Road-trip 2012: Part II, Canada

I’ll be the first to admit that after the tornado of craziness that was Boston & NYC, I was relieved to get back into Canada via Niagara Falls. Like, ridiculously relieved. It’s not that I was having a bad time in the States, I just took for granted how much I love where I live. Getting back into the country had an air of romance to it. The air was so refreshing, full of moisture from the falls. Everywhere we walked was so clean and the overall atmosphere was a lot calmer. There were tons of freshly planted flowers coming into bloom… there were even horse-drawn carriages! The breeze was a bit chilly but it was nice and warm out, so we wandered around a bit before calling it a night. With everything lit up, it was like a strange wonderland. I expected the falls to be beautiful, but didn’t expect all the glitz & glamour of the city to go with it.

The next day was spent taking our time exploring the area, as well as chilling inside for a bit in the afternoon. I really enjoyed our time here, but we noticed something pretty quickly; everything was at least x3 times as expensive as it was in the States! This applied to food, drinks, even ice cream. Seven dollars for a Peanut Buster Parfait? C’mon! I did, however, find a really cute Betty Boop lunch box that was a perfect size for my makeup collection.

Lights at Niagara Falls, via Tim Lingley

Lights at Niagara Falls, via Tim Lingley

Niagara Falls, via Tim Lingley

Niagara Falls, via Tim Lingley

Betty Boop makeup box, via Instagram

Betty Boop makeup box, via Instagram

We spent an evening in Ottawa, just as a stop-off on the way to Montreal. As it turned out, I would’ve preferred to have spent more time in Ottawa than in Niagara Falls. Niagara was certainly beautiful, but we saw most of what we wanted to see the evening we went out for a stroll (Tim got most of his photos then, as well). We got to Ottawa around supper time and immediately saw at least five places we wanted to stop and see downtown! I found an art supply store (Wallack’s) at 4:45pm, fifteen minutes before they closed. Tim encouraged me to go in anyway and I made a mad dash to grab things; the selection there was so much better than what I’d found in NYC! Thankfully we decided to spend the next morning, beautiful and sunny, downtown so that I could examine everything more carefully (Tim found some camera stores as well). I was able to get a lot of items from my art list there including marker bleed-proof paper, illustration boards, water brushes, a beginner copic spray gun, film-protect-ant for spray paint, wooden panels to paint on and a multitude of other goodies. We indulged in some souvlaki for lunch which was so delicious and a great summer food.

Tim & I in front of Parliment in Ottawa

Tim & I in front of Parliament in Ottawa, taken after we took another couples’ photo for them. 🙂

Montreal was nice the afternoon we arrived, but was rainy the entire next day. Rather than wander the streets in the rain like we did in Boston, and since we were starting to feel the exhaustion of the trip, we spent the day underground in the maze of malls and subways that connect everything downtown. I didn’t get to see much art but I did notice that fashion there is a much bigger deal. Almost everyone looked like they put a lot of effort into their clothes/accessories, much more so than anywhere else we’d been. Tim & I were a bit swept up in it; he got a haircut and I got a manicure (still going strong after a week AND having just cut my nails!).

Graffiti in Montreal, via Tim Lingley

Graffiti in Montreal, via Tim Lingley

One of the many malls in underground Montreal, via Tim Lingley

One of the many malls in underground Montreal, via Tim Lingley

Hot Chocolate! via Tim Lingley

Hot Chocolate! via Tim Lingley

Old Quebec was the final stop of our trip and proved to be quite a gem! I got to use some of my bilingual skills and didn’t do half badly! I understand most of what people said as long as they didn’t talk too fast, but answering them was a bit harder. Vieux Quebec was the highlight of the visit, with a ton of galleries to enjoy amongst all the wonderful architecture and food it features. Even though it was cold and rainy (again!) there were lots of places to pop into to escape the weather. The first day in Quebec we stumbled upon a midevil-themed store where I had a great french conversation with the sales girl, and I picked up a ring, one of the other items I’d wanted to buy on this trip.

Montreal Manicure & Medieval Ring from Vieux Quebec, via Instagram

Montreal Manicure & Medieval Ring from Vieux Quebec, via Instagram

158/365 - Old City Quebec by Tim Lingley (timlingley) on 500px.com

158/365 – Old City Quebec by Tim Lingley (timlingley) on 500px.com

158/365 – Old City Quebec by Tim Lingley

Vieux Quebec, dans le plui, via Tim Lingley

Vieux Quebec, dans le plui, via Tim Lingley

Bons bons! via Tim Lingley

Bons bons! via Tim Lingley

Even though we were only in each spot for two days or less, I got enough of a taste of everything to feel satisfied, and to know which cities I’d want to go back to. I think the next trip we take should be a relaxed sandy one, but if I had to choose one city to revisit out of what I’ve seen, I’d like to go back to Ottawa or Boston. We really enjoyed the downtown area of Ottawa and despite the fact that I’ve been there twice on my own, most of what we explored, I hadn’t seen before. Based on the size and quality of the art store, I feel like the art scene there is booming and would like to explore it more. If we went to the US again, I’d like to go back to Boston; the food was amazing everywhere we went and Newbury Street was inspiring! Honestly, Boston felt more trendy and upbeat than New York. I’d love to explore it more when it’s not cold and rainy.

It also ended up being a learning experience for both Tim & I in several ways. As we got farther into the trip, it became a taste-test of various places we may end up in the next five years. As much as I love the Maritimes and desperately want to stay here, work has not been as plentiful as we need it to be. For reasons I’m going to elaborate on, probably in the next week or two, Halifax is where I want to end up by the end of the summer. So far though, Tim hasn’t been offered any work there. We’re keeping our fingers crossed; it’s a great city just a big bigger than where we are now, not as harsh of a move as, say, Toronto would be. It might be in the cards for us to go a bit further west, though hopefully only as far as Toronto. It seems there are tons of options for both of us there.

The other thing I noticed were the differences between bigger galleries and smaller, independent ones. I loved seeing the work of the masters up close and personal, but I also really loved seeing all the new talent in the smaller galleries! Not to mention they were less crowded and most of the paintings were easier to look at. It’s very encouraging to see so many new artists with so much great work!

I thought I would feel overwhelmed looking at paintings from Dali and Van Gough, but I didn’t. Instead, I felt… not alone? It may be pretentious of me to say this, but I feel like I share something with these artists. They felt so passionately about what they did and put so much time into it, even in many cases where they saw no recognition or money from it. They were sometimes labeled as crazy or were simply dismissed. But they did it anyway, because when you feel passionate enough about something to the point where you can feel it in your core, there just isn’t anything else. It’s comforting to know that the feeling I get when I paint or draw, when I’m really in the thick of it and I’m not listening to the background music or thinking about the clock or anything else, others share this. The feelings I get when I look at paintings, whether I’m overwhelmed, overjoyed, euphoric or saddened… it’s like I can connect with the artist on some level.

Special thanks to hubby Tim Lingley for taking all the amazing photos during our trip! He purchased a new lens before we left and has certainly put it to good use.

All Tuckered Out

All Tuckered Out (and glad to see our kitties!)

Whew! I’m very glad to be back home though and finally able to use this inspiration I’ve been gathering over the past two weeks! Back to normal blog posts on Friday, starting with a progress post on what I’ve been doing since I got back.

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My First Tattoo

I got my first tattoo at SilverLine Tattoo in Ottawa on the 12th of November, 2008. It was the day after the Nine Inch Nails concert, which was an event I am lucky to have seen considering how long I’ve been into them (only a short year, but that story is for another time). Fortunately, I’d received a training opportunity from work which allowed me to move closer to my ultimate goal, to involve more creativity and art with my work. The way I currently picture that happening is through learning some web programming languages, in particular PHP. Lots of things came together during the few days that I was there; not only did I get to see a band (person in this case) I am completely over-the-moon for, I finally got express myself in a way I’ve been wanting to for years now.

I’d been tossing around various ideas for tattoos without coming up with something really concrete. When I was still in high school I wanted to design something around the heart with barbed-wire and flames symbol. Another one of my favorite bands, Dream Theater, used the design on many of their album covers and I liked what it represents; passion, love, and the hardships to get to it. However, upon further research into the design I discovered it was deeply steeped in religious meanings (specifically catholic) and decided against it in the end. Religion is not something I am comfortable with, at least not comfortable enough to go with a permanent display of it. So, it was back to the drawing board. I really like japanese tattoos, so I looked into getting some Kanji. Again, it’s not something that I was really sure about and I was worried about translation issues, so I looked for ideas elsewhere. The thing I like most about japanese art (manga and anime included) is the amount of detail that goes into it. With this in mind, I came across various cherry blossom designs and did some research; I liked what I found, so I started sketching out ideas.

Looking into places around here for tattooing, I was a little disappointed. My choices are slim and the good parlours are booked ages in advance. Autumn progressed and I found out about the opportunity I had at work to fly out to Ottawa for training. Just out of sheer curiosity I looked at NIN’s tour dates and sure enough, they were playing the city I was going to in the short window of time I would be there. I couldn’t believe my luck! I hadn’t really planned on getting my tattoo yet since I hadn’t been able to settle on a design I liked. However, the week before I left I started getting a clearer image in my head of what I wanted. One night during the week I drew the concrete design, I knew it was the one. I attempted to replicate it and failed (I actually ended up scanning it and copying it to do a color version because I was afraid of ruining the original). I tried to draw other versions and try other options but nothing struck my like the original design did. My decision was solid. I flew to Ottawa at the end of the week excited and anxious.

My original plan fell through; I had called to several parlors in the Ottawa area and was planning to stop by one of them upon my arrival. I didn’t end up getting there in time and was very tired from my flight (only my second flight ever, my first by myself) so I decided against going. I thought that would be the end of it. Flash forward to my last day there. I woke up late because I had forgotten to set the alarm (and didn’t go to bed until later that morning because of the show). Frantically I tried to get my act together to get where I needed to be, and somehow, I ended up with a few hours to kill before my flight left. I was all packed and ready to go, so I was just twiddling my thumbs at the hotel. That was when the idea struck me; I quickly looked up where the tattoo parlour was and ventured out into the city. The parlour I had originally planned on going to was too booked to take me, but miraculously there were 3 or 4 other parlors right beside them! I went into my second choice (I am all about researching and planning things beforehand) and was greeting by a very friendly girl who talked me through the process; she helped me choose an artist who could do my design and he got to work preparing equipment while I dashed across the street to an ATM for cash and to the corner store for gatorade (at their suggestion). Originally I had decided on getting the design on my lower back, off to the side, but apparently it is one of the most painful places to get a tattoo and since I was in for my first one and didn’t know what to expect… I ended up getting it on my right shoulder blade which suits me just fine.

After finally getting doing a “blueprint” of the design on my shoulder (they did it upside down at first, then too low) he got to work on the outline and coloring. I’ve heard people say one or the other was worse, but they were both about the same for me. I was surprised, I thought it would start out a lot more painful than it did. I would compare it to having a cat scratch you repeatedly, in the same place over and over. It gradually got worse and worse, but nothing I couldn’t handle. (I’ve long since forgotten the pain and already plan more tattoos…) After 2 1/2 – 3 hours of gritting my teeth, whining, being told to relax (relaxing really helps) I was left with my very first and beautiful tattoo, an ultimate expression and dedication to art. My tattooist liked my design and did an excellent job on the work. All through the nagging pain I kept thinking how I was earning something, turning that negative energy into something positive that I would have forever.

Beauty comes from hardship, no matter how ugly and dark; strength and light comes from within, no matter how black it may seem. From the darkness, from the turmoil blooms a more beautiful and vivid blossom. This tattoo will serve as a constant reminder.

Design:


my tattoo design
by ~soulexposed on deviantART

Reality:


my first tattoo
by ~soulexposed on deviantART