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Spring Art Show Entries – 2018

Finally, I came up with 3 entries into the Muskoka Arts & Crafts’ 41st Annual Spring Members’ Art Show. It took me a while, but I did it, and here they are:

Members could submit up to 3 pieces for the juried show, as long as they have been completed within the last 2 years and have not been entered to previous Spring Members’ Shows. Since I wasn’t as active in the past year creating art, I found myself in January trying to complete 3 brand new pieces (my bears and foxes were entered last year). Unfortunately, I ran out of time to complete the 3rd piece that was using the same technique. I will eventually complete it and reveal it in another post. Instead, for the 3rd piece, I chose a small one I completed a few months ago, using Pebeo mixed media products.

People often ask me about this technique. I will explain, using some older photos from when I did my first piece using this process. First, I need to plan it on paper, and then I draw a grid over it and map it out on the larger canvas area. The first time I did this, I wasn’t sure how detailed of a trimming job I could do to the acrylic skins (for fear that they would be too fragile), so the shapes are fairly simple. I was trying to achieve a stained glass “look.” Next, I needed to create the acrylic skins, which was the painting stage, but this was done “directly” on a piece of plastic, so that I could peel it off when it dried and cut out the shapes. This planning stage was time consuming, because if I didn’t like how a sheet turned out, I would have to make more, and they take a long time to dry. Sometimes my layout would need to change in the process.

The most time consuming part was prioritizing what sections of acrylic skins were to be designated for use on the canvas, and then cutting them to shape, and adhering them.  Here are a couple of pics to show the process with my much more detailed “Dancing With the Wind” piece.

As you can see, the pouring medium that is mixed with the paint to make the acrylic skins does dry to a glossy sheen. It is very difficult to get a great photograph of these pieces, so they must be seen in person!

If you are in the Bracebridge area this weekend, here are the details of the show:

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Seasons

In October 2017, many stressful events from the past 2 years came a head for me, and I’ve needed to step back from almost everything to take charge of my health. I’ve been extremely quiet about it, but I suppose that was easy, because I stopped working and stopped every social activity, so I guess no one was able to ask me where I’ve been or what I’ve been up to. I’ve mostly been at home, trying desperately to gain some energy and motivation for the things I have always enjoyed. Since May this year, my quality of life has rapidly declined, and it seemed to be doing so exponentially by the months, then the weeks, and finally, the days. At this point, I don’t know how long it will take me to feel 100% again, or even 50%.

I’ve been struggling to create anything, and I have only accomplished a few experimental art pieces, which I posted to my facebook account. I’ve decided to write a memoir, because I think it will help me to process the stressful life events that have contributed to my situation. So, I am gathering and organizing the details in a timeline for now.

Being unhealthy physically does have its impact on mental health, and vice versa. Most of my physical ailments are invisible, but stress has taken its toll on me in many ways. I’m currently dealing with chronic migraines, brain fog, nausea, fatigue, insomnia, night sweats (not to be confused with hot flashes), all over muscle and joint pain, back pain, abdominal pain and pressure, bloating, allergies, dizziness, and intermittent vertigo. All this contributes to depression and anxiety. Most disturbing about all this is trying to sort through it all, but I’m not sure if I can even hope to get at the root cause. Is it “leaky gut”? I already know I have SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder), but I am not officially diagnosed. As an adult, it is very difficult to find anyone who can diagnose this, because the occupational therapists generally deal with diagnosing children up to age 18. I also need to find someone who can confirm whether or not I have a chemical sensitivity, which is over and above SPD. If I don’t do the research myself, how will I ever know? I just keep writing this down for my next doc appointment, so that I will self-advocate and eventually get some answers. If I don’t write it down, I simply forget everything these days.

I’m finding that my health has forced me to enter a season of life that can be only be explained through imagery. Around Thanksgiving, I went for a walk on the Huckleberry Rock Lookout trail, taking my sweet time and breathing in the fresh country air. If you don’t already know, there was a fire that went through Milford Bay in 2012 and the evidence remains on this trail, mainly further in, as you get closer to the feature lookout. There are still some charred remains of trees, and there are many dead ones still standing, but there is plenty of regrowth, slow as that might be. With the passing of time over the years since the fire, the trail becomes more beautiful, despite the trauma it suffered. That is the hope I have for my health, that I will come through this season stronger. I just don’t know how long this will last, as I haven’t hit recovery yet.

In the meantime, albeit slowly, I am determined to gradually complete more art. I will see what Muskoka Arts & Crafts has planned for shows in 2018. Every year, they put on a Spring Members’ Show, so hopefully, I can enter some new pieces by then. One small step at a time.

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Monarchs Making a Comeback

Remember the milkweed plants that I mentioned were nearly as tall as me and growing by the door to enter our house? Well, they keep coming back. When we moved in 2015, my husband yanked them all out, and they came back in the spring of 2016. I decided to leave a few to grow for a little while, at least until they flowered, and then I would decide their fate. What I didn’t expect was that my husband would tell me one day that there were some caterpillars on the leaves. I rushed outside to see for myself, lifting up the leaves to see their undersides, and I was pleasantly surprised to see Monarch butterfly caterpillars!

 

Of course, I couldn’t resist finding a container to care for them. It was late August 2016 and there were mud wasps buzzing all over the place, with their tunnels under all the rocks near the entryway to our house. We eventually found something to take care of that problem, but in the meantime, I knew that they prey on Monarch caterpillars, so I had to ensure whatever I could find would survive and have a chance to make the long trek to Mexico.

Obviously, I was thrilled to see all 6 of my finds mature, pupate, and transform into beautiful Monarch butterflies (all males). Bear with me on the videos of the pupation. It was fuzzy at the beginning, but I was recording it through hazy plastic. I could only stop and start the recording again, and the second part below is much clearer. In fact, I was incredibly lucky to have caught the whole 2 minute process. Every other time I’ve tried to witness this, I’ve missed it, and only came on the scene when the green pupa was already formed but still wriggling.

 

 

The following summer, being this year (2017), I found more than 25 caterpillars over time. I had 22 at one time, and released them as they emerged from their chrysalises (or chrysalides), and I added a few more, totalling 25 in all. The mud wasps were back, which had to be dealt with. I couldn’t keep any more caterpillars, as I didn’t have room, so even though I kept finding more on the plants, I left them as a test and they disappeared. They became the breakfast of either the ants or the wasps, maybe even some spiders. But, I can claim to have promoted the population of Monarch butterflies, by my small part. My husband was starting to call me “Larvae Lady.” Oh boy.

 

I’m planning on harvesting some milkweed plant seeds this year, as soon as they are ready in their pods. After the frost, I will be able to attempt to make a successful milkweed garden on the side of the garage, so that I won’t need to keep the plants by the entryway to our house. The plants do get rather tired looking after they have finished flowering.

Hopefully, if the new plants come up, the Monarchs will find them, but we will see. I’d hate to remove plants that they “expect” to find when they return. Just how do they know? If any of the ones I released makes it to Mexico (for its first time), how is its great-great grand-butterfly supposed to find my garden (for its first time)? It is all certainly an incredible mystery.

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