Friday, 27 February 2015

Elderberry Hedge - "Antiquities And Things Found" Shop

        "Nicholas' started his treasure hunting early in life alongside his parents. Their adventures took them up tremendously tall trees, across fox-watched fields and Nicholas loved every heart-pounding minute of it!  
        While he was still young, Nicholas and his parents returned home after an extended journey only to discover that their house had been heavily damaged by a fallen branch from the great willow tree they nested under. So they all set out to look for a new house to call home.
        Nicholas journeyed outside the Hedge toward the great Manor house, to his favourite place to sniff around - the old forgotten garden! Nicholas loved the garden! The nooks and crannies to be crawled over... the forest of weeds and plants and saplings all vying for their place in the sun! It was wonderful!! 
        Nicholas hiked up the highest mound of earth at the garden edge to get up above the foliage 
and take a look around.  It was from this vantage point that Nicholas made a most wonderful discovery! Getting his bearings and scrambling down this small hill, he raced toward his prize!
        There, laying in the tall grass was, in Nicholas' mind, the possibility for the most luxurious of homes! Nicholas approached his discovery and took a few moments to determine the best way to get his treasure back to the Hedge. With a bit of prying at first - for the grasses and weeds had long ago assumed claim on this prize - Nicholas freed his find of it's earthly bonds and began the slow journey across the grassy slope toward the Hedge..." 

 Here is a sketch of Nicholas' family home and Antique shop...
Can you guess what Nicholas' treasure may have been?

        "Nicholas' parents were elated and bewildered over their son's offering. Elated because, they like Nicholas immediately saw the luxurious home possibilities that could come of it and bewildered because they had no idea that their son, although adventurous, could ever have dragged these heavy leather work boots all the way home by himself!  Proud parents they were that day, on all counts!!
        While Nicholas and his father sat down to scratch out plans for the boots and their future home, Nicholas' mother scampered off to her favourite dustbins and dumping grounds in search of one more special item...."
Looking at the completed house, can you determine what Nicholas' mother returned home with?

Here is a quick sketch showing only in part the 
home that Nicholas' family built for themselves:

 Complete with multiple reading nooks, libraries, galleries, 
lofts and ladders, Nicholas' family home truly is luxurious!

The ladies boot that Nicholas' mother returned home with became 
a beautiful focal point on the exterior of their home but inside it 
housed a lovely circular staircase allowing one to travel easily from 
the first floor to the third floor and a trap door and ladder built into 
the heel that leads to a secret tunnel which exits into the woods!

Nicholas' shop is wonky and wonderful! 
It was built with love, so not all the walls are straight and 
unless you are very familiar with the floors I would suggest not taking
Nicholas' up on any offers to play a round of marbles in the parlour!

Nicholas and his parents spent many wonderful years finishing their house
and filling it up with the treasures from their many, many adventures.

Nicholas now shuffles around it, knowing every creak and every shadow.
The small nooks and dusty rooms have become as old friends to him - 
always there, reminding him of wondrous adventures of the past
and inspiring him to travels anew.   

  Elderberry Hedge
""Antiquities and Things Found" Shop"
(Watercolour and gouache, approx. 9" x 12")  

Thank you for coming along with me as I worked away on this piece!
It took me almost 20 hours to complete it and I learned a lot!!

Like Nicholas' stories, there is still a lot more to tell but you'll have to wait!
The little secrets I've hidden in this painting are known only by myself and my family.
I won't say anymore except that when they were added I actually cried....

From the moment Nicholas popped out of my pencil and I audibly exclaimed, "Oh, hello!"
I knew that he would become a dear character to me! I look forward to more
of his stories and admiring more of his treasures, as time permits!

Wishing you a day filled with the treasures
of family and friends!
♥ Cath-


Friday, 20 February 2015

Progress on Nicholas' Shop

I've been trying to make time to work on this painting
and it has proved difficult with my current calendar...

I was able to sit down the other night and fiddle
with the lower left-hand corner of my sketch... 
originally, I imagined it to be silhouetted, but
decided to use the space to showcase more 'things'.

Here is the 'Before'...                                                       This is the 'After'...

You'll notice the open shelving and odds 'n' ends filling them up...
... This alteration took about 30 minutes...

The other day I was blessed with some time to actually paint!

Painting this 2" x 3" royal portrait took about an hour...

Painting the 1" x 1.5" vintage Parisian postage stamp 
and the 1.25" x 2.25" oval folk art style house design
took another hour...
And yes, a magnifying glass came in handy for the smaller details of these works!

Finding bits and pieces of time here and there,
other areas were painted... and I developed a soft turquoise for the walls...
The following reflects the efforts of four and half more hours:

I'm begin to build in the light from the window, deepening some areas 
and keeping others areas lighter... I will adjust things as the painting progresses.
More tweaking and tightening up of details (shadows, highlights, etc) are necessary 
and in the works... There are some parts of the sketch that I'm reconsidering now...
Stay tuned to see how that settles out!

You can begin to see how long some paintings can take 
- this one is 6.5 hours so far! -
I'm constantly thinking, adjusting, adding, taking away...
that is why I sometimes find it enjoyable to take a quick break
from these bigger pieces to paint up a 30 minute 'doodle'!

Hope you find time in your day to do something you love!

~ It's back to 'play' for me! 
Need to splash my brushes into their favourite puddles of paint
and continue my progress on Nicholas' shop!


Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Behind the Scenes - The Planning Behind a Painting

Some have expressed an enjoyment in seeing the "behind the scenes" of my work;
the Sneak-A-Peeks of my sketchbook and such...
so I have decided to begin a little series titled: "The Planning Behind a Painting"

I realized while working on my Visit To Elderberry Hedge 
post last week that it has been almost 3 years 
since I did the preliminary sketch for Nicholas' 
"Antiquities and Things Found" shop!

3 years!!

That's crazy!

It's high time I did something about it!!
So I'm determined to give Nicholas and his quaint shop their due
and I'm bringing you along on the journey!!

Let me introduce you to Nicholas:

Back in 2012 when Nicholas popped out of 
my pencil, I couldn't help but say, "Oh, hello!"

This is just a tiny sampling of some of the collected treasures from Nicholas' shop:

As I stated back in my original post: 
"Nicholas has been a long-time resident of Elderberry Hedge
and his curious shop, "Antiquities and Things Found" has long been
 a part of the village.  Nicholas comes from a long line of pack rats and...."

aaannnd, I left you hanging for 3 years!!

Okay, wait, let's just begin again shall we?

    Nicholas has been a long-time resident of Elderberry Hedge and his curious shop, "Antiquities and Things Found" has long been a part of the village.  Nicholas comes from a long line of pack rats who have been known for their ability to sniff out treasures most anywhere!  
    Nicholas' great-grandfather, Nicodemus, was a  fearless adventurer who in one day, scaled a small mountain, battled an angry vole over a plump and tasty tulip bulb, ran breathlessly from a pursuing hawk and in making one last ditch effort to escape dove under a toadstool encrusted log and there discovered a string of pearls - each pearl as big as his own head! The adventures of Nicodemus in the Large Canopied Forest and how he got that great string of pearls home, well those are other stories for other times!

    Late in his life, Nicodemus, wishing for one more great adventure, set sail on the nearby river. All was smooth sailing for several hours until a small mishap involving a sleeping otter caused a wee bit of a commotion, but the still-hearty adventurer was able, after some quick maneuvering and shouted apologies, to safely bring his sailing vessel to a nearby shore. Whilst dragging his boat aground, ol' Nico's foot slipped across the wet earth and hit something hard. Interest sparked, Nicodemus quickly secured his boat to a nearby reed and began to scrape away at the mud and soon unearthed a large silver dollar!  The idea of another treasure filling his head, the ol' pack rat sniffed and dug and scraped around the riverbank for the rest of the day and the result of his diligence? More than a dozen shining silver coins!

    It may be needless to say, but between the string of pearls, the multiple silver coins and several discovered treasures in between, Nicholas' family could happily adventure to their hearts content, for many generations, without much worrying about making ends meet back home!


And for today, that is where I must leave off.
More to come with future posts, as God wills.
So where does my painting stand as of this moment?
Well, this is the preliminary from June 2012:

 And here is my current under drawing of my painting (February 11, 2015):

(c) Catharine Fairchild 2015
I'm still working out the foreground (bottom left hand corner) and will be adding
subject matter to the paintings propped against the wall (under the window).
Definitely a work in progress!! ;)

Looking forward to sharing more about Nicholas and his shop 
through the coming days and weeks!

Thursday, 5 February 2015

The Fullness of Joy

"You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
(Psalm 16:11, NKJV)

In February 2008, Kelsey Harris of Columbus, Mississippi 
was diagnosed with the most aggressive form of brain cancer,
she was 14 years old.

Kelsey was admitted into St. Jude Children's Hospital 
where she spent most of the rest of her life.

While Kelsey was undergoing treatment, the hospital staff 
were very impressed with her joyful attitude.
They asked her how she seemed so happy under the circumstances...
She replied simply, "Life is more interesting when you're happy."

Three months before she died, Kelsey was asked by the nurses if there
was anything that she wanted to accomplish in the time that remained;
this is what she wrote:

I want to...
 Write something worth reading
Read something worth sharing
Say something worth repeating
Give something worth getting
Choose something worth keeping
Sacrifice something worth giving up
Go somewhere worth seeing
Eat something worth tasting
Hug someone worth holding
Buy something worth treasuring
Cry tears worth shedding
Do something worth watching
Risk something worth protecting
Listen to something worth hearing
Teach something worth learning
Be someone worth knowing.

Kelsey Harris died April 6, 2009.
Before her passing Kelsey again wrote something worth reading:

"Keys to Finding Joy in Life"
I like to be by myself but I can't stand to be alone.
I love the dark but hate not being able to see.
I enjoy meeting new people but I hate being with strangers.
I want my voice to be heard but despise talking out loud.
I want to be in a Hall of Fame but I don't like being the center of attention.
I want to have my most complicated problems solved but I don't want complicated answers.
I want to always be healthy but not have to take medicine.
- the key to joy in life is God!

With God, I can be away from the world by myself but not be alone for He is with me.
With God, I can be in the dark, be blind, but see more than the people of the world can.
With God, I can meet new people but they won't be strangers 
because they are children of God, like me.
With God, my voice can be heard even if I whisper.
With God, I can enter His 'Hall of Fame' but not deal with the pressures of earthly things.
With God, I can have even the most complicated problems solved with a simple answer.
With God, I can have an incurable disease yet be healthy in what matters most.

Without God, I will be with the world and be totally alone.
Without God, I will walk around with my eyes wide open, 
but not see as much as the Christian blind man sees.
Without God, I can meet all the people in the world but they will always be strangers.
Without God, I will have to raise my voice as loud as I can to be heard
but still not be heard when it matters most.
Without God, I will have to work extremely hard to get into a worldly Hall of Fame
but still not get into the highest one.
Without God, my most complicated problems can't be solved 
and the attempts will be so complicated I won't understand them.
Without God, I will have to take pill after pill and will always be incurably sick.

With God, I can achieve anything.
Without God, I will achieve nothing.

(by Kelsey Harris)

  May Kelsey's words inspire you to look at the fragility of life
and look with joy on what is truly important!


P.S. Special thanks to John Meeboer for bringing 
this young woman's wonderful words and faith to my attention!


Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Snow Ellie!

Today is a wonderfully cheerful day!!
The sun is shining...
The icicles are glistening...
The snow is sparkling...
The sky is clear and bright!!

I am feeling blessed and full of gratitude today!

I sat down this morning and whipped up a l'il painting
that made me smile as I worked on it...

"Snow Ellie"
(watercolour, approx. 6" x 6")

Yep, the field mice are at it again! They sure do love their friend Ellie!!
I think we all can agree, it is a perfect day to build a Snow Ellie!!

 So, get outside and get creative - it's the perfect day for it!!