August 25th, 2004
“One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, everytime. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is a signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly is lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.” -Annie Dillard
I am off to Maine for another adventure. More words on my return.
August 24th, 2004
Life is a constantly morphing thing. Just when you think you know where it’s all headed you wake up the next morning to a completely different view. The landscape has changed along with the seasons, but the trees are the same trees, only your view has changed. So you try to cling to the old things that used to comfort you, clinging to the familiar, but they provide little or no solace. The fears do not subside. At this point we have no choice but to surrender to the unknown.
that is where the real beauty lies.
It is not in the knowing, the familiar, the expected. But in the embracing of the unknown. a willingness to walk down a new path and to trust that everything is as it should be. perfect. as it is.
Schopenhauer said,“When you look back on your life, it looks as though it were a plot, but when you are into it, it’s a mess: just one surprise after another. Then, later, you see it was perfect.”
Sometimes there are little glimpses of the perfection, amidst the mess. It is at those times we feel blessed beyond measure.
August 17th, 2004
“Any object, intensely regarded, may be a gate of access to the incorruptible eon of the gods.” -James Joyce, Ulysses
August 17th, 2004
There are some children in a nearby park that have discovered a large orange hollow tube, big enough to sit in. It’s appearance is a bit of a mystery, just kinda showed up one day last week. It looks like it might be a tube slide that came unbolted from a jungle jim, made out of some kind of indestructible plastic. Ever since it’s discovery it has been the center of many new and exciting forms of play. I can hear them screaming and laughing as I type this. They have not left it, except maybe to eat and sleep. My mind wonders what games they have invented with it. How fascinating that children are always drawn to anything they can sit in.
I recall making a house out of a large box that our new fridge came in as a child. Cutting holes for windows, putting blankets inside for beds, making a door that closed and decorating the outside with worn out markers. I remember what the cardboard smelled like, and the feeling of dampness that came up from the ground underneath. I remember too cutting my knee on a large staple that was sticking out, and the blood stain that followed. But most of all I remember my obsession with my new space. I wanted to live in it permanently, eat all of my meals there, position it so that one could watch t.v. from inside, recieve my mail there. I had it all figured out. There was a secret knock, if omitted you were denied entry. And please remove yours shoes, we are trying to cut down on the little piles of grass that are building up in the corners. Would you like a process cheese and mayonnaise sandwich?
Joseph Campbell talks about recreating our childhood spaces as adults as a means of accessing our ‘sacred space’.
“A sacred space is any space that is set apart from the usual context of life. In the secular context, one is concerned with pairs of opposites: cause and effect, gain and loss, and so on. Sacred space has no function in the way of earning a living or a reputation. Practical use is not the dominant feature of anything in the space…I think a good way to conceive of sacred space is as a playground.”
I think in some ways my home now is just an extension of that cardboard box. It looks exactly like the images of the house I used to draw as a child. (My parents were actually called in by a concerned teacher who showed them dozens of the same picture of the house, eyebrow raised in disapproval. It seemed my artistic talent was being called into question.) The current home is filled with things I have collected on walks in the woods, decorated with paintings, toys and old furniture. What i have wanted to create most was a feeling of safety that surrounded the experience as a child. Is it possible to create safety? I think that one must come from within. There are still places that I am trying to heal.
It helps to give ourselves the space and the time to do the healing.
Maybe I should borrow the orange tube for a while.
August 12th, 2004
I recently illustrated the “Room to Play Playscene”. Now available from Mudpuppy Press.
The scenes fold up just like a book with a cool handle to carry them everywhere. There are over 50 vinyl stickers (re-stickable) to choose from with characters, clothes, and furniture to decorate with. I had so much fun working on this project. There are three other scenes to choose from, which I am going to buy for myself because I really like the illustrators.
August 12th, 2004
“Take that small sketch home and play with it on paper with cheap material so that you may not feel hampered but dabble away gaily. Extravagantly play with your idea, keep it fluid, toss it hither and thither, but always let the idea be there at the core.” -Emily Carr
August 7th, 2004
I have had so many people write me with questions about how I create my drawings I thought I would put together a section about it. To begin I will say that I have never placed very much importance on “tools”, after all they are just that. In my opinion being an artist is about being present and doing the work. I have seen brilliant work done with a 10 cent bic pen on a piece of found cardboard. It also feels a bit limiting to me to be tied down to one specific medium, I like to be experiementing all the time with new products and techniques. That being said, there are some that I am drawn to more than others. So I will list those here. I like using things that are not too expensive (read: precious), so I don’t have to worry about making mistakes. But using these items will not necessarily make you draw like me. For that you would need my eyes and my life experiences. Use your own eyes. They will see in ways that are unique and beautiful to you. Use your life. It is the source of a great work. Try these things if you are drawn to them.
pens – For my daily journal excerpts I use a simple pen with a watercolour wash. For years I used a pentel pen (with the technical like tip) but recently switched to one that was waterproof so I can use them with the watercolour. My favourite pen is now the Rotring Art Pen but I discovered that it leaks badly while travelling on planes. So I have been using a uniball Vision Elite, which is specially designed for air travel, guaranteed not to explode or leak. *the journal drawings are an exercise in being present, contemplating one thing for a time. they are not about making great art, but about enjoying the moment. They give me little hints at the daily events of my life. When I look back at them I can remember where I was and who I was sitting with. I seem to be drawn to a lot of packaging these days.
brush and ink – For my comic work I like a thicker line so I use a store brand brush #3 #4 and #5. The tips must be good, so often I will wet them in my mouth while in the store to check. (If you see a girl sucking on brush tips in the art store it might be me.) By far my favourite ink is Dr. Ph. Martin’s Black Star waterproof india ink, both matte and ‘hicarb’ versions. I believe it is the most opaque ink you can get commercially. I regularly joke about buying stock in the company I use so much of it.
watercolour and gouache – I have always found the expensive professional tube watercolours to be a little on the drab side, not to mention expensive. I also find the tube thing tedious and messy. There is nothing like the old box style watercolours you had when you were a kid. The ulitmate in portability, you can throw them in your bag with a waterbottle and you are ready to paint anywhere! So my current pick is a box of Liebetruth Student Transparent Watercolors (24). It’s the brightest set of paints I could find with large squares and comes in a tidy black box. cheap and cheerful. When I want really punchy, bright, opaque colours that seem to jump off the page I use Windsor & Newton Designers Gouache. You can make every colour you need with just the process primary colours (cyan, magenta, yellow) and black and white.
computer – Often I will take a black line drawing, scan it into Photoshop and do the color on a separate layer using a Wacom tablet. With commercial work it makes it easier to make changes (resize, change colours, etc.) There are times when I find it best to work with a vector image, (vectors can be easily resized, and you can work with true pantone colours), in which case I will use Illustrator. The black and white drawing is scanned into Adobe Streamline (which converts it to a vector image), then brought into illustrator. Then I will do the colour on a separate layer.
paper – when I do all my sketching and inking for a large project I work on a bright white layout translucent visual bond. This allows me to erase, trace, rework anything I need to. It is also affordable, since sometimes I can go through 100 pages (1 pad) in a week.
a word on sketchbooks – a sketchbook must open flat, it must take watercolours, and it cannot be too heavy. I love the moleskines, they are by far my preference, but I find the sketchbook version (with the thick pages) has some kind of sizing on it that does not take watercolours easily (even though they advertise it to be for water based mediums). You have to ‘push’ the brush into the page repeatedly or the water will sit on the top. So I tend to stick with the thin page version (which bleeds a bit). i really like the smell of the moleskines too.
August 6th, 2004
a clothesline full of bright watercolours
postcards arriving from many places
a large tree lit with tiny white lights
a building with a new name
windows framed with soft white fabric
a garbage can that sits quietly instead of swinging
a tiny tree that reads “grow strong”
pants that arrive in the mail
sleepy mornings with a light breeze across the face
green growing things indoors
a brown bear named Solomon
calmness in unexpected places
August 2nd, 2004
“Charles (Eames) was once asked how he would inspire an appreciation for the arts in a child.