Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Snow Bunting and a Squirrel Problem

Here is the painting I have been working on the past few days. I think it's finished now. This sweet bird visited our backyard a few years ago. I didn't even know what kind of bird it was at the time. It looked to me like a cross between a large sparrow and a bunny. So fluffy! I looked it up and found that it was a snow bunting. I'm glad it stayed long enough for me to take a few photos of him.

I did a previous painting of him but I like this one much more. I hope to have prints and cards available with this image in my shop in the next week or so.

I love birds and have always fed them in our backyard. Having a garden that welcomes wildlife is important to me. I also wanted Emma and Chloé to learn about nature through our garden. From when they were toddlers, I kept bird, caterpillar and butterfly guides near our back door so we could identify our garden visitors. Among the birds that have visited our yard are sparrows (many, many sparrows), chickadees, cardinals, blue jays, juncos, robins, swallows, mourning doves, cedar waxwings, hummingbirds, house finches, goldfinches and woodpeckers. We've had rare visits by a kingfisher, a hawk and a ruffed grouse. Plus the sweet snow bunting.

We have been in our current house for over 16 years. It was a new neighbourhood when we moved in so there were very few trees initially, which also meant that there weren't any squirrels. But there are now! The trees have matured. Now my bird seed isn't just attracting my feathered friends, it is attracting squirrels as well...which would be fine except for Meeko. Meeko is calm and accepting when birds are at our feeders. But squirrels? Oh my. He gets riled up, wants to chase them and he barks...a lot. I try to keep him quiet for the sake of our neighbours and our own sanity but it's hard to do. Last week, Chloé was studying for exams and Meeko was barking incessantly at the squirrels. She suggested that maybe I need to stop feeding the birds or to find another place for the feeder that is not visible from the house. That is such a hard thought for me although she may be right. I'm trying to think of alternate solutions. I thought of placing food on the ground somewhere to divert the squirrels' attention. I've even thought of placing paper at Meeko's eye level on the back door so he can't see them from inside. If you have a brilliant idea, let me know!

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On another topic, I have a few of my prints on sale currently! You can have a look at them here. I've been working on my shop a lot these past few weeks. I now have my art organized by category and theme. I hope it makes browsing more efficient and interesting. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Ice and Tea

Not iced tea. Ice and tea. Sunday's weather was mild and weird. Pouring rain in January. Not normal. Then, overnight, winter decided to come back. Yesterday was bitterly cold with high gusts of wind. So all of that rain and melted ice and snow from the previous day froze--unevenly. Meeko's and my walk in the forest was 'careful'. I wore cleats on my boots as I do most of the winter. Meeko is agile but even he had to carefully avoid patches of ice and the odd pocket that wasn't fully frozen. We only met one other brave soul walking so we kind of felt like adventurers. 

When it's cold and rainy or cold and icy, tea comes to mind. I need coffee to wake up in the morning but I love to drink tea the rest of the day as I find it to be very comforting. I was very happy to sell one of my Time for Tea prints over the weekend to someone who was giving it as a gift to her best friend with English roots. Two of my grandparents were born in England so I have English roots too. I'm not sure if that's why I like tea so much but it is a nice connection. 

 'Time for Tea' Watercolour Print
When I photographed my Time for Tea print to post on Instagram the other day, I used one of my grandmother Viola's teacups as a prop. I am lucky to own her Limoges china set and really should use it more often. Yesterday, I was finally (finally!!!) sitting back at my painting table in my studio but wasn't quite sure what to paint. I have a painting I need to finish from before the holidays but I really wanted to do something new, just to loosen up and gain confidence again. (Yes, it only takes a few weeks of not painting to lose it. ) My grandmother's teacup was staring at me, delicately, and seemed to be the perfect choice.

This is more of a sketch than the paintings I usually do. I tried not to get too caught up in the detail and or to feel that it had to be perfect. The metallic gold paint I bought on a whim a long while ago was perfect for the china's gold trim. I like how the painting turned out and want to paint this cup again. It's nice to have my first painting of 2016 done. I am over that hump and now on to the rest of the year! Happy new year, everyone!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Green Christmas

 Winter Forest Note Cards
I think we are heading for a green Christmas. It's so unusual in Montreal not to have at least a bit of snow on the ground at Christmas. It's what everyone is talking about here. The skating rink boards were installed weeks ago in the park across the street but there isn't a snowflake or a sliver of ice in sight.

There's not really anything one can do so, while dreaming of snow, we are going about our days and getting ready for the holidays. Today it is colder but the forecast for the week ahead is for mild, rainy days.

The photo above is of tiny rain-soaked crabapples in my garden. While I was taking this photo and others on one of the rainiest days of the past week, a patient, slightly soggy Meeko waited for me on the back porch. Such a good boy.

I have been painting. If you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen my progress photos of a watercolour I just finished of a small winterberry branch. This is my favourite kind of painting to do--a study of a natural object. I have another step to do as this will be a special print, actually one that was suggested to me by a lovely customer.

When I was purchasing the winterberry branches to use as my painting references at a local garden centre, the sales clerk told me that their spring bulbs were 80% off. I already planted over 350 bulbs in November but the ground still isn't frozen and the price was hard to resist. So I purchased some more spring bulbs and added them to my garden this past week! Planting spring bulbs in the garden in mid-December! The silver lining of this odd weather.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving and a Sale

 Happy Thanksgiving from Trowel and Paintbrush
I want to wish a 'Happy Thanksgiving' to all of my friends and customers who are celebrating today in the United States. I hope you have a lovely day with family and friends.

I hand-lettered this message this morning in watercolour and then surrounded it with some of the nature finds I have in my studio. I wrote the words in pencil, fleshed out the letters and then filled them with watercolour.

In Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving in the month of October! It's always on the second Monday in October. I've always been a little jealous of the American tradition as I feel you have a more formal beginning to the holiday season. In Canada, there's a very long gap between Thanksgiving and Christmas and I never feel quite ready. Meeko's ready for the holidays though. He told me so.

I've been busy this month although I haven't been posting here on my blog very often. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you will have seen that I've been working on a new series of flower paintings. I will be working at creating prints of them in the next few days. If I have time, I am also hoping to include them in a special project.  I'll let you know.

I also wanted to mention that I am having a holiday sale in my art shop. You can get 20% off, now through Monday, November 30th. Just use the coupon code SHOP2015 at checkout.

 Trowel and Paintbrush

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