Category Archives: inspiration

Kelly – initial design

Have you ever had a moment stick with you so completely, that you knew you just had to do something to honour it?

giraffe and warthog, kenya

“hold on…just a little higher…”

It took more than a decade, but this is how my latest artwork began:

Many years ago a good friend of mine was working in Africa. Eventually I became frustrated with letter writing, and remarked to my husband that I wanted to fly over there, sit under a tree and really catch up together.

Wouldn’t you know it, we unexpectedly received some money. So we booked tickets to go to Kenya and Uganda, and meet up with my friend.

We arrived in Nairobi sleep deprived, jet lagged, and culture shocked. Trying to nap in our budget hotel was not working; the heat, traffic noise, and the lunchtime proselytizing in the park across the street were just too much to compete against. I suggested instead we get out somewhere, and do something to ground ourselves. So we grabbed a taxi and headed to the Giraffe Center, the closest nature area to the city.

The Giraffe Center breeds endangered Rothschild giraffes, and reintroduces them to the wild. Interestingly Woburn Safari Park in England also has a successful breeding program for Rothschild giraffes. I say interestingly because my father worked there when I was little, and I have many stories from there. Like the time he was converting a double decker bus for transporting giraffes, and cut out the upper level while he was standing on it. Which, admittedly, may well have been a better choice than cutting it out while standing underneath it.

Of course I have seen many giraffes, between Woburn, various zoos, and in the parks in Africa. At the Giraffe Center though I first had the wonderful experience of feeding them. Getting up close to the giraffes on the feeding platform was incredible. These gentle giants were the perfect ambassadors for our introduction to Kenya, and I have wanted to capture that moment in art since then.

Kelly initial sketch of giraffe

preliminary sketch for dye painting Kelly, 2012

My July newsletter contains an article about the Giraffe Center. If you would like to sign up for it you can do it here: newsletter

Happy Mother’s Day

I feel particularly blessed over the past few weeks.

Two weekends ago we went to the Picasso exhibit at the AGO.  It was incredible to see; I actually got a little teary-eyed a few times.  My 2 year old didn’t last very long in there, but the 9 year old did – we had great discussions, and pondered what it meant that the noses were the predominant part of his portraits.  She has decided to study Picasso as her research project at school.

Last weekend we went to the open studios at Alton Mill.  They had several hour-long art workshops.  We painted:

We tried encaustics:

We made collages:

Then Tuesday I took my 9 year old to see Cats.  Her class had performed a dance to Jellicle Cats, which sparked her interest, so we bought tickets for her birthday.

Today we went to the local kids museum, to see their new animatronic dinosaur exhibit, and an interactive art exhibit curated by Yoko Ono.

Next week has more art+quilt excitement, which I will post  about when I get a chance!

Algonquin – Part 1

We had a little getaway this weekend. We wanted to see the moose that come down to the highway in Algonquin Park to eat the salt used on the icy roads in the winter.

Last time we went, a few years ago, we saw 24 moose. After much driving this time, I was beginning to think we wouldn’t see any. But finally (of course as soon as the toddler fell asleep) we found one. And yes, we did drive around and find him again when she woke up.

We also spent a lot of time hunting for shells around the lakes.

A couple of sketches inspired by the weekend: