au jour le jour

I’m super happy with my new handmade sketchbook, constructed with covers from an old French textbook. I plan to use it as a perpetual journal à la Lara Gastinger, with one spread per week, added to over the next four or five years.

Au jour le jour means “day by day”, which seems perfect for a sketchbook. Though perhaps it could really be titled de semaine en semaine (“from week to week”) or tout au long de l’année (“throughout the year”). Regardless, I’m excited to start recording my nature observations in this book.

maker week

Helena Fitzgerald calls the week between Christmas and New Year Dead Week. For me, it’s always the opposite — it’s the time of year when I go into a flurry of gift making. Given that most of my loved ones live on the other side of the planet, gifting requires advance planning. I love to start the New Year with a bit of hoard of future presents and cards, ready to pop in the mail at the appropriate time.

For a few years there, USPS wasn’t shipping parcels to Australia, which really put the kibosh on my handmade gift-giving. Even a card was taking up to three months to arrive. Ordering something from Book Depository to be shipped direct to the recipient just didn’t give me the same joy. So I’m thrilled that the mail service seems to be back to its pre-pandemic level of operation (still slow and expensive, but the goods get there within a month.)

All that to say … this isn’t Dead Week. For me, it’s Maker Week. 😊

prosthemadera novaseelandiae

My eldest daughter shares her name with a gorgeous New Zealand bird, so I sent her this painting as a Christmas gift.

The tūī is a boisterous, medium-sized honeyeater, with blue, green, and bronze colouration and a distinctive white throat tuft. Tūī are known for their noisy, unusual, sometimes soulful calls, different for each individual, that combine bellbird-like notes with clicks, cackles, timber-like creaks and groans, and wheezing sounds. They can imitate human speech, along with sounds like glass shattering, car alarms, classical music and advertising jingles.

Merry Christmas, Tui!

Photo reference by Sid Modsell, used under Creative Commons 2.0

horse anatomy

I was not one of those kids who could draw horses. Ilona Pochwyt in Grade 2, on the other hand, drew them obsessively. It was while watching her effortlessly sketch a ‘colt’ (I had never even heard the word before, they were all horsies to me) that I decided that drawing was a talent, and I definitely didn’t have it. I wonder if my life’s trajectory would have been different if, instead of shutting down the artist within at age 7, I’d asked Ilona to teach me how to draw a horse.

Fast forward several decades and I finally understood that drawing is a skill, not a talent. But I still, until today, had never drawn a horse. My thanks go to John Muir Laws for the equine anatomy lesson, and to Danny Gregory for the prompt. A hurdle has been leapt, a monster vanquished. I see many more sketched horses in my future.