Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Exploring Unused Supplies

Reorganising my living room into a light and fluid space for me to work on my illustrations and visual journals A Brand New Art Studio Space was about making a fresh start. Many ideas of how to approach my work in new ways have been coming forth. One of the commitments I made to myself was to really get to know all of my art supplies by paying and experimenting with them to my heart’s content.

I have had a set of watercolour pencils for a very long time. I’m not even sure I know when or how I got them. I do remember giving them a brief try-out years ago without being terribly impressed, but had not got rid of them because I liked the colours and they came packaged complete with this clever stand…

Recently I’ve been flipping through painting or sketching videos on You Tube before going to bed. What a wonderful resource of ideas, inspiration, techniques and how-to’s! Recently one of them by Cathy Johnson showed her using watercolour pencils by stroking the pencil tip with a water filled paintbrush, and laying the paint from it down onto the paper.

I decided to give my pencils a quick try! WOW! I loved the colour that was transferred onto the paper with a couple of brush strokes, and as is often the case, one brush stroke became many. And the same happened with the flower that emerged.

At one point I was a little over enthusiastic in my stroking. The next thing I knew I had splatters all over the paper! Not to be discouraged, I just made lots more! (I have since viewed the You Tube video in its entirety and learned that this is actually an acceptable technique…)

And on into the night it went. I was enchanted by the effect I was getting and the way the colours blended so beautifully. Only two colours were used for the piece. I did use a yellow pencil to scribble in the centre of each flower, and flicked some splattering of yellow into the mix for good measure.

Ebhard Faber MONGOL Watercolouring -
Carmine, Yellow and Light Green
(the words: "vintage" and "very old" were applied to them
when I looked them up on the internet...)

Do you have any supplies in your studio that you’ve not fully explored? Why not look them up on You Tube and see what happens when you find another way to use them.

A beautiful start to my new studio space.

What a joyous start to summer!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

A Place for Everything

... and for everything a place ~

With all the re-organisation taking place in my space, this was a timely reminder.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Wish you were here

"A friendship can weather most things
and thrive in thin soil;
but it needs a little mulch of letters
and phone calls
and small, silly presents every so often -
just to save it from drying out completely."

-Pam Brown

My friend Janie lives a ferry ride and about two hours drive away so we don’t get to see each other that often. We email voraciously back and forth and talk quite a bit on the phone. We both love to write however, and we love getting letters, so we decided to start sending postcards to each other through the mail.

I’ve recently found some great postcards to send her. One is in the form of a puzzle. You write a note on the back of the postcard, break the pieces apart and then mail them to the receiver, who then has to reassemble the puzzle to see what the picture is, and what is written on the back. I have to confess to a childish delight when I decided to take a photo of the puzzle card for this post, and had to reassemble the puzzle in order to do so!

Another card simply yelled her name across the store at me. No it wasn’t a talking postcard, it just was one designed for her. A woman who loves nature, is very artistic, loves writing, and food…not necessarily in that order

The last card is one that I found stuck between the stove and the cabinet of a house my partner was renting for a client. Definitely the worse for wear. And yet, inspite and maybe because of its battered state, it retains a certain charm. (I actually made a copy of it before sending it off to her…)

Being a “found” postcard it seems only natural to write part of the message in the form of a “found” poem. I’d better get to it before she reads this post…

Try it, there is nothing more magical than finding a real piece of mail in the postbox.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

A brand new art studio space...

In case you haven't read the previous post "Re-arrangers Remorse"  not more than a week ago I was bemoaning the fact that my upstairs loft studio was simply not working for me anymore right now. Too crammed, claustrophobic, not the right storage or proper light were just some of the problems I felt I was encountering. I asked my partner, Tony, what he thought. Why don't you get rid of the living area and create a space to work there instead? was his solution. So we got rid of everything and started afresh. Here's how it looks so far...

A shelving unit that has seen many incarnations serves to hold a selection of art supplies, sketchbooks, art books and works in progress...

Tony gave me a rusted old Singer Treadle machine stand (that still works!) for the base of my table, and a piece of curved square glass as the top... I absolutely love it!

I'm still looking for a little trolley to put all my pens and paints on but for now they are all at hand at the back of the table, with plenty of room left to work...

Here's the new work space ~ my office/computer/writing space to the left and the art/illustration/visual journalling space to the right. The stairs lead up to the upstairs studio loft...

Now I can move effortless back and forth between my kitchen area, my computer, my writing, my dining area, my painting and where I see my clients.

I couldn't be happier...

Re-arrangers Remorse...

For a Taurus, any change is threatening. We are Earth signs and our homes are our sanctuary. The last week has seen an upheavel in my living space which, I am delighted to say. I'm... well... delighted with! I'll be posting photos later on today. But here's just a bit of the thought process that I underwent in the first 18 hours from the time the idea was first brought forth until the deed was done...

" I can't work upstairs in my loft studio anymore. It's too crowded. There's no space. I'm totally claustrophobic..." (emotional meltdown proceeds in front of ever-patient partner) " I don't know what to do. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them right about now..."

Ever-patient partner, Tony, recommends dispensing with living area and making it into nice bright airy work space...

" Wow! Yes, that's a great idea! I'd love to have my workspace on the same floor as everything else. It makes so much more sense... "

Positive discussion ensues as to what are the alternatives for living space use. Successful decisions reached...

" Yes let's get rid of it all tomorrow... "

Later on...

" No, you know what? I should try to make the effort to sell it all over the next few days... " (estimated value of all furniture incl old TV - $ 20.00 but the seeds of panic are sprouting)

That same evening I tell my girlfriend all about it: " I can't tell you how excited I am about this..."

Time for bed... sleep...

Wakes up at 3.00 a.m. " OH no, I can't possibly do this, where will we sit and relax, and what if Tony doesn't like it, and ... " (It was Tony's suggestions that we watch movies sitting on the bed, we spend most of our time sitting talking at the table after supper, and we also have two wonderful rocking chairs...)

" No! I'm not going to do it... I'll hate it. I'll have got rid of all the furniture, then what will I do... "

Gets up, makes tea and calms down a bit...

" OK - I can do this. It will give me a chance to get everywhere clean and tidy and organised... that will be really great..."

Panic sets in again at the thought of what all that tidying and organising will entail...

"No! It's no good. I can't do this. I'm definitely not going to do it... "

Sleep... finally

Awakens to Tony making tea in the morning: " I know I said I was going to wait and sell it but I really want it gone. I want it gone now..."

Removal of stuff begins immeditely. Tony knows me better than to give me more time to think. I go upstairs to the loft studio to get boxes to put stuff in...

" I love this loft studio. I love being up here. It's not so bad at all..." Luckily this was not said aloud...
And yes, it is the same loft studio referred to in the beginning of the post...

Everything removed and now on back of truck...

" Oh thank goodness, I can breathe! I love this. I can get under the stairs totally cleaned out, and clean the blinds and I can finally get some work done... "

Parting comment to Tony, who had far better things to do at 9:00 am on his way to work and climb trees:
" This is great. I can get working down here and in my spare time clean out the upstairs loft studio  and then I can move back up there if I want the living room area back  later... "

To his credit, he kept smiling...

Monday, 13 June 2011

Painting Prompt... by Nature

I've been busy the last week, reorganising my home to accommodate a second art studio space for illustration and visual journalling work. It involved some serious upheaval. Being a Taurus, movement of any kind is traumatic to say the least. Not to mention the second guessing that was going on inside me with regards to effectively eliminating my living room space!

Until the following morning...

I awoke at the crack of dawn, and after putting the kettle on I began to open up the blinds in my home. As I reached the new studio space, the light shining through the windows created a pattern, from the leaves of my indoor plant, on some paper I had left out the night before. It was as if nature was saying: Okay, we've made a start, now you make yours!!!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Whales in the garden

These pictures were taken early Spring outside one of the Parks and Recs buildings in Nanaimo, BC. It wouldn't be too hard to fashion a metal frame, even out of chicken wire or deer fencing, spray it black, and fill it with earth. Then it's just a matter of planting mosses, hens and chicks and low growing thyme...

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Journals ~ Where Dreams are Made

Recently I came across a book called “Beyond the Words” by Bonni Goldberg. Later, I remembered that one of my most favourite books on writing “Room to Write” was by the same author. I pulled it off the shelf and noticed that I had marked many pages with little flags with initials written on them. And then I remembered. Some fifteen years ago I belonged to a writers group in Calgary, Alberta. We began as a group of two, Carla and I. In fact it was on one of our many writing forays that both Carla and I bought the same copy of the book. But that story is for another time.

Eventually we grew to a group of four: Lorna, Robin, Carla and I. In different ways each one was very dear to me. Together we formed a formidable group of loving support for each other.

Christmas was nearing and I wanted to do something special for each of these women. I hit upon the idea of making a writing book for them. I took a regular notebook and began to pull pictures from magazines, putting them into piles with images, words or phrases that represented the stories that each person was working on. I collaged the covers of the notebook and then proceeded to search for quotes that would speak directly to each of us about our writing, our fears, our hopes and our dreams. I wrote these quotes at random in each person’s notebook. Hence the little flags, and the initials in “Room to Write,” these had been the quotes that I used. The Writing Books were received with the utmost delight and put to good use in the coming year.

All four of us are scattered now to different corners of Canada and the States, and busy in our own lives, we seldom connect anymore. We have each of us pursued our writing careers in different ways and become successful in our own right. I cannot speak for the other three, but if I am the writer I am today it is certainly in great part due to the unconditional support that I received from those three women in those early heady days of becoming a writer. I’d like to think that they think the same. And I’d like to believe that the notebooks I made us all those years ago, with images painstakingly chosen and quotes lovingly selected, somehow helped a little along the way.


1) Find a nice notebook with either lined or blank paper depending on its final use.

2) Grab a pile of magazines, and with your friend’s interest and personality in mind, start pulling whatever appeals to you, images, words, phrases. Don’t over think this – let your connection with your friend guide you

3) Once you have a nice selection to chose from, start cutting or tearing the images or words that appealed to you and begin gluing them down on the front cover of the notebook. Again, don’t over think this, or it will have a contrived effect. Do the same with the back cover.

4) Let the images overlap, combine words and images, or make sentences or poems out of words and phrases.

5) Once you're done, cover the journal with clear plastic film that adheres to the page to keep it clean.

6) If you have any images or words that remain, consider gluing them into the inside of the notebook on random pages. Try not to over do this.

7) Search for quotes that particularly touch your heart and really pertain to your friend and his or her interests. Doing a search on the net with the words “quote and the person’s area of interest e.g. art, writing, sculpture.” Write out the quotes with coloured pens, or print them out in a nice font, and insert them at random throughout the notebook.

7) Most of all don’t over do it.

After all, you do want to leave them some room to write!