Sunday, 1 December 2019


A couple of weeks ago I wrote about an elegant 200 year old American Elm that was threatened by the proposed expansion of a train and bus station in 2020.
Good news!
A local geography teacher thought that his Grade 8 class would be interested in getting involved. After much discussion in the classroom, the students wrote letters to Metrolinx (who will be designing the station) and the local Member of Parliament to try and save the tree.
And they were not the only letter writers. Many students from other schools and members of the public were asking for the tree to be spared from the chainsaws. It seems the outpouring of mail has had the desired effect, and Metrolinx has announced that the station site is being redesigned around the tree.
Some of the students and the local Mayor and Councillors and the Member of Parliament at the announcement. I think the tree is breathing a sigh of relief!

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

ATC Swap Meet

I spent a couple of fun hours on Sunday getting to know an assortment of artists and crafty people at the Annual ATC Swap Meet. What's an ATC? And why do people want to swap them?

Well, ATCs - Artist Trading Cards - are tiny works of art, measuring 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches. They are the same dimensions as baseball or hockey cards, and fit into the same plastic sleeves in a collector's binder. They can be on paper, card, plastic, foam, and feature collage, paint, ink, fabric, photographs..... everything is acceptable, the only rule is the size. And everyone has a different style and subject.

Each artist lays their cards out on a table. There's about 30 minutes when people meet each other, chat, look at the cards that have been displayed and decide what they would like to have in their collection.

The real fun gets started when the organizer rings the bell, and trading begins! The New York Stock Exchange is a calm and gentle walk in the park compared to artists at an ATC Swap!

Here is a selection of the ATCs that I took to the meet. None left now. I'll have to make more.

And here are some of the cards I came home with..... rather fuzzy picture with some reflections as they are in the plastic sleeves.

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

On the Chopping Block?

Not far away from my house stands this beautiful and elegant tree, an American Elm, ulmus americana. It's age is estimated to be around 200 years old, which makes it the largest and oldest tree in the area. This tree was just a tiny seedling when Queen Victoria was born in 1819.

The tree is 40 metres tall, has a canopy of 40 metres, and a 4 metre trunk circumference.

It is situated on a piece of land that is to be the site of a new expanded GO Station.... that's the public transit buses and trains that will take commuters to the city.  Metrolinx, who will build the station, planned to chop the tree, but the local paper says that there are negotiations going on to save the tree.
Yes we need public transportation, but we need the tree too. Surely we can have both? 

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Experiment Number 2

Another experiment with the gouache / Indian ink resist process. This time I used a good quality canvas board and gave it a coat of white gesso. And then painted the negative image with water based gouache paint. I used colours as I wanted to see if the gesso would hold the pigment.
The gouache was painted where I wanted the image to stay white.

Then the whole canvas was covered carefully with black Indian ink. Nothing was left uncovered. It was just a black rectangle. Scary moment.
When the ink was totally dry, the canvas went into the sink under the warm water tap, and some gentle scrubbing with a soft brush revealed the image as the gouache dissolved, taking the black ink with it. Almost all the colour washed off and I completed the piece by using transparent acrylic paint and acrylic glazing liquid. I'm quite pleased with the result.

Monday, 11 November 2019

Remembered with Honour









John Turnbull CHANDLER was my mother's cousin. He was born 31 August 1896 in Lincolnshire, England, and was known as Jack.

Jack left England to learn farming techniques in Canada and settled in GrimsbyOntario. He joined the 86th Machine Gun Battalion of the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force on 13 August 1915 at WellandOntario, stating that his date of birth was 1894, not 1896. At that time he was already a member of the 44th Regiment of the Canadian Militia. His enlistment papers show him to be “apparent age 21 years 8 months”, 5’4”, fair complexion, blue eyes, brown hair, a member of the Church of England, and fit to serve with the Forces.
His life ended in 
France on 3 July 1917, serving with the Canadian Machine Gun Corps.

His obituary:

GEDNEY DYKE SOLDIER FALLS We regret to report the death in action of Pte. John Turnbull Chandler, son of the late Mr. John W. Chandler, schoolmaster, Parson Drove, and of Mrs. Chandler, schoolmistress, Gedney Dyke. 
The deceased was educated at Barbourne CollegeWorcester (1908) and Framlingham College (1909-1912). He learned farming and went to Canada in April 1912. He enlisted in January 1916 in GrimsbyOntario, came over to Shorncliffe June 1916, went to France October 1916, and was killed in action July 3rd. He was only 20 years of age. He leaves a mother and six sisters to mourn his loss.

I visited his grave in France with my two sons in 2005. Perhaps the only family members to do so.


Herbert Leonard Darchknown to his family as Len.

Len was born in the village of Combe Martin, in North Devon, England in 1895. He was the son of Matthew Darch and Sarah (nee Rooke), who lived at Glenwood, Combe Martin.

Len had three brothers, Theo, Bert and Wilf, and one sister, Aileen, who married my Uncle Albert in 1919, and therefore became my Auntie Aileen.

Len joined the 1st/7th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment, and was sent to France to fight in WW1, also known as The Great War.  1/7th Battalion Worcestershire Regt was part of 144th (Gloucester & Worcester) Brigade. This photo may have been taken when he first volunteered.

Herbert Leonard Darch, Private 202233,  probably took part in the ‘Pursuit of the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line’ (14 March – 5 April 1917), but on Monday 24 April 1917, at the young age of 21, he was killed in action at Gillemont Farm.
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His life is comemmorated with honour on the Thiepval Memorial, Thiepval, Department of the Somme, Picardie, France, Plot: Pier and Face 5 A and 6 C.  As there is no grave, his body was not recovered. His remains are probably still lying where he fell in a farmer's field.

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Experiment with Indian Ink

I've been trying an experiment.... this definitely works on absorbent watercolour paper, but does it work on a canvas board? I wanted to find out.
First I used water soluble blue gouache paint to sketch out a negative image on a cheap 4" x 6" canvas board from the Dollar store. I didn't want to waste a bigger more expensive canvas.  Everywhere I wanted the canvas to stay white I painted with the gouache.

When the gouache paint was absolutely dry, I covered the whole canvas with Indian ink, taking care to spread the black ink lightly so I didn't smear the gouache underneath. The canvas was a black rectangle, nothing else showing. Uhoh, what next?
Then when the Indian ink was completely dry, it's time for the experiment. I held the canvas under the tap and scrubbed gently with a soft paintbrush. When the gouache started to soften in the water, it washed off the canvas taking the ink with it, and leaving black ink where there was no paint.
I may have rubbed too enthusiastically as some of the ink came off the canvas too.
So I darkened some of the greyed out lines with more ink and added a light colour wash of ink and gouache paint. It doesn't look too bad. Sort of what I intended.
This was on plain untreated cheap canvas. Perhaps the ink might stick better if I had used some gesso.... maybe I'll try that next week.

Saturday, 19 October 2019


Some good looking winners at the poultry show at the Fair!
When I was a child, my dad always kept chickens for eggs, and later for meat, when they stopped laying.  We got a delivery of two dozen baby chicks from the hatchery every spring, and it was my job to feed and water them for the first few days.  When they were big enough, they went outside to the henhouse and the enclosed chicken run, to keep them safe.   I don't think we ever lost any to the local fox.