Thursday, 29 January 2009

Day 7 - Sit! Good Hippo.

Yet another ham at Busch Gardens. This hippo loved the attention and stayed glued to the glass when we were mulling around the area.

Last day in Florida we decided to spend at Busch in the overcast but warm weather. There were about 5 other people in the park aside from the staff. Once the rain came there was no one left but us. There were no line-ups for rides even before the rain came later this afternoon and they'd start up rides for us. What a way to enjoy the park!

Please don't make me go home to the snow!

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Day 6 - Yes, We Are Canadian!

In my defense, it made it up to 81 F today. This evening the kids wanted to swim and although we discouraged them due to the temperature of the pool, they thought it was okay. We had after all been swimming in the ocean just today. We passed by a gentleman on the way to the pool when he shook his head and laughed saying,

"Y'all must be Canadians!"

I have to say that even though it was 81 degrees, the Floridians were still dressed in pants and sweaters. I just would love to see them in the 30 cm of snow we supposedly had gotten in the city I previously lived in, today.

Day 5 - See World

As I suspected....feeding these fellows by hand annoys the heck out of the other tourists, but they (the birds) weren't complaining.

This photo was taken at the dolphin nursery tank. The mother dolphins in the tank apparently teach the babies how to perform for the crowd. Amazingly this seems to be true. As soon as the people come around they start to jump and pop out of the water. Dolphins are such hams!

2 of 4 loves manitees. It's incredible how blue they look under water.

Day 6 - You Know How You Feel When ....

You know how you feel when you go to the beach at Clearwater and find a tresure trove of incredible shells and then decide that if theres good ones here there must be great ones just in the shallow surf and so you cautiously make your way out into the surf as to not make yourself wet and find you need to roll your shorts up a bit so they don't get splashed on and you see that perfect shell like the kind they sell in the store so you go out to pick it up and a wave comes and wets the bottom of your pants so you jump back but it's too late and you get a bit wet and have missed your shell so you try again and the next time you reach down to pick it up a hugenormous wave sweeps over your entire being and you get a mouthfull of sea water as well as completely and absolutely wet from the top of your head to your salty feet so you think what the heck and wade around in the water in ....HELLO! January.....and find more albiet less incredible shells that will fill a grocery bag along with sponges and silver dollars when suddenly it's time to go and you get in the car and drive home wet because you weren't actually planning to get wet so you didn't bring your bathing suit and you make the car smell like dead fish because you do and then you get home into the shower but can't seem to get the feeling of the salt water off your skin or hair? YUCK! But a whole heck of a lot of fun. That was me this morning.
P.S. Thank you to Mr. P. for taking so many lovely pictures of my large bent over A**. Very nice.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Day 4 - I've Lost My Passport - AM

It's 71 degrees right now. My skin is starting to change colour matching me to the natives a bit more closely than last week. I can see by the current temperature in the city where I have previously (up until last week) lived that it is -20 celcius. I don't know what that is in fahrenheit and I don't care!

I seem to have lost my passport, too sad. I'm all broken up about it. (snicker) Okay, maybe I haven't actually lost it permanently. I'm sure it will turn up by April when it starts to get uncomforably hot here. Maybe May when the weather gets nice again back home. I sure hope that White Mocha is enjoying Mr. Hunter's company! He may be there for a few more weeks, months or possibly longer.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Day 3 - No More Free Beer Ever Again

After today Busch Gardens will no longer supply the two free beer to all of it's visitors. (Age allowing.) They have been taken over and may not even offer beer at a cost. Not that I care. Since this was the last day ever, I decided to have one. I have to say though....I hate beer. I actually don't drink anything alcoholic, but decided to partake this one time to celebrate their last day offering this putrid beverage. It was as horrible as usual and I unfortunately chose the most disgusting type on the list. I was very thankful that I didn't go on this ride with the rest of the group after having said beer. Even though I only drank about a quarter of the glass I'm sure it would have come back to haunt me if I had. After wouldn't shake a beer bottle and expect the beverage to stay inside.

I think I may have found my next subject for a painting. This fellow was also quite a poser once he warmed up to me.

The only problem with allowing Lorry birds to land on you is what goes in must come out. Unfortunately for 3 of 4 it came out all over her shirt. Apparently 1 of 4 tastes as good as the nectar drink because the bird spent as much time licking her as it did the sweet fluid.

The first time I saw one of these birds this week I got terribly excited and thought I had found something special. It's about as special as pigeons or seagulls hanging around our local fast food joint. They are everywhere and not a bit afraid of people. The crazy things pose for you!

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Day 2 - Blood Pressure, Beach and BBQ

Last evening we ended the day with a shuffle through the neighbourhood. I'm not used to moving that slowly usually, but I didn't want to stand out by walking too fast. We were already an odditiy having left the condo without either a cane or walker.
We got up this morning and all took turns taking out blood pressure. (I kid you not!) Mine was 99/64. If it goes any lower I fear I may slip into a coma. Luckily I was able to raise it slightly with the approach of an extremely rude man in the grocery store who told me to go read in the library when I was browsing through the magazines in the magazine aisle. Apparently I was in his way and that was a more appropriate way to ask me to move than using the word please. I wished him a happy morning because I had a non-fat, no whip, extra hot Starbucks coffee in my hand that I was enjoying more than I had enjoyed a coffee in a very long time. He's lucky! Had I not yet had my coffee the outcome may have been totally different!
We went to the sponge docks and then to Sunset beach. I don't expect there is a theme park out there that can compete with the beach, in my books anyways! We chased hermit crabs, regular crabs, watched minnows of some sort darting along the shore. We picked up small shells and rocks.
The birds tried to steal the kids socks that were tucked in their shoes on the shore. I'm not sure what the draw was, but apparently they were interesting but not worth actually flying away with. I think I read somewhere that birds couldn't smell very well. That's the only way other than the birds being mentally challenged that they would consider stealing someones stinky socks.
The water was warm along the shore. Even the Floridians had left their neck warmers at home. I was suprised by the lack of people that were around everywhere I went. It was such a quiet day.
We were invited to a BBQ for supper at the home of a family friend. It was a lovely day.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Day One - All Sun, No Fun

Thank God! We arrived safely but unfortunately the kids are still suffering from the same disorder here that they do at home. Fighting.

You'd think that the thrill of air travel for first time would over ride their instinctual drive to quarrel, but apparently not. They fought over,seats, glances, food,places in line-ups and everything else they could find. The one exception was 4 of 4. She was easy to get along with. Well, she was until she decided she was ready to dissembark the plane.....a half hour before it landed. I can't blame her though. I was ready to get off before the plane even left the airport.

When we got to the car rental joint I had to laugh. The fellow behind the counter.....the INDOOR counter was wearing a coat and neck warmer over his suit. Apparently 65 degrees is frigid and requires winter attire. You can tell who's a native Floridian and who's a Northerner. We were all in t-shirts complaining of the brightness of the sun and they are tanned and bundled up like mummies.
Perp's Mom: "That's an ugly sweater! I'm going to buy you a new one."
Me: "No. I like this sweater. It looks nice and it's my absolute favourite in the whole wide world."
Perp's Mom: "I don't care. I hate that sweater. You're getting a new one!"
Me: "This is a nice, respectable sweater. It is warm, soft and I love this sweater!! I don't want one like you have on. It's ugly!"
Perp's Mom: "I won't buy you one like mine, buy I am getting you one."
Me: "Why would you buy something I don't want and have no intention of wearing?!"
Perp''s Mom: "I'm still getting you one."
Perp's Mom: "I'm buying you a sweater. One that looks better than that old thing!"

Oh crap! What are we doing? I'm going to spend a week with my parents.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

One more sleep until we travel. Since we've decided we don't like the mouse, why go to Florida at all! We're going to stay in the Famous American City that I believe is headquarters for OPE. Since Kurt so graciously denied our request to stay at his house invited, we'll just show up. If I'm right about the city, then I'm sure someone there can tell me where he lives. We'll just ask around on the street. If they don't know him then someone will at least know Todd. I'll print their pictures off of the OPE blog. It's all good, good! See you tomorrow Kurt. We'll be there for supper, so plan something elaborate. Your paying.

I had a Great-Aunt and Great-Uncle that were good at "just showing up!" They would sometimes call, or drop by. More often than not their mail would start to arrive before they would. That's how you knew to expect them. They'd stay for a short visit. You know.....3 to 6 months before the relative they were staying with could take no more and would kick them out. They'd have their mail forwarded to the next hosts house and move along. Saves on rent!

I packed up the dog bed and Mr. Hunter's favorite stuffed toy and brought it to White Mocha's house. Mr. Hunter did not look pleased. In fact, he looked down right panicked! He did not quite understand why he had to leave his ducky there. I know he will be excited when she comes to release him from his prison tomorrow. Especially because she plies him with treats! I don't expect he'll miss us much with the exception of at bedtime. She is under the impression that he won't try to sleep in her bed because of it's exaggerated height. LOL! That's funny! Opps! Hope she doesn't read this until after we're gone.

I want to thank White-Mocha for also caring for the rats, fish and mail. Bus driver Dave down the street will care for our snow accumulation (or hopefully lack there of!) It's kind of funny when you think about it. Someone having to come into our house to feed vermin. In some places they trap them but here we pamper them.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Only two more sleeps until I get to be enveloped in warmth and sunshine! Even if it lands up being cool and rainy their cool is still warmer and their rain is still sunnier than here! I've had enough of -20 to -40!

I have such smart kids. We had a family discussion and decided we collectively hate the famous place that the mouse lives and don't want to go there! Yipppeeeee! Thank God that they aren't falling into that commercial trap!

We went to purchase our American dollars. Ouch! The Canadian one took a dive again this morning. Why couldn't it have stayed at par until after our vacation?!!!!

I hate flying, say a prayer for us! Hopefully we will remain bird free for our flight.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Step 2 - Create Your Map and Base Drawing

Map Drawing

Now that you have your most beautiful drawing, time to turn it into a map.

Take the drawing you did, (it matters not how you got it on to the paper originally, just remember to fix the distortions that may have occurred prior to step 2!) and transfer your drawing onto a piece of tracing paper in pencil (remember, high quality) and then create the outline on the tracing paper with the black marker. By not using the marker on your actual original sketch, you will save it in case you are not happy with the tracing and can use the original to create a new tracing.

As you can see, the actual outlined copy on tracing paper is not pristine. It's all crumpled and I actually accidentally ripped it. Just make sure that you keep your original in good shape in case you require it again.

You may have noticed that I have circles and lines in odd places. This is how I mark where I want a highlight to appear, or where shading may begin. These are all just place markers. It helps to identify approximately where I want things to appear on the work.

This is a good time to talk about paper.

If you choose a light coloured paper: (Not recommended for this picture)

For this step you will be transferring the outline you have created (what I called map) to a fabulously magnificent quality of paper. Most coloured pencil artists I know use "Stonehenge" more than any other types.

Another fair paper is "Bristol", Vellum (not smooth!)

If you purchase Stonehenge it will come in a large individual sheet. Just cut it to the correct size you want and save the rest for your next masterpiece.

Stonehenge comes in various shades. Pick the whitest. Bristol comes in pads. Stonehenge has more "tooth" to the paper and will hold more colour. Very sturdy!

Now you need a light box if you are working on white paper. You can use a window, or lightbox.

Place your "map" copy under the quality paper and VERY lightly outline the map on to your good paper. Every line you put on your good paper will eventually be erased as you replace it with colour. You don't want to score the page with the pencil line either. It will show if you do when you put the colour down.

Congratulations! You have now completed Step 2.

If you are smart and choose a black paper:

Okay. Here's the monkey wrench! I'm going to use black paper. That way I will save on pencil by not having to thickly lay on black since I'm working on a work that is primarily black. For this you will need a piece of white transfer paper. This is the equivalent of carbon paper, only in a white chalky substance. You can also make your own by saturating a piece of paper with white chalk or purchase it a Wallacks for a rather exorbitant price.

Take your "map" drawing and place it on top of the white chalk transfer paper and place them on top of the Stonehenge black paper.

Now use a coloured pencil to gently outline the "map" drawing so that the white chalk will transfer the the good quality black paper. It's important to use a different colour than black pencil when tracing over the lines on your map so that you will know which ones you've already traced over.

Once it's done you should have a white outline of your "map" drawing on the black paper. Before actually colouring with your coloured pencils, you will erase the white chalk marks with a kneaded eraser. But that's all part of the next step!

See you in a couple of weeks (God willing!) for Step 3.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Raspberries to Arrogant People

I'm in pain. A great deal of mental pain right now. I have an addiction and I'm going through withdrawl!

I listened to the news tonight. Just a few minutes. A smidgen really. Not long. Just long enough to get angry. I want to vent so badly! I'm not going to vent. Nope. Not even a bit. No. NOOOO! Okay. Maybe just a little.

I'm not going to vent about the government, transit strike, Canadian dollar....or lack of value as the case may be. I'm just going to say I have a problem liking arrogant people. You know the ones. Confident, pleasant and find a way to tell you what they really think of you without you actually realizing that they've put you down until you walk away and think about it. Sometimes they do this with words and sometimes with their actions. I got both. If I were to tell you the situation you may say I was just being "sensitive." I don't think so though. To the person who has annoyed me....thppppttt! I send you a big ole' raspberry! If you are reading this wondering if you are this person. If you find you are even a little bit concerned that you may be this person....then you're not. This person doesn't really care because they are too important to have to care. The nice thing about being me is I don't ever have to see this person again if I don't want to. And guess what. I don't!

Phew! I feel better.

Friday, 16 January 2009

-40 is -40 clarify:

the celsius and fahrenheit scale converge at minus 40. So -40 Celsius is -40 Fahrenheit. -20 celsius is -4 fahrenheit.

Hey, the beers finally cold, eh! (Canadian)
Damn Canadian cold fronts, huh! (American)

It's been between -20 and -40c here. Since I couldn't spray my toad painting outside I had to use our furnace room to do it. I opened the window for ventilation and got to work. It wasn't too bad at first, but after a while the flying snakes started to swarm around making it difficult to spray the painting without spraying them. Eventually it got done.

I started another portrait, or two, or three after a I took a couple of Advil. I had a headache for some strange reason. I'm having a hard time settling down to work at something new. I haven't found that perfect picture that I have a great drive to create. Well, actually I do have one, but not something I can post the progress of as with many of the portraits of other peoples kids that I do. Flowers are beautiful but just don't grab my interest right now. You'd think I'd learn theres a down to every up after the completion of a work.

I brought it to the framer. I don't have the same sense of satisfaction I often feel. I guess I need to get something back framed to feel the excitement about the next one. I'm still awaiting the return of the previous one as well.

I'm partially completed step 2 of the next part of my coloured pencil demonstration for this blog. I'll try to post it later today.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

All Done?

All Done! No wait....I think....what if I just tweaked the colours in the toad a bit and maybe the finger tips. Huh. No, I'm done.....I think......No! Yes! I'm definitely done....maybe.

Now on to self-doubt, loathing, head banging, acceptance, self-loathing again then frame it. I know, I know....we're all the same.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

For those of you who are saying to me and yourself, "but I can't draw, whimper, whimper, whine!" Yes you can!

There are many ways to get your subject down on paper. Here are some of the ways:

1.) You can trace it. Usually you will want to actually work from a photo and not the live model as I have pictured here. The photo usually doesn't try to eat your work as it progresses. If you are going to do a direct tracing you should work from at least an 8x10 enlargement of your subject. Otherwise you will have a problem getting those wee itty bitty details I love so much as that make a painting photo-realistic.

If tracing is your method then go to your local art store and purchase a good quality tracing paper. The cheaper stuff is more opaque. You can use a light box or bright window to place your photo on to make it easier to trace.

2.) You can use a grid. This is a whole other method that is excellent, but time consuming to describe. If you are interested in this method leave me a comment and I'll explain about creating your grid and how to size the photo to the paper correctly and how to transfer the image. It's actually drawing using lines on your photo and drawing paper as guides. Similarly you can use a "picture plane."

3.) Even the masters used methods of projecting images onto canvasses. You can too by using an opaque projector or slides. If you use this method be aware that distortion is a real problem. You may have a lot of fixin' to do!

4.) My suggestion is just to draw the blasted thing! I concur with my various art instructors in that you must actually draw the image to bring life to it. My coloured pencil instructor would insist upon the long painful drawn out method of drawing the line drawing from scratch in front of her so there was no cheating! It generally took me longer to do a sketch than everyone else, but my paintings usually had more detail than everyone elses. So simple drawing or more complex, drawing it yourself is definately the best method out there!

You can draw from a live model or from a photograph. In coloured pencil work a photo is a wise choice! You will be looking at it for many hours and in much detail. It's hard to do this from a live model. You will continue to use the photo for a reference during the rendering process to assist you in matching colours, lighting, etc. Live models generally don't do well sitting still for 40 to 100 hours and would probably expect something silly like being paid for their work.

If you do work from a photo having a digital photo is better so you can make any small adjustments you may want. They also can be enlarged to larger sizes without loosing quality. You should work from at least an 8x10. You can work from smaller photos, but try not to choose one with a lot of detail if that is the case!

If you do use one of the other above methods you will need to fix any distortion that will occur in transferring the image. You would be surprised at how much distortion there is in your average photograph! You also won't improve your drawing skills if you trace everything! In my case the nude models tend to get a bit miffed If I get to close to their dangly bits with a sharp pencil in an attempt to trace them!

Which ever method you use, you need to get a basic line drawing down on a cheap piece of paper.
Whichever way you choose to get your picture down on paper, make sure you don't hold your pencil as you do when you are writing. This is something that I have not only read or had artists tell me, but have been taught at art school. Find a different way to hold your pencil so your left brain becomes confused and gives way to your right brain...the more creative side.

Once you are happy with the picture you have, it's time to put it on your good paper. We'll save that for the next time. I have some catching up to do before that step.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Having been told that if you use grey in your work it will muddy it up and make it look dirty, you think I'd keep that in mind. Noooo! I know better and had to try it anyhow. On the plus side, a kid holding a toad with dirty nails also did in fact have dirty hands from spending much of the previous couple of hours "frogging", so it's all good, good!

Hello Darlings,

Well Perp has finally decided it's a go! I get to enjoy the sumptuous sun and heat with the family! I may actually get to tour more extensively this time too! No more being stuck in the suitcase for me.

Visiting the temples in Korea were nice, but a beach is a little more suited to my taste.

See you when I get back!

Hugs and Kisses,

Vicki Stripes


Oh.....there are some naughty people out there asking me to blog about certain happenings that they think are rant worthy! I've asked these individuals to please start their own blog so that they can be the angry ranting ones!

If you have a beef to pick with your government at any level, gas companies, drivers, manufacturers or other companies of any sort start up your own blog! I'm in my happy place and intend to stay there for the time being.

Only a couple of weeks until I go to soak in the sun! Ahhhhh! Kurt mentioned that Florida was a pit. Having been to Florida before, I have to agree, but with theme parks on the scarce side in Canada and when traveling with 4 children, Florida will do nicely. Especially when going to stay with relatives. On the other hand....were you to offer.... we'd gladly come and inhabit your lovely abode, albeit not as warm as Florida (if my guess as to where you live is correct), a vacation just the same. Are you offering?

Adventurer, I thank you for your offer of studio space. You have excellent lighting and a household and family atmosphere that I am absolutely addicted to! I will take you up on your offer, but only if you will include your photographic talents and you will let me paint one of two photos of CU2 you have shown me in the past. I would love to sit down and work on one while CU2 is there.

If you are waiting for the coloured pencil session to start, I'm getting to it. I have no excuse other than life, kids and the skating season has opened on the canal.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009


This is the painting I started before the Christmas break. Back at it. It's actually not too bad here, but if you are up close to the actual drawing you would notice that the dark area is cloudy and waxy looking. Wax bloom has set in after sitting for so long without being worked on. The two colours I have used to make the black are put on quite heavy, which also causes wax bloom. Wax bloom happens when wax based coloured pencils such as Prismacolor are used. The wax works it's way to the top of the painting while the pigment settles underneath. It can be fixed with a workable fixitive or burnished off with a cloth. The hand is better since there are wax, oil and clay based pencils used. No wax to bloom.

Want to learn to do a coloured pencil painting? Starting tomorrow I'll go through the process with you. All you need for the first step is an ordinary pencil, eraser and blank sheet of ordinary paper. Gather up your supplies and join me. Easy-schmeasy!

P.S. My left brain is constantly in a battle with my right. I find it hard to really settle down to work in my studio space. Can you say "cabin fever!" Anyone have a spot for me to draw? Table will do. I'm begging you now! Save me from my house!!!!!

Monday, 5 January 2009

Politically Correct

Anyone who reads this blog may notice that I've added "Feedjit" to my sidebar. I was curious about the number of readers and who they were. I have to say I thought there were maybe a very small number of people who actually checked out what was happening in my world. After all, what is family for;-) I was shocked to see the map start to light up in places like Scotland, Asia, Australia and multiple sites in the U.S. and across Canada. (I noticed that the Canadian map is suspiciously devoid of visitors from the middle provinces. I don't think anyone between Alberta and Ontario owns a computer.) Since there seem to be people who have happened upon my blog either accidentally or on purpose, (poor souls) I have a bit of a dilemma.

My daughter, Two of Four, asked me for two of my business cards this evening. Apparently she wanted to supply her teachers with my web site which happens to also have a link to my blog. Uh oh!!!!!!! Not only do I have to worry about offending persons from other countries, but now I may have to worry about persons who grade the work of my children! I'm going to have to improve my spelling and grammar! I hate that!!! It made me reflect upon past posts and there anything there that I wouldn't want my Grandmother to read. That's usually a good indicator of readability. Wait, no, maybe not MY Grandmother, but a normal prim and proper Grandmother. Not a rockin', leather wearing 96 year old French Canadian babe grandmother.

I think I'm okay. At least for the last month. (I make no promises for posts before those!) It has made me realize though, that it may be time to tow the Canadian line and become more politically correct. So my goal for the new year is to be (and this is definitely NOT a New Years resolution):

a) Upbeat, positive and happy
b) More politically correct (actually, politically correct for the first time ever!)
c) Not use foul language, talk about unmentionables such as undergarments, and write of interesting body parts with their correct names.

That being said, I will start directly after the following post.

I was in the car sitting beside my Grandmother after having just visited the Hershey chocolate factory is Smiths Falls. (Curse that blasted company to H.E. double hockey sticks, now that they have closed and laid off an entire town's worth of workers!) Anyhow, this was when we still liked them before the closing of the plant and would still eat their chocolate. We were there pretty much every weekend, being a chocoholic and all. It was oh so close to our cottage how could I not?

Well I had a hankerin' for some chocolate (imagine that!) and I was thinking about Recess pieces and chocolate covered peanuts at the same time. Unfortunately! I turned to my Grandmother and asked her to pass me the Recess Penises. (I'm not sure what the plural of penis is or how it is spelled. Sorry!)

The car went silent. Then my Grandmother burst out in uproarious laughter. I turned beat red and sunk into my seat. Back a few years ago, I didn't see my Grandmother as anything but prim and proper and I was horrified that I had used the "P" word in front of her! That would surely be the end of it right? Nooooo!

Well Grandma went home and just about ran up to my step-Grandfather and blurted out my verbal blunder increasing my humiliation ten fold. He was a relatively new addition to the family having just become her husband at the tender age of 76ish. It didn't stop there. For many a years to come I had to hear about how I was going to the Hershey factory for Recess penises. I don't even like the blasted things. I'd rather just have nuts. Chocolate covered peanuts I mean.

Oh ya. One last thing. Big family vacation to Florida. Haven't decided if Vicki Stripes my traveling underwear will be coming or not. We'll see.

I will now start to be more politically correct, non-vulgar, and proper, blah, blah, blah.