Tag Archives: 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

A Moment Frozen in my Mind

I have several moments  frozen in my mind.  One is watching the Challenger explode.  Another is my mother yelling “John Lennon is dead!”.  I watched the Twin Towers fall on Live TV with a co-worker and kept thinking “Oh my God….those buildings are full of people.”

Technology today allows us to witness our times’ greatest tragedies Live and in High Definition.  I still haven’t decided if that’s a good thing or a bad thing but I do know that bearing witness to these catastrophic events leaves me feeling like I have a responsibility, even obligation, to take the lessons taught by these events and grow from them personally. I can never, ever forget how lucky I am.

It’s so easy to take our comfort, safety, and even our lives for granted.  As we watched the tsunami roll over Sendai we knew we were witnessing the unspeakable;  there were people in those buildings and vehicles that were dying in the devastation.  To helplessly watch as these people died, knowing there wasn’t a thing anyone could do, caused a cold, inner stillness as the realization of our own fragile mortality was driven like a steel stake into our hearts.  To know that the forces of nature can strip from us our families, our friends, our safety, our homes, our livelihoods.   To really KNOW that it can happen between beats of a hummingbird’s wings.  That fast.  That final.

As I continue to watch the unfolding disaster in Japan my heart breaks for the millions of people affected, both there and around the world via family and friends.  And yet, as I watch, I am thankful for the lesson.  Now go hug someone you love.

Requiem for Japan

8 1/4″ x 11 3/4″

Soft Pastel, Watercolor, Archival Ink, Gouache


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…..like 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


Doing anything artistic when I’m at our music studio while my hubby brings home the bacon remains challenging.  I’m finding ways to do little things though.

Of necessity, the supplies themselves work better if they’re small.  I found this watercolour paper pad of hot-pressed paper and knew the 6″ x 6″ size was perfect.

Then I found this adorable little set of watercolours, complete with a mini-brush.  Add to that a nifty little water bucket that stores away inside itself and I was all set.

Oh….one more thing.  This stuff.  I hate this stuff, but sometimes it’s a necessary evil.

Now, if you’re going to use any type of masking fluid to keep areas safe while you apply a wash, be sure to use an old or cheap brush.  Swish the brush first in water with a drop of soap in it and rinse it IMMEDIATELY afterwards.  This does not guarantee you won’t destroy the brush you used, but it’ll at least give it a fighting chance at surviving to be used another day.

After sketching my design in pencil I painted the masking fluid over the areas I did not want to get colour on when I painted my sky wash.  You MUST let the masking fluid dry completely before painting over it.  I then applied a wash of blue fading to yellow after first dampening the paper.  I then let it dry completely again and rubbed the masking fluid off with my fingers.  Sticky gunk.  Yuk.

Much as I hate it, it works.  The areas I need to paint into are still nice and white.  I then layered in my colour.  I wanted some quick texture on the bottom to help simulate earth and bushes so I sprinkled salt over the wet paint.

After letting it dry thoroughly again, I worked the salt off the paper gently with my fingers.  It really wants to stick on there so you just have to be careful but persistent.

See the speckly-ness?  That’s from the salt.  Now to just lay in the colour of the remaining parts.

All that’s left is the ink detailing.


So there you go.  A cute little project done with cute little supplies.