Wednesday, February 28, 2007

People and Their Paper

I’m addicted to Moleskine’s for journaling. I like the sturdiness of their bindings and the choice of different papers, which are always a pleasure to work on. I’ve almost finished my latest Moleskine—the quadrille version—and I’m going to try one with blank pages next. Susan Wilkie has bought me one with watercolor paper, and I’m looking forward to playing in that one too.
John likes Rhodia pads for making his copious notes, and this morning he was all excited because a new store just opened in Japan that sells only Rhodia paper and accessories. The sales staff is even dressed in Rhodia’s signature colors, orange and black.

It reminds me of a story I read in People magazine years ago. A self-published writer—frustrated that his non-fiction book wasn’t selling—rented a store and filled the shelves with a couple of thousand copies of his book . There’s something really hilarious about a bookstore that only offers one title. I wonder if he actually managed to make any money?

Monday, February 26, 2007

Be Nice to Your Art!

This afternoon I was stressing over something I’ve been working on when John came in to see what I was doing. I explained that I was stuck—and really annoyed—so he said: “You know, you really should be nice to that piece of art, and just enjoy it.” I realized he was right. I was taking the whole thing way too seriously (as usual), so I decided to relax about it all. Before I knew it, everything had come together and I was on to something new.
Have you ever noticed, though, that the more you work on something, the more complicated it gets? Emma was looking at some of my recent ATCs tonight, and the ones she liked best were simple and done quickly. Does this mean I should give up when art becomes challenging? I don’t think so. The pieces I agonize over usually end up teaching me the most. Everything else is a gift.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Babes Against the Elements

I’ve always thought that Canadians who head south for their winter vacation just don’t “get” the full majesty of our northern winters. But now I think they’re onto something. I did more snow shoveling in the last week than I’ve done in the past twenty years.
Case in point: when we arrived, the road to the farm had been plowed out, but a three-foot snow bank blocked the front door. It didn’t even occur to me to bring a shovel, so I had to improvise. I unloaded my art supplies onto the front seat of the car, and then Emma and I took turns using the container that held them to shovel a path to the front door. (And they say art isn’t practical!)
On Sunday night we ran out of heating oil, and a sweet man arrived to rescue us with a 10-gallon emergency top-up. To celebrate, my dad decided to make himself (and my mother) a martini, but there were no ice cubes, so I headed outside with the broom and broke off a large icicle for him. This probably wasn’t hygienic, but when you’re in the middle of nowhere, and the heat has just been restored, you tend to overlook things like that.
This wasn’t a roughing-it-in-the-bush vacation though. The farm was very comfortable. We read, talked, watched movies and ate too much. Emma and I managed to get some work done, and both of us enjoyed spending time with my parents. Who knows when we’ll get the chance to do this again?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I’m off for a week

Emma and I are going up north until next Friday with my parents. It’s Emma’s reading week so she’s packed a ton of those doorstopper law books she’s been immersed in for the last three years. She’s also packed several recipe books and is looking forward to doing some cooking because she finds it “relaxing.” Here’s hoping Emma will be doing a lot of relaxing this week in the Internet-less world of the Great White North!
I have packed my corresponding ton of books; art supplies, research material etc., and as usual found it very difficult to know what to take, and what to leave behind. Lily is going with us too, and fortunately—as long as she has plenty of grub—she’s happy. I wonder if food is to Lily what books are to me? Whatever is going on in her little doggy mind, I’m sure it’s less complicated than what’s going on in mine.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day

No, I didn’t receive this card today. It’s one my grandmother sent her mother-in-law—my great-great grandmother—sometime in the 1920s. The angel kissing the sleeping child seems a little sketchy to me even if he is a child himself. Still, it’s a pretty card in a way. It’s engineered to fold flat, and the colors don’t look like they’ve faded much. But I can’t imagine sending my mother-in-law a Valentine’s Day card that’s for sure!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Christmas in February

Yesterday I received a wonderful surprise in the mail—a package all the way from Texas. Jeanne sent me a Wacom tablet !!! I was absolutely thrilled, stunned and exhilarated by her generosity. For those of you who don’t know what a Wacom is, it’s a graphics tablet you can use to draw and edit images onscreen in programs like Photoshop, Illustrator and so on.
Since Jeanne was upgrading her Wacom, she decided to send me the one she’d bought just a few months ago—and I think it’s found a good home. I’ve only been using my Wacom for a little over a day now, and already it’s making Photoshop go easier. I’ve tried drawing with the Wacom pen too, and the closest thing I can compare it to is the doodling and sketching I do in my journal. I can’t wait to see what I’ll be able to come up with when I have more practice under my creative belt. So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you Jeanne. I can’t remember when I’ve appreciated a gift more!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Creative Variety

Here are the ATCs I received Friday night from Sarah, Beverly, Ludgera and Daniza (top row); Mern (middle row), and Cori, Martha, Marissa, Susan V. and Cheryl (bottom row). I wish this photograph had turned out better, but at least it gives some idea of the variety expressed in a group of ten people—actually there were eleven including me. Not one person did anything remotely similar, and I think that’s so cool. Because I ran out of cards, I didn’t have one of mine to photograph. Maybe I’ll make one up and post it on Valentine’s Day.
Susan Wilkie and Debbie came over yesterday and we had a great time eating and gabbing and making ATCs. To be honest, I’d didn’t finish anything because I was just too tired to do anything but fiddle around. I always think I should be producing something tangible, so taking that break from feeling I should was really enjoyable.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

ATC Night at Bizzy B’s

I so enjoyed getting together with other ATCers tonight—trading cards, hearing about other people’s creative process and spending time with some really great women. For me, one of the joys of doing art is the sharing process. It never fails to amaze and inspire me how different people can take the same theme—in this case love—and give it their own unique spin. When the light is better in the morning (I have to do these ATCs justice), I’ll take a photo and post it.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

A Comment from the ATC Muse

It’s always nice when people comment on something you do on your blog. Being an obsessive-compulsive Photoshop-er, I don’t need feedback to keep going, but it’s great when people do respond.
Blogger is set up so that any comments made can be emailed directly to your inbox, and this morning I got one from Bernie Berlin on my
January 18th blog. Yes, the Bernie Berlin—author of the fab new book , Artist Trading Card Workshop. I know I’m name-dropping here, but I can’t help it. I’m just thrilled Bernie likes my ATCs. Then shortly afterwards, I received a comment from my Jeanne too, so this positive reinforcement got the day off to a good start.
For yesterday and today’s ATCs, I used photos John took of David’s breakfast. I’m simultaneously fascinated and repelled by the uncooked eggs, and the flower on the bowl reminds me of a hand. Just when I think I might be running out of ideas, new ones rush in to save the day.
P.S. Check out
Bernie’s blog, A Place to Bark … and Meow, and read about her rescue work with animals.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Out with David

David and I went out for tea today, and had one of our long, luxurious talks about art. We agreed that being an artist is a 24/7 proposition. It’s a way of looking at things—and an all-absorbing one.
We ended up going to Tim Horton’s, and sat next to a teenager—probably sixteen or seventeen—who was drawing obsessively in his sketchbook while his girlfriend went back and forth to the counter fetching him doughnuts and drinks. On the other side of us, several older people were having an intense discussion about lying. Only in Canada would people over the age of eighty brave the insane cold to socialize!

We also went to Michaels, which—correct me if I’m wrong—is turning into a lame-o version of the dollar store. But there’s an upside to this metamorphosis for people like me because they’re clearing out all their funky scrapbooking paper. And David found a really nice Gustave Klimpt poster for his room.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


I love this picture John took of Lily with a mini snowdrift on top of her head and muzzle. It’s very cold and snowy here, but she still goes out regularly to patrol the property and bark at so-called planes passing overhead.

Monday, February 05, 2007


Whenever I am troubled about my life—like I have been for the last several weeks—I tend to start working in series. Just off the top of my head, I remember doing 40 mandalas after my novel was rejected. Then Dad had his heart attack and I made drawing after drawing on a note cube one of David’s friends had given me. When my cousin was dying, I worked compulsively in a rubber stamp journal so I could put off going to bed and worrying about her.
I’m not sure what it is about doing a series that’s so comforting…continuity perhaps? Something to ground you while you’re navigating around the shoals of life? Escapism? Healing? Whatever it is, I’m just grateful that I have art (and Photoshop) to express what’s going on inside me.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Another Digital ATC

John said this to me today: “Take my hand. I’m a stranger in paradise.” He thought it was a quote from the movie South Pacific, but apparently these words are lyrics from the Broadway musical Kismet that Tony Bennett recorded in 1953. I’m not sure why I used a derelict background for this ATC, but I do like the pink windows…and why not? It’s more fun putting things together because they happen to come together than trying to figure things out.
To reward myself for a busy week, I took a leisurely trip to The Dollar Store this afternoon, and splurged on buttons, feathers and various other doodads. As usual, the arts and crafts/scrapbooking section was jammed, so I left my cart at the end of the aisle. When I went back to it five minutes later, a couple of employees had put most of my stuff back. It was really funny.

So I started over again…keeping an eye on my shopping cart, and then I saw a woman poking through my trove. “What do you want all this #*#% for?” she yelled to her friend. I would have explained, but she slunk off looking quite sheepish.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

A new month begins

ATCs have certainly taken over my creative life for the past few weeks. I’ve almost finished my samples for one of the two workshops I’m doing in March, and as usual I have way too much stuff. But better to be over-prepared than not, I always say. (In fact, it’s probably my mantra.)
Today I received a cheque for the six digital collages I sold in the Made by Hand show at the Art Gallery of Peel. The irony of made of being in a “made by hand” show is not lost on me, but hey—they asked! I probably shouldn’t admit this, but what I liked most about selling my collages in this venue was that very little effort was involved on my part—other than doing the creative work, which is what I prefer doing anyway. (I’m not good at promoting myself and I need to be more proactive in this area).
Another good thing about today was receiving the latest issue of Art and Life. I haven’t read it yet (even though I have an article on Photoshop in this issue) because I’m treating it as my before-bed reward for working hard today. Both John and I were impressed with the layout for my article though. I was wondering how Teesha would put everything together and it really looks great.