Monday, September 22, 2014

Monday Inspiration: Walter Joseph Phillips

Walter Joseph Phillips, The Bather, 1923 (source)

Walter Joseph Phillips, Norman Bay, Lake of the Woods, No.1 (source)

Walter Joseph Phillips (1884-1963) was born in England and studied in Paris and South Africa. He moved to Winnipeg Manitoba and used the surrounding Manitoba landscape as his subject matter. I think his prints are amazingly delicate, those slender lines, and gradations of colour lend a watercolour feel to them. Which is unsurprising because he worked in watercolour also. I particularly love the images that contain people within them, and the way that he deals with that interaction. Maybe because his works are so similar to group of seven- but those works have been so criticized for not containing people, or- more rightly- for making the Canadian landscape feel wild and untamed and void of humans, when in reality they mostly painted in parks and cottage country (with a few exceptions of course).

Monday, September 15, 2014

Monday Inspiration: Mary Wrinch

Mary Wrinch, Green and Gold, 1932 (source)

Mary Wrinch, Sunrise (source)
Mary Wrinch, (1877-1969), was born in England- then moved to Ontario where she studied under Laura Muntz, Robert Holmes, and G.A Reid (her future husband). She also went to England to study the painting of miniatures, before coming back to Canada. Mary Wrinch painted at first- then moved on to Printmaking, using Linoleum and wood block to make prints, often based on nature- especially around Muskoka lake- the same area that the group of seven painted.

I think her works are stunning, stylistically modernist, but arts and crafts too. They're really wonderful,though they do feel a little frozen. Overall I like that- it seems as though they're not about capturing the life cycle or reality of nature, but about capturing a moment in nature. I think Printmaking as a medium has a sort of formal, stark feel to it, that gives it's subjects a feeling of being paused. Some would criticize the work for feeling lifeless- but I like that, and I think she takes advantage of it- to capture the fleeting quality of these moments.

Mary Wrinch is that rare thing- a well documented Canadian female artist- so if you like the works- just google her name and you'll find lots more info online.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

In the Garden: September 14

Some of these photos are old- I'm a bit behind here, school, and birthdays and colds et al. but these are photos of our barley harvest- not much after the deer came and had their fill- but some enough for christmas pudding, and to increase our seeds next year. The zinnias I planted are all blooming and really lovely- it's a giant cactus mix, an a state fair mix I think- the colours are just awesome, coral and pink and orange and red and gold, they make an effortless arrangement. I've also figured out how to show them best- with short stems in a short vase so that you can look down on the flower tops, for years I've been trying to cut long stems and putting them in tall vases- and then getting annoyed because all you see is the underside of the flower- this way they make perfect little round flower
puffs- adorable.

My passionflower vine flowered too- so wonderful looking- an exotic flower for sure! It's set to come inside now along with my other special plants because we've got a frost warning here- so it's all hands on deck for harvest. This year we seem to be more relaxed about it- I think we've learned what can tolerate frost and what we'll bother covering or not. We just picked the sauce and drying tomatoes green and brought them inside- then covered some of the eating tomatoes. We brought in the pumpkins too- they look lovely and big- though must be tasty enough that most were eaten by something before we got to them. We had grown them in a patch that's surrounded by longish grass- which is just too easy for woodchucks of other rodents to get to.  I know pumpkins often get left out till the last and the vines are dead- but we never do- frost makes them spoil, and then they won't keep, of course taking them in early is tricky too- but if you're careful, and cure them well- they'll keep into February or March even.

The dry beans are starting to harden now- so hopefully it'll stay dry for them (and for the farmers- it's been a wet fall- so they're just starting to get things off the field- it's late and damp and no good generally). We've planted the strawberry transplants- in one long row hopefully that will help keep the weeds down and allow us to space the runners out to the sides of the main row which will make it easier to keep tack of, I'm amazed by how awesome plants that renew themselves are- the runners we placed in pots had taken off so well that the roots were growing out the bottom of some of them!

I think this will be the last official garden update- though I'll post about the new tomatoes we grew this year, and a few other photos of course- it's time to switch gears into the kitchen and clay studio...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


It was suspiciously quiet when I walked in the kitchen... then I saw the sugar bowl

Is there a sweeter age than 2? I think not, especially when the 2 yr old in question is already so lovable and adorable you could just about burst from the cuteness. My sweet baby A is two today, and I can't believe it's only been two years since she meandered into our lives (seriously- the Dr told me 'any day now' two weeks before she actually came- longest two weeks of my life, and K's Life, and My mom who flew in from BC, on short notice the day after she'd returned from a visit here). She's taken us all by storm, no one can resist her charm.

She is mismischievous, smart, kind, loving, curious, charming, and starting to show an unnerving stubborn streak. Not that she screams till she gets her way- she just persists, over and over and over again, sweetly ignoring you while you say no, over and over and over again, until you start to feel silly and give in, or forcibly remove her, or distract her with something else (chocolate works... as do iPhones, iPods, or iPads). She never screams, never did, only cries when she's hurt, or in pain, or annoyed about someone taking her toy away (usually my iPod, or the phone of anyone trusting enough to give it to her), and when she does cry it's usually brief. She's adorable to the core, and whip smart too.

I love that she smiles like me- big and wide and until her eyes disappear into little creases.
I love that she's so attached to her sister- those two melt my heart daily with their connection.
I love that she asks " Can I... (help, cut, bake, paint, play, read)? in the cutest little voice.
I love the way she says 'Otay', and talks a mile a minute when she gets the chance, in full sentences no less.

She is just starting to grow into the person that she will become, but already there are some clear traits that shine through, compassion, and love, and fun, and intelligence, (and probably an ability to maneuver people exactly where she wants them, but in a way that makes them love her for it). She's going to be a dynamo one day, this girl, and I'm so happy to be in on that ride. Happy Birthday Baby girl!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Monday Inspiration: Henriette Fauteaux-Masse

Henriette Fauteux-Masse, 1962, Labyrinthe (source)

Henriette Fauteux-Masse, Avalanche, 1960, (source)
Henriette Fauteux-Masse (1924-2005), studied in Paris in 1951, after years of exploring painting on her own. After she returned to Quebec, she continued to teach herself to paint, and was very successful, her work is collected in the national gallery and she was a member of all sorts of art communities. I love a history of someone who is self taught- and succeeds- I often think that art school(especially the degree aspect of it) is a bit of a waste of time- but it seems that these days the degree holds sway, sometimes, nice to see that the opposite can sometimes be true.

I love these bold works, the colours are so vibrant- but restrained in quantity to make them really pop, and you just tell that these works are really juicy in person; full of marks, and slashes and smears that recall the making of the work, the process behind the finished piece. I especially love the way that the lone curved box in Avalanche makes the whole painting seem unstable, makes all the blocks feel like they're in motion. It's that moment right before everything falls where it all freezes and looks weightless.

Sorry for missing last week- I'm sort of amazed by how the addition of School (part time at that!) changes so much of our (unorganized) routine, we're settling into it, but also dealing with a cold too (she must have caught it on the first day-I'm aghast- and pumping out the immune boosting tinctures). Hope you're all enjoying these last few days of summer!

Monday Inspiration 2014 is all about Canadian artists. Each Monday I'll pick a new one to profile- If you can think of any that you think I ought to look up- please let me know in the comments- I'd love to hear from you. You can find a list of the artists I've done so far here.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

First Day

Oh Man- I can't believe it -N is at school. The weather played along beautifully giving us that first crisp morning- new backpack squeaking, and nerves fluttering away in your stomach. She of course did remarkably well, no tears, only a small anxiety, mostly excitement.   I'm hit by melancholy that is unexpected, huddling a cup of milky decaf with a few drops of rescue remedy lingering under my tongue, not a mess, but not quite hunky dory either.

I was not expecting myself to feel anything but relieved at having more free time, and I can use it, and there will be less of it than I think, the 2 yr old making sure of that- but I feel a sense of loss too, or not quite loss- but nerves, and nostalgia. These years do slip by, and my baby girl is not a baby anymore at all, I can't even hold on to a little bit of her baby ways- she even pronounces the R in her name now- though I know Kindergarten is a slow year, it's the beginning of quicker years, of school buses and field trips, and of her making connections I know nothing of, and of her growing up- which I heartily look forward to, but I think I must also mark it's passing.

And N, my sensitive spirited child- who is so attached to me that she's made special rituals up that she "can remember me by" when I leave, who kisses me goodnight in a special pattern, that MUST happen, is totally fine and at ease in her classroom. The only request she made was that I tell her before I leave the classroom- but really she was trying to say goodbye to Me and Baby A as soon as she got up this morning. When I did say goodbye- she gave me a big hug and quickly checked that the hair elastic was on her wrist (to remember me by- the equivalent of a string tied around a finger, I sometimes wonder if she stops when I'm not there, and fingers it- wondering- "who am I supposed to remember? Oh right, MOM!- like I'm some errand she could forget if she got distracted), then ran off to sit and listen to the story on the carpet, I'm sure she will excel in Kindergarten.

I'm sure too she's in the right place- people know her, she was greeted by her name in the classroom - stopped by another teacher in the hall and asked her name, and congratulated on her hello kitty backpack (it's all about the backpack). It's a small school, just the right size for her- and she will love it there, and be safe, and learn all sorts of lessons.