Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Back from Vacation in lovely Victoria BC

Craig and I escaped for THREE lovely nights and FOUR days without ANY kids this past weekend!
The above photos capture the absolutely stunning Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC.
We are very fortunate to live within ferry distance of Victoria.  You may remember this is where we went last year when our trip to Ireland was cancelled due to the Iclandic volcano.
(And where we got engaged!)

We stayed here, at the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria ~ See this link for a photo tour
that really does it justice!
 I have always wanted to stay here,
ever since I was a little girl!  It is an incredible period piece, and if you love the feel of an elegant English Country Manor, this is your place!  It opened in 1908, I believe, and there are photos everywhere of English Royalty as they visited through the years.  Very elegant and a truly memorable place to stay!  And ohhhh soooo romantic!

The parliament building was designed by the same architect that designed our hotel, Frances Rattenbury and they are situated kitty corner from each other, so the two blocks are just a joy to walk along and just take them in!  Incredible attention to detail!

We walked and walked and walked each day, for hours at a time, shopping a bit, but mostly just enjoying the sights and each other's company. We held hands for hours, strolling along with the requisite starbucks, ducking in and out of shops, grabbing a snack or lunch when we wanted!   Then back to the hotel to rest up and just veg, watching TV together or reading, or quite frankly, taking a mid-day nap, something we never get to do in real life.  Then we glamoured up for dinner, or drinks, whatever we were up for. 
We dined really well every night and had the most memorable evening at an Irish pub where the young man that was heading up the live band blew us away with all our favorite Van Morrison tunes, and many more great songs from a bit 'back in the day'!  "-)

This is another view of our hotel, The Empress ~ she is so very grand, isn't she? the ivy growing all over the facade was not yet leafed out, but the gardens, lawns, and spring flowers were in full parade.  The Canadians, much like the English, really know how to garden!

A couple more views, one of our hotel ( I never get tired of it!) and of the city, so beautiful!

The parliment building lit up at night with the harbor in front!

Believe it or not, the very best bit of our trip was the walking together; we left our car parked and walked everywhere.  It was so wonderful!  There is a part in the movie THE QUIET MAN where the matchmaker tells John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara to get down and take a couple of miles together walking to see how they do.  It really is a complete difference of pace to put the car away, and take to the streets and pathways, cruise the waterfront, the local hiking paths, watch the seaplanes land and deplane and then take off again...

Of course I am already planning our next mini-getaway, and we have agreed to come back to Victoria this time every year together, WITHOUT the children!  Yeah!  It's a perfect way for us to strengthen our connection, really enjoy each other's company, and recharge for the busy busy summer ahead of us!

Missed you all, especially Sunday sketches, and I will be around soon to see what creativity I've missed!

Smiles and hugs!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Sketches

Happy Sunday Everyone!
I am a little late posting today as I was working on finishing these laminated bookmarks of some of my latest pieces...
They measure 4x6 or 5x7

I print them on high gloss photo paper and then laminate them - for some reason I can't get the pictures to rotate, so I am only able to show them from this angle, but if you click on the pictures, you can get an idea of what they look like. 

I am finding these are wildly popular with my daughter's friends at school, and I have given a few of them away as gifts to friends too.  They really make wonderful bookmarks!

I also love what shrinking my work down to this size does to the details! 
They are crazy tiny and it looks like "How does she do that?!" 

These are two panels from the flower catalogue that I finished this week...haven't really produced much in the way of a new sketch, so thought I'd share these two panels.

And finally, I have foto proof that Spring is here!  Since we moved into this house last Fall, I am totally unfamiliar with what bulbs have been planted and what plants will be coming up...so every day a new batch of tiny green shoots emerges all over the yard, and I get to anticipate what flower will eventually peek out from the lovely green foliage - Like a new gift every day!

I hope you are enjoying some signs of Spring wherever you are. 
This has been a most difficult week for me, watching the events in Japan unfold and feeling so very sad for all of those displaced people. 
 I hope you are all keeping them in your thoughts or prayers as your beliefs dictate. 

Warmest hugs to you all on this beautiful Sunday!

You can find more wonderful Sunday Sketches over at Sophia's place...be sure to head over and see her adorable sketch and visit the other participants!

S M I L E S!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sunday Sketches ~ Flower Catalog

Happy Sunday Everyone!
Be sure to visit all the other great participants of Sunday Sketches over at Sophia's place!
Or if you are feeling sketchy, join us by posting your sketch, and linking it with dear Mr. Linky over at BlueChairDiary.

I've decided to start a flower catalog, much like the doodle directories many artists have produced, in order to keep track of the flowers I use in my pieces.  I am always looking at past pictures to get ideas for flowers, and I thought this would be a great way to have a quick place to look for ideas.
I took this 12" X 24.5" piece of paper and marked it off in 3" X 4" sections...
Then I just started filling in squares with different flowers I have used before in my pictures...

I am planning on including lots of leaf and vine sketches also as I love to combine all of these elements in my work.
I got the idea for this from Eden who has made a wonderful doodle directory, but also from our dear Sophia, who has recently started sketching every day, just for fun, with no heavy expectations.  I find this flower directory to be very relaxing, creative, and no pressure!  I don't have to worry about ruining a piece I have spent hours on, this is just for fun!

Also I posted this below during the week, but wanted to be sure to share it with all of the Sunday sketchers as you have watched her evolve over a few weeks...

You can see the full post about her below.

Hope you are all having a wonderfully relaxing weekend, or if not, that you are enjoying each moment.  In light of the tragic events unfolding in Japan right now, it reminds me how much we need to treasure the wonderful people in our lives, not the things, and not let even one day pass without thinking about how we can make this planet a better place for those less fortunate.

Hugs to you all and as always...


Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Re-Birth of an Artist

I have been thinking a lot lately about how my art is evolving, and what it means to me to call myself an 'Artist'.
I decided it would be fun to share here a little bit about my artistic background.

I remember as a child drawing all of the time - but I was always drawn to any kind of artistic expression - picture me at six trying to make my tiny fingers move correctly so I could knit and crochet like my mother.  My brain could see how to do it, but I couldn't make my fingers produce consistent little rows...still I never gave up and eventually mastered the basics of crocheting and knitting, enough to make booties, scarves, and half a baby sweater once.

Drawing is something I remember doing from a very early age. I drew all the cartoon characters of that day, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Road Runner, Foghorn Leghorn.  Lots of birds from a bird book my Grandmother had, and really just anything that took my fancy.  I made homemade stationary and decorated the edges with tiny flowers and vines, made tons of cards and filled little lined paper pads with tons of little drawings.  I don't remember recieving a ton of support for my drawings when I was little; my mother was a single mother of five and stretched far too thin to take notice of my little artistic 'treasures'.  For that reason perhaps, I have never known, personally, if my art was ever any good. (an insecure artist, imagine!)     :-)

Through the years, I have had periods where I have completely submerged my artistic side, (putting myself through college working 3 jobs with two small children to raise) and focused on my cerebral side.   At other times I usually had some sort of craft going, sewing quilts, or children's clothing, or little stuffed animals for my kids, but drawing has taken a back seat for years at a time.

Fast forward to February of 2010. 

I was advised by a friend to start a blog about being a busy Mama of 7.  My passion at that point was writing writing writing! (that's still true to some extent.) So I started this little blog and reached out tenative fingers into blogland, exploring and looking for like-minded people, people who were creating something personal and sharing it with a community of creatives.

I was immediately inspired by all of the wonderful art based blogs I stumbled across.  I dusted off my sketchbook and graphite pencils, my colored pencils and pens, and started drawing again.

I can't really remember how, but I stumbled on the weekly art prompt 'Sunday Sketches' over at Sophia's Blue Chair Diary, where Sophia asks artists to share a sketch every Sunday and comment on the other participants.  This seemed like such a no-stress, fun way to draw regularly that I was inspired and started participating every week.  A tiny spark started to glow and I found myself looking forward to coming up with something new to share each week.

I'm pretty sure it is also through this co-op that I stumbled across the artwork of incredible artist Rebecca Anthony.  She was in the middle of completing a series of Diva canvases, and I was blown away by her intricate doodling on the faces of her Divas!  I remember mentally thinking "You can do that?" and answering "Yes, you CAN do that!"  It was like a damn of creativity opened up at that point, and I actually felt all the preconceived notions I had about drawing fly out the window. 

Several other artists along the way have also provided incredible inspiration:
Ces over at Ces and her Dishes
Jessie at The Purple Treebird
Lissa at A Chance of Sunshine
Heather at Rose Hill Designs
Eden at Draw Doodle And Decorate

And many many more!

Now I am developing my own 'style' I guess you'd call it, (I love detail work!) and I am learning to ask myself if like what I am doing, and to smile and accept that to me, at last, it is good.

I love sharing each piece with you all, and when I read your feedback, and lovely lovely comments, I am six again, glowing at the praise of those whose opinion matters to me, those who have inspired me week after week to push my self-imposed artistic limitations, and really bloom as an artist.

And with each piece I finish and love and share, each wonderfully supportive comment I read, I start to suspect that I may just be an 'Artist' some day!

So thank you to all of you who follow me and share my artistic journey.  Your comments, your blogs and writings and art and personal stories, all of it, mean so much to me!  I wish I could travel to meet all of you in person, sit and share coffee, and just enjoy getting to know you all better.  You have shared so much with me and your friendship and support have given me wings!


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sepia Gal finished!

For her 'skirt' I was going for almost a 'moss covered tree trunk' effect and although that is not exactly how this turned out, I still love it - What do you think?

Yeah!  She is finished (for the most part)!!!  This is the biggest project I have done thus far, and it has taken me hours and hours of detail work and over two weeks to finish,
but I am over the moon with the finished piece!!

I love how the Henna'd flowers  on her body turned out, pretty much exactly as I imagined...
I am also in love with the tree I added to add context to this piece - the tree almost
steals the show, don't ya think?

This was really such a long project (for me) that I was aching to get her finished and put two long days in on her yesterday and today. 
Thanks for your positive comments on her thus far.  I hope you all like how she turned out!


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sunday Sketches - Sepia Girl

Happy Sunday All!  I am not sure if we will be having Sunday Sketches this weekend or not - Certainly not without our lovely hostesss Sophia, so I will just post this to share and change it to SS later if Sophia is up to hosting - Either way, our thoughts are with Sophia and her family during this difficult time.

Thought I would post some progress pictures of 'Sepia girl'... :-)
Not sure what to call her yet but I am using lots of sepia colored ink on her so that is her lovely title for now. (I apologize for the shadows in the picture)

Below you can see I have started to layer in some rich browns for the flower and hair - I had originally intended to do the whole flower/leaf part of the drawing in brown tones, but it just didn't come out right so I switched it up with my favorite green and pink pencils.  I love the color combinations!  You can also get a peak at the lower part of this piece.  I am thinking of doing some vinework, sort of like a body hennae treatment on the upper part of her body, and the lower part will be wrapped in a sarong type wrap.
This is how she started earlier this week...

Love to hear your thoughts as always.  Wishing you all a wonderful and relaxing Sunday and week to come!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Another work in progress

Couldn't resist showing you this new piece I am working on today - I just love how she is turning out!
She is nearly full length (all the way to her knees) and nude on top with a sarong draped across her lower half. I'm super excited to work on such a large piece - It will challenge me on many levels.  I also have sketched my first pair of folded hands in this picture, so will look forward to showing you how those turn out (yikes!!)

Wishing you all a wonderful day!!