Monday, January 31, 2011


We have a party planned for a few days hence, well, a couple of weeks.  A house warming, such a relief to not have to explain what that is.

Granted, the house ain't exactly warm, as I sit in bed in socks, an undershirt, turtleneck, fleece jacket, dressing gown and a wooly hat, but maybe that's the point.  Warm the house a little.  A mass of bodies ought to help.

The excitement of the whole thing is to plan it in a way that the Catalans will get it.  The open house concept isn't a strong one and as the crowd, counting spouses and kids, is easily above 50 it should warm the place.

We have also discovered that we have quite a, ah, varied group of guests. It ranges from the ultra-uptight mother of one of the kid's friends, through the architect, the bank manager, the local real estate agent, folks from work, folks from the man's work and the contractor and the guys who worked on the house.  The most dramatically different of whom stands about 5'5" and almost as wide around, all muscle.  Spiked hair and QUITE a lot of tattoos.  Should be an unusual crowd!  The image of him, that mother and the agent in conversation sort of makes my head spin.

Guess this is also part of what happens in a village, you know who you know.

Hope it's fun, and hope to goodness they don't all stay for the entire time...

Lets see if we can figure this out.

The other good aspect of it is that it means that we are getting around to some of those fiddly easy-to-put-off jobs, like removing the stickers from the toilets, and getting the pictures hung up.  I painted the risers on the stairs to the altelle, they are very very steep and very in your face.  As I washed the treads and then walked back up and realised that the risers had dust on them.  A lot of very visible dust.  The risers are a single slanted piece, so dust can gather.

Cleaning the risers on the back of the stairs every time I sweep is not my idea of a good time, so out came the paint pot and they are now an ochre colour that will hide the pesky dust a little better.


More lights to mount, especially in the downstairs bathroom so folks don't have to pee with the door open like we've been doing!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Two things

No, three.

First, thank you for your assist with books that might be cheery and funny, and if any more thoughts come to mind, I'd be happy to hear them

The second thing.  I was gardening today, and well aware of the glory of the opportunity to garden on January 30th.  JANUARY gardening!  In a long-sleeved shirt and no jacket!

Life is sweet.

This gardening job wasn't so sweet though.  The lady who lived here before us planted a lovely garden plant.  Green year round, excellent as a fence as every single solitary leaf was COVERED in prickles, and so aggressive that it would stop and avalanche.  Seriously, if you have a slope you're worried about, I have the plant for you, plant three, and two years later the entire slope would bring a modern tractor and plow to its knees.

I was using an axe.  I kid you not, I'm not sure how many people have had to use an axe to cut a hole to stick a plant in.  It takes about half an hour to get a whole a little bigger than a coffee cup.

I am a wee bit achey this evening from the three hours I put in.

Back when we got our house in TO, the first we had owned it had a lovely garden, somewhat neglected when we inherited it.  The first year I pretty much let things grow and see what appeared, only removing the worst of the weeds. The second year I was a little more aggressive and by the end I was  I was, however, used to gardening with packs of little kids around.  Everywhere I went there were packs of little kids.  It is a lovely way to garden, you putter a bit here, chat a bit there, putter a bit over there, chat over here.  No intensity, no chance to get bored.

I wasn't sure I would like gardening without a pack of little kids.

Glad to say I do.  Though I did gather up youngest who came out to watch the excitement, and the man for a while, who eventually couldn't stand to watch me swinging the axe anymore and left, plus a little kid down the street who joined me for a bit.  She seems entranced by the garden, which is lovely.  I should get her to help me in a bit.  Give her a little patch of her own to work.  I'll have to dig all those darned roots out before I do or she'll weep.

The third thing was about images.  I had a lovely time talking on Skype with a couple of people today, but was frustrated at times.  I was frsutrated because when the signal weakened, or if they moved fast, the most astonishing and fascinating images appeared on the screen for nano-seconds.  Weird alter images, some nearly monsterous, at one point there were double images one in colour and the other in a sort of wiggled line drawing like a creature from another universe.  The lines being bends in the image of the items behind where the person was (not).  I SO want to paint with some of those images to begin from.

Here and now, I have to figure out how to record skype video conversations.  Here and now.  Then I can freeze at the cool bits and work onwards from there.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Literary love letter

I am writing a literary love letter, well more likely shopping one.

A dear dear old friend of mine just sent me an email telling me of her recent diagnosis of breast cancer and her continuing battle with it.  A long road.

I lent her a book a few months ago, and while she was heading to one of the waiting rooms she spends so much time in now, she picked it up to take it with her, and she loved it.  She even laughed out loud in Chemo.  Captain Correlli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernières.  If you're reading this, thank you Louis de Bernières.  You can know that you helped at least one person during a very difficult time.  

My friend has asked me for more book titles, books she will love, books she that will make her laugh.  I am now on a poignant, but entrancing quest, to find books that SHE specifically will love, that would suit her down to the ground, and that will fill her with happiness and laughter.  

It is a wonderful way to think of another person, to look at them through the lens of literature, through their viewpoint, and interests and sense of humour.  

Making the list now, sending it soon....via Amazon, at least in part.

Hang tough friend.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Chocolate cake

Made one today, and it was STUPENDOUS!

I'm going to share, and it's from a cookbook.  Home Baking by Jeffery Alford and Naomi Duguid, they are, I think, my favourite cookbook authors of all time, though MFK Fisher is totally astonishing, but a very different kind of cookbook.

Anyway, they, or rather Naomi, has given me permission to post one of their recipes before, and so I am hoping to do it again, that sounds almost like I know them, which I totally don't, just emailed a request.  Well twice.  They were very nice when I explained that my cook books were stranded on a boat in the middle of a cow field in central Florida and could they please send me a copy of two of their recipies that I was desperate to make, and they did!  Very kind and considerate in every way.

Anyway, after that extremely long and rambling intro, here is Duguid and Alford's recipe for "Eva's Chocolate Flavoured Cake"

2 c packed light brown sugar
1c veg shortening or unsalted butter, softened.  That is 230 grams
2 oz (56g more or less) melted chocolate, cooled to room temp (my room temp is about 10, so I didn't get quite that silly)
4 extra large eggs, separated
2 c sifted all purpose flour (if you want it chocolate-i-er, substitute 2 tbls of cocoa for that much of the flour)
1 cup milk
1/2 c sliced almonds or chopped walnuts (didn't have this, we survived)

I wildly modified their icing recipe so I'm calling it my own.

Place the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 / 175.  Lightly grease two 8 inch round cake pans. (or whatever you have that will suit, like a 9 inch springform and a 9 inch glass pie pan like I had)

To make the cake, cream together the butter and sugar (without a mixer in a 10 degree house with very large-crystal brown sugar this took three people and a solid 5+ min, my respect for our grandparents, well, really our grandmothers goes up every time I bake).

When it is creamed. (or you can't take it any more)  Add the cooled chocolate to the mix. (if your sugar has really big crystals like mine did, add it a little warmer!)

Add the yolks and salt and beat till smooth.  (or close enough that your happy with it.)

Add 1/2 c of flour, and stir with a wooden spoon till integrated, add 1/3 c milk and stir (splashy!  Milk in the slipper.) repeat till all the flour and milk has been mixed in.  Add the nuts next. (if you have them, if not, nuts to you.)  (I am taking liberties with their beautiful and utterly accurate recipe, I imagine you can see my interjections.)  Really, honestly, they write the clearest recipies with well thought out descriptions of how things should look of feel at critical moments.  Delightful.

Use a mixer (or a handy child) to beat the egg whites to soft but sturdy peaks. (or as close as your going to get with just your and said child's aching arm.  Peaks?  Who needs peaks.  It's foamy and light, we're good to GO!)

Scoop about a quarter of the whites into the batter and stir in.  Fold in the rest...gently.

Pour into the pans and cook about 25 min (praying that they fit into the TINY European ovens, thank goodness, they DID!) or until a skewer (knife) poked into the center comes out clean.  Turn onto a fine meshed cake rack to cool. (or leave them on the counter in their pans while you run to work and pray the dog doesn't get at it all.)

You can serve dusted with confectioner's sugar or you can make the icing I invented or theirs if that's what toasts your toesies.

Their recipe calls for 4 oz of bittersweet chocolate and about 1/4 cup of sour cream, melt the chocolate, let it cool, blend with the sour cream for a good texture and ice.

Well mine's a wee bit different.  I got the chocolate they use for melting into Spanish hot chocolate, which is outstanding.  1 bar is 275 grams.  I took about 75 grams of that for the cake, and used the rest for the icing, 26 g is 1 oz, so I had about 8 oz.  I melted this in a pan (right in a saucepan on high, stirring a lot, if your careful, it's easy), then mixed in cream cheese while it was still warm (piping hot).  I cannot get sour cream here, but the cream cheese is DIVINE, so I was off. Also it is firmer than the sour cream especially in my icebox house, and so I needed the warmth from the chocolate to make the whole thing blend without busting my arm again. 

It spread beautifully and easily and tasted fabulous, honestly the best icing I've ever tasted.  None of that uncooked cornstarch taste of some, and not too sweet at all.  No raw eggs either, which I really like.  Not the least bit fussy, and only the one pan to wash.  Super chocolate-y (is that a word? It should be) and creamy and kind of tart from the cream cheese and a little bitter from the chocolate.  Goodness.


Very very very good cake.  My go to from now on it.

Oh, and I decorated with white chocolate malteezer kind of things and soft candy hearts.  Pretty too.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Still no voice

Still no heat

Still no gas

The man's not still sick though

The butane canisters are still full though

The kids are still wonderful though

So I guess that overall, it's all OK.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

YEAH for goodness!

Butane guys came!!! Hot water and the stove are back.  That is a very good thing.

Finished this:

It's about 50 x 55, more or less.  Again, the palette knife is left in for size reference.

Something else to bear in mind, and maybe the route we should always take in the future.  It is truly who you know.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Finished this last night

Sorry folks, no pictures of dinner, but I did finish this up!

I'll try for measurements, though I left the pallet knife in for reference. The words on the paper behind aren't relevant, they're from another work in progress.  It is about 50 x 70 cm.

Amazing how little I feel the cold while I'm working, then when I start to tidy up, I realise I'm practially shivering.  I now have sacraficial painting clothes, including a fleece jacket and a wooly hat.  Almost like the days when we were preping the boats in the spring in TO.  Brrrr.  Not that cold though, and not nearly so wet.

Monday, January 24, 2011

All baked

The butane ran out again, so dinner tonight?

All baked.

Think about that for a moment.  Two days before market day and at the very tail end of my monthly shop, as in 5 or 6 weeks past the last montly shop, options are limited.

Think starch.

We are having a potato and mushroom gratin, and a Georgian white bean pie with roasted sweet potatoes.

I'll put up some photos if I'm organised.

I do have some veg, so we'll have a tomato and pepper salad.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sundays, gotta love them too, or another boring art post!

OK, so!

The back?  It's bettaaaahhh!!!!

And thank goodness for that.  Still being cautious, but I am fine!  A big fat YAHOO on that one too, I can finally stop lounging in bed all the time and chairs have become comfortable rather than instruments of torture, all good.

The man and I went into BCN today, though we had seperate agenas.  The man went to the Archaeology museum, and I had thought to go to MACBA, the contemporary art museum, but was also debating exploring the Centre d'Arts Santa Mónica at the foot of La Rambla.  They have got to have the SINGLE most annoying website I have ever had the misfortune to visit and anyone with epilepsy or a vulnerability to flashing lights had best avoid it. You can see it here.

Despite this wildly inauspitious beginning, the museum itself was fantastic.  Very very thought provoking and the architectural work was really interesting.  It it a somewhat schizophrenic building, some stairwells are very old and quite shabby, sort of high school feeling, others are amazing architectural wonders.  Whatever.

If you go, they have decided to go all artsy-fartsy with the floors and lighting on the ground floor exhibition, uneven levels, with very low light and black carpets.  This means that you find yourself stumbling and staggering around the exhibition.  If it were a show designed to make us feel uneasy and uncomfortable, well, that would makes sense, but it is a show about a Catalan poet so it simply serves as a rather dangerous distraction.  Though it does slow the viewers down effectively.

That said the two other shows were good (first floor) and fascinating (second floor)  The second floor show was about a Swiss program that put artists into cutting edge scientific labs and see what emerges from it. REALLY neat stuff, part of what was excellent was listening to the scientists and the artists in interview discussing the process, the learning that both sides took on and the interaction between hard science and fantastic art.  Very very neat.

5 stars and a safety warning.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Drawing and art and history

I am drawing every day, this is a commitment I have made.  Part of the challenge of it is finding something to draw every day, I have been lucky because I found this feed, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.  They send, to my feed reader, an image from their collection every day.  This is a delight in itself and makes the drawing issue so much more fun.

The other thing I adore about it is that I then spend 20 min to an hour looking at a piece of art in a very intense way.  Today's feed was to this piece, a medieval plaque with the martyrdom of Sister of St Vincent of Saragossa, who hopefully got to be a saint too!  It didn't really fill me with joy, so I flipped up and down in the collection a bit till I got to this one which is an utter delight.  I am a wee bit prejudiced around medieval art, seems all kind of a sameness and not very detailed.  This one, has changed my mind, over the course of copying it for half an hour I am STUNNED by the detail in the work, the look in the eye of the two men, the detail in the shaping of the naked torso's musculature.  It is an astonishing piece.

Getting the chance to study these pieces, on line from home is one of the side benifits of this project.  The other delight is that I time myself by listening to two episodes of a History of the World in 100 objects from the BBC a delight in every way!

Well, that's what I'm loving today.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Fridays are good days, no?

Lots going on here.  We are looking at moving my workplace fairly soon, there are a variety of reasons the boss/owner wants to do this and we are sweating the details at the moment.  My two minute commute on foot?  Should be down to one.  Unreal, no?

On anther note, you really really really should go and have a look at this site,  The work is delicious!  If you're lucky enough to live in TO, you could go and see this work that he has completed and that has just been unveiled.  Giant murals, free!  If you go, let me know it it's as beautiful in real life as it is on the net.  They're in the lobbies of the condos at 10 Capreol Court.  There are two.

After that I feel intimidated to put up my latest completed project, but what the heck:

You can get an idea of the size from the clothes pegs at the top.  The painting is at the very top of the house and the tape measure at the very bottom, but maybe - and I am terrible at this - it's 2 X 3', more or less.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


This is a testament to the sheer astonishing unthinking stupidity that I, and I imagine others, can display when not fully awake.

A guest left today, fairly early.  As a result I too woke up QUITE early, but stayed in bed as I didn't have to get up.  After a while of not falling asleep, I turned on the bedside light.

We got it second hand and it is FADING!  It is tippy, being basically round and about a week ago, the holder for the shade snapped, leaving the shade iteslf attached, but really very wobbly.  Then last night the shade itself came loose from the holder.  I balanced it carefully in place and went to bed.

So, this morning, when I turned on the light and then set to reading, I eventually noticed a smell.  A funny burning kind of smell.  Now those of you who are fully awake can see where this is going.  After a while, an embarrassingly LONG while, I figured out that I was melting the plastic lamp shade and fusing it to the bulb.  Clearly not a flourescent!

I rolled dazedly over and flicked the shade onto the floor and fell back to sleep, without turning off the light.

Faint memories of Eldest coming in to see what the heck the stink was, she gets up EARLY for school too, and being assured by me that it was not a problem.  Having been told that, she left; also without turning off the light, which has a hefty wodge of lamp shade soldered onto it.

Finally the man got out of bed and went downstairs, then came back in to investigate the continuing smell, and, genius that he is, turned off the light.  I again somnolently explained why it stank and dozed off again.

This evening I turned the same light on again, fused plastic and all.  No replacement bulbs and too few lights.

The man reappeared upstairs wondering for the second time in a day what the stink was about.  Evidently my early morning grumbles were not clear enough and it was only this evening that he realised that there was a melting stinking chunk of plastic fused to the light.

Just turned it off again, too stinky!

May have to chuck that light altogether tomorrow.  Back to my every stylish headlamp!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Back improved, spent as much of the day as I could flat on my back.  A good way to get in some naps!

I can stand or lie down, sitting sorta hurts, so I am writing standing up, fortunately I can also paint standing up, indeed I always do.

Funny thing the other night, the next door neighbour's baby woke up in the night and was kind of wailing, this two or three tone long drawn out wails, for just a few minutes.  During that time, a different neighbour's dog heard it and began to howl in response.  Howling the same two or three tone long drawn out wails.

Odd sounding in the night.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What's up with me?

OK.  Abandoning the canvas a day project was not a good idea.  While I am getting some bigger work done, I am not painting every day and I am missing pairs or threes of days at a time and I am not a happy camper about that at all.

Back onto it tomorrow.  (it is 12:02 am) and I

Pulled my back this morning, bending over to put the laundry detergent on the floor, something went 'pop' in my back.  OUCH.  Always knew that laundry had to be bad for your health.  That pilates video that Nomad (who has posted recently!!!) recommended is going to have to make it into this household, and I will have to miraculously come up with time for that as well.  Had a nap and lunch, and had a big fat Spanish test this afternoon.  Didn't do quite so well.  The preterite indefinido is a beast.

I didn't get the sketching done today either.  That's OK, there are days it won't happen, there just can't be many of them.

There is, however a lovely ring around the moon this evening, and I tried to get a shot of it for you all.

Please remember that I am not a pro with the camera, by a very long shot.

Still, kinda shows what I was talking about, no?

Actually, I got fed up with this not painting crap and whipped something off, I put it up on the right there.  I'll sketch in bed, even if it is only for a couple of minutes.  No one every got anywhere waiting for tomorrow.

Hope you have a fun and productive one,


Monday, January 17, 2011

What I've been up to

This is the latest completed work.

Finished I think.

For now.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Out and about again!

We were out and about again, we went up to Vic, which was lovely, we did some serious 'scenic route work'. We're going to have to google map it just to find out where we were.

We also ended up in a little tiny town called Gironelles for lunch. A pretty little town, with very few of the original buildings. Looks like it was pretty much leveled in the civil war. Have to do a little homework to find out a bit more about that.

Anyway, a couple of shots from Vic,

Montserrat in the back of this one,


and an utterly charming door knocker from that town.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Out and about today

We went off to both Girona and Besalú!

WONDERFUL day. Here's some pics:

This is what is left of a fireplace in Girona, somehow, I loved it.

According to Eldest, who did a class trip here which she apparently remembers verbatum, this statue on the side of Girona Cathedral is known as the witch and is the likeness of an old woman who came and berated the men working on the building of the cathedral at some time.  Now she's famous!

A little fish carved into a railing near the cathedral.

Girona has a lovely river and beautiful houses over the edges of it.

Besalú is a tiny medieval town that used to once be the same size as Girona, but didn't really grow all that much.  The new photo on my header is the most notable example of the bridge there.  They also have a mikvah, the oldest one in Spain, and was an amazing find when they came across it.  Sadly it was closed when we were there.

A view of the town from the bridge.

A fragment of stonework, I can only assume it is real, but maybe not.

The town was full of these little stone walkways.

The three arches.  A number of the narrower pathways had arches between the bulging buildings, this one was quite lovely too.


Really lovely.

Friday, January 14, 2011


Having just talked about going big, now there's this.

I love this self portrait by Caillebotte.  Not sure why, but I do, and I was lucky that it was still on display at the Muse D'Orsay despite the renovations.  Just thought I'd share.  It's also fairly small.

I, however, have lately gone big.

I am painting every day, though also wondering how I can find time to paint when I am not EXHAUSTED and no one needs/will distract me.  Early early morning comes to mind, but that goes against my bodies natural rhythems.  That said, trying to paint at 1am isn't so smart either.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Well, I am starting to get it.

I never really did before, understand that is, how utterly obsessed painters can get.  Abandoning other responsibilites and activites in order to make/find/create time to work.

I am starting to get it.

I find myself thinking of the work when I am other places, with other people, supposed to be thinking of other things.  Like, oh, work I'm paid for.

Like meeting the architect today.  (more bureaucracy - I know it's getting bad because I can now spell bureaucracy on the first go.)

I was late.

Like sleeping.  Went to bed at 2am yesterday, and I am forcing myself to stop today at 12:30, not so much cause I'll be tired tomorrow, though I will, I was today, but mostly because I am too tired to paint well, and it shows.

Darn it.

Gonna have to watch this one that I don't get taken too far on this ride.

Too bad I'm not earning good coin with the painting (yet) so I could make a living doing more of what I am loving doing.

I should shut up and be happy I have the space, time and life that allows me to do all that I can do.

Cause I am darned lucky that I can and I should see that.

I do see that.

I also see a need for a wee bit more sleep!

Cheers, hope you had a great one,


Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Chuck went for a walk in the hills again and got all puffy faced again.  Something in the mountains, which sucks for every last one of us, I've lost my running buddy, the man his walking buddy, Chuck won't be off leash for a month, (sucks!) and I won't be making it to the hills nearly so much.  POO!

Bright note, one friend has agreed to run down to the beach with the dogs so he can get a run around down there anyway.  Thanks goodness for good friends.

I am too busy painting to blog much more this evening, I may toss up  some photos, or I may crash sometime.

On another note, one of youngest's comments that I love best, when in a modern gallery and flagging turned to me, pointing at an object in the middle of the room, 'Is that art or can I sit on it?'


Tuesday, January 11, 2011


First off, Chuck is much better today.  Perfect, no, but much better.


I was reading something or other somewhere recently that pointed out that, while it is not common, it is far from unheard of for someone to cry when listening to music.  Operas particularily come to mind.

However, very very few people have ever cried when faced with a painting or sculpture.

I find that interesting, and a little sad.

People cry at the theater or movies quite often though I think the response in movies has a lot to do with the music they play.  Books and stories as well frequently elicit tears. Music sometimes, dance occasionally I imagine, but the visual arts?  Almost never.

I think it must have something to do with the mystery that is our reaction to music, that neurological magic that happens, and doesn't seem to impact us as much through our visual centers.

I think it has to do also with the power of narrative, something that also reaches us deep down in the centers of our beings, which music also shares, there is a musicality to good narrative story telling, and story telling to great music.

I do still feel kind of sad that we aren't moved emotionally in the same way with the visual arts.

I am not sure that it is worse though.  Is it?  Reaching someone emotionally is only one of a number of ways of getting a message across, only one.

I then came across this article, which talks about dopamine responses to the peaks in music, which makes me wonder if a key portion of this is the time spent with a piece, time that can be dedicated to narrative build up, so to speak.  Visual art, on the other hand, most frequently gets a single hit, often little more than a glance. Older art, for instance in churches, may have had a greater impact, and I do wonder about installation pieces, though the abstract nature of much modern work, and frankly the introverted nature of much of it, probably reduces the emotional 'bang'.

Something to continue to ponder.  Every artist wants to reach people, that's the point of the exercise; but   heck, a Bell telephone spot can get you to tears in 15 seconds at the right time of the month, but that is not necessarily the response artists are aiming at.  Many may well be aiming at getting you to think, rather than feel, no?

A dialogue to continue with.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Chuck has allergies

Poor puppy!

I came home from work at lunchtime and he looked funny.  His eyes were sort of puffy and he was squinting a lot.  Particularily the right eye.  Then it seemed to get puffier and squintier and he was keeping his eyes closed all the time he didn't actually need to see something.  He also seemed kind of light sensitive.

I put in a call to the vet, who was of course closed at that point and left a message.

She called me back as soon as she heard the message and told me to come over right away, it was an emergency!

Good lord!

I got there, the second vet had waited for my arrival to help if need be, they slung him up onto the table, shaved his leg and gave him an intravenous cortisone injection!

Massive anaphalactic type reaction to something.

Goodness gracious!

I waited around for 15 min, and she gave him another shot for maintenance and now I am sitting around with the dog nursing him, well, right now mostly listening to his breathing and making sure all is well.

Enough that he has leishmania, now this too?

We are trying to figure out what it is, he ate some of the liquid from a can of sardines, that seems the prime suspect.  Possibly he got stung by something here in the house, he chases bees and flies, or something happened this morning in the mountains, but that was quite a while before the reaction.


Poor pup.

.......later......he is still pretty puffy and has slept all afternoon and evening.  Doing OK overall, but not too happy.

Poor pup.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Canvas a day project

Anyone reading this recently may not be entirely suprised that the canvas a day format seems to be changing.  I think I am now at the point where the commitment is more to sketch every day, aiming for 30 min minimum, and to paint every day.  Not necessarily completing a canvas everyday.  Though I am not sure I am willing to let that go completely as I know there have been many many times when it has pulled me though into something very cool.

We'll see how this evolves.  As I move to working bigger the canvas in one day becomes impractical, though....

Well, we'll see.

As for today?  Painted most of the day, and dealt with back-to-school angst from the munchkins.  Me?  I have blinkers on and I'm pretending that tomorrow doesn't exist.  Much happier that way.

My painting space is sunny, warm and bursting at the seams, especially as the family keeps joining me here.  It is weirdly warm, shirtsleeves in fact, which is a delight even if it is a wee bit odd.

In the spirit of 'paint every day' I'll post photos of the three as-yet-imcomplete paintings I am working on.  As you may be able to tell, these are larger format works, and are underway.

Hope you had a good day too!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Victorian & Murakami reading challenge

I'm in.

Especially when I went here (OK!  It's shoot me!) and saw that there is a good range of stories there.  Not sure I'm gong to commit to a number that I'll read, but I'm in.

Go here if you want to find out a little more about it!

Does Byatt count?  She should.

I'm also in on the Haruki Murakami reading challenge (minimum 1 book in 1 year.  That I can do for sure, even in Catalan)

What I need is a challenge for reading even 2 books in Spanish.....EEEK

On another note, today was the second last day (penultimate as the Catalans would say) day of the Barceló exhibit an I had to go back.  That was fantastic.  I came away with pages of ideas and notes and sketches.  Mmmmmm.

The man and I also stopped off at the art store and picked up these rolls of paper, some small and one very very big one.  Super yum:

and these oil paint crayons.  Should be fun to play with, though they will take forever to dry:

Plus, I have lots of amazing images to work with, the Basquiat book I got in Paris, the Barceló book I got in the fall a skinny little Matisse book I got myself and the lovely big fat Miró book the man got me for Xmas.  Yum.

Lots to feed the brain.

Friday, January 7, 2011



Well that was worth the trip to Paris all by itself, and we've gone to the Louvre as well to boot!

Nomad and I went off to the Basquait exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art.  DIED and went to heaven.  Not only was it unutterably fantastic, completely up the alley of what I am doing and thinking these days, totally moving and amazing but I went with Nomad who talked with me about art and what we were looking at the whole way through and what is NOT to love about every single stinking moment of that?!?!?!?!?!?!

We also managed to see a movie about his life, which was fascinating, though I was mostly fascinated by watching him in the studio.

His life: short, fast, intense, died young of drugs.  Old story.

The work was amazing, big loose, tight, mad, wild, colourful and mind bending.  LOVED it every last bit.

My take-aways from that day, though these may evolve:

Paint BIG

Paint loose

Paint layered

Paint like you don't give a f*ck

a bigggggg sketchbook


Bigger brushes

Looser wetter paint


I'm so going to have to start painting much much bigger and soon.  Some tarps may be called into play.  Heheheheeeee

But now I'm home I find I am penjada.  I am hung between.  I have no book I'm reading, I have no painting I'm working on, I have no materials for moving forward with what inspired me and I feel like I'm floating.  (No jet lag, so no excuse there).

So much imput and I am processing I imagine. (hope).  It was AMAZING to get to talk art with Nomad, something I just don't get to do much.  I am looking at art mag subscriptions, but what I need to do is paint.

and paint and paint and paint and create.

Gardened a bunch today so I got my feet on the ground, walked in the mountains so I got my body down here too.  Now, just to get my head sorted!  Visit to the art store tomorrow?  Mayhap.

Gotta get my head back in the space.  Maybe tomorrow.

.....later.....things improving.  I now have 5 books I want to read and two painting ideas.  Gotta love it!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


more details later but

1.  Eiffel Tower
2.  Muse D'Orsay
3.  Family
4.  Friends
5. Nicolas Flamel's house
6.  Movies about Basquait
7.  Crepes
8.  Catacombs

probably more but I can't think of what.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Actually French culture is officially dead.

Dead.  Kaput.  Finished.  They should hang their heads in shame.

I find it fascinating to look at the different flavours of potato chips you get in different countries.  Canada is quite open in this sense and we have a w i d e range of flavours.  The US seems to stick to the traditional plain, barbeque and salt and vinegar (is that right? or is it sour cream and onion in the US)

The Catalans are great, they have campesina, which is kind of ranch flavoured but better, roasted chicken, roasted onion and garlic, jamon/pernil, and the pernil here is VERY good and mushroom.

The French however?  Variations on old fashioned and salted and then I saw this.  I am pretty sure you couldn't even get this in walmarts in the US.  I was in the market this evening and found, made by a FRENCH company, (the horror) cheeseburger flavoured potato chips.

French culture is officially dead.

I am sad to inform you of this, but it seems to be true.

Monday, January 3, 2011

French culture, alive and well

We can attest to the fact that French culture is alive and well.  This is proven by the bathrooms.

The apartment we are staying in has two bathrooms, a great luxury in Paris.  One is spacious and complete by North American standards.  Two sinks, big tub, shower and toilet, plus a closet with a washer and dryer.  Good stuff.

The second bathroom has a toilet as one might expect.  A bookshelf, an amenity more johns could do with, but get this, no sink.


The nearest sink is the kitchen sink.

Now, I am not the fussiest person in the world about these things, but I really don't want someone washing my hands in my kitchen sink after using the toilet.  Really.  I would prefer that they just didn't wash their hands at all.  Though that is kind of questionable too.  At least there should be possibility, no?

Further proof:

We were over at friend's the other day. They too have two bathrooms.  One a two piece bathroom, as you might imagine it.  Loo and sink.  All good.

The other one is larger and better equipped.  Shower/tub combo, sink, washer, space for a dryer and a....bidet.  Now, call me crazy, but I sort of thought the idea of a bidet involved doing your thing, then sort of sidling over and giving everything a good hosing down.  I mean, you could decide independently of going to the john that you just need to get everything clean, but still, I would need to go were I to start rinsing water around.  This leaves me with a mental image of French folks, doing their business and then either with their chic pants around their elegant knees they trot down the hallway to the other bathroom for a refreshing rinse, or they just do everything up loosely for the trip...thus rather defeating the purpose of the exercise as your clothes would be none to tidy at the end of that.  Though the washer is in there.....



Well, in the end I was down for the count all day yesterday, but also improved all day too, so, today we went to the Louvre.  I ran out of gas a little earlier than I would have liked, but it was lovely nonetheless.  Youngest wanted to see the Mona Lisa, so we did.  The man wanted to see the Raft of the Medusa, so we did, and we all wanted to see ancient Near Eastern works, so we did.

Youngest and I bailed to do some sketching and then went home before I collapsed.  Nice to leave a place like that feeling like you want to go back rather than so wiped out you can't imagine facing it again.

Now a nice hot cuppa and all is well in the world.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year all!

We had a lovely day yesterday, seeing fascinating museums - the muse Branly which architecturally was amazing, and is a fabulous place for sketching.

We had dinner with Nomad - I said hi for you Trish - which was wonderful.  Lovely to see them again.  Then I didn't feel so good and crashed.  This morning, the girls are watching movies and playing with the wii that is here in the house, I've set the various machines to washing things and maybe this afternoon we'll potter out for a bit.

Maybe.  See how things go.

Hope you and yours are all doing well,