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A Garden’s Pulse

Nothing like taking time to sketch to get the creative juices flowing.
Black-capped Chickadee – A Garden Sketch

Each year I look forward to spring and venturing to our backyard to enjoy the many birds that populate our neighborhood. Growing up in the country, the pulse of life included harmonious songs of a multitude of birds. Life’s energy filled the world around me. When I moved from the country to a new development in town the absence of these beautiful songs and the lack of life was disheartening. Fifteen years ago, there were no trees and no birds in our neighborhood.

Today, after much hard work and time, we have many mature trees and numerous types of birds. This year we have a new addition, a chickadee family.

Captivated by the tireless efforts of this chickadee pair, I watched them carve a home out of a log stump in our yard.

This photo shows the result of many weeks of nonstop labor. Amazing! I would love to know what the inside of the stump looks like. Google, however, will have to suffice since I respect the hard work and home of these adorable little birds.

Black-capped Chickadee facts

  • lay 1 egg per day and may lay anywhere from 6 – 8 eggs
  • most friendly of wild birds, social birds
  • create numerous food caches and can remember where they are
  • can lower its body temp in winter
  • has 15 different calls
  • nonmigratory
  • the nest excavation averages approximately 21 cm deep
  • the female picks the location for the nest

For more information on Chickadees check out The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, The Canadian Wildlife Federation.

Life in Our Backyard

I am married to an amazing man who happens to be a very talented photographer. He captured these photos in our backyard a couple days ago.

Drawing Inspiration

The colors, shadows, shapes, subjects, and life in my own backyard often become part of my drawing inspiration. It is essential for me to spend time working outdoors. Quick sketches, like the one at the beginning of this post, help me to develop a creative pulse – some of those sketches work their way into other projects during the year. Being outdoors allows me to take a break from the normal grind of life, and not feel bad about keeping up with social media posts – a great way for me to reconnect and reclaim balance. The pulse of the garden is a tiny gift that money can’t buy.

One More Photo

Baby Robins

There are many other types of birds that add to the pulse in our yard like this robin family. Every year there is a momma robin who builds her nest under our deck. I managed to get a quick photo while momma went for a worm run.

…guess we are sharing the strawberries again.



To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles.

-Mary Davis
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Recycling – Spring Goals

Environment

As an artist who deeply cares for the state of our environment, I want to share a little bit of my process for living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.

Media coverage brings to light many environmental issues that we face and how these issues damage our ecosystems. The more I read and research, the heavier the sinking feeling in my gut. I can no longer look away.

Last summer our LARGE black garbage can overflowed or came very close to overflowing (how embarrassing). After implementing a few small changes, our garbage shrunk down to two small bags, probably a fifth of what we used to throw away.

While at my local recycling facility, I decided to take note of all the items my community recycles. More items can be recycled than I thought!

Yay!!!

Plastic

Strathmore, Alberta Recycling

I found it helpful to know which plastics I can recycle and how to organize them to take to the recycling yard.

Paper

The above images show the guidelines at the Stathmore Recycling Facility. For more information, check out the Town of Strathmore or the Strathmore Recycling Facility. If you do not live in the Strathmore area, plan a trip to your local recycling facility and take a look around.

Reduce

When we reduce our garbage, we become more mindful of how we use resources and ease the pressure on recycling systems. Use reusable bags where you can and buy products packaged without the use of plastic.

The earth is filled with art for those who look.

Don’t let Garbage cloud the view.

Art

The world around me inspires my art – I strive to create positive and life-giving art. Implementing an eco-friendly lifestyle allows me to see the beauty without having to look past the trash.

Next week…

I will be creating more art products – hope you have a chance to join me.

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Crafting the Creation – Book Bag

Roam the Earth With Gentle Hands

Environmentally Friendly Art

As an artist, I continuously observe the images, colors, textures, tones, values, and life of the world around me. The world changes constantly, for better or worse. Regardless, most changes do not happen overnight and, because of their subtle nature, can be easily dismissed or not even noticed. When I reflect back, however, I do see the changes in our environment. I strive to create eco-friendly and functional art products in order to make changes in my own life and reduce my environmental footprint.

The Creation of this art piece

In my previous post Intentional Living, I talked about the eco-friendly materials I used in creating these bags and why. Today I will focus on the artwork.

Roam the Earth with gentle hands, and shape the World. Believe it or not, I contemplated the wording of that sentence for a long time. I thought a lot about our Earth, our environment, and the impact of each individual on the ecosystem. Why now? Good question. The old adage, “ignorance is bliss,” applies to me. I need to stop being ignorant and face what is going on right in front of me.

The entire Earth belongs to all of us. When one part of our Earth falls ill, it affects the rest of the Earth. With summer holidays right around the corner and travel increasing, we struggle to remember that we need to be good stewards of the land no matter where we journey.

The meaning behind the illustration

The illustration is a reminder.

  • As you travel, be aware of how much garbage you create. Try leaving the area you visit cleaner and better than when you first arrived. Gentle hands – be a good guest, pick up your mess. Better yet, make less.
  • When you interact with others on your travels, use Gentle Hands. In other words, be kind.

Simply put, if we all tried a little harder, we would Shape the World, and it would become a better place to live.

The Process

Click on any image below to scroll through photos.

The Book Bag/Art Bag

Features added to this bag

  • 10oz natural cotton
  • Leather straps
  • Interior 17 x 16.5″
  • Four outside pockets, 10 inches deep/8 inches wide
  • Magnetic closure clasp
  • Inside zipper pocket
  • Inside key hook

Thank you for joining the journey. Till next time…

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Intentional Living for a Sustainable Life

If you look up the definition of intentional living you will come across words and phrases like conscious attempts, life choices, attitudes, deliberate decisions, purpose, self-awareness, and the list goes one. Recently I watched a Market Place episode on plastic waste and it’s impact on our environment. As I sat there watching I was appalled by the lack of knowledge and concern of how our lifestyles are impacting the environment. Yes, this includes my own ignorance! I was struck with guilt the very next day when I made a quick stop at the grocery store. A plastic bag for the tomatoes, another for the lettuce, …the avocado, does it really need to go into a plastic bag, and that one lime I bought…

The story continues as I proceeded to the checkout and realized my reusable bags were at home. Really?!

I thought I was doing my part, growing my own vegetables, composting, recycling, and making products that are better for the environment and better for my family. After all, I chose to use water-based ink over plastisol for screen printing. What does that matter when other areas of my life are contributing to the problem? Better yet, how am I going to fix this problem?

First, a quick definition to clarify goals and intentions.

  • Goals and intentions are not the same but work well together.
  • Goals are set in the future and have a destination.
  • Intentions are in the present and focus on how you live in that moment.

Back to the question I asked earlier. How am I going to fix my problem? I have decided to set intentions and goals that revolve around helping our environment. Simply put, I want to recognize and live my values daily, with intention, to help meet my goals that include reducing my footprint.

The Project

I love fun bags and totes and I love creating items that are not harmful to our environment. For me, having pretty totes that are multi-functional sets me up for success – I am more likely to have totes with me when I have to make that quick stop at the grocery store for one or two items. Let me be honest here, one or two items usually turns into more items than I can carry with my two hands.

Natural Cotton

It is important to me to use natural fibers in my creations. This bag is made from 10 oz. natural cotton. The design is screen printed with water-based ink. Functionality is also very important to me. The printed design portion of this bag creates four deep pockets for books… The main large section (16″x 14″) is perfect for the “one or two” items from the grocery store or for carrying books and lunch on the way to work. I included an inside zipper pocket for my phone and a key clip. I also decided to incorporate leather handles to add a little class.

Moving Forward

As I move forward I am excited to make a variety of totes incorporating an assortment of custom surface pattern designs. I plan to make some of the bags with canvas handles and others with leather handles. To keep it fun, I will introduce color into some of the designs. I am excited to start creating!

In order to help fulfill my daily intentions and environmental goals, I will be designing other environmentally friendly and sustainable items. For those who have joined me on this journey, thank you, I will keep you posted.

For more images follow me on Instagram.


If you don’t think using plastic is a problem, check out the Market Place Episode on Plastic Waste. Every little step helps!

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Where Have You Been

Or should I say…

Where Have I Been?




Where have I been is a very good question?  I have been here, busily working.  Early this year I decided to change the focus of my website to reflect where my art venture has taken me.  I have come to realize that doing something well takes time, but I am still here and I am excited to give everyone a glimpse into what has been keeping me so busy.

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, so let’s start there.

…I love screen printing apparel, and creating unique designs. 

Along with creating beautiful designs and screen printing, I think it is very important to be aware of the impact that we are having on our environment, and be proactive in making changes that will have less of an impact.

Combining these two elements, screen printing and the environment,  took me down a long path of research, exploration, seeking industry advice, consulting with other artists, and lots of practice.  I have a box full of shirts that have become shop rags to prove it.

Using plastisol inks would have been easier.

  • Plastisol inks print well on all fibers, not just natural fibers.
  • Sourcing water based inks that I like, is a little tricky, especially here in Canada. 
  • Plastisol inks print well on dark shirts.
  • Plastisol inks won’t dry in the screen. 

Plastisol ink would have saved me many head aches and moments of frustration.


So, why even bother with water based inks?

  • Water based ink is better for our environment, and that is the number one reason for me.
  • No harsh chemicals are used in the cleanup.
  • The feel of the water based prints is softer than plastisol.
  • New advancements in water based ink are making them easiler to use allowing artists to create halftones, detailed work, and produce beautiful rich images.
  • Working with water based inks means I have to work with natural fibers, which can be harder to source and a little on the pricey side, but it is exactly the path I want to head down.  Products made with natural fibers are sustainable, biodegradable, better for our skin, and last longer than synthetic fibers.   I am still working on the best way to incorporate natural fibers into my art line, so stay tuned as I work through the progress.  I will post updates on my progress, sources, and any useful information that I find along the way.

…pulling ink is so much fun.


Our Home

Yes, I love our home, and that is why it is so important for me to do this right.  As I proceed forward I want to learn, grow, and educate for the better of our planet.  It would be a sad day for me (and our planet) if I no longer encountered beautiful creatures on my hikes with my family.

So that, in a nutshell is where I have been.

For more photos of the day-to-day activities join me on Instagram.


We – the current generation – have a moral responsibility to make the world better for future generations.

Priscilla Chan

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Pallet Art – Wire Art and Clocks

Pallets With Purpose

 

Moments are precious, especially at Christmas when more time is set aside to get together with family and friends.  This is by far my favorite time of year.  I love the change in focus, in pace, and in activities.  In our fast paced world time marches forward at an ever quickening pace making it even more important to be deliberate about setting aside time for family and friends.  For me this is a constant struggle, but relentlessly I will keep trying because I treasure those moments spent with family and friends.

 Enough about me, let’s talk about the wood projects.  I really enjoy taking old wood, that no longer serves a purpose and is usually unsightly, and transforming it into something meaningful and beautiful.  Sometimes the wood pieces that I find have great character due to weathering, age, and flaws; those pieces are the ones that become the most beautiful.  I am sure there is some philosophical connection that could be made to humanity — I won’t go there, but feel free to explore those thoughts and let me know.

 

By far, the clock is my favorite piece.  Although both pieces hold a certain charm, the character in the wood pieces from the clock really give it an old world almost antiquities feel.  Incorporating wire art in the pallet projects is fast becoming a favorite for me.  I like how the rustic look of the wire plays off the old recycled wood.

 

Approximate sizes:

Clock:  20 X 20  pallet wood

Faith Plaque: 13 x 16  pallet wood and wire

 


 

 

A couple quick notes on the process.

  • Make sure your pallets are safe to use and know where the they come from.
  • Barn wood also has a lot of character and works well for wooden art                                                                                             projects and has not been used to ship chemicals.
  • Pictured are the two pallets cleaned, cut, and glued together.  (Thank you to my husband and son.)
  • To avoid having the paint bleed when doing the lettering or numbering I covered the surface with a light coat of Mod Podge.
  • I warmed up the color of the boards with acrylic craft paints mixed with Blending Gel.  The blending gel allows me to control where and how much paint I work into the wood grain by slowing the dry time down.
  • With the surface prepared, the sky is the limit — create away.
  • When I was happy with the lettering I applied a thin coat of Acrylic Wax – Flat to help protect the artwork.

That is a quick rundown of the steps I used in creating the two pieces here.  For the next projects I will add a more step-by-step version including some tip and tricks when working with wire.

 


 

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Canadian Rockies and Art

Yesterday I had the privilege of observing and talking with a local Canadian Artist in her home town of Banff, Alberta.   Canadian born, Christine Ford has spent most of her life in the breath-taking Canadian Rockies.  Passion for her home, the beautiful Rockies; and painting, is very clear when talking with Christine.  Her passion also comes through in her paintings.  This very personable young artist was more than happy to talk about her beginnings, art techniques, struggles in art, and much more.

There is a recurring theme when I talk with artists or read art related articles (beside practice 😉 ) and that is to find ways to surround yourself with art (and artists).  This will keep you drawing, painting, and creating.  Unless art is your livelihood, where you must paint to pay the bills, it needs nurturing daily to grow.  It gives you a reason and purpose to do art.  What does this look like?  I think for me it means taking a course, setting some goals, entering competitions, being active in an art society, and  even doing some commission work.

If you haven’t visited the Canadian Rockies, plan a trip – it will be well worth it.  I have been to the majestic Canadian mountains many times, and each time I go,  it is like I am seeing them again for the very first time.

Photographs taken by Martin Eisbrenner.  Check out his website…some really cool photos!!!

If you want to learn more about Christine Ford check out her website at www.christineford.ca