Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I hope you're all wearing your Irish green today!  I know I have my green on ... easy enough for me since green is my favourite colour :)

March Break is now over and done and my son has been sent off to school with no skip in his step.  He really enjoyed his week off, and so did I!  We rounded out the week with a bit of fish tank shopping for him.  He picked up another Bala shark (he has one already, but thought he might like a buddy), and a few more tetras and swordtail fish.  They've all settled in well.

We visited the McMichael art gallery in Kleinburg, Ontario on Saturday.  My husband was able to come with us for that visit.  The McMichael gallery holds numerous Group of Seven paintings, which I just love.  I've always admired their paintings, particularly Tom Thomson's, and my parents used to take us to this same gallery when I was young.  Many of the paintings are of scenes in Algonquin Park, which is our favourite camping destination.  To see these paintings is to feel the essence of northern Ontario.  I was rather struck with the realization that so many of these paintings were done in the winter (or maybe spring), with lots of snow on the ground.  It makes you wonder how chilled they must've been after a day of painting out in the cold ... sitting still for hours with a paint brush in your hand can hardly keep you warm for long.  If you visit the east side of Algonquin Park at Achray campground you can visit a cabin that Tom Thomson stayed in during he trips to the park.  Also you can see the view where he painted "The Jack Pine" ... which actual pine was chopped down for fire wood just a while ago.  We've visited these places and also the cairn erected in his memory on Canoe Lake where he drowned. 

The Jack Pine by Tom Thomson
Cairn on Canoe Lake, Algonquin Park (my photo)
There are other painters' works in the galIery as well.  another of my favourite painters is Emily Carr from BC.  Such dramatic work, and both her paintings and the paintings of the Group of Seven still look bright and vibrant today.  Some of the Group of Seven paintings are over 100 years old, and they still hold a very modern appeal to me.   I picked up a couple of books written by Emily Carr as I enjoyed her written comments accompanying her paintings as well. 
There is a special exhibit on now of East Coast artists, including paintings, photographs and carvings.  It was quite good and I particularly enjoyed Mary Pratt's paintings.  Her written comments that accompanied the paintings were very humorous and she's probably quite a character in real life.  She paints from photographs she has taken herself.  When she was a young mother she would see a still life in her home that she wanted to paint, but felt she never had time to stop everything and paint it just as she saw it with respect to lighting etc.  She was raising four children at the time so she was a busy lady!  Finally, she started taking photos of the things she saw and then would work on the painting from the photo when she had time.  This way she didn't lose "the moment" and was able to capture it on her canvas.  I'm so glad that she found this way to work around her domestic life because she really is an extraordinary artist.  Her paintings are described as still-life realist, and apart from the actual painting, I found her subject matter so compelling.  She's painted such ordinary objects, but with great attention to the lighting details and has a real gift for painting glass and liquid ... everything just sparkles.  I really enjoyed her part of the show.  She did some life paintings as well, and there was a particular painting of her daughter in her wedding dress that I thought was sort of heartbreaking.  The look on her daughter's face is just so anxious, and you have to wonder if it reflected how the daughter was feeling about her upcoming marriage.  Anyway, if you ever get a chance to see Mary Pratt's work, it's well worth viewing.  Her paintings are at the McMichael gallery until April 27. 

Source  This is one of her paintings of "Jelly Shelf"
and she talks about the beauty of the clear jelly as it sits on the counter in the sunshine.
You can see more of her paintings if you click here
I have no photos of my own to share of these works as cameras were not allowed. 
It was a nice day out.  Apparently, the winter weather is going to break this week, and we'll be heading into above 0C regularly.  Today was again down to -18C this morning, but I hope it warms up a bit when the sun has a chance to warm things up! 
And speaking of Algonquin ... we've put our beloved Swift Algonquin 17 canoe up for sale yesterday :(  I'm very sad to see it go as we've paddled many happy waterways in this big baby.  Our kids were just tiny tots when we first bought it.  But now that it's only my husband and I in the canoe, we've decided to go with a smaller, lighter version which has been ordered from Swift last month.  I'll miss our beauty though ... all 65 lbs of her (won't miss her weight).
Thanks for stopping by!
My Shamrocks :)


  1. Hi Wendy, Lovely pictures of your shamrocks, it is first time I am seeing bloomed flowers. they are so pretty. Also, thanks for information about the art gallery and painters, I am going to make a note of that.
    have a wonderful day & Happy St. Patrick's Day !!!! -Gaia

  2. Thanks for the heads up on the Mary Pratt show! I love her work (and her husband's - I have a postcard of one of his pieces on the desk beside me)! I'll have to make time for a visit to the McMichael. :)

    1. There were works there by Christopher Pratt too ... enjoy your visit!

  3. Lovely.... it's my dream to have an exhibit of my art. Someday!


  4. I would enjoy seeing that museum and the exhibit. Good luck with the canoe sale. Happy St Patrick's Day to you!

  5. Totally enjoyed your post and what a great place to go ... and what great art there. Bet that park is just lovely. Will look forward to hearing how your new canoe is. I have a kayak, and just love it. So light weight and I think easier to paddle.

  6. I enjoyed reading about your visit to the Art Gallery Wendy, very interesting, I love that painting it's lovely. Your shamrocks are so pretty. How nice to have your own canoe! I hope you manage to sell it so that you can get the one you want, fingers crossed that the temperature continues to rise. :) xx

  7. You gave such a lovely account of the art in general, Wendy, thank you! I was struck by the beauty of the words in the commemoration plaque to Tom Thomson, and also love his painting 'The Jack Pine' - it's a wonderful work isn't it! I'm so glad you and your son had such a nice time during the break and hope he'll soon settle into school again. Have a lovely week! Joy xo

  8. Hi Wendy, Happy St. Patricks Day! I hope you had a nice day today and wishing you a wonderful week. Thanks so much for sharing about your time spent with your son!

  9. Oh Wendy. Your post brought back such great memories of growing up near Algonquin Park. My father was a first cousin to Robert McMichael who created the gallery. We enjoyed visiting it the last time we were in the area. I later lived in a home that was painted by AJ Casson, another member of the Group of Seven, I am living vicariously through you when I read about your canoeing and hiking adventures!
    But I don't miss the snow and the cold winters.

  10. I haven't been to Kleinburg for years, but used to go to the fall festival until I realized that most of the same vendors were at Kempenfest in Barrie which is closer for me.
    I've always liked The Jack Pine and the memorial plaque is quite nice.
    Happy St. Patrick's Day, I like your shamrocks.

  11. Let me just say that those paintings are incredible! I am so drawn to Tom Thomson's work! It just so speaks to me...the way he uses his paint is amazing! I will be looking up more of his art as it has completely inspired me! I miss having time for my day I hope to have time to focus instead of rushing the process but I do so like the philosophy of Mary Pratt and how she paints from her photos. There is something to be said about taking your time to focus on light and her work shows that! She is brilliant! I am sorry you are letting go of your canoe but I am happy that you will have something lighter! A very Happy St. Paddy's Day to you friend and thank you for the inspiration!!! Nicole xoxo

  12. Happy St. Patrick's Day to you, too! Emily Carr is one of my favorite painters, and now Tom Thompson is, too. There is a book by Susan Vreeland about Emily Carr titled "The Forest Lover." It's one of my favorite books...have you read it? She led such an interesting life!



  13. Happy St Patrick's Day! Lovely to read what you've been up to. That's a great picture of your red canoee in that idyllic setting, one for the mantel to remind you of all the good times. And wait! Your Son has a shark??? How fascinating! Mel x

  14. What a great post Wendy! Your shamrocks are so lovely, you know, I've never seen them in bloom with white flowers like that. They are so pretty. The photo of your canoe is beautiful too, it looks so picturesque. Have a lovely day xx

  15. Such lovely photos. Interesting to hear about the gallery too. Sounds like an amazing place. Hoping you had a wonderful St. Patricks Day! :)

  16. I really enjoy the Group of Seven and Emily Carr's work. You are lucky to be able to access it like that. The Vancouver Art Gallery used to have a display of Emily Carr's things (I'm not sure if it's still there - I haven't been for several years). I was always fascinated by her little sketch book in the display case.

    I'm sorry you are having to part with your family canoe, but I understand the weight issue. Getting our kayaks on top of our vehicle is a major undertaking, and they weight a lot less than your canoe!

  17. Hi Wendy,

    Thank you for this very interesting introduction to Mary Pratt's works! I have just spent the last hour reading about her and am entranced by her amazing life and have made plans to visit the McMichael Art Gallery next Sunday with Liberty - yay!

    Your beautiful canoe, with the spectacular landscape of Algonquin Park in the background, is easily a photograph worthy of painting, (in the spirit of Mary Pratt)!

    I am writing from Unionville, Ontario, where I will be for the next 2 months, and tomorrow I am spending my 50th birthday with family, feeling very fortunate and happy!

    Have a lovely week!


  18. She is a beauty of a canoe-and she holds wonderful memories for you-
    I feel that way about my Idaho-I have a small farm up there and I live in Texas.
    She holds memories for me and I miss her daily-you see what a sentimental mess I am!
    Well, anyway your canoe and shamrock are perfectly wonderful!

  19. I just love "the Jack pine" what a wonderful picture ! lovely shamrocks too ...have a nice weekend...Gail x

  20. Hope you've had a great week. Such a shame that Tom Thomson drowned in the very place that he painted and obviously loved. I can't believe that the jelly jars is a painting. I thought it was a photo you took. Amazing! Our Spring Break is not until the week before April, much later this year than usual. Looking forward to it. Have a wonderful weekend. Tammy

  21. The Jelly Jar painting is amazing! But the thing that struck me most here is the epitaph for Tom Thomson ... what a wonderful tribute those words are!

  22. Hello Lovely Wendy so sorry that I have been a stranger for a while, I am so happy to be back and reading your fabulous blog again. I found this post so interesting Wendy, you always find the right images and words to bring everything alive. Sending you big hugs and loves

  23. I love that painting of the Jack Pine! So gorgeous.....thanks for sharing it and the interesting story.


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