Monday, August 30, 2010

Mmmmm Cheese

On Saturday a friend had a birthday/house warming party and the theme was CHEESE. Mmmm my favorite, what a great idea!

Immediately I knew the place to go. G. J. Andrews (formerly Stephen & Andrews) is a local specialty food & wine shoppe on Academy Road near the gallery. They sell everything from your everyday grocery needs along with all sorts of delicious gourmet foods, a lovely selection of wine, perfectly tender & aged meats, fresh fish and seafood and an overwhelming selection of Canadian and imported cheeses. It was so hard to decide what types of cheeses to buy so they let me sample a couple... like that made my decision any easier. 

Here's what I went with...

Red Dragon: A Welsh cheddar with mustard seeds & Welsh ale aged for 3 month. The mustard seeds add great flavor and a delicious amount of spice and texture. Would go perfectly on a roast beef sandwich!

Port Salut: A creamy, semi-soft cheese made from cow's milk. Perfect for cheese & crackers and of course a nice glass of wine.

Blueberry Wensleydale: A traditional British cheese aged at only 3 weeks. It's moist, a bit crumbly, has a bit of tang from the blueberries and a honey like after taste. A great dessert cheese.

There was a mouth watering selection of cheeses at the party from brie, gouda, wine marbled, blue cheese and so on. My two favorites that I had never tried before were...  

1. Thai Curry cheese which I could not stop eating. It was the texture of a mozzarella or cheddar, looked just like a spicy yellow/green curry sauce and had an incredible flavor. Yum!  

2. A Dark Chocolate cheese... YES I said CHOCOLATE! You could have fooled me because this cheese had the taste and texture of a real dark chocolate fudge. Now this is a dessert cheese!

On my next visit to G. J. Andrews I will sure be checking to see if they have these two unique flavors. I know you'll be checking your local cheese shop too!

Smiles for Baby Feet

Last week one of my best girlfriends welcomed her first little one into the world. It's A Girl!!! A wee 7lb 15oz little girl. We got to visit them in the hospital at just 30 hours old. She was so beautiful and perfect! Whenever I see a new little baby I just can't get over their wee little hands and feet. The perfect little fingers, toes and nails amaze me. So miraculous! Here's a shot of the little toes to add a smile to your Monday.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Unconventional Art

What is art? I think if 100 people were asked this question, there would quite possibly be 100 different answers. Art can be found in music, theater, film, literature, photography, painting and sculpture but there are also so many different forms of unconventional art. We just need to be open to finding it. 

This post was inspired by this mornings post on Other Than The Weather titled playing with dirt about dirty car art. Artist Scott Wade uses a paint brush to make paintings on the windows of dirty cars.

Another artist who's works may be considered unconventional is Italian body painter Guido Daniele. He paints models for advertising shoots and commercials, fashion events and exhibitions. Here are a few of my favorites from his "Handimals" series.

How cool are those?!?! Another amazing unconventional art form is pavement drawing. Julian Beever has been drawing/painting on pavement for over 10 years and has done pieces all over the world. Can you believe some of these?

I love this stuff! Stay tuned for more posts on unconventional art. We're visiting San Francisco in September and I hear there are some great murals in the Mission District.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Aperture - Defined by Wikipedia as... "In optics, an aperture is a hole or an opening through which light travels."

In a camera, the aperture is the opening of the lens. The lens of a camera can be compared to our eyes... On a bright sunny day, our pupils will get very small only allowing a limited amount of light to enter. In the dark our pupils open wide, letting in more light, which helps us to see better.

In photography the aperture is used to control light exposure and depth of field. You can change the aperture to allow for a longer or shorter depth of field.

When photographing landscapes or wide angle shots a narrow aperture will allow for more depth of field so the entire scene can be in focus from the flowers in the foreground to as far as the eye can see.

Narrow Aperture f/29
(the foreground and the background are in focus)

For portraits or photographing small objects a wide aperture will shorten the depth of field allowing your subject to be sharp but blurring the background for less distraction.

Wide Aperture f/4.5
(the subject is in focus and the background is blurred)

The aperture of a camera is measured in "f-stops" (i.e. f/2.8, f/4.0, f/5.6, f/8.0, f/11, f/16, f/22). The smaller the aperture number or f-stop the wider the aperture opening.

Below are a couple more examples of how aperture numbers affect depth of field in a photograph. The exercise on aperture in my first DSLR lesson was to arrange several same size objects evenly spaced away from the camera lens. For both sets of images I took one photo on each of the aperture settings. I put 4 of each together to show the aperture range.

Click on the images for better resolution and more detail.
 Top, Left - f/4.5, Top, Right - f/7.1
Bottom, Left -  f/14, Bottom, Right - f/25

Top, Left - f/4.0, Top, Right - f/7.1
Bottom, Left -  f/11, Bottom, Right - f/25

For both sets of images... The first image (top, left) is a wide aperture, creating a shorter depth of field (see how the the objects in the foreground and further in the background are out of focus?). With the last image (bottom, right) a narrow aperture opening was set for more depth of field (the larger focal plane allows for more clarity on objects near and far).

Next lesson... Shutter Speed here I come.

Digital SLR Guide

I mentioned at the end of my last post about some Digital SLR lessons I downloaded online. This website Digital SLR Guide has turned out to be a fantastic resource. The website is run and the content is written by Chris Roberts, who has outlined everything from the difference between a point and shoot and an SLR camera, the advantages of an SLR and choosing the right camera & accessories for your photographic style. He has also put together a series of more in depth Digital SLR lessons for beginner and intermediate photographers.

With the beginner package I downloaded 5 lessons... 1. Aperture & Shutter Speed, 2. Exposure, 3. Metering, Histograms & ISO, 4. Complete Camera Control and 5. The "Rules" of Photography for only $14.95 US. What a deal!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

In the Window

Sitting at my computer desk this afternoon, I noticed the light that was coming in the front gallery window was really highlighting the texture on some new paintings by Sheila Kernan and Sonja Kobrehel. Excited to keep testing my new camera, I tried to take some shots without the flash allowing the natural light to show off these great pieces.

 After The Rain, 36x15 by Sheila Kernan

I managed to get some really cool detailed shots. I love the bright colours, the thick texture and the unique painting techniques both Sheila and Sonja use. The following are close up shots taken from the side of Sheila Kernan's "After The Rain". The light coming in from the window really shows off the texture. To see more of Sheila's work click here.

The details are great little abstractions in themselves. Below are a couple shots of Sonja Kobrehel's painting. There is something very whimsical about Sonja's work. To see more of Sonja's work click here.

#338, 11x11 by Sonja Kobrehel

These paintings are fun, fun, fun! It's also fun to try new things with my camera. I purchased some written lessons online today about how to use and take better photos with you digital SLR camera. I haven't gotten into reading them yet but I'll let you know how it goes.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Aspiring Amateur Photographer

On the weekend, I splurged on a super nifty camera! It has so many cool features to learn and play with, but it's most definitely going to take some reading and a lot of practice to get comfortable using any setting other than 'auto'. Fortunately some of my university photography courses may come in handy, as many functions of digital SLR (defined below) cameras have the same basic applications as manual film cameras do... I say 'do' here because to my surprise they actually still sell film cameras.

In a new segment to my artful blog... I will share my trial and errors as I learn the different features of my camera. Today, I'll share a bit about my camera history and the basics of my fancy new digital SLR.

For starters... WOW! Digital cameras have come a long way since my last camera purchase. A few years ago my 3 megapixel, 3x optical zoom Pentax Optio 330 camera was stolen from my car. Can you believe that when I purchased this camera in 2002 it was one of the best compact digital cameras available for between $500.00 and $1,000.00? It has now been obsolete for years. I don't even think they sell anything under 10 effective megapixels anymore. A review from 9/22/01 on Steve's Digicams states...  

"The Optio 330 is billed by Pentax as "the world's smallest and lightest 3 megapixel, 3X optical zoom digital camera available on the market (compared to all other 3-megapixel digital cameras with a 3x zoom as of June 28, 2001)." 

In 2001 small measured 3.6" wide, 2.3" high, and 1.2" thick and weighing in at 8.5 ounces which today would be clunky for a compact point & shoot. 

Shortly after my camera was stolen, my dad upgraded his camera and passed on his Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 5 megapixel, 12x optical zoom camera to me. At the time, an even better camera, also now obsolete. The print resolution from 5 megapixels is great up to at least 8x10 and the zoom was so much fun. I used this camera on several trips and at the gallery for recording artwork for the website. 

My weekend splurge: Canon EOS Digital SLR Rebel T2i with 18-55 mm IS lens. states "...Canon EOS Rebel T2i brings professional EOS features into an easy to use, lightweight digital SLR that's a joy to use. Featuring a class-leading 18.0 Megapixel CMOS Image Sensor and increased light sensitivity for low light photography, the EOS Rebel T2i also has an advanced HD Movie mode for gorgeous Full HD movies. Able to capture up to 3.7 frames per second, it's ready to go the minute it's picked up.... With some of the most advanced features of any digital SLR, it's simply the best Rebel Canon has ever created."

There are several differences between a digital point-and-shoot camera and a digital SLR (single-lens reflex) camera, many of which I will learn and re-learn with research experimentation. The first difference is in the name... Single-lens reflex refers to a mirror system allowing the photographer to see the exact image that will be recorded on the digital imaging system. A point-and-shoot camera has a separate viewfinder and lens so there may be a slight displacement between what is viewed and exactly what is captured. For most everyday uses, I don't think the added features of an SLR camera will be significant. Nevertheless, I took the plunge and now I am challenging myself to explore them and do my best to take some great photos that may not have been possible with my previous cameras.

Wish Me Luck!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Gallery Made Over

Finally the gallery make over is complete and it was a nice sunny day for me to take photos of the completed exterior. Our new landlord had all the stucco repaired and painted, all the wood trim stained and some new windows installed. I may have chosen different colours myself, but all in all it's a huge improvement on the faded wood and cracked peach stucco. Here's the before and after...



Earlier this year we also had the interior of the gallery made over. We had new carpets and tile put in and painted throughout. Click here for the before and after photos.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Crisp Morning & A Delicious Dinning Experience

Waking up this morning, the air outside the covers felt so chilly. It’s a little early for fall but the crisp, cool, fresh air reminded me of the first day of school. This feeling was very fitting as today is Ryan’s first day at his new job. After 10 years of driving only 5 minutes to work, he will now be taking the bus downtown. He was like a little kid this morning, nervous and excited and he would hate me for saying this but so cute. He looked so handsome and smart. I so badly wanted to walk him to the bus stop and wave goodbye as it pulled away. I managed to restrain, however I could not resist taking a picture of him before he left with my brand new super nifty new camera. More about my new camera later….

As a celebration of starting his new job, Ryan and I went out for a special dinner on Saturday night. We went to Sydney’s at the Forks, which is such a treat and one of the nicest restaurants I’ve been to in the city. I say that not because the chef & owner of Sydney’s, Michael Schafer is a friend of Ryan’s from way back but because it is truly a fantastic dining experience. 

The rich warm ambiance puts you in the mood to get comfortable and enjoy a delicious 2 to 3 hour evening. The five mouth-watering courses are a culinary art. Each course comes out beautifully presented, colourful and arranged on the plate. Here are a few pictures I took from Sydney's website. 

You can read the current dinner menu selections here. Ryan and I both had the "exotic game" as our main selection. It was Elk which I had never tried before but it went very well with the Lost Valley Thousand Hills (Australia), 2004 Shiraz that our server suggested. Yummmm!

We thoroughly enjoyed our evening out at Sydney's. The food and wine was incredible, the service outstanding and an overall memorable experience. Click here to read a bit more about Sydney’s at the Forks and here to view a super fun video tour of the restaurant.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Prairie Girls

Recently new artwork arrived in the gallery by three local artists. These three women were all raised and still reside here in Manitoba. There is an element of prairie influence in all of their recent work.

Marlene Cowell works with acrylics on canvas, builds her own gallery wrapped stretchers and paints completely around the edges of each piece. A country girl at heart, Marlene’s paintings reflect her love of nature.

 Abandoned, 12x42 acrylic on canvas by Marlene Cowell

Cathy Sutton has been making jewelery for about 3 years. She started off making necklaces & bracelets to incorporate her own lamp-worked glass beads. Now she is metalsmithing with gold, copper and silver and working with semi-precious stones as well as lamp-worked glass. This latest leaf series incorporates a technique called repoussé as defined by Wikipedia as "a metalworking technique in which a malleable metal is ornamented or shaped by hammering from the reverse side."

Repoussé Leaf on Fused Copper Pendant by Cathy Sutton

Tara Tuchscherer's passion for the last ten years has been hand-built pottery. Surrounded by the inspiration of the Canadian prairie she tries to incorporate its beauty in each ceramic piece with the use of handmade stamps, found objects and collected weeds, grasses, leaves, and flowers from the prairies. The texture of each decorative piece is further enhanced with a variety of glazes and stains creating a truly unique piece of art. Tara's most resent series of ceramic owls are an absolute HOOT!

Moody Manitoba, ceramic by Tara Tuchscherer

Small Ceramic Owl by Tara Tuchscherer

I hope you've enjoyed and possibly learned something new from these new prairie influenced pieces of artwork.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Crafty Mementos

I couldn't resist taking a few photos of the crafty decor elements I made for our wedding.

A few detailed shots of the seating chart I made.

The flower I wore in my hair. 
The flower came from Boutique Unique on Corydon and I added the pearl & crystal pin.

Ceremony Programs



Place cards on the Wedding Party tables

I can't wait to see the professional photos taken of the entire day. I'll be sure to share some.