Monday, December 13, 2010

This is exactly how I have felt for the past 3 years...

I have always managed to squeeze my life's immediate and necessary
details into my brain,
you know, tucking them down the sides,
taping them to the front,
or cramming them in, then closing the lid really fast......
that is, up until about a month ago.

Then, abruptly, my brain reached its absolute FULL saturation point
and some things just stopped going in.

Suddenly, I was hurting myself on all the unabsorbed details....
I stubbed my toe on a gig I had not recorded and then booked two other gigs for the same night,
I slammed my hip into some appointments I missed,
and then really gashed my head against the 3 different commission pieces I had
for 3 women all named Shannon.

My brain was TOO full.

A couple weeks ago I spent the entire day spontaneously painting for myself,
and at the end of the day I chatted briefly with a very close artist friend.
I mentioned how I had sort of got caught up painting
but really should have been doing all the things on that long list of things
I SHOULD have been doing....
and this was Mike's response:

"There is never anything you should have done
instead of painting,
what a fallacy!
Now, the list of things that I should have done

instead of sitting in front of this desk all day,

well, that list is friggin endless."

He is right.
So...I am going to make some big changes in 2011
because my brain is TOO full
and I need to excuse myself, Mr Osborne
so that I can paint.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

"She shut her eyes:
the sweet word "promiscuity" came to her mind
and suffused her;
she enunciated silently to herself:
"promiscuity of ideas."
How could such contradictory attitudes
follow after one another
in a single head like two mistresses in the same bed?
In the past that nearly infuriated her,
but today it entrances her.
Because one idea is as good as another.
Because all statements and positions carry the same value,
can rub against one another,

— Milan Kundera

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Homage to a Poinsettia
Every December 1st my brother Weston sends Mark and I,
and my parents (who were also married on Dec.1),
a beautiful, full, lush poinsettia for our anniversaries...and every year,
ours is wilted or leafless or dead before Christmas day.

I don't mean to harm it.
But you know how some things just don't register on life's "priority" radar?
Its just one of THOSE things.
When I look at it, unfortunately I'm NEVER thinking
"Hmmm... I wonder if it needs water"

Usually, I am thinking something like...
"This thing is so huge, where the hell am I going to put it while we eat dinner"?
(because we keep it on the kitchen table)

...and then it dies from neglect.

And believe it or not, I thought maybe this year would be different.
You know, becasue I have so much more personal mental space
now that all my kids are in school.

Then, at 10:30 pm tonight, the phone rang.
It was Weston asking if the poinsettia got delivered
and it was at THAT moment, I knew,
nothing would be different this year.

I had already completely forgotten about it.

Suddenly the radar turned on and there the poinsettia was,
sitting 4 feet from me, in the middle of the living room floor,
still wrapped tight against the winter cold,
from its delivery 5 hours earlier.
As I unwrapped it, while talking to my brother
I was afraid that I had killed it already.
But I hadn't...

and its LOVELY.
And I just really wanted IT to know that,
before it dies.
"True partnership is only achieved by
separate and whole beings
who retain their uniqueness
even as they unite"

London, England, December 1, 1993.

Happy Anniversary
to the most extraordinary man I have ever known husband Mark.

Thank you honey,
for the fantastic life adventure we've had so far...

from our 'almost' completely secret "backpack style" wedding in London,
with 2 witnesses we barely knew, our $25 wedding rings that we still wear,
and all the photos we took ourselves...

to our great life here....
17 years later,
with these three incredible people we now have in our lives...

Ryllan, Piper and Kieran

The luckiest thing Mark,
I have had happen to me in my life...
was finding you.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

—departing president of eBay Marketplace
holding my commissioned painting of her. I accepted this last minute commission
just before heading to Vegas for the
International Society of Caricature Artists convention.
I knew that if I did, I would have to spend most of my drawing time
at the Convention on it because it needed to be shipped on the last day of the con.
However, I was so excited to be asked to do one for this kind of special occasion,
so I said yes.

The process...
I started with paint and collaging eBay news articles
about her into the background of the painting.

(photo by Beejay Hawn)

Then, since I was provided with lots of great stories and inside jokes about Lorrie, the drawing part was so much fun to just let those ideas evolve into visual form.
On Friday, just hours before I needed to ship it to San Jose,
I suddenly realized that I needed a colour eBay logo to collage into it
and want to thank Dan Springer for trying to get one to print, to Tracey Iverson for suggesting the packed ISCA printer and Robert Bauer and
Lorin Bernsen for letting me interupt them and for helping me.

Here is a photo of the final painting...
(Photo by Tad Barney)
Also a big thank you to my two amazing ISCA roomates Tad and Mike,
for letting me make as much of a creative mess in our room as I needed to, and for not complaining about it...:)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Perfection, Flaws and the development of a New Perspective(photo of the low winter sun outside the door of my studio at 2:30 this afternoon)

It’s really warm today. -2 C. Of course that assessment is based purely on looking at it from the right perspective. After having endured the past week of -20 C to -40 C temperatures, today is perfectly balmy. A month ago, this would have felt brutally cold, but now it comes as a HUGE relief to walk outside and not instantly feel the sharp teeth of cold, grab hold of your hands and chew them till they hurt.

I was tutoring a student in caricature yesterday and had a discussion with him about exaggerating the "flaws" (his word) that people have. In that conversation I realized, after 26 years of being a professional caricature artist, I don't view the face that way at all. I see facial features from a completely different perspective. I LOVE faces that deviate from the "norm" and would never consider those features "flaws" at all. The more unique the features are, the more I like to draw their face.

This led me to think about what we consider are perfections and flaws when it comes to our personalities. Everyday there are plenty of opportunities for us to get acquainted with what we lack in ourselves and the way those things affect our lives.

I have spent over 40 years trying to make peace with my own “imperfections”.

Then suddenly today, from a different view point, I caught a glimpse of something I hadn't seen before.....the thought that perhaps its the emptiness created by what I lack,
that allows a place for my unique qualities to grow.

On this day, where many people all over the US are thinking of what they are thankful for, I am thankful for new perspectives and this beautifully warm day.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A life built on
passion, procrastination, last minute panic

and the desire to be distracted.....

I ALWAYS have a long list of things to be done....
drawing/painting related, kid related and life related.
Up until yesterday,
I thought that I always felt behind
and was struggling to keep up with that list
because I had 3 children and so many other life responsibilities.

I was wrong.
Its because of me.

Oh, how I would love to just get up every morning
and start attacking that long list in its chronological order,
but I can't.

Instead, I realized that I approach the day
(AFTER I have dealt with any immediate,
demanding or extremely important things)
with an inescapable craving
to follow what interests or moves me
and to spend time with what or who distracts me,
because that must be the real direction
that I need to go in life.

I have always been this way.

Living this way often does make it extremely difficult
to get "real things on the list" done, and I have struggled with that my whole life.
So, to figure out more, I analyzed how DO I manage to get those things done and
I discovered there are 4 ways that I get things in my life accomplished:

1). By a complete, passionate, creative submergence initiated by a STRONG need to express something.

2). By last minute panic.

3). By having something so enjoyably distracting going on while I am doing what needs to be done that I manage to get it done without even thinking.

4). By a spiraling cycle of repetitive and predictable procrastination, or in other words, there are things needing to get done that I want to do even less than others, so I get the most appealing things done first, purely out of avoidance of the less appealing ones.

I am sure that I will uncover more about this whole process
over the next few days
but right now, I have a bit of last minute panic going on
and REALLY NEED to get some drawing done.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nobody has ever measured, not even poets,
how much the heart can hold.

~Zelda Fitzgerald

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Repression is not the way to virtue.
When people restrain themselves out of fear, their lives are by necessity diminished.
Only through freely chosen discipline can life be enjoyed and still kept within the bounds of reason.
~Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Distracted by a new kind of Silence
I have been back from the ISCA caricature convention for 3 days now and something in my studio has changed. The silence is different. It used to be rich, embracing and promising. Its presence would happily greet me at the door each morning with a cup of introspection in hand, and welcome me to another day of artistic expression.

Suddenly, however, there is a hollowness and an echo in it that I have never heard before.

For the past week I have been drawing and painting with other artists almost 24 hours a day, and the companionship was inspiring and energizing. I was afraid of being really distracted there but instead, this year, I actually found myself more focused precisely because of that energy around me.

Now, I am struggling to re-adjust to the absence of inspiration close enough to caress. Apparently the silence and I have some making up to do.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Who am I?
I am not the canvas.

I am not the paint.

I am not the idea longing to be expressed.

I am the mediator,

living among them
with words,

and reconciling
a harmonious existence

for us all.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

"I like a wide margin to my day."
~Henry David Thoreau

Many people have asked me how the first few days of my new "free time" has been going and so I have been thinking a lot about how to describe what it feels like. Well, let me tell you, it certainly doesn't feel like I suddenly have hours and hours of nothing to do. The fact is, I have had TOO much to do in my life, for so long.

Yesterday, I finished drawing in Churchill Square and it suddenly hit me. I don't feel "rushed" anymore. For the past decade, I have felt extremely everything. Rushed to prepare and eat meals, rushed to make decisions, rushed to gigs, rushed to get things done, rushed to draw commission work and rushed to go pick up my kids after I was finished a gig.
Rushed and breathless.

Yesterday, it was different. I was done drawing at 1:30 and I still had time to myself before the kids would be finished school. I didn't have to rush somewhere. What a nice feeling!

It actually reminded me of the feeling of moving from our 840 sq. foot /2 bedroom bungalow (with 3 kids) into our 1300 sq foot/4 bedroom split level, that we live in now. With the move everything suddenly had a place, with space around it and there was finally room to breathe. There was an instant feeling of calm space.

THAT is exactly what my life feels like now and I love it. I know that there isn't a lot of extra time to add too much more of anything. However, (with organization) I will be able to add some things that will benefit me, as well as take care of some of the areas in my life that have been neglected for a long time.

It will be up to me to keep my time uncluttered and retain some feeling of a wide margin to my day.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.
~Henry David Thoreau
Today was a BIG day.
My daughter Piper, who is also my youngest, started Grade 1 today, marking the first time, in 14 years, that I will not have a child at home with me.
That's a LONG time.

I'm not really sure who was more excited about her starting school, her or I (and believe me, SHE WAS EXCITED). Piper was born "in love with life", so much so, that she vibrates with anticipation and physically shakes when she gets really happy or excited about something. I must admit for a long time, Mark and I were kind of concerned that she had some strange neurological problem :) but have come to see that its simply just that she can't contain her thrill of life inside that little body.

Today at school, after all the kids got into their desks, just when the teacher was about to give a little talk to all the parents, Mark and I looked over at her and tears were welling up in her eyes. I went over to her, sat beside her desk and quietly asked her what was wrong. She shrugged, wiping the tears.
I knew exactly what it was.
I held her hand and whispered "Its all just SO exciting, that it feels TOO overwhelming doesn't it?"

She nodded.
I told her that I feel EXACTLY the same way.

For 14 years now, I have painted, written, drawn, and done magazine layout work during their naps, in the evenings and into the wee hours of the morning. Many nights I fell asleep in my clothes, and started the next day with only about 4 hours of sleep. I really wanted to be with them AND I also really needed to do my art. It was chaotic, exhausting and draining but it was the way it was and so I just did it....for years.

Now, we are entering into a new phase of our lives.
From now on, I will have all day long to be in my studio working, drawing, painting and writing... and focusing on what it is that I need to do and will then be able to come home and really be at home.

The thought of that is just SO exciting, that it feels VERY overwhelming to me.

This morning, as I sat on the floor beside her desk, Piper let go of my hand and suddenly started softly stroking my head while listening to her teacher talk. In that moment I knew.... it was ALL worth it. When her teacher and the principal were done talking, it was time to go. So, I gave her a huge hug, we kissed each other goodbye and then both eagerly entered our new lives.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I will be drawing at the Edmonton International Fringe Festival Aug. 12-22.

See you there!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Yesterday was a long travel day to San Jose, California where we are spending a week with my brother Weston. I had a bit of time to do some sketching in the Calgary airport while we waited for the next plane to San Fran. I always try to do it without people knowing that I am drawing them, but something tells me this guy figured it out....:)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

My 13 year old son Ry, has a serious fascination with clouds
and (in my opinion) a great eye for composition when photographing them...
what do you think?...
(all the photos are exactly the way he took them, no cropping by me)

Monday, July 12, 2010

I had a great time at the wedding I drew at on Saturday evening..and managed to snap some photos...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I am so excited for my oldest son today, who is packing to go on a camping trip with my Dad this long weekend. My son, Ryllan, who is 13, has always LOVED fishing and camping. He and my Dad have always been close because of that, but its been 8 years since they went camping together. That was due to my Dad's lung illness (pulminary fibrosis) that forced him into carrying his oxygen with him, onto a waiting list for a lung transplant and unable to participate in strenuous activities like that.

Well, 2 years ago, after being on the list for only 5 months, a match for my Dad came up and he underwent a 10 hour, double lung transplant operation at 67 years old and he has been a vibrant, healthy man again, ever since. I am eternally grateful to that person who thought to discuss it with their family members and/or sign their universal donor card, before they died. (located on the back of your health care card in Canada)

Organ donation can change someone else's life, completely.
It has definitely changed ours.

Please sign your donor cards.

Friday, June 18, 2010

When we seek for connection, we restore the world to wholeness.
Our seemingly separate lives become meaningful
as we discover how truly necessary we are to each other.

~Margaret Wheatley
As an event caricaturist, being paid by the hour, I am always struggling to find the right place in between the speed I draw at, the quality of the pictures I can draw in that time and the amount of time I can talk with each person (because my drawing slows down when I talk).

Last night I drew at a wedding rehearsal dinner. It really was a fantastic type of event to draw at. Sitting right beside the long table of bridal party members and their partners, I felt part of the dinner and conversation as each person came over to be drawn throughout the night. We live in a city of million people, and yet sometimes I feel like if I were to talk to anyone I draw here long enough, we would eventually find someone or something in common and last night that happened much quicker than usual.

The first man I drew, the best man, Grant, seemed a little nervous and awkward starting off the drawing so I asked him what he did for a living. Turns out he is a nurse at the Stollery Children's hospital, not far from our neighborhood. I mentioned that we frequent the ER there on occasion with our three kids, the most recent time being about 2 months ago, when my 8 year old son Kieran, fainted while visiting his friend Colby in the hospital. I wasn't with Kieran at the time, since he had gone with another friend Carson and his mom Kelly. I still remember receiving that phone call from Kelly, trying to explain that Kieran had passed out and they really didn't know why or what had happened and were concerned because he had been banging his head on the floor as he fainted. The nurses there were concerned that maybe he had had a seisure and suggested we have him checked out at emergency. So, I quickly went to the hospital and met them in the ER.

Well, as coincidence would have it, turns out Grant, (the best man), was one of the two nurses who was there when Kieran fainted. He remembered Kieran and the whole situation and it was Grant who got him a popsicle and sat with him till he felt better. He said they had heard later from Colby's parents that Kieran had been checked out and was fine—it was really just a combination of being too hot, low blood sugar and a bit of overwhelm at being in the hospital.

It was wonderful to be able to personally thank Grant for helping Kieran that day, and did so in a way that only a caricaturist can, I gave his caricature a little more hair..:)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Birthday Party Weekend at The Quirky Art Cafe

I just love hosting birthday parties at my studio!
Its as fun for me to be able to share my space,
as it is for the kids who come for the parties.
Here are some photos from the parties this weekend....

the caricatures that I drew of each of them, the frames that they each decorated...

all the girls busy with their journals...

the journals that they painted...

and the group pictures of all the caricatures...
Seeing how it was such a beautiful weekend
the parties did spill out onto the sidewalk outside with chalk and more creativity...

Happy birthday again Sadie and Erin!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I will be drawing caricatures today in
the Village of Holden
at their annual Farmer's Day and Soapbox Derby
from 11-3pm
...Looks like its going to be a wonderfully sunny day!
Maybe see you there!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Edmonton Fringe Festival, August 1992—drawing my brother, Weston McMillan...
(also the year it snowed in Edmonton in August—notice the winter coats :))

I have been sitting out "there" drawing caricatures for 26 years now, wherever "there" may be....a Christmas party, a school, a wedding, the Fringe Festivals or a birthday party. In all those years, I have rarely turned around and looked at the people behind me. At the Fringe Festival or an event setting, I can usually sense when there is a large crowd behind me, just from the temperature change or the sound. Of course though, sometimes I think there are people behind and I will turn around and no one is there.

The thought that woke me up this morning was how much this blog is like drawing in public, and how the people reading it are just looking over my shoulder, watching me as I do it. Maybe that's because I usually post things with very little editing, preferring to just put it out there, live. Perhaps that is why I like it so much, its a very familiar way of working. The differences being that its writing (not just my drawing) and here I can't just turn around to see who's watching me.

Well, for anyone who IS watching... you will notice changes happening here over the next little while, as I am trying out some new "looks" to it. I am trying to understand more about the technical side of what I could do with this blog, but I am pretty impatient with technical things and tend to hit a lot of buttons before I really know what they actually do. So, I will warn you, (since I have very limited time for this kind of development), there may be times when things will get left mid stage and put out there—without me being able to return back to the saved version of how it looked yesterday....and you may wonder "what was she thinking?" (kind of like those people behind me wondering the same thing, when I tried something new with a person's caricature).

...and just so you know, in those cases, I probably don't like it either, but was too exhausted to figure out how to change it back, had to get to work on something else or just went to bed.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

If you leave the pool you have dug for yourself
and go out into the river of life
then life has an astonishing way of taking care of you,
because then there is no taking care on your part.
The Rapids of the Drowned, Fort Smith, taken just after 11 pm June 3

This past weekend, four out of the five women attending my class had attended last year, and so, they each had come with a pretty clear and unique idea of what they wanted to create. Since I am not really a "make your art look exactly like mine, by following these 7 instructions, and we will all end up with the same thing" kind of teacher, it worked out really well. They each had the courage to listen to and follow their own vision of where they wanted to go.

After seeing the Slave River on Thursday night, I thought a lot about how creativity is very much like a river and how in many ways, I am more like an art "lifeguard" than an art "instructor". On Friday night, I led them through some new ideas, techniques and "paddling" exercises and then we all climbed onto that creative river and got taken away with the current. Most of the time, we all paddled along side by side sharing stories and ideas, and I would quietly observe them and make sure everyone was moving along just fine. If I could sense someone was in trouble (getting frustrated by their colour choices or loss of value contrast) that's when I would gently step in and nudge them away from those rocks, to get them back into the current.

I have to say that I was completely blown away by the quality of the work produced and felt like I learned as much from them as I taught. Here are their amazing Art Books....all beginning as old discarded children's hardcover story books...

Geri's beautiful "imperfect" personal journal....Mary's amazingly creative, left handed, travel journal for her upcoming trip to Egypt...
Laurie's stunning guest book for her Fall Art Show....
Chris's very special gift for a friend's birthday....

Unfortunately I missed getting a close up of Debora's book —a new personal altered journal.

And here we all are after our creative "trip"....