Thursday, November 29, 2007


For the arts and crafts sale at Emma’s law firm tomorrow, I decided to make some small collages on wood blocks in addition to selling my framed digital prints.
What I discovered when I started rooting through my stash is that I’m reluctant to use papers and ephemera I’m drawn to. Why is this? Why hesitate to use things that are meant to be used? Could it be that the desire to collect and hoard stuff is stronger than the urge to create?
Somehow I doubt this. I think this problem really stems from my fear a much better idea might come along in the future, and then I’ll be sorry I wasted whatever it is on something insignificant.

But somehow this feeling is based on limitation, which is certainly not what creativity is all about. So I took a deep breath, used up some stuff…and guess what? I really enjoyed myself.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Cherri's New Book

Cherryl Moote latest book is called Photo Op, and it’s jammed packed with super cool projects to display your photographs. If you visit her site and click on the Photo Op Gallery link, you can see full color examples of everything from albums and books to calendars and carousels. (Cherri also used three of my digital collages in her meandering corners photo structure, so it was an honor to be included).
P.S. Corey and I made the Origami ATC Pocket Book at the workshop I taught back in March with Ruth Booth, and it’s really fun to do.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

One of a kind...

I don’t make handmade cards any more because I’m just too slow. Maybe three people a year would receive one if I did this, so I print mine now. And that’s why I treasure the cards I receive from my friends because I know how much work goes into creating them.
Take Carmi for instance. She has made 2,500 for the One of a Kind Show and Sale, which starts today. How she managed to do this is beyond me. Anyway, I know Carmi likes this digital collage so I’m posting it to wish her good luck (instead of sending a card). She’s at booth 0-37 at the Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place in Toronto. I can’t wait to see what she’s done.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Emma's Skyscapes

I’m still not feeling 100 per cent, but I’m definitely better. John picked up David from the airport first thing in the morning. Then I made him breakfast and went back to bed. This afternoon we took him home and celebrated Emma’s birthday.
Emma had just finished opening her gifts when a phalanx of jets roared past the condo. She rushed to get her camera and got some great shots from the balcony. I wish you could have been there to experience it. We all found it really exciting. I know it’s the closest I’ve ever been to a plane without actually being on one—and there were 9 of them!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Under the weather

I feel too lousy to do anything except lie in bed. Even my hair aches (but maybe that’s because I have a lot of it).
This has put me behind on what I’m doing for the craft shows next week, and I had to miss our club meeting last night. I really look forward to seeing my art buddies and hearing all their news, but I had to settle for emailing Carmi a photo of what I did with the doily challenge. You can see what the original looked like on
her blog, and I’m sure she will be posting the results soon.
I have to admit I struggled with this challenge for a while. I considered everything from painting a mandala to making a pillow. But when in doubt, stick a doll’s head on it, use gesso or cover everything in plaster.
In the end, I settled for two out of three and managed to incorporate at least one doily element—a flower—into the assemblage I came up with.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

One thing I love about Americans is they really know how to celebrate Thanksgiving. Our holiday is in October, but I always feel it gives me an excuse to be grateful all over again when my neighbors to the south have their own party in November.
When I woke up this morning I started thinking about everything I have to be grateful for…friends, family, art, nature (yes, even the snow today), John waking me up with a cup of tea and so much more.
Then there were two books from Emma which arrived this morning: The Art of Personal Imagery by Corey Moortgat, and Linnea Dayton’s Photoshop Cs / Cs2 Wow! (her exclamation point, not mine but the book deserves it). Thanks baby!

P.S. I hope all of you have a fabulous Thanksgiving, and I’m sending a special “hello” to David who is celebrating in L.A. with his precious girlfriend Leigh.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Getting it together

This is the first time I’ve been involved in venues selling my work that I haven’t been stressed out about it and overwhelmed. It’s not because I’ve reached some Zen moment of clarity about the situation; I’m just not as busy with work as I usually am.
Even though I’m reasonably prolific, I’ve never been good at churning out large amounts of stuff to sell. The reason for this is that I have to meditate on everything I make, which is obviously not the best policy when it comes to making money. But I don’t think you can go against your real nature. You just have to find some way to work with it.

Today I also put some time into our challenge for this month’s art meeting. At one point John stuck his head around the door and said: “You’re still in the same position you were 25 minutes ago.” True enough. But I think I’ve finally figured out what to do with the dreaded doily we were assigned to alter. Now if there was just some way I could put my creativity on warp drive…

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Something to try...

I was aiming for a TV with this digital collage, but somehow it got away from me and ended up looking like a psychedelic Etch A Sketch—minus the controls.
Somewhere in the mountain of stuff in our crawl space, we have one. But where could it be? Not to worry though. There seems to be a virtual equivalent for every toy going nowadays.
Check out to experiment with Etch A Sketch online by using the arrows on your keyboard.
One thing that’s always disappointed me about it though is that you can only “draw” straight lines.

Monday, November 19, 2007

My thought for the day

I often become anxious when I’m planning my week. There seems like so much I have to do—and so much I want to do—and never enough time to accomplish it all. While I was thinking about this earlier, I realized I was holding my breath and understood that what we think about always affects our body in a basic way.
Then I remembered an experience I had standing on a friend’s dock one summer. It was a beautiful gusty day, and I felt light and free. The wind seemed to be blowing right through me. Wanting to justify my existence suddenly seemed absurd, and I realized that I was here to express myself. So today I plan to keep things simple and enjoy myself, and that’s my wish for you today too, dear reader.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

International Eccentrics Day

I just googled International Eccentrics Day and apparently there’s no such thing so I’ve decided to institute one. Today is the day to celebrate your inner eccentric by doing something strange.
My contribution is superimposing a picture of my eye on a photograph I took of the mocha torte cake my mother baked for last night’s family birthday party. (Great cake by the way, Mum).
The most eccentric thing I’ve ever heard anyone doing was the lawyer who cut his toenails during a consultation with my father. But that probably catapulted him way beyond the peculiar and straight into the realm of the just plain gross.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Hiking Highlights

The best thing about hiking in Canada at this time of year is there’s no one else around. No picnics, no Frisbees, no parking lots jammed with cars. I like to take my camera so I can take pictures of everything that appeals to me. Then John and I come home, fire up my computer and hike all over again.
Here are some highlights from our latest foray:
Pampas Grass Stonehenge—right in the middle of a field, a small forest of pampas that was over our heads. (Wish I’d ventured inside).
Drake and his gals—I know “gal” is a tacky word in some circles but what else can you say about three ducks obediently trailing their lord and master?
Tree tongues—can’t remember what these ledge-y growths are called, but they are works of art.
Yes, Virginia, there are caterpillars in November—this little guy (or gal) froze when we stopped to look. Was the caterpillar terrified? Probably. I’m positive insects have feelings. I once broke up with a guy because he deliberately crushed a gorgeous beetle underfoot. The poor thing was actually trembling, and even though I begged Mr. X not to, he went ahead and did it anyway.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

#12 for Lily

I love this shot I took of Lily relaxing on her back on John’s lap and enjoying the sun. Today is her twelfth birthday (macaroni and cheese tonight!) so I thought I’d celebrate with five reasons why it’s great to have a dog.

  1. They’re optimistic. I mean how many squirrels has Lily chased over the years and failed to catch?
  2. They like you just the way you are. No need for manis, pedis or Dolce and Gabana.
  3. They know how to get what they want without negotiating. Standing on your bladder at the crack of dawn is simply the most effective way to get breakfast pronto.
  4. They know how to fit in. I love it when Lily wedges herself in beside me on the couch while I’m watching Dancing With The Stars—and then rests her chin blissfully on my shoulder. (Guess she knows I’m not going anywhere for a while).
  5. They’re always glad to see you whether you’ve been gone for 15 minutes or a couple of days. In my opinion, we can learn a lot from our dogs because just being alive is a celebration for them, so my motto for today is: Go forth and be yourself!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Something to have fun with!

If you’re a fan of Pollock, the circa 2000 movie starring Ed Harris as the painter Jackson Pollock, you’ll have a ball being an abstract expressionist on this site. Just move your mouse or Wacom stylus around to create your own digital painting.
You can print out what you do, or you can save it by doing a screen capture if you have Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. In Windows, choose Print Screen SysRq. Then open Photoshop and select New document. It will automatically open the right size file for you. Finally, press Control V to paste in your painting.
I don’t have a Mac, but there’s a tutorial here that will explain how you can do a screen capture using that operating system.
What I did was Invert my original (the top painting) and then apply a gradient to the flower area to spiff it up a bit (bottom). Be warned though. Pretending to be Jackson Pollock is addictive! I could have happily spent the whole day playing with this.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Princess Ahmadee

This is an image from a DigiWERX collage sheet that I played with in Photoshop and then turned into an ATC.
Most of the cabinet cards I’ve bought, collected or been given have no information about the person being photographed, so this is one of the rare exceptions. Stamped in gold below the photo is the title “Princess Ahmadee of the Royal House of Delhi.”

I doubt “Ahmadee” is her first name though. Apparently Ahmadi is an Islamic sect, and there was a royal family by that name in India during the time of the British Raj. I’m assuming Princess Ahmadee must have visited London in the 19th century when her photographer made this spelling mistake.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Remembrance Day

I’ve been reading June’s inspiring posts about Remembrance Day on her blog lately, and since today is November 11th, I decided to write about it too.
In one way or another, both my parents and John’s were involved in the Second World War. John’s mother was a fire service warden in Edinburgh, and somewhere we have a photograph of her in uniform meeting the Queen Mother. John’s father served in Italy, Holland and North Africa with the British Army, and was shot twice during the war—“friendly” fire on both occasions.
Just before the war, Adrian had been managing a hotel in Germany. He was good friends with a Jewish bandleader who warned Adrian that he should break his contract and leave immediately because something terrible was coming. To do this, Adrian arranged to have his father send him a telegram with a fake family emergency. While Adrian was in Germany, he said it was obvious the Jews were being treated badly and how much it disturbed him.
Like John’s mother, mine was also part of the war effort. Mum worked as a rations officer for the British Ministry of Food during the war, and still remembers the sound of bombs being dropped on Liverpool and Chester. She met my father at a garden party in Wales where he was billeted as a member of the Canadian Air Force.
Dad had joined up as a twenty year old, and after basic training in Canada, he was posted to Britain. But he ended up spending most of the war in Ceylon as a radar mechanic. Hundreds of troops were transported there on a ship swarming with rats, and everyone slept in a hammock.
The day before the Germans surrendered, my parents were married, and the photo that I used for this ATC was taken as they emerged from Bethel Methodist Chapel in Connahs Quay after the ceremony. Because all the troops had to be sent home first, my mother waited for a year before coming to Canada as a “war bride.”

Mum and Dad have been married now for 62 years, and it’s amazing to me to think how an overwhelming global event like World War II ended up affecting my life in such a basic way.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Family Bonding

Last night Emma took John to see The Police concert at the Air Canada Centre, while David and I spent some quality time together.
We went out for vegetarian Japanese food, and then came back to the condo where we played with alcohol inks on glass and watched a documentary on Van Gogh.
It was a fun evening for both John and me—and I hope for the kids—but our exhaust pipe came lose on the 401 on the back. We ended up parking the car at the mechanic’s and walking home through the park, which was dark, rainy and deserted. I’m just glad this didn’t happen on the way to Toronto because the traffic was terrible, and John would have been very late for the concert. There’s a silver lining in every cloud, I’m convinced of it.

P.S. Here are some scanned alcohol ink slides incorporated into my latest ATC.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


I have a couple of weeks to figure out what to do with the doily we were given as our next club assignment. I don’t have a clue how to transform it. (To see what we have to work with, check out this photo Martha posted to her blog).
Most of our members are good at sewing. While I can do things by hand, I rarely do, so late last night I decided to loosen up for the assignment by painting.
Have I forgotten how to paint? It seems like it. Frustrated, I came back downstairs and decided to paint digitally in Photoshop. From time to time it crosses my mind that what I really am is a digital artist. More than anything else, it’s what I keep returning to because it seems to flow naturally for me.
Still, after I’d finished this ATC, I started scanning some of the results I got from using alcohol inks on glass. My hands-on stuff seems to be recycled into digital art whenever I can.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Volley Three

Jeanne and I are now on our third round of volleying in Photoshop. It was her turn to start this time, and here’s my response.
The image of a lady I used is from Lazar StudioWERX’s collection of digital daguerreotypes. Judging from the clothing, I think this photograph must have been taken sometime in the 1840s. I wonder how a proper lady like her would feel if she knew that her image had been recycled into a grunge background in the 21st century?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Art and Longevity

Picasso did 165 paintings in his 87th year and he lived to be 91, so I think we can assume that making art was good for him. But is this true for artists in general?
I thought about this last night while I was looking at a book of self-portraits by British women artists, and decided to try an experiment. I took the life spans of the artists who were no longer living—32 of them from 1633 to 1953—and came up with an average of 73 years.

I’m at the age now where 73 doesn’t sound that great. But as usual, an average never provides us with the real picture. For one thing, even though five of the women died in their seventies, no one actually expired at 73; and for another, over half of them lived longer than that.
In fact, you had a better chance of dying in your eighties or even your nineties than in your seventies. Nine of them died between 81 and 87 and seven were over ninety when they passed on! So I think we can assume that art making must have made a positive contribution to their longevity. Then again, if your number comes up, it comes up, so maybe the whole point is: we don’t know when we’re going to go so it’s important to make the most of right now.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Online Fun

I’m not doing anything exciting with Photoshop lately, so I think I must be in the doldrums. But there’s always time to cruise the Internet aimlessly, isn’t there?
Here are three sites you might enjoy if you have nothing better to do with your time like me.
To choose the perfect spammer name for yourself, go to this url and check it out; just the ticket if you want to sell bootleg Viagara or replica watches. My spammer name is Fussy C. Heiress. (I like the heiress part of it!)
Discover the ideal location to live at Find Your Spot. I got Portland, Oregon, a place I’ve always wanted to visit. Carmi told me once that she thought I’d love it there, so it must be right.
If you absolutely feel you must do something while you’re wasting time on the Net, visit the Collage Machine where you click and drag to create your own collage with the elements they provide.