Monday, November 19, 2012

website issues...

My portfolio site is redirecting to this blog for the moment, while I take care of some technical difficulties with the site. Hopefully I will have it back up and running soon! If you are here as a result of this redirection, and are looking for images of my work, there are paintings scattered throughout the archives of the blog, or you can visit my page at Narwhal Art Project's site for a selection of works and information.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

beautiful science

Hello! I'm sorry for my long absence here. I've been keeping busy, trying to dig myself out of a slump. A big part of this process has been finally fixing up my studio space (in our dining room). I'll post before/after photos once it's all finished, but for now here's a peek at what it looks like today, as I spend some quality time with my new microscope(!). As far as the previously mentioned slump goes, things are looking up. I think I may have made a small breakthrough today. I have been finding it really difficult to loosen up and be experimental in my art-making, but to approach it from more of a 'science experiment' angle is opening up some really exciting possibilities.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Endless Caverns

The second cavern site we visited in Virginia was Endless Caverns. It was a perfect contrast to the spectacular but super-touristy Luray Caverns. These caverns were off the beaten path, a bit smaller and less developed. We only had two other people on our tour, and our tour guide was fantastic - really knowledgeable and relaxed. It felt more like we were actually exploring a natural site, rather than being herded through a theme park.

Our guide would turn on lights as we went along, and then turn off the lights in the passages we had just come through. At one point he turned off all the lights and let us experience the most complete darkness I have ever felt. We entered the caverns down through a stairway locked with iron gates in a little stone building, and exited up a different stairway into the basement of the main building. The entering and exiting was one of my favourite parts of the experience. It is just so surreal to feel that transition from everyday reality to the strange and magical world underground.

 (I think it's kind of hilarious how much this picture looks like it should be in a brochure)


Monday, September 3, 2012

Luray Caverns

This was the real impetus for our trip. I've been pretty obsessed with caverns for a while now, and when I realized that some of the best show caverns in North America are clustered in an area of Virginia only a day's drive from here, we decided to plan our summer camping trip around going there.

We visited two caverns on our short trip. The first was Luray Caverns; the largest and most popular site in the region. It was kind of a crazy tourist trap, but completely spectacular nonetheless. We were part of a huge tour group (somewhere between 50-100 people?), which made its way through at a pretty reasonable pace, stopping at major features along the way, where a teenager would give us a short canned spiel about that feature. Surprisingly, I didn't feel very rushed or crowded. The caverns are enormous, and once people spread out, we could lag behind at our own pace. I think by the end we had assimilated into the tour group that was after ours. Most of my pictures are pretty blurry, because it was so dark, but I hope some might work for potential art-making purposes. Here are just a few of the hundreds of shots I took.

And, a couple more shots with people, to show scale:

P.S. Does anyone remember my cavern plate? That was from Luray! I think this trip may have inspired me to keep building on my vintage cavern souvenir collection (the contemporary souvenirs were absolutely horrid).

Sunday, September 2, 2012


Back from an amazing trip to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. This photo was taken from an overlook on Skyline Drive, the road that winds along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, down through the whole length of the park. There are 75 overlooks like this along the 105 mile drive. 

Lots of photos to come: more misty vistas, a detour to Fallingwater, and caverns!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


pyrite ~ 10" x 10"

(from a small series done earlier this summer for a hotel commission)

Sunday, July 8, 2012


...playing with pencil crayons, thinking about caverns, visiting Thunder Bay...

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday, May 14, 2012

Amethyst Mountain

Amethyst Mountain  ~  Oil on panel  ~  14" x 11"

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

getting friendly

One of the melon seedlings by my window has been making friends with my paint brushes. It's pretty sweet to see my two loves getting along so well!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

dark crystal

The second of three new pieces that Narwhal brought to Pulse in NYC. 
(I'll save the best for last.)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Monday, April 30, 2012

taming the fairy roses

I spent most of Sunday working in the garden, taking advantage of the beautiful weather to clean out the flower beds and tackle the painful (so many pricks and scratches - ow!) but immensely satisfying job of trellising the out-of-control climbing fairy rose at the side of the yard. I forgot to take a "before" picture, but it was previously just a big tangled mess hanging off the fence, mostly drooping into the alley, where it was nearly reaching far enough to scratch cars as they drove by. It was charming in its own way, I suppose, but now it is so much better. It has a more substantial presence, and helps to make the yard feel a bit less exposed. I can't wait to see a wall of little poufy pink flowers. The trellis on the right side looks pretty empty, but it is actually covered with clematis vines, which are just barely budding. Hopefully they will thrive now that they are up off the ground. I'll be sure to post another photo later in the summer when everything is blooming!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

new acquisition

I picked up some great stuff at a mineral show this weekend, including this gorgeous chunk of fluorite. Lately, I've been letting myself choose some larger pieces for my collection, rather than only focusing on specimens to use as painting subjects. One of these days I'll have to do a post about my whole collection. It's getting pretty big!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

all work and no play...

...makes Carly a bad blogger. I can't believe I've neglected this place for over a month. I mean, I know my posting has been pretty sporadic for a while, but this is getting ridiculous. I guess I've been lacking motivation or inspiration to post much here in general lately, but I've also been super busy. I have a bad tendency to let a lot of things slide when I start to feel overwhelmed by my schedule. What I have been doing is a lot of working (at the "job") and painting. I've been making some new pieces that Narwhal will be showing at Pulse (art fair) in NYC at the beginning of May. Here's one of them. A big departure for me: BLACK!?!? OMG CRAZY. This is a "tektite", which is a pretty cool thing. It looks like an asteroid, but is actually a small lump of natural glass formed by the impact of a large meteor on the Earth's surface. I will post the other two paintings I made for the fair soon.

Of course, now that I've reached one deadline, I've got another coming up in 6 weeks, so the busy-ness continues. However, there are many more beautiful things sprouting and blooming in the garden, and I have an embarrassing amount of new perfume acquisitions to share, so I'll try my best to find time to take some photos and bring some life back to this here blog.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

good news / bad news

The good news is that there are beautiful early signs of spring blooming around the garden (including one of my Hellebores!). The bad news is that the roofers who just re-shingled the garage dropped the old eaves troughs on my flower bed, crushing two of the roses I planted last year. ARG! I hope they can survive!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

the heart beating wildly

My perfume obsession has entered the "obsessively browsing vintage perfumes on ebay" stage. In fact, I've taken a step beyond the browsing stage to actually make my first vintage and un-sniffed purchase. More about that when it arrives in the mail (or if it arrives? - apparently shipping perfume internationally can be risky business). The anticipation is killing me. 

My ebay perfume search has also led me to discover so many amazing vintage perfume magazine ads. This one for Guerlain's Chamade from 1971 is my absolute favourite so far. Possibly the best perfume ad I've ever seen.

Monday, February 20, 2012

a little painting in progress

I'm finally getting around to trying my new paints - proper oil paints - for the first time (if you can believe it!?) Since I didn't study painting in school, I just got started on my own with water-mixable oil paints, got comfortable with them, and didn't try anything else until now. The water-mixable oils are nearly the same as the real deal, but I've been told that regular oil paints have richer colour and are just generally nicer to use. I'm in the process of priming some panels to use for some 'serious' paintings (ie. more rocks), but while I wait for the gesso to dry, I'm having a little fun with this tiny painting of some hellebores I photographed last spring. I'm really enjoying the new paints so far! They are so smooth and luscious, and the pigment quality does seem better. And it's definitely refreshing to paint something other than a mineral specimen for a change.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

most fragrant birthday

Friday was my 31st birthday. I was lucky enough to be treated to several days of birthday goodness. Thursday night, I celebrated with a lovely dinner at The Atlantic with Andrew. Saturday we had Andrew's family over for a visit (celebrating both my birthday and his brother's). The adorable mini cake above is courtesy of Andrew's parents. On my actual birthday, I had a coffee & cake date with my BFF Alissa and then took myself shopping. Major shopping.

Over the last month or so I have developed a serious obsession with perfume. I used to think that I didn't like perfume, but in the last couple of years after discovering Terre d'Hermes and OLO (thanks to my lady blogger friends!), I have had my mind and senses opened. It turns out that I really just didn't like cheap generic perfume. My recent descent into complete perfume madness started with an innocent visit to Holt Renfrew to sniff the L'eau d'Orange Verte at the Hermes counter, which I'd remembered liking when I originally sampled the Terre. That led to a conversation with a sales associate who lured me over to the Frederic Malle area. He showed me the Bigarade Concentree (because it is somewhat similar to the Orange Verte and was also designed by Jean Claude Ellena, who is the nose for Hermes). It was extraordinary. He also showed me some others from the line, which were completely fascinating and beautiful.

I decided that I needed to properly sample the Bigarade for a few days on my skin before investing in a bottle. They had no samples available at Holts, so I had to track down a sample on the internet. One thing lead to another, and after countless hours reading perfume blogs and reviews, here I am with at least 50 samples I've ordered from various places, a growing short-list of must-get fragrances, and a hunger to smell more and learn more. I had planned to treat myself to the Bigarade for my birthday, but couldn't just stop at that. I decided that I also *needed* the Accord Oud from Byredo. I fell in love with my sample, and find it particularly well-suited to cooler weather, so I just couldn't wait to buy it. Between these two bottles, and the bottle of Dark Wave from OLO that is on its way to me in the mail right now (Thanks Mom & Dad!!), I'm a very happy (and good smelling) girl. And, as evinced by this much longer than usual post, I'm eager to talk about perfume, so I would be thrilled if any of you would share your thoughts, feelings, favourite scents, etc. in the comments!

In case you are curious about what these things actually smell like, here are my completely amateur impressions:

Bigarade Concentree (Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle) - notes: bitter orange, rose, cedar, hay.
I've read a review that compared this perfume to the smell of a cab driver eating an orange. Not exactly the image it forms for me, but I can see where that comparison comes from. It is a dirty, earthy orange that really connects with the body. The opening is the most real and vibrant orange I've smelled in a perfume, more like the orange rind than the juice. Often, intense citrus perfume smells hurt my sinuses, but this just smells completely natural and amazing. As it dries down the other notes add layers of depth and really give me the sense that it is somehow amplifying some part of my own skin smell (in a good way). I get the feeling that this is the kind of scent that could have a very different effect depending on one's skin chemistry. For me, it is never too bitter or sweet, and becomes warm and woody and slightly spicy, with a hint of citrus keeping the memory of the initial exhilarating opening notes alive for a long time.

Accord Oud (Byredo) - notes: blackberry, saffron, rum, leather accord, clary sage, patchouli, powdery musks
This scent is rich and luscious and quite masculine. Even though the blackberry note is pretty dominant, I would not call it fruity. It reminds me of cassis liquor, leather and resinous wood. I find it hard to elaborate much on this one. The notes as listed are already pretty evocative. It is both intense and strong, but soft and supple. Pretty sexy.

Dark Wave (OLO) - notes: cardamom, vetiver, woods
This one is woody, warm and dry. Very dry. Dusty, even - in a good way. It smells ancient and deep and comforting. I love it.