Thursday, December 31, 2009

Smiling Winter Rainbow

It's the night of the second full moon in December, the blue moon. 

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Clothes Peg Dolls

Me & Gary as a pair of clothes peg dolls. I sanded several millimetres off my feet so I would be in the correct proportion to Gary's height.

Yet Another Window Ice Pattern

They do fascinate me!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

White Pine Christmas Tree

It's snowing flurriously, and too fluffy to do anything but delight in.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Window Ice Patterns

We've been whoomphed with snow. It's beautiful. After supper (which includes squash from the garden now residing in the pantry) I'll go out and shovel the steps and paths again.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Balsam Christmas Tree

I found this tree discarded at the side of a snowmobile trail after a trail-clearing crew had gone through. It rode home in my backpack. The moon on the wall behind is a calendar.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Holly Winterberry

Holly Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) glowing rosy under newly fallen snow.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Green Sloth Travelling Long Distance

Many species of algae flourish in the thick, unruly fur of sloths, giving the creatures a greenish complexion. Perpetual, gravity-forced sloth smiles are a quizzical and engaging feature.
I suspect Dr. Seuss was inspired by sloths when he invented The Grinch.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Window Ice Patterns

Brrrrr … it's c-c-c-c-c-cold. I regret wearing my two-loops scarf and not my five-loops scarf today.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cedar Branch

I decorated a cedar branch one Christmas, trimming a tree that itself was a tree-trimming. Dental floss helped to anchor it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Blue Flag Iris

Swamps are exquisitely beautiful places. It is where the wild blue flag iris blooms. Irises photosynthesize on both sides of their leaves.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Tree and A Star

Here is a Christmas tree. It's branches are alive with songbirds, and it is topped in a star.
It snowed last night! This morning I shovelled the front steps and tried building a snowman, but he crumbled apart like soft gingerbread. Sigh.
December has two full moons. The second is the Blue Moon and it occurs New Year's Eve. Tomorrow is December's first full moon. Walking home tonight under the near-full moon I again saw a moonbow, but only segments of it, when wispy scraps of cloud blew across it

Typing Cat

Learning to type on a loud, cast-iron, manual typewriter, I used to wonder if I typed fast enough in the dark, would I see sparks fly? 
(This post was intended to appear yesterday.)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Florentine Iris

2009 is my third year of gardening. In a jumbly garden, on a rainy day in early June, my first iris unfurled. It grows beside spindly roses and rambunctious oregano.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


This drawing was done on black scratchboard, using a utility knife to scrape and scratch out the white bits. The black ink chips off in specks like finely ground pepper. The result is it sounds like I'm blowing out birthday cake candles (to clear the dust) when I'm working with it. Scratchboard drawings can resemble engravings.
Scratchboard is made from poison ivy leaves and causes frantic itching. Although that last sentence is a fib, it does sound plausible.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Old House

On a sunny, bird-happy day this past August, I took my umpteenth photograph of an old house. This one, on St Joseph Island, is encircled with daisies and long grasses. It would look spooky in moonlight.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Bean Skiing?

Pen & Ink with a splash of watercolour is a classic technique. This was reduced considerably from the original drawing and printed on paper embedded with coloured flecks for pizzaz.
Pole beans make the best skiis.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ice Fir

A photograph of ice patterns on a window, flipped upsidedown resembles a tree.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cinnamon Roll Snails

Cinnamon Roll Snails in Atlin, British Columbia. These fearful, sticky creatures are sometimes served in fancy restaurants as escargot, and should technically be on the dessert menu.

Frowning Smile

(This was the posting intended for yesterday, but I didn't have computer access.)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Seed Pods

A drawing done for practise of the dried seed pods of Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis), still attached to the crisp stalk on which they had bloomed. There were still a few cinnamon-brown seeds tucked inside like a delightful postscript at the end of a long, scrumptious letter.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Silent Landscape

There is no snow yet, although we expect it soon. There's a feel of cold, quiet, waiting. I discovered a Johnny Jump-Up blooming beside the front steps today, and peered closer to confirm it was genuine and not a plastic flower blown off a pair of flip-flops.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Canadian Bananas

Cucumbers are unripe bananas. Canadian banana crops have failed to date owing to a short growing season.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Praying Mantis

Praying Mantises ought to wear berets, and clutch bouquets of battered paintbrushes.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Beanius

In second grade we collected empty jars of baby mush, patted them to brimming with soil, and were issued a regulation bean seed to sow wedged against the glass. While other aspiring bean parents fussed over their jars, I ignored mine. With a snarl of beans tangling up the garden at home, I wistfully planted it hoping for a marigold. Soon my bean was winding its tendrils around the rings of Saturn. The other 23 jars on the windowsill contained fuzzy, mousey-grey, has-beans.
A show-off bean is a curse when you're so shy your only friends are imaginary, and suddenly teachers are congratulating you at recess and asking for gardening advice. The bean was a legend with my name on masking tape stuck to the bottom of its jar. In maniacal desperation to eliminate the cause of my unwanted fame I attempted a beanicide, hoping to poison the bean with icky paint water. It only grew more.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Spruce Cones

Long November walks in shoes are impossible to resist. A long stride and light step is the finest way to travel. While in the forest I sometimes twist my long brown hair around a bough of balsam fir to scent it. It makes me smell like a Christmas tree. The tree in the photograph is a cone-barnacled spruce I met on Friday's adventures.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Great Mullein

Great Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) has woolly leaves and many common names. The funniest I've heard is "Tarzan's Toilet Paper."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hairy Woodpecker

This male Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus) was so bent on feasting and demolition I was able to sneak rather close to him. In his hunt for juicy insects splinters flew, and I saw him pitch out a chunk of wood nearly as large as himself.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bubbles & Spots

Yesterday I went for a 14 km hike and took photographs I'll be posting over the next few days. The colours are subdued so for contrast, here's the lily-pad girl illustration.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Virginia Creeper Berries …

… resemble ball & stick molecular models from chemistry class.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fingers Crossed

Drawing practise is important. While drawing I forget about whatever it is I'm looking at, but I do prefer drawing something that is alive or once was … a tree, my hand, a kale leaf, dried seed pods, pine cones, a plant, George-the-Cat (asleep) … I have a bazillion drawings of my left hand.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

White Pine — Rough Sketch

This tree is a giant and still growing. My friend Nora and I couldn't touch hands around it. Imagine it's stories.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Liquorice Tea

Anise-hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) is a robust plant and a bee-magnet. This one grows out by the back porch near the rhubarb and compost bins. It grows in the wild but I grew this plant from a packet of seeds I ordered from Richters Nursery. Plucking a few leaves for a freshly brewed mug of liquorice tea is a toe-curlingly wonderful indulgence. Lemon balm and peppermint are other tasty tea-plants I grow.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Rapunzel at the Steer-Roping Competition

I drew Rapunzel mounted "side-saddle" style, steering her horse by the ears. If I re-draw it, I'll deck her out in a fancier dress and curly-toed shoes.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Quartet of White Violins

These are a few of the violins built by Myrel White. He used to string his new violins out on the clothesline, their fresh varnish glinting in the sunshine, to dry in breezes sifted through white pines. The story I wrote to accompany this picture was printed in the Summer/Autumn 2001 issue of The Country Connection Magazine.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Under the Banana Tree

I graduated from art school fifteen years ago. At the time I lived in a small cedar-shake cottage beside a clump of gnarled lilacs. The cottage was probably not intended for year-round use and mould ate my mattress, so the floor became my bed. Each night I watched the moon and stars and treetops. One maple created the silhouette of a pipe-smoking man's head in profile. When the wind got up the man in the tree would laugh and swallow his pipe.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


With shorter day-lengths and weaker sunshine, November is usually regarded as drab and gloomy. Colours are still found in mosses, lichens, rocks, foxes, and the sky. In the vegetable patch only parsley and palm-trees of kale remain jubilantly green in the cold soil. November is beautiful for it's subtly.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Burning Rubber

Buttercup-yellow Volkswagen beetles bear an uncanny resemblance to fried eggs sunny side up. Old Volkswagen campers remind me of toasters …

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Boys

It's time to introduce my gang. Here is George-the-Cat and Gary-my-Husband. Both are grey, mischievous, and have prominent ears. George is trying to do the Picture-Day-At-Kindergarten pose, and I'm tempted to replace the background with a looming bookshelf of leather-bound volumes, or a fake Autumn scene. Gary was posing for some portrait photographs I needed as reference for another project, when I sprang on him, ruffled his hair, and snapped this picture. These two are great pals.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Rembrandt on a Rainy Day …

… Giving Directions.
This is a monoprint done in three seconds on a thick piece of clear plastic using water-based honey paints and doodle paper. They are cartwheel-inspiringly fun, even if the results look a little peculiar. Sometimes I print decorations on envelopes this way. I went though a phase of printing green bears wearing quizzical expressions on every envelope I posted. 

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Palette Turtle

A young painted turtle from a nearby pond takes an artistic detour across my watercolour palette.
Walking home tonight, I saw a rainbow encircling an almost-full moon.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Eerily close to Halloween in 1989, a prestigious Ottawa kennel reported a theft or perhaps only a comical if unauthorized trade. An expensive Golden Retriever puppy had vanished. In its place an enormous radiant orange pumpkin was found …
The pumpkin might have been the pup enchanted … HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Old Stone House — Part Three

… and on September 10, 2003, the local fire department burned it down as a training exercise. The house stood 120 years. Several trees, including a giant white pine nearby, were killed. With a borrowed camera (a 35mm SLR), but no tripod, I braced myself against a window frame in the house across the road. At the height of the fire I had just enough light to take some photographs. I snapped five, but this was the only one that wasn't blurred. Shortly after the blaze, the remains of the house were levelled. The heat was so intense, wafts of smoke rose from the site well into the new year. In 2008 the photograph was used on the cover of a mystery novel titled Muskoka Bound & Betrayed by Brad Hammond & Liam Dwyer.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Old Stone House — Part Two

After the old man died, all of his treasures were removed from the house …

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Old Stone House — Part One

This was my favourite house in Huntsville, Ontario. It was built of stone in 1883. An old lilac trimmed the lane, and a clump of rhubarb grew in the backyard. On June 9, 1998 (I write an ink & paper diary) I was allowed a peek inside by the owner, who also gave me permission to draw it. Inside was home to a family of raccoons, three upside-down treadle sewing machines, topsy-turvy tables, and a jumble of wounded wooden chairs the old man hoped to restore. Propped under an upstairs bedroom window was a magnificent flexible flyer sled. The kitchen floor had given way so the cellar was filled with sand brought in through the tornado door (which can be seen in the Autumn photograph). The house had been abandoned for many years, but had been in the man's family a very long time. His ancestors were United Empire Loyalists. In a future post, I'll show what happen to this house, and what happened after that …