My show at Ron Andrews Community Centre is over. In all I have sold six paintings and think I have a commission to paint one more. It has been a wonderful experience. Such an opportunity.
I have a nice contribution to make to the David Sheldrick Sanctuary and will do that the moment that I receive the cheque for my paintings. My donation will go toward the teams of vet and air surveillance pilots who are patrolling for poachers or wounded elephants. I will make the donation in memory of Cecil Ewart Cade, my cousin, who was the first warden at the first wild animal sanctuary in Nairobi.
The battle against illegal ivory poaching continues and more and more celebrities are joining the fight. My contribution will be teeny weensy compared to that of George Clooney or Angelina Jolie or Prince Andrew, but no less heartfelt. I cannot ever understand the ignorance that feeds this illegal trade and surely an ivory statue cannot bring an auspicious future for someone so stupid as to believe that killing a magnificent beast like an elephant will bring them good luck.
Of course, I feel the same for those who go to hunt the cariboo when their numbers are dangerously low, or for those who hunt lions or tigers or any wild animal. We do not need to kill these animals; it is only to feed the weak human ego. I doubt that even the Inuit need to hunt the Beluga Whales anymore. And yet, it goes on. Governments have the power to stop most of this killing, but they do not. Even now, two elephants and many other wild animals are to be slaughtered to celebrate Robert Mugabe's birthday! Surely it is time for that madman to die! But there are always more evil beings to fill his shoes....
Ok, now, enough. I have done my little bit and shall do more. If I had millions, I would probably send them also. I have all I need. If you are reading this, and you have not yet fostered an elephant, please do so, and do it NOW! www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org
Cat Goes To Italy - This cat's nickname was Buggy. She was tiny, affectionate, right up there with her demands - an extravert. She did travel across Canada with us, creating quite a meow in the hotel rooms but she came tenting North of Superior, at The Pinery and in some parks on the US side enroute to our cottage in Kenora. She did not really go to France or Italy but we are sure she would have adapted as all the other cats did overlooking San Polo Piazza. Cat is for sale tomorrow at the AFAS I hope someone decides to buy her as she is very quiet really and only keeps the mice out of the yard
If you have seen my page about my Elephant Project, then you are pretty much up to speed on what I am doing these days. I am painting elephants and more elephants. The process of sticking to one subject has been really helpful in pushing me to newer approaches to painting. My last picture which is not posted here started with a layer of Gesso applied with a knife to give the base painting a rough texture that would help with the elephant skin. I did a dry brush watercolour of a baby elephant with his mom using 300 pound paper to bring out texture. And then, another painting with a bull getting water at a waterhole is quite smooth as my focus is on the landscape as well as the elephant.
Of course, I am fully aware as I puddle onward with my paintings, that elephants are dying every 15 minutes and rhinos also. I need to paint faster; I need to paint more. I could paint some rhinos but at the moment, I am very caught up in the emotions and intelligence of elephants. They may both be at risk and both are huge and amazing animals, but I am not drawn to the rhinos in quite the same way. I bet if I got to know one at the Sheldrick sanctuary, I would fall in love with rhinos, too.
It is quite overwhelming at times. I find that I am dreaming about saving elephants and that I feel totally inadequate. I am not Leonard de Caprio or David Beckham or the Royal Family and cannot hurl huge amounts of money into this cause, but I feel that I am "lighting my own small candle" against the darkness and maybe I am helping bring awareness about this issue to the people around me. I am sure that they are sometimes fed up with seeing elephant photos on my Facebook page! I do try to limit my pictures - the question is how to spread the message and yet not dwell on the terror so much as to frighten people away. Even when I mention how the elephants die, my listeners put up their hands and make it clear that they don't want to know. And yet, it continues and is more terrifying every day. If only people realized that this is not only a defeat for the elephants, but it is a very telling story about our humankind! And it is also lining the pockets of the worst terrorist organizations in Africa and the Middle East - how can we ignore it?
I have painted a few other things during this time, as well because I do need a break. I have sent a couple of cards showing Welsh Poppies today, I painted a long and skinny sunset for my son which he has yet to see and I painted the picture below. It is called "Cat Goes to Italy" but my personal name for it is "Buggy Goes to Italy" Buggy was our cat who earned her nickname with her ever-present meow. I am thinking of a series of Cat pictures and could put Buggy in a window in many other cities in the world. But first, Cat Goes to Italy has to sell so that I have some encouragement. Give me a shout, if you are interested or have some comments to make.
Cat Goes to Italy, Watercolour on Paper, 17 inches x 24 inches
This giraffe is the star of one of my watercolour paintings. He is joined by another young giraffe and I have them framed in white thinking that they might be fun in a child's room.
Last Sunday, while the giraffes got lots of attention from onlookers at the Lonsdale Quay, especially by the children, I was asked several times what the giraffe was eating and if I had really seen this animal. "YES!!! This is a giraffe in the Toronto Zoo and I have the photograph. The question always arises when I show my drawings or paintings of animals - and the underlying question is "have I copied somebody else's art?" It is an ethical issue which raises a fair bit of debate amongst artists and those who enjoy art. It also becomes a big problem for me when I want to draw elephants, which I really like to do.
I have decided that I am going to do a series of paintings of big animals this fall and, happily, have found enough photographs in my own collections of zoo animals who will be my subjects. But there is another issue - should these big zoo animals be kept in such small places? In fact, the three Toronto elephants were moved to a wilder and warmer sanctuary in California about a year ago and I cheered the decision. I do have some photos of those elephants before they departed and I do think they look depressed - three old ladies of middle age who do not all necessarily like to be close to one another in a cold climate. But, the greater horror is that elephants are being destroyed by the thousands in Africa where Chinese-backed poachers are killing them for their tusks. Where is there a safe and happy place for an elephant? Haven't we humans just mucked the whole world up?
Well, my resolve is to start painting these big animals, and I will give the profits to an animal charity when I find one I can trust. In the meantime, I have asked several photographers who do display wild animal photographs (and are they all an ethical lot?, who knows?) if they will allow me to use their images so that I am not just another opportunist. I think we owe it to the original artist, the photographer, and then we owe a whole lot more to the animals!!! How to help them is not clear. If you have any thoughts on these issues or, in fact, any photos you would be willing to share with me so that I might paint them, please let me know.
We have had some very hot summer days on the West Coast. It was hot enough to keep me away from painting on the long weekend, but finally this past Sunday, I went down to Lonsdale Quay to paint on the dock. Maureen Coles has organized this opportunity to paint "On the Dock" and she was already set up when I arrived. Later, we were joined by another NSAG member.
It was an absolutely lovely afternoon - and I know it will be a fond memory. There is an old blue refurbished piano sitting beside the coffee shop and all afternoon, pianists of every shape and size and age played beautiful music. We had only one version of chopsticks, but most of the pieces played were a range from modern to classical. Such a treat!
For me, just getting there was victory enough as I had to think carefully about how to pack and transport my stool, my paints, some paintings to display and figure out how to create a table. It proved easier than I anticipated, even though there are some things to improve upon for next week's journey to Art Under the Arbor at Park and Tilford Gardens. My goal was to finish one small painting of an Iris that I could take with me to next weekend's show and that pretty much filled up my afternoon.
It was also a very nice recognition to have someone like my small painting of a Dogwood flower. She took it off with her and I think it will be a gift for someone. That made the afternoon just about perfect!
Annabel painting when she was not yet two
Annabel has always loved to pick up a paint brush. For me, this is such a gift because now that I am nearby, we can paint or draw or mush about with oven-baked clay every week or so. At two, just making circles with the paint brush was an adventure. Now, at five, she wants to paint a butterfly or a snail, she is more aware of the different colours and every picture has to have that big yellow sun in the corner.
Last painting visit, we went into the garden with the magnifying glass and found all sorts of little flowers on shrubs and hidden in the grass that she hadn't noticed before. The bugs were still hidden, otherwise they would have been brought inside with the flowers.
With a little help, some rough shapes were made and she painted in the colours. The teacher's mantra "I do it, we do it then you do it" works sometimes, but mostly she is impatient to get going faster. It is important to me to leave the control of the artist's work in the hands of the little artist. I do not draw the outline of the picture and I resist my urge to put my own hand on her brush - but I am trying to coach her about the lines and the shapes. She seems to have her own instinct about mixing the watercolours and she is learning about keep a nice point on her brush.
We were both thrilled with Annabel's version of An Edwardian Woman's Journal for a day in early April. I hope the painting doesn't get lost!
If you wish, it would be great to hear about your experiences of painting with children, or even your own memories about how you started with a pencil or chalk.
In my portfolio, View from the Doggy Beach shows beautiful blue ocean minus the huge container ships that are usually lying off the coast - a dozen or more. Every day, white sailboats flit past these behemoths, as do low but long rowing boats, windsurfers, sea planes, tug boats - it is always party time on the waters off Vancouver. My painting was more about the place where the dogs play in Kitsilano than it was about industry and the economic health of the Vancouver port.
Yet I did paint Westward Under the Lion's Gate, showing the orange and blue of a huge container ship leaving our country, and I was somewhat resolved that the setting sun reflecting off that ship had its own kind of beauty. My most recent piece, After the Storm, shows those same ships which seem to be guarding the entrance to the city as the final sun showers move off the coast. (a February photo shown above).
I respect that many artists paint the urban landscape with magnificent towers and that some relish the rust on old boxcars and Model T Fords. It is fun to paint that rusty stuff sometimes.
But I believe that my personal theme is more connected to trying to capture the light, trying to make it shine through my paint, trying to find where that life-giving light is glowing.
This week, we watched Captain Phillips and marvelled at the drama that played out on such a big ship. I don't believe I will ever see another container ship without remembering that terror at sea. I wonder if I will paint many more of these big metal creatures.
What is your favourite subject for a painting?
Sedona and Tom having a moment on the Doggy Beach in Kitsilano at about 9:45 a.m, on March 25, 2014
The Pets in Our Lives! Today we are sad in our family to have said good-bye to Sedona, my son Tom's best friend. Sedona and the other dogs in our family, Max, who is still with us, Midnight and Sammie who have lived before, are all pictured in a two panel acrylic painting on my site called From the Doggy Beach. Max is the one who is sniffing and now, Sedona, is both pictorially and truly heading towards the other two who remain in a very special place in our memories. Tell your pets every day how much you love them, take oodles of pictures of them, put them into your artwork and take courage when you have to make the hard decisions for them. They enrich our lives and they break our hearts, but we have been blessed for their love and their short time with us.
With my new artist friend, Casey McGuire, I am very excited to be planning a booth to display and sell our artwork. Art In the City is to be held at the West End Community Centre in Vancouver, May 2, 3 and 4 with the last day coinciding with the Vancouver Marathon. We will have about 30 paintings for sale - watercolour and acrylic. Booth 20!