Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Creativity

I trust everyone had a lovely Christmas, we certainly did!

The big day has come and gone, Sharlene has opened her gifts and so now I can show you the painting that I sent to her ...

Merry Amaryllis Acrylic 8" x 10"

Christmas Eve, I rolled out the gingerbread dough. At Larry's urging Denise designed our wonky, little ginger bread house. Using the pattern she made I cut out the pieces and baked them. Then, with the remaining dough, Larry and I cut out a bunch of cookies.

By Christmas morning the pieces were hardened and ready to be assembled. Check out the house in progress here:

It met it's demise when Larry and our friend, Steve, smashed it after dinner on Boxing day. There is a 30 second video (yes that just how little time it takes to wreck it ... far less in fact!) but I can't seem to link it here.

Our Christmas photos can bee seen at these following links ...

Christmas Eve:

Christmas Morning:

Christmas Night:

Friday, December 24, 2010

I've Been a Bit Naughty

Last night, on the eve of Christmas Eve, I opened my annual parcel of beautifully wrapped gifts from Sharlene, who lives in Victoria. I do this early every year, so is it really naughty? The specialness of our gift exchange is enhanced because all we have to do is buy things we ourselves love and, wonder of wonders, the other adores everything! I don't know of two other people with such parallel tastes.

Another delightful component is how we wrap these gifts. Could anyone else appreciate the colour coordinated-ness and the time lovingly spent with the trimming details?

Deed done, here I am with all my loot wearing the scarf which, I swear, is exactly the same as the one I coveted on a local woman I saw recently.

The piece de résistance is the painting exchange. This is our second year of trading amaryllis paintings. I've been asked if we'll always paint amaryllis? Can't say. I'm unable to show you mine to her just yet because, unlike me, she is a good girl and is waiting to open her presents Christmas morning!

Merry Amaryllis acrylic, 8" x 8" ... See other work by Sharlene here: http://sitekreator.com/stushnov/main_page.html

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE ... and please remember Christmas doesn't come in a box, and it can't be bought in a store!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

We're Decorated

My bitter sweet addiction to themed or colour coordinated trees has been with me for years. Sweet because I love doing it, bitter because I don't share doing it. This Christmas tree looks just like the two previous ones simply because it looks best in our living room.

But I do miss the red in Christmas, so I decorate the dining room with plenty of it. The little, three-foot tree is my Memory Tree, adorned with precious ornaments our girls and I made together in the 80s (plus a couple of current ones) as well as with other given, treasured decorations.

On the wall, behind it is a painting from last year by my long-time friend, Sharlene http://sitekreator.com/stushnov/main_page.html As sure as she is working on another one for me, I am currently working on an amaryllis painting to send her!

To see more photos of our decorated home, please click here:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bow Lake Book Launch

Happy author, Jane Lytton Gooch, and proud painter of the cover image on BOW LAKE, Wellspring of Art at the launch, December 11th. It's a remarkable publication and can be purchased through Willock & Sax Gallery, Banff at:
Or through the publisher; Rocky Mountain Books:

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Prestigious Honour

Tomorrow, if you in the vicinity, please stop in and join me and the other artists in celebrating Jane Lytton Gooch's third mountain art book. The launch is hosted by Willock & Sax Gallery, 211 Bear Street, in Banff, Saturday, December 11th, from 2 - 4pm. Jane is a Vancouver English professor and author.

It truly is a profound honour to have my painting Crowfoot Mountain Through the Looking Glass (1999 oil 36" x 54") featured on the cover of BOW LAKE: Wellspring of Art. Also included in this book is ...

Saint Nicolas Peak 1993 watercolour 5" x 7"

This is Jane's third book, and I'm pleased to report that I have paintings in all of them. You can see her books and my art by scrolling down on my web site's Special Projects page:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Am I Avoiding Christmas?

As Avery would say "I think so!" Long ago, we used to get the halls decked around December 15th, but now-a-days it is much earlier. However, I do think that hauling Christmas out right after Halloween, is much too soon.

While Avery came to stay with us, for four days last week, and in an effort to inspire myself, I pulled out our little fake tree and encouraged her to put decorations on it. She was most interested in taking decorations off of it, and/or spreading them all around the floor!

We had a wonderful time with our granddaughter, who loves everything and everybody. Photos of her stay are posted here:
But, now that she is back home, I'd best get going on preparations before she and her folks return for Christmas!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Canmore Christmas Artisans Market

November 25th, we joined our girls in Canmore prior to this big annual event. Laura has been a participant for several years, this was Denise's first.

In its prior incarnation, started in 1980, as The Canmore Artists & Artisans Guild's Christmas Fair I was the event coordinator for the years 1984 to 1987. Many thanks to the same delightful collectors of my work, back then, for coming out now to support our girls!

We helped Denise make the cloth gift bags and Laura with tree ornaments.

The sisters stalls were side by side and their set up was a very open and friendly one.

It was a full weekend with Canmore kicking off the holidays by closing Main Street (Saturday night) for Christmas celebrations ... carolling, bonfires, sleigh rides and Santa. Plus, there was a high energy opening at Elevation Gallery and, as well, our couples club enjoyed a pizza night. On Sunday it was Grey Cup game festivities and dinner at Bill's sister's place, which became an early birthday celebration for Laura who returned to Libya, December 2nd. At midnight, we arrived home utterly exhaused.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Claresholm Art Club

Synchronicity at its best, in October 2008, the month after we moved here, the Claresholm Art Club was formed and I joined. I'm amazed that no matter where you go there are artists and it's as if we sniff one another out. This club's philosophy is Artists Helping Artists. Dates are set and a place to work is sought out. Individuals come together with more than enough working supplies for themselves then share materials and knowledge. In May our public library makes us welcome and we have a group show on display for the month.

Herbert Hann, Corrine McKinnon, Pam Copeland and yours truly. Missing is Judy Dahl, whose work was displayed in her absence.

November 20th was our inaugural participation at the Kinette Christmas Craft Sale which has been going strong in this town for 22 years. Our desire was to have a presence; to bring awareness of our existance. It was a complete bonus and we were delighted over our sales of paintings, prints and cards.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Crafty Bunch

In spite of our first wretched storm transforming an amazing autumn to winter overnight and turning highways into high risk zones, on November 16th, we travelled to Calgary while Laura drove in from Canmore. All so that we could craft together. There was some delay in getting started with the need to get more materials but we managed to accomplish rather a lot in two days.

Bill fired up his retro "Rocket" Singer sewing machine and tried it out on leather while the girls and I cut, ironed and sewed.

Laura is adding to her collection of ornaments for the Libyan Bazaar and Denise has added, to her repitroire, hair bands and wrist bands with tiny zippered pockets, for cash and credit card, so that a girl doesn't have to carry a purse when she steps out. I just like helping out with any of it!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Book Binding with Dea Fischer

Book binding in a traditional sense but with the intention of making art books. We were most concerned with form, not embellishment or decorating. Dea worked very hard to make this workshop (renamed by her daughter, Millie, a 'playshop') exciting, informative and productive.

Day one, Saturday, November 13th, we made a Piano Hinge Book (off white). It employed six skewers which had to be woven into the 'signatures' (clusters of folded pages). It was almost the undoing of me. But I am a persistent, stubborn sort and wouldn't give up. I missed lunch to finish that one. Next up was the Concertina Flag Book (red). I really enjoyed working with so many pretty papers in building this one! I worked furiously, forgetting to the bathroom in order to not have 'homework'!

On day two we made a Japanese Stab Bind Book (green print). This involved hand stitching the pages together along the spine and was the simplest of all to make. The final project was a Hideaway Cased Journal (orange). It was the most complex. Dea taught us the 'kettle stitch' and we hand sewed the 'signatures' together, with proper book binding, linen thread. And then, there was all that tricky and you-gotta-be-fast at gluing!

My personal favourite; the Concertina Flag Book open ...

I had a wonderful weekend of learning and I just know my new skills will be put to good use somewhere in my future.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Crafting With Laura

Following the hectic weekend, in Calgary, after Laura's arrival back in Canada, we brought her home to Claresholm for a few days. She and I had prearranged to make Christmas ornaments together. It was a wonderful, productive time! Here we are at play ...

These are what we finished in two days. Many more were cut out but are not yet assembled. The plan is to take them back to Libya.

The decorations are to be donated and sold at the English School's Christmas Bazaar in Benghazi. But, if other crafting sessions yield enough they will also be available at The Canmore Artisan's Market, November 27th and 28th!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Laura and The Leighton

It's been a busy week or so and I'm finally back here with a great shot of Laura and Avery ... reunited at the Calgary airport when we met her flight from Libya (via Frankfurt) on November 5th ...

Avery's Mom was busy setting up for the Make It! craft sale that afternoon.

The following day I was on hospitality volunteering at The Leighton Centre's "Christmas in the Country" box sale. About 1200 people attended but I regret to report that I didn't sell any paintings. I now know that my prices are too high for this type of venue.

Collector and friend, Karen, came ...

When the busy weekend was over we came home from Calgary and brought Laura with us, for a few days. We had an industrious time ... stay tuned for my next post!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Delivery Day

Racehorse Creek acrylic 8"x 10"

... is the last painting for the Christmas in the Country collection. And here it is all prettily packaged and boxed, as per the Leighton Centre's instructions. I deliver this afternoon, and it's a beautiful day for a drive in the country!

The day is off to a stellar start. I released Electric Aspens yesterday; it was taken home on approval. This morning I received the phone call announcing that it won't be coming back!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Psychedelic Iris

Psychedelic Iris acrylic 14" x 11"

I know I'm beginning to flag when I have to repaint something that usually comes with ease and is a great deal of fun. Sometimes I fall prey to not leaving well enough alone. After the flower was finished I played with the background some more. Big mistake. When you overwork something you can kill it. I did. The background became nearly the same value as the flower, affording no contrast. Redeeming it at this stage was no easy feat. I had to mask out the iris and re-gesso the background before trying again. Personally, I'm a little sick of this painting right now. It needs some time out. Or maybe it's me who does? But, beckoning, on the easel, is another half baked painting ...

Heightened Colour

As this painting binge reaches its zenith the colours I am inclined to use heighten. I think this keeps me on/in my game.

Electric Aspens acrylic 12" x 9"

When the autumn colours were at their peak Bill and I spent an afternoon on the Burton Ranch, west of town. At the base of blazing hills, we rambled in Honey Coulee, over fields of swathed oats, down by the creek and into aspen groves, including the one above. It was an unforgettable, crisp, blue and yellow day!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Another One

Glowing Magnolias acrylic 12" x 9"

With a sponge I dabbed gesso on the panel to give it a pebbly finish which receives layers of glazed or rubbed on colour very nicely. The result is a lovely textured, variegated effect like a stippled, plastered wall. I used metallic copper paint sparingly and I employed one of my rubber stamps to create the flourishes.

Meanwhile Libyans are vacationing in Italy. Sigh!

Adam and Laura in front of The Coliseum, Rome

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Number Eleven

Balls of Fire acrylic 14" x 11"

All summer, these geraniums graced a half whiskey barrel beneath our front porch. October 15th the frost got them, but not before I did some photography.

I enjoyed playing with glazes here; treating the acrylics like watercolours to begin with, employing flooding and pooling of colour and the obvious splattering. Although it isn't terribly noticeable in the photo, when I glazed the background with Iridescent Pearl it gave the piece an antiqued look. Oh, I love the iridescent and metallic colours, but I do go easy with them (when I am brave enough to use them) to avoid having my paintings look tacky. I draw the line at glitter!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Countdown to Delivery

I'm going for the maximum, 15 paintings for Christmas in the Country. You may remember this landscape. May 17th, Liz and I were plein air painting at The Banff Springs Golf Course; she facing one way, me the other. Yesterday I "tweaked" (cleaned up and refined) this painting. It's number 9 in the collection.

Shoulder of Tunnel Mountain oil 8" x 10"

Moving right a long, I laced into finishing #10 ...

Hot Pink Lily oil 8" x 10"

And since delivery of art is this coming Saturday; no more oils ... they have to be dry so as they can be put into 'Crystal Clear' bags. And so, suddenly I have become an acrylic painter! Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Taking it to the Campsite!

The extended, unseasonably warm weather continues to amaze us. With temperatures in the high teens this past week we decided to take the R-Pod out for one last trip of the year. On October 20, at Beauvais Lake, we were greeted with naked trees but there were no other campers in sight. These are special times when we can get away alone, without Internet, phone or TV.

While Bill went fishing, I found it warm enough to paint outside on the first day (when we forgot to photograph me) but a bit too chilly to work outdoors on the second day, so I set up on the dinette ...

I'm working on a collection of small paintings for CHRISTMAS in the COUNTRY at The Leighton Centre, 15km southwest of Calgary ... November 6th & 7th. For more information: http://www.leightoncentre.org/gallery/upcomingexhibitions.html

The annual event was started by Barbara Leighton herself, over 30 years ago. This year there will be 84 artists and artisans! Each painter is permitted to bring up to 15 paintings, unframed and priced to sell. This painting, finished while "camping", will be included:

Bouquet of Sunshine oil 8" x 10"

Friday, October 22, 2010

Avery Turns Two

October 16th, 2010 ... Avery celebrated her 2nd birthday in fine style. The party started at Southland Leisure Centre's wave pool. It wasn't her first time there. She loves the "wado" and "sliding" into it. Another dad in the kiddie pool said "She isn't shy, is she?". Ummm, NO! For the most part she is fearless and will talk to anybody ... and talk she can!

Gramps and Avery having too much fun!

A party at her house followed with presents and "cup capes" ...

To see more of the festivities please click here:

Friday, October 15, 2010

Get Back on the Horse

The frustration and time spent on the mini pumpkin, two days ago, challenged me to get right back on the horse. So, yesterday I went to my room, coaxed two little 6x6s out of myself and now I feel much better!

Crab Apples and Pitcher oil 6" x 6" unframed $100.

Seckel Pear and Crab Apples oil 6" x 6" unframed $100.

I think I've had my fill of painting crab apples!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Autumn Influenced

My computer is choked. It's got too many photographs stored in it, so I've been editing and copying them to CDs. Always knew I'd paint this orange, so when I found the image (from our time in Palm Springs, last March) I did. Although it it is not an autumn fruit, the colours certainly suggest fall.

Orange Sunshine oil 8" x 10" framed $600.

I'm still scoring crab apples from a tree down the street. These are a smaller variety, more orangey-red and yellow than the mostly cherry red larger ones. Yesterday, I selected the mini pumpkin from my basket of gourds. For some reason painting it was epic. Who would have thought an orange, globe-like shape like this would be problematic? The orange of the day before wasn't. Some days paintings just don't flow off the brush. I struggled with it for hours and was completely exhausted when I finally got it to look like this ...

Mini Pumpkin and Crab Apples oil 6" x 6" unframed $100.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I've been dressing the dining room table ever since the girls stopped letting me dress them! When art is your game it gets carried over into all aspects of living. They tell me I make a great apple pie and that the pumpkin pie isn't too shabby either. I certainly resonate to the warm colours of autumn.

For the feast this year, we were just four, plus Avery. The weather is still so remarkably warm that we were able to be outside a great deal. Although we had some frost in September, there hasn't been any since and this has given the annuals a chance to revive. My half barrels are still thriving and that's pretty much unheard of in these parts!

Here's a link to more photos of our weekend ...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Time to Resume Daily Painting

I'm not terribly faithful to the daily part, but now that the hectic summer is behind us and autumn has arrived I'm leaning towards spending more time in the studio; affectionately known as The Anne Frank Room. Check it out here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=208288&id=715295437&l=80c0074a94

Walking down the street the other day I noticed the crab apple trees are laden with fruit and thought they'd be a nice compliment to any still life. So I clipped a branch and here is what I have came up with ...

Peach and Crab Apples oil 6" x 6"

Pear and Crab Apples oil 6" x 6"

I thanked the peach for being of use in two ways as I sliced it to have with our yogurt and granola this morning. It's seems a bit cannibalistic to eat your subjects. Both paintings are spoken for.

PS It is a glorious autumn which shows no sign of giving way to foul weather, so I'm compelled to get out in it ... you know, make hay while the sun shines! Click here for photos: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=496947&id=715295437&l=186536f42f

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Playing with Acrylics

At the Gabriola workshop, many teachers and students were working in acrylics. They inspired me to get mine out and play around with them. Their quick drying time is certainly a plus.

On the way home, from the west coast, we stopped for a night in Kelowna. One reason was to buy some frames from the brothers Fidler at their pristine establishment: http://www.classicgalleryframes.com/ I have been dealing with Jim and Dave for nearly two decades and can only give them with a glowing recommendation for their products and service. The second reason was to seek out and photograph ripened grapes in vineyards. The weather was very rainy; very un-Okanagan like. However just when we needed the sun to come out it did; for a half hour both afternoons providing me with this ...

Kelowna Grapes acrylic 12" x 9" framed $700.

In Quebec, it appears as though day lilies grow like weeds. Tall stands of them line gardens and streets. I'm always on the lookout for dramatic lighting and found this specimen in Montreal ...

Day Lily acrylic 9" x 12" framed $700.