Art and Creativity

Creative explorations in paint, pencil and charcoal.

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Daily Painting

Everyday I create a small painting. The intent is to practice loose, intuitive painting that is reflective of an abstracted realism.

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Charcoal Drawings

I enjoy drawing very realistic charcoal drawings as a way of pushing my abilities to represent realistic imagery

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Making a Mono Print

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So first you start with your image. You have a layer of dry ink that you work into with a wet paintbrush. The goal is to create a black, grey and white image by taking away the ink. When you are finished the image it looks like this

Then you need to line it up on a registration plate. The lines allow you to centre both your image and lay your paper over the image so that everything lines up.

Then you lay the paper over top. Being careful to make sure it is straight.

Then you lay some plastic over top of the whole deal. This helps keep the wet paper from sticking to the felt pads. And if you image happens to squish out the other end it stops it from staining the felt pads.

There are three felt pads that you lay over top of everything and then you roll you image under a heavy wheel that has been tightened to apply a great deal of pressure.

You only have to roll it through once. Then you take your plate off and have a peek.

However I was silly and did not take a picture of this particular image for some reason. I’ll take a picture tomorrow.  The other picture I was going to show you was too blurry so I will take some more pictures tomorrow.

Hope it all makes more sense now!

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Sunrises and Owls

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This mornings sunrise when I was picking up my printmaking buddy…

Today we learned 2 more printmaking techniques. Chine Colle and Water Soluble Monoprint. I forgot to take pictures of the Chine Colle so I will post those tomorrow or Sunday.

A water soluble monoprint (mono meaning 1) is when you roll a water soluble ink onto a non porous surface and then  let the ink dry. Then using a paint brush (and what ever other tools you want to use) you add water and start to wipe away the ink. The goal is to leave varying thickness of ink so that you create shades of grey by removing the ink. In the end you will be left with something that looks a bit like a watercolour painting but then you wet some paper, lay it overtop of the image and run it through the press and pull your print…I am so going to take picture tomorrow doing this because as a write this I realize that someone that has never been involved in a printmaking studio is not going to have the fuzziest idea what I am talking about.

So here is the deal. This is my ready to print monoprint owl.

Tomorrow I will photograph each step of the printing process and post them so you can see what the heck I have been going on about.

Today was an exhausting day and I am going to be a wimp and go to bed early!



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So today was the first day of my four day printmaking workshop and we made something called a tin-foil collagraph. Basically you create an image using things that have a slight texture and layer them together. Like I said I was going to make my theme with owls. so this is the picture I started with and the simplified image that I drew out

Then i spent about an hour glueing sequins onto the outside of the owls head to represent feathers…I would like to add sequins into the area around the eyes. However they were sorta rushing us so i had to just do what I could.

So then you lay tinfoil and glue over it and run it through something called a press. It does just that. Applies pressure when you roll your image under the…roller ( I so don’t know the technical terms anymore)  and smooshes (see that is my extent of technical) everything flat. Then it looks like this

So then you have to ink it. basically you rub ink over the entire surface and careful wipe it off of the raised areas. The ink stays in the recesses and grooves. Then you run it through the press again with some paper and the ink transfers onto the paper. Then you get this

Now, while I like the image there are a few spots I would like to fix. I needed to add a few extra sequins under the beak because there is a large blank space completing with the beak. I also wish that I could add some extra sequins around the eyes. I used a crepe paper and the texture was too subtle. I might take the plate apart and fix things but I would be ticked off if something happened to it. i did print a picture in black ink that I like better but I forgot to take a picture of it.  Tomorrow I will take a picture and try to post it.

So tomorrow is about learning how to do chine colle (pronounce shin co-lay) which is adding thin pieces of paper when printing to add extra layers. I get to print 5 more copies of my owl so I am going to play with dictionary paper and some cool japanese paper I have.

Fun day but I am tired!

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I decided my theme for the workshop I am attending is going to be owls. I like the idea of walking into the workshop with a theme and not having to decide what I am going to do…as my mother teases me, I do not like to go into anything unprepared.  She calls it control freak, I call it being prepared. To-may-toe/ Ta-ma-toe in the great scheme of things I think.

Anyway I thought I would share some of the images that i am taking with me. What I like about any animal picture is the sense of personality in the picture. If I suddenly feel the need to make up a voice for the picture and pretend what the animal is saying, I know it is the picture for me. Quirky yes but you should hear what I pretend my own animals are saying!

Love the personalities. Well off to my last work day of the week! Hopefully it goes smoothly (knocking on wood)



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Photo Resources

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have you ever heard of Morguefile? It is not as morbid as it sounds.

It is an awesome photo resource that has “Free images for your inspiration, reference and use in your creative work, be it commercial or not!”

This means that you can freely download and use the pictures in any creative endeavor without infringing on any copyright. The name comes from a newspaper term for storage of photographs that are not being used.

Here are some images i found today.

The wealth of images on morgueifle is wonderful. You can simply type in any sort of image you are looking for, even by pattern, texture or colour and it brings up many,many images. The images are not all professional quality but there are a huge number of quality works to choose from. I also like that you can use the images in any manner except as a stand alone to represent as your own work.

I have manipulated them in photoshop, painted them, drawn them. made charcoal drawings. I will be using this as my resource for imagery for my printmaking workshop this coming week.

Well worth the looksee.

Have a great one!

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I am participating in a four day workshop this Thursday through to Sunday. it s a little stressful because I have to drive to another town and the road conditions can be a little iffy sometimes. I usually avoid the highways as much as possible during the winter (FYI Winter lasts sometimes up to 7 months here) so I have my fingers crossed for good road conditions this week.

I started looking at Etsy for some inspiration for my projects today and thought I would share.

Tin Foil Collagraph found here

Monoprint found here

So my plan is to photograph my way through the course and post what I create over the weekend.  Now I have to figure out what imagery I am going to focus on…



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Evening Paintings

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I’ve been finding TV boring. And I don’t like to read and watch/listen to TV at the same time so I picked up my paint brushes and water colours and started playing this week. Each painting was completed in one evening and I was just playing with pattern and colour. I didn’t want to start with any direction in mind because I find that I will freeze up and am not as creative if I plan.

Planning doesn’t work for me and I find spontaneity much more creative and freeing than starting with a known direction.

They are not very large. Only 5 inches by 7 inches but I really enjoyed creating them. I listed them for sale in my ETSY shop.

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I am loving Pinterest.

It is a way of visually cataloging the things you love. I am so visual that it is nice to keep track of the ideas that I like for Home, DIY, Colour Inspirations etc.I also like that you can pin things and it keeps the original source. So you are not ahving to scramble to find/remember where you saw the inpiration.

I can invite people also so just leave me a comment if you want an invitation!

Here are a couple of things I have pinned.


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Snow Days and Cookies

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For anyone anywhere else today would have been a snow day.

  1. 2 1/2 foot snow drifts,
  2. -27 without the windchill.
  3. -37 with the windchill.
  4. School buses cancelled

But not us hardy northerners. We shovelled out the car and get  on our way to work. I had barely any students but more than other classes. Most people love art class and skip their other classes to come to mine so I had students to entertain me through the day.

This is what it looked like outside my back door. This is after shovelling through the 2+ feet this morning. Not fun.

So of course we have near blizzard conditions today and this is the date that I decided my Shih Tzu needed a hair cut. I had to book the appointment a month ago so it was just Percy’s luck. He looks like a cutie though. And thankfully she listened to me and didn’t cut him like a girl this time. Usually she cuts him so he has floofy ears and I like him more clean cut. And of course he needed the hoodie ASAP because he is so little.

Cannot for the life of me get him to stand still though. The only good light is in the kitchen. I decided it would be cute to photograph them asking for cookies and he would not stand still. And then I tried with Emmie but she would not pay attention and kept laying down…not cooperative at all, I tell you!

And then when they don’t get the cookie they start going through each of the tricks they know. Sit down, speak, lay down sit pretty. And then when that doesn’t work they start mixing and matching. Sit and speak. Lay down speak. sit pretty, speak then lay down quickly. All the while ignoring any of the instructions I have been giving them. Shih Tzu’s!!!











Lucy was much more accommodating and it only took 2 tried and much less frustration to get a decent picture. And no barking at all.



So I am off to make Potato and Leek soup for dinner and do some painting. Have a great evening!



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Lucy and the Rug

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I finally managed to get the pictures taken of the new painted rug I made for the kitchen. While I love the rug I learned a few things about painting a rug on foam mats and the trouble with an 85 pound lab.

Lucy is a bit of a handful. To save our sanity we spent a summer forcing her to be stationed in the kitchen. This meant that she was unable to terrorize the other dogs, eat the cat food, eat the towels, eat the socks, eat the….well you get the picture. The upper floor of the house is open from one end to the other so while she is in the kitchen she can see into the living room where we are most of the time and cannot cause problems.

(Pretty girl isn’t she)

However her claws are hell on this mat. She has already scratched up the surface fairly significantly so I am going to have to touch it up. I realized that I have enough space left in the kitchen that I am going to take the remaining 2 floor mats and paint them so that she is damaging a portion of matt that is much easier to fix.

However on the plus side she is much more comfortable laying on the floor. I could not have a dog bed for her because she ate the last 2 I had bought for her ( I said she was a handful) so she has been forced to lay on the bare floor for a while. Now she lays on the mat with her full body and her head lays on the bare floor. And she has not even tried to eat the mat!!! Unless you have a dog that has been a terror for several years you have no idea.

She has been difficult from day 1. She wouldn’t let you flip her over on her back at 6 weeks old and tried to bite the vet when he tried to cuddle her as a puppy. To top it all off she has a food allergy that we did not know about that made her unable to stop moving. She was constantly into everything always and aggressive like heck. The only reason that we realized it was a food allergy affecting her behaviour (and not just bad behaviour) was when we had been reading about the things they put into dog food (side note “animal digest” is poo, yes, poo) and freaked out and decided to make homemade dog food. Within one week she was walking into the house and laying down. I know that sounds simple  but she had NEVER done that before…NEVER,EVER!!

So then we started experimenting with her foods. We switched to a higher quality food. She started chewing her feet (grain allergy). Started her on an even more expensive food ($75 every 2 weeks) couldn’t afford it. Finally found a reasonable priced food that can be feed to all three dogs and only have to buy one bag a month and there are NO allergy issues.

However now she is eating vegetarian food. Here’s the thing. She is less aggressive and crazy. She is (to my embarrassment) THAT dog on the street. The one that barks like crazy and you think that if she ever got loose she would attack you. But since putting her on a veggie diet she is becoming less…forceful…in her opinions. She still barks but it is with less craziness and she will actually stop now when we go out to get her.

I still have issues with walking her and I think I am going to enlist some professional help with that but all in all we have slowly managed to bring her under control.



More recent Update

So I bit the bullet and found a trainer (who was awesome) and we met one Saturday morning. Lucy was her usual crazy self but Kim (trainer) took the leash and Lucy was an angel. I KNEW it was me helping create the behaviour. When she asked me “did you expect her to behave to quickly?” I responded “Yes I had high expectations!”

So the diagnosis was A) too much energy, B) Not enough leadership = Crazy Dog and the deal with the trainer is she would help us if we promised to walk her 2 hours a day. That first weekend just about killed me. I hurt my knee by not easing into the exercise but that got better.

So we started walking her 5 days a week for 5+ kilometres. I couldn’t do 2 hours of walking everyday without serious damage to my knees so we did about an hour and a half. We don’t take two days off in a row and try to space them out throughout the week so that she is getting plenty of exercise.

She is so much better. We realized that some of the issues were stemming from her reacting to one of our other dogs. So know when a dog is coming towards us we separate and I walk about 10 feet ahead of our other dogs with Lucy. 85% of the time I can get her by the other dogs with minimum fuss. She still reacts but it is managable. The other 15% of the time something else is going on with the other dog or the other owner and my job is to make her do what I want. Even with the little hissy fits within seconds she is back to walking with a loose chain and right beside me. Yes there is still work to do but it is SO much better!

Walking 25 km a week has changed her completely!

Update #1

I have had some people wondering what kind of food we give Lucy. We feed her Dick Van Patton’s Natural Balance Dog food. If you go here you can look up and see who sells it close to you. It is available in both the US and Canada and it really did make a huge difference with Lucy.

But I cannot stress how much exercise is important to help her deal with her excess energy (minimum of a half hour on the treadmill every day and walks outside when the weather will cooperate). The food helped with her ability to ….well…slow down. Like I said she never sat still and was into everything. It also took a lot of work and patience and love. The food is not a miracle but if your dog has a food allergy good quality food could help. She is four now and I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and a good dog is sitting in the light, wagging her tail and shoving her head between my knees to get an ear rub!

If you have questions ask. I’m not an expert but I’ve tried lots of things.

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