Category Archives: Photography

Carousel Ponies, Frogs and Nosebleeds (17/365)

 

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Dad and Frog (or, toad?)

 

After leaving the hospital for what has become our daily morning visit to ER to deal with ongoing nosebleed management issues, Dad and I headed for Butchart Gardens to gather some raw material for drawing and painting.

 

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I couldn’t make out the signature, but this drawing is stuck to a cabinet in the ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) Room at the local hospital emergency room… It’s the chair in which Dad has spent a fair bit of time over the past several days… 

 

It has been YEARS since I was last at the gardens and I have to say, they really are quite something, especially given the place is also a story of reclamation and rehabilitation. Once an ugly quarry that supplied limestone for Robert Butchart’s cement plant, the gardens were the dreamchild of Butchart’s wife, Jennie who wanted to pretty things up a bit once industry was done with stripping what it needed from the land. What a beautification project!

These days, almost a million visitors a year stroll around the gardens, snapping photos.

As one would expect, there are gazillions of flowers, shrubs, and trees, but there are also fountains, statues, and a carousel. I have always loved carousels and am always a bit disappointed when I’m near one without a child to coerce into riding with me!

A carousel horse statue prances near the carousel, an escapee from the endless drudgery of up and down and round and round. I took several photos, thinking I might be able to draw it later.

 

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Statue of a carousel pony dancing at Butchart’s

Dad gave me a brush pen with a reservoir for use with watercolours and once I got home  I pulled out the watercolour pencils I brought with me and started to experiment.

 

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New toy, must play…

 

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Unhappy with the pole, which looks awful, but I’m thinking that if I mess around with that it will get much worse… As it is, you can tell it’s a carousel pony, so I’m happy to leave it at that!

Of course I’m not the only person to be captivated by carousel ponies…

 

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Carnival the Carousel by Georges Lemmen, early 1890s

 

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Many carousel ponies (and other creatures) are works of art themselves… I’d kind of like one in my living room, to be honest. Maybe even a row of them for people to sit on at the kitchen island… We would need a bigger kitchen island, of course… Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

That’s it for now… I’m struggling (really struggling) to draw or paint a flower that looks even remotely floral, so you don’t get to see any of that stuff yet. I’m feeling a bit heartened, though, that with practice comes progress, so I’ll keep trucking on and see what happens next…

 

 

 

 

 

How Cool is This?? (16/365)

 

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From the series of images, Ornitographies by Xavi Bou (visit the website here…)  www.xavibou.com (many thanks to Xavi Bou for permission to use the photo here)

Imagine if you could see the patterns made by birds as they swoop in unison, drawing on the canvas of the sky. I’d never heard of the artist, but one of the wonderful volunteers who stayed with us on the farm a few years ago sent a link to an article in National Geographic about the artist/photographer and wow – how cool!

Dad, of course, was immediately intrigued and asked if I had seen the images as they relate so well to what we’ve been talking about in our ongoing lines and patterns discussions…

 

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Birds in the Clouds by Georges Braque, 1960 

 

So many artists have explored the image of birds in flight it’s hard to know where to start with examples.

 

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Twelve Birds by M. C. Escher, 1948

Line, pattern, repeating shapes, and negative space all fuse in this work by M. C. Escher.

 

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Lucian Freud takes a different approach in Landscape with Birds (1940)

Da Vinci tried to freeze the movement of birds with the naked eye…

 

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Drawings of a bird in flight by Leonardo da Vinci (1500s)

 

 

Leonardo had an ulterior motive, I think – hoping to learn how to fly himself. The challenge kept him busy for years…

As for me, I’ve been having enough trouble trying to draw things like a coffee cup sitting on the table in front of me and that, so far, is more than challenging enough!

For the moment, I’m happy to enjoy the work of others when it comes to this subject, but perhaps at some point, I’ll take up the challenge and try to capture movement in the ethereal form of birds in flight…

 

 

 

 

I is for Ice (AtoZChallenge)

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It may not be much fun to have your feet whip out from underneath you when trying to navigate an icy sidewalk, but ice in its other incarnations is nothing short of stunning (it is also symbolic of transformation being, after all, the reincarnation of water…).

I was reminded of this on the weekend when we headed out for a bit of spring ice climbing in Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park.

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Back in the farm days, ice was a major pain in the backside. Water buckets froze solid and it was an endless struggle to haul water by hand down to the livestock.

 

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Days when you have to bash a hole in the ice to get at the water below and then keep things topped up with water you’ve hauled from the top of the hill really make you realize just how much you love your horses (and how much they drink!) 

Today, though, ice is something we climb…

 

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Me nearing the top of Professor’s Ice Climb near Banff last year… 

 

Ice is something I never get tired of ogling. Aesthetically, it’s stunning the way ice catches the light, the way it’s always moving, forming and changing, the way it changes colour, the way it is simultaneously hard and unforgiving and fragile in a way that scares me to death.

 

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Grotto Canyon, practically in our back yard… 

 

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All of this crumbly stuff was dripping wet… some days one feels like a wetsuit would be the most appropriate clothing choice for climbing… 

 

 

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A couple of times a year in spring and fall, the edge of ice where it meets water is also symbolic of a seasonal transition. Soon, soon, we will be enjoying our annual spring melt here in the mountains. So far, though, it’s been a cold winter and for that the ice climbers (and skiiers) are grateful. 

What’s your favourite season? I’m partial to spring and fall when change is so obvious in every direction one looks it’s impossible to forget that all things are always in a state of flux. The only constant is change.

 

 

 

 

A is for Abbesses, Amelie, Artists and More (#AtoZ2018)

Well, I thought A might be for Art but that was three days ago before I had spent some time on the Paris Metro. When we were here last year I thought it would be great to do a journey to all the stations which are, conveniently, listed in alphabetical order here. The first station on the list is Abbesses, a name which always seems to me to have too many double letters…

 

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This is the platform in Abbesses Metro station as depicted in Amelie. (That’s Amelie over on the left)

 

The deepest of all the stations (118 feet below street level), there are a lot of stairs to climb to get out of there. Reading a bit about it, I discovered it was used in the movie Amelie. Well, sort of… the set was made to look like Abbesses, but in fact, the filming was done at an abandoned platform at the Porte de Lilas station.

 

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Abbesses during my visit today… the actual, real Abbesses. 

 

This tidbit led me to try to remember the movie Amelie, which I thought I had seen. Thanks to the miracles of modern technology, I found it on iTunes and watched it in my BNB (closest Metro station to where I’m staying is Lourmel on Line 8, named after General Lourmel who was killed in the Crimean War).

 

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Between the tourists, the garbage can, the shipping container and construction zone, it’s pretty hard to get a decent shot of the exterior entrance to the Abbesses Metro station. So, here’s a cinema-style letter box crop in an effort to make the best of a difficult photographic situation…

 

Turns out either I haven’t seen the movie or my memory is way worse than I could have imagined. I think the former as there are so many odd moments and bizarre scenes that something would have rung a bell, even if dimly…

As a result of watching (and thoroughly enjoying) the movie (and because I love my Navigo pass and any excuse to ride the Metro, particularly if it means a trip to Montmartre – location of Abbesses station), off I went to have a quick peek before heading to the Rodin Museum for my daily… oh, there it is… Art fix!

 

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Do I share my ‘argh’ moment, or not? Ok, why not… I foolishly purchased my Rodin ticket twice! Once online in the wee hours of the morning and then again when I arrived at the museum. What can I say, I thought I was going to go to the Musée d’Orsay… which I am going to do tomorrow… And, since it’s the first Sunday in April, the d’Orsay will be free, so I won’t actually be out of pocket. Not really. But seriously, argh. 

What a bonus to find not one but several pieces of sculpture by Rodin that featured artists!

 

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For the sake of today’s A-themed post I will pretend I am not in Paris where this is obviously a peintre. Sadly, I will be long gone before the letter arrives!

 

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This is not a great photo for various reasons (it’s not sharp, for one thing), but I include it here because of the scale. The hands really were massive… 

 

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Art students hard at work sketching Rodin busts… How they managed to concentrate with all the tourists peeking over their shoulders and obnoxiously taking photos, I don’t know… 

 

 

While I was in Montmartre, I took my time wandering back downhill to jump on the Metro at Blanche. On my way I stopped in to poke around in the Montmartre Cemetery. There I found the grave of Endre Rozsda, a Hungarian-French artist who died at the age of 85 in 1999. I found this self-portrait online:

 

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Endre Rozsda – born in Hungary in 1919 – this self-portrait dates from 1939

 

 

 

What’s your favourite movie set in Paris? The Red Balloon? Midnight in Paris? Let me know in the comments below… If I have time before I head home I might just go on another jaunt to a cool location captured on the silver screen. And, since we are also talking about A for Artists, who is your favourite artist who spent some time in Paris?

(Here’s a p.s. of sorts… the reason I may have been a little groggy at 2 am when I finally went to bed and bought that extra museum ticket is that I might have been slightly distracted by all the ads I was reading for Paris apartments. Ahh, dreaming. It’s always fun to fantasize about things like going shopping for a Paris apartment, though doing so right before bed resulted in some peculiar nightmares about buying an apartment and not having any money left for furniture.)

Nurture Your Inner Medici! 

Enjoy the blog? Consider becoming a patron to support the creation of these blog posts, photo essays, and short videos. In return, you’ll have my undying appreciation, but you’ll also get access to Patron-only content, advance peeks at works in progress, and more – all for as little as a buck a month! It’s easy – head on over to Patreon to have a look at how it all works. And, if enough (like a gazillion) of you all sign on, maybe that Paris apartment will be mine some day… and then you can come and visit and we can take photos of art together!! And then sit in a quaint café and talk about how we met right here at the end of a blog post about artists and Amelie and Abbesses and stuff…

 

Ah, Paris…

In the interest of sparing you the details, just let me say my ability to sleep on airplanes is greatly diminished these days. Are the planes really getting that much smaller? Or am I getting that much older and less bendy? Maybe a bit of both… What is not getting old, though, is arriving in Paris in the evening and heading out for a stroll around the block in order to see the tower sparkle!

At the top of each hour after dark, the tower twinkles as tour buses pull over and selfie stick-wielding tourists grin and snap photo after photo. I would have done the same except my selfie stick had not yet been unpacked, such was our haste to get out into the streets and take in the sights.

 

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Booksellers along the Seine… Just strolling by makes me happy!

 

Today has been a day of fighting jetlag, running errands (in the rain), and sticking close to home while trying to stay strong and not nap. I’ve also been making lists – both for work and for pleasure. On the work front, I was busy this morning (wide awake at 4am I eventually gave up on the going back to sleep project, and instead had a shower, breakfast and worked on the book about assisted dying). After reworking a rather cumbersome section that deals with definitions of suicide (surprisingly more complicated than one might think – while jumping from a tall building is pretty obviously suicide, if a very sick patient decides to stop eating and drinking, should that be called suicide? After all, the end result is the same…) I started working my way down the list of people I am planning to contact with questions relating to some aspect of the subject.

 

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As darkness falls at the BNB, I write… (and sketch in my notebook… one day maybe I’ll be brave enough to share those primitive efforts…)

 

Lists, Lists, and More Lists

With work out of the way, it was time to start making a list of what I’d like to try and see and do while I’m in town. I’m very much looking forward to a lunch with writing friends on the weekend and tomorrow am also hoping to meet up with a bookbinder/writer friend for coffee… I’d really like to get to the Rodin Museum this trip as well as pay a visit to the Musée d’Orsay. I’m not sure where the best place is to go to see portraits… I don’t think Paris has the equivalent of the National Portrait Gallery, though all the major museums will, of course, have some portraits in their collections. I’m particularly interested in self-portraits at the moment, in part because I’m intrigued by self-portraits, but also because of what’s been going on with Dad’s artwork ever since we did our Camino in the fall. Because I’ll be doing the AtoZ Blogging Challenge, I’ll save the details for one of the April posts…

Meanwhile, though, the list of possible museums to visit is long… As is the list of possible live performances I could take in. Comedy… musical… drama… And then there’s the English language cinema club… and the Shut Up and Write Group… and, and, and…

Because I have promised myself that I will continue to push ahead with this draft of the assisted dying book, I do need to allocate a certain number of hours a day to work, as well… All of which to say, a week in Paris is not enough!! Not nearly long enough…

Spindrift Near Banff

Being back here I am having one of those moments where I really wish I could clone myself. I love my home back in the mountains (I mean, what’s not to love?), but I really love this city, too…

Love Paris? 

When we were here last year I tried to come up with a list of reasons why I like this place so much… If you missed that post, here’s a link… 

Edith Piaf Alert

In case you are curious, the soundtrack in the background here this evening (actually the evening of my second full day here… I’m already way behind on ye olde blogge…) is an Edith Piaf playlist courtesy of Spotify. I have to make do with this as all tickets seem to be sold out for the Edith Piaf show I had wanted to see… Le sigh. Not sighing at the playlist, I hasten to add… at the dirth of tickets.

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Enjoy the blog? Consider becoming a patron to support the creation of these blog posts, photo essays, and short videos. In return, you’ll have my undying appreciation, but you’ll also get access to Patron-only content, advance peeks at works in progress, and more – all for as little as a buck a month! It’s easy – head on over to Patreon to have a look at how it all works.

Crane Pose

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m never going to be (more accurately, never was) one of those twenty-something yoginis who can do full standing splits on top of the Eiffel Tower (or a handstand on a rock in the middle of the ocean… honestly, have you seen some of those yoga poses on Instagram???) But, I wanted to have some fun with yoga poses and photography and so, with a little help from Picmonkey (which, btw, is a very fun way to spend an evening playing around with your mediocre images and seeing what can be made of them…) I took a series of photos in my very boring living room. Here’s Crane Pose if I were able to clone myself and time everything perfectly (sort of like a partner yoga solo selfie)… Maybe I should keep experimenting with the photo editing and just insert myself into some awe-inspiring locations…

Unexpected Colour

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On the walk to town…

At first, it seems as if the world has gone all monochromatic on you… And then, the subtle splashes of colour appear…

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Pinecones