Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I Took My Camera For A Walk

It was such an incredibly gorgeous evening, I simply could not stay inside. I sat in my favourite spot - the back porch stoop and read the paper. Then I read a book about the hills of Tara in Ireland. Then I savoured a sweet little book called 'The Art of Peace'. Still could not go in. Looking for something to do that didn't involve work ...

I took my camera for a walk, to see what we could see.
I captured spring in my backyard, for perpetuity.

Abby, my trusty companion, my assistant, my friend ...

graciously allowed the Canada Geese to drop in for a visit.

They were enjoying the pond,
so we made a wide circle around it,

so as not to disturb them,
but the rest must have been over, for off they flew.

We checked to see how things weathered over the winter,
and were pleased that the old covered wagon is still hanging in there.
We also discovered stars and jars still surviving from Ashley & Andy's wedding.
and fragile foliage bleached by the chill of winter.
But it was the new life that we particularly rejoiced in,
and the sight of the robins,

and blackbirds enjoying the pleasant spring evening.

Lani poked her head out to see who was out and about,

and Abby said ... don't you think 300 shots in the laneway is quite sufficient.
Let's go in.
And eventually ... we did.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Party Time

Lauren loves creating - she's a budding artist. She also loves my attic studio - in fact, it bears the name that she gave it. So Jae decided that it would be a good place to have a surprise party for her 6th birthday. And it definitely was a surprise for her.

In all the years that I've had my studio, there hasn't been a gaggle of children up there. It was great fun to see it filled with little folk.

They painted shirts and hats, decorated eggs and balloons, and made fiber bracelets. And ate cupcakes.

It's fun to watch children interact and interesting to watch their creative process. Entertaining indeed. But I must say I got the biggest chuckle when Jaime told me that when one of the parents went up there to pick up their child, they said "'Your Mom is the one who did the I SPY books??!!! I didn't know that!"

You'd have to see it to understand what she was talking about. It really tickled me though because I actually thought of making a book like that for the kids with my own stuff. Yep, I could do it.

I was also tickled with the comment that they were surprised that it was so organized for a 'creative person'. I do pride myself in the ability to use the right side of my brain at times too. Not all that often, but at times.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


A couple weeks ago, Lauren and I were cuddled up one morning, having a chat. She said to me “Did you forget to give us something for Christmas?”. The comment surprised me as Christmas is so far back in my head, I wouldn’t have thought that it would have been in her thought process at all.
I stopped to think. I had diligently covered my shopping technique: ‘Something to eat, something to read, something you want, something you need.' "I don't think so." I replied, “Was there something that you were wishing that I would have gotten for you?” “Yeah,” she said “something that you MADE. What?” I asked. “Anything.” she answered. “ANYTHING you made – you’re a very good artist, ya know.”

It reminded me of my own children, who on numerous occasions, would reply to the question of what they wanted with “Anything you make.” I always figured that they were just trying to get ‘points’ for being sweet, 'sucking up' so to speak:) I never believed that they actually did want the stuff that I created but I appreciated their attempt at diplomacy.

I got to thinking about what possessions that I particularly

value, and sure enough, the most greatly treasured items are ones that come from someone’s hands and heart. I have a quilt that my mother made and some pillow cases with crotched lace. I have a needlework square that is finished but in 25 years she never got around to making into anything, nor have I in 30 years. It’s not the fact that it is unfinished that comes to mind when I hold it, it’s the fact that my mother’s hands touched it, created it.

I have a baby quilt that Brian’s Mom and Grandma made together which took first prize at the fall fairs. And I am the keeper for a time, of a little doll quilt that his Great-Great Grandmother made for his Mom when she was a child.
Marie, knowing how much I value things made by someone’s hand, also gave me an intricate lace table cloth – an immense piece that could cover a bed. It was made in the 1800’s by a lady who would be my grandchildren’s Great-Great-Great-Great Grandmother. I can see her in her long dress, shopping for the balls of cotton and proudly carrying it home in their horse and buggy. I picture her sitting by the glow of the oil lamp, for hours and hours, all winter long. I can’t imagine that she could have finished it in one season, perhaps it took her years. A hundred and fifty years later, I hold it tenderly and examine the stitches, picturing this woman’s hands creating each and every one, her eyes intently fixed upon them, her thoughts on so many different things over those hours. I wonder if she thought about who would one day hold her treasure.

Yes, it is the things that someone has made that make me pause and brings them to mind. I am going to have to rethink my entire gift-giving process to somehow include ‘something I’ve made’. It’s Lauren’s 6th birthday the day after tomorrow and I had better come up with something. I just hope when I give it to her, that she remembers our ‘I’d like something you made’ conversation, and she doesn’t think ‘Why would Nan give me this? I wanted a Barbie.'

Friday, March 19, 2010

Such is the Case

I just finished the project that I've been working on for the spring Gallery 96 show on 'collections'. It's aptly entitled 'A Virtual Wealth'. And oh my, is that up my alley. I was born a Collector

I think it was car coins & airplane coins from Jello that started it all. My brother got the hockey coins. I moved on to stamps, then salt & peppers, then owls, then bears & Santas ... the list goes on. And on. And on.

I am surrounded by a lot of STUFF that I have collected over a lifetime - a virtual wealth indeed. Sometimes though, especially after I've watched the show 'Hoarders', I start to thinking that I am teetering on the edge of TMS (Too Much Stuff)..

Hence, I got to thinking about how I am actually of two minds in regard to my penchant for collecting. One being that I am delighted & indeed, fed by all my passions. And the other, that the most important of my possessions can be carried in my being.

Thus, my Artist's Statement for this piece, entitled 'SUCH IS THE CASE...", reads as follows:

Me. One who collects and gathers with great love and passion, surrounding myself with wonderful Tidbits that fill my Life to overflowing.

There is a duality to it though. I am of two minds. One that says ‘Travel light – the less you carry the further you go.’ The other says, “More is More.”

Such is the case…

In my head I envision my world zen-like, calm, sparse, tranquil. I am stately, erect, centered. I am organic. The plerophory of treasures that I have amassed are carried only in my head and in my heart. Images and words. Stuff that is meaningful only to me. No undue attachment to material items. My head is clear. There is space for more. I am comfortable. I am content. I am Perfectly Happy.

In my reality, the other side is more Me. I am More. I take up more space. I need more space. I have assembled, accumulated, amassed. I am surrounded; engulfed with bits and pieces that I have gathered up over a lifetime. Stuff that is meaningful only to me. Stuff that pulls me in, excites me, delights me, amuses and entertains me. Inspires me. It has filled me up – my time, my space, my spirit, my Self. As the women who came before gathered for sustenance, for their very survival, I too gather for the sustenance of my imagination, my creativity. Indeed for the very survival of my Soul. I am comfortable. I am content. I am Perfectly Happy.

The piece is created in an old wicker case that opens up to reveal two different Collectors.

One side is the Real Me. Everything about her is Full. Her space, her face ... filled to the brim with Life and the love of everything in it.

In it there is a wonderful little framed vintage picture of 'Gathering' & things that I have made or gathered over the years. That is part of my TMS theraphy - actually using some of the important/cool/neat little things that I have collected over the years. And the little snowbabies that I painted up - I've had those for 15 years, waiting for the just the perfect time to use them.

The other side is who I sometimes think that I should be. That if I would rid myself of the accumulation, I would be more peaceful, more centered and serene.

This figure has a clear head. It has images & words rolled up in scrolls, the tiniest wee bits of sea glass ... mermaid tears actually, and some colourful glass beads as we all should have some sparkle. There is still space. When you move her around, the pieces shift and create a whole new kaleidescope. You can peer into it but you can't see it all.

Her only other possessions are carried in her heart - images of people and things that she loves.

I had great fun playing with a very old technique, that is new for me ... encaustic. In this case it is layers of wax over images and words.

The background is poppies, for Remembrance of course. Vintage sheet music shows lightly through the layers, as well as stamped script and faces.

There are also messages that I do indeed treasure - 44 year oldnotes from my Mom, Dad and brother, all of them gone now. And from my sister and my grandbabes.

My brother was 10 years old at the time - his says - "I love you and I think you are swell." My grandkids had no idea what that word meant.

My Mom's note says:

Dear Evelyn:

Choose not your friends by outward show,

Feathers float but pearls lie low.

Love, Mom MLW

Dad's says:



all of life is over

And your Maker writes against your name,

It will matter not if you won or lost,

But how you played the game.

Your Dad, Harold F. Wellwood

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring Again

It wasn't a week ago that I took this wintery photo ... bundled up babe & lots of snow for playing & dyeing. And now, not a flake to be found. Snowflake that is.

There’s nothing like shedding the coats to make a person feel like dancing for joy. Fishing with sticks & playing in the water & mud will do that too. Even though the creek was cold, they had their shoes off & were using their boots as pails to make better mud.

They basically came home half naked - the day allowed it and so did I. Heavy, cold, wet clothes can dampen the spirits. I washed & dried their outfits, right down to the gotchees, but not fifteen minutes into the fresh ones, you'd never have believed it.

I have always subscribed to the belief that the dirtiness of the child is in direct proportion to the fun that was had. I cannot understand why anyone would tell a child, unless they were on their way somewhere, to 'stay clean'. Mud feels great. Clothes and kids wash.

The little brook that runs through our property was a river today - the water poured over the bridge like a falls. It was perfect for a lesson in movement & motion & the power of water.

While the children played, I basked in the sunshine, enjoying the sound of the rushing water and the squeals & laughter. And the 'Look Nan'. 'Look at my stick.' 'Look at this rock.' 'Look at me throw & jump & splash.'

I shut my eyes to listen and felt the sun on my face. But just for a moment. I needed to keep my eyeballs fixed on the image of the children. I needed to freeze frame it. There were other children there once - the very same age, on that very same bridge. I had looked away and they were gone. Now here they are, once again.

It tugged on my heart, those faces and voices of yesterday. But I just acknowledged those thoughts and quickly dismissed them. As I did the thoughts that these dear souls as well, will far too soon be too big & too busy to mess in the mud.

The wisdom the years has made me understand that there is no purpose in taking up precious time on such thoughts while in the midst of a joyful moment.

I basked in the 'NOW' today, grateful for another spring and for another generation of children with whom to celebrate it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Colour My World

One of my girls commented the other day that I was in my ‘colourful stage’. It’s true. For the longest time I was into blues & reds – homespun style and colours. For the last couple years I have gone back to my childhood - the psychedelic 60’s & 70’s. It started when I painted one of the kid’s vacated rooms, bright green. It was the same colour that I had painted my room when I was fourteen years old. It was fluorescent green & daffodil yellow back then, now I call it Green Apple. Sounds less 70s.

Sure enough, I have been sliding over to the more colourful side of life lately - being drawn to colours that I previously steered clear of. I blame it on my love affair with batik fabrics. I started collecting them a few years ago - to roll up, put in a basket and gaze upon. Since I don't actually do anything with them, I just have to buy fat quarters - which in itself is a wonderful exercise in restraint for me. They make me happy.

Which is what Brian said when he saw that I painted the pale yellow room fluorescent green... oops, I mean Green Apple. He said 'That's a very Happy Room.' I don't think that he was being sarcastic. At least I chose to think of it as a positive comment and painted the bathroom the same colour.

Last summer I attacked all my black crows with spray paint & I coloured them up good. They are Happy Crows now. They live in what I consider a sculpture & Brian considers a dead apple tree with the branches cut off.

There are lanterns in it as well & for Ashley & Andy's wedding, a multitude of stars, which also were transformed from traditional gold to funky multi-colours, complete with sparkles. Yeah for spray paint.

This week I have been adding colour to my life with dye. Haven't gotten around to the hair yet, but the week is not over.

With the snow disappearing fast, it was now or never to try the snow dyeing technique that I learned in NY a couple weeks ago. It was great fun. I mooshed up my fabric, covered it with a layer of snow & squirted the dye solution on it. As the snow melted it saturated the cloth.
I wasn't overly impressed with my results. I think I used too much fabric, too much snow & not enough dye as the colours are more muted than I would like. But that's what experimenting is all about - trial and error. They're pretty & have interesting patterns, but it's vibrancy that I am wanting in my life at this particular moment.

I had better results when I worked individually with little pieces of wool felt and boiled wool. I spent the whole day playing and had the most wonderful time trying colour combinations. I have dozens of unique, one of a kind pieces that I will use in the creation of my little folk. And I have another basket of colour to put beside my batiks.

I think it's wonderfully refreshing to move in a totally different direction for a time. I suspect that the vibrancy I am searching for will move more towards muted, restful colours at some point. And I shall be ready, willing and able to make the shift. Go with the flow, I say. And the flow just happens to be extremely colourful at the moment.