Thursday, April 30, 2009

Purple Allamanda

purple allamandaToday I searched through the web photos of flowering vines until I found the Allamanda, the flower I painted a few days ago in Arizona.  I’m not quite certain about the varietal though.  There are many types and apparently the color of their blooms depends on the soil conditions to a great extent.  This photo was labelled “purple alamanda” and it looks exactly like the ones I painted from. 

I’ve been a bit under the weather for a couple of days but I hope to be back painting again tomorrow.  The term “under the weather” was an interesting choice of words given that I’ve just returned to the cold north from the hot south.  Under the blankets would have been accurate too…

Monday, April 27, 2009

Arizona Whites


I would love to know the name of this lovely flowering vine.  I looked for it tonight at the Desert Botanical Gardens but didn’t spot it.  Our gracious hosts have this beautiful flowering vine in their garden.  The hummers seem to be attracted to this flower – they preferred it to the feeders this week at least.

 DSCN2751 Ron and I arrived at Desert Botanical Gardens today at 5pm and viewed the exhibit before as well as after dark.  Dale Chihuly is truly a master artist and I really enjoyed the displays.  The colors are amazing and the detail work was enhanced by the lighting after dark – wow!  The gardens are amazing even without the Chihuly glass – lots and lots of hummers and they are very friendly.  We headed straight to Fox’s afterwards for the Flames third, and last, period of the seasons.  Not a fun game to watch with a bunch of Chicago fans…

Home to Calgary tomorrow – yikes!  The weather has been unseasonably cold/snowy there and unseasonably hot/dry here.  That will make for a rough re-entry. 

Apache Trail

Today we set off for a Sunday afternoon drive to Tortilla Flat up the Apache Trail.  Wow!  The scenery did not disappoint. The terrain is so rough and the story of it’s construction over 100 years ago is fascination.  Ron and I hiked up a small trail to look out over Apache Lake (it’s 17 miles long but just a bit is peaking through in the background of our photo).  We took a bite at the Tortilla Flat Saloon DSCN2403and marveled at all that money stapled to the walls – lots of dollar bills, marks, yen notes, kiwi and ausie dollars….  names and dates visited. 

Teddy Roosevelt is responsible for building the road leading far back into the mountains to service the building of a large dam.  The entire project was part of the Reclamation Act of   1902.  The purpose of the act was to increase the habitability of the arid western United States.  DSCN2391Construction began in 1903 and ended in 1911 when the Roosevelt Dam began operation.  As a result of irrigation from the dam, hundreds of thousands of acres of land have become fertile farmland.  Many other such projects continue to benefit all residents of the arid western states.  After today I understand why Grandpa Matson took so much time explaining all the workings of the Imperial Dam for me back in 1997.  These dams made life in the desert possible.  

DSCN2384 Back to our trip…  The desert is a bit coy.  Not wanting to flaunt it’s beauty, it doles it out a bit at a time.  We saw loads of blooming prickly pear cacti and several others bloomers I can’t name.  Beautiful.  Yellow flowering trees were everywhere.  The DSCN2575 saguaros showed buds but we only saw a couple of them with full hats.  Beautiful and stately,  the saguaro is such a great object lesson for life.  Grow when you get watered, store it up for the hard times, bloom conservatively and not for long, hunker down and you’ll make it through the arid seasons…  and know that spring will come again next year.  PACE yourself.  Hmm, very wise. 

Tomorrow we have reservation at the Desert Botanical Gardens.  The farmer in me needs to know the names of some of these cacti and desert plants….  We’ll also see the Dale Chihuly glass exhibit which is there right now. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Saguaro Sunset

saguaro sunset

I’ve had an amazing day in sunny and HOT Arizona (sorry all you Alberta people).  Temperature reached high nineties today but there was a slight breeze to take the edge off.  Quite tolerable rolling into and out of the pool. 

I sketched up the saguaro cactus behind the house here and put him front and centre with a little pal in a quick desert sunset watercolor.  It was fun. 

I’m really enjoying blogging since I discovered Windows Live Writer.  I do the entire blog posting on my laptop and when I click on post it logs on and makes it all happen.  Lots of options for formatting and jazzing things up – looking forward to trying some of those too!  Check it out here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Canyon sketch

I did this desert sketch today based on a photo I liked in a mag. I needed to get myself painting again, and to familiarize myself with my new Caran d'ache water soluble crayons. It was fun and effective except where I struggled with value in the spots I didn't use the black.
Hopefully I'll have more painting time tomorrow. I'm enjoying Arizona very much - we've had a wonderful time visiting and celebrating birthdays. The weather has been beautiful but it's SO hot for April. Tomorrow we'll get up early and take advantage of the cooler morning temperature. Ron will hit some balls and I'll play with my watercolors.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Complete project…

accordian book project Travel day tomorrow so this is a very quick post showing the entire project I’ve been working on over several days.  I think it turned out pretty well and I hope Christina will enjoy it.  Ciao!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Matthews familyI’m doing my absolute best to get Christina’s belated birthday gift into the mail before Ron and I leave for Phoenix Friday.  I may be getting a bit too carried away with my Crop-a-dile and yarn but I wanted to convey the sense of family connection/togetherness.  Tomorrow I hope to blog a photo of the complete project to show how it’s put together.  So much for surprise but the instructions will come in handy when it arrives in the mail. 

I hope to be sketching, painting, and blogging while I’m enjoying the sun in Arizona…  I can’t wait as it’s been a long and rather grueling winter for us.  Blessings! 

Monday, April 13, 2009

Spring Tulips

Nothing makes yellow pop like violet and I couldn't resist these tulips.  They screamed - PAINT US IN WATERCOLOR!  So, I sat down today and explored a bit with composition and format, did a value sketch and began.  The camera showed a much cooler violet (blue-violet really) so I photo-shopped in more red... fun!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Ethan – Part 4 of 5

Ethan Ethan is the youngest of Matthew and Christina’s children at 4 years old.  He’s a going concern – I was tempted to use a superhero theme but I didn’t want to encourage any more “flying” attempts.  I settled on a racecar theme using  fall colors.  I love, love, love this picture of Ethan – he seems to be clasping his hands in an attempt to keep himself still! 

Now, for those of you that have an interest in the techniques used… 

  • I used the transfer technique described April 6th to begin. 
  • Then I applied all of the paint using black, transparent red iron oxide, green gold, and quinacridone crimson.  I kept the painting loose everywhere except for the black track. 
  • I printed and cut out the clipart cars and decided on their placement.  I had one challenge before the transfer would work – the cars wouldn’t show up on the black track.  I thought about painting the shapes of the cars onto the track in white but that’s pretty tedious.  Instead, I painted titanium white directly onto the car shapes just before I heat transferred them.  The white was trapped between the two layers of the gel medium and it made a great backdrop for the colors of the cars. 
  • After I rubbed the paper backings off the transfers I touched up the black paint, stamped Ethan’s name, and used some white conte to provide highlights on the tires and lighten parts of the track.

I hope you all had a great Easter – He is risen indeed!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Victoria - Part 3 of 5

Today you're seeing Victoria, Matthew and Christina's 3rd child. Vicky is 6 now and really losing the little girl persona and turning into quite a little miss. She has her own sense of style and knows what she wants.
Vicky has a pink and white striped shirt on in the photo I used for the transfer. I needed to find a way to work with the pink without having it fight with the colors I used on the other cards. The green-gold combined with the soft red-brown seems to have worked well. The argyle ribbon adds an extra bit of fun. Enjoy and Happy Easter!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Kristian - Part 2 of 5

This is the second 5x7 card in the series I'm putting together. The heat set photo transfer of Kristian was done first, followed by some glazing to boost the color in the transferred image. Since Kristian enjoys seashells I chose a seaside theme. I used some shells, shark teeth, and beach glass that I picked up from the beach during our visit to Puerto Vallarta last December.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Part 1 of 5 - Matthew's Family

This transfer was done on a chipboard surface that had been prepared with white gesso. I used the heat transfer process that I described in detail on March 20th. Then I painted a black border around the transfer and overpainted parts where the colors were washed out. Then I added "Hannah" lettering and the stickers and overpainted a bit more. The wool yarn is woven through holes I punched with my new "Crop-A-dile II Big Bite" (cheap - $34 with a coupon at Michael's). I added some metal beads to the yarn just for fun.
I'll be doing 5 of these panels as a gift (a very long overdue birthday gift). Each panel is 5"x7". The holes on both sides attach the panels to eachother and make a zig-zag booklet of sorts. This one will have a panel for each of Matthew and Christina's children plus a bonus one because something has to be a surprise. Enjoy!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Elitist Still Life

It just occurred to me that all of these objects seem to be turning up their noses at the world - thus the title. I'm not quite done this but it's come along way since last night. I still owe the middle shoe a shadow and I'm debating on whether or not the background needs something. I'm a bit confused about the teapot. The foreshortening is definitely hard to portray accurately and I'm still missing something. I'm loving the colors though... enjoy!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Watercolor again

My friend Sally and I met Monday for some art time. We had a great visit, tea, and set up a still life that I really like. Everything - tea, carving, and the very intriguing khussa shoes are all from India. We took our time drawing the set-up in our sketchbooks and transferring it onto watercolor paper. I have lots of painting left to do (haven't even started the tea pot) but I sure have enjoyed painting in watercolor again. There's just something so pure about it.