Monday, May 18, 2015

What a Year It's Been So Far

Self Portrait
Original Pencil Sketch
by Carolynn Anctil

All in all, 2015 has been a disappointing year, so far. 

My husband and I have been struggling with our health since February and we now have Walking Pneumonia. We're on our second round of antibiotics and resting as much as we can. It's sapping our energy and we have barely enough to accomplish the simplest of tasks. Walking up a flight of stairs has me huffing and puffing like I've run a marathon.

Consequently, my plans for this year have been severely curtailed until I recover. I was unable to keep up with the daily drawing and set it aside in favour of afternoon naps. I did enjoy the practice and I will begin anew .... when my health returns.

In the meantime, my priorities are all about getting well and looking after my animals. I'll check in from time to time and hope to have better news soon!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My Week in Drawing

The drawing continues. I'm starting to fall into an uneasy rhythm. I say that because most days, I feel like this is just one more thing that I have to get done in an already busy day. That said, I'm determined to make time for it.

Even if I only have time to toss off a quick sketch on the back of a shopping list, as I did the other day when we took a day trip out of town. The hawk in the top right was the result, hastily drawn at a restaurant table with what I had on hand in my purse before our meal was served.

All of that aside, I'm enjoying this project. I'm enjoying the discipline and the creative process as much as, or more than, the finished project. I'm also pleased to see a body of work forming in my sketchbook. 

And, you? What have you been up to lately? I'd love to hear.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

10 Days In

It's been a busy week. In addition to my regular responsibilities, there was a thorough Spring Cleaning, that included washing doggy nose prints off windows, baking and, of course - drawing.

I'm 10 days into the 100 Days of Drawing project and there have already been days when I feel like the creative well has run dry. Nevertheless, I sit down at my desk, light my candle and put pencil to paper. Amazingly, something comes out.

This quote has been a big source of encouragement to me this past week:

"Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they're deciding, make even more art."    Andy Warhol, Artist.

What has your week been like? I'd love to hear.

I'm participating in the 100 Day Project

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Clouds Are Parting

With the sporadic return of warmer weather, I'm finally beginning to rise out of the dark funk I've been in for the past several months. Blame it on the winter season, the flu or some other thing, it doesn't really matter, the result was the same. Inertia.

One of the things I've committed to doing in an attempt to revive my creativity is to take part in the #100DaysofMaking project. 

I've chosen to Draw every day for 100 days. No pressure. No expectations.

Without going too far into it, I feel that I had become too concerned with outcome. If I was going to spend my time on artwork, it had better be worthwhile, I'd better be making money at it. Sound familiar...? That, I believe, has been a major reason for my descent into the creative abyss.  

Just create has become my new mantra. Release attachment to outcome. Just have fun. 

Some days I'll only have time for a quick sketch. Other days I'll be able to spend more concentrated time on it.

The point of the exercise, as I understand it, is simply to show up and honour my commitment. To this. To me.

I've been using a sketchpad that is completely inappropriate for watercolour, as you can see. I think this was another way in which I had been undervaluing myself and my efforts. 

Beginning today, I'll be using the expensive, good quality, watercolour paper for my sketches. 

I'll be back to share my progress with you periodically. 

If you're interested in participating, it's not too late. Follow the link above or go here to read about the project from its originator, Michael Bierut.

Friday, March 06, 2015


Wow. Would you look at the time!

Where did February go..? Perhaps now is a good time to mention that February was not a particularly kind month over here.

Winter was mild one day and horrifically frigid the next. Somewhere along the line I fell into a creative black hole and had no interest in picking up either camera or paintbrush. It was kinda weird and I just went with it. Winter has a way of bringing out the worst in me, I won't deny it.

At the beginning of the month, my husband and I decided to go vegetarian, although we're continuing to eat the eggs our own hens produce. We originally wanted to go vegan, but it's way harder than you'd imagine.

So, I've had my nose buried in recipe books and my somewhat enormous magazine collection. I've discovered some really yummy meals, but it's fair to say that I'm currently a little consumed with menu planning and meal preparation.

Then, about half way through the month, I got walloped by a nasty flu bug- or a whole brigade of flu bugs. It's been nearly 2 weeks and I'm just now beginning to feel like crawling out from underneath my rock.

In the midst of feeling like total crap, I had a couple of health scares with my hens, as well. I won't go into detail, but all appears well again. Whew!

So, I wanted to pop in here and say "Hey! I'm not dead!" 

And, thank you for the show of concern from several of you! It's much appreciated.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Welcome. Here's What You Should Know Before You Sign Up

Yoga Girl
Original Watercolour Illustration
Carolynn Anctil © 2014

There are so many - SO MANY (!) - amazing blogs out there in Bloggerland with incredible content. They're polished, have the perfect layout and all the snazzy buttons...well, you know what I mean. You love them, but they're just so damn perfect, you know? Not a hair out of place. They're like McGyver on steroids and, let's face it, that can be a little intimidating.

It may not be necessary to state the obvious, but if you're new to my blog or have been following along for a while and need a reminder - here's how I roll.

I'm not a commercial blogger. I write because I need to.  I post photos of things I've noticed and that speak to me in some way. Lately, I've been working on my illustration skills. I don't get paid a commission with every mouse click you make. 

I don't post every day, or even every week, if recent events are any indication.

In case you haven't noticed, I don't have a theme I adhere to or even any particular style, which is pretty near to what you'd find if we bumped into each other on the street. I'm a pretty WYSIWYG* kinda gal, which I'd like to think is part of my charm. (I'll also use words like 'gal' without batting an eyelash).  

If pressed to describe the path my life takes, I'd have to say that it most closely resembles a great big body of water. Think Atlantic Ocean big. 

I'm the little guy in the bright yellow life raft, bobbing around somewhere in the middle there. See, look. I'm waving. 

Sometimes, the ocean is calm and I can enjoy a bit of a nap while taking in the sunshine and nibbling on a little something from my supply kit. At other times, the waves are rough, tossing me around like the proverbial cork. They raise me up high where I can get a glimpse of a future spent on beach chairs under luscious palm trees and at other times I'm in the trough, paddling my little heart out and puking over the side.

Life's like that. My blog is a repository for memories of my experiences, my own personal therapist, and my playground, all rolled into one. It can be a bit of a messy place, at times, and I'm okay with that.

I'd like my virtual home to be more organized and pretty. I'd LOVE it if it actually earned its keep. The reality is, my blog is a snapshot of my actual life, the act of which gets more of my energy on any given day. 

Maybe one day, I'll achieve the bright, shiny website of my dreams. I have a name picked out for it and everything. 

In the meantime, pull up a comfortable chair, put your feet up, grab a beverage, and let's visit like old friends.

Tell me, where has your dinghy taken you today? I'd really like to know.

* * * * * *

Incidentally, I also sell my artwork and am not above shamelessly telling you, from time to time, that you can buy the fruits of my labour here. A girl's gotta make a living somehow.

*WYSIWYG - "What you see is what you get"

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Diver

The Diver
Original Watercolour Illustration
Carolynn Anctil © 2015

I've been enjoying a bit of quiet time to myself the last few weeks, creating in my studio. 

The weather has been warm enough for the hens to be let outside into the run for a bit of fresh air several days in a row and it's given me a chance to do a little heavier clean up inside their coop. The occasional cricket treat and pot of cat grass makes for very happy girls.

I've also been doing a bit of reading and these are some of the books on my virtual bedside table, all of which I would highly recommend.

* The Crabby Angels Chronicles by Jacob Glass

* Discovering Your Soul Signature by Panache Desai

* E2: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments by Pam Grout

* The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul by Danielle LaPorte

* The fiction writing of Michael Robotham

What have you been up to lately? I'd love to know.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Year of the Chameleon

As 2014 was drawing to a close, someone posed a question to me. If 2015 was an animal, what animal would you want it to be and why?

Without having given it too much thought, Chameleon popped into my head. Not particularly fast moving, with the ability to adapt and occasionally reveal my colourful side.

The more I think about it, the more I feel that it's the perfect fit for me and the year I envision for myself. I was compelled to create a little sketch of my mascot for the year and look forward to enjoying his company.

What would your answer be? I'd love to hear.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

My Annual Word - 2015 Edition

For the past five years, I've chosen an Annual Word that serves as my guiding light for the year ahead. Even though the word I eventually chose last year never really felt like it manifested for me in any great way, I'm electing to carry this tradition into 2015.

This year, as in all but 2014, words have presented themselves to me in a number of ways so that, ultimately, I feel the words have chosen me, rather than the other way around.

Things look a little different this year. This year, there are three words that will serve as my touchstones for the next 365 days. The first two are: 

Faith and Trust

All indications are that 2015 is going to be a year that will challenge and test my ability to weather change. I've lived by these two words in the past and know that there is tremendous power inherent in them.

In addition, there's a third word that I'll call my Shadow Word. It's intimately linked with the first two and together they form my own personal holy trinity for 2015.


Surrender, as I understand it, does not mean to give up, but rather to give in to.

And so, it's with a hopeful heart and a fond wave to all I leave behind in 2014 that I turn to face the year 2015. 

May our paths continue to cross in the days ahead and may we embrace our choices with open hearts.

Previous Years
2010 - Authenticity
2011 - Wellness
2012 - Flow
2013 - Courage
2014 - Gentle

Have you chosen a word for 2015? I'd love to hear. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Just Another Ordinary Miracle

Today is New Year's Eve. I have no profound reflections to share or rituals to prepare for.

I'll be writing in my journal as I watch the sun brighten the horizon, like I do every morning. Eggs will be collected, the coop will be cleaned, and hens will be cuddled. My dog and cat will keep me company, shadowing my every move. Willow, ever the optimist, will hope for cheese treats and Luna will nap in a sunbeam.

Today, I'll vacuum up the dust bunnies and hang a new calendar on the wall before my husband and I join friends for dinner and a few laughs this evening. 

Tomorrow a new day will dawn, the start of a brand new year all bright and shiny with promise. Just another ordinary miracle unfolding before us.

Blessings to you. May you enjoy peace, love, joy, and prosperity in 2015.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

5 Days and Counting

Was anyone else shocked when they noticed the date on the calendar this morning? Christmas has really snuck up on me this year. I've done very little to prepare, have only sent a present to my mother, and have written no Christmas cards. 

Perhaps it's age, could be wisdom, most likely it's a form of apathy. In any event, I'm not overly worried about it and have decided to relax and just let the season wash over me like a gentle breeze. 

We've been blessed with mild-ish temperatures the last few weeks. Even the chickens have had several outdoor days. 

I decided to pick up my camera, blow the dust off it and take Luna and Willow for a little stroll around the property today.

I was delighted to discover that Mother Nature has been busy decorating.

How are you coping with the approaching holiday season?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Change is in the Air

I've been going through a period of upheaval in my life lately. Change is afoot and I'm not completely on board. It's too early to divulge any of the details, many of which haven't even been determined yet. The bottom line is, I'm not ready. And, therein lays the problem.

So, I do what I do in times like these. I ask for divine guidance, I watch for signs, I eat comfort foods.

I don't know if the approaching solstice has anything to do with any of this or if the Universe has simply determined that I've become too complacent and content with my life as it is. All the recent emotional turbulence has had me reflecting on the word I chose for 2014, though - Gentle.

For the first time since starting this practice 5 years ago, I don't feel that I've really lived into my Annual Word. There have been moments of gentleness, sure, the truth is though, I don't feel I can honestly lay claim to Gentle as my word for 2014. At the close of 2013, I waffled a lot, choosing and discarding 2 or 3 other words before finally settling on this one in late January. Upon reflection, I don't feel I really had a guiding word for 2014, after all. 2014 will have to be recorded in my personal annuls as a Wordless Year.

All of which has me approaching the practice of choosing an Annual Word with some trepidation. Please, God, don't make it too hard.

I'm interviewing candidates, looking for a word I can wrap myself around, chew on, and digest in 2015. There are a couple of worthy contenders and, interestingly enough, they have similar meanings. Even (and this is where it gets really interesting), when I close my eyes, and randomly choose a word from the dictionary. Freaky. 

I'll continue to cast my net in the coming days before partnering up with and committing to an appropriate muse for the next 365 days.

Did you have a word in 2014? Have you chosen a new one for 2015? I'd love to hear.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Crystal Chandelier

I took this photograph in a restaurant we visited while on vacation in Vancouver this past May.

I loved this playful, creative take on the traditional crystal chandelier. Don't you think that would be a lovely way to display those mismatched crystal glasses that seem to accumulate in our cupboards?

* * * 

And so we arrive at Day Five of my 5 Day Black and White Photo Challenge.  I've thoroughly enjoyed this exercise. It requires a different eye and a different thought process to photograph in black and white. I think I'll be doing more of this style in the future.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Elegant Beauty

I reworked this photograph I took last year into a black and white image. I love the stark and dramatic sculptural quality and texture of this flower. Even in death, it still offered itself up to the wild birds that came to feed in the dead of winter and there's an elegant beauty in that.

* * * 

Day Four of my 5 Day Black and White Photo Challenge.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Luna Black and White

I love this girl something fierce. My constant companion, she's equal parts intrepid explorer, playful imp, deep thinker, accomplished hunter, loyal friend, and cuddler extraordinaire. And, she doesn't seem to mind having a camera in her face.

* * * 

Day Three of my 5 Day Black and White Photo Challenge.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Melancholy Scent

The other day, I caught the unmistakable scent of pine tree when my husband and I approached a local big box store and I felt a little melancholy. 

I love the wide open spaces of my new prairie province and miss the grandeur and majesty of my home province of British Columbia. 

This pine cone is one of only a few that I brought with me when we moved.

* * * 

Day Two of the 5 Day B&W Photo Challenge.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Black and White Christmas

As November swiftly draws to a close, I find my thoughts turning to Christmas and, as they do every year, I dream of days spent in cozy comfort. A fire blazing in the fireplace, a cat snoozing beside me, and a fresh dusting of snow gently carpeting the landscape beyond our windows.

* * *

I've been nominated to participate in the 5 Days of Black and White Photo Challenge on Facebook and will share my images here, as well.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Taste of Summer

What does this look like to you?

I'll bet it looks a lot like an oasis in the desert to my chickens; a short vacation in the sun. 

I'm looking forward to watching them sink their little toes into this grass while they enjoy a tasty treat today.

May the day bring unexpected joys your way today!

Monday, November 17, 2014

My First Art Show

Some of you have asked how it went at the holiday show I participated in this past weekend.

It was something I'd never done before and I didn't get a lot of advance notice, so I only had a small offering of my work to display. This is a photo I took with my phone of my little shop that I set up in a corner of the gallery.

It was a bitterly cold day and that may have accounted for the low attendance. Nevertheless, I sold a few cards and generally had a good experience. I met a few artists and a fellow who is building a non-profit business that supports local artists in my area. They host art shows and will be partnering with some established events next year, so I became a member. 

Interestingly enough, I found that I experienced more stress and anxiety after the show than I did before or during it. Someone told me that Brene Brown calls that a 'vulnerability hangover'. I think that's a pretty accurate assessment.

All in all, I'm happy - I showed up, I did my best, and I had some fun. 

***Contrary to what I've indicated in my settings, Blogger has put word verification on my comments. Please bear with me, while I do my best to rectify that.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Simplest Scarf You Ever Did See

The other day I got this overwhelming urge to knit something. Perhaps it was the sudden drop in temperatures outside, or the need to create, or simply the desire for something new to wear. Whatever the reason, I was moved to dig out my knitting needles and some yarn and knit.

Now, I'm not a knitter. I pick up stitches, lose count, and sizing? - forget about it! So, the challenge was for me to find a way to satisfy my need to knit while not wasting my time completely.

It's been years since I last attempted to knit something, so I needed a refresher on a few of the basics. The Knitting Help website is an excellent resource, with short, easy to follow instructional videos that'll have you knitting like a pro in under 5 minutes. 

I decided to knit myself a scarf because I figured it couldn't get any easier than that and since I didn't have a pattern, I simply made it up as I went along. 

For those of you who are equally challenged with knitting needles, I humbly present the instructions for The Simplest Scarf You Ever Did See so you can create your own: 

The Simplest Scarf You Ever Did See.

I used 5 1/2 mm. knitting needles, approx. 2 balls of 50 g. (1 3/4 oz.) cotton yarn, wool needle, and ribbon. *I made the scarf long enough to be able to wrap it around my neck once. You can adjust the width and length according to your own preferences.

Cast on 35 stitches
5 rows stocking stitch (a row of knit, a row of pearl)
3 rows reverse stocking stitch (the opposite of above)
3 rows stocking stitch
3 rows reverse stocking stitch
Repeat previous 4 steps 2x
14 rows stocking stitch
3 rows reverse stocking stitch
3 rows stocking stitch
3 rows reverse stocking stitch
Repeat previous 4 steps 10x 
14 rows stocking stitch 
3 rows reverse stocking stitch
3 rows stocking stitch
3 rows reverse stocking stitch
5 rows stocking stitch
Repeat all 2x
Bind off.

Thread a length of ribbon on the wool needle and weave it through the stocking stitch section between the two rows of reverse stocking stitch. Tie off the ends and leave them to hang loose slightly beyond the border of the scarf.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

First Snowfall

Winter has arrived in our little world. How do I know this? Because my feet are perpetually cold.

That, and we got our first snowfall of the season yesterday. It was hovering around 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit), which isn't bad, but the wind was what they call "breezy" here - gusts of 55 km/hr (34 mi/hr) and that makes it feel significant colder.

I kept the girls inside all day, the first full day of confinement since they were mere balls of fluff. They managed to keep themselves occupied and it was a good test run for the harsh weather yet to come.

Today, the weather is still hovering around 0 degrees Celsius, but there's no wind to speak of, which makes it an altogether different experience. Everyone was eager to get outside and get some fresh air. They didn't seem too fazed by the white stuff and proceeded to scratch and peck around, as usual. 

The temperatures are predicted to rise later this week, for which we will all be very grateful. I'm praying for a mild season.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Taking a Leap

Abandoned Wagon
Original Photograph
© Carolynn Anctil 2014

I've committed to participating in an exhibition/sale on the weekend of November 15th, hosted by a new gallery in town. I have no idea what to expect, however the gallery owner described it to me as an "Open House/Craft Show/Tea and Cookie type day. Low key, meet the artists, buy holiday gifts, see the space" type of event.

I feel completely out of my depth. Eeeeeek!

And, I'm going to do it anyway.

It's terribly short notice, so I'm scrambling to prepare. I've elected to work with a new printer/framer who lives two hours away from me - (everything is 2 hours away here, it seems, but that's a story for another day). I sincerely hope he lives up to my admittedly high standards. 

It's a freakishly steep learning curve I'm on, right now, and that's both exhilarating and terrifying. I'm doing my utmost to breathe and not succumb to panic. Unfortunately, I won't have a lot to display, however, I will have a portfolio on hand and, if nothing else, I'll have gained some experience and shown my work to a wider audience.

It's also forcing me to address a few organizational details of my fledgling business that I put aside to deal with later.  This past summer was all about chickens and gardening and my creative pursuits were placed on the back burner. Consequently, there's a lot to do between now and then and my checklist keeps growing instead of shrinking.  

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

New Prices Coming Soon!

Good Morning, Sunshine
Original Photograph
© Carolynn Anctil

It has recently been brought to my attention that I have been pricing my artwork too low. Consequently, over the next few weeks, I will be re-pricing my original photography and watercolour illustrations at significantly higher prices. 

If you've been sitting on the fence, thinking about making a purchase, now would be the time to act to get it at current prices.  I would be more than happy to produce prints from anything you've seen here on my blog, however, they will reflect the new pricing.

Don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. My e-mail address is listed on the sidebar.

Thanks for your support!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Monster Eggs and Other Musings

I'm going to go ahead and flatter myself into believing that anyone has noticed my absence here recently. Both my husband and I have been experiencing a general malaise lately, a lack of initiative and a great deal of lethargy.  I think we're fighting off some kind of virulent disease that's being spread around. I've chosen to just go with it and enjoy a bit of down time to read and relax and nap, if I feel the urge to.

Our hens, however, have been laying in earnest and one of them is laying Monster Eggs. This one weighed in at a whopping 2.8 oz. They're marvelous creatures, these birds.

To hop back to my original thought, I just finished reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, on the advice of friends. I found it to be thoroughly engaging and uniquely creative. The author's skill with word manipulation was a delight, as well. I will be reading it again, at some future date.

I've turned to Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods for my entertainment pleasure next and am enjoying it immensely. I'm about half way through and I can already say with a great deal of confidence that I'm very glad he and his pal Katz elected to walk the Appalachian Trail, because there is no way in hell I will ever do it.

If you have a favourite book(s) you'd like to recommend, please share it in the comments section. I'm always on the lookout for a good read and we have long winters. Just sayin'...

I hope to be back in good health, full of vim and vigor, soon. In the meantime, for all my Canadian friends, Happy Thanksgiving. All others, have a great weekend wherever you are with whatever you're doing.

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