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"....

Sunday, June 06, 2010

My Journey to
Land of the (almost) Midnight Sun...

I arrived in Fort Smith, NWT on Thursday afternoon and it has been a whirlwind of activity (albeit at a "Fort Smith" relaxed, laid back kind of pace). I was invited a year ago to come and teach an altered book workshop here and it was such a fantastic experience that I was excited to be asked back. This year, I was also asked if I would come a day earlier and draw caricatures for anyone in the town who was interested and since I wasn't already booked that night, I jumped at the chance.

My drawing gig at the museum on Thursday night was one of the most enjoyable events I have ever drawn at. It combined the best of the two caricature worlds I enjoy— retail and event caricature in the best possible way. I had a sign up sheet (compiled prior to my arrival) and people would just wander into the museum at their allotted time and they would sit and we would chat and I would draw them. Since I was being paid by the individual, not by the hour, I felt no pressure to rush through them as quickly as possible and this afforded me the opportunity to really get to know who they were and why they chose to live in such a remote (by my standards) place. It was a beautiful night of conversation and connection, which also led into a late night of wine drinking (by me) and discussion with my host Jeri Miltenberger.

On Friday evening, I began teaching the altered book workshop at the museum, with 5 students (4 of whom I taught last year) and it has been amazing. I feel less like their "instructor" and more like I am just observing the flow of creative energy and kind of nudging people past things that might temporarily snag or distract them. With such a small group (of highly skilled and creative individuals I might add) I have had the freedom to work along side them and participate in the creative energy (not just in a "demo-ing" kind of way), but in a purely creative and personally expressive way, producing my own unique journal in that special energy.

Since I recently began taking an e course from Kelly Rae Roberts called Tips and Tricks to make your Creative Business Soar, I wanted to create a journal that would accompany me on this journey, and I am SO thrilled with my creation. We have one more full day of creative play today and I will soon share some photos of the workshop, of the beautiful books that are being created around me and of my newest journal, and how I plan to use it through this course.