Wednesday, December 31, 2008


I’ve been reluctant to make New Year’s resolutions for a while now. The reason for this is because I used to make far too many, and it was discouraging to tally them up on December 31st and realize that most of them hadn’t been accomplished. In fact, one memorable—and difficult—year, I didn’t manage to achieve anything on my list.
It’s not that I’m against goal setting. Far from it. But the Universe often seems to have an agenda that doesn’t dovetail with mine. I even wonder if wanting something too much drives it away—at least in my case.
I’ll give you an example. Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to have my own solo art show. For years I did all the things self-help books tell you to do in order to reach your heart’s desire. I visualized, wrote down my intentions, did affirmations, thought positively, took action …and one New Year’s Day I even wrote down my negative thoughts and then burned them on a snow bank. (Embarrassing to admit this last one, but true). I finally came to the conclusion that it just wasn’t going to happen for me, and got on with doing my art.
Then this fall our regional art gallery phoned and asked me to submit a portfolio. Shortly afterwards, I was invited to have a solo show in 2009. Since this seems to be the way my life works, I’m only going to make one resolution this year: keeping track of all the things I’m grateful for on a regular basis.
The first “item” on my list is you, dear reader. Thank you for reading my blog, and all the best to you in 2009.
P.S. If you need a little New Year’s cheer, check out the Beckoning of Lovely video on Lisa’s blog.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Moo Challenge #39

Alice in Wonderland is the two-week theme over at Make a Moo or Two, and it took me back to the time when I was a little girl. I always thought it would great to be Alice because she had so many adventures, while I seemed to be stuck making mine up. She also had long hair, which I desperately wanted and was never allowed to have.
I remembered this image of Alice where she discovers that she’s wearing a crown and I wanted to use it mainly because I really like Queen for a Day scenarios. (As it turns out, this one is actually from Carroll’s second book, Through the Looking Glass, though).

My childhood copy of these two books combined-into-one had Disney-ish illustrations, and I much prefer Tenniel’s original illustrations from the 19th century, which you can enjoy if you go to Goggle Books online. And if you want to use Alice-themed Photoshop brushes (or “rub-ons” like I did here), visit Tartx for her free downloads.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Rave Review

At one point during university I had a part time job in a bookstore. Abby Hoffman’s Steal This Book was popular at the time, and believe me, people did (steal the book, I mean). I remembered this on Friday when I was well into my Boxing Day Read-A-Thon with Susan Tuttle’s Exhibition 36: Mixed Media Demonstrations + Explorations. I thought to myself that it really should be subtitled: Buy This Book. Why? Because you’ll love the art and you’ll be inspired by the writing too.
For example, Terry Garrett—one of Tuttle’s featured artists—shares four mixed media pieces based on his “guardians,” the keeper and protectors of his ideas for art-making, and then he explains how he came to make each one.

This story behind the visual story has always fascinated me, and Tuttle and her team of artists are as articulate about their process as they are talented. It’s hard to distill the effect this book had on me in a paragraph or two, but it made me want to go more deeply into my art, and really, what more can you ask for? So my opinion is: you should buy this book and immerse yourself in the experience too.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Best Wishes to All

I thought I’d post a photo of the star on top of my Christmas tree to wish you all the best today and throughout the holiday season.
I didn’t realize until I had the photo up on my computer screen just how much a star resembles the human body. This one is made of birch bark strips wrapped with twigs which remind me of blood vessels and nerves spreading energy all over the body …the anatomy of a star, perhaps? Anyway, enjoy your holiday and I’ll see you soon.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Prep

I have to admit I get anxious around Christmas. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the significance of the season, or the chance to spend time with family and friend, but I think the added pressure of all the preparation causes other things that trouble me to surface as well. I realized tonight that I actually think of Christmas as the end of the year rather than December 31st. This may be why the highs and lows in my life seem to be going on simultaneously.
But in between the tree decorating and house cleaning, I managed to find time to make this quick card for my stamping group buddies. I used Martha’s stars and an image from B-Line that reminds me of my friends out in Blogland too. How enriched my life is by the connections I have made with all of you! Of course, looking at my card, I can see that the line of friends does not include any men, which is certainly an oversight.

Speaking of men, or man in this case, John has been shoveling snow like crazy since Friday. He had to do the driveway twice today, and then reformat Lily’s outdoor maze yet again. The bench on our back porch (always my benchmark) has a snowdrift fifteen inches high. Yes, it’s definitely going to be a white Christmas.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Moo Challenge #38

Christmas is the challenge this week at Make a Moo or Two. There are many things I can think of that relate to the holiday season: family, friends, food, Santa, Christmas trees, carols, ornaments and so on. But the image that came to my mind first was an angel.
For the last few years I’ve used an angel on my Christmas card. However, since my printer is coming to the end of its long, lovely life, I won’t be doing my own cards this year. I feel guilty about this because several of my friends have already sent me beautiful handmade ones. Sigh. If only I’d been more organized, I could have designed and printed mine months ago. But somehow it’s always December before I even come up with an idea for my card, and now it’s too late.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Mug Shot

I think the reason I enjoy altering vintage photos so much is because they provide you with a blank canvas. When you don’t know who the person is, you feel free to interpret him or her in whatever way strikes your fancy at the moment.
Although most old photos are obviously posed like this one, it’s interesting that the subjects rarely smile or look happy. It’s more like a form of documentation than anything else; you not only find out what the sitter looks like, but also get some idea of position or social status from the clothing worn.

While I was working on this young man in Photoshop, it struck me that he could have been posing for a mug shot. Then I wondered what an artist might do a hundred years in the future with all those old passport and I.D. photos of us. I suppose by that time a program like Photoshop will be able to turn something flat into a holographic image or simulate its dimension and texture.

Monday, December 15, 2008


I had to miss Friday night’s ATC meeting because of another commitment. It was too bad I couldn’t go because I always enjoy the evening.
This month the theme was “things with wings.” I had planned to use a stamp of an airplane I like, but my weakness for diagrams of any kind took over and I ended up working with this illustration from an old encyclopedia.

When I’m trading, I always use the same design for everyone, but some participants make sure each one of their ATCs is different. Check out Martha’s blog and you’ll see what I mean.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Moo Challenge #37

The theme this week at Make a Moo or Two? Presents …or in my case, a present. I didn’t realize until tonight how much wrapping a gift is like making an assemblage. Because I usually admire the way a gift is presented, I think this is why I can always wait to open one too.
When I was growing up, we got our stockings in the morning on Christmas Day, and then opened our presents about four in the afternoon. My friends felt sorry for me, but I never minded the delay. For me, one of the pleasures of Christmas is looking at all the gifts under the tree.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Amazing Chiyogami Contest

How much paper could you use? Or more specifically: how much do you want? I'm thinking that winning a huge stack of gorgeous Chiyogami from The Paper Place in Toronto sounds just about right. Now even though I'm planning on winning the contest myself (I could do a lot with those 637 sheets of paper), it's also growing close to Christmas, and I know it would be churlish of me if I didn't mention it to you. (Of course the fact that I receive extra entries by posting this on my blog is beside the point).
I learned about this contest in an interesting way. Even though I have several sheets of Chiyogami from The Paper Place, and used one pattern on
two ATCs I did back in June, I found out about the contest through my sister. Pam was at a craft show last weekend and was really impressed by Lisa Pijuan-Nomura's work. Pam told Lisa that she knew I would really enjoy her art too, and gave her one of my business cards.
Lisa visited my blog and left a comment so I visited hers. You'll love Lisa's blog:
Girl Can Create. It's fresh and lively, and you'll really appreciate her art and writing style. And it was Lisa who mentioned The Paper Place contest on her blog, so naturally I had to be a copycat and do it too.
Good luck by the way. May the best man or woman win ...or the luckiest.
For complete contest details, just follow this link.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Recovering from the Sale

I'm still trying to recharge my batteries after a busy day at the Jolly Christmas Sale on Saturday. As far as I could tell, it was a very successful day for all of us. I had a great time chatting with visitors (including some very special blog friends), enjoyed looking at everyone's art, and sales were good.
Since I was focused on buying Christmas presents this year, I only bought one treat for myself: a necklace from Mary's steam punk jewelry line. One of these days, though, I do intend to win the lottery and turn my house into a wall-to-wall gallery filled with art done by all my talented friends.
I'm never sure what people will be drawn to at these sales. Because I think of myself as a maker rather than a marketer, I usually end up going with what feels right to me. But this doesn’t always work. For example, I had what I thought was the bright idea of making fridge art …small, reasonably-priced pictures that would be perfect as stocking stuffers …and I didn’t sell one.

On the other hand, people seemed to like my digital prints, mixed media, collage sheets and CDs. I also sold three assemblages, and all the black and white pictures I'd chosen from my book. You can see three of them on Leslie's blog (along with Listening to Verdi) and read her sweet words.
Carmi bought The Colorful Heart, which is part of a series I did on color wheels. And Nancy chose The Heart of a Poet on a little easel.

The funny thing is that when I was checking out the blogs of people who had been at the sale, I discovered Irene had scooped up the journal bag of Sharon's I had my eye on. I had to laugh about that. Obviously one of the benefits of Blogland is you can now easily find out who beat you to it!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Parting with my treasures

As an experiment, I’ve decided to sell some of my 3-D work and assemblages at the Jolly Christmas Sale tomorrow. It’s also an exercise in trying to part with work I care about, and haven’t wanted to sell up until this point. I really don’t know whether or not people will be interesting in buying one of my pieces, but it will be interesting to see if they do.
This doll—Angelica—is a favorite of mine. I made her as a Dollar Store Challenge a while back in Carmi’s Extraordinary Mixed Up Media Artists club. We were each given a tiny stuffed doll to alter. As soon as I saw it, I knew I was going to have to wrap mine in something. I covered the doll in tin foil, wound plaster strips around it, then painted and embellished to my heart’s content.
One of the reasons I loved making Angelica is that the whole piece just seemed to take on a life of its own. She told me what she wanted to look like, and then I went from there. That’s the way it is with most of my work I think.
If you’re interested in coming to the Jolly Christmas Sale, it’s from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow at the Zion Church Cultural Centre, 1650 Finch Avenue East in Toronto. For directions on how to get there, just follow this link.

P.S. To find out who is selling what, check out Carmi’s blog.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Power of Nine

Nine of us got together this week to trade the 3 x 3 inch squares we’d made, and to have a festive dinner. Ludgera hosted the exchange and her idea was to use beige, white and a splash of color. As you can see, we all did very different things with the theme. This is why I always enjoy swaps—when I have time to join in that is.
I basically did the same thing for each one of my squares because it took me so long to come up with an idea in the first place. I’m not used to working with material (which is what everyone else seemed to be playing with), but Colette inspired me with the bundles and wrapped packages she shows from time to time on her blog.
Here’s the Power of Nine line up:
Top row: Daniza Benic, Colette Copeland, Susan Williamson
Middle row: Martha Brown, Katie Maxim, Ludgera Worms

Bottom row: Kim Simmans, Mary Ambrose, Susan Vendetti

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Moo Challenge #36

When I read about this week’s theme at Make a Moo or Two, I didn’t think I’d be able to participate. Not only is it a super busy week for me, but also—I didn’t have a clue what to do with a monkey.
Then John sent me a link to a stock.xchng, a site where you can download free photos. When I checked out the monkey section, there were plenty of sweet ones to play with in Photoshop. I particularly liked the bigger monkey with the pink face and wise eyes, and thought to myself: “I didn’t know monkeys looked like that …how interesting.” But after I’d done my moos, I discovered that he (or she) is actually a baboon! Fortunately the little one really is a monkey, although I don’t know what kind. I guess the moral of this story is: if it doesn’t look like a monkey, it probably isn’t.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Another Dream

The most vivid dream I’ve ever had dates back to the 1970s. I was with a team of astronauts exploring an ice planet, and I saw colors I’d never seen before. The excitement I felt then remains with me today—and the frustration. How do you explain or depict colors there just aren’t any colors for?
While I was playing with this ATC in Photoshop last night, I remembered my dream, and wondered how I could express it. I guess all you can do is hint at an experience like that. Apparently the average monitor can display 16 million variations of all the colors in the spectrum, but not one of them gives an accurate picture of what I saw.

Monday, December 01, 2008

It is a dark and stormy night…

Yes, winter has come to the Great (and Getting Whiter) North. But it was a bright and artful day. I spend so much time in my art-and-writing pod that it’s good to emerge once in a while to be refreshed.
This afternoon I went to the One of a Kind Show where I visited Carmi at her booth, stocked up on some of her delicious cards (see above), and ogled her book art assemblages.
Then I cruised around looking at a ton of other stuff. For example: one artist had visual birch bark poetry for sale, and another was offering plaster holders cast from various body parts. But my favorite was the booth featuring an artist who makes portable puppet theatres.

After One of a Kind, I went to the Meta Gallery to see Paul Laffoley’s show. Laffoley is a visionary artist from Boston that I’ve been interested in for a long time, and David managed to get us tickets to hear him talk.
Laffoley spoke about his work for three and a half hours without taking a break, and I took copious notes. But I’ll have to wait until I’ve had a chance to digest everything (and recover) before I do a blog on him.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Dream

Years ago I had a creative writing student who was a heavy dreamer. Every morning she would spend at least an hour writing her dreams down in a 3-ring binder—and she had filled dozens of them. Everyone in the class was amazed that she could remember her dreams in such detail.
Recently I was in the middle of a dream about designing a painting machine for Barack Obama when John woke me up with my morning tea. I rolled over and the dream evaporated. Yes, I know I’m spoiled with the morning tea thing, but I still wish I’d been able to find out what Obama’s painting machine really involved. Then again, maybe I was just dreaming about Photoshop…

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Moo Challenge #35

When I checked out the Make a Moo or Two blog this week and discovered this week’s theme was “pets,” I just knew I had to use this stamp of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels I’d bought in Boston years ago because they reminded me of Lily. It’s always a challenge trying to find something small enough to squeeze into the moo space, but then that’s probably why they call it a challenge!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Jolly Christmas Sale

A group of us will be hosting a Christmas bazaar, the Extra-Ordinary Jolly Christmas Sale, on Saturday, December 6th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Zion Church Cultural Centre, 1650 Finch Avenue East in Toronto. If you can make it, we’d love to see you.
There will be jewelry, cards, gift tags, tree ornaments and Christmas stockings for sale …along with prints, photographs, collage CDs, sculptural art, mixed media, and button embellishments. It’s a great opportunity to stock up on nifty stuff for Christmas, and to do some artful socializing as well.

Another sale—and one that’s coming up this week—is One of a Kind at the Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place, Toronto. Carmi will be selling her handmade cards and assemblages there from November 27th to December 1st. Check out her blog for more details.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Looking at stuff

While I was watching Dancing with the Stars tonight, I flipped through the Lee Valley Christmas Gift Catalogue. (Since my first real job after leaving university was working as a catalogue copywriter, I’ve always had a weakness for them).
Even though Lee Valley is basically a tool company, they always have lots of other nifty stuff for sale. This time there’s an African instrument called a Kalimba you play with your thumbs, a flashlight that looks like an alien head, copper mesh ribbon, a Christmas tree removal bag, an Edwardian style glass display case and a volcanic deodorizer,
But my favorite by far was the Aquitaine Sundial Ring. It’s an adaptation of the one Eleanor of Aquitaine gave to Henry II in 1152, so that he would know when to leave the hunt for their love trysts. You suspend the ring by its cord, and the light shines through a tiny hole onto the inner surface where the times of the day are engraved. It’s like something you’d read about in a novel!

P.S. This ATC was made from Hermine’s free download of November 16th.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I’ve always thought the word twitching described what happens to the muscles underneath my right eye when I’ve been spending too much time in Photoshop. But apparently it has another meaning as well. My friend Jeanne says it’s a term birders use to describe the uncontrollable spasm of excitement they feel when they see a new—and rare—species of bird.
A couple of weeks ago, Jeanne and her husband Steve braved the elements to see this Desert Wheatear in Kent, England. Presumably they were twitching during the experience, so I couldn’t resist turning the photo she sent me into today’s ATC.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Moo Challenge #34

The theme this week at Make a Moo or Two is using a technique, stamp or material for the first time. In other words, to try something you haven’t done before. My intention was to tint some of Mary’s lace with dyes I’d bought at the Creative Festival with Daniza, but then I got all caught up in Photoshop and decided to create a digital moo tag instead. This is something I’ve been intending to do for a while because I love tags. However, since I knew it would involve work on my part, I’d just been putting it off.
Once I’d figured out the template, though, I felt I was good to go. But how “to go” was the question. This time I decided to do something abstract because I’ve been wanting to experiment with painting in Photoshop for what seems like forever, and this was the perfect opportunity to jump in by using a set of brushes I’d downloaded from Bittbox. If you’re into Photoshop like I am, you can download some of their free (and terrific) brushes right here.
To finish off my tags, I used a couple of Flourish brushes designed by Christina Lazar Schuler. All in all, this was a very satisfying project for me because I learned something new.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Blogging Continued

If you’re a regular reader of Ronna’s blog like I am, you always get a kick out of the pictures she posts …everything from painted hay bales and desserts, to her drawings and painted ceramics. Ronna says she looks on her blog as an ongoing daily newsletter of her life, and that the process has sharpened her appreciation of the world around her. Instead of putting off an opportunity to photograph something interesting like she used to, Ronna shoots it on the spot so she can share the image with her readers.
Another blog I keep tabs on is Lenore’s. I really love what she does with photography, and she also has a Flickr account, which showcases her artistry with this medium. After blogging for most of this year, Lenore feels her blog has taken directions she didn't think it would take, and she wonders if others feel the same way.

Well I certainly do. I started blogging in 2006 because Carmi told me she thought I would enjoy it. In the beginning, I looked on it—in part—as a way to promote the book I’d started working on. Finishing my book has taken me a lot longer than I thought it would, but it’s been percolating away in the background and is almost done.
In the meantime, I’ve been continuing on with my ongoing ATC project. Today’s ATC is the 156th I’ve posted since January 2007. The main image I used was a free download from Hermine’s Place on November 10th, so thanks for the inspiration Hermine.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Officially a teenager

I forgot to mention that yesterday was Lily’s thirteenth birthday, or as my father pointed out to me, she’s now a 91-year-old teenager. Lily’s girlfriend Carin took this picture of her sleeping a few months ago, so I thought I’d post it to illustrate her second favorite pastime: catching 40 plus winks.
What she really likes best is eating. Because it was her birthday, Lily sampled Mr. Noodle, part of a grilled cheese sandwich, and a stir-fry of green beans, asparagus and bok choy. I know, I know, should I be feeding my dog stuff like this? Probably not. But I couldn’t help thinking about my grandmother as I was doing this.

One Christmas, Nana—who was ninety at the time—asked my uncle to make her another martini. “But Mother, is that wise at your age?” he said. My grandmother fixed him with her cold blue stare and replied: “Look Ken, I could be dead tomorrow, so I’m jolly well going to enjoy a second martini, and I’m going to do it now.”
Enough said.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

More About Blogging...

Brenda, June and Leslie left comments last Sunday when I wrote a post on what to write about, and I’ve been thinking about what they said on and off all week.
Blogland is a huge community made up of thousands (maybe hundreds of thousands) of smaller communities, so it’s really a refection of what life itself is like.
I agree with Leslie when she says that most of us are interested in specific types of blogs, ones that tend to dovetail with our interests and have a “personality” that speaks to us. I don’t know about you, but there are so many fascinating blogs online that I could be reading them 24/7—and still feel I was only scratching the surface of what’s out there. Since this is impossible, I rely on my instincts to be my guide.
For example, I read Brenda’s blog because I’m nosey and I want to know what she’s up to. She doesn’t post much and she’s comfortable with that, although she did mention the average blogger might be intimidated by the so-called professional feel of certain blogs. I know what Brenda means. I keep thinking I should tart up mine with more graphics and maybe a video, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.
And I have to admit that while I’m drawn to visuals on other people’s blogs, it’s usually information, and writing style that keeps me coming back. I read June’s regularly because she has a wry sense of humor I always enjoy, and Leslie’s blog because she tells me about things I’d be really interested in if only I’d known about them! She is also responsible for reviving my long dormant interest in music. I’ve listened to J.J. Cale and Eric Clapton playing After Midnight, so many times I’m wearing out my speakers …not to mention driving John and the dog nuts. Oh yes, writing about blogs and blogging tonight makes me want to visit a whole bunch of my favorites and just forget about the dishes.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Moo Challenge #33

Over the years I’ve certainly got a lot of mileage out of Mona Lisa, so when I read that this week’s challenge over at Make a Moo or Two was Paris, I immediately thought of her …oh, and the Eiffel Tower too. Much as I’d like to have been more creative with this theme, I also wanted to christen this Tim Holtz ATC stamp by using it to make my moos.
While I’m on the subject of Mona, if you have a few minutes, check out this video on YouTube that demonstrates how to render her using MS Paint. The process looks incredibly complex to me, but it’s fascinating to watch the process artist Jason Baalman goes through to reproduce her.

Monday, November 10, 2008

In My Journal

As I was flipping through my journal tonight, I realized that I don’t just use it as a place to go on and on about what’s bothering me; it’s also where I put down my ideas. Now I’ll admit that I don’t/can’t follow through on most of them, but the process of brainstorming is so pleasurable that it’s really nice to have some record of this. It gives me the feeling I’m accomplishing something worthwhile even when I’m really not. (On the other hand, I’m sure I’d thrive in an alternate universe where the only important thing would be to have ideas—and not to feel under any pressure to follow through on them).

Sunday, November 09, 2008

What to write about?

John has been reading several different blogs for a few years now, and he told me today he’s noticed that not only are some bloggers posting less frequently, but also that others seem to have stopped altogether. It’s made me wonder if blogs in general have a certain life span, or if other things in life interfere with keeping one regularly as they sometimes do with me.
There are a whole host of sites out there on how to blog—over 97 million of them if you Goggle this topic—and several of them recommend you should be posting at least twice a week, or else readers will eventually drop away. I try to post more often than that, but it’s not always possible. Personally I think you should blog when you feel like it, and let the whole question of readers just take care of itself. Blogging should be enjoyable, even if it’s not always easy to know what you want to write about (or what other people might actually want to read).

Speaking of blogs, on November 2nd Hermine Koster posted this vintage image, which I turned into an ATC using Photoshop. Hermine mentions that she scanned the image—one of a group of postcards from her grandfather’s store—and that she will be offering more on her blog in the future for you to download free …as long as you don’t resell them. I think it’s worth checking out this resource because it’s always fun (at least for me) when you get a chance to work with someone else’s images. Plus you’ll enjoy her artwork too.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Moo Challenge #32

What springs to mind when you hear the word party? This is the Make a Moo or Two theme this week, and I have to admit the first word I thought of was “food” because I love sampling what other people make. The next words on my list were friends, fun and family, and I decided to celebrate this visually by using some different fonts …you know the ones—you download them because you have to have them and they’re free; then you never end up using most of them.
If you’d like to play with the ones I’ve used, here are the free links:
The food typeface is called Broken Ghost and you can download it from DailyFreeFonts.
Bleeding Cowboys (!), the friends’ font, is available from
And last but not least: fun. You can find the Turbo Ripped font at Font River.
P.S. I’d scan these with your antivirus software before installing them just to be on the safe side.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A Book Worth Having

Quite honestly, I could spend all my time reading about techniques rather than applying them, especially when there are so many great books out there. A case in point is Altered Surfaces: Using Acrylic Paints With Gels, Mediums, Grounds & Pastes by Chris Cozen. Cozen, part of the Golden Acrylic Colors' Working Artists program, is a wealth of practical information. She covers Gels and Pastes to create surface texture and pattern; Fluid, Airbrush and Heavy Body acrylics; Interference and Iridescent pigments: and Grounds that give the surface of your work “tooth.” Even though the emphasis is on Golden products, if you’re a Liquitex fan, I’m sure that many of these techniques will be transferable.
Altered Surfaces is a short book—only 50 pages—but it’s crammed with all sorts of ideas to try like using different mediums with stencils and stamps, doing Glass Bead transfers, and staining crackle paste for a more dimensional look. But what I liked best about Cozen’s book is that after reading it, I finally understood the potential behind all the painting products I own, and this has given me the confidence to get more mileage out of them.To find out more about Chris Cozen, check out her website.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Did you dress up for Halloween? I didn’t, although in days gone by I used to greet trick or treaters in a witch’s pointy hat and a tight, Elvira-style, black velour dress. Since I look more like a squeeze-a-snack in that costume now, it was sweatpants and a hoody for me tonight.
But I still think Halloween is the perfect opportunity to express your personality …however many of them there happen to be! For example, I remember some of the roles I took on in my trick or treat days. I was a beatnik—black tights and turtleneck; an artist—complete with tam, smock, brushes and a palette; a princess—frothy pink tulle and a twinkle-y tiara; and my favorite, a cowgirl—with a faux leather skirt, lots of fringe and Western hat.
Since my brother Robin and I are close in age, he was a cowboy the same year I was a cowgirl. But I can remember being annoyed that he got the gun and holster because he was a boy, while I was stuck with the lasso.

Fortunately, girls can pretty much do what they want now. Tonight I met Goths, triplets sewn into one large green costume who told me they were a three-headed ghoul, a sweet little lady dressed as The Hulk and two female Harry Potters. Next year I must make sure I have my camera handy.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Artful Blogging

Both and Colette Copeland and I appear in the Winter 2009 issue of Artful Blogging, so this is a shameless plug on my part to convince you that you need to check it out!
Colette has written a wonderful article on how blogging has helped her to connect with people all over the world, and also provided her with a place to share her work. And speaking of Colette’s art, there are some fabulous visuals accompanying her article. (When I look at her collages, I always want to cuddle them).
For my part, I’ve been included in an article on Make a Moo or Two along with four other regular moo-ers. I thought the reproductions were really good considering how small a moo actually is—about 1.1 x 2.8 inches. There’s also a great interview with Nellie van Leeuwen who started the moo challenge earlier this year. Each week between 35 and 50 participate. To paraphrase the immortal words of that old Alka-Seltzer commercial: Try it, you’ll like it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Moo Challenge #31

This week’s challenge at Make a Moo or Two is tone on tone, and I decided to do some non-journal stamping for a change because it would give me a chance to play with my favorite scrapbooking paper from Christina Lazar Schuler’s Vintage Rustica line.
The Leaf Swirl image is from B Line stamps, and the little girl is a Stampers Anonymous design. I used Ranger’s distress inks—walnut stain and antique linen—although the walnut looks more like black here. Then I used colored pencils to give my moo some oomph.
Playing with my stamps was so much fun, I think I’m going to continue on in my journal.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Library

Emma and I decided to go to the Metro Toronto Reference Library for our writing pod yesterday. When we arrived there was a huge crowd of people standing outside. We thought it was a protest of some kind, but no; they were just waiting for the doors to open. (I’m embarrassed to admit this, but it’s been years since I’ve been inside a library. Now that my children are adults and both read and buy books regularly, I guess I must feel that my job is done.)
Anyway, once we were inside the library, I was surprised at the number of people using laptops while simultaneously gabbing loudly away to anyone who would listen. To escape all the noise, Emma and I moved to another floor to write in peace and quiet. But it wasn’t until I was flipping through an old copy of Maclean’s magazine later at home that I realized I hadn’t looked at a single book while I was at the library.

The article that prompted this observation was on the “Living Library” concept. Apparently there are libraries around the world with certain people available for patrons to talk to—a police officer, a homeless person or a witch, for example. No question is off limits, and it’s all about relaxing prejudices by gaining information. Up until now I’ve been happy enough with own at-home stash of reading material, but maybe it’s time to update my library card and find out what is really going on there.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Behind Mona

I was reading about Mona Lisa on Wikipedia the other day and came across a photo of the back of the painting. For some reason this interested me more than the front ...probably because we’ve all seen Mona a thousand times and she’s become ubiquitous. There are a couple of scribbles on the back and the letter “H”, but I couldn’t resist making an ATC to jazz it up (vicariously).
Apparently Mona was painted in oil on a 21 x 30” panel made of poplar wood. At some point she was removed from her frame and this caused warping. A crack also developed near the top of the panel. Mona has been fixed a few times—most recently in 1970—and she’s now kept in a bulletproof glass case with a bed of silica gel to maintain the humidity at 55 per cent.
The weird thing is that I saw the Mona Lisa in the flesh (so to speak) back in 1992, and I don’t remember the glass case at all. But I do recall a guy complaining to his girlfriend: “You mean you brought me all the way to France to see this?”
I have to admit the main reason I went to the Louvre myself was to see the Winged Victory, which has always fascinated me. But one of these days, I’d like to go back and take a closer look at Mona plus all the other fabulous art I seem to have forgotten about.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Moo Challenge #30

It will be interesting to see what everyone does with this week’s challenge at Make a Moo or Two. Because the theme is arrows, what to do visually with something unusual like this didn’t immediately spring to mind, or to my mind at least. I could think of different things associated with arrows, such as archery, road signs, package directions and so on, but it took some time to figure out how to interpret this graphically.
I ended up using the Custom Shape Tool in Photoshop to create the arrows and then scanned in some elements from a couple of maps. Doing this reminded me of the process I go through when I’m designing a logo for a client because both of my moos turned out looking like logos for some imaginary company.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Another Book Report

We all know there are fewer books in bookstores now, and I think that’s a shame. Sure, you can shop online for books—and they’re certainly cheaper—but I find I buy fewer of them than I'd like to because I don’t have a chance to look at them first.
Taking Flight: Inspiration And Techniques To Give Your Creative Spirit Wings by Kelly Rae Roberts is an example of this. I would never order this book online simply because I’m not drawn to the stylized Modigliani-type figures on the cover. Fortunately, I happened to look through Daniza’s copy the other night, and she loaned it to me.
Since then I’ve discovered there’s actually a lot to like about Taking Flight. I enjoyed the tender writing, great quotes and guest interviews along with the well done step-by-step techniques (even if the art isn’t exactly my cup of tea). You can tell Roberts put her heart and soul into this book, and now I will definitely be ordering myself a copy.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Last Few Days

When I don’t blog for a while it’s usually for one of two reasons: I’m either working hard or doing a lot of socializing. Sometimes I even manage do both simultaneously.
On Thursday night I went to Daniza’s for a pajama party. We’ve been talking about this for years and we finally did it. What an amazing creative space Daniza has! There’s a stamp room, another stamp room with a computer, the media/doll/lace atelier, and upstairs: a library. The best part was looking through Daniza’s fabulous collection of stamped cards and tags. Next time I’m taking my camera so I can share some of her marvelous work with you. (Girlfriend—you need a blog, although I know this would probably cut down on your output).
Next morning, Daniza’s dear mom went out and got us lattes(!), and then we headed off to the Creative Festival at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. There was a lot to take in and we kept running into people we knew. Afterwards I went out to dinner with Colette, Katie, Mary, Yvonne and Carolyn.
Because I’d taken Friday off, I had to work yesterday. But I managed to spend some time on my novel today, then do this digital ATC in Photoshop and have a telephone writing pod with Emma just before dinner. We’ve been doing this for six months now, and I highly recommend it, especially if you have a long-term project you’re committed to. Not only is it helpful creatively, but also, working along with Emma makes me knuckle down to write when I’d probably take the easy way out and put it off.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Moo Challenge #29

Dance is this week's Make a Moo or Two theme, and as I had only one image of a dancer that had to be it. I used this as an opportunity to do some experimenting in Photoshop, namely painting in the figure digitally. I can't say I'm that thrilled with the result. It reminds me of what I spent a lot of time doing as a child ...endlessly coloring things in.
But there's always an advantage to participating in challenges. Because you make a commitment to finishing things off instead of trying to perfect something you're not satisfied with, you always learn from the process. This time I realized that I need to explore some new digital techniques. Hmmm. Maybe it's time to crack open that 700 page Photoshop Wow book. Up until now I've been looking on it as a lake full of cold water that I'm afraid to jump into.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Books on Journaling

As a long-time journaler, I can never resist a book on the topic because I’m always curious about what other people are doing in theirs.
If you’re a fan of Teesha Moore’s journaling style like I am, you’ll love her set of four booklets which you can order directly from her website. Each booklet contains 40 full color reproductions of pages she’s done over the last eight years. There’s magic about Teesha’s work that’s hard to resist. She’s spontaneous, poetic, quirky and unique. Although I know I could never do what she does, her journal pages don’t intimidate me. I come away thinking feeling uplifted, inspired and believing that I can do more with my own journaling as well.
Drawing From Life: The Journal as Art by Jennifer New is another book I really like. New, the author of a previous book on Dan Eldon, takes us on a fascinating, almost scholarly journey into the secret world of journalers. What appeals to me about Drawing From Life is that New interviews and presents the work of a wide range of people from rock stars like David Byrne and cartoonist Lynda Barry, to painters, photographers, a quilt artist, a song writer, a violin maker and even a volcanologist. There’s no one style that’s paramount which I found really appealing. It’s all about using the journal in a no-rules, practical way. You can find out more about New and her books on her website.
The 1000 Journals Project by Someguy, with a forward by Kevin Kelly, reveals journaling at its grittiest. In other words, if you’re looking for pretty you definitely won’t find it here. The pages are filled with political rants, rough sketches, collages, snapshots and diagrams. There’s even one entry written entirely on Post-it-Notes.
To give you some background: in the summer of 2000, Someguy—graphic designer Brian Singer—started leaving blank journals around San Francisco. Each journal included instructions to contribute something, pass it on, and then once it was complete, to mail it back to him. Since Singer started his project, contributors from every U.S. state and 40 countries have participated. He describes the process as “an experiment where the journals themselves are a museum and every participant is an artist.” For more information on the project, check out the 1000 Journals website.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Canadian thanksgiving

Lynne had a couple of projects for us up at Limberlost, one of which was this holiday tag. As soon as I saw it, I knew I was going to present it to my mother, along with a plant, when we celebrated Thanksgiving. Mum loves Carmi’s handmade cards, so that’s what I usually give her. (Note to self: it’s obviously time to replenish my stock of Carmi cards!)
We got together last night to celebrate the holiday and I thought to myself: I’m going to spend Thanksgiving day being grateful for all the good that comes my way. A few things so far …John waking me up with a cup of tea and making breakfast for me later on; cuddling with Lily; opening my fridge and seeing all the delicious leftovers—ham vegetarian lasagna, pumpkin pie, lemon tart—that my mother had sent us home with.
Now I do want to go on record as offering to cook Thanksgiving dinner myself, but my mother insisted which is another thing to be thankful for. Oh, and I didn’t have to clean my house—that’s a big one!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Moo Challenge #28

This week’s Make a Moo or Two theme is clocks—or in this case “clock.” I used a large Magenta stamp I’ve been intending to make a clock face from for years. Then I added the doll’s face in Photoshop.
It’s always a good feeling when finally you use a stamp that you’re drawn to, but somehow haven’t gotten around to playing with. My theory is: you never know when a stamp will come in handy, so buy what you like because eventually it will have a purpose.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Coaster Book

A little book covered with scrapbook paper and attached by a cardstock spine was Carin’s project up at Limberlost. Normally I go for the minimalist approach, but I deliberately chose to something fussier—just to see what it would turn out like.
Inside Carin’s sample were two accordion foldouts tied with ribbon, which looked great. But somehow I got off track here and ended up making a little book using odds and ends from my baggie of collage elements. I kind of like it the way it is, but one of these days, I may add some quotes or use it as a mini journal.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Notebook

Yvonne’s project up at Limberlost was making a notebook with Sara Binder envelopes and paper. We had initials to put on the front. But by the time I’d decorated the cover with some black stippling and a flourish stamp I borrowed from Bev, the letters didn’t seem to fit in. I ended up using a tiny mirror instead because I decided that looking into it would let me know that the notebook belonged to me.
Now I just have to figure out what to use it for. I’m thinking it might be a good place to list all those art supplies I’ve amassed but haven’t got to yet. On second thought, I’ll probably have to add a whole pile of new pages.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


Terry Garrett sent me this collage—Flight Over Atlantis—earlier in the week, and I can’t stop looking at it. I must have studied it a hundred times in the last few days trying to figure out why I’m so drawn to his piece.
I can come up with certain reasons why it speaks to me, of course—the colors Terry used, his subject matter and the composition, but in the end, it’s all about how everything fits together and the effect it has on me.
I find I respond strongly to a work of art when it sheds light on something inside me that I didn’t know was there, and there’s always a feeling of excitement when this happens. Sometimes I respond visually, but in this case, I’m thinking that Flight Over Atlantis is the illustration for a story I haven’t written yet—so thank you for that unexpected gift, too, Terry.