Saturday, April 22, 2017

April: I'm Distracted By Spring

2017 Spring Palette
So it has begun. Finally. Spring has finally "sprung" as they say

Earlier, I wrote about  Keeping A Nature Journal in Ottawa and I included a long list of links to other web sites that have great information on the natural history of the area.

In this post, on Earth Day 2017, I want to share a few of my sketches and tweets that I have created so far (and what I have learned) and some practical suggestions to help you create YOUR "Nature Journal" pages.

The Waxwings at Ottawa City Hall are always a treat (Link to tweet)
I could hear the mourning doves on my morning dog walk (Link to tweet)
The sound of gulls - a sure sign that the snow is melting and spring has arrived (Link to tweet)

Seeing this little guy on my patio was such a great surprise (Link to tweet)
Sometimes I take note of nature events that I heard from the (link to tweet)
I love to learn something new about a familiar bird - like Macy's Department store gave us finches! (link to tweet)
Events can also be added to your nature journal (Link to tweet)
Spring bird-watching with The Ontario Field Ornithologists at Petrie Island (Link to tweet)
Keeping a Nature Journal - a healing practice (link to tweet)

Creating A Nature Journal for 2017

I am currently experimenting with templates for my journal pages. I have to keep reminding myself that nature journals ARE NOT supposed to be pretty (though they could be if you wanted them to be)

The real purpose of my nature journal is to pay attention to what is going on around me, to be curious, and to learn more about the "repeated refrains of nature" as Rachel Carson so beautifully said.

I thought it would be useful to develop a template for myself based on the nature prompts suggested by John Muir Laws  and also used by BEETLES (Better Environmental Education, Teaching, Learning & Expertise Sharing)

A fun visual way to remember these nature journal prompts 

“I notice, I wonder, it reminds me of.”


The first draft of my Nature Journal template

Here's an example of a page that I completed recently after a long dog walk using photos that I took on my cell phone.
My most recent Nature Journal page using this draft template

If you are starting to nature journal, please give this template a try and let me know what you think of it.

I thought you might enjoy watching a group of children practicing the ?!= method of nature observation.

You might also enjoy:

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Life Drawing in Ottawa

NOTE: Updated April 13, 2017
I attended the inaugural evening of Life Drawing at the Art House Cafe in Ottawa last night (March 28, 2017) and I am so glad to hear that this will become a weekly event in the future.

Some of my sketches from last night's "Life Drawing at the Art House Cafe" l
Ottawa artist Kat MacGregs organized and hosted this great event at the Art House Cafe and the semi-clothed male model of the night was incredible and did the following poses:
  • five one-minute poses
  • five two-minute poses
  • four five-minute poses
  • two ten-minute poses
  • two twenty-minute poses
  • one forty-five minute pose
It was a full house at this first Art House Cafe Life drawing session that started at 7 pm and ended at 10 pm. There were several breaks where artists could grab a beverage or something to eat. The cost was $10 which went towards paying the model and renting the Art House Cafe space.This is a non-profit event and any surplus cash will be put towards the purchase of more equipment (easels, lighting etc) in the future.(The Art House Cafe had limited drawing equipment/utensils available: easels were $2 to rent).

I love that the organizer/host Kat welcomes all skill levels to this event. The official promo material also states that "ALL orientations, ethnicities, ages, sizes, skin colour, genders, etc." are welcome.

Kat also reminds everyone participating that "the drawing sessions are hosted on unceded Algonquin territory".

Best wishes for continued success Kat and thanks so much for organizing and hosting this great life drawing event. Details on how to sign up to the Facebook group are below.
The official poster.


Below is a list of all the Life Drawing venues that I could find in Ottawa.
Please use the comment section below to notify me of any errors or omissions.
NOTE: Updated April 13, 2017

Drawing At The Rooster - The Femme Fatale session - April 2016

ATELIER DENU: This summer workshop series cycles through instructed lessons, classic life drawing, costumed poses, and long-pose compositions. Participants can drop in for one session, can register for four weeks at a time, can register for all workshops of a type, or can commit themselves to regular practice all summer long.
FREQUENCY:  Every Thursday from 18:30 to 21:00, May 11 to August 31 uOttawa Laurier Building, room 302* (100 Laurier Avenue)
ACCESSIBILITY NOTE: The painting studio LRR 302 is up three flights of stairs.
COST: $10.00 fee (see bundle prices above).
SOCIAL MEDIA: Facebook group: For more information

 SANDY HILL: This is the oldest venue in Ottawa for Life Drawing. "Our workshop has been running for over 30 years. It is probably the largest and cheapest in Ottawa. The class is co-operative and non profit. There is no registration fee and no up-front payment. You only pay for the sessions that you attend. Everyone helps with the room set-up before the session and then helps in the clean-up afterwards as much as they are able."
FREQUENCY:  Every Wednesday from 7:00 to 9:30 at the Sandy Hill Community Centre basement
COST: $5.00 fee (includes tea and a snack).

DRAWING AT THE ROOSTER: This event is hosted by Ottawa artists Peter and Rebecca Purdy. Each month there is a new theme and thee three models for the night wear costumes.
FREQUENCY:  The first Tuesday of every month 7:00 to 10 pm at the Atomic Rooster on Bank St.
COST: Non-profit. Pay what you can. Money goes to models. Best sketch wins a Rooster Gift Certificate
SOCIAL MEDIA:  Facebook group

LIFE DRAWING AT THE ART HOUSE CAFE  This event had its launch on March 28. 2017 and had to turn away interested artists due to space limitations.
FREQUENCY:  Every Tuesday starting April 11 7:00 to 10 pm at the Art House Cafe
ACCESSIBILITY NOTE: NO wheelchair access
COST: Non-profit. $10
SOCIAL MEDIA:  Facebook group

THE DRAWING ROOM STUDIO  This is a professional studio. "Poses are 5-6 hours per day. We start at 9:30am on the nose, and doors open at 9am to come get set up. We draw from 9:30am – 12:30pm, and then break for an hour for lunch. The afternoon session runs from 1:30pm – 3:30pm or 4:30pm."
FREQUENCY:  Sign up to be notified when new sessions are announced. (A minimum of 5 artists required)
COST: Approximately $60 for two full days (9:30-4:30)

FREQUENCY:  second Wednesday of every month from 6:00-9:00 PM in the beautiful church hall of St. Brigid’s Centre for the Arts (a re-purposed Roman Catholic church), located just past the Byward Market in Lowertown.
COST: $15 (cash only)

FREQUENCY:    Saturdays 1:00pm to 3:30pm at the Greenboro Pavillion 14 Tapiola Crescent, South Keys Youth/Senior Room
COST: The model cost is shared among attendees, and is currently $10 per person.
SOCIAL MEDIA: Facebook: Greenboro Pavillion Life Drawing Workshop

LIFE DRAWING INITIATIVE AT ALGONQUIN COLLEGE This is an uninstructed life drawing session  
FREQUENCY:   Tuesdays and Thursdays in room A145H at Algonquin College  5PM-8PM from May to August

COST: They now offer a $40 Membership for Algonquin College students and $100 for non- Algonquin Students. This is for the duration of the summer. Walk-ins for non-members/non-Algonquin students is $10. Proceeds go to pay for the models (often in costume) and for equipment.


(With thanks to Laurie Foster-MacLeod)

Greenboro Pavillion Life Drawing: Drop in and join us any Saturday afternoon 1:00 to 3:30 pm / Registration is free, and everyone is welcome. Many members who join us are drawing for the first time. The model cost is $10 per person. Location: 14 Tapiola Cres. (near Albion Rd. & Johnsston Rd., east of Bank St.)

“The Drawing Studio”, Hamilton Ave. south (Civic Hospital area). Long poses, varying from 5 to 6 hours per day (with lunch break), same model & pose for Saturday & Sunday; monthly or bi-monthly. Facilitator: Sarah Marie Lacy:


Life Drawing: Nepean Visual Arts Centre @ Nepean Sportsplex, Woodroffe Ave., just south of Huntclub – Mornings (September – June)

Kanata Art Club @ 1030 Riddell Drive, Kanata (Kanata Montessori School), located near the intersection of March and Dunrobin Roads – Life Drawing, 1:00 – 3:30 pm, 6-week session (not in summer); participants must be members of the Kanata Art Club. Share model fee, due on registration, which is on first-come, first served basis. Info: / Info: Kie Delgaty: 613-623-2638 / The Kanata Art Club also runs a weekly Portraiture Studio & Costumed model Studio.

“Go Figure” Life drawing group in Burritt’s Rapids: meets about once a month, for the day. Bring lunch. Contact: Arlene Hare: <>


Portraiture: Nepean Visual Arts Centre @ Nepean Sportsplex, Woodroffe Ave., just south of Huntclub – Mornings, 9:30-12:00 noon (year round)

Kanata Art Club @ 1030 Riddell Drive, Kanata (Kanata Montessori School), located near the intersection of March and Dunrobin Roads – Costumed Model Drawing, 1:00 – 3:30 pm, 6-week session (not in summer); participants must be members of the Kanata Art Club. Share model fee, due on registration, which is on first-come, first served basis. Info: / Info: Kie Delgaty: 613-623-2638 / The Kanata Art Club also runs a weekly Portraiture Studio & Life Drawing Studio.


Life drawing: Nepean Visual Arts Centre @ Nepean Sportsplex, Woodroffe Ave., just south of Huntclub – Mornings, easels, chairs & small movable side tables supplied (September – June)

“The Bottom Line” held at Sandy Hill Community Centre, Somerset Street East in Sandy Hill, mornings / Chairs provided, bring own materials / Co-ordinator: Colin Buckett (September – June)

The Atomic Rooster, Bank Street (near Somerset): monthly “Drawing at the Rooster” with costumed models, in restaurant/ bar. Free, fun. Info on Facebook


NECTAR (New Edinburgh Community & Arts Centre), 255 MacKay, The Community Room; ‘Figure Drawing & Painting Workshop,’ an extended pose workshop; 9:30 am – 12:30 pm; - Coordinator: John Jarrett; Contact: 613-745-2742 / <>

Sandy Hill Life Drawing Workshop @ Sandy Hill Community Centre, evening: 7:00 – 9:30 pm; open workshop, $5/ evening (cash only), drop-ins welcome. (year round) Chairs provided; co-ordinator: Dan Northcott: 613-523-7365 / Facebook page:

Kanata Art Club @ 1030 Riddell Drive, Kanata (Kanata Montessori School), located near the intersection of March and Dunrobin Roads – Portrait Drawing Studio, 1:00 – 3:30 pm, 6-week session (not in summer); participants must be members of the Kanata Art Club. Share model fee, due on registration, which is on first-come, first served basis. Info: / Info: Kie Delgaty: 613-623-2638 / The Kanata Art Club also runs a weekly Life Drawing Studio & Costumed model Studio.


Life drawing Studio: Nepean Visual Arts Centre @ Nepean Sportsplex, Woodroffe Ave., just south of Huntclub – Mornings; easels, chairs & small movable side tables supplied (September – June)


Long pose Life Studio in Hintonburg: @ Takahashi Martial Arts dojo, 5 Melrose Avenue / morning; same model and pose for 6 weeks, naked, costumed or draped; Fee: $100 / 6 sessions or $20. per session; Facilitator: Miki Chart: 613-581-6617; held in a martial arts studio, so please bring drop clothes for the area you are working in plus all your easel and materials. Please make sure to arrange with Miki in advance, so she can let you know if there is room.

Atelier Denu: (See 2017 information above) summer life drawing workshops (June 24 – Aug. 12, 2016); evenings 7:00 – 9:00 pm in room 307 of the Grad House, 601 Cumberland, above the Café Nostalgica at the University of Ottawa. Cost: drop-in $5 per session / free for high school students or U of Ottawa graduate students. Bring your own materials.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Keeping A Nature Journal in Ottawa

I have made a resolution to keep a dedicated 2017 Nature Journal starting this spring (if spring ever arrives in Ottawa). 

Some pages from my March 2017 Nature Journal

It seems that I have been keeping a nature journal forever.......some years much more intensely than others.

My Nature Journal from 1986
In the past, I loved sketching birds and I used my Nature Journal as a way of studying and remembering distinctive features of various species.

My Nature Journal: unfinished bird sketch dated 1980
I also used my Nature Journal to study trees, their overall shapes and distinctive features. I admire folks who can look at a tree far off in the distance and know exactly what it was just by its shape and location.

My Nature Journal dated January 1986
I attended an event in 2015 hosted by the Ottawa Field Naturalists Club where we were looking for fall shorebirds on migration at Mud Lake and Shirley's Bay.

The sketches below were done from photographs after the event as a way of recording what we did, where we went and all of the birds that we saw that day.

My Nature Journal: Birding at Mud Lake
My Nature Journal: Birding at Shirley's Bay
 My Nature Journal Sketch Book

I have decided to dedicate my Fabriano Venizia sketchbook (that I purchased at the beginning of this year) to gather all of my nature 2017 nature sketches.

I decided to stop using the Fabriano Venezia sketch book as my 'daily sketchbook' because is too heavy to carry in my sketch bag; the book does not stay flat when opened and requires many clips and I am disappointed in how the cotton paper holds my many mediums (watercolour, gouache, graphite, ink etc.)

So I've re-purposed the Fabriano Venizia sketchbook into my 2017 Nature Journal! It will make a perfect book for scribbling my nature notes in as well as pasting sketches that are cut out from my other sketch pads like this cardinal below, that I originally sketched on a mixed-media pad.

Today's sketch to record the Northern Cardinal that I saw while dog walking

My Nature Journal Field Guides 

Below are some of the Ottawa reference books and materials that I have on hand to add information to my sketch notes. Of course the internet is an amazing resource as well.

My field guide home library

My Nature Journal Links for Ottawa

One of the first activities I did in my 2017 Nature Journal this year was to map out the trees in my neighbourhood where I walk regularly. To do this I needed online help from the City of Ottawa's Tree Inventory where every tree (that the City of Ottawa is responsible for) is mapped and named (in Latin) with the radius of the tree trunk! I love this resource!

I will be adding this helpful nature-journaling link and many others to the list below. Keep checking back for new additions.

In Early spring, the buds begin to swell. Its fun to look for them on daily walks.


John Muir Laws: The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling

Nature Journal Links 

I will be posting some of my 2017 Nature Journal pages here on my blog. If you will be nature journaling and/or blogging your nature adventures in Ottawa, please add your link in the comment section below.

Likewise, if you have interesting links you would like to share on Ottawa-Gatineau natre and sketching opportunities, please add that in the comment section below as well.

Happy sketching!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Crazy About iPad Stop Motion Animation

I wanted to call this blog post "If I Can Do Claymation, Then So Can YOU!" but that is too long for a title even though it is true - you can do this!

It All Started At The Ottawa Public Library

For March Break in Ottawa, I attended a workshop called "iPad Stop Motion Animation" that took place in the "Ottawa Public Library (OPL) Children's Library (Monday March 13, 2017).

This is the picture I tweeted from the Ottawa Public Library
The workshop was being done by Jessie Curell of Hands On Media Education from Montreal.

Jessie provided all of the equipment, instructions and encouragement for about a dozen young folks. I was amazed at how quickly she impressed upon all of the children what was required, the necessary steps and what they could expect at the end of the day.

One work station at the OPL Children's Library
There were four work stations set up with clay, a scenery backdrop and a tripod with an iPad. Jessie said that an artist friend of hers had painted the scenes which she then had enlarged at Staples and pasted onto display board. The scenes were beautiful!

I loved this Arctic backdrop
Each of the scenes were really stunning and this Arctic one was one of my favourites, Jessie does a lot of work in the north with her visual storytelling workshops as well as the  iPad Stop Motion Animation workshop.

In terms of process, Jessie made it clear - do not touch the clay until you have your story line completed. The steps were simple:
  1. Write your story-line
  2. Build your characters
  3. Film your story
I love the look of this clay character - he has been through a lot. And the books are flip-books to illustrate how stop motion works
The stories that the children came up with were absolutely brilliant! A grandmother being robbed, children coming across a dinosaur and an underwater adventure!

Children in the process of filming.
The process was incredibly simple. It may just be a sign-of-the-times that we are living in (where even toddlers have iPads) but ALL of these children managed the iPad and the software with ease.

The iPad Software

I asked what the software was and Jessie said it was called "Stop Motion Studio" so I googled it and found out it was FREE! I thought this was amazing and Jessie added that the free version was good but there were features that you would not be able to use (for example: add music) but she said it would be great for practicing just making animations. The free version has very high customer ratings.

The Stop Motion Studio Pro full version is only $4.99 though so I splurged and bought the Pro version.

This seemed much less challenging and less expensive than what I had imagined and I was excited to try some animation once I got back home. Just one last technical question for Jessie: the iPad remaining stationary during the whole process is key and how much would it cost for an iPad set-up like the one she had brought to the workshop? Jessie said that each unit she had was between $200-300. For her workshops, high quality equipment that could withstand the use and reuse at the many workshops that she runs was necessary.

This was going to be a problem for me. I didn't want a big expense to give clay animation a try and I didn't need equipment that could withstand heavy use. I stopped in at Henry's Camera store on the way home from the library to look at what they had for using an iPad to do stop-motion animation.

What luck! The Henry's employee I talked to also does shadow puppet animation! He asked if I had a camera tripod (which I did) and he then sold me the iPad mount below for $19.99! I was on my way!

My Henry's Tablet Mount

Playing With Clay

I bought some modeling clay at Wallack's (under $5) (I had some Sculpey at home from another project) and I started experimenting with my character.

My story-line involved a bunch of foam letters that I had bought at the dollar store a long time ago.  I wanted to play with the words "activist", "archivist" and "artist" because these three passions have been a major part of my entire life.

My characters head made from Sculpey
I was unhappy with my first full-bodied character so I decided to focus on just a head instead.

The Sculpey head into the oven
My First Animation!

I am happy with my first attempt! And now my mind is busy building more story-lines for future animations.

I hope that this has inspired you to give it a try. Try the free version of the software and have some fun.

I know that I will!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Drawing At The Rooster: Tea Party

Tuesday night I attended the monthly "Drawing at the Rooster" (DATR) event in Ottawa at the Atomic Rooster on Bank St. This open and free event is hosted every month by two Ottawa area artists, Peter Purdy and Rebecca Gilman.
"Drawing at the Rooster is a monthly life drawing event. There are multiple live models (clothed/costumed) that will do a variety of short and long poses. 

Each event has a different theme! Drawing at the Rooster is a no cover event, and is a creative, non-judgmental environment where artists of all skill levels will have an opportunity to practice their life drawing skills.  (Source: DATR facebook)

The evening started at 7 pm with the models Rhapsody (as "The Rabbit") and Carmen (as "Alice") doing quick, short poses leading up to fifteen and twenty minute poses by the end of the night (at 10pm).

Model Rhapsody as "The Rabbit"

Model Carmen as "Alice"

I tried something entirely different this month and used toned paper, graphite, gouache and water colour.

Pasted toned-paper sketches into my sketchbook

20 minute pose: Rhapsody as "The Rabbit"

20 minute pose: Rhapsody as "The Rabbit"
15 minute pose: Rhapsody as "The Rabbit"
I liked the mixed-media process but, if I were to do it again, I wouldn't use titanium white. It was harsh and I needed to soften it later. I would try zinc white gouche next time. Also the toned paper was lovely but the paper I used buckled quite a bit. (Scans of my sketches were quite wrinkled and so I am posting photos instead).

GREAT News! A NEW Life Drawing Venue

Ottawa artist Kat MacGregs was at the Art House Cafe / Urban Sketching event on Wednesday night and wants everyone to know about a new Life Drawing event at the Art House Cafe.

Kat wrote:

You are invited to join open life drawing sessions hosted at The Art House Café. This public event encourages those of all skill levels to come try their hand at sketching semi clothed models. Evening poses consist of 5x 1 minute, 5x 2 minute, 4x 5 minute, 2x 10 minute, 2x 20minute, and 1x 45 minute.

The Café will be open to provide beverages and snacks.
Event starts at 7:00pm ending at 10:00pm, with a single break in between.

Limited drawing utensils available, easels available for rent ($2).

We welcome those of all orientations, ethnicity, ages, sizes, skin colour, genders, etc.

All drawing sessions are hosted on unceded Algonquin territory.

Here's a link to our Group Page:

And our First event can be found here:

I plan to attend the inaugural session on March 28 - sounds like it will be great!

My Previous DATR Blog Posts

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

My Temporary Lapse in Blogging

I have just realized that I haven't posted to my Moynahan Studio blog since November 2016.

Mixed-Media "Byward Market Melt" (on Canson 124 lb/ 265 g Montval Aquarelle watercolor paper)

I realized this blogging-lapse when I was applying for a one week residency in Quebec with the Pontiac Artists' Association and they asked for my art website URL.

My thoughts were: "Wow! I haven't posted on my art blog since November 21, 2016. Why not?"

I opened my sketchbooks and I have been making art every day (almost). I have been posting some of it to social media (my twitter and instagram) but I haven't been writing any blog posts.

I reviewed my blog and noted that:
  • in 2014, I wrote 55 blog posts; 
  • in 2016, I wrote 113 blog posts
  • in 2015 I wrote 43 (nearly one blog post per week) 
I also noticed that in 2015 I had a similar lapse in blogging for a couple of months (March to May) and I wrote a blog post about it called "The Essential Fallow Times".

My Most Popular Art Blog Posts

Since November, I produced a few more sketches for the February edition of "The Wrench".

In January, I managed to sketch a little in Mexico while on vacation. I started a new sketchbook: The Fabriano Venezia sketch book  (and I am still not sure what I think about the Venezia).

Fabriano Venezio Sketchbook: Watercolour sketches from Mexico adventures

March 2017 will be a busy month of sketching starting with the monthly Drawing at The Rooster and some Cafe Sketching with the Ottawa Urban Sketchers at the *NEW* Art House Cafe (555 Somerset St West).

This early March weather is still cold, icy, and generally unpleasant. My recent self-portrait sketch below was created to express my gratitude for my warm green coat, but seriously, the truth is that I can't wait for the warm weather to arrive!

Fabriano Venezio Sketchbook: Watercolour sketch
I feel that my blogging-lapse has now ended and I will aim to create two blog posts per month for 2017 as a minimum (and more if possible.)

If you would like to follow me on my 2017 art adventures, submit your email in the "Follow Me By Email" form on the right-hand side of this blog

Happy creating!