Sunday, September 27, 2009

Pol Ledent

I spent a long time tonight looking at the gallery and blog of Pol Lendent, an artist from Belgium. This is an artist who does amazing, colourful paintings. I especially love his landscapes in oils, like this amazing painting of Provence.

Go check out his blog. He also puts his paintings on The Daily Painters Art Gallery (see link in sidebar). He sells his paintings via the web too.

Vehicle Emissions

Take a look at this video on vehicle emissions testing. This story ran on CKPG-TV last week and it profiles the excellent work being done by Prince George Air Improvement Roundtable (PGAIR).

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Lettuce, Fruit Trees, and Apple Butter

This week I bought lettuce. This might seem unremarkable, unless you understand that this is the first time I have bought salad greens since May. This is possible because I have a little greenhouse. Here in our northern climate where there is snow on the ground often from late October to April, having a greenhouse means that I can grow our own vegetables that we eat all summer long. Recently, I have developed and expanded my outdoor garden as well. It is mostly devoted to raspberries, strawberries, herbs, and potatoes.

Now, I am not a super duper gardener. I like digging and planting. I am not so good at weeding and watering. And I'm really bad at thinning. I always plant too many seeds (because probably most of them won't grow), then I don't want to thin them (because they managed to grow and I want each and every one of those little plants to survive...). Weeds thrive in my greenhouse much more than they should. And every summer I go away for a few weeks on a holiday, and whoever I hire to look after the gardens never waters enough. Don't even get me started on the topic of slugs.

But nevertheless, I have enough fresh-picked organically grown veggies to feed my family all summer. We eat seasonally -- radishes, spinach, lettuce, green onions, and sorrel show up first, then peas, swiss chard, sui choy, carrots, beets, kohlrabi, beans, cucumbers, kale, tomatoes, and hot peppers. (This year, the cabbage worm decimated most of the sui choy, rutabagas, kohlrabi, and kale. Every year something fails to thrive.)

Growing vegetables is very satisfying. I love picking and preparing food that I have grown myself. For example, tonight we had lasagna (made with onions, swiss chard, and tomatoes from the garden, and locally raised organic beef). From the garden, we also had green beans, and cucumber salad, and a tomato, onion, & basil salad.

One trouble, though, is that it is hard to keep up with whatever is in season. I try to use or preserve or give away everything that I grow. I have a busy working life, so my gardening and food preparation is relegated to evenings and weekends, where it competes with hikes, bike riding, seeing friends, and all the fun stuff.

Right now, apples are in season, and I have three heritage apple trees. I spent every spare moment this weekend doing things with apples. Yesterday I picked up all the usable windfalls. I sorted out and washed all the good eating apples. I made apple-plum clafouti for yesterday's dessert. I made a batch of apple jelly. Then tonight I made a batch of apple-rhubarb butter. But there are still bags of apples waiting to be dealt with -- and we haven't even started actually picking them yet!

Just a word about apple butter-- don't make it. Every time I make it, I say to myself that I will never make apple butter again. It just takes way too long to push the pulp through a sieve. I have tried many different methods, and all of them are time consuming. (Tonight I used cheesecloth and a colander.) Once you've finally got some strained pulp to work with, it takes a long, long time to cook down, and you have to stir it constantly or it will scorch. Altogether, sterilizing the jars and equipment, chopping the apples and rhubarb, the initial cooking, the sieving process, cooking down the butter, filling jars, and processing in the hot water bath took about two and a half hours tonight, all for six little jars! But it is delicious. I guess that's why each year I "forget" and make it once again.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thai Seascapes

I came across a wonderful set of paintings of boats, water, and shore posted by Thai artist Asnee. His amazing use of bright jewel-like colour in his seascapes especially caught my notice. Take a look at this slide show, Seas of Thailand, and you will see what I mean.

As well as his use of colour, he also does some really interesting things with texture and line. He works in a variety of media.

As I am beginning to dabble just a bit in making images again, I am curious about exploring other media. Oils are my usual medium of choice. . . but I am thinking about branching out. Maybe it will help me get out of this very long "dry" period.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Digital Doodle

I played with my new graphics tablet for a little while this evening (birthday present), and this is the image I created -- my first digital art (more of a doodle really).

Friday, September 11, 2009

Water and Sky

I went on a week-long canoing expedition in August. In between hauling the canoe over portages, braving thunder storms, looking after my blisters, and trying to choose the least stinky clothing left in my pack, I got into some photography. Besides the usual snapshots and sneaky candid shots, I'd say sky reflections in the water was my theme. Here are a couple: