Sketches and Watercolour Painting – The Blue Mountians

This was the first ink and wash watercolour painting I did, using the new professional-grade paper I got at Christmas.

It was based on a picture I had come across which I really enjoyed, in that it had a variety of tone elements or layers to it that suggested the hills/mountains were some distance off in the background with a hazy and almost smokey sky appearance.

When I had finished it(or so I thought), I was generally happy with how it turned out.

The foreground representing grass was good(although it could be a bit darker); the hill/mountain turned out fine in that it does suggest “distance”(the top of the hill could have sharper edges to it). And the cabin worked out okay as well.

But, it was a pretty bland picture looking I must admit.

As I pondered over it for a few days, I came back and added the trees in to create more depth and some visual points to the overall effect. Which I think was a good choice in the end.

And realistically, who wouldn’t want a cabin on a hilltop surrounded by mountain views?

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Sketches and Watercolour Painting – Nova Scotia Inspired Fishing Boat – Update

About a week or so ago, I posted a loose/abstract watercolour painting I was working on inspired, based on seeing beached fishing boats and such often resting on the ocean floor at low tide. You can take a read of that post from a week ago here. It’s really pretty good.

So, here we have halfway through, and the finished watercolour painting.

To be honest and not to blow my own whistle too much or too loud, I’m genuinely altogether pleased with how the painting turned out.

I do think in hindsight, that adding the thin ink line to the windows and hull might have been a mistake, but I can exclaim with considerable fanfare, I remain my own fiercest critic.

One significant creative element that has been added to the painting process since the beginning of the new year, is using professional-grade watercolour paper. For a “Christmas present” we managed to score professional-grade paper through a chain art supply store at 30 percent off.

Using a far better quality paper, overnight transformed the painting game a 1000 percent.

Secondly, while watching and listening to some watercolour YouTube videos, a comment from one painter/instructor ended up delivering a resounding impact on me.

“DON’T BE AFRAID TO MAKE A MISTAKE”

It might seem like “don’t be afraid to make a mistake” is just a minor blip; a small toe-stubbing potential mishap in the creative journey. But, I can assure you “don’t be afraid to make a mistake” can make the creative juices come to a screeching halt.

So, there you go.

There will be more paintings and stuff to come in the next days and weeks.

Hey, I would love to hear any comments on what you’re seeing.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

A Foggy Day Is Still A New Day

Right now at the “old homestead” it’s a balmy -21 degrees C give or take a degree or two. That’s correct -21 degrees.

Not exactly shorts and t-shirt weather. Nor is the type of weather that creates a moody and foggy mist over the horizon as the sun is rising in the east when you are rolling out of the sack, say at 6:21am.

On a completely different track, I do find it ironic that for someone(me) who really isn’t a huge fan of the literally million(s) of cute inspirational quotes and cliches that are available with one easy peasy Google search, I seen to either use them a decent amount or blog about them – again a decent amount. Figure that one out?

Obviously, the soil the provides the most fertile environment for the bountiful harvest of “quotes and cliches” that have grown and matured within the fences of the “motivational and inspirational farm fields” is – …….. social media.

Think of Instagram, Twitter, FaceBook et al, as the jiggly medium found in petri-dishes hidden away in some a Silicon Valley conglomerate. All vibrating and twitching with anticpation as a few drops of the newest “motivational/inspirational quote and cliches” fall and flow across those fertile slimy and pudding-like surfaces, unleashing millions of “hope and dream spores” to become the next “poster; jpeg or motivational gif” to guide humanity(or at least a few of us) to the next level of becoming all it can be.

Or something like that.

Nevertheless, it seems inspirational quotes and writing in the inspirational/motivational genre often appear to be the most fertile ground when it comes to the use of cliches and such.

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Obviously, a massive over-generalization and yes, it may be a somewhat unfair suggestion.

But, cliches and or quotes from those who are famous or the near-famous certainly have found a place within the whole inspirational genre, whether it be in text or some visual representation.

Now, this post isn’t to disparage any of these quotes or cliches or how and why they’re used.

I get all of that, and I understand why people can find solace and comfort reading them. In addition, I find that many of them do exactly that, provide some comfort and encouragement when I happen to come across them.

Here are a few quotes or cliches to help illustrate where we’re going.

Night is always darker before the dawn and life is the same, the hard times will pass, everything will get better and the sun will shine brighter than ever.

— Ernest Hemingway

Sunshine always follows the rain

— unknown

Tomorrow is a new day

—  unknown

Each one of these has been used or may even be used by someone today to help people dealing with a period of “darkness”(going through a challenging or difficult period in their life) and that the “darkness” will somehow end and what follows will be a “glorious dawn of a new day” filled with eye-blinding sunshine.

When I read these and other quotes or similar cliches, there seems never any middle ground. You head from one end of some ethereal spectrum of “darkness” and magically overnight awaken at the opposite end of the spectrum having arrived at “a new and glorious dawn filled with sunshine.”

And often when presented in a visual form, they appear something like this. And again, leave us with the impression of a day dawning with the sun brilliantly coming up over the horizon and a day filled with sunshine.

But, in reality, does it really happen like that?

Do people actually come out of some difficulty or challenging period in their lives; have eight hours of blissful sleep and awaken into this new dawn of brilliant sunshine where all is good?

I suppose it does happen and for all I know, maybe it happens all the time.

So, here is the crux of it.

Do these types of cliches and quotes, set people up with unrealistic expectations of what happens after the difficulties or challenges they face go away?

What if the day dawns, as it always does, but it is overcast and foggy?

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Is this still not a brand-new day?

Did the sun come up or not?

The answer to both questions is, obviously yes.

Even a dull, foggy and dreary morning, is exceedingly brighter than a night that wasn’t even all that dark out!

In other words, even if you went through a difficult and challenging time and start to see a change happening for the better and even if the change was a tad foggy or dull, is that not better than the dark period?

Assuming that it is, certainly, that has to be a “win” for us?

A change for the better regardless of how it arrives and/or how big the change, is still a change for the better.

I suspect that we all want to go from the dark(difficulties are happening) end of the spectrum to the brilliant(all is better) end, without having to travel through the middle part.

I believe that most of us eventually work through those difficult times, depending on what they are and at some juncture, a new day will dawn for us. That those troubling or difficult circumstances would be entirely gone or at least vanished for the most part. And that this new day will give us plenty of sunshine on some level.

Remember, though, we may have had a few foggy and dreary days along the way before we get there.

Nevertheless, a foggy and dreary day is still a new day and it will always be brighter than the darkest night.

And that in my mind is a “HUGE WIN.”

I would be interested to hear what you think about the subject.

Do some of these inspirational cliches and quotes create unrealistic expectations and outcomes?

–as always with love–

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Brain Fog Monday

I hope that many of you on occasion experience the same “fogginess” that I appear to be dwelling in at this very moment.

You know, the overwhelming desire to write and produce something, but the inability at the time you want to “pound the keys” to get your brain to clear the fog out enough in order to produce a few words that are comprehensible at some level to read.

And thus starts my early Monday morning.

Since coming back at some time in November from a kind of self-imposed hiatus of several months, I’ve taken the approach of casually tickling my brain the day before wanting to write and post something, in order to have an idea, issue, or “life thing” to actually write about. So far, at least I think so far, it has relieved much of the stress and pressure to create something to post about.

Guess, I forgot to do that yesterday.

But, in the big scheme of things happening in the world at the moment, not having an idea for a blog post on a cold and snowy Monday morning here at the “old homestead” on the shores of Georgian Bay isn’t a show-stopper.

In the past when this type of “writing funk” situation would descend upon our south Georgian Bay habitat, my stress level would ramp up; a discernable and measurable helping of frustration would make an appearance, and all of that followed by a few subtle lines of negative self-talk.

But, not today.

I will however admit, that it can take me a while and often a long while to figure things out; “see the light”; and/or see things for what they are. This shouldn’t be taken as negative self-talk, but more of a statement of fact.

Not sure if others see creativity this way or make this connection with creative pursuits, but I see creativity and creative pursuits/hobbies as something that should be fun; bring a sense of joy to yourself; an activity you would look forward to.

The self-induced pressure and stress I found in the summer with writing and this blog, came from a number of directions but much of it came from simply this fact. The focus/my focus was lost on what this blog was meant to be – a fun and creative project/hobby.

A good lesson for many of us to remember – creativity in whatever form should be and hell MUST BE fun. I get it if this is your job or if your desire is to make blogging a full-time thing.

But, it still should be fun – right?

I took up blogging back in 2016 and then sketching/watercolour painting in 2020 for a number of reasons. But, one of the reasons I keep plugging away at it, is it’s fun. Writing and art stretch and expand who I am as a person and realistically that is a good thing – a great thing.

There ya go – seems the Monday morning brain fog lifted just enough to pound out a few words.

This was fun – as it should be.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Wilderness Art – Nova Scotia Inspired Fishing Boat

Searching back through posts from the last while, it has been some time since I’ve updated or added to the “Wilderness Art” category. Also thinking, maybe the “Wilderness Art” name needs an upgrade or update to something different.

Moving on, at the beginning of December, I updated the “Christmas Gift Tag” project. Which by the way, was a really fun exercise to do. Some of the tags turned out so-so, while others were a “hoot” to think of and paint.

Since heading down this watercolour painting and pencil sketching trail over the past 24 months or so, I’ve really come to enjoy two realms of creativity.

Those are folk art and loose abstract watercolour creations.

In addition, I find great inspiration in maritime(specifically Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island) scenes, such as landscapes; fishing shacks; lighthouses, or other structures that would lend themselves to either a “folk art” or a “loose abstract” painting.

This one is the start of a loose abstract watercolour of a beached fishing boat that realistically could be found in many places located along the Nova Scotia coastline. Thinking about it for a minute or two, it could also represent many locales in Prince Edward Island given the reddish sand foreground.

Obviously, I still have a bit to do to finish the painting up.

First of all, with the fishing boat as the focal point of the painting, I’ll need to give it some special consideration. I’m thinking of giving it a loose application as well, but haven’t reached any decision as to colours and textures. The boat also needs some shadowing at the base of it in the sand.

Lastly, between the grey sky and the dark line that represents a closer treeline or cliff, I think I’ll add a lightish grey wash to suggest a forest or trees that are quite distant. That should provide some additional depth to the painting.

So, there you have it. The latest update to my creative adventures.

I’m really looking forward to how this turns out.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

To Colour Or Not To Colour?

The past few days at the start of 2022 has reminded me, that “putting away the crayon box and/or colouring between the lines” may actually be the most devastating move I could make at the moment. A strange opening, but hang in there with me.

Generally, most of us would agree that rules are necessary in a wide expanse of situations. You know – “stop at a red light”; “wear a life jacket when canoeing”; and the oldie but goodie “don’t eat yellow snow.” You get the idea.

Rules(real and imagined) can be a good thing, but they can also be the most restricting and strangling when it comes to who we are and should be as an individual.

Often family, society and/or our upbringing force; slot or “passive-agressively suggest” this is how we “should be or act or live our OWN lives.”

Conformity has it’s place. But, it can also squash or slowly extinguish the creative flame that glows in all of us.

— with love —

A few weeks ago, I was going through some stuff(mostly unknown clutter) that had been boxed away in our art studio.

When rummaging around, I came across a small container of things that obviously had much use and were a well-worn memory from our daughter Sara’s childhood.

Crayons and colouring pencils.

How many of us remember back to when our children picked up that crayon or marker for the first time?

Sitting with them at the kitchen table; your child is not even able at this stage to hold a crayon correctly. But, did it matter? Of course not! They just latched on to it and started wildly moving the crayon across that blank piece of paper, creating in their mind the perfect picture to give Mom to put on the fridge for the world to see.

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As things progressed, you likely bought them a simple colouring book suitable for the age they were at. Having said that, a colouring book is a big step up from a white sheet of paper.

With colouring books, the lines define the shape and also where to colour.

But like the blank piece of paper, this is fun. REAL FUN. There were no rules. The sky can be green and not blue; the lines in the book are merely a suggestion; the grass can be red and not green.

And with great abandon and without care for the rules, children colour, create and express themselves in such wonderful ways with a simple crayon. Why? – because they can. And no one stops them.

In fact, we encourage and support them all along the way.

Unfortunately, somewhere along the path, we call life, there is a point when society or someone says, “in order to fit in – you must colour between the lines.”

colour3

As the days move along and as we grew older, even though we may not have known it, “colouring between the lines” creates a loss in our life.

The “stay between the lines mantra,” begins to ever so slightly strip or erode away part of who we are.

It takes that “wild child-like abandonment and care-free attitude” from our childhood and slowly over time smooths out those rough edges to create something that conforms to a much more narrowly defined existence.

This underlying and often not so underlying layer of “staying between the lines conformity” ultimately creates a picture where the colours match up(the sky must be blue) and the colours don’t cross over those tiny lines that define the shapes on the page. The result is a picture that all can see and recognize what it is.

Remember though, as a toddler, when starting to colour there were no rules. There was nothing to confine or restrict the crayon crashing across the page in the colouring book.

Did you care? NO!

You were simply being you; being who you are; having fun and living life. You were creating a masterpiece.

But at some ripe age as an adult or even a bit earlier, the mindset of “colouring between the lines” can take us down a variety of different rocky/tree root strewn and foot catching stumbling paths:

  • do what’s safe or easy
  • don’t be unique or really different
  • be perfect
  • don’t bend the rules
  • keep your creativity in check; no individuality
  • don’t make a scene
  • stay in your comfort zone; take no risks

If that’s where we’ve ended because we’ve been herded into “colouring within the lines,” we can often find ourselves saying, “trying that won’t work” instead of actually seeing if it will work. Or “it has always been done that way” as the only reason to not try and do things differently.

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“Colouring between the lines” can bring us to be a near-perfect rule follower, not willing to step out and “bend the rules” a bit. You’re afraid to take or make a path of your own.

You study and become an accountant(not to disparage accountants), but deep within you; your soul aches and your heart cries and screams that you need to be a writer; an actor, or make pottery. And you know it’s true because you feel and live the ache of your soul and the scream of your heart each and every day.

But how often do you simply end up living life – “painting by numbers.” Number 5 is blue; number 7 is green.

Rigidly colouring within the lines leaves you afraid to be who you are, cut off from your creativity, resourcefulness, and genius.

Source – Unknown

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You see, each of us(and that includes you) was born to create a masterpiece.

And that “masterpiece” is us as an individual.

But in order to create that masterpiece, we need to at times and often all the time “colour outside the lines.”

Life may or may not be a “big wonderful and yummy bowl of cherries,” but it certainly is a big box full of brightly colour crayons.

Regardless of what people around you or even what society says, it is okay to “colour outside the lines” and along with that, it is also okay to use every colour in the crayon box.

In fact, to create “your masterpiece” you’ll need to use each colour; mix them up a bit(make the sky green), and to say “to hell with the lines on the page.”

Live life to the fullest. You have to color outside the lines once in a while if you want to make your life a masterpiece. Laugh some every day. Keep growing, keep dreaming, keep following your heart. The important thing is not to stop questioning.

~ Albert Einstein

Now is the time to open back up that box of crayons that have been put away over the years.

Get out there and colour with “child-like freedom.” Use the brightest and wildest colour schemes you can think of.

Bring perspective to life and things that only you can bring.

You are different, unique, original.

Be you – the world needs your masterpiece.

— with love —

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Photo Credits: Pixabay and Google Images

Parry Sound – 2022 Outing #1

Yesterday dawned coolish in this area, but along with the sunrise also rose great expectations to start 2022 off with a bang(a small or large – didn’t matter) in terms of getting a better grip so to speak on my/our physical and mental/emotional wellness. I touched on this a bit in a post from January 2 – “The 2022 Routine Begins.”

In the morning before we headed out, I had mentioned casually to Lynn that it seems over the past year or two, I’ve often struggled when it comes to deciding where to head out when we want to go out for the day on an adventure.

Not sure why, but it does seem at times that I choose some lovely location and then overthink the whole freaking thing and talk myself out of going.

Nevertheless, I suggested why not Parry Sound?

First – we thoroughly enjoy the entire area up that way. It has a very wild and windswept vibe to the landscape. Secondly – the trail along the waterfront is great from a number of perspectives. Finally – we figured it was perhaps the best spot to get a kickstart on 2022.

So in order NOT to give me the time to “talk ourselves out of going”, we got ready and off we headed.

With an uneventful drive north up Highway 400, we arrived in the parking lot along the waterfront to find it and the trail essentially a sheet of ice. Yes – ice – lots of ice.

To say it was slick would be an understatement. Nevertheless, off we went gingerly stepping as to not take what only could be thought of as a “massive tumble.”

Ice and all, we went as far as Wambuno Beach Park.

Got a few pictures taken from there.

Even though it was pretty slick going, it was a good day. Although we only went a couple of kilometers overall, the mental wellness part made the afternoon worthwhile.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

The 2022 Routine Begins

So, we’ve finished Christmas and hopefully made it through New Year’s(for the most part) and now we start to settle in for what I’m calling the 2022 routine. Sort of a routine, at least for a while.

I’m not sure routine is the best word to describe this, but it is the routine of work, followed by the weekend and then work – and again followed by the weekend and so on.

In many ways, I’m looking forward to this in a sort of “nice to have some consistency way.” Although, I enjoy the holiday season(some years have been better than others), having some level of consistency in terms of schedule in a bizarre way is bringing me a measured level of peace. I know that I work these five days in a row and then there it is – my weekend.

Of course, there can and will be changes and often variations to the routine and yes – that’s just fine. But, in a bigger picture sense, it’s soothing to say that Sundays will be our outdoor activity day and Monday will be – well whatever happens on that day.

As I sit here writing and reading this as I go along, the whole post screams the exact opposite to how Lynn and I roll on most occasions. That being not much of a routine at all. In fact, Lynn would be most thrilled if there was for the most art no routine at all. She’s more of a “spur-of-the-moment” gal.

But, for Sunday, January 2, 2022 – routine and consistency seem like a good thing. In fact, it seems like the right approach for me at this point. I found throughout 2021, that even with the best of intentions to do “this or that” – minutes and hours would slip by and exactly zero would be accomplished.

As I wrote in a post yesterday(Looking Back at 2021…Looking Forward to 2022), one of the goals on a “checklist” for 2022 is to have a far better approach to both my physical and mental/emotional wellness. I know this will only be achieved at any level by being consistent; focused and routine.

It goes without saying, but there is already a bucketful of unknowns two days into 2022.

In Ontario where we live, it appears the Ontario government has more or less thrown in the towel in terms of the pandemic. With the Omicron variant circulating widely throughout the entire province(Jan 1 – count pushing 19,000 new infections on Saturday alone) our elected officials are nowhere to be seen or even heard from. And there is so much more to say, but it becomes overwhelming and a tad depressing.

But, we march forward doing the best that we can do.

And which in its simplest and most basic terms is looking after one’s physical and mental/emotional wellness as best as one can.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Looking Back at 2021…. Looking Forward at 2022

For many in the blogging world, and perhaps for many not trudging around in the blogging sphere of things, the end of one year alongside the ushering in of a new year, provides an opportunity to reflect on what was the previous 365 days and conversely what the next 365 days may hold.

In the past, I’ve put together a number of those “looking back at the year” posts. Some have been fairly comprehensive and extensive, while others – not so much.

As with any year, there always will be highlights of wonderful and dandy things that happened as we reflect back on them. Alongside that, there will be those moments or issues that we wish hadn’t made an appearance at all.

So, as I sit here just after 5:00am on New Year’s Day(2022), I’m of two minds.

First, should I write yet another “year in review and where are we headed in 2022 post?” Or secondly, simply forget about it. I’m pretty confident that I’ve landed somewhere in between. Which in all likelihood is just the right spot to hover in for the moment.

No one reading this honestly needs a recap of where we all were at the start of 2021. All ya need to do is think pandemic. So, let’s not go there. It doesn’t seem to serve much of a purpose in terms of cracking out a post that is oozing positivity.

So, seeing a picture or multiple pictures “speak a thousand words” here are a few highlight pictures from 2021.

Realistically, as I was going through selecting a few, these are just a sample of ones that bring me joy and comfort when I look at them again. The memories that they hold; the good times. The positive experiences of 2021.

Looking back in those retrospective moments like many of us have been doing over the last few days or even this morning on January 1st, many of us(including myself to some extent) can often get stuck on the “what should have been” reflection or the “geez that was kind of miserable” rearview mirror focus on the past year.

But, I’m not convinced, or at least I’m not convinced this morning, that is necessarily the most productive starting block stance for heading into 2022. Much of all of that “what should have been in 2021” or “learning from the past issues/mistakes in 2021” is a far better subject for another post. And far better for someone else to write it.

So, what about 2022 then?

Well, one thing(okay – a few things) I’m determined to work on, is better self-care. Both mentally/emotionally and physically. I need to put more focus on the things that bring joy and relaxation into my life. More exercise and outdoor activities, and more focus on drawing and painting, including an online store or folk art shows/sales. I had a number of people wanting to buy the Christmas gift tags I painted and if I had any original hand-painted holiday cards for sale.

Oh, and would love to do a multi-night hiking trip with Lynn or some other outdoor adventure – so we’ll see.

In addition, I think we’re going to be taking a much harder and gut-searching time to determine if the “old homestead” on the shores of south Georgian Bay is where we want to stay long term. With our daughter over 19 hours away on the east coast of Canada, we often can only visit once a year, if even that. And that simply isn’t working.

So, there you go.

I hadn’t planned to compose a kind of year-end review for 2021, but on the other hand, I didn’t want to get left out of all the “retrospection on 2021” posts currently swimming around in my WP reader.

2022 is here now, so bring it on. There are plenty of challenges ahead(a bit of an understatement), but we all get the idea.

Fuck, that’s all I got to say at the moment.

Hell, I didn’t even make it to midnight last night. After getting up for work on New Year’s Eve day at 2:45am, there was no way I could keep awake for 22 hours. I lasted till about 10:30pm. Not a bad overall attempt.

Lynn on the other hand saw midnight and rang in the New Year – I’ll ask her what it was like(insert chuckle here).

So, what about you guys. Thoughts on what was 2021 and what 2022 holds for you?

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —