I'm super excited to report that construction on the chicken fortress has officially begun! Yay! We'll ignore, for the moment, that it has taken us an entire year of planning and what's beginning to look like enough money to finance a small country for a year. I'll spare you all the gory details, however, suffice it to say my husband, bless his heart, tends toward over-analysing. He can research 'til the cows come home, are milked, fed, and sold to market. Me, I'm more the drill sergeant type. Needless to say, our styles have a tendency to clash. But, here we are and plans have finally be agreed upon (even if I think the coop is going to be too small) and renovations are underway on an existing outbuilding. Said outbuilding, much like our beloved 100 year old home, doesn't have a square corner or a single consistency and that, in all fairness, was one of the stumbling blocks to the start of construction. When it's all done, it'll be equal parts fortress and palace. Fully insulated against our frigid winter conditions, with lots of ventilation and ample sunlight, they'll also have access to a run that will protect against gale force winds, provide their choice of sun or shade, and *fingers crossed* protect them from predators. While The Frenchman is doing that, I'm reading up on and studying chicken husbandry so I'm ready to hit the ground running when our ladies arrive. Lisa Steele at Fresh Eggs Dailyhas been a huge source of information and clarification. She was even gracious enough to answer a question I e-mailed her about privately. We still have a long way to go before it's ready for occupancy, however, we plan to bring a few pullets home in early summer. I can't wait! It'll be (another) dream come true!
Willow, Luna and I were excited to begin resuming our early morning strolls around our property earlier in the week. I still have to bundle up in my winter clothes and my hands get too cold to hold a coffee cup, but the birds are returning and the air is fresh. I noticed this delicate, yet relatively untarnished leaf in the grass that's slowly being revealed with the receding snow and had an urge to paint it, so I carefully brought it inside. That very night, winter descended once more and dropped big, fluffy snowflakes in a deep carpet once again. *sigh* I need to sign this piece, but I'm uncertain where to put my initials without ruining the simplicity of the image. I had also considered adding some faint background colour, but decided against it for the same reason. I so appreciate all your supportive comments. I feel as though I've tapped into some latent element of myself that has lain buried for far too long and I'm thoroughly enjoying the discovery process. Thanks for keeping me company on this newest leg of my journey.
After I see my husband off to work and attend to all the responsibilities of animal care, feeding myself, and setting the house to rights, I turn my thoughts to my work. That's what I consider the time I devote in my studio each day to creative pursuits. What might be considered play or trivial by some is Research and Development to me. Okay...it's play. *grin* I sort through and process photographs, write blog posts, and lately, I sit with my rainbow assortment of watercolour pencils and create illustrations. Some good. Some bad. All valuable. I've gradually established a routine that takes advantage of my body's natural energy levels and the sun's track across the sky.
I've eased into a natural rhythm, incorporating ritual, that serves as a passage from one frame of mind to another. I begin by making a cup of my favourite Earl Gray green tea and it signals a softening around the edges of my busy mind. The transition continues as I rise the steps that lead to my studio and sit at my desk. Music set low in the background to match my mood - classical, jazz, blues. Before I turn to the tools of my craft, I light a soy candle lightly scented with vanilla and the process is complete, my mind is calm, I can begin.
There is one other thing that occurs. Every time I sit down at my desk and before I can focus on my current project, Luna demands an audience. She jumps up on the surface of my desk and monopolizes my attention. She alternately marks the corner of my computer with her cheek, chins my pen, bumps the hand that's holding my tea, and generally puts herself smack dab in the middle of the action.
It used to frustrate me until I decided to view her antics as complementary to my efforts and devoted a few minutes before work commenced to lavishing her with love and affection. Now, it feels like Luna is conveying her own, personal form of blessing on the creativity that is about to unfold and I have happily incorporated it into my routine, to our mutual pleasure. What about you? Do you have a series of things you do to prepare for your best work? I'd love to hear. These original watercolour illustrations are available to purchase here.
The Frenchman is embarking on a new creative journey, one that has its roots in old world tradition - blacksmithing.
He's been busily buying up equipment from farmers who have no use for items that they've inherited from family members who made the tools themselves, as was the practice. Much of what he's brought home is over 100 years old, well used, and steeped in history.
One elderly man, in particular, is responsible for providing most of what The Frenchman needs to get started and, until recently, he used to make wagon wheels for a living. The Frenchman plans to invite him over to see his shop once he has it set up to his satisfaction and he's cleaned everything in preparation for use.
The next challenge facing The Frenchman will be sourcing good quality coal for the forge.
When I think of all the doors that have opened to us since moving into the country, I'm overwhelmed with gratitude. We're still confronted with obstacles, to be sure, but it's exciting to contemplate where it all may lead. And, you? What are you grateful for today?
Today, Spring is officially sworn in for another year and, as if that wasn't good enough, it's also the occasion of my 53rd birthday. (Ignore the snowfall warning in the forecast for today. I am.) I've always loved that my birthday falls on the first day of Spring. In fact, it's one of the things I like best about myself. *grin* This year, all I'd like is a cheerful bouquet of flowers and, if I could get away without cooking dinner, as well, that would make me very happy. And cake. There must be cake.
Can you tell that I have Spring on my mind? It's definitely been warmer lately, although the forecast still threatens snow and we've seen a few flakes descend. It's okay though. It's like the first snow of the season all over again and I know that it'll be gone in no time. Next up: Spring. Or, as we like to call it around here Pothole Season. Seriously, some of the holes in the road could swallow a compact car. Actually, this period between winter's thaw and summer's heat is officially known as Spring Breakup. It's a phenomenon I had never heard of until I moved to the prairies. The soil around here retains moisture extremely well. In fact, none of the farmers irrigate their fields because they don't need to. They rely on Mother Nature to water their crops and the soil soaks it up like a sponge and holds it there. At this time of year, all that melting snow and the infamous April showers have the potential to turn gravel roads into great big mud pits that are as slick as ice and as thick and sticky as fresh cookie dough. Road closures are common, particularly for vehicles over a certain weight and this is the only time of year that we welcome the winds that help to dry things up, on the surface, anyway. Mud inevitably gets tracked in the house, leaving wandering paw print trails on the floor and my inner neat freak takes this opportunity to practice letting go. On a positive note, the birds are filling the air with their happy voices, new buds are beginning to form on the plants that were hardy enough to withstand the winter temperatures, and Barney, the barncat has been spotted exploring the yard. I hope it means he intends to set up permanent residence here.
I was so pleased when my good friend, Caroline, asked me to create two watercolour illustrations for her. One would be for her own enjoyment and the other would be presented to her friend on the occasion of her birthday. As I sat down to create something uniquely beautiful for them, it felt right, that this was the work I was meant to be doing. And, the process flowed effortlessly from the initial vision of what I wanted to create, to the finished product.
All along the way, Caroline's enthusiasm was infectious and spiritually uplifting and there's something particularly satisfying in the knowledge that something I've created will be enjoyed by someone else in their own sacred space. Thank you, Caroline! I sincerely hope you and Debbie enjoy these works of art that were created from my heart to yours.
After lamenting the noticeable absence of my muse a couple of weeks ago, my little creative sprite has returned and has been making up for lost time. Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with an idea that you liked so much you couldn't wait to get up so you could start working on it? That's what happened with this first illustrated watercolour and I'm quite pleased with the way it turned out.
My second illustration is not as pleasing to my eye, but I still like it, as a practice piece. It's been snowing a lot over the last few days, so I'm content to be spending time in my studio where I'm cozy and snug. I have a feeling Spring is going to be late for her own party on the 20th of this month. *sigh* Hope you're warm and safe wherever you are in the world. Have a great weekend!
The following information, while fun and easy, is also highly addictive. Proceed with caution. *grin*
My recent post dedicated to colour therapy as a way to beat the winter blahs, seems to have struck a chord with several of you, as I received a number of enquiries wanting to know how I did it. You do need Photoshop and, in my experience, it seems that the steps below have to be followed in order. I'm no expert, so if you know a better way, by all means, do that. Without further ado, here's how you make your own Amazing Colour Circle Thingy: Choose an image you want to alter.
1. Make the image square by going into IMAGE -IMAGE SIZE-(unmark Constrain Proportion). Alter the dimensions so they match, typically making each one equal to the smallest size.
2. Make sure the image is 8 bits and then Flatten.
3. Next, go to FILTER-DISTORT-POLAR COORDINATES. Select "Polar to Rectangular" and hit "Okay."
4. Rotate the image 180 degrees. (IMAGE-ROTATE-180)
5. Go back to FILTER-DISTORT-POLAR COORDINATES and, this time, select "Rectangular to Polar" and hit "Okay".
I love serendipity, don't you? Shortly after I made the decision to devote as much of my free time as I could to creative exploration last week, I happened upon Lori Vliegen's blog. Permit me to back up a bit. Well, way back, actually, to when I was a young child poring over magazine ads and dreaming of being an advertising wunderkind. The marriage of words and images absolutely fascinated me and if there was subtle double entendre included in the message, so much the better. Life has a way of tripping us up and, although I followed my heart's call and, going against my parents' wishes, attended art college, circumstances led me to remain there for no more than a year. I abandoned my studies and my chosen career path and entered the corporate world as a secretary where I would stay for several years. Nevertheless, I have never lost my love of words and imagery, especially if there is a touch of whimsy involved. Imagine my delight when I discovered Lori's Doodle Page* e-course. It brings together three of my loves - words, illustration, and quotes - and allows me to create with a medium I'm comfortable with and that feels natural. Lori presents the information clearly and concisely and there is enough instruction to address any creative concerns that might crop up without tipping over into overwhelm. PDF files are provided with a list of recommended supplies and to assist with lettering practice and design. Lori has also designed the course to be accessed whenever it fits your schedule. There is no deadline for registration with the accompanying pressure to decide immediately or regret that you've missed out. The illustrated quote above is my first attempt at this style and I can see lots of areas where it could be improved upon. In addition, although the journal I was working in claims to be appropriate for watercolour, the paper really doesn't seem to take water all that well. That said, I'm happy with the results and look forward to getting reacquainted with an old area of fascination.
I have not been approached to advertise or promote this e-course, nor am I receiving any compensation of any description. This is unsolicited information, freely given, based solely on my own personal experience.
My alter ego, the Mad Scientist, has been busy playing with Photoshop. This effect is, admittedly, a bit gimmicky, but it makes me happy and that's good enough for me.
I've been crazy for colour the last several months and these just seem to hit the spot like a sweet square of milk chocolate on my tongue.
A short while ago I was lamenting my complete absence of inspiration and suddenly, I'm finding myself overwhelmed with all the ideas I'm getting - even in my sleep (!) - and opportunities for learning that have been presenting themselves. Honestly, there don't seem to be enough hours in the day to explore everything that's captured my imagination recently. I love serendipity and I'd much rather have too much choice than not enough.
I'll be back to share a few more tidbits as I try my hand at new ways of creating. As with all experiments, some are working, others not so much. The pleasure is as much in the journey as in the arrival at the destination.
I'm on hiatus from Facebook. I'm committed to staying off it for a week, however, I may extend my self-imposed exile for a longer period, if I find that serves me best. It had become a too-easy form of entertainment for me that had been infringing on my time too much and I found I was reaching for that instead of exploring several artistic impulses that have been clamoring for my attention lately. So, if you're a) having a baby; b) starting a new job; c) breaking up with your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife and getting a puppy instead; d) going to war; or e) any variation of the above, it will happen without benefit of any witty repartee from me. For the next week, at least. As a big fan of the lost art of reframing, I'm declaring this week to be my own personal Creative Retreat. It's not that I don't have other responsibilities or obligations. I do. However, after the groceries have been bought, the laundry done, the dinners prepared, and the doctor's appointments kept, the rest of my time will be spent upstairs in my playroom studio having fun. It's true, isn't it? When you're doing what you love to do and things are coming together the way you'd envisioned them - or better yet - with delightfully unexpected results - it feels remarkably like play, doesn't it? The mixed media painting shown above is a small experimental piece, roughly 4" x 6", that I worked on yesterday afternoon in my mad scientist's laboratory. What are you playing at these days? Do tell.
The sun rose reluctantly in the sky this morning. Shrouded by heavy skies that blurred the line between heaven and earth, for a few brief moments it cast the world in a pastel shade of pink. Thick hoarfrost lined branches and whiskers alike and transformed trees into great big cotton candy treats.
A fluffy cloud descended and wrapped us in its chilly embrace, enveloping and intimate. There's something about fog that brings with it a reverent sense of peace. My entire world was hushed in that moment and time had been suspended.
All content and photos are original to Carolynn Anctil and A Glowing Ember and are copyrighted, 2006 - 2014. Please do not copy, or download any content without express written consent. All content and photos remain the sole property of Carolynn Anctil and A Glowing Ember forever unto eternity. Don't take what doesn't belong to you. Karma will kick your ass. Don't say I didn't warn you.
I'm a Superficial Dabbler - I know a little bit about a lot of things and I'm an expert at none of them. I’m a city girl with a country soul, a curious nature, and a very short attention span. I believe that animals are angels wrapped in fur, come down from heaven to model unconditional love.
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