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.