Sunday, 21 December 2014

Winter Solstice 2014

I've decided to take this blog off the private shelf. Last January's appeal for collegial building of professional "digital footprints" seems to have waned and except for a few posts I would rather keep private, I have resurrected this blog as a way to mark my experiment in digital journalling and to thank those that had found it... to hope that you are well.

It's the first day of winter and unlike last year, the garden is completely bare of snow. It will be interesting to see what will survive in the spring, though I did try my best to mulch bulbs and plants which meant the most to me. To be honest, it's a relief to be experiencing a milder winter so far.

After closing this blog down last January, I started a more "professional" WordPress site (which has mostly been neglected). Ironically, in my attempt to be more professional, I've done even less drawing as my tendencies for perfectionism have dissuaded me from producing anything "good enough" to post.

After an initial introduction to Instagram and confusion on how to use it purposefully, I re-joined and relegated it to documenting my garden (though, now that gardening season is over, I've wondered if it will be used for documenting sporadic making of things). It's quick and I've connected with some exceptional gardeners from different parts of the world. In the end, it's been a good way to get instant gratification from a visual point of view. It's less formal than blogging and perhaps even less words is better. I changed my username to @b_wanhill if you want to follow me there.

If you stumble upon this post or still subscribe and find it in your inbox, I wish you all the best for the coming year.

Barbara



Friday, 3 January 2014

The end result = calm

I've created images pretty much every day the last two weeks. Mostly inconsequential imagery, but it was good to get back to seeing in a more thoughtful way again.

A brown paper moleskin was my starting vehicle and stuff laying around beside me was my inspiration. Drawing from life is challenging and after reading the book Mindset, I thought it was time for a challenge.

On December 25, my husband gave me a new small leather day timer. Even though I have succumbed to the iPhone craze, I still like to write things down and watch the weathering of a material object. He gave me one last year and so I had the idea to start a daily drawing project on the pages of my 2013 day timer. I started this project on January 1st.

I don't completely know why (although I have some ideas) but social media freaks me out some times. If you follow me on Twitter, you have probably sensed my sometimes neurotic vibes.

However, in the spirit of creative documentation, I did sign up for Instagram (and I laughed very loudly when it was bombed during Canadian Airfarce's New Year's special). I created a new username for that, because apparently there are enough cats on Instagram already. You can find me at the unoriginal title: 1bplusaniphone. Appropriately, the logo for that was completely created on the computer and phone. At present, I'm not as emotionally invested in this social media platform as I am with Twitter, so my stay there may be limited.

Lastly, I feel like a weight has been lifted. Today I finished a drawing for someone that I had promised a drawing to a year ago. I don't even know if she needs it anymore or even remembers that I said I was interested in contributing to her project, but it's been nagging me for that long, so I took a photo of three red bells on top of an envelope and then drew them in the spirit of Sarah Melling. I am so glad my friend Jeannine introduced me to this artist - she makes it looks so effortless working with pencil crayon – I have a lot to learn.

Monday it's back to work and thoughts of the annual January school art exhibit, report cards and other administrative duties have me wondering if I will even be able to maintain my daily day timer drawing challenge. I will give it my best shot: the end result of drawing for me is calm and two months from now I will need all the calm I can get.

Happy New Year to those that read this. Especially my Aunt. ; )


Pen on moleskin paper.
Pencil and pen on moleskin paper.
Pencil crayon and pen in CIAK day timer.
Inktense pencil crayon, watercolour brush and pencil crayon in CIAK day timer.
I created this in InDesign, turned it into a .jpeg and then manipulated it in the now unfortunately defunct Photoforge 2 app.
(Yahoo.com: you got rid of an excellent photo editing app!)
Photograph taken on the day of tree take down.
Pencil crayon, Inktense pencil crayons on Bristol.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Moving day

Light deprived African violets are moving to a new location.
The best time to transplant African violets in your kitchen is in the morning, with a cup of coffee, during the holidays, while your husband is thoroughly engrossed in an on-line video game in another part of the house.

I'd been eying the cracked terrarium on our kitchen counter for months and with weather still cold outside and blood sugar still at a reasonable level (I am blaming holiday sugar consumption for my vacuous state yesterday) I headed downstairs for the almost forgotten bag of African violet soil.

In 2009 I was working at a middle school and trying my hand as a homeroom teacher while travelling the rest of the day to other classrooms attempting to teach Spanish. To spruce my morning headquarters up a bit, I purchased a couple of African violets off a Rona clearance table. I thought the $2 investment would be worth it.

I find it interesting that I have never had much success growing plants in school environments. I don't know if it's the lighting, air quality or my energy is definitely elsewhere, but plants I take to school seem to languish.

So, I brought the plants home, added another plant to my collection and within the year I had waves of blooms. I was thrilled that something so inexpensive could bring such cheer to the interior of our house (and at the time we were still developing the rest of our yard so these plants were excellent surrogates for a thumb yearning to garden outside).
The beautiful blooms of spring 2010.
 In the autumn of that same year, we also brought something else into our home, which ended up being way better than pretty flowers. These little critters:
The beginning of a more exciting household, autumn 2010.
African violets are non-toxic to cats, so I left them out and soon leaves had kitten size mouth chunks out of them and little dirt piles beside the pots left evidence that someone had been at play.

So, I put the violets up high, away from windows, shielded them in terrariums and they returned to their former pale state of 2009. (This also included some tiny plants my Mom had given me.)

Now that I have more space downstairs, a door that closes, I have set up a small grow light system beside my desk. A couple of months ago, I moved two of the top shelf African violets under the grow lights, unscientifically shoved a Miracle Grow fertilizer stick into the soil and waited.

These plants are asymmetrical from leaning towards light for so long.
I finally have blooms on one plant and both plants' leaves are back to a darker colour and are less stretched out.
Tiny flower buds - it looks like the flowers are going to be purple.
I found an interesting link this morning about African violets (Latin name = Saintpaulia) and apparently I have most of them in pots that are too large. However; I do have the correct amount of lighting set at no more than 14 hours and according to this site, lighting (as well as not over watering) is top priority for healthy plants. I'm looking forward to learning more about the growing habits of these plants I've taken for granted and hopefully with care they will provide some lovely blooms throughout the next many months of snow and cold outside.
You can see the difference between the lanky leaf structure of the newly repotted plants versus
the more compact growing structure of the two that have had better light quality for the last couple of months.