Friday, September 19, 2008

porch inspiration

geranium leaves
floating on sunlight's surface
porch waterlilies

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

collage bound

I've been cleaning up my studio in preparation for a studio tour I'm participating in at the end of september and I've come across a few pieces and scraps of things I did awhile back. When I found this collage, I immediately thought of robyn at art propelled and her current collage journey. I took a look at my piece through new eyes.

I remember exactly when I did it. I was the executive director of an adult literacy organization and I was attending a conference given by the institute in management and community development at concordia university in montreal. They offered a plethora of workshops and I probably should have signed up for a workshop on fundraising or leadership or capacity building or some other management topic but, of course, I signed up for a workshop titled: tapping into the creative process.

I remember that I really enjoyed the workshop because we were given a lot of time to just sit and work away. No pressure. We were encouraged to choose our images intuitively.

These are the images I chose. I didn't think too much. Just clipped out the ones that spoke to me on a gut level. After I had chosen my images, I took a look and saw that a theme had emerged. I added the word "bound" at that point. I purposely chose a word that had two meanings: bound-restrained-obligated and bound-going forth-towards a destination.

It was quite obvious to me at the time what the collage meant. I was feeling very stressed in my job. Close to burn-out. More and more administration and less and less hands-on activities with students and volunteer tutors. Lack of control. Burdened.

But what has surprised me as I look at this collage with fresh eyes, is the other side of the "bound" coin. That I was bound towards a direction. Within a year of making this collage, I left that organization and soon after, followed my heart into art. One wonders if doing that collage nourished some seeds that had been planted. Hmmm.....

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

tool tuesday: tracing wheel

I am not a sewer. At all. I learned how to attach a button when I was a Brownie and retain that skill to this day, but that's about it for my functional sewing skills. But I am fascinated by sewing tools and I do own a tracing wheel. My tracing wheel has serrated teeth on a wheel attached to a blue plastic handle. It makes slotted perforations as it is pushed across a piece of paper or fabric. Its primary use is to transfer marks from paper to paper or paper to fabric, often using tracing paper as a guide. This is not a tool I use often, but I do love its shape, its preciseness, and its cog-like qualities. I use it to make even perforations in Japanese paper to mark where I will sew the paper. I usually make needle marks freehand because I like the uneveness, but every now and then I will require marks that are perfectly even and my tracing wheel allows me to do that. I also use it to make texture marks on metal tape for collages. And I'm sure, as time goes by, I will use it for other purposes as well. If you have your own tracing wheel, what do you use it for?

By the way...tool submissions needed for future "tool tuesday" posts! Honour your favourite tool!

Saturday, September 13, 2008


After viewing kate's post at this disordered life with tantalizing photos of her own process of unwrapping a lovely gift from lynne, I could remain patient no more! I gazed once more upon the beautifully wrapped shrouds and then carefully unwrapped each little bundle. Here is what I found...

turtle bone, blue ridge, VA
small, smooth, gentle s-shape with a slight twist

concretions, northern coast, olympic peninsula
petite masses, perfect spheres, nubbly to the touch

vertebra, WA
surprisingly light, slightly rough, interesting shapes best explored with eyes closed

beach glass, north beach west, port townsend, WA
humble gems, glowing, smooth, gentle clacking, soothing colours

mussel shell, sequim, WA
barnacles, beach fluff, calcium buds, crusted vessels, bruised pearlescent beauty

miscellaneous beach treasures, port townsend, WA
shell, worn ceramics, pebbles, cryptic patterns, muted colours

mouse bones, petroglyph cliffs south of klamath falls, OR
tinier than you would expect, detailed, delicate, elegant

lampwork bone, made by lynne
silky smooth edges, hard, subtle striations, crafted with care

Thank you, lynne.

Friday, September 12, 2008


quivering pinkness
umbilical resonance
dangling dancers dance

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

gratitude 3

I've been overwhelmed with a lot of things lately so have been keeping a low blogging profile for the past few days. My life seems to be about abundance lately. Abundance of commitments and abundance of generosity. And the generosity continues...

I recently received yet another gift. Judy, the person who previously gifted me with the lovely barnacle pictured above, has sent me some more precious items through her sister-in-law (and my friend) Carole. This time she sent me a piece of beach glass which is hollowed out (a bit like a nest!) and a cougar's tooth! Judy lives on beautiful Salt Spring Island in British Columbia and is a regular beachcomber. What inspires people to pass along these objects? And to others whom they barely know? Boggles my mind! Thank you so much for thinking of me, Judy. Karma will reward you!

A further gift arrived in the form of a Brillante Award from Terry Rafferty. It is so cool to get an award out of the blue from somebody not on your radar. Makes you wonder how many people are actually out there reading your blog! How gratifying! And the gift here, apart from the award, is that now Terry is on my radar. I have visited her blog and was blown away by her painting called Things You Can Stack. Although I am in my element doing non-representational art, I have such admiration for artists who can paint with such realism and such sensitivity. Thank you Terry for this honour. I know that according to the rules I must pass this on to 7 other bloggers but since most of the bloggers to whom I would give this award have recently already received awards themselves, I will ask people to check out the bloggers on my sidebar. They are the cream of the crop!

And then, as if I hadn't received enough attention, I was "tagged" by
Lynne to list 6 "unspectacular quirks" about myself. How fun! This is a new blogging experience for me and I will do my best to participate.

Here are the rules:
  1. Link back to the person who tagged you
  2. Mention the rules on your blog
  3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours
  4. Tag 6 following bloggers by linking to them
  5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged bloggers blogs letting them know they've been tagged.

OK...unspectacular quirks. Here goes:

  1. I am perceptually challenged. I can't saw or file a straight line if my life depended on it, it takes two tries to choose the correct size of container for leftovers, and I have to go through a cognitive process before I can distinguish my left hand from my right.
  2. I have an almost "idiot savant" ability to recognize the voices of narrators on documentaries.
  3. I find washing dishes extremely therapeutic and relaxing, and needless to say, I don't own a dishwasher.
  4. I'm not in time with the real world and neither are my habits. I stay in my pyjamas as long as I can, have my shower around 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon, and take my dog out for a walk late at night around 12:00 or 1:00 when it is peaceful and quiet.
  5. I am addicted to Coronation Street! (blush)
  6. I am a "goody two-shoes" and always follow the rules (unless, on occasion, I feel they are unfair). Not sending on the Brillante Award is a huge breakthrough for me!

And in another breakthrough, I will tag only three people! I'll stick close to home on this one. I will tag: Marlana, Joanna, Ronna. You're it! Participate only if you please!

And now as it's just before midnight, it's time to take Luka for a walk!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

gratitude 2

Yesterday I spoke of the gifts from afar I received a few weeks ago. Today I will recount the amazing experience of opening lynne's parcel.

The box was a pleasure to behold. Pictures of butterflies, birds, castles, Pissaro paintings, ancient sculpture, and jewellery pieces decorated the box, making it very intriguing.

When I carefully opened the box with my trusty x-acto knife, this is what I saw first. A list of the precious contents of the box. The title was made with those same familiar letters that I see on lynne's banner whenever I visit her blog (every day!). The paper had been painted with something that made it subtly sparkly. Magic...just like lynne! On the back was a lovely message that warmed my heart. What happened next made me gasp in awe...

This was more than a goodie package. This was something wondrous. Something sacred. Me, the "nest person", was gazing at a nest of swaddled objects somehow protected by feather and cedar sprig talismans. I couldn't take my eyes off them. I was mesmerized.

I removed them one by one marvelling at the beauty and mystery of them. They were wrapped in muslin dyed in walnut ink and each had a number written on a fragment of masking tape. To me they were shrouds containing priceless relics from another time. How did lynne know that I am fascinated by all things wrapped? And these were wrapped in such an artful way. There was an aroma of cedar and (perhaps?) incense. An experience for the senses.

I have had these precious bundles for 2 weeks now and have still not unwrapped them. At the time that I opened the parcel, I could not bear to open them. I could not even consider it. They were art objects in themselves and were too heartbreakingly beautiful to unwrap. And it seemed to me that they were not meant to be unwrapped...yet. I decided that I would unwrap them when I was ready, using my gut as my guide. I am almost ready...

This gift was given in such a meaningful way. For that, I thank you, lynne. You have an old soul. Tree woman, nymph of the woods, generous being, roots in the earth, spirit soaring. Thank you.

Friday, September 5, 2008

gratitude 1

I have been waiting awhile to do this post. Life has been hectic and now that I've tied up loose ends, I can do what I've wanted to do for several weeks and that is to publicly say THANKS! Two weeks ago I dedicated my friday haiku to lynne and kathy and now I will tell you why!

Here is what happened: Exactly a month ago, I admired some beach glass and other treasures on kathy's blog ...I believe I said that I coveted it :)...and soon after this, I received an email. It cryptically stated that kathy and lynne felt I was in need of a goodie package and ended with a request for my address. I was stunned, excited, and curious! I awaited my goodie package, my heart brimming with affection for these two kooky and generous individuals who only recently got to know me through my blog. About a week later, I received several emails telling me that a parcel was on its way. The excitement mounted! The gratitude swelled! About a week after that, a package arrived. From california! It was from lynne. The next day another package arrived. From washington! It was from kathy. I was excited to be receiving one goodie parcel and now, it seemed, I had two. My cup runneth over!

I received lynne's parcel first, but I will relate that story in tomorrow's post for reasons that will become evident then. Today I will "open" the parcel from kathy and share its delightful contents and sentiments with you.

Her objects came in a beautifully covered tin box. It is covered with collaged copper slug tape. Meant to be applied to plant pot rims to repel slugs and snails! I must get some of this stuff. I love the textures and the colours. I could swear that I see some verdigris forming! The box is a precious gift in itself, and I appreciate the effort that kathy took in art-i-fying it!

Inside the box was a list of contents and some amazing treasures. I will highlight each group of treasures in the order that they appear on the list. Be prepared for some very cool stuff.

These are the corals. So tiny and delicate. They look bigger in this close-up but the longest is only 2.5 cm. long. I don't know much about corals but these are fascinating. Like tiny spines or bone articulations. Despite kathy's best attempts to protect them with packing during transport, they broke apart a bit, but I love them just the way they are!

And the objects that started it all! The beach glass! Aren't these pieces lovely. So many colours and shapes. Smooth with rounded edges. Each one with a warm (or cool) glow and a story. You just want to put them into your pocket and handle them.

Smooth beach pebbles with subtle texture and lines. I adore them!

These are agates. I love their transluscency. When you hold them up to the light you can see the most beautiful lines and shapes and tones within the stones.

And what a treat! One of kathy's PMC pieces! I think I recognize this particular one from this post! Second row from the bottom, third to the left! On her contents list, kathy said it was white glass fired with PMC. I guess the firing changes the white glass to this lovely honey colour. I love the contrast of the smooth glass with the textured metal. Lovely.

I hope I am right on this, but by process of elimination, these are porcelain shards. Correct me if I am wrong kathy! I loved kathy's story about hurling broken ceramics into bellingham bay years ago and wondering if some of the fragments she finds on beaches are the very ones she gifted to the sea earlier. For her poetic version of this story go to the comments in this post. I choose to believe that these shards are parts of the very pieces she threw into the sea years ago!

And here is the collection gathered together. I love these treasures and I love them even more through sharing them with you. Photographing them to share has allowed me to get to know them much better. Interacting with them, touching them, observing them, sorting them. All this has bonded me to them so I thank you, dear readers, for that. And kathy, for your huge warm generous heart, I thank you! I never imagined that blogging would connect me to so many special spirits, and ones who would reach out beyond this virtual world we inhabit, and touch my heart with a gesture like this.

Since it is friday, I will end with a haiku.

gratitude expressed
opening the dormant heart
yet another gift

Thursday, September 4, 2008


If you've been reading my blog, you know that I was away over a week ago. I promised that I would write about it here. The main reason for the trip was to attend the interment ceremony of my aunt Jan who died in June. We had the interment ceremony on her birthday, August 24th. It was certainly a sad occasion but I think we gave her a lovely send-off. I hadn't been in touch with my aunt for many, many years. My Mom always kept me up-to-date on what was going on with she and my uncle. I always had great affection for her because she never talked down to me as a kid. She was a straight-talker and as my Dad would say, "a good egg".

Jan was an artist. When I entered her studio, I felt a pang of regret that I had not been in touch with her. It was clear that we would have had a great deal to talk about. A great deal in common. She worked with watercolours, oils, acrylics, and, when her emphysema became quite severe and she couldn't handle the fumes of paint, she did computer art. She was passionate about her art and had quite a library of books on art. My Uncle Bob generously told me that I could choose any books that I wanted from her collection of over a hundred titles. It was an honour to do so. Most of her books were about watercolour and oil technique, but she had quite an eclectic collection. Below are the books that I chose. They will hold a special place in my studio library and will be well used. Some of these books had small scraps of paper, marking certain pages that were probably of interest to her. I will keep these scraps in the pages where they were placed, in honour of Jan.

Instead of returning directly home after the ceremony, Jerzy and I decided to stop for a few days in Prince Edward County, an area noted for its sand dunes, wineries, and artists studios. We stayed two nights and basically just lay on the beach, had some nice meals, popped into an art gallery, and went for some nice walks in the woods and fields. A brief but enjoyable get-away...

Some images from our walk in the woods

Some images from our walk in the fields

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

montreal world film festival

The Montreal World Film Festival! Now over. I did a marathon on Monday, the last day of the festival, and attended five films in a row! And believe it or not, I remember each one vividly! Montreal has a bit of a rivalry with Toronto and the same holds true for our film festivals. The Toronto Film Festival is one of the most well-known worldwide and attracts all the attention. The reason I love ours is that it does not have the glitz and glamour and parties and celebrities and "hollywood" influence that the Toronto Film Festival has. It's just about films and everyday people who love films. Many of the films are obscure and rough around the edges. But there are diamonds in those roughs! And the adventure of searching for those diamonds is part of the appeal for me.

It's not just the films I love about the festival. It's the whole process. I love the way the glossy, crinkly, pages of the schedule feel and sound as I peruse the film offerings. I love the way my yellow highlighter slides across those glossy pages as I highlight the films that interest me and the way my red hi-tecpoint ink pen smoothly outlines a rough box around the ones I will definitely see - a ritual I've had for years. I love scouring the film blurbs looking for clues that hint at which films might be great. I love the process of deciding which films to see, often based on avoiding rush-hour traffic and securing parking on a tiny stretch of street that has the only free parking in the area during certain times. I love the energy of the other film-goers scrambling around to get to their films and listening in to the quiet corner conversations discussing what they've just seen. I love that each time you screen a film, you never know what to expect.

This year I was away for a good part of the festival but I did manage to squeeze in 13 films, which is about standard for me.
  1. The Home of Dark Butterflies (Finland): A boy deals with a secret in his past while at a boy's home on an isolated island. Wonderfully dark and moody. Beautifully shot.

  2. All Will Be Well (Poland): A boy tries to save his ailing mother by jogging to a shrine of the Madonna, with his alcoholic coach in tow. Touching tale with lots of humour.

  3. What If Death Do Us Part? (Germany): People confronted by death in various forms. Several stories merging into one with humour and humanity. Love those.

  4. Katyn (Poland): By the great Polish Director Andrzej Wajda. An account of Stalin's murder of 15,000 reserve officers in 1940, most of them Polish intelligentsia. Very meaningful to us as Jerzy's uncle was among those murdered.

  5. All Inclusive (Chile-Mexico): A family drama at a holiday resort. Funny and touching.

  6. Cowards (Spain): An account of a boy who is being bullied. Heart-wrenching at times.

  7. Be Calm and Count to Seven (Iran): A roughly told tale of life in a fishing village where smuggling people and goods is the way of life.

  8. The Song of Sparrows (Iran): Possibly my favourite of this year's festival. A poetic and humanistic slice-of-life story.

  9. Mermaid (Russia): A dark comedy about a girl who has the power to make her wishes come true. Delightfully quirky.

  10. Rain (Argentina): Two people meet in an unexpected way and their stories unfold. Nicely told.
  11. Son of a Lion (Australia-Pakistan): A young boy, living on the Pakistan-Afghan border, struggles to get an education despite his father's wish that he remain in the family business of arms-making.
  12. The Stranger in Me (Germany): Excellent portrait of a woman dealing with post-partum depression.
  13. Parking (Taiwan): A man tries to find the person who has double-parked and blocked his car, meeting interesting characters along the way. Scattered story but entertaining.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

tool tuesday: wood carving tool

Jo Horswill has generously submitted another of her tools for "tool tuesday." Last time we met her beloved file. This time it's a Japanese wood carving tool which carves many a wonderous thing! If you haven't checked out the soulful work of Jo Horswill go now! Here's what she had to say about her wood carving tool:

This is a Japanese wood carving tool. Not the most expensive tool in the shop, but it certainly works very well. I use it to carve into cherry wood blocks, maple wood blocks and lino for printing. Carving wooden printing blocks, gives me such a warm and peaceful feeling. I always hope these feelings reflect in my prints. This little tool carves through wood like butter. I even love the little shavings it creates along the way, and often save these for 'other projects'. I love it when you come across a hand tool that works almost like a natural extension of your own hand...

That's what this carving tool feels like when I use it.

Thanks so much Jo! Bloggers...keep sending in those tools! We have an open spot for next week's "tool tuesday!"