Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Settling In

With the first big snow storm of winter under our belt, it's time to start enjoying the idea of Winter.  We can't fast-forward to Spring, so we might as well find some pleasure in it.    And really, if it wasn't there, I'd miss the clean, bracing sparkle of Winter.  During the next three or four weeks, my main focus (along with tidying up some last minute Christmas work) will be on getting ready for Christmas - the decorating, the baking, and the joy of getting gifts for  people, so time at my art table will take a back seat.  That doesn't mean though, that while my hands are busy with Cherry cakes, casseroles and cookies that my mind can't be busy with art.   I have to admit that once in a while, we get a slightly "different" cake because I've been thinking too much art and too little baking!  What's a little baking powder more or less? :0
Looking out the window after a storm such as the one we got last night gives me so many ideas for paintings and backgrounds.  I love the view from our kitchen window and all the background and "story" ideas it inspires.  It poses so many mental puzzles to be solved.

How am I going to break down all that snow into bites that I can paint in a way that is identifiable, and not have just a mass of unstructured white.  What colour family am I going to incorporate into the whites (that's whiteS, not white)  to define the shadows and set the proper mood . . . blues, violets, greens?  What value scale do I use in painting the twigs and branches so that they all stand out, but nothing dominates?  And since I'm not a landscape painter per se,  what am I going to paint along with it . . . what story do I want to tell?  What mood do I want to set, and how will I do it?   That's half the fun of painting for me.
The dogs provide their own fun in the snow.  The earlier snow sent them giddy with delight, and though they are just as happy this morning, they have to bound a little higher to get through the drifts.  And telling their stories is another part of my joy in painting.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Are We Ready?

It's coming  - feel the bitter bite in the wind, and you will know that, even though Winter is a month away, The Snow Queen has sent out her advance publicity.  I don't mind Winter, in fact, I enjoy it as I do all the seasons.   Not that I'm a hearty outdoor type.  But I love the feeling that Home is the place to be when the snow blows and cold settles in.                                                                                    Getting ready for Winter during the short November days is a ritual I enjoy.  The house, including the fireplace is ready and the garden is sleeping, there's a good supply of necessary meds, of food, pet food, and the thing you really don't want to run out of . . . Cat Litter!  It's time to settle in the studio and spend peaceful, happy days painting, with the fireplace making things cozy and the dogs and cats snoozing in their favourite spots.   It's a good time to update my Art Journal with all the things I haven't had time to enter for a while.

I've kept an Art Journal for quite a while - I'm on my third one now.  I keep a record of my work, nice emails that praise my work, (love those!)  jot down my thoughts on things, and keep track of what is happening in my part of the art world.  Uh-huh, there's a juicy tid-bit or two in them, but my lips are zipped!  :0
I'm stocking up now on watercolour paper, paints, brushes, pencils, etc.  and I'm planning on getting to grips with some acrylics this winter.  I have a number of dog, horse, and country type painting lined up to do as well.  Can't wait to get at them!  There will be books to read too, during the cold evenings, and  movies to watch while cuddled up with my Sweetie - and the dogs.  
Even if you are not one to swoosh down the hills on a pair of  narrow slats, (OK, I'm not a skiier) winter can be wonderful if you find a quiet, toasty corner, know that the pantry is full, and you are set up to do something you enjoy. Are we ready for it?       


Tuesday, November 12, 2013


It was  bitter this morning, cold, windy, and grey, and it left no doubt that Winter is on the way.  Then I looked out the sun room window to the big old lilac bush, and there was the season's first CARDINAL peering in at me!  It's amazing how that brightens the day.  I always think of the first Cardinal as a sign of good luck.  I grew up without Cardinals, but once I read about them in a bird book and saw how beautiful they were, I desperately wanted to see one.  That was back when I was a child, and it took a very long time until they moved into our area and my wish was granted.

                                                                                    photo copyright Heather Anderson

Many years ago now, I was casually looking out my studio window while I was on the phone, and suddenly, the garden seemed to explode with red.  First one, then another bright crimson cardinal landed on the bird feeder, and soon their 'wives' (as I enjoy thinking of them) arrived.  I'm sure the person I was speaking with must have thought I was very strange indeed, as I enthused and laughed and generally expressed my delight.   The Cardinals must have decided that we ran a decent establishment, with lots of good food and natural shelter, and as much protection from predators  as possible, because they  have come back every winter, with  their numbers steadily increasing.     To me, one of  the most exciting winter sights is a flock of brilliant red Cardinals against the white snow, with their lovely ripple of song ringing out in the cold air.  With these beauties around, I don't find Winter dull at all.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Cat Tales

I am a dog person, then, now and always, but I have to tell you, I'm also bats about cats.  Lovely, mysterious creatures they be, who defy being put into a mold and have a sense of self that rivals the biggest Diva ever known.  But they can also be loving, brave, and very  empathetic.

For the first time ever, we have 2 cats at Sheltie Hollow.  I was always nervous that since one cat rules my life, I'd end up as nothing but a paw servant if we had two of them, and you know what?  I was right!  But they are benevolent little dictators who reward my efforts to keep them happy with purrs and snuggles.  Sasha is our eldest cat, and he is a quiet big fellow who is amazingly patient and gentle.  But he attacked and drove back a dog taking a major hissy fit who was about to chomp down on my leg.  Sash is one brave cat!
The Purebred cats are gorgeous, and I always fancied having a Siamese or a Burmese, but of the three cats we have had, all three were "just cats" needing a home.  Each one was/is a treasure.  Our first was a Barn cat who loved opera, and he, along with my first Sheltie, was my constant companion for 19 wonderful years.  One of our present cats, was a Street kitten who was lucky enough to end up at an Animal Shelter where we found him.  And our newest feline member of the family was a surprise, along with her brothers, for the lady who adopted a  poor abandoned cat and suddenly found herself with a cat and four kittens!!
 I love the way cats make any place their kingdom.  One of the things I loved best about going around to the stables and farms were the barn cats. So many friendly little souls who would curl up anywhere to snooze in the sun.


In our house, the dogs and cats have to get along, and as Shelties are friendly, welcoming little fellows, the dogs and cats can usually be found playing or snoozing together.  I insist on a Peaceable Kingdom.  I also must add here that our cats, like our dogs are indoor pets.  The dogs go out in our fenced-in garden, but only under supervision, while our cats stay inside where they are safe.  Cars, unfriendly dogs, unfriendly humans, hawks, owls, foxes, coyotes and fishers - it's a dangerous place out there for a roaming cat.  If our two should want the great outdoors, I take them out on a harness and leash and let them take me for a walk in the garden.  But I keep saying 'two cats' and you haven't met our kitten yet.  Here's Miss Jasmine, who can be found in the studio every chance she gets.  She wants to be an artist when she grows up, just like Mum.  So far, she has been caught just starting to put my best paint brush in her mouth and knocking over a jar of paint water.  Busy little girl!  Good thing she's cute!!

As Colette said, "A Cat is the visible soul of the home."