Summer Fun in the Sun and Art Studio
The summer started with us spending more time on the back deck. Like for so many people, we were restricting our movements and staying close to home. Our house backs onto a stretch of forest, and there is always wildlife visiting our gardens. Was it just me, or were there more birds than normal this year? With less cars on the road, planes in the skies, and people moving around, nature was having a bit of a reprieve, I guess. Maybe there were more birds. Or perhaps we were just taking more time to slow down and appreciate them.
Along with our backyard birds, came this little red squirrel. He is quite brazen and comes up to the door pressing his little nose against the window if I am late with his peanuts. I didn't so much appreciate him rattling my window screen one day trying to get my attention. He is so darn cute though.
Actually, it is the blue jays who have captured my heart this summer. There are a couple who nest in a nearby tree each year. I didn't realize until this summer how smart these birds are. There was a group of six who visited each day. Maybe a set of parents and offspring? They followed me around the house from window to window calling to me to bring out their lunch. I was well trained, I guess.
I was chatting to an artist friend who suggested that it would make sense if the blue jay was my spirit animal. She is very knowledgeable in the subject. I didn't really know if I believed in spirit animals. She suggested that I ask the blue jay for a gift of a feather to be sure.
Well, that same day this was left for me in my garden.
How amazing. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I thought, ok, well maybe it was a coincidence. Throughout the next couple weeks, I found FOUR more! Not just at my house, but at our family cottage, and my mother's house too. I was not looking for these. They just appeared literlally in my path! I guess the signs were pretty clear. I am not sure I will ever look at blue jays the same again.
You can see a couple more of the blue jays' gifted feathers below with my sketchbook. The postcard on the right hand side, under the feathers, will be included in the Pandemic Postcard Project at the AnnMarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center in Maryland, USA coming up sometime this fall.
Once the Atlantic Province Bubble was established we could more or less move around freely within the east coast provinces. Public health protocols were still in place, and we avoided the most popular beaches. We were able to travel to Bathurst, NB for the annual trip to the family cottage on Youghall Beach, and to Hubbards, NS for trips to the family cottage there. Nova Scotia is full of beautiful coastal nature and the summer is short, so we went to as many as we could possibly squeeze in. Make hay while the sun shines, they say. See some of the highlights in the photos below.
I even managed to do a little painting en plein air which kind of makes my heart sing.
Back in the studio, I was still drawn to my sketchbooks. They are very low commitment and tiny sketches like this one are quick.
I really like the freedom of playing around with lots of media in my sketchbook. you just never know where it will lead. These little fishies appeared one day. I really like the cartoonish feel. Quite different from my realist style. I have now done a couple of these sketches and I am not sure that I am quite done with them. They just might pop up again. Maybe on a pillow or a pencil case. That coral reef pencil case in the picture is available here if you would like one. They are made in a really nice Canadian company in Montreal where the fabric is sustainably sourced and the workers are treated well.
Something has finally settled in my mind and I am so excited to be working on big beautiful ocean waves again. I guess I just had to process what is going on in the world.
Both of the pieces in the foreground have sold, as has the one on the easel. I am working on a series involving that cute little sandy one with the portal in the centre that is up on the shelf. They will be available from Argyle Fine Art later this fall.
The deep green beauty on the wall is called "Exhale" and it is available at Made in the Maritimes at the link here.
I made a couple of large deliveries to Made in the Maritimes over the summer including these oceany paintings below. You can visit their online shop to see what's still available at this link here.
In early summer, I was awarded a grant by the Canada Council for the Arts. It was part of their Digital Originals Initiative which, in their own words, "... is a new initiative to help artists, arts groups, and organizations pivot their work for online sharing. Artists, groups or organizations can either adapt their existing work or create a new work for digital dissemination to the Canadian public during the COVID-19 pandemic."
Pretty cool, right?! As a multidisciplinary artist, I am always excited to be able to try new media. Because of the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts, I was able to create a series of calming digital seascapes for sharing on social media.
We have been spending more time online since the start of the pandemic, and sometimes social media can be a stressful place. It was my hope that these digital paintings would provide a little moment of serenity whilst scrolling through.
The plan was to share the finished images, along with some process videos, on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. However, in addition to those platforms, I realized that the more business oriented community of LinkedIn might benefit from a calm moment in their day too. The response to these has been incredible with people commenting on the calm feelings they get from this series.
You can see all six of the series below. Each was created on an iPad Pro using the Procreate app. I learned by watching YouTube Tutorials, by workshops on Skillshare, and by some trial and error too. Can you guess the beaches? I will give you a hint: 2 are Nova Scotia, 1 is New Brunswick, 1 is Cuba, 1 is Bermuda, and 1 is Turks and Caicos.