Here is how my portrait of Melissa looks now...it needs some tweaking (I just noticed that her top needs to be continued over to the edge, lower left corner and I think from looking at it here that I need to tweak the mouth a wee bit). Melissa is my niece and as I have mentioned, she patiently posed for photos for me to use in my portrait course. Melissa is a talented artist who was fortunate to have good art instruction in classes at her high school. I think she will understand why her goofy Aunt made her face purple and her hair striped. It's all about artistic expression, right?! :-) Melissa is now at Ottawa University enrolled in a Bachelor of Commerce program. At this time of year she is busy writing exams. Remember those days? Ugh.
So what have I been up to these past weeks? Well, to start with, my husband and I took some vacation days at the end of November. I was getting over a cold and it was nice to rest, relax, eat out and hike my favourite trails. Then my immune system took a holiday and I got a nasty flu bug. Yuck. Add to that a trip out of town to deal with more financial stuff regarding my Father's estate and of course all of the things that go with Christmas quickly approaching.
Along with finishing Melissa's portrait, I have been a bit creative outside the studio. Every year, in late fall, I start looking around during my forest walks for fallen pine limbs. This year was no exception. I search for pine branches in order to make Christmas decorations. A large limb fell off of our old willow tree so I was able to gather lots of willow branches to include in the arrangements as well. So even though I had the flu, I dragged pine boughs and willows twigs home and made up some swags and such for display.
Here is a picture of a pine and willow swag that I made for our barn door. This barn is actually the original homestead house. We have been told that a father and mother raised a family of eight children in this building! It makes my 700 square foot studio seem opulent and most indulgent. The previous owners restored this building and used it as a barn for their horses.
Even though I was still dealing with the flu, my next bright idea was to set a cabinet out on the veranda so I could sand and wash it. Never mind that it was -15 degrees C and very windy. I was a woman with a mission. Like most of you, my husband and I will be having friends and neighbours over this holiday season and I wanted to give this cabinet a makeover before we started decorating.
If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you know that my Dad died at the end of the summer. My sister and I have been scrambling to get the valuables out of the house so we could close it up for the winter. While this cabinet isn't exactly valuable, I couldn't resist it.
My Father used this cabinet to store various tools in. The picture shows the state it was in when he used it. At some point someone must have decided that they needed more storage. Using remnant boards from other furniture (there are latches and hooks still intact from when this wood was serving other purposes) someone put together this cabinet. Somewhere along the line someone stripped off the old paint.
I found it amusing that at some point someone decided they wanted a taller cabinet. From the next picture, you can see that originally the cabinet was several inches shorter and it was on rollers. No problem, just fashion some legs from some white painted lumber and presto, you have a taller cabinet!
I guess when the paint was removed, they also removed the drawer pulls and the door knob. My Dad never did put replacements ones on.
So after some sanding, three coats of paint and less than $10.00 in hardware, here is how the cabinet looks now...(the colour looks rather white in the photo but it really is more of a cream/taupe colour). And it got done before we decorated. :-) Whew!!
If you have hung in with the post this long, can we talk shopping? Do you have people that you are buying gifts for this holiday season? May I make a few suggestions?
First of all, please shop locally. As well, support the artists living in your community. Look to your local artists for pottery, jewelry, hand crafted wooden items, note cards, prints and originals, woven shawls - anything and everything.
Do people find you hard to shop for? Why not stock up on some art supplies? They can wrap them up and give them to you. Some new coloured pencils are not expensive and they fit perfectly in a stocking (okay, not the large tin sets - they can go under the tree.)
Finally, please consider using your gift giving to make a difference in the world. In a world obsessed with consumerism and with our homes stuffed with stuff, the perfect solution is to buy items for those in need and let that be a gift for someone. For example, I shop the World Vision catalogue. I buy warm winter clothing for kids who have none and this is my present to my sister and her husband. For my mother-in-law, each year we stock a medical clinic in a developing country. She gives the same gift on behalf of her son and I. This year I asked my husband to give me the gift of helping kids forced into prostitution. Approximately 2 million children each year are sold, trafficked and abused in the global sex trade. My husband's donation on my behalf will help fund trauma centers where the kids find shelter, medical help, counselling and vocational training. I am giving my husband the gift of a wood conserving stove. Families use these stoves to sanitize their water, cook food and warm their homes.
These are just a few of the gifts you can choose from. You can select lots of wonderful things, like educating a girl in need. You can provide fruit trees and animals for farming or you can help a family start a business. There are so many fantastic ideas - you really need to see their catalogue for all the details. The best part is that this can all be done on-line. No driving on busy highways in bad weather, no dealing with crowds at malls with no parking spaces. Another idea is to pool your money together with co-workers, friends, the folks in your book club etc. to make these purchases. Visit this link here, to get inspired.
Most organizations have on-line gifts. For example you can symbolically adopt a wild animal for a loved one at the World Wildlife Fund website. To support those in need in your community, check out your local homeless shelters. We support the Ottawa Mission and at this time of year they require gifts of warm wool socks, boots, gloves, long underwear and so on. If you live in Ottawa and you would like to know what sort of items they would appreciate, click here. What organizations reflect your values and your view of a better world? Why not check them out on-line?
While on the topic of gifts, now would be a good time to thank all of you who purchased kits for gifts for loved ones (and for yourselves). If you haven't yet got your order in, there is still time for shipping but it is getting close. So if you are interested visit here now. May everyone have a wonderful time colouring over the holidays!
Finally, if you are wondering where the December Newsletter is, well oops there isn't one yet. Maybe next week? Next up on the drafting table is a cp and pen and ink piece. I am looking forward to getting back to some pen and ink stuff. I think I will need to do some practising!