Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Lore of the Butterfly

I find butterflies fascinating. I have studied them, collected them, and drawn them. They have been a source of inspiration for poetry and painting. This group of captivating insects is categorized in the order of Lepidoptera. According to the literature, butterflies have been the subject of Egyptian hieroglyphs as much as 3500 years ago) (Wikipedia).
According to Lafcadio Hearn, butterflies have been depicted as an embodiment of a “person’s soul”
These photos were taken with my cell phone while we were in the Butterfly Gardens at Niagara Falls. That was a wonderful experience of light and colour.

Below are examples of sketches of butterflies from text books and dried specimens I’ve collected over the years. They’ve shown up in my paintings and on my art boxes.

These were examples of raised folk art that I designed.

Here is an example of an old cedar box that I keep my butterfly collection in. I have decorated it with a tropical butterfly.

This is my watercolour box, which I treasure. I have decorated it also with a pair of tropical butterflies.

A close up of a Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) one of my watercolours.

Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) on Ingres paper.

Monarch (Danaus plexippus) part of a watercolour and acrylic painting.

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) Original watercolour and acrylic.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Today's Flowers

I am rejoicing in the warm weather we are now experiencing. After a week of rain, my garden is bursting with colour.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Art of Dying

Last night I hit a deer. Actually, the deer hit me. I was travelling Northbound on Highway 11, coming home from Burlington to visit a friend. It was late at night and all I wanted to do was get home and crawl into bed.

I had fled there for some solace, to cry on a friend’s shoulder about the slow demise of a very difficult and painful relationship. My reverie was shattered when I noticed in my peripheral vision a large deer jump out of a side bank and there it was.

I tried to brake but it was moving at a terrific speed and smashed into my right side, taking out the fender and front headlight, pushing in both doors on the passenger side. I was driving under the speed limit, but that was no help in trying to avert disaster.

It seems indicative, that I am unable to change the trajectory my life path is taking. One thing that living alone forces you to do is reflect. I think about our human longing for fellowship. We crave companionship and dread the idea of being irrevocably alone, or dying alone.

In my job I have watched over and over the path that those are dying take. How it affects each individual and their families. For some it’s a letting go, and a relinquishing of their hopes and dreams, looking back on their lives as a celebration of what has been, others it is a terrible struggle, anguish, pain, even savagery.

I have started reading George Bowering and Jean Baird’s book The Heart Does Break . It is an anthology of grief and mourning, personal poignant accounts of loss. I have been mourning the loss of a relationship that was very important to me.

Like the author, I find that the way to make sense of something is to research it. I seek books, information, knowledge on loneliness and despair, to help me through this time of dying and mourning.

Today was a very difficult day...I spent a lot of it in tears and the only thing I could really accomplish was this drawing of a jack-in-the pulpit plant in one of my gardens.

These elegantly shaped plants are one of my personal favourites. The jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) plant is also called Indian Turnip. They are apparently pollinated by flies.

I have associated this plant with death, and the folklore surrounding them dates back to certain aboriginal tribes that used to chop the corm and mix it in with meat to be left for their enemies. It is the oxalate acid and asparagine in the jack-in-the-pulpit which make it poisonous.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


I have been pretty quiet these last few weeks. Aside from working, there has not been too much creativity happening, and I have been battling with some personal difficulties.

I am not certain if artists tend to pull away from the mainstream population, or we are just a different kettle of fish but I do know that I struggle with being hypersensitive at times which can be beneficial at “seeing” things a certain way but difficult and painful in other aspects of life.

Aside from all that, I have some wonderful photographs to share of a woodcock nest that my friend and I came across. He actually graciously showed me, and they are wonderful references for future work.

Woodcocks are one of my favourite birds as they are very secretive and unusual in appearance and behaviour.

A woodcock sketch.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring Flowers

For Easter I bought tulips. I find although the Easter lily is a gorgeous flower with a wonderful scent, the fragrance can be overpowering especially for those of us that suffer from allergies. I thought tulips were a wonderful idea, as I can plant the bulbs after the blooms fade.

I sketched them over the Easter weekend when I had a couple of days off. Like many of us in the health care field we work the holidays and don’t always get to spend them with family. Here is the outcome of that sketch.

Previous springs I have experimented with still life and my cut spring flowers from the garden:

I admit it’s a little early for daisies, but it won’t be long before they are in bloom. Enjoy this beautiful spring day; although it’s raining, it’s bringing the promise of new life.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Working on a Commission

I’ve been sick in bed since yesterday, so I thought I’d work on something while I’m in bed. Yes, I guess I’m a bit of a type A personality, someone who doesn’t relax very well.

I was asked to paint someone’s husky a while back. The person who requested the piece wanted a fairly large piece of work and they lived out of town. I received photographs of the dog, but nothing more.
I hadn’t laid eyes on this animal and wasn’t going to be able to. Let me tell you it’s pretty difficult to get the subject’s personality when you don’t get to see him/her, but I endeavoured to try.

First I did a number of sketches....

Then I worked on a few color sketches like this one below...

At last I was ready for the final piece.

Thankfully the owner of the husky really liked the piece. In fact he said that I had captured his dog’s personality! I think however, it’s always best to get to know the subject of what you are commissioned to paint.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Art of Heartbreak

The art of heartbreak...when a relationship is in trouble or comes to an end, what does that heartbreak looks like? We know how it feels but if you could paint it, visualize it, how would you convey that pain? What would it look like?
This is what I imagine it to look like. Each of us has our own picture of pain. This is what I came up with today, it’s rough but here it is...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Blog Sunshine Award

This is my first blog award and I am honored. I have been awarded the Sunshine Award from Thank you Cafeby.

The rules for accepting the award are*
Put the logo on your blog or within your post* Pass the award onto 12 bloggers* Link the nominees within your post* Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog* Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.

The twelve blogs to whom I am passing the award are:

The rules for accepting these awards:Put the logo on your blog or within your postPass the award onto 12 bloggersLink the nominees within your postLet the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blogShare the love and link to the person from whom you received this award

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


This month the Creative Every Day Challenge is “Stories”. I have had the opportunity to illustrate one children’s book that was published independently.

It was my first experience, involving plenty of learning.
I find it an interesting challenge to have the written story (which is not my own), and produce characters which will carry the story along and hopefully meet the author’s expectations or vision.
The story briefly is about a fairy that has a flaw and the struggles she encounters as she builds her self-esteem and friendships. This was the initial idea of the main character,

and the final piece...

Some of Brokenwing’s adventures and fellow characters:

It has always been a dream of mine to illustrate children’s books. Growing up, my sister and I spent many hours creating a host of characters in our fantasy world.
It was a world full of witty, bumbling and sarcastic animals that were used as vehicles to help us navigate our childhood.

Imagination is a gift that is priceless and is important to foster in children.

I remember a story my dad used to tell me about an eagle soaring over the ocean as he searched for food.
He would say this as a “bed-time story” and as he described the eagle and its flight, I could see it perfectly in my mind’s eye.
I could even feel the earth drop out from under me as the eagle plummeted toward the water, searching for fish.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine’s Day

It’s hard to believe we are in the middle of February. Winter is dragging on. We’ve endured a very stressful week with a family crisis. Thankfully all went well and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I have a bit of a battle ahead for me as I deal with some challenges to help my son, but I’m hoping for the best. I admit I hit a few dark places this week when the stress became too much. Especially when I had to go to work and put my problems aside.

Now that the dust has settled and we have a chance to breath, I want to take a moment to focus on Valentine’s Day. We tend to think of flowers and chocolate with Valentine’s Day.

These are some garden flower watercolor sketches. A rose...

Wildflowers, Spring Beauty...

This is a day to show those who are special in our lives how much we mean to one another. I count my blessings for this man who has been by my side.
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!