Friday, 24 February 2017


Our Thursday Art Group has been exploring the mysteries of abstract art and having a go at it ourselves. You'd think it would be dead easy to splodge a few brushes full of paint on a canvas and smear and spatter it about and call it "Art", but believe me, it's a lot harder than it looks.

Abstract art doesn't necessarily have to actually represent anything, or be recognisable, it can just be a pleasing pattern or combination of shapes, forms, colours and lines. It's definitely a departure from reality. And it's very hard for me to get away from reality when I'm surrounded with it! It's an exercise in thinking and painting "outside the box", something I'm not at all good at.

I call this "Lost in Space" because I was really lost in trying to make this look good.
Black gesso spattered with white gesso and acrylic paint. I like the swirly shapes.
More gesso, acrylic paint and collage of bits and pieces of coloured paper.
I think I might add more to this, perhaps some coloured markers or acrylic ink.

Coloured markers on paper. trying to emulate the abstract work of Alex Janvier's circular paintings. 
I'm not quite sure what I was trying to say here, if anything, but it was fun choosing the colours and shapes. See the face? 

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Baking and Back Alleys

It doesn't happen often, but today I felt inspired to do some baking, so here's my bread. I usually combine whole wheat and white flour but I ran out of whole wheat so this is made with white bread flour with the addition of bran, oats and flax seeds. It will be delicious with some of that marmalade I made a couple of weeks ago.

And than I decided there was nothing sweet in the house to eat, so peanut butter cookies were next on the list. I ate three of them straight out of the oven, and then I had to cover them with a tea towel, just so I couldn't see them. Out of sight, out of mind.

Yesterday I was prowling some of the back streets, looking for interesting buildings.

This might end up as a painting. I like the different roof lines and chimneys. That's the top of the town Clock Tower peeking out on the right. I think the backs of buildings are often more interesting that the front.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Feeling Very Sad

YoungerSon has taken off with his fishing buddies on their annual ice fishing weekend in the frozen north. Personally I can think of better ways to spend a few days then sitting in an ice hut out on a frozen lake, talking about fish and cars, but they like it.
But he left three very sad children behind. There were loud tears from all of them when he left.... as if they were never going to see him again.
And after school, Max drew this heartbreaking picture to illustrate his deep feelings of abandonment.

Don't worry, Max, Daddy'll be back on Monday!

Sunday, 5 February 2017


What do you like to spread on your toast at breakfast time?
In my kitchen there's usually a selection of spreads to choose from: peanut butter, strawberry jam, honey, even that good old British standby Marmite, but my favourite is Marmalade.
But not that sweet sickly stuff that's lined up on the local supermarket shelves. I like my marmalade bitter with a tang of citrus, something with a punch to make sure I'm fully awake. And the only way to get it is to make it myself.

The bitter and rather ugly Seville oranges are only available at this time of year. I usually have to try 2 or 3 grocery stores before I find them, but this year they were in the first store I went to. Bonus! Teamed with a couple of lemons and sweet oranges, Marmalade Day 2017 got started.

Squeeze out the juice, separate the pulp and the pips, and cut the peel into thin strips. The pulp and the pips can be soaked and boiled to extract the pectin. For every cup of peel and juice, 2 cups of water was added, and then left to soak in my "jam bucket" overnight and then cooked until soft. Then sugar was added, and more cooking for at least 30 minutes until the marmalade reaches a jelly consistency.
Then it's poured into hot jars and we wait to see if it will gell. Even if it doesn't, it will taste yummy! Making marmalade is a pretty labour intensive process, but worth it IMHO!

The end result: enough marmalade to keep me and my family happy at breakfast for a long time. (Actually, the family doesn't like it as much as I do, so perhaps this is all for me!!!!!)

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

The Hippy Hippy Shake

Remember that song... The Hippy Hippy Shake?
As a teenager I remember the song being a huge hit by The Swinging Blue Jeans in England in 1963, but apparently was performed by many other artists.... the Beatles, Little Tony, Chan Romero, Mud, Billy Childish, Davy Jones, Jesse and the Rippers, The Georgia Satellites, most of whom I've never heard of.

I've got my own version of the Hippy Hippy Shake.... here. Six months in and everything's looking good.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Fun with Clay

Every Monday morning I join a group of arty-farty people in the back room of the local  Art Gallery and we talk about ART (and gossip a bit too!), we do ART, we create ART, we make ART.... and most of all, we have fun. I love being part of this group.
One of our number is a potter, and has been bringing clay and his expertise to the group. Last week we had a lesson on how to make a pinch pot. Our creations are drying right now, and will be fired next week. Sadly, I didn't take any "before" pictures, but I'll make sure I take some "after" shots.
This week we covered a slab of black clay with slip, and inscribed a picture on the slip. When these are fired, the slip will show as white with the black clay showing through.
I actually remembered my camera this time.
For some reason I can't turn this photo to "landscape".... but here's my robin, inspired by a Christmas card, and my codfish.
The carvings will stay on these drying racks for a week until the clay is leather hard, and then they can be cleaned up and eventually fired in the kiln.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Some More Chihuly

A few more pictures from the Royal Ontario Museum's Chihuly Exhibit.

Persian Ceiling  This is one of the most popular works. Brightly coloured "persian" shapes are arranged in layers on a ceiling of glass, and lit from above. When Chihuly was asked why he called these shapes "persian" he said he just liked the name. But the Museum removed the quote from it's signage, and to see why, click here.

The whole room glows with colour forming dramatic textured reflections on the walls. Apparently the SoHo Metropolitan Hotel in Toronto has a ceiling like this in the front entrance, but on a smaller scale. I'll have to check it out when I'm in the neighbourhood. 

The best way to see the colours of the Persian Ceiling is to lie on the strategically provided upholstered cushions. This family was enjoying bathing in a pool of light, pointing out all the tiny details..
Fire Orange Baskets  A depiction of Northwest Coast Indian baskets showing the shapes in the circular woven baskets created by effects of gravity and time.

These glass baskets are the largest ever produced.

Persian Trellis  More of those "persian" shapes. The glass is blown to form herringbone patterns, and each individual piece has a slightly different colour combination, with a teeny weeny stripe of contrasting glass on the rim. I want one!!!!

Perhaps you would like to take home a souvenir of your visit to the Chihuly exhibit? These modest little trinkets were displayed for sale, carefully watched over by a Museum employee,  and in fact one had been purchased just a few minutes before I took this photo. 

Too bad I didn't have any spare change with me, as I quite fancied this lovely bowl of sunshine sitting on my mantlepiece. But I would have had to take it home on the bus..... and it might have been broken....