Happy Holidays!

I have to confess that I haven’t even started panel #3.  I just finished up a small postcard sized piece that I will show you once I get it framed.  And I have been finding myself busy doing lots of Christmas preparations.  I think that panel #3 will get underway over the holidays, while I sit by the Christmas tree sipping a glass of wine.  Doesn’t that sound lovely?!

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A friend recently asked me if I have any Christmas traditions that I do with the kids and I answered not really, just decorating the tree and doing our homemade advent calendar.  But then when I thought about it I realized that we DO have a lot of traditions.  From the meals that we eat on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, to some of the activities that we do together every year.  And of course the crafts.  The crafts may change from year to year, but we always do a good number of crafts together at this time of the year.   We have some of our favourites that we do every year and then we have others that we discover along the way.  Some we love more than others, but every craft that we do together is a good time and the kids love it.  I can’t imagine not doing lots of crafts and other activities with my kids- it is definitely one of the perks of parenthood!

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Other than getting in some of the groceries we need and giving the house a good cleaning I think I am ready for the holidays. Every year I try to make a conscious effort to not overdo the gift buying. The frequent clean outs that I do in my own home of things and toys that the kids are done with (or were never into to begin with) are a good reminder to keep it focused. This year in particular I have tried to get exactly what I know the kids want or need. That way I know that it will actually be used and appreciated. I’m very lucky in that both of my kids are very good about telling me when they are ready to pass something on. And both like things that they can do something with- they aren’t big collectors of cutesie knick-knacks that have no purpose but to sit on a shelf collecting dust. Which is excellent in the constant fight to combat clutter. As well, I have begun to notice that they are starting to have a real appreciation for handmade items. More often than not the things that they treasure are the things that have been handmade rather than mass-produced in a country far, far away. I find it interesting that even kids can tell the difference. Does this mean that they don’t have store-bought toys? Of course not. But it does mean that those things are inevitably passed on when they are done with them while the hand-crafted is what they want to hold onto. I think this is the same in my own life- almost all of the mass-produced things that at one time were a part of my décor are gone and I have kept only those things that were hand-crafted. Those are the things that hold meaning for me and my family.
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In our own way we are adding to that appreciation through our own crafting.  I love that my kids will grow up in an environment that puts value in handmade and questions society’s emphasis on excess.  My kids are learning that happiness comes from within, not from shopping for more trinkets.  I think these are lessons that the world as a whole needs.

I’m not sure if I will get another blog post written before Christmas- if I get any work done on panel #3 I’ll update you.  My sister is arriving soon and on Sunday we will celebrate her Birthday before settling into celebrating the holidays later in the week.

Merry Christmas!  Happy Holidays to all who are celebrating other things at this time of year!

 

Karen

 

Panel #2 of 6

I recently finished panel #2 of my six panel piece inspired by my kids.  This one is of my three year old son.  I had taken him to Petrie Island here in Ottawa one day last summer before school was out so it was just the two of us.  We saw lots of turtles sunning themselves on logs out on the water. Then suddenly he yelled “Mama there’s a frog!” and he crouched down to get a better look at this huge bullfrog that was sitting in the water near the base of a tree.   Of course I snapped a photo, and it became this piece.

I take A LOT of photos of my kids from behind.  It is actually one of my favourite things to do because it totally capture the world from their perspective.  It allows the viewer to see what they are seeing and how they are reacting to it.  So far the two panels I have completed are taken from behind.  Not all of the panels will be from behind, but for those that are it isn’t just that I didn’t get a good photo of them. It is by design and each of the photos that I choose holds a lot of special meaning for me related to memories of that time and place.

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I actually take a lot, a lot, a lot of photos of my kids.  So choosing these six has been difficult.  And in fact I haven’t completely narrowed down at least two of the remaining photos.  I think I will just know the right ones when I look at them.

There were a few challenges in this piece.  First of all was the hair.  The hair itself wasn’t really a challenge, but making sure that it stood out enough from the tree was definitely a concern.  In the end I managed to select a whole separate family of browns for the tree so that the hair wasn’t compromised.

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I also exercised some artistic licence in some places.  I had a lot of trouble with the ear sticking out of the hair.  I couldn’t get the colour just right so I left it empty and planned to return to it in the end.   When it finally came time to try again I had trouble differentiating it from the hair.  So, I took it out.  Easy to put in one more lock of hair and suddenly there was no ear.

The other area was the hand.  I had the arm down fine but because there were only two fingers of the hand that would appear in the piece because of how I cropped the photo, it proved to be very difficult.  I couldn’t quite get the shape down right so that it would be obvious that they were fingers.  In the end, I thought it would be too confusing to leave them in so I took them out.

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Some may say that those omissions are “cheating” but I prefer to look at it differently.  These are pieces that I am doing for myself to capture moments in my kids’ lives.  Struggling over parts that weren’t working for me wasn’t going to add in my enjoyment of their creation (and I am very much enjoying working on this series!) and as long as the overall design wasn’t compromised it didn’t much matter to may to make little adjustments.  I think it is important to go with your gut and not get too bogged down on rules and what you should or shouldn’t do.

So, that’s two pieces done.  Panel #3 is sketched out but I’m currently working on a smaller piece, and with the holidays coming there may be a delay in getting it started.  But once I do I’ll share it here!

Karen

A little Staycation

A couple of weeks ago I decided to celebrate my Birthday by booking a weekend at a hotel in downtown Ottawa.  Yes, I live in Ottawa.  In fact I have lived here for about 36 years.  And yes I live very close to downtown and can go down anytime I want.  But frankly, I don’t get downtown nearly as much as I used to.  Back in the day I used to work downtown and was there every day but now I don’t have much reason to be down there.  And it is such a nice area of the city to be in!

I have to say it was a really fun idea.  We got the hotel room early on the Friday and the kids and I headed down, settled in and wandered the Byward Market.  My husband joined us after work and then the four of us hung out together the rest of the weekend.  Something I would definitely do again- nice change of scene.  We wandered familiar places, ate at nice restaurants and took lots of photos.  I had mentioned on my Facebook page that I am mulling doing a series of small Ottawa-inspired pieces, and now I have plenty of ideas and photos to work with.

Here are some of my favourites from our weekend “away.”

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Karen