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Strata Journal

15 Jun The wave

I was talking to a seasoned artist yesterday who reminded me that art would always be there for me. Our conversation revolved around the topic of making a living and finding time for the art we so enjoy. It's both very simple and complex; you just...

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10 Apr A Beautiful Stand Up Desk (take 2)

If you come by my site regularly, you might remember a very similar post last year. Somehow, it was lost (with others) following technical issues. Because some of my readers have asked questions about my stand up desk, I've decided to write another blog post. After all, we should really not sit all day! Materials used for this project:
  • Dark wood stain
  • Medium size paintbrush
  • Paper towel or lint-free cloth
  • Electric desk base found at ErgoCanada
  • Wood or pressed wood board for desk top
  • Large piece of glass, if desired, to protect the stained surface
I asked my daughter, Rebekkah, to help me with this project. I loved the flower pattern she used to refinish my writing desk, so this is how she did it. She started by tracing the flower pattern lightly with a pencil on the desk top. decorating a desk Then, two stain colors were mixed to get a deep reddish brown. Before applying the stain, it's important to have paper towel or another lint-free cloth at hand to wipe off and spread the stain as you apply it.
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03 Mar Winter Interlude

Interlude (n.): an intervening or interruptive period, space, or eventinterval
Winter has been stretching our patience, testing our limits. It has been both intervening and interruptive (see definition above). While looking through the window at another snowfall, I enjoyed a moment of quiet creativity, a winter interlude. A well-known Quebec singer-songwriter, Gilles Vigeault wrote:
Mon pays ce n'est pas un pays, c'est l'hiver. (Translation: my country is not a country, it's winter.)
This was the starting point of this small project. materials A few dictionary pages, cardboard and an accordion fold. I enjoy the simplicity of small accordion books. Anyone can make one and the creative possibilities are endless.
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24 Oct Delight in the every day

The small sketchbook I carry with me every day is a way for me to record memories, the passage of time and fleeting thoughts I might want to revisit for creative projects.

Slowing down

After a busy day translating, I look forward to heading out for a walk to find a sketching spot. It allows me to reconnect with my surroundings and brings life back into focus. Here are a few sketches from the city of Cuenca, Ecuador. Johanne Benoit-Gallagher, watercolour, watercolor, Cuenca(Regular moleskine, 4 by 6. Pen and watercolour.) Of course, a café is a great location for sketching people. The challenge is to do so discreetly.
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11 Oct Cultivating novelty

According to the psychiatrist C. Robert Cloninger, “Novelty-seeking is one of the traits that keeps you healthy and happy and fosters personality growth as you age.” (The NY Times) Who wouldn't want to be healthy and happy while developing a well-rounded personality? There is a catch, seeking novelty involves embracing change. In my experience, it's a conscious choice, rather than something that occurs by happenstance. So, motivated by a desire to learn something new, I made my way to the crafts market and found senior Martinez, the flute maker, where I had purchased a flute a few days earlier. In broken Spanish, I signed up for quena lessons. quena fluteQuena, by craftsman L. Gonzàlez, Cuenca (Ecuador)
It's as if I have been given a blank canvas, new art material and a different palette. It's exciting and unsettling all at once.  
Most of us have noticed that when it comes to experiencing novelty, we are met with resistance. It sounds like that little voice that tells you that it's too difficult, it will take too much time, the circumstances aren't right, etc.
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22 Sep A peek inside my sketchbook: Cuenca, Ecuador

As my husband and I travel, one of my goals is to keep a sketchbook of our trip. Sketching regularly is new to me. I've always written and drawn, but very sporadically. It's not easy to set aside some time to sit still.
Do one thing every day that scares you. -- Eleanor Roosevelt
It doesn't have to be a big thing that's scares you, but just enough to push you out of your comfort zone. I've chosen sketching. I'm really enjoying these peaceful moments. As if I was meditating, the world around me fades away as I focus on the lines and contours of the building or scene before me. IMG_0810San Sebastian Church, the western limit of historical Cuenca You'll notice some writing in the background of the above sketch. To me, sketching is an exercise. If I am not satisfied with what I've done before, the page may be covered over by another drawing, painting or some writing.
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09 Sep Street Art — in Cuenca, Ecuador

Cuenca, Ecuador, is an outdoor canvas for a wide variety of graffiti and street art. As I discover my new neighbourhood and explore the city, I'm enjoying the many colour displays. Some represent abstract themes, others historical moments or cultural references.  Street art transforms empty cement walls into bright displays and gives character to otherwise plain buildings. Won't you come for a stroll with me? Calle Larga Calle Larga (long street) -- an ordinary building in bold and bright colours. Fantastical characters Friendly and mysterious characters found along a wall on my way to the market.
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