Thursday, November 30, 2006

One of my favorite things…

Yes, it’s fonts! Back in the 70s I did a lot of ad and bookwork using Letraset. Fonts like Tango, Sinaloa, Arnold Boeklin and Cabaret were really big then—and I used them more than once. But when I look at something like Lazybones now, I cringe. I don't think I could ever use any of these typefaces again. They were all basically what I refer to as “stoner fonts.” Very groovy and psychedelic, but best left back in the 70s where they belong.
I recall a boyfriend I had then giving me an old typewriter that I used for journaling. It never occurred to me to enlarge the typeface for any of the projects I was working on because there was a certain look going on and you found yourself automatically plugging into it. But that old typewriter is somewhere in the mountain of debris that fills our crawl space. It would be fun to find it and make my own font because I really like the distressed look. I also like mismatched letters. The font shown above is called Hackers, and it’s an interesting one to use. The only thing I don’t like about it is that the “S” looks like a dollar sign, so I try to avoid words with that letter!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Busy, Busier, Busiest

This morning John asked me if I had a photo of myself so he could remember what I looked like! The poor guy has received scant attention from yours truly for weeks now because I’ve been so busy. Still, he’s being a good sport about it all. He even made a tasty dinner for me to eat before Christina Lazar-Schuler’s special class at Bizzy B’s tonight. But more about that in a moment…
I haven’t had a minute to relax since Holly Jolly—in fact, I haven’t even unpacked! I received my first commission (for three pictures), more requests for my Mélange CD, which sold out on Saturday and orders for two more digital collages, so I’ve been hard at work. It’s all good, but it’s stressful too.
I had really been looking forward to Christina’s class, which was working with a mini chipboard album (love that chipboard). But I had nothing ready by this morning, and I was freaking. John suggested I use my own digital collages instead of trying to get some photos together. I’m really glad he did because I’m so pleased with what I produced—not that I’ve finished of course. But I will be seeing Christina on Friday night before she goes back to Vancouver, and I’ve promised myself that I will finish my Renaissance project. And show it to her.
If you ever get a chance to take a class with Christina, jump at the opportunity. She’s so generous with her time, materials and expertise. I always appreciate a handout to refresh my memory, and Christina’s also included a color photocopy of the pages she did for her sample. I’m really impressed.
Now where was I? Daniza and I worked across from each other and I loved what she did. She sanded her pages for a distressed look and the whole effect was very cool. Then Carmi came by Bizzy B’s to pick up Christina, and while she waited, sewed on something tiny and scrumptious. (No, Susan—you will not start sewing too). I can’t help thinking how lucky I am to know so many talented and inspiring people.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Holly Jolly Wrap Up

I really had fun at Holly Jolly today. Carmi does such a professional job of organizing it, and there’s something so inspiring about being in a room filled with people and their art whether it’s photography, jewelry, chocolates, needlework, cards or whatever. Frankly, it’s a relief to get all the preparation over with too—I hate that part of it since I’m always going off on a tangent and having to discipline myself.
Because I’ve spent so much time on my own lately, I just wanted to socialize…i.e. talk a lot about what I do to everyone who stopped by. In fact, I think one guy actually bought a picture just so he could shut me up. And Mary—being right next to me—probably learned more about Leonardo Da Vinci’s patron’s mistresses than she ever wanted to. (Speaking of Mary, she set up a little table and made jewelry during the sale, which I thought was really cool).
I had repeat customers from last year, and it was nice that they remembered me. My sister Pam, sister-in-law Wendy and my mother came too, and they all bought pictures. This is one that Pam chose and it’s a personal favorite of mine. (Yes, it’s one of Leonardo’s patron’s mistresses). I seem to know what Pam will like because it’s what I would go for if I were buying my own work!
One funny think happened today. An elderly woman came by with her daughter. She obviously wasn’t in the mood to be impressed by my digital collages, so she said to me: “What’s this any good for?” Now this is exactly what you say to yourself in those dark moments when you question your creativity. But somehow, when a stranger gives voice to it, you realize how hilarious it actually is. So I laughed, and said: “Maybe you could hang one on your wall!” She looked surprised and then nodded. (No, she didn’t buy a picture, but that would have been a great punch line, wouldn’t it?)
Anyway, I was so tired when I got home tonight that I fell asleep on the couch and had a dream about being a pixel trying to measure itself. Too much Photoshop obviously. I guess it’s time to do some cooking and cleaning for a change.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Birthday Miss Em!

It’s Emma’s birthday today and we had a lovely chat this morning/afternoon. She was in the middle of cleaning up her apartment because she was having friends in for pizza, and then they were going out to a club. I can’t believe Emma will be home in less than a month. My plan is to have the house spick and span, stocked with goodies and the tree up, so she can just relax when she gets back.
Right now the house looks like a tornado has raced through it, and that tornado is me. There’s stuff everywhere as I’m still not finished all my framing for the Holly Jolly Holiday Sale yet. I’m not including everything I did last year, but this little picture, The Heart of a Poet, was one of my favorites from the 2006 sale, so I’m including it again. Four people bought one including my niece Bridget. I’ve done about fifteen new pictures, plus 10 collage sheets, so it will be interesting to see what people like (or don’t).
Now that the end is in sight, I’m getting excited about spending the day with everyone. Mary and I are neighbors again this year and I’m really looking forward to this. Everything I’ve learned about selling, I’ve learned from Mary. Come and see her in action, if you can! (Plus my other buddies too).

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Another Ann ATC

Looking at this ATC from a year ago September, I think I’d do it differently now. I was obsessed with scanning dried rose petals at the time, and lost Ann in the process. Then I merged the layers in Photoshop, so I’m stuck with it unless I want start again from scratch.
I spent hours today working on a Renaissance collage and was disappointed with the results. (Maybe it was listening to the same Britney Spears song over and over again? Must be K-Fed lurking in my subconscious!)
It never fails to surprise me how the creative process changes from one piece of art to the next. You think you’ve got it—that magical X-factor—and then the next thing you do defies any attempt to come together. The pieces I have the most trouble with are rarely the ones that appeal to anyone but me. But I like them because there’s a whole story going on that only I understand and appreciate.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Today I got a lot accomplished. The good thing about pressure is that forces you to do things you’ve been putting off. Last year after Holly Jolly I had all sorts of plans about what I was going to do for the next one. Now that it’s suddenly five days away, I’m asking myself: “Why haven’t I done everything I promised myself I would do? After all, I’ve had a whole year to do it!”
But then I realized I’ve actually accomplished quite a lot since the last Holly Jolly sale. I’ve written a book for one thing, so why should I give myself a hard time? Because of my book, most of the digital work I’ve done in the last few months has been in black and white. I think I will frame some of them in the future, but right now I’m focused on color—and really enjoying it. I hope people like my new stuff, but you can never second-guess what appeals to people. The bottom line is: if it works for me, it works.
David took three of my digital collages up to The Art Gallery of Peel for their Christmas Sale. To be honest, I just grabbed what was handy and gave them to him. I also formatted another ATC of Ann for Canadian Scrapbooker.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Jeanne Schedler

I took a break from my Holly Jolly prep this afternoon to take a good look at the collages Jeanne emailed me earlier this week. I like these two in particular. “Hmm,” said John when he saw them. “Quite interesting.” And I agree. There’s something really unique about them. I think it’s the combination of vivid color and spontaneous painting combined with tiny collages and doodles. Very fresh and inspiring…it makes me want to paint!
Jeanne told me in her email that she’s working like a “madwoman” to finish a 60-page collage book that incorporates all sorts of hands-on techniques and altered visuals. I can’t wait to see this when it’s finished. She also told me that her studio would give Bacon’s “a run for his money” Don’t you just love it when someone is so caught up in the creative spirit that they have no time to eat, sleep or clean? You go girl!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Sonja Wernke

Interviewing people is one of the best parts of being a freelancer. I always learn a lot, and sometimes I’m even inspired to do more with my own life—just like I was when I wrote about Sonja Wernke for the November/December issue of RubberStampMadness magazine. Brought low by a series of health problems (and depressed about it), Sonja fought back by making art. Not only is she a woman after my own heart—she loves to journal—but she also started her own stamp company 1 Stamp Dreamer online. Obviously Sonja doesn’t let a pesky little detail like illness stand in the way of living a full and creative life. When I feel discouraged about things, I’ll think about her and the healing power of art. Sometimes the last thing you want to do is to be creative when you’re feeling low. But if you push yourself…if you just mess about with your art supplies, I can guarantee that you’ll end up feeling better. Just ask Sonja!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Gearing up for Holly Jolly

I really enjoyed participating in the Holly Jolly Holiday Sale last year. It’s fun to sell your stuff, see what everyone else is doing and talk to the people who stop by your table. As you all know, I do love to talk!
This year the sale is on Saturday, November 25th from 10 am until 4 pm at the Swansea Town Hall in the Bloor West Village. If you go to Carmi’s website you can see a list of all the vendors and find directions. I don’t know everyone that’s participating, but Carmi, Mary, Aracely, Christina, Karen, Paul and Marissa will all have nifty stuff for sale. The new vendors look interesting too.
I like the timing of Holly Jolly because it starts me thinking about Christmas. I’m not the kind of person who starts shopping for gifts in January. Getting into the spirit of the season is important to me, and last year I bought several gifts at Holly Jolly. Everything is created with love, so it’s nice to spread it around (and buy yourself some treats too).
I’d like to say that I’m organized for the sale, but I’m not—yet. My original plan was to do some small paintings to sell in addition to my digital collages. Unfortunately, I’ve had a lot of freelance work lately, and this has prevented me from doing everything I wanted to do. Being super busy has forced me to focus though. I’ll have several new digital collages ready, plus ten new collage sheets that I’m also going to put on CD.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Happy Birthday Fur Baby

Lily is eleven today. Here is a picture of her as a puppy snoozing on my winter coat. I was wearing it the day we brought her home. The breeder suggested I put her inside my coat and snuggle her up next to my heart. (Even though I always looked like a football player in a snowstorm when I wore that coat, I still have it because it’s like my wedding dress—the symbol of a happy memory I don’t want to forget).
We have nothing special planned for Lily’s birthday. I could throw her a party and invite her best fur buds, but she doesn’t have any. Large or small, she will chase off any dog that invades her territory. (And don’t get me started on the cat thing). So what I have planned is a special birthday dinner of steamed veggies and Kraft Dinner. Do they put something in KD that makes it addictive? Whatever it is, Lily just goes mental over it.
Then again she loves anything foodish: avocado, peanut butter, cheese, banana, pancakes…the list is endless. She even broke into some chocolates one Christmas morning and didn’t miss a beat even though chocolates are supposed to be poisonous to dogs. I’m sure if I baked her a cake, she’d go for that too. But you have to draw the line somewhere. When you can.
Lily has slowed down some in the last couple of years. But she still climbs stairs easily, jumps up on the furniture, and chases squirrels and airplanes. You couldn’t ask for a more loyal and loving friend. I’m going to sign off now and hold her close to my heart.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Artist Trading Cards

Back in August, Carmi did an ATC a day and posted the results to her blog faithfully. I did the same thing a year ago, but I wasn’t as ambitious as Carmi. She used all sorts of different techniques, while I did everything in Photoshop. But I’ve started thinking about doing an ATC a day for a month again soon…and then putting everything in a Moleskine journal.
What got me started thinking about this—and looking at Carmi’s August blog entries—was talking to Barbara at Bizzy B’s yesterday. Barbara is looking for ATCs to submit to Canadian Scrapbooker. Other than the size, the only rule is that the card must include a photo. The deadline is November 26th, and I know I don’t have time to do something new. But I immediately thought of the ATCs I’d done of my cousin Ann last year.
Ann passed away in March 2005, and for her celebration (she didn’t want a funeral), I made up two large photomontages of her as a child. These images stayed with me, and I started playing around with them in Photoshop. This one shows Ann in her back garden as a child in the late 1940s. Of course the original photo was in black and white, but I just had to give her a pink dress and bow. And I’m probably overdoing the constellation thing, but it’s my blog and fly if I want to. (Yeah, I know, I know. I always liked Lesley Gore, but I’m probably dating myself big time).

Monday, November 13, 2006

Busy in a Different Way Today

I spent yesterday on my own, but today was just the opposite. I went to Susan Wilkie’s for lunch, and then we headed off to Bizzy Bee’s for the first Altered Book/Journal Club hosted by the store. There were nine people there, and I think most of them had taken Mary’s altered book class like me. (I’ve actually taken it twice, and I know I’m not the only one).
Mary brought her mother lode, which we all dived into…or is it dove? And come to think of it: can you even dive into a mother lode? In any case, it was inspiring to have all Mary’s books to look at. I’d never seen her journal before, and it was fantastic. She also gave us a handout and talked about the basic principles of collage.
I have to admit that I did absolutely nothing but gab to everyone and troll the store. Susan and I agreed that we can’t work as well in a crowd as we can on our own. But I noticed she actually applied herself while I foraged like a madwoman through a new shipment of 7 Gypsies embellishments and looked for Christmas presents for myself. (That sounds a little tacky doesn’t it?)
Mary brought the angel book for Susan who is next on the list, so I got to see her contribution and Carmi’s. Their work is just luscious, and it’s hard to believe we’re almost at the halfway point.
When I got home, I phoned Emma who got back from Barcelona last night. She met her friend Emily there earlier this week, and they went to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Gaudi’s cathedral, the Miro Museum and some early city ruins. Since Emma’s been in Europe, she’s really become interested in art. She told me tonight that she wants to do art some projects with me. This will be FUN! (Here’s a picture of Emma in Luxembourg that I have on my computer screen).

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Productive Day

John and David were out all day so I got a lot done. Not that they’re demanding, but when I have no interruptions—other than Lily—I really seem to be able to focus.
I worked for hours on a new digital art piece, but I don’t know whether or not I like it. My style is definitely changing, and I’m not sure where it’s going. Next on the agenda is buying a Wacom tablet. Jeanne Schedler has one and says it makes all those Photoshop tasks go so much easier. (It would also be fun to draw with it too).
One thing I did finish today that I’m happy about is a second collage sheet with color wheels. One of my obsessions is color theory and earlier this year I read Goethe’s writings on the subject. So there’s some Goethe here, a Newton sketch of how music relates to color (I can’t figure it out though), Chevruel’s 19th century color wheel—and my personal favorite: the one designed by scientist and naturalist Moses Harris in 1770. I’d love to have a copy of Charles Henry’s Aesthetic Protractor, but finding it is proving difficult. Henry believed that color could be used to express certain emotions when combined with the angle and direction of a line, and apparently Seurat used his theories to develop pointillism. For some reason, protractors have always intrigued me—I have several—so I hope I’ll be able to get a good look at Henry’s one day.
I had wanted to get another ten collage sheets together for the Holly Jolly Craft Sale, but realistically, I won’t be able to do this—I’m just too busy with freelance work right now. I already have 51 sheets available on four CDs (or printed up on matte heavyweight paper), and 20 sheets of perforated artistamps, so I have plenty of things to sell. Oh, and my digital collages as well.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Beth Barany

Faces fascinate me. My niece Claire looks like a Renaissance Madonna, and I want to take some pictures of her and play with them in Photoshop. I also love this photo of my writing coach Beth Barany that I scooped from her website and then incorporated into a collage that includes one of Christina’s digital brocades and a a couple of flower photos.
I’ve been thinking about Beth today because I know I wouldn’t have finished my book as quickly—and dare I say: as well—if I hadn’t spent several months working with her first.
I don’t think you can be proactive unless you truly understand what motivates you, and that’s just one of the things Beth helped me to do. She also gave me insights into the way I work, plus the confidence and support I needed to do the book my way—and stick with it too.
As you’ve probably guessed, I’m a big fan of coaching. If there’s a dream you have that’s not happening for you, personal coaching could make a big difference in your life. We’re apt to think we’re lazy or just not talented enough when there are plenty of other factors we should be considering. The coaching process is always geared to personal insights and practical action to get you to where you want to go.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Busy Day

Today was the deadline I’d set for completing the first draft of my book. I’m actually ahead of the game because John finished copyediting it last night, and as a writer I once worked with used to say, “There’s tons o’ changes.”
John made some really great suggestions and noticed all sorts of groaners. But he said it was better than a first draft, and that he really liked my book. It’s made enough of an impression on him that he’s started quoting me if he feels I’m not taking my own advice!
One funny thing about John’s copyedit was that he thought the conclusion was the preface! I had to laugh about that because the end often seems like the beginning, doesn’t it? Fortunately my book isn’t a linear take on things. But yes, I still have to write the preface…or more accurately, the introduction, and tomorrow I’ll start the rewriting, which I know from experience, will be a lot of work. Rewriting lacks the excitement of starting from scratch. At this point though, I’m just happy I’ve come this far.
I worked on my website today and started some new digital collages for Holly Jolly. This one is a collabo between David and me: his glass brick and my Photoshop-ing. Oh, and I can’t leave Christina out…the groovy circle is one of her Sketchy Evidence brushes.
I’d never heard the word “collabo” until David suggested that we do more of them. Apparently it’s rap speak for a couple of performers who do a song together.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Leaving Comments

I’ve had several people ask me recently how they can leave comments on my blog if they’re not a Blogspot member. What you do is go to the bottom of the entry. You’ll see a line that reads “Posted by Susan Williamson…” and right next to it “Comments.” You click on “Comments” and it takes you to a pop up screen where it says: “Choose an identity.” You can put your name in the space provided or leave it out. Then you type your message in the box above and click “Publish Your Comment.”
I really find choose your identity hilarious given that most of us seem to have multiple personalities going on inside our heads. Or maybe it’s just me.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Brian's Invention

Last night at the family birthdays, my brother in law Brian showed me his latest invention. It’s a walker (built of ABS piping with industrial castors) that he constructed after about 40 hours of experimenting with his idea.
For those of you who don’t know Brian, he was diagnosed with MS a year ago, and he loves to play volleyball. Another person might have decided to sit back and feel sorry for himself, but not Brian. He’s been playing volleyball every Monday night for years, and in June he hosts the Pond Scum Beach Volleyball Cup at his cottage up in Meaford. There was no way he was going to stop doing something he loved.
This volleywalker (Pam christened it The Tantalus because it reminds her of a spider) allows Brian to move around on the court and play without losing his balance. Brian goes for five hours of physical therapy every week, and his physiotherapist – a volleyball player herself – says it works much better than anything else she’s seen. She and Brian actually play together each week.
We don’t ask for bad things to happen to us, so it’s really inspiring when someone like Brian meets the challenge head on and ends up with an invention that will help other people too.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Christina's New Photoshop Brushes

After a few days of really intense freelance work, it was time to play with the two new Photoshop brushes I’d ordered from Lazar StudioWERX the other night. I treated myself to the Florishoodled and Poloroid Transfer sets to start with, and they were even better than I expected (Jeanne – you must have these brushes!!!) I used one of John’s sky photos, added some lettering, and then went to town.
Saying that I “went to town” makes it sound like there was a lot of effort involved, when it was actually the lettering that took 90 per cent of my time. The brushwork was pure digital gratification.
I’m always interested in anything new that Christina Lazar-Schuler comes up with. She’s one of the most creative people I know: fine artist, digital whiz, savvy businesswoman and great teacher. How can I resist ordering her other two sets? I won’t be able to...obviously.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

David's Website

David has his website up now. He went for a minimalist look and features some of his sketches, and his stationary and suspended forms. He did the whole thing in GoLive, which is what I’m using too, so I know he will be able to give me some tips.
I think David’s glass bricks are really cool, and my favorites of the work he has done so far. Many of them have little windows so the light can shine through. He’s sold several of them already. Right now he’s working on more complicated pieces that almost look like conceptual puzzles. He builds molds out of clay set in sand, and then pours in the molten glass. It takes about 48 hours for the glass to cool down completely, and then he can polish or roughen them up.
The other day David heard from Galerie Elena Lee in Montreal. They want him to be part of a group exhibition in March next year. This is very exciting for him (us too). If you go to their website you can see a great cross section of glass art. I really enjoyed looking at everyone’s work and found it very inspiring.