Still delighting in leaves


I found these leaves the other day while our family was walking along the Vedder Canal. I delight in collecting leaves, and remembered how much the name of this blog still resonates with me, and sums up the way I experience the creative life.

I’m inspired by leaves; like snowflakes, every leaf is different. I love looking at them, comparing the different patterns. After the luscious perfection of early spring, the leaves’ short lives are marred by insects or disease. But like millions of fresh canvases, each year the results are spectacular.

When I re-branded my blog a few years ago, I tried to combine my love of nature and art in the name “Delight-filled leaves.” This name is a play on the first line of this 1979 Wendell Berry poem:

To sit and look at light-filled leaves
May let us see, or seem to see,
Far backward and through clearer eyes
To what unsighted hope believes:
The blessed conviviality
That sang Creation’s seventh sunrise.

Time when the Maker’s radiant sight
Made radiant every thing He saw,
And every thing He saw was filled
With perfect joy and life and light.
His perfect pleasure was sole law;
No pleasure had become self-willed.

For all His creatures were His pleasures
And their whole pleasure was to be
What He made them; they sought no gain
Or growth beyond their proper measures,
Nor longed for change or novelty.
The only new thing could be pain.

I’m kind of shamelessly geeky on this point – I love nature! And I love seeing this delight rub off on my little ones.

Lillia on rock

child throwing dirt in the air

My little Andy Goldsworthy, making dust art in the forest.


Watercolour painting

watercolour step 1

Steps 1 and 2 of watercolour – ground and masking fluid

I can’t remember the last time I did a watercolour painting that didn’t involve collage, sewing, or other mixed media. I started watercolour when I was 18, and for a few years it was my only medium.

I was stuck in traffic last week, and as usual I spent the time looking at nature along the side of the road. I noticed that the daisies were floating in areas of lighter grass than areas without daisies. As this pattern floated slowly past the window, I thought of doing a watercolour. This painting doesn’t really resemble the scene I was looking at very well, but here it is anyway. Not quite done yet though: have to let the paper dry thoroughly enough to remove the masking fluid, which is usually best left overnight.

cat looking at watercolour painting

The cat watching paint dry with me. There’s a lot of waiting with watercolour.

watercolour in progress

Added more saturation to my ground, and started the grass with raw umber and a mossy green.

watercolour in progress

Lots of grass. Now I just have to wait for the paper to dry (probably a day) before I try to remove the masking fluid and finish it up!

End of June art day – Yellow Door collage

box of paper scraps

Opening Pandora’s Box – where I keep my favourite scraps – and starting a fresh page.

It’s been a month since I’ve had a chance to work on any art. I’ve been thinking about it – my little scraps of paper, how I’ve missed them. Many are hand-painted papers I’ve made, others are found from the ground or are scraps from among my ancestors receipts and papers. A few are actually pressed leaves. Scraps from books, vintage notebook pages I found outside a demolished house, etc.

I noticed I was hording my artwork a little bit, so for my friends’ birthday recently, I gave each of them a piece of artwork that I had on hand. One of them was a similar collage to this, so I thought I’d make another one today. I found a scrap of paper on the ground last week, and that was my inspiration. It’s kind of hidden in the picture, inside a semi-circle.

Step 2 - most of my composition figured out.

Step 2 – most of my composition figured out.

fine art collage

Grounded the ground in step 3


A yellow door – this was my six-year-old’s suggestion.

Et voilà, fini. Now I just need to press it, as it’s pretty wavy with all the different aged papers.

Yellow Door collage on paper

Finished collage, Yellow Door, 2014


Beginning of flower painting on mixed media surface

mixed media painting on illustration board

Started working on a textured piece I had let lie for about 8 years…

I remember when I made the background of this painting. My husband and I lived in Vancouver in a tiny basement-level apartment on a grand, tree-lined street near Commercial Drive. I was working full-time, as I am still, in Fort Langley and taking painting classes at Emily Carr on Granville Island whenever I could. This was before the days of having children, but I remember my brother and his family and my niece visited us there.

I had done another painting on doorskin with this same texture, and had so much left I carried it over to this piece of illustration board. It was a concoction of gesso, coffee grinds, acrylic medium and drywall fill. I spread it around with a painting knife and a comb. After it dried, I painted it the silvery blue colour.

Now I’ve added more white to it again and started defining the composition of some flowers. We’ll see where this one goes.

I love finding these sorts of things laying around. It gives me an interesting place to start, rather than a blank canvas.

Creative progress: Boom Town 2

canvas with aerial river view

Step 1: Boom Town 2

In April I started a new canvas themed after my collage called Boom Town (see it here). I just got back to it last weekend. I don’t often do a study and then try to recreate a similar painting in a larger format (this one is 16″ x 20″).

mixed media painting on canvas

Step 2: Boom Town 2

I love experimenting with different methods to achieve the look I am going for. To tint the white paint for the snowy ground, I used pigment that I have from France. It had the perfect effect. I also used some coffee to add more stains on the lower part.

True to the study, I did a similar collage on the left-hand side using a mix of vintage receipts and handmade textured papers.

I enjoyed working on the river to make the colour more accurate for a frozen river. A few years ago when I flew to Ottawa one January, I remember being enchanted by the deep blue of the frozen lakes and rivers we flew over. There was something very Canadian about this network of deep blue waterways, encased in ice of all shades of white, patterned by rivulets and afternoon’s slight thawing.

I’m looking forward to this drying so I can keep working on it.

mixed media collage painting - aerial view of river

Step 3: Adding more detail and nuances

Collage progress & Kids art

mixed media collage on paper

“Purity” collage day 2

It was good to get some “studio time” this week: read “home time.” I made a little progress on my collage. I mounted it on white water media paper, which gave it a bit more substance as artwork. Tentatively began adding some white and more form to the person; a few more items collaged in. I have some other elements on deck, waiting to be included.

It was lovely, actually, having a rainy day to just stay home and work on some paintings, spend time with the kids and do some cooking. I was getting very tired of the one kind of soup I had in the freezer to take to work for my lunches. Here are a couple photos of the kids, painting their favourite things. It’s interesting how differently they approach things. My son was done three paintings before my daughter and I were even completely set up.

My daughter is eager to “paint like mommy” and use my supplies, though the outcome is quite different!

5-year-old boy painting

My son’s favourite painting subject lately has been forest walks with various groupings of family members.

6 year old girl painting doily

My daughter loves making things for others. She made each of us a doily.