Friday, December 31, 2010

Little Black and Whites of Saskatchewan

These little paintings were more experiments with charcoal and oil, and with being a bit more abstract. I may work some of them into much larger paintings with more detail, but for here's a little bit of prairie for you:

Thursday, December 30, 2010

B&W Horses - an experiment

I love the look of charcoal and oil paint, so I decided it was time to try it out for myself. I found an old mangled photo yesterday, and it was the perfect subject, a fountain I'd snapped a picture of years ago and kept around just in case. This is the finished (at this point, we'll see I suppose) product.

This was the first layer. I painted over the charcoal with some flake white diluted with lots of solvent. I took photos along the way so I could look back and figure out what to do differently next time.

I like this stage best, with the lighter background and sharper drawing, but unfortunately the charcoal would never stay like this and has to be painted over to stay on the canvas. However, I did experiment with drawing on top of a wet glaze, and the charcoal came out fairly defined and stayed put, so I'm going to try that a little earlier next painting (as in the second layer rather than the forth, like this painting), and I think I'll get better results in the end. Even though this is a painting it looks very much like how I sketch, layering vine charcoal and then compressed charcoal for depth, contrast, and definition. That's probably why I like it so much.

'Comic Book Portraits' - Van Der Linde

I'm afraid that I don't have the patience to make these portraits. It started out looking like the right person, but with all the thick lines, it really just got away from me. But to books look pretty cool, so I'm still happy with it. The style is based on Roy Lichtenstein's Pop Art. I even attempted some Ben Day dots, which are a pain in the ass, so I'm glad they turned out well. But I'm not doing them again until I'm famous and can afford minions to do them for me.

Monday, December 27, 2010

'Comic Book' Portraits - Ninja Steve

This one quickly got out of control when it came to the amount of detail I wanted. Originally I was simply going to have a completely black background with just the stars up at the front. Then I added the drips. Then I added the background. Then the red lines. It's a whole lot of stuff! And those throwing stars were extremely difficult to put in such a foreshortened perspective. Still, I think it was worth it, although now that it's done I'm wondering if they shouldn't be a little higher in the composition. Too late now because I'm not doing this again!

Sunday, December 26, 2010


I don't use pastels very often, but sometimes they're just appropriate for a nice, soft, intimate portrait. So here's only my third-fifth pastel portrait attempts. I'm very happy with it. I couldn't quite photograph it right, so it looks like my sister has a lot of makeup on she doesn't really, but this is pretty close.

Comic Book Portraits - St. Pierre

My second 'comic book' is much more literal than I had intended to be with these, but it just kind of worked with St. Pierre to have a full-out Golden Age style picture, so I did the full cover. His nickname is 'Pi,' and he's a pilot, so I used the RCAF logo but substituted a pi symbol as his superhero logo. This one was really fun to come up with.

Friday, December 24, 2010

What To Do With Leftover Turkey - Part II

Now that you've got tons of extra tarragon sauce, not to mention all the other bits of Christmas dinner that didn't get eaten, it's very easy to make it all into delicious turkey soup. Puree the veggies (boil extra carrots and onions if you don't have enough), chop up the turkey, and then add chicken broth and milk until you get it to the right consistency. Easy! And I promise, tastes like a whole new dish instead of leftovers.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What To Do With Leftover Turkey

Luckily for me I made an early Christmas dinner, so I can put up a post about leftovers in time to share what I make with them every big festival meal. It has to go up beforehand because the main ingredient is the amazing sauce we make for the turkey:

Tarragon sauce

5 tbsp butter
1/2 onion, minced
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tsp salt (unless you're using salty canned/powdered broth)
1 tsp freshly ground pepper (why would you have a different kind?)
3 tsp tarragon (at least)
2/3 cup heavy or whipping cream (it's Christmas. Live a little)
reserved basting liquid from turkey

In a heavy sauce pan melt butter over medium heat. Stir in onions and cook but don't brown. Add flour, blend and simmer several minutes. Stir in broth. Stir continuously until smooth and thick. Reduce heat, add seasoning. Gradually add cream and enough basting liquid to make a rich, smooth sauce.

This is from the Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery with just a couple tiny changes. It's unbelievably good. Roast loads of potatoes, onions, carrots, and garlic with the turkey and you'll be ready for Part Two of the leftover recipe, coming very soon.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

'Comic Book' Portraits - Smith

I'm back for three glorious weeks this Christmas and went straight to my studio. And kitchen. Oh, and bedroom of course. Real blankets! Sleeping in past 5! It's nice to be home, but I've got work to do.

This is the first in a series of portraits I want to complete. They're based on people from my platoon and are going to be done in a variety of comic and graphic novel inspired styles. This one is sort of a Frank Miller - Sin City thing. It's also based on the Mad Men season three poster. Not bad for a start. I'm hoping to have enough good pieces by the time this one is done to submit some applications and get a show at some point.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

But how are you going to make things?

When I was leaving for basic training one of the questions I kept getting was "What about your art?" And it turns out that I did get a big opportunity to make pretty things. I designed our platoon t-shirt, and I have to say the results are pretty much awesome. Usually these things just have the platoon number on them, and maybe the school's logo, but we're going all out here!

The design is based on 'nose art' (paintings on the front of planes) we saw at the Canadian War Museum, which you should all visit if you're ever in Ottawa. About two-thirds of my platoon is air force (myself included), so it's appropriate. We have very little navy, so they only get the tattoo on the army girl. The saying is something our instructors say frequently that we've picked up on. They're mainly Francophone, so the spelling is supposed to pick up on their accent. The maple leafs with the bombs were taken directly from one of the pieces on exhibit. It was how the crew had marked their hits. It was a pretty cool design, so I used it and added the ranks of our instructors to them. Then I made it look vintage in Photoshop, and we're good to go!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Quick Update

I'm afraid I don't have any photos for you, but I thought, now that I have access to the internet, I should give a quick update of what I've been doing. I'm currently going into week seven of a fifteen week Basic Military Officer Training course with the Canadian Forces, and so far have been having a terrific time. I'm confined to base this weekend, unfortunately, but last week we got out to Montreal and I had an absolutely amazing time. I hope everyone gets to visit at least one in their life. I spent so much money in the little boutiques and ate nothing but pastries, hot chocolate (and by this I mean basically liquid chocolate, not the powered watery junk), and poutine. I've never been so thankful the constant workouts they make us do! I spent an incredible amount of money in the little stores on Saint-Denis and wandered all over downtown. Next week is my brithday and I'm hoping I'll get to go back and visit the art galleries and sleep in a real bed again. Nothing against the horrible ones here, but I've had quite enough of hospital corners and want a nice fluffy blanket to curl up in.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Business Cards / Prints

I said I would be providing something as bag stuffers for the craft show I'll be taking part in in November. The first hundred people get a shopping bag with samples and things from the show. I made a simple lino block print and printed a hundred little cards. On the back I printed (just on the computer) a simple "Sketchbook - journals - art books - calligraphy - prints" so that people actually know what it is I do, and a 10% discount. A few are 20% off, so lets hope they need some Christmas gifts.

I don't really have a drying rack, so they just went all over the floor and sofa and whatnot. I was watching Hoarders at the time, so this was sort of a weird making a such a mess! I cleaned it up first thing this morning!

Friday, September 17, 2010

My Plan

On my long list of things to bring to training is writing paper. That was sort of boring, and I want to be able to have at least something small to be creative with, so I cut up a bunch of scrap watercolour paper into postcard-sized pieces and I'll bring that instead. It's amazing what a travel palette and a few waterproof pens can do.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

'Scrap' book and some big news

First, I must apologize for not posting anything in about three weeks! Life has been a little crazy and I just didn't get much done as, unfortunately, I had other stuff to take care of instead. Specifically, my enrollment date for the Air Force finally got here and I and will be leaving shortly for training, so there is much to do to prepare. I'm done work now though, so I do have a little time for some side projects.

This book, as well as the ones I'm working on like it, is an effort to use the last bits of leather I have. I don't have quite enough for full books and don't want to make hundreds of miniature ones, so I came up with this design. I quite like the look of it, though I think I'll use gromets to attach the next ones because sewing takes an excruciatingly long time.

I'm not sure if you can tell, but the light leathers are all a little different.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My Weekender Bag - front panel

This is the front of the bag. The pockets are all sewn on (the last bit my hand, unfortunately, because the machine couldn't get in there), but the lining isn't completely in so that I can still sew in the straps and then cover up the stitches. I've only got the first bit on yet, but for now the next step is the top/zipper/sides.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Weekender Bag - straps and hardware

I want the straps to go all the way around and under the bag, but the leather isn't long enough, so I sort of wove two pieces together, mimicking the bottom panel.

Close-up of the weaving. It took me forever to figure out how to do this for some reason, but some days are just like that.

The clasps.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Steampunk Fabric - now available!

I just got the test swatch for the steampunk fabric I designed, so it's now available on Spoonflower. For some reason, even though I designed it, the large scale still surprised me. But it looks pretty good with my pillows. I will have to think of something to do with it now.

Monday, August 9, 2010

My Weekender Bag - pockets

Here are the front pockets. They're just plain canvas, then I fused the lining on and sewed what I could get to. It's really not terribly neat, but you can't tell from the front, so it'll do. I don't have enough printed fabric to line everything, so this has plain because it won't really be seen.

The back panel is finished except for the adding the straps. The near side is lined with plain fabric and the print is on the opposite side, so you see it when the zipper is open:

Sunday, August 8, 2010

My Weekender Bag - bottom

This is the bottom panel for the bag. I cut strips of the two leathers, wove them together, and used two-sided fusible interfacing to put fabric on the other side to hold it all together. It came out a little more 'racing stripe' then I might have liked, but it's growing on me.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My Weekender Bag - what was I thinking?

I've always wanted a really awesome weekender bag, and with a trip coming up this month I started looking around for one. The ones I was drawn to all said they were hand-stitched, which of course led me to the fateful declaration that "I could do that!" Plus, it would be cheaper and I could make it a little bigger (very close to max carry-on restrictions) and with more pockets. Oh dear.

I was going to do something Steampunk and put some rich, Victorian, feminine fabric on the inside. But then I found this and I really fell for it. I got it from Etsy seller Green Olive Textiles.

Instead of doing various shades of brown for the leather portions of the bag I found these old jackets at the VV Boutique, so I'll keep with the fabric colours. I think the red was a lucky find, it almost perfectly matches the fabric. I'm not sure what the final product will look like now, because the feel will be totally different, but I guess we'll see! I'm off to find some zippers and clasps and such.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Winnipeg Opening -

For those of you in or near Winnipeg, there is a show opening Thursday, August 4 from 2-midnight at Freud's Bathhouse & Diner featuring book arts and zines, and will include four of my books! I sent The Tell-Tale Heart, He Wishes for the Clothes of Heaven, Words & Letters, and The Frosted Pane.

There should be loads of great things to look at, so make sure you check it out. Visit their page for more info or share the facebook event.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven - New Cover

Here's a second attempt at a cover for this book. I used some silk noil I had that came very close to the colours inside the book, and a corset ribbon style binding on the end, to get something to go with the whole cloth/embroidery theme, and, I hope, a feeling of luxury and richness. Unfortunately the velvet ribbon I had wasn't a strong enough colour, so I used satin instead. It matches better but I would have liked the texture of the velvet.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Snow Book - All finished and Just Perfect!

I'm so pleased with how this one turned out because I think it really takes advantage of the lovely materials I had to work with. It only opens just half past-way, so not truly a star book, but it works on this one.

Yet another type of white paper for the cover, but with a blue silk spine so that it's not too boring. I only had very thin white ribbon, so I put three on either side, with is just the detail it needed. Happy accident! Speaking of accident, there was a tiny bit of pen on the other side that ran when the glue got wet, opps! Good thing it's blue, so it's not so bad (I hope!). Anyway, you aren't supposed to look of the cover, you're supposed to put it on display:

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Snow Book - first layer

Here's a scan of the calligraphy. I'm afraid you'll just have to take my word for it that it looks much nicer in real life. I can't seem to get a good photo.

And here is the first layer finished and folded.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Snow Book - second pass

The writing turned out to be just too light, so I went over it again. Having two layers gives it a kind of ephemeral quality that works very nicely. I did have a bit of a typo, though, on the last word, and even though I've scraped and erased most of it, you can still kind of tell (the problem with doing an all-white book!), so I'm going to do a few more layers of text to blend it in, which should also heighten the feeling as well. I think I may do that before I finish off the cut-outs I've started there on the side.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Snow Book

When I was looking for paper for my He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven project I wanted some very nice, light, holey paper to go behind the calligraphy layer. I never did find anything suitable (which is fine, turns out I wouldn't have had room anyway for it), but I did find two lovely pieces that fit the description in white.

I'm not sure if you can see the second one very well. It's semi-transparent mulberry paper with little gold flecks in it.

This got me thinking that I should find a nice snow-related poem or quote to make into a book. It was kind of confusing trying to find something short of in the public domain like that just on Google, but eventually I found the University of Toronto's online library, where they had a list of 19th century Canadian poets. Only it couldn't be searched by subject, only author! I didn't want to go through every single one until I found something, but I underestimated how much we write about winter. Almost every poet listed had one, and I soon had a big stack I liked to choose from. I eventually did a bit of extra research on one of the poets, and found this one:

The Frosted Pane
Charles G. D. Roberts (1860-1943)

One night came Winter noiselessly, and leaned
Against my window-pane.
In the deep stillness of his heart convened
The ghosts of all his slain.

Leaves, and ephemera, and stars of earth,
And fugitives of grass, --
White spirits loosed from bonds of mortal birth,
He drew them on the glass.

I'm going to make a star book, only I'm going to try and ignore the different divisions of the pages, and try something a little different and off-centre.

Here is the calligraphy. It's very faint on purpose, so I'll have to figure out a better way to photograph it. It's just my handwriting. I'm sticking with a bit of a casual feel. Plus I'm feeling just too lazy to practice for hours and do it formally! Which wouldn't be as nice with the poem anyway, I think. Well... we'll stick with that explanation. Once this is dry and ready for the lines to be erased I'm going to make large sections of cut-outs in snow/frost type patterns. I can't make them quite as big as I was planning because the writing took up more room, so they may end up kind of meandering all over instead of being in nice rectangular (window-like) areas. But that will be fine, I think. If anyone asks I had it all planned out from the start.

Monday, July 19, 2010

How Do You Find Anything in That Mess?

This was my studio. Yikes! I couldn't find some paper, go figure, so it was time to shift everything out to the tv room, sort it, toss it, and put the good stuff back. I got an accordion folder and now all my paper is even in sorted by colour. I didn't just find my paper (at last), I also found:

4 half-finished canvases
A cheque for $157
An extremely large dead spider
Enough fabric scraps to fill an entire black garbage bag
Several finished drawings I'd been missing for about 5 years
A whole lot of broken glass, which is puzzling and a little disturbing since I'm always barefoot
Two sheets of extra mat board
Notes for a funny tv show a co-worker and I created when we were bored one day
About 10 pads of small note-paper and even more in post-it notes

This is the after. I don't know if the photo really lets you see just how much cleaner it is, but I got rid of a giant garbage bag, a giant box of recycling, moved all the finished painting (now the rest of the basement needs some sorting), moved all the photos/cards/books to my writing desk, and organized everything else into baskets so I can find it. Now the only thing left on the art desk is what I'm actually working on. And now might be able to finish!

Friday, July 16, 2010

You've Got a Fast Car

This book was a special request by the person who owns the gift shop in the Hotel Sask. He loves Tracey Chapman's "You've Got a Fast Car" so that's what the calligraphy is. Other than that he didn't say what he wanted, so I just went with it. The song is kind of dark, hence the black. He seemed to like the books that had suede lace to tie them, so that's what I used.

I had just enough black to cover the inside, then I tore it wrong! But in the end I like the extra colour of the tan, it was getting a bit depressing.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Purple Leftovers

I really like these books that use up my extra bits of leather. Not just because I save on supplies, but I just think they look really cool with the different colours and stitching. I didn't have enough purple to make a full half cover, so instead I used it as the closing strap in the middle, and to wrap around the front to cover the open pages (because I didn't have enough yellow for that either!).

View from the back.
Marbled paper inside to set off the colours.