Friday, 30 January 2015

Just because...

The temperature has dropped again, but hey, it's the end of January -
we only have about 7 weeks left before the calendar declares 
"First Day of Spring"

And to celebrate our daily nearing to that wonderful season
I've made a little painting...

"Just because..."
(watercolour, approx. 5" x 5")

It was suggested by a friend to try my hand at drawing/painting goats...
So what happens when you draw a pygmy goat in the middle of piece of paper?
You add a tower of balancing mice beside it, of course!!

These li'l acrobatically inclined field mice are seeing
if they can "be as tall as Ellie".

A black pygmy goat and a stack of brown field mice do not a complete picture make.
So lovely pink tulips atop fresh green stalks were added for that necessary 'pop'!

just because!

Stay warm!! 
Wishing for you dreams of 
brightly coloured tulips and soft breezes...

 ♥ Cath-

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Mid-Winter Bloom

After the busyness of the Christmas holiday was past
I found myself at a store that had amaryllis bulb growing kits on clearance.

What caught my eye was not the idea of growing an amaryllis,
but the lovely pot that came with the kit!

Glossy red - the perfect red!
It's 6.5" tall, about 5.5" across the top - beautiful!!
The amaryllis bulb was just an added bonus!

I brought this beauty home and dutifully followed the instructions
to prepare a cozy home for the large beet-sized bulb
and then I waited....

Within two days I noticed a wee bit of fresh green brightening the pale leaf shoots.

A couple days later the green was deepening and the stalk and leaves 
slowly began to gain ground in the height department.
 That was the beginning...

Watching this plant was almost akin to Jack and the Beanstalk! 
Okay, not quite like that, but this amaryllis grew several inches each day!

Do you remember The Friendly Giant? "Look up, wa-a-ay up!"
This amaryllis, over a period of 2 1/2 weeks, stretched up to 26" 
and still the blooms were waiting....

On Saturday the bud head began to open and by Sunday morning
 the yet-to-open blooms were stretching out, each in their own direction,
as though a natural compass, pointing North, West, South, and East.

The East and West blooms were the first to open - that happened yesterday, 
and by the end of today the North and South blooms should be fully opened too!

  East and West blooms...

So last night between 9 and 10pm, 
I sat down and painted the scarlet blooms...

"Red Lion Amaryllis"
(watercolour, approx. 6.25" x 10")

All because I liked a pretty red pot!


Tuesday, 27 January 2015

A Visit to Elderberry Hedge

It's been a long while since I shared with you
some of my visits to Elderberry Hedge.

All the hedge folk are doing well!

Zella's General Store is carrying on as expected, supplying all the necessary items 
to help everyone get through the Winter happily and in good health...

Bonny's bakery continues to fill the air with wafting scents of delicious baked goods.
On cold, snowy days these scents wrap around passersby like warm hugs, 
leading them into Bonny's shop for a steaming mug of hot cocoa
and a bigger than big cinnamon roll...

The Crow's Nest did very well over the holidays, delivering twinkles 
and sparkle to many of the village homes. Edward is continuing to add 
brightness to the wintry days by hosting jewelry design classes for all ages.

Mr. MacKinnley's class has had much fun and frivolity during this blustery season of snow
as they study frost patterns formed on the schoolhouse windows and make snow sculptures
in the school yard on sunny days. They calculate the snowfall and chart their findings on one 
of the large chalkboards. On warmer days the class studies the clouds and make predictions as 
to the approaching weather.  After a recent snowfall, which his class correctly predicted, the 
beloved teacher took his class around the village, helping older residents with shoveling and sweeping
out their doorways and sidewalks. Upon finishing Mr. MacKinnley was seen proudly leading his 
rosy-cheeked students, back to the schoolhouse. Their faces may have been chilled but their tummies 
were filled with hot chocolate and cookies, happily supplied by grateful residents.

Nicholas, proprietor of 'Antiquities and Things Found', has discovered some new (to him) books
and has been found sitting on an old steam trunk, amidst his many collectibles and unique curiosities, deeply engrossed in a classic tale found within the covers of one of these books.  On another day one may find him curled up like a little mousling amongst his many scrolls and maps in his Map Room reading some classic adventure like The Arabian Nights or Gulliver's Travels. Nicholas loves books! Winter snow does not allow for much travel or perusing for new finds, so this is the season when Nicholas will happily indulge his love of reading... A morning walk, under the ruse of daily exercise, usually takes him to 'The Bonny Baker' where he usually selects a lovely plump currant scone, which he carefully carries back to his shop. Whilst humming a happy little tune Nicholas will brew a big pot of tea and soon settle into a cozy spot with his scone and a good book!

Do you remember Newt and her stationery shop? Well, she is busy turning all her Autumn and early Winter leaf and fibre finds into beautiful papers that will be ready just in time for Spring parties and baby showers!  Makes you want to plan a party just so you can use some of her invitations!

When I visited Elderberry Hedge a while back I discovered 
some sweet little birds that I had never seen before.
High up in a nearby conifer was the home of a pair of  Ruby-Crowned Kinglets!

I quickly realized that these diminutive birds are so constant in motion that asking them to sit 
for a painting was something near impossible, so with many quick notes and relying 
heavily on memory I did some sketch studies...


 One afternoon I was blessed with the opportunity to take a quick sketch of this pair that made
Elderberry Hedge their home, but a quick sketch was all they had time for! They are so busy going
from one task to another I could learn a lesson from them in how to use my time wisely!!

Here's the quick preliminary sketch:

 And here is their "official" portrait:

 "Pip & Ruby"
Ruby-Crowned Kinglets
(watercolour, approx. 6" x 6")

I have yet to sit and visit with Pip or Ruby, but maybe one day soon I will have opportunity
to go along with them for a day and then be able to tell something more of their story.
So until then...

If you happen to see a flash of olive green out of the corner of your eye it's likely 
one of those tiny ruby-crowned kinglets flitting off to the next task on their to-do list!!

  ♥ Cath-   



Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Sketchbook Sneek-A-Peek - Fun With Fairy Tales

The sun is shining! The snow is sparkling!
And I'm sketching!!

The only way to get ideas flowing is just to 
sketch the first thing to comes into my head...

Little Red Riding Hood.

Okay, no problem...

Um, wait, is the main character an animal or a human?

Um, what?? C'mon Cath-, for the last several years you've focused on animals, 
of course Little Red will be drawn as an animal!

No, no I don't think so... I think I need to try it both ways...

Umm, alright... let's just see where this goes...

Little Red Riding Hood - Anthropomorphic style:

Little Red, in this case, is a chicken.... a literal chicken.

As I prepared for the my next sketch that would feature a girl in the part of Little Red,
 I read the original Brothers Grimm story to see what this child's attitude was toward the wolf....

This is how she is portrayed in their words:
"Red Riding Hood did not know what a wicked creature he was, and was not at all afraid of him."

So, based on that....

I was already to post these two sketches to my blog when a mischievous spark
got me and I felt like I just had to have some fun with the idea of the
Wolf and Little Red meeting in the woods....

Who knew that Granny had fully recovered days ago and with her being the only veterinarian
in the Wooded Hollow meant Little Red needed to carry her poor skunk with the injured paw
all the way over to Granny's house?  - Not the Wolf, that's for certain!!

Don't mess with Little Red!

And yes, all my heroines are brunette - straight-as-a-pin brunette!!
So which one do you like best?



Thursday, 1 January 2015

The Holidays Are Now Behind Us...

Whether you celebrate the holidays or not,
We have all anticipated a big upcoming event and it makes us feel
as though we are sitting at the top of a precipice and looking over...

It may not be quite a precipice, but rather the soft crest of a high hill...
Nonetheless, we sit there, atop our toboggans, and gaze toward the future.

We take a deep breath, our hearts filling with anticipation and maybe even a little dread,
as we plant our mitten covered hands into the snow at our sides and slowly begin to 
shift our toboggans toward the edge. We test our grip and the slippery capabilities 
of our ride by jutting the curved wooden front out into the clear cold air, freeing it for a moment
from the snowy stability of the hilltop peak and then slowly we draw it back under our control...

That's the feeling that comes in mid-fall, usually right after Halloween is past...
The anticipation of the winter holidays, the check-list of preparedness, the thrill of it all!!

We all become like kids at this stage - the dreams, the ideals, the hopes...

Then, even with all our preparing, hoping, and dreaming, 
suddenly the holiday season comes into full swing!

Before we realize it we are flying down the hill! 
We may have planned to take one final deep breath before beginning our descent, 
but instead it's as though we received a great strong  push from behind!

The wind is cold against your face -
Hang on! We're about to go over a huge bump!!

 - that's when you know that the thrill of the ride is secure in your heart!!

The holidays themselves can be chaotic and crazy 
- there will be bumps in the road -
poor weather, illness, lack of jollyness in general...

But that's what makes the holidays unique and different each year...
As much as we "prepare" for it, it's never the same from year to year.
 There will always be new 'bumps' that we can either swerve to avoid or curve to connect with...
It all comes down to perspective and gratitude.

Let your heart be filled with child-like wonder at the holidays!
Look around at the goodwill among strangers 
and the sparkle of the lights and let your heart say, "Woo-hooo!"
Embrace your family and friends - tightly!
Smile, love, be thankful for all that you have and all you can give!

And when all is said and done...
...expel a hearty laugh and proclaim, "Let's do it again!"

♥ Cath-