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Favourite: on collecting art

I spent a lot of my time through the morning and afternoon thinking about what I could share for “favourite”.  After all, there are so many ways a person could go with such an open ended photography challenge.  I thought about it while brushing my teeth, while running errands, while watering the plants…  It wasn’t until it was almost time to pick up the girl from kindergarten that I settled on my subject matter.  I would share my favourite piece of art.

I’m an art collector.  I love original art.  Due to lack of funds I often have to be creative to feed this particular passion.  Trading and bartering are wonderful things – and something I encourage even in my own line of work.  As a photographer I’m happy to trade time and skill with other artists and craftspeople.

My collection includes work by local talent, and those across the globe from me.  It includes digital works as well as more traditional pieces.  I’ll admit to the inclusion of a print as well – it’s an Emily Carr, and as much as it would thrill my soul to have an original of hers, purchasing one would put us out on the street…  where it’s especially difficult a collection.

And through all this variance, and all this beauty?  My current favourite piece of art is hanging on my fridge:

my fridge

An untitled, four part piece, in ink, glitter, and stickers on construction paper by Lily-Ann Smith and her Uncle, Wilson Yandt:

princesses, puppies, fairies, and a look into the ocean depths.

One of my favourite memories from our first month in this house was watching the two of them sitting at her art station shortly after my brother had moved in.  I loved listening to the back and forth, the love and genuine sharing.  It filled my heart in a huge way.  And I think what they created together is beautiful.  It is bright, vibrant and full of goodness.  There is a real possibility it may end up in a frame before the Winter is out.  I think it would break my heart if anything were to happen to it, so while it’s on the fridge now, I think it will be much safer behind glass.

Tomorrows challenge will be much easier.  😉

photo a day challenge for january

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Craft Crazy!

This time of year I tend to be on crafting overdrive.  Far too many projects and not nearly the time needed to comfortably complete them all.  I love it anyway though.  🙂

MLP ATC

A My Little Pony Artist’s Trading Card for the Trading Post. The theme was “holiday specials”, which is why Frosty is stuck in the corner – clearly I didn’t feel adventurous enough to sketch him myself.

It used to just be me, crafting all by my lonesome… but now that Kid Kid is five, she’s in it right along with me.  It’s awesome to see how well she’s doing to, in so many mediums.  Embroidery, sewing, painting, drawing – and that’s just today.  We still have planting, baking, decorating, packaging, more painting, more embroidery, more drawing, and a buttload of sewing still to go.

paint covered pants

Paint covered play clothes. Crafting is a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

I wish I could share all the projects, but some of the folk who are on the receiving end of our efforts may stop by the blog, so we gotta keep it all under wraps.  I gotta say though, as artsy fartsy as we are, all this creative work is absolutely exhausting.  It is with great relief that we welcome bedtime tonight.

falling asleep on a bed full of stuffies

The girl and Sweets (the old man chi) drifting off to sleep as Daddy reads… a bedtime well deserved after a day of working hard.

Easy DIY Father’s Day Plaque

I’m in a pensive mood tonight, and realize it would be quite easy to ramble on about any number of topics.  So I turned to my iPhone for inspiration.  I began scrolling through all the photos and videos stored within my happy little device (yes, I imagine it’s a happy device, it’s well loved and frequently held, I believe it would feel cared for and treasured much like the old rocking horse or velveteen rabbit).  That’s when I realized, I never did share the Father’s Day project we came up with for Pop Pop.  I suppose it’s about time I gave up a few details on that one.  🙂

My Dad is a squirrel nut (pun intended, obviously).  He feeds them at the lake, and collects pictures, stories and the like.  I’m not really sure how his collection started – it’s really only as old as the girl is… so it’s not a long standing one.  One day we just kinda all seemed to agree that we should give him squirrel related gifts, and thus a collection was born.  I have to say, it’s a better idea than the Xena Warrior Princess figurine my husband and I jokingly gave him a decade or so ago – gotta love a scantily clad warrior princess, right?  LMAO

So I had this idea, that the girl and I should create a squirrel crossing sign for him, you know… for at the lake.  Problem was, I couldn’t find the materials I needed.  What I did come across though, was this cool tree round with the bark still on.  I bought it, not quite sure what it would become, but I loved it and knew I’d figure something out.  By the time we got home?  I knew it would be the perfect canvas for a squirrel picture.

Now, I’m not a cartoonist.  Impressionism I can do – in fact, I spent a number of years working as an impressionist painter and illustrator (sold quite a few pieces too) before I traded in my brushes for a camera.  So I’m not lacking in some skill, but cartooning has never been my strength.  I even tried my hand at some basic folk art, gave the results to my siblings (who were still wee things at the time)…  I see them all the time at my parents place and… well…  yeah…  cartooning/folk art?  Was not my strength even back then.  So clearly I would not be freehanding anything.

While the girl was occupied, I did some looking online for a “squirrel colouring page”.   Thanks to Bing (yes, I bing rather than google stuff) I found a few super cute little doods.  I asked kid kid which was her favourite, and we had our inspiration.  I downloaded it, resized it, and printed it out.

Now, like I said… I’m not a cartoonist – but I do have a pretty good eye.  So what I did was to hold the print out in place over the wood, and using the back of a paint brush (no, I didn’t trade them ALL in), I traced/etched a few lines to help with the proportions.  I etched six or seven little notches, but I imagine you could actually do the entire drawing if you can’t freehand at all.  Personally?  I have no patience for things like that – but if you can’t draw?  I think it would work just fine.  Then I took out one of my paint pens (just a plain black one) and sketched the line drawing out.  If you did etch the whole thing, you could then just trace over your etching to give you the black outline.  That gave me this:

A squirrel for pop pop

If you look closely at the paper, you can see where I’ve etched/traced a line here and there.  And comparing the two you can easily see the differences too.  LOL  But it’s not about creating an exact replica, it’s about having something that gives the impression of what you are creating.  Clearly, that doesn’t look like a REAL squirrel…  but you see it, and you know that’s what it is.  So whatever you create, the idea is for it to give the impression of the thing.  If you can tell what it is?  You’ve succeeded.  🙂  And for us, this particular squirrel holding a strawberry is significant.  I’ve called Lily-Ann “my strawberry” since the day she was born.  So finding a colouring page illustration of a squirrel holding one?  Pretty cool….  and I think that’s what swayed the girl to this particular free use image.

After the black ink was dry, I just let the girl have at it.  She painted it.  And to be honest?  I was actually downright shocked at how well she did.  She was only four at the time!  At one point she even had me stumped:

“Momma?”  she asked.

“Yes Lily-Ann.”

“Can I have the white paint again?”

“What do you need white for?”

“The strawberry.”

“Oh…  you don’t need white on the strawberry, do you?”

“Yes Momma, I do.”

So I dug out the white paint again (totally thinking she was going to make a mess of the very pretty berry she’d already created).  You can imagine my surprise when my girl, who doesn’t do anything gingerly or daintily, ever so carefully touched the very tip of her brush into the paint and dabbed a tiny highlight on the strawberry.  I shouldn’t have doubted her, or questioned her vision, but she showed me.  LOL  She knew exactly what she was doing.  And here’s the result:

The finished plaque - a pretty painting for Father's Day of a delightful little red and brown squirrel.

After it dried it just needed a couple of coats of sealant (which I did without the girl, don’t need her breathing in that scary stuff) and it was ready for Father’s Day.  All in all, a very cool project.  We had fun doing it, it turned out fabulously – and was well received.  A successful project to store in the memory bank.  🙂

Spencer Harrison – Artist in Residence and True Friend

I intended today to write about Spencer Harrison, the artist in residence for both Camp fYrefly retreats.  But I find myself at a loss for where to begin.  As soon as I met Spencer I felt a connection with him, and we spent quite a bit of time together during Edmonton’s Camp fYrefly.  I attended each of his three workshops, we shared many meals and conversations, sometimes all it took was a glance and a grin in passing…  but I always found a reliable, comforting, spirit that in many ways mimicked my own (or perhaps it was my spirit who mimicked his).

Spencer is close to defending his PhD dissertation, the culmination of a lifetime of work.  And his dissertation is as unique and splendid as he is.  A circus tent, painted inside and out, a coming out story of freak show proportions.  A literal freak show, painted and detailed on every panel…  the exterior dedicated to the visible and well known people of the traveling circus shows we all know, and the interior to the inner freak show that was a young boy growing and coming out in Ontario, the boy who spent seven hours stuffed in a locker while everyone else left at the end of the school day.

Open, warm, and willing to share, Spencer is encouraging and giving.  Saying good bye at the end of Camp fYrefly Alberta was easy, knowing I would again be in his presence at Camp fYrefly Saskatchewan.  I have to admit, it will be a far more difficult thing on the 21st when we’ll have to say goodbye for a much longer time.

I truly feel blessed to know Spencer Harrison, in a way I haven’t felt blessed to know someone in a very long while.  The memories I have of him are ones that I will treasure, and carry with me for a lifetime.  He gave me some pretty incredible gifts.

Want to know a little more about our Artist in Residence?  Check him out at:

http://www.spencerjharrison.com/

http://www.ocad.ca/faculty/profile_articles/20100210_spencer_harrison.htm

If I build up the courage, I might just share an art piece done up under his watchful eye during the last of his sessions.  IF I build up the courage.  😉

The Littlest Decorator

I hadn’t decided yet what to do with the outside of the wee girlie’s new loft bed (which we’ve all taken to calling her “up high bed”)… so when she wanted to decorate it herself I figured we should just go with it.  🙂

Chances are it will take weeks for her to complete her masterpiece, but when it’s done I’m sure it will be just awesome.  We’ll have to find something to coat it in once it’s finished – to help keep it safe and to ensure it can endure.  Any thoughts?  Whatever we do, I think it will be really cool.  It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I can’t think of anything better that we could have done.  😀

My Little Decorator

Apples and a Walk with Thora

So… this post is for yesterday AND today.  I ended up in bed, in a lot of pain, all yesterday afternoon, evening, and night…  so just couldn’t muster up the strength to post.  Thankfully today has been MUCH better.  🙂  That said, today you get a two-fer.

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I am a proud Mommy, so have to share the wee girlie’s first bulletin board at school.  😀  Her pre-k class did a project on apples…  so here’s a quick shot of the bulletin board outside her classroom.

Apples!

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A couple days now, I’ve taken Thora (our Lurcher) with me for the six block walk to pick up the wee girlie from school.  Lily-Ann absolutely LOVES it!  And, of course, so does Thora.  🙂

So here’s a picture of my two baby girls…  only one of whom has reached the double digits.  Thankfully.  😉

A Walk with Thora

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