Saturday, September 14, 2019

The End of the first year of Retirement- Part Two

It hardly seems possible that I have started the second year of my Retirement. My that went fast...

 What do you do on the first day of School when you are retired ?
 Some retired friends and I sat and had lunch together on the first day of school this year. It is a yearly luncheon and fondly referred to as "To Hell with the Bells".  Across from our table, sat another group of retired teachers. It just happened that they were teachers from the elementary school our son attended. He had had 3 of the teachers present as his classroom teacher. It was nice to see them and thank them for their contributions to our son's education. I also wished them a very Happy Retirement!

  I am not sure that I really thought what it would mean to be retired- what my life would look like and what things I wanted to do as a retired person. Some people are great planners and organizers- others love to volunteer and get involved in their communities. Still others go traveling to places that they have longed to visit but never had time to do so..
 For me, I wanted to get healthier, more organized at home and try some new things. I didn't set it out as a  specific goal - perhaps in the coming years, I will be more intentional with my plans.

I knew that creating things would be part of my retired life and so it has ..

 In this post I wanted to make a collection of the art pieces that I had created over the past year, starting in the summer of 2018.
 My dear friend, Sheri-lynn, and I went to a couple of paint night classes. They were a great way to spend an evening - Sunflowers are my favorite flower and  I was so happy to play with acrylics. They dry fast and you just paint over them if you don't like them. I have this one hanging in my creative space.

In this second one, Sheri-lynn's husband, Walter joined us. Mine is the top one, Walter's is on the left and Sheri-lynn's is on the right. You can see that each one is unique and beautiful in its own right. If you want to try painting and don't want to invest a lot of money in it- Paint Nites are for you !  Its been awhile since I have done a Paint Nite- I may have to check out their listings again.

In the late summer of 2018, I began to look at local art courses that were being offered in our community.  One of the courses I found, was a series of oil painting classes being held at Hidden Talents Studio here in St. Albert. I had never worked with oil paints and the local studio offered a course for the" Scared Stiff". While I had played with paint at a paint night, or at the occasional all day workshop, I had never taken a course with formal instruction.

Here is my first painting with oils- I call it my Oiler Rose- for our hometown hockey team - The Edmonton Oilers. Our instructor, Laura, is a fabulous locally celebrated painter and an excellent instructor. The course is challenging and I will continue to explore oil painting this coming year.

I had this idea before I started oil painting that you could paint an oil painting faster than you could make quilts. I discovered that is not necessarily so. I also learned that my quilting eye still needed more training to see color value- light medium and dark.  Like other things, it takes practice to develop your eyes. The Oiler Rose painting took most of the first term's lessons. We learned about different paint palettes, and how to underpaint (with white, black and numerous shades of gray). The intent of under painting is to establish the lines as well as to help you better see and produce richer shading of the many different shades. I am still learning how to mix colors and see the gradations of  the light, medium and dark values.  You sometimes need a surprisingly small amount of paint when you are applying it to canvas.  My brush stroke still needs lots of work!

I continued the oil painting course over the winter and spring. 
 Here is my second painting - a sea scape taken from a calendar photo in New Brunswick, Canada. 
It hangs with two other seascapes that were done by Bruce's mother, Betty and his grandfather Jefferson. 
 In November, some friends and I took a workshop with a local artist named Samantha Williams Chapelsky.  We have done some other courses offered by Sam's  and loved each one of them.
 My painting below, is done with various acrylics ( high flow, heavy and medium paint). We also experimented with different pastes, gels, inks and stamps/ stencils. ( I love bead gel and fiber paste- they add such amazing texture and the bead gel is sparkly )
This painting is large about 24 inches square on board. (My oil paintings are all done on canvas). All the painting surfaces are gessoed to help the paint better adhere to the surfaces.
After Christmas, I tried my hand at some mixed media with another local artist named Darlene Madden. My friend ,Sheri-lynn and I made mosaic Mandalas.  I love working with mixed media and have enjoyed  all three courses that I have done with Dar. I am looking forward to our next course together which will be a mosaic landscape on board.
 I am very happy with this mandala - the found objects included glass marbles, cut up bits of pottery, shells, beads, jewelry and a variety of tempered and beach glass. It also had paper napkins at its base. I would like to explore mosaics again. It is a fabulous medium to use. It is amazing to me how many things that you can glue on to fill up the surface. The mandala is 11 inches across- Do you see the flower that is made with the pottery pieces  ?

The story totem has found objects that Dar had available in her studio. We used polymer clay, found objects, a skeleton key, ceramic and metal pieces. The top of the totem says "Embrace The Journey." The clay pieces are sort of patchwork like and there is a cat earring hanging from the key.
 The story totems are suppose to reflect or tell you a story-  I think it shows the things that I value most in my life :)

I want you to meet Grace - She was produced in an Angel and Icon workshop that was taught by Gwen LaFleur  at Dar's Studio. She has a board base- Her dress is made with some luscious brocade- She is surrounded by filigreed lace and netting. In the background are gossamer leaves- Her face reminded me of my beloved Grandmother, Grace.
 I think that she has her same elegance and classic beauty. Grace makes me smile when I see her hanging on my wall. This past week marked the passing of my gran. It is hard to believe that she left us 16 years ago now. Sometimes it feels like yesterday and sometimes it feels like that my gran has been gone forever.

When I was looking for a third picture to paint I decided to paint something that looked spring like. This piece hangs in my parent's home. I still want to practice mixing the colors more- The monarch is not orange enough in places but I am quite pleased with the background.

My current oil painting is of  Yellow Orchids. It is still in process so you will have to wait for the great unveiling of it later this Fall.

I have continued to work on a variety of other projects besides my paintings over the summer.

I still enjoy playing with beads and I made this little bracelet for a friend. She was having surgery and I wanted to give her some healing wishes as she embarked on her surgery. It is made with some amethyst and fluorite stones as well as two lampwork beads made by Kerry Ann Gibson of Seaside glass designs out of Nova Scotia. I love lamp work beads - there are some amazing artisans out there that are making glass work. I think I might be scary with a torch, so I will leave that to the expert bead makers.

I repaired some bracelets and updated some other ones. I tried my hand at making bowl cozies using a You Tube tutorial. The bowl cozies are to put around bowls to keep the bowl warm as well as to carry them from one place to another. It is important to use all cotton batt in them if you are going to put them in the microwave.

  I did start one other quilt project this summer.  It was inspired by our friends travel to visit Europe in late spring . They saw this Klimt painting in a museum so I decided to pull out the panel and make a quilt with it.  This is one quilt that I did not have the right fabric for the background so I checked out the 3 local quilt stores before I found what I wanted.
 I really like Gustav Klimt's work and this quilt panel of  "The Kiss' is fabulous.
 I found the pattern available through Hancocks of Paducah - Gustav Klimt fabrics by  Robert Kaufman fabrics at
I still have to make the backing for it. I hope to find the backing in my fabric stash but we will see.
I will be machine quilting for a while it seems to complete all of these tops.


 My friend, Carolyn owns a long arm machine . On a recent visit, she offered to take home the Very Busy Carle quilt home and quilt it for me.  Not many days later she returned with the quilt quilted for me. She used a nature pantograph on it! The quilt looks amazing and will be gifted to someone special in the near future!  A long arm machine does such uniformly spectacular designs- I appreciate very much that this quilt is all quilted and read to go!

 I wanted to thank her  in some small way for her generous quilting so I made her a bracelet. These lampwork beads are also Kerry Ann Gibson's pillow beads.  They look lovely on her and I hope that she gets pleasure from wearing them.

Here is the finished Very Busy Carle Quilt. It just needs binding and a label and it will be ready for a special someone!

I have continued to make table runners from the 10 minute tutorial. This horse one was an anniversary gift for some friends who celebrated their 50th anniversary.
 I need to make some fall ones for myself- I gave them all away last fall to others.
Over the last few months I wondered if I had been productive during my first year of retirement.

 Besides these quilting, beading and painting projects, I have been going to a movement class once a week and more recently, twice a week. 
  As well, I have been working on some other exercises, on a daily basis given to me by a physiotherapist and a restorative chiropractor. 
This fall, I will continue to do those exercises to help strengthen my physical body. 

 I have enjoyed taking some courses through Future Learn and Coursera on the computer-
 It is my way of exercising my brain. They are no cost university courses( unless you are wanting credits for them) on a variety of topics. They vary in length - usually 6 weeks.
Here is a list of ones that I have completed so far: 
  1.   Jane Austen - Myth and Legend
  2.   a Geology course about Rocks.
  3. Rome- Art and Archeology
  4. the History of Royal Fashion ( British).
  5.  I  am currently finishing one about " The Tudors".
 My next one will be about an Earlier Period of English History - the Plantagenet Kings that will give me additional background of the period prior to the Tudors.  
 Sometimes I sign up for courses too fast and then I don't have enough time to get the studies in before the time runs out. Oh well, I will just to have sign up again at another point when they are offered again.

The painting and movement classes have  introduced me to some new friends as well as getting me out and about in my community.
I have been reading more novels, trying new recipes in the slow cooker and cleaning out some spaces in our house. There are always things to do and not enough time.
One has to make choices all the time, even in retirement!

I am not sure what the second year will bring or whether I will have a more focused purpose???

For sure, I know this coming year will include more quilting, with a focus on the quilting part, so I can complete these quilts tops waiting in piles in my quilting space.
 I know I will do some more mixed media art as well as oil painting.
 I hope to explore some combination of art journal writing and perhaps some genealogy. I have been interested in genealogy since I was a teenager . In high school , I did a special project about my father's side of my family. My mother has a wonderful set of books filled with photos and materials she has gathered on many family lines. This photo was taken from one of the genealogy books my mother has created . My great grandmother, Caroline Belle, is the one in the top row on the very right.
 I know I still need to continue to dig around in the boxes in the garage trying to clear out the clutter that remains from moving nearly 3 years ago. Who knows, I might even find some hidden treasures that I have been missing!
 Most of all, the next year will include time spent enjoying the company of my  spouse, family, friends and loved ones. 
 Someone said to me a while back,  what is going to be in your next chapter?
  I am not sure yet, but life has many rich experiences to offer and I am happily continuing to explore my choices in the great smorgasbord of life.  Life is good..


Doreen Caddell-Letain said...

From a fellow K teacher I enjoyed reading many of Anna's achievements in one year. It is truely amazing to appreciate what new experiences and art she has created. As you read and see some of Anna's shared works and projects she mentions you realize how inspired she is as a creator and as a life long learner. She is truely an inspiring creator. It is extraordinary to see how smoothly her brain and hands flow into projects of beauty. I see and hear Anna's self confidence blossoming, taking time to explore her blooming talent and creativity. I am proud to know an artist!.
Doreen Caddell- Letain

quiltmom anna said...

Thank you for your kind words my friend. Creating feeds my spirit- learning new things is invigorating- there are so many ways to grow. Retirement is a wonderful new chapter. 😍🤩❤