“Be Prepared”

As I mentioned in my spring blog post, we were planning a holiday, and it was wonderful.  Summer, as a whole has been marvelous.  Though the good weather was late in coming, once it hit in late June it decided to take up residence.  Now we are about to enter September and we still are having predominantly sunshine and warm days.  That’s not always the case after Regatta Day in St. John’s.

Planning a holiday also meant planning what art supplies I wanted to take along.  I knew I wouldn’t be making “serious art”, but I did want to take materials for sketching, and for maintaining my travel journal.  You also know, from previous posts, that I am a bit of a supply and diy geek, so the first thing I considered was a small watercolour palette.  cotmanI have W&N Cotman travel set, which I was planning to take, but I had seen the Pocket Palette business card size kit on Pinterest, and elsewhere, and thought I might be crafty enough to make something similar.  So let the games begin.

Small Metal Notepad

Many years ago, my husband gave me a tiny metal notepad with a pen that kept it closed.  While I loved it, I hadn’t used it often, so it was ready for a reincarnation.

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I found little metal pans online at a cosmetic supply firm (TKB Trading) and I had an old sheet magnet from a calendar, and some small magnet dots from the Dollarama.  I glued the magnet to the inside of the notepad base with E6000, and as the metal pans stuck nicely to the magnet I didn’t need to use the magnet dots.  I used white adhesive contact paper to make the mixing space under the cover.

I had purchased some lovely Shinhan Watercolours from Amazon, so my next task was to fill the pans I wanted.

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It was just a matter of filling the pan, and then spreading the paint out with a toothpick.  I included Mission Gold Crimson Lake, and W&N Cotman Payne’s Gray, because they are favourites.  You can see the rest of my palette selections on the sample card above.  Once the pans had dried (2 days) I just slipped them into the case and now I have a lovely little kit that I can slip in my pocket with a waterbrush and a pencil.

My Pocket Palette

But for journaling on the trip I wanted a little more.  I like a selection of pens, and prefer normal brushes to waterbrushes.  The ephemera one collects on a trip needs to be taped or glued in and scissors and rulers are helpful.  When I was growing up I had pencil cases for school that held all sorts of art supplies, so while I was in the Thrift Store, I came across a more modern version of this with an inner divider and decided it had potential.

I grant you I am a fan of all things Disney, but this was not the vision I had for my art supplies.  Acrylic paint to the rescue.  I think the result is much more appropriate.

The kit holds pencils, art eraser, ruler, fountain pens, a white pen and glue pens, along with an assortment of waterbrushes and travel brushes alongside my Cotman paints.  There is a plastic card cut from packaging wrapped with washi tape, and there are watercolour paper pieces, binderclips and elastics; water container, colour wheel, spray bottle, paper towel and cloth cuff.

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And of course, one must have a matching sketchbook.  This was a book of quite sturdy watercolour paper (no weight given) that I picked up at a yard sale.  The cover is heavy chipboard.

 

The truth of the trip was that it was so busy there was little time to sketch anything, and I will leave the details of our travels to a future post.  But here is a little tidbit to whet your appetite.

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Happenstance 

I am a teacher. 3rd generation.  If you were to ask me why I did it my stock answer would be, “for the light-bulbs.”  What I meant by that was the moment you could see understanding dawn in a student’s eyes. Or the moment when passion or love of a subject took over.  I’m retired now and that is why I have the time to indulge myself in my own learning. Last summer someone turned on a light bulb for me. It wasn’t a quick flick of a switch, but a slow charging of a battery.

Laura, from Create Art Every Day, liked one of my posts and so I went to visit her at a time when she was posting a small watercolour every day, and I was impressed. No I didn’t hop right to it. I’m more comfortable with acrylics and watercolour intimidates me. But I did use my Crayola watercolour pencils to capture the visit of a colourful arachnid to my peony. See Inspired By A Visitor.  And that was all. For about 6 months.

After Christmas I took on two goals:  

  1. Continue writing a journal.  I do a good job of a travel journal, but usually not of a more continuous variety.
  2. Learn to draw; at least a little.

I can paint, but I have never considered myself able to draw. So I bought a couple of books at a second hand store, and started following Shoo Rayner and Cathy Johnson on Youtube.  Cathy had this lovely tutorial on making folded sketchbooks from single sheets of paper-much less intimidating than a fancy new sketchbook. 20170404_204040Each night I would sit and write in my journal, and then try to sketch one small thing. Not every night, mind you, but most nights.

And black and white is pretty dull, but I had an old Prang kid’s watercolour set. Well, the rest is history.

 

 

 

 

I now have quite a collection. All small, about double ATC size, but I’ve so enjoyed it. I’m learning every day; watercolour no longer intimidates me.

Here’s a little selection of the progression

Back Deck Visitor

Back Deck Visitor – One of the first

Sketch 2

Snow Day – Under Covers

 

 

 

 

 

 

More recent sketches are definitely cleaner looking.

We have a holiday coming up, and I look forward to taking a little kit with me and adding some visuals to my travel journal. Thank You to, Danny Gregory, Liz Steel,  Koosje Koene and so many more for all the many hours of free instruction they have provided.  And thank you, Laura, for your advice and encouragement.  It may have only been a moment but we never know what little thing we do that influences someone else.  Be well.

Monika

Memor-y-ial

It’s the end of March, and it came in like a lamb, so you know how it is going out.  The next 4 days promise high winds, rain, freezing rain, snow and sleet.  I don’t think I’ll leave the house if I can avoid it. Storm chips I’ve laid in a stock of “storm chips” for hubby.   That’s become a new tradition in Newfoundland.  For some reason we’ve forgotten that we get snow regularly into mid May and sometimes into June.  Urbanization has made us soft.

But I digress.  The impending arrival of April makes me think of spring, and milder weather, and days when going out and about is fun and you don’t have to wear 4 layers of clothing and boots so heavy you’ll drown in a pothole.  If you go back in my blog posts you’ll find I leave my cocoon in April, take my camera and explore.  Look What the Sun Brought Out! was one such, and you’ll see a photo of a statue on a huge granite boulder, spreading it’s wings and reaching to the sky.  In January I decided it was a good subject for a painting, and Icarus of Bay Bulls appeared under my brush.  Icarus of Bay Bulls

As one does these days, I posted the finished painting on a social media site.  Imagine my surprise when one of my Book Club friends asked, “Did you know that this memorial was erected to my father-in-law?”  I was floored.  We forget how small this province really is.

The memorial was cast by sculptor, Luben Boykov , in memory of Captain Patrick J. Coady and his crew, who were lost at sea in 1994.  The sculpture sits on one of a grouping of 5 large rocks that family and friends brought, by boat, from Captain Coady’s place of birth (Bar Haven), and then dug into ground to stand their guard.

My friend and her family had been very much moved by the painting, and so I was happy to be able to gift it to her.  (But I did have it professionally scanned, should I want a copy.  Or I may paint it again some day.)

Imperative

Sometimes a story demands to be told, a photo begs to be taken, a painting insists on being created.

About a year ago I painted a few decorative items, just gifts, of a colourful village – my Gaudy Hamlet.

They were pretty and colourful, the flip side depicting a different season of the year.  So I thought why not paint a progression on a canvas, through the seasons of the year.  And so was born, A Year in a Gaudy Hamlet.

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But you would need to know a little about this place I live…The Rock…The Easternmost Province of Canada…This Island in the Atlantic.  We are known for our colourful houses, and most famously for Jellybean Row in St. John’s.  Check out the link for some lovely photos and explanations.

Many of the houses in the small towns outside the city (the smallest, clinging to the shores of the island, called Outports) are made up of Higglety-Pigglety houses that sprung up as sons and daughters built by their parents over the 600 years of our existence.  (Yes we are the oldest inhabited place in North America.)  Usually not as colourful as “Sin Jawn’s”, there were more white houses with green or blue or black trim, or brick red houses with yellow ochre, or yellow houses with white.

I loved my whimsical work, with it’s bright colours and comical fir trees.  The apple tree was one of the few fruit trees traditionally planted here.  Occasionally someone had luck with pear.  And my friends and family loved it too.  I don’t paint to sell, but people wanted prints of this one!  However it talked to me.  “There’s more to the story,” it whispered.  I told my husband, who said, “Why would you want to paint something that isn’t happy?”  And so I left it alone for about 8 months.  But it wouldn’t leave me alone.

You see, Newfoundland and Labrador has seen a constant move from rural to urban.  Outports were isolated, often with no roadway to reach them and transport by boat alone.  This made services and supplies difficult to access.  There was a natural drive to move to where these things were available, but in the 1950’s the government began to initiate moves, because health care and municipal services were so difficult to provide.  People were paid to move.  Some floated their homes across the bays.  Hearts were torn out of families as communities were abandoned.  There are many internet sites that deal with resettlement but here is one to give you a taste.  Resettlement

Shortly before Christmas the whispering got too loud and I started on Resettlement in a Gaudy Hamlet.  The first houses are still inhabited, but soon there is no one to mow the lawns, or rake the leaves, or clear the rocks off the road.  The houses are shocked and surprised.  Why is it quiet?  Where are the lives that once filled them?  Why is there no one to close the doors?  To fix the shingles?  To paint their greying clapboard?  It is sad, as glass breaks and timbers rot.  But it is not ugly, nor without hope.  The trees that were once cut for firewood grow up.  The flowers, wild and gone wild colour the fields.

resettlement These are hidden places, and I have come upon them myself over the years.  Coves where the only indications that someone once lived there, are the square mounds of rocks that were the foundation of homes.  Where the furrows on the hill denote a garden that once held drills of potato and carrot.

“This is the land of dreamings, a land of wide horizons and secret places.  The first people, our ancestors, created this country in the culture that binds us to it.”

~Hetti Perkins