Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Woodland Tails - Skunk

I'd like you to meet Skunk!

She's shy and quiet... 

She loves flowers and berries...
She's the third member of my Woodland Tails card line!

~ Woodland Tails ~
(watercolour and gouache, approx. 3.5" x 5.5")

I discovered something else about Skunk... 

...she loves perfume!

"Skunk Eau de Parfum"
~ Woodland Tails ~
(watercolour and gouache, 3.5" x 5.5")

Skunk collects beautiful antique perfume bottles... she especially loves the bottles with the dainty li'l atomizers... she thinks they are 'tres feminin' and lend an 'air of distinction' to her perfume collection!


Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Woodland Tails: Raccoon

    That "mask"...

    That shiny black marble of a nose...  

    Those dainty li'l feet that allow for scampering and climbing...

    That iconic banded tail so thick and fluffy...

- Woodland Tails - 
(watercolour, approx. 3"x5")

    I've always had mixed feelings towards raccoons... They are beautiful creatures, there's no denying that, but when I see one during the day and it's just sitting in a tree, staring back at me, it's rather unsettling!

    So in my li'l world of creatures the raccoons may sit and stare back at you but you don't need to be fearful nor do you have to wait long for a mischievous grin to break out across their faces and if you time your glance just right you might even catch them laughing at their own joke!!

 - Woodland Tails -
"Laughing Raccoon"
(watercolour, approx. 3"x5")

    Raccoons are very funny! They gather all the best jokes while they sit alongside the creek meticulously washing their food... They wash and scrub and laugh... all through the night! 

"Hey, what do you call a sliced potato in a monastery?"

Ummm... I dunno.

"A chip-monk!!  

    Yep, he's here 'til Tuesday and he recommends you try to the veal!  : )  
Maybe stand-up is in his future but for now he's happy to laughingly adorn 
some of my greeting cards, so smiles can be sent wherever they are needed!
 Here's hoping his smiling face and his li'l joke
have inspired felicity in you!



Saturday, 2 November 2013

What a Fox!

    I've been busy with a rather large painting commission and every once in a while I just need a break from it because well, how do I put this... the work doesn't smile back at me!

    When the choice is mine of what I paint I will always begin with an animal of some sort, sometime they're serious and sombre but most of the time they are smiling...

    During a recent 'break' I created a new character - an animal I have not attempted before but have always wanted to develop... I chopped some paper down to "fun-size'" and inspiration soon took over!

    Introducing the flagship member of my newest card line:
 "Woodland Tails"

(watercolour, approx 3.5" x 5")

 I love how Fox turned out but I "dearly love to laugh" so I just had to see if I could get him to smile!

Well, it turns out Fox quite enjoyed my sense of humour because 
not only did I get him to smile - I got him to laugh!!

"Laughing Fox"
(watercolour, approx. 3.5" x 5")

After that I just sat and watched him for a bit... a butterfly flitted into the li'l clearing 
where Fox was relaxing and I was able to capture a bit of their interaction:
"Fox and Butterfly"
(watercolour, approx. 3.5" x 5")

Other animals have already been added to the Woodland Tails family!
You'll have to check back often as I begin to introduce them!


Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Watercolour at the Beach!

    Next week it's back to school and back to a regular routine! But that's next week - this is the last week of summer break and we are aiming to make the most of it!

    Today, the kids called a friend and we packed a cooler with some sandwiches, raspberry lemonade, and some sweet watermelon slices and headed out for a lazy afternoon at the beach....

    We've been adjusting to another bout of humidity and today a thick fog rolled in... the sun was shining somewhere up there - we could occasionally feel it's heat but the mist/fog mixed with the breeze coming off the water made for a lovely day for the kids to 'go jump in the lake' and for me to sit back and enjoy a few hours of painting!

    When we first arrived, we chose the little cove at one end of the beach to settle into and when I looked across at the expanse of the beach stretching away from us I loved how the mist and fog created 'layers' in the distant foliage... I've always been attracted to that kind of scene so I quickly pulled out my watercolour sketchbook and worked away at a loose composition while the kids strolled the beach looking for pebbles...  

"Fifty Point Beach on Lake Ontario"
(watercolour, approx. 5.5" x 8.25")

    The kids came back from their stroll to ask if we could move all our things down the beach to "the perfect spot - where the beach is actually sandy and not pebbly! Just beside the second pier thing-y."

    I love Lake Ontario beaches because the beach is pebbly - millions of perfect li'l pebbles just waiting to be discovered and photographed or picked up to be tucked into a pocket - they are beautiful!!  But the kids were still listing off every possible reason why moving our chairs would be worthwhile, so I began to pack up my paints and sketchbook.

    We settled down in our 'perfect spot' and the kids clamoured into the water and splashed happily while I looked around for something new to paint.  I didn't have to look far! The "second pier thing-y" we settled down by was an old weather-beaten pier... the once strong and mighty timbers held aloft by iron rods were now silvery timbers split and twisted from years of harsh weather and neglect - the iron rods now bent and rusting, grass-like weeds were growing lush atop some of the posts - it was wonderful and completely inspiring!!

    I quickly pulled my sketchbook out and set to work... Just as I was finishing my sketch a seagull perched on the post near the end of the pier, so I quickly added it in!

    "Pier at Fifty Point"
(watercolour, approx. 5.5" x 8.25")

    Now we're back home and I'm tired but happy!  I told the kids as I was packing up that I got two paintings done and that's more than I would've accomplished if we had stayed home so I was very glad our plan for a 'day at the beach' came together!! 

    ♥ Cath-

Monday, 8 July 2013

Feeling Blessed!

"Crab Apple Branch"
- 1st Study -

I am feeling incredibly blessed today!  

    I just gave our youngest an old sketchbook of mine - a big 14x20" hardcover that I thought I'd like but never ended up using - I've had it for years and since she was wanting to have some BIG paper to make some BIG art, I happily passed it on!  

    After receiving it, she created a list of supplies she would be needing to fulfill her new creative endeavours: an easel, a pencil and eraser, and some markers.  We gathered all the supplies and then she turned and said, "I'm headed outside to work in the yard, are you coming?"  I thought for a moment, then grabbed up my new travel-size watercolour pad, my paint box, selected some of my friendliest brushes, filled my water pot with some fresh water and followed her outside.

    We found a beautiful shaded spot near our creek under a huge weeping willow.  Soon the easel was set up and our daughter began her drawing... I looked around and discovered that the nearby crab apple was already developing fruit and the sun was shining through the leaves in the most amazing way so I positioned my lawn chair and set to work myself....

    Several times during the next two hours of drawing and painting en plein air with my daughter I paused and thanked God for the wonderful blessings He was blessing me with: eyesight to see the gorgeous colours around me, an ability to capture some of the beauty, and this wonderful time shared with my daughter as we explore our interests in art.  

    I looked up from the painting I was working on and watched my daughter as she worked away at her design.  She would sketch a few lines, then step back to look at her work... I couldn't help but smile when I noticed that she tilts her head just like I do when I'm considering something - I guess it's our way of giving ourselves a new perspective!

    I worked a bit more on my painting and then quietly said, "You know, God has blessed me through you today! I never would have thought of coming out here this afternoon but you asked me to join you and I'm having a lovely time sitting here with you and painting! Thank you!!"   

    A smile grew on her face and she stepped over to me, gave me a quick hug, then went back to work on her design.  A moment later she said, "I'm having fun too!"

 "Crab Apple Branch"
- 2nd Study -


Wednesday, 3 July 2013

It's Summer - Perfect Time To Sit Around A Campfire!!

There really is nothing like sitting around a campfire with friends...

    The sound of the popping and crackling wood.... The scent of woodsmoke wafting around and mingling with the cool evening air... the night gets darker but you don't even realize because you're too busy laughing and sharing stories with your friends as you roast hot dogs and marshmallows over the open fire.

    The original idea for this illustration came while visiting with a friend who enjoys campfires as much as I do. When the idea of woodland animals sitting around a campfire was mentioned, I could see the whole scene very clearly and when I returned home I grabbed up my sketchbook to work up this design:

That was almost one year ago...

    Just over a month ago, I was looking over this sketch again and knew it deserved to be worked up in watercolour  so I set to it and I have finally completed it!! Phew!! It was challenging but WOW, did I learn a lot!!

    "Campfire in Acorn Woods"
(watercolour, approx 8x10")

Everyone roasting marshmallows over the open flame, some eating them right out outta the bag, some having trouble getting the sticky confection from the whittled stick into their mouths... but all enjoying the simple contentment that comes with sitting around a campfire with friends.

♥ Cath-

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Woodcarving: The Follow-Through

Follow-through: To carry an act, project, or intention to completion; pursue fully. 

Well, up to 'til this week I had not followed-through on any of my carvings. Sure, I had finished carving them, but I knew deep down that placing each of them in an old shoebox wasn't really the end of the project.
After sitting down with my Dremel and paints and working away until I was finished, 
I looked at the little creatures 'looking' back at me and I wondered why I hadn't done this sooner!

    Without further ado, let me properly introduce...

 Clem & Clara:

The Hedgehogs:

 "Maury" The Mud-lovin' Hog:

and last but not least...

 The Pig "Perry":

    I guess it was easy to just keep adding to the slowly growing collection in that old shoebox. I was proud of what I was accomplishing in this new-to-me medium but they didn't come 'alive' to me until I had properly completed them.  As soon as these critters were painted and had eyes I fell for them in the same way I fall for the critters I create on paper in my illustrations! 

    I can't wait to discover what mischief they will get up to and what adventures they will have!

   ♥ Cath-

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Adventures in Woodcarving - Part 3

    Well, my uncle, who is an AMAZING woodcarving (check out his work here), said, "I don't do whimsical" when we began carving together a few weeks ago, yet he took the time to show me how to carve a simple mouse - you can see my results here - and when I showed up for my third woodcarving session guess what my uncle presented me with?  Check this out:

aka to his friends, 'Archie'
(Hand carved by Mike Sullivan, basswood, painted with acrylics, approx. 3"x 2.5"x 2.5")

    Archie had only just come home with me when he discovered the 'garden' (backyard) and he set to exploring it... He was found this morning climbing the Box Elder and inspecting the English ivy that has been clamoring up the tree's length (as you can see in the above photos). 
    When I inquired about why he, being such a small mouse, was climbing such a tall tree Archie informed me, quite seriously, that he had created an official position, to which he appointed himself: "Herbaceous Specimen Inspector."  I was about to ask what exactly that job would entail when he toddled off further up the tree only turning back long enough to ask if a clipboard and pencil might be handy.  When I informed him that we only had 'human-sized" clipboards and pencils, I do believe I heard a "Tsk, tsk" before he turned away and continued his journey up the Box Elder...

       I knew my Uncle Mike had whimsy in him!!  I love this mouse and how he took it to the next level: li'l glass eyes, wood burning Archie's fur, giving him not just a tie but a red tie with white polka dots!! Oh yeah, there's all kinds of whimsy in him just waiting to get out!!

    The kids had a day off of school and joined me last week for a carving session, so Uncle Mike generously prepared projects for them to work on while we carved.  He cut out a pelican profile and carved off the edges a bit and then showed them how to use two different grits of sandpaper to smooth out the birds... When they felt they were as good as they could get - Uncle Mike encouraged them to take them home, look up pelicans on the internet to find proper colouring and paint their l'il wood sculptures.  They were inspired to get right to work painting upon returning home and this is the end result:

(Sanded & Painted by Kiddo #1)

(Sanded & Painted by Kiddo #2)

    In other news, Kevin the hedgehog discovered a second hedgehog taking up residence in the ivy garden - even though hedgehogs are rather solitary animals I do believe they will become good friends!


    My uncle's creativity inspired me to make a story about his li'l carving, and that li'l carving puts a smile on my face every time I look at it!  His project for the kids encouraged them toward finding their stick-to-it-iveness in sanding and inspired them toward research & artistic flare in painting their pelicans!  
I ♥ inspiration!! 

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

My Adventures in Woodworking: Part 2

    This is the very first hedgehog I have ever carved, therefore it's special and its name is Kevin... 

 "Kevin the Hedgehog"
(basswood, approx 3"x2")

The rough stages of carving a hedgehog from a block of basswood...

    My Uncle Mike lent me a wonderful hand chisel and showed me how some light gouges would create the desired texture for the hedgehog's coat of bristles.I still need to put eyes on him - just as I need to still put eyes on Clem & Clara.

   I haven't been feeling very well for the last few days so I've not been able to carve any more hedgehogs, as I had hoped, from the wood blanks my uncle sent home with me.  Hopefully in the next day or two I'll be able to get some work down on them.

    It's definitely inspiring to see a simple li'l sketch in my sketchbook:

 ...turn into a li'l sculpture I can hold in my hand!  

Looking forward to making some more!

    ♥ Cath-

Monday, 6 May 2013

My Adventures in Woodcarving

 "Clem & Clara"
(hand-carved, basswood, each approx. 2.5"Wx3"Hx2"D)

Clem & Clara are a sweet li'l couple who took up residence here
 in the last week or so.  Clem is always doing thoughtful things 
for Clara... her favourite thing is Springtime blossoms and
 flowers, so Clem rarely returns from his morning walk 
without a small fragrant gift for his sweetheart.

    In late winter I asked my Uncle Mike if he would be willing to teach me to carve - he's a brilliant wood carver - check out his blog here!  We planned to get together weekly beginning in late April.

    So my first lesson was two weeks ago... I decided I wanted to try carving a mouse - who doesn't love a mouse??  Uncle Mike cut a few pattern blanks out of basswood for us to work with and we got started.

    Within a couple hours Uncle Mike had his mouse practically completed - carved tail and chiseled ears - and all I had was a chunky piece of wood with a pointy knob on top and a few rough pencil makings. 

    My uncle obviously had enough faith in my ability to somehow grasp the technique he had taught me because he sent me home with my chunky piece of wood with the pointy knob on top and handed me the third pattern blank he had cut and told me to bring back the finished mice the next week.

    I worked away at home on my carving and soon Clem was completed - I gave him arms so he could collect flowers and decided to even include a flower in his tiny grasp.  I penciled two eyes on his face and set him down in the grass and snapped a photo of him:


       Excited and enthusiastic about the result of several hours of carving, I carefully set Clem off to the side of my work space and snatched up the basswood blank, carving knife at the ready and - I FROZE!  I couldn't remember how I even started Clem nor how I completed him!  My mind went completely blank! I just sat there holding the wood blank, staring at Clem, trying to figure how I went from Exhibit A (the wood blank) to Exhibit B (the mouse). 

    I set the block of wood down. I picked the block of wood up. I put it down again. Okay, wait, I can do this!  Yes! I can! Okay, deep breath in... Exhale slowly... 

    I picked the block of wood up again and remembered the first simple instructions Uncle Mike had given me: "Start by carving off the corners and edges."

    A couple more days of carving and Clara was sitting beside Clem, gushing over the flower he was presenting her with!



"Clara & Clem Going For A Walk In The Ivy Garden"

    Getting over the "mind blank" and completing Clara with her tiny clasped hands was a very inspiring! I was excited to show my uncle what I had been able to complete in a week's time and he must have been somewhat impressed with my accomplishments because he sent me home with my completed carving from Week 2 and FOUR wooden blanks!

    In my next post you will see my completed Week 2 carving - and maybe a couple more completed carvings from the wooden blanks!


Monday, 8 April 2013

Ceramic Painting - Daffodil

(Pebeo "Porcelaine 150" paints on ceramic)

This is a first attempt at painting with my new "Porcelaine 150" paints by Pebeo... 
... the medium inspired by an ultra-generous birthday gift from my lovely sister...
...the subject was inspired by a potted daffodil I received on my birthday.

I ♥ the mix-ability of the Pebeo paint colours! They even have an appropriate 'open time' 
to allow for some blending directly on the ceramic surface, which is nice - really nice!

This l'il project provided me with a lot of information!  While I enjoyed every moment 
of working with these new paints and I'm happy with the end result, the knowledge gained 
from simply 'doing' has prepared me to move forward and plan my next piece!!


I do love the feeling that comes from stepping through the mental barrier of uncertainty -
by just beginning - jumping in with both feet!  Talk about inspiring!!
I am SO looking forward to my next adventure in painting on ceramics!!


P.S. Looking at the piece now - I'm thinking a little design 
in the corners may not be a unwelcome idea!

Thursday, 4 April 2013

My 1 Year Blog-iversary!!

    Thank you all for the support and encouragement you have given me over the past year!

I enjoy sharing my creative endeavours with you and look forward to sharing many more!!


    My amazingly generous sister treated me to an amazingly generous gift for my recent milestone birthday: an "anything-you-want-you-can-get" visit to my favourite art supply store, Curry's Artist Materials!!  

    This gift inspired me to gather materials that will enable me to explore a brand new (to me) medium that I can't wait to play with!  I look forward to sharing my new adventures with you throughout the year, as God wills!

    Well, I have found that I can't go to Curry's without walking down their 'Canvas Aisle'. So after getting my other supplies collected I made my way over to their aisle of canvasses. On this particular trip I was inspired by their little 4x6" canvasses and so I picked up a few....

    I've also been inspired as of late by, wait for it...  inspirational quotes and verses that are made into signs and wall hangings.  I thought that these cute l'il canvasses would make for a l'il pop of color and inspiration for a bedside table, a counter top, or even the fridge door!   

    In celebration of today, my first blog-iversary I sat down and worked on two inspirational designs and I'm making them available for sale for $15 each. They are one-of-a-kind for two reasons: 1) If I did paint the same design it would end up nothing like the original, there's just no duplicating exact colours and/or individual brushstrokes and 2) I don't like making a design more than once - it's like trying to get your mind to dream the same dream it dreamed last night - even if you could, it would never be as inspiring as the original!

Here are the two designs:

  "Reach For Your Dreams"
(acrylic, chalkboard-style, 4x6" wrapped canvas) 

 "Never Never Never Give Up"   
(acrylic, 4x6" wrapped canvas)

If you are interested in either one let me know asap.
It will have to on a first come, first serve basis...

It has been a fun year, full of inspiration and blessings!
Thank you!

P.S. I still have two 4x6" canvasses left - if you have a inspiring quote 
or a favourite short verse you would like me to paint - let me know!!

Friday, 22 March 2013

Inspiring Fabric + Creativity = Curtains!

Detail of the inspiring fabric design I immediately fell for at Ikea...
("Cecilia", cotton, $2.99/metre!!)

    I knew that this would be a pretty design for my kitchen door and window so I bought what they had left on the bolt, 2.5 metres - enough to make the two panels I needed with some to spare.  I've always enjoyed the casual look of cottage-style so when I found that I had a large remnant of a deep apple green fabric sporting white grid lines I knew it would be perfect to edge the panels for the windows!  The juxtaposition of these two fabrics/prints - free-form botanicals beside geometric lines, with colour being their common bond - LOVE!      
This photo isn't very clear/crisp but it shows the true colour and 
the fun juxtaposition achieved with the two fabrics I used!

Curtain panels in place and full length
(windows are each W30" x H62")

 Curtain panels, accordion folded and held up with green grosgrain ribbon

 Detail of curtain panels, lifted.

    These windows are full Southern exposure, so while these are delightful windows to sit by on a sunny winter day, they allow in much too much heat in the summer so these curtain panels will certainly help with keeping the kitchen cooler and more enjoyable in those hot months!  Now that's inspiring!!

    ♥ Cath-

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Chalkboard DIY

    I ♥ chalkboards!  I have liked them for as long as I can remember! In Grade 1, Mrs. Kay had a big room-dividing chalkboard on wheels in our classroom. All the students who finished their work early were allowed to spend their time quietly doodling on that big chalkboard and I wanted to do that more than anything else but I was never done my work in time. So I hatched a plan!  I stuffed my unfinished work back into my desk, thinking the teacher would never know, I got up quietly from my desk, picked up one beautiful piece of chalk and was just about to draw when Mrs. Kay called me over and asked me to show her my completed work - Eek!!  My plan was foiled - caught chalk-handed!!

     I still remember the first time my Grade 5 French teacher picked up chalk and began to write on the chalkboard - it made no sound!  There was no dull scratchy sound of chalk grating against the board - it was a smooth as a marker on a white board - without the squeaks! From that day on I wanted nothing more than to be called up to the board to write something - anything! - just so I could try out that beautiful, and impressive chalkboard! I did one day get my opportunity and it was delightful! Ahhh, those were the days!
    I certainly haven't changed much since then because I was in our local school just two days ago and even though they have switched out almost every chalkboard for whiteboards - I still couldn't resist!  I was in the Grade 3 classroom and grabbed up a marker and drew a l'il person on the board and to give it purpose I wrote "Welcome!" above it... while I was drawing, one of the students saw me and ran to the teacher and tattled, "Hey, she's drawing on the board!!"  The teacher, who has known me for years now, simply replied to the student that it was okay, she's allowed to draw on our boards. Phew!  

    All that to say - I finally have my very own chalkboard - one I designed, built, and installed myself!  I don't know why I hadn't thought to do it before but now I have a lovely, long chalkboard in my kitchen to put grocery lists on and also doodle on!  : )

    I don't have a lot of pictures but I did remember to take some through the process so I'll give you a bit of a step by step... 

Homemade Chalkboard
For Under $20!!  

    I did some searching online on the Home Depot site to find sizes of trim, so I could do all my calculations at home before going to the store, I determined that a 15" x 45.5" writing surface would be a nice size to fill the wall area I had.  I found the trim I wanted (Colonial white wood trim, 3/8" thick, 1-1/4" wide), I ensured the local store had it in stock and then figured out my final board dimensions: 17.5" x 48".
    Home Depot carries 24" x 48" sheets of 1/4" Hard Board (Masonite) for only $2.95 CDN!! So one quick, in-store cut later I had the dimensions I needed for my chalkboard - and a perfect left-over piece of hard board I can use to make a cute sign or something!

    I gathered the trim - it came in 6ft. lengths, so I got two - only $4.95 each (!) and headed home!

    Our youngest was very excited to help me when she got home from school so she helped me measure, mark, and mitre the trim pieces and then set to work painting them.

A mitre box is a beautiful thing!!

       The trim paint colour does not show well in this photo but it is a lovely neutral green!
Sherwin-Williams "Softened Green" (SW6177)

    After we finished with all the trim work we set to work on the chalkboard surface.  I bought two bottles of CraftSmart brand Chalkboard paint (in Black, it is also available in Green) from Michaels.  Each bottle was only $1.69 CDN!!  Woo-hoo!!

    We applied, per paint instructions, one coat vertically and a second coat horizontally, allowing an hour drying time between coats.  

   We used glue to adhere the trim pieces to the hardboard - a squiggle of regular glue and a couple dots of hot glue along each piece.  The hot glue will hold immediately while the regular glue sets up to hold permanently.

    Now, for the 'hanging it up' part.  If you don't know me and I've not happened to mention it before - I'm a "Fru-Gal" - the term my brother gave me because I tend look for ways to NOT spend money and I'm a firm believer in "Necessity is the mother of invention!"  I didn't have any picture hangers and I really didn't want to have to go out again to buy some so I found a couple 3/8"  wood screws and attached a couple of pop can tabs to the back of the chalkboard!  They seem meant for such applications - they're aluminum, they have two holes - one for a screw, one for a wall nail - voila!!

    Now, I'm just waiting out the 24 hour curing time on the paint so I can start using this chalkboard!  And rest assured, I did learn my lesson way back in Grade 1 - I'm getting all my work done now so I can draw on the chalkboard with a clear conscience a little later!!  : )

    ♥ Cath-