Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Gingerbread House

One last post this year ... and one last post about Christmas 2011.

Our 2011 masterpiece

I only made one gingerbread house with our daughters when they were young.  Perhaps we're making up for lost time by making one a year for the past three Christmases.  In recent years, the first house was from a very ordinary pattern I pulled off the Internet.  Last year Denise designed an adorable, wonky, leaning house.

The foundation construction on Christmas Eve

This year she was considering a two story structure, perhaps an A-frame?  But that idea morphed into a grain elevator ...

The Boss (Denise) and the man in charge of the railway track (Larry)

We were very serious about accuracy; we even had a protractor out to assure the correct angle of the roof lines.  I hadn't made enough dough and we were unable to have the lean to shed, so we improvised.

Christmas Day; it was a family affair

I get to do the icicles

And in the end it we were all very proud of our masterpiece!

Demolition on Boxing Day!

The two previous years, the big boys have smashed it.  This year, the girls won out and chose to pick away at it gently as girls are wont to do!   

Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas at Our House

December 25th, 2011 Christmas dinner at our house

I'm always delighted to have the family here, especially at Christmas. The newest family member, Amira, attended her first family gathering! It was extra special that Adam's Mom, Jan, could join us to be with her son and first grandchild!

Amira, only two weeks old 
Avery is three now and loves her tutu from Aunty Laura

The adults had a secret Santa gift exchange but for the children it was open season and so there was still rather a lot of gift opening chaos ...

The clean up crew dealing with the aftermath

Wishing and hoping that all of you enjoyed a happy Christmas with your family and friends!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Merry Amaryllis

Long ago, Sharlene
and I would send a box little gifts to one another.  Our tastes are so similar that buying for one another is like buying for ourselves making the shopping quest most pleasurable!  A few years ago we resumed the tradition with an added new twist; a painting exchange.

With my collection of treasures

Why save opening it all for Christmas morning?  My family doesn't need to witness the obsession, although I invite Bill to watch and he does.  So I bust into the box as soon as I receive it, often with a glass of wine, and always very slowly so as to savour the attention to detail of the exquisitely wrapped presents.  This year the parcel came on Christmas Eve day, so I wasn't overly early!

From Sharlene; Merry Amaryllis 2011 acrylic 8" x 10"

I wish that the camera could capture the warm glow of the metallic gold in the background, but sadly it does not.

I was annoyed with myself for not budgeting the time to paint a new amaryllis for Sharlene this year.  I'm hoping she'll forgive me for sending this painting, done in 2009, for a Christmas exhibition ...

For Sharlene; Merry Amaryllis  2009 acrylic 8" x 10"

Saturday, December 24, 2011

When This Artist Decorates ...

Christmas morning, the tree in the living room

Some may think that I am excessive and I'm not saying they are wrong but for me this passion for colour, design and decorating carries over and reaches far beyond my painting.  It is woven into my life.

The stockings were filled

You'll notice that the elders' stockings are rather small.  Stocking-stuffers were smaller in the olden days!  One stocking-stuffer didn't fit in my Santa sock (as Avery calls them) but I found it hiding here behind my gifted painting ...  

My beautiful Merry Amaryllis painting from Sharlene

Table set for the feasting

This holiday season I met a lovely, seemingly normal, woman who has nine decorated Christmas trees in her home!  She helped me feel less obsessive compulsive.  I readily admit that we both have an addiction, but there are addictions far worse than ours!  Right, Deanne?  :-)

The peacock tree 

I simply could not resist this wreath

And this is how it all looked before the mayhem.  Stay tuned to see the joyous mess we made!

Christmas Stockings

The stockings are hung by the chimney with care

It all started in 1972 when I made six felt stockings ... for Bill, myself and two other couples who traveled from afar to join us for our first Christmas in Banff.  Denise's and Laura's were made for their first Christmases in 1975 and 1978 respectively.  With acquired sons-in-laws I made two more in 2007, for Larry and Adam.  Avery's was made for her first Christmas in 2008.  This week, for little Amira, I sewed my 17th stocking.

In progress

The little caricatures are meant to portray the personality of the individual.  In designing them I consider the colour placement plus colour compatibly to their immediate family member's stockings.  It's easier and best to hand sew all the bits of felt and embellishments on the front before it is machine stitched to the back.

As she is only two weeks old, I can't really know Amira's personality, yet, but I suspect she'll be athletic and playful.  She was born in Banff on a clear night when the 99% full moon was magically lighting the snowy mountain peaks, so the Christmas ornament that I have her swinging on is that moon.

Without a doubt these stockings are a labour of love and I loved making each and every one of them!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Red Hot Geraniums

Fireball Geranium acrylic on cradled panel 1" deep, painted edges 9" x 12"   $550. 

Flower gardening has always transported me to a happy place.  It used to be that I didn't like geraniums because their fragrance is somewhat fowl.  I had to get over that because the red ones provide such an amazing colour display and I cannot resist painting the ones I grow.

Red Hot Geranium unframed oil 6" x 6"   $100.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My Fascination With Bighorn Sheep

With Bighorn, west of Banff , February 1973 

In September 1972, with some of our meager possessions in storage and the rest in our old Renault, Bill and I drove west (I call it immigrating from Ontario) thinking Kamloops would be our destination because it was halfway between the Rockies and the Pacific coast.  Falling in love with Banff and the mountains saw us cut the journey short.  We have remained in Alberta ever since.

I trust you'll enjoy seeing some of my favourite bighorn paintings ...

My first Bighorn painting   1973 oil   8" x 6"

Coming from the east I was familiar with deer and moose but the bighorn sheep is only a western  herbivore mammal and new to me. I was fascinated by their compact muscular bodies (only about 40 inches at the shoulder) and their wide-set peculiar shaped, rust coloured eyes.

The Ruling Monarch   1985 oil   14" x 18"

The rams are famous for their large, curled horns. These impressive growths can weigh up to 30 pounds.  They are a symbol of status and a weapon used in epic battles fighting for dominance or mating rights when males face each other, rear up on their hind legs, and hurl themselves at each other in charges of some 20 miles (32 kilometers) an hour.  Ewes also have horns, but they are smaller and much less curved.

Baby Bighorn    1986 watercolour   10.5" x 13.5"

On Golden Hill   1988 oil   12" x 16"

It had been a long time since I last painted them, and well, wildlife in general.  But in the past couple of years I've felt the urge again.  Here is my latest effort ...

Wild Thing   2011 oil   9" x 12"

Monday, December 12, 2011

I Have a New Granddaughter!

Laura, Adam and baby Amira, a day old

Amira came into the world in the usual way, she just took 42 hours to do it.  Her Dad and her Mom in particular look remarkably well for the marathon that her birth was.  A big girl, she weighed 8lbs 4oz and is 21 inches long.  Born in Banff, Alberta on Friday, December 9th at 9:17PM.  Less than two hours later, Gramps her two aunties and I got to meet her.

Larry and Denise brought Avery in the following morning.  She wasn't sure about seeing her Aunty Laura in a hospital bed and she wears that expression on her face ...

And then she was introduced to her cousin ...

Our lives are forever changed and we are thrilled about the rich addition Amira makes to our family!