the local university. I struggled with the decision for a long time, because the university art world is so stifling and arrogant and stuffy. I thought that it might help with making connections, or that it might help with making me feel more confident of my skills, or it might help me find a genre or medium that I could stick with. The problem is that the certificate program is only offered for painting, watercolor (which is somehow different than painting!) or drawing. In the end it was the desire to get some structured and consistent practice with both painting and drawing that made the decision for me. I am looking forward to the regular practice and perhaps a bit of advice and direction as well.

I recently stumbled on a new art genre called steampunk that has given me a huge burst of inspiration. I have always loved the Jules Verne fantasies, and we decorated our home with themes to try to evoke that feeling of being on the exciting edge of a new world. Who knew that other people had similar ideas and that it actually had a name! I have been reading and researching and spending all my time looking at other people's art work, gathering inspiration and ideas. I have a kernel of an idea about what I am going to do with that glass hummingbird feeder that dripped syrup all over the porch, and the brass finials I was saving for just the right art project, but I can also see that it is going to take some really creative scavenging before I can get very far.

I have also been making art dolls, although I don't have any finished enough for pictures. Soon.

August 18, 2008


I took quite a few photographs of my granddaughter on Saturday. She vogued and directed, telling me how I should be taking the picture. She went through a variety of fashion-type poses, and then moved on to a mini-movie, complete with script for both of us. She is four. It was hilarious. None of the shots are great and worth sharing, but it was clear that she has a strong drive to create that hopefully won't get squashed before she grows up.

Here is one of her and her little sister.

August 12, 2008

Chypre kit

It ws my sister's birthday in June, and I decided to put together a little perfume making kit in her favorite fragrance. Of course, that meant that I had to research the history of chypre and decide on the most representative combination of essential oils that would smell like the one she remembered. I ordered them online, and of course one of the key ingredients was back-ordered. When it finally came, I decided I couldn't just send them out in the same ugly bubble-wrap that they came in, so I created this bit of packaging to make it into a whole kit. I started with a wooden purse box form from Michaels.

This is the inside without anything in it. It is painted a flat black with gesso and there is a small turquoise scarab fixed to the top.
This is the inside when it is filled with the kit contents. I didn't have any way of packaging the contents so it would fit with the theme of an antique kit I was going for, so I used raw wool roving as padding.

This is the outside of the box. Hopefully she will understand why it took so long.

August 8, 2008


I haven't posted for quite a while, but mostly because the creative activities have been writing and not visual arts.

I have wanted to take pictures of my granddaughter and my dog illustrating the Red Riding Hood story for a while now, because Gwen would make a perfectly sweet Red. However, the story is gross and doesn't make any sense. It finally hit me a couple of weeks ago that I could retell the story from a different point of view. It was clear, once I came to that realization, that the story everyone knows was told by the 'hero', the woodcutter. But what if he was actually the villain in the story, and lied to his buddies to cover up his involvement? Doesn't that explain a lot?

And maybe the same could be said of other fairy tales - maybe Hansel and Gretel were spoiled and greedy teenagers who ran away from home and imposed their snotty selves on a kindly widow living in the woods.

Anyway, I wrote the first story, and it turned out quite well. At least, I think so! I think I will try to do a few more, and I am hoping to take the pictures later this summer. I will post the images when I do.