The prompt game

As promised here are the very first two paintings I did as part of this course.  The second week we did some work in sketchbooks and in the third week we moved into painting.  I made this painting using the “prompt game’.  This game was designed to loosen us up.  Basically you put a bunch of prompts written on paper into a bowl and pull them out one by one.  You do what the prompt tells you for two minutes.  Then you pull out another prompt.  I loved pulling “add a splash of red” and was terrified by “paint with your eyes closed”!!  Ack!  It definitely took me out of my comfort zone and I was prepared for some HIDEOUS paintings.  But I’m actually quite pleased with the results and once I got going, I had a BLAST!  Check out painting number two:

I know they are not perfect but I was so excited to have actually painted something that resembles…er, a painting?  I loved the freedom that having to follow instructions gave me…I’m not responsible for all that white that went over everything else – the game made me do it!  Without the responsibility for having decided to do what is on the canvas I was free to just enjoy the process and I learned a ton about how paint works.  I can’t recommend Sarah’s class enough!


A room of her own: part II

I did get momentarily sidetracked by helping Lil’S with her art space but eventually, slowly, I put this together:

Yes, it is at the bottom of my basement stairs and right upside the cast iron sewer pipe.  Yep.  But it is my space.  I can craft and paint and sew my little heart out here.  The good news is it does have a window and since I’ve taken this picture I replaced the white sheet (that is hiding our shoe rack) with a curtain rod and a curtain.  I couldn’t be more pleased!

Pages and Paint has been an amazing course so far.  The first week we were charged with setting up our spaces, gathering supplies and making an inspiration wall.  This is mine:

My favourite part is this picture that Lil’S drew of me when she was really little.  This thrifted picture frame turns it into a true masterpiece don’t you think?

I know this next picture is kind of out of focus but see if you can spot the vintage map of Nipigon, Jellicoe and Geralton!!  A little piece of home.

The thing is I find the easiest time to take pictures and get work done is at night so my photos are of questionable but sharable quality.  This one is a bit clearer:

The old picture is one of my grandma and my great-grandma ploughing a field with a horse-drawn plough.  I love the “attachments” bit.  It is the top of an old box of singer sewing machine parts.

What a gorgeous shelf, you say?  You recognize the colour don’t you?  Yes, it is true this is another of my Chalk paint wonders.  And yes, it is the same colour as the paint for the fantastic metal shelf transformation...from the same can of paint actually.  I wasn’t kidding when I said this stuff goes a long way!  This is project number three for one can!  This is what it looked like before:

A really crazy, awful MDF faux wood disaster that I’d been hanging onto since I lived at home.  It was almost trashed in the last move and now it has found new life.

Nothing like a cheerful paper bunting to hide wiring…sigh.  It isn’t perfect but already I have made more art here than I did before I had a dedicated space with everything I need out and ready to go.  Just one more reason why I am so grateful to the creative and amazing women over at Squam Art Workshops.  If you need an artistic kick in the pants they are the people to see!

I can’t wait to share with you my creations from Page and Paint though…next post I promise!

a room of her own – the prequel

Some of you may already know that I am taking an AMAZING online art course called Pages and Paint with incredibly talented Sarah Ahearn Bellemare.  In the first week of the course we (students from all around the world), were charged with gathering supplies, creating a work space and creating an inspiration board.  Our job was then to photograph all three and post them to our private flicker group.  I’m finally getting around to photographing my space.  I still need to tidy it up a bit before I’ll let anyone see.

So until I get those photos up, I’ll share with you how this flurry of artsy activity in this house has sparked a whole lot of…well, artsy activity (not that we have a shortage of that here ; ).  Lil’S has decided that she too needs a space of her own to do her “work”.  She spent this morning and most of the afternoon gathering and arranging, choosing her furniture and her art pieces.  When she was satisfied she sat down and drew a picture of her sister who was playing nearby.  “Look mama” she said as she showed me her drawing.  “This is great.  I love my new space…but I’m gonna need something with drawers”.  Already she is planning an upgrade!

She sat at her desk and carefully chose which drawings and paintings she wanted to put up over her desk.  She fussed over the perfect placement of everything; which containers she would need…

I love how she added paper frames to her drawings!

A few of my faves from her “How to draw monsters and bugs” book…

The final result.  She wanted quite a few supplies within reach and so there ended up being paper and books under her desk and beside it in a basket.  Maybe she does need something with drawers after all!  PS.  I love that she drew on her chalk board “Scarlett’s work space”…just in case there was a question.


And now for the rest of her room.  The title is a bit inaccurate, as none of us actually have a room of our own.  This room was supposed to be my craft/art space but J’s treadmill didn’t fit where it was supposed to and so I lost my dream of a room of my own.  The girls use it as a playspace (which now include’s Scarlett’s work area).  Here is what the rest of the space looks like:

Here is our beloved craft supply closet.  (Also, why are Mrs. Iverson’s dolls always in some sort of compromised pose?)

The girls love it because of this fascinating old key.  They love to pretend to lock the closet (it doesn’t actually lock), take the key out of the lock, place it gently into their apron pockets, walk around aimlessly for a while, only to arrive back at the closet where they withdraw the key from said pocket and insert it into the lock, cautiously look around (lest someone should see what is held within this magical closet), turn the key and dramatically open the doors.  Repeat.

You are some of the lucky few to get a glimpse at…er, our craft supplies.

And then there is the “horse corner”.  What is it about girls and their horses?  The two riding horses were given to us by our dear friend Heather.  Her daughters had outgrown them and they were a happy addition to our home.  I made the harness you see on the white horse out of ribbon and metal washers.  I suppose I should get around to making one for the other horse sometime…maybe I’ll show you how if I do…

This is Mrs.Iverson’s kitchen.  She is quite serious about her “cooker-maker” duties here and in our real kitchen.  Here is a question: see that doll house to the left?  I would have killed for it as a child.  I thought my kids would love it.  They don’t.  They don’t play with it at all.  Maybe once in a blue moon.  Yet they won’t let me get rid of it.  They are little still so maybe I should hang on to it and they will hit a stage where they do want to play with it?  Thoughts?

These Alice in Wonderland pictures were from an oversized colouring book from Auntie Patty.  We love them…

There is a whole other corner of the room that I didn’t photograph.  It holds our old coffee table that is the perfect height for using clay and playdough, colouring and painting for Mrs. Iverson.  Beside that is another bookshelf with toys and musical instruments.  Clearly this shelf belongs to the Mrs.  Sometimes I see little scenes like this and totally crack up.

So there you go.  Another room shared for those of you who have been asking for more house stuff.  I promise to share my new space soon.  Until then!

A birdie for Wren

Oh dear.  It appears I am about to write another post that is not quite about Squam.  I’ll get to it, I really will.  Life is busy.  My mind a little preoccupied with the everyday happenings.  But Squam is there.

I arrived back home with gifts.

A ceramic candle holder for Cathy and Eric.  A thank you for looking after the girls while I was away.  A set of five finger puppets for Mrs. Iverson.  And for Lil’S, the embroidery sampler from my class with Rebecca Ringquist.

She LOVED it!  We set to work straight away.  Scarlett already knew that she wanted to make something for her cousin Wren’s upcoming birthday and now she had an idea.  It took a bit to get her to slow down enough to learn each stitch.  Mrs. Iverson took right to it and it seemed had already been taught how to embroider?  I showed them how to tie a know in the back of the work and Ivy turned over her piece and, ta-da, she deftly made a knot!!

Scarlett was particularly curious about the sulky solvy that I had used to transfer an image onto a piece of fabric I was embroidering.  I had some left over from my class with Rebecca so I let Lil’S use it.  Up to her room she went.  Down came one of the number flashcards on her wall.  The one with the wrens on it (be still my heart, this crafty and thoughtful girl of mine makes my heart ache sometimes).

You can see the flash card on the table in the picture above. She traced one of the wrens onto the sulky solvy with a Sharpie.  The embroidery hoop kept the solvy and the fabric in place and she started to embroider.  I’ll admit she did really well for a beginner.  But she really did want to fill in every last bit of space and that took some time.  So she would occasionally pass the hoop to me and ask me to fill some in for her.  She’d snatch it back after some time had passed though, worried that if she didn’t do more that she wouldn’t be able to say she made it.  A joint effort and so lovely:

While this joint project was being worked on by Lil’S I worked on a special addition to the gift myself.  Actually I had started it at Squam with a mind to make one for each of the girl cousins for Christmas this year.  Wren got hers early I suppose : )

We then had a brilliant idea to make this into a door hanging instead of two separate hoops to hang.  We ran a bright yellow ribbon (Wrennie’s favourite colour) behind the fabric in each hoop.  Viola!  What do you think?

Upon returning from Squam…

I’m not sure I know how to write about Squam.  I know for certain that my words will fail to capture the lived experience.  My photos are incomplete as I most often chose to put down my camera in favour of picking up knitting needles, pulling thread through fabric and putting pen to paper.  I feel compelled to at least try to process it, and while I do I’ll share it here….

…a picture to start.  Taken just after I arrived in my cabin. This screened in porch was just off the room where I slept.  Can you imagine?  I put down my suitcase and stepped into this space. I looked out at the breathtaking beauty of the trees, the rock lined path to the dock on the lake…”I’m here” was the thought that entered my mind…

That thought was quickly followed by feeling an intriguing mix of excited giddiness and utter calm.  If I’m honest, those feelings never really left me the entire time.

On the ride home my mind and my heart were full.  My soul replete.  Squam had been everything it promised to be and more.  I imagined telling friends and family back home about it in great detail.  But I found this task appreciably harder than I thought.  Today sitting at a friend’s kitchen table all that would come out of my mouth was “you should go” and “you need to go” and “it was 100 times more wonderful than I’d imagined”.  I was at a loss to express what Squam is or was…

For me, and I believe this is true for many, Squam is a deeply personal experience.  There likely is a common experience but I am hesitant to share what I think that might be lest another Squammie feel that I failed to grasp, to express, to capture the true essence of Squam.  I don’t want to paint an inaccurate picture.  But oh, I do want to share it!  And so my Squam story will likely come out in bits – my reflections on the common thread that surrounded us all, that brought us together during those glorious 4 days, my fabulous classes, the wonderful teachers, the inspirational attendees…and there are a few hilarious personal stories I’m sure to share, like being the Canadian in residence for my cabin (I do believe I bloody-well represented!) and I may regale you with a first hand account (I’m ashamed to admit) of the rather unfortunate dock disaster of Squam 2012…

So I will leave you, dear reader, with this teaser for a few more days.  Tomorrow I will be immersed in the final planning for the 4th Annual Birth Fest celebrations which takes place on Saturday June 16th from 10-2 at Portsmouth Olympic Harbour!  All you locals, I look forward to seeing there.  I will be channeling my inner Elizabeth in the hopes of encouraging everyone, exhibitors and attendees alike, to enjoy these four hours together, to connect, to share and to celebrate our Birthing Village!

Oh!  And then it is Father’s Day…so until next week then : )

My experience of never having been to Squam.

I did it!  On January 9th I submitted my registration to Squam Art Workshopsagain.

I had first read about this amazing art retreat on Amanda Soule’s blog, Soulemama about a year and a half ago (you must click here and here to read all about her own unique experience of this event and the community created there).  I read her first post and I explored the Squam website…and I knew it offered something that I needed.

The deadline for submissions was fast approaching and I had to make a few decisions like, if no one will go with me, dare I go alone?  Yes.  I dared!

Which classes to take?  Travel by car, train or air?  How exactly to find the money…

It all feel into place.  I was going to attend the Fall 2011 session!  Exciting and terrifying – such an intoxicating mix!

But then life threw me a curve ball.  It was not meant to be.  I made the difficult decision not to go to Squam.  At the time I was consumed with the issue at hand and my disappointment was overshadowed by more important matters.

And so you’d think that my post about Squam would end there.  I didn’t go.  I don’t have a personal Squam story to tell do I?

But this is the MAGIC of Squam.

I’ve been touched by it.  I didn’t have to attend Squam to feel it or know it.  Squam begins before you’ve ever set foot on the grounds…and I’ve heard it lasts long after you leave…

I contacted Elizabeth to let her know I could no longer attend and to enquire as to how to proceed.  I felt so awful taking up her time knowing full well that a month before a huge event like is NOT the time to bother the woman planning it!!  I expected an efficient reply with my options regarding what to do and that was about it.  What I received was so much more…I felt like I had contacted an old friend.  Elizabeth offered caring, concern and never once did she ask why I had cancelled.  No hint of resentment or impatience or judgement.  Through email she exuded a kindness, an incredible sense of calm (through email people!  THAT is hard to do!!).  I was immensely grateful.

At Elizabeth’s direction I put the word out to the other Squam-hopefuls on the Squam Yahoo group.  I asked if any one would take my spot to help recoup the cost.  Within hours I received 6 messages.  Two were to enquire about taking my spot.  Four were messages expressing concern, offerings of prayers, telling me they hoped it would all work out.  The next day there were more messages with the same incredible mix of sorting out my immediate problem and offering me words of encouragement and wishing me well.

You see?  I didn’t have to go to Squam to be touched by this wonderful community.

And so it worked out.  Someone (a wonderful person named Brittany Soucy) did me the favour of exchanging my registration for hers.  In an email I asked her to “promise to have an extra-good time”.  She promised.

And so once again, you’d think the story would end there.  But it didn’t.  Brittany sent me a card in the mail.  A handmade card.  On the front it read:  It will be okay.

…and it was.

Squam June 2012 or BUST!!!!!!!