Click here to see my full list of goals for 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Here's a little preview of my latest project.  The three poems aren't final yet, but I couldn't resist testing out how the images might work with what I had so far...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Despite appearances, I've been working steadily away at a number of projects.  Unfortunately, at this time of year, some of them need to be kept under wrap until they're.... well, unwrapped.  This creates a bit of blogging dilemma.

On the none-gift side of things, I've been working on a series of three poems that I will one day soon (when I work up the courage) write directly on to three of my nude sketches. I've taken my time with the poems and will probably revisit them a few more times before I set pen to paper. My strategy for writing poetry is to continue returning to a work until I can read it through without once stopping to think 'that sounds clunky' or 'that's not the right word.' With Pax Familia, I did this for months, but I'm glad I did because I still read it through and feel that I got everything to where I wanted it.

Below is a little excerpt that has survived the first read-through. Once I've completed these drawings/poems, I plan to send them off to a literary journal for consideration, so I'll likely only post glimpses until I receive a heart wrenching rejection or a rare and wonderful 'yes.'

White filaments slow and descend
Collecting in the hollows across the muted acreage

Her attention is divided
Between the twin corruptions of thievery and self-denial

As for the other projects... the posts will just have to wait for the new year.  At least I should have lots of updates in January!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Post 150!

I’ve been thinking a lot about my goals list tonight (especially fitting now that I've realized this is my 150th post!).  Even though the new year is still six weeks away, I have a feeling that these weeks are going to race by and I don’t want to rush the creation of my new goals list on December 31st.   Plus, T and I will be off to Paris and India for the last two weeks of December, which really leaves me with four weeks to finish up my priority projects and formalize my 2011 list.

My first thought about the 2011 list is that it should be qualitative instead of quantitative.  Trying to accomplish 100 creative things was definitely fun, but it also made me feel that I was trying to head off in too many different directions.  I started trying to knock off small goals quickly without giving much thought as to why I added them in the first place - definitely not the point.  Ultimately, the list is meant to help give me some creative focus and motivate me to work on projects even when I’m not feeling particularly inspired.  Like most things, I find that simply picking up a sketch book or sitting down at the computer to write is more than half the battle. 

So, 2011.  No more arbitrary numerical target.  Well, maybe.  I do love a good ‘top 10’ list and my mind still wants to categorize things this way.  But if I do go with a number, what should it be?  100 was too high.  25 seems to low.  50 could work, but it still doesn’t speak to any underlying focus.

Another possibility is a list organized by ‘the passions.’  Writing, drawing, printmaking, and bookmaking would be the big four.  However, pretty much everything I do involves some overlap between these categories in some way, so separating them doesn’t make much sense.

One idea I’m considering (and I’m sure this will seem completely crazy considering my less-than-regular posts) is the idea of aiming to do one creative thing every day.  This ‘thing’ would have to result in a piece of art – be it a single line of text or massive painting.  There wouldn’t be any limits on scale or scope of the creation, but it would have to have some sort of ‘thing-ness’ to it - tangible, experiential, documentable.  This idea comes out of reading a lot of blogs by artistic entrepreneurs who often follow the ‘create one thing a day’ rule to keep them motivated and developing new ideas.  I’m sure it sounds a lot easier than it is in reality (just like my 100 things list... which was originally supposed to be a 365 things list!), but it’s a great challenge.

The big difference in my mind is that the ‘create one thing a day’ goal lends itself a lot more to inspiring the process as well as the final product.  And since this blog is largely about documenting my creative processes, the whole concept seems to be a better fit.   However, I still want to create a projects list as well.  I just operate better with a ‘to do’ list.

I suppose I’ll have to think on this a little more as I’m figuring out my 2011 projects.

All suggestions welcome!

Friday, November 12, 2010

I'm losing my proportions!

I went to another open drawing session last night after work even though I was feeling pretty tired.  There were a ton of people there, which was great to see (kind of made up for the art store clerk responding to my observation that Curry's now carries a lot of craft stuff with 'Yeah, there's just no money in fine art anymore').  

I'm glad I went because I just love the atmosphere and the change of pace, but I wasn't really on my game.  I've posted a few of the better sketches.  I'll spare you ones where I couldn't get the proportions right and ended up rendering the lovely model as some sort of deformed, five-feet-wide monster.  Oh, Thursdays...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pax Familia - Nan

Today, I had the incredible experience of walking into a bookstore, picking up a magazine, and flipping to one of my own works.  My graphic poem 'Pax Familia' won third place in This Magazine's Great Canadian Literary Hunt - Graphic Narrative category.  Now that the November/December is on stands, I thought I would put the full poem up.  It's written three and a half times in the work itself, so it might be a little hard to decipher (something I find I'm grappling with in many of my graphic works).

I was also so glad to see Toronto artist Shannon Gerard's work Unspent Love as the big winner in the graphic category.  I've been a huge fan of Shannon's work every since I strolled by her booth at Word on the Street a few years back.  Her blog - littledogmonday - has been on my blogroll since day one.  Check out her incredible graphic works and crocheted wonders.

I hope you enjoy the straight up text version!

Pax Familia - Nan


She came through rotting stovepipes
To marriage and the guess work of a thin dairy farmer

Kitchen, a field hospital
Back kitchen, cavernous with old snowshoes and loose electrical wiring

What is a back kitchen?
                These are the things I can’t explain
                Chicken blood and heat lamps, the dangling spools of baler’s twine
                Rotting potato halves, egg cartons, feed bags, rakes
Mid-morning, stretching up to the clothesline on the back stoop
                Hand-poured cement steps


We have culled her things
Searching for the ample lures of family history

Ancient sewing tools
Combines and wagons seized by rust
The machinery of true disfigurement

Oh, her horror stories were good
                A girl with a long braid
                Caught in the quaking wheels of an auger
                Her hair ripped out in a single, choking snarl
As her brother, miraculously, held back her body
                It took two years for her hair to grow back and she was never right again

Never right?
Her words


Tell me more

                Arms ripped away, stumbling near drunk from blood-loss through the fields
                Feet caught in the stable cleaner, flesh mixing with manure
                Falls in the hay loft, legs shattering through barn board
                Blood poisoning, stillborns, strange fevers, silent cancers
And always the strange, silent threat of a single rope dangling from the rafters or a lone gun shot in the evening

She worked in a space no bigger than a modern bathroom
Making pies the church would approve of though she wouldn’t go

                The perfect, lean script of her recipes
Blotted with fifty years of small interruptions
Beet juice, condensed milk, honey, pastry flakes
All the colours and textures of an ailing body, unclothed

But I wasn’t surprised when, at eleven, I learned she’d grown up the city
Some women kneel in the earth and are still a strange royalty to the people around them


Three children with black hair
Who would all grow to hate each other
And their children, arriving steadily over seventeen years
Until the hand-me-downs were transparent

What city?

The one we’re in now

                Two family homes less than a kilometre from where I get my coffee
                The whole street a living heirloom
                And me, kneeling on the icy sidewalk, in search of her

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Birthday Post!

A few poem experiments....

The writing is from some general work I did a while ago on the theme of heredity (a favourite of mine).

I'd love to write more, but it's by birthday today and I'm off to enjoy some cake!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Weirdness Abounds

I finished my hand sketch this evening so that I can move on to the text part of the 'fingerprint' project.  It's very strange to draw your own hand.  I ended up feeling like my left hand looked a little disproportioned, although the basic dimensions are pretty much right on.  Perhaps my hand is simply odd.

Feeling dissatisfied with this first sketch, I tried out a few variations.  My first experiment was something a littler looser.  

My second experiment was just... well... weird.  I was going for an more amorphous, finger-print-line feel, but messed up on a swirly line (thus necessitating the 'accent' lines in the background) and ended up with this bizarre little drawing.

The accent swirl reminds me of advice I once received from a painting instructor that if I was looking for something to fill in the negative space I could always use little triangles.  This was, and continues to be, the worst artistic advice I have ever received. Triangles!

Anyway, swirl hand drawing aside, I have two other hand drawings to work with and some fun pieces of writing to add.  I should have at least one draft posted by tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fortune Telling

I'm thinking my 'fingerprint' poem may become a 'palm reading' poem...

Monday, October 25, 2010


Still trying to find a little balance in the midst of a chaotic few weeks. Things should get a little better in November and December, so I'm planning to make a final push to tackle my key goals for 2010.

I've been looking over my 100 Things list tonight.  It's fun to see some of the strange and wonderful things I set out to do in January and at least a few projects are going to end up on my 2011 list (yes, I'll be doing it again!).  For the next two months, however, I'm most interested in completing the goals that best represent where I am creatively.  Therefore, I've narrowed my focus to this Top 10:

1. Create 'fingerprint' poem - I've completed 80% of the work for this project, but haven't gotten around to the final draft.  It's time to get r' done.

12. Draw a multi-coloured ink drawing - My original vision for this was to complete a black and white pen and ink drawing (possibly incorporating some red highlights).  I don't think I would have kept this one on the list if I hadn't of come across these two drawings on Thanksgiving weekend:

These sketches (done in '99! Such a good year!) reminded me exactly why I love working with black and white.  After eleven years, it's time to pick this style up again.  (In case you're wondering, the first one is of Cate Blanchett.  The second one may or may not have been Ricky Martin. Yikes.)

31. Update mailing and contact lists - This one seems simple, but I've just never gotten around to creating a master list.

32. Send out a mailing - The logical follow up to Number 31.

36. Create a chapbook - Any size and format (likely something 'mail-able'...)

40. Write 'constellations' poem - Also partly done... must finish and write on letterpressed cards.

46. Enter a poetry competition - I have the whole project conceived, I just need to work up the strength to write on my original drawings.

77. Make a paper cutting - I've never tried this, but I know I would love the process.

99. Make a donation to a local charity - Will definitely do before the 31st!

100. Fully document my completion of the goals list - Tally ho!

So there's my top 10 'must complete goals'.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


What a lovely weekend! I spent a fantastic Thanksgiving up north at my parent's place and the weather was perfect. 

I was hoping to translate the fresh air and brilliant colours into some new writing, but ended up producing pies instead.  Also, I may have been slowed somewhat by my diet of deep fried mars bars, poutine, and more turkey and mashed potatoes than I care to remember. 

I did snap a few photos that perfectly highlight how I spent my time.  

The weekend also started with some exciting news - I'm going to be published!  I'm not sure if I can give out the details yet, but I'll definitely post the whole story at the beginning of November.

Until then, I've got to get back on track with some of my newer projects.  I've definitely been inspired to get more of my work there.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Thistles, Inspiration, iphones

As my less-than-regular posting might suggest, things have been pretty busy lately.  Work has been particularly demanding of late and this has pulled some of my energy away from other projects.  But today when I was walking from my office to the bus stop, I had one of those moments where a very little thing helped shift my focus and renewed my creative energies.

The `thing`was this little dried up stock.

Not the prettiest state for a flower (Queen Anne`s Lace, I believe), but seeing it suddenly brought back all of these memories of walking through the fields where I grew up, clear skies, crab apple trees surrounded by fallen apples, frost on corn stocks, cool quiet mornings. The types of things that bring me an immediate peace in a very indescribably way.  Now my mind is full of dried out husks of milk weed and thistles and leaves on the ground - beautiful ugly things that immediately inspire me to write and draw (especially in pen and ink!)

So tonight when I got home, I drew this little sketch in homage and, once Ive finished this post, Im going to see if I can extend todays inspiration into a little writing session.  

With Thanksgiving weekend approaching, this is exactly the type of unexpected motivation I am truly thankful for.

P.S. The subtitle of this post should be `Why the iphone4 is the best thing in the history of the world (after dried up stocks of Queen Annes Lace) because Im also completely enamoured with my new tech toy.  T and I each got one after his Blackberry died (it mysteriously fell into a mud puddle a few days after we discussed how cool it would be to get iphones...).  I`ve never really had a cell phone, let alone a portable device that takes photos, has internet, houses doodle apps, etc..., so I`m enjoying my new found sense of connectedness (people actually call me again!) and the sudden advantage of having a camera with me at all times... should any inspirational thistles appear!

I hope you are all finding little bits of inspiration out there in the world.  Make sure you use them!

Monday, October 4, 2010


I've been experimenting with a few simple fold books.

Playing around with the patterns reminded me of the good old days of folding notes in elementary school.  

So much fun!  I wonder if I can find any of those patterns online...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Little Hearts

I tested out my two new blocks this afternoon.  My little heart turned out really well although I wish I'd left the bottom part shaded instead of complete carved out.  I might try to fix a few areas or possibly carve another version that is textured all over.  

I tested the maze print as well.  The most difficult thing about all of my maze prints is that they are hard to print cleanly.  I think I need some sort of actually press to put enough pressure on the block for the entire surface to leave a clean image.  

After testing the print, I drew a few rough sketches of some of the text ideas I'm planning to pair with the image.

Now I need to sit down and organize some of the themes and stories I want to use.  Right after I go for a lovely afternoon walk, of course.  I just love sunny autumn Sundays!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

New Art Project (Finally!)

For the first time in a few weeks I finally had a full day to just wander around the city, dream up new ideas, and actually sit down and make something.  It was such a good feeling to work on an art project again after such a long stretch of focusing on other things.

I've been researching some small, folded book designs, but I needed some new content to fill up the structures before I could start making them. Also, after weeks of pen and ink sketching, I really wanted to focus on creating something that could produce a repeatable image rather than one drawing that I'm scared to mess up by adding text to it.

The first block is a little anatomical heart.  I used the sketch that I included in the centre of Pax Familia as the base drawing.  I liked it so much in the earlier piece that I wanted to have a print that I could use multiple times.

The second is.... surprise!  Another maze!  A tiny maze actually.  Every time I start one of these mazes I remember how horrible they are to carve.  However, I love the mazes so much and I wanted a little one to use on cards, mini books, etc. 

It's a bit too late to test them tonight, but I'll try some prints tomorrow and post the results.  

Monday, September 13, 2010

Busy September

Sorry, everyone.  I feel a bit blindsided by how busy the beginning of September has been.  I've really been struggling to find the time to create anything.

I did manage a little brainstorming time to get a start on my 'Constellations' poem.  I've literally been thinking about this poem since last September when I took the letterpress workshop and created my little 'constellations' print.

The poem is in a really early stage, but it's progress!  Hopefully, I'll get it in better shape this weekend... right after I host to world's best bridal shower!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday Sketches

More Sunday sketches and another dose of seriously bad picture taking (What am I doing wrong? I had natural light!).  The poses in this class ranged from 1 minute to 15 over 2 1/2 hours, so I had a chance to practice a number of different styles and create a bunch more base imagery for my graphic/screen printing project.  

10 minutes

15 minutes

My sketches are piling up, but I've been having a serious writing drought and thirty plus degree weather is just not conducive to quiet writing afternoons.  I do have a new grey sweater though and all I need is a crisp fall morning to get things rolling again.  Sacrilege to some, I know, but I just love fall!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Painting Session

So the painting session didn't work out as wonderfully as I'd hoped (although it was great to have Erin's company for the evening!).  I wanted to work on something big, colourful, and concrete (image/object based).  However, after mucking around for a while trying to paint a sari, I just wasn't feeling it.

Not wanting to waste the full set up of paints/paper/water/ brushes/palette, I started experimenting with some abstract ideas.  I worked through a lot of blobs and splatters before focusing on this pattern below. 

It was fun to get to experiment with colour and not worry about making something look realistic.  I'm not sure I'll be pulling out the acrylics again any time soon, but at least I think I can cross Number 86. Experiment with abstract painting off my goals list.  I supposed I'd have to develop this idea a little more to cross of Number 19. That's okay, I still have four months left! 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Painting Afternoon

T has been out of the house all weekend (camping in rainy Algonquin, the poor soul), and I've really been looking forward to having some time to really focus on my projects.  After spending Saturday with my mom and sisters doing some serious shopping and dining, I'm fully manicured (acrylic, of course, I'm sure you've seen the sad state of my 'real nails' in some of my photos) and ready to get down to business.  

I've got some proper origami paper below, but I think I'm going to hold off on any more cranes and make this a painting afternoon.  I haven't painted in a long time, so I'm not sure how things are going to turn out.  I'm also not used to these crazy nails (so many typos just trying to type out this post!).  I'll post whatever I come up with later tonight or tomorrow.

Hope everyone is having a lovely weekend despite the rain!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Passionate Scribbly Experiments

This afternoon was perfect for writing.  Torrential downpours!  Dramatic thunderclaps!  I was working away in a Starbucks when the storm hit and it certainly did wonders for my productivity.  Equipped with photocopies of my sketches and unable to escape the coffee shop, I worked through the drafts of two new poems and then started experimenting with how I might integrate image and text on the page.

This process turned out to be a lot more difficult than I expected.  I wanted the text to look emotionally written (passionate, frenzied), yet legible.  I also wanted to break away from a straight-forward linear presentation of the poem without making the actual sequence of the poem difficult to follow.  No easy feat!  I ran into similar issues with Pax Familia when I incorporated the poem into the maze and ended up sending the poem as a separate Word document when I submitted it to ensure that the impact of the poem would not be lost.  

I still don't think I found the right balance today, but some of the results were encouraging.  The poem I wrote to accompany one of the nude females wandered into the somewhat dark subjects of sexuality and the internet, which I don't think really suits the image. It begins:

An icon in the modern sense, digitized and abbreviated 
to make room for a thousand simultaneous desires
of which your thighs can satisfy only one

My first attempt was a pretty standard, linear layout, which ensures the text is readable but isn't very visually interesting.

My second attempt was a little more all over the place. You can probably read the whole thing if you click on the image (Let's hope it doesn't end up plagiarized in a Hallmark card!).  The poem itself needs work, but there's a good base to work from.  

The second poem explores themes of heredity (one of my goals, of course!).  Definitely a work-in-progress, but at least it allowed me to practice new text/image combinations.

I like the energy of the image above, but my favourite is this one below.

After today's experimentation session, I'm debating two directions in which I could take this series:
  1. I stick with a more linear presentation and make sure my writing is legible enough that no words get lost in the presentation.
  2. I go totally crazy/messy/abstract, throw all order out the window, and make the text truly an integrated, overlapping part of the image.  Then, if and when I choose to submit the works to any sort of publication, I submit the image and text as two components of the same work.
I would really love some feedback on this, so if you've made it to the end of this ridiculously long post then please leave a comment about which option you like the best (or any other crazy ideas about where I could take this experiment).  I'm really hoping to have a polished idea ready for October so that I can replicate the final version as a screen print.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I was planning on working on some writing to accompany last weekend's sketches tonight, but we ended up having our good friends over for dinner and after some of T's fabulous chicken pot pie and a glass of wine, I didn't really feel like focusing on poetry.  Instead, I opted to work on a more free-spirited goal: Number - 20. Design a repeating pattern.  I'm sure there's a much more technical way to approach this process in the world of graph design, but my plan was basically to meander into a pattern. 

I've mentioned my love of art deco before, but it wasn't until I took a look back through a bunch of my sketches that I noticed how much the style was influencing my work.  All of my favourites from tonight's drawing session were at least a little art deco-ish. 

This circular pattern gets my top vote at the moment.  I actually really like how it looks in this zoomed in shot were you can really see the pen marks.  

To really make good use of these patterns, I'll probably have to carve them into a lino block (or perhaps save them for my screen printing course).  I'm hoping to have a chance to expand on a few of them this weekend and create a full page pattern, but I'm also going to be preoccupied with the updated Toronto Guide that was posted on Design*Sponge yesterday!  Things to do, things to do...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Paper Crane

When trying a new art form for the first time, I think it's important to acknowledge the classics. So, when I decided to tackle Number 3. Learn an Origami Fold, I knew exactly which paper creation I wanted to try: The Crane.

I've never tried origami (unless you count a few very pitiful attempts at paper airplanes as a child), but I've always wanted to have at least one origami creature under my belt.

Of course, next time I try this particular pattern, I'll opt for the thin, highly foldable origami paper instead of my 200 lb art paper. My fingers are a little sore after pressing all of the various folds.

Paper cranes are also prettiest in colour paper, so I'll probably need to make a run to The Paper Place sometime this weekend. There's actually a tiny crane mobile hanging in the shop that at least partly contributed to my desire to include an origami goal on my list.

Now all I have to do is practice the fold a bunch more times and then figure out what I'm going to do with all of the cranes. Suggestions welcome!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Taking Stock

Things were a little too harried to take stock of my goals at the true mid-point of the year, but now that we're heading into the second week of August I've realized that I need to start assessing and making some serious headway on my list. Technically, I've checked off twenty-two items (although, there are nine others that I've at least partially completed, but haven't written about yet).

Of the remaining goals, there are a number that I either no longer have much of a desire to complete (Number 81. Paint an accent wall in the bedroom) or might not get to due to time constraints. I'm okay with this. The point of the list was to inspire me to create, not to shame myself into madly working on things just to scratch them off (although, feel free to insult me in the comments section... I did ask you to after all...).

Now, my focus is moving towards highlighting the things that I really want to get done and making sure that I combine as many of these goals into projects as possible. High on my list are any goals relating to printmaking, painting, and bookbinding. I'll be getting around to more printmaking in October and November when I'm planning to start another Open Studio course and I'm hoping to work on some paintings two weekends from now. The bookmaking goals will be ongoing, partly because I want to include some of my prints into them, but I do want to practice a few new techniques before I have good quality pages to work with.

I have a few traditional-type books in mind, but I'm also hoping to work on a few experimental structures like this one that I made a few years ago.

Luckily, I have some great reference books for inspiration.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Curious Articles Indeed

One of my goals this year was to start following a new blog (8) and there have been a few that I could have already added to the rotation (and probably should). However, I'm so glad that I waited to officially tick this one off the list because I now have the chance to add Curious Articles to the list.

Curious Articles is a new blog created by none other than my best friend and I'm SO happy she decided to join the blogging world. In addition to being a brilliant scholar and all around fun loving gal, Wren is a fellow maker of all things handmade and wonderful. She has begun chronicling her latest creations online (and showcasing some polished product shots) and is the only person I know capable of effortlessly introducing her latest beaded creation with an excerpt from Robert Hooke's, Micrographia (Published in 1665).

Here are a few of my favourites from her latest posts:

Check out more here!