Monthly Archives: November 2010

The Good and the Bad

I wasn’t sure what to call this post, since things have been up and waay down lately.

Basically, I’ve been thinking about making a career change for awhile now and Friday pretty much crystallized that desire. It was such a crazy, stressful day and caused me to question my ability to do anything. The only hopefully good thing about it is that it kicked my butt to be more assertive in looking for outside opportunities. I’m grateful for my current position and like my boss and most of my coworkers, but it is time for me to move up a bit.  Things don’t change unless you make them change. Unfortunately, there isn’t much out there at the moment, but I’ll just apply to them anyways.  Of course, the employment wheels turn like molasses running uphill, so I’ve began looking at taking some part time computer classes as well. There is a two-day web design course that looks interesting, but it is $430! Ouch! Graphic/web design is something I’m very interested in pursuing, being that I am a very visual person who would like to improve her computer skills. Anyone out there in that field of work? Any advice?

The Good-With the holidays coming, I’ve started baking. Did you know that if you put an unopened can of condensed milk for two hours in a pot of boiling water, it turns into dulce de leche?  Pretty neat eh? I used it for filling in a “Dulce de leche Layer Cake” from Food and Wine magazine. I also used coconut rum and coconut pieces to give it a nice tropical feel and brought it over to a friend’s house for a dinner party. The cake carrier squished the bugger, but it was still very edible! (Sorry for the poor photo. I am going to have to work on taking better pictures of food!)

Kolacky was another recently made treat.  The recipe came from the Pil book “Holiday Cookies”  which I found while waiting in line at the grocery store. They turned out great. The recipes in this book are very straightforward with easy to find ingredients and little prep. Definitely recommended if you’re struggling for holiday ideas!

Next up, will be rum balls and Hungarian Cheese filled cookies. I may be feeling insecure and down about my current day job, but baking I can handle! 🙂

(Weird)Dreams are made of these..

The other night, I dreamed that I finally got the chance to show my work in a shared exhibition. What was my subject? Rats and lots of them. And they weren’t just any old rats, but rodents of unusual size. I painted a picture of hundreds of huge rats.

I’m an intense dreamer: I dream in colour, can read small sections of text and feel the gamut from hunger, fear, sadness, any type of emotion or instinct. Due to their intensity, I can recall them days, months even years later. Last night, I felt pride in my rodent painting. Everyone else in the exhibit chose flowers and mountains, I chose a rat infestation.* Yep, sounds like something I would do! 😉

Sometimes I try to translate my dreams into drawings, so this week I sketched just one ratty. But if I can find the right images, I might even paint my dream. (Or try to anyways)

What about you? Do you remember your dreams? Have you ever used your dreams as a catalyst for writing fiction or making visual art?

*Disclaimer: For all my rat-lover friends, I like the rats, nay, I love the rats. When domesticated, they are cute and usually cuddly. But these weren’t pets, these were giant, monsters who had consumed the entire planet with their wild rattiness.  It was a weird, terrifying sight. In other words, it was a really cool idea for a painting!*

Drawing inspired by this photograph:

The Holidays are next month!! Ahhh!

Next month is already Hanukkah, Christmas, my birthday and New Years! The days really go by fast! I’ve already put winter tires on my car and my long johns are at the ready, but I still have to finish my holiday shopping. I sent the annual tell-me-what-you-want-now! email to my family, since I loathe shopping in December, but a few people have been less than forthcoming.  It will be a guessing game for them, apparently.

Right after I sent this email, some people have turned around and asked me the same question.

It’s been tricky composing my list this year, because we’re  saving for a house, my list of wants and needs are pretty long. But not wanting to sound like a greedy bastard, I’ve been trying to pair it down to things that will provide the most long term amusement and/or practical use. We also have lots of clutter already, so I’m trying not to add to it with unnecessary items.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not present obsessed, its just that, due to budget restraints, it is particularly important that my wish list, just like actual wishes, count.  It would be nice if everyone thought the same way, because too often people rush out to buy the shiniest things for their loved ones, but once the novelty wears off and something new comes along, that present ends up collecting dust or in the bin and from there it goes into a landfill, with many other unloved presents. Too many people in our capitalistic, consumerist society just don’t think long term enough and the trash piles just get larger and larger.

What about you guys? Have you started your wish lists yet? What is something you really, really want?


My first Encaustic Workshop!

On Saturday, I got up bright and early and drove alllll the way to Carp and then a bit farther for my first encaustic workshop with Hubby’s mom. The workshop was taught by the popular Susan Ukkola, maker of fine items such as this:

and these:

She quickly went through the steps: First apply a coat of melted beeswax to your wood, then add pigment mixed with wax, leaving a space in the pigment for your picture(s):

Place your picture in the space and coat it with wax:

Then seal it with a heater gun:

You can scratch messages into your work or take an object and roll over it to get the texture into the wax. ie:

Next you can add a coat of oil paint of any colour you like. Spread it all over the panel and then wipe it off with a cloth and linseed oil.  (This part was REALLY messy)

Once our works were all done,  we left them out to dry:

Lastly, we sealed the sides with pigment and wax:

Of course there are lots of other ways to do encaustic painting and I may have forgotten a step, but this is the general idea. Melted wax+regular heat+pigment+photos/drawings/whatever=Party time!

Here are the works that I created:

and my “Dark Crystal” work:

It takes three days for the wax to solidify so the sides are a bit mushy for awhile. Encaustic painting is fun and naturally on the way home I thought of other things that I could try using this medium. But it requires space, outlets, heating pans, wax, brushes, paint, pigments, a sink, etc. Perhaps I will take another workshop with Susan, since I don’t have many of these resources at the moment.

Here is another great encaustic artist who I discovered recently. The stuff he creates is really cool:

So if you have the chance, I recommend trying encaustic. My mother-in-law is completely addicted to it, who knows you might be too!

Religion and me..

On Sunday, I did the unimaginable-I went to church.

I’ve been debating for awhile now the idea of getting back into a religious/spiritual community. But I wasn’t sure which one to join. It’s been awhile since I stepped into that kind of environment and while I wasn’t exactly relishing the idea of getting up early on Sunday morning, I thought it might be nice to see what I’ve been missing. (If anything)

Don’t worry, this isn’t a post about me joining some cult, nor have I been “reborn” into one of those freaky, Christian “robot people” who say the words Jesus Christ every two seconds and are on a mission to be as annoying as humanely possible!

I am still the (usually) rational human being, who doesn’t take the myths in the Bible literally and greatly values independent thought. I have no interest in the prejudice, exclusion, misogyny, animosity towards science and outdated ideas, etc, so often featured in conservative and fundamentalist religious denominations.

But I still believe in a higher power and in things larger than ourselves, and recently have felt the desire to take some time to be around people who are in a similarly spiritually positive, openminded mindframe. So after some research, I attended my first Unitarian Universalist service. It was actually kinda nice. It seemed more open ended, less didactic. We weren’t scolded for hours for being “human” or read the same dry stories, while people got their ZZZs on.The more constructive and positive aspects were taken from Judaism and Christianity and a few other religions, and presented in a optimistic, without being too flaky or naive, tone.  Love, forgiveness and peace were the main messages given from the pulpit.

At one point in the sermon, the minister asked the guests to stand. My face probably went two shades of crimson while I nodded at the entire 250 congregation and sat back down. That part I could have done without, but the purpose was so that the newbies could be welcomed into the community. (Or maybe just to embarass the shit out of us for the entertainment of all, who knows? LOL)

Unitarian sermons appear to be short and sweet, running for just an hour. There is singing, messages from the minister, guest lectures and members are encouraged to come up to the front with any important news they may have. (Weddings and funerals are big ones)  Unitarian churches welcome and accept people from all cultures and sexual orientations and are one of the few religious denominations who happily provide wedding services for homosexuals. In fact many of the active members wore small rainbows on their name tags and one guy told me that their church had a banner in this year’s Pride Parade.

After the service, I checked out a social room where food, coffee and books on social and environmental issues were on display. I drank free coffee out of a green mug, that designated me as the newbie. (In case, anyone didn’t catch my glorious display of awkwardness during the service). Pamphlets for groups within the church that do work within the Ottawa community and abroad were circulated.

Things seemed pretty relaxed, so I might go back. But if I do join up, never fear, I won’t be talking about it every week here or hunting for converts. Religion isn’t the point of this blog, nor is it the most central part of my life, so these kind of posts will be very few and far between. I just thought it would be neat to share my experience and get some feelers out there, since religion is such a hot topic nowadays. At this point in time, many people have either run full throttle away from religion or plunged headfirst. Moderates like me, can feel like a minority sometimes.

What about you guys? When was the last time you went to church/temple/mosque/etc? Or if you don’t subscribe to religion, have you joined any Humanist groups? What do you think of the whole idea of getting together with people who share your ideas on moral/spiritual issues?


More Birds and some News!

It’s been pretty nutso for me this past while, so my apologies for not updating as often or replying as quickly to comments. In terms of this past weekend, on Friday we went to Jen’s place for a small food and cocktail party. We ate, we gabbed, I bugged her into showing me the progress on her new painting, it was fun.:)

Saturday involved helping my parents with their moving again. This time from their storage pod to their home. We arrived very late, so weren’t as helpful this time, but there were still a good many things to move.  I was also able to take more pictures of the birds that congregate in their backyard. Like black capped chickadees:


and blue jays:

and flying:

Jays are hard to photograph because they are so restless and skittish, always on the move. But going to my parents has awakened the little bird watcher in me and I will be going to other areas to bird watch and photograph.

After leaving my parents, we walked around the lovely village of Perth. I bought a really nice sweater dress and beaver hat (No it’s not made of actual beavers. It’s yet another silly hat of my many silly hats. I like them and don’t really care if other people don’t understand why I enjoy wearing them or tease me for it. They make me happy and that’s all that matters.:)) Afterwards, we wandered around the park and I took some more photos:

Here is one of a statue made to honor acclaimed Canadian equestrian Ian Miller, who is originally from Perth:

Afterwards, we went to Hubby’s parents for a late birthday celebration. One of their cats, Bailey was snoozing on the edge of the couch and naturally I snapped a bunch of him. (He appeared to be only mildly annoyed at the intrusion)

There was some other stuff that happened this weekend, but I’ll blog about that later. In other news-Travis proposed to his boyfriend this past week and he accepted! Yay!! We talked all about how his proposal on the phone and I couldn’t be happier for him! Him and his man are a great match! His partner has been hinting at marriage for awhile now, and, he gave the single ladies at our wedding quite a run for their money when I was throwing my bouquet! LOL!

So congrats Travis! I love you and am looking forward to the nuptials, whenever they happen, however they happen!:)

Desperate Men

I’ve been busy painting the assignments that Jennifer has been giving me.  She began teaching me not too long ago, so I don’t have a huge selection yet, but that should change soon. Mindfulmerchant asked to see some of my work, so here is one that I recently completed.

The objective was to reproduce a well-known portrait by a famous artist. I chose the work “Desperate Man” by the amazing Realist artist Gustave Courbet. Here is the original:

and here is my reproduction:

Technically, mine is unfinished because the lips and nose are supposed to be redder and there should be more shading, but I am happy with this result, so I’m going to leave it as is. Besides, I want to move on to creating my own original works. 🙂 The masonite panel that I used was also bigger than the print out, so that’s why it cuts off suddenly.( In case you were wondering)

This painting was really difficult. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not get the exact same colours as Courbet, the skin colour in particular, was hard to copy.

But I worked very hard on this and am happy with the result. This was strictly an educational exercise about how the masters worked, so obviously I won’t be selling it or putting it in any exhibition. But it is nice having my own little version of this ‘stressed out’ portrait.  It makes me wonder what he was thinking when he created the original.

In other news: Hubby turns 32 today! Yay! Happy Birthday baby!! 🙂