Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Two More Small Ones - Potential Journal in Progress

I'm choosing from the photos I took in Vancouver Island and coming up with some small ones that may turn into a trip journal. These are both 1/8 sheet Arches coldpress #140. Neither are done yet - still need some darks and some shaping to finish them up.

The first is the gateway into the Japanese Garden at Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC.

The second is a bit of Susan's "Willow Cottage" with her lovely begonias blooming in the window boxes.

The Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society will be having their monthly meeting tomorrow. Louis Austerman, a local artist, will be our guest artist/speaker and he'll lead the paint-along after the program. I'll have lots of photos to upload and then minutes to start on when I get home from the meeting so probably no painting tomorrow.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Friend's Painting - My Take

My friend, Ann, was having trouble with a painting she was doing in oils. I thought I might be able to help her even though I know nothing about oils! I did a value study putting in just the darks and from there did a watercolor sketch, trying to keep it loose like on-site painting. Then I painted it in watercolor, just a sketch-like painting.

I had both the sketch and the painting posted here but Ann reminded me that I didn't have the rights to use the photo - she did, but I didn't. She's right. Got to watch that copyright issue and make sure you aren't stepping over the bounds!

So I removed the sketch and painting. Thanks, Ann, for reminding me to be careful. These blogs do go out to everyone on the internet and I should have known better!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Watercolor magazine

Each time I get my new issue of Watercolor magazine, I spend days pouring over every article. They are always informative and the magazine is always full of the most glorious watercolor and acrylic paintings. This issue (Fall 2008) is no exception and if you don't get it, here are some artists featured who are worth taking a peek at sometime...







Two Small Ones from BC Photos

We ate at this pub and I took the photo - a bit wonky but the angle was looking up and I did it too quickly to straighten it. I took some liberties with the photo, leaving some things out. I like the crow, though - I don't know why I like crows and ravens. Guess it's because we don't have many (no ravens) (few crows) of them around here.

And speaking of ravens, here's a totem from a park in Victoria, BC. Also just a quick watercolor "sketch." I want these to look like on-site sketches for now and choose which ones later that I want to work on in a larger format (both of these 1/8 sheet Arches coldpress 140#).

It feels good to paint again, even if it's small - but I feel a bit out of practice!

Now off to catch up on some more blogs I've been missing.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Received my SWAP Painting Early!!!

Floyd, in Canada, was my partner this time and Friday afternoon I received this lovely, serene, peaceful, totally beautiful painting from him. It really does seem almost meditative in the "simplicity" of the painting and I really like that. It's so hard to keep things simple and elegant and quiet in your paintings. Floyd has done this beautifully.

Thank you so much, Floyd!


British Columbia and the whole of northwest America have various native tribes who are known for the carving of totem poles. I haven't researched them at all so don't know about the symbols and what they mean, but I did see quite a few during our travels in BC recently.

So I thought I'd share some with you. I intend to paint a few sometime soon (if I actually put that in writing, then I HAVE to DO it!).

And I'll let the words of Emily Carr describe some of her first impressions of totems she saw on her journeys to the outer islands of British Columbia (off Vancouver Island); from Klee Wyck:
"On the base of this pole was a figure of a man; he had on a tell, tall hat, which was made up of sections, and was a hat of great honour. On the top of the hat perched a raven. Little figures of men were clinging to every ring of honour all the way up the hat. The story told that the man had adopted a raven as his son. The raven turned out to be a wicked trickster and brought a flood upon his foster parents. When the waters rose the man's nephews and relations climbed up the rings of his hat of honour and were thus saved from being drowned. It was a fine pole, bleached of all colour, and then blommed over again with greeny-yellow mold."
"A tall totem pole stood up against each house; in the center of its front...The lowest figure of the centre pole was a great eagle; the other two were beavers with immense teeth -- they held sticks in their hands. All three base figures had a hold through the pole so that the people could enter and leave the house through the totem."
Emily recorded many of the totem poles she saw standing, asking the native people their stories or histories (sometimes they would tell her, sometimes not, sometimes they told her whatever they thought would make her quit asking). She also painted many of the totems as she travelled around.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Painting for a Group Project

Our monthly project for September was: Scarecrows and Blackbirds of all kinds

And then we had a group photo (we all paint from the same photo) shared by Gina - it was one she picked out from WetCanvas' Image Library (all copyright free).

Since I was running out of time but wanted to paint something for this month, I combined them all and came up with this. Not a great painting. Just cute, I guess. And the first thing I've been able to share since coming home (can't show my SWAP painting until my partner gets it).

Jerry titled this one "Ravenous" because that's one big raven and looks like he can take on that scarecrow easily. I wanted it to look like the raven was closer to the viewer and then the other things farther away. I may paint some more ravens and crows - I like black birds and you can put so many colors in them. It would be fun to play with "black" for a while.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Vancouver - the big city

Dropped off our rental car just in time for the guy inside to run us over to the BC Ferry to leave at 1 pm Monday, Sept. 15. Great timing!

The ferry was HUGE! Being from the "midwest," if that is what you can call Kentucky, we don't have much experience with ferries. Jerry and I were expecting something a bit, well, smaller than a 7 layered cruise liner! ha ha And for the short trip over (about an hour or less), they had a full cafeteria, snack bars, bathrooms, and decks - 2 decks down for trucks and busses and cars - 5 decks up for people, including the top 2 that were open to view the water and land slowly cruising by. I didn't take any photos so I'll have to share some of Jerry's he took while travelling. This isn't our ferry but one just like it - or maybe ours was just a bit bigger. Along the way we saw a funky little lighthouse, lots of very expensive homes with very expensive views.

At one point, the Captain says, "If you are on the right side of the ferry, you can see a pod of killer whales," so, of course, everyone ran to the right side of the ferry and I'm thinking, "Where are the lifejackets when this thing tips over?" Turns out I didn't need it - but one never knows! Jerry didn't get the whole pod but did get this one breaching a bit. Pretty cool, eh? (Did you catch that Canadian dialect? ha ha)

We didn't have a clue how to get from the Tsaawassen Ferry drop into Vancouver - which was a fer walk, that's for sure, so that was out. Turns out we bought 2 tickets on the ferry for a busline (doing tours) that let us get on with the other tourists (mostly from Germany and Holland and Spain, if my hearing was correct). Took us right to the International Departures area of the Vancouver International Airport. Then we had a Starbucks and called our hotel who send a shuttle bus to pick us up, taking right to our front door. Pretty sweet! And we didn't have to fight the Vancouver traffic.

Of course, the next day we still didn't have a car but we had a plan - city buses - to take us to Stanley Park and the Vancouver Aquarium where I wanted, so wanted, to see the beluga whale and her baby (born in June).

So many cities have wonderful bus service. This one was on an electrical line like a trolley so no gas fumes and spending on fuel - clever Canadians!! Although it took us just over an hour to get from our hotel to Stanley Park (with one transfer still at $2.50 each way, not bad), it was comfortable and relatively open, not many people using the bus at the time we left at 9:30 am on a Tuesday morning.

It was not so wonderful coming back home taking the same bus route with school out and people coming home from work - and people crammed in like sardines and the bus driver kept letting them on and there were never as many getting off the bus as getting on and I thought, "Where are we going to put all these people?" and some talking on cell phone and some talking to their friends (school out, remember, lots of kids taking the bus), and just a few places to actually sit so you got to see that the girl in front of you really needed to shave her pits unless it was a fashion statement about stubble. But we survived it. It was an experience. Try to imagine being in an elevator with 25 people talking to each other, talking on their cell phones, and the doors open and 5 more get in and 1 gets out and - try to imagine!!!

But back to the good stuff - the Vancouver Aquarium and the beluga whales!!! I don't know why they make me smile and they make me think that life is okay, no matter what is happening, but they do. Pale grandmother beluga and mother beluga and grey baby beluga that didn't let mama far from her side (yep, also a female) and looked like a batiked painting because the grey was peeling a bit and actually looked pretty cool.


I was so determined not to miss the belugas that it didn't matter that, just before we went into the Aquarium (as we were blocking our eyes from the assault of the Vancouver sun and looking for a sign that said Aquarium), I tripped over a metal chair attached to a metal picnic table and fell, skinning my knee badly and catching myself with my left hand, which was scraped (and did you know your fingers only bend back so far without causing serious pain??? Well, I know that now). Didn't matter. I soldiered on and saw them and enjoyed them. Of course, we saw the rest of the Aquarium, too, but the belugas were what I came for.
Maybe I can download snippets of the videos I took on my camera - if I can figure that out.

Cathedral Grove + Blue Stone Alpaca Farm

On the road to Port Alberni out of Qualicum Beach, we stopped to walk in and marvel at Cathedral Grove, an old-growth forest beside still and silent Cameron Lake. Walking among the huge, 100-year-old trees was wonderful but I got a crick in my neck from looking up up up :)

The deepest part of the forest was dark as night, but light still streamed through the tops of the trees, catching the moss and creating images that made you think of gnomes, brownies, and Queen Titania and her fairy handmaidens waiting just around the corner.

We also, on our last day, found Blue Stone Alpaca Farm and toured there, with the lady of the house giving us a private tour and talk about the animals, the wool, etc. It really was so much fun and interesting and the best part was when the alpacas began to hum. Yes! They hummed when they were unsure about you walking in their midst or when you got close to a baby or maybe just to communicate with each other. It was tooo funny! So you walked around the females and babies and heard, "hmmmm...hmmmmm" like a choir getting ready to sing their beginning notes. Quietly, softly, and in different tones. What's not to love about these animals? And the colors of the males were just so handsome.

The alpacas were friendly and curious although the mothers made sure they protected the babies. The males were handsome with the best markings, most of the females were white or cream colored.

This little one decided it was dinner time!

Now granted, this one was not the most handsome fellow, but you'll remember him, I bet 'cha! And his name: Moustachio! He needed some dental work but it is common for their teeth to grow too big for their mouths. And once he gets that taken care of, I'm sure he'll be the Brad Pitt of alpacas :)

After lots of hugs and well wishes, we headed out from Susan's on Monday, 15th of September, driving back towards Victoria to drop off our rental car and catch the ferry over to Vancouver. (Yes, I got a bit confused before I got there about Vancouver and Vancouver Island!)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ladysmith, BC: Cranberry Farm, Herb Farm, Etc.

After our pub lunch, we drove off in search of Yellow Point Cranberry Farm. I've always wanted to see a cranberry bog - you know, the men in the waders up to their knees or thighs in cranberries floating like round garnets and rubies all around them.

Here is what a real live cranberry growing on a vine on the ground looks like.

And here is what the cranberry field looks like before it is flooded - and, unfortunately, I didn't get to see it flooded because they weren't going to start that process until October!! Wahhhhh! But it takes 3 days to flood their fields at Yellow Point and then only 1 day to harvest (mostly for Ocean Spray) the berries which float to the top (the bad berries sink to the bottom) and are corralled and gathered and cleaned and sorted, etc.

A gorgeous view, but not what I wanted. I wanted to see the Ocean Spray guys wading in the cranberry bogs. Guess I'll have to go to Maine or Wisconsin (I heard they have lots of cranberry bogs, too). I bet you have to be there on just the right week, though, or you miss it.

This beautiful machine was, I believe, for juicing the cranberries. Can't remember now but I did see machines for sorting, cleaning, and readying the cranberries for packing. The wood in this was lovely and it was so sturdy I imagine it being used still decades from now, if not centuries.
We did buy some small jars of cranberry marmelade but the nice man at the Vancouver International Airport took mine away - too large to take on the plane :(

After the cranberry farm we toured Hazelwood Herb Farm and got our fill of smells - I loved walking through the many types of rosemary, sniffing each one, rubbing the scent on my hands. Love it! The couple who own and run the herb farm make their own soaps, jams, lotions, etc. - just about anything you can think of - from the herbs they grow. I bought some soaps that are too pretty to use and smell heavenly!

Then on the way back to Qualicum, we stopped at French Creek, a working harbour town.

These are not tourist boats but working fishing boats, going out in the early mornings to catch whatever fish they can catch.

Then back to Susan's for "a cuppa," and a nice slice of something sweet - and to give Teddy a few pats and hugs.

Qualicum Beach - Farmer's Market, Train Station, Etc.

Saturday morning and Qualicum Beach has a regular farmer's market. Larger than our local one and it had more offerings than just vegetables. They even had a bit of entertainment :)

One gentleman seemed perplexed why I would be taking a photograph of the peppers until I told him they would make a lovely painting.

The lady at the stall who had the garlic also looked like she didn't know why I was taking a photo of them. Seemed a bit perturbed but I walked away before she could say anything.

It was hard to get really good paintable prints since the sun was blindingly bright (must be the clean, clear air that makes the sunshine seem so strong) but most of the items were under canopies so in the shade.

This is the little train station that runs tourist trains back and forth from Victoria to Qualicum Beach. The locals would like to use it but the hours aren't convenient for them to get into Victoria, spend any time and return all in the same day - or even in two days.

Susan took Teddy to a neighbor's house for the day Saturday after the Farmer's Market, and we took off for a hour's drive to Ladysmith where our intentions were to see Yellow Point Cranberry Farm, Hazelwood Herb Farm, and have a pub lunch at the Crow & Gate, a British pub. Good thing we got to the Crow & Gate early because they were having a Porche rally and it was packed!
The food was hearty and very good. By this time, we felt we had eaten enough to last us the whole trip so tried to be more careful in our eating so Jerry and I usually shared any sandwich I got and he'd have soup and I'd have a salad or something. Plenty. And no more desserts except for a dessert "night-cap" at Susan's with dinner in the evening :) Well, it is a vacation, afterall! :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Susan's Generosity

One evening we had a scrumptuous dinner at Fish Tales, a restaurant in the British Tudor style right on the main highway of Qualicum Beach. Dinner was so filling we didn't have room for dessert! ha ha

When we returned home that evening, Susan said she had something she wanted to give me. She was going to wait but realized I needed to figure out how to pack it for the trip home so wanted me to have it now.

A matted and framed painting of Fish Tales that Mohan had painted. Well, I was thrilled, touched, moved, and could not believe she could part with any one of his works of art but I was so glad she did. It will be a cherished work that will grace my walls from now on, and like the other painting he painted for me (for an artists' SWAP), every time I walk by it, I will stop and look and smile.

Thank you so much, Susan, for everything. Words can't express...

And that's not all. Nigel, one of the "boys," is also an artist and does amazing pen and ink drawings. He gave one to me and one to Jerry the day before we left!! I had to give him a big hug, of course, which was awkward because he has to be 6' 6" tall :) Susan is also tall so Jerry and I both seemed tiny compared - they must think they grow them small in Kentucky :)

Here are Nigel's drawings - they are gorgeous!!! He always does black and white or throws in some touches of red once in a while.

Thanks again, Nigel, and it was a real pleasure to meet you!

More Photos from Qualicum Beach

Susan was a great hostess - keeping us well fed, letting us stay at her home (better than any B & B :) and taking us to see the interesting sights around Qualicum Beach.

We visited the estuary at low tide, walked in town to do a bit of shopping for gifts to take home, toured Milner Gardens (the Queen once stayed there) where I saw a mimosa. My grandmother (Momah) had a huge mimosa in her front yard. Hummingbirds and butterflies would flock inside it when it bloomed. It was so beautiful. You don't see them much anymore around here.

Each jeweled case held a butterfly waiting to be released.

We also saw the Butterfly Gardens with their enclosed garden full of butterflies all over, flitting and landing and even posing on your fingers. The Gardens also had a lovely orchid garden section where Jerry and I took dozens of orchids. They were everywhere and each one more interesting than the last. If you want to see some photos, I'll send you some after I get the best resized and ready but I won't post all of them here - it would take a whole post just to show them.

Susan and me at the Butterfly Gardens in the orchid area.

Then we toured the North Island Wildlife Recovery Center in Errington (a raptor rehab center but also had bears - all animals who have been injured and will either be released into the wild or will be kept there). That included the beautiful but sad bald eagle who had been shot in the head, causing the loss of the upper part of his beak. In order to make sure he could feed himself, the center contacted someone who makes the eagle a prosthetic beak every now and then. The first ones came off when he used them and they have to be refitted and resized every now and then. The photo here is from a postcard showing the beauty of the thing - doesn't it look befitting a grand bald eagle?

I'm afraid he just looked a bit sad without the prosthetic. He didn't have it on when we visited and we got several photos - it looked like the whole top part was off so it was skinny and curved.

Who could shoot one of these wonderful creatures? But then, a lot of the owls, hawks, eagles, ravens, crows, and other birds - and the bear cubs - were there because someone had shot them for sport.

Each evening we came home tired, had a wonderful meal, and went to bed early (our body clocks were still on KY time so 10 pm Qualicum Beach felt like 1 am KY time). It was so dark (no street lights) and so quiet (no airplanes going over, no car sounds, no barking dogs) that we slept like babies and woke refreshed and ready for the next day's adventure.

Tired Rhonda

Tired Teddy