Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Bygone colour

October 2016
A while ago I went plein air painting with an artist friend. I described the trip here. I am not totally pleased with the results, but I do have to keep reminding myself that I'm just a beginner so I should cut myself some slack.  So here are the results. Note that each picture appears darker on the left side, that is due to the lighting when I took the photo of the picture.

This was one I did a while ago from a photo in my artist friend's basement, as a kind of introduction to painting. My friend showed me a few things I could do so I cannot take responsibility/credit for every single brush stroke.

Practice, from photo
This one is from our first trip to Rock Notch Falls. Again, I had help.

Rock Notch Falls #1
This is from our second trip to the same location, but a different vantage point. Same waterfall, different view.

Rock Notch Falls #2
And the last one, also from the second trip, turning my easel around and painting the view behind me. I was concentrating so hard on the job that after one painting I was exhausted; my friend painted two or three in the same time span. However on the second trip to the falls I did manage to scrape together enough energy for the second painting.

Rock Notch Falls, behind me
I would like to keep up the activity through the winter and I have a standing invitation to my friend's basement. But I don't think I'll be doing anything this month, too much else to do.

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In other news, I had the maple tree in front of my house cut down yesterday morning. The picture at the top of this post is what it looked like when it was still healthy.

Tree down
It was diseased and had a split in the trunk, so it was likely that sooner or later that tree was going to come down in a storm. There were four lines---three phone or cable lines and one power line---running through it, so having it come down unaided would have been a disaster. I will miss greatly the shade it provided to my living room in the summer, but the liability of the tree was outweighing its benefits. Its roots were the cause of my earlier sewage disaster, and this fall it no longer displayed any colour. The leaves just turned black and brown and then fell off.

The other thing I will miss is that I used to have a bird feeder in that tree that I could watch from my living room window through the long winter months. Some of the local chickadees were not happy about the loss of the tree, they came by to watch and even at one point perched on the chain saw while the feller took a smoke break. There is no realistic alternative to hanging the feeder in that tree so this winter the birds and I will have to do without. That I will definitely miss, perhaps even more than the summer shade.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Halan'olo fa tian-janahary


This is a piece of printed cotton fabric I've had for years, someone gave it to me when I lived in Ottawa. It is about six feet by four. A friend went to Madagascar for several years and gave this to me as a souvenir.  When I first got this the internet did not really exist in its present form, you couldn't look up stuff on it as easily as you can now. But every once in a while I'd try to find out what the words on it meant by entering them in the browser search field, my latest effort rendered a translation of "Humility is a natural idea".

In my most recent issue of Aramco World there is an article on kangas, and it turns out that that is what this is, a kanga. It is an East African piece of clothing, women often wear them in pairs: one piece covers the body from the armpits down, the other is draped over the head and shoulders. They are usually very colourful. Men wear them too, often just draped over their shoulders.

A kanga has three main features: a central pattern, a border pattern, and a saying along the lower border edge, usually in Swahili. This one is in Malagash, the language of Madagascar. Malagasy people like the central pattern to be a picture of some kind, often a pastoral scene. This one is obviously not pastoral, but very striking.

I used to think that the words on this piece of fabric were somehow related to the picture, but it turns out that they are not. In fact if the translation is true it seems to me almost antithetical, there is nothing humble about this seascape.