Category Archives: Folk Art

Serenity in Solitude

Ever find life to be a little…..well…..manic?  I know I do.  The minute I step out the door I often feel like the world is going so much faster than it needs to.  I guess I’m getting old.   Let me rephrase that…..I AM getting old.

Between the connectivity within society via cellphones and other electronic marvels and the “acquire stuff”  lifestyle that the media and advertisers mercilessly promote, is it any wonder that we often feel like we’re trying to dart across an eight-lane freeway that’s full of freight trucks only to find that when we get to the other side we’ve got to jump the train tracks before the next commuter train roars through?

Stage 1 - Soft Pastel, Gouache, and Icky Masking Fluid

It affects kids and teenagers too.  They are seldom solitary.  Between school, friends, sports, and a plethora of other extra-curricular activities, they don’t get much alone-time.  Add to that the fact that their cellphones are seldom turned off and are constantly beeping the next incoming text, where can they escape to?  I’m still looking for the up-side to all of this connectivity.  I do know the down-side is the inability to escape negative peer pressure or  bullying.  In the olden days (way back in the 60’s and 70’s), you could just go home.  If you didn’t want to be around someone or deal with them, you didn’t answer their phone calls and just hung out with people you liked being with.  Now kids are subjected to all that negative stuff via Facebook and cellphones.  To me, that’s a real down-side.

I love my solitary time.  For some, me-time means going out with their friends, golfing, or traveling.  For me, me-time is the best when it’s just being able to be at home.  Whether it’s to knit, write, garden, paint, or build jewelry, it’s time that’s Mine.  While not strictly solitary as my hubby is usually around and about, he’s my best friend so it makes for a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere.  Even when we travel, we’re happy to just put up a tent and stare at the lake for a week. It’s nice to just get away from all the zoom-zoom.

I encourage everyone reading this to try some quiet down-time.  Turn off the phones, shut off the computer, maybe even make the kids do the same.  Take some down time.  Some time for yourself and your family.  Talk to each other….listen to each other….have some fun reconnecting with each other without all the electronic bubble and fizz that has become such a huge part of your life.  Try it.  I dare ya.  Let me know how it goes.  I’m betting you’ll find some serenity…something we can all use a little more of.


Serenity in Solitude – Little Pink Houses Series

11″x15″ — Soft Pastel, Watercolour, Gouache, Archival Ink

For The Birds

As I enjoy my week off from the music studio I’m trying to finish up some projects I’ve had dawdling along for a while.

Pastels continue to intrigue me and watercolours are finally feeling like they’re a medium I could seriously work with.

The entire Little Pink Houses series has evolved out of a need to have relatively simple subject matter to work on while I explore all these new mediums in an attempt to discover what I might be good at.  After all, houses are one of the first things we draw as children, they’re the apex of the Canadian (or American) dream, and they come in all different sizes, shapes, and colours.

With Spring having finally sprung I’ve been awakened every morning by birds in my yard.  The twittering and warbling are very welcome…the crows I could live without.  But even the crows need a home, along with all their musical little friends.  So, this is……For The Birds.

8 1/4" x 11 1/2" -- Pastel, Watercolour & Archival Ink


There was no post here yesterday because I was Moonstruck.  Those who know me know I have a Moon fixation.  It can transfix me in a moment and I’m gone….Moonstruck.

The Little Pink Houses has turned in to a bit of a series.  Our houses are our homes and so much of our heart resides there.  They begin to take on the personalities of those who live there, whether we’re aware of it or not.  They begin to symbolize who we are a little bit and in a way embody the essence of our spirit. They are witness to our most intimate moments and are sometimes our only refuge from the day-to-day chaos of life.  This little house is just a little Moonstruck… me.

I began by laying out the basic sketch of what I had in my head.  Lots of roundiness…..I wonder how that happened??

As I sketched very lightly, I had to mess with the photo just to get the lines to show, which is why it’s so grainy.  Then I layered on the STUFF.  You know, that icky masking fluid.  In this case, a very necessary evil.

Yuck.   But, as I was going to do my background in soft pastels, I had to do this in order to keep the crisp detail lines of the shapes.

I’m loving the blendability of these chalks.  They’re just pure fun.  I tried putting dots of the masking fluid in the sky as stars, but it didn’t work.  As I rubbed to blend the pastels most of the dots came off.  No worries.  I have a plan.

But first, I need to fix the pastel in place.  I found this stuff at Card & Stationery and it freaking rocks!!  It did exactly what I needed, which was to seal the pastel, without changing the character of the pastels or the paper.  It’s all about getting the right product for the right job.  The spray I was using before works beautifully to seal acrylic paints, which is what it’s built to do, but didn’t work well on a job it wasn’t designed for.

Once sealed, I can ink right over top the pastels.  Without this step, they’d be getting smeared everywhere and gunking up my pens.

After rubbing the masking fluid off I started laying in the watercolour for my scene.  I did re-apply a bit of the STUFF to the windows on the house, just to keep things crisp.  Remember….let this STUFF dry completely before you try and do anything over top of it.  To not let it dry is to court disaster.  Don’t ask me how I know.

Once all the colour is down, it needs to dry completely again.  Trying to put ink on damp paper is just asking for the paper to slough off.  Then you have to cuss.   Lots.

The inking is just a total blast.  This is the stage where the picture really comes together and starts to develop its own personality.  A few gouache stars finished it up nicely.  I wanted this to be light and whimsical…..almost Seussical.  A place where Horton just might turn up looking for a Who.  A place where you’re welcome to sit a bit and let the Moon cast its spell on you.  A place to be……Moonstruck.

Moonstruck – Little Pink Houses Series

8.25″ x 11.75″

Soft Pastel, Watercolour, Archival Ink, Gouache

Technicolour Hummers

So I have this love-hate relationship with soft (chalk) pastels.  I finally splurged and bought a decent set after drooling over the luscious colours in Brandy’s Fruits Gone Wild Series.  Seriously sumptuous colours.

The first time I used them, I loved the saturation and the blending.  The second time I used them was a bit of a disaster.  I don’t like disasters.  They disturb me.  I like things to go right the FIRST time.  And the second.  I’ve been known to quit altogether if I don’t “get” something right away.

Another aspect of the “hate” part of the relationship is how messy they are.  That powder goes everywhere.  I learned a few things this time around that helped a lot.

Firstly, I wiped my hands down with paper towel a lot.  That minimized the smears where I didn’t want them.  These little sketches are only studies, but I still didn’t want big blotches of colour everywhere.  Secondly, I used q-tips to blend some of the smaller areas.  I had tried them before and they just removed all the colour.  This time I barely tickled the surface with them and found they were lovely for moving the powder around and manipulating the colour.  Lastly, I have discovered that when it comes to pastels, a kneaded eraser is a girl’s best friend.   It was terribly handy for cleaning up areas where I’d smooshed outside of the lines.

The first thing I did was just block in the colours.  This is where I fell in love with these luscious sticks of pigment.  I found out on the first one that I need to be careful what colours I try to blend but this medium is dynamite for just getting big swaths of colour onto the piece quickly.

After I put the colour on, I sprayed them with a Matte sealer.  As I said last time I used this, I really need to get a different brand as I’m not thrilled with what it does to the paper, but it’s what I had on hand.  It did the job of sealing the powder so it won’t gum up my pens just fine, but I’d hesitate to use it on a project piece.

All that was left now was to add a bit of detail with some ink.  I use Staedtler Pigment Liners that are Archival and Acid-free.

These have worked out nicely as a way to experiment a bit before committing to a full-sized piece.  I’m definitely going to be doing some more work with hummingbirds.

As a final note, I’m not going to be posting regularly on Fridays anymore.  Our Fridays are becoming increasingly busy so I need to cut myself a break and not fret so much about not having a post because life has intervened.  Conversely, if I manage to get something cool finished on a weekend, I just may post it then.

So I’ll see you next week.  Maybe with a hummingbird or two in-tow.  Have a wonderful weekend!


I love ’em.  Hummingbirds, that is.  There’s even a semi-tacky sticker of one on my computer.  Yes, really.  Sue me.

These little birds fascinate me.  When I worked at the Glass House as a tour guide they would sometimes end up in the house, having flown in through the open gift-shop window.  They’d be fluttering on the windows and I’d very gently cup my hands around them and take them back outside.  If you’ve ever looked at one of these beauties up close you’ll know that they positively glow.  Their tiny little feathers are pearlescent/iridescent and they look as soft as thistledown.  And they hover….they freaking HOVER!  How cool is that?

I want to do some hummingbird art.  Maybe pastels, maybe folk-art, maybe watercolour.  I’m not sure yet which medium so I did up some quick little hummer-sketches.

These were just to get a bit of a feel for form and line.  Of course, I’m likely to head in a direction that’s a little more whimsical…..

So stay tuned….colour coming soon.

Oh….and for those of you who clicked on this because the title meant something else to you….shame, shame on you.  *evil grin*