Book Spotlight: The Quintland Sisters

I share a birthday with 5 famous sisters! Many people may not have heard about these identical girl quintuplets born in 1934 against all odds in a small farmhouse in Callander, Ontario, Canada. I read a great book that follows the first 5 years of their lives in a fiction story, but the facts are true.

THE BOOK

The Quintland Sisters by Canadian author Shelley Wood, was published in 2019 as a work of fiction to inform the public in an entertaining way of a forgotten time in Canada’s history. Even though the book is fiction, many of the names and events are real and actual newspaper clippings are cleverly weaved throughout to let the reader know that these children existed.

The story is told through the eyes of a young 17 yr. old nurse, Emma, who was present at the births and nursed them through their first 5 years. She expresses such a caring nature, seeing each child as an individual with unique qualities and personalities, rather than as a ubiquitous group of 5. She is the eyes inside the nursery showing them absolute love. Emma’s artistic talent highlights the inside story through her sketches of the girls while she grows up alongside them. Hers is a journey of caring in an otherwise world of living in a fish bowl.

THE REAL LIFE STORY

The Dionne Quintuplets were born in Callander, Ontario on May 28, 1934 to impoverished French farmers who already had 5 children. The 3 room farmhouse had no electricity or running water, yet these babies, who were born 2 months premature and not expected to survive, became the first quintuplets known to have survived their infancy! The total weight of the quintuplets was thirteen pounds six ounces.

The Dionne Quintuplets (Amusing Planet)

A few short months after their birth, custody was signed over to the Red Cross (to cover medical costs) who moved them across the street into a dedicated nursery/hospital and Dr. Allan Dafoe (who delivered the babies) became a guardian and the primary caregiver.

The government soon stepped in, realizing the potential tourist attraction for the public, and the girls were made wards of the provincial Crown. The girls were on display two times a day behind a one-way glass where visitors would line up for hours just to get a glance of these extraordinary children. At the peak of this media circus, there were over 6,000 visitors per day! The girls were so cute and identical and their photos were used to make money and sell a variety of products, most notably corn syrup (which they added to the infant’s bottles). There were three Hollywood movies made about the quintuplets and they were visited by many famous people including Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, Betty Davis, Shirley Temple and Amelia Earhart (just 6 weeks before she went missing). Even though there wasn’t an entrance fee to see the girls, the influx of tourists to the area brought in millions of dollars through souvenir shops and guest services. The area quickly became deemed “Quintland” and became Ontario’s biggest tourist attraction of the era, surpassing the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.

The Dionne Quintuplets (Amusing Planet)

As WWII approached years later, and tourism dropped, the girls returned to their home across the street at the age of 9 to live with their parents. The family now lived in a 20 room mansion that was paid for by the quintuplet’s fund. Their lives were changed forever, and sadly as people stopped watching them, the rest of their story is quite tragic as a result of their exploitation. Two of the sisters are alive today (age 86), however the other three died at ages 20, 35 and 67.

Today, the site is abandoned with no historical plaque to mark the years of activity and interest around the quints. The original farmhouse was converted into the non-profit Dionne Quintuplets Museum and moved to the larger city of North Bay nearby. It features many artifacts from the quints’ early days and their growing years. 

The original Dafoe Hospital and Nursery, as it looked in 2017. (Shelley Wood)

LESSONS FROM THE BOOK

The author’s wish, as expressed in The Jenny McCarthy Show, is that the story isn’t forgotten and that all children are special and need support and protection. The quintuplets are part of Canadian history and the hope is that no more children will ever go through this type of upbringing on display. The author has donated a share of the novel’s proceeds to the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.

Did you know about these identical quintuplets? I have always been fascinated by them since I was born in Ontario as well and I have the same birthday! Let me know if you read The Quintland Sisters; it’s a fascinating glimpse into an extraordinary time in Canadian history!

Warmly,
Karen

SOURCES:

The Quintland Sisters by Shelley Wood

The Jenny McCarthy Show

CBC Sunday Magazine

Amusing Planet

Wikipedia: Dionne Quintuplets

#dionnequintuplets #quintuplets #drama #fiction #canadianhistory #history #canada #ontario #quintland #book #quintlandsisters #miracle #tourism #media

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Travel Journal for Social Connection!

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I had a fantastic time this week sketching, painting and telling stories in a community nature journal that has been travelling between members of The Nature Journal Club! 🌿 I let my curiosity lead the content of the pages and ended up sketching and learning about different subjects than I had planned!

This would be a wonderful way to keep connected with friends and family as we are still social distancing and the Canada-US border is closed. Here are some ideas to get started:

  1. Purchase a sketching journal (one that could be used with dry or wet colors).
  2. Post the guidelines on the inside cover (ie. You can nature journal in the book for 5 pages or 5 days, whichever comes first).
  3. Send it to a friend or family member.
  4. The recipient can sketch, write a story, poem, use pencil crayons or watercolor, record scientific facts – the possibilities are endless!
  5. The recipient can post photos on social media and then choose the next person to send it to, or choose someone from the comments on the social media post.
  6. It would be fun to collect photos of all pages in an online photo album so others can enjoy the creativity!

I had a delightful, playful experience with this Red-Breasted Sapsucker – a species of Woodpecker in the Pacific Northwest! This was at the Three Forks Dog Park in beautiful Snoqualmie, WA (see the scenic video by Presence Videography) I got close to him with the zoom lens camera and he would hop around to the other side of the tree, playing hide-and-seek with me for quite awhile! Fun! When I looked at the photos later, I realized he had a grub in his beak! (An interesting fact is that these woodpeckers drill horizontal and vertical lines of holes into the tree to find grubs – which is unfortunately often fatal to the tree!)

There are more resources and ideas for journaling on my Nature Journaling page!

What ideas can you share in the comments that will help us keep socially connected while we’re apart?

Warmly,
Karen

#naturejournaling #traveljournal #journaling #connection #socialconnection #travel #inspiration #family #friends #community #curiosity #poem #story

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A History of Mother’s Day

My long-time friend from across the pond, MJ is my guest blogger today! We both live a long distance from our mothers which is hard around Mother’s Day, and particularly during a pandemic. Her historical coverage of this special day is an interesting journey through time!

This blog began as a book club conversation just after the UK celebrated Mother’s Day in March this year. We were discussing why Mother’s Day is celebrated on different dates in the US and Canada than in the UK, and my British friend explained it all started from Mothering Day in the UK when children who had left home for work returned to their home churches and to visit with their mothers. In honour of Mother’s Day, I thought it would be interesting to explore the history of the celebration and the reasons for the differences.

Turns out that historians can trace back some Mother’s Day traditions as far as the Ancient Egyptians – yes, the time when the Pyramids were built. The Egyptians celebrated Isis who is considered the mother goddess. In Ancient Greek times and throughout the Roman empire there were festivities that worshiped the goddesses Cybele, the great mother of the gods, and Rhea, the mother of Zeus.

Isis photo from Mystic Medusa Astrology

In the UK, Mothering Sunday has been celebrated since the 16th century. At that time in history, it was common for children to leave home and work elsewhere. It became a tradition that on the 4th Sunday of lent these children had the day off and they would return to their mother church, the church where they were baptized. The day became a Christian religious holiday and readings and gospels on that day were passages associated with mothers or allegories for mothers. It is believed that even the tradition of giving flowers on Mother’s Day dates back to this time. As they walked along the country lanes, children would pick wild flowers or violets to take to church or give to their mother as a small gift.

In 17th century England, when the Church of England broke away from the Catholic Church, the tradition of Mothering Sunday became more focused on celebrating mothers and became an especially compassionate holiday toward the working classes of England. By the 20th century though these traditional celebrations had diminished in the UK and were not celebrated by the British immigrants to the US.

Mother’s Day as is celebrated today has no relation to the history of Mothering Sunday at all though. It began as an antiwar movement in the late 1800s in response to wars raging in the US and Europe. Julia Ward Howe wrote the Mother’s Day Proclamation and then in1872 she began promoting Mothers’ Peace Day. At the same time, Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis created Mother’s Day Work Clubs. The clubs were started to reduce disease and to decrease infant mortality through education and assistance. However, as the American Civil War waged on, the focus of the clubs became more related to maintaining neutrality and to providing help to soldiers on either side of the war.

In 1905, the year Anne Marie Reeves Jarvis died, her daughter Anna Jarvis began her quest to have Mother’s Day recognized as an official holiday. In 1907 she held the first Mother’s Day celebration for her mother at St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. She was wearing a white carnation, her mother’s favourite flower. By 1911 most states were recognizing the holiday officially or unofficially but in 1914 Woodrow Wilson declared it an official American holiday that would be held on the second Sunday in May every year. With the popularity of Mother’s Day in the US on the rise, it revived the celebration of Mothering Sunday in the UK, which is now often referred to as Mother’s Day. Throughout the world, it is now a holiday that is celebrated on dates that are important to each country. Some of the dates are based on important religious dates, but some are other important dates, such as International Woman’s Day in many countries, or in Thailand, it is celebrated in August on the birthday of Siriki, the current queen (to see dates for other countries click this link).

By the early to mid-1920s Mother’s Day had become a commercial success. Hallmark was already making Mother’s Day cards and the white carnation came to symbolize it. Anna Jarvis was not happy with this and began to protest the exploitation of Mother’s Day by businesses. She wrote the following: “To have Mother’s Day the burdensome, wasteful, expensive gift day that Christmas and other special days have become, is not our pleasure. If the American people are not willing to protect Mother’s Day from the hordes of money schemers that would overwhelm it with their schemes, then we shall cease having a Mother’s Day—and we know how.”

Anna Jarvis never made a penny from Mother’s Day and died at the age of 84 broke and in Marshall Square Sanitarium.

As a tribute to my mother and Karen’s mother, who live so far from us, we are both sharing this blog and wishing our mothers a wonderful day.

Sources:

https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/mothers-day

http://www.mothersdaycentral.com/about-mothersday/history/

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Rhea-Greek-goddess

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Great-Mother-of-the-Gods

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isis#Mother_goddess

https://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/holydays/motheringsunday_1.shtml

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mothering_Sunday

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/mothers-day_b_1432370

Greek Reporter: Mother’s Day Has Its Roots in Ancient Greece

#mothersday #motheringday #blogger #ukholidays #usholidays #ukcelebrations #uscelebrations #history #historyofmothersday #celebrations #motherhood #motherlove #isisgoddess #rheagoddess #cybelegoddess #whitecarnation #carnation #hallmark #taggersextraordinaire #bestlifebooklife #family #love #flowers #happy #usmothersday

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Nature Journaling for Relaxation!

A unique way to enjoy the beautiful outdoors is through nature journaling! There is a world of infinite beauty in forest trails, ponds and your own yard if we slow down, observe and listen. Nature offers us peace and a place to find calm in our busy lives.

Here is a short video of what nature journaling means to me as a calming, solo activity, but also as a way of sharing a common interest in a community of nature enthusiasts!

Nature journaling is an activity for all ages and can be done as a family with toddlers to grandparents! It is the process of observing plants and animals out in the field, then sketching and recording the details in words and drawings. Look for patterns, colors, shapes and measurements. It is not an art project to display, but rather your personal journal for expressing and learning about what you have observed! In my neighborhood, we have a continuous parade of wildlife that passes by our property, and what better way to learn about them by sketching the animals or their habitat and researching interesting facts!

You might wonder, why can’t you just take a picture, then sketch at home? Try stepping outside and sketching in the field! You’ll notice the feelings of the experience as you listen to the birds, feel the breeze or the sun’s rays. It can be done in all seasons and you can even get sketchbooks called “Rite in the Rain” which are weatherproof! It can be a mood shifter for redirecting anxious feelings and promotes relaxation which is good for your overall health, both physical and mental! It’s a journey to learn about the plants and animals you are observing, creating a memory, noting fun facts, measurements and color. 

There are only 2 supplies you need to get started!

  1. Sketchbook, journal or paper
  2. Pencil, watercolor pencil or black ink marker (waterproof Micron 05 pen or thin sharpie)

Once you have recorded some basic sketches and observations, you can color your drawings with watercolor pencils, watercolor paints, colored pencils, markers or simply outline them in black marker.

While nature journaling, there are some questions you can ask yourself that nature journalist and Scientist John Muir Laws inspired, 1. I notice, 2. I wonder, 3. It reminds me of. Here’s an experience I recently had in my own backyard! I noticed a large scattering of pine cone scales under the big evergreen tree. A busy squirrel had been taking apart the cones to get at the 2 seeds that sit on the inner part of the cone on every scale. There were still a few seeds lying on the ground so when I picked them up and broke them open, I discovered they were full of pine sap! I wondered if the squirrels were eating the pine sap? When I researched this, I found out they do indeed eat the sap. The sap had the most amazing pine fragrance, but had a sticky texture. It reminded me of the sap I saw as a child oozing from the bark of evergreen trees that I accidentally leaned against!

I hope you will give nature journaling a try! Feel free to contact me with questions or to see a list of my most favorite resources as well as sample journal pages.

Some great resources and events to get started and inspire you are:

What items in nature can you find to sketch and research?

Warmly,
Karen

#naturejournaling #notice #wonder #remindsmeof #outdoors #travel #forest #ponds #familyactivity #allages #plants #animals #calming

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Summer is coming! Adventure videos sure to inspire you!

My guest blogger today is an avid outdoor explorer and technology enthusiast! Combining these 2 interests led to the perfect combination for his hobby: adventure videography! His videos capture beautiful scenery, route maps and drone tips. I get to enjoy these locations, too since he is my husband! Enjoy David’s creative tours through Presence Videography for awesome outdoor activities.

We have had the most gorgeous spring weather in the Pacific Northwest this week! With summer just around the corner, it’s time to start planning activities to enjoy the summer.

To inspire you, we have several new adventure / aerial / 360 videos from the Pacific Northwest of our biking, kayaking and hiking trips. Choose your adventure and enjoy! Subscribe to get notified as new adventures are posted.

For more descriptions and locations to explore, visit Presence Videography on YouTube!

Here is a sample of few of our favorites:

Presence Videography graphics by @NickHoulding, https://twitter.com/NickHoulding

What adventure will you choose this summer?

Warmly,
Karen

#videography #biking #hiking #kayaking #pacificnorthwest #adventure #explorer #scenery #drone #tour #travel

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Seeds: A Celebration of Earth Day April 22!

In celebration of Earth Day on April 22, I would like to honor seeds! Seeds are all around us and a part of our daily lives, hidden in plain sight! We may take them for granted, but they really are a very important part of our plant life, food production, clothing and thousands of other products.

They give us food and fuels, intoxicants and poisons, oils, dyes, fibers and spices. Without seeds there would be no bread, no rice, no beans, corn or nuts.

The Triumph of Seeds, by Thor Hanson

For an interesting journey into the world of seeds, I recommend the book, The Triumph of Seeds – How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses & Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History, by Thor Hanson. Hanson is a biologist living on an island in Washington state and his book brought to life three details of seeds that I had not thought about — their self-contained energy, the existence of seed banks, their endurance and ability for survival.

Self-contained energy. Seeds come prepackaged for root growth — they don’t even need to make new cells to do it! As mentioned in the book Seeds, Carol Baskin who is a science teacher at University of Kentucky tells her students that “a seed is a baby plant, in a box, with its lunch.” While germination (the process by which an organism grows from a seed) details vary, the importance of water is constant. Some seeds dry out, using a thick, protective coat to protect them from moisture so they can remain at a near standstill for months, years or even centuries until conditions are right for germination. Other seeds, such as the avocado seed needs constant moist conditions for sprouting.

One amazing story about a 2,000 year old date seed that came to life, demonstrates the energy storage power of seeds! In the 1960s, archaeologists at the site of the Siege of Masada in Israel, discovered date seeds beautifully preserved with scraps of fruit still clinging to the seeds. Four decades later, museum workers decided to plant one of the date seeds and were wildly excited to see a lone shoot poking up through the potting soil. Named Methuselah, the sprouting palm now stands ten feet tall with its own gated garden, watering system, burglar alarm and security camera! It’s the oldest known example of a naturally germinating seed.

Seed banks. An unsuspecting building stands in Fort Collins, Colorado containing laboratories and cryogenic vaults built to withstand earthquakes, blizzards, power outages and fires. Over 2 billion specimens are housed here at the National Seed Bank which aim to save the range of genes that make them useful from flavor and nutrition to drought tolerance or resistance to disease. The cold storage preserves the seeds for a certain amount of time, but seeds need to be rotated out and in to keep them viable. “The best way to preserve these seeds is to plant them. Keeping seeds planted allows those varieties to continue adapting.” as explained by the Seed Savers Exchange in Iowa. It’s amazing to know that our seeds are protected and used to allow plants to evolve and adapt to future growing conditions!

Endurance and survival. Seeds travel for survival through wind, water, animals or birds. Cotton is an interesting example of a seed that travels very successfully by both wind and water. Cotton seeds are covered by fluff containing thousands of fiber strands which enable them to travel easily by wind. Interestingly, the same fluffiness that keeps cotton aloft in wind also helps it to float in water for up to two and half months by trapping air bubbles in the many fibers! This explains how Charles Darwin matched cotton genes in the Galapagos Islands as the same cotton from the South American coast.

The survival instinct of seeds is incredible — their legend lives on in children’s books such as one favorite that we read to our kids as toddlers, Belly Button Boy by Maloney Zedauskas. It’s a charming story about a boy who loves to play in the dirt, but refuses to take baths. As dirt piles up in his belly button, he wakes up one morning with a green leafy plant sprouting from it! It’s a fun journey through his navel garden dilemma to encourage children to keep clean!

One final story from our own backyard. I noticed a large scattering of pine cone scales under the big evergreen tree. A busy squirrel had been taking apart the cones to get at the 2 seeds that sit on the inner part of the cone on every scale. There were still a few seeds lying on the ground so when I picked them up and broke them open, I discovered they were full of pine sap! I wondered if the squirrels were eating the pine sap? When I researched this, I found out they do indeed eat the sap. The sap had the most amazing pine fragrance, but had a sticky texture. It reminded me of the sap I saw as a child oozing from the bark of evergreen trees that I accidentally leaned against!

What are some fun seed stories that you can share in the comments? Have you watched a maple key twirl gracefully in the wind to the ground?

Warmly,
Karen

#seeds #earthday #seedbank #endurance #survival #travel #plants #pinecones #nature

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The Little Oath That Could!

One of the best things about this past year is discovering a little company called Let’s Make Art! Their free tutorials have provided many hours of watercolor painting and learning new techniques in a fun and no pressure format.

To begin each lesson, the artist, Sarah Cray, recites an oath that is wonderful and inspiring!

I promise to be kind to myself.

I promise to not compare my work.

I promise to have fun!

I thought… this oath could be applied to so many areas of our lives — work, education, creativity, sports, etc. I added the oath to my art journal as a reminder to be kind to myself in the creative process. I see so many people post a photo of their painting on social media and express how unhappy they are with the end product. This makes me sad and I want to share a few quotes that keep me inspired.

Art is a process, not a product.

Life is a journey, not a destination.

Talk to yourself the way you would talk to someone you love. ~Brene Brown

A lot of things have been done, but they gave not YET been done by YOU! ~Elizabeth Gilbert

So, pause and practice self-compassion by repeating the oath and moving forward with your projects, memories and ideas with confidence!

Warmly,
Karen

#bekind #nocompare #havefun #lma #letsmakeart #oath #art #journey #creativity #selfcompassion #kindness

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Learn Breathing for Relaxation in 2 minutes!

It may seem odd to need a lesson on breathing because it is something we do involuntarily 24/7! Learning this breathing technique brings calmness to the body which is something we could all use right now! It’s a free and easy, no equipment required practice that can greatly benefit your health.

Dr. Andrew Weil practices integrative medicine in Tucson, Arizona and uses a healing-oriented approach to healthcare which encompasses body, mind, and spirit. I have been following him for many years and find his preventative approach so inspiring!

He is well known for the 4-7-8 breathing technique. Practicing this breathing method has many health benefits; it lowers heart rate and blood pressure, improves digestion and circulation, promotes sleep and reduces anxiety!

Watch this short 2 minute video on how to do this breathing practice!

4-7-8 Breathing How-to:

Breathe in through the nose for a count of 4, hold breath for a count of 7, breathe out through the mouth for a count of 8.

In another short video, Why Breathwork Matters, Dr. Weil also talks about the fact that,

“Breathing is the only thing you can do completely consciously or unconsciously. It’s run by two different sets of nerves and muscles by the voluntary and involuntary system. It offers the only chance to get at and influence the involuntary nervous system. Disturbances in the involuntary nervous system are responsible for a great deal of chronic disease. Of all the methods that I have seen of relaxation, the most time-effective and cost-effective are breathing techniques.”


Here is more support for breathwork as a coping technique for three different situations. In this TED Talk, Lucas Rockwood, a Barcelona yoga teacher and health coach, shows us how three breathing practices – water, whiskey, or coffee – can be used as a tool to help us overcome any situation.

Water – Whiskey – Coffee Breathing How-to:

Water breathing: 4/4 counting (4 breaths in, 4 breaths out through the nose for 1 minute). Balances the nervous system. Always appropriate to use anytime.

Whiskey breathing: 4/8 counting (4 breaths in, 8 breaths out through the nose for 1 minute) Helps to fall asleep or calm down.

Coffee breathing: Forget about the inhale, exhale every second through the nose, using the lower abdomen for 1 minute. Use sparingly – using it too much can cause agitation! Fast, rapid breath stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, cranking up the body with energy for tasks.

I would love to know in the comments which breathing technique you find helpful! I use the 4-7-8 throughout the day when I need to reset, when I’m waiting for an appointment where I’m nervous like an interview or dentist, or driving in the car. I even do it for a minute before checking my blood pressure to make sure I get the best reading!

Warmly,
Karen

#breathing #health #inspiration #selfimprovement

Posted in Health, Inspiration, Self Improvement | 2 Comments

My 3 Favorite Art Projects and Supplies!

To Create is to Live! Creative projects keep me going throughout the week and I always keep something I can paint or sketch on my craft table so that I can work on it in my “pockets of time”. Here are my 3 favorite art projects that I work on regularly and the basic supplies to make them happen!

  1. Watercolor Painting. At the start of the stay home – stay healthy plan in March 2020, I came across a beautiful watercolor painting on Pinterest of a green door with bricks, flower pots and a flowering tree. I love rustic doors and this one looked like a window that I had seen a few years ago in Venice with peeling layers of paint on old wood shutters. The tutorial was free through a company called Let’s Make Art which I discovered had 3 of my favorite interests – watercolor, journaling and hand lettering! I have learned so many techniques from their tutorials and have branched out into other tutorials like Art by Paul Clark, Peter Sheeler, The Frugal Crafter, Maria Raczynska, Emma Jane Lefebvre, creationsceecee and more!

Watercolor Supplies:

  • Liquid paint: Let’s Make Art uses this paint (Dandelion Paint Co. is their brand) in their projects and sells it on their website. Liquid paints work by squirting a quarter size dot on a paint palette (I like a butcher tray) and adding a bit of water from your brush. The reason I love them is for their bright, vibrant colors and ease of mixing colors right on the butcher tray where you can make variations of the same color on the same area!
  • Pan paints: I recently purchased a small set of Winsor and Newton Cotman pan paints which is convenient for painting out in the field. I think I will be transitioning to pan paints going forward because most of the artists I follow refer to these color names and it is easier to follow along. I find the colors rich and bright, easy to pick up and mix by spraying or drops of water on top of the paint blocks to “awaken” them. I have been able to mix wonderful grays and turquoise which I hadn’t managed to do with the liquid paint.
  • Paper: I use 140lb. cold press watercolor paper. I have tried Canson XL and Strathmore which have both worked well.
  • Brushes: Most of the paintings I do have been done using a Round 6 and Round 2. As I discover other artists, I am learning to use other types of brushes like flat, rigger, mop and fan! Another fun brush is an aqua brush. It has a small barrel that you fill with water and a paintbrush at the end. You control the water flow with a gentle squeeze of the barrel and it’s ready to use with watercolor paints and there’s no glass of water to knock over accidentally!
  • Light Board: This has been a game changer for me! It’s ideal for tracing outlines that are already drawn onto watercolor paper. I can also take a photo from my phone, turn the photo into a sketch drawing with the uSketch app, print it out and trace. You can really personalize a card or art piece by painting a photo from a trip you took or a special day or location with a friend or family. Creating memories!

2. Nature Journaling. Again, browsing Pinterest, I saw a beautiful sketch of a plant that was outlined with black ink and painted with watercolor. This is my favorite method of painting, called “line and wash”, so as I researched the artist, I discovered a whole new world of nature journaling! The intersection of two of my favorite things; watercolor and nature, seemed like a perfect, creative activity! Nature journaling is done out in the field where you can observe plants and animals and directly sketch into your journal. I like to sketch in black ink, make a note of the colors or take a photo, and then paint the sketch with watercolor back at my craft desk. A great starting point is the Journaling with Nature Podcast where you’ll find the most interesting nature journalists to follow and learn from!

Nature Journaling Supplies:

  • Sketchbook: I like to use a spiral visual journal with mixed media or watercolor paper. Being able to fold the book over makes it easy to sketch on one page in the field and the hard covers give a solid surface. Many nature journalers use the Stillman and Birn line of sketchbooks which have stich binding that makes it easy to lay the book out for sketching across both pages for a larger sketch. Plain paper on a clipboard works just fine, too!
  • Black ink pens: I use a Micron Archival Ink 05 pen which has waterproof ink that watercolor paint can be laid over and it won’t smudge! India Ink pens are also a great choice. I just bought a bottle of India Ink that I’m planning to use with a dip pen for old-fashioned style sketching or calligraphy!

3. Hand Lettering. I love to make cards and tags for gifts with quick sketches, watercolor and a meaningful message with brush hand lettering. I learned a lot of amazing lettering techniques and styles as well as quick flower and border doodles from Amy Latta Creations! Amy has the most wonderful books that are full of instruction, humor and inspiring stories! She has many helpful YouTube tutorials and workshops to learn from.

Hand Lettering Supplies:

  • Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pens: I bought a set of two pens; one is a hard tip for drawing lines and one has a softer tip for lettering with thin up-strokes and thick down-strokes. These pens made it so easy to practice and learn faux calligraphy and brush lettering. Just remember they are not waterproof, so you cannot use watercolor paints over top of these pens.
  • Tombow Dual Brush Pens: These come in a rainbow of colors and each one has a fine tip on one end and a brush tip on the other for hand lettering. The brush tip is on the thicker side, so they are good for larger lettering projects. These are also not waterproof, but you can blend one color into another which is a really neat feature – color a few strokes of a few colors on a plastic surface like a zip lock bag, then using an aqua brush (see watercolor supplies – brushes above), pick up the color with the brush and paint directly on paper.

I would love to hear in the comments what kinds of projects you like to work on and if you’ve tried any of my favorite art supplies!

Warmly,
Karen

#creativity #art #projects #watercolor #naturejournaling #handlettering #brushlettering

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More Inspiring Podcasts!

Just when I thought I had subscribed to my podcast favorites, I discovered more! As usual, I enjoy uplifting, educational messages about physical and mental health and wellness. I think it’s important to keep listening and learning to inspire us and keep our mental health in check, especially during this pandemic.

At first, I wondered how I was going to find time to listen to all these podcasts I was interested in. They range in length from 10 min. to an hour and more! I have found ways to incorporate them into my day while I’m working (on routine tasks), cooking , nature journaling or driving. It helps make the journey productive and enjoyable!

Here are the new podcasts I am listening to now:

Darin Olien Show: This amazing collection is on all things holistic health and some of the products that we are told are safe to use, but might be harmful. Darin is the co-host of the inspiring Netflix series, Down to Earth with Zac Efron which was a fantastic series about our incredible planet and how to use renewable resources in a healthy way. He wrote the bestseller book “Superlife – The five fixes that will keep you healthy, fit and eternally awesome” and worked with fitness-company Beachbody to formulate “Shakeology” super food shake supplement.

The Lucas Rockwood Show: Mental and physical health experts join Lucas for no-nonsense discussions. Lucas is very knowledgeable, down-to-earth and has interesting stories about experiencing living in different countries in the world. He has a few exercise programs from his studio in Barcelona available via zoom and video – his 21-Day Hip Opening Challenge is excellent!

Clear + Vivid with Alan Alda: Alan Alda explores his curiosity on science and health topics that are so interesting and enjoyable! He revealed recently that he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, but hasn’t let that dampen his enthusiasm for learning with a positive attitude!

TED Talks Daily: A range of topics from technology to education to wellness! Most of these episodes are short (13 – 30 min.) so it’s convenient to listen to if you only have a pocket of time to be inspired.

On my radar:

Shut Your Monkey: This one sounds so interesting! Trying to combat that voice in your head that nitpicks all your creative ideas is a constant struggle. This podcast claims to give practical advice in an intelligent and humorous way to shut that monkey down! Hosted by Danny Gregory who is an author of more than a dozen books, a creative teacher for the Sketchbook Skool.

Art for All: Danny Gregory’s new and improved podcast for creative inspiration and advice.

Next Level Human with Dr. Jade Teta: This integrative physician has straight talk about in-depth health and fitness topics.

See my first list of podcast favorites!

Let me know in the comments if you try any of these podcasts! Are there others that you can recommend?

Warmly,
Karen

#podcasts #creativity #inspiration #health #wellness #science #yoga

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