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.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Moo Challenge #27

I had a great idea for wings, this week’s Make a Moo or Two theme, but I couldn’t find the wings in question even though I looked everywhere for them. That’s one of the problems of having too much raw material. You may know what you have, but it remains theoretical until you can actually get your hands on it. Obviously I need a better filing system, but the thought of reorganizing everything is daunting. One of these days though…In the end, I managed to find a small enough image of wings and a couple of other stamps that worked. Then I scanned everything—along with some scrapbooking paper—and created a virtual moo in Photoshop. Not as satisfying as the hands-on variety, but making art is always an experiment, isn’t it?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Sometimes what you’re looking for is right under your nose. I was chatting to my next-door neighbor, Dave, the other day and he asked me about my David. I explained that David had a glass art show going on in West Virginia, and that he was working on a contract building kilns and fabricating panels for another glass artist.
“So have you ever made glass yourself?” Dave asked.

“No,” I replied “To be honest with you, I’ve always been more interested in working with Plexiglas. I have several ideas about how I could use it, if only I knew how.”
At this point Dave started grinning.
“I know, I know,” I said sheepishly. “It sounds kind of cheesy being attracted by plastic rather than glass.”
“Oh, I get your fascination with it all right,” laughed Dave. Turns out he has a Plexiglas fabrication and vacuum forming company. He’s worked with artists before and says he will teach me anything I want to know.