The Joy of Visiting Places Repeatedly

There’s something to be said about revisiting the same places over the years and painting them too. Last week, we all piled into our Mazda 5 to go camping. This car is getting small for us. I am sitting way in the back because my boys are close to 6 feet now and have long legs. My daughter gets pretty car sick in the back. The back is a good place to read, so I read a lot of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel “Klara and the Sun”(loved it) and “Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words” by Malka Marom. We camped for a couple of nights in Dunvegan. Dunvegan is in Cape Breton and situated between Inverness and Margaree.

In my twenties and newly married I lived in Sydney, Nova Scotia. In the summer, we would go camping in and around Cheticamp and Dunvegan and drive the Cabot Trail. There are so many great hiking spots along the trail and if you drove around long enough you were likely to come across some live fiddle music at a legion. We would sometimes see music at the Doryman in Cheticamp. I started collecting Folk Art in Cape Breton and now have a small collection. The Ceilidh Trail stretches to Margaree and then you hit the Cabot Trail before reaching the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. It’s all amazing!

We take our kids to Macleod’s Campground from time to time but last year Cape Breton was where we decided to go for the first time in what felt like forever. It was mostly due to covid and the fact that we could not go to Ottawa to visit my family. We will this year and maybe I will have more to blog about then. So we decided to go camping there again this year. Sometimes it’s hard for me to describe in words how I feel about places and things. I think the Ceilidh Trail is one of those places. It’s possible that it’s just so damn beautiful. It could be the people you meet. It could be the relaxed attitude. It could be the lack of access to wifi. It could be all the folk art. It could be that in my twenties I used to come here because I lived in Sydney and knew it was special and I still feel nostalgia and a connection to the place.

This year I went beach combing for sea glass at Inverness Beach with two of my kids. I have never found beach glass before and it was really meditative and made for a nice walk. We visited our friends Teena, David and their “full of personality” French Bulldog “Reggie” in Margaree. We saw a sneak peek of the art Teena was working on during the pandemic. There will be a show to follow in February 2022 and it’s going to be great and take place at the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design in Sydney. So it’s all very exciting.

A sneak peek at the “We’re in this together” painting which is part of Teena’s series for the “Growth and Transitions: Pandemic Perspectives” that she will be part of at The Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design. If you want to see more of Teena’s work you can visit her blog at: https://www.teenamariefancey.com/blog and check out her instagram @teenamariefanceyartist and give her a follow.

Here we are in Margaree last summer at Teena’s summer home with “Reggie” doing his “Middle” trick. He is standing between my legs.

Most of the time in Dunvegan is spent enjoying the wonderful view from Dunvegan beach. It’s gorgeous and the sunsets are breathtaking. The sea was calmer this year it seemed. Years ago we went in August and the water was quite warm. I didn’t make it in but I made a few sketches and one watercolour. The watercolour happened because as we were leaving we noticed we had a flat tire. First thing I grab is my sketchbook and paints. Grabbed a towel to block the sun. I am a red head so I burn in quite a dramatic way. We pulled a bunch of stuff out to keep the car from being over loaded. Dunc put on the spare tire and off he went to get it repaired in Inverness. The funny thing about this story is that we had a flat last year on the way to see Teena in Margaree. The super duper guy at the tire place fixed it for free knowing we were on vacation. We were actually on our way to get him a gift card from the Robin’s Donuts coffee place when we left this time. So while Dunc was off with Eli, Brigid played with a friend she met the night before, Guthrie enjoyed the sun and the view and I painted the view.

So there you have it! Out little two night stay in Cape Breton! Here is my little painting, mostly from plein air with a little bit of my imagination:

Sky and Water

Over the last year or so, I have been working on a body of work about being by the beach. Last summer, I went camping in Cape Breton with my family and a handbound book filled with watercolour paper. I brought a book for my daughter and she had her own set too. We were camping in Dunvegan at Macleod’s Beach and Campsite and this wonderful spot is where I had access to Dunvegan beach.

It had not been the first time taking a set of watercolour to the beach but I can say that this was a longer stretch of time where I could paint early in the day and then again in the evening if I wished. The longer stretch of time at Dunvegan made me realize how making art about nature and the beach meant something to me. Over time, I found myself collecting my own photographs, drawings and little watercolours that could source some larger works.

The idea was that I could use my drawings and watercolours as a starting point but the larger work would become its own piece as I continued to work out colour and shape in a creative way. Some of the patterning and rhythms in the sketches find themselves in the larger compositions. They are not however exact matches of the source material because that would take out some of the fun.

Peering Over the Cliff acrylic on canvas 2021
On the Edge of Lawrencetown watercolour on paper 2021

In the Fall 2020, I was approached by the curator Brandt Eisner of the Ice House Gallery in Tatamagouche http://www.gracejollymore.com/the-ice-house-gallery if I would be interested in showing my work in a group show about Sky and Water. I was very happy to have the opportunity and decided that it was a great way to share the work with the public.

I decided that the work could not be fully understood without seeing some of the watercolours I had made. So I included some matted watercolours in the show.

The “Sky and Water” group show also features the work of Eleni Manolakos, RJ Marchand, Ian McKinnon and Jennifer Marlow.
Also featured in the show is potter Iris Naessens-Patterson of Seastar Pottery and guest jewellers Chris Rogers and Lorna Winsor of Strata Art Studios. Now that some restrictions have been lifted we are thrilled to be open to the public! The opening of “Sky and Water” was June 5th between 1:00-2:30pm. Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend because of personal family matters but the work of all the artists participating looks amazing!

If you live in Nova Scotia, going to Tatamagouche is a great day trip. Especially since a major lockdown ended! We often go to the beaches near Tatamagouche and I have heard soemthing about an amazing ice cream shop. You could see art and go to the beach OR you could go the beach and then see some art….and get ice cream too!

My Watercolours are Now Available on Etsy in Canada

I have been working at trying to get my watercolour paintings on Etsy and it’s been a bit of a learning curve but it’s a good beginning. Currently, there are 5. In due time, I will add more to the page. They are watercolours which I matted in a 9×12 mat.

I have also updated my website and there are links to my Etsy posts as well. I am trying to keep it cohesive and I am removing some unecessary and outdated information. Please feel free to read about me in my short artist biography.

I am happy with my little “tablescapes” to showcase the work. Luckily, I have a yard with a lot of natural items to choose from and a beautiful yet worn kitchen table from my husband’s childhood home I use as a surface. I have also learned how to make mats for my own little paintings and it is going pretty good but I suspect my mild up close “double vision” makes it hard for me to measure at times. But I have to work within my abilities and with time it should get easier. As should all the things I do not know about websites and Etsy promotion. Ha!

The works are only available in Canada (for now…babysteps please) and I offer free shipping, so if you are interested click on over and check out my Flying Mackerel Studio Etsy page. https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/FlyingMackerelStudio

TRYING ETSY

I have been wondering for a long time if I would ever get around to opening an Etsy shop. I had not thought it would be so difficult! Everytime I would start it, I wouldn’t have time to finish. Somehow with everyone using my laptop for this or for that, I would lose any progress and that’s just for one listing. You see, you can’t save your work on Etsy and put it away for another day, until you get all the information in. This is what I recommend if you are to try it. Get one item ready for shipping and get it weighed at your local post office. It’s easier if every listing is the same size. Basically instead of freaking out like I did, just list all the things to need to fill out and then answer them on a sheet of paper before putting it online. Once you list one and you will have a general idea of what way to go after that.

The harder part now is how to get some online presence. I have no clue so I thought I would write this blog and see if it might help a little. I shared the items on Instagram and posted on Facebook as well.

I decided that starting with a few might be the way to go so that way every so often I might have a grouping to share on social media. I am trying to figure out how people actually get attention on their Etsy page. I have followed or liked a few items and that is rather fun. The friends and family I know on Etsy are being followed and some are following me. It’s fun to look around and see what people are up to.

I am going to continue this blog in a question and answer format. Have fun reading!

Why watercolours?

Well, paper watercolours paintings are small, lightweight and easier to ship than my acrylic on canvas paintings. I also have a small scanner that offers a really good image quality. I have a new mat cutter and therefore I am able to ship them matted. If I put these in a gallery I would have to have them framed which adds to cost. I am really enjoy painting the watercolours and I make a lot of them so they needed a place of their own.

Why Etsy?

Well, it’s worth a shot. I don’t know anything about how to get some attention to my page but I think I can learn this as I go. Months ago, I put one acrylic painting on Saatchi. But before I decide to put any other acrylic online, I think it might be best to get better photos. There are many rules about how to ship on Saatchi but with Etsy I think there is more freedom. I could look into a local market, I think that could take away from much loved and needed family time. So for now, Etsy is what I will try.

Why try it now and not before?

Covid19 changed a lot of things for many of us. I am selling on my own now therefore I need to have my work somewhere online. Instagram is great and attracts other artists with occasional sales. Facebook is the same with a range of people interested in many things and sometimes it’s art. But it isn’t enough. I could look into local markets but what if the virus makes it hard to be in contact with other people again. I had been wanting to do it but for a variety of reasons, I was getting in the way of myself. At times, I want to do too many things and get stuck. Last week I took a week off from painting anything to help with gaining perspective. I am actively trying to stay healthy by walking, skiing and doing Yoga with Adriene this winter. I want to eat healthier; which for me means giving up any sugar, unhealthy treats and excess carbs (I did have one chocolate last night because of Valentine’s Day). I want to live a more balanced lifestyle. I decided that these are things I can control. I can control how much I paint within my time limitations and where I place my work online. I can’t control whether other people like my work enough to purchase it. But that does not mean I shouldn’t try. I do believe this new found relaxed healthy lifestyle might be the reason I was finally able to let go and just do it.

I just wanted to share my latest life story and I hope it helps you and if you can perhaps check out my three Etsy listings at: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/FlyingMackerelStudio

Thanks for reading,

Kim

Teaming Up with Family

Sometimes teaming up with a family member to do something can be a really fun thing to do. My mother Karen is exceptionally proud of her grandchildren and one day she spoke so highly of my niece and her writing which I thought was just so great.

During lockdown, my thirteen year old niece Sophie Cote busied herself finishing a book. Through connections, this time it was going to be sent to a publisher. Louise Sproule, the publisher who guided Sophie throughout the project was so very helpful. Her parents, my brother Phill and sister-in-law Irene, were also very proud and encouraging with Sophie’s ideas.

It was a no-brainer that when my niece asked me to do the cover that I would do it! I made a number of quick sketches in coloured pencil and tried creating an image with gouache. Normally this works for me when I make paintings but I wasn’t satisfied with the overall appearance. It was back to the drawing board keeping in mind some of the great suggestions my niece had in mind. It occured to me that I did have Corel Painter on my touch screen laptop and luckily a scanner. I scanned one of my images and decided to block in the colours in solid forms. It was time consuming because at this point I didn’t have one of those Stylus “thingies”. I laugh because I am not at all inclined with technology prefering learning through trial and error. I decided it was time to look at a few book covers I liked to draw inspiration from and to finally purchase a stylus. Simplifiying the image and using colour suiting the narrative of the teen novel was the way to go. Now I was getting somewhere! I even decided to try my hand at a cartoon Sophie portrait. Unsure about how smooth the pixels had to be, I was quite hesitant to reach out to Louise. However, once she reached out to me, I knew it was time to let go and send it to her. Luckily, they had photoshop and as long as the title that I drew would not be cut off they could play around with the lay out. When I saw the finished jacket I was just so excited for her!

Today is the day that I received my first few copies in the mail. Here they are:

If you wish to get a copy of this teen fiction (ages 12-14) here is her website for Ottawa area people http://www.sophiecote.ca/

The book can also be purchased through Lulu.com https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/sophie-c%C3%B4t%C3%A9/the-scavenger-lords/paperback/product-rwendq.html?page=1&pageSize=4