Family portrait gallery – an amateur wall of family portraits


My home is my castle. And you know what castles have? Family portraits. Walls full of portraits.

I think my family is no less portrait worthy. And I love to play around with paints.

I am not an artist. I am at best a hobby painter.


I am working on a family portrait project.

The finished paintings will hang on the long wall at the top of the basement stairs.

It’s almost the only wall in the house that will accommodate them, and it’s on display enough that they won’t be a waste of time gathering dust but not so on display that I’ll have to answer questions about them.


The catalyst for this particular project was a cute little picture I painted of my dog last year.

That picture of her now hangs at the top spot in the family portrait arrangement. She earned top spot. In dog years she was the senior family member. Plus since she passed away in February it puts her closer to heaven.


I’ve got a bunch done and hung in the stairway . Some of the pictures are better than others. One or two really capture their subjects well.

I accidentally set something on one of them when it was laying on my desk and punctured the canvas so I will have to try it again.


When I complete the set I may go back and attempt a couple others to see if I can make them better.

I am also still working on them. On my easel right now I have my last nefew and a picture of my siblings and I as kids.



Practice makes perfect, so maybe this will help me develop some style and some skill.

Mostly though, it’s just something else for me to dabble in. Another hobby for me.

Gavin and 3 siblings – in progress

I have many hobbies; so many hobbies in fact that I may begin telling people I am a professional hobbiest.

What do you think? Should I get business cards? Darcy L Hoover, Certified Professional Hobbiest.




The habits and hobbies I keep – stitching memories

tessa-inspirationIn March of 2005 I spotted a skinny, mangy, lonely puppy in the corner of a kennel. She was there in Petcetera with a dog rescue group. The group was trying to find homes for four rescue pups. In the other corner a crowd watched three furry, beautiful white husky pups tumble in play.

Tessa Beloved family member 2005 - 2017
Beloved family member
2005 – 2017

I was drawn to the sad eyes in the corner. I could read her mind. She knew she was not what the crowd wanted. I’ve never been one for crowds.

I took her home that day, and I helped her recover from the mange and fed until she was healthy girl. Over the last 12 years she has been my shadow. Under foot. In the doorway. Waiting at the door.

On February 11, 2017 my beloved dog Tessa took her last breath. I woke up at 7 a.m. and looked over at her bed. She was motionless.

Dogs don’t live forever. Nothing does. I know that. But habits die hard. Going downstairs in the morning and not letting her out the door to pee. Going
out to shovel the walk and calling her to join me. Going to bed at night and calling her upstairsfamily-fence for bedtime. Going out to buy groceries and not saying “Bye bye Tessa, be a good girl” as I close the door. Coming in the door and not exclaiming “Hello Tessa!” Laughing as she tries to sit pretty until I take off my shoes while she waits for her hugs. Frying bacon and turning to watch the dog come around the corner.

Habits die hard because they bring us happiness. So do memories. To that end…

I carved her into the family fence in the garden a couple years ago. I painted her portrait last year. We had the vet make us a paw imprint that I will place beneath her likeness in the garden. This morning I added her to my 365 day embroidery challenge. I’m planning in my head how I can sculpt her likeness.

So while I know there is no way that her absence won’t change the way I go through my day, I can insert her into all the other things I do so that she will always be a part of the habits and the hobbies I keep.

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Stitches and more time, please (a tale of too many projects)

Hubby and I have spent a good portion of the winter sitting in our cozy living room working on our personal crafty projects. He makes things out of leather, I make things out of fibre. Crafty couples are happy couples.

I’ve made progress on several projects.

  1.   Needlepoint Table Runner                                                                                                 I made a sketch on craft paper to use as a guide, then stitched together three, three foot lengths of Aida cloth. The finished project will be a runner just shy of nine feet long. When it’s done I will edge it so it will likely end up about 15 inches wide.             It’s taken me just over a year to finish a 27 inch long section. It’s definitely a multi-year project.             feb-8-2017-crop-brighter
  2.   365 Day Embroidery Challenge                                                                                         I got this idea from an article on Facebook. I started on Jan 1, 2017 with my embroidery co-conspirator Ashleigh.                                                                                 I make some basic stitches with thicker strands of thread. Looking at Ashleigh’s finer work I decided I was falling behind because my inability to focus close (old age sucks) so I bought some cheaters and am now able make the finest stitches. As I chose the project because I wanted to master the satin stitch, the cheaters are a blessing.                      feb-8-2017-crop-brighter
  3.   Woven Placemats                                                                                                               My always doting husband bought me a 24 inch rigid heddle loom for Christmas. After weaving a few throw away bits of cloth I decided my first full project would be a set of placemats.                                                                                                                 I bought five skeins of yarn in complimentary colours and tried to sketch some pattern ideas in crayon, but in the end just ended up warping the loom with no plan. The resulting plaid was gorgeous.                                                                                       So far I have five placemats done and five more on the loom.                 plaid-1
  4.   Celtic Cross-stitch Triptych                                                                                               I came across a half finished cross-stitch of a Celtic inspired boar in a dusty box last year. I finished it up on planes and in airports.                                                           It pleased me. As my husband has often noted I tend to do things in multiples, and in true form I decided to make a triptych.                                                                   I started a raven on planes and in airports over our Christmas holidays. We go to New Orleans soon and I’ll be taking the project with me. On some future trip I will stitch a salmon.                                                                                                    feb-8-2017-crop-brighter

Winter isn’t over, but a spring deadline for the interior arts looms large. I figure I have until the crocuses bloom to work on these projects un-distracted.  





Dream weaver – my new rigid heddle loom

I had a rather unpleasant junior high school sewing instructor and because of that I img_20160626_224632resented sewing, yet was obviously drawn to it.

I made doll clothes and little pillows from collected scraps of fabric and yarn.

I was and still am fascinated by colour and texture.

I even collected art books about the textile arts.

My final year high school art project was to choose an image and depict it in four different media. I created my image in pastels, watercolours, as an etching, and I cut shapes in coloured denim and stitched them together to make a geometric representation of my image. I got an A+ and a special img_20161231_143219compliment on the innovative use of fabric in fine art.

For some reason even with that success, I dropped my pursuit of textile crafts. Until now, that is. Now, approaching 50 I have shaken off that bitter home economics experience and am diving headlong into my love of fabrics.

I’ve written about my cross stitching, embroidery and sewing. This blog is about learning to weave.

For Christmas my doting husband bought me a 24″ rigid heddle loom. To help me get going I ordered an img_20170117_151945instructional video from

I started weaving with some spare yarn I had left from a costume I made for my son a few years ago. Once I got the feel for the loom and managed to get my edges pretty straight I decided I would make placemats for my
dining room table.

img_20170118_144459I was going to do simple stripes, but one yarn lead to another and I ended up creating a plaid. The test mat turned out really nice. I love the way the colours work and they look great in my dining room – which has a paprika red feature wall behind the fireplace.

I plan to spend the next month or two slowly working on 12 place mats. I say over two months because I will be weaving in between cross stitching the table runner, my 365 day embroidery project, some paintings of my family, painting my upstairs hallway, painting the downstairs bathroom and some small sewing projects I have on the go.

Hopefully I get it done before early spring when I’ll want to move outside to work on some garden decoration projects. I’m pretty sure I’ll die with 20 unfinished craft projects. What a wonderful way to go.


Another day, another stitch – 365 days of embroidery

Ashleigh's first day.
Ashleigh’s first day.

I have been cross stitching for years, but I have never sat down and really mastered the related art of embroidery. So when I came across a blog recently about a person who had stitched every day for 365 days I decided this would be just the project for me.

I shared my crafty plans on Facebook and a young woman who is friends with my son said she’s like to stitch along with me.

I have everything we need. I have two unused embroidery hoops. I have a large scrap of cloth that would work well for embroidering on. I have plenty of colourful bits and bobs of

Darcy's first day.
Darcy’s first day.

embroidery yarn from past projects. And best of all, I have an accomplice.

I’ve looked up the various stitches. I cut the fabric to fit the two hoops. Beyond that I have no plan. The plan is not to plan, just to do. Chaos lives in poorly thought out plans, but creativity lives in well thought out spontaneity, right?

Here we go, Jan 1, 2017. Day number one of 365.



See below for some stitching guidance if you want to try this yourself.…/library-embroidery-stitches/…/2014/…/hand-embroidery-stitches/

Now playing – Shakespeare on vinyl

2012-12-19-17-34-29This is not about one of my projects, but it is about an add-on to the first home project my husband and I undertook in our house – our library.

We’re both bibliophiles, we both brought boxes of books with us, and we had purposefully bought a house with a room that could be converted to a library.

But in addition to my love of the printed word, I am a fan of theatre and music. My portion of the library includes several plays; and yes it does include the complete works of Shakespeare.

place-to-be-libraryWhen we had the carpenter build our library I made sure that one section was set aside for my stereo, turntable and record collection.

My music, literature and theatre had one home.

I have just acquired a finishing detail quite by accident.

A few weeks ago I got a message from an old friend. She had spotted something at a fundraiser that she believed would appeal to me. Among a lot of items donated to a fundraising rummage sale was a boxed set of LPs with complete readings of Shakespeare’s plays by actors like Richard Burton, Vivian Leigh, Peter Finch, Peter O’Toole, Dame Peggy Ashcroft, and Maggie Smith.

She was right about this being up my alley.

They are a fabulous find. They are in good shape. The sound is good, the boxes look worn in a stately way.

I’ve given them a home beside the treatable and above the leather bound set of Shakespeare’s plays that I bought in my early 20’s. I think this spot is their destiny.



Imagine Mr. Tumnus

The first year we moved into this house I began an ambitious clay project.

Illustration by Pauline Baynes, from my 1978 Penguin Books copy of The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
Illustration by Pauline Baynes, from my 1978 Penguin Books copy of The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

In the yard, out our front window there is a light-post under the boughs of a spruce tree. The spot reminded me of one of my favourite childhood novels, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis, and of the character of Mr. Tumnus specifically.

He’s been done for some time. He’s definitely dry. I have toyed with the idea of having him fired, but because he’s made of thick slabs of clay joined together I am afraid he contains a bubble that will ruin him in a kiln.

I think I have figured out how to make a mould of him so I can cast a copy for firing.

When I start that I will document my process, but for now here’s a timeline of the birth of my Mr. Tumnus.

I bought myself a box of clay from Plainsman Pottery. This project used the entire box of clay.

I decided that I was not at all confident in my ability to make a free standing Tumnus, so settled on a Tumnus seated on a stump (waiting for Lucy of course).

I made the centre hollow to cut back on the weight so that it would be easier for me to move around as I worked on all sides.

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Mr. Tumnus has been sitting in my art room since the winter of 2012.

Hopefully this winter I manage to get a good mould of him, cast his likeness, fire that casting, and set him out in the yard where I originally envisioned him.