Friday, March 30, 2007

Staying Positive

When I was wandering around at the One of a Kind show yesterday, I noticed that some of the artisans made absolutely no effort to engage with the people who were passing by. For example, I stopped to look at a display of paintings, and the artist didn’t even look up from the book he was reading to acknowledge me. I wasn’t offended, just curious. Why would he put all that time, money and effort into participating, and then ignore a possible buyer?
In one way, I can understand it. You have to dig deep to create a body of work…so much so that taking it to the marketplace can bring out those insecurities about how the world supposedly works…and not selling much will only confirm your belief that no one takes you seriously. On the other hand, the people who stop to look at your paintings are drawn by the images. If you’re willing to talk about them and be friendly, it creates an atmosphere where people are willing to buy. I watched Carmi the pro in action, and it was obvious to me that when you’re open and engaged, the people will come. Even though it was a slow day at the show, most of the people passing by came into her booth, and many of them bought cards.
It reminds me of a story I read years ago in a self help book. A man committed to raising money for temperance put all his own money on the line by renting a big hall in Chicago for a fund-raiser. But there was a terrible snowstorm and only two little old ladies showed up. Nevertheless, he launched into his speech and delivered it as if he were addressing a full house. When he finished, one of the ladies said: “I’d like to pledge a million dollars.” While he was still trying to work his head around unexpectedly raising this enormous sum, the other woman responded by saying, “Well, if you can donate a million, so can I!”
The reason I love this story is because quality beats quantity every time. If you persist in spite of the odds, recognition will come, often in ways that you least expect it to. I always think that staying positive is like exercising. You build resistance, you feel better and you’re more likely to get the recognition you really deserve.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


When I know I’ll have a few days with a light workload, I always fantasize about how many other things I’ll be able to do. But I usually accomplish very little. It’s surprising how much adrenaline I can summons up when I need it, and how little is available when I don’t.
For the last few days I’ve been drifting from one thing to another, never quite finishing one thing before something else captures my attention. Instead of backing up my latest Photoshop files this afternoon, I got distracted by my ongoing quest to cook the perfect vegetarian lasagna. (Family verdict: not enough spinach…but they did eat everything on their plates).
On Monday, I’m going back to rewriting my book. Because of work, I had to put it off for several weeks, but now the final (self-imposed) push is on. And I absolutely must do my website. Am I the only person around who believes doing a website is on a par with planning a trip to the moon?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

David & Carmi at One of a Kind

The spring One of a Kind Show—the largest art and craft exhibition in Canada—starts tomorrow at the Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place, and runs until April 1st. David’s glass brick are on display (and for sale) at the Sheridan College Booth E38, and Carmi will be offering her fabulous cards and “poufs” for your shopping enjoyment at Booth N8.
Here’s a recent picture of David pouring molten glass into one of his molds, and a photo I took of the creative process evolving in Carmi’s studio back in January. David will be manning the Sheridan booth on Saturday, and I will be helping Carmi “woman” (yes, new word) her booth on Thursday…actually this is just an excuse to paw through all her new stuff!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Jeanne’s Artfest ATC

I thought I’d post the ATC Jeanne created for Artfest tonight because I’ve been thinking about her getting ready to go, and wishing I could squeeze myself into her suitcase! On Friday I received a nifty package of trinkets and an Artfest trade from Brenda as well. I’ll miss you both, and I hope you have a fabulous time. (I know you will).
By the way, Ronna Mogelon, the editor of ATC Quarterly now has a blog, so if you want to see a champion ATCer in action, don’t miss her first entry which was posted today!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The ATC Workshop Experience

John managed to fit everyone at my workshop into this photo—with the exception of Ludgera and Yolanta. Next time I want a “class” picture!
As you can see, it was a hive of activity. I can’t believe how focused everyone was, and how much they accomplished. There’s something about making ATCs that really frees people to express their creativity.
We experimented with preparing different backgrounds—I think everyone found monoprinting with Luna Lights the most fun—and then Ludgera told us about marbling with them on shaving cream, which is something I’m definitely planning to try.
As a special treat, Barbara’s husband Tony brought Caesar salad and sandwiches he’d prepared for our lunch break, so all in all, it was an inspiring, convivial and creative day. Thanks to all of you for coming!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

More on Blogging

Because I’ve been spending so much time researching blogs for my RubberStampMadness article, I've neglected Artopia!
What amazes—and inspires me—is just how many talented people are sharing their art on the Web. Not only have I come away from this experience with a sense of how much creativity is in the atmosphere, but I also want to explore some new avenues for my own blog too. I don’t have the time right now to implement them, but the seeds have been planted and will take root.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Emma loves this Fragonard painting of a young girl reading so I thought I’d play with it in Photoshop and see what happened. Well, nothing much did. I just couldn’t seem to make a connection with the image despite all my tinkering in Photoshop with various filters and layer effects.
While I know Fragonard was painting in the 18th century, it’s hard to understand how anyone anytime could be comfortable reading in a gown and an updo. I don’t find sitting the most comfortable position for reading either. I’d rather stretch out on a sofa or read propped up by pillows in bed. Guess that’s why I’ve downloaded a couple of good ebooks and haven’t bothered to read them.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

My upcoming ATC Workshop

Teaching a workshop is like having an art party to me, so I always enjoy it. Here are some of my samples for the ATC Extravaganza Workshop I’ll be doing next Saturday at Bizzy B’s Stamp and Scrap in Toronto. I think there are still four places left, so if you want to register, click on this link and it will take you to Bizzy B’s class calendar for March 2007.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Terry is actually A Guy!

Every once in a while (well, okay, more than occasionally), I do something dumb…like making an automatic assumption about something or someone that’s totally off base. For example, when I wrote about Terry Garrett yesterday, I automatically assumed that I was writing about a woman. Not only is Terry very much a guy, but I also know another male Terry. Anyone who reads this blog now knows that I’m a bit of a ditz, even though I do my best to hide it.
It reminds me of the time years ago when my former sister-in-law had a party to celebrate the opening of her medical practice. I got talking with a really friendly older woman—probably the age I am now(!)—who was dressed in a ratty tracksuit and looked liked she’d hadn’t brushed her hair for a few days. “So,” I said. “Are you one of Pat’s new patients?” She just laughed, and then replied: “No dear, I was one of her professors at med school.”

But anyway, back to Terry. (See how easily I get off track?) He’s hard at work making 3-D creations for his upcoming art show—and here’s one of his pieces from last year that I just love.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Terry Garrett

A couple of weeks ago I received a really nice email from a mixed media artist in Minnesota who had read my article on Photoshop in Art & Life. Her name is Terry Garrett, and she taught at Artfest in 2002.
If you check out Terry’s website, you can see her digital collages, shrines and houses, as well as some of her journal pages. I like the way Terry uses recurring imagery in her Photoshop work. While her digital collages work well as individual pieces, it’s also cool to see how her style unfolds (yet remains consistent) from collage to collage. I also love Terry’s shrines and houses. What is it about house imagery that’s so appealing? Maybe it’s symbolic of that place where you feel safe and able to be yourself. This is something I’d like to explore myself.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

ATC Quarterly

Carmi mentioned a week ago Monday that she’d received her subscription to ATC Quarterly and by a strange coincidence I’d just ordered mine right before I read her blog. Cori had had shown me a copy the day before, and while I’d been thinking of subscribing for ages, this look-see convinced me to get moving.
There are three things I really like about this publication. First and foremost, the editors—Ronna Mogelon and Susan Valyi—have put together a very interesting zine. I’ve got nothing against reading about new techniques, but I tend to avoid magazines that are instruction-heavy. What I’m really interested in is the creative process: how artists think and work, what led them to pursue their particular art form, what inspires them and so on. There is plenty of this in ATC Quarterly, so it’s right up my ally.
The second thing I like is how well the zine is designed. This is something I always notice and appreciate. You can tell a lot of thought went into putting this zine together. I especially like the landscape format, which is perfect for showcasing ATCs, and the whole effect is aesthetically pleasing.
This leads me to my third point: holdability. I don’t think holdability is actually a word, but when a publication is comfortable to read, I always seem to enjoy it more. If you’re interested doing ATCs, or just want to read about fascinating people and their art, this is the zine for you.

Monday, March 12, 2007

My Blogging Assignment

Today I started work on an article about blogging for RubberStampMadness. Doing the research is always my favorite part of the writing process. I enjoy finding and collecting all sorts of interesting tidbits that never appear in a finished piece. This often useless and arcane information only confirms my belief (and experience) that life is large, sprawling, endlessly complicated and fascinating.
For instance, this morning I discovered Technorati, a website that tracks 57 million blogs. Naturally I was curious about whether or not they had statistics on mine. Well, they do. According to their tracking system, I’m number 1,247,517 on the Technorati pecking order. Isn’t that hilarious? I don’t know how many people read my blog, but I’m guessing not that that many. However, over 55 million blogs have less traffic than mine. Every time I think about this I just can’t help laughing.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Reporting in on David

Jackie asked me at ATC night on Friday how things had gone for David in Montreal. I had to tell her that I didn’t know because he was in the studio and I hadn’t been home yet. But we were finally able to spend some time together tonight looking at all his photos. The one the right shows the two pieces David has at Elena Lee. The one on the left is of him blowing glass into a metal mold at Sheridan—although now that I think about it, the gallery pieces were made from molten glass poured into a mold he constructed out of graphite.
David loved Montreal and wants to go back for a longer visit. He particularly liked the opportunity to use his French. Even though we’re a bilingual country, we live in an English-speaking area and people who spent took half their subjects in French—like David and Emma—rarely get the chance to use it. While David and his friends were in Montreal, they had a tour of the glass school in Montreal, Espace Verre, which is in an old fire station, and contains its own gallery of ongoing student work.
I had to spend today recovering from three days of almost non-stop yakking with Bruce and Diane and Pam. I say “almost non-stop” because we took a nap every afternoon. Mary and I had a discussion the other day about how sleep-deprived we both are, but let me tell you, I certainly caught up in Orillia!
On Thursday morning, Bruce and Diane took me to Casino Rama for breakfast. I’ve always enjoyed casinos. For someone who thinks too much like me, it’s the perfect opportunity to relax. As soon as I was down $10 on the slots—yes, I have discipline when it comes to gambling—I wandered around watching people lose their cash. Why would anyone get out of bed on a bitterly cold morning to play poker before most people have left for work? Beats me. I even saw someone with a walker and oxygen tank at the roulette table with a crazed expression on his face.
It was wonderful to be able to spend time with Bruce and Diane. Back in the 70s, I stayed with Bruce for two months in Vancouver, and we soon slipped into our serious discussion/joking around relationship that remains intact today despite the passage of time and changing circumstances. Both he and Diane are professionally trained cooks, so needless to say the food was sensational. Unfortunately, now it’s back to reality...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

David's Opening

As I write this, David is in Montreal attending the opening of the group show he’s part of at Galerie Elena Lee in Montreal. I wish we could have gone too, but we’d just cramp his style especially since he’ll be meeting other graduates from glass programs across Canada.
Meanwhile, back at home, the rest of us are hard at work. Tomorrow morning I’m leaving to go up north to visit my favorite cousin and his wife for three days. I’m really excited about seeing them, and Pam is coming up on Thursday too, which is an unexpected bonus.

Our monthly ATC meeting is on Friday night, and I didn’t think that I’d be able to go because of all my commitments. (Actually, it’s taking the time to make the cards that concerns me). But I’ve just decided that I will do it—I’m not painting the Sistine Chapel after all—and I’ll get a mini studio happening at Bruce’s house so I can finish my ATCs.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Too Bagged to Blog

I had a great time doing my ATC workshop at the Day of Many Minis. It was a special treat to have Cori in the class, and to meet some great new people.Here’s a photograph of the samples I made up from the supply kit beforehand. I was so inspired afterwards that I started working on another ATC right after dinner. But now I’ve run out of steam, so it’s off to bed and the latest chick lit.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

It’s My Blog-Day!

I never thought when I started blogging I would have stuck to it for this long. Since March 3rd, 2006, I’ve written 227 entries, and posted almost as many pieces of art.
Thanks to everyone who reads Artopia Update, and to those of you who comment. Blogging is a great way to stay in touch with your friends—and to make new ones too. I highly recommend it!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Snow and more snow

Here’s a picture I took of John shoveling our driveway this afternoon. After he’d finished doing this, he headed around to the back to dig a new run for Lily. Since then a lot more snow has fallen, and now it’s turned to freezing rain. The worst thing about this is that the other day John made a giant heart with J loves S in the back yard, and then it went and snowed again before I could get a good picture of it!

Thursday, March 01, 2007


I decided I’d try doing a “landscape” ATC because I’ve never done one before—besides, the four girls work better this way! I have a thing about these heads because they appeared to me in a dream, and seemed to be some kind of group muse. Shortly afterwards I bought four small dolls, decapitated and de-haired them…or whatever you call it…and incorporated them into an assemblage.
But most of the images I generate in dreamtime can’t be translated into anything tangible. For example, I had a great dream once about going to an ice planet where they had a much wider spectrum of colors than we do. It was really a downer when I woke up and couldn’t figure out how to possibly explain, or make use of, the experience.
To be honest, I don’t dream much anymore. I think it’s because I spend most of my days doing creative things. The more I do, the less I dream. I wonder what Freud would have to say about that.