Friday, June 28, 2013

First Long Weekend of Summer

Monday is a holiday here in Canada, which means it's a long weekend, the first one of summer.  For me, that means heading to the cottage for a couple of days.  I'll be spending time with family, attending the annual cottagers' picnic, seeing old friends, hopefully getting a chance to congratulate a Stanley Cup champion in person (!!), making some art, checking out yard sales.  Three days of fun and relaxation.  Hoping the weather will cooperate - after several days of extreme heat and humidity this week, now that the weekend is here, the temperatures have dropped and it's cloudy with showers.  Say what??!

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ah. Firenze!

A year ago today, I was arriving in Florence, to embark on 5 days of exploring that magical Italian city...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Drawing Jane Austen

I drew this picture based on a portrait of Jane Austen I found on the Internet just yesterday.

(The background seems quite overpowering in this photo, the original is much calmer.)

Here's the original image:
Photo from AKAdecorativeart on

It was fun to draw those curls.  I'm lucky I didn't live in that era, my straight locks would never conform to that sort of hairstyle!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Day After

I'm tired today, having stayed up past midnight watching every minute of the post-game victory celebrations.  But it's a very happy tired, one where I'm having trouble focusing on reality but at the same time, nothing's going to get me down today.  For these few hours at least, life is good and all is right with the world.  It was just so darned exciting to see the Blackhawks win in such a dramatic fashion (just when everyone was thinking it was over, two goals 17 seconds apart in the last 76 seconds of regulation time - no sudden death overtime, no 7th game tiebreaker needed), while actually knowing someone who is on the team.  It was fun to see the players and their families as they were being interviewed after the game, giddy with excitement, happy, euphoric, proud.  That's exactly how I felt on Mike's behalf.  Can't wait to see him and his family, hopefully this weekend at the annual cottage picnic, and give them all a big hug and hear the stories.

Here he is, kissing the Cup.  Since I was taking a photo of my TV screen while trying to juggle a cat who was determined to jump up on my lap at that exact moment (after showing no interest to sit there for the previous 3 hours), it's blurry but I don't mind. I know it's Mike.

Here's another one, of him holding the Cup over his head.  

This is what hockey players do when they finally have this most holiest of grails in their hands - they kiss it, they lift it, they pass it to each other.  And apparently they do a few other odd things with it as well (pee in it? throw it in a pool?  really???).  You can read all about that here.

In the meantime, I'm pretty sure I'll be going to bed early.  Glad I got to see the moon last night, since I'll hopefully be asleep by the time it comes up tonight!

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Hawks Win!!!

Day 24 of 100 Faces in 100 Days, while trying to keep calm watching the hockey game (game 6 of the Stanley Cup playoffs), I painted the face of the Chicago Blackhawks' logo.

Good thing I finished this before the start of the 3rd period, I couldn't concentrate after that!  And once they actually won = WHOO HOO!

So excited for Mike Kitchen and his family to have been part of this victory, congratulations!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Street Sale

My sister and I took part in a street sale on the street where she lives yesterday morning.  It's an annual event, although we found out partway through that it has actually been changed to a semi-annual event, which is why there weren't too many people on the street participating this year.  But there were 6 or 8 of properties with stuff out and there were signs up around the neighbourhood and an advertisement online, so there was steady traffic for most of the morning.

Most people set up in their driveway but we put our stuff on the street.  It was, after all, a street sale!

We had a lot of fun, met a number of her neighbours, had some good conversations and made a few sales.  There were chatty parents and cute kids

and several of the neighbourhood cats went past, out for their morning stroll.

Attila bought this accordion from a man down the street.  It didn't work too well but for $20, it was a deal he couldn't pass up.  I might have been tempted myself if I had seen it first!

We were doing reasonably well...until it started raining.  At first, it was just a light shower now and then.  It would rain for about five minutes, we'd cover things up and wait under a tree until it stopped.  Some people kept shopping.

Then it started to rain in earnest and we realized that the downside of being in the street was that when it rained, the water started running along the gutter to the drains, soaking some of our stuff along the way.  Torrential rainfall will do that, don't ya know.

It did eventually stop but it was still dark and ominous overhead, so we packed up all the remaining stuff as quickly as we could and took it here.

My rule for garage/yard/street sales is this:  once it leaves my home to be sold, it doesn't come back!  Hopefully it will do some good for the charity, as well as making me feel better for having cleared out some closet space.

Then we had lunch and talked about the fun we'd had.  And watched out the window as the rain continued to stop and start.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Prayers for Alberta

The flooding in southern Alberta is very much on the minds of all Canadians yesterday and today, as the water continues to rise and entire communities are evacuated.  I was relieved to hear that my brother and his family, who live just east of Calgary, are not at risk, but my heart goes out to all those who are having to deal with this situation.  Yet another example of how much we are all, always, at the mercy of nature's whims.  It's frightening, and humbling. And yet, as always, the stories of compassion and perseverance give you faith in power of human nature to overcome adversity.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Happy Solstice!

Praise be, summer has finally officially arrived!  Hopefully that means we can say goodbye to the chilly spring we've been dealing with and enjoy the warmer weather.

I drew this face the other day.  Her name is Giselle and with the mix of colours in the background, she makes me think of summer.

I was going to draw in her right eye but I liked the steampunk look of the gears there so I left it as is.  It's almost as if she is peeking out from behind, or else we have a glimpse into the wheels turning in her head.   She is rather mysterious, don't you think?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Extent of My Distraction

I have become distracted.  I am almost embarrassed to admit the reason.  It is this:

It's as if I have entered another dimension of time and space, one in which suddenly and surprisingly, the sport of hockey has meaning to me.  It never did before.  I dated a goalie in high school and I thought that was enough hockey watching to last a lifetime.  Not to mention the fact that being from Toronto, you get used to having a home team that isn't very good, rarely makes it to the playoffs and even if they do, they don't stand an ice rink's chance in you-know-what of getting past the first round.  I swore I'd never get sucked into believing that Toronto's team, they who haven't won a Stanley Cup since 1967 (since before my sister was even born, as she has often remarked), would ever amount to much.

But this year was different.  For one thing, the Toronto Maple Leafs did make it to the playoffs, for the first time in nine years.  They played against the Boston Bruins and suffered a gut wrenching loss in sudden death overtime in the tie-breaking Game 7.  I watched some of those games, including that very last game, kept track of the score and game totals, had a little bit of hope that they might actually make it to the next round but enough common sense to know they wouldn't.  I kind of enjoyed it.

They didn't but I didn't mind, because there was always Chicago's hockey team - the Blackhawks.  Unlike Toronto, Chicago had been practically unbeatable this year.   Of course, the NHL players were on strike for a good part of the 2012-2013 season (another reason for scorn on my part) but in the 48 games that did eventually take place, Chicago won an astounding 36 of them, the best in the league.  They have since made it through 3 rounds of playoffs to take part in the Stanley Cup finals against Boston, the same team who brought such heartbreak to the long suffering Toronto fans several weeks ago.

Normally, I wouldn't care about any of that, except for one important fact that makes Chicago different from all the other teams:  longtime family friend, Mike Kitchen, is one of their assistant coaches.  He's been involved in the NHL for years now, first as a player, then as a coach.  This is the first time he has been part of a team as they fight for the Cup.  I could not be more excited for Mike and I am wholeheartedly cheering on the team as a result.
Mike Kitchen (right) coaching Jonathan Toews, team captain (left)
Their quest has become mine.  I am living for each game, eagerly watching every minute, sometimes late into the evening when there are multiple overtime periods.  I'm Googling players and hockey terminology, reading articles, dissecting plays and discussing strategy.   I am eagerly looking forward to the next game on Saturday night, as they return to home ice advantage in Chicago with the series tied at two games apiece.

Late last night, just as I was closing my eyes to sleep after one of the most exciting hockey games I had ever seen (won in yet another sudden death overtime by Chicago with a score of 6 to 5), I realized the extent of my absorption.  I knew I was seriously hooked when I realized I had been so distracted by the game that...I had forgotten to blog!

So here I am, wishing Mike and the rest of the Chicago Blackhawks team the best of luck in these last 2 (preferably) or 3 playoff games that remain in the chase for the Cup.  I will be watching every minute with fingers crossed and a heart full of hope, cheering them along every step of the way.  The rest of the time, you'll have to pardon my distraction.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

J Faces

Recently, I've been drawing faces whose names all begin with "J" - don't know why!

John (based on an illustration by
Joan Sandin in a book called
"Look Through My Window"
by Jean Little

Joe (drawn based on a sketch I
found on the Internet)

Janet, because she reminds me of someone
I knew in high school.

Monday, June 17, 2013

This Time Last Year

I was here:

It was 100 degrees of hot, the flowers were in bloom:

I was admiring the architecture

the fountains

the statues

Ah, Roma!  Bellissima!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day 2013

Fathers Need Not Fathers Be 
Fathers need not fathers be. 
All one needs to do is choose
To love for life, and that embrace, 
Held long and hard, bestows the grace
Each craves. For all in time must lose, 
Restored alone by memory. 
So now it is with you and me. 
Author Unknown

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A New Cupboard

Courtesy of my friend Lorraine, who wasn't able to fit this cabinet into her studio.  Her loss is my gain. For a mere $10, the price her husband paid for this at a garage sale, this lovely unit is now residing in my kitchen.

Can't wait to start filling it up with art supplies!  But first, a little redecoration...

Friday, June 14, 2013

A Close Encounter

I took myself out for a walk when I got home from work tonight.  As I turned down one street and proceeded along the sidewalk, I noticed a dog about halfway down the block take one look at me and then take off running towards me.

He looked a little bit like this:
Photo source:
Ears down, running at top speed, all excited - it was as if he couldn't wait to get to me, he was that excited.  I wasn't scared at all, you could easily tell the dog wasn't in attack mode, but I did wonder why the dog seemed so happy to see me.

When he got to me, he stopped, sniffed and then raced off in the opposite direction, back to his owner, who was standing in the driveway, watching this happen.  As I walked up, the man explained that the dog had mistaken me for his wife, who walks home along the street from the bus stop every night and the dog goes to meet her.

I don't know which one of us was more disappointed, me or the dog, because I wasn't the woman he was waiting for.  It would be so wonderful to be greeted that way when you got home from a long day at the office, wouldn't it?

I walked home and cuddled a bunch of cats who were waiting for me just inside the door.  It was equally enjoyable, I must say.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

100 Faces in 100 Days

The class Dina Wakley taught at Bizzy B on the Saturday morning 2 weeks ago (where has the time gone?!) was called "Facing the Facts".  She taught us to draw faces.

Before she started to teach, she asked us each to draw a face.  Here's what I drew:

How about those Botoxed lips, eh? Scary! Not exactly the ideal look, unless you're Jack Nicholson playing the Joker in a Batman movie, am I right?

Then she taught us what we needed to know and immediately, my drawings (and everyone else's) improved dramatically.  This was my next sketch.

You may recall that I've already some previous instruction in how to draw a face.  I even took a class with Jane Davenport last year, she who draws amazing faces and teaches others how to do so very well (read all about it here).  Sadly, I promptly forgot everything I learned from Jane almost immediately afterwards and/or stopped practising.  So when Dina told us in her class that the only way to get better drawing faces was to commit to drawing 100 faces in 100 days, I believed her.  I decided then and there to do exactly that and so far, I'm right on schedule!

Here is another face I created later in that class, using acrylic paint:
Her name is Miranda and she tells me to
"just start".
Here are some of the ones I have drawn since then:
Angela: "Trust yourself".

Josephine: "Take time to dream."

Elizabeth: "Don't be afraid of hard work."
(drawn on the 60th anniversary of Queen
Elizabeth's coronation.)

Deborah Jane: "Keep calm and carry on."
(based on a painting by D.J. Pettitt
that Dina had given us as an example)
Charlene: "No more excuses!"
As you may have noticed, each of my drawings has a name and something to tell me.

This is one I drew last night, while I was watching the first game of the Stanley Cup (note the use of the Chicago Blackhawks colours of red, yellow and black for the background).  I traced the sketch above (the one directly under the photo of Jack) using carbon paper and then embellished it with the Stabilo pencil.
Suzanne - "Go Hawks!"
It's day 13 and I'm off to draw today's face.  It doesn't have to take long, it can just be a quick sketch, using whatever drawing instrument you have on hand.  Dina taught us with the Stabilo All pencil, which can be blended with water for a nice, smudgy effect.  Or, when I have more time, I can fill in my sketch with paint.  Either way, it's lots of fun and I can definitely see improvement already!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cleaning My Fruit

If you're like me, you've seen a link to this blog post by Joanna of A Pretty Life in the Suburbs posted everywhere on Facebook.  Every week or so, it pops up again.  All about how to clean your fruit with in the kitchen sink with a mix of water and vinegar.  Tonight, after I got home from grocery shopping, I decided to try it myself.
Added the tomatoes as well, why not?
Seems to have worked. The green apples I bought are definitely less shiny, which is a good thing, as far as I am concerned.  The grapes taste just fine.

Didn't put the bananas in the sink though.  Nope.  Just didn't think it would be a good idea.