Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Three days of eating, laughing and art marking up at Limberlost really took the wind out of my sails. But in a good way.
Normally I come home with everything half done because I insist on nit picking over the finishing details. However, this time I decided I would complete my projects no matter what. This involved staying up late for a couple of nights with the other die hards: Carin, Bev and Yvonne. (When my energy level picks up, I’ll recharge my camera battery, and take some pictures of my favorite projects to post here).
One of the things Marg did with us was faux postage, which I really enjoyed. I’ve done a lot of it in the past, and I’d forgotten how much fun it is. The others made cards from theirs, but I knew what I’d done would work better in my journal. I do most of my stamping there, and since we were trading our images around with each other, I was able to add some new ones to play with. I usually stamp these images randomly and then use them as a starting point when I’m writing an entry.

Not that I did any journaling while I was there. It’s a private pursuit and we were all feeding off the group energy. At one point I was stuck on a project and Yvonne came along, picked up a tiny piece of paper and said: “Add this.” So I did and everything fell into place.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Limberlost Project

When I took a photo of my project that we’ll be making up at Limberlost this weekend, the black frame didn’t turn out, so I cropped the picture to show you what the image inside it will look like.
I started with a frame from the dollar store, removed the glass and used the particleboard backing as my template cutting out a rectangle from textured paper. The stamp I chose is one from Catherine Moore’s French Laundry series, which I ordered from Jennifer Pearson Vanier.
I stamped on patterned scrapbooking paper, glued it on thin foam and then cut the image out so it would look dimensional. To finish everything off, I added more scrapbooking paper, chirogami, a postage stamp and flower, and a piece of Mary’s lace along the bottom.

Framing stamped images is something I’ve been planning to experiment with for a while, and I really enjoyed putting this prototype together. Hopefully my stamping buddies will have fun with the project too.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

It’s Official!

We all went to Roy Thompson Hall yesterday to see Emma called to the bar. My dad was able to make it, and we were thrilled about that. Right in the middle of the ceremony my mother leaned over and said to me: “You know, you were smart enough to be a lawyer too.” For some reason, she's had this idea in her head for years, so I couldn't resist whispering back: “Well, it didn’t work for me so I had to force Emma to get with the program, Mum.” Seriously, though, I think Emma ended up becoming a lawyer because we “let” her do exactly what she wanted to do.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Moo Challenge #26

Autumn is in the air—and it’s also the theme of this week’s Make a Moo or Two challenge. To prepare, I dug out my favorite leaf stamp, some pigment inks and markers, and indulged in a little embossing. It was embossing that got me hooked on stamping in the first place, and as any stamper will tell you, it never really loses its magic.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The TV Thing...

I can’t wait to watch Project Runway and the next rerun of Lost tonight. We’re several weeks behind the U.S. with Project Runway, but so far I’ve resisted checking out who’s in, or—in Heidi’s words—who’s “auf.”
Over the years I’ve become more comfortable with my TV addiction mainly because I’m also obsessed with reading, writing, Photoshop-ing and making art—more virtuous activities that offset my predication to sit in front of the electronic altar 24/7. (Fortunately there aren’t enough good programs on to tempt me to do that.)
One of the earliest memories I have is of watching TV with my cousin Ann, and I still remember the first cartoon I ever saw. Pluto encounters a drowning kitten and for some reason (probably because he’s a dog) can’t decide whether or nor not to save her. There’s a confrontation between a devil and an angel, who keeps crying: “Pluto, save the kitty.” I’m pretty sure the angel won out or else I would have been scarred for life.

I put my fascination with TV down to fact that we didn’t have our own set until I was in the eighth grade. We christened it by watching an episode of Alfred Hitchcock’s Thriller that was so scary my brother Robin and I spent the whole show with our arms wrapped tightly around each other. Come to think of it, Robbie loves his TV too. Guess we’re both just making up for lost time.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Back on Track

For the past few days our Internet has been up and down (down mainly), but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we’re back on track now.
Otherwise it’s been a good week. Towards the end of August I made the decision to go Artfest in 2009, and I received my confirmation package on Wednesday which was exciting for me because I was fortunate to get all my first workshop choices: an encaustic wax class with Judy Wise, Lynne Perrella ‘s A Face in the Crowd, and last but not least, Spontaneous Intent Clayboard with Mary Beth Shaw. Now all I have to do is to start saving up for the plane trip to Seattle, and figure out how to stuff so many art supplies into my suitcase.
I also had another piece of good news on Wednesday. I heard that I’m going to be having a solo art show at The Whitney Gallery in Brampton from October 8th to November 15th, 2009. It’s small but pretty gallery, which is part of the Peel Heritage Complex, the location of our regional art gallery and museum.

On Thursday night I went to an opening there and saw some great photos of dolls taken by Fausta Facciponte. After experiencing her work, I really got the itch to work larger. Hmmm …guess I have a real incentive now to experiment with something new and to see what happens.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Moo Challenge #25

The theme for the Make a Moo or Two challenge this week? European Cities. When I think of places I’d like to visit in Europe, Florence, London, Paris, Amsterdam and Barcelona immediately come to mind. But I choose Haarlem in The Netherlands instead. Why? Well, for one thing, it gave me an excuse to play with some vintage photos of the city I’d scanned a few months ago. And for another, Haarlem is known as the flower city, which is what Brampton—the city where I live in Canada— calls itself, too ...although anyone checking out my garden would understand immediately that I’m not keeping up with my civic duty.
I don’t know how these moos will look on your monitor because they have a lot of black. But hopefully I’ve done Haarlem justice. The moo on the right shows The Grote Kerk (Great Church), and the one on the left, Groot Heiligland, a street in Haarlem that has buildings dating from the fifteenth century.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Reading for Inspiration

I was thrilled when David gave me one of my favorite books for my birthday: Parallel Visions: Modern Artists and Outsider Art. It’s out of print but John used to get it for me from the U. of T. library and now I finally have a copy of my own.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know I’m interested in outsider art, and Parallel Visions discusses how artists outside the mainstream have influenced “professionals” like Jim Dine, Jean Dubuffet, Max Ernst and Niki de Saint Phalle.
What captivates me about outsider artists is their sense of destiny and compulsion when it comes to their work. They don’t let age, social status, so-called sanity, poverty or lack of skill get in the way of expressing their art. This is fortunate because many of them are old, poor, uneducated, eccentric, and even in some cases—certifiably insane!
When you’re overburdened by the feeling that you should be creating amazing stuff—or not doing anything at all—think of them. Outsider artists don’t worry about their self-confidence or their niche in the marketplace, they just express themselves through their art and trust that it will take them where it wants them to go.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

An Artful Weekend

The weekend got off to a good start with our ATC meeting Friday night. The circus was this month’s theme and even though I didn’t have time to make trades, Daniza, Shirley and Sandy each gave me a card (see above).
As usual we had a great time. I had a wonderful heart-to-heart with Sandy, scored a fab stash of vintage lace from Mary, looked at Colette’s inspiring nature journal, chatted with Martha about Artfest and made plans to go to the Creative Festival in October with Daniza. Then on the way home, Susan and I discussed our love of painting and how we’d like to do more of it—and work larger too.
On Saturday I spent most of the day figuring out my group project for the Red Hat stamping weekend on the 26th. Usually I do something that involves measuring, cutting and folding: i.e. a portfolio one year and an ATC box the next. This time I thought I’d try a mixed media project and finally got it all together about three in the morning. I hope they enjoy doing it.

Today I worked on assemblages off and on all day. It’s interesting working on several things at once. When I spread my energies out like this, I don’t feel the pressure to finish anything or to make it perfect. It’s a very pleasurable way of spending time because you lose all sense of it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

In Praise of Cupcakes

Pictures of delectable treats online always prompt me to make a beeline for the kitchen. Ronna and Lenore often share photos of food they’ve enjoyed, prepared or have come across on their blogs, and this morning Leslie posted a picture of her birthday cupcakes. (Many happy returns of the day, girlfriend).
While I was reading Leslie’s blog, it occurred to me that cupcakes and desserts in general are aesthetic objects …a joy to look at, to hold and to taste. The assemblage artist Joseph Cornell was addicted to sweets. From what I’ve read about him, desserts compromised the main part of his diet. When he was working late at night on his art at the kitchen table, he’d stop to gorge himself on pastries. And if he was feeling cold, he would turn his oven on low and stick his head and shoulders inside to warm up. Not that this has anything to do with his addiction to desserts, but it was apparently the only baking he ever did.

Wayne Theibaud is another artist who was inspired by sweets. He did a whole series of paintings based on cakes, sundaes and pies. If you’re interested, you can check one of them out here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Moo Challenge #24

This week’s theme over at Make a Moo or Two is pumpkins. I always associate them with Halloween, but since that celebration is a few weeks away I decided to go psychedelic. I found a free image of pumpkins on Wikipedia, and then layered it with some of my own images using different Photoshop blending modes.
Pumpkins remind me of my dad too. When we were children, he would buy the biggest pumpkin available around Halloween, and then spend hours carving it. But instead of cutting the eyes, nose and mouth right out, Dad would carefully remove the skin and leave the second layer intact. Once he’d put the light inside, the pumpkin face would have an eerie, appealing glow. My mother also got in on the action. There were delicious pumpkin pies and toasted seeds for us to munch on after the carving was complete even though all we basically did was watch my dad exercise his creativity …i.e. every year he designed a different face.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

That Doll Thing

Last night as I was dropping off to sleep, I was thinking about dolls—specifically, what it is about them that fascinates me so. This is almost a primal attachment because it's has been with me ever since I can remember.
In many of the pictures of me as a little girl, I’m holding a carefully wrapped doll, and somewhere in the Bastille that our crawl space has become, I have three of my favorites packed away—Posey, Miss Canada and Elaine. Sometime I must unearth them and take photos.
But in the meantime, I’m ruminating about why I love dolls. I don’t think it’s an extension of the female baby barometer. I mean, I like babies but I don’t get all squooshy inside when I see one. And I was never a girly girl who kept her dolls in pristine condition; mine were always well used.

So what is it then? I’ve come to the semi-conclusion that dolls must be iconic for me because they seem to be the expression of something inside me. Now—if I could just figure out what that something actually is …

Saturday, September 06, 2008


I’m not one of those people who subscribe to popular magazines like US Weekly and Vanity Fair, although I admit to flipping through them when I’m in the checkout line at the supermarket. I do subscribe to special interest magazines and zines like RubberStampMadness, ATC Quarterly and Art & Life though. It’s my way of keeping in touch with the rest of the world when it comes to art that inspires me.
But why subscribe? Well, I remember something I read in Poets and Writers about ten years ago. The editor of a prestigious poetry quarterly was being interviewed about the thousands of submissions his publication received every year. He remarked that most of the people sending him poems weren’t subscribers, and added that a subscription would cost them about the same as a case of beer. Even though I had no idea what a case of beer cost, this comparison has always stuck in my mind.

As a writer, I know that magazines and zines depend on subscribers to keep them going—whether the publication is a labor of love, a business or both. And much as I love trolling the Internet for news and information, there’s nothing quite like curling up in bed after a hard day with one of my favorite mags. It’s a form of tangible, low-tech grazing that I don’t think will ever go out of style.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Moo Challenge #23

Butterflies—the Make a Moo or Two theme this week—remind me of Emma. When she was about eight or nine, a monarch butterfly landed on her lip and stayed there for ages. Animals like her too. Just last week, a sleek marmalade cat followed her home from the bus and meowed outside her bedroom window for about an hour.
I’m not sure what this combination of butterflies and Emma will look like on your browser, though, because I haven’t calibrated my monitor to my new computer yet. It’s not a job I’m forward to because I’m so picky about how the color onscreen matches my print out. But since it’s now or never for this week’s moos, I took a stab at it anyway. Then it turned out that one of my moos was the wrong size, so I had to start over again. Mistakes like this always seem to happen when I’m over-tired, but if I only did things when I felt fresh and vibrant, there are a lot of things that would never get done.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Old and New

After reading about Jennifer’s round robin opposites journal on her blog the other day, I kept thinking about the theme she chose: old and new. For some reason it really appealed to me, so I decided to play with an istock scan of an antique photo album, an old map, a watercolor painting and a diagram of computer circuits.
I had to get the circuits in there because I’ve spent the last couple of days adding programs and peripherals to my new computer. Can’t say I’m sorry to see the old one go though. It had been lumbering along for weeks and Photoshop was getting slower and slower. But being a digital keener meant I just kept forging ahead trying to apply first aid until …well, all I can say is that it’s a relief to have speed and more space.