Alvise Doglioni Majer’s Studio

I was excited to be invited out to an open house gathering, just outside of Bragg Creek. Thank you, Randy and Jane, Alex and Colton, Emma and Sophie!  Your home spilled over with that community love that sings!  What a magical place. These types of gatherings are what make the spirit of the season.  As if that wasn’t enough,  then I received the gift of this wood sculpture of a salmon!  WHAT?? The next day, I decided to roam through the website created by the artist, Alvise Doglioni Majer.

Juno and Salmon

Kath's Canon, January 6, 2016 Salmon gift, Franks, Hibernate 3 005

The New Year was just slipping upon us and I decided that I wanted to commission Alvise to participate in a year-long project with me and to design an angel for each month.  This would mean a monthly visit to his studio and wood shop located at the end of the drive way at Folk Tree Lodge (a beautiful get away) that my readers really should check out if you want a respite from the city.  No longer owned/managed by Alvise, the lodge is teaming with sculpture, furniture and crafted objects made with love, by Alvise.  Please adventure through his website to catch a glimpse of some of his projects!  You might also want to preview his Blurb publication to get a more in depth look at his work.

Yesterday, my daughter and I enjoyed a drive out to the Folk Tree Lodge.  I liked having time away from home and responsibilities.  It doesn’t matter how old you get, you need time away to ‘just be’.  For me, the child of a military father, road trips are always the best.  I’m not one to be found on a bowling lane, if you get my drift.

We had a tour of the lodges upon arrival and then stepped into a place of magic and creative energy.  And…I met February…the first of the angels.  I love the smell of a wood shop and have treasured two different visits to Al Gerritsen’s wood shop.  I like the lined up clamps and bins of nails.  I like the schematics and plans and abandoned projects.  It’s all so beautiful.  Thank you, Alvise for our first visit.

Next, Alvise writes, I will be able to share a cup of tea with his wife as she harvests natural elements from their neighbourhood…Achillea, Horse tail , rose buds, wild mint…yummers!  Looking forward to that!

This series of angels (and he has created several series) designed and created by Alvise is titled, the Journey Around the Sun.  I love the concept and this is yet another rich and beautiful life-experience!

When we left, Cayley and I shared coffee, carrot cake and cinnamon buns at ‘The Spoon’ in Bragg Creek.  Thanks, Emma!  A beautiful afternoon.

Kath's Canon, February 16, 2015 Alvise 011Kath's Canon, February 16, 2015 Alvise 010Kath's Canon, February 16, 2015 Alvise 009Kath's Canon, February 16, 2015 Alvise 008Kath's Canon, February 16, 2015 Alvise 007Kath's Canon, February 16, 2015 Alvise 006Kath's Canon, February 16, 2015 Alvise 005Kath's Canon, February 16, 2015 Alvise 004Kath's Canon, February 16, 2015 Alvise 003Kath's Canon, February 16, 2015 Alvise 002

Thank you!  And now, an angel finds her home.

Kath's Canon, February 16, 2015 Alvise 012


Kath's Canon, February 16, 2015 Alvise 013

A Monet Moment With Gillian

Nothing is more fun than spending an afternoon with another retired teacher…woman…and friend, painting Monet Magic in a wildly energetic dance of colour and creativity!  And that’s what it was…a dance!

Often times I have spoken to students about the personality of our individual mark-making.  In fact, marks become so highly recognizable that often times artists do not sign their work in the formal tradition of yesteryear, but instead, simply include information on the back of the panel/canvas, so as to not distract from the image.

Like some sort of choreographed number, Gillian and I switched places every five or ten minutes this afternoon, in order to collaborate and weave our marks throughout the piece.

Gillian had a dresser, originally brown in colour, that she recently finished with a purple coat of paint.

Kath's Canon, February 2, 2016 Happiness Frank's and Gillian 011

The dresser has some interesting design details.  (apologies for the bright light in the photos…but…it was such a lovely atmosphere for painting, especially after the noon hour treat of a Cobbs ham croissant!)

Given that it was already prepped, we worked together to create a free-flowing piece, somewhat symmetrical, in the spirit of Claude Monet.  For those of my readers who do not know his work, here is a section of a water lily painting.


Because of the depth of the purple paint, I decided not to use the impasto tints most associated with Monet’s work, but to build layer upon layer from the deeper colours, forward, to the lighter.  We kept all of the marks very free flowing.

This series of photographs show the process.  We will follow up with photos once the piece is varnished and off of the fly sheet.  It will be quite spectacular.  Thank you, Gillian, for conversation, laughs and shared energy.  It was a beautiful afternoon!

Drawing boundaries for water, sky and vegetation with loose drawing marks. A decision to use Ultramarine for sky atmosphere and Pthalo for water.

Kath's Canon, February 2, 2016 Happiness Frank's and Gillian 012

Incorporating a little bit of lavender into the sky atmosphere.

Kath's Canon, February 2, 2016 Happiness Frank's and Gillian 015

Building up colour into the central area. Deciding on some wild irises to create a bit of a vertical movement.

Kath's Canon, February 2, 2016 Happiness Frank's and Gillian 016

Could I ever complete a piece without injecting red?  I don’t think so!  Gillian was daring and didn’t even hesitate!

Kath's Canon, February 2, 2016 Happiness Frank's and Gillian 017

Kath's Canon, February 2, 2016 Happiness Frank's and Gillian 020

Important that the entire piece be integrated…top and sides, included.

Kath's Canon, February 2, 2016 Happiness Frank's and Gillian 022

Kath's Canon, February 2, 2016 Happiness Frank's and Gillian 024Kath's Canon, February 2, 2016 Happiness Frank's and Gillian 023

Yummy surfaces!  Thanks, Gillian, for sharing colour, light, conversation, travel stories and invention!  And for the record, this is a very cheesy music video….but, it’s perfect and well-suited for the experience!



White to Colour

Today is a tremendously magical day.  Fresh snow covers everything and I ended up spending more time than usual at Frank’s Flats…playing with the Max Man and delighting in the dazzle of everything.

?????????? Cell January 31, 2015 Frank's Flats Fresh Snow Max 004DSC_2158DSC_2172Plans for the day have changed because of the beauty of the white…and the wonderful feeling of fresh cold air.  I like how that happens.

??????????The last I posted of this bedroom furniture DIY project was titled, WHITE.  I had everything primed and ready to go.  At that point, I had thought to paint based on Marc Chagall’s work, but have opted to do a free flowing bit from my own heart.  I wanted to pick up on the colours found in a feature painting hanging already in my bedroom…something I did a long time ago.  Here is where colour comes in.

P1170878First of all, Sisters Marjorie and Ita enjoyed a Sunday dinner with my son and me.  They were so gracious and brought me a beautiful spring bulb arrangement.  It has sat on my feast table this week and I have watched one plant after another, burst forth in colour.

DSC_2079DSC_2086While I have been very slow to progress with my studio furniture…I wanted to give a bit of a sense of where it is going at this time.  As well as what you see here, there will be other layers…text as well as sparrow paintings incorporated in collage techniques.  In the meantime, I continue to sleep on my brand new double box spring and mattress, on my bedroom floor.  I hope to update you again in the spring with the completed furniture.  Painting can be like experiencing the seasons…moving from the blank canvas to an energized piece of colour.

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Palette inspiration.

A Space to Inspire: Carli’s Classroom

There are several things that make guest teaching a positive experience.  I have the opportunity, in this role, to get out there and teach in a whole number of locations kindergarten to grade twelve.  Every day is filled with discovery.  I’ve thought recently that it’s too bad teachers don’t have the opportunity to experience one another’s classrooms the way that I do.

Every physical space has its own magic and I enjoy them all!  I thought I might start featuring some of the ‘coolness’ that is out there, with the permission of the beautiful teachers that call these places home during their work weeks. Recently, I came upon a room with a very special feeling.  Not only does it carry with it a peaceful aesthetic, but it also functions well.  Carli’s class is a grade two class.  The students love and respect their space and the function of each area appears to serve them well.

To begin with, I read “Pieces of My Pedagogy” posted on the wall at the counter where I located my day’s plan.  Good stuff.

??????????To these three canvases…words are added that represent ‘What Makes My World Amazing.”  These caused me to remember the pieces of magic I hoped my grade sevens would collect over the year, much to their frustration at times.DSC_1920 Simple displays of beautiful objects and framed photographs.  Things and places to wonder about.  DSC_1923 DSC_1924 ?????????? A mirror at the sink.  Paint brushes!DSC_1926 Under a cupboard…a little nook to feel safe and peaceful.DSC_1927 The Solar System built out of papier mache…the teacher chair for sharing stories. DSC_1929When we shared, I heard all about the way that Sirius is larger than our sun…and what a supernova is…and a black hole…and how we might stretch and then shrink very fast in a black hole.  I was amazed by our conversation.  The students had a good idea about scale based on their construction and study of the planets and the stars.  That day, I selected as my story book, Stars Beneath Your Bed: The Surprising Story of Dust by April Pulley SayreGreat book!  Read it!  Very interesting conversations came up as we read this one!

DSC_1930 DSC_1932I love it when art comes from art…artists can inspire so much in us!

?????????? ?????????? DSC_1935The little clip boards are available if the students want to sit somewhere other than their  desks…sometimes they just want to get away from the traditional seating plan.

??????????At the children’s heights…birthdays…a calendar…some supplies they might need while being at their writing workshop.

??????????A message box…pencil crayons sorted by colour.

DSC_1938 The peaceful corner…?????????? ?????????? DSC_1941The tee pee… see through fabric…no more than two at a time.  Rotate through your class list.?????????? DSC_1944 DSC_1945 DSC_1946 DSC_1947 DSC_1948 DSC_1949 ?????????? DSC_1951 DSC_1952I just thought some of you would enjoy a few of these ideas.  I felt really happy in this space.  And this is where the grade twos created their images for the sentence, “A fiery shooting star flew across the midnight sky.”

DSC_1960Thank you, Carli Molnar, for giving me permission to share your space with us.

DIY Home Made Chalk-like Paint

I started, a year ago, sanding a head and base for an antique bed, and a matching dresser.  These pieces have sort of taken over my studio and this has created a big problem for my artistic output.

Heading out to the studio to grab a photograph, I enjoy my garden in the rain.

Heading out to the studio to grab a photograph, I enjoy my garden in the rain.

P1170277 P1170278 P1170279Do you see what I mean?

Since then, I also picked up a couple of antique dressers at the Women In Need shop to accommodate the rest of my clothing.  I announced months ago that the pieces in the studio were ready to be primed.  I lied.  I ended up getting very picky about the paint removal and have only recently come to the point where, in fact, I am ready to prime.  I will be painting a Chagall image on those afterwards and will treat the primary colour as I would any other latex painting project.  Once the paint is applied and dry, I will use a varnish to seal the work.

My friend, Carol, asked at the beginning of this project, “Why don’t you use chalk paint?”  So, my curiosity got the best of me and I looked this process up on the internet and decided that this would be perfect for the two dressers that were already sitting in my bedroom, as well as an old hand made side table that I had also picked up for $2.00.

I thought I’d share the process with you, a process that is less than half the cost of the completely prepared system marketed by Annie Sloan, a specialty supplier of Chalk Paint.  There are several DIY videos on this subject, but I find the presenters a little verbose in their delivery and at times, downright irritating.  I also think that they are unrealistic in terms of how ‘simple’ and ‘fast’ they articulate the process.  For example, I began working on the painting of the primed pieces at 8:00 this morning.  It is 12:20 at the time of this writing and the first coat is drying.  I will apply a second coat before I head out the door at 4.  So, allow a bit of time.

These two dressers were varnished with a high sheen, so I decided to prime.  With chalk paints, it is possible to paint over any surface, however, I didn’t wish to encounter any problems with coverage.  I went into Ben Moore’s paint shop to chat with a very helpful gent yesterday who recommended this product.  In fact, this would be helpful if painting over any smooth surface.  Using this product, with overnight drying would prevent the possibility of scratching off the surface of a polymer based paint.  It’s called STIX.

P1170275I primed right over the hardware on the drawers.  If you have some interesting pulls, then I would take them off first, but given that these are fairly simple, I decided to create the distressed look on them as well.  Because I’ve been involved with paint removal, I decided to be very clean in terms of the areas that I painted and to leave the dove tail joints as is, as well as any screws or fittings used to construct the furniture.

P1170262 Today, I mixed up my home made chalk-like paints.  I used three table spoons of Plaster of Paris, mixed with a half cup warm water, with every cup of latex paint I used.  I mixed it up in an old peanut butter jar, so that I could continue to use it after taking breaks.  I mixed up two and half cups of latex and after painting two dressers and all of the drawers, I still have a half of the mixture left.  I’m letting this dry, as mentioned and will put the second coat on shortly.

P1170273P1170253P1170267To follow that, instead of using the Annie Sloan clear wax and dark wax, I’ve chosen two products as replacements.  In her method, you would wax clear, then dark, then clear again.  I’ve decided on a warm stain gel that I will apply after the second coat of paint is dry and then I will end with a clear wax finish.  These are the products I am using.  I might add embellishments of copper acrylic as a rub before the clear wax because I’ve used copper on my walls.

P1170272 P1170270 By the way, I’ve chosen a blue-green colour to complement the warm red-orange that I applied to my wall.  Contrary to the folk who like a serene environment for sleep, I focus more on warmth…I like to be surrounded by ‘happiness’.  While all chaos has recently broken out in my bedroom, stay tuned for the eventual resolution to all of this DIY!

I’ll keep you posted about progress…going down to see if my first coat is dry!

P1080135 P1080136

DIY Tuesday: Get Your Dremel Going!

Did I know what a Dremel was??  NO!!!  Did my cousin own one conveniently? YES!!!

I came in from the studio ‘spent’ yesterday….whining that I was losing the edges of the embellishments on my furniture and I just couldn’t seem to figure out how to get into all of those small spaces.  I was all sweaty and tired and my right hand and arm were vibrating.  My cousin was flaked out on her bed, ice pack to neck, warding off a headache.

It was then that Margy said, “You could use a Dremel.”

“What’s a Dremel?”

“I have a Dremel!”

So…I’ve been out cleaning up the details.  I know. I know.  It seems like forever AND all so that I can paint over this stuff AGAIN!  I’ve continued in the sanding phase thinking that if all went well, I might just stain up the wood.  But, in the end, the wood has soaked too much of previous pigments into the grain to leave it.  This particular Robert Simpson Co. bedroom set causes me to wonder why people ever started painting wood furniture in the first place.

Drawers and bed foot still require the dremel…but the process, this way, is far less frustrating!  Could I prime over top of wee bits of paint…likely…but, it’s just not the way I want to go about it.

P1120619 P1120620 P1120621 P1120623 P1120624 P1120625 P1120614 P1120615

DIY Monday

I purchased my Black and Decker Mouse some years ago for projects just like this one.  Things seem to be coming along…as the paint gets down on certain surfaces, I begin lightly sanding in preparation for primer and at the same time, begin fresh surfaces on new pieces.  I had a visit with Breanna Stone this morning…really looking forward to writing a wee sketch about the goings-on in her life since grade seven.  What a blessing to have such time…a treasure indeed!

This is going to be brief.  I have to go to the dentist later in the afternoon and I need to go and do some deep breathing.  I really don’t do well handling the anxiety around these visits.

To begin with...l

To begin with…



The Mouse: Awesome!

The Mouse: Awesome!

Get into those hard-to-reach-places. :0)

Get into those hard-to-reach-places. :0)

Following one layer of Heirloom product and leaving remover on for 20 full minutes.

Following one layer of Heirloom product and leaving remover on for 20 full minutes.

Storm Gathering: Now Arrived

BOOM! Boom of thunder as I type.

It felt cozy in the studio while listening to Dave Matthew’s Band on the stereo.  It’s always wonderful to be in that space when it’s grey outside.  It just feels so warm and bright.  I noticed before I began my sanding that the birds were in a bit of a frenzy at the feeder.  I wanted to belt out a warning to them.  The neighbour across the way has an ‘outdoor cat’.  I woke this morning to watch as the cat pitched a bird up in the air over and over again, batting it viciously and then tossing it again, over and over until it lay lifeless…the cat walked away…its owner, in bathrobe, sipped from a Tim Horton’s cup and smoked a cigarette while watching.  Seems like torture to me.  She was probably saying to herself, “This is what it’s like in nature.”

I kept from talking to her about it.  I try not to razz the neighbours.  I also had to change my mindset.  I remembered Mom and Dad singing this one in the station wagon.  We all laughed about the ‘wiggled and jiggled and tickled inside ‘er’ part…guess it’s the lighter side of the predator story.

Back to the birds…they seemed to be getting a good feed before the storm!

P1120352 P1120353I heard a chickadee in the tree, but of course the little thing had to wait for the sparrows to fly off in unison at the bark of my dog and then it had its chance.

P1120356All this activity happening at the front of the house, I went out to the studio to get some stripping and sanding done.

Grey clouds were gathering, but the studio looked welcoming and the music was set to playing.

P1120359 P1120361Good physical work, music and a glass of fizzy ice water…a perfect combination for time well-spent!















I came inside to find my ‘indoor cat’ jumping off the red couch to greet me.  Life is good.


Stripping, Sanding and Re-creating Furniture

I looked back into my archives and discovered that I started on this ugly green vanity in September of 2011.  Clearly, I lost interest.  Initially I think I just didn’t enjoy being around that particular forest green. (I’m actually sitting here laughing as I type.)The drawers have been repaired, stripped and primed for two years now.  The image above would be the ‘before’ photograph.

This one would be the ‘after’.  I now have sitting before me, a blank canvas, to be primed up tomorrow during my work session with the other pieces that I am preparing at the same time.

A few questions have come up for me in the meantime…and things to think about before you start painting the heck out of that old dresser you may have.  First, why paint the back?  And, in multiple layers?  Just wash the back of the furniture down and leave all markings visible.  This is what I’ve had to contend with on the green vanity.
Three layers removed from back of vanity.  Advice: Don't paint the backs!

Three layers removed from back of vanity. Advice: Don’t paint the backs!

The new/old dresser looks like this.

New old dresser.

New old dresser.

Multiple layers of paint?  I know.  I know.  It’s hard work to strip paint and then give your window sills a sanding, but the pay off in the end is fantastic.  I like to strip down to the wood each time.  Presently, the piece I am working on has multiple layers of paint.  I’m onto the third step of stripping the paint because the layer underneath is so tough.

What you’re aiming for is a nice consistent surface for your art.  Fill all holes and repair all damages to the pieces at this stage.  This way, you’ll have something solid that will serve you for years.
After second session of stripping.

After second session of stripping.

Third time's a charm.

Third time’s a charm.

The paint stripper I you have something that works like magic?  Let me know!

The paint stripper I use…do you have something that works like magic? Let me know!

Paint over varnish...never a good idea.

Paint over varnish…never a good idea.  Ideas for removing paint in detailed areas?

This detail on the left is missing on the right.  Suggestions for how I can create a duplicate for the other side?

This detail on the left is missing on the right. Suggestions for how I can create a duplicate for the other side?

As I continue with my DIY project, I’ll keep my readers informed.  I enjoy the physical effort involved in re-creating furnishings that are a reflection of my personal tastes.  It’s good to be back at it!

New Stuff Out of Old

Ready for Stripping

I picked this ‘baby’ up on Freecycle Calgary and took off the hardware today, as well as made a few small repairs.  Tomorrow will begin the first layer of paint stripping.  I love doing these projects as a way of combining my interests in painting and in creating interesting spaces.  I’ve had a great day of nesting!  Here are a few of the previous projects.

Kandinsky on Red