How to recycle and reuse failed art work

Digitally reworked portrait

Vandalize might be a strong word but believe me, it accurately describes the feeling I have after a few bad days in my art room.

Wrecking, ruining, destroying are all acts of vandalism.

In the above photo, the face had been overworked and I hated it. I still do. The urge to vandalize art that isn't working is very powerful. I have heard of a group of artists who meet once a year to party and rip up their ugliest art. Seems like a good enough excuse for some kind of celebration!

But a friend once told me that trashing art is not an option as there are many ways that a piece might be saved. Sometimes, an ugly duckling can be transformed into a somewhat decent swan especially with all the apps that are available to rework art.

With this advice in mind, I added the quotation over the digitally reworked painting; she is presentable and ready for publishing.

watercolour experiments

In this pair, I experimented with saran wrap, gauze, salt, and watercolours.

scary stage of watercolour painting

Is she in the scary stage and I need to push through to discover the beautiful swan?

Or is she overworked and beyond saving? Maybe she needs to be beautified in an app?

What will happen if I start adding acrylics? Or maybe I add clear gesso and try a mix of watercolour and acrylics?

I could even chop the whole thing up and make paper beads.

Another possibility is to let my granddaughter paint over the disaster. She is surprised when I tell her she can do whatever she wants over the portrait. She spends hours pencilling in details, and then painting or collaging over my work.

As you can see, nothing is ever thrown out until the paper is scrubbed to a hole. (Hence the state of my art room as I type this!)

And that's not an exaggeration. Some paintings are just that difficult to bring to a satisfying end and quitting at this early stage is not an option.

Both watercolour portraits are still sitting on the desk waiting for a decision.

I would love to hear about your ideas for saving art that isn't working for you. I surely can't be the only one with art hidden in dark corners waiting for some type of transformation.

Gratitude Journal Entry 3

mixed traditional and digital

Gratitude Journal Week 3 prompt: Art Supplies.

Sketch or illustrate your appreciation for the gift of self-expression.

I chose to blend traditional and digital art for this weekly assignment. I painted a few of my favourite supplies in watercolour. Then I tore the paper towel that I used to wipe my paint brush on, and added it around the supplies. Using my iPad, I took a picture, and then imported it into several apps for digital sketching and painting where I reworked the background until I was satisfied with the results.

I was a bit at a loss this week...but I like the paint splotches in the background.

My souvenir suitcase

“I’m going on vacation. I’ll bring you back a souvenir suitcase. It’ll be full of love, but otherwise appear to be empty.”

― Jarod Kintz, Love quotes for the ages. And the ageless sages.

Spanish Figurine Bells

How many of us bring back an empty suitcase when we travel abroad? That would really be unusual wouldn't it?

When I visit new places, I can't resist wandering into quaint little shops and boutiques where I might discover just the right souvenir to bring home and display on a wall or a shelf.

Each precious item is evidence of having visited faraway countries, of having tasted a culture different from my own for just a few weeks, certainly a remembrance of a special time.

If you are like me, (and I hope I am not alone in this idiosyncrasy), your suitcase is packed tight until nothing more could possibly fit into it.

I have quite the reputation in my family for being an expert at shopping while travelling.

I have brought back a small musical table from Sorrento, a ceramic figurine from Positano, linens, clothes, tablecloths, plates, not to mention jewelry, all in my one suitcase on three separate trips to Italy.

In 2008, my suitcase split open on the baggage carrousel because I had loaded it up with five very heavy Mexican ceramic plates and two bird vendor figurines. I think I had stuffed all my clothes in hubby's suitcase in order to make room for the bulky bubble wrapped plates and dolls.

Whether it is fridge magnets, shot glasses, spoons, posters, most of us will have at least one memento from a faraway place stashed somewhere in our home.

For this post, I am opening up my home to reveal a few select keepsakes from beyond our Canadian border.

I have been thinking of our travels together as hubby winds down his last week in beautiful Australia, a month-long trip he has waited all his life to experience, and a final last leg of vacation in Honolulu. Scratch that off his bucket list!

Cuban figurines

When I travel abroad, I am especially careful to look for those unique items that are particular to the region we are visiting.

And I love having a story to go along with each item I purchase in a foreign land.

Some souvenirs were more difficult to find. We walked far and wide looking for a figurine in Varadero in 2004. I was being very selective, and I waited almost until the last day of holidays before making my purchase. I found these lovely, expressive, wooden musician figurines in a dingy little shop not far from our hotel.

My Mexican plates and figurines remind me of bargaining with shop owners in Puerto Vallarta where I walked away from a selection of plates because the vendor did not want to accept my offer. I purchased the plates elsewhere and I have them, as well as many others, displayed in the kitchen and dining room.

When I wear my silver jewelry from the shops in Playa del Carmen, I remember the collectivo we hailed from the shoulder on the highway near our resort.

We were the only Canadians in a small van filled with Mexicans workers. The seatbelts were of no use and each time the van stopped to drop off or pick up more Mexican workers along the road, our bench seat would slide forward and then back again much like the end of a roller coaster ride. Safety standards? There were none, and hubby and I shared a few meaningful glances, as we counted down the kilometres until we reached our destination.

And then we stayed just a little too late in Playa as I meandered from one shop to another on Fifth Avenue, and we had to return to our resort in the dark. The walk from the highway on the unlit road that brought us to the hotel was an experience I could have done without. My imagination got the better of me. I had visions of being on the nightly news back home. TRAGEDY STRIKES CANADIAN TOURISTS. But we made it safe and sound that night with more memories for our old days.

Mesican bird vendor
Sun and moon mexican plate
sunflower plate
Mexican figurines

We have been to Mexico so many times that I have lost count.

The vibrant colours of my Mexican plates remind me of all the wonderful holidays we have had in this country, of margaritas and colourful toucan drinks, of long chats in the pool with a dear friend, and yes, of feeling just a tad tipsy on that last day of our vacation in 2007.

And I have among other Italian souvenirs, plates from Codroipo in north-east Italy. These are special to me because they come from my grandmother's hometown in Friuli Venezia Giulia, an Alpine region bordering Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia, and not generally on any tourist's bucket list.

It was on mine though in 2006, and again, in 2008, and once more in 2010. The plates have sayings in my mother's maternal language, friulian or furlan, a Romance language that dates back to the 11th century and is still taught in some schools. It is, unfortunately, a dying language.

The accents on certain words highlight the Central European influence on the Friulian language.

The first plate states the importance of a happy family, while the second simply says hello or goodbye (Mandi means both) from the heart from our Friuli region.

This very distinct language, is the language that I heard during my youth when my mother and nonna got together for their weekly Sunday visits.

Codroipo plates

The watercolour scenes from Florence were bought from an artist who showed me magazine articles in which he was featured. Apparently, back in the sixties, he achieved some notoriety. I liked the soft colours and the chosen setting for each of his paintings.

Florence scene

More recently, I bought a silver tray and tea set in Morocco in 2014. Both the tray and the teapot and glasses remind me of the sweet mint tea we were offered at each destination along with a variety of pastries, a Moroccan tradition to welcome guests.

I decided to split my set and hang the tray on the wall in my dining room because it didn't fit in my nonna's hutch which I recently inherited from my aunt.

silver plate from Morocco

These figurines were bought in Athens in 2007.

They remind me of marathon shopping sessions with my friend Lucie. Wherever we went, whether it was Mykonos, Santorini, or Athens itself, there were always shopping opportunities, and boy, did we take advantage of that. More lovely memories.

figurines from Greece

And now, I count the days until hubby returns home.

His trip will be memorable for many different reasons.

"I’ll bring you back a souvenir suitcase. It’ll be full of love, but otherwise appear to be empty.”

I scratched my head at this riddle, but then the answer came to me.

His travel suitcase appears to be empty of souvenirs, but really, it is full of..... of adventure of discovery of new friendships
...most of all, it is a suitcase filled with love of home
...and love for me.

So the suitcase is not at all empty.

Giving Thanks… and a gift for one of my subscribers

“We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”
– Albert Schweitzer

I am thankful for....

....all my friends and my readers who have encouraged me by commenting on my blog, by sharing it with others either on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest, and by subscribing so that each week, my post is automatically sent to your email inbox. I appreciate all the comments, questions, and positive feedback I have received.

Setting up this blog was a goal of mine for 2015 and you have helped me in the pursuit of my dream of being an artist and a blogger. I am grateful to you for that.

During one of my walks last week, I searched for beautiful fall leaves to paint with my new artist grade watercolours. Around the city there was more gold and copper colours than red in the leaves but I did manage to find a few colourful ones that had fallen to the sidewalk.

It seems that I often get my best ideas when I am walking or taking a nice warm bath....anyhow....I decided to have a draw as a gift for you, my special subscribers, so that means, all of you on my list as of today. Here are the cards being made.

giveaway to my subscribers
cards as giveaway for my subscribers

Then I searched the Internet for a random number generator. As you can see, I added a number next to each of your initials. So number 1 was the first subscriber and LH is number 10, the last subscriber. I deleted two people from the draw as each of them receives my drawings and I am sure they won't mind....right hubby?

initials for draw
The winner will receive four watercolour cards with envelopes hand painted by me with my new watercolours. I am using to select the number. This turned out to be an easy way to choose the winner. And the winner is...... ............... see the number in the blue in the box on the right hand side of the page.
random number generator for draw
four cards  for draw
close-up card  for draw
giveaway for draw

I have ideas for more giveaways in the future so stay tuned!

I am encouraged by the number of visitors to my blog and also by my subscribers given that my blog has existed less than a year, in fact, less than six months!

It isn't as easy as I thought it might be to have material to post each week, but just knowing that you, my subscribers especially, are there for me, really helps me to stay focused on my art and in my writing. You truly do rekindle my inner spirit.

Wherever you are in the world, and whatever you may be doing today, may you find yourself surrounded by your loved ones on this day of giving thanks.


This blog post is dedicated to Mom. She was my biggest fan, the person who always encouraged me and told me to keep going with my art.

Below are lyrics from a song she played long ago on Sunday afternoons when we would listen to her records and she would work on her stamp collection. With the fall colours, and all the recipes I have made which were Mom's recipes, I am feeling very sad that she is no longer with us to enjoy this beautiful time of the year.