Tuesday, January 29, 2008

From Sketchbook to Canvas

What to do on a snowy day in the Okanagan? Paint the beach in Vallarta, of course. This is painted from a sketch in my sketchbook. It's looking back from the round about at the beach in front of Olas Altas. I so remember this day, perched on a ledge, absorbed in what I was doing. I ended up being inundated with kids from a big Mexican family. They had a million questions (and statements, as kids usually do!) about art and painting and colours and the like. Very fun.

I look out my windows here in the house and see our little forest all covered in snow. It's still falling, and it's piling up nicely on the tops of each branch. Round about now I start to go squirrelly for some heat and sun. Time to hide the passport and credit card on myself.

Last weekend (or was it the weekend before) I took a couple of large canvi up to Apex and did my first two big acrylics from the sketchbook. I like working this way; it keeps me from getting all factual, like I would working from a photo, and keeps the colours more sketchbook-y. Fun.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Apex Musings

gunbarrel at night
Originally uploaded by sketchalina
I wanted to try capturing the light and colours out our window at night. When I started this background was all one big sheet of fog. As soon as I'd sketched the buildings it lifted to reveal this complex but very interesting pattern of shadow and texture.

There was a time when I painted exclusively from photos. I thought people who painted from real life were crazy, that you'd never get a good end result because the light and atmosphere kept changing, things moved or went away. Now I find that's exactly what I love about working 'plein aire'. I look at some of the sketches I've done over the last year, and the reference photo's I've taken just as I'm about to leave the scene, in case I want to make adjustments later. The photos never really show the good stuff. Perspectives may not be perfect, and it's more challenging to judge what's going on with angles and colour relationships when they're not flattened into a convenient two dimensions for us, but there's more freedom to interpret, to respond to what's there. I love it! It's so much more about the experience of doing it than it is about the result.
I painted this curled up in a corner table by the window of Fresh Tracks Cafe and Bistro while Greg hung out with his friend James and daughter Ashley. I keep intending to paint something simple, like the snow on the roof here, and then get caught up in all the other details in the scene. Oh well, it's all fun. I nursed a single Chai Latte through this whole sketch and almost but never dipped my brush in it once! I must have been deeply absorbed in what I was doing, because Greg popped in twice while I was here and we didn't even see each other.

Weekends up here are so relaxing. It's a half hour from our house in town, but a world away. I'm no longer drawn to shredding up the hill (my last venture there ended in an ambulance ride and a Christmas spent immobilized and stoned on painkillers last year) and love to just kick back, watch movies, have hot tubs, walk the dog. We talk and plan, cook, eat, dream, all the good stuff. When we get back to town we feel like we've had a break. Greg actually pulled the 'For Sale' sign off the side of the condo this weekend.

Now we're back in town. I have a presentation and a speech to write and we've got a host of 'must do's' beckoning. As we drove home we realized that there's not one evening this week when at least one of us isn't obligated to be somewhere. On the highlight side, there's a reception I have to attend for an award I've been nominated for (best home based business of the year - business excellence awards) tomorrow night. The busier we get, the stronger my desire to take March off and go hang out in Mexico for a month gets. Ha! An email just popped into my inbox from my friend Marcela in Mexico as I was typing that sentence. Coincidence? I think not. I love that stuff.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Double Whammy

How’s this for timing. We finally stayed home for an evening and watched Al Gore’s film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. Wow. And then, as our heads were whirling with what we’d learned, we turned off the dvd player to see Greenland falling into the sea yet again on David Suzuki’s ‘Arctic Mission’ on the Knowledge Network. It was like the TV Gods were orchestrating themselves to send us a message.

And then, to top it all off, when the news came on one of the lead stories was the Indian auto innovation, the Nano, that will have a kabillion more people on the roads contributing to our emissions situation. I have to admit for about 13 seconds I thought the Nano was a great thing. “Replace all the SUV’s with the cool little affordable low emission things and we’ll save the planet”. Nope. It’s “keep the SUV’s and add all the people currently walking to the carbon stew”.

The thing that shocked me the most? That currently it’s primarily North America making this mess. I really thought that with their huge populations, India, China and a host of other countries were doing things we couldn’t possibly compensate for by changing our lifestyles. Wrong. We keep doing what we’re doing in spite of our knowledge, and now these massive populations are following us down the same road. And why wouldn’t they. What will it take to start creating change? My hat is off to Misters Suzuki and Gore. And shame on all the people in positions of power and influence who look straight at the facts and then look away and pretend they didn’t see it.

It’s all overwhelming. What to do? When I feel like this, I like to drive around in my big ol’ SUV and just think. I always think best when I’m driving.

Looks like I’m going to have to come up with an alternative.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Coffee Maker

Greg hoped, prayed and hinted, and sure enough a beautiful Saeco Coffee Maker appeared under the tree. He thinks it's for him, but every morning when I hear the beans grinding and know a perfect cup of Jo is about to be delivered to me in bed I secretly know differently. There's snow on the branches outside the dining room windows. I'm inside listening to latin music and dreaming about warmer climes.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Cool Shadows and Faux Fur

Originally uploaded by sketchalina
Stopped by the beach yesterday on my way to the grocery store for a quick sketch. It was gorgeous sunshine and shadows when I arrived, but by the time I started with colour it'd shifted to that chilly, clear but grey thing the Okanagan does so well in January. The far side of this view is one of our favorite running trails; flat and scenic, it takes us down through the campgrounds on the west side of the lake, and once we build up the endurance it'll take us right to OK Falls. In the summer there would be bodies all over this scene, and swimmers crawling across the background, but right now it could be on the moon it's so quiet.

Ingrid invited me to join her 'girls group' this year, and our first get together was last night. I didn't really know what to expect, but it was an absolute blast. They get together once a month, pick a country or a theme and everyone brings an appropriate dish. Last night it was Morocco. I made a chickpea soup that was a complete disaster. I chucked it at the last minute. Luckily I had some Ginger Squares in the freezer that we didn't devour at Christmas so I took those instead. Moroccans do Ginger, no? How untypically Martha of me to be able to pull something homemade out of the hat like that. Usually the only thing in m freezer is cheater frozen appies from M and M's. All the food at the party was amazing. We feasted, then did one of those goofy gift exchanges where you can steal the gifts that are already open. I drew the last number which means I came home with the best gift - a big faux fur throw for Greg and I to curl up under to watch TV. Lovely. It was nice to do something that had nothing to do with networking or business building.

On that note I must sign off and go get ready for the Penticton Women in Business Lunch today!

Monday, January 7, 2008

And a Fresh New Sketchbook!

Finally broke out the ol' sketching kit. Other than painting a million or so gift tags for Christmas I haven't really sketched since our trip to Kauai in June. I don't know why I stayed away so long, since there's nothing else that gives me the feeling I get from sitting and capturing whatever is in front of me. This was fun to do. I painted this from a bench at the edge of the skating loop up at Apex. I love the skating loop. It's a scenic (how could it be anything else up here) 1 km track through the trees that they keep beautifully groomed with the Zamboni (if you don't know what that word means, you're not Canadian). Greg and I spend most weekends up here, at least in the winter. Mary-Ellen and Rob are here this weekend, along with her two girls and a few other friends. They came up to snowshoe, tube and play. Rob is here at the loop with Miss Lily, skating around and checking on my progress with each loop. The paint is literally freezing both on my palette and on the paper. I finally have to carry it in the to condo, holding it flat, and lay it beside the fireplace to let the glazes dry on the paper. Ice painting-how weird!
Now I'm back home and alone in the house for the first time since December 18th. Austin headed back to University last night. Greg's at the office. The house is strangely quiet. Truman the cat has come out of hiding and I'm back typing on the computer with a burgeoning to-do list and a cup of java by my side. I guess the holidays are over.

A Fresh New Year

Mary-Ellen and I moments before our dash across the snow-covered beach and our first plunge of the year into Lake Okanagan. I have to say it certainly cleared the old head! It was the perfect wrap up to what has turned out to be my favorite Christmas yet. We had the entire family together for the first time since... well really the first time ever at it's current size. We number 24 now with Mom and Dad, the five of us siblings, partners and now 13 collective kids. We set up 'kid nation' downstairs; filled it up with mattresses and sleeping bags, PS3 and Guitar Hero and pretty much let them fend for themselves for about 10 days. We threw the odd pizza down there and got a little video footage back. Everyone survived. As for the rest of us, it was all food and guitars, oh and amazing coffees from Greg's new machine. We must have gone through 10 bags of coffee beans. We topped it all off with a great new years party - champaign corks flying, lots of dancing, Kareoke-ing, Marisol distributing tequila shots and the five of us siblings playing guitar and singing harmonies. The Von Trapps on Tequila. We went until 5 in the morning. Even Dad made it almost that long. Not bad for an 83 year old. He got the best Kareoke score of the evening (and they wonder where we all get it from) and I have to say Mom won the prize for looking the most beautiful and elegant. The Bushby's joined us, as did Mary-Ellen and Dr. Rob - who has been telling his friends about the 'incredibly functional family' he spent New Years with. Don't know that I'd have labelled us as such, but we'll take it.