It’s All Lynne’s Fault

Yes, yes. I know. It’s been forever since I posted. I’ve been bad. I’ve been neglecting my faithful readers. Both of you. I’m so sorry.

My excuse was a good one. But I fixed it. Yesterday. Not really. It was fixed a while ago. I’ve just been otherwise occupied.

I’d tell you I’ve been busy cleaning my house but that would be a lie of enormous proportions. No, no… that’s not true either. I have been cleaning the house. I clean one area and while it’s getting a makeover, the rest of the house continues to be buried under stuff and dust. I think my housecleaning efforts have become more of a rodeo chase. I wrangle one mess and turn around to find a new one behind me. While I clean that one up, the first one escapes my knots and scatters itself everywhere. Yup. I live in a barn.

Reality time… summer break. A fabulous Caribbean vacation down south with all my boys.  A lovely camping trip in New York State. A couple weeks of summer day camp and all manner of mud coming home from the mountain biking trails.

And now… the first year of high school for my eldest son. Wow. I’m not in high school. He is. Why does it seem like I have more homework all of a sudden? And grade 6 for the younger one… holy doodle! There is not enough time in the evenings for everything to get done. By the time the homework is done (yeah, right), dinner is eaten and the kitchen is clean again (snort) there is barely any time for playtime outside or for a chat with mom before the dreaded bedtime call is bellowed.

Yes, I’m behind. Don’t sue me. I have no money. I gave it all to the roofing company. If you really want to, you can climb up on the soon to be newly shingled roof and dig through the eaves for anything the squirrels have stashed up there. Actually, I wouldn’t recommend it. They’re probably full of rotting leaf gunk and shingle granules. Better find a different snack.

Now then. Lynne’s fault. You can thank Lynne Knowlton of the spectacular blog, Design the Life You Want to Live, for this post. It’s all her fault. She recommended a new plugin (comment reply notification) which I installed. And then, per her suggestion, I tested it on her page. It works! I love it! She replied and commented on my blog. Sort of. Nevermind. But, since she commented, I have to update my blog! Now! Holy carp! See. It’s all Lynne’s fault! Her and her furry jerks. Secretly, I have a great fondness for furry jerks. Don’t tell Lynne.

for-jan-small And, because this blog is supposed to be somewhat related to the artistic-goings-on in my life, here is a small piece. It’s approximately 5×5 inches. Watercolour, pen, metallic pen and pencil. It was done while sitting in the shade, beside a swimming pool, on the Freedom of the Seas, in the middle of the Caribbean. The theme arose from some of the underwater scenery from our snorkeling adventure a couple days before. Not for sale… it’s already framed and in a private collection.

I’ve been back to my regular painting class for the last 6 weeks. Getting up to deliver the boy to his 7am Jazz Band practice has taken a toll on my freshness by the time I get to my class at 10am. Nonetheless, I’ve been painting. Some has been good, some has been bad, some has been amusingly horrible. You don’t get to see any of those ones. And a couple of the good ones… you don’t get to see because they’re part of a series that is in development until I get it right. Then… maybe. I’ll let you know.

A Bit Neglected, Not Forgotten

It has been a very long time since I posted something. For both of you who read this blog regularly (okay… now and then), I thought I’d let you know what’s up so you don’t have to wonder if I’ve decided to abandon the poor, wee blog.

I have lots of things to post. Really. I do. I have photos. I have more of Aidan’s art home from school (finally). I have new projects to share. I might even have a tangle or two. What I don’t have… a computer that cooperates. Shortly after the last photos were put online, the silly computer decided that it no longer recognized my camera via USB. It doesn’t have a card reader since the unnamed person who ordered the parts and built the computer sorta neglected that useful feature. Now it has decided that it can’t access the DVD drive. It regularly fails to boot properly, too. Motherboard? Power supply? Might be all sorts of things. Sometime this summer, we’ll get around to opening it up and figuring out what’s faulty and we’ll get her operating smoothly again. Until then, since I can’t upload photos, I’m going to wait to post about the content of those photos. So you have to wait, too. All two of you.

Grade 4 and 5 Art

This project was a delight. I was lucky enough to guide about 90 grade four students through this art project last year. It is a mixed media piece incorporating multiple layers, crayon, oil pastel and watercolour. The most wonderful thing about this project is that every child had success and created a piece of art that made them proud.


This lovely ocean scene is by Alex.

The following was a project assigned at school and completed at home. This grade 5 art assignment:  paint yourself participating in a sport. He chose rock climbing and started his painting at school. Unfortunately, the canvas hadn’t been primed, the acrylic paint at school was watery and transparent and the brushes were horrible. Needless to say, we were able to fix those things at home. Alex is proud of the final result and we’re thrilled to have it hanging in the family room.


Alex going up…

Springing Forth

Last week, in my painting class, the selected subject was a lovely waterfront scene looking across the Lake of Two Rivers in Algonquin Park. It was lovely. But it was also an autumn scene. Since I was feeling in dire need of Spring, I pulled a photo out of my bag and drew this instead. Alas, these little crocus blooms are not spring forth in my yard. The squirrels ate all mine. Perhaps this fall I’ll try planting some more.


Two Birds In Progress

Spring is definitely springing around here. The weather has been spectacularly beautiful for the last couple weeks. Warm and sunny, hot on some days. The garden is growing as if it were June already. Proof below… check out the incredible wildflower meadow beside my deck!


Not only do we have this glorious field of purple and gold, we have the promise of fragrant blooms. This is especially wonderful since we planted four new lilacs two years ago and last year’s buds were all frost-killed due to an unseasonably hot March followed by a very cold April. Just looking at the blooms swelling, I can almost smell the loveliness.


Clearly, the garden has been intensely creative lately. As for me, well… despite evidence to the contrary above, I’ve been pulling misplaced plants and tidying the garden. I am trying to embrace my inner ecologist (hang on… I am an ecologist) and accept the wildflowers (not weeds) which grow abundantly in my yard. We’ve been out on the deck barbecuing a lot lately. Many dinners in the warmth, even back in April. I’m sure we’ll pay the price for this early spring delight but I’ve been enjoying it as much as possible.

I haven’t been drawing as much as usual but I have been knitting plenty. Two projects going now. The one on the right is Dreambird… 1/2 to 2/3 done. The one on the left is Jaybird.


Had to add Jaybird to the WIP list because I needed something I could do without thinking about the pattern while waiting for various piano, swimming and squash lessons… and orthodontic appointments.


Go Leafs!





Maia dreams of birds

I mentioned in the last post that things have been very creative around here. Less zentangle than usual and flurries of other activities to abide by the “create every day” rule. Does spring cleaning count as creativity? That’s been going on as well. But mostly, daily tangling has been sidetracked by a flurry of knitting.

Friday was the first day of a KAL (Knit A Long) for the Dreambird shawl. To prevent abandoned wip guilt, I spent a lot of time leading up to last week finishing the yet to be named wrap that was on the needles. Both are shown in this post.

So… the Willow green/yellow wrap is done. Ummmmm. Kind of. I ran out of the yellow yarn and thought I was at the finish line. I finished the last colour stripe and bound off the wrap. And I took it outside to see if I liked the colour or not. I like it. I think. Maybe. Only one problem. Unless I shrink by about 3 feet and 100 pounds, there is no way it’s long enough to be a wrap for me. Lesson #3 on this wrap… triple read the ball band. I needed about 400 meters of the yellow. I had been looking at several possibilities and neglected to triple check. It was the other skein that was rejected that had 400m. This one only had 250m. Oops. Frog it or find someone tiny to give this to… hmmmmm.

The good news is that I have two balls of each of the yarns for the Dreambird. There will be leftover yarn, I’m quite sure. I showed the yarn choices in the last post about it. Yup, I did. Guess what? I knit the first feather and background sections and didn’t like the green. So much for swatching to confirm my choice, eh? Friday afternoon, I stopped by one of my favourite yarn shops and found a perfect sock yarn to use instead. Alpaca sock yarn… can you say soft? My feet might be jealous.

I took a picture of the progress so far. Four feathers done and lots to go. We had a bright moment in our dreary spring morning so I lay the wrap out carefully to take its picture and went to get the camera. This is the resulting photo.


OZAD – Days 14 & 15

It seems to have been a long while since I posted an OZAD assignment. If you were worried about being overwhelmed by too-frequent blog posts, you can stop worrying now.

ozad-14-1 One lesson a day… ummm… no. I accept that there just isn’t enough time in a day to accomplish everything I want. And I really do try to create every day. It’s just that there are so many things clamouring at me to create them. Among the usual weekly errands there has been a movie night, the testing of a new grain free recipe, a bit of geocaching when it wasn’t absolutely pouring rain and a geocaching event. There has also been a flurry of knitting which I’ll tell you about in the next post. I have come to the conclusion that OZAD for me is OZITMA (One Zentangle If Time and Mood Allow.) And, really, isn’t that better than being under pressure to de-stress? I know you agree.

Day 14 is titled Decorative Value. Shading planes with no discernible light source. Seems like it ought to be easy but I don’t think it was in the end. I started with the practice page for the Dyon, Chainging and Keeko patterns. I finished it several days ago and thought I was done with it. Today, when I photographed it and looked at the image on the computer I decided it wasn’t done when I finished it but that is the way it’s going to stay.

ozad-14-2a ozad-14-2b Next was the actual assignment using those patterns on a white tile. Yup. Might not be done this one either. I like it but I think I could have shaded the bottom layer a bit more as the decorative values aren’t jumping out at me.

The second part of this assignment was to pursue decorative value on a black tile. No surprise that Flux and Amaze showed up. Am I getting predictable? Mostly, I found it much harder to think in reverse so I used patterns that I don’t have to think about too hard. I’m not entirely sure I’ve gotten the decorative value thing under my belt. At least not when that was the assignment. I wonder if maybe I’ve forgotten how to do my homework.

Sometime between Day 14 and today, I worked on Day 15. Like I said… lots of other creativity going on around here.

Organic patterns. Yay!

Yincut is new to me (sort of) and I don’t really think of it as organic. More like a tile floor. Locar was a fun one to learn and I’m sure I’ll continue using it. Verdigogh reminds me of Douglas Fir branches. So much so that I can smell them. I like this one and really should use it more often. One thing I discovered with the two leafy, branchy patterns was that those fine cut details are very difficult to tangle behind. Especially with a cat trying to sit on the tile. Pandora has a different opinion about zentangle. She thinks Zen involves me putting the pen down and rubbing her belly. Now.

ozad-15-1 The first one included Yincut and it worked out not too badly. I didn’t shade this tangle at all. Just used the density of the patterns to further address day 14′s lesson on decorative value. I think it worked out a bit better with the Yincut definitely being on a plane behind the Locar. I think that aspect got a bit confused with the Verdigogh appearing to part of the same plane as the Yincut. Perhaps I should shade it and see what happens. Or maybe I’m just analyzing it too much.

ozad-15-2 The whole thing had a tile floor in the middle of an organic environment look to it so I did it again. The second tile reads as more organic with a sea floor feel to it. Sea weed and sea urchin. Jumped right from forest to ocean. My background isn’t showing here at all, is it?

Wet on Wet with Tangles

Last year, my son’s teacher asked me to help her with an art project for her grade 7 classes. First step: a private lesson for the teacher so she would know what to do. She got a demo of wet on wet watercolour painting to produce a colourful background. No pictures… just colours in shapes, swirls or streaks and let the water do it’s magic. I provided the watercolour paper, paint in a limited palette and painting boards for the students to use. Then, the teacher went to town with all her grade 7 classes.

Second step came after the watercolour backgrounds were entirely dry and flat-ish. The students were provided some guidance in choosing patterns, time to practice them on paper and then they were provided Sharpie Ultra Fine point markers. Alas, the arts budget is too small! During one of their art periods, they had a substitute teacher who commented later that she had never, ever seen a class so focused while working. The room was almost silent while they concentrated on their tangles. The final result was a collection of amazing pieces of art. I was able to see lots of them but didn’t have my camera. This one is my 2012 Mother’s Day present from Aidan. I think it’s pretty wonderful. zia-by-aidan

OZAD – Days 12 & 13

Day 12 was a challenge. Balance… I’m a klutz. Harmony… only if you give me a big bucket to carry the tune. Variety… that I can manage although I admit to being hooked on a few favourites. For example, one of my favourite easy dinners is in the oven right now. The kitchen smells divinely of roast chicken, onions and garlic. Does it get any better than that?

Back to zentangle though… balance, harmony and variety. The exercise using tangleations of Beelight and Bales just didn’t work for me. It didn’t work so badly that I didn’t even bother scanning the several attempts I made. No matter what I did, the tangles ended up seeming much too busy. Balance seemed to be lost to a blob of sameness as there wasn’t enough variety between the two patterns. I’m pretty sure all the tiles were singing way off key. Shading didn’t help. I will need to revisit this challenge someday but before I get frustrated, I’m moving on.

Deconstruction and reconstruction of patterns was a much more appealing lesson on Day 13. I spent a morning filling a page of my journal with a huge mess of many patterns, each morphing or blending with its neighbours. The end result had a lot of satisfying little sections but overall, it was a confuzzlement of practice tangling. Not scanning that either.

ozad-12 But this one, I did scan. Florz and Onamato are patterns I only use occasionally so it was a refreshing exercise. I tried to keep it very simple and only added Tipple to the decon/recon mix. End result feels a bit like something you might on the ocean floor and I’m resisting the urge to ocean colours.