September Playlist (in October)
 
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Man these playlists are getting shorter and shorter! (Just like my attention span). I blame it, and everything else, on the podcast that ate my brain. I’ve been listening to my composer guests on repeat, but there’s still lots of great non-flute music on deck, including:

Highwomen, the Highwomen: A feminist retelling of Willie Nelson’s famous tune that gives me shivers. It’s done by a super-group of country music mavens, including Maren Morris and Brandi Carlisle. The entire album is lots of fun with fantastic song-writing. (I particularly enjoyed the lesbian love ballad If She Ever Leaves Me, and My Name Can’t Be Mama Today, a surprisingly funny and complex ode to motherhood.) If you think you don’t like country music, give this a listen. 

Monster, the Revivalists: A rocked-up version of Amos Lee, or alternately an acoustic-leaning Kings of Leon. 

Cringe, Matt Maeson: Broody and angsty, but with a fun ripping chorus line. 

Lover, Taylor Swift: Once upon a time, there was a country singer… 

2Million, G Flip: Not too sure what the 2 Million refers to, but it’s a sweet love song in the midst of what is definitely a break-up album. (Maybe something to do with the LGBQT+ population? GFlip identifies as queer.

Come Meh Way, Sudan Archives: A tap-your-fingers kind of track featuring some fun tricks with the violin and a looper. 

The Fall, Rhye: Big in 2012, apparently far back enough for me to stop dead in my tracks in a Starbucks and pull out Shazam. 

 
Sunita LeGallou
It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's a ... Podcast!
 
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So, I’m launching a podcast! Well, I’m making an art project disguised as a podcast. 

I’ve had this idea for a while, to interview composers about their process and get the backstory on a song before I paint to it.

However, I assumed a podcast would be out of my technical reach until - drumroll! - I took the Science Communication program put on by Beakerhead. We covered podcasting and recorded a mini episode as part of the course. So, I learned that A) I *could* do it, and B) it would take a *lot* of work. 

So, I floated the idea to a few friends and composers and friends who knew composers, and now here we are! Music for PhD’s, a series of 8 biweekly episodes, will launch mid-October and run through winter 2019/2020. For every episode I’ll interview a Canadian composer about their process and inspiration. Then we’ll dig into a particular piece, which I’ll paint to. 

We’ll also talk to Dr. Kate Einarson about the science of music! Kate was at the Beakerhead course with me, and did her doctorate research on how music affects language acquisition. She’s funny and smart and personable and will be the real-live PhD on Music for PhDs!

I hope you’ll join me on this many-tentacled art project! For me, painting to music is about the performance as much as the finished artwork. And this podcast is yet another element. I love that now I have this brand new medium - podcasting - to dive into ideas about music and experience and sensation in so many ways.

I am literally about to submit the first episode to iTunes, so fingers crossed it will be live and ready for download very very soon!

 
Sunita LeGallou
August Playlist
 
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I’m actually pretty late on this one, seeing as the September long weekend came and went, but here ya go! A playlist of fabulous music, some old stuff, some new stuff. 

What will you not find here? The National. If you know me and you’ve heard me gush recently about the best concert of my entire life, then you’re probably shocked my August playlist wouldn’t include these guys. But I didn’t listen to the National in August. I’m listening to them now in September, pretty much all September (so far, still going strong, High Violet on repeat), so maybe next month you’ll get a playlist consisting entirely of one band. 

Playlist on Spotify

Big Ole Geeks, Raven the Science Maven: Thanks to @ScienceSam for turning me onto this awesome hip-hop love ballad to science and black women in STEM!

On the One, Daniel Farrant: Keep your butt-in-chair dance party going with this funky track. 

YWLGOML, Outer Spaces: This mouthful of an acronym translates to “You won’t let go of my line,” which I can only assume refers to some kind of Theatre Club angst.

Ultralife, Oh Wonder: Love this song, love your life, love driving with the windows up and stereo blasting.

Wars, Of Monsters and Men: When I went to Iceland with one of my best friends, we drove around in a rental car with exactly 6 CD’s, one of which was Of Monsters and Men. It was a full year before either of us would touch OMaM again. Thank goodness it’s 2019, we’ve de-Icelanded, and now we can listen to this new album. 

Hypothermia, Tanya Tagaq: I got to see a very intimate throat-singing performance this summer, thanks to Esker Foundation, which I did a little sketch of.

Train in the Distance, Paul Simon: Came across this song in a podcast, and it’s a seriously delightful little acoustic track. 

Silver Stallion, Cat Power: A beautiful soft song, perfect for a grey melancholy morning. Hello, fall. 

 
Sunita LeGallou
Concert Posters
 

I love concert posters! I’m going to see The National this weekend and I am 100% coming home with a concert poster. 

I also get to make concert posters, which is pretty cool. Timepoint Ensemble is a classical contemporary orchestra based here in Calgary, and each year they commission me to do their season posters.

 
2019/ 2020 Timepoint Concert Poster #1

2019/ 2020 Timepoint Concert Poster #1

2019/ 2020 Timepoint Concert Poster #2

2019/ 2020 Timepoint Concert Poster #2

2019/ 2020 Timepoint Concert Poster #3

2019/ 2020 Timepoint Concert Poster #3

2019/ 2020 Timepoint Concert Poster #4

2019/ 2020 Timepoint Concert Poster #4

 

In past years, they’ve had themes or color schemes for me to work within, but for the 2019/ 2020 season I was free to do pretty much whatever I wanted. 

Although the music is all quite different, I got a bit of a space vibe from the track titles. My theme for these paintings would be 'lunar soundscape' and I was working from a mental picture of all these swirling, fast-moving black and white streaks, with small bursts from nebula and solar flares. 

I love the washy-greys and bright pops of oil pastel

I love the washy-greys and bright pops of oil pastel


If you want to listen to some of the music that inspired these posters (and will be played *at some point* this season), check ‘em out here:

Veronika Krausas, Under an Open Sky

Ken Ueno, WATT

Dai Fujikura, Sparkling Orbit

 
Sunita LeGallou
Barn Raising (No, Not Literally)
 
I see a face in the barn

I see a face in the barn

I got to do a sweet little commission for K’s grandma this summer. I guess the family was driving past a canola field (as you do, in Alberta) and took some photos of this adorable red barn, sitting in a sea of bright yellow canola.

It’s a good thing I wasn’t present for this moment, because I’m allergic to all plant life, but it made for a lovely photo and I was very happy when they asked me to do a painting of it. 

Canola Fields, 2019

Canola Fields, 2019

I wasn’t too sure how to handle the canola - it’s quite detailed, all those little flowers, why did I choose ultra-wide paper, etc. etc. But it reminded me of a wetland scene I painted in New Zealand, and I dug that painting out of storage to compare. 

Okarito Lagoon, 2019

Okarito Lagoon, 2019


I’m super pleased with how it turned out, and I did end up putting in some pastel to highlight the canola flowers. 

detail

detail

I also quite like this windswept tree in the background. Very prairie

I also quite like this windswept tree in the background. Very prairie

I currently have a backlog of roughly 1 million New Zealand landscape photos on my phone, and I’m starting to think I should do something with them. Any thoughts on what you’d like to see?

 
Sunita LeGallou
Jasper and 3rd Summer Syndrome
 

On the one hand, I haven’t done much summer, but on the other hand, this is my third summer in a row (thanks Southern Hemisphere!) Our one and only camping trip this summer was up to Jasper, which has snowed literally every other time I’ve been there #becausecanada.

Yes, I’m still wearing a puffy #becausecanada

Yes, I’m still wearing a puffy #becausecanada

Miraculously, we had sunshine, 30 degree days and not much on the docket. This meant excellent conditions for sketching, and I took full advantage.

My typical view

My typical view

My advice for sketching is, sketch when you already want to be somewhere for a while. A sunny morning campground is an ideal place to linger, and thus an ideal place to commemorate. 

From the sketch-journal

From the sketch-journal

Not sure how I’ll handle ski season, but cross that bridge when we get to it!

 
Sunita LeGallou
Mother of Puppies, First of Her Name

My family receives many hand-drawn cards and K’s recent birthday was no exception. I had the idea to make him a “coat of arms” type card, which is kind of a thing for sovereign nations or Meghan Markle, but is also a super fun way to make something highly personal. For K, I put in references to travel, skiing, space, and hockey, and humble brag, it turned out awesome. 

 
K’s spirit animal is the bear, who lives in the alpine and eats a lot.

K’s spirit animal is the bear, who lives in the alpine and eats a lot.

 

Then we caught wind of these awesome customizable insulated mugs, done by a Canadian company called LAMOSE. We hit up their storefront in Southcentre mall and they engraved the image straight onto a coffee mug! #notsponsored

 
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We got to watch it come to life right in store, which was very cool, and now K has a really sweet coffee mug at work. He reports that the insulation works very well, and the mug is heavy/ stable enough to avoid most tipping ‘incidents’. 

 
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Honestly it was such a fun project I kinda want one for myself! I’m not sure what my coat of arms will look like but it will probably involve champagne and puppies. Suggestions?

Sunita LeGallou
July Playlist
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Where did summer go? Alas, the typical heart-cry of the August long weekend. If you need some summer tunes for your upcoming road trip, I made another playlist on Spotify. This is all the music I listened to on repeat in July. 

Pretty Pimpin, Kurt Vile: A totally fun, upbeat track about what sounds suspiciously like a mid-life crisis. 

Back on Top, Gloria Gaynor: Gospel music isn’t usually my thing, but this is a phenomenal album. I had trouble picking one track, so this is my pick for pump up music. 

Your Love, The Outfield: Don’t ask. An EDM-remix was playing at the gym, and it drove me into an all-out 80’s dive. 

Art of Doubt, Metric: Oh, just listen to the whole album. 

Maps, Yeah Yeah Yeah’s: Actually, my favorite version of this song is an acoustic take (I couldn’t find it on Spotify)

Keep a Light On, Jenn Grant: I’ve been singing along to the lyrics all month and still can’t decide if this is a happy love song or not. 

On the Roof, Mo Kenney: Mo Kenney is pretty new to me, but she’s Canadian and her album cover features a bad-ass salmon colored pant suit, so… I’m a fan.

Is She Really Going Out With Him? Joe Jackson: I thought this was an Elvis Costello song, right up until I tried to find it on Spotify and ended up combing through Ask Metafilter. (I heartily agree with the OP’s final comment at the bottom.)

If I can’t Have You, Shawn Mendes: Are you sick of this radio-candy-crush-addiction yet? Because I am not. 

Never Really Over, Katy Perry: An excellent running/ head-bobbing track. 

Sunflower, Post Malone, Swae Lee: This is from the animated Spiderman: Into the Multiverse Soundtrack, and the whole thing is MY FAVORITE EVER. The movie! The graphics! The plotline! Spider-Gwen’s haircut! I love it all, and I love this song most of all. 

I did end up painting to quite a few of these songs, so I’ll post them once I’ve got some decent lighting for photographs.

Sunita LeGallou
Books Read in June/ July
 
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A blog post about “Books Started and/or Purchased in June/ July” would be a lot longer, tbh. Also, I intended to do this monthly, but it turns out I really didn’t read a lot of books in July! So, here’s my very brief report on “summer reads”, if you need something for August.

Long Way to an Angry Planet, Becky Chambers. A happy romp through space. I expected more conflict, but honestly it’s quite hopeful and very LGBTQ+ affirming. Read if:

  • You thought Expanse was too dark 

  • You want some sci fi that isn’t quite so straight + white

  • You enjoy your coworkers but don’t want to live on a long haul spaceship with them (I imagine this is most of us)

Off the Clock, Laura Vanderkam. One of my favorite productivity authors, LVM focuses this book on how to get that delicious vacation “I don’t know what time it is and I don’t care” feeling. Read if: 

  • You’re trying to max out your summer vibe 


Sister Mine, Nalo Hopkins. I ADORED this book, it was the kind of read I have to pace myself not to devour in one sitting. Magical realism + incredibly real family dynamic + tragic stakes = all the feels. (It also inspired some teary ‘can I ever write like that probably not’ internal angst.) Read if:

  • You’ve ever wondered if sea monsters live in lake Ontario (answer: maybe)


Planetfall, Emma Newman. Again, so good! I did not pace myself and definitely read this over the course of 36 hours. It is somewhat dark, and somewhat spooky. An interesting sci fi read which raises a lot of questions about religion and free will. The ending is ambiguous, but it’s 1st in a series so interested to see where this goes. Bit of a trigger warning on mental illness. Read if:

  • You thought Expanse was not dark enough

  • You are somewhat interested in cults

  • You are OK with being dropped into a mystery from page 1

Sunita LeGallou
#BanffSciComm

I just came back from a course on Science Communication by Beakerhead at the Banff Centre. It’s a 10 day program covering science media/ journalism/ communication in today’s era, complete with sessions on podcasting, video, social media and of course, writing + pitching. 

 
 

I came away with so many ideas buzzing that honestly, I don’t know where to start!

The course was super intense, but in a mind-blowing way. I learned a ton and got hands-on practicum time on pretty much everything listed above and more. They cover a huge toolkit, and I’m not sure exactly what I’ll pick up to use in my future career, because it was like drinking from a firehose. For 10 days. 


The course culminates in a group project, and you can check out mine here! (For the next 28 days, at least - we didn’t want to pay to host it indefinitely.)

Our group project was called Coven of Curiosity, and it’s a web magazine, podcast (I’m the co-host!), and video channel all devoted to freaky science. Our tagline is Science for Slytherins. Check it out!

 
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Sunita LeGallou
Long Weekend in Kelowna

We celebrated Canada’s birthday in true summer style - driving on highway 1, eating a bunch of BC cherries, and dodging thunderstorms. The weather wasn’t as face-meltingly hot as anticipated, so we adapted our priorities to wineries > beach. 


This trip, I hit a nice balance of painting in-the-moment and after-the-fact. I love painting on location, it’s a cool way to really melt into a place. I slow down, observe all the details, and really savor the view. 


That being said, I also have a lot of fun illustrating things that either 1) happened really quickly or 2) didn’t/ couldn’t be captured on camera. Like us running over this kids soccer ball! He kicked it into the parking lot just as we were backing up and I thought we’d blown a tire. Or some critical piece of the engine. 

 
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Fortunately (for us, not for the kid’s soccer game) it was neither of those things, and we continued our trip. But I’ll never forget that moment now, because it’s in the sketchbook! It’s canon


Planning a trip to Kelowna? Don’t think you can find a bad meal there. But, I highly recommend:

  • Block One Restaurant/ 50th Parallel Estate Winery 

  • Jack’s Pizza 

  • Red Bird Brewery 

  • Annegrets Chocolates (amazing gelato in, of all places, the mall)

Sunita LeGallou
June Playlist
 
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Who loves mixtapes? This girl. I remember calling into radio stations to request songs, then hitting “record” on the cassette player. I always got accidental snippets of the DJ. 

(This makes me the oldest millennial *ever*, like reminiscing about the internet dial up tone.)

Anyways, I made a mixtape for June. It’s on Spotify here if you need some new tunes in your life. Let me know if you have recommendations for July!

Big Boss Mama, Tami Neilson: I’m kicking this playlist off with a bold rollicking pump-up song. Cue this one up before strutting into a job interview or first date. Or just, you know, being a badass. 

Because the Night, Patti Smith: I love her books. Check out Just Kids, or A-Train if you want to feel a bit stoned. 

To Hell & Back, Maren Morris: I adore the entire album, but I chose this track for it’s highly feminist love-story message - “You didn’t save me, didn’t think I needed saving, you didn’t change me, didn't think I needed changing.”

The Chain, Fleetwood Mac: As I write this, I’m realizing half this playlist was released 6 months ago, and the other half is from the 70’s. Oh well. 

The Knife, Maggie Rogers: Honestly no clue what the lyrics are about (the title is a bit dark), but it’s a smart sexy synthy tune to make you shrug your shoulders and pretend like you weren’t dancing in your chair. 

Crying Shame, Jennifer Castle: Break up music, but the nice kind.

Secret Love, Stevie Nicks: Ooh, am I allowed 2 songs with Stevie Nicks? There are loads of rules for mix tapes. (I’ll give myself a pass since one is off a solo album.)

Your Type, Carly Rae Jepsen: A fun, bittersweet follow up to Call Me Maybe, to play if you’ve been “friend-zoned”.

Rocky Mountain High, John Denver: Who doesn’t love this song? No explanation needed.

Sunita LeGallou
Hello!

Hello!

Welcome to my blog. I’ve blogged in random spurts before, but I often ran out of momentum. I felt like I had to write about Big Topics with Big Opinions.

However, I’ve realized that most of the blogs I personally enjoy reading are quite… ordinary. Just people living their lives, writing humorous little snippets that make me feel like I’ve gotten to know them. 

Hopefully this will be that for you! I’ll write about art, and writing, and science, and dogs, and music, and fun things I do, and boring things I do, and maybe a little bit of travel along the way. 

(If nothing else, now my mom has a reason to use the Internet.)


Sunita LeGallou