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An artist's blog about watercolour, goodness, beauty and truth.
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Beauty discarded - masses of pansies were upended in a neighbor's green bin, probably to make way for new midsummer flowers from the nursery. They were still very pretty and I picked a handful to paint, like this:
the pencil sketch,
followed by colour blocking and shaping.
More painting instructions from my watercolour classes are over on my watercolour blog, http://francestyrrell.blogspot.ca/
. Both blogs have been quiet of late, but I am here and working on pretty things yet to be displayed. So many flowers, and summer so short!
"There's pansies, that's for thoughts",
William Shakespeare, Hamlet (Act IV, SceneV)
Photo of my son, airborne at the bike park.
I've come to realize that BMX biking isn't only speed or tricks for the lads, it's poetry in motion, "with hope in their hearts and wings on their heels". Not a bad way to start the new year!
Day 24 of Advent
"The Child in the manger looks up through the sparkling branches..."
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas.
Day 23 of Advent
"I saw three ships come sailing in..."
Day 22 of Advent
These very dolls are on my tree, three of Hasbro's "Dolly Darlings" that were manufactured from 1965-68. Every little girl in the neighbourhood seemed to have at least one. We sometimes took them along to school, safely tucked in a coat pocket. As in Grandmother's Tree, they have been roused from their year-long slumber to take their place with the other ornaments.
Day 21 of Advent
(One of a series of self-published Christmas card designs)
"Peace on the earth, good will to men
From heaven's all gracious King.."
Day 20 of Advent
A chorus of angels for the tree
, which is getting pretty full.
The Advent calendar that was weighted with sweets just three weeks ago is lighter now, and the Holy family is getting closer to the stable, as are the figures of the wise men and the shepherds.
Day 19 of Advent("Here Comes Santa Claus" card)
Originally painted for Carlton Cards in 1987, the moose-riding Santa card surely gets around. At last night's Christmas concert by the Orpheus Choir
of Toronto this image was projected onto a large screen as part of the slide show that complemented the beautiful music and readings.
Wishing you all safe travels, whether by land, air or flying moose.
Day 18 of Advent
More incidental pretties from Woodland Nutcracker, this time painted-silk fans to complement the Spanish Dance scene.
Day 17 of Advent
Stories within stories - illustrators create a whole world for the characters they portray. In the background of any scene are photos on the wall, views through the window, books on a shelf. We can't help it, it goes with the territory. The Bear family of the Woodland
books have a cottage, which would naturally have Mother Bear's pretty things in it, hence these two Watteau-inspired plate-rondels with summer scenes of carefree bears revelling in nature's gentler mood.
(Mouse rondel from Woodland Nutcracker)
The mice have barely a page about themselves in the Nutcracker story and yet they play a pivotal role, for without them how would Clara have her magical adventure?
So they deserve their cake, and a bit of kindness too.
(Swiss dolls from Grandmother's Tree)
"The tree is, as it is every year, more beautiful than they remembered."
Day 14 of Advent
I am setting up and decorating the tree this week, a long job because of all the pretty and special ornaments that have come my way over the years. The tree also has been with us for many years, "an artificial tree .... part of the family Christmas for so long that it is beginning to feel quite real."
Day 13 of Advent
" A charming little plaster mermaid swims from a lower branch that is also hung with real shells and paper fish with candy foil wings."
Paper crafting has long been a part of our Christmas, with snowflakes, Santas and little paper birds and fishes with their wings and fins made of fan-folded decorative papers or even candy wrappers, as depicted above. We put two of our patterns for paper ornaments in Grandmother's Tree
and one of them is available as a free download here
Day 12 of Advent
Glad tidings - the Huron Carol exhibit
at the museum at St. Marie Among the Hurons, installed 5 years ago, will be extended for another 5 years commencing January 1. It is truly an honour.
More music here, an epiphany
- in Advent yet!
Day 11 of Advent
Another fairy for the tree, with a dash of frost and sparkle.
Day 10 of Advent
What is on your tree? Along with all the proper ornaments I also have dolls from my childhood, chandelier prisms, favorite cards, silk roses and a number of paper ornaments that my child and I have made together over the years, never to be thrown away! (
In Grandmother's Tree
Avril wrote about a particular paper Santa that had been in a family for many years, "the wisest and oldest inhabitant of the tree".)
The Santa Bear
kit has now joined the Etsy
Happy Advent - 10 days already!
Day 9 of Advent
Here's a little fairy for the top of the tree,
and here is how that tree is getting on,
with joyful traditions, trifling indulgences, happy anticipations, music and merriment, hearth and home, sparkle and fairy dust - and all of it on Santa's shoulders. No wonder he needs helpers.
Day 8 of Advent
"A huge grizzly bear skated to the foot of the thrones and curtsied. She blew six times upon a whistle and from beneath her great red and white skirt emerged six cubs with hockey sticks. With Mother Grizzly as referee, the cubs skated a mock practice session. They chased one another, misbehaved, and two were even sent to the penalty box.""
(© Avril Tyrrell 1999)
(This one was a coin toss: Tchaikovsky or the Hockey Night in Canada theme music, both being well-loved and traditional! )
Day 7 of Advent
"Long ago, far away from highways and city lights, where bright stars touched the tree tops and forest roots touched the edges of frozen lakes, a woodland family welcomed relatives and friends to a Christmas Eve party in their cosy island home.
Softly falling snowflakes drifted into the cottage as the guests arrived."
(© Avril Tyrrell 1999)
Day 6 of Advent
(Santa's Helpers, from The Illustrated Fairy Gazette - A Christmas Celebration)
What do you want for Christmas? Something that would fit in a stocking or a box under the tree, or one of those presents that only the heart knows?
I remember being read A.A. Milne's "King John's Christmas
" as a child (and where else would a youngster learn the marvelous phrase "supercilious stare"?). We were caught up in sympathy and optimism as King John's list got longer and longer, and fading hope as it dwindled to only "a bright red India-rubber ball" - which he did get, after all. A sigh of relief from us children. Thank you Santa (and A.A.Milne).
Day 5 of Advent
In watercolour classes I demonstrate ways of creating frosty effects in snowy landscapes. A sprinkling of salt on a wet wash is one method, as in the background pictured above.
The cardinal's bright pop of colour makes him a perfect foil for winter's greys and browns. And the fairy? She just flitted into the picture for a neighbourly chat with the Christmas letter carrier.
Day 4 of Advent
A certain Royal announcement changed my plans for today's Advent window! Here is a little something to celebrate all babies and parents-in-waiting - my Stork ornaments from the "Baby's First Christmas" collection that I designed for Silver Tree
last year. The product samples are very pretty. I like the finishing touches of opalescence and sparkle on the wings.
There is still time for the office elves here to mail out Fairy Gazettes before Christmas. All five of the original size, miniature, fairy-to-fairy editions, hand-stitched with rainbow thread, are up on my Etsy shop.
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Day 3 of Advent
From our Illustrated Fairy Gazette
s, here is a detail from the scene "The Sleepyhead Feast". Avril
wrote that "...the fairies prepare a feast and party just before the first frost" for the creatures who migrate or hibernate for the winter.
"After the feasting and gift-giving at the Sleepyhead Feast, the animals and birds entertain their hosts with music...always the old carols sung over generations. The sweet notes of the birds harmonise with the piping descant of the mice, the deep voices of the frogs and the little reed flutes played by the hedgehogs."
( © Avril Tyrrell 2007)