Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bad, bad blogger... and LE CADEAU DU CHEVAL

Life has been rather quiet the last few weeks since the summer and I have been rather quiet as well. There has, however been one event, a project, worth talking about. So, why haven't I said anything? Well, to be honest, I still find it hard to believe.

The project, named Le Cadeau Du Cheval (The Horse Gift), is a stunning Mural Mosaic comprised of over 230 panels painted individually by 174 equine artists from around the globe. It's a bit overwhelming still to think my painting is a part of this incredible collaboration even though the project was officially unvailed almost two months ago on September 3, 2008.

Originally displayed at the Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta, the 22 1/2 feet by 18 1/2 feet mural designed by Lewis Lavoie will be a travelling exhibit for the next two years celebrating the horse and human's special relationship with it. So far the mural has been presented at the All American Quarter Horse Congress (
www.oqha.com) in Columbus, Ohio and is now on its way to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada where it will be on display December 4-13 this year. I'm not sure where it will go next but I do hope it will make its way to Ontario. The only thing better than participating in this huge project would be seeing it in person.

At the end of the tour the Mural will be donated to a permanent public showcase.

What can I say... I am simply humbled by the fact I was chosen to participate in this project among many talented artists whom I admire greatly. And yes, very proud, that my little painting is included with the other beautiful works to make up the Mural. It has been probably the most special project I have done to date.

But, I'm blabbing too much. Here is my painting, "Let Me Share the Weight" (panel 219):

and the entire Mural, with my panel circled in white:

I still can't believe I am part of this project...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Saying good bye to a faithful friend.

The trip to Vancouver and back was simply AWESOME but the return home was shadowed by some bad news. Our beloved Mini Schnauzer, Obi Kenobi, has been sick for the past week. The visit to the vet and some medicines had made her better and when I arrived home on Thursday we thought she was on her way to recovery. Unfortunately, she suddenly deteriorated and crashed with kidney failure on Sunday night. On Monday morning we made the only humane decision we could. Our family decided to put her to rest.

Obi was the best family dog anyone could ever ask for. While fiercely protective, she never made a wrong move or threatened to bite anyone. But she let everyone know our family was under her protection with her loud bark and anyone trying to harm any of us would have to deal with her first. With children she was always gentle and eternally patient enduring a toddler's prodding and pushing with the stoic poise of a lioness, never complaining or showing any sign of displeasure.

Two years ago Obi suddenly came down with SARDS (Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome). We've never heard of the disease but quickly became fully aware of its devastating effects. In the span of four weeks Obi became totally blind and was constantly prone to bouts of colitis with diarrhea, distended stomach and heavy drinking of water. In the following months she dealt well with her disease and quickly learned the commands for "down" (stepping down the stairs), "up", and "ah ah" (change direction). She was able to go off leash in a protected park and enjoy relative freedom. We could still play her favourite game of "Snakey".

Unfortunately, it would seem the symptoms of SARDS hid an underlying problem with kidneys, to which Schnauzers of her age are predisposed to. When she crashed on Sunday, her blood levels were so high, they indicated total kidney failure and even though we could probably rehydrate her with a hospital stay, it would only mean prolonging her suffering as her kidneys could not be fixed.

Last night we said good bye to our cherished and faithful friend and send her off to the Rainbow Bridge, to play with her pal Yoda. She is free of suffering now, and I hope to see her some day when it's my time to pass.

Farewell dear friend, rest well until we meet again. We love you and miss you...

P.S. I will report on the trip in a few days.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A trip of a lifetime...

Many of us have our "Life To Do" or bucket list, if I may use the title of a recently released movie. It's a list of things we'd like to achieve and do before packing it in and passing on to the next life. I am no exception. Among things like having a house in Muskoka, making a living from my art, having my own horse, entering a dressage show etc., there is one very special item. Ever since I've come to Canada, it has been my dream to travel across the country on a trans continental train. This Spring my dream will come true.

My mother and her husband, who have been living in Vancouver, BC since 1993, have finally decided to sell their house and join us back in Ontario! And, the good daughter that I am, I promptly offered to help them move back. The plan is for me to ride out on Via Rail train to BC, help them pack their whole household minus a few items, onto a truck and a car, and drive back to Ontario. What an adventure this will be!

Obviously I do not have any photos to show from the trip yet but here are a few to whet my and my readers' appetite, courtesy of Via Rail website:

Just imagine three days and three nights of traveling through the most beautiful country in the world and experiencing probably the most drastic changes in geography and terrain one could squeeze into such a short trip. From Northern Ontario and Lake Superior vistas, through the spring blooming prairies to the Rockies, also awakening to the Spring but still capped with snow, and finally arriving at the Pacific Coast. And I'll be looking at all this with an artistic heart and soul.

Ah, but we cannot forget the pleasure of solitude and peace of having single bedroom all to myself and having my meals prepared for me. Those of us who are working wives and mothers will totally understand this comment LOL.

So, early in the morning on May 8th I'll be boarding a Via Rail train in Toronto with a beating heart, a suitcase full of paper and pencils and 10 TB in memory cards for my digital camera, ready for the adventure of a lifetime!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Total eclipse of the moon.

It is not something that happens often and is not as spectacular as a solar eclipse, but a lunar eclipse is nevertheless a special and beautiful astronomical event. And, being a Cancer, the Moon is particularly special to me (my ruling planet) and it is in fact my favorite celestial body.

Yesterday's weather was perfect as well. The -20 C temperature (or at least what felt like -20) provided the clear, crisp air while the clouds have obligingly migrated to other areas for a change. The view was perfect! Here are a few images of the progression of the eclipse, taken with my Canon camera, right on my front porch.

This last image is my favorite, due to the strange color shift. It was not planned nor photoshoped and the setting on the camera were exactly the same as in the picture before that one or after.

At this time I had enough. My fingers were numb and the camera batteries were freezing making it increasingly hard to focus the image.

Next eclipse? December 2010! By then I hope to have better camera equipment and night-shooting skills.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Starting to feel like a human being again.

It is easy to forget how energy and enthusiasm feel when you've been sick for two weeks. The Hamilton area is under assault by some very powerful bugs causing a very bad chest cold which often transforms into tonsillitis or sinusitis. I've been lucky to get all three. Hardly been sleeping in the last couple of weeks and doing very little artwork as a result. But now that I've been taking antibiotics for three days, I'm finally beginning to feel like a human being. Just as I was getting sick, I finished a portrait of a puppy named Joey, who belongs to the owner of Bluemoon Riding Centre where I'm learning dressage. He was done in the same style and technique as the pears. He was an adorable puppy with the softest fur I have ever touched on a dog and is now a very well behaved and extremely friendly and tolerant adolescent, a credit to his owner's training abilities. Now I have two horse commissions coming up.

One is graphite and one in colored pencils, just like Joey. I just love
doing horsey commissions and can't wait to get started but, alas, I have
to wait for some paper and supplies to arrive first.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Some new artwork...

In the last blog entry I have mentioned that 2007 was a very stressful and frustrating year. Hmmm, in many more ways that one (imagine me rolling my eyes), but I will not delve into details. Suffice it to say, I was not happy with the direction my art and my life in general was going. However, it was suggested to me on number of occasions that maybe it was the "waiting" time, when I was supposed to learn new lessons, gather new skills, and get ready for a new, more exciting stage in my life.

So I tried to think about that and just sit tight and wait while learning what I could. Out of that study and experimentation came two art works I am very happy with, now that they are finished.

The watercolor "Stargazing" frustrated me to no end while I was working on it. Now I realize it was an excellent learning piece and gave me great experience in watercolors. The other, a still life of two pears, was just simply fun to do! I was learning a new technique using colored pencils and water soluble crayons and the results surprised me. It looks like an oil painting! But why don't you see for yourself. Here they are:

Both originals are available for sale, so please, if you like them enough to give them home, contact me for pricing.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Is it 2008 already?!

It is hard to believe it's been over nine months since I have posted. Me been a bad, bad blogger... This past year 2007 has been one of the hardest in terms of challenges and stress, but it is over now and 2008 is here with new hopes and new possibilities.

So, in that spirit, I would like to wish all my visitors a wonderful, happy New Year 2008. May you fulfill your dreams, follow your soul's path and find joy and love in every day.

To celebrate the first day of the new year, my son C. and I went on a 2 1/2 hr hike to Grindstone Creek at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington. It is amazing that C., being only 7 1/2, can easily keep up with a grown up when it comes to hiking and I am glad at least one of my children shares my love and fascination for nature.

RBG is one of our favourite places to roam. If you can ignore the constant drone of the nearby roadways you can almost pretend you are out in the wild. It is the closest one can come to feeling like being in Algonquin Park without leaving the city boundaries.

If you are relatively quiet and know where to look, you can spot a lot of wildlife. It is very much a bird and squirrel paradise. On our hike we saw a tiny vole, scurrying across the snow between clumps of old grass. He moved so fast if you blinked, you missed him. And most other visitors did. Seeing him prompted me to learn more about Voles as they are so similar to our darling hamsters and I found an interesting article from Purdue University. Here is the LINK. They are quite a surprising little creature.

Other residents are all sorts of sparrows, cardinals, mourning doves, blue jays, grey jays, red winged black birds in the summer, gold finches, kingfishers, great blue herons, swans and, something new this past summer, great white egrets. Quite a number of mallard ducks and Canada geese overwinter on the creek and nest there in the spring. A couple of years ago we spotted a mink beside the creek as well as painted turtles and bull frogs. In the summer the place crawls with chipmunks. But we cannot forget little chickadees. Used to humans trekking through their territory and feeding them black sunflower seeds, these guys are virtually fearless and will readily land on your outstretched hand to inspect the goods you may be carrying. What is fascinating is that a couple of times we had downy woodpeckers, who often travel with a flock of chickadees in the winter, sit on our hands and accept a seed as well.

This past weekend C. got another treat. A brave white breasted nuthatch decided to check him out and land on his small hand. C was beaming while the nuthatch took its time to pick the best seed and flew away. Unfortunately mommy wasn't fast enough with the camera to catch the magic moment.

There have also been losses and sad moments in the last few months. On April 25th we lost our pussy cat Yoda. He was my baby and my feline soul mate. His crossing hit me very hard and he left a huge hole in my heart. At almost 15, he was very sick with heart problems and chronic kidney disease, barely weighed 7 lbs and suffered a blocked leg artery in the weeks before his end. He fought bravely so we could have last few days to cuddle and just be together but at last he let me know he was ready. Here is a photo of Yoda in his last months, when he still felt relatively well:

A few weeks after his death, even though I missed him very much and still mourned, I found that I also missed having "cat energy" around me. As it often happens in life, when I was ready, an opportunity arrived. C's friend's mother told me about Animal Welfare Association where her mother adopted a lovely female cat recently. I decided to go and just "see". I should have known...

The first kitty cat they showed me was a tiny brown tabby female with a big name of Viola. She run straight for me with a little "mur mur", rubbed on my legs and hands and proceeded to play. Well, she had me. I looked at all the other cats they had but Viola and her sweet face, soft fur and gentle eyes really stuck with me. I went home to tell my kids and husband about her and they a
ll said, "well, go GET her before somebody else does!"

So we went to see her again the next morning and had all the papers signed an hour later. The kids loved her! She is about 1 1/2 yrs old and already had a batch of kittens who were all adopted out. Because she has some rust-coloured, brownish-red spots on her we also renamed her Rusty. Viola just didn't suit her.

Rusty is a lady in every aspect and a very gentle and loving cat. Even my husband, who is by no means a cat person, likes
her. She did not replace Yoda but she has certainly made losing him bearable and has created her own little special spot in my heart.

In the morning she wakes me up gently by standing on my chest and softly
touching her cold nose to mine. Then she backs down, lies down and waits for me to wake up. After breakfast her usual routine involves a good grooming session and then a morning nap on the window in the living room where we put up a special box lined with towels for her so she could watch the birds at the feeder. She certainly seems very happy and I do hope she has a long and blissful life with us.

We also lost a couple of hamsters in the summer and fall. Little Georgie and Squishy both passed away peacefully yet prematurely in their sleep. They just never woke up and we have no idea why. Misty, our Houdini hamster, is still going strong at 1 1/2 yrs old and my daughter D. now has a beautiful, sleek, black hamster named Mittens. C. also got another hamster (we couldn't just leave Squishy's cage unoccupied!) and his (hers?) name is Honey Toast. We're still not sure what gender this hammie is LOL. He is a teddy bear (read: very fluffy and soft with long fur) very light yellowish-beige in colour, hence the "Honey" in the name. Still a big baby, he is very shy but also very smart.
Here is little Georgie, RIP; Mittens, fast asleep in D's hands and good old Misty, getting silly all over her peanut:

Our doggie Obi is also doing well in spite her blindness and is getting better at picking my queues when we go on walks. I can now take her off the leash in a more open area and when she heads for a collision all I have to say is "Ah, ah" and she turns towards me thus avoiding it. Smart Dog! Now, if I could only keep D. from feeding her inappropriate snacks so we could keep her colitis under control. She is ok as long as she eats regular amounts of her regular food, but anything out of the ordinary and there is a big, smelly problem for me to clean up, not to mention a lot of pain and discomfort for Obi!

Animals, what would we ever do without them!