Thursday, 23 June 2016

Garden Art

As summer is here, and the gardens are looking lovely, the art group had a garden and flower workshop. A local gardener, Carol, arrived dressed in her gardening clothes, and brought an assortment of her gardening hats, garden tools, flower pots, flowers, and posed for us.
My quick sketches of Carol needed a bit of help, so I added coloured pencil (a whole box of them left over from my sons' school days).

Then it was time for some sketches of flowers. I used to enjoy drawing and painting flowers many years ago when I was at school but haven't done any since.

Sketched in my sketchbook in light pencil, then inked and the pencil erased and coloured later with watercolor.
White geranium, proper name is Pelargonium or so the people in the Canadian Pelargonium Society tell me. Sketched in my sketchbook in pencil and then inked, and coloured with coloured pencils
I liked the white geranium so much I decided to try painting it. This is acrylic on masonite, 9"x12". I just bought a new tube of Quin Magenta so that's the lovely deep pinky red that you see in the background. Still some more work to do on this.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Finally Awake!

Last time I dropped in to Toronto Zoo to see the baby Giant Pandas, Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue, the whole family was fast asleep, but when I went early last weekend, the cubs were awake and active.

They were born on October 15, 2015, so they are 8 months old now. They were in their pen with their mother, Er Shun, who was concentrating on a breakfast of bamboo while the cubs rolled and wrestled and played with their dinner!

The adult Giant Pandas, Er Shun and Da Mao, have been on loan to Toronto Zoo from China since 2013, and the whole family, including the two cubs, will move to the Calgary Zoo in 2018 for a 5 year stay.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

The Evil Eye

This handsome gentleman was strutting about in the grounds of Toronto Zoo. I was walking by, minding my own business, and he started raising his tail feathers (properly called a "train"). I'm not sure if he was feeling aggressive, or perhaps feeling amorous, or possibly just showing off. I stayed well out of his way. But close enough to take a few pictures.

In some cultures, the peacock is honoured as the bringer of good fortune, and sometimes associated with royalty and glory. The "eye" is reputed to ward off evil spirits. The iridescent feathers are often used in jewellery and ornaments, and are associated with purity and pride.

My mum's opinions about peacock feathers were completely the opposite. She would never allow a peacock feather in the house. It was OK to have a peacock feather in the garden but woe betide anyone who dared to bring a peacock feather home. It was the "evil eye" on the feather, the bringer of bad luck. And not only simple bad luck.... misfortune, illness and even death. So, no peacock feathers ever crossed our doorstep. And I know it's only a superstition, but there are no peacock feathers in my house either! Just staying on the safe side.

And I had no idea that peacocks had such cute fluffy bottoms.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Red vs. Grey

Recently I've noticed a small animal running up and down the squirrel highway that is along the top of the back fence. At first I thought he (or she) was a large chipmunk, but it's definitely a red squirrel. I was surprised, as I've never seen a red squirrel on my deck before. So I put out some stale bread as a temptation. The offering was accepted.

Usually I see the eastern grey squirrels which are so much larger. And greedier. And obnoxious. And they come in black fur model too. And they also appreciate a snack of stale bread.

This particular grey squirrel has become addicted to drinking sugar water out of my hummingbird feeder, and making such a mess that wherever I hang the feeder, somehow this squirrel manages to hang upside down to drink the water, spilling most of it in a sticky puddle. The poor hummingbirds don't get a chance.
When I've been on the deck drinking my early morning coffee, I've seen a hungry fox lurking, so those sugar addicted squirrels better watch out or they'll be a fox's dinner.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Into the Deep Dark Forest

York Regional Forest is cool and shady on a hot day. The forest is operated by the Region of York in Ontario, and encompasses over 5000 acres with 2000 acres of public trails on 18 forest tracts.

The 1800s were a time of settlement and economic development in Ontario and woodlands were harvested for lumber, and the land plowed for farming. The previously forested areas looked empty and bleak. Then in 1924 a Restoration Committee started planting trees to save the forest area.

In 2000 York Regional Forest became the first publicly owned forest to be certified under the Forest Stewardship Council, ensuring forest maintenance in a sustainable manner. The trails offer access to horseback riding, walking, mountain biking, and skiing and snowmobiling in the winter. At the Hollidge Tract there is a 1 km trail loop which provides a unique nature experience that is accessible to all users including those with disabilities.

This trail is in Scout Tract.

Possibly Yellow Avens.... not sure.

White Trillium, Ontario's Provincial flower.

Purple Polygala or Gaywings

Tuesday, 31 May 2016


Spring seems to have been suddenly chased away by hot sunny days of 30C and warm nights reminiscent of a typically humid July. The tulips are gone now, but the colours remain.

Arthur Shilling (1941-1986) was born on the Rama Reserve in Ontario to Ojibwa parents. His art depicts life and the local Ojibwa people on the Rama Reserve, where he built an Art Gallery to encourage local talent. He held his first solo exhibition at age 26. His oil portraits of First Nations people were exhibited at the Peterborough Art Gallery so I paid a visit, and WOW! I loved these paintings. The colours really pop.

Sadly, Arthur Shilling died at age 45 a couple of years after open heart surgery, a complication of childhood rheumatic fever. I wasn't aware of his art before seeing this exhibition.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Giant Panda-monium!

I got up really early last Saturday on a mission to see the baby Giant Pandas and was parking the car at Toronto Zoo by 8:15am, as zoo members get to jump the queue and go in at 8:30, ahead of the crowd. No way I wanted to battle the Victoria Day long weekend crowds on a hot day. I was the first one into the Panda building to see them, but little Jia Panpan (Canadian Hope) and Jia Yueyue (Canadian Joy) were fast asleep! Just my luck. Their mother Er Shun was napping too.

 So I went outside to have a chat with Da Mao, the daddy (presumably) but he had had a hard night and he was catching 40 winks too! He looks pretty relaxed.

So the next step was the inevitable Gift Shop, totally dedicated to all things Giant Panda.

No, I didn't buy any Giant Panda memorabilia, but I might go back to the zoo early one morning to see if the babies are awake. I'd really like to see them while they are still little and look like cute balls of fluff.