In 2017 I decided to open my website with my monthly 'Journal' page instead of the traditional 'bio' Here I endeavour to explain some useful knowledge pertaining to the creation of a visual piece using photography and examples.
Every now and again the photos within this website will be changed (so do please check them occasionally!) but as this isn't done every month the Journal page was created so that each month there is something new to read and see!
One thing I love is the diversity of nature; there are so many shapes and unbelievable colours and colour combinations. We are able to identify most flora and fauna by their unique and distinctive body shapes and colouring.
I believe that this butterfly is a Black Swallowtail but my search for identification has not lead me to an exact replica. Sadly this butterfly was clearly at the end of it's life, as the faded and torn wings give testament to, so perhaps if it was in its prime, identification would be all that much more simpler.
In June I have photographs of the Canadian Eastern Swallowtail Butterfly; I think this must be a Black Swallowtail as it has the same 'tails' on it's hind wings.
Black Swallowtails are supposed to be 'common' but this is the first I've seen. They are inhabitants of damp meadows, open fields, roadsides and gardens. They start off their life hatching from eggs laid on a member of the carrot family such as carrot, dill, fennel and parsley.
The chrysalis overwinters and the butterfly emerges in April or May. These first butterflies fly until June. The next brood will fly in July and August.
Like most insects they are essential pollinators and need to be protected and encouraged.
The other butterfly we have had visiting is the glorious Monarch with its very distinctive lines and colouration. I find it totally amazing that this butterfly migrates between Canada and Mexico! The Monarch lives between 2 to 5 weeks but the migratory ones live 7 months...The Monarch leaves Mexico and flies north, laying eggs on Milkweed en route to Canada. These eggs hatch and develop into the Monarch butterflies that we see in the summer, their parents having died after laying eggs. The caterpillars that metamorphose into butterflies in the fall are the ones that fly south for the winter. Amazing that they can fly all that distance and can navigate their way as well!
This year has been a noticeable decrease in ALL insects. We have plentiful flowers in our property and along the verge of our road but it is highly disturbing that these flowers are devoid of any insect life. I have not seen one Honey bee this year, and bumblebees have been sparse. The number of butterflies I can count on one hand. Since these are our pollinators for our food supply it is alarming that their presence is becoming so scarce.
I am starting a new line in bags (shown below). They are fully lined and measure 14" high x 15" wide. They have a pocket on the front, two pockets inside (one with a zip), and a key holder. I'm hoping to produce simple shopping bags at some point as well.....I'll keep you posted!!
Before I started the bags I made a 'tea and coffee pot' cosy using one of my needle-felted pieces. It's good putting something I've created to practical use!!
We've so enjoyed being able to have breakfast outside during the summer and despite the now chillier mornings still enjoy the freshness of the air at the start of our day.
With an upcoming art show (Saturday 3rd & Sunday 4th August in Feversham, Ontario) I have been busy creating some new work!
I decided to use the needle-felted method and appliqué fabric over the top to create the images. The first set I did are of the long-loved beach hut which is a quintessential item of the British summer seaside.
Beach huts have evolved over several hundred years, starting around 1730. Initially people would be taken to the waters edge in a 'hut' pulled by a horse called a 'bathing machine'. They could keep their modesty by undressing in the horse-drawn hut and slip into the ocean without being seen by others! Initially men and women swam at different beaches. By the time Queen Victoria was on the throne (from 1837), swimming was very popular.
Over time swimming became more of a family affair and by the start of the 1900's the horse drawn carriage was no longer used . It had become more acceptable for people to walk along the beach in their swimming attire.
In order to provide privacy for changing the horse-drawn 'bathing machine' was turned into a stationary building on the border of the beaches and hence beach huts were developed. Some beaches also had temporary tents set up by the local authorities that could be rented along with deck chairs.
The beach hut varies in size from 6' x 6' to 12' x 10', but is commonly around 7' x 7' which is quite spacious. Some have windows and even electricity. They are now very popular and frequently there is a long waiting list (up to 10 years in some places apparently!) to become an owner of one of these time honoured buildings. On some beaches they are privately owned, on others they are rented from the Local Authority.
Beach huts come in many designs and a glorious array of colours with the interiors being either very sparse to high-end bespoke finishes. Whatever the size or degree of simplicity, beach huts have a great appeal as you can use them as a sheltered place to eat , drink and change clothing during the beautiful weather when being on a beach is so wonderful.
For my next needle-felted creations I just had fun playing with colours, fabrics, stitches and texture!
Finally I did something entirely different and used my sewing machine as a means to 'draw' using the stitched thread to create the image, incorporating appliqué and needle-felting to finish the design.
We are very fortunate to live in an area of immense diversity of flora and fauna. Frequently we hear the Coyotes baying (time to throw another log on the fire!), see Raccoons, Porcupines and Skunks. The latter two are especially not good for dogs! Skunk spray is notorious for it's horrific smell and despite washing seems to stay around for a long time! Porcupines are fascinating to see, especially perched up in trees but they can do a lot of damage to structures as they chew happily on wood, and worse is when they spray a dog with quills that require a vet to remove.
We frequently see deer roaming our woods. They are the White Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) which is the smaller ungulate species that roams Ontario. The white tail is raised and waved to warn other nearby deer of impending danger but I always feel that it can endanger the deer instead as frequently you don't see a deer until it runs off waving it's white tail in the air! It was so lovely seeing this deer with her new born fawn. The White Tail deer is a year long resident.
Each year I watch out for the Canadian Tiger Swallowtail (Papillo canadenis) to appear. They have a wing-span from 67 to 80 mm. They have one brood a year, the eggs being laid singularly. The chrysalids overwinter and emerge in May. The caterpillars like various plants which include Wild Cherry, basswood, birch, mountain ash and willow. The adults enjoy the nectar of plants such as lilac, Milk-Weed and Joe-Pye weed. Their habitat is deciduous broadleaved woods, forest edges, river valleys, and are also seen in parks and the suburbs.
I just don't seem to be able to stop taking photos of hummingbirds! The elusive male always keeps me ready with my camera but rarely do I see one. The females dance around each other at the feeder, sometimes demanding the feeder to themselves and other times allow others to feed at the same time. Their speed and agility is a wonder of nature.
I am very excited to announce that I have taken my series of Pen & Ink drawings to a printers be made into a book. "Life is a Piece of Cheese" will (hopefully) be available to purchase by late summer.
After many years of drawing it is very, very satisfying to be at the stage to put the drawings together as a completed item!!
Recently we took a trip to Bermuda to visit friends. It's an island we have known for over 30 years and it is always wonderful to see again. There is lots of interesting sites to visit, and lots to learn because Bermuda's history is long and varied. It's history is considered officially to start around 1609 when Admiral George Somers became separated form the British fleet that had left Plymouth, England, for Jamestown, Virginia and was shipwrecked on Bermuda. Everyone survived so they built two new ships, The Deliverance and The Patience, from the remains of the wrecked Sea Venture and cedar found on the island. They were able to survive due to the presence of wild pigs and abundance of natural food on the island. The shipwrecked people eventually managed to leave and get to Jamestown. Sir George Somers returned to Bermuda but died there before he could return to England.
In 1612 settlers were sent to Bermuda by the Virginia Company of England and began official settlement of the island.
In 1818 the Royal Navy Dockyard, Bermuda officially replaced the Royal Navy Dockyard, Halifax Canada as the British Headquarters for the North America and West Indies Station. 350 convicts came to Bermuda on prison ships to help build the Naval Dockyard. Bermuda was a vital strategic position for the British Navy and has a very long military history. In both World Wars Bermuda served as a staging area for transatlantic convoys.
There is no open supplies of fresh water on Bermuda though a few people do have wells. Water is collected on the roofs and stored in large tanks under buildings. The roofs in Bermuda are all a distinctive white and kept in excellent repair as they provide an essential water collection function that is necessary of living. When you live on Bermuda you are very water conscious and do not waste a drop. When a big rain storm comes in (top left photo), hearing the tank filling up is very satisfying!!
The colour of the island is like a rainbow has exploded and landed! The buildings are all vibrant colours, the roofs bright white, the foliage multi shades of green and the abundance of flowers are all colours. The birds and fish are also very colourful. Bermuda is also known for the deep turquoise sea (top right photo) and pink sand that is made up of tiny pieces of coral.
The island is only 22 square miles which is the same size as Toronto airport, Canada, or Lambeth Borough Council in London, England! It is 3 miles wide at the widest point but then tapers off to very narrow ends. From the sky you can see how the island is formed from the top edges of an ancient volcano.
Top left is St Georges and shows the houses and replica of HMS Deliverance.
Top right is the clock tower at the Dockyard.
Left shows an insignia and date during the reign of Queen Victoria marking the completion of one of the buildings in the dockyard.
I always enjoy using pencil as a medium for drawing detailed portraits. The pencil blends nicely and is very effective. These are pictures of our English Cocker Spaniel - partially complete and then finished.