Wednesday, 28 August 2013


Hard to believe that six months has passed and I haven't so much as entered a word to start the process of a new blog entry!  It would seem that the lack of entry could be due to the lack of anything happening in my life.  NOT THE CASE!!!!  In fact we've been pretty busy and as everyone appreciates...'time flies when you're having fun'!  My time here at RIVERWOOD has been filled with creative and constructive things that satisfy me artistically and physically and that's exactly how I like it!

Back in February when I last wrote a blog entry I mentioned that we would be expecting our first grandchild during the summer.  Well, the delivery date for the baby is, in fact, today! But with a first baby who really knows!.  Needless to say I don't go anywhere without my phone attached to me since the happy event is going to take place in Vancouver and, alas, we are here in Peterborough so rely heavily on Ma Bell and Text messaging, etc. 

When I first learned that a grandchild was expected to help make our small family circle bigger I became busy crocheting small items for little fingers.  I mentioned my 're-connection' with crocheting in my last blog and indicated that I was really enjoying creating things with yarn after so many years of not doing so. And over the months many packages have been carefully wrapped and shipped to Vancouver via UPS.  Here's a sampling of things that have been sent. 






A PLAYFUL OTTER in a DIAPER.  HE CHATTERS BECAUSE HE'S A RATTLE, TOO! are not the only things that have been shipped and sent out west.  We have also carefully packed several large wooden crates (custom made by David) in which we've put a number of oil paintings that I've painted and are suitable for a child's room, two adult sized antique rocking chairs, an antique 'captain's style' high chair, an antique child's rocking chair and a lovely dove-tailed pine box which David made and was used at our cottage for many years to keep Alex's toys and 'collectables' in one place.  The chairs were used in 'Granny's' house and also in our house while Alex was growing up.  There's a certain about of pleasure in emptying out space in our house and sending favourite 'useables' to where they will begin another life with another child; especially when the child will be a cherished grandchild.

With regard to my art I have done little in the way of painting and have done absolutely nothing in the way of stone carving.  In May I was part of the four member show 'Quadrangle' along with Averill Ambrose, Fran Crowe and my sister, Julia Cameron.  The paintings and sculpture I had on display for that show have all been documented in my last entries to this blog with the exception of one and I show it to you now.

"HAYBALES on COUNTY ROAD 6", oil on 14" x 11" stretched canvas 
Somehow a scene such as this is eye candy (yoga for the eyes) for anyone who wants to feel relaxed and forget the whirlwind that is pretty much part of every day life.  We always seem to be rushing here and there doing whatever it is that makes our lives busy and full.  Every so often it's nice just to 'float' with an image that calms our nerves and makes us take a breath before we go on to whatever it is that needs to be done next.  A painting such as this one is something to focus on when you can't actually be in that space physically.  I've actually done several paintings of this same theme and those that now own them have mentioned how calm they feel when they look upon them. In those comments I realize I've accomplished what I set out to do when I first began to paint these small paintings.

Now onto something altogether different.

Over the past couple of years we have had to struggle with an unsightly fence that was built between our property and our neighbour's property.  On the most part we might have overlooked the problem except for the fact that it's 10' high, resembles the sound barrier fence style you see along highways and is right in front of our living room window so it's basically 'in our face'!  

After some deliberation we decided to make use of the space between our house and the ugly fence by adding a den/studio which would be accessed from our living room.  In other words, turn the shaded area (due to the fence) of our side yard into interior living space and eliminate the view of the fence altogether.  And so this is how the project began...

During the winter months, David constructed a beautiful latticed fence. The fence was made in three sections and the lattice sections were hand made using a proportion that was pleasing to the eye with regard to the bottom portion.  When the ground thawed David placed three sono tubes into the earth and constructed the posts.  The fence is 10' tall and covers the 'hoarding' fence and also creates a private 'groto' like area at the side of our house.    


As soon as the fence was up and permanent I went to my friend Patti Peeters, who owns and runs "The Little Front Room", a gift and garden centre just down the road from our house.  She was responsible for making the flower choices based on the colours and textures I like.

While the fence was being built we were working with an architect and an engineer to draw up our plans for the addition 

Also, during this process we had to make out applications to the Otonobee Conservation Authority and the Building Department of Peterborough for the various permits required to build in the city.  All of that was done over a period of time; however, we didn't run into any major problems because we made very sure that we dotted all the 'i's' and crossed all the 't's' before we made application. 

Once the permits were in place and posted on our property we were good to go.  A small backhoe was put into service and the earth and existing rocks on the south side of the house were moved around to make way for the footings.  Then contractor and sub-trades stepped in and worked on the sono tube foundation, the framing and the roofing construction.





Once the heavy work was done (foundation, beams and trusses) David was able to continue the work on his own and while it's been a summer full of more WORK than PLAY for him he has done a magnificent job of making this addition a work of art!  

One day while all the construction was being done I took Rachel (our little Coton de Tulear) for a kayak ride and we paddled around Little Lake which was calm and filled with 'summer' people in various water craft or swimming in the cool water.  And from the viewpoint of the water I captured a glimpse of our addition. 

VIEW from the KAYAK
When the the installation of the roofing material was complete David did a small project apart from the continuous building he was already doing for the project.  He built a wonderful flower stand complete with trellis for the deck which can be seen from the new bedroom door in the master bedroom.  It also acts as a privacy screen for the deck from our neighbour's kitchen window below us. 

Work on the addition progressed nicely and the front of the addition (the street view) now looks complete all but a bit of finishing around the window and a railing around the deck which will be completed after the entire exterior is the Fall sometime!


It was now time for a serious 'away from it all' break!  We made a plan to fly to Vancouver for an unexpected visit with Joanna and Alex.  On July 19th we flew West and spent five days catching up with our 'Vancouver Family'. 


During our stay there was a fun baby shower given for Alex and Joanna!  There were about 30 people, including many children...most of them under 5!  The party was organized by Joanna and Alex's friends and was at A & J's house.  'Surfin' Beach Party' was the theme and the barbecue was going from 2:00 in the afternoon until 9:00 at night.  The weather was great and everyone had a wonderful time...especially the kids because they all got the chance to drink from 'sippy cups', eat yummy food and 'hand paint' little white 'onesies' for the new baby that's soon to join their friendship circle.  The little wearable works of art were pretty interesting looking when they were finished and strung up on a clothesline to dry in the breeze.  There was something for everyone to enjoy but what David and I liked the most was just being there and enjoying the camaradarie between Alex and Joanna and their many friends and their children.


The Mum and Dad-to-be were laden with enough baby gifts (a miniature life jacket, t-shirts with surfing slogans on them, etc.) to overflow their drawers and cupboards but there was much more than that given at the party.  There was a real feeling of connectedness and true friendship in the air as the adults laughed and chatted, watched the antics of the children and enjoyed good homemade beer, wine and flavourful things from the barbecue.  It is a wonderful feeling to know that our once small child has developed into a happy, healthy person who is surrounded by so many interesting and talented friends...and is now creating a family of his own. 

Monday, 18 February 2013


It amazes me that time can go so quickly.  Hard to believe it's been six months since I've entered a post in this blog.  We've been through Thanksgiving, Christmas and a multitude of weekends in between and it's only now that I've come to settle and write a here I am!!! 

An ever changing and beautiful river composition designed by Nature
Like water running over river rock life continues to move as each day passes and our days get filled with whatever comes along and decides to stay with us for a time...perpetual motion, perpetual thought, perpetual action and reaction always making some point in our day interesting, always catching one's attention even for just a moment. 

The reality is in spite of the fact I'm a 'retired' person and have been for as long as I can remember now...the picture of me in an office/work environment completely escapes me these days; although, as I watch television or a movie, I vaguely recall the process of rising each morning with the dreaded thought of moving through traffic and a multitude of people in order to be someplace at a certain time in order to gain 'some purpose' to my day.  Ah, the pay cheque was definitely an incentive and if truth were known I did enjoy my work...the designing and drawing part of it (renovations and kitchen/bathroom designs); not so much the sales part, though.  But those thoughts make me even more thankful and thoughtful today. 

As I think back over the past five months I try to play 'catch-up' with my life to see what I've accomplished, to analyze whether I have 'gained' anything from my endeavours.  At first thought I think that possibly there hasn't been much new or interesting that has filled my days but in actual fact that's not true.  While, none of what I have done over these months has been earth shattering or particularly awesome or even amazing (like skydiving, climbing Mt. Everest, travelling to the unknown, etc.) I have managed to do things I like to do.  So I think of these things and write about them today. 
David talking to Alex and Joanna

VISITING WITH FRIENDS:  For Thanksgiving and again over the Christmas holiday we visited with friends, Catherine and Paul Harding, who live in North Bay and have a cottage on Toad Lake just south of there.  We enjoy visits with them because when we are at the lake or at their house in town we spend hours near or on the water kayaking, swimming or enjoying long walks with our dogs.  The outdoor life is the common denominator that we share and enjoy and we always spend time outside no matter what the weather.  Of course, we missed not being able to see Alex and Joanna, who live in Vancouver, over the holiday season but we talked to them on the phone on Christmas Day and learned that they were well and happy...and they gave us, early and a little hush, hush, great news...they are to have a baby in the summer...our first grandchild!

Our Christmas visit with the Hardings was a little different this year because we normally are with my sister and her family but decided to hit the Great White North (North Bay) for a change and also we wanted to see Will, Paul and Catherine's son and his fiancé, Kat, whom we had not met before.  Their other son, John, is in Germany but there was a telephone conversation with him so all was well there, too.  We had a wonderful time, the weather, while sub-zero and chilly most of the time, was super and picture card perfect and our drive up there and back was beautiful.  Fortunately, we managed to get back home to Peterborough on Boxing day ahead of a big winter storm that closed down many of the highways!!!  Typical for Ontario!

Kat, Will, Grace, Paul, Katherine and, of course, Rachel

PAINTING:  Yes, of course, I still do that and always have a painting on the go; allbeit, I'm occasionally a slacker in this department and there are countless days that go by that I don't even pick up a paintbrush.  However, as I walk past my studio each day I do see a painting on the easel and I do critique it so that the next time I approach it I do it with a 'new eye'.  I've always painted that way.  Oh I'd love to be able to whip off a painting in a couple of days or be so quick as to produce a painting in four or five hours but that doesn't work for me.  I'd love to be less thoughtful about my painting and more spontaneous in my technique but I've tried that and I end up with more mess on my canvas than painting.  So I continue with my methodical approach and my small paintbrushes and continue to enjoy my art in a way that works for me!  

Here are the paintings I've managed to complete since the Summer.  All of them are oil on 18" x 24" stretched canvas.

"CHICKEN LOVE" (inspired by a magazine about farming)

SERENDIPITY (inspired by the song "A Man in a Raincoat")

FLOATBOAT FISHERMEN (inspired by a photo Alex took)

I'm spending 'not enough time' in my studio; however, as I mentioned earlier, I have a painting on the go all the time and at the moment it is also the painting that I take with me when I paint with friends each Wednesday afternoon.  We, Quadrangle (Fran Crowe, Averill Ambrose, Julia Cameron and myself), are having our third group show from May 24th to June 6th at the Kawartha Artists' Gallery and Studio, here in Peterborough, so we are all working towards that goal.  The paintings I have included in this blog are all ones that will be in the 'Quadrangle 2013' show.

The painting below is my 'current' one and is on 16" x 20" stretched canvas.  I had a few false starts with this one; however, I'm finally satisfied with the way it's going and am on my way to completing it.

UNNAMED (probably will be the title from a song) and UNFINISHED
(How I love the sound of a Saxaphone!  As I paint this I always listen to very cool, mellow jazz with Saxaphone being the prominent sound...very inspiring?)

Beyond the paintings you see here I hope to have at least three, maybe four others completed and possibly one or two stone carvings as well.  So you see I have my work cut out for me!!!!  Yikes I've only got about 10 - 12 weeks to produce my work and have it ready for hanging and display!!!!  I hope Spring comes early this year because I'll need some dry sunny days to get my carving done!

WALKING AND PICTURE TAKING:  In between my painting I spend a lot of time outdoors walking with David and Rachel, or sometimes just with Rachel.  Walks are time consuming things, but like golf in the Summer, I wouldn't stop for the world because the exercise and fresh air is SOOOOO GOOOOOD!  While I'm on these excursions, and we have many different places that we walk, I like to take in the scene around me and almost always have my camera at the ready!  I miss our walks on days when the weather is so bad that it's uncomfortable to walk or on days that it's too icy and dangerous under foot; however, they are few and far between so we celebrate every day that we can with an outing!

I can never tire of taking photos of the rivers and streams
...or the beautiful winter shadows,

...or the colours and collages of nature.

My version of a crocheted Rachel without the bushy tail!!!
DOING THINGS I HAVEN'T DONE IN YEARS!:  I have, after probably 30 years or more, resurrected my crochet hooks and now find myself CROCHETING away with yarn and hook each evening as David and I watch television.  I had forgotten how enjoyable it can be and over the past few weeks have developed quite a collection of handmade items.  Here's one that I had some fun with by combining a pattern I found on the Internet, my own imagination and a yarn I'd never used before.  

I find that it's quite an adventure going into the wool/yarn departments of the big box stores or the specialty shops because it's just like going to the market!  There are so many colours, textures and weight types of yarn that it boggles the mind.  I love that the industry has come up with such wonderful varieties of yarn...a wonderful medium to express yourself with.  I just may give up my stone carving altogether and start making yarn sculpture instead...although, I know that would never happen!  I could NEVER REALLY GIVE UP WORKING IN STONE but it's strictly an outdoor thing because it's so messy so I'll definitely explore the yarn thing more! 

Within the next few months I intend on resurrecting my quilting skills as well so that I always have some 'dry/clean project' in my lap that I can be working on in the evenings.  Television is great but it's better when your hands are busy, too.
I've made numerous quilts (hangings and bed-sized) but that was over 25 years ago and none of them were for us so maybe it's time!  I've started to collect ideas for appliqué designs so maybe a quilt or two will show up in this blog one day.

BEYOND THE ABOVE MENTIONED FOR HEALTH AND SPIRIT:  Since golf season ended many, many months ago I have tried, as we all should, to stay as physically active as I can.  I do this to ward off arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and any other malady that I know is inherent in me!  I'm not particularly good at it since I can easily, like all of us, procrastinate and then my time for 'doing' is gone and another day goes by that I haven't done what I said I was going to do.  

Prior to Christmas I started to do YOGA again (had a false start about five years ago) and this time it makes sense to me and while I haven't incorporated it into my life on a daily basis I do go to the Humanistic Yoga Centre here in Peterborough twice a week.  Yoga not only is helping me physically but it is making me feel more grounded and freer.  It's hard to explain really but I now understand why those that are truly 'into' yoga became hooked in the first place.  It's a wonderful way of 'letting go' of all the 'baggage' that one carries around in their head, 'baggage' that ultimately makes your body suffer!  

Through Yoga I've learned how important paying attention to your breath is.  We tend to hold our breath, or not breath properly when we do the most mundane of things which causes us to be tense and feel pressure in our bodies...even people that are retired feel stressed during certain periods of their daily's not just people who work or have heavy responsibilities.  A disagreement with a relative or friend; difficulty finding a parking space; a leak in the faucet, a cat that's driving you crazy by going in and out all day; the knowledge that someone you care about is ill and there are no answers for them, a needy person that leans heavily on your friendship and advice who is a major worry to you; worry about your children and how their lives are going; pain and depression of separation or death of a loved one!!!!  We all have these unbidden stresses...sometimes can be so small and merely annoying but are nevertheless...stresses!!!!!  Sometimes we're not even aware that we're stressed until a muscle starts to scream or our back becomes stiff or our head aches.  I've only just, at 66, begun to understand this 'bottled up stress' thing and am now learning to 'let it go' with each exhalation so that with each inhalation I can be refreshed and ready to cope a more upright and balanced manner.  It's all very refreshing and calming when you actually think about it!  Breath is free, so we should use it well, we should allow it to reach every area of our body from the top of our head, through our heart center, to the tip of our fingers and our toes.  Not only do we need breath to LIVE, we need it to feel ALIVE!  Don't hold it!  Enjoy it!
I've also rejoined the Y and try to get there once or twice a week to do a workout and then swim...sometimes I only manage the swim part but I'm at least doing that!  Swimming for me is like a reward...I don't do it to win a race or set a record on gloat at how many laps I do...I do it to massage and soothe my body and use all my muscles in a therapeutic way.  It always feels really good after I've made the effort.  

The bonus from doing these things...Enjoying Friends, Painting/Creating, Yoga, the Y, and Everything Else In that the winter months become interesting and each day holds something to look forward to.  It's hard to believe that February is ebbing!  Spring can't be far away!

I'm heading to the Y for a swim now...I've written more than enough for today!  For all of you that have had the interest to read through this blog...ENJOY YOUR BREATH, ENJOY YOUR DAYS, ENJOY YOUR LIFE and BE HAPPY!  

Until the next time, Cheers to All! 

Wednesday, 26 September 2012


Well, I have finally determined that the wonderful Summer that we have been blessed with here in the Peterborough area has finally come to a close and the cooler weather causes me to reflect on what a fabulous season we have had.

I find it unbelievable that it was six months ago this coming week that David and I played our first golf game of the season!  Yep, that's right, we were out on the course on March 23rd.  Pretty fantastic!  And we've been playing three to five times a week since then.

In my previous blog entry I described to you and included photographs of the changes and additions that we've made to our somewhat 'wild and woolly' garden here at Riverwood.  Well, the work that we did in the Spring and our continued efforts over the past several weeks have given us not only the pleasure and exhilaration gained from the physical work but we've reaped the eye candy that draws us to the riverside of this property at any hour of the day...or night for that matter. 

The gladiolas (or is it gladioli?) in the photo are not from our garden but maybe I should consider growing them...I see them in other peoples gardens so do you think a 'shrub person like me could grow them???

Oh there's no question the our property is on the 'wild side' compared to some of our neighbour's 'manicured' properties but we like what we've got and will continue to keep it as natural looking as it should be.  We've planted just enough 'cultured and proper' plants to give it a more 'city-fied' look without loosing the 'cottagy' look that we prefer.  The birds and small wild animals that visit our garden are numerous and they have come to call our property home.  With 16 bird feeders and a rugged rockery wall with a multitude of hidey holes in it there is plenty of space for all creatures.  

There's been a new addition to our garden and it's something David bought for me.  I love it and it's similar to what I would create if I were inclined to work with another medium other than stone; although, this sort of thing carved in soapstone or marble would be equally as beautiful.  It's the simplicity of the figure I love so much...she looks very much at home in our garden and gives a sense of calm to it so I call her YEMAYA (Goddess of Water). At just under 5 feet there is a quiet elegance to her presence near the river. 


Up until this past week David and I have been able to swim in the river when ever we've felt like it and in the very hot days of July through to mid August that was pretty much every day.  There is nothing more refreshing after a hot couple of hours working in the garden or walking 18 holes of the golf course than a plunge in the cool river.  It's pretty special to be able to do that from your own backyard in the middle of the city!

I am back to painting again and on Wednesday afternoons can be found at my sister Julia's house with Fran and Averill along with Sharon who's just joined our group.  We continue to do our own style of painting and as usual critique each other with authority!!!!  For a bit of motivation we have been painting small items for an event that's coming up at the Art Gallery of Peterborough.  It's an 'art grab' and the event is called 'For the Love of Art'.  Artists are given a 10" x 10" plain frame by the gallery and they can do any sort of 2D or 3D bit of art as long as long as it fits into the frame size. 

I've done two oil paintings of Stony Lake sunsets inspired by photos I took several years ago.  My friends have chosen different compositions and we've all found that it has inspired us to paint with more conviction over the coming winter months.  Of late we've all felt a little hum-drum about our work and we haven't been producing much that we were happy least I was certainly that way.   This little exercise has given us more incentive to 'get on with it' and produce with more focus, energy and vision.  We have a show coming up in May of 2013, at Kawartha Artists' Gallery and Studio, so we better get going and produce work we can be proud of.

The creation of art is a funny and somewhat elusive thing.  How is it that there are times when you can be so 'on' and focused with your work while other times you are totally 'off' and listless about what and how to produce anything.  Writers I know have tried to find an answer to this since time immemorial and it continues to drive creative people to distraction!!!!!  And as we all know distraction is the last thing you need when you're trying to focus on something specific that needs concentration in order to complete it with an unbridled feeling of accomplishment! 

The physical process of creating art whether it be painting, drawing or scuplting requires a huge amount of energy both mentally and physically so for me to reach a stage of 'exhilerated' exhaustion is a terrific feeling.  To step back and say, 'there, it's finished!' is so rewarding.  But often it takes a long time to get there and sometimes there's a very rough patch in the middle where ideas for compositions don't come easily or work doesn't go well and confidence in your creative self starts to dwindle.  

I've had a bit of a 'falling out' with my stone carving...something that's always come easy for me for more than 25 years.  For some reason I haven't been in the 'zone' for a year or so.  There have been many distractions it seems.  Since I only carve outside Spring through Fall is when I usually get my sculpting done, but these past few years I've been spending a lot of time working in the garden, kayaking and playing GOLF!  Golf takes up pretty much a full day if you play 18 holes and relaxing in the garden or by the water is what feels good after a carving isn't what I do!  And last year we were focused on Alex and Joanna's wedding and our trip to Vancouver and Tofino...which pretty much kept our focus 24/7!  So for all of us there's always 'the stuff of life' that gets in the way!  However, for me, I find that eventually my creative 'spirit' gets the better of me and I have to create, so over the course of this summer I managed to work on a simple sculpture that is just about complete.  The composition is a Diving Seal.  It's of African soapstone and is approx. 14" wide x 7" deep x 14" high.   More polishing needs to be done but here it is on my work stand.

I've only worked on it several times during the summer and haven't been as focused as I used to be when I carved but I'm also older now and find that carving for 5 - 6 hours at a time while standing is not something my body wants to do any more.  So now I carve in 2 to 3 hour stints and often don't get back at it for days.  But I still love to carve and it give me a different kind of high than painting. Carving will always be my first love with respect to methods of doing art...probably because it's more physical and you really have to put your whole body into it when your cutting and filing and sanding the stone to finish the piece.  Also, it's 3 dimensional and very tactile...and I love art that you can touch! 

Methods and techniques for artists can be such an individual and personal thing.  I mention above that carving is so physical and that, in part, is because I stand when I work and walk around the piece or spin it when it's on the rotating platform of my workstand.  Not to mention the fact that at some point I actually have to move or lift the piece to a different location!  Many artists prefer to sit when they create and often it is because they cannot physically stand for long periods of time.  Fortunately, I have not come to that stage of my life yet and find that even when I am painting I prefer to stand at my easel.  I have tried the sitting down method but find myself restricted and claustrophobic.  The chair becomes a 'trap' so I find my work doesn't flow as smoothly and I start to get uncomfortable with 'numb bum'!  I eventually end up standing and am much happier for it!  

I think it's so important to breath and relax (and even listen to your favourite music) while you create.  So if I stand I can easily move away from my work, take a 'long view' of the piece and maybe even stretch a little.  It also allows me to check perspective, proportion, balance of the composition, and generally 'get into' the painting with a more critical eye from a different perspective than what a sitting down, up close and in your face perspective gives you.  

Also, some time ago (can't recall who told me this) it was noted that a painting is best viewed from about 10 feet away.  Now I understand that for some miniatures and very detailed pieces of art this might not be true; however, for larger pieces, which I usually paint, it seems to be a good rule of thumb.  So I really like to paint in a space that will allow me to step away to give me a 'gallery visitor's' perspective of what I'm trying to portray.  

In an earlier blog I showed photos and gave descriptions of my favourite stone carving workstand and all my carving tools that I use, mostly outdoors, to create my sculptures. At this point in my blog I'll give you information on:


My studio is set up so that I can move my easel around and get the natural light just right for my work.  

Add caption
My large EASEL is my FIRST most prized possession in my studio.  David found it one day when he was riding around the West End of Toronto on his motorcycle.  He had gone into the area where he spent his childhood and on his old street, just a few houses along from the house he grew up in, there was a garage sale and the easel was sitting right in the middle of a lot of 'junk'.  Obviously the heavy 8 foot high structure was not something he could strap on his motorcycle so he rushed home, got the car and drove back to buy the easel.  It had belonged to an artist who had passed away years before and it was just languishing in the garage of the house, unused and in the way.   'Timing is everything' because at the time I was starting to paint more seriously and my canvases were too big for the spindly easel I had been using.  With a few minor adjustments and repairs it was up and in use before the day was over!   It practically touched the ceiling in our old house but today here at Riverwood it sits quite comfortably under a 9' high ceiling with a north/west light falling on it most of the time.  The beauty of this old easel is not it's ability to hold very large canvases but the strong ratchet-style mechanism that allows me to work on any size of canvas at a height that's comfortable while standing. It's extremely stable so I'm confident my work won't slip or wiggle at an inopportune moment! 

My SECOND most prized possession in the studio is my WORK STATION which always stands next to my easel.  When David and I were in a Canadian Tire in Toronto one day many years ago he saw a workshop unit for sale and wondered if it might be a good thing to use in my studio.  I hadn't thought of that sort of thing before and it seemed like a splendid idea so we bought it and headed for home.  David screwed a thick piece of masonite (rough side up so nothing slips) on the top of it and it's been the most wonderful work surface and storage space you can imagine.  I keep all my paint (acrylic and oil), brushes, etc. in separate drawers and am also able to store sprays and fixatives as well as all the bits and pieces of hardware I use for framing and hanging my paintings in the lower, larger section of the unit.  The beauty of the work station is that I can close the drawers and door when I've finished my painting session and my studio (except for what's on the surface of the workstation...generally my oil palette, paint box, a pottery vase full of brushes and a jar of mineral spirits) is relatively tidy with all messy and/or dangerous stuff put away and out of sight.  I like a relatively clean and organized space so it keeps all my stuff covered and in one place.  Also, the work station is on wheels so it can be rolled around depending on the angle of my easel. 

This past week I've been going through what I call my 'Inspiration' files...some are actual files in my studio kept in woven baskets on my desk and others are in my computer or on a disk...looking for an idea for my next painting.  Finally I found it!  It's an idea I started thinking about several years ago and am now determined to resurrect and paint on canvas.  I won't elaborate here on the background of the piece...I'm hoping it will become evident when I complete the painting.   The composition sits on my easel right now in it's rawest form...a quick graphed sketch on a blindingly bright white canvas.  Oh how I hate white canvas!!!  It's so intimidating to me so I'm always pleased when I can get an idea drawn to mess up that 'wicked' starknessl!  I feel even better when I can get the underpainting of the composition completed and I'm on my way to becoming totally immersed in the story of the painting.  The painting process grabs me once the underpainting has given some dimensional structure to the composition.    

I must finish this blog now because I am heading off to paint with my friends.  The new painting will go with me and with luck I will get the underpainting completed today and will return it to my studio with NO WHITE CANVAS showing at all!  At least that is my goal for today!!! 

I'll keep you posted as to how the painting is going with my next until then;




Monday, 25 June 2012


Dear Followers of Kwoneshe Creations:

Of late I have been negligent and have not been posting any information (good, bad or indifferent) on this blog.  In fact the reason I am here today is because over the past week or so several people have asked if I plan on continuing this blog!?!?
Well, I thank them for noticing that I have not posted anything fact I am shocked to see that I've done nothing since March 3rd of this year!  

There are three reasons for my not posting anything new here.

REASON ONE - I'VE FOUND GOLF!  I'm a new golfer...started to play about three years ago...and I really and truly enjoy the game, as frustrating as it is!   We had a particularly early start to the season this year due to unusually warm temperatures which started in early March and allowed David and I to get on the golf course a good two months ahead of schedule.  Those first few weeks were pretty special because there weren't a lot of people out there mid week so we actually played almost every day until the 'real' season opened and we became curtailed by more people on the course which meant tee times were more difficult to get.  Now we're on a more controlled schedule and only play about three times a week, either in League play or with groups of friends. 

REASON TWO - I HAVE BEEN NEGLECTING MY ART 'BIG TIME'!  I have done any art since March and with that neglect comes an absence of things to say or write consequently I haven't added any new posts to this blog.  While golf is fun, frustrating and challenging...and believe me it is is not that artistically creative therefore I do not feel as inclined to write.  It is when I am doing my art that I find my mind is more in gear with respect to thinking creatively and essence one art medium (i.e. painting) inspires one to use another medium (writing)...or so it does for me.

REASON THREE - RIVERWOOD   David and I have been using the good weather days (and we've been having great weather) to recreate our property and garden areas here at Riverwood!!!!  That in itself has taken a huge amount of time and energy (and money) but we now have 'a cottage in the city' with a woodland garden that's wild and woolly (by that I mean that it is NOT MANICURED and WEEDS DO GROW in and amongst the plants and they only get pulled if they are over 8" tall!)...and we love it!  

The dock area is where we find some 'personal space' to
read and/or sleep in the shade of the Maple tree or have a
swim...depending on the time of day or the mood we are in.
It's a marvellous space that we enjoy very much.

We've been gardening like mad fiends between golf games and finally after 12 years of being in this house we've cleared out all the 'old growth' lilac that was smothering the property and have planted more trees (Flowering Crab, Flowering Almond and a 16 foot Mountain Ash which in a few years will be gorgeous!); we've pulled out tons of weeds and cut down Buckthorn 'til our hands have bled.  We've planted Hostas, Ferns, Lilies, Ligularia, Brunnera and various other perennials that are hardy to this area.  To say nothing of hauling in trailer loads of mulch and then wheelbarrowing/raking the stuff into the flowerbeds.  (Admittedly we hate cutting the lawn so we have "Grasshopper", Jeff Davis, do that for us.  He's a one-man show and works many of the properties in our neighbourhood...he also helps lift heavy objects, etc. so willingly (or not so...but he'd never say) assists us when we need an extra hand with things.) 

With luck our hard work will make this property a lush and private woodland retreat for years to come.  Because we were always away at our cottage on Stony Lake we've never been able to concentrate our efforts on the garden here.  Now that 'RIVERWOOD' has officially become our 'cottage in the city' we're happy to only have the one property to deal with.  We're finding we haven't got the stamina we used to; although, like almost every day for the past several weeks, we still tend to 'push' ourselves to the limit and work non-stop for hours at a time and wonder why we can't get out of bed the next morning!  (Seems we're not as young as we were when we went all day on the island at Stony...never stopping until it was dark and hunger got the better of us!!!!)

IT MUST BE THE GARDENING that's started the creative juices in my brain working again because over the past couple of weeks I have been 'missing' my art.  It was bound to happen since I can't go for very long without 'doing my art'!

I stopped painting in early March when I withdrew from a group that I had been painting with for the past four years.  We called ourselves 'Quadrangle' and met every Tuesday to paint and chat about art and life.  We have had a number of shows together and while I enjoy being with the other three artists I was in a bit of a 'slump' with my painting and wasn't feeling very excited about what I was producing...even though they felt I was doing some interesting stuff.  It just wasn't feeling 'right' for me so I decided to take a break.  During this past year I did do several paintings and managed to complete them.  Here are two that I felt quite satisfied with when they were completed.


DUST DEVILS - Inspired by a photograph I recall seeing many years ago and the image never left me.
Then golf arrived early so I immersed myself in that for a time.  But my creative mind was a little restless so I pondered on things and half heartedly made efforts to get back to some sort of art but without much enthusiasm; although, I did experiment with some chicken wire after becoming inspired with some work I found while browsing the internet.  

I've always loved the theme of a 'boy on a dolphin' so decided to do my own version of it.  The piece is about 4'-6" high and is mounted on a stainless steel pole.  When the wind blows it moves so that it is never in the same position for very long taking it to about 7' or so.  There are some days that you can't actually see it at all and so occasionally I am asked...'what's with the steel pole in you garden? I have to go over to the piece and spin it around so they can actually see 'the boy on the dolphin"!  

This past week or so I've been really anxious to get back to carving stone again...something I haven't done for a whole year after having some bad luck with two carvings early last summer when both of them shattered when I was well into the compositions.  In over twenty years of carving stone I have never had that happen to me.  One carving was completely ruined so I just broke the rock into smaller pieces; however the other I was able to file away any suggestion of the original composition and saved most of the stone; although it got temporarily placed in the 'dead pile'.  I never got back to carving again last season because by then David and I were making plans to head to Vancouver and then to Tofino for our son's wedding in late September.  So my carving and everything else creative got put on HOLD!.  When we got back to Peterborough in early October David had to prepare himself for surgery in November to remove two plates in his right leg so needless to say we were busy doing things around the house so that he wouldn't have any projects on the go while he was re-cooping from the surgery.  Then Winter came upon us and I never got a chance to do any more carving because due to the dirty, dusty nature of the medium it's definitely 'an outdoor sport'!

I'm now happy to say that as of this week I'M BACK TO CARVING AGAIN...AND IT FEELS SOOOOO GOOD!   I think one of the things that spurred me onto carving again was the fact that during the redesigning of our garden beds, etc. David (his wheels are always turning!) had the good idea of adding more pea gravel down by the 'garden bunkie' area so that I could move my workstand down there from it's usual spot near the garden door of the house where I was continually having to hose down the bricks and windows because they would become covered with a layer of fine stone dust that gradually seeped into crevices and any open windows nearby...and, like drywall dust, it's very hard to remove.  It was a marvellous idea and why we didn't think of it years ago is beyond me!!!! 

(a loose interpretation of something Van Gogh wrote about his studio to his brother Theo)

My workstand is something was a combination of three minds (me, David and Peter, an extremely good and talented neighbour).  I told the men what I wanted; then Peter did the welding for the base and turntable pieces and David designed and built the wooden table and work surface.  It's balanced in such a way that I can clamp an armateur onto the table and use a power tool with plenty of surface to lay down my hand files, etc. as well.  Totally ingenious!...and the bonus...IT CAN STAY OUT IN ALL KINDS OF WEATHER!  I cover it with a barbecue cover when it's not in use!  

The past few days I hauled last years effort out of the 'dead pile' and re-created a composition that I think will be lovely when it is finished.  I'm on a creative roll now and what that means is that MY BLOG IS BACK, TOO!  (That's not to say that I'll be writing every week because it is Summer after all and golf, garden and sculpting outdoors are the priorities at this time of the year for me...and not necessarily in that order!)

The following photos will give you an idea of what has come out of the original 'dead' composition.  The stone is a beautiful piece of pink and grey soapstone and weighs a considerable amount...the size is 11" high x 12" long x 9" deep.  

In order to completely erase from my mind the original composition I had planned for this piece I had to go at it with a chisel and mallet and some larger hand files to eradicate any semblance of the original form.  As I went through this process it helped me to reform a new and rhythmic image in my mind...which came naturally and willingly to the fore and I was then able to get out my power tool and start grinding a new composition into being.   

This part of the carving is really an exciting part of the process because it can be both exhilarating and unnerving since you are testing your mental and physical skill in order to turn an inert object into something alive.  The opening and creation  of negative space is to me one of the most thrilling parts of the whole carving procedure!  To allow light to flow through and fall onto different parts of the stone is extremely awesome!  That in itself breaths live into the stone before an image has actually been formed or completed.  I guess by now you realize how 'into' carving I can get when I'm in 'THE CARVING ZONE'.  Of all the art I've done through my life nothing gives me more of a thrill than putting a hole in a piece of hard stone so the light can come through! 

At the moment I am stuck at my computer...we are having some work done here at the house and because David had a long awaited golf game today I opted from golf with some friends to hang around here and wait for the workmen to come and complete a job they started last week.  I thought I might use this time to carve but alas, while the temperature is a cool but comfortable 19 degrees Celsius (compared to last weeks extreme heat) it has become very, very windy...not great for working with such a dusty material...even though I always wear gloves, goggles and face mask.  A shift of strong wind in the wrong direction does not do your eyes and/or nose any favours!!!!   

So I sit in the sunny area of my kitchen where I can view the river and my garden and type this blog entry.  I feel quite content to do so because I'm in the space I want to be right now.  

On thinking of how I'm content AND HAPPY to be in this space I ponder to think of all those who cannot find that sort of space in their lives and I worry about them.  Having a calm and quiet inner place that you can draw from on a daily basis can have such a positive affect on your well-being and your overall view of the world.  I for one continually pinch myself in the morning before I face the day ahead of me...I have so much to be thankful for and to be happy about.  There are many, many small blessings that each one of us have been given and it's from these blessings that we should draw strength and enjoyment to enlighten our path as we progress through the various daily duties.  Solving work problems, doing mundane household chores, guiding a child or children through  an unpredictable world, helping a friend who has a problem, coping with a personal illness or dealing with a frail or sick loved one are all things that can stress us.  So we all need a 'space' we can go to so that we can 're-group our positive thoughts and refresh our spirit' in order to continue on with a bright light in the forefront of our minds.  Above all we need to remember to nurture ourselves...because we can only be whole, strong and helpful to others if we take care of our own body and mind.

Where is it that you go, or what is it that you do, that puts you in that space?  Wherever or whatever it is...use it to your advantage when you feel you need a personal lift.  Others will know you've been there by the spring in your step, the smile on your face and your willingness to meet whatever is required of you head on...and they will surely feel better when they are with you!

Cheers to all of you who have read this today and may you have healthy happy Summer days ahead of you!