A Good Home, Arabella Magazine, Architecture, Art, Canadian Art, Canadian Gardens, Canadian Homes, Canadian life, Verandahs

The Verandah

Like verandahs? (Perhaps you call them front porches?)
As a former island girl, I love them.
blog-photo-verandah-chairs[1]
See my story in Arabella’s Spring Issue. It’s accompanied by sumptuous art:
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A Good Home, Art, Artists, Arts, Canadian life, Creative Writing, Poetry

Home Is Where The Art Is

 

So — you think your dwelling is too small? Try living on a boat.

Margaret Mair and husband Richard live on their boat “Into The Blue”.  Margaret also paints and writes her poetry there. And produces her blog.

Margaret's Boat

“The space is very compact, and set up for both living and sailing”, she says. “That means having to think about everything we bring on board: it must be something we need (that includes art supplies, for me) and can store securely.”

Some people have a room to create their art. Margaret has “a corner”.

Margaret's Corner on her boat

There are advantages. She and Richard have traveled widely, from Canada to the US, the Caribbean, and elsewhere.

“We can cast off our boat and move, go exploring or visiting and know that we have our own comfortable place to stay.  Anyone who lives on a boat lives very close to nature. We have an intimate relationship with the weather: when the wind blows hard the boat rocks and creaks and the ropes groan; when the sun shines the water sparkles; ripples on the water gurgle against the hull of the boat.”

Margaret's Painting of Boat on Beach

Margaret’s poems and pictures  often reflect her close relationship with the sea:

It calls, the sea,
To the restless boat
Uncomfortably cotched
On a sandy shore,
Longing for
Rocking waves
And cooling current
And the feel
Of wake moving
Singingly along
Her planked hull….

Acrylic on canvasboard; 20 x 16

Margaret started writing poetry as a teenager. She started painting in her forties, first learning to draw and work with colour – chalk pastels. 

“I worked my way through chalk pastels to experimenting with other media until I arrived at the medium I most frequently use, acrylics.”

Margaret Mair's painting - We are Islands

“It took a friend’s introduction to SPARK  in 2011 to make me think most deeply about how paintings and poetry could work together. I did not really start creating my own melding of the two until quite recently – January 2014.”

Many poems and pictures followed, as you can see on her blog.

Her pieces often evoke powerful responses.

“Everyone responds in their own way, and finds the thing or things that speak to them and their experience.

“I gave my mother a piece that hung on her wall until she died, a first iteration of my Tree of Life, much larger and more delicate. One day while I was visiting I watched a young girl stand silently in front of it for a long time, just looking. That was one of my favorite responses.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And a few final words about home:

“I have learned that what you bring to a place is as important as the place itself. Keep it reasonably clean and relatively tidy, as cool on the hot days and as warm on the cold ones as you can (we’ve lived in some drafty places), put your favorite pictures on the wall and fill the bookshelves with your books and magazines and pieces of art, let music fill the rooms, make space to do the things that are important to you, and love the people who share it with you.”

Brava, Margaret.

All photos by Margaret Mair. Artworks copyrighted.

A Good Home, Art, Artesans, Artists, Authors, Birdfeeders, Birdhouses, Books, Handmade porducts

“The Blog Shop”: Great Gifts by Creative People

My blogging community is brimming with ultra-creative people.

They’re remarkable. They make beautiful things with their hands, hearts and minds.

Or support projects that help talented artisans to make a living.

Blog Photo - Lotus Wonders Clutch

So today I’m celebrating these creative types and highlighting some of their products/projects that would make great gifts for loved ones.

  1. LOTUS WONDERS, made by women in a Cambodian village, in partnership with other women in Canada.  Order products and read their story at: http://www.lotuswonders.com/collections/all

Blog Photo - Great Gifts Lotus Wonders Products

Thanks to consultant Stephanie MacKendrick,  former head of Canadian Women in Communications, for bringing Lotus Wonders to my attention.

   2. MICHAEL’S WOODCRAFT. Michael lives on a mountainside in S. Carolina. He carefully chooses the wood and makes each beautiful object himself: cutting boards, ice cream scoops, and other useful items.  

Blog Photo - Great Gifts Michaels birdseye-maple-cheese-boardgif

 Visit his blog and online shop at:  http://michaelswoodcraft.wordpress.com/shop/

Blog Photo - Great Gifts Michaels wood-cheese-boards

 3. JEAN LONG AND JESSICA CHARNOCK’S CREATIONS.  In their gorgeous log cabin east of Toronto, this couple is always creating beautiful objects.

The Log House - Photo by H. Grange
The Log House – Photo by H. Grange

Jessica hooks original wall-hangings using recycled wool, and makes large teddy bears using recycled fur. 

Blog Photo - The Red Barn copy

Grey Bear made of recycled Persian lamb

Jean works with wood. He creates large pieces of furniture and unusual birdhouses and feeders.  

See: https://cynthiasreyes.com/2014/01/11/youve-never-seen-birdhouses-like-jean-longs/ – or email: jenjes@mac.com

Blog Photo - Birdfeeder 2

4. SIMPLY SPLENDID VICTORIAN AFTERNOON TEAS by Marilyn Mirabelli. Check out the gift packages including the Tea and Cookie of the Month Club.

Blog Photo - Great Gifts Simply Splendid Tea and Book

http://www.splendidafternoonteas.com/services/TeaAndCookie.html

Blog Photo - Great Gifts Simply Spldendid Bespoke Tea Tray

 5. SARAH VERNON’S FIRST NIGHT DESIGN. Blogger Sarah produces beautiful art prints.

Blog Photo - Great Gifts Sarah Vernon Pears

See Sarah’s website at: http://www.firstnightdesign.co.uk/

Blog Photo - Great gifts Sarah Vernon 1

  6. BOOKS BY GIFTED AUTHORS:

  • MT McGUIRE’s award-winning K’Barthan Trilogy series isn’t just for young people. She’s a very good writer,  with a wicked sense of humour. Who else would write a trilogy made up four books?  For more about her new release and the series, visit her blog: http://mtmcguire.co.uk/

Blog Photo - KBarthan Trilogy 2

You can also read about MT at:  https://cynthiasreyes.com/2014/04/02/author-mt-mcguire-at-home/

  • SK NICHOLLS’ writing has also been highly praised. Her new novel, a roman-a-clef, is titled Red Clay and Roses. 

Blog Photo - Great Gifts SKNicolls

Visit her blog for more: http://redclayandroses1.wordpress.com/redclayandrose/

  • WHEN CONCHI BLOWS, by Omar Sheriffe Vernon El Halawani. It’s an interesting book, based on the author’s own interracial family history in Jamaica.  He died before the book was published, and asked that proceeds from it be used for a worthy cause.  His cousin Robert Vernon carried out his wishes.

Blog Photo - Great Gifts When Conchi Blows

http://www.amazon.ca/Conchi-Blows-Sheriffe-Vernon-Halawani/dp/1463712235/ref=pd_sim_b_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=1382PA7Z0Y7T30Z9AWZ3

Blog Photo - Great Gifts Tumbledowns cottage

 7. And, finally, from New Zealand, Quarter Acre Lifestyle has just launched their online store of handmade soaps and other products. I know this couple is still setting up some payment options, but thought I’d give their products a mention now. Visit:   http://www.tumbledowns.co.nz/for-sale
Blog Photo - Great gifts tumble downs1

As my blogger friend Gallivanta (whom I’ve never met in person) did for my book, A Good Home, I’m shining a little light on the good work of others.

**Dedicated to everyone who creates something, hoping that someone else will value it.**

A Good Home, Art, Artists, Beautiful Neighborhoods, Bond Head, Butterflies, Canadian life, Canadians, Children, Country Homes, Country Living, Couples, Homes, Inspiration, Joyful Moments, San Miguel de Allende, Teaching Children Art

At Home with Sandra Walton-Ball

David Walton-Ball opens the door of his summer home, east of Toronto, and is greeted by a child looking up at him:

“Can Sandra come out to play?”

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra and David in Orchard

Sandra — you may be surprised to hear —  is not a child.

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra's Studio Wall

She’s David’s wife, a talented artist whose work hangs in galleries in Canada and Mexico.

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra Painting of Island

Blog Photo - Artist Sanda Painting side viewNeighborhood children gravitate towards her and she loves them. So she teaches children to create their own artwork.

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra and Student

She and the children have developed a system at her small studio at the summer house.

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra stands at work table

If this sign is up, Sandra can’t come out to play.

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra's Sign

In Mexico where she and David spend the winter, Sandra teaches art to children whose parents can’t afford to pay for lessons.

“We put on Andrea Bocelli and the children sing along.”

San Miguel de Allende is home to many artists from Canada and the U.S.

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra and Leonard's painting

Years ago, Sandra met Leonard Brooks, an esteemed artist who started the Canadian and American migration to San Miguel. They became friends. That’s one of his paintings behind her, above.

Music playing, the children in her studio sing and paint. This is her gift to them and their families: encouraging the children’s creativity. She introduces them to the styles of Mexican artists such as Frida Kahlo.

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra Gesticulates

You wouldn’t know that, nearly 20 years ago, Sandra was so ill, she was on life support for months. It took her 15 years to start painting confidently again.

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra Reaches for brush

Once recovered, she decided to take more risks with her art. And so wherever she is – in Owen Sound, the family’s main base, or in San Miguel de Allende, or here at the summer home near Toronto, she’s painting – doing “gutsier and more experimental work”.

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra's Yellow Flower painting

“When something happens to disrupt your life, you recognize that things can happen and you may not get a chance again – so you start taking risks.”

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra's Framed painting Abstract

David hired someone to turn half of the garage into a studio with skylights, and there’s been no looking back.

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra Studio Outside

Generations of the Walton-Ball family have lived in Historic Bond Head for about 150 years.

During World War 2, the family planted and supplied potatoes to all their neighbours.

(Another historical tidbit: David’s first ancestor in Canada is the “Walton” for whom Port Hope’s main street is named. Port Hope, a famous heritage community, is near Bond Head.)

Blog Photo - Artist Sadnra window garden

Through 50 years of marriage, Sandra has seen how special the place is to David. It’s grown on her.

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra in Sunroom wicker chair

“I fall in love with it each summer. Each year my garden grows. And now, like Virginia Wolfe, I have a room of my own, so it’s easier to find my heart.” 

They love this place for the history, the house, the studio, the family times, the garden and the orchard. Some of the apple trees are more than a hundred years old.

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra and David Picking apples

One summer, Monarch butterflies visited Sandra and David here. (Monarchs fly from Mexico all the way to Canada each summer and back.)

“You couldn’t see a leaf,” Sandra says. “The trees were covered with Monarchs.”

That magical event led to this painting….

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra Butterflies CU

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra's Butterfly painting

… and a gift: a butterfly chair from David.

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra and Chair

“Perhaps the Monarchs were saying thanks for all your good works with the children in Mexico?” I ask.

“Perhaps,” Sandra replies.

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra Wheelbarrow with flowers

To learn more about Sandra’s work, or to acquire her paintings, email: swaltonball@gmail.com