Friday, December 31, 2010


We're here in Paris and life is utterly WONDERFUL! (and kinda grey and chilly, but what the heck)

No photos till we get back most likely as this isn't my computer and I feel bad downloading them here.

Hope you all have a wonderful New Year!



Wednesday, December 29, 2010


OK.  Today I bullied my kids into finishing all of (youngest) or most (eldest) their homework.  YEAH FOR THAT!

I finished the Murakami book I was reading in Catalan and LOVED it.  Funny and weird and amazing and deep and wonderful.

Drawing went much better today, painting:  ok.

A friend from work came over and we did a mass of work in the garden, I'm hoping that the rose bushes will survive, I am a wee bit nervous.  I know they have to be cut back, sometimes harshly, and in TO I know when to do it, after the lilacs bloom, but here?  Not so sure.  Cross your fingers for them, OK?  And for me too, cause if they die on my watch a whole lot of the old ladies on the street, who've lived here and picked some of those roses for their ENTIRE lives will never ever ever forgive me.

We had friends over yesterday, and another friend dropped in today.  Quite charming all around!

Tomorrow a visit with more friends, at their finca in the mountains.  Triple sweet that one.  So looking forward to it.

Ate well too.  I made a warm potatoe salad for lunch with a mustard vinegrete and raw carrots and for dinner we had brown rice with soy sauce, which I had SO been craving and a mass of roast veggies, sweet pataters, parsnips, onions and brussel sprouts (those weren't roasted, but grilled with butter, salt and pepper at the end.)  MMMMMMmmmmmmmm.

Now bed.

Well, a new book, and then bed.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Everything I drew and painted today didn't quite come out the way I had imagined, I am not sure I'm going to have anything finished for today, however dreadful.  That hasn't happened often.

A shame too, as there are not all that many days in my life when I am mostly at home and available to paint.

Now I am simply way too tired.  This vacation I seem to be sleeping and sleepy a lot.  Not a bad thing.

Struggling on with Murakami in Catalan.  Boy, do I ever read more slowly in Catalan than in English.

Endavant!  ONWARDS!!!

Monday, December 27, 2010


The man and I, with Youngest in tow, went off to Caixa Forum today - possibly my very favourite museum in BCN.  We went to see an exhibit about Spanish painting in the 50s and 60s, which was very good though small.  There were two Picassos in there that were stunning.  It was lovely to see just two in a context of other work.  He so stands out.

We also tried to read the bumph for this exhibit in the English pamphlet.  Incomprehensible.  Completely.  We ended up copy-editing the work over coffee.  It was truly terrible. Truly.  I lodged a formal complaint and affixed my marked up copy of the work.  Here's hoping we get some work out of it!  Cheeky, no?

Then we went into another exhibit Rutes d'Aràbia which was amazing.  I found that my view of the Arabian peninsula was embarrassingly flat and uni-dimensional.  There has been such a rich mass of activity going on there for thousands of years and there is so much amazing archaeology going on there which I knew nothing at all about, and frankly know I now mostly know a sense of how little I know.  Absolutely fascinating.

Another point which I found fascinating I can only illustrate with some rather poor photos of my sketches from today.  If you look at the three faces at the bottom of the first photo, they are quite stylised.  prominent eyebrows formed by shallow half-circles, really half-elipses and a roughly long rectangular nose widening to a flat bottom wider than the top, though not significantly.  See?

Now these noses are drawn from a variety of images through the show, which begins with the neolithic and moves right on through the modern day.  Once the advent of Islam appears, however, there are fewer images of faces as one would expect.

Then at the very end of the show there was a photo of one of the kings, from 1910.  I was strongly struck by the basic similarities between his face and the older ones.  Strong largely rounded eyebrows, clearly outlined almond shaped eyes and a strong largely rectangular nose ending slightly wider than at the top and quite flat.  See?

OK, I am not sure how striking this is in the sketches I have to work with, but it struck me hard.

I am not sure where to go with this.  I wonder if the image was curated that way, probably so.  These things are hardly tossed together on the back of a napkin.  Maybe, as Youngest put it, maybe some of his great-great-great-great ancestors were the very ones in the images earlier in the exhibit.

Maybe some of them were.


Lovely, lovely fascinating day.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A reply

JG said:  This is a whole new vocabulary for me; if you were talking about writing, I would understand, but with painting? More explanation would be needed, for me....Seems like the opposite of the canvas-a-day quest though. Or can there be both volume and profundity? Worth pondering.
And I started to reply in the commets and then realised that I was writing a blog post.  So here it is expanded and completed, at least for the moment:

JG, I am not sure there is that much difference. Whether one is writing or painting, there is a difference in depth between some works and others.  Toni Morrison's stories contain considerably more than the superficial stream of words that create the story, and it is not just the function of clever plot construction and textual fireworks.  Other writers, such as Barbara Kingsolver, for example, have comparatively more straightforward stories in conjunction with considerable depth, or meat.  There is something to chew on that other work does not contain.  It seems more tenuous in painting, especially more modern painting because it can be structurally difficult to enter the piece in a way that a novel, outside of Finnegan's Wake doesn't necessary suffer, but I do think that there are parallels between writers and painters who are aiming to go deeper with their works.  No?

Another way of looking at this is the historical court painter tradition, and court historian;  these were painters with considerable technical skills but who functioned in many ways as a camera, recording history.  Yet we clearly value many of these works as art, and that is beyond their historical value as records of what has come before.  It is, in some ways, like viewing historical documents as art, some is, most isn't.  It's a question of the depth and further meaning that the painter or writer was able to put into it despite the mandated content.

Modern artists are not constrainted by these requirements. There are cameras and so painters are, largely, freed from the necessity of portraiture.  Many still do so, and use it as a medium of expression, Freud (who I loathe, sorry) is a highly successful example of this.  While I...ah.....strongly dislike what he has to say one must admit that his use of portraiture as a medium for expression is powerful.  The very fact that he is eliciting loathing from me speaks to that.  Other work, that is more abstract still, I find in many ways the most evocative.  It is speaking to us now in the voice of our time.  We do not need to learn the language of symbolism used by medieval painters, for example,  in their work where a dove stood for this and a cup stood for that.  Without this 'language' we cannot access the work beyond aesthetic levels, and in reality much has already been lost.   The symbols used in contemporary art are what we recognise in daily life, which may be the very reason that we are confused by it.  Many people expect there to be a 'dictionary' of meaning that one must be fluent in in order to understand what the artist is getting at, but if it is well done, it is tremedously accessible, we contain within us all the references that the artist is attempting to evoke.

As far as a possible contradiction between working in depth and in volume within the canvas a day project: the project was initially conceived with the motivation of getting me to show up every day and to tone up the painting muscles.   There is also something to be said for simply showing up every day, it is vital.  I am not yet sure that the two are opposed though.  Some writers/artists/painters/scupters are more prolific than others, no?  The importance is in realising that not everything is going to be brilliant, and that things can be reworked.  Indeed some of the canvases from the canvas a day project are reworked from previous pieces in the project.   Also depth can be approached through volume, each piece like a step down a ladder moving onwards to somewhere else.  A more kinesthetic approach rather than a purely cerebral.  Seems I need to wack my head against disasters in order to find the route to where I want to go.... at least for now.

Then there is the common supposition that painting is dead and all real art is being done as video work or installation pieces.  I do adore installation pieces, but at this stage in my life, that would be pretty much impossible, and what would be the point, Chuck and I could check out what I'd done in the guest loo?  I think not.  That's for another post though I think.  I've gone on enough for today.

Friday, December 24, 2010

a few thoughts

I went and bought some painting supplies today.  Heavy gel medium was part of it, it's for use with acrylics and can be used underneath the colour as a sort of sculpturing medium or mixed with colour as well.

The only thing is that heavy gel medium, if you ask for it here, is pronounced heavy h*ll medium.  Summons a different imagine somehow.

Can I also say that I am delighted to report that I am again reading Murikami in Catalan - Kafka at the Beach -  and I understand about 98% of the words.  That is like a miracle and makes me SUPER happy.  The only thing is that Murikami is much creepier when you understand (nearly) every word.  OOooooooh, the books are kinda...alarmin'!  It is also weird that the translator has sometimes put in Catalan food in place of Japonese food.  Has the character eating croquetes for instance, a particularly loathsome Catalan food.  Kind of like eating wallpaper paste, breaded and lightly deep fried.  Can't imagine it going down well in Japan somehow.

Probably some of you remember trying to go to bed on Christmas Eve.  For most of you that's a fun memory.  For me, a big fat fun memory.  My kids are trying to do just that.  I remember lying there, grinning in the dark, dying to go to sleep as fast as I could, which of course slowed the whole thing down.

Ohhhh, I just adore Christmas.

My kids are lying there, stockings at their feet, right this second.  Love em.

Do not love the odd smell there is up in my painting space though.  Hmmm, smells like something's going off.  I'll have to explore, when I'd rather paint.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


A friend of mine here, an acuaintance, a friend, on that border where you aren't sure where you are.....anyway, he's a professional artist and was the one who invited me to join the exhibition and who I helped hang the show on the weekend.

Woah, lost the train of that sentence.  Anyway, while we were hanging the show he was commenting on some of my work, very diplomatically, but mentioned that I was going here there and everywhere in style, which is typical of those starting out.  I didn't mention that I already have some series of works underway, but what is relevant to this post was his comment that I would find one style, message, medium and go deeper.  Anirè més profundament in Catalan.  I love how they use the word profound for depth.

It has left me pondering.  I have been skipping around styles a lot, partially cause it is fun, cause I can paint the way I want when I want without feeling constrained by a particular manner, but I have also been skating over the surface to some extent.

The comment left me feeling like a swimmer, or diver, knowing that the next step is to duck under and have a look around, and while I don't feel fearful in anyway, I am not sure what I'm going to find down there, nor exactly what the route should be.  I suspect that everyone has to find their own way down.

Should be a fun ride anyway.

The other question that comes to mind, there is an interesting line between going deeper into a style and manner and being in a rut. 


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Drawing every day

OK, I said I'd try this drawing for 20 min every day as an experiment, and I've been on it for about 10 days now, and I'm not doing too badly.  I think I've only missed one day so far.  Some days I've gone longer than the planned 20 min.

I have also found that I really love listening to podcasts while I draw.  The History of the World in 100 objects is a particular favourite, also an easy way to time the activity.  Two objects is about half an hour, done.

I'll be sad when I've listenend to all the shows.  I'll have to go back to the Bleak House audio book.  I was finding myself getting confused, but the reality is that the characters are staying with me, so a continuation would be good.

I am also going to read a book in Spanish.  Too grammar heavy right now in the course, and I need some context for a bit.  Whew.  I am nuts.

Anyway, I thought I would toss up a couple of the drawings from the project so far.  Debating whether I'll post one every day or not to keep me honest and all, it is somewhat time consuming to do, so....we'll see.  The temptation is there.

A beginning anyway.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The kitchen

Here are some rather, ah, real-life photos of the kitchen.  You'll be able to see that I didn't gussy it up for you before taking them.  The first one is from the entry into the kitchen from the main hall.  The doorway in the back leads to the dining room.

This one is from the back door and looks into the other side of the one yellow wall in the kitchen.  The bread oven is hidden behind the chair.

From the dining room doorway looking into the entrance and the hallway.

From the rocking chair by the fireplace looking towards the back door.

There you have it, the kitchen, largely finished.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Scatological Catalonia.

No, that isn't quite what it looks like.  

Catalans have a very strong scatalogical streak in them, and there is a tradition at Christmas of having a caga Tio, (crapping uncle)  which is actually a log who gets the sh*t wacked out of him by the kids on Xmas and is expected to 'crap' gifts and candy.  Like this one above.

I just had to buy it.

It was essencially a marshmellow.  The toilet paper on top?  You know that floury stuff they use for the host in Catholic mass?  Yeah, that's it.

Opens a whole new world of wonder and amazement that combination. 

Not going to go there though.

Not tonight.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

exhibit photos

There they are, hung.  Not quite finished, we have to straighten a few up with some blue tack and all - the wonders of blue tack.  Still, pretty darned happy with it overall.  I am also, far and away, the most modern painter there, despite the fact that some of them are much younger than me.  Weirdness.

Have a lovely Sunday, we're having a crazy busy one.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Sorry for the no-post yesterday.  It was Friday and somehow it just ended.  Nothing on the to do list got done, I went to bed early, sort of.  Eldest, spotting me weakened, came in to chat for about an hour and a half as I lay in bed.  It was lovely, in fact, but I am still pretty wiped.

That said, the final selection has been accomplished for the show, which blessedly is going to be hung tomorrow not today as we only just finished sorting and organising.  We had to strip everything we have framed out of it's frame to put up the ones for the show, and some of the frames are....ahhhh....spacious....for the work they contain, but it is done.

Youngest had a friendly basketball match and got about 15 baskets, she was quite the wizard out there today, most impressive to see.  I think she was pretty delighted too.

Now, torn between a nap and painting.  As I sit by the fire, the nap may win.....zzzzzzzz.

I also have to say that I believe that IKEA has a secret agenda.  All this funky furniture at reasonable prices is simply a mechanism for the insidious spread of their plan.  They are bound and determined to teach us all patience.  Anyone who has assembled more than, well, anything of theirs has personally extended their limits of patience.  I swear, it's a plot.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Don't try this if you're new to English

But WOW,

If you suddenly see a whole lot of doodly stuff showing up in my paintings, you'll know why!

She talks wickedly fast, but it's a fun ride.

Check this one out, and then here is her website.

Super cool.

OH, and there's a new WNYCRadioLab podcast out, and I continue to be in love.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

And then there were 10

The day started when Eldest came in, nearly in tears, to inform us that the hot water was off, as in no more butane in the tanks.  *groan*  The man and I did get that sorted, but an ominous beginning for what proved a trying day in many ways.

At the end of it all the man and I finally sat down once the chaos of the day had subsided, and I wrote off about 6 of the things I hoped I was going to do tonight and we winnowed it down to 10.

Out went the ones that don't carry well across a room *sob*

Out went the ones that didn't seem to go well with the others *sob*

Out went the ones that there were simply too many in the series of (LOVELY grammar) *another sob*

Not really sob per say, but I kept wanting to put some of them back in, and I just can't.

I have to be sure that some of the ones that I love, that didn't make the exhibition still get hung.

CRAZY busy right now.  


Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Some dogs are totally undignified when they sleep.

but also kinda cute.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Some cool links....and more

First, multiplication, Japonese this.

Next, the Immortal Cells of Henrietta Lacks which I first heard about on WNYCRadioLab, a podcast which I adore! and it is now a book that I'd love to get.

That said, I think I've got the numbers down a bit on the paintings, which is good.  Still to high, but down a bit.

I've thought of a couple of new ideas for work here, which is also a good thing, and something I am very excited about if we get it off the ground.  Here's hoping!

What else.

Lotteries come to mind.  Never ever bought a ticket in my life in Canada...well once, but that's a story I've already blogged about and it is too late to search out the link, sorry folks.

It is, however, a huge tradition here.  I've got one ticket so far and one for a local basket at our bakery, which incidentally I won last year, so here's hoping.

What else.

I've been cooking up a storm lately, which has been fun.  So great to get my nose back into my cookbooks now I have a few more facilities and the books here and on display.  Which reminds me, along with everything else, I should take some photos of the kitchen so you all can see it a little better now that it is nearly done. Missing a couple of lights and little else.  YEAH!

OK, it is WAY late and I'm off to bed.



Sunday, December 12, 2010


Several hours later and everything is still feeling good despite the long walk!  I am excited!  The walk was probably not too bad for me, simply because the group was moving so amazingly SLOWLY.  Honestly. We ended up skipping part of the route cause we started out so slowly, which is kind of a shame, but we did find out more about other places that we could that was cool.  Another local route that we haven't taken yet.  Now I am just hoping that maybe, maybe, maybe, I could try running again.  This is bugging me.

Now what I am doing is trying to narrow down the paintings for the exhibition.  I'm told that I can show six paintings in the show.  SIX!  Can I just say that I have over 400.  I'm sorry, can I run that again?  I have over 400 paintings.  I don't even know where to begin.  I've got it down to about a 30 painting short list.  That is not going to work.  Especially as I still have to figure out how to hang them.  They want me to frame, but that is pricey....hmmmmmm.....

Apparently I think that I should have my own private show, cause I just don't know how to narrow this down.  Maybe I should have a poll or something.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sometimes being a parent means being the bad guy

That's right isn't it.  Sometimes you have to be the bad guy as a parent.  Whether it is saying no to bad behaviour, to silly decisions or having to make the tough and unpopular call.

The current tough harsh call?  One of my kid's friend's parents (are you with me here) is being...ah.....extremely casual about the safety of my child.  Extremely.

Bad enough that I am wondering if they are high when they are making their decisions.  Honestly.

Bad enough that I don't even know where to start talking about what has happened and what is OK with us.  No idea.

Sadly, after today, the friend will be able to visit at our house, but our child will not be visiting theirs.  I believe that this will make the man and I the 'bad guys' in the eyes of our child, her friend and her friend's parents.

Much better than the other possibilities that could have happened today.

Holding my child's safety far too loosely.  Bottom line.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Short stories

Picked up a new book to read last night and didn't realise it was an anthology of short stories till I started the second one.

I have a confession to make.

I don't really like short stories very much at all.  I'm not entirely sure exactly why, but....meh.

The ride is too intense and often dreary, maybe sorrow, horror and loathing are easier to evoke?

I'm persevering because I really like the author, but, ultimately, I may bail.  The first story had centered around police brutality and torture.  Not making me feel to motivated for number two.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

One-eyed woman?

Getting more excited about the exhibition, I can show 6 pieces, I may bring a few more along, see how it goes.  I also have to devise some way to hang them, though I know more about that now and I have some ideas.  Needs to be cool, eye-catching, but not so it overwhelms the pictures and CHEAP!

This tendon is still bugging me, worse today...and we have a long walk planned for Sunday.  I am a little concerned about that, fingers crossed all around.

I am teaching a course about how to create online courses with the moodle platform, the course runs as both an online and face to face process.

Tied into this is a promotion I have received, for lack of a better word, so I am feeling my way around my new powers as well.

It is fascinating to see the differences in how people approach the work.  Some hit panic right off, some dive in, fearlessly (I have told them that the worst they can do is mess up their own course, I'm not so foolish as to let them rip with the whole darned system), some test the waters and retreat fast, and some are über dependent.  Then there are those who simply ignore the whole thing and hope it'll go away....

I do find it amusing that I am the e-learning/software/administration specialist and I can't lock my own d*mned wifi!

Don't tell them that though, m'kay?



Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Paint and spelling

I was mooching around in my painting area today, working on a bunch of ongoing projects that I am uninspired by today, and a larger painting that I started and I am unsure how to finish...lacks a focus and movement.  That's OK, it'll come.

I seem to roll that way, there is a pause process, I seem to have to put things down for a bit and come back.

Youngest is doing an English course out of NA and I had to correct some of here spelling.

Loved it.

I am not alound to do that.

He past me the ball.

The three there/their/they'res appeared predicatable, and the were/we're/where issue.

Then she had to do a spelling test,
first there was gymnastics then gyrate then next she had hybernate.  Logical, no?

The ones I liked best were the ones that totally made sense, but didn't.  There were more.  Love 'em.

Later I found myself SUPER inspired and went off on a tangent with the grey paintings you see on the side.  There was an element of experimentation going on there so some were more successful that others, and there for development, but I am excited!!!

Love a five day weekend.  Love it to bits.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Manresa and (bad) cops

Ombudsmand's report about G20 police brutality?  DUH!  What took so frickin' long anyway?  Welcome to Canada.   Here's some nice footage to add to the heat.

OH, and the cops who took off their badges and numbers, and got docked a WHOLE DAY'S PAY!

Whooop deeee shiiiaaait.

Sorry boys, this is a democracy, and you ain't in Spain in the 40's, though your bosses might like to send that message.

No name, no shame boys.

They should be canned.  If they KNOW they're going to be doing things they want to hide, they shouldn't be on the force, and nor should their bosses, all the way up.  And one day's pay?  That's just an insult to the people of Toronto.  Sorry, but that's how I'm calling it.

Moving along.

Spent the day in Manresa, a city just inland of Montserrat.  Sadly, kind of run down, indeed, more like never picked up after the civil war.  A baffling number of houses that have never been renovated, and stores that are closed.  There must be a LOT of people living there in decidedly substandard housing.  One dreads to think.

Also, apparently, no one in the city eats.  No one.

The restaurants were closing at one o'clock.  We couldn't FIND a place to eat.  WEIRDNESS.

We went into one mangy looking place, we were getting desperate,  and the guy behind the bar was positively RUDE to me when I had the unmitigated gall to ask for a warm sandwich (which is standard fare).  We walked.  I was very nearly rude back, but in the end couldn't be bothered.

NEVER in Spain has anyone ever been anything less than utterly charming in a bar or restaurant.  Occasionally somewhat distracted, but NEVER rude.

We had a weird, but nice day.

I think ultimately the town is short on cash, there must be something odd going on at the ajuntament  so that it is not worth the effort for the owners of buildings to either sell or renovate, and these places were beautiful, some of them, and some are simply on their last legs.

We also went into a forn that can't have changed since the 40s, and I think the woman's white baker's jacket hadn't either.  Her hands were dirtier.

NEVER is that seen here.  NEVER.

There were also a startlingly large number of men just sort of hannnnngin' around, more than I have seen anywhere else in Catalonia, and a number of people who looked like obvious druggies, then there were the guys smoking really strong weed in the streets.

OH, and packs of nuns.

I'm not going anywhere with those two comments.  Nowhere I want to go with that.

An odd day overall.

Cannot say I would recommend a day there to anyone who wasn't utterly passionate about architecture, some of which was lovely, but really?  Seemed like a city in decline.

Monday, December 6, 2010

I wonder

I really do wonder how long you could scratch a dog's stomach for before they got bored and walked away.

I've never had the patience to try it out, but one of these days I'm gonna have to see.

In the name of science, ya know?

Then we'd have to duplicate it, and do double-blind testing.

I'd have to recruit all the dog owners out there, we'd first have to get raw data , simply rub the dog's belly till he or she leaves, while timing it of course.

Then the double-blind, which in this case I guess would mean that both you and the dog have to wear a blindfold and see how it goes.

If we got enough data from a wide enough sample base, we could then break it down by species and find a statistics type to do the analysis for us, cause that stats 101 I took 20+ years ago ain't going to be helping me too much at this late date.

What do ya think?

Anyone in on this with me?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

8 hours a week

I heard the other day, not sure where, that an art teacher required his students to draw for 8 hours a week,  just like language students have to log that kind of time studying verb tenses, which reminds me of something I should be doing, and literature students have to log that kind of time reading the required books, along side their own.

I have been debating committing myself to something like this, and waffle about not having time.....the eternal excuse.  I don't know if I could realistically swing 8 hours a week.  I am married, have kids, work and have already promised to myself to blog every day, do a canvas a day, study Spanish and Catalan and (when my butt feels better) run.  Wonder if I can magically produce another chunk in the day without knowing where it is from.


20 min a day I could find for sure, every one can find 20 min a day.  An hour is a touch more intimidating, though....if I make it really convenient and have sketch books with me everywhere and I am dedicated, maybe I could pull it off.

Nomad, the other day, when I talked to her about this, suggested rolls of paper, that would hide previous work, I like the idea, especially if you draw a little invitational line to yourself onto the next part of the scroll, so the work would, over time, come to resemble an ever passing stream.

A great idea.  Not too portable.  I am also thinking that I would take some of the eternal mountains of scrap paper, punch holes in the corners, and stick 'encuadernadors' those little brass bend-over thingies in them to make my own fast and dirty sketch books.  I could make some half size ones as well that would fit better in a pocket.  

Might make it do-able, for instance I spent an hour and 15 min on the bus today going in and out of BCN, that could have been more profitably used in drawing, no?

I could also shake it up and sometimes do extended work, others continuous line, others 4 five-minute works, others 20 one-minute drawings.  

Keep it from getting dull.....

I gave it a go today, see how it lasts.

Cheaper than university!



Saturday, December 4, 2010

Got talking with Nomad today...

Nomad and I had a lovely conversation about art and painting and painting styles....

and one thing that came up was about fallow periods, times when you hibernate, times when production is low.

These times, and I agree that they are inevitable for most artists...the obvious Picasso exception comes up, he doesn't seem to have passed a moment without working on art, but maybe if you look closely there were a few fallow minutes here and there, maybe a quarter hour or so.....

By the same token, there is a work ethic associated with the entire process of creating, the admonition to show up every day, to blast in the hours.

Then there is the comment that to achieve real mastery you need to log 10,000 hours of practice.  I dread to think how many days/weeks/years that is...actually, if you go here, it isn't that bad.  Indeed, almost seems manageable.

So where is the balance in this?  Respecting fallow periods, but also showing up every day?

I think the balance lies in acknowledging that not everything is going to be good, some will be downright bad.  Sometimes there will be periods when not much good is happening at all.  There will be times of great advance, and times when you continue where you are.

There can be great joy in the times when you continue, and tremendous joy, and challenge, in the times of growth....

Friday, December 3, 2010

ooh la la!


Here we come!

Got the tickets today, we'll be doing a little travelling over Xmas!

Weeeee again!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Invitiation, and a few nerves

My big news of the day is that I got invited to hang some of my paintings in a show!

That sounds better than it is.  It is a show done at Xmas for painters from the village, whatever their skill level, and the man who invited me has never seen any of my work, and indeed admitted that he was having trouble finding painters.

A bit of a bottom dragging technique of creating a show, but what the heck.

I am

a:  excited

b: nervous

c: compelled to create LOTS of art between now and then

d:  continuously debating what to submit.

e: going to have to get some framing done!


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I don't want to rant

I really really don't want to rant, but sometimes I find myself a little...disappointed... in Spain.

Don't get me wrong, I love it here in many ways and I am very happy, but now, when I am freezing my butt off because of bureaucracy that is stalling the gas hook-up, and with Youngest's nationality chaos, and well, the Spanish economy....

Then today, I decided to go and see a doc about my sore hamstring and get a reference for physio. In all honestly,  I have to say that the health system here is not all bad, they managed to cure Eldest's mystery stomach ailment after 22 doctors in three countries including Canada.  Day to day primary care is, however, another story.

I went in yesterday for an apt, they gave me one for a week and a half from now.  Ahh, no.  The nice guy behind the desk agreed that was ridiculous and advised me to come in today as an emergency.


I did.

Two hours later I got to leave.  The doctor had recommended an X-ray.  I pointed out it was a muscular issue and declined.  He did not consider ultra-sound, I suspect because there aren't a lot of machines, and then sent me to a 'traumatolog' a designation I have not heard duplicated in English.  I think the reference was cause he had no idea what was going on and wouldn't send me to physio, not sure why.  After two hours in the medical center I got an apt for the 'traumatolog'.

For February.

You know, by Feb, I'll either be a cripple or fine and the opportunity for repairing this easily will be lost.

I declined the appointment.  I have other routes I can follow, including simply going into the hospital emerg, a very expensive option for the health care system but one which people routinely use as the regular system is so slow.  We've done it several times already.

Anyone know a good physiotherapist out there who'd give a little advice online?

Honestly. 2 months?  What's the point.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

OMG the hours here in Spain

Finished work at 10, then out to dinner with a group of students who just finished a course.  Home at 1am.

Can I mention that it's Tuesday!


No art today.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Need we say more?


Barca - Madrid, 5 − 0,  Good day tomorrow too, everyone will be happy.

Did anything else happen today?  Hard to say.  I am sidelined from running for a bit cause of a wee bit of pain, google medicine and I think it may be a hamstring origin issue.  Drs to be consulted.  Frustration to say the least.  I was starting to think about a 5k.  Ho hum.

Lots of other little things, but that'll do.


Sunday, November 28, 2010


Went off today to see this exhibition at the CCCB which was EXceptional.  I now have labyrinths on the brain... and ideas for how to make them, and make them work for us.  Hmmmmmmm.

There was a book all about fonts that set me off all over again on working with letters as forms themselves. On top of that I coughed up for a book about making books.  Not writing them, literally making them.  This is going to make the canvas a day project a little trickier to document.  Each little tiny book has a bunch of pages.  Hmmmm.

I think for Xmas I am going to ask for paper.  Lots and lots of different kinds of paper.

These three ideas, letters, labyrinths and books are cooking around and around in my head....

Two covers here, but the bulk of the mini-books will be off to the right there.

The cover of book #1

and # 2.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

It is official

Chuckmeister is officially a spoilt pup.


We got him this:

We got him his very own plush, sofa style doggie bed.


I do have to say that he loves it, which is a good thing.

The reason?  It's freaking freezing here.  Honestly, there is no heat in the house and it is C.O.L.D.

Not Little House on the Prairies cold or anything, but pretty darned chilly for most of the day.  Chuckbackka was wandering around with chilly ears and cold paws and getting up on the furniture when we were here.  Now, we have an unspoken agreement with him (what other kind can you have with a dog anyway)  that he doesn't get on the furniture when we are awake/at home, and we pretend to not know that he does it when we are asleep/away.

His poochiness was cold enough to start eating away at that agreement.

We had mercy and got him a cozy bed of his own so he can be a little warmer, and we fixed up the beds he has as well so they stay a little warmer too.

Chuck seems happier and his ears warmer too.  Still a spoiled mutt though.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Good news

Not sure if I posted this, but Youngest's process through some of the bureaucracy here got waylaid about a month and a half ago by an...idiot in a position of power.  Maybe that's a good way to put it.

Thanks to our delightful lawyer, we have moved onto the next of many many steps, but that, at least, is progress, and progress is good.

Plus the locksmith came and put a honking great lock onto the big door out front, so we can now lock the house when we're out!  YEAH!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Why is it that

Why is it that the books we don't like so much take so much longer to read?

I mean I know why, they just don't call out to me, so I find I do something else rather than read them.  They aren't quite bad enough to quit, but.... well, I find I do other things.

A shame that way isn't it, and the great ones?  Done in a couple of hours.  The kids are hungry and whining and the dog's got his legs crossed at the end of it, but what the heck, it's a great book, why not!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The kitchen and clothes.

Ooooh, the kitchen is almost where I could consider putting some photos up.  We're cleaning up the tiles and all the counters and shelves are in, we are missing some hooks and we have to get a couple more lights up, then PHOTOS!

The man and I have been working busily (I have to say that the man more than I) at getting lights and curtains up in Youngest's room.  Nothing like visitors for motivation.  She now has a full complement of lights and as of this evening, curtains.  She no longer has to crouch on the floor to change.  A relief I am sure.  The fact that the curtains don't match is neither here nor there.  You see, we brought a lot of our old curtains from Canada with us to Spain, on the premis that we like them a lot and we might as well reuse them.  The only problem is that Youngest's room is the only one that needs curtains, so now we have something of a surplus.

She got the pick of the crop and chose the ones that hung in her room when she was tiny in Toronto!  However,  her old room has only one window and this has two.  Solution?  I went into BCN and got some fabric that matches the basic colour of the curtains.  We're going to cut each curtain in half, giving us four rather than two, and then we are going to sew a stripe of the new solid colour on the outside of each panel.  (I use we most broadly, a friend of mine here who is a seamstress is going to sew them)   Hope they look nice.  I think they will anyway.

On another note, the girls and I went into BCN on Sat to visit the Picasso Museum.  On the way back, I bought a little bit of something for myself!  Look!

Got this skirt at my favourite used clothing place...the colours look all weird, I took the photo at night and it is strange looking here.  I adore it though.  Eldest has the matching jacket, and covets this, though she would never wear it and it's MINE.

The area around the Picasso Museum is very very pricey, so when I saw this is a store window I thought there was no hope.  Hundreds of Euros...but no!  Very affordable and I adore it.  It is a felted wool or wool-like material, and is toasty warm, except that it lacks sleeves!

Happy girl.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Look what the man made for lunch the other day!


the man made lunch and I am so happy.

Also super crazy busy for the next few days......auuuuugh!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Whew. No, ugh.

Sudden overwhelming exhaustion, I'll keep it short.

Here's what I want to know.  WHY can't they make tights that don't sag in the middle.  I mean, honestly.  It is not exactly as if a woman's shape is some weird mystery.

The pair I wore today were saggy in the middle and too big in the feet.  What sort of duck-legged woman would wear these?  I'll grant my legs are on the longish end of the spectrum so maybe getting enough length is an issue, but my feet ain't petite, and these suckers were waaaaay big.

I'll bet whoever these were designed for doesn't sway much when the wind blows.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Youngest and I went off today with a big group from the village, it was spectacular, and really quite cold.

It was really very cold and windy at the top, but still better than this.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

BCN at night

Went into BCN with the girls this afternoon to the Picasso Museum for this exhibit on Picasso following Degas.  It was excellent.  Short but very well curated.  Just amazes me every time that I can simply go and see this kind of art whenever I want.  Helps that annual membership at the Picasso is only 10 Euros and kids are free till their 16!


I also got some cool clothes, pictures tomorrow, maybe.

Also grabbed some quick snaps of BCN at night:

Tomorrow, I'm off to the other wonderful end of living here and will be hiking in the mountains!

Life is good.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I have to say something (duh, I would think that, no? I have a blog)

My name is Oreneta and I am a lurker.


So glad that's out there now.  There are probably more than a few of us out there in fact.

What I find particularly curious about this, in myself anyway, is that I have several layers of lurker-hood.

There are the commercial lurks, which really don't count, cause honestly...who comments on a magazine's blog.

There are the plain all-out lurks, on private blogs - as in ones not run by magazines or whatever - on which I only ever read, never comment and am perfectly happy.

Then there are the mega-blogs.  What defines mega?... whatever,  but if I am scrolling down through more than 25 − 30 comments, I am going to figure I won't be commenting.  I wonder if anyone has ever done a study on the tipping point for the average commenter.  How many comments seem sufficient.  Feels faintly like dolling out Halloween candy.  Sorry kid, you've gotten too big, no more comments for you!  I don't read too many of these, but I those I do, I mostly lurk.

Then there is that fuzzy land which many of us are in, where we happily read away, probably most every post and only comment when especially moved to.  Sort of lurking???

Then there are the blogs that I comment on most every time I read, cause I just like'm so darned much, for whatever reason.  That would be my virtuous non-lurking side, no?

What I find weirdest is that when I am tired, or hurried, I lurk more, in that I read the blogs I lurk on first before the ones where I may want to comment, despite the fact that I would prefer to read those.  I think it has to do with the blogreader.  Back when bloglines was still alive I could mark a blog and come back to it.  Greader doesn't seem to be able to do this, so I have to commit to reading and commenting, or wait till I have more time.

Not so sure I like the system, but it's where I'm at.

In what percentage of blogs that you read do you full on lurk? On how many are you a partial lurker and on how many do you rarely lurk at all?

Just wondering.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Today I:

taught for 5 hours straight
came home
dealt with kid issues
did 45 min of Spanish homework
ate lunch and walked the dog (that was about 20 min)
an hour and a half of Spanish class
taught for another 5 hours
came home and hung with the man for a delightful hour
did a translation
worked some stuff out for my work in Canada
did one painting

and there ain't nothing left in me but this list.

hope you had a good one, 


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The living room.

The living room.  It is getting to where it is worth a picture.  Almost looks like someone lives here!


The shot above is actually in the kitchen.  The inaugural fire in the fireplace!  Started small, but was delightful!

View from back to front.  The doors at the end are brand new.  The shelving on the right serves to hide the million and one electrical panels that are all in one wall.  Pretty!

Living room from the base of the stairs, you can see the old door through the new.  You can just glimpse a big barrel-shaped bin behind the red chair.  I bought it JUST for the kids to dump their knapsacks in so I don't have to look at them, and they can find them.  Know what?  It works a CHARM.

Chuck approves of the new carpet.  We have some extra chairs, so they are tucked in the space under the stairs for now.  See what happens next.

Multiple hidden electrical panels, new lights, the thermostat thoughtfully placed in a central position cause we all want to look at that in the living room.  Can you tell I don't love the electrician?

View from the landing.  The black blob on the right is the bench where we can take off and put on our shoes, it also serves as dining room table seating, should we ever need it.  We also each have a black basket under the bench where we each store our shoes.  Handy and out of site.  The coats on the coat tree will go outside the inner door when the area is not full of butane tanks and we have gas + HEAT.  Chuck still likes the carpet.  

We hadn't quite planned on a red couch, but Ikea was out of navy blue and it was an indefinite wait.  I am not good at indefinite waits.  We got red.

So, that's the living room anyway.

More photos as rooms come together further.


I had promised myself I would paint every day and I dislike how we, or at least I, habitually put other people before myself.  Sometimes we have to make time for what we want to do.

I promised myself I would paint every single day.

Obviously sometimes that is impossible, which frustrates me, but isn't a disaster.

Yesterday as I sat wearily in front of the computer I had an inner debate about whether assembling Ikea furniture counts as creativity.

I didn't think so either.

So I painted, posted it and then my internet crapped out again, so I'm writing to you all today!

Hope you have a good one.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Can't say I'm not doing my bit.

If the Spanish economy suddenly starts to improve, you'll be the first to know why.

I am hoping I can stop shopping soon.  Really soon.

I hate shopping.

I went to IKEA today.  I am so over IKEA.


I got the man a mobile, cause he always has mine and it's bugging me.

Got Eldest a new handset cause hers was dying.  Touch no less. Can you say happy camper?

Went to the food for foreigners Chinese shop for vital supplies and went to a fabric store for material to complete Youngest's curtains.  Even got a friend lined up to make them as I haven't got a machine!

That said, I still have the BIG grocery shop to do, that happens about once a month.  I am putting it off as long as I can.  Save money that way, and it helps with rotating stock, as in we've eaten all the old stuff before we get any new.

Hate shopping.

Hate it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Boat show

We went off to the Barcelona Boat show today, and it was a stunning display of the financial woes of Spain at the moment.

I last went two years ago, just as the whole crisis was emerging.  There were boats clear around the entire old harbour.  Kilometers of them.  There was even a boat doing ferry service from one end to the other to save you time and energy.  There were hundreds of people and many many exhibitors.

Not this time.  Two short sides of the harbour.  Almost no one there.  The only booths with a real crowd had large screen TVs showing the finals of the Formula 1 racing.

There were very very few people.

Sad, honestly.

That said, the man and I had a lovely time.  Warm sunny day, a nice walk through BCN, there was a whole lot of swell in the harbour and the docks had the most amazing wave action to them...something to make you want to study the physics of the whole thing.  Most of the boats we saw there are not ones I'd like to have, to be honest, but there were a couple that were more what I would like.

A lovely sunny Sunday day.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

climactic zones

Today the man and I walked to the local garden center.  We bought a lemon tree and a jasmine vine...alongside a few other things.

For someone who learned to garden in a Canadian zone 4 or 5 the idea of planting these is very exciting.

Photos when they're delivered.

It is soooo time to get out in that garden and get it organised some more.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Sleep-over, Spanish and loading

Eldest is having a sleep-over this evening, there are four of them in there in total, and I have to say that if it goes like this every time, they can sleep-over every single week.  Truly a delightful group of kids, it is now 12:30 and I think I am the only one still awake in the house.


I take that back.  Two of them just reappeared and are trying to make off with my computer!  Nasty things.  I may just let them, but the canvas for today will have to be posted tomorrow.

Ah well.  They're still good kids.

I got a comment, be e-mail, that my blog is EXTREMELY slow to load.  How many of you out there are having problems with that?  Is it something I need to tackle?  It loads for me in, under a second, maybe a full second....but that may not be typical, if you could let me know if you're having problems, I'd appreciate it.

One last item.  The man and I are taking Spanish classes.  He is WAY better than me, so I had a chat with the teacher that we should do what he needs to learn and I will pick up what I can as we go along, he needs the Spanish to try and get work, I don't need it at all, I just find I am embarrassed that I cannot speak any better.  Sort of how I learned Catalan too, by hope and necessity.  Trying to get it to all come together.  What I need to do more than anything else, now,  is try and speak it.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Love it when you can do this

I read a story the other day about endangered toads being rescued in Nevada.  Then I lost the link.

This is what I googled:  endangered toad br*thel nevada

Not often you get to put those words together!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

this may just be stream of consciousness blogging.

Did you know that Fox news also owns the Wall Street Journal?  Am I the only one who finds that...alarming?

Another question, what is it with the huffington post?  I see it referenced often enough, and I have scrolled through a bit, but cannot quite get a feel of the thing.  I don't know how much more often they could put *gag* palin up, and it looks generally kinda trashy, but some pieces look better written, and certainly some of the writers are well enough known.


On another note, I found a place to play tetris on line for free.  I think that was not a good thing for me.

Can you say hypnotic?  Goodness.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Am I the only one?

I imagine not, but am I the only one that gets almost...fearful...when choosing the next book to read when in the middle of a run of really good books?

Just finished a great one.

You know the kind, you don't want to read another for a bit so you can let it settle.

Now, I am kind of worried about what to read next.  Standing in front of the bookshelf, not wanting to jinx this run of wonderful reads.

Isn't it a delightful kind of fear?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Thoughts on running

Not like I'm any kind of expert or anything, but it does interest me how a fair amount of it is a head game.

My head wasn't really in the game today.  I went the distance, in reasonable time, but I kept finding myself walking, even when I really wasn't out of breath.  Kinda like my heart wasn't quite into it.

I also kept wanting to check out the scenery, which is a good thing, but risky to do when running on trails. Then Chuck wanted me to throw pine cones....

then then then

I was walking again.


It wasn't in the legs or lungs. A whole lot of it is in the head.  Certainly the same can be said for racing sailboats, though in quite a different way.  And not, there is a certain element of single-minded focus that wasn't turning up today.

Try again later, no?

MUST get the wifi locked, and it is super complicated, and I need a repeater, I get a completely crappy signal up in the painting room and it makes it all super s-l-o-w.

To do list gets a little longer!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Terrace painted.

The blue, I adore.

The green is wAAAy more pistachio than I was thinking...I had considered something a wee bit more muted and rather sage-y...


it's cheerful and that's good.

The architect's gonna hate it.

Too. darned. bad.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Painting painting painting

Not what you were maybe thinking...I was painting the walls of the terrace!

One is mostly done, a lovely rich deep blue.  I do adore blue.  I didn't realise this quite so clearly till the kids pointed out that every time we're at museums or art galleries I consistently exclaim over paintings with a lot of strong blue in them.  What can I say.

There is also some green going up.  I was thinking a sage kind of green, but it is coming out of the can rather more pistachio.  Putting it on anyway, better than concrete grey and it is cheery.  At our house in TO we got one colour that was not quite what we had in mind and it turned out to be our favourite, so we'll have to wait and see.

You can just see a corner of the blue in this picture that youngest took today!

Gonna go check the forecast and see what my chances are.

Oh, and I rearranged my painting space again...the man built some shelving in our pantry - that sounds grander than it is - and so now I have more storage...and a space for tea.


Friday, November 5, 2010

It's odd isn't it

It strikes me as weird that things seem to run in batches.

I recently went through a run of so-so books.  They were fine, but my enthusiasm was...low.

Now I have had a lovely run or wonderful books.  Hope this keeps going.

It has just occurred to me that the end of my run of , meh, mediocre books coincides with the end of the massive battalion of anti-histamines, and more, that I have been taking.

Possibly the end of drug-induced comatosis (does that word exist? It should) is related to my newfound enthusiasm.

Did you also know that in Spanish a ? and a ! do not necessarily end a sentence?  You can get the most amazing masses of punctuation, for example, "¡Hola! ¿qué tal?, ¿bueno?"  See?  All that punctuation and there is only one official sentence there and only one capital!  The accent may be in the wrong place.  I can't remember and I am too lazy to go downstairs and check.  Ah well.

Hope you're reading a book you're loving.



Thursday, November 4, 2010

Goals for education today

I found this somewhere floating through the internet.  Sadly I cannot remember where - which certainly means I am not a knower entirely.

“In times of change the learners will inherit the earth, while the knowers will find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists. ” –Eric Hoffer

That said, I am not sure I entirely agree, there are things that we need to know.  Multiplication tables come to mind, languages follow closely.  Mathematics skills, reading and writing.  Poetry, geography and history. 

We need a certain world knowledge that we carry around in our heads.  We cannot forever google it to find out, there lies ignorance.

That said, knowers who cannot learn sit on a shelf like an outdated encyclopedia gathering dust and being ignored - one hopes.

As usual, something somewhere in the middle falls into what is most useful, no?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

One thing I love about Spain

The window guys are here fitting the mosquito screens.  More construction guys in the house.  Different construction guys in the house.

One of them is cantant!

He's singing flamenco in my house.  How do I love that!

Honestly, I do adore going past construction sites where someone is singing, happens more often that you would think.  I think I am becoming a fan.  May have to find me some good flamenco music...mostly the men singing is what does it for me.


Back in Spain, the sun is shining and the days are warm/hot.

The butane has run out though, so the showers are cold and we can't cook.

Still have the oven though, so we'll just have to plan around that till the canisters get refilled.


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Riding the subway

The Saturday night of Halloween is an exciting time to be on the subway...or indeed wandering the streets.  Jesus, the devil and a forest ranger were all in McDonalds, a priest and a stripper got on one car together.  We had Batman and Robin (in a veryvery VERY short pair of shorts) in the car with us, a variety of princesses from around the world.

A traffic light, roman gladiator, a cat burglar and my personal favourite...a piece of sushi!

Goodness how I love Halloween!

Jet lag

Yesterday, I went for lunch at a favourite restaurant....because it was early I was able to have an iced coffee there.  I figured it wouldn't be a problem as I wouldn't be trying to go to bed for ages. 

I'd had several cups of tea that morning.  One of the big fat advantages of jet lag is that I needn't worry about caffeine in the mornings!

Then I had one more cup of tea, at a friend's place, at around 3 pm.

And some chocolate.

I don't know about you, but too much caffeine gives me the jitters.

I had the jitters pretty solidly...and then I got seriously dozy in that jet lag-y way where there is almost nothing you can do to keep awake and you just have to stagger through knowing it won't last.

It is very very odd having caffeine jitters and a nearly irresistable desire to sleep at the same moment.

Something new every single solitary day.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A big bounce

Hey ho all,

We've bounced so hard that we found ourselves in Toronto!  Just in time for Halloween!!!!

We're only here a few days, and seeing family more than anything else...quite delightful.  Costume making starts today.

All is well. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

mushrooms and insects

We went out hunting the wild mushrooms this weekend, we found a fair number, but none we dared to eat.  We did see some insects though, which was also quite lovely...


We are also going to be bouncing and hopping around like crazy for the next few days...posting is likely to be - irregular.

See ya!


Sunday, October 24, 2010

A noisy day...

I only have one painting finished for today, that's OK, well within the canvas a day format, no?

I actually spent quite a bit of time on a larger piece and working on several smaller ones.  A day for turning up and working rather than completing.

It was also a most delightful day with a pack of kids in the house, Eldest had three friends over and youngest one, and I have to say it was a delight.

Lots of cooking, and as Eldest and her friends originate in four different countries on three continents, and they are picky teens feeding them was a wee bit challenging, as in I cooked what they wanted and they were polite and ate what the liked.

Lovely loud fun full day.

The man survived it all too!

OH!  and look what youngest made me!  I'm all ready for the cold now.