Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Moo Challenge #18

What is your favorite theme? That’s the challenge at Make a Moo or Two this week. I had trouble making up my mind because there are so many images I like …postal stuff, numbers, words, faces, science diagrams, maps etc. In the end I decided to just rummage through some of my stamps and go with what appealed to me at the moment.
The theme that immediately presented itself was Sisters. I am very close to my sister Pam, and my friends feel like sisters to me too. Although, now that I think of it, I have several male friends and two brothers I adore, so I could just as easily chosen Brothers. Oh well, maybe next time.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Field Trip

It’s been months since Mary and I went to Active Surplus and Above Ground, so we rendezvoused after work to stock up on nifty bits and pieces. The first thing Mary did was open her trunk to show me all the amazing assemblages and figurines she’s been creating recently. I felt like climbing right in there with them. Can you alter a living person? Now that would be interesting.
At Above Ground I came across a display of Copic Markers. I’d heard of them of course—Debbie Olsen and Teesha Moore swear by them—but it was the first time I’d seen them here in Canada. There was a young guy beside me stocking up on them, so I asked his opinion. “I’m in love,” he said fervently. (I’m assuming with Copic Markers). But I resisted buying any because they’re pricey. I have the feeling that I’ll eventually cave on this one though. When I was a layout artist, I used markers all the time and I can see how much fun it would be to use them in my journal.

Then, at Active Surplus, Mary and I trolled the aisles searching for interesting objects to use in our assemblages and we didn't come away empty-handed. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with that door peephole, the temperature gauge and those old television tubes, but it makes me feel good just knowing I have them.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Why spend just one day celebrating your birthday when you can squander several? That’s what I decided to do this year, and I've been so busy partying that I've been too busy to blog.
People have told me in the past that they miss the birthdays they had as children, but I don’t. Having a birthday in the middle of the summer meant my friends were either on vacation, or I was. Celebrating is more fun now because nearly everyone is around.
Take the weekend for example. Carmi organized an art get-together at the Zion Cultural Centre in Toronto. Formerly a church, the space has fantastic lighting and plenty of room for everyone to have their own art table. After several weeks of family obligations, it was an opportunity to start working on some new art projects.
One of the highlights was watching Carmi creating felt embellishments. (Note to self: you will NOT become involved in fabric art until you’ve made serious inroads into all that paper you have).
Another highpoint for me—and Karen too—was being presented with a birthday cake and a bezel from each member of our art club (see above). This was a total surprise and now I have several new treasures to add to my art collection. I’m also thinking my new philosophy of life should be that every day is my birthday—and celebrate accordingly!

P.S. You can check out Karen’s bezels and the felting extravaganza on Carmi’s blog.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Watching Le Tour

Like Jen Worden, this time of year always finds me parked in front of the TV watching Le Tour de France. John and I have been fans for the last eight years, and I think this is the most exciting Tour yet because we don’t know who will win—the race is that close.
For the first time since 1997, there is a Canadian involved in the Tour: Ryder Hesjedal from Victoria, B.C. Out of 150 riders, Hesjedal is number 54, which I think is great, especially when you consider it’s his first year on the Tour.
Today was the seventeenth stage and featured the highest climb of the race: L’Alpe-d’Huez. Since I don’t have a photo, I thought I’d feature Cascade Mountain in Alberta just to give this post a Canadian flavour. Wouldn’t it be fun to see the world’s best cyclists zipping down Main Street in Banff?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Will's Children

It’s been a while since I’ve done an ATC so I decided to play with an old photo tonight to see what I could come up with. It’s a picture of Great Uncle Will’s children in front of their house in downtown Toronto.
About half of my grandmother’s twelve siblings immigrated to Canada from England in the early 1900s, and Nana and her parents were the last to arrive in 1909. That’s almost a hundred years ago and I wonder how she must have felt leaving what was familiar to her to come to a new country.
Somehow I doubt that Nana was homesick for long though. She soon met my grandfather and had her first child at the age of eighteen. Judging by the size of Will’s family, I’m guessing Nana had plenty of cousins to socialize with too. She told me they would go for a walk after dinner and then listen to music at the park. Apparently the musicians weren’t formally organized into a band. They would just show up with their instruments and start jamming. I wish I could have seen (and heard) that.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Moo Challenge #17

Mona Lisa (and friends) is this week’s theme at Make a Moo or Two. Did Mona have friends? She must have of course, but since we really don’t know much about her, I buddied up Mona with a couple of Lorenzo de Medici’s mistresses. (Hope she doesn’t mind).
I know there are children with imaginary playmates, but I don’t recall having any myself—though I do remember pretending that I was adopted at one point.

My real name was Cordelia, not Susan, and I had nine beautiful brothers and sisters. We all lived happily in a huge mansion with a greenhouse and private lake before we were cruelly separated from each other. The most fun about this imaginary world was drawing the elaborate floor plans. I even had my own sunken bathtub with solid gold faucets, and a separate suite for all of my dolls.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The problem of time

One day when I was at the hospital visiting my dad, he told me that I was “relentlessly positive.” I asked if he thought this was a bad thing, and he said: “Not at all.”
What I didn’t say to him was that I have to work at being positive with any number of things. Like time, for instance. There never seems to be enough of it; I always seem to be worrying about the way I use it, and what I have to show for it.Then again, I usually find it helpful to be positive about the negative—to reverse it in other words. So the good thing about time is that it forces you to consider what your real priorities are and to act on them in the best way that you can.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Recently I came across this mini assemblage I’d done in an Altoids tin a few years ago. When I haven’t looked at a piece for a while, I usually react in one of two ways: “Yes, I still like it,” or “If I had it to do over again, I’d change X or Y.”
With this assemblage, I experienced both feelings simultaneously. What bugs me about it is that the arm should be coming from the right, not the left hand side. However, since a piece of art also has a memory, I remember that I only had one doll’s arm at the time, so I had a choice: either wait until I found one that worked or just finish it, which is exactly what I chose to do.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Moo Challenge #16

Instead of having an early night, I got my second wind back (as I so often do), and I decided to stamp this week’s moos. Obviously the Make a Moo or Two theme is birds—and it’s a wonderful subject in my opinion.
As I was stamping away, I thought about how rich in symbolism birds are. Eggs represent possibilities; life’s endless potential just waiting to burst forth. And of course a nest stands for protection and a place to be nurtured. But above all, birds mean freedom to me …the ability to soar above the cares of life and explore the beauty of spirit.

Monday, July 14, 2008


I had high hopes that I’d be able to start on a mixed media piece I want to do today, but once again life seemed to get in the way. All I had time for was playing in Photoshop with these stamped images while I talked on the phone with my sister-in-law Sherri.
The frustrating thing is that I have everything organized and ready to go. My art space hasn’t looked this orderly, pristine and inviting since I don’t know when. But I can’t seem to make a start because I’m so bushed. I think this has got to be one of those nights when I get into bed with an armload of my favorite art books and just fantasize—or as I like to refer to it: refuel.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Which Way to the Beach?

It's our ATC Beach trade tonight, but I can't go because Dad is home from the hospital and I'm on board to fluff pillows, tell jokes, do the dishes, make the Saturday morning tea etc.
Even though I haven't had time to make my ATCs, I thought the least I could do was to create something digital. Not that it turned out the way I wanted it to.
Because I always get a kick out of Sandy’s Blythe doll adventures, I thought I’d play with what a doll might do at the beach. Unfortunately, all I had at hand was a head, and the more I worked on it, the stranger it became.

In the end, I had to leave it as is because I’d run out of time. But there’s something to be said about feeling accountable to your blog. It’s gets you doing things you’d almost certainly put off when you’re pressed for time in your life like I am.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Moo Challenge #15

I’d say about half the work I do is in black and white so I really enjoyed the Make a Moo or Two challenge this week. I don’t often post black and white images here, though, because I tend to think color when I’m doing my blog.
The stamps I used are from Catherine Moore’s Character Constructions. I find her images very seductive …i.e. I wish I’d designed them myself! I ordered these stamps from Jennifer Pearson Vanier who owns the Milkhouse Gallery in Prescott, Ontario. Jennifer has some amazing stuff for collage, assemblage and stamping at very reasonable prices. You can check out her blog for more information, and see a selection of stamp sheets too.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Emma and I finally managed to fit in our Mother/Daughter writing pod this week. Because we hadn’t had one for a while, I think we were both feeling a little guilty. And when you’re away from anything for a while, you feel you should throw yourself back into it full tilt. But you’re not sure you’ll be able to.
This can be a real challenge when you’re dealing with a major project like a novel. Your intention looms like a skyscraper. What floor should you get off at? Or even: which elevator to take?

As much as we both wanted to, we couldn’t make up for lost time and finish our novels in an afternoon. We knew we needed a way in—a trail of breadcrumbs that would put us on the path to grandma’s house …i.e. something to help us focus and keep our minds on the moment.
What we ended up doing was choosing an image from my deck of ATCs, and then writing about it. Emma picked a doll, and I went for an anatomy diagram. This visual quick start was just what we needed because we got back into the writing groove more easily than we thought we would.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Remembering Betty

Linda and I went to our friend Betty’s funeral today, and it was a sad day for both of us. We all met at a creative writing class I taught almost twenty years ago, and it was the beginning of a wonderful friendship. Up until 2004, we got together almost weekly to write, talk about books and swap stories about our lives.
This morning I remembered something Betty once told me. As a child she had diphtheria and stopped breathing for several minutes. When this happened, she realized she was actually in heaven. Her grandmother—holding one of Betty’s cousins who had died as an infant—came walking towards her through a meadow filled with spring flowers. She told Betty that it wasn’t her time yet, and she had to go back. Betty said this experience removed any fear of death from her mind, and she was only five years old. So I’m thinking of her now writing poetry, tending to a garden and reading her beloved mysteries somewhere really, really special.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Moo Challenge #14

The theme this week at Make a Moo or Two is Asian, and once again I was faced with the challenge of not having any stamps that would work. I’d been hoping I could download some of Emma’s amazing photos of her trip to use, but we have to find her camera software first.
Since I’m a big fan of Hokusai, I decided I’d use a couple of his famous landscape woodcuts as backgrounds. Then I wondered if I was being sacreligious. Was it wrong to tamper with the works of a master? But Hokusai apparently had a great sense of humor. He was also influenced by French and Dutch engravings, went by thirty different names during his career and his daughter Oyei became an artist too.
I like to think Hokusai would find it amusing that 150 years later someone half way around the world was altering his work on a computer.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Digital Stamping

I don’t usually Photoshop my stamped images because rubber is organic, and the digital is more like thinking made visible. But I made an exception here because I wanted to reverse the numbers. Because I didn’t have any white ink, I worked with a scan of this Stamp in the Hand image and colored it in using Photoshop. I also scanned the Stampendous background (which is one of my favorites) and then added a gradient.
This piece appears in We’ve Got Your Numbers by Karen Sweeny-Justice in the latest issue of RubberStampMadness. Twelve different stamp artists gave their take on the theme, and it was cool to see that everyone did something completely different.