Thursday, July 31, 2008

If he builds it -- it will be beautiful

With all this talk of artists, I would be crazy to overlook
the artists in my own family. Next to having fun,
laughing and trying to stay chirpy, making stuff is a major
value over here. I know that doesn't excuse the mess
that seems to flood through our house in continuous
waves, but it does say there's always something going

In the past year Steven has taken up woodworking --
none of that easy, one-board shelving for him. He
picks projects that take endless time and patience,
and turns out gorgeous pieces of furniture.

Steven van Schaik
Oak tool chest

So far he's made a beautiful bookcase for his office,
an amazing Nantucket planter for the backyard for
a Mother's Day gift for me, and his latest creation,
shown here, is a oak set of drawers for his tools.

Isn't it completely amazing? Every chance he gets
on a sunny day, Steven slips out to the garage and
works away at his craft. The results speak for

Have a working-with-your-hands day!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

How it all began

My art career as such really began in 1992 when Jennifer
Hinrichs and I had our very first show in her house on
Governors Road. Before that I sold work, but
I produced drawings with pen and pencil crayon,
not paintings. Our first show of watercolours changed my
direction forever. We hadn't exhibited before, and
her house was the ideal space -- pretty, fairly
central with lots of white wall space. That
opening was great -- champagne flowed, lots of
people came, and we sold some work.

Plus it was an eye opener. We found out that
the most active interest in any show happens at
the opening -- which years later, we now know makes

Jennifer Hinrichs
Three artists and a model
40" x 33"
acrylic and pastel
Jennifer is an incredible artist -- who can do
every type of work from magazine illustration, to
watercolour, acrylic and oil, from landscape to the
figure. Her work is entirely original, entirely hers,
rich, glorious with a mysterious emotional depth.

After that initial exposure our careers as artists
took off. We've had many shows together and
with other artists since then. Jennifer opened
her own gallery at the Distillery with her husband
Michael and other artists.

Jennifer wins a Top Prize
at the Don Valley Art Club

One thing has remained constant -- my admiration
for everything she creates. She deserves to be
recognized as one of Canada's top artists.

Have a celebrate-your-friends'-talents day!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

My amazing Mom

I'm on holiday, and want to spend my
time reading and laughing. That's why for the next few
days I may feature the art and words of other people.
Of course one of the people who's influenced me more than
anyone else is my Mom, who has lived alone on a couple of
acres of land, on the Ottawa River since my Dad died more
than 20 years ago.

Isabel Muir
by Christopher Muir
from a photo of the work
in our March show at
the Skylight gallery

My son Christopher took a spectacular portrait of her last
fall. The portrait seems to capture much more than I
ever could in words. Mommy is brave and determined to
be cheery no matter what. I hope that I have inherited a
tenth of that spirit.

Christopher is an artist at almost everything he tries.
He's a great actor, super musician, has composed music to
accompany Shakespeare's As You Like It. So when he
turned his hand to photography it wasn't that surprising
that he had an eye, and talent. My own father was a very good
photographer, but just too shy about his work to go pro. When
he set up a little darkroom in our basement he had
a good job, and four growing children and a wife to
feed and clothe. He hand printed hundreds of 8 x 10 black
and white images before we moved to Toronto and he
lost his darkroom.

I got a third cast today - my second in a week. The last
cast cut off the circulation to my toes, and had a nasty
ridge over the top of the foot that hurt. Today -- relief
-- Stacey, the best cast sculptor ever, cut off the bad
cast. Sure enough there were dark bruises where I
said it was hurting. On went a new lovely cast,
with layer upon layer of soft batting under the hard
fiberglass and I feel human again.

Have a casting-life-in -a -good-light day!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Hop Along Holiday

Well now, I want to tell you that I have always felt sorry
for those people who do the T.O. religious thing and take
the corporate one week holiday. I'm sure they are
beloved at work, but it means their families never really
get to see who they are -- the real holiday persona.

Susan and Simone
first image
not done yet
acrylic on canvas
12" x 12"
When this broken ankle smashed our summer plans to
smithereens, we could have cut our usual summer
holiday short, and reserved some time for when I'm
walking again. But I know me. As soon as September
hits I am busy until April with at least two almost
full time jobs, and a lot of projects on the go. Artists
depend on other people, and other people are
flat out on docks at this time of year, burning their
beautiful skin and emptying their minds of all but
beer, lunch, dinner and that other acitivity. But all
that changes in the fall, when in addition to painting
for a rash of fall shows, I juggle with pleasure the
demands of commissions and school.

Susan and Simone
next stage
not finished yet
acrylic on canvas
12" x 12"

I'm glad we stuck to our original plan for a four week
vacation together, and here's why. The real vacation began
today. It seems to take us two full weeks to relax into
a vacation. Of course this one is particularly challenging
from the point of view of all out fun. But it hit today --
what you do. Steven napped for most of the afternoon
after cutting the grass, and cleaning the yard.

Long naps = vacation. Actually so does cutting the
grass, one of Steven's favorite man activities in Nova
Scotia. Then he picked up amazing take out
Thai, from Bua Thai, on Avenue Road. We eat
at restaurants a lot when we're at the schoolhouse.
After dinner we hopped (me literally) in the
car and went out to the Beaches, where he
wheeled me in my wheelchair along
paths covered with thick, dark, night trees.

We sat on a bench on the boardwalk staring at
the sand and the lake, and talked
to some other holiday people about stars. Then we
came home to sit in the dark on the back porch
staring at the stars above Toronto. There were some,
and no thunder until later -- which is a kind of miracle
in this stormy summer. This is holiday stuff --

Have a now-you-can-really-relax day!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Working the Sunday thing

I wish I had a photo of the Damn Fine Apple Pie
Steven made using Reagan Daley's In The Sweet
Kitchen cookbook. He picked the last apples
from the tree and had enough to make just one
more apple pie. But I digress.

Woman's Head
First View
Acrylic on canvas
10" x 10"
I seem to be getting out more. We made a trip
to the Eglinton and Spadina Shopper's Drugmart
and the wheelchair access gate was locked. To use
that gate you have to get someone from inside the
store to open it. So what are you supposed to do
if you can't find anyone? Luckily I can slip through
the bars on my crutches and then sit in the wheelchair.
The chair's a boon because I can't hold up on crutches
for more than a few minutes at a time.

Then we went to Starbucks and I didn't need the
wheelchair, I just winged in on the crutches.
That was cool -- to sit in my favorite coffee shop
with Steven and have a coffee. Then we visited
Sam briefly in the clothing store where he works --
again on crutches because we just walked in whipped
around the store and left. Each of these small
ordinary activities is a big deal when you've been

After all that excitement I fell asleep with Fiona
lying on me while I was reading my new magazines and a novel.

Woman's Head
Today's repair
acrylic on canvas
10" x 10"

But I'm off topic. I did paint today. I worked on two of
the paintings I showed you earlier this week. See
if you can see what I did to this one. You can.

It's not finished yet I don't think.

Have a doing-what-you-love day!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Under my skin

One of the things that matters a lot to a portrait painter
is how to paint skin. In fact you don't really have to
think about it much. You paint skin the way you
see it, with all the same rules of lighting and shape and tone
you use painting an apple or a bowl, or a clear blue sky.

The Secret
acrylic on canvas

The difference is mood. If you like rules you can find them,
but the rules are about technique, and artists need to
be ruled by something deeper.

Face Detail
Before the Dance in the Red Dress
acrylic on canvas

The first time I experienced the deeper side to
drawing was at art school with a model called Ellen,
who could convey more dignity nude than most
people could in any type of dress.

To do a good portrait you have to feel a mood -- the
all encompassing mood that the sitter exudes.
I'm not talking about the ups and downs of a
given day, but a feeling the sitter gives to the artist
in word, gesture, posture and attitude to life.

To the close observer, and when you're painting portraits
you become a close observer, there are no right, and no
wrong colours for skin. And every person's skin is a
unique range of colours fitting into a broad spectrum
of possibilities.

Shorelines The Beaches
acrylic on canvas

But if you're really stuck on how to paint a subject's skin,
get a blank piece of paper and test your colours -- mix
the right proportion of what feels right for you, and go
for it. That's a beginning -- to get the result that will make
you happy, you need to follow your heart, your eyes, and your

acrylic on canvas

Have a loving-the-skin-you're-in night.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The thrill of painting

One of the great things about painting, for those of
you who haven't been doing it lately, is that it
occupies your mind. When you start painting
every day, you go to sleep thinking about color,
and placement -- how to enhance, or fix what you
did that day. You paint in your dreams, and plan
new work. All of the anxious spaces in your mind
that could be filled with worry get filled up
with light, line, blue, gold, red, purple, yellow,
orange -- and of course black and white.

If you're not painting, start again. If you've never
painted, start and keep going. If you are painting,
high five, and here's to you!

Woman's Head
10" x 10"
acrylic on canvas
not finished yet

I'm including a small, loose portrait I was working
on today when I'd take a break from my big
portrait. I like the style a lot. It's based on a
friend of mine, but I don't care if it's a
likeness -- I just wanted to try something
different. I'll probably change the chin. Maybe
that's all.

Fresh Bread right out of the oven
Made by the incredible
bread baker -- Steven

Steven made bread tonight while we watched a
movie. What a beautiful sight. Both the
movie and the home baked, healthy bread.

Have an eating-fresh-bread-day!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Animal crackers

True my animals have been a bit crackers today -- but the real
reason for the title is that I'm painting animals again. You
might think that's simpler than painting people -- but isn't.
Getting the same verve, personality and joyous painting
feeling is just as demanding with animals as with people.

Susan and Simone
acrylic on canvas
12" x 12"

That made me think of this little painting I started last
fall, and didn't finish. The subject -- my cat
Simone wrapped around my friend Susan's neck, was
a good one. I loved Simone, but she died after surgery
last fall, and for a long time I didn't have the heart to
look at the painting.

Susan loved the photograph this painting was inspired
by. Simone loved Susan, who really doesn't like cats.
She especially loved Susan in a certain velvet collared
jacket Susan arrived in one day after work. Simone was
a shoulder sitter. Our cat Fiona isn't. Sometimes I
still get a clutch in my heart thinking about Simone,
but Fiona is an excellent distraction.

Simone the cat
Photo by Caitlin Grandison

I need to work on the painting a bit to finesse Susan's
face and hair, and to get Simone's beautiful eyes just
right. Oh and her ears need work. In fact the whole thing
is in a very rough state.

I like both the total awkwardness and humour
that's already there in the rough version of Susan's face.
Susan loves Cape Breton, that's why there's
just a hint of Big Smokey in the background.
I was working on my Shorelines series, and planned
to have a whole wall of people in favorite landscapes
painted on 12 " square canvasses and bolted together
to make a big canvas. I will do this one day!!!

Have a crazy like a fox day.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My magical family

Tonight I'm thinking about family, and remembered
the portrait of my family I did a few years ago to hang over
the dining room table.

Family Portrait
36" x 48'
acrylic on canvas
Not for sale

The dining room now serves a dual function, and except for parties
and special dinners is usually my studio -- but it can still dress
up when asked. I originally intended to add a photo collage to
each person in the family, but that proved to be too political.
Which photos should I use and where should I put them?
I started the project, included the photos I thought were
okay, and the painting remains in this state.

At the time my big questions were about where to place
each family member to let them know they mattered.
Now I can't tell you which decisions lead to the current
configuration. I really like the painting -- I love its
loose style, and how it captures how we all looked a few
years ago -- left to right: Sam, Christopher, Me and Steven.

I've been talking with my son Christopher, in Korea, on Skype --
such a strange sensation and yet so wonderful. I
snapped this picture while I talked to him. It was
morning there, and you can't see him too well --
but that's how we have our conversations now --
face to face over computer screens. In many ways
it seems like magic.

Christopher in Korea
Thursday Morning,
July 24,
Korean Time

Have a loving your family night.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Working with animals

Okay I admit it having a cast on can make me
grumpy from time to time -- especially when the doctor
decides I need a new "tighter" cast. I prayed for the
"artistic" cast person who knew how to make a cast
comfortable to build the new one, but she was at lunch
while the deed was being done.

The fair Fiona and Me with
one of Fiona's toy mice

What's funny is that my cat insists on good behaviour.
When Steven and I had a heated debate on the merits of
various cast technicians after a long day waiting in the hospital,
Fiona -- the superhuman Siamese ran from one to the
other of us, swatting at our faces, and yowling trying to
get us to stop. When I first brought her home I didn't know
I'd adopted the Miss Manners of the feline world.

Graeme and Coco
acrylic on canvas
24" x 36"

This brings me to the subject of tonight's blog -- painting
animals. I love animals -- cats and dogs and birds, especially.
I don't see myself as an animal portrait painter, but
many people love their animals and want them
in the picture. I'm working on such a painting right
now, but it's still under wraps. The ideal set up of
course would be to have the animals come with the
client and pose them in the studio.

The painting I'm including tonight of Graeme Northcote,
required some extra planning. Coco was a three month
old puppy when we started work, and four or five months
old when we finished. She agreed to a very wriggly five
minute sitting once, and I worked from photos. But
people sit differently when they're holding an
animal -- so we used a very large stuffed toy rabbit
as a substitute.

Then Coco came back for another fast photo session
when the picture was almost finished and I had
to paint her again, she had grown so much, and her
facial expression had changed.

Suzanne and David like my painterly style. That
fact alone made the painting a delight to work

Graeme was 12 at the time, and we had great
talks over cookies during the breaks.

Have a loving-your-pets day.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Quick hit

Cedarvale Park
This is the path I
followed on my wheelchair

Hi there. I don't have a lot to say today -- it's late and I am
incredibly tired. Today Raylea came over for tea, and she
is so much fun. Then Steven took me for a long walk pushing
me in the rented wheelchair in the park. I drank in the fresh air,
the smell of clover -- which is all we smell out our windows in
Nova Scotia. In fact when we drive to Nova Scotia from
Toronto the fresh air smell starts in Moncton and just gets
stronger the closer we get to Pugwash. That part of the country
seems cleaner than Toronto, although we've had a pretty
great summer here.

It was a gorgeous day -- sunny with strange sun showers,
but Raylea and I sat looking at the sparkling leaves in
the afternoon sun for a few minutes, and Steven and I
sat down on some steps in the park (our park needs more
benches) and talked to doggers (people who have dogs)
as they strolled by calling sweetly to their canine companions,
"Roy, come here sweetie" , "Jasmine, leave the little girl alone!
Good doggie, want a cookie? There's a good girl."

Wide sky at sunset
Pugwash style

I love the wide sky in the park -- it reminds me of the wide
views over the ocean. I'm not sad about Nova Scotia
at this point -- but I still yearn to be there.

Steven on the beach where he longs to be
looking at
Eagles through
his binoculars

Have a yearning happily day.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Painting for pleasure

Our baby apple tree in September 2003

This little apples in a bowl painting is almost done. The nice
thing about writing the blog, is that my artist friends
write me and ask me questions about what I'm doing.
One question last week about gel medium made me
realize it was the answer to this painting. I added some gel
to my apple green, and a smidgen of white, which thickened it
enough to stop the rough watercolour feeling I was getting
with the green.

Starting the painting

Working on the bowl and more detail

How do I like them apples? Now I like them.

Green Apples in a Bowl
acrylic on canvas
7" x 9"
For Sale

It's been a rainy day, making it easy to do just about
nothing. We watched Dana Carvey on HBO, and sat on
the back porch loving the rain and feeling happy
about having a covered deck (a porch). A few
other houses in the neighbourhood have porches
too, and you could hear those people having fun.
Everyone else was enjoying summer inside today.

I worked on my painting tonight, and expect to
paint most of the day tomorrow. But I'd really
like some sun, because rainy pavement is risky for
people on crutches and I want to go outside -- right

Have a walking-proud day.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Saturdays are super

Pansies on the kitchen table

It's been a great day. My wonderful friend Susan called to
suggest we go to the Tony Robbins event at the end of
the month -- but just to one day -- so I have to investigate.
I watched the fans in a number of Tony Robbins You Tube
videos jumping and screaming, and although I am
getting amazingly strong I won't be jumping at the end of
this month -- I'll still be on crutches. I did dance to Feist
in the kitchen on my crutches today, but I find that one
dancing foot gets tired when the other one can't join in.

I was so pumped just at the idea of seeing Tony live,
that I felt happy all day. I love the Saturday relaxed feeling.
I read the Style section of the Globe while I drink my coffee
in bed with my novel close by in case I needed more reading
material. Suzanne called and we laughed, then Caitlin -- one
of the wonderful young women who sometimes works for
me came by and helped me pick the pansies. She set
up my wheelchair in the garden and I zoomed out (funny)
on my crutches while she picked the nasturtiums and
deadheaded the lovely pink lilies. Then we
hoofed it back inside, where she ate a slice
of Steven's apple pie, while I had an apple, and we
went upstairs to my computer to see if she could
figure out the Mac web designer program.

Her sunny nature, and quick wit make her a
total pleasure to have around.

Steven, Sam and I had dinner on the back porch while
the rain came down all around us, and then it was
time for TV movies and now bed.

The Yellow Pail
22" x 30"

I'm including a watercolour from ages ago that
I did from a black and white photo of Steven's
brother as a child. I like the way it caught the
sunlight -- my obsession when I painted it.

It is summer.

Have a happy-to-be-hot-and-sticky day.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The joys of solitude

I spent most of the day alone today and discovered some
vital truths. One -- I realized how strong I've become in the
12 days since I broke my ankle. Two -- I realized how much
stronger I would like to be.

Warm Companions
acrylic on canvas
4" x 6"

But seriously - solitude is a wonderful gift to an artist.
I struggled around the house, sliding downstairs holding
my crutches, crawling upstairs, holding my crutches. I
whirled around on the wheeled office chairs on our first
and second floors. I hobbled outside after a re-heated supper
found in the fridge, and sat with my foot up on the back porch
looking at the evening clouds. And I painted. The
long silences between kind friends and relatives calling
to offer assistance, and my son coming home from work
bringing me roses, left me time to breathe and realize
how lucky I am to be an artist.

Here's the almost finished kettle and teabag jar painting.

Have a happy to be yourself day!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Inside scoop on the studio scene

Young models relaxing between sittings

The other day I read the funniest advice on a professional portrait
painter's site. It talked about making wealthy clients feel
comfortable, by having your "rooms" and clothes tasteful and
as elegant as those the client is accustomed too.

I'm afraid this made me laugh. Some -- most -- of my clients
live in houses much more spacious and luxurious than my
semi-detached home.

Did I say that my living room and dining room have been
converted to a studio? The once pristine antique dining room table
is clotted with bits of acrylic paint, and even though I now cover
the table with cerelux plastic, the damage was done long ago.

I have a friend with an official studio and a still clean living
room and dining room, who talks about creeping acrylic.
This is a common problem in artists' homes. Despite every effort
to make sure the paint doesn't invade the rest of the house, it does.

My friend Pam in California taught me that you remove acrylic
with rubbing alcohol. Now and then when the mood hits I try to
get some of the marks off the floors and walls.

So far my clients seem to enjoy the informality of my setting.
They like the cats, the dog and the cookies. They don't mind the
family traipsing through from occasionally. Having your
portrait painted is a a daunting proposal. Running a relaxed
studio makes both sitters for commissions and paid models
happier. There's my tip.

Reading before the dance
acrylic on canvas
36" x 48"
For Sale
contact the artist at
the email address listed above this blog

Have a keeping the company happy day!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Capturing sunlight

Katie and Sam
Watercolour full sheet

Before I started working in acrylics about 6 years ago I'd been doing
watercolours for 10 years. Towards the end of that period I started to
focus primarily on people. Light was everything to me, and
I gravitated to painters who could convey the intensity of sunlight
and shadow with ease. One of these was Skip Lawrence, who I
didn't meet and study with, until he, was no longer so interested
in the hot light of summer, and I was no longer painting in watercolour.

Why the shift for me? I'd like to do watercolour now and then, but it
is the kind of medium that really demands control and
understanding. I remember the fun of almost spilling the paint
around the paper like I did with this portrait, and the surprises
that happen with every watercolour are one of the joys of
painting. Now I love the way I can make "mistakes" and change
the decisions I make when I begin to paint, at any time during a
painting. Plus, from a practical point of view, works on canvas are
worth more, and I don't need to frame my paintings -- a huge expense
-- to enter shows. But the real reason I've stayed with acrylics is that
they can create powerful colour, my current passion, and they're
so much fun to use.

Have a capturing sunlight day.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How do you like them apples?

Not to bore you with the apple theme, but once again I worked
on my little apple painting. Steven and I went up to Seneca College
in King City today and the drive was lovely. In places wildflowers
bordered the road, in whites, mauves and yellow. Outside a farmhouse
high pink hollyhocks stood in translucent beauty shot through with

Above you see how the apples (cooking not eating apples)
are supposed to look when they're ripe -- big and yellow.
One year the tree was so late flowering, that the fruit was late
and missed the demon worms. This year some of the fruit is
yellow, but most is about two days shy of this perfection,
and we're using it now.

Wonderful Caitlin, who used to help me out a lot in
the summer, has been over working for me tonight and
teaching me some new ideas about how to manage my blog.
Thanks to her anyone can now comment on my blog. So
please do. You no longer have to be a Blogger member to

I'll show you the next stage of the little apple painting
from yesterday, with some detail added in on the china.
I'm not finished yet, but I'll keep you up to date. I like the
bold shapes of the apples, and the leaf like a flag, contrasted
against the complicated pattern on the china

Have an enjoying-the-details day!

Monday, July 14, 2008

The apple of my eye

What a great day we had today. Steven took me out in the garden in my rented wheelchair, (which is light, comfortable and not bad looking), and I helped him plant the nasturtiums.

The garden, despite our neglect what with one thing and another (me breaking my ankle) looked just magnificent. The poppies are out and flourishing, and soon I'll have more nasturtiums than I can ever pick.

And the apple tree was laden with almost ripe apples. If we left them, the worms would get them because we're organic gardeners, so we picked a huge bag full (Steven did, I pointed out where the
apples were hiding in the tree) and tonight
Sam and I made applesauce, and Steven made a delicious apple pie. Both creations were a bit tart, but delicious with that wonderful combination of sweet and just a touch of sour -- Yum. Amazing.

I love the look of apples picked from our own tree, so
I began a small 7" x 9" painting, and I'll show you the first
Images: 1. Sam making applesauce
with the Foley Food Mill.

2. Steven getting the pie ready while
Sam makes applesauce.

3. The finished apple pie.

4. The first stage in my painting
of green apples in a bowl.

Enjoy the season wherever you are.

Have a sweet-as-pie day.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A fine kettle of fish

The cast party was interrupted for most of the day, today when Steven fainted in the upstairs hall this morning, and we weren't sure if he was hurt or not. Another trip to emergency, our third in one week. It was as the title suggests not the way we'd want to spend a beautiful Sunday in July. I was thanking my lucky
stars that we live in Canada and all of this was free. We've been to the
hospital now more times in a week, than in our entire marriage -- not
counting the two births. Whew.

But we want to thank the EMS Paramedics, Susan and Brian
who were so kind and caring to us, Dr. MacDonald who gave
Steven the all clear, Josephine and Luigi who helped
us out big time. Steven's brother John bought Thai take out, and in
the end we celebrated that all of us are fine. Steven's brother Dave
and his son Andy, dropped in with a delicious dessert. True I've got a
broken ankle, but I'm getting better and the rest of the family is sleeping

Maybe you remember this painting from the first images I showed you. I worked on it tonight. It's not quite done. The jar with the teabags needs to be completed, and the background needs something. The kettle is almost finished, and I'm happy with how it's coming along.

Tomorrow I'll get back to working on my commission.

Have a take-it-easy day.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Life's a party

Being happy is a great way to motivate yourself to paint. Today has been just a lovely Saturday, and once again I worked a bit in my studio, on a little painting having balance problems like
me -- getting it just right.

Josephine and Luigi came over and we played crib just the way we do in Nova Scotia with Ian and Marilyn, plus we ate supper on the back porch listening to the Salsa on St. Clair festival -- incredible music and loud enough for us to enjoy as background two blocks north.

A couple of weeks ago a friend asked me if I wanted to stop the dance theme, now that both my kids are finished with the prom scene. I don't think so. I love how people teenagers, adults, children look dressed up.

Here's Sam at the prom.

Dance the night away!

Friday, July 11, 2008

The cast party

When we were in the "cast room" at the hospital on Tuesday, Steven kept
asking when the cast party was going to begin. I'm a big believer that
the "universe" or whatever you like to call it, or not call it, provides.

Today my broken ankle dominated until the cast party began. I was sitting in my room feeling sorry for myself and in considerable pain, while
Steven was visiting my friend Mike the pharmacist, who told him what
I should take so I could sleep. My friend Suzanne helped me rearrange
my studio and lower my easel so I could continue to paint with greater
ease. My friend Susan dropped in with Niko, the greatest herbalist and
Chinese medicine healer I have ever met, who taught me some pressure
point tricks for pain, and gave me some pills to help my bones grow
quickly. Plus Susan and Niko brought us supper, which was amazing.
Raylea said she'd bring me a homeopathic bone healer. And out of the blue Lisa, who didn't know I'd hurt my leg, brought her cute dog Leila, who played with my dog Zoey, while Lisa and I laughed, and I put my leg up.

I have to haul myself up and down stairs (two flights of them in our house) on my posterior, enough to hamper my artistic spirit sometimes.
At one point today when I was feeling really low, I got a call from one of Tony Robbin's people who I talked to five years ago when I ordered a tape, and he asked me if I'd like to learn to walk on hot coals. That made me laugh so hard I remembered not to take myself so seriously. I actually wanted to be like Tony Robbins back in 2003.
Now I know I'm lucky to be me. I told Anthony Garcia who called that I'd love to meet Tony Robbins, but with the current state of my leg I had no interest in walking on fire. So maybe I'll go to the weekend of inspiration -- but I'll still be on crutches then.

Meanwhile here's a drawing of cats from an ancient notebook, and a self portrait done when this artist was very young and
earnest. The portrait is another reminder to get over myself and
let the cast party begin. Thanks to all of my friends and family who
make my days on this planet a delight.

Have a party-for-your-cast day.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The power of the positive

Since I broke my ankle, it really hurts. Getting back to my positive
nature has been especially challenging because this event means we
can't go to the ocean this summer. Talk about an adjustment in thinking.
But I'm working on it. I did a bit of painting today, but I have to
figure out how to work with my leg elevated, and how to elevate
my foot comfortably.

People paint with far worse afflictions than
my temporary state.

I took my photo today and it's blurry, but you can see I'm coming
back to normal.

I wrote a Mike Dooley type message on my cast to remind myself
of what matters, and the coloured pencil drawing is one I did many
years ago when Sam was a baby. It's framed and under glass. We
started going out east the summer we rented a cottage on P.E.I. and
Sam, who was nine months old spent five weeks on the beach
eating seaweed. This drawing is beside my bed so now that I'm
spending more time with my feet up I see it quite a bit.

Have an enjoy-walking day.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Reading for pleasure

This painting is one of a number I've done of people reading.
One of the subjects I teach is English, and it makes me sad that
only 20% of Canadians read for their own enjoyment. Another sad stat is that 43% of Canadians are functionally illiterate.
Since I broke my ankle, my visitors have all brought reading material (they've also brought me flowers -- how lovely). So I'm thinking about all of the people who are restricted
physically like I am who can't disappear into the pages of a really
good book. It makes me realize how incredibly lucky I am.

This is a painting called "Girl Reading." The model was the
beautiful Claudia. It's a big painting 3 ft. x 4 ft., and I like the mood.

Have a reading-and-loving-it night

Portrait Artist

My photo
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I paint and draw on commission and for shows. To commission a portrait, or purchase one of my paintings please contact me at:
A major highlight in my career? Drawing Oprah Winfrey live via Skype for her show "Where in the Skype are you? Galleries: Studio Vogue Gallery, Toronto, Canada. The Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, New York City. Gallery at the Porch Door, Kingston, Canada. Your positive comments on this blog mean the world to me. I'd love to hear from you!