Monday, April 21, 2014

A Study in Symbolism

I recently had the privilege of teaching a class to explore symbolism through art.

The most obvious inspiration for me as a West Coast Canadian was to look to regional aboriginal art and the symbolism they weave into their storytelling, illustration and sculpture.





Feathers are particularly common in the art of the Haida people. The middle vein in the feather symbolizes the path that everyone walks in their life time, and every barb that comes off of the middle vein symbolizes the choices we all have in life, and that every choice we make is attached to the middle or main path that we take.

I introduced symbolism in this way for the class, and we started thinking about how we wanted to depict our own lives and the lives of our family members as represented by feathers while I handed out the project materials.

Here's how we did it!

First, we drew our own free-hand feathers on white cotton with waterproof black fineliners.  I provided some feather varieties as an example.




Using a variety of water-soluble mediums, we shaded in the "paths" our lives had taken...









With a small amount of decoupage high gloss finisher (we used Gesso) and a brush, we coated the entire illustration in order to stiffen and seal the fabric feather.





Once they were dry (only took about a half an hour...enough time for a glass of wine and a chat!), we easily cut around the outline on the feathers.




If we hadn't outlined the feathers earlier, or found we had lost too much structure or definition in the stiffening process, we added definition with a water-resistant fineliner now.




Positioning and mounting our textile masterpieces was the final step...here are some completed projects:






Thanks to all the participants for coming to the class and sharing your personal, respective journeys for the day.  Our focus on symbolism was a beautiful and strengthening experience for everyone!

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Weekly Courgette and Other Lovelies

The first week of April has been humming along at our haus...


We are the last gluten eaters alive.  (This particular homemade pizza is laden with zucchini,
mushrooms and spinach...we do a bit more vegetarian cooking during this season...)

During spring break, we had a wonderful, educational afternoon with our children at an
important local historical site:  The Gulf of Georgia Cannery.  These colourful pipes were a
 part of the steam-sealing section of the plant.

A very special family portrait I finished recently.  I was most pleased with the beautiful cheongsam  I painted my very beautiful subject in!

Mr. Hausfrau and I love going on dates.  Recently we went to a new place near my parents'
(thanks to them for keeping our littles while we got some alone time!).
We enjoyed the sausages, beer and this marvelous exposed brick-and-pipes feature wall.

What has been new and marvelous for you this week??

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Homage to a Hero

On an afternoon (quite a few months ago now), I hosted an art afternoon for Oliver and some of his friends but wasn't sure entirely what I was in the mood to make with them.

When they all arrived and sat at our table, they were enthusiastically babbling about a local hero they'd just celebrated and learned about at school.

Terry Fox was a student at the university in our town.  He lived a very short life, but through his courageous fight with cancer, indeed through the awareness he raised that permeates still, he made an impact that many cannot make in longer lifetime.

The children were full of inspiration, talking about Terry.  I decided then and there we'd try our hand at some art-bombing, in honor of Terry!

First, I quickly cut some heart shapes out of re-usable, red shopping bags (we have WAY too many...).  Each child got two, and we began stitching them together.



We then wrote personal notes to Terry (I spied some that read "you are my hero!" and "we love you Terry!"), tucked the notes into zip plastic baggies, then stuffed these water-proofed notes into the hearts.  We put a few stitches in to secure the note, attached a yarn hanger, and were off!




On our way to the statue of Terry on campus (with our art-hearts swinging)...




The children watched while I carefully hung their hearts on Terry's hand.  They stayed there for MONTHS in rain and sunshine, even snow!  The university photographer got a shot of it and posted it onto the university website, acknowledging the spontaneous act of love for this Canadian hero.  The children walk by the statue almost daily and were delighted with their surreptitious notes for Terry!




Terry, I hope you read our notes...I hope you know what a big difference you made!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Art Sleuthing

When it comes to my own art, I'm very critical.  I work and re-work, scrap, start over, work on colour saturation, until I'm in love with each piece.

When it comes to works by others, however, I'm a pushover!  I love any attempt at all, big or small!

My two littles (Oliver is six, Charlotte is three) are on spring break right now and we have accidentally stumbled upon art almost everywhere we've gone.




Together we've made a game of it - lets see who can spot the art in each space we're in.  We've discovered new artists who have their works displayed at our local library, bulletin boards at the local school that took more than a minute to linger over and reveled over our very own paper projects celebrating St. Pat's Day.

Art is everywhere!  Patterned backpacks of the students roaming the campus we live next to, canvasses hanging at the coffee shop we noticed while waiting for our teas and banana bread one afternoon, crazy carpet pattern in the lobby of the dentist's office...keep your eyes peeled...allow yourself to see the (accidental or intentional) artistry in every space!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Paint Project

Here on the west coast of Canada, we have many, many rainy days.

On indoor days, mommas have to get extra creative!  On one such recent occasion, I thought it would be fun to pull out some paints, glitter and brushes for Oliver and his friends.

Look what we made!





Here's how we did it!


Let's get started by choosing a set of favorite colours and make some big, bold stripes.

Then, we layed some crazy fabric mesh overtop (think it was wrapped around a bouquet someone brought over)...

...and painted a thin layer of white acrylic paint overtop.

Let's peel off the mesh...

...nice!

Now lets add some blobs of coloured sparkle paint here and there.

I had the children close their eyes while they thought of being in a beautiful place and doodled overtop of their dried creations with a black skinny sharpie.  It finished off the whimsical pieces nicely, I think!


Hung here, as part of this home gallery.  Pretty!



Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Homemade Fruitbar

After realizing we spend more than an appropriate portion of our household income on those foil-wrapped fruit 'n grain bars (we all love them), I set out to teach myself how to make them.

Turns out, it's easy!



Apricot Ambrosia Bars


If you have a food processor, you're able to make these too...no excuses!

I found a wonderful collection of tested recipes here.  Recently, I made a batch of Apricot Ambrosia bars and added a couple of teaspoons of ground flax seeds to the recipe, nothing more.  They turned out perfectly!  I cut them into serving sizes, wrapped them in cling and popped them into the fridge for one and all to help themselves.  I especially love them after a workout or to stave off the kids when they're "starving" just before dinner.

I'm off to make the Carrot Cake bars...or maybe the Key Lime bars...ugh...decisions!

Have you ever dried fruit yourself?  Made these types of bars or granola bars?  I'd love to hear!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Vader Valentine

The older Oliver gets (he's in grade one now), the more particular he is becoming...with many things.  

In previous years, we have collaborated to craft cards using buttons, nature, dressing up, and blowing kisses.  This year, he wanted something that was going to impress his peers (well, the Jedheads among them anyway).



I know I saw an editor from MSL make something like this years ago...Oliver is beyond pleased with the end result!

Hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day!  What will you be doing?
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