Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hot Couple

The Italian Market had their end of summer 'bulk' pepper sale... of course I selected a few to paint including this hot couple...
I love shopping at the Italian Market here in Edmonton.  Once inside the door you are transported to another world... the old world, with some hints of North America scattered throughout the store.  From  endless choices of olive oil, vinegar, and tomato sauce, to interesting fruits and veggies... this store offers you a taste of Italy at reasonable prices.  My produce paintings are often inspired by a shopping trip to this quaint store... a colorful hot spot filled with cooking staples, spices and of course, sweet treats.

*Click on this photo in order to see all the creamy thick paint applied with my palette knife.

12x12 oil on canvas

Sunday, August 29, 2010

August Fields

August fields... golden toned crops ripening for the harvest.  I grew up in the country in Ontario, and a number of my friends' lived on farms nearby.  You always knew the summer was coming to an end when my friend's parents started harvesting the grain fields... rather sad but exciting at the same time.

We would walk out to the fields at lunch time, taking food to the men who were threshing the grain.  The leftover stalk is called straw which is baled and stored in the barn to use for bedding in the animal stalls. Sometimes, if we were lucky, we would be allowed to sit on the tractor seat and pretend we were driving, but most of the time we rode on the wagon that was bringing in the straw bales after the grain was harvested.

Back then the bales were the smaller rectangle shapes, not the huge round monster bales you see in the fields today.
I feel very lucky to have grown up in the country... life was very peaceful... close to nature.

10x10 oil on canvas.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Double Delight

Hollyhocks and more hollyhocks!  I have numerous reference photos... and as I scan my iphoto albums the hollyhocks call out to me with their big happy faces.   A cute bulbous nose, full of pollen, surrounded by a large ruffled collar gives the impression of a colourful clown, rather than a flower bloom.  It would seem that I am not the only one with a vivid imagination regarding hollyhocks... have a look at this site, and see how to make hollyhock dolls from the buds and blooms.

Let me know if you try making one.

10x10 oil on canvas.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Avocado Red

The market had bags of small avocados for sale, and I couldn't resist!  After-all a girl has to eat lunch... and avocados  are packed full of delicious nutrients, making them a perfect 'fast' food... in a slow food kind of way.
I was reading on-line that avocados are perfect for homemade baby food.  The article says that the avocado's smooth, creamy consistency makes it one of the first fresh fruits a baby can enjoy.  They can be mashed and served in a variety of ways and do not require cooking.  For variety, avocados can be mixed with apple or pear sauce, cooked squash or sweet potatoes.  Hey, wait a minute!  I think some of these mixes sound rather yummy for adults too!  Move over guacamole.

10x10 oil on canvas

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Stars & Stripes II

In theory, the American Flag was to have another star and stripe for each new state, but this proved impractical.  The design reverted to thirteen stripes in 1818, with only an additional star representing each new state.  The fiftieth star was added in 1969, after Hawaii joined the union, completing the flag we know today, the Stars & Stripes...
Can you imagine how immense the flag would look with 50 stars and 50 stripes?  I think they made a wise decision back in 1818.

12x6 oil on canvas.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Three Minis

Mini eggplant are soooooo cute!  I just wanted to pinch their little cheeks.  Otherwise known as Aubergine, this member of the nightshade family has many health benefits.  But along with the benefits, comes an interesting fact: Eggplant contains nicotine, that's right, nicotine!
However, you would have to consume about 20 regular size eggplants in order to ingest the same amount of nicotine as one cigarette.

10x10 oil on canvas

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Painting the center of a flower is like entering another dimension.   After all, this is the area that is designed to attract bees for pollination, so it has to be special.  The center of the universe... a starburst of light and colour... a fireworks display!
The center of a hollyhock is a magical,  psychedelic world. Who could resist?

10x10 oil on canvas

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Raspberry Faces

Did you know that the hollyhock has long been the 'unofficially' accepted floral symbol of Taos, New Mexico?  The Taos Garden Club chose the hollyhock for their official flower, and from reading the history of the hollyhock ,( as written by Ruth L. Fish) on their website, Los Jardineros, this vigorous flower has become recognized as "the Taos flower".
In 1949 the club scattered seeds along the main highways leading to town, along residential streets, alleys etc.  The club encouraged business owners to also plant hollyhocks, and by the second and third year the results were spectacular!  Over the years, road and town maintenance work have destroyed some of the plantings but many of the townspeople continue to use hollyhocks as their chief summer floral display in public and private gardens.
What a spectacular sight this floral display would be!  I can only imagine... but one day I will go there.

12x12 oil on canvas

Monday, August 16, 2010

Raspberry Hollyhocks

I am doing a series of hollyhocks.  Our neighbourhood is older, with lots of quaint homes from the early 1900's, and these older homes usually have a grouping or two of hollyhocks growing somewhere.  I read that the flowers are edible, wouldn't that be a colourful addition to a salad!  I wonder if the raspberry hollyhocks taste like raspberries?


12x12 oil on canvas.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hollyhock Light

Hollyhock Light
(12x12 oil on canvas)

Hollyhocks can grow up to 12 feet tall, and on my back alley walks in our neighbourhood I discovered numerous plants that height!  Most seem to be around 5 to 6 feet tall, but the giants are out there...
Raspberry red blooms with a bit of sunlight falling on them, offer some dramatic photo opportunities.  The silky tissue paper thinness of the petals shows off the delicate nature of the blooms, quite a contrast to the strong fuzzy stalks that support them.

I love the name 'Hollyhock', and noticed in my research that the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, designed a house that was given the name HollyHock House.  Built in 1921 in Los Angeles for Philanthropist Aline Barnsdall, it has an interesting design (and history).  The exterior, (for me) is reminiscent of ancient Mayan temples and homes.  I guess Frank had to get his inspiration from somewhere.
Hollyhocks were Aline's favourite flower, and Frank (we're all on first name basis) abstracted the hollyhock to create motifs and designs utilized on the exterior, and throughout the house.  It is interesting to see how far he took the abstraction, which again looks rather Mayan to me.   I would love to see this house in person.

Have any of you been there?

Click here to purchase

$200.00, (+ 18.00 S&H anywhere in North America)
12x12 oil on canvas

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lavender Light

I have painted these lavender fields before, but wanted to do them again in a square format.  Lavender fields in Canada are rare, and the land where these fields are located is just a bit north west of Fulford Harbour, on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia.  My reference photos are from the fall of last year, so as you can see some areas of the lavender have been harvested already...  I think July is when they have their lavender festival.
Maybe I'll get there another year, in July.  Until then, I am quite content to revisit these reference photos and reminis...

$150.00, 10x10 oil on canvas

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Donut Envy

I have been having donut envy.  A number of daily painters have been painting donuts and I have to say I have secretly wanted to paint a donut for a long, long time (especially a donut from Tim Hortons).

But those of you who know me personally know that I am gluten intolerant...  because I am a Celiac, I cannot consume traditional baked goods.  So when the donut envy got the better of me on Friday, my husband (who is not Celiac) offered to purchase a sprinkle donut for me at Tim's, bring it home and take a bite out of it for me... how sweet of him!  He even said he would be happy to consume the rest after I photographed it and painted it... how 'thoughtful' of him.  I may have to paint a few more desserts, and some of them will be gluten-free... we'll see if you can tell the difference!

My friend Ellen, has a wonderful blog devoted to being Gluten-free called 'The Celiac Scene ' with restaurant recommendations, travel info etc, for anyone who has family member or friend with this sensitivity.

Since being diagnosed as a Celiac I often wonder how many celebrities have a gluten sensitivity. While watching TV the other morning (yes, I was doing sit-ups at the same time... a girls has to multitask whenever possible) I caught the tail end of 'The View'.   Whoopi and Sherri where sampling cupcakes from numerous sources and when they got to the table with cupcakes from a bakery in New York City called 'Baby Cakes' (I have been to this one too) they called Elizabeth Hasselbeck over because she is Celiac and could eat these samples!  I was surprised to read that Elizabeth wrote a book that was on the New York Times best seller list, called ' The G-Free Diet'.  I think I'll get it to read.

$150.00. 10x10 oil on canvas (the donut 'painting' is guaranteed gluten-free!)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Green Pearls II

I'll try this one more time... hopefully I got it right this time.  This posting is hopefully arriving in your inbox tonight between 7 and 9 p.m., because I am trying to coordinate it with one of the blogs I belong to called, 'Daily Painter Originals'.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that it worked today...

Remember the rhyme:

Pease porridge hot,
Pease porridge cold,
Pease porridge in the pot
Nine days old.

Pease is old English for Peas, and if you grew up during the Middle Ages in England or Scotland and were a peasant, you probably grew up with a large kettle containing a thick porridge made of dried peas hung over the fire.  Few peasants could afford meat, so peas porridge (with lots of vegetables) was cooked all day over the fire and by the morning the fire would would be out and the food cold.  Then the fire would be relit, and more peas and veggies added to the pot.  So, indeed the original pea mixture in the pot could be nine days old!  Sometimes, if you were very lucky, you might have some bacon thrown in for flavour.
Now just imagine bacon nine days old in the pot too!

I'd rather eat fresh green pearls, straight out of the pod...

6x12 oil on canvas (definitely no bacon with this one)


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Green Pearls I

Green Peas or Green Pearls... hard to tell.  Thanks to Catherine de Medici for bringing the fresh green garden pea with her to France from Italy when she married Henry II in 1533.  The new little peas were such a novel change from the dried peas that had become peasant fare that they created a new vogue in French cuisine.  Since the 1500s the French have been known for their little green peas, 'petit pois.'  The green pea found its way to North America and one avid gardener named Thomas Jefferson loved them so much that he had 30 varieties of them planted in his garden.  When canned vegetables came into vogue in the late 1800s the Campbell Soup Company began canning peas in 1870.  I am sure we can all relate to the dull olive green colour and distinct flavour of canned peas, (the heat of the canning process destroys the chlorophyll.)  Luckily frozen vegetables appeared in the 1920s, and this meant that peas could be harvested and frozen almost immediately before their sugars turned to starch, a process that begins within hours of harvesting.

Not sure how fresh these 'fresh' peas were that I purchased at the Farmers Market, but they were yummy!

Don't you love opening their little zippers to get at the green pearls?


Red Elevator

Here is the companion piece to yesterday's posting.  A semi-abstract painting of a prairie icon,  the grain elevator.  Red Elevator was painted to pay homage to the quickly disappearing wooden grain elevator, a farming symbol, which has its roots in the early 1800s.  By the 1920s most companies were building the standard, or traditional, 30 to 40,000 bushel elevator with a gable-roofed cupola.  Usually more than 80 feet tall they dominated the prairie skyline for years... you might call them prairie skyscrapers.

Unfortunately they  are disappearing, with only an odd one here and there preserved for future generations to see.  The wood from the actual grain bins has become a much sought after recyclable material by numerous wood working artisans.  Crafted into beautiful boxes, the soft pulpy areas of wood were almost completely worn away over time by the grain seed, leaving the harder tree rings.  The organic undulations and patterns left behind have created a visual testament to a way of life for many settlers in Western Canada, and the States.

It was the French architect, Le Corbusier who, in 1922 said that the elevator's simplicity and unadorned geometric shape was the ultimate example in architecture of 'form following function'.  In the 1933 there were as many as 5,758  elevators on the prairie.
An endless belt system with scoops was responsible for unloading the grain from the farmer's wagon, (later truck) taking the harvest up to the storage bins in the upper reaches of the building.  The building height was needed to allow gravity to work on the grain... quickly filling rail cars in order to transport a variety of grains across the country and on to ports for shipping around the world.

It sure would be great if every small town could preserve one and use it as a tourist attraction... might be one way to save the small towns and a bit of history.  A win/win situation.


12x12 acrylic on masonite.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Red Barn

I grew up in the country in Ontario, and have a connection to rural life, even though I now live in a city in Alberta.  One of the reasons I chose to move to Edmonton was because it was a big city with a small town atmosphere... and it still feels that way to me.   I packed up a U-haul and Gran Torino and drove across Canada (by myself) 26 years ago to try a new adventure... and I am still here!

This painting is a semi-abstract, painted with acrylic paint using a credit card as my tool.  Painting on masonite board is different from painting on canvas... I like the way it feels so sturdy and smooth when applying paint to its surface.

Tomorrow I will be posting another semi-abstract of rural life, something else red.

12x12 acrylic on masonite.