Wednesday, June 29, 2011

other people's work

If I had a house and that house had a garden and in the garden was a pond and I happened to need a gnome then this is the gnome I'd choose to live in the pond in the garden of the home that I'd have.

David Goode makes bronze sculptures using a lost wax casting process. The results are wonderful and if you'd like to see just how here's a link to his site. Sometimes I think I take a long time doing things but one of his pieces can take 6 months or more.

If you don't have that kind of time perhaps you'd like to see a story about a little guy made of scrap metal who's looking for a home in the world:

origins from Robert Showalter on Vimeo.

I love animation.

Crow or I will be back soon.

Friday, June 24, 2011

mid-summer contest

A few weeks ago I went digging through some unpacked boxes looking for something or other and emerged instead with another part of my rather large seed bead collection. Are you aware that beading is one of the great addictions once you've been stabbed by a long and very thin beading needle? That happened to me quite a long time ago and after several years worth of projects I finally packed all the beads up and hid them from myself. Now I've found them again and just for the heck of it I made myself a new bracelet. For the further heck of it I've decided it might be fun to make one for one of you.

Here's the deal if you're interested: The bracelet above is 7½" x ¾" and fits my wrist loosely. You may notice it has writing on it (because I never forgot the little beaded belt I got that said Niagara Falls when I was a kid). I can't seem to figure out how to get a really good picture that shows detail and sparkle both so we'll go with this one. Anyway, to whoever wins this contest the prize would be a bracelet made to fit you (or whoever you'd like to give it to) made with the base colors of your choice. It will also have whatever phrase or name you'd like so long as there are not many more than 16 letters. The only thing you have to do to enter is submit a phrase with 16 characters. This doesn't have to be the one you'd have me make.

Crow will choose the winner at random on July 1st. After that it will take me about a week to make the prize bracelet. Then we have to hope the mail strike in Canada ends by then.

What if they gave a mail strike and nobody cared?

Who ever heard of a mailbox with an out of service sign?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

kabuki Crow

Crow here. Favorable trade winds have carried me home from places further away than you'd easily believe. Before returning to susan's castle in the sky (and chasing some grungy pigeons off her balcony on the way in) I made a stopover in Japan for a visit with some old friends.

In Japan dragons have always been associated with the power of the sea. In March we witnessed the awesome destruction caused by a tsunami after a major earthquake. The results of that were bad enough but before any of us could really comprehend the destruction, the events at Fukushima took the spotlight position. Some may have wondered why the nuclear reactors were placed right next to the sea but in reality that's not unusual at all.

During normal operations older nuclear power plants require approximately 15,000 gallons of water per minute to keep the radioactive cores cool. Once the chain reaction begins it never really stops - not in anything close to the possible lifetime of any species currently living on Earth. It would have been nice if the scientists who first developed nuclear power had decided to look for a way to neutralize radioactivity (something that defies the laws of physics) before countries actually started using them as a means of cheap power. Did you know there are more than 440 nuclear plants currently in use and most of them have more than one reactor? The largest percentage of them are also more than 25 years old which makes it extra worrisome when you think of nuclear facilities as old tech. susan's electric toothbrush is probably smarter than the systems installed several decades ago ('You missed a spot', it cheerfully informs her.) Should I even mention that nuclear power plants produce tons of radioactive waste that would require safe and secure storage guaranteed to last at least 10,000 years? Nobody anywhere wants the stuff buried nearby.

Since people are often short sighted and greedy, it seems quite likely that when nuclear power plant operators have to decide between profit and maintenance it doesn't take much guessing to know which one they'll generally choose. Human beings tend to believe only in dangers they can see. If nuclear power plants spawned real dragons instead of particles that kill either fast or slow then everyone would demand they be shut down immediately.

Nuclear power is deadly to children and all living beings. Remember that the sun will always shine and the wind will always blow somewhere.

Now I'm off to have a snifter of brandy and a taste of the fine fruitcake susan just carried in on my favorite antique silver salver.


This is the painting I finished just as Crow arrived home. Please don't give me too much credit for the dragon since much is owed to the famous Japanese print artists Hokusai and Hiroshige. The mistakes, including weird color combinations, are all mine.

ps: The sign over the gate is the best copy I could make of the 'three non-nuclear principles' kanji which promised that Japan would not possess, manufacture, or introduce nuclear weapons. If only they'd passed on the rest.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

the studio 2011

I've been tempted several times in the past few days to show you the current Crow portrait through it's drawing and inking stages but I'd rather save showing it until it's finished. Likely as that is to be a few more days I thought I'd show you this year's version of my workspace. Tiny, isn't it?

With the exception of a block of standing shelves to the left and slightly behind where the scanner, more paints, inks, and other supplies wait close to hand my studio occupies a corner of our living room on the wall furthest from the west facing windows. It's not ideal but there's a natural light artist's lamp that lights the work well enough throughout our frequent overcast days. There's another lamp I can use as required but no space to leave it permanently. My portfolios are under the left side of the table leaning against the wall and behind my saddle stool are the sketchbooks, two boxes filled with silk painting supplies I'm loathe to unpack, and a tall but narrow chest of drawers that holds peripherals.

Stretcher frames, sewing machine, boxes filled with silk and fancy fabrics live down the back hall where we luckily have some enormous closets. The framed artworks we brought with us are also still in their professional moving cartons in one of those closets. After eight months in Halifax we continue to wait for news from the Canadian government that my husband will be welcome to stay. Immigration allows itself almost a year to complete its review and in the meanwhile we'll remain where we are. Why add confusion to a complicated process?

I still feel like an ex-pat American far from home. Nova Scotia is a quirky place but the world is full of them and it's friends who make a place comfortable. You all help a lot with that.

My paper should be dry again now and Crow is calling.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

still slacking

If I had a dollar for every time someone has told me they can't draw I'd be a thousandaire by now. In actuality, I can't draw either and that's why it takes so long for me to come up with new bits and pieces that entertain me and occasionally a few others.. like you, I hope. Anyhow, if you'd like to try something fun while you're waiting for the next scandal to break, your muse to speak, or if you have a little downtime at your job you might like to try the Scribbler at That's where I came up with this interesting rendering of two of my favorite characters yesterday.

If you don't have time for such nonsense you may enjoy a little story about how the panda ended up being black and white in a world of multi-colored animals:

TIJI "COLOUR" HD from AKAMA on Vimeo.

Keep up the good work, whatever it is. Come to think of it, doing nothing at all may be our best bet in the long run. Slackers of the World: Untie!

Friday, June 10, 2011

still here?

I keep on having this feeling that I must draw something or paint something before I post anything. The problem is that the more I feel as though I have to do something the less I feel like doing it. Am I alone in this or do you think it's fairly common?

Meanwhile, some stray thoughts:

* Age is far too high a price to pay for maturity.

* Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you a mechanic.

* If you have to choose between two evils, pick the one you have never tried before.

* Nowadays my idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance.

* Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.

* If you look like your passport picture, you probably need the trip.

* Junk is something you've kept for years and throw away three days before you need it.

* Experience is a wonderful thing. It allows you to recognise a mistake when you make it again.

Zerebrale Dichotomie from motiphe on Vimeo.

Making decisions can be hard. Good thing Motiphe made a cool video or I'd have nothing to show other than the very sweet picture of the Grand Hamster d'Alsace. Poor thing is almost extinct and the French want to build a factory on the only piece of land it's known to still exist. Things are so bad the Belgians aren't even speaking to them.

Friday, June 3, 2011

diving Crow blues *

Now if the river was brandy
And I was out diving with Crow
Now if the river was Remy
And I was out diving with Crow
I would dive in that bottle
And I'd never let go.

If the world treats you badly
You could go diving with us
If you got only hard times
We'll take you diving with us
Just grab your suit and flippers
There is nothing to discuss.

The river flows to the ocean
As you can surely see
Those oil guys were brazen
With their lies and treachery
Why these rich folk are so greedy
Is a mystery to me

Now they tell us Fukushima
Is just as calm as the sea
There is nothing left to see there
Things are good as they can be
But we know that they are lying
Though there's no news on tv

It's just money that matters
And they know they won't get caught
Cause they paid the politicians
Who said they never could be bought
There's no truth in what they tell you
Is what my dear mother taught

If the river was brandy
We wouldn't need a cup
If the river was Remy
We'd have a fine roundup
We can swim to the bottom
And we'll drink our way up.

So if the world treats you badly
You could go diving with us
If you got only hard times
We'll take you diving with us
Just grab your suit and flippers
There is nothing to discuss.

* With apologies to Sleepy John Estes

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

more walking in Halifax

Yesterday, the last of May, we awoke to clear skies, green grass, trees in new leaf, flowers, and little zephyrs of warm breeze all conspiring to coax us into the great outdoors. Of all our favorite places to walk in Halifax the best by far is the semi-wild and lovely Point Pleasant Park. Here are some highlights from that two hour stroll.

The main entrance is right next to the port so the first thing seen is a wall of huge containers which may or may not be empty. Although it would be fun to cut some windows and doors and move in, the idea of finding ourselves on the back end of a train heading to Medicine Hat is too much of a risk. Winters are already cold enough in the maritimes without venturing to northern Alberta.

As we walked up the first long path I turned around and photographed the previous hundred yards. I don't know why the tree was cut down during the winter but I can tell you the stump carved into a chair is best not sat upon as it's quite juicy with sticky pine sap.

Speaking of pines, this next picture is typical of the very tall ones that grace the hilltop. What seems to happen is the taller they grow the more savaged they are by the winter storms that blow in. There are many completely stripped of boughs and bark that stand silvering in the sun.

These are some of the paths where I planted the sunflowers last month. There wasn't much growing at the time but I have a feeling now my project may have been in vain. Tall flowers, small flowers, flowering bushes, young trees, old trees, all interspersed with happy beach grass means the suns may have a problem. Still, they're pretty strong too so some may survive.

Along paths similar we eventually arrived at the waterside that overlooks the south shore. I have to mention this park is doggie heaven as most of it is leash optional. Over to the left of us when I took this picture a spaniel was out in the water trying to catch an otter while his owners laughed. The photo I took just showed a tiny dot that was the dog's head and an invisible otter. All the rest was water..

This is just to show you how much water. It's a bit like looking over the edge of the world.

There's a huge grassy area where people fly kites, picnic, lie in the sun or sit on benches watching the sea. The WWII gun post is decomposing fast so can't be approached unless you feel like going out for a wade to get a closer look.

Here's one of our seaside home possibilities.

Lastly, I couldn't resist this shot of a grandfather and his grandson watching the crane boats preparing to unload a big ship that was on its way in.

I hope I haven't bored you too much with this one. I promise next time I'll take pictures of the shopping malls the local government keeps far from the view of tourists arriving to explore historic Halifax.

Hope you're enjoying sunny days and your favorite beverages.