Midsummer 2011

2008 – 9×12 inches. Acrylic on canvas. Based on a photograph by Bernd Stengl.

Dear art blog readers,

Today was really nice. It’s the long weekend so it feels like Saturday on a Sunday.

Some excitement in the realm of pets and wildlife happened this morning. Sarah and I spotted a bright yellow bird that had somehow gotten through the wire mesh into the cat enclosure. Our cats come and go from the house to their “catio” through a hole in my art studio wall. That bird was frantically trying to get out and Loke, our male cat was having a thrill trying to catch it. We dashed out there on a rescue mission but seconds too late. In an instant that yellow bird was in Loke’s mouth. We took it from him but we think it died instantly because he punctured its body cavity with his long teeth. Amazing that such a lively, bright and beautiful thing could be dead in a split second like that.

Our “catio”, a cat enclosure in the garden.

Well, I added that little body to my freezer collection of specimens to draw. Yes, I put it in my freezer. Did you know that Robert Batemen, highly famous and successful wildlife painter, has many dead animals in his freezer too? Really. He does!

“Honey, can you get that container of pesto out of the freezer for me? No, not that one. That’s the goldfinch! No, not the woodpecker. The PESTO!”


I’ve been away for a few weeks. I went to the Kootenays to visit family, with stops in Surrey, Vancouver, Nelson and Lumby. My dad and I attended Starbelly Jam music festival together. That’s in Crawford Bay, near the ferry terminal on Kootenay Lake, across the lake from Nelson. Starbelly is a magical festival, just the right size, chock full of hippies (the original kind that dodged the draft down south and homesteaded in the mountains) and very artistic Kootenay people. The festival camping in a nearby meadow was wonderful. The food, merchandise vendors, and grounds were eclectic and amazing. The musicians were superb. The weather and surroundings were outstanding. I’d have to say Starbelly Jam is my very best festival experience ever. Shhh! Don’t tell anyone or too many people will come next year!

Festival goers at Starbelly Jam.
My dad with some artistic face painting.
Festival musicians on stage.
Wandering festival performers on stilts.

When I returned from my trip and rejoined my little family here in Langford, I discovered that the garden had grown out of control! It is HUGE. The peas are taller than I am! The tomato plants are so big and bushy that I can barely get the hose under them to give them a drink! The front garden was a huge snarl of wildflowers, buzzing bees and stealthy weeds. I’ve since tamed that beast, and today spent some lovely time harvesting a small amount of veggies. Peas, lima beans, tiny carrots and beets, huge zucchinis and some tasty nasturtium flowers, all grown right in our backyard! I ate most of those for lunch, but not the zucchinis and lima beans. Anyone have a good recipe for lima beans?

Luci and some garden vegetables.

I’m working on a new linocut print right now. It’s a two plate, two colour image of a pair of ravens with their nest, high in a tree. The new press my Mom gave me is going to be a great help in producing these prints once I finish carving the plates.

2011 – 14×18 inches. Two plate linocut print on rice paper, 2 of an edition of 4. There is a family of ravens who nest near our house every year. They’ve had such success with their babies that now there are new nesting sites every spring made by the younger generation.
The press is behind me.

Two shows coming up that I will be in are the Island Illustrators Society’s annual group show, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the artist group, and the Nature of Island Artists show at Goldstream Nature House. I might also participate in a printmaking show but this isn’t confirmed yet. All this is happening in the fall. More info coming for you soon.

My biggest project right now is my art studio. I need to get it organized for printmaking and weeded out for more efficiency.

In the area of music and mandolin I continue to have adventures. At the Starbelly Jam festival I met a musician I really admire: Rick Scott. He is a children’s entertainer from Protection Island, Nanaimo. Funny and talented and full of love and charisma, this guy totally won my heart. I attended a songwriting workshop he lead at the festival. It was fantastic to hear some stories about how he writes songs. His open minded attitude to music and creativity is a breath of fresh air for me. His performance the next day was delightful. I especially loved how he sat on the edge of the stage to be closer to the children, and by the end of the set they were crawling up on stage to be with him. So wonderful to see how much they love him.

While visiting my Oma last week in her residence, part of a hospital or long term care facility, we sang a few songs together over evening tea. Do Re Mi from the Sound of Music, and Edelweiss. Another resident, clearly far gone into dementia and usually not talkative, came right up to us while we were singing. I was amazed to hear her singing the Edelweiss melody perfectly, note for note. We sang the song through again so she could sing along. Kind of a magical moment.

My new friend from the Celtic Gypsies music group has loaned me her fiddle, which is amazing because I’ve wanted to try one for so long! I have been torturing my household with the sounds of enraged, tortured, screaming cats. Playing fiddle is much harder than it looks! (No cats were harmed while I practiced!) I don’t know whether I will pursue fiddle as a serious thing, but I’m having lots of fun trying. Sarah has been quite heroic putting up with my glorious racket.

In Creston I played some music with Gerhard, a friend I know through my dad. That was fun. I also played some music for Wayne and Gunda, my dad’s friends and neighbours. Everyone remarked on how much progress I’ve made since I was playing mandolin for them last summer.

This afternoon I returned to my pub music jam after a couple months absence. I was greeted with so many hugs and kisses that I couldn’t believe it! I guess they missed me! I had fun jamming on stage a bit with my friends, and I played a short set. I don’t think my mandolin playing was strong in my solo set, but I enjoyed hearing my voice in the mike and singing some of my favourite songs. It was really nice to see my friends there again. Good people.

jam buddies
Jamming with my buddies at the pub.