Sunday, December 2, 2018

New photos on Flickr

Back in August, my husband and I made our first ever trip to Saskatchewan. It's just three hours to the border from Calgary, but it felt like a long, long drive due to tall the wide open spaces. We had booked the trip in February and then wondered if we should still go in the midst of wildfire smoke and a horrible heat wave. But, I felt if we didn't go now, we would never make the trip to see our friends who left the big city for small town life in Shaunavon. Shaunavon is a charming little town that's actually the first big city you hit. It has all the essentials and lots of touristy spots like East End and Gull Lake are within a half hour driving distance. Due to the heat, nothing went quite as planned. I picked that weekend because there was a horse show in town, but for the life of us, we could not find the rodeo grounds. "Just a few miles out of town," we were told but we couldn't even find it on Google Maps. We enjoyed dinner at the boutique Harvest Eatery, enjoyed ice cream at the Frosty Treat and trekked out to East End to see Scotty the T-Rex. I still have more photos to share - stay tuned!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

How I Spent My Summer...

I haven’t blogged in a very, very long time and there are a couple good reasons for that! I barely had time to sit down at the computer and write something out or come up with a few ideas. My summer was completely occupied by one thing - home renos. Anyone who has undertaken them knows what an all-consuming affair they can be. Even more so when they are unplanned!

To make a looooong story short, we had to clean up our basement in a big way due to a pesky water leak. Although nothing was damaged, it was a huge, huge, huge motivator to get the basement in shape. Not only did some drywall have to be replaced, but it would have to be repainted.

It was good. It was exhausting. It was necessary to pitch combined decades of stuff between my husband and I. Like most basements, our was a dumping ground for stuff that we would deal with later. Well, one day "later" turned into "right now" :-D

Let this be a lesson to all small business owners and creators - make sure you have home insurance, some kind of business insurance or coverage for your work and have a contingency plan in place. Also, don’t buy more art supplies than you can use otherwise you’ll find yourself hanging out at Starbucks waiting for people to show up to claim their Kijiji. We made ten trips to the recycle depot and five trips to a thrift store.

Honestly, if your basement or house is a wreck, just full on attack it. I’ll probably write a future post in more detail, but try not to assign value to things. Draw diagrams. Make lists. Be realistic about everything and then enjoy your new found space :-D

Monday, May 21, 2018

GDPR...what's that?

Lately you may have noticed that every site that you have an account on has been busy sending out emails about updated privacy notices. This has been spurred in part by new European Union legislation called General Data Protection Regulation. I'll keep updating this post with information on how I collect and use data on my different websites, starting with Blogger.

Artfire - ArtFire's Privacy Policy. I used to have an ArtFire shop, which was discontinued in 2015. ArtFire provided me with information to complete the transaction. All transaction records received at my Gmail account before 2015 have been deleted from my Gmail account but may remain stored on Google's servers.

Blogger - Blogger's Privacy Policy. By commenting on this blog, you may be disclosing your name or username to others. I don't back up this blog (it's pretty ephemeral!), so your information remains on Google's servers and is not stored locally. I do use Google Analytics to track visits to this site, however, and that information is collected and used by Google.

Etsy - Etsy's Policies. Use of Etsy requires accepting their terms and conditions and now individual shops are required to have a privacy policy. In a nutshell, I will only collect information required to complete the transaction, but it is outlined in more detail on my shop page. All transaction emails older than 2015 have been deleted from my Gmail account.

LiveJournal - LJ's Terms of Service. By commenting on LJ, you may be disclosing your name or username to others. I don't back up this blog either, so your information remains on Livejournal's servers and is not stored locally nor tracked by Google Analytics. It may be of interest to you to know that in 2017, Livejournal's servers were moved to Russia and that it has long been a Russian company.

Pinterest - Pinterest's Privacy Policy. Pinterest will notify me when another user has liked or saved my pins, but I do not collect this information for long-term use.

Zazzle - Zazzle's Privacy Policy. The only information about the purchaser that I receive from Zazzle is first name, location and item purchased. This information remains on Zazzle's server. I have no way of contacting purchasers and do not download sales information from the site.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Going to the dogs...and cats

It's hard to believe it's been a couple of weeks since I had a blast tabling at the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo. I have blogged about the show before - there's something for everyone there, even Grandma! Each year the show gets bigger and bigger and this year there were a lot of changes. The one that impacted me the most was that the entire Artist Alley would be housed in the Big Four Building, far away from the main action at the BMO Centre. This turned out to be a great move, as the foot traffic was amazing. I'll write more about the show because I'm still kind of sore and tired from standing, sitting and lugging the show suitcase around, but here's a sample of some of the on-demand pet sketches that I did. They were so popular that I have to snail mail out the ones I couldn't finish. If you want to see more, check out my Instagram (calzephyr77).

It's funny - I have been tsk tsking myself over not making any ACEOs or ATCs lately...but this more than makes up for it!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Winter Birdwatching, Weaselhead Park

Is it spring? One can never be too sure in Canadaland! It's hard to believe that a few weeks ago my friend Pam and I joined a few other birdwatchers at Weaselhead Park in Calgary on the snowiest day of the month. It figured that the weather would turn so severely after some lovely, melty, blue sky days just when I planned to go birdwatching with my friend. She's been enjoying weekend birdwatching trips and I have been so envious of her photographs! With a winter storm warning covering the Southern half of Alberta, it would be too easy to bail, but I felt determined. I spent my youth living farther North than here. Somehow I managed to live, work and play for many years without calling in a snow day or hiding beneath the covers. Adventure doesn't come knocking on your front door, hoping that you will answer, after all. Click on the birdie to see all the photos.
Black-capped chickadee

Sometimes, adventure requires you to get up at crazy o'clock. I sprang out of bed at 5 on the dot after having a dream that it was 8 and I missed my ride. After grimly shovelling the sidewalk, I layered up - underneath my older, longer winter coat I wore wool socks, leggings, yoga pants, jeans, two toques, two scarves and double mitts. I borrowed a 200-700mm zoom lens and doubler from work, but ultimately left the doubler at home. I took an extra, less powerful zoom lens, but it could have stayed home as well since it impossible to switch them out with all the snow. Once my camera bag was on my back, I could barely get it off.

We carpooled to the Weaselhead Park in Southwest Calgary after a slightly hairy car ride on the Deerfoot. It was dark and the roads were mushy. It was make your own lane after the snow plows took a crack at it. The sky was purple by the time we reached the parking lot and we were soon joined by a few others birders. The purpose of the trip was to watch hundreds of magpies leave their roosts at sunrise. Unfortunately, sunrise was a little overcast, and by the time the sky changed colour again, only a few dozen had flown over the bluff where we were standing. Some even flew back!

We followed our very knowledgeable and friendly guide from the bluff, down a hill, into a valley, across a bridge until we came to a smaller wood bridge. My phone recorded 6km of walking, although Google Maps seems to think it was 2. The snow was a blessing as it covered all the ice on the pathway and my new Yaktrax crampons made it easy to avoid a fall. It didn't take us long at all to see birds once we went away from the much windier bluff. It was noticeably warmer. We saw black capped chickadees, a boreal chickadee, blue jays, magpies, red polls, grosbeaks, ravens, Northern flickers, downy woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers and a nuthatch. There was a red squirrel scooting about in the trees, but he didn't come close.

Winter photography was...challenging to say the least. It was physically demanding even though I was up to the task. I only had a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast and somehow didn't go all hangry :-D Operating the zoom lens with my gloves on was difficult (took them off for a few minutes...big mistake!). The auto focus on my camera was working hard. I nudged the wrong setting on the wheel too and I'm not sure how many photos were affected. All in all I took about 300 photos and marked 52 as total duds due to blurriness. I had to correct for luminance and colour noise. On the upside, the flat lighting made it possible to be artistic with the photographs.

We saw some human wildlife including joggers and cross-country skiers who weren't about to let the weather control their lives. I'm so glad I went - easily the best part was spending two hours talking with other birders in a Timmy's! I was physically exhausted but emotionally ecstatic after such a great outing - maybe it was the lack of sleep - but the downside was a huge surge of energy in the afternoon and a hunger for calories. I really could have used a steak or something :-)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine's Day! Or Friendship Day!

It's been hard to sit on this design as I like to post in progress pics to Instagram, but I had immense fun making these very pink Valentine's cards for a group card exchange. Each pony was hand coloured in different hues - pink, yellow, blue, purple, seafoam. Originally they were supposed to go on the outside, but I whoopsie measured. Still turned out great though!

I made some special Valentine's day cards this year for a card exchange. I hope they have all been received as it was hard to sit on them so long! Each pony was hand coloured differently - yellow, blue, pink and even seafoam

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Textiles Throwback Thursday

January is the month of getting it done - or at least we try to! One thing that was nagging me was that I had not photographed two older works. Documenting artwork can always be a challenge for artists and I really let it slip by the wayside. Click the pictures to see them on Flickr and they are also on DevArt if you care to comment there. The first, Fire Escape, is my award winning wool tapestry. It placed second in its class at the Calgary Stampede Western Lifestyles Arts & Crafts show in 2013. Regrettably I did not get a picture before it was framed under glass, the colour is still true to life. Pro tip: always splurge on museum glass.
Fire Escape
The second is an untitled piece, a square fabric collage was created for one of my classes at ACAD. The goal of the project was to spend one hour a night adding something to a large collage - whether it was adding a piece of material or embroidering a feeling. Now, I wish I had framed this one because it needed a lot of canned air and even then in the end I had to clone out a big, fluffy budgie feather I had missed. Fabric collage is really fun, but does require some forethought such as ironing all the pieces beforehand.
Untitled Fibre 212 Project