Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mother I love you so.
Said the child, I love you more than I know.
He laid his head on his mother's arm,
And the love between them kept them warm.
~Stevie Smith (1902-1971)

Born in the snow, and yet you hate the cold...

I can't even begin to describe the colours you have brought to my world...

Happy Birthday Kieran Amedeo, born Dec. 23, 2001
... you were my best Christmas present ever...

Love, Mom

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Observe Everything.
Communicate Well.

Draw, Draw, Draw.

~Frank Thomas, Disney Animator, When asked to give advice to young animators
(...and something I try to do at every gig— as fast as I can!)

This past weekend I was hired to draw at the "The Ultimate Staff Party" on both Friday and Saturday night in Red Deer, Alberta. I was one of the 5 "acts" performing each evening.

The events were HUGE...On Friday night there were 1200 guests and on Saturday night there was a whopping 1700 people (by far the largest event I have ever drawn at).

For three hours each evening I was on centre stage with two huge video screens projecting my drawing hand as well as the person I was drawing. What a blast! As much fun as it was for me, I guess it was especially entertaining for the crowd (as I was told, I was the sleeper hit of both nights).

Thanks to all the guys providing my technical assistance and a special thanks to Jeff for taking some pictures of me drawing Saturday night. Also a very special thank you to the organizers, Richard and Deborah Popovich for making my final 2 gigs of 2008 an amazing finale and giving my family and I a great reason to get out of town and stay in a hotel for a couple days of some pre-Christmas relaxation.

With the temperatures still hovering around the minus 30's it was wonderful to stay at the Red Deer Lodge and have a swimming pool and hot tub only 10 feet from our hotel room door in a beautiful open "inside" courtyard.

After 6 weeks of gigs and freelance work, it was so wonderful to stay in my pjs all morning on Saturday, then head straight to the hot tub and back to laze around in our hotel room some more and play Are you smarter than a 5th grader?. When I got home from my gig on Saturday night, the kids and I watched our Christmas classic Elf and ate cheese popcorn and popcorn twists.

We arrived home today to a very messy house but that still has to wait a couple more days. Now that I'm finished art work and gigs till January... its time to think about Christmas shopping. So I started it at 2:30 this afternoon and finished it at 7:30 tonight and now I'm just wrapping presents up, with a glass of wine and listening to some Christmas tunes...

PS...after I published this, I reread how absolutely perfect I made the weekend sound. In many ways it was, but it was also a weekend with 3 kids and for those of you who don't have children and think that having children is all relaxing and romantic like that, I think I should add some of the normal moments too ...
... like the arguing in the van almost the entire way to Red Deer, or Piper's melt down at the restaurant during our late lunch on Saturday because well, who knows, she just has issues with eating food that isn't made as perfectly exactly as bland and simple as she is used to at home, or my intense discussion with Ry about his attitude towards everybody AGAIN, and then of course there's Kieran's constant negotiation about everything...

...I could go on, but that should give you the idea :) ...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Be Authentic
Be light



Even the fear of death is nothing compared to the fear of not having lived authentically and fully.

~Frances Moore Lappe

Monday, December 15, 2008

(From Wikipedia)
Cold refers to the condition of having low temperature, it is the absence of heat relative to the concept of warmth. The color blue is associated with cold. Many things are also associated with cold, for instance ice. Absolute zero is the coldest temperature that can be reached which is 0 K on the Kelvin scale, which is a thermodynamic temperature scale, and -273.15° on the Celsius scale. Absolute zero is also precisely equivalent to 0 °R on the Rankine scale (also a thermodynamic temperature scale), and -459.67 degrees on the Fahrenheit scale.

Cold places
* Jupiter with a temperature of -166 °C at the cloud tops.
* Mars has a temperature of about -180 °C (-292 F).
* Saturn with a temperature of -180 °C (-292 F) at cloud tops.
* Neptune with a temperature of -218 °C (-360 F) at the cloud tops.
* Uranus with a temperature of -218 °C (-360 F) at cloud tops.
* Edmonton, Alberta this past weekend... with a temperature of -31 °C ( -38 with the windchill)

I'm feeling cold. Outside is cold, inside is cold, even my thoughts are cold...they are kind of hunched over with their hands in my pockets scurrying to the next idea to see if they can find a little warmth there. So much going at this time of year, this time in our family, this time in our lives, this time in the world especially. Lots of cold thought spots and I just can't stay in one place too long...

On the drawing side...a very busy gig weekend, lots of great faces...especially the kids....and here's a group of cartoon portraits I did last week for the City of Edmonton's Asset Management department for their web site...

I think I'll just bundle up my thoughts and listen to some blues...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Is there

to life
than getting
and then getting
of it,
BIGGER of it,
FASTER of it,

what you can't use now

so you can use it

If this is so...
what a sad routine.

How really very, very sad

On the other hand...

Know for sure
that you are

when your
hunt for alternatives

I bought a card with that written on it, about 10 years ago. At that time we were still living that kind of life. Mark and I approached everything from our "traveler mentality" and so it was really easy to refrain from collecting stuff. When your "home" is a backpack, the lighter you live, the better.
How I would love to say that we live as simple as that now. We don't. Unfortunately Mark and I still haven't quite figured out how to handle the amount of stuff that owning a house requires, not to mention how much stuff 3 children can generate in your life.

With Christmas coming, I can't help but get a bit stressed thinking about even MORE stuff entering our small home. I do love to sort, organize and declutter, (its actually something I'm VERY good at), but I can't keep up. It takes so much more time when you have to do it for 5 people, a lot more time than I have in my life right now.

Mark and I are both taking time off around Christmas, so this is going to be at the top of our "To Do" list. I spent my drawing time yesterday...
(one part of a "Thank you" to Nora for helping Mark with our kids while I was in North Carolina)...

...while listening to this amazing song
from one of my favourite movies....

Thursday, December 11, 2008

By the time I'd grown up, I naturally supposed that I'd be grown up.
~Eve Babitz

This cartoon was hanging on Mark's fridge when I met him and then it hung on our fridge for years. It made us laugh all the time.

I found it the other day while searching through an old photo album and it still makes us laugh. I remember having it on our fridge about 7 years ago and some "grown up" friends were over and saw it there. They didn't find it funny at all. They actually didn't get it. I remember the difficulty in trying to explain it to them.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not at all an advocate for immaturity. In fact I really do have issues with some of that kind of behaviour. I guess it has more to do with the assumption that some people act or just seem more grown up than we do.

I do think that some people feel grown up eventually. I also think some people are just born that way. My son Ry was born more grown up than both Mark and I, and that is what has caused all the difficulty. He's always been "older" than us. At 3 —he was lecturing us on driving too fast, at 7—he was lecturing us on ancient Rome and Greece, at now at 11—he reads the paper in the morning, checks the stock market, and lectures me about the news and the government... oh and refers to his younger brother and sister as "the kids". Parenting him has never been easy.

However, he is still a child and is actually very naive in many non-intellectual ways. I have learned to understand his unique perspective a little more in the last few years. This happened the day I realized that he is almost as uncomfortable being a child as often as we are parenting him as one.

Perhaps some other people just know how to do the things that "grownups" do when they are "supposed" to do them (whether they feel like it or not), like register kids for swim lessons or make sure that there are groceries in the house.
..maybe I could take a class on that...

Oh and here are some things I've been working on (in between thoughts)...

...and of course always listening to music...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Live your questions now, and perhaps even without knowing it, you will live along some distant day into your answers.
~Rainer Maria Rilke

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Something else you can do with tissue paper...

Its kind of a known fact around here that my kids can do almost anything (that's not harmful to themselves or other's) if they just let me get my drawing and painting done. I don't even mind them creating a huge mess (most of the time) as long as we can get it all cleaned up before dinner.

Yesterday, Piper spent the afternoon creating elaborate tissue paper creations while I managed to get another commission drawn and out of the way. She just comes up with the greatest things.

While I'm loving how my "live" drawing is right now, I have to admit I'm still struggling a little with some elements of my gift caricature work. There are areas that I know need improvement, always have, but I haven't spent the time and effort to figure out what is really wrong with those elements.

I know part of the problem stems from seeing my commission caricature work and my paintings as having separate artistic rules. On a conscious level I know the rules are the same, but I still come up on big hurdles in my head when critiquing the caricature work.

However, I'm very inspired now to get to the bottom of it and figure some things out...

Monday, December 08, 2008

At Christmas I no more desire a rose
Than wish a snow in May's new-fangled mirth;

But like of each thing that in season grows.

~William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616), Love's Labour Lost

We have very little snow here right now, (absolutely none in Edmonton's downtown), which if you are unfamiliar with this part of the world, it is a little unusual. Yesterday afternoon I was drawing at a fabulous Christmas party for the La Chance Real Estate team. Its a wonderful gathering of people...and always with a beautiful Christmas feel.

This year it was held at the new restaurant "100". What a wonderful place! Written right on the windows is "innovative dining, seductive nightlife". If you live in or around Edmonton and would like to try something new I would recommend trying there. Its located on 100 street and Rice Howard Way.

So it turned out to be the same enjoyable and beautiful party this year sans snow. (And I remembered to bring my camera!) Thanks to everyone for waiting patiently again this year— I really enjoyed talking with you and drawing your faces. I just love my job!

Here are a few more of the caricatures that I was able to remember to take pictures of....

Sunday, December 07, 2008

"It smells like Christmas in here..." ~Ryllan, my 11 year old son

Thanks to Shanna for sending me this photo from a gig I did last week. It was my favorite drawing of the night and since I always forget my camera she kindly offered to send me photos from hers.

I'm enjoying drawing caricatures MORE than ever this Christmas season and I feel really fortunate to be able to do this for a living. Thanks to everyone who has hired me so far and for all the gigs I have still to draw at.

Yesterday, we bought and decorated our Christmas tree. The kids thought of it and insisted on it, otherwise it probably wouldn't have been done until much closer to Christmas. I'm always so busy in November and December with Christmas party gigs and Christmas commissions that I am often unable to slow down long enough to think about our own Christmas celebration.
Since there really is no other room in our home, except the studio, that can support a huge temporary addition like a tree, that's where it had to go.

It looks really nice in there, and I'm glad its up because it does smell like Christmas.

Friday, December 05, 2008

...we have left our thumb prints in the thick, moist clay of each other's lives.
~Hugh Elliott, Standing Room Only weblog, May 6, 2003

I always have SO many chew on, to digest and to express. I guess its because I have always been fascinated by the psychological side of life. Every single day I see and understand something that I did not know the day before and I am constantly surprised and excited about it. My husband Mark and I often joke that the epitaph on my tombstone should probably read "You know I was thinking..."

The main quest of my 20's was to be "enlightened". However in retrospect, I think it was more to "appear enlightened" not really be enlightened....regardless, I was very passionate about the search. I remember barging excitedly into my parents house one evening and announcing to them that I had truly figured out life (I think I was about 23 at the time). My theory was that from then on ...I was just going to "BE"...(whatever the hell that meant.) They said..."Oh good, we're really happy for you", and then they went back to sleep.

Now 21 years later, I'm starting to think that learning to just "Be", at least in regards to "Being yourself", is probably one of the most important things that we can actually learn to do in our lives. But its not
the easiest thing to do.

Not only is it
challenging to discover our own voice —what it is that we have to offer the world, but to then have the courage to express it, is an even greater challenge. Allowing ourselves to really open up and reveal what we have inside is not easy, comfortable or always approved of, and it requires a huge amount of courage and trust.

The people around us and the
circumstances in our lives often have a huge influence on how open we let ourselves be and the parts of ourselves that we feel comfortable expressing. Sometimes you don't even realize that you have been keeping a part of yourself hidden until you find someone who recognizes it, validates it and then reflects that part back to you thus encouraging you to open up more.

Those are the people that leave lasting impressions on our life. Perhaps even inspiring us to learn how to eventually live continually in a state of aliveness, openness, confidence and trust.

That must be where the saying "you impress me" comes from...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

"tis the season to be...busy..."

Lots of fun Christmas gigs so far (and many coming up...)

I'm always so busy I never get a chance to take photos of the pictures that I draw at events but here is one that I managed to snap since they were the last couple I drew on Friday night. I think they made a great cartoon portrait! get to all those commissions I need to get done.

...and of course some music to draw to...

Monday, December 01, 2008

At first glance
I loved you
with a thousand hearts
~Mihri Hatun

17 years together...
24,901 miles traveled,
5205 days filled with laughter,
4765 hours of conversation,
3536 bottles of red wine shared,
1768 dinners of spaghetti,
984 items lost (and later found),
657 books read,
239 times you've hit your head on something,
57 Fringe festivals we've survived,
15 years of (a fantastic) marriage,
6 guitars to play,
3 beautiful children to raise,
2 motorcycles to ride,
and a budgie named Snowy.

I still adore you with all my heart Mark....happy anniversary!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

For all that has been, thanks. For all that will be, yes.
~Dag Hammarskjold (1905 - 1961)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy early "Turkey Day" to all my American friends....
Charlie Chaplin's Thanksgiving Meal
Ok...tell me this doesn't look like we had fun!

What a blast it was working with the Grade 5/6 students from St. Justin's Elementary School yesterday at the Jubilee Auditorium. The kids were great and believe it or not we finished the "fairy tale house project" in under 2 hours. Check out some of the students work...

I was so thrilled and amazed at the freedom the kids felt in experimenting with the techniques I demonstrated (and of course the teachers too). It really was a room full of creative energy. Thanks Jen (good friend and Manager of Community Engagement) for the gig and all your hands on help!). Also thanks again Tad for the use of your wonderful photos!

After teaching I met with a talented group of Book binders and Book artists at the Faculty club for dinner, a casual meeting and a book exchange. I have attended less than a handful of get-togethers in the last 4 years but have always felt so included and welcome by the group.

As I drove home from the meeting last night, I thought about how much I have worked the past 14 days since getting back from North Carolina — probably close to 10 hours a day(or more). There have been so many deadlines that I had already pushed to the limit by being away, that really I had no choice and believe me, my family has been so incredibly understanding and supportive.

I was reminded though of this wonderful quote from Vikki of the Waifs..."In the last 5 months I've been a part time mother and a full time touring musician. People always ask me "how does it work, mothering and touring?" Well, it doesn't, really."

...she's so right, in a way— that only a mother (or possibly a dad) can understand....

and so I have decided today I'm just going to be Mom...and Piper and I will have a fun day doing something while blasting this song while the boys are at school because it REALLY IS her favourite song...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mr. Pine lived on Vine Street in a little white house. "A white house is fine," said Mr. Pine, "but there are FIFTY white houses all a line on Vine Street. How can I tell which house is mine?"
~Mr. Pine's Purple House

When I was a child, my favourite book was Mr. Pine's Purple House. I thought about that book a lot today as i was gessoing the board houses for tomorrow's workshop.

The book is about a man who wants to make his house stand out from the 49 other white houses on his block by trying to do many different things (and his trials and tribulations along the way). I had the book memorized when I was little and still to this day can recite certain pages.

Its interesting how the philosophy in those pages is still a fundamental element in my life today and that I somehow recognized it in that book when I was 3 years old.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Life is like getting dropped off in the middle of the woods, and then year by year, gradually walking home.
~April Foiles

I will be doing this mixed media project on Monday afternoon with grade 5 and 6 students. They are part of the Jube School Program taking place here at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium.

The theme next week is "Fairy Tales" and so I decided to create a fairy tale house in the so many fairy tales have. The project is made using a children's board book page. The amazing tree photos have been generously loaned to me by my friend and wonderful photographer Tad Barney.

Well I'm off to the studio now to prepare 60+ houses, listening of course to some tunes while I work...

Friday, November 21, 2008

I'm aching...

I called my oldest son a jerk today on our way to school. I really tied into him how he quite often acts like a jerk. Sure he was acting like a jerk to his brother, but I really have to stop reacting this way.

I hate it. I hate the fact that we never spoke again and he went off to school. I know that when I pick him up I will apologize and explain why I reacted that way and he will say its OK but that its one more of those moments in his life.

How is it that our kids can bring out emotions and reactions in us that no other situation in our life does?

Even though I have things I should be doing...I'm going to the studio to paint.
“The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”
~Bertrand Russell

One of my best talents in life is "wasting time"...or rather doing what I "shouldn't" be doing, when I "should" be doing something else. I've always done it. I was a dawdler, a daydreamer, and a doodler.

I'll spend hours emailing friends instead of doing my administration work. I'll do my administration work when I should be cleaning the house. I'll clean the house when I have a commission that I should be painting. I'll spend a day painting when I should be working on computer layout work. I'll spend all night working on computer layout work when I should be sleeping.

Yes, I'll admit its rather inconvenient when I then have to scramble at the last minute to get the stuff that I "should have" been doing done on time...but you know what, it always gets done.

I don't know why I need to work this way, but I do. I can diligently make out a map for the day but inevitably I always end up taking the scenic route...and in some strange way I'm ok with this...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

When one has much to put into them, a day has a hundred pockets.
~Friedrich Nietzsche

How I spent my 1440 minutes yesterday:

Helping with homework: 12 minutes
Laundry: 15 minutes
Juicing: 21 minutes
Phone calling: 22 minutes
Responding to children issues: 27 minutes
Taking kids to/from school: 32 minutes
Journaling: 36 minutes
Cooking: 43 minutes
Bed time reading/cuddling: 46 minutes
Eating: 59 minutes
Art administration work: 84 minutes
Duty mom at play school: 150 minutes
Computer design work: 240 minutes
Sleeping: 290 minutes
Procrastinating: 363 minutes...because well, my mind just tends to sometimes wander...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Feet, why do I need them if I have wings to fly?
~Frida Kahlo

...but then there are days when I'm too overwhelmed to fly...
so I just listen to music.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Wonders of Tissue Paper

For those of you inquiring about how to get the transparency in these pages...they are achieved by photocopying images onto white or cream coloured tissue paper. The way to do this without jamming up your printer is to cut a piece of tissue paper the same size as a piece of regular paper, then lightly run a glue stick on the top of the regular paper and place the top of the tissue paper evenly onto it. This should allow it to feed through your printer/copier.

It makes a fantastic transparent image that can then be collaged into your altered book using soft gel medium. First paint a layer of gel on the page and then gently place the tissue paper down onto it. I then paint another layer of soft gel on top. Because of the delicacy of the tissue paper, it does tend to rip sometimes but in my opinion it just adds more visual interest to the page. I absolutely LOVE the way it allows the text from underneath to show through.

I have also used tracing paper which works really well but is not as transparent.

I discovered this technique in the book The Art of Personal Imagery by Corey Moortgat. It is a FANTASTIC book of inspiration and mixed media techniques for anyone interested in creative journaling or altered book making.

Here's some sunshine for you...I'm just so happy to see that I'm not the ONLY person who happens to (sometimes) sleep in their clothes...

Monday, November 17, 2008

A clean studio, a fresh perspective, and of course more thoughts about Raleigh….

I spent a lot of the day yesterday cleaning and reorganizing my studio. As I was unpacking art supplies from my trip, I came across these leaves. Suddenly I remembered the walk I took on the second morning of the convention.

Although everything had finally worked out (amidst the canceled flight, the lost luggage, and the panic that I hadn’t actually registered), I was still feeling a little lost. I wasn’t quite sure what to do when I got up that morning. There wasn’t a session until 1 p.m. and I hated wandering through the hotel looking lost. Since I didn’t really understand the competition room upstairs yet— as in "where" exactly I was supposed to set up (since everyone seemed to have already claimed their “space”), or that everyone was just supposed to start drawing everyone else (and of course I felt too shy to ask people to pose for me), so I decided to go for a walk.

It was raining, which I love because then I’m automatically (but of course theoretically) allowed do all the things I love to do inside like paint, write, draw, or read. When its hot and sunny outside, I feel like I should be out windsurfing, even though I don’t actually windsurf. Anyway, as I walked in the rain, I suddenly felt lighter. The colours of the autumn leaves were vibrant and back lit by the water, and since “our” autumn leaves fell over 5 weeks ago, seeing them again was such a treat. As I looked for special ones to pick up, I automatically felt like myself again, doing what I love to do outside— wander, think and collect souvenirs of those moments for my journals.

While the intense caricature world that I had just flown into was very exciting, I was a bit overwhelmed by it all AND the fact that I only had 5 days left away from my family— to replenish my depleted mothering patience and enthusiasm. I walked and thought a lot about what I was doing in Raleigh and how I fit into this new world of obvious and remarkable talent. I found a coffee shop and sat for a while trying to figure out what I had really come for and what would make this the most fulfilling week for me. Then figured out a strategy that I could adopt to keep me a float the rest of the week.

All that I came up with was my automatic “default settings" plan— retreat and be alone. I figured the best thing I could do was to take the time to really enjoy my 'free' mental time (without my motherhood duties) and just draw and paint in my hotel room away from the competition. This way I wouldn’t add stress to a trip that was meant to de-stress my life. By spending the time alone, I would certainly have had enough quietness by the time I was heading home.

But that’s not what I did. What was so amazing about this convention was that as overflowing in talent as it was, everyone attending seemed to have some feelings of artistic insecurity on some level, and was open to sharing, experimenting, encouraging and supporting others in theirs.

In that atmosphere I slowly began to open up. I spent less and less time alone in my hotel room and by Wednesday I actually brought my art supplies down into the competition room and began to draw and paint. Eventually I didn't even want to leave the energy of the room as it was so enjoyable and addictive.

Now as I sit here breathing in the fresh “after convention” air in my clean studio, I feel so grateful, and really honoured to actually be a part of this community that acknowledges and encourages each other to grow in a helpful, honest and supportive enviromnent.

When I got home, my husband Mark said he was so happy I chose the new path. He was afraid after talking to me on the phone the first night that I would spend the whole week in my room writing and painting and not taking full advantage of what might be there. This experience has shown me that while being alone at times is important, connecting with others can nourish and balance me just as much, if not more sometimes.
and its only getting better...