Click here to see my full list of goals for 2010

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Round 2 (And My 100th Post!)

Thank you so much for all of your comments on my post yesterday! I have definitely learned my lesson when it comes to editing out my stamps... carve, test, wait at least 24 hours, then edit.

Who am I kidding, I'm totally going to make this mistake again. It's just so hard to resist making changes when I can tell something doesn't look right.

Fortunately, I had a lovely Sunday afternoon to make up for my poor artistic decision. I carved two lino blocks - a second attempt at my trapezoidal print and an etching-style face image - and then rushed to stamp out some test prints before the Grammys (T and I just love our award shows).

I opted to make the trapezoidal print a little more fractured so that the figures would stand out. I'm not sure if I was successful in this regard, but at least it doesn't resemble the crazy stick figure print I ended up with yesterday after I went all Freddy Kruger on my first lino block.

My face print was less successful, although it was definitely an interesting experiment. I tried to carve the lines as if I was drawing (no easy feat with a less-than-razor-sharp carving tool), and I purposely left much more positive space on the block than I normally do. The ink was a little too thick on some of the test prints, so the fine lines didn't come through. However, I think I've learned enough from this print to do a better job on the next one.

I'm really happy with the lino prints I carved this weekend, although I'm amused that I didn't scratch any goals off my list. However, this post marks a pretty momentous accomplishment anyways because it's my 100th! Holla! (Sorry, I couldn't help myself).

I hope you've all enjoyed the first 100 posts. The blog has evolved somewhat since May, but I think I've stayed fairly true to my central goal of getting my artistic experiments out into the world and connecting with other crafty individuals. And even thought it's tough to post as regularly as I'd like, I'm still 100% dedicated to keeping this blog going and growing it's readership.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for reading!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Back on the Horse

I've been brainstorming ideas for a print image to accompany the short story I wrote last weekend. The story was written on the theme of the uncanny and it's been difficult to think of a good image to match it. Today, I sketched a rough idea inspired by one of my favourite paintings, Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2.

I drew the idea on one of my wood-backed lino blocks and carved it out using my new set of cheap (but sharp!) blades.

I really liked the resulting print, but I was disappointed that the figures didn't stand out more. T confirmed that this was so when he responded 'What figures?' and, thus, sealed the fate of my lovely stamp.

I went a little nuts cutting out sections and ended up with this:

Not really what I wanted....

I think I'll try a new image tomorrow and stay closer to the first print, but with slightly more defined figures. Despite the crumby end result, it was really fun to get back into some printmaking.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Brightening Up January

At such a drab time of year, it's important to keep tabs on the fun things in life. Here are a few of the things that brightened up my weekend:

1. Sunny, yellow tulips!

2. Discovering one of your favourite art stores has wood-backed lino blocks back in stock!

3. Finally putting one of your favourite Kid Icarus cards to good use! (Happy Birthday, Robin!)

4. Golden Retriever Puppies! (Specifically, the 3-month-old golden retriever puppy that your sister just bought)

Mid-January might not be the most inspiring time of year, but the cold weather sure helps keep a gal inside and productive. I finished an important goal this weekend - Number 7. Write on the theme of the 'uncanny'. My writing took the form of a five part short story and although it's still in rough draft form, I think it's a pretty interesting/creepy idea. I also did some brainstorming for other projects, but nothing worthy of actually scratching something else off the list.

I hope you all have your own bright things to keep your January cheery! A puppy definitely helps.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Travel Notes

After so many days of regular posts, I'm sad that I've let a week go by without writing something here. The reason is simply that I've been tired.

Most of the time my creative projects are the perfect antidote to a long day at work. Drawing, carving, writing... they all take my mind far away from my projects and make me feel as if I'm accomplishing something productive. However, sometimes my job uses up a bit too much of my creative energy and I wind up propped up on a pillow watching crime procedurals and pondering exactly how lame it would be to go to bed before 9:00 p.m. (Which, I've discovered, only messes up your sleep cycle and makes you feel worse.)

I feel very fortunate that I like my job, but lately I've had trouble finding my second creative wind in the evenings. Not the end of the world, but certainly a barrier to finding interesting things to post about.

Anyways, all this dramatic preamble just to state that I am still working away at my goals list in quiet, constructive ways. This weekend I started Number 85. Reread Europe poems.

I've already posted once about my Europe trip and the drawings I did while backpacking. Over the course of those five and a half months I also did a ton of writing. Most of it is descriptive (journal entries, experiences with fellow travelers) and a lot of it is bad (my first 'novel'), but I've always felt that there are probably a few poetic gems lost in the filthy pages of my notebooks. So I've starting working my way through them in search of little lines or passages that might be salvaged for new projects. It's painstaking, hilarious, and, at the very least, an amazing reminder of a few long-forgotten experiences.

I'll be sure to post anything good (or laughably bad) that I find. If I don't fall asleep watching The Mentalist, that is...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hello, Global Village

Media, by altering the environment, evoke in us unique ratios of sense perceptions. The extension of any one sense alters the way we think and act - the way we perceive the world.

[and, presumably, women] change.

'The Medium is the Massage' - Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore

I read a lot of McLuhan for one of my upper year undergraduate courses and I often look at his books on my self and think I should read through that again... (hence number 51 on my list). Between starting this blog, becoming a member of facebook, and the changes I'm experiencing daily working in the publishing industry, I feel very drawn to McLuhan's aphoristic observations of media. Reading through some of his work tonight reminded of the great, perplexing discussions we used to have in class and would have normally inspired me to write at great length about art, technology, information, etc.

However, I also had a long day at work and got my H1N1 shot (I know, so 2009!), so I'm tired and my arm is aching. Perhaps I'll pick up this media theme in a later post, but for now I'm happy to head off to bed with a brain full of media and another goal scratched off of my list.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pax Familia - Nan

Tonight I made what I believe will be my final edits to a poem I've had floating around for months. The poem, which is written in five small sections, has gone through many, many changes as I've worked to reduce my 'wordy' tendencies. I tend to gravitate towards sparse, sharp writing, but I often find it difficult to keep my own work clean and simple.

When I was younger, I used to hesitate to revise a poem once I'd written it because I felt that it would lose something from its original spirit. Silly, I know, but I wrote this way for years. Of course, now that I'm an editor I cringe at the very idea of sending a first draft out into the world. Revise, revise, revise. Always revise!

I'm fairly happy with the way the piece has turned out. My lovely literary scholar/best friend has also read it and given her valued seal of approval. However, I'm a little torn about whether I should post it on this blog or not. I know most of my readership in real life, so I'm not that worried about it being reclaimed somewhere on the world wide web. On the other hand, if I send it out to literary journals, I don't really want to have it already posted here.

I suppose for now I'll just have to be content with scratching another project off of my list (95). And perhaps posting a few lines just for fun...

Pax Familia - Nan (excerpt)


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

[If anyone is interested in reading the entire poem, just send me a note and I'll forward it via email. Even though I'm hesitant to post it, I would love some razor-sharp feedback.]

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Buried Treasure

I was planning to make my own ravioli today (and scratch number 41 off my list) but a dinner invite changed our plans. So instead, I decided to tackle the considerably less sumptuous task of organizing my art supplies (5). I've blogged about the convenience of my art hutch before, but as I've gathered more and more printmaking supplies, convenience has slowly turned into jam-packed horror.

Clearly, my hutch needed a good reorganization.

I started by pulling every last notebook, drawing, lino carving, pencil, paper scrap, pen cap, and snip of twine from the hutch. Then I piled... good work... bad work... recyclable work... others' works... blank paper... blank cards...etc. And for a few hours I put a lock on my pack rat tendencies and threw stuff away. Not the most exciting process, but one that ultimately lead me to discover a few really cool things that I'd long forgotten.

Old sketches....

A repeating pattern that I created ages ago...

A quarter-finished scratch drawing...

Old notebooks filled with crazy ideas...

Then, with the help of a good basket...

and a good folder (thanks, Grace!)

my supplies were organized!

One down, ninety-nine to go.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


The newest volume of Descant arrived in the mail today and brightened up my very cold and dark journey home. I accidentally let my subscription to Descant run out last year and missed a bunch of issues before I finally got my act together and signed up again. I'm especially happy that I made it in time for the Dance-themed issue.

Descant has never failed to introduce me to memorable, insightful, troubling works and I'm hoping this issue lives up to its stunning cover.

I was planning to work on some sketching tonight, but this abundance of new reading material has me side-tracked. For some reason, I've had these little ideas for stark, black ink sketches (cartoons almost) in my head and even though I'm not particularly good that this kind of free form sketching, I feel like I should take a few minutes to try them out. Who knows, they may end up being the beginning of that graphic story I'm slated to write (22).

But before I head off, I must give a huge shout out to Grace for including the link to Peter Callesen's website in her comments. When I included making a paper cutting on my list I had no idea that this kind of work was out there. Thank you, Grace! His work is incredible and certainly features the near impossible level of technical precision that any good paper cutter should aspire to.

Paper cutter... that sounds so devious...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Good Things

There is an amazing arts community in this city and I love finding new connections and creative types to converse with about making handmade items. I've already experienced so many things that I never thought I'd get to try (letterpress printing, etching, reading a linocut novel) and lately some even more amazing opportunities have started to pop up (more on that in a few weeks!). Each experience has reaffirmed my decision to keep blogging, reading, and creating so that I have something to send back out in return for all of the information and inspiration I've received from others.

I've been thinking a lot about this blog and the direction of Sonnet and Mayhem lately. My new goals list is a pretty clear indication that my interests (and postings) have expanded from my original business of making hand-printed cards. As I learn about new printmaking techniques, I'm finding it harder and harder to focus on my lino block work (although it certainly hasn't been abandoned). In fact, producing content for this blog has actually inspired me to pick up on a lot of artistic mediums that I haven't worked with for years. I'm not really sure what it all means yet, but I do think that maintaining this blog is going to be a key part of making sure I keep creating new things.

Today, I started taking a closer look at which of the 100 projects I'm going to work on first. Read one fiction book a month (4) will be an ongoing process and to kick things off I've chosen Haruki Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I was intrigued by an article I read about Murakami's newest book 1Q84, but since it won't be available in English for a while, I decided to check out something from his backlist instead.

I also plan to update my mailing list this week (31), begin my ideas journal (43), and complete my 'Nan' poem (95). Plus, there's my 'uncanny project' (7), which is a priority because I would like to have some polished work ready by the end of the month.

So many options... I've got to start crossing some off!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Birthday Cake

I finished my goals list at three minutes to midnight last night... just under the wire!

Lucky for me, blogger dates posts from when they're started and not when they go live, so the list is dated January 1st. I was really surprised at how difficult it was to come up with 100 specific goals. When all my little projects are floating around in my head it feels like I have a thousand ideas that I don't have time to start or finish, but writing out the list helped me get a much better sense of what I really want to be working on.

After my race to finish the goals list, I didn't even try to scratch a goal off today. Instead, I was tearing around our kitchen preparing for T's birthday dinner. Chili in bread bowls (by special request) and a chocolate cake (from scratch!).

For our wedding anniversary, T's sister and her boyfriend sent us How To Cook Everything and, true to the title, it had a classic chocolate cake recipe. The icing was fantastic, but the cake ended up a little dry. Still good for a birthday wish though!

Happy birthday, my love! 2010 is off to a chocolaty start!

Friday, January 1, 2010

100 Things

1. Create 'fingerprint' poem
2. Write a haiku
3. Learn an origami fold
4. Read one fiction book a month
        - The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles (January)
        - Girls Fall Down (February)
        - Brooklyn (March)
5. Organize art supplies
6. Make something from found paper
7. Write on the theme of the 'uncanny'
8. Start following a new blog
9. Start a new art course
10. Visit the AGO
11. Write 'CO' story
12. Draw a multi-coloured ink drawing
13. Post a print on etsy
14. Read a biography of an artist
15. Write a concrete poem
16. Re-read 'Meanwhile'
17. Learn to draw a new font
18. Complete a technology-themed still life drawing
19. Complete an acrylic painting
20. Design a repeating pattern
21. Brainstorm ideas for a graphic novel
22. Draw a simple graphic story
23. Research contemporary etching
24. Complete a drawing on scratch paper
25. Experiment with one large-scale linoblock print
26. Visit MOCCA
27. Brainstorm projects on the theme of heredity
28. Write a architecture-themed short story
29. Write a 3-D shape poem
30. Write an 'instruction' poem
31. Update mailing and contact lists
32. Send out a mailing
33. Combine photos with an ink drawing
34. Hold an arts night
35. Practice a new bookbinding method
36. Create a chapbook
37. Create an experimental book
38. Make a full roast dinner
39. Spend a day taking photos around the city
40. Write 'constellations' poem
41. Make ravioli from scratch
42. Finish a book you've half read
43. Begin an ideas journal
44. Experiment with embroidery
45. Enter a short story competition
46. Enter a poetry competition
47. Read more of 'Seven Page Day'
48. Memorize a poem
49. Make an angel food cake
50. Create fading linoblock prints
51. Reread 'The Medium is the Massage'
52. Start a new literary journal subscription
53. Make a stationary set
54. Brainstorm etching ideas
55. Make a blurb book
56. Read a short story collection
57. Go to the Toronto symphony
58. Improve the design of the blog
59. Write a stand-up routine with T
60. Buy a print for the apartment
61. Explore a part of the city you've never been to
62. Enlarge and frame a group of photos
63. Design better product shots
64. Look at bpNichol's work at the rare books library
65. Make handmade Christmas ornaments
66. Send a letter
67. Sketch outside in the city
68. Write a one act play
69. Organize wedding photos into an album
70. Have a picnic outside of the city
71. Watch 'Citizen Kane'
72. Read a book on the history of the motion picture
73. Research local printmaking
74. Study world geography
75. Make a handmade gift for a special occasion
        - H's Birthday Gift
        - Helen's Wedding Stamp
76. Watch an Audrey Hepburn movie
77. Make a paper cutting
78. Visit three new places on the D*S Toronto city guide
79. Work on anatomy-themed drawings
80. Write a series of number-based poems
81. Paint an accent wall in the bedroom
82. Go on a hike
83. Try a spin class
83. Buy a blues album
84. Learn the lyrics to the hymn from 'Junebug'
85. Reread Europe poems
86. Experiment with abstract painting
87. Learn to make a new cocktail
88. Write a science-themed short story
89. Read 'The Grapes of Wrath'
90. Listen to three episodes of 'This American Life'
91. Go to a poetry reading
92. Make Robin's lamb soup
93. Study perspective drawing
94. Send a postcard
95. Complete 'Nan' Poem
96. Make a Tin Can Lantern
97. Listen to live jazz
98. Sketch at the Toronto Metro Zoo
99. Make a donation to a local charity
100. Fully document my completion of the goals list

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a wonderful New Year's celebration!

As we start into 2010, I want to send out a huge THANK YOU to everyone who reads this blog. I'm so grateful to each and every person who has read a post, left a comment, or checked out the etsy shop (which is a little sparse this days, but I'll be working on that this year too). Thank you so much for your interest and feedback!

We spent the final days of 2009 with great friends at their family chalet. Snow, fireplace, food, champagne - The perfect setting to ring in 2010.

I tried to work on my goals list for this year, but likely won't have it finalized until later this evening. It certainly won't be a good start to the New Year if I'm late on my list, but it's so blustery in the city that all I want to do is cuddle up on the couch with T and watch The Wire (again!).

More to come soon!