Monday, April 11, 2016

My Studio: Before and After

A week ago, I received some disappointing news. I had applied to a local arts and crafts show and wasn't accepted. I had a choice. I could wallow in sadness or I could do something constructive and move forward. I did let myself wallow for about 24 hours and then I decided to embark on a major cleanup of my studio.

I am a perfectionist and really do like when things look organized and pretty. Unfortunately, I don't really enjoy cleaning. I would far rather use my time to paint than clean, so things have a tendency to pile up around me. Last summer, my daughter Emma gave me a pretty white table from Ikea for my birthday. I added it to my studio without really taking the time to make it fit in. It displaced another small table which I left in the centre of everything. I had piles of paper, frames and shipping supplies on the floor. It was far from organized. Things were actually getting a little dangerous.

I've been brave and took some before photos to show you just how much my studio has changed. Some of these photos were taken in the middle of the process, so things looked even worse than at the beginning. I had pulled things into the centre of the room to go through them.

It was such a big job that I really wanted to give up about halfway through. I was physically tired and bored out of my mind. But I didn't and I'm glad I kept going. It took me a full week. Here are some photos of what my painting studio looks like now. 

I printed the Trowel & Paintbrush sign with the hope that I would be accepted to the show but I like the way it looks on the wall of my studio. I also put up a couple of my nature collection prints on the wall. I love the new blue file boxes I got at Ikea. And, of course, I have fresh flowers.

My painting table always has my paint, brushes and bits of my nature collections on it but now everything is neat and organized.

I have pretty fabric bins made by Sonia of Cozy Memories tacked on the side of my table for storage. On my bulletin board beside my table I have the Van Gogh quote: "If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." There are also photos, postcards and business cards from artist friends.

I recently put my Haworth Moor print up on the wall over my bookcase as it's one of my current favourite prints. On the shelves, I have some of my nature finds, art books, magazines and illustrated children's books.

I love the Alex storage unit from Ikea. I allows me to store watercolour paper, supplies and some finished paintings. I've added a Falkhöjden shelf on top. Do you see my painting of Meeko? That's a Milou (Snowy) toy beside it. Hergé based the Milou character on a wire fox terrier but it reminds me of a certain wheaten. I made the slipcover for the daybed years ago but now it's freshly washed. Having a sofa in the studio also provides a convenient place to store full sheets of watercolour paper. You can see them peeking out at the bottom.

The dresser is where I keep my finished paintings. I have a huge number of them! To the right of it are my framed heart stones. I hot-glued some of my rock collection to the matboard of an Ikea frame. The bird nest watercolour is by Jody Edwards. To the left of the dresser is the small wooden table that was previously floating awkwardly in the middle of the room. Now it's tucked neatly against the wall. I'll use it for cutting and scoring my note cards. 

One of the final touches I made to my newly cleaned studio was to frame and put up my beautiful original watercolour of strawberries by my friend Lucile Prache. My husband gave it to me for Christmas and I love it so much. 

It feels completely different now when I climb the stairs to my studio. I feel lighter, like there's a weight off my shoulders. The air feels clearer. There's room to paint and even dance if I feel like it. Do you know what? I just might.

-Kathleen

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If you'd like to browse through my art shop, it's here.


Monday, March 21, 2016

Happy Spring!

Happy spring, friends! You know how much I love this time of year! My garden is still sleeping although I'm seeing little signs of life--the tiny tips of bulbs poking through the earth. There is snow predicted for later this week, so we aren't quite in spring weather mode yet.

I'm taking part in a spring giveaway loop on Instagram with eleven other makers and I wanted you to know about it. I'm giving away a set of my daffodil prints and it's very easy to enter. You can see the instructions here. (The giveaway closes at noon eastern time on March 23, 2016.)

Last week, Instagram announced that it will be changing our feeds from chronological order to what they think we want to see most. Uh huh. As if we asked. I feel brain cells disappearing with each 'helpful' algorithm introduced on social media sites. We all know it's really about money and it will very likely make it harder for individuals and small companies to be seen. It's sad to think that Instagram will turn into another Facebook--although with Facebook as its owner, I knew it was just a matter of time. I love Instagram so much. It's such a warm, creative place. I hope that it won't lose all of its charm and will still be a place where creative folks can meet. We will see.

My indoor potted daffodils have given me so much pleasure this past month as I waited for spring to arrive. The first daffodil bloomed on February 25th and there are still new ones opening each day. In the autumn, I layered a whole bunch of mixed daffodil bulbs in three big pots that I usually have outdoors for summer annuals. I can't wait to see the bulbs I planted outdoors too. There's so much anticipation this time of year.

And in other news, this bundle of curls turned six years old last week! Meeko is such an important part of our family. His daily companionship means the world to me.

I wish you a lovely spring (or autumn if you are in the southern hemisphere)! If you'd like to see more of my spring art, you can see it here.


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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Hello March!

Hello, March. We meet again...somewhere between snow and sunshine, ice and flowers.

There's a blizzard on the way tonight. Don't worry! I brought my vintage jar back inside right after I took the photos. I keep it by our dining room window and have been enjoying watching the bulbs' progress.

I also have a big pot of daffodils blooming just inside the back door. I wish you could smell them. They are wonderfully fragrant. Doesn't it look like they are huddled together looking out and talking about the weather? Like the rest of us.

Emma and Chloé both have their March break this week. I suppose it's not the worst time for a blizzard. They both have a huge number of assignments to complete for school although they've found a bit of time for baking too. I've been busy with my shop, when I'm not dreaming of snow melting and spring flowers blooming that is.

I recently organized my art by the season. If you are aching for spring too, you can have a look here.

Happy March, everyone!

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Friday, February 26, 2016

Winter Inspiration: Story Behind the Painting

 Winterberry Watercolor Print with Camus Quote
Sometimes the winter months seem like they will never end. That initial delight when the first snowflakes of the season arrive can turn into a cold and dark dread of winter's final days. Even my creative spirit at this time of year can feel sluggish as if it was laden down with ice crystals.

In November, a lovely customer ordered my Autumn Leaf print with the Albert Camus quote: "Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower". She contacted me once she had received her order and asked if I knew of the beautiful winter quote by Camus. I didn't and what a beauty it is: "In the depth of winter I finally learned that within me lay an invincible summer". Isn't that gorgeous? Quite beyond enduring unpleasant weather and dragging seasons, it speaks to the strength that we can find inside ourselves when life is difficult.

She said she would be interested in a companion print with the winter quote and had a wonderful idea of what to include with it. She suggested winterberry also known as Ilex verticillata. Do you know it? It's a beautiful shrub--a species of holly native to parts of North America. When the rest of nature is brown, grey or covered with snow, winterberry sports beautiful bright red berries.

While I wasn't able to find winterberry in my local forest, I did find branches of it at a nearby garden centre. I absolutely loved painting the berries. A greater challenge for me was creating the lettering in watercolour to match the quote I had done for the autumn leaf image. Watercolour paint is capricious. Hand lettering with a small paintbrush is not like using a computer font that remains the same each time you use it, although in the middle of this project I sort of wished it was! I did so many tries before finally coming up with a version that was similar in weight and tone to the previous quote. I am happy to say that my winterberry print is now available in my shop, on its own or coupled with the autumn leaf print.

 Winterberry watercolor print with Camus quote
 Winterberry and Autumn Leaf prints with Camus quotes
Thank you to my lovely customer and Albert Camus for the wonderful winter inspiration!

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You can buy directly from me below. Your order will be processed through my secure Shopify shop. Shipping is free in Canada and the US. A flat rate of $7.50 applies to all other destinations. Products are shipped within 3-5 days of your order. ~ Kathleen

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