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Home is where we lay our hearts.

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I am finding it hard to understand that my year of not existing in the real world has changed with the end of the cancer treatments and that my husband is home with me, that I no longer have to live in a hospice in the city, that it is late spring and that summer is almost here, that this year I can swim in the lake, that after a twenty year hiatus, I can actually ride a bike, mind you I am a bit wobbly, but practice, practice.

Oh and that I have friends, more friends than I ever imagined was possible. They have all made this journey one I will never forget or regret. The support of family has made me humble. I can only hope someday to be as forgiving.

Also, I am brimming with new ideas for sculpture, and the stomping ground will be this place and the old river bed. Life is exciting right now.

Oh it is so nice to be able to call this place home, I never thought it would be.

Smile again!

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Mona Lisa times two

Mona Lisa times two

I really love this photo.

Does anyone know what if feels like to have people close to you say,  smile; it will make you feel better?

Today was a beautiful day, but did I smile? Probably not. But, I do laugh more then most, I figure that is enough.


As the Crow Flies

The historians say that once a squirrel could travel from the Capital, Ottawa to the Great Lakes without once having to touch the ground. The land was that tree covered. A journey as the crow flies of over six hundred miles.

THIS OF COURSE IS NO LONGER POSSIBLE. But, the squirrels here use the cedar rail fence as a highway. Like much about our new place, it needs repair. It butts against our neighbour’s aluminum fence painted red ochere. A colour I used as a ground for all of my Lake Huron paintings.

As a ground, showing bits, it is a wonderful addition, but as a fence, there is just too much of it.

Come spring we will derail the cedar fence, it is on its last legs and plant trees and bushes instead.

I have spent most of the winter day dreaming the back garden into a haven for birds. Wild life I don’t expect to see here, too much grass, too many fences, too little nature


Life Surprises

Stephanie Martin' Inspiration

Sometimes life surprises us. We spent the winter in the Okanagan Valley, in British Columbia. Our long driveway and power outages through our Ontario winters were no longer doable.

When we returned, at the bottom of our mail pile (all bills) was a letter. A young woman expressed interest to know what Christopher’s inspiration was for the window he created in Christ Church Anglican Cathedral, Victoria, the quality of light captivated her. It was the completion of a century long endeavour, The New Jerusalem Chapel.

She is a professor at York University, in the music department and had been inspired by Christopher’s work, which led her on a long journey of exploring the divergence of cultures in our country.

We leave this week to hear this coral piece by Stephanie Martin. We are both very excited.

A Page from my notebook on Colour

wrestlers F066  wrestlers D064 When I first started painting the selection of colour choice was overwhelming. So I went back to the book Dear Theo – and on page 147 found the list of colours Vincent Van Gogh purchased when he first embarked on painting after much time spent drawing using only black/white. The time around the 1870-80’s.

It was a short list and I did my best to copy it:


But the colours had changed a great deal since Van Gogh’s time. Particularly their chemical make-up.

  • Sepia is no longer made from the ink sack of the cuttle fish – now a combination of umber (an earth pigment) and carbon black.
  • Vermillion – once made from 16 parts sulphur to 100 parts mercury is no longer available. This brilliant red-orange is now substituted with a Cadmium mixture.
  • Carmine – founded a whole industry in Mexico. The key component is a female beetle that feeds on a cactus plant, which was cultivated long before first contact with Europeans. Why not the male too? Because they have wings! 70,000 dried bugs equals a pound of crimson pigment. And was once Mexico’s most important export.
  • Gamboge was made from the sap of a tree from Cambodia, a transparent yellow.
  • Naples Yellow – a fine yellow pigment,  ‘It has long been prepared in Italy by a secret process’.  Chambers Encyclopaedia 1893 – it was originally lead antimoniate.
  • Prussian Blue was the first of the new synthetic inorganic pigments. Discovered by Diesbach in 1704.
  • Cobalt, also a synthetic inorganic pigment. Discovered by Thenard 100 yrs. later, 1804.
  • Terra Sienna and the Ochre’s are still made from earth pigments. (Iron oxides)
  • And sadly, Ultra Marine is no longer made from lapis lazuli but a chemical equal, invented by Guimet in 1826 according to the Historical Notes published by Windsor & Newton.
  • But Chambers Encyclopaedia of 1893 states ‘it is a beautiful and desirable sky blue, a colour formed of the mineral called lapis lazuli.
  • Lamp Black- the oldest pigment made by man was the soot collected from burning oils, which seems very obvious as does Zinc White – made from oxidized zinc and/or lead carbonate, also called flake white.
  • White was also made from lime. A wash used to give a ground surface for the painting of frescos, but that is a whole other story.



So, the bigger question is:

After 3 years of art schools and 4 years of a studio practice, why did I need guidance to figure out what colour paint to buy?

Not sure that we had a colour theory class at Sheridan College (Art Fundamentals).

If we did I expect I slept through it as I did through much of art history. The only art history class I remember with any enthusiasm was a student presentation.

She brilliantly paired American quilts with contemporary American painting equivalents. The quilts pre-dating them by as many as 50 years – too sweet!

After Sheridan a 2 year continental search for an art program that taught thinking – not technique – found close to home – Environmental Art at Fanshawe College. Ironic I heard about the program while attending an educational workshop in BC, this back in the late 1970’s.

So, my next jump to art history class lands me with an instructor who said – “There were no great woman artists”.  This from a man who saw Martha Graham dance to Isamu Noguchi’s set designs.

How do I know that? He attended one of my openings years later and likened my installation/sculptures to that experience!

So why did I need guidance in choosing colours? Unfortunately my note book doesn’t say. I have no idea.

After all this time, I still consider painters as painters and the rest of the art world as artists. They are a tribe within a country, painters! There are exceptions to be sure, but I haven’t met many.

I do know that those paints (acrylics) were used to make a body of work called Jacob Wrestling the Angel.

Why did I choose that image to explore for a year of my life?

It was an attempt to give visual expression to a physical experience, best resolved by using the biblical quotation as my spring board.

Genesis 32: 24-30

And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day….for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.


Jacob wrestling the angel

Moving Day

As a child, I argued a lot, I always had a different vision on what the world could be. Mostly silly things, Like, Mom why do you care what the neighbours think, dad so what if… I learned to curb my tongue and still my thoughts oh and not to fidget

It has left me a large legacy of love for those people.

One of dad’s issues was, If you can’t say anything nice, say nothing at all. Well, he was right.

Today we move to a new home. I think we will be happy there. But, I will miss all my ghosts that live here with us, and all our pesky varmints.

Everything has a voice

I was visiting a friend who was teaching in a relatively isolated northern community in British Columbia.  They had piped water but no electricity and the nearest gas station was an hour’s drive away.

One of Coby’s students came to her cabin for breakfast every morning. We were all sitting at the table, Coby and I still catching up when her young friend said, “Shhh, I need to hear my cereal”.

One of the things I have always believed is that everything has a voice, yes even inanimate objects.

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Although I have lost sight of the lake from here the sound still carries. It roars, bangs, crashes and howls depending on the season. It is a noise that lodges at the base of your skull, a sound that permeates skin and burrows into bone. At first exhilarating but after a few days the experience wears away your sense of self, no longer knowing where the sound ends and I begin.

How did Turner survive his contact with the sea, being bound to a mast through a dark night of storm and high seas? Maybe he was deaf.

Turner’s paintings are remarkable, his ability to render light unparalleled, a feat of observation with understanding often overlooked in today’s world.

J.M. Turner b.1775 d.1851

British Painter

How can a lake howl? In winter with ice built up to six feet on the shore line the interaction with water creates caves and tunnels, that eerie noise somehow emits from there.