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


Collage on paper

After the “Scary Lady” fiasco described in my last post, I thought I’d try to go for something a little softer, more feminine.

I have several scraps of blue paper that were torn from a vintage school workbook. One of them looked like a dress, which inspired this piece.

collage beginning

Purity collage, in progress

I have so many vintage scraps of paper, cloth, buttons, patterns, and receipts I ended up stopping because I am not sure what to do next. I think the old photo album sheet in the background is a bit overwhelming; you may see white introduced in the next phase of this piece. I was trying to do it all in one night, but there’s no sense in rushing the creative process.


Work in progress: Purity, collage on paper

Not everything turns out

As an experimental artist, I’m now well seasoned in having things not turn out as planned. It used to really upset me when paintings didn’t work. Now, I usually just let them sit until enough time has passed that I can move on and take the piece in a new direction.

I haven’t been painting very much as I’ve been very busy, but decided I should just play around and see what would happen. This first piece went so utterly badly it is almost laughable, except that it has a macabre look to it! I was just thinking about the concept of aging so I found an elderly lady in a magazine and started there:

mixed media collage elderly lady

“Scary lady” – mixed media collage on illustration board.

I was playing off of the same sort of idea as my Courage painting, below, which lots of people like (and which I plan to sell soon), but somehow the effect did not work this time. I don’t even think I can finish this one! Unless someone has a suggestion of how I could make this less scary.

Courage painting, Mixed Media / Nancy Hildebrand

Courage painting, Mixed Media / Nancy Hildebrand

Springtime happenings

I can’t believe it’s been a month since my last post! By a combination of circumstances, I’ve just been petering out of blogging energy. With the arrival of spring weather here on the BC coast, our family has been getting outdoors and doing a lot of hiking and sightseeing. I think I’ll recap this month with a list of the top 10 creative things I can recall doing:

10. Cutting my son’s hair (thank you, Youtube).

4-year-old haircut9. Going on tons of nature walks. If you’ve been keeping an eye on my instagram feed, you’ll see that I’ve been a little bit excited to have a way to snap pictures wherever I go. I’m late in the game to getting a smart phone. As a life-long creative person, this has been something I imagined from the time I was a young child, thus I am somewhat childishly giddy taking these photos.

old growth tree British Columbia

Hiking at Cultus Lake

blossomsdandelion seedsPacific bleeding heartskids playing in forest8. Making wire dolls. We still have not finished them, which we plan(ned) to do with papier machee. We were inspired by the illustrations in a book called Balloons Over Broadway, by Melissa Sweet.

wire doll7. Touring. I work in the tourism industry, so every spring, we take part in a tourism challenge that leads us on a series of day trips to regional attractions. Here are a few of the highlights:

Yale Historic Site, BC

Yale Historic Site, BC

Vancouver Science World

Science World

Peacock ZooHell's Gate, BC

Hell’s Gate, BC

6. Trying to draw. After finally finishing the painting (see #3) I had been working on for ages, I started trying to draw this scene for a painting. So far I only have a chalk drawing on canvas. I couldn’t achieve something that could capture my sense of wonder at how many layers of mountains there are in this seen (Howe Sound, BC).

Howe Sound5. Making a big map. Inspired by a friend’s version of this, we attempted to draw a big map representing familiar places in the kids’ lives. We haven’t had a chance to finish it or paint in the background.

child making large maplarge map drawn by children4. Turning our rhododendron bed into fairy gardens. I wouldn’t have thought of this if it hadn’t been for a trip to Buckerfield’s to buy some sweet pea seeds. In the greenhouse at this store, they had built a little fairy garden. I knew my six-year-old would be enchanted by the idea, and she was. Ours turned out maybe a bit more kitschy than ideal, but we are having fun!

fairy garden fairy garden fairy garden fairy garden3. Finishing this painting. As mentioned. A few times. But it took a long time so it’s worth a mention.

Detail of mixed media painting2. Scavenging in nature, continued:

02 - wood 02 - wood2seahorse-shaped fiddleheads1. Well, this is very anti-climactic. I can’t think of a #1….I cleaned both the kids rooms, which could be described as creative! And I think that is an important point to make. As a busy mom and full-time career woman, not every moment turns out to be as creative or glamorous as one may think from reading my blog. So here’s to an every day creative happening. The creative part was trying to put all of my kids’ displays back the way they like them, and managing the fallout from having moved things around!

clean rooms