we found a sweet little place to live in a little hamlet called Deep Cove in North Vancouver. it is a five minute walk from the beach. a ten minute walk from a cute village. the place itself is across the street from hiking trails galore (complete with a family of owls that have lived there for many years). you will have to trust me when I tell you how beautiful the space is, (I will post some photos when I get settled).
the search for a place to live in the Vancouver area has been grueling and we are so relieved to be done. I can’t tell you how happy I am to have found something close to the city but not in the city proper as I was a bit worried about living in an urban environment again after so many years being close to nature. this is the perfect alternative. the drive to downtown Vancouver is about 20 minutes, (I will be taking public transit in one day a week to teach).
we became excited to learn that Deep Cove was a haven for many artists and writers in the 60′s (Malcolm Lowry was the big one). a friend wrote that there was also a great experimental musician and artist named Al Neil who called it home. i got very excited reading about his work and process. his sculpture work made me a bit giddy when I read that he would collect things on the beach every day and create assemblages (some of which are still there apparently), from his website:
“Neil started producing large-scale assemblages in the trees outside his place in Dollarton, BC. Working with his partner Carole Itter – sometimes in collaboration, sometimes in tandem – he produced an ever-changing tableau in the woods beside his cabin. These works were never meant to be static and they show the age and condition of the elements within them. They take on many different configurations, a little bit like improvisational jazz.”
I love the idea of pieces that change regularly and are altered by weather conditions, time, moods, erosion, culture, etc.
much like life really. like us.
what do you think of the new digs? comments are OPEN, hurrah!
(a big thanks to the design team at ALSO for the new site).
You must visit the front page, there is a new interactive feature for you to play with called “explorations”. I think we’re going to have a lot of fun!
my good friend Pixie says about owls:
Owl is higher wisdom, mystery and night magic. Her senses are keen and her vision long for seeing that which is often difficult for other creatures to detect. Owls indicate flexibility and adaptability, making them ideal guides for long or dark journeys. They can hear the mystical whisperings of our secret wishes and unconscious desires, making them very useful when we are called to listen to a much quieter voice within. They can open up portals of the deep self and help one acknowledge messages that it is time to hear. While owls have access to the deeper truths, knowing when to go about business silently is another of her gifts.
(*inspired by a list from “Chairman, Rolf Fehlbaum” by Tibor Kalman)
“You are Buddha right now.” -Katigiri Roshi
Sidney bears a remarkable resmeblance to Woody Allen but in actual fact his personality could not be more different. Hector has a hangover after spending too much time at the local bar playing pool. Paulo spends his sundays pruning his grape vines and drinking espresso while listening to the short wave radio.
character sketches for a job I’m working on. (the people are named after kids I went to kindergarten with. Maybe this is what they look like all grown up. I think Barb and Mildred are sisters now that I look at it, two years apart.)
*drawn directly with ink using the rotring artpen.
I am attempting to spend less time on the internet these days, (notice ‘surf the web’ did not make it onto the list.) I find it to be eating up large chunks of my time, time that might be better spent on other things, things on the list for example. I realized that my daily blog list is as long as a good size dissertation. In some ways it has become just as consuming as television, which I cut out completely a year and a half ago. The main reason being I started to weigh the value of the experience, what was I getting from it? Did it fulfill me in some way or was I just watching mindlessly? The answer for the most part was yes and so I turned it off as an experiment. I also wanted to really notice how mass media made me feel. I discovered that I was responding emotionally to a lot of news stories and in the course of a day I could expend a lot of energy this way.
I like to try things as ‘experiments’, it doesn’t sound nearly imposing as, “I’m quitting.” The result is also that I don’t feel deprived of the thing, but instead more like I always have a choice in the matter and right now I’m choosing to opt out to try something different. To see what will happen, how it will affect my life.
Truthfully I get a lot from other creatives on the web, I love reading about other artist’s processes, getting inspired, making friends or finding an illustrator that kicks my ass. What I’m striving to cut down on is the mindless connecting, the moments when you look up and realize you have been reading about something you really care nothing about for the last hour.
I want to be conscious about what I’m taking in. I want to nourish my brain and psyche a bit more, give it some love.
(I will still be posting regularly.)
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.
I had a lot of fun doing this tshirt design for a local charity. The event is like a mini ironman mixed with golf. The money raised is then used to send a team of people to Guatemala to build an orphanage, provide housing, school rooms, a medical clinic, love and hope for 400 orphaned and abandoned children. What i love about it is that it is truly grass roots, all of the money goes directly to the project. The people running the event are the people who are going to Guatemala to do the building. I am told the attendees are of all ages and skill levels, many challenging themselves to try something that pushes them in new ways (physical and emotional). It is true that small numbers can accomplish great change. Beautiful.
I think most of the world completely underestimates the potential of good soap. Lately I have become addicted to the stuff. Such a small thing can impact your life in great ways. Firstly there is the experience of smell, which has the power to make you to travel instantly to distant places, take a trip through a damp forest (cedar), or walking over a wild mint patch, or maybe through an olive grove. Sometimes the smell of a certain kind of soap will hook a memory so strong you actually travel back in time. One wiff of ivory and I am washing my face in my grandmother’s bathroom, (my sister always described the smell of her house as a mixture of ivory and carrots). But there is also the texture of soap that makes it so enticing, how it feels in your hand, how it feels when lathered on your face. I have been experimenting with using different kinds of soap depending on my mood. Carrot soap when I’m happy, milk & honey when I’m needing comfort, citrus when I need to wake up. How different the world might be if there was really good soap in every restroom! Maybe people would stop for a moment to enjoy the smells, or ponder a happy memory. Maybe they would take more time for themselves and be less inclined to rush onto the next task. I always get excited when I go into a restroom and find some little unexpected treat, like hand lotion, fruity soap, or free tampons. I take my time, use my nose, and pamper myself. Little reminders like that can really make your day better.
Another interview with yours truly, written by the talented Kathy Cano-Murillo.