August 12th, 2004

New Product
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
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“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
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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
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“Charles (Eames) was once asked how he would inspire an appreciation for the arts in a child.

July 30th, 2004
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Sometimes a quick sketch is enough to get one off and running in the morning.
I saw an interview with Bill Whitehead, the partner of author Timothy Findley yesterday. He said the thing that “TIFF” struggled with most was rather mundane. It was “getting to the desk” everyday. Pushing through that urge to do anything but the writing. It always helps to hear that others struggle with this too.

July 28th, 2004
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“All humans are storytellers with their own unique point of view. When we understand this, we no longer feel the need to impose our story on others or to defend what we believe. Instead, we see all of us as artists with the right to create our own art.” -Don Miguel Ruiz

July 26th, 2004
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“To look life in the face and to know it for what it is. At last to know it. To love it. For what it is.” -Virginia Woolf
Tea and toast for breakfast. I sit on the back porch sipping, and thinking of all the things I could do today. The list:
-cut grass
-clean house
-work on new manuscript
-hang laundry on the clothesline
Dreams of eating honeycomb last night. Wanting to fill the pages of my journal so I can get a lighter one, (the one i have currently is like carrying a brick. beautiful but heavy.) Thinking of all the things we will do when J comes for a visit next week.
I do enjoy sitting here, sipping tea with a pen & an open book. Sometimes it is just the act of moving a pen across the page that makes me feel good, no matter what is written (or drawn). Is it that thoughts are being expressed? I am not sure. Why also do I enjoy seeing pages fill up in the journal so much? A form of capturing a process, evidence that one existed during a period of time?
I watched “the Hours” again last night for the umpteenth time, (you would think I would be tired of it by now.) There is something so beautiful about watching the act of creation, and then seeing the characters come to life. I enjoy watching Virginia so immersed in her story that she mutters to herself in public, the moment she figures out an important plot idea. There is a knowing on her face.
As in the previous quote, I believe journal writing is a way of “loving it for what it is”, seeing beauty in all of it. Taking a moment to sit here and watch the wind blowing the trees. How often I get pulled out of the world by work, phones, questions.
This morning I notice the wind, the birds, the sound of the trucks on the highway, the temperature of the tea (lukewarm now), the bright red of the chair, my cat sitting quietly on the step.
I have taken to sketching while visiting friends houses. Random objects. Things on the table in front of me. a blue & white pot, a lemon juicer full of juice, a dead butterfly, some peas in the pod. All about little moments. I pull out my waterbottle & box of watercolours and paint while chatting. (yesterday upon my return home I realized I had forgotten about the painting and had earlier drank most of the bluish water. Are watercolours non-toxic? Will I pee blue?)

July 22nd, 2004
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We start out whole. Complete. Along the way, we may feel that something is wrong, or missing. We aren’t the way we’d like to be or the way we think we should be. A crossroads, a new stage in life, a turning point, a crisis, when we feel we may crack, or we do crack, can be a difficult, frightening time.
And, sometimes we deliberately crack our own bowl.
With time and great care and tender patience, we can reexamine the pieces, knowing that when we are ready, a solution will come. We can glue the pieces back together.
This bowl looks far more interesting, more beautiful than before it broke. The pieces are the same, but it’s a different bowl than when I started.

-Sue Bender fr. Everyday Sacred
I am spending time examining my new bowl. Getting used to a new life. Deep at the root of it I find that the person I am so afraid of losing is still there. A young girl. She is still sitting on the floor drawing and painting and enjoying the present moment. She does not worry about the unknown because it does not affect her. Her only job is to see what is right in front of her at any given moment.
I have been in that place that most creative people go, so many ideas and projects to start. Excited and wanting to do them all at once, but not knowing where to start. Bursting with ideas, unable to focus. It is a great feeling at times, though anxious. MUST DO, MUST DO.
I know what the solution is.
To let the girl sit and draw and paint. Enjoy the warm breeze. Swim in the pond. Let the ideas bubble up on their own and tell me what step to take next, if indeed a step needs to be taken at all. Ideas cannot be forced out in a mad rush. It is the part of me that looks at other people’s careers and compares and says, ‘i should be doing more’ that wants to push. To this part I say, “it is o.k. we need some time to just be right now. Time for vacation.”
\Va*ca”tion\, n. [F., fr. L. vacatio a being free from a duty, service, etc., 1. The act of vacating; of no force.
of no force.
time for daydreaming, reading, and treating myself. yes.
of no force.

July 21st, 2004
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I was walking through a beautiful neighborhood in Vancouver, (off of Commercial Drive) when I spotted a flyer that caught my eye. The bottom of it said “if you take this poster, make copies & pass it on! I like the idea of one person’s vision that gets passed on. Something that starts off as a small spark, a thought, that picks up momentum and grows exponentially over time. So here you are, if you like it make copies and pass it on.
How to Build a Community
turn off your tv~leave your house~know your neighbors
greet people~look up when you’re walking~sit on your front steps
plant flowers~use your library~play together~buy from local merchants
share what you have~help a lost dog~take children to the park
honor elders~support neighbourhood schoools~fix it even if you didn’t break it
have pot lucks~garden together~pick up litter~read stories aloud
dance in the street~talk to the mail carrier~listen to the birds
put up a swing~help someone carry something heavy~barter for your goods
start a tradition~ask a question~hire young people for odd jobs
organize a block party~bake extra and share~ask for help when you need it
open your shades~sing together~share your skills
take back the night~turn up the music~turn down the music
listen before you react to anger~mediate a conflict~seek to understand
learn from new and uncomfortable angles
know that no one is silent though many are not heard
work to change this
text: Syracuse Cultural Workers
I recently created a shirt design for the great sitting. ALL proceeds go the the Lance Armstrong Foundation, helping people living with cancer.

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