Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Excerpt: Republic of Krez

I'm in the mood for writing today, specifically on the Republic of Krez. I haven't touched it in ages, but the story is always at the back of my mind. What's Thea up to today?

You can read about the Republic of Krez here and a couple excerpt from the story here.

Exhausted from a long day in the saddle, we don’t linger at supper, though the beef stew is quite good. I stumble into the bed I’m sharing with my mother, wrapping myself in my cape. Father is sprawled in a plush velvet chair near the door, where the grooms are nestled on the floor. Radrick is on the other side of the room, curled up in his cloak by the fireplace. Soon, snores rise from every corner of the room.
As tired as I am, I can’t fall asleep. I turn on my side facing the wall and close my eyes. I miss Opal. We always curl up together, no matter where we bed down for the night. I’d often slept in the woods, in my cave, in small rooms all over the Manse, and Opal was always there with me. Now he’s chained in a locked stall in the stables. It’s for his own safety, Mother said, but I know she just wanted to keep him hidden, to avoid making a scene while we’re in town. Still, as often as I shared a bed with Opal, I’d never done the same with another person, let alone my Mother. I can feel her, the warmth radiating from her curved back, her thick brown hair tickling the back of my arm. It’s slightly unnerving.
Ignoring the sensation, I try to relax. I often replay my day in my head in order to unwind, so I do that. It doesn’t take very long though because I hadn’t really seen much today, the road winding through meadows and fields of grain for much of the way. The Calla House is on the outskirts of the city, so I don’t even know what the famous markets of Pyle were like. Luckily, we need to pick up a few supplies before we continue our journey, so I would get a chance to explore a little tomorrow. I’m looking forward to it, even though Opal won’t be allowed to join me. I’d already tried begging my parents, insisting that I’d been good so far and deserved it. But they’d been adamant. Horses weren’t allowed in the markets because of the press of people. Opal would cause a fright in the crowds, if not an all out stampede or riot, so he has to remain in his stall. I feel so bad for him; I know he’s miserable. I wish I could’ve left him loose, but I know there’s too much of a danger of him getting shot or captured.
Despite our slow start and grim objectives, I’m actually pretty excited that we’re on our way. The traveling between each destination is going to be a bit of an adventure. I’m looking forward to throwing a coin into the Sea of Hope and exploring a different castle, Whitton Hall, which is where Weston is being doctored. After that, we’ll cut down through Jojoton and Drake, following Stone River all the way to Katan on the West Bank of the Frozen End. After enrolling me at Ste. Agatha’s, I shift uneasily at the thought, we’ll head back North-East along the river to Rockton, then the capital, the City of Krez. I’m not sure how long Mother will delay there, but eventually we’ll continue North to Duffield Estates, crossing the South Divide at Port Key.
I rhyme off these foreign cities and towns in my head, counting them like sheep leaping over a fence. Instead of making me sleepy though, I simply shift again, excited to be off. The next city we’ll stop in is Risk, where we’ll catch a boat across The Pinch to Whitton Hall. Weston would not be traveling South with Mother and I of course. We’ll continue with Radrick as our escort, and Father and Weston will return to Duffield by boat. It will take us three days to reach Risk; our wagon will be well stocked for the trip. There are tents and blankets for sleeping, a few casks of cider and water to drink and we’ll pick up plenty of fresh food from the market for both us and the horses. Opal is on his own to hunt until we reach Risk though; then we’ll buy him some meat for the crossing.
I shift again and my mother lets out a grumpy groan. She turns onto her back, her head facing away from me. I roll back onto my side, face to the wall. It’s stifling in the room, the only window closed tight against any potential intruders. I think I could maybe sneak over and crack it open just to stand in front of the cool air for a few seconds. I decide against it though and snuggle down, determined to sleep. Tomorrow will be another long day in the saddle. At least I can ride Opal. My heart aches acutely, missing his reassuring presence. My only consolation is that for the next two nights I’ll be able to curl up with his warm ribs as my pillow. With that happy thought in mind, I slowly drift off to sleep.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Collection Update: Tiny Dishes

If you know me, you know I have a weakness for all things tiny - especially small bowls and dishes. In fact, I have a whole collection of them. A collection I added to last weekend when I went shopping with my brother and his girlfriend. Emilie and I went our own way while the guys looked at crossbows and fishing gear at Bass Pro Shop - the first place we looked into was a cute little shop full of Asian dishes and toys. I was trying to resist all the tiny finger bowls until I saw these:
Tiny dishes + bunnies? Sold.
The pastels are so pretty! I particularly love the swirl of colour around the pedestal "foot" of each bowl. And really, you can never have too many bowls or too many bunnies! Now I just need to add these to my daily rotation so that Pat can't complain that I don't use any of my dishes. Haha!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday Seven

Here's what I'm grateful for this last week:

Sunday: great seats at an awesome baseball game (always best when the home team wins!)
Monday: busy evenings at work
Tuesday: my windowsill garden
Wednesday: reading three books at once (been a while since I've done that!)
Thursday: the 18B PK nurses letting me finish my last two pokes on them so I can get my venipuncture certification
Friday: successfully drew blood from a patient for the first time followed by a relaxing evening playing ps3 and enjoying our games room downstairs with Pat
Saturday: first BBQ'd steak of the season followed by a fun date night at the bar eating delicious wings and watching PPV UFC with Pat

What are you thankful for this week? 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Paper Coordinates: Verdigris Strawberries

OK, so I need to work on naming these paper coordinates as this one makes no sense - except that the pink reminds me of strawberries and the teal is a lovely verdigris colour.... Either way, I love this combination:
It makes me extra happy that I came up with this combo on my own - it wasn't inspired by a particular pattern or already-coordinated paper pack. I started by pulling out the solid watermelon pink from my loose paper folders. The stripes jumped out at me next and I wasn't sure about the match but side-by-side they were just lovely. The two chevron patterns fell into place nicely - these are the only two papers that came from the same pack - I really like how they each complement a different side of this spectrum. Lastly, I spotted the dark green floral and knew it would round out the collection perfectly. Bonus: it was the exact same hunter green as in the stripes.

An unusual combination, but I'll definitely be making a collage with this bunch!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

My Creative Space: Background in Progress

On Monday, I said I was going to add some paint to this background:
Well, I did and had so much fun getting my fingers messy!

I've been a bit all over the place in my creative space this week - stitching on my spring sampler, working on two or three different pieces and in several art books, updating my Smash* - but I'll keep it simple today and just show you what I did with this paint:
I love using a piece of freezer paper as a palette: the plasticky side is perfect for holding wet paint without absorbing it. I used my fingers to mix the paint directly on the paper (along with a bit of glazing medium for transparency) before smearing it onto my collage.

I deliberately used warm colours for this piece, pulling them from the original collage, because I tend to go the other way with most of my pieces. I love calming, cool colours, but warm shades are especially fun for summer. So I challenged myself to use a warmer palette when I started the collage and continued with this second layer (from left to right, or back to front: naphthol red light, burnt sienna, red oxide, raw sienna, Indian yellow hue, hansa yellow medium, titan buff).
I added a bit of iridescent copper light (fine) at the end for a bit of shine. Now I think I'll break out my Sharpies and doodle pens to add a bit - or a lot - more texture. Some stencils and stamps might be in order too...

Once I came to a happy place with that piece, there was still a bit of leftover paint on my palette... so I pressed that into my altered Amber book:
OK, now I want to work on this spread.... that's the only problem with having multiple projects on the go: I want to work on all of them at the same time!

More creative spaces.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Growing my Window Garden

I brought home a large basket arrangement of live plants from pumpa's funeral with the intent of repotting them. My mom did the same with plants from both of my paternal grandparents's funerals, and I think it's a really nice way to remember them. I'm looking forward to having these grow into a lush windowsill garden.
This weekend, I noticed the plants were starting to look a little sad; they needed more room. So that's what I did this morning. I had intended to over the weekend, picking up these three white pots at IKEA, but then I ran out of time (Canadian Tire was closing when we went after the baseball game Sunday night, so Pat picked me up some soil and a spade last night). Why are weekends so short?
I really like these three white pots with slightly different designs together - there are no holes though, so I added some rocks on the bottom for drainage. With eight plants in one basket (plus my palm and succulent from IKEA), I needed to use all the pots I had - ugly, old dollar store ones included. I see some more repotting in my near future...

Anyway, after a bit of research, I think I've identified most of my plants. Here they are arranged around the house:
I placed the yellow pots in the bedroom. The pink flowers are Kalanchoe and the other plant is probably an umbrella plant (Schefflera). I'm not sure though - the leaves don't seem wide and droopy enough... but it's still very tiny and has a lot of growing to do if it is a Schefflera. I hope it does well - it's my favourite of the bunch.
I spy new growth!

In my new pots in the living room, from left to right, I have gold finger (Codiaeum variegatum), a variety of palm (possibly butterfly palm) and Dieffenbachia (aka dumb cane).

While I was at it, my aroid palm (aka zeezee plant) really needed to be potted too. It's growing so well!

This little polkadot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya) is also doing really well, sprouting up all over the place!

Lastly, I had to place these two in smaller pots because they were all I had. The English ivy was looking pretty sad, but hopefully it perks up in it's new space. I'm not positive about the other plant, but I think it's a variety of Dracaena.

OK, I had to show one more photo of my hydrangea - it's still doing SO well! I had no idea the flowers were so long-living. My mom bought it for me at Easter!

Now that I have a nice window garden started, I want to add in some herbs and maybe a tomato plant. I love greenery - especially the kind I can eat!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Change of Plans

I had another amazing weekend!

Saturday, Pat and I drove to Vaughan Mills to meet up with my younger brother John and his girlfriend Emilie for some shopping and lunch. The original plan had been for them to drive back that evening - instead, we convinced them to stay the night. I'm so glad they did! We did a bit more shopping (at Target and IKEA, two store that aren't found up North yet), ordered in Thai food and then spent the evening in the games room downstairs. Anyone in our building can use this room - equipped with a big TV, a pool table and a foosball table - but it's usually empty. We played the whole night - it was SO much fun!

They left Sunday morning and we took the subway downtown to meet some friends for the Blue Jays game. And what a game!!! Toronto beat the Yankees!!!

All in all, it was a very fun-filled weekend. This morning, I was going to post some photos of a few things I picked up at the mall... but after shooting them, I had to move this piece aside to get to my laptop:
And now I don't feel like going through and editing any photos, I need to work on this!

I started this piece at the end of the She Art 3 workshop. It's a simple collage using layers of scrapbooking, tissue (including a vintage sewing pattern) and handmade papers (inspired by and using the paper from this paper coordinates). Now I'm going to add some paint!

Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday Seven

Here's what I'm grateful for this last week:

Sunday: having my gramma, aunt and cousins over for a visit (followed by an afternoon of painting)
Monday: working in my clean studio
Tuesday: delicious salad for lunch
Wednesday: gesso and glazing medium
Thursday: lovely comments on my latest work
Friday: Pat listening to me vent about a stressful day at work
Saturday: my brother and his girlfriend deciding to stay the night at our place

What are you thankful for this week? 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

My Creative Space: Eggs

Now that my craft room is organized and my desk (and the floor space around it) is (mostly) clear, I feel so much more creative! It also helps that I have time to play again instead of just cleaning...

Anyway, in the midst of organizing last week, I had a small stack of papers that I just had to use up immediately. So I made a quick collage in my Art of Spring journal. Now, the workshop is over, but I haven't tackled even close to half the projects! This is the next one. The design is completely inspired by Junelle Jacobsen (the instructor) but the background is inspired more by Christy Tomlinson's process. Junelle usually paints a simple background and adds texture after - Christy "finishes" her background first. I prefer the latter approach; personally, it just makes sense to me.

So here's the first layer of collage (using scrapbooking, tissue and handmade papers):
I'm so proud of myself - I've been holding onto those clouds for such a long time! I'm glad I finally put it to use!

At some point during the end of last week and weekend, I added a bit of doodling using white Sharpies and a crimson red Prismacolor pen and added some washi and masking tape here and there. Then, on Sunday after my family left, I sat down and really got creative.

First, I painted with my fingers and brushes (permanent green light, hansa yellow medium, ultramarine blue, smalt hue, quinacridone magenta, gesso). Then I broke out my new stencils and sponged away, mostly with gesso but also with a bit of the pink. Lastly, I collaged in a few pieces of Christy Tomlinson's doodled coffee filters and that red-printed pink tissue paper to bring it all together.
I absolutely LOVE those stencils! They add great texture and were so much fun to use. I'm glad I added a few cheap spray bottles in my latest supplies purchase (shipped today!) to use with these, though the sponge gave a really great effect too.

Can I just stop to admire those bits of green handmade paper? They took up the paint so nicely and look a bit like hay or nests... perfect for eggs!

The fun, spring background was also perfect for eggs - their natural tints would pop off all that texture wonderfully. I cut the eggs out of watercolour paper to give them a bit of added dimension and really separate them from the background. Next I painted them and their shadows (gesso, titan buff, burnt umber light) and added a bit of "grunge" to the background with the tan paint. Then, all they needed to finish up was a bit of doodling (black Scarlet Lime doodling pen, Sharpies in white, brown, black, green), rub-ons (Christy Tomlinson borders in white) and splatter (watered down paint / ink: permanent green, ultramarine blue, naphthol red light, black India ink).
I am so in love with this page! It turned out exactly as I hoped - no, scratch that, it's even better. The texture and colours are delicious. It just makes me smile every time I look at it!

I'm also starting to really develop my own process of making a piece. I'm taking tips from different artists I love and using them to work out my own style. SO much fun!

More creative spaces here.