Sunday, 30 September 2012

Today is the day...


P.S. This duck seemed to be saying, "Be sure to get my good side."  : )  I couldn't resist her sweet 'smile'!  I know that this duck will find her way into Elderbery Hedge sometime soon!
Photo taken at Happy Rolph's Bird Sanctuary, Port Weller, ON.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Cozy and Bright...

"Cozy and Bright"
(watercolour, approx. 7x10")

    The idea for this painting came to me while working on another winter themed painting way back in October 2011.  The idea was quickly recorded in my sketchbook and then a month or so later I grabbed some watercolour paper and began laying out the picture and even started painting a bit of it...  that was alomst a year ago - but now, after after several days work, here it is finally complete! 
    I learned a lot with this painting and pushed at the boundaries of my comfort zone so much that I'm sure if you could actually see it it would now look like a crazy amoeba!  Ah, but 'tis the only way to grow and develop so I'm sure my comfort zone will quickly adapt to it's new shape and size and be ready to be stretched again!  Yeah!! 

    I imagine this l'il mouse is humming and thinking happy thoughts of upcoming celebrations - look at that smile! - he's definitely joying in the anticipation of it all!
    I found myself humming right along with him as I worked away at this painting - his happiness is contagious - I guess that's why I choose to create these kinds of illustrations - they inspire felicity!!
    ♥ Cath-


Tuesday, 25 September 2012

A Spot o' Tea....

    I enjoyed a day out with my very dear friends at a new tearoom that we have been wanting to try for a few months now - Chadwick's Antiques & Tea Shoppe in Ridgeway, ON. 
    Two beautiful old storefronts open into adjoining shops, Chadwick's Antiques & Tea Shoppe and Lemon Serbet's Sweet Shoppe. Each shop is filled to the brim with antiques and imported treats from Britain.  The building housing these shops is circa 1890 and is very charming...
    We decided to go into the Lemon Sherbet's Sweet Shoppe first where a Harry Potter fan would delight in all things wizarding: wands, scarves, cloaks, owls, chocolate frogs, and Bernie Bott's Every Flavour Beans.  Alongside all these whimsical items are shelves stocked with British treats: Tavener's fruit/mint candies in travel-size tins, Curly Wurly, Double Decker, Frys Turkish Delight, Sherbet Fountains, Catherine Wheels, Flake, Frys Chocolate and Orange Cream as well as a variety of loose sweets: lemon sherbets, rhubarb and custard, chocolimes, and much, much more.  Note: all the loose sweets are sold by the dozen and to the Chadwick's family a dozen means 14!  Woo-hoo!!  
    One of the tea tables nestled amongst the antiques
      The tearoom is actually a shared space with the antique shop.  Tables of varying sizes are dotted throughout the shop - each creating a little vignette in and amongst the many antique displays.  It made for non-stop conversation as we all looked around and reminisced about our parent's and grandparent's houses that held the same or similar items...

A place setting on the table we chose...

    I don't know about you but I love the approachable-ness of mix and match fine china.  I love that every place setting had a charger, two plates and a matched set teacup and saucer but the nothing else matched - it's just plain friendly.
    We all ordered the same lunch: Chicken and Mushroom pie, an mini pie (perfect for a lunch) made of puff pastry and a delicious chicken/mushroom filling, alongide a fresh salad of greens, sliced strawberries, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, and fresh mushrooms drizzled with an imported Salad Cream (this Cream tastes like a dressing made with mayonnaise and just the perfect amounts of white vinegar and sugar - similar to what you would put on a fresh broccoli salad). I asked for a scone because I think a good tea room is determined by it's scones - and I'm happy to report that theirs reminded me of the scones my Mom made when I was a kid - so they definitely get the thumbs up from me!  Overall, we thought the food was tasty and priced well!
    Now for what I bought in the Lemon Sherbet's Sweet Shoppe:
Walkers 'Mega Monster Munch'
"Massive hunks of ROAST BEEF flavour baked corn snack"
Verdict? They are pretty good!  Huge crunch factor with a beef bouillon-y essence.
Buy again? Probably not... but worth the buy if you simply love to try new flavours.  

Cadbury 'Picnic'
"A feast full of peanuts, caramel & raisins" 
Verdict? This was the BIG winner!!
Tastes like an 'Oh Henry!' bar with a couple Glossette raisins along for the ride - so good!!
Buy again? Definitely!!

  We are now on the hunt for another tearoom we have not yet tried....
I'll let you know when we have found one!


Saturday, 22 September 2012

Be Strong...


P.S. I took this photo in Jordan, ON.  I have always loved the translucency of leaves on a bright clear day - they make for such cheery photos!!  

Sunday, 9 September 2012

He will make straight your paths...


P.S. My friend and I came across this bridge while walking on the beautifully maintained trails
at the Forty Mile Creek Park (aka the Elizabeth Street Pumphouse) in Grimsby, ON. 

Saturday, 8 September 2012

The Bald-Faced Hornet - Hedged!

    Hedged (adj.) an artistic adaptation of the realism of a creature (mammal, insect, bird) to the point it is personified and smiles back when looked upon.

   I enjoy capturing the essence of a human or creature in my own style, something that allows the viewer to quickly recognize the person/animal depicted and if done well, causes them to smile too...
   One of my favourite joys while 'hedging' a creature is to see it there on my page just as I'm placing the last few pencil strokes and suddenly a happy greeting escapes me, "Oh, hello!"  It often comes as a surprise to me as though I've walked around a corner and bumped into someone and they seem happy for the occassion... Does that make sense?   One thing I know, if the movie "Miss Potter" is an accurate depiction of  how Beatrix Potter 'interacted' with her created characters, I'm definitely not the first to experience this joy.
    All this to say that drawing the realistic rendering of the bald-faced hornet was tense and I kept at it only because I was determined to truly study it.  What a difference when it came time to begin 'hedging' this hornet - I immediately felt a weight lifted off my shoulders and I began to smile (I simply couldn't help it!) and I kept smiling the whole time I worked away at it!  Talk about inspiring!!  As soon as the face was formed I could see a personality coming into shape.... a conversation was started...  
    I would like you to meet Newt.  She is a sweet l'il bald-faced hornet who dreams of opening her very own Stationery Shop in Elderberry Hedge... She spends her days collecting beautiful fallen leaves, petals, and grasses.  After carefully drying these finds between smooth stones or in bunches hanging in her large treetop home she creatively incorporates them into her homemade paper pulp mixtures and presses them into lovely sheets of paper - perfect for birthday party invitations or notepaper for keeping in touch with a long-distance friend.


♥ Cath-

Thursday, 6 September 2012

School's In and I'm Back!

    What a refreshing summer!!  It is always good for me to take a step back and figure out what is working and what isn't in my day-to-day and these last two months have allowed me that freedom! I'm working with a new game plan and finding it exactly what I need! Inspiring!! Yeah!! 

    On with the blog!

    My girls and I were invited to join my friend and her children in an all-day outing to a local conservation area where we enjoyed canoeing and a refreshing (aka cold!) dip in a 1-acre pool... we had a picnic betwixt these two water activities and it was while we were eating that I discovered two things:
1. I'm not very good at picking picnic locations
2. Bees LOVE lemon-lime flavoured pop!

    I was fascinated by one of these flying specimen, it was BIG and black and looked like it had yellow-y war paint, 'William Wallace-Highland warrior-style', on it's face, thorax, and abdomen.  I had no idea what is was until I returned home and looked up the descrption on the internet... a Bald-Faced Hornet! Known for it's large paper-like nests and it's reputation for multiple stings while guarding said nest. Phew!! Glad we only discovered that online and not during our lunch!

    Anyways, short-story long, the next day my friend's son was back to work at a local farm where he was told to get rid of a bee that was building a nest in one of their packing crates and he recognized it to be a Bald-Faced hornet. Remembering that I was fascinated by them the day before he somehow euthanized it and brought me the specimen so I could study it and paint it! 

    And so I set to work on Tuesday morning after I saw the girls off to school and started my first specimen study/painting, and let me tell you, I have a whole new respect for botanical/entomological artists who create beautiful art for scientific study and textbooks.... even though that is not my style I enjoyed prodding my brain to focus on the minute details and draw them as accurately as I could...

    By Wednesday afternoon I had a completed study of the profile and face of the Bald-Faced Hornet:

Bald-Faced Hornet, Specimen Profile Study

Bald-Faced Hornet, Face Study

        This study inspired the newest member of the Elderberry Hedge village and you'll be able to meet her in my next post... I call it 'The Bald-Faced Hornet Hedged' ... adapting a 'creature' to fit my illustration style whilst maintaining a sense of realism - or something like that!  :  )  

    ♥ Cath-