Thursday, 27 September 2012


As much as I enjoy the richness and complexity of colour, I am also drawn to shadows.  To me, they are both a metaphor for the dark side of our psyche and a unique way of viewing an object.

They can be strong and hard-edged,

or soft and golden.

 They can be completely alien looking,

or recognizable in every way.

In all instances, though, they seem to have something mysterious and exotic about them, as though they, too, have a story to tell.

At this time of the year, the shadows around me are mostly long and diffused, seeming to speak of the coming winter.  What do you think the shadows in your life are trying to tell you? Can you see and hear their tale?

Monday, 24 September 2012

Pear perfection

I especially love fall for the abundance of pears that are available.  This year, my nephew Joel and his wife Chandra gifted us with a wonderful array of them (they managed to snare them from their tree before the un-neighbourly neighbours did so!).

They ripened on our windowsill until they reached the peak of perfection...

 and then they were cored and cooked

and pureed,

and cooked some more with spices and caramelized sugar on low heat,

until they were at the perfect consistency for Caramelized Pear Butter (thanks for that recipe, Chandra - it is marvellous).

As always, these kitchen forays make me pay close attention to colour, and I think the range from raw, unripened fruit through to the completed butter makes a fabulous colour combination for a painting.

If you're interested in how else you might choose colours for your next project (be it quilting, decorating, painting or architecture!), you might want to check out the Colour Boot Camp classes upcoming in Cranbrook at the College of the Rockies.  You can view more information in the sidebar on the right;  participants at this class will also receive a unique opportunity related to upcoming studio classes, too.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Not all canned!

This summer has not been completely about the garden and kitchen.  I've managed to complete two of the larger pieces for a spring show at the Key City Theatre Gallery over the last three months.

Garden Patterns   3' x 2'  Mixed Media on panel  by Win Dinn
 You can see I've found a use for the results of my paper flower addiction!

 Midnight Garden  1' x 3'  Mixed Media on gallery wrap canvas by Win Dinn

I've also completed a smaller piece for a promotional giveaway.
Weight of the Soul II  9" x 6" Mixed Media on archival matboard by Win Dinn
If you're interested in winning this ready-to-frame painting, you can check out my artist Facebook page to see how.  The draw will happen on October 31/2012 and it could be you receiving this piece in the mail!

Here's an additional reminder to check out the workshops on the right sidebar - there are some great ones coming up in YOUR area! 

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Hot peppers!

Another of my favourite autumn canning sessions starts with a food processor full of sweet peppers (and the odd hot one!).

Chop, add some sugar, cider vinegar and pectin, and heat until the colour sings.

 Process in a boiling water bath, and you'll be snacking on hot pepper jelly throughout the winter.  It's incredibly good on a cracker over a softened Brie, served with a glass of chilled white wine, especially if it's snowing outside.
Roarange Hot Pepper Jelly
Sorry, did I say the 'S' word - I'm taking that back, because it's still sunny and warm outside, and I'm loving all the fall colour.

The bathroom reno chaos is nearing an end and it's a darn good thing, because I've got a private painted paper session booked for four budding paper artists tomorrow morning...fix, dust, clean, dust, organize, dust, stack, get the idea!

If you're looking for private lessons or a special play time for visiting friends, send me an email ( - I'd  love to set you up with some time in my studio.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Salsa time...

My all-time favourite scent of autumn is that of simmering salsa or spaghetti sauce, and this year is no exception.  It was made especially colourful this year using John's heritage tomatoes.

Starting with fresh garden onions, garlic and peppers, the first layer of tomatoes begins to fill the pan.

The second layer gets mixed in,

the spices get added,

 the pan gets larger, more tomatoes are added (ranging from yellow to zebra green and black to orange and a few red),

and the cooking begins.  This year I added hree cans of tomato paste to get that luscious red colour that one expects of salsa.

The results are more delicious than ever with these richly flavoured tomatoes.  I know both the colour and taste will go down exceptionally well in February!

Hot Mama Salsa
Are you wondering why this blog is featuring garden colour right now?  It's because the studio is still in a shambles as the bathroom is being renovated.  More about that later, but it's the garden and kitchen that provides my daily colour fix these days!

By the way, if you're looking for art classes this fall and winter, check out the listings on the right hand side of the page - between Creston, Wynndel, Cranbrook, Kimberley and Claresholm, there should be a place for you!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Sandwich anyone?

I love YouTube for the endless array of creative techniques one can find there.  One of the recent ones I've tried is a method of bonding paper napkins to card stock.  It's a bit like building a sandwich:

Starting with a sheet of parchment paper laid out on an iron board, you then add a layer of card stock, and cover it with a sheet of plastic wrap.

The next layer is a single sheet of napkin, FACE UP (most napkins have three sheets, and although it's a bit fiddly getting down to the single top layer, it's well worth it).

It's topped off with another layer of parchment paper, and then ironed on the hottest setting until the plastic wrap melts and bonds the napkin to the card stock.

You can reuse the parchment paper many times (or at least until you burn it past redemption by inadvertently leaving the iron on it).

Some napkins have a 'shadow' or 'ghost' middle layer in them, and they can make interesting backgrounds for paintings, too.

The resulting (heavier) paper has a lovely textile feel to it, and can look quite different depending on the colour of card stock you use behind the very thin napkin.  In the one below, I've used white card stock on the right and a hot yellow on the left.

And because I love to experiment, Alice Saltiel and I checked out the process utilizing painted papers;  it takes a few seconds longer, but works like a charm, and creates a bond that appears stronger than the spray glue I've been using.  YAY!  Take note that the better quality stretch wrap creates a better quality finished product, of course.

If you try this, I'd love to see your photos and hear your comments (  Want to test it with other papers?  Let me hear about that too!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Book folding...

While visiting Ottawa, Allie and I managed to get some play time in, along with the busyness and chat!  Allie manages the library in Unitarian House where she moved last year, and was in the midst of organizing the book portion of the yearly fund-raising sale.  This meant we had access to some pocket novels, and I convinced her to try some book folding during our chat periods.

The first book was a simple half-fold one that we used for testing some different techniques:

We initially stood it on end, but this particular novel did not have enough pages to turn it into a full circle, so 

we turned it on the spine, coloured the pages with watercolour pencils, and carved out some niches (and if you think that was easy, think again).

In my colour-obsessed mind, it looked somewhat insipid, so we ramped up the colour with alcohol inks.  I suspect Allie will be gluing something in those holes!

 The next book made a lovely full circle, and I did three different folds to create nine sections.  Of course, since I'd been curling flowers over the previous month, I had to try that on the book, too.

I enjoyed the look of the finished product from the top as well as the sides, and I'm wondering how this one would look in colour too.  

 Since I left it in Ottawa, I guess I'll need to start another - how fun is that?!  And I have promised a book or two for an upcoming Alberta show in June, 2013 - hmmmmmm.

Monday, 10 September 2012

What a trip!

It all started with John's decision to renovate the (only) full bathroom and his hint (well, it was actually an outright request) that it would be easier to do if I were out of the way.  Without too much persuasion, I booked a trip to Ottawa to visit a long-time friend, Allie, and the National Gallery.

Of course, Opal the studio cat was determined to join me.

I managed to get away without her and started a journey by car, plane & bus.  One of my biggest kicks was seeing Deryn Collier`s book, Confined Space, in nearly every bookshop and kiosk I entered.  Deryn is a recently-transplanted-to-Nelson, BC writer whose book is centered in a well-known Creston brewery - it`s a dynamite read!

It was sheer pleasure to reconnect with Allie, and we spent an inordinate amount of time catching up on our lives after three or four years.  We walked, talked, played (more about that in a future post) wined and dined our way through a week that went very quickly.

My first full day in Ottawa saw us attending an outdoor art-in-the-park event in downtown Ottawa, a very colourful 30+ day!

We spent some time afterwards in the Byward Market in the heart of the downtown area, where I took this shot for John.  His heritage tomatoes are at least as vibrant and plentiful as these.

As always, I`m delighted by the renovated mostly-brick buildings in Ottawa.

This sculpture in front of the National Gallery is a special pet of children and adults as they start their gallery tours.  Our particular mission was the Vincent van Gogh exhibition which was on until September 3.  Unfortunately, photo-taking is not permitted in the gallery.  Had it been there is no doubt that there would be some of me drooling on the paintings - they were truly amazing.  It was an incredible experience to see forty-five of his works in one place, from still life to portraits to landscapes, and view the intricate brushwork and palette knife slashes first hand.

The cathedral across the street from the gallery was beautiful, outside....

and in, especially with the wonderful stained glass.

I`ll be dreaming about those seven days for a long while - rich, colourful, vivid and heartful.  Thanks, Allie, for being such an amazing hostess and showcasing your Ottawa..

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