I had a reader contact me on this blog this week and say she had run across a duck decoy with my name on it and wondered if I’d made it. She writes: “Has your creative side extended to artwork? I recently came across a beautiful carved teal duck decoy dated 1991 and signed Peggy J. Blair and wondering if it is your work. If so, anything you could share about this aspect of your talent would be appreciated!”
I don’t remember which decoy that might have been (I made about 30 and gave them all away) but yes, that’s one of mine. I started carving in 1990 when I was unemployed: I’d arrived in Ontario in 1990 as a young lawyer from Alberta and had to wait a year to get my call to the Ontario Bar, so I had lots of time with nothing to do. (I wrote The Beggar’s Opera when I was between jobs too — I guess being bored and unemployed tends to kickstart my creativity!)
Here are two of the carvings I kept:
I gave up carving after a year or two as I found the sawdust really bothered my allergies . Once I stopped carving, I didn’t do anything remotely artistic until I took an evening art class at Algonquin College a few years ago and discovered I liked to paint.
This is a recent painting I did of Scout (completed just last week) on canvas. It’s actually got a lot of lilac tones in it that don’t show up in these photographs and the paint is layered on pretty thick. It’s about 3′ x 4′ and took about ten hours to finish (each decoy was a full week, so I like the speed of painting more than carving as well). It will migrate to the cottage next spring.
I also do the artwork for note cards that I send to clients. (These were both quick sketches of Phoebe; done with a fine tip felt pen and then washed with water so the ink runs.)
And I also do my own Christmas cards every year.
Here’s a couple of examples. The painting of the winter hare, below left, was also auctioned at the office to raise funds for my book launch last year. It’s acrylic on board, 8″ x 10.” I had originally painted it with very thick layers of paint, but it just wasn’t working. When I went to rinse the paint off — magic! It ended up having a very ethereal quality and sold for around $350.
Anyway, Kate, thanks for asking! (If you want to see some of my other work, check out this link from my archives.)