Art with Kids: Paper Bag Jellyfish

This was a cute but really easy art activity that we did while away.  I brought some paints and paper bags and let the little guy pick out whatever colour he wanted his jellyfish to be.  I had brought along some glitter too but he decided he didn’t want any on his jellyfish.


Once dry we added some googly eyes and cut the bottom with some fancy scissors. Ta da. Done! We hung it up on our cottage window for the duration of the vacation and he thought that was really cool.


He also thought it was really cool when he saw REAL jellyfish in the water. 🙂


Art with Kids: Sand Art

When we left on vacation I went armed with art materials for a variety of different projects that I knew I wanted to do with the kids while I was there. This was one of those projects.  Super easy and lots of fun.

All we needed was a bottle or two of white glue, some thick white paper and sand.  Luckily, we were right on a beach.  🙂


The kids drew on the designs that they wanted with the glue and then covered the picture with sand.


Once it had dried they had the perfect pictures drawn in sand.  They liked the texture that it gave their art!


Even my husband got in on the act.

This project was definitely a hit and one that we will do again.  I’ve kept the art too as a perfect memento of our time on the beach.



Plein Air Hooking- Part 2

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, I tried plein air hooking for the first time while away on vacation in Iles-de-la-Madeleine.

For my second attempt I decided to tackle a landscape.  In my last blog post I mentioned some of the constraints of plein air hooking in general- that you can never have all of your supplies with you so there is a great deal of making do with what you have with you out in the field- and some of the constraints particular to my foray into plein air hooking (ie. that I didn’t bring nearly enough colours and values with me).  But, undaunted, I decided to still give it a go.

Again, I was so focused on the plein air experience, which means not working from a photo, that I forgot to take a photo of what I was actually hooking in order to show you what I was working from.   I have this photo which shows generally what I was trying to capture but the angle is all wrong from the view I used.  The view I used was of the beach from the balcony of the cottage we rented, and from that balcony I could see a row of houses along the top of the sand dunes as well as a more treed and forested area.  So when looking at this photo, try to imagine that I was seeing those things.  🙂


I finished the beach, green areas and the house in one session. Then I filled in the water and sky afterwards. I felt very constrained by the amount of blues that I had with me and struggled to differentiate between the water and the sky. My first attempt at the water was so bad and bothered me so much that I ripped it out and tried again. I was much happier with the second attempt. I would have liked to have done something more interesting with the sky but I didn’t have enough colours and values with me and I really wanted to keep to using what I had on hand. So, this is what I came up with.

The piece is also pretty small (slightly smaller than 5″ x 7″) so there wasn’t enough space to add a lot of detail. My goal for plein air hooking this time was to keep it small and simple in order to make sure I actually did it and to reasonably hope to get it finished without it eating too much into vacation time and fun time with the family. In the end I worked on both pieces while everyone else was busy doing something else so I didn’t have to feel guilty and I could really focus on the process.

So how do I feel about plein air hooking in general?  I really enjoyed it!  Definitely something I want to try again.  I think it is a good challenge to work without a photo.  It helps you to really see what is in front of you.  I think with a bit more prep ahead of time I could really have fun with it and get lost in the creative process.  I’m looking forward to setting up next time maybe in my own backyard and choosing something that I see everyday and explore what comes out of it.  Stay tuned for that!  🙂


Plein Air Hooking- Part 1

I went on vacation knowing that I wanted to try some plein air hooking while I was there.  Since I had my frame with me anyway to work on some pieces for my upcoming exhibit, and I was surrounded by such wonderful scenery, it seemed like the perfect time.

In preparation I tried to pack as many bits and pieces of different colours that I could.   The struggle with plein air hooking is that you have to use only what you have on hand so you want to have as much on hand as possible.  This was my first lesson learned- I hadn’t packed nearly enough colour variations and many of the colours that I did bring I didn’t bring enough of.  But, I was still determined to make it work.


For this trip we had purchased a beach sunshade because we figured that between beach vacations and our many camping trips it would get a lot of use.  Best. Investment. Ever.  Not only did it provide a nice shady location for me but it also blocked the wind.  Iles-de-la-Madeleine is nothing if not windy.

Then I got down to work.  I selected a seashell that my daughter had collected from the beach as my first subject.  I realized later that I didn’t take an actual photo of the seashell, but you can glimpse it in the first photo.  I was attracted to it because of its interesting combination of greys and orangey, peachy hues.  I thought it looked unusual and I liked the swirly pattern.

My second lesson learned is that in my haste to get down to work I wasn’t meticulous in drawing my border lines and so they are not perfectly even and straight.  Not fatal but definitely noticeable, at least to me.  I reflected later in the project that it might actually have been interesting to avoid doing a square and making the piece more rounded to reflect the shape of the shell.  Art does not always have to fit into a box.  I’ll pursue this angle next time.


Lesson learned number three is that if you choose to hook on a beach, your piece will get sandy.  I was amazed when I shook it out at the end how much sand came out of it.  Instead of stressing about it I choose to believe that that adds to the authenticity of the piece and the “naturalness” of plein air hooking.

Lesson learned number four is that with young kids, you won’t get nearly as much time to work on your piece as you may think you will.  In that way, choosing an inanimate object like a shell was perfect.  I can’t tell you how many times I had to stop to reapply sunscreen to children or fix them a snack.  With a shell, I didn’t have to worry about my subject wandering away or shadows changing throughout the day.

What I didn’t get finished at the beach I worked on in the days that followed on the deck outside our cottage.  I was determined to do all of the work outdoors!

plein air

And here is the finished piece.  Is it perfect?  No.  Did I have all of the colours I needed?  No.  But I do think it turned out ok.  AND, I discovered that I really enjoyed the plein air approach!   There was something really special about working on a piece that was based on the ocean while sitting steps away from it, on a beach, hearing the waves crashing around me.

In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I did a second landscape plein air piece while on the trip.  I’ll share that one soon.  I would encourage everyone to try plein air hooking at least once!


Back from Vacation…..

I’m back from two wonderful weeks in Iles-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec! Yes, it was our third time going there (now officially tied with trips to Iceland!) and there is a reason we keep going back- we love it!

So first, the question I am always asked when I say we are going there- where is that? Here is not the best map but Iles-de-la-Madeleine is circled in the green.  Kind of wedged between PEI and Newfoundland.  Getting there is a little convoluted- a five hour ferry from Souris, PEI.  But it is well worth the ferry ride and the two days of driving!

The first two times we went we stayed on the island of Grande Entrée. This time we stayed instead on Havre-Aubert which is at the other end of the archipelago.   We rented the best cottage ever- right on the beach!   The sound of the ocean waves was a constant and we could hop down to play in the sand at any time.  Even better was the big deck that we could sit out on and enjoy the view.  So even if the little guy was napping you could sit outside and still not miss a thing.


The goal of this trip was relaxation. And we got that in spades. Lots of days at the beach just hanging out and watching the kids play. Lots of evening walks on the beach, a trip to the aquarium, and clambering on the red sandstone rocks.  We completely lost track of time and at one point we lost track of the days. A sure sign of a great vacation!



We couldn’t have asked for better weather.  It rained the total of about an hour one day and overnight a couple of times.  The rest was sunny and warm.  And a nice warm- none of this horrible humidity we have here in Ottawa.  Just the right temperature with warm ocean breezes.





There is beauty everywhere you look.  A real maritime feel with lots of colourful houses, sand dunes and grazing cows.





The past two trips we have driven around looking for the traditional Madelinot barns and this time there were two right behind our cottage.  It was nice to look out the back window and see them there.





Another theme of the trip was food.  Oh the local foods are to die for.  Of course there is the seafood- lots of lobsters, mussels, scallops and oysters were consumed by my husband and I (the kids are not fans).  Then there is the honey flavoured with island wildflowers.  And the Pied de Vents cheese that we absolutely adore.  My husband enjoys the local beer that he can’t buy here. Croissants from the bakery became our go-to breakfast.  And on one of our last days we enjoyed some fresh island cream with some strawberries and bananas.  It was fantastic.


One of my favourite treats was the local apple cider.  We frequented the little store so often that the owner began giving us complimentary jars of “les pommettes”- basically little apples in syrup.  We were to put them in our glass to enhance the taste.  Lets just say we may have brought home a few pommettes and bottles of cider.  🙂



It was such a great trip.  I was so sad to leave, but I feel rejuvenated and refreshed.  And my time there wasn’t all relaxation- I did take some work with me as my exhibit date is looming.  I worked on that in the evenings once the kids were in bed and also during the long, long, car ride back home.  I also did some plein air hooking that I will share here soon (I think I have found my new addiction!) and I went on the trip loaded with art activities for the kids and will share the results soon!



I dyed some yarn!

Ok so this wasn’t the first time I tried dyeing yarn.  If you recall, back in 2012 I did some natural dyeing.

But that was quite some time ago.  And it wasn’t with such a large amount of yarn.  And it wasn’t with full out chemical dyes.   So in many ways, this was a first for me.

To this point I have really avoided the need for dyeing yarn.  There are so, so many varieties and colours out there and I am so fortunate to have a really great yarn store local to me and I have also picked up a lot of great yarns in my travels.

But for one of my upcoming pieces that I hope to have done for the August exhibit, I just could not find the right colours no matter how hard I looked.

The time had come to dye my own.

yarn 2

I ordered three ProChem dyes in the colours that I wanted, and along with a book on dyeing that I have had for a few years now, I bravely got down to work. In the end it was not nearly as messy or hard as I had thought.   I took each step very slowly to ensure minimal mess and keep the work area safe.  Once I had mixed up the dye powder with water my daughter jumped in with her rubber gloves and together we both did the actual dyeing.  It was actually a lot of fun.

yarn 3

The colours ended up a lot brighter than I had envisioned.  But I think that’s a good thing.  It is taking me out of my comfort zone and I think is actually going to work perfectly with the project that it is slated for.  I dyed four skeins of white wool yarn.  Of course, the day I chose to do it was pouring rain so we had to hang them to dry in the bath tub.  (Ignore the ugly shower stall- we are planning a bathroom reno!)  🙂

yarn 4

This is the finished result.  Will there be more dyeing in my future?  I wouldn’t say never.  It certainly has opened my eyes to how involved you can be in creating your own results rather than being tied down to what you find in stores.   And I’ve already hooked a small patch on my project just to test it out and I think I may be smitten with the outcome.