There's a very cool, authentic little Greek restaurant in Fraser Lake but we didn't discover it until a few years back because it's in a double wide trailer with its featureless back to Highway 16. One afternoon (we must have been feeling terribly adventurous) we drove the half block off the highway to check out the fronts of a few of these little businesses and the north side of the building proved unexpectedly inviting. Once inside we finally discover Stavros - our local, authentic export/expat from Greece - and his bounty of Greek cuisine. Vegetables from a large garden next door filled the soups he crafted each day or two or sat in as sides on Mediterranean inspired main courses offered for dinner. Three or four guitars hung in a small room adorned with posters of Crete and he would bring these out to the patio to play old Greek melodies in the evening as warmth and twilight hung in the summer air.
We currently rent their sons' house (he was raised there so it's the original family home) and have been befriended by Stavros and Sandra which I consider a great honor. It was probably during the very first dinner we ever experienced in the restaurant, while savoring flavors of olives, lemon, onion and feta that I first swiveled my head around trying to figure out how to pitch a mural to Stavros: it had to have a mural. The smells and sounds (that accent!) of Crete had to be realized visually in some way larger than a poster.
Over the summer, once Sandra discovered my plan, I begun work on what I hoped was the most enticing slice of Crete that I could distill into 75 square feet. The project had taken on a bit of urgency as Stavros was undergoing chemo and suffering from the effects. His old friend Marcel Gagnon performed at the restaurant with a stellar group of musicians in August to acknowledge the years of support he had received there and I hoped to supply a visual equivalent so away I went down a rabbit hole of all things Creta - village, sea and sunshine.
How close I came...
Stavros never did see it and he slipped out of this world into the light and warmth of his beloved island one week ago today.
Before installation at the restaurant, the last step was to place the panels on the dining room table in order to access the edges and tops. For me - following years of anticipation and then months of design and obsession? - it's the emotional and artistic equivalent eerily similar to the Irish custom of placing the deceased's body on a table for the wake.
I have no idea if Sandra will ever open the doors to the restaurant again, but I will finish this.
Wrapped up a 3 day art camp with the Rec department of Fraser Lake for a dozen energetic little gals. I made them start with the heavy lifting which consisted of a morning of drawing and scrutinizing facial proportions and transferring a fairly finished image over to different surfaces for chalk pastel and watercolor. In the afternoon we were treated to a fabulously fun activity where we glued beads and yarn to a prepainted canvas depicting a simple flower. The results were anything but simple!
The instructor's sample is on the left and one of the students' on the right.
The second morning found me in charge of the graffiti workshop...because the scheduled instructor backed out last minute. Wasn't something that the girls were going to want to miss so the facilitator and I forged ahead and kept them all happy with a slideshow and tutorial re: graffiti style font and then a mass 'sprayathon' out back in the field on cardboard I'd prepainted. Due to the absence of fancy spray can tips we had the students fine tune with markers and many of the results were awesome!
The next couple of sessions explored their portraits in chalk pastels and then watercolor with marker. I was kept hopping so much that I kind of forgot to take close up photos of the finished pieces...so I just have some shots of the exhibit we put together at the end for family, friends and admirers!
Two weeks ago I stood at the very center of the continent.
I'd flown to Winnipeg to attend and assist decorating the bff's daughter's wedding and...
I've never been sooo far east!! The wedding was a magazine quality, country wedding in a tastefully decorated barn, (with much sweat and stress...then again, what wedding isn't??) but very much worth the results, as was the reception, topped off by a 10 piece, oh so! professional family band consisting of relatives from the groom's side and the very essence of Manitoba country culture. It felt almost alien... so, so very far removed from the B.C./west coast community life I've experienced over the last 50+ years, but extremely interesting and enjoyable. We only got the tiniest taste of Winnipeg The City but the little I experienced - The Forks on a perfect summer evening, a walk along Portage then Main, transcendentally delectable naan and dinner at an Indian restaurant - revealed a small, very congenial and cultured little city that I'd very much like to visit again.
Friday night soiree in Vanderhoof with some of the local art peeps we've met over the past few months, with an added bonus of lovely music to really round out the experience. 4 artists hosted an open house to show off their artwork and charming studio space. Erin drove us in, around V'Hoof and home again, making it the most extensive driving session she's tackled and I was right proud. It's so inspiring to check out the work of peers even if it always makes me want to be able to paint like 'her, and her, and him!'.
I was reminded that I could paint like my own self. Point taken. It did make me realize how much more compelling artwork becomes when displayed within a pleasing space...kinda like creating a trap to lure in and capture prey!
Following The Winter of Slowly Drowning*, it serves as a reminder that some days can still be completely enjoyable.
*none of my expectations have come to pass and I'm being seriously redefined...not that there's anything wrong with that...
Here it is - early April - so I've been chomping at the bit to select colours for the roofing and siding. (We say stuff like that 'round these parts...chomping at the bit and such.) After deliberating over various combinations of butter yellow, soft green and ivory, I took the easy route and settled on a clay toned trio from the Hardi plank siding selector, relying instead on textures for interest rather than colour. Make it POP! with the accents! The siding is paintable so we can change colour in future if desired...and still physically able. The cabin is going to have to coordinate with a smaller log guest cabin which will be constructed in 2015.
The Husband was quickly converted from his years long stance in favour of traditional green metal roofing once I pointed out how many people had gone with brown or taupe and the very compelling case to be made in favor of the far greater range of colours that it compliments.
Do I find colour riveting? Just a little.
All details seem to be in order so now it's just a matter of waiting out the thaw and the resulting mud and subsequent heavy equipment ban on the roads and then...four...three...two...one...spring into action in...June.
After feeling somewhat adrift and unproductive I decided that it might be prudent to look at the paintings I've completed over the past 6 months. I may frequently be under the impression that I'm merely existing but perhaps the seeds of the future have been sown and are germinating just beneath the surface. The next 6 months will be devoted to 'my arts' desire' and I hope to start a group focussed on that very idea, consisting of visual artists in any medium who would like to meet to discuss the art they'd like to produce without any regard for a particular market. Then we're gonna launch every last one of us.
Not too ambitious!
So, it seems I'm still remiss in photographing every piece of my work. There's a good New Year's resolution! I have one more painting with lilies and gold leaf fairly close to completion so that's 10 for the past 6 months; not exactly cranking 'em out but I hope to speed it up a bit from now on...another resolution. : )
New artwork by lil' Miss Erin! Portrait of a certain Kung Fu legend rendered in her eye catching style for big brother Q. Marker, pen and acrylic on full sheet of watercolour paper.
It's rather invigorating to have another body producing artwork under the same roof....stuff keeps happening even if I'm not moving paint around and I always find her works more interesting than what I'm doing. Such is the nature of the creative life; neighbor envy abounds. : )
Resolved: to apply myself more diligently in 2014 and truly take advantage of the wonderful situation I currently enjoy.
That would be a bit of set painting for Vanderhoof's production of Cariboo Magi. Most of the painting involves a wintery twilight Cariboo landscape which I do on site and this saloon sign on which I went to town because it was completed at home.
If less is more imagine how much more 'more' is??
The swans have finally arrived on Fraser Lake, white swan capitol of Canada...or The World...depending on which sign or publication one reads. We've waited years to see them. They landed about a week ago and have been adding their numbers every day.
These are massive creatures. And loud.
But that's okay - they're impressive in every way.
Right now they are feasting upon the bounty of the lake in preparation for what should prove to be a long, lonnng winter; I don't know yet when Fraser Lake ices over but it doesn't break up until the first week of May.
With all the feeding our most frequent view is one of large, white swan butts dotting the lake.
I suspect winter will provide a more dignified and picturesque scenario.
Looks like an apple crisp, a purty quiche and one of Erin's trees sitting in a pot of tea. She continues to develop her trees and each step of the way they are quite lovely. The most recent treatment is dipping part or all of the tree into various dye baths and attaching these to driftwood or rock; the hope is that increased complexity leads to an increase in value. Worst case scenario? She - or we - have an enchanted forest of wire and yarn/bead trees adorning our home.
The quiche and apple crisp were in honour of the bff and her mother stopping by to visit on their way home from P.G. Been baking since moving here and it's been a treat to harvest apples from the backyard or create meals from locally raised critters 'n vittles. Erin noted that food items traditionally increased in value the further they had to travel to their destination whereas now it's reversed, making the backyard the ultimate source of premium food.
My very first Saskatoon jelly - created from our very own berries! The very best, most productive bushes grow on our own lot on Fraser Lake and most of the berries - well, at least half - came from one stellar bush.
There is indeed honey around and I've made it a habit to buy some from a Vanderhoof vendor at the Farmer's Market every Friday here. They feature at least 8 different flavours and so far I've purchased regular, orange infused and peppermint. Pure loveliness...
See those berries? Pretty impressive for a wild shrub. I've been imagining all the produce I could uh...produce... in strategic containers around the lot once we're living on site. Don't want to engage in any full scale agricultural endeavors but any efforts should prove more than worthwhile.
These here are the little gals who make it all happen. Bees upon bees - literally - I actually saw bees landing on their fellow workers. It was an incredibly encouraging sight following months of articles describing the collapse and decimation of hives around the world. Can't help but get a feeling of warmth and security knowing that we have landed in the midst of such teeming life and abundance.
Author: Eileen Hutson
'You need the dark to see the light'. Advice picked up in painting workshops has become a treasured mantra in both life and art.