Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Learning Curve

Before I attached the iridescent broach to my assemblage for our club challenge last week, I took some pictures. I thought it might be interesting to use the broach as a background or frame for one of my cabinet cards. But the whole process turned out to be a real pain, although I have to admit I learned a couple of new things in Photoshop along the way.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds doing art an endless learning curve—just like life. You persist because you keep hoping you’ll finally arrive. I guess I’ll just have to keep reminding myself of what Dan Eldon once said …“The journey is the destination.”

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Moo Girls

For some reason I rarely use images of children in my art, so I knew this week’s Make a Moo or Two theme—girls—would be something different for me. Fortunately I had a couple of sweet images of little ones in my cabinet card collection that I could use, and I enjoyed getting up close and personal with them in Photoshop.
Even though I have a few stamps of little girls too, the thought of digging through several hundred images to find them was daunting. At one point I had all my stamps neatly organized into categories, but typically, that didn’t last long. One of these days, I must regroup and make things easier to find. It bugs me when chaos gets in the way of creativity.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Polka Dots

I’d been tinkering with this ATC for a while but since it didn’t seem to be going anywhere, I had to abandon it. Then yesterday I suddenly thought about Polka Dots, Ronna’s centerfold theme for the next issue of ATC Quarterly. I decided to resurrect the image and add some polka dots to see what would happen—kind of like a Photoshop rescue remedy, if you know what I mean.
While I was working on this, Emma called to arrange the date for our next Mother/Daughter Writing Pod. We’re now heading into our fourth week of getting together to write, and really enjoying it. In between pods we work on our projects and then discuss them with each other on the phone. But we’re obviously not the only mother and daughter who get together to write. Laura and Jenna Bush were on Larry King the other night talking about the children’s book they’ve just published.
I think it really helps to have a writing buddy if you have an ambitious project like a novel in mind. You have to make the time and do the work, and then gradually everything will start coming together. After I got off the phone with Emma, I reminded myself of this by adding words and a calendar to my polka dots ATC.
P.S. The deadline for ATC Quarterly’s Polka Dots theme is May 15th. For more information, check out Ronna’s blog.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Club Assignment #24

We haven’t had a meeting for a couple of months, so it was great to get together and catch up. This time our assignment was to alter a wooden calendar from the dollar store, and it was amazing what people came up with. Karen used calking and spoons to create a shrine. Corey turned hers into a brainstorming kit for journaling, and Sharon came up with a sled pulled by two German Shepherds that she painted to look like Huskies. That one really made me laugh.
I think I was the only one who kept the calendar intact though. Actually what I ended up doing was buying two more calendars so I could interchange the pieces. I also used a printing wheel from an old IBM Selectric, covered two wood triangles with stamped and embossed paper, and incorporated a printing block. This block is a generic thank you note for a wedding gift. Imagine not taking the time to express your gratitude in writing!
The element I like best is the iridescent broach in the middle. I bought it 25 years ago from a store on Fourth Avenue in Vancouver. The woman who made it was born the same day in the same year as me, and I’ve always looked on it as talisman. I don’t wear it any more, so I decided to give the broach its own shrine instead of letting it languish away in a drawer. I call this piece The Meditation Machine, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but I liked the sound of it. (Artistic license, you know).
Next month’s challenge is to alter some reading glasses. I don’t have a clue what to do with this one, but I’d like to think outside the box on this one if possible.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Carmi's Cards

Because of my spill on the ice back in February, I wasn’t mobile enough to visit Carmi’s booth at the spring One of a Kind Show. But since I needed to replenish my stock of Carmi cards, I asked her to choose ten and send them to me. Normally I prefer to make my own decisions when it comes to cards, but Carmi knows what I like and I was really pleased with what she picked out for me.
Now speaking of Carmi, she’s hosting a big indoor garage sale this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Zion Church Cultural Centre in North York. Seven vendors will have tables crammed with all sorts of interesting stuff. For example, Mary will be selling tons of vintage beads and embellishments, and there’s even a freebie table!
For more information and to get directions, visit Carmi’s website.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

It’s Moos-day!

This week’s challenge at Make a Moo or Two really appealed to me because the theme is to create something vintage. Since I’m a pack rat when it comes to old photos and ephemera, I immediately got right down to it. There’s something very satisfying about giving new life to an image that already has a history.
For both my Moos, I used cabinet cards and Victorian postcards, but it started me thinking about the difference between the words vintage and antique. From my albeit limited research, antique seems to refer to an object that not only belongs to a past era, but also has value, and usually a specific function, like an armoire to hold dishes for example.
Vintage is a funkier kind of word, and just the adjective I’d use to describe the clothing I wore in the 70s—velvet bellbottoms, gauzy tops lavished with embroidery and headbands—too bad I sold them all in a garage sale back in 1982.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Recent Drawings

It was reading Danny Gregory’s book The Creative License that inspired me to start drawing again. He says the true purpose of illustrated journaling is to celebrate your life. “No matter how small or mundane or redundant, each drawing and little essay you write to commemorate an event or an object or a place makes it all the more special.”
Looking back over the drawings I’ve been doing for the last six weeks, I can remember what I was thinking and feeling while I was working on each one of them. The scallop shell was definitely the hardest. It took a good hour and a half to finish it, and I considered giving up and tearing it out of my journal several times during the process. With the hot water bottle, I thought I was raising the bar drawing-wise, but it turned out to be easier than I thought. And finally: the tacky broach. I only wore it once on a burgundy jacket I used to love—but then gave away because it had those early 90s football shoulders. I can’t think why I haven’t parted with this broach either. Maybe it was just waiting for me to draw it.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Overworking things

I think I've mentioned this before, but I usually find the more I work on a piece of art, the worse things get. For example: this digital collage that actually started out in the shape of a gothic arch.
Because I'd looked at several of them on other people's blogs, I wanted to try one myself and the plan was to incorporate a map (natch) and a cabinet card. But somehow things went haywire. The harder I tried to correct it, the worse things got, so I finally ended up turning it into a mandala. I know mandalas are supposed to have a centering effect but I think this one has to be all about the desire for it. Looking at this collage now, it seems to be more like a CD cover, although I can't think of any musician who would actually use it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Joy of Mapping

Do you ever think of careers you might have pursued, but for one reason or another didn’t follow up on? My list has never been a long one, but I did seriously consider becoming a cartographer at one point. This could be why I often include maps in my collage work now.
When I was in my early teens, a friend’s brother loaned me The Lord of the Rings because I was so excited by the maps Tolkien had included. Somehow they helped make his mythical world come alive for me.
By the time I was in my last year of high school, there were only two of us left taking geography. My teacher Mrs. Reddy was from New Delhi and trained as a classical Indian dancer. I can’t remember what the other student did during our classes, but I recall Mrs. Reddy practising her dance moves while I was drawing maps with a fountain pen, and then carefully filling them in with colored pencil. Depending on the map I was doing, I would add polar bears, whales and Hawaiian dancing girls.
Mrs. Reddy and I bonded over the map/dance thing and from time to time, I would usher at one of her performances. Of course I had to wear a sari on these occasions and once I stepped on the hem and the whole glorious outfit unravelled.

Well, I guess I got off topic here didn’t I? But I find that’s what happens when maps are involved. They always seem to lead me somewhere else.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My Moos this week

The Make a Moo or Two theme this week is Women. For the last challenge, I used women too, but since I have so many of these images anyway, I trolled through my stamps and chose a couple I thought might work. (I’d cut out a Moo template beforehand to make things easier).
The stamps I worked with are two of my favorites: a mirror image by Renaissance Art Stamps and Andromeda by Acey Deucy. I used Black Brilliance to stamp with, and then added some oomph with colored pencils.
If you take a look at what people are posting on the Moo blog, you’ll be surprised by how intricate the results can be. I have a feeling if I attempted something like that, I’d be using tweezers and maybe even a magnifying glass. One of these days maybe, but for now I’m sticking to simple layouts until I get used to working in such a tiny format.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Jen Challenge #12

This week Jen Worden challenges her faithful readers to take three random words from their daily newspaper, email inbox or a magazine, and then make something. I’m not feeling that inspired lately, but I like type so I decided to rip some words out of the latest US Weekly to see what would happen. It was fun choosing words based on looks rather than meaning. I scanned my three favorites and then put together an ATC in Photoshop.
The funny thing is it almost turned out to be a slogan—(that) NEW YOU feeling. Once upon a time I was an advertising copywriter at Sears and I had to come up with stuff like that all the time. But the random approach is more engrossing. It ends becoming something akin to found poetry. If you're interested in learning more about this, Wikipedia has a good introduction to the process.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Our trades

We didn’t have as many people as we usually do at our ATC meeting last night. I’d been thinking beforehand that this time I’d provide a link to Sandy’s blog because she takes much better pictures of our trades than I usually do. But unfortunately Sandy has the flu and couldn’t make it. So girlfriend, here’s a sneak peek at our Springtime in Paris ATCs. Hope you feel better soon. (I saved one for you).

Friday, April 11, 2008

ATC Night

The theme for our ATC trade tonight is Springtime in Paris. Originally I’d thought about doing something digital with a photo of the Eiffel Tower I took when I was in Paris years ago. Then I saw this stamp as Bizzy B’s and decided I’d combine two of my favorite techniques—stamping on scrapbooking paper and then adding colored pencil.
My ink of the moment is Brilliance although I’m always willing to try a new brand as long as it has a really intense black. You can use a positioner to stamp your image if you want to, but I find it more fun to stamp randomly and then go from there. For this trade I experimented with three different colors of scrapbooking paper. It usually works best on papers with a subtle pattern and a little “tooth” so the colored pencil goes on easily.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What I’ve been reading…

If you’re a fan of Sandra Gulland’s Josephine B. trilogy like Carmi, Leslie and me, you won’t want to miss her new book, Mistress of the Sun. Set in 17th century France, this well-crafted novel is a fictionalized account of the love affair between Louise de La Vallière and Louis XIV. In Gulland’s expert hands, their doomed relationship actually becomes something magical. And of course it’s full of fascinating period details.
Reading Mistress of the Sun only confirms my opinion that you can learn more from historical fiction than straight biography. A good novelist like Gulland always knows how to blend in her research. And because she’s so skilled at propelling you inside the skin of her characters, you pick up all sorts of information along the way without realizing it.
A word of advice though. If you’re going to read Mistress of the Sun, make sandwiches first because this book is almost impossible to put down.P.S. To find out more behind more about Sandra Gulland’s creative process, I recommend visiting her blog.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Drawing Update

I’ve been contin-
uing on trying to do a drawing a day in my journal. Most of the time I’m too busy to meet this self-imposed quota, but in the last couple of weeks I’ve managed to draw a latex glove, some doll parts, one of my bracelets, a seahorse, a handbag and the images shown above: a piece of Mary’s bling, and the front and back of something crushed I found on the street.
After almost a month of drawing regularly, I’m starting to see an improvement, but more importantly, I’m feeling more confident. I think a lot of this has to do with switching to better pens. I bought some Pitt drawing markers a few years ago and they are really nice to work with. At this point, though, I still feel that my drawing is too controlled and I need to loosen up. It’s hard for me to let go of the desire to produce something polished even when I know it isn’t really working for me.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A Moo or Two

This week over at Make a Moo or Two, the theme is Swirls & Flourishes. Since I don’t have any stamps along that line, I thought I’d experiment with some DigiWERX brushes in Photoshop to see what would happen.
It was interesting doing stamping last week and then trying a couple of digital Moos today. Both have their possibilities and limitations. With hands-on work you always have a tangible artifact that tells the story of how you arrived there. With the digital, you have an endless number of choices—sometimes too many, in fact. But from my own experience, I don’t find any difference in the time it takes to do either on. Of course with Photoshop, you don’t have to hunt for supplies or clean up, which is an advantage for someone who is messy like me. However, in my opinion, there’s no substitute for playing with an actual stamp and trying to incorporate real texture into your art.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Signs of Spring

I can’t remember when I’ve been so pleased to see crocus shoots popping up in our back garden. Even though there are still some random patches of snow, I’m feeling confident spring has finally arrived. And what a relief because it’s been a long hard winter up here in the Great White (literally) North.
I left a couple of things outside to weather over the winter: this rusted candleholder and the bottom of an old flowerpot which must have broken in half because of the cold. (Now I wish I hadn’t experimented with it).
I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the candleholder, but it will be an interesting piece to work with. My thinking right now is that I want to turn it into a bird’s nest shrine, but I also like the idea of incorporating a doll’s head. Hmmm. I’ll have to put some thought into this one I can see.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Mother/Daughter Writing Pod

Emma and I have been talking about getting together to write for a while now, and on Wednesday night we finally did just that. Emma took me out for dinner first, and then we headed over to The Second Cup to write. When a couple of Type A personalities together, you can be sure they get right down to it. (Actually, I’m probably more like a B+ but I cranked it up a notch).
We each wrote three pages and then traded notebooks. I was amazed by how much we accomplished. Linda and I sometimes get together to write, but we tend to gab rather than produce. What I’ve learned though is that when you want to do something creative, working along with someone else can be a powerful motivator. And if you understand each other and have a good relationship like Emma and I do, so much the better.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


The stamped Moo cards that Godelieve Tijskens has been posting to her blog for the last few months look like they’d be fun to try. She contributes regularly to Make A Moo or Two and this week the theme is using text, letters and quotes. Because they’re tiny—about 28 x 70 mm—I thought I knock off a few Moos while watching American Idol and Dancing with the Stars the other night… i.e. feel less guilty about my TV addiction.
Making Moos proved to be a lot harder than I thought it would be though. Not because I was distracted by Simon and Bruno, but because I still don’t find stamping easy even though I’ve been at it for ten years. This is one of the reasons why I like reading Godelieve’s blog and Debbie Olson’s. I need to see what my stamping gurus are up to, or maybe I’m just hoping that some of their artistry will rub off on me.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Christina's new book

I’ve always been a big fan of Christina Lazar Schuler’s artwork because I love the way she combines collage images, acrylic paint techniques and botanical elements done in Illustrator to create her own unique surfaces. So of course I had to order PaperWERXings: Mixed Media Collage, an 80-page, 7” x 7” book of her recent work. To me, the fascinating thing about Christina’s collages is that you can’t figure out exactly how she manages to blend all the layers together. This gives her work an aura of mystery that I find very appealing. To see samples of Christina’s art and to find out more about her book, check out her store on Etsy.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Mouth Assemblage

I built this assemblage around a crushed bottle cap that I found about five years ago in the parking lot of our local Miracle Mart. It reminded me of a mouth, and I was hoping it would speak to me. For the longest time there was only silence, that is until I decided to force the issue by turning it into a microphone. (Poetic license, you know). The part I enjoyed most about putting this project together was using some of my mica—love the stuff, but never know what to do with it. And has the mouth spoken to me yet? No, but I’m keeping this assemblage handy just in case.