Archives for posts with tag: journal

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I am trying very hard not to be disturbed by today’s event. After all, it is just another day of bloated pomp and circumstance.
Except, that it is not.

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I was, by fate, born in America to an American father. My Canadian mother brought me and my two brothers back to Canada when I was seven years old. By choice, since 1978, I remain a proud Canadian. But I don’t feel very perfect and my heart hurts today for myself, for good friends and relatives, and for this planet.

I roamed around the house awhile today, thinking many thoughts, some good and some unworthy. I scootered back to a (very) dusty, but beloved bookshelf, in a messy, unused room. I was only looking for Thoreau – to find this quote:

“When a man is warmed … what does he want next? Surely not more warmth of the same kind, as more and richer food, larger and more splendid houses, finer and more abundant clothing, more numerous, incessant, and hotter fires, and the like. When he has obtained those things which are necessary to life, there is another alternative than to obtain the superfluities; and that is, to adventure on life now.”

I was looking for the fine Americans… the fine humans… that I know are out there.

I found, conveniently, prophetically, sadly, and hopefully – these books shelved next to each other. Aging pages, readings from my past.

John Boswell, died so young of AIDS.

bell hooks. Shoving racism and feminism in our faces. She knows.

Thoreau.

Helen and Scott Nearing. Vermont and Bernie know of their bravery and good sense.

George Woodcock. I can still hear Naomi Klein at Sechelt Writer’s fest saying “Oh, you should give Anarchy a chance.”  With the sweetest smile.

So five Americans and a Canadian editor form my reading now. Five of the six are dead, their works left to me to glean for seeds for the future. Will it help how I feel today? I don’t know. These books speak of thrilling, important ideas and it isn’t easy to watch them fail, crushed by much more than one sickening orange man. I hope from looking at them again, I can find some encouragement, find the great thrill they once gave me.  And my own country has a sweet leader who thinks he can rule and fool the masses. He must be corrected. Much work of world importance is started, and many have been working doggedly for years. And that is as it should be. For me, here at home, I’m looking for ways to put ideals back on the rails. I’m nervous, and I’m excited. I get to draw my own line in the plastic littered sand and say “No more”.
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Weren’t you bored with your hotter fire anyway?
Wouldn’t you rather be Adventuring on Life?

I know I would.
I know I am.
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Day One in Rome must have been a bit of an adjustment for my sweet, patient, globetrotting friends. From the second I clunked out the door my eyes were filled with the spectacle of light and texture and the astonishing age of ancient stones  – and I did not want to miss a single inch of it.

Our street, Lisa, Paolo and Max

Our street, Lisa, Paolo and Max

I probably took 45 minutes just to get to the end of our block – and not only because of the cobbles (have I mentioned the cobbles??) I couldn’t roll five feet without stopping for photos, and I’m pretty sure that is not the usual rate of exploration for my friends. But no one rushed me, and in fact we all found our rhythm – Max ranging ahead to scout, Paolo a bit ahead subtly directing Vespas and cars around us, and Lisa – well she was behind me. I have a feeling she didn’t mind too much (after the shock of slow wore off). I’ve seen the photos she took, and they are amazing.

So we snailed, and discovered, and uncovered details that quick movers might miss. Like the lions on the lintels.

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And street art.

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And….. coffee.

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So the poor scoot, made for malls – not battlefields, ran out of battery and one of my fears was faced on the first day. I don’t know why I worried, Max was a skilled and careful pusher and we made it back. I was perhaps a bit shaken and stirred, but so incredibly full of wonder, I couldn’t have cared less.

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Never will I forget the first day I was somewhere else,  somewhere so far from home… somewhere as amazing as Italy.

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Even though my mind is moving toward Italy, I haven’t ignored this beautiful coast summer. I have spent pleasant hours on my pretty back deck, enjoying my flower filled pots and O’Keeffe inspired wall art.

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I  scooted to the Roberts Creek pier and had a fine 2 hours of sketching the copper roofed house across the creek.

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But the best day of all was when instead of going up the lane back home,  I unexpectedly turned the shoprider down towards the lookout at the end of my road and started a sketch of the view. Suddenly, I heard a huge whooshing blow – a woman on the beach below started yelling “The Whale!! The Whale!!” so I peeled out to a more open point and there it was. Or at least there was the spray and a huge hump of a grey back, moving slowly, following the tide line toward Sechelt.

I could feel it – I’m sure.

Mesmerizing.

Magic.

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A great day indeed.

 

 

 

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That is what my friend Marlene told me, and I have been fully embracing the pre-trip.

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I had to think of something which would hold my attention, and keep my excitement from spilling over into anxiety – because I know myself. I can get… squirrelly.  So, I have made up  a crazy project for myself. I am filling one of my beautiful Kim Oka encaustic journals with sketches of details from Renaissance paintings, mostly of those that I could possibly see in Italy – but I am using ballpoint pens. And a bit of watercolour. Thats it.

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Then, I am scanning these sketches and printing them out as postcards, which I will take with me.

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While I am casually relaxing in a piazza with a tiny white cup filled with thick espresso, or perhaps a nice glass of jewel red Chianti, I will write my Deep Thoughts on them and send them back home to myself embellished with beautiful Italian stamps. This lovely dream is keeping my hands busy and my anxiety levels manageable.

Ha.

Two more weeks……….

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My ticket is booked and paid for.  I say these words to myself, (and to pretty much anyone else I can pin down) with emotions that streak from thrill to fear in seconds. This MS woman is going to Italy. The dogged determination and kindness of friends will drag my wobbly ass across the ocean to the country that has filled my mind and heart with wonder since my days at Cap College under the spell of the Goddess of Art History, my friend Josephine. So missed.

Julie: “Listen. You have to come. This might be the last time….  I mean… ah… erm… This will be an awesome trip and we will all be there to… uh…  Well, you are coming. That’s that.”

I think of past large scale paintings I have done, and present intimate journal sketching I am doing. Ambitions at the mercy of body.  I remember my New Year’s resolution – Fear out – Faith in. Holy Crap, it is working. Could I really do it?

I laugh….. I suspect she is a little wrong, though. I think this trip will be the first. If I can’t belly up to the big canvasses just yet, I have other dreams to pursue.

I have Carnets des Voyages to fill.  🙂

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Postcards deck

 

 

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A favourite spoon and a funny little can I have kept for years….

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Practice continues in my pursuit to learn techniques to one day produce a Carnet de Voyage. Luckily, it involves deliciousness and conviviality. I should be well fed whenever I do wander away from my home base.

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January has rolled into February. Winter cold has remained at bay – in fact, it has been a typical balmy West Coast Winter… so far.

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It seems to me the sketching moments have been plentiful. Self-imposed challenges of Sketchbook Skool Bootkamp and Kim Oka’s 30 day journaling have provided practice and entertainment on damp evenings.

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Weather even broke into brief sun, and a rare trip to a dear friend’s welcoming home was actually realized. By me, alone. My mountain to climb, and I did it. I was well rewarded. 🙂

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When one doesn’t have to hang sheets and plastic over the doorways to keep the heat of the fireplace trapped, (also known as Art Ghetto decor) and when the toilet seat is actually room temperature every day…(yes, last January was a bit trying) the subtle layers of a coast winter can be relaxed into, enjoyed even. Especially if you have a friend  or two to share the fire.

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On a calm afternoon I scooter to the pier, smell the ocean, feel the sky, watch the water flowing under the Robert’s Creek bridge.

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February begins. And the sun is now rising before 8am and setting after 5pm.

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Detail: Mandala

Gently exciting.

 

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Many a happy hour have I spent combing through the vast wealth of visual and technical knowledge that Roz Stendhal freely shares on her website Roz Wound Up. I discovered her in “An Illustrated Life” and admired her drawings and journal pages so much, she became one of the first blogs I hit the “follow” button for. OK, she is obsessive, and quirky, but she is sooo sweet – and talent leaks out of her every artistic endeavour! If you dig back far enough into her blog, you find the time when she had a brain injury and had to retrain her effected drawing skills. Which she did. Amazing woman. She remains to this day in my main toolbar, quick reference and bags of inspiration just a click away.

Roz’s Sleeping Pet assignment for Sketchbook Skool:

Surprisingly easy with Ella, after a massive run in the forest she can crash out on the couch for hours. The crazy Potcake Dingo turns into a big stuffy toy.

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The Jack, on the other hand, is a bit of a challenge. He is such a twitch I was lucky to get just the ears. And such sweet ears they are. I cannot believe he is 13 years old. Sammie.

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A new Journal is essential. Particularly when it is handmade by your friend, has an encaustic cover which smells of sweet beeswax, and comes wrapped in brown paper with a sprig of Lavendar. Kim Oka has just opened her Etsy site, but I was lucky enough to have mine delivered in person. I LOVE it. I have always used Opus student grade sketchbooks, and thought they were fine, but the heavier mixed media paper in this book is far, far better and much more fun to use – I won’t be going back! Look how it takes the watercolour – no bleed through – and the pencil crayons go on like a dream.

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Of course I had to make a pencil holder for my pencil crayons which I rarely use, but have hanging around all over.

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I knew there would be a week with Koosje Koene, they are her specialty. I wasn’t sure how I would like them, but they are now happily being frequently implemented. Who knew? Of course my new Electric pencil sharpener made everything about them fun.

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And I still can’t stop admiring the most beautiful pencil box ever. Maple and walnut and red felt inside, silky smooth with gorgeous dovetail splines. Much sweat and skill went into this gift, thank you so much Jennifer. It is my treasure.