Today’s blog will be a brief one, but an important one (to me at least).
As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’ve always thought that I’d go to post secondary school for art and become a children’s book illustrator when I was… well the age I am now. Instead, I chose a different route, but I tried to promise myself that art would be an ongoing hobby or possibly more if I tried hard enough.
After my teenage years, I practised art a little less – this made me lose some of my artistic confidence. At the age of 26, I have now regained the confidence that I once had as a 17-year-old aspiring illustrator and have been putting myself out there art-wise. What does that mean? Before landing my marketing job, I had been taking a number of custom illustration commissions! I loved being creative again and pushing myself by trying new techniques. Then I contacted a shop about displaying my work.
The town of Millbrook has a delightful café called the Pastry Peddler with a unique Bike shop on the second floor. I’ve often admired the building for it’s beautiful interior architectural structures like the gorgeous old staircase at the back of the building that leads up to Frog Cycles. The hallway from the café section to the washrooms, as well as the back staircase, features different artists each month and this month I’m lucky enough to be displaying a collection of my own work!
I created a handful (maybe a little too many) of hanging layouts ahead of time and am happy with my final choice. I’m proud of myself for this small accomplishment, we should allow ourselves some personal pride on occasion. It’s not an art gallery show, but I’m putting my art in front of the public-eye – putting a part of myself on display to be judged. Art is personal and I know mine won’t be for everyone, but if it makes one person stop to take a double look (one that doesn’t read as “ew, gross”), I’ll be a happy girl!
(Scroll down for my top 6 favourite Instagram accounts [3 humans and 3 canines])
Instagram is hands down my favourite social media network. I use it far more than any other platform and it tends to make me happy. Not only do I share positive moments in my life with my own followers, but I take in great snapshots and funny captions of those who I follow. In my opinion, this is how it differs most in comparison to Facebook or Twitter.
My Facebook newsfeed tends to fill up with generic memes, commonly shared stories, or rants both for and against topics that are controversial. As the Twitter feed updates, I’m led to articles of varying importance and I generally learn all my local news here. Both Facebook and Twitter definitely have their benefits, but they are more likely to expose me to depressing or upsetting content. Instagram is (largely apart from sponsored posts) curated by me, for me and I keep it feeling pretty light.
I technically run two Instagram accounts, one for me (@cassythemusicalfox) and for our dog (@summit.the.sweetheart). Before our last dog passed, my personal account was filled with photos of our dog Daq and I followed many other dog accounts. Daq had such an incredible personality that I loved sharing her with the Insta-universe, but she was an old girl and I didn’t want to create an account for her only to have to close it after she inevitably died. It was then no question as to whether or not I would start a dog account when we adopted Summit – she would rule the world… I mean approximately 300 followers on Instagram.
Having two accounts is actually very helpful to me. The dog account allows me to follow hundreds of animals online with zero shame and they all do one thing: they make me happy. Like real life dogs, Insta-doggo accounts are very loyal, it’s a faithful online community. Seeing those slobbery smiles doing pretty much anything keeps me feeling good and maybe it would help brighten your day too. Take a break from photos of your friend’s lunch and search for a cute canine going on an adventure.
So, who are three of my top humans and doggos to follow on Instagram? (Feel free to look through accounts I’m following through the Instagram profiles as well because it was really hard to choose only three of each)
@Grumpyandgeeky seems like a fun guy (not to be mistaken with a fungi) who posts a lot of ‘nerdy’ pop culture content. He has access to a ton of the newest and nerdiest merchandise that you will see and possibly then want to buy for yourself. He’s a man of good taste and he also occasionally posts pics of his dog which I 100% support!
Koda and Moo are St Berdoodles (just like my fur-babe Summit), they are brothers who have the best smiles and take frequent naps. Not only are they handsome unique looking bros, but they also give back to the community – Koda and Moo are actually therapy dogs! Sometimes they have Instagram posts featuring these two doggos making people happy offline out in the real world which then in turn makes me happy when clicking that like button online.
Shaun Downey is a Canadian artist who is from my hometown, but currently lives in Toronto with his wife (she is another of my favourite artists [@kellygraceart]). His work is incredibly stunning, the colours are gorgeous, the details are
meticulous, and his depictions of fabric textiles blow me away. Every piece by Shaun Downey stands on its own as true beauty and when you think that you have a found your favourite, you will discover his next painting. I was also lucky enough to win a print of Shaun’s last year and I love the way that it brought my girly nook together.
I’ve been following @dog_wears_hat for a long while now and they are one of my all time favourite accounts. Every photo and every caption is perfection in a way that the account doesn’t take itself too seriously. This dog, Ol’ Bluey, is a star. I can only hope to look half as good in hats as Ol’ Bluey does because he totally owns it. His serious faces, that might be referred to as Ol’ Bluey-Steel, are the greatest and I hope you check them out!
Sarah K. Benning is a talented hand embroidery artist that I happened upon during a time of needlework research. Her work is often intricate and amazes me, she was one of the first embroidery artists to inspire me to go beyond traditional hand embroidery styles and combine it with modern concepts. She has approximately 400,000 Instagram followers who all love her work, but if you can beat the rush, you can purchase your own Sarah K. Benning hoop art off of her Etsy store.
This account pretty much posts what you’d expect: dogs waiting to come home; dogs waiting outside the store; dogs waiting for a treat; dogs waiting at the window. The account really makes you realize what a patient species they are and they don’t even have cell phones to look at Instagram to pass the time! It’s a fun account that lets me see a good variety of dog breeds in a nearby city centre (because this is a priority when you are a crazy dog lady like me). You can also submit photos of your waiting dog by tagging them!
There you have it folks, a little glimpse into the behind the scenes of my Instagram priorities. What are some of your favourite accounts? What types of curating do you do? Does it make you smile? I hope so.
March break is coming to an end, but you still have tomorrow or next year to plan for!
My niece, Zoey, is approximately seven and a half years old and was off school this week for March Break. I decided that I would take her on an afternoon outing in town. If you are also able to have the time off, there are plenty of things that you can do with your young ones for a very low cost in Oshawa. Today we went to the Robert McLaughlin Gallery (RMG), our local art gallery that is a favourite of mine.
Budget Breakdown: -Two 80 page sketchbooks and a pack of crayons = $10.75 -Wendy’s lunch for two = $11.74 -Downtown parking = $1.75 -Suggested art gallery donation = $5.00
Total afternoon adventure = $29.24 (Keep in mind if you already have sketch materials and pack your own lunch the day could be $6.75!)
I don’t entirely remember my first RMG visit (I think I was a preteen), but you can never start appreciating art too early. Zoey has always shown an interest in art, we have coloured and drawn together since she was able to hold a crayon. Now that she’s in grade two, art is her favourite subject in school and I love that we can share experiences together in Oshawa’s artistic community.
To start our adventure, we needed some fuel so we stopped at Wendy’s for lunch! Kids are easy when it comes to food and taking them somewhere fancy will likely only lead to them not liking what they have to eat (although I must say I was impressed with the newly renovated modern decor, Wendy’s is classier than I remember). We talked about what was happening in school and Zoey danced in her seat to the popular songs playing on the radio that I didn’t know. Zoey had assured me that she could finish a small vanilla frosty after her happy meal and I didn’t tell her “I told you so” when it was still 4/5ths full at the end of it all.
Some Wendy’s Wisdom:
At one point, a group of teenagers were having an odd amount of fun near the Wendy’s trash cans and I asked, “What are these kids laughing at?” to which Zoey replied, “They’re teenagers, that’s just what they do… they laugh at nothing” – she is wise beyond her age.
After we parked, we took photos with my favourite statue that sits just outside of the gallery. Zoey was really excited to go in and as she ran up the outdoor ramp I told her about some art gallery etiquette. She was delightfully well behaved the whole time with no running, touching, or yelling and she compared gallery etiquette to rules in libraries. The RMG is technically free, but they suggest a $5.00 donation which Zoey happily inserted into the contribution box in the lobby. Steve, the security guard, was friendly as usual and we began our self guided tour.
I was so happy that the Durham Reach exhibition was still installed so that I could show Zoey works of art by local artists including pieces created by a handful of people that I know personally. As we moved from piece to piece in the first room (Alexandra Luke I Gallery), I admired that Zoey already seems to have a definitive idea of what she does and doesn’t like in terms of art style. She tended to like paintings that used bright colours, were pretty, fun, interactive, and she also liked the sculptures that suspended from the ceiling. She did surprise me in how broadly her taste extended with certain pieces that I didn’t think that she’d appreciate, but she’d say “oooh I like this one.”
In the second room (Alexandra Luke II Gallery), we decided to get out our brand-new dollar store sketch books and try to draw a multimedia statue that was set up. We each drew different characters in the piece and I really loved her drawings. I had seen the upcycled structure a few times before, but had only noticed that they all had erect penises when we were drawing all the details – Zoey thought it was funny, but it didn’t bother her. The same room showcased an interactive wooden triangle installation that Zoey really wanted to play with. I made a dog and she made a fish, we both loved all the colours.
Zoey wanted to draw a piece made up of stacked painting studies and a ceramic globe in the third gallery space (Isabel McLaughlin Gallery). As we were drawing, a large group of kids in the gallery’s March Break day-camp came through and were running, touching, and making a lot of noise. Zoey commented on how bad they were being and I counted myself lucky that she was sitting, drawing, and having a good time being calm!
We went downstairs to look at Gallery A and were lucky enough to meet an in-house artist who was working on casts to make pots for a new project. She explained the process to Zoey and even took a look at some of her drawings that she had done upstairs. We climbed the steps once more and headed into the last room of our tour (R. S. McLaughlin Foundation Gallery). She liked the metal salmon that had a working crank that made the body move as if it was swimming. Zoey also found many of the pieces in the room to be a bit scary and we quickly moved on to those that were less dark. Zoey enjoyed her time at the RMG so much that she didn’t really want to leave. We stayed in the activity room near the back of the gallery for another half hour or so, drawing and enjoying the sunlight.
We eventually collected our things and headed to the car. It had been a quiet and art-filled afternoon that was good for us both.
I saw my niece smile a lot today… and that means the world to me.
As Valentine’s Day is fast approaching (February 14th is this coming Tuesday), you may still need to come up with an affordable date idea. If we broke the bank to celebrate every holiday throughout the year, we’d be broke ourselves.
Yes, you can absolutely splurge a little on an expensive dinner out, but if you’re looking to save money this year maybe you can try some of the following five activities:
Instead of spending money on typical Valentine’s products, mutually decide on an at home activity that you could invest in.
This year Chris and I bought a new boardgame that we can play with just two people (up to six) called Pandemic. We had a night recently when we became more familiar with the rules so that we can really enjoy it on Valentine’s Day. Romance can mean different things to different people, and to us in our first year of marriage (third year of living together), our best-friendship is a big part of our love. We embrace our friendship by making sure we will both have fun – we hang out. If you’re on a smaller budget I suggest checking out the games section of Value Village, I’ve found some great games there for under $5.00!
Find a recipe on Pinterest.
If you have the time, cooking together can be a lot of fun. Chris and I often like to put on a playlist that works well with our meal. For example, when we cook pasta I like to put on my Dean Martin album, or sometimes we just put on a 90’s Spotify playlist to sing and dance to. You will either share pride over your delicious meal or laugh at what bad cooks you are which will make for a funny memory – it’s about the quality time you spend together more than it’s about the quality of the food.
Write a love letter.
Chris and I have done this a few times for past Valentine’s Days as well as anniversaries. It costs nothing and makes you feel really good about each other. This is the kind of gift that takes a little thought and effort, but goes a long way. Writing each other letters is also a good practise to keep up healthy communication and remind one another why you’re together. Don’t be afraid to add some humour into it with inside jokes, love letters don’t have to be all serious (they’re meant to make you smile).
Borrow a classic romance movie from the public library.
Sometimes Netflix just doesn’t cut it, especially if you’re like me and have watched basically every romantic comedy on the list. When that happens, you can check out this incredibly useful resource that exists in most cities called the library. You can even put things on hold or find out which branch has which DVD via the good ol’internet – this is better than Blockbuster. My local library carries modern movies as well as many older classics, including a personal favourite: Roman Holiday. Watching a movie on a comfy couch (not necessarily the big one with dust bunnies), having the ability to pause for bathroom breaks, and not paying outrageous prices for snacks are all good reasons to avoid the movie theatre this Valentine’s Day.
Explore a local art gallery.
Want to actually leave the house? Many cities have art galleries with free or donation based admission like The Robert McLaughlin Gallery (RMG) in my hometown or the Station Gallery one city over. I strongly encourage people who “don’t do art” to try this date idea, I think you’ll be surprised at how much you might enjoy yourself. Galleries are fantastic places to walk (healthy) and talk (healthy for your relationship). You can see how similar you are or just how much your tastes differ. Chris and I also like to make fun of the odd piece, again an art gallery doesn’t have to be a strictly serious environment – have fun!
These five ideas are simple and affordable, some also allow for comfort which is a huge plus in my books. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be all about extravagant gifts, it should be about celebrating your love for each other by spending time together and creating positive memories.
Let me know what some of your plans are in the comments!
(I did not take photos of the paintings and the ones I am using do not do the colours or texture of the real things justice – this exhibition is a must see)
This past Tuesday, Chris and I had afternoon plans in Toronto so we decided to make a bit of a day out of it. We live approximately an hour away from the city and don’t go downtown very often. I am someone who really loves her hometown and usually visits small town antique stores rather than busy city boutiques – this only makes my treks to Toronto all the more special.
Fun Fact: I love crosswords and keep a pen in my purse just in case I happen upon one.
When we arrived at Union Station, we went upstairs to the Pilot Coffee stand where Chris bought me a hot chocolate (a child at heart) and a coffee for himself. We took our warm drinks and headed to the subway to save time. We rode the University line to St. Patrick and walked the short distance to the AGO.
After getting our tickets and checking our coats, we climbed the stairs to the Mystical Landscape exhibition. We chose not to opt-in for audio headsets; although the audio files are educational, I find that they can take away from the viewing experience. Instead, Chris and I moved to the paintings at our own pace, viewed them in our own order, shared discussions, and read the descriptions of pieces that we liked.
The spaces were dim with picture perfect gallery lights that highlighted the masterpieces that were hung on the wall. It was incredible. The rooms were packed with art lovers, listening to their audio sets, and taking in the different forms of expression. I was so excited to see pieces that I had once studied in art history books displayed right in front of me. As soon as
we walked in, I saw Paul Gaugin’s Vision of the Sermon (1888) to our left and couldn’t wait to see more. The first room really started the collection off with a bang, there were famous paintings that I recognized every few feet. Claude Monet pieces were outstanding, I hadn’t imagined them to be so large! as a fan of impressionism, I couldn’t get enough of the colourful shading in person, you could really see the flecks of warm colours mixing with the blues and purples to represent
shadows – no use of black. Two of Monet’s haystack paintings were there and were a favourite of mine, but they also had some water lilies and two of the Rouen Cathedral series (allowing us to see his practise of painting the same building at various times of the day for light and colour study).
One section featured four or five different artists that depicted scenes from World War I (WWI) – Chris deemed this the Battlefield 1 display. My favourite WWI themed painting was Frederick Varley’s Gas Chamber at Seaford (1918) and Chris’ was Felix Vallotton’s Verdun (1917). It’s always fascinating to see artists’ drastically diverse interpretations, as well as how subjective viewer’s tastes are. I really enjoyed seeing which pieces Chris liked and thought about how great it would be to study a person’s psychology based on artistic preferences. If this already exists, please lead me to a link for further reading!
Without a doubt, the most anticipated and most enjoyable painting to see was Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night over the Rhone at Arles (1888). It was incredible to stand mere feet away from the colourful textured strokes
that are much more beautiful in person than they are in any art history textbooks. I pointed to the man and woman in the bottom right corner and told Chris that they were us and we should paint our dog Summit in. We made sure that we really allowed ourselves to take the piece in because it’s quite likely that we’ll never get to see it in person again.
If you are in or near Toronto before February 12, 2017 (the last day of the exhibition), I strongly encourage you to see Mystical Landscapes. You will not be disappointed, it was truly exceptional.
Other favourites (see below) between Chris and I were: Henri Sidaner’s Moonlight, Bruges (1900); Eugene Jansson’s Dawn over Riddarfjärden (1899), Edvard Munch’s The Sun (1909); Lawren Harris’ Decorative Landscape (1917); and Georgia O’Keeffe’s Red Hills, Lake George (1927).
I put our Christmas wreath together a couple of years ago and was happy with it back then, but I knew that I wanted to give it a facelift this year.
This project only cost me $10.00, here is the before and after:
I used the existing wreath, gold ribbon, and green sprigs from the first design. I set aside the bronze ribbon to be used when wrapping presents or making ornaments this year. The berries had once been a deep burgundy, but over time they faded to purple and chipped so they found their way to the garbage.
After bringing the wreath back to its naked state, I thought about what I might want to do next. I knew that I wanted a more simplistic design with classic colours, but what to actually do? This can be an intimidating question when staring at a blank wreath and lacking confidence in crafting. My biggest recommendation is to just try because practice and making mistakes is how you stumble upon your own creative greatness. To quote the great Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!”
Here’s how my process went…
I covered my dining room table in a fitted sheet to protect the wood from potential wreath scratches and any ‘shedding.’ I then laid out my new materials, a classic plaid ribbon and some new red berries. An important step is to put on a holiday film in the background to
help you have fun with a more festive atmosphere. If you’re looking for a less cheesy-Christmas-special feel, I recommend the Australian comedy series A Moody Christmas – it has a follow up season called The Moodys that is less holiday oriented too (these can be found on Netflix Canada).
Like most women in their mid-twenties, I am an active Pinterest user (here is my DIY Holiday board) and had done some research on wreath styles and DIY bows. I decided on a more simplistic bow – the bow tutorial that I took inspiration from can be found on the Mommy Suite site. The only changes that I made to the tutorial were doubling the bow ribbons, my use of pipe cleaners (I recommend using a colour similar to your ribbon [I clearly did not]), I needed to double the length of the bow knot (from 4” to 8”), and a staple for extra support.
After I had completed my bow, I set it to the side while I weaved mini lights through the frame of the wreath. I had already owned these battery-powered mini lights from my DIY wedding earlier this year. I found them for a really great price on Varage Sale! If you’d like to include lights in your wreath facelift I suggest that you hunt on your local buy and sell websites to find deals near you too.
The pipe cleaners that I used for the bow actually came in handy to keep it secure, I was able to weave another pipe c. Since this is front door decor, I thought that it would be best to make sure gusty winds don’t blow any pieces away! I weaved a pipe cleaner through the back of the bow (under the pseudo knot) and tied it to the metal frame to keep it secure.
The fun part was next! Placing the sprigs and berries around the branches is similar to garnishing a plate of food that you’re going to be proud of! I bought more berries than I needed because I split them into smaller pieces – I ended up only using two bunches. With a ton of leftover material, I plan on having more crafty fun this season.
Overall, I am very happy with my updated wreath. I’ve been feeling nostalgic about past Christmases and I love the classic Christmas colours that add to a cozy environment. The wreath will welcome our friends and family into our home during the holidays – now I’m proud of that first impression!
I hope this post may have inspired you to do your own overhaul or even start from scratch. If you are thinking about taking a stab at it, here are some more DIY wreaths to fuel your yule!
Remember that I mentioned my love of contests in an earlier blog? About one month ago I entered an online contest to win two tickets to the One of a Kind Show as well as $200.00 to spend while there – I won the grand prize! I was insanely excited as this meant that I would finally be able to go to the large classy craft fair that I have always heard such amazing things about and that I could actually have some extra money to spend on items without worrying about putting the money toward groceries!
The One of a Kind Show is held twice a year, once in the spring and again in the late fall. The show has been running since 1975 and encourages the tradition of gift giving to include supporting artisans by purchasing handmade products. With Christmas around the corner, the Enercare Centre at the Exhibition Place in Toronto was filled with beautiful twinkling lights, decorated trees, festive decorations, and a ton of potential presents to purchase from a long list of impressive vendors.
My friend Natalie and I decided to take the Go Train to the Ex to avoid any Toronto driving trauma. If you also forego driving, I recommend that you bring warm winter outerwear as it is approximately a ten-minute walk outdoors to get from the train stop to the Enercare Centre building (there is a coat check for $3.00). Neither of us had been to the One of a Kind Show before so we weren’t sure what to expect. We went yesterday afternoon (Monday November 28th, 2016) to beat the weekend crowds which worked out well as we never had to stand in a line.
When we walked into the immense convention hall, we were greeted by a beautiful tree that towered above us and was surrounded by past show favourite products on display. I adored the collection of pillows and an ottoman adorned in Toronto city skyline silhouettes. Natalie liked the golden goose sporting fashionable earmuffs, this type of headwear is a Nat-approved style this winter.
The show never slowed down in customer foot traffic while we were there from approximately 1pm-4pm, but the lanes were rarely overcrowded. We walked the entire floorplan and backtracked to pick up items that we had waited on earlier. Our legs and feet were killing us by the end of it all which made the train ride home a nice break before driving.
All the walking and perusing was well worth it as there were so many amazing finds to hunt for. I had planned on mainly buying Christmas gifts for loved ones on our list, but without definite ideas of what I was looking for I found myself feeling a bit unsure of what to buy. This was quickly remedied by seeing a million things that I liked for Chris and myself. I bought one gift for a friend’s birthday and the rest of the $200.00 went to fun house décor and a pair of earrings!
My Handmade Haul:
My first purchase of the day was a tea towel with adorable illustrations of animals from films! Claire Manning, the illustrator, hand prints her designs onto 17” x 27” tea towels as well as pillowcases. I enjoyed the design too much to pass it up; it combined my love of animals with my love of movies AND my love of original illustrations. A triple threat tea towel is serious business! Visit this vendor at Booth R31.
Next I bought an illustrated beaver pillow with a red and black plaid underside from Sparrow Avenue. Barbara, a former children’s book illustrator, now enjoys screen printing her characters onto textiles and selling them to animal lovers like me. This playful little guy officially sits on our couch and adds a fun style to our eclectic modern décor taste. Visit this vendor at Booth S53.
I am extremely pleased with the large print that I purchased from a very charming artist from Montreal. Baltic Club was founded by Melanie Ouellette and Brice Salmon, their pieces maintain a joyful quality whether it be found in the illustrated prints, cards, or pins that they sell. My husband and I really appreciate the country that we live in and I am so excited to show off our new watercolour print featuring province-relevant animals and produce – the artist admitted that he couldn’t think of a specific animal for Saskatchewan so he drew some corn! I am currently working on hanging it above our mid-century bar. Visit this vendor at Booth U24.
I was excited to find Double L Décor before we finished our rounds because I saw their geometric planter designs online before heading to the show! The engaged Hamilton couple, Laura Jaschke and Lucas McLellan, work together to design various modern shaped concrete planters that come with potted succulents and air plants. I purchased this geometric one for our dining table and an unseen surprise planter for a friend! Visit this vendor at Booth A08.
My last purchase of the day was all for me which is really nice to do sometimes! Another Montreal based brand, Femme Mecanique Designssells elegant jewelry with a strong modern design element. I purchased a pair of minimalist earrings, but I really fell in love with the dozens of choices in their ‘helicopter seed’ pieces – you know the seeds that flutter to the ground from maple trees (apparently, they have a real name that I do not care to learn)? You must visit their website to see these pieces of jewelry that are definite conversation pieces. Visit this vendor at Booth R46.
I had a wonderful time at the One of a Kind Show this year and will definitely return for future fun.
I suggest picking up a vendor map to circle booths that you’d like to return to, this would have been a huge help for us near the end of our adventure.
(Thanks to my mom, Sandy Goulding, for taking all of the photos featuring the festival in this entry, but mainly for hanging out with me all day and holding an umbrella over my canvas multiple times)
I was visiting my mom in Millbrook, Ontario a few weeks ago when I randomly leafed through her town’s paper and discovered an advertisement for theCavan Painting Festivalbeing held during Culture Days. I had just made the extended deadline to register for only $25 and figured it could be a lot of fun and a great way to get back into art now that I have more free time.
You see, at age 11 I had decided to be an illustrator and that I would attendSheridan Collegein Oakville, Ontario. At age 17, right out of high school, I shocked myself by actually getting accepted into their competitive illustration program. The timing wasn’t right for me and I declined the offer (something that I hoped wouldn’t be a mistake), but not before my parents bought me a school sweater that I still wear even though I never ended up going.
One year later my parents thought it would be a good idea for me to keep practicing my art and so I took a one-year certificate Foundations in Art and Design program at Durham College. I met a lot of really great people that I am still connected with and it rekindled my love for figure drawing. I graduated in the top three spots of my class and waited two years before deciding to go to university to study Communications.
Fresh out of a four-yearUOIT degree, I am up to my eyes in job applications. I decided that one of the best ways to keep a level head about temporary unemployment is to not only start this blog, but to put more effort into my long lost love of visual arts.
This past summer I tried my hand at embroidery and was busy with artistic DIY creations for the wedding, but now I have time to paint.
The Cavan Painting Festival was a welcome distraction from my dog’s passing midweek. I gathered my supplies and busied myself with preparations for the event. It was aPlein Airfestival which means that we were to paint outdoors, facing the changing weather conditions, altered sunlight, and moving objects within our views. As the weekend approached, the weather didn’t look promising which made me more nervous than I already was.
None the less, my wonderful mother stayed by my side the entire Saturday. I registered my blank canvases with the hosting gallery owner Valerie of theCavan Art Academyat approximately 8:30am. My mom and I took my Suburu Forester to a spot that I’d scouted out during a Friday afternoon drive.
It was a beautiful misty morning which made for a nice division of background, middleground, and foreground. Mist might be pretty, but it also means that the weather is damp and cold – which means so were we. We opened the trunk door of the Forester, fixed a tarp to it and make-shift-weighted it down with a half full oil container and my mom’s chair. It was clearly a sound structure.
My first painting was done with acrylics on an 8×10 canvas in about two and a half hours. My body was warm enough, but my fingers were exposed for this entire period and were stiff as they gripped the paint brushes. The truly wonderful thing about small-town communities is the friendly vibe that exists on every street. I was parked on a one sided, no exit, street facing the land that gets used as the fairground in the spring. Each resident of the six houses came out to see what I was doing, to offer us tea and coffee, and one lady offered me the use of her bathroom. We welcomed the offer of tea and coffee, as well as a quick bathroom break that was needed after drinking a lot of tea! Millbrook residents remind me that some people are pretty amazing.
I titled this first piece Ruby’s Fairground, naming it after a beautiful and gentle red-golden retriever that I’d met before I had started painting. I fell in love with her and then near the end of my piece she was running in the field around the barns so I painted her in.
Mom and I packed up and took a warm lunch break atMadison’s Placedowntown. An obvious regular and troublemaker was complaining loudly that they didn’t serve breakfast all day. After making a drawn out scene about it all to the waitresses and owner for several minutes he asked “what am I supposed to eat?!” I spoke up and declared “lunch!” The waitresses laughed and cheered for me, but the man looked less than impressed.
After lunch I decided on my next location, the corner of the current road detour due to road construction at the foot of their main street. This gave me a view of the post office, the back of the old city hall, and a partial glimpse of what was once the fire hall.
Millbrook is known for two obvious things, the local mill, and the brook on which it sits – I didn’t want to paint either of these things in order to try to stand out among 64 other artists competing. That’s right, 65artists came out in the rainy weather to compete for the impressive grand prize of $1500.00, the 2nd prize of $1000.00, and the 3rd prize of $500.00 all sponsored byGalerie Q. Some people came all the way from British Columbia and Alberta!
The afternoon allowed for the weather to warm up a little and my fingers to be a less stiff. I painted on a larger 20×20 canvas in acrylics, this piece took me approximately four and a half hours to complete. As I was finishing the painting, large drops of rain splashed my canvas as my mother quickly tried to get an umbrella up (she was still with me, what mom-dedication eh?). I wrapped up, packed up, and headed to her house for the night. Boy was I tired and in pain, but I was proud of what I had painted.
Sunday was submission and jury day. Each artist was allowed to submit two pieces of any size and medium to be judged which means that there would be a lot of paintings to compete with. I wasn’t expecting to win, but my odds were better than winning the lottery.
The awards reception was held at Gallery Q and there was a really great turn out. I was glad that a young person won the grand prize as they probably needed the money the way that I do. I didn’t place, but am still happy with what I created and know that art is very subjective. I’m not traditional in my singing or painting so although my style may not have been what the judges were looking for, there may be a buyer for my pieces somewhere out there.
The festival was a good experience, mother nature helped make it an even more memorable time, and the artists that I met were really talented. I definitely recommend checking this event out next year as I know that this year’s success will lead to an annual favourite among the locals.
This is the eighth entry in a series of posts featuring our Barcelona Honeymoon Adventure!
I woke up feeling hopeful and excited that today going to the Picasso Museum would become a reality, but was still unsure of how big of a line there might be on a regular day. We arrived 15 minutes before the place opened and there were only eight other people ahead of us – this was extremely pleasing! By the 9:00am opening time, there were approximately 50 people in line behind us.
The building was beautiful inside, very rustic and castle-like with modern windows and doors built into existing structures. First, we walked through the temporary exhibition which consisted of nearly 100 different Picasso ink prints, mostly dating from the late 1950s and onward. It would have been better if the temporary collection was to be seen last for Chris’ sake, I told him that once he saw what Picasso was capable of he’d respect his more simplistic cubism a little more.
The museum’s main collection is laid out chronologically with small bits of biological information told on the walls going room from room. Chris and I enjoyed reading each bio-blurb that added to Picasso’ life story. These facts definitely added to the viewing experience as we were able to then look for influences in his style within the paintings. Picasso’s artistic capabilities at age 14 were incredible, it makes sense that he got bored of controlled line and colour work and explored freer forms. As a much less accomplished artist myself, I admire his ability to stray from the ordinary and contradict normalcy.
The recommended viewing order of the collection flows as follows: first the rooms take you through stages by location of where he was living at the time, how geography and culture affected his style; then of course through his blue and rose periods; back to Barcelona; and lastly by differing subjects, muses, and series’. It was a really wonderful length and size of gallery that allowed us to see everything displayed without getting bored or tired. I was, however, disappointed not to see Guernica in person, but learned that it is actually housed in the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, Spain.
Chris and I left feeling very content and discussed Picasso’s different visual interpretations of vaginas, penis’, bums, and boobs. Chris and I are both adults with strong childish sides, so there was definitely some pointing of fingers and smiles when we looked at Picasso’s print work that resembles a cartoon-esque style of exaggerated nudes. We walked back to our apartment and had a nap.
This was the point in our trip where we had seen everything that we had planned on seeing and didn’t want to spend much more money. We loved loved loved Barcelona, but it was at this moment that we both admitted we were looking forward to returning home to Canada. Living ‘authentically,’ and by that I mean in a small fourth floor apartment with a somewhat shared space and no air conditioning, is seen as charming for a trip like ours, but our home in Canada is what we love more. We look forward to returning to suburbia, we miss our dog Daq most of all, but we also miss the smell of the air, our friends and family, our personal items that we spend our leisure time with.
After our nap we had a bit of normalcy, I lounged in bed re-reading Pride and Prejudice for hours while Chris browsed the computer and watched a documentary.
We had plans to go to Messie Pizza again for dinner. We took the metro and walked the several blocks only to discover with a laugh that it was closed! A sign on the door said that they’d be closed until September 2, likely gone on holiday. Hungry and thirsty, we stopped at a convenience store to get water and a snack while we looked for another place. Many restaurants seemed to be closed and the ones we inquired about could not guarantee gluten free.
We took the metro back to our temporary neighbourhood and got McDonalds, brought it to the apartment, and binge watched Game of Thrones. I was perfectly content with how the night ended as it felt a bit like home, somewhere we would return to in a couple days.