Thursday, December 11, 2014


I took this photo in 2010 on the way from Calgary, Alberta to Glen Ellen, California.  Mum and I stopped and watched the cattle run for a few minutes before continuing on our way.  The painting in behind was a commission, and before I added certain elements for my client, I took a lot of photos of this abstract Alberta storm sky I had created.  I spent quite a bit of time in Photoshop Elements merging the two together (mostly on separating the cows out from their photo) and I love the result. 
I've added it here as a high resolution 8.5"x14" calendar, so if you, Dear Reader, would like to right click on it and print it out for yourself, please do.
Moooorry Christmas,

Monday, December 1, 2014

Port Hardy

I know, I's been a while.  What can I say?  I've been busy!

This past weekend we went up to Port Hardy, which is at the end of Highway 19...there is no more Highway 19 after that.  We arrived later in the afternoon and it was snowing up in the mountains, but just cold in town.  We checked in to our hotel and got settled in, and realized we had a looooong night of darkness ahead of us.  Sun sets around 4:30-5pm and that's a long time until it rises again at 7am.  As we've not watched TV since we moved to the Island, we did a little channel surfing and found a hockey game.  I tried to read a book, but it's an informational book so I was quickly bored.

Anyway, Saturday started out early and we were able to switch to a room higher up in the hotel, which gave us a better view of the marina.  We headed out to the main street, walked around, found a couple places to snoop in, bought 3 books for 75 cents (yes, 75 cents - books 2, 3, and 4 of the Game of Thrones series), bought a chai and a latte, then took off driving around to see what we could see.

We went to Bear Cove and saw the huge houses up there, with lots starting at 70K (which means they have no view so we're assuming the ones with a view are $150K).  They were really nice and had just stunning views.  Then we found an estuary and walked around there - pretty neat in the morning with some ice that had broken when the tide went out from underneath it.

Still looking around at what there was to see up there, we went to Coal Harbour and found a couple birds to take photos of.  Then we stopped at a riverside walk to see what we could see and stumbled on a bald eagle having a meal.  It was so neat!  I took a lot of photos and was pretty impressed with myself.  We went back across to the other side of the estuary and found a big group of eagles to take photos of.  But the sun was going down and it was getting cold, so we headed back to the hotel.  Scott stayed at the bar to watch the game and I played around with the photos on the laptop in the room with Maggie Mae snoozing away.

We got up really early on Sunday and went back to the same spot and found even more eagles and a really wonderful sunrise.  When I had my fill of photos, and was a little frozen, I got back in the car and we went over to the riverside spot to see if there were eagles there too.  Yes, indeed.  I managed to get quite a few more shots, along with a couple eagles eating and being pestered by crows.  Both times when we drove away from this spot, and eagle flew at the car as we drove over the bridge - it was pretty neat.

On the way up and the way back, we drove along 19A where we could, and checked out all the homes on the ocean.  These people are so lucky to have that view every day, all day long.  It's not something we can afford, nor would we give up our lifestyle to swing it either.  We would be really really house poor then!  Yikes!

A great weekend, but a really long drive, so we won't be going back up there for quite some time.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

I like big books, and I cannot lie

A month or so ago there was a thing on Facebook about your top 10 books.  A few of us approached our lists in different ways (top 10 to get someone hooked on reading, top 10 that influenced me as a reader, top 10 on my bookshelf right now, etc.)

Here they are: 
  1. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
  2. A Walk in the Woods - Billie Letts
  3. Anastasia Krupnik - Lois Lowry
  4. At Play in the Fields of the Lord - Peter Mattiessen
  5. Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
  6. Binu & The Great Wall Su Tong
  7. Dragonflight - Anne McCaffery
  8. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
  9. Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
  10. House of Sand & Fog - Andre Dubus
  11. John A-The Man Who Made Us - Richard Gwyn
  12. Just Kids - Patti Smith
  13. Language of Threads - Gail Tsukiyama
  14. Left Hand of Darkness - Ursala le Guin
  15. Look me in the eye - John Elder Robison
  16. Mists of Avalon - Marion Zimmer Bradley
  17. Mrs Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch - Alice Hegan Rice
  18. Plainsong - Kent Haruf
  19. Red Mars - Kim Stanley Robinson
  20. Slant - Greg Bear
  21. Snow Crash - Neil Stephenson
  22. Snow Falling on Cedars - David Guterson
  23. Song of Solomon - Toni Morrison
  24. Such a Long Journey - Rohinton Mistry
  25. The Beauty of Humanity Movement - Camilla Gibb
  26. The Book of Ruth-  Jane Hamilton
  27. The Casual Vacancy - JK Rowling
  28. The Colour Purple - Alice Walker
  29. The Dark Lady - Mike Resnick
  30. The Forgotten Garden - Kate Morton
  31. The Kite Runner  - Khaled Hosseini
  32. The Lions of Al-Rassan - Guy Gavriel Kay
  33. The Namesake - Jhumpa Lahiri
  34. The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman
  35. The Road to Jerusalem - Jan Guillou
  36. The Skystone - Jack Whyte
  37. The Velveteen Rabbit - Margery Williams
  38. There are two errors in the the title of this book - Robert M. Martin
  39. Weaveworld - Clive Barker
  40. When We Were Very Young - A. A. Milne
And here's the non-fiction lover's list...
1. King Rat
2. Catch 22
3. Great Expectations...
4. Bridget Jones's Diary
5. The Bible (King James version)
6. The Da Vinci Code
7. Molvania: a land untouched by modern dentistry
8. wow, 10 huh, that's a lot. Do graphic novels count?: Asterix, Tintin, Get Fuzzy, Calvin & Hobbes, Opus, Doonsbury.
9. how about movies I liked that are based on books that I would probably like if I ever read them?: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, anything by Tom Clancy, again, tons of graphic novels
10. I really dislike fiction. My granny's book: Mystery of the Royal Ring - because my name is in it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The grass is greener

Hey, hey you.  How's the grass over there?


Sorry I couldn't resist; doesn't it just look like he's talking?

It looks like summer is officially over and we're into the rainy part of Fall, which is supposed to be just a precursor to the rainy days of Winter, and man oh man is the grass green.  I've got more weeds than I did during the dry summer, and I'm not inclined to do much about them.  I guess I should get out there and dig them out or something, but I'm not too keen on doing it right now.

I came back from my trip to the Midwest with a cold, courtesy of my niece.  Yay me.  I was going to tuck myself into a big chair and read all evening since I just got a book out of the library - one of a series I'm reading - but I just discovered I've already read this one, and what I wanted was the next in the series.  Big sigh. Scott is about to head out for the evening and since my 'new' book is actually an 'old' book, I have to find something else to do.  What I should be doing is reloading the shelves I had to unload for Handy Andy to fix up the shelving unit, but that sounds like work so I'm pretty sure I won't be doing that.

I'm not sharing many photos at the moment because I'm in the process of updating and sorting them.  Somehow or another, after getting my smartphone my process of storing and sorting photos got away from me; and even more so now we venture into nature and I take more photos to share.  But I have to find them in order to share them, so maybe I've just found my task for the evening while Scott's out and about. 

Better put on the kettle to boil, and make a new cuppa tea.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Know It All

A fellow student of Sam daSilva's asked me for a bit of advice on how to get out there and sell her art.  I was rather long-winded, so I thought just maybe someone else might get a bit of use out of my response.  Here it goes.

Yes, you need a site.  Best to get if possible.  The easiest way to go about getting a site is to purchase your domain name and have your hosting at the same spot.  To make it easiest to control the content yourself, you'll want to make sure they have a good webpage editor.  WordPress is the standard at the moment, but of course, stuff like this changes all the time.  I designed my new Admin site with WordPress ( and am trying to work up the energy to get around to the art side as well, since it's currently designed in HTML code, which isn't so easy to work with and makes me a little bit more grey every time I edit it.

A couple things about the look of the site - keep it plain and see if you can get a business card to look the same so you present a cohesive look.  And keep it simple, and easy to load.  There are some who prefer to stick a great big photo of a piece of art on the front page of their site, but that takes a while to load (which makes people leave) and takes up a lot of a screen which is annoying (and makes people leave). 

Okay, so now for places to sell.  I have no shame - I did craft sales and galleries.  Sold at both.  I kept my prices the same, so yes I lost when the galleries sold my work, but at least stuff sold, so I figured I was ahead that way.  When pricing, decide on a pricing scheme and stick to it - don't price something higher because you like it, or too low because you're not feeling so in love with it.  I had a piece that was all red & black and I called it "Angry Bitch" and while a lot of people stayed far away from it and I considered dropping the price dramatically, one happy guy bought it and raved about the red and the name. 

As for how to find places to sell, you are coming up on the best time of year to check that sh!t out - you will see sales all over the place!  Google Art Group Calgary, or Art Sale Calgary and a bunch of stuff will pop up.  Try to get in with Calyx, Beacon Originals....the shows with semi annual sales.  And look into the Christmas sales at Spruce Meadows.  And the Telus Art Market.  Freakin' pricey, but some people make a tonne of cash at these events.  Mainly, you'll want to look at Community Halls that are putting on shows, which are most likely local groups of artists...see if you can join them.  Which means you have to have your site and your cards and your price lists done.  Which means you have to have your Artist's Statement done as well.  And a good headshot in case they want to print something about you.

I know Art Central is gone now, but there is supposed to be another space in the new building where it used to be.  See if you can gather any information on them and what it would take to get in there.
Oh, and online, there are a lot of different options, but you have to have really great photos of your work, and when you post them, post low resolution photos that are good, but not copy-able good, and without a watermark, as that takes away from your work.  If some jackass wants to steal your painting from a low res jpg on the web, there's not much you can do to stop it.  Google "selling art online" or "buying art online" and I bet you'll get a tonne of ideas of what to look at and where to start.

The long and the short of it is.... this is a lot of work just to get started.  And at times it can be very disheartening when you spend a buttload of time prepping and getting all your poop in a group...and then nothing sells and some dumbass says "I just don't get it; a 5 year old could've painted that."  Resist the urge to kick that person in the ass, and then resist the urge to burn your canvases, and get back in the saddle and do it all over again, always looking for a new angle and a better way to present yourself.

Sounds a bit daunting, but I've confidence in you!  Above all, don't be stingy with information.  Share share share share.  The more artists you gather into your circle, the more success you can all have, I'm sure of it.  I have run into other artists who hoard their information on how to sell, and not only do I find these people highly offensive and downright mean, I imagine their karma bank account is really low, even if their currency bank account is really high.

A few people off the top of my head to check out that I know are getting their feet wet and working hard at making a go of this are:
Darlene Beck -
Mary Frost -
Diane Kinahan -
Kelly McCarthy -
Darlene Moore -

Good luck,

Monday, September 8, 2014


I can barely believe it.  I made bread. 

I have a Pinterest issue, in that I spend a bit of time on it.  I finally decided to actually make something I had pinned on my 'Food I Adore' board.  And bread seemed like the natural choice, since I love bread and hate the price of bread.
It's pretty damn simple.  It's chewy and crusty and full of beautiful holes for butter and cheese to melt into.

Crusty Bread

3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon Instant or Rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 cups water
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt and yeast.  Add water and mix until a shaggy mixture forms.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12 - 18 hours.  Overnight works great.  Heat oven to 450 degrees.  When the oven has reached 450 degrees place a cast iron pot with a lid in the oven and heat the pot for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, pour dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball.  Cover with plastic wrap and let set while the pot is heating.  Remove hot pot from the oven and drop in the dough.  Cover and return to oven for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes remove the lid and bake an additional 15 minutes.  Remove bread from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool. 
I let it rise overnight.
Thumped it into the pre-heated
cast iron pot with lid (thanks Mum!)
After 30 minutes, I took off the lid.
Right out of the oven.
Onto the cooling rack.
Excess flour brushed off
and looking lovely, I might add.
OMG - it looks like read bread!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Holly Homemaker

Just call me Holly Homemaker.  Not only did I go to the Farmer's Market in Cedar this morning...

I also braved the spiders and spider webs and buggies to hunt for apples in the tree out front! 
(And by braved I mean I put on a jacket that was long sleeved and came up tightly around my neck and whacked at the air and tree limbs with a branch for a couple minutes before I went under the canopy.)
Any here? Nope.
How about here? Nope.
Oh! Here's a bunch! :(
Ugh, and here.  :(
Found 7 still on the tree -
peel, core, slice, bathe in salt water, repeat
and repeat...and repeat...

woot! woot!  Finally done!
And now we wait for them to freeze.

The plan here is : April the fam-damly is coming out.  Both Mum and Sis know how to bake, whereas I don't.  Bwahaahahaaa!  But I know how to eat Apple Crumble and Apple Pie really well!  Bwaahahaaaa!

Friday, August 29, 2014

That wasn't the plan, Stan

Dad came out last week, after a few days fishing salmon by Bamfield.  He had a second trip that fell through so he was at our place.  For days and days.  Which is a lot to take given he's a crazy man.  He does this weird thing where he works and works and works and doesn't take any breaks.  It's practically lethal for the rest of us, but he just powers through everything and gets shit done.

And so it was with this trip too.  He asked for a list of projects.  I came up with a list of projects.  And then I made the mistake of digging out a log that was infested with ants (which was super gross, by the way) and bam-o! we were digging out and levelling an area and laying down bricks to create a patio.  This went on for a couple days before we took a break and went to a few markets in the area, but at soon as we were back home, bam-o! we were back at it.  That wasn't my plan, but it is what it is.

We had a fair amount of bricks the former owners semi-buried in the garden, and then a whole schwack of them along the house extending the skinny pathway.  But the majority of them had mortar on them, so, in the hot hot sun, we rubbed the bricks on the pathway to remove the mortar and then hauled them over to Dad who was levelling the area and laying the bricks.  He had the toughest job, I think, because he was on his hands and knees.  I tried it and got through two rows before my knees gave up and went on strike.

The gazebo frame was already on the lawn, so Dad started building it, and then we all discussed how to get it to not blow away, and then Scott and Dad drilled into the huge concrete block (upon which sat a hot tub in a previous life) and bolted the gazebo to it.  We had to purchase a few more bricks from a guy who dismantled the Grand Hotel, so we have some bricks with "Nanaimo" on them, a few with "Clayburn" and the majority with "Dominion".

I have no idea how many bricks we laid, but that last 100 only did a row or so, and there's quite a few rows.  The dust!  The dirt!  The hot sun!  Ugh.  I will not be repeating that experience any time soon, that's for sure.  We did enjoy local corn, steaks, chicken wings, potatoes, salad, ice cream, Jamaican ginger ale, ginger snaps, date squares, coconut balls, ice cream, and black berries in between all the work, so it wasn't all bad.

Et voilà!  The process and the result, for your viewing pleasure!



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Jiggidy Jig

I took off at the start of August, and here it is close to the end of August already!  Where did the time go? 
I went to Langley, Red Deer, Calgary, back to Red Deer, back to Calgary, over to Victoria, and back up to Nanaimo.  Whew!  I guess that's where the time went.

While I was gone, Scott and Dad built the shelves in the basement, got a freezer, put in the pump/fountain in the pond....well, a lot of stuff really.  I played with my niece and nephew, hung out with friends and family, and ate a lot of good food.  I even managed to squeeze in a couple client meetings.  I missed out on Harrison & Sunny's visit here on the Island, and I didn't see everyone I wanted to see when I was in Alberta, but I did not a bad job of fitting in as much as possible, if I do say so myself.

I had put in my request to have gnomes come and clean up the studio and put everything away, but I see they didn't bother coming over.  Bah humbug.  I guess I know what my next job is, don't I?

Before I left I managed to get my technical administration website changed over to Wordpress, so if you wonder from time to time, "WTH does Michelle do?" you can check it out at

although delayed, it was a pretty flight into Victoria yesterday

Monday, July 28, 2014

Red Tape

I had no idea just how much red tape there was out here in Nanaimo.  Rules, rules, rules - ugh!  And the cost of insurance - oh my!

I'm going to try to assemble all the bits and bobs of information here, for your benefit - sure, but mainly for mine. 

Just what do Retailers take back after they sell stuff to you?

All sorts of questions about disposal of stuff, answered by the Region.

But here's a handy PDF they've created to help wrap your head around the insane rules.

Why don't we just burn everything and get it over with?  That's by-lawed too.

Don't forget to get your pets licensed.

Oh, and get a BC license.

And insurance.

And I hear this is an important institution as well.

Health Care.  Called "Medical Services Plan" in BC.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

4 o'clock daily

Every day, at 4 o'clock, the workday ends, and we sit out here, preferably with a cider.  So far, Somersby is my favourite, and Foundry is Scott's.  We've bought a 4 pack of Merridale to try out this weekend.  It's local, so I'm gunning for it, but so far...Somersby is just plain awesome in my books.

Oh, and if you're wondering what the kettle is for,
it's for watering the fucia, fushia, fuisia...the flower in the hanging basket.

Monday, July 21, 2014


While waiting for clients to get back to me, I decided I might as well start on cleaning up my old files filled with photos.  (say that 10 times fast!) 

Generally, I take anywhere from 3 to 12 photos of each painting I make, and then I'm supposed to cull those down to the best 1 or 2, then crop them down to 4"x6" so I can print it out easily, and also to a close approximation of the actual size of the painting, so I can create prints to sell.

In 2013 I got sidetracked I guess, because I just...stopped.  Instead of cataloguing my paintings and being a good little organizer of my digital files, I just took the photos, saved all the photos, and promptly went on to the next painting.  Whoopsies.

So here I am, on a Monday evening, while I avoid unpacking since my husband is working overtime, culling the extraneous paintings and ensuring I have good prints to print.  And then...I came across "hello Calgary".  I love this one a lot.
I took the photo of the skyline with my cell from a room at the Foothills Hospital where a dear friend was spending some quality time.  I came back a couple days later with my DSLR and took the shot again, and I'm so glad I did. 

After getting a commission to incorporate an image of Calgary into an abstract painting, I had been at a loss as to how to do that, until that photo!  I set to work on the 36"x48" canvas, incorporating bits of sawdust, and if it had been archival I would've included oil as is Calgary after all.

Then....the transfer.  When you do a gel transfer where the toner from the photocopy is embedded in the gel, you have to copy your photo in mirror image, so when you press it into the gel, the reverse shows (which, because you already reversed it, is the proper way round).  A little confusing, but trust me, that's the way you do it.

A lot of waiting for the gel to dry, a little water, and a lot of rubbing et voila!  Another commission completed! 

And, of course, because I love procrastinating more than anything else apparently, I added a little something to the image so I can use this on a few cards on their way back to CowTown.
copyright Michelle Kennedy 2014