Wednesday, November 30, 2005

safety dance

I admit it. I'm not only old enough to remember picture discs, I even bought one once. Driving home today I heard Safety Dance by one-hit wonder band, Men Without Hats. As soon as I got home I had to see if it was still among the vinyl, and sure enough, we still have it. It's a keeper, but not for the music.

Addendum: For those who've never seen a picture disc, enlarge the photo and you will see the hole in the centre and the grooves -- this is the actual vinyl record.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

tales of snacks and bevvies

pastry blender and fork ~ acrylic on canvas ~ 24" x 36"

Once upon a time there were tales of love and loss, then along came Rudy with tales of food and drink:

Just when I thought the magical fruit couldn't get any more magical...

The title says it all. Cats, of course, prefer wine spritzers...

Answers the questions, is there a soft drink out there that's more nauseating than Cherry Coke?

And, finally, the most expensive British dish in history turns out to be a meat pie. Kind of like having some German chef make the world's most expensive bratwurst...

Friday, November 25, 2005


something small from the sketchbook archives

Thursday, November 24, 2005

tales of love and loss

I bought a book on-line recently: a vanity-press published novel by Jamie Boud who writes a good blog and takes amazing photos. I had just finished a disappointing book that sold millions of copies (Richard Bach's The Bridge Across Forever) and I was feeling pissed off at the world of publishers who knowingly sell crap ... because it sells. Buying a self-published novel felt like a statement of defiance against the presses who often publish for the lowest common denominator and make millionaires out of questionable talent while talented writers can’t get a look in. In addition, I felt like it was a small way to support a struggling fellow artist. (I'm still waiting for mine -- any takers? :) Since Envy the Rain is also a novel of love and loss, I thought it would be interesting to make the comparison between the two.

After that kind of build up, and with something to prove, it was a tall order that Jamie's book needed to fill. In short, I enjoyed it. It was a page turner, unlike Bach's book which I had to force myself to finish. It reads like it comes directly from journal entries and with that comes an honesty and directness that I appreciate. He doesn't dress up his raw emotions with New Age philosophizing like Bach -- just lays his experiences on the table without pretending to have all the answers. On the other hand, the characters had little substance, maybe due to the journalistic nature of the book, and he appears to gain little insight from them and his experiences with them. It's almost like he's built a gritty, tragic -- if slightly overcrowded -- framework, but still needs to fill in the spaces. Knowing it's a first novel, I'm looking forward to what comes next.

Books of love and loss: my favourites combine beautiful prose with history, intrigue and deeply complex characters. My top two: Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient and Lawrence Durrell's The Alexandria Quartet.

(Apologies to the friend who recommended Bach's book to me. He may have read it at a time in his life when many of the philosophies and sentiments resonated and, having had that experience many times myself with all kinds of books, understand how useful that can be. I remember how I thought Of Human Bondage was the most perfect piece of fiction ever written at a time in my life when I felt like Maugham was speaking directly to me.)

Addendum: I got this quote from Al recently and, in the spirit of the critic who doesn't take her own words too seriously, wanted to add it:

"Critics are eunuchs in a harem: they know how it's done, they've seen it done every day, but they are unable to do it themselves."
Brendan Behan

yesterday in chinatown

Sunday, November 20, 2005


This week's Illustration Friday contribution is a cheat, but I thought this photo was perfect for the theme. I've avoided the harpy-like beckoning of Photoshop for as long as humanly possible, but finally had a little fun with it today in order to make this photo into an illustration.

I took the photo of #2 son with our dog Zappa on a beach up the coast earlier this year.

Friday, November 18, 2005

blind contour self portrait

I had a few minutes to kill while waiting for some paint to dry and suddenly remembered Caroline's tag to do a blind contour self portrait. These were tons-o-fun to do at school so I thought I'd give it a shot.

I started with a silver Sharpie on black paper, but that wasn't enough, so I decided to do another one, right on top, in gold. That was better, but now the compulsive doodler in me saw all these little spaces just crying out for scribbles and filling-in, and I gave in, a slave once again to my obsessiveness.

a testament to laziness

It's almost the weekend, therefore the perfect time to build a shrine to the couch potato. Here are some hints on how to tackle your weekend activities with the minimum energy output:

It's Saturday morning and the dog won't quit annoying you until he gets his walk. The problem is that to walk the dog, it requires that you walk with him. Or does it?

Fast forward to Saturday night now after an exhausting day of watching sports on TV and littering the table with the remains of pre-packaged junk food meals. You've suddenly remembered that it's your turn to host the gourmet club/poker group/pathetic relatives, and must do a last-minute clean up before ordering in more fast food.

Sunday morning and the hangover is so wicked that you don't even have the energy to pour milk on your Cocoa Puffs. Your carb stores are low, though, and you need to replenish, so just open the fridge. You are now free to watch more TV, surf more sites and play more video games than you ever imagined possible.

Pass the Pringles.

another Absurd Links from Rudy post

Thursday, November 17, 2005

group dynamics

group dynamics

This is the last of the four little landscapes for the Christmas show in Victoria. I've started trying to paint something similar to my white-on-black drawings. It's all new territory for me so may be a disaster. Meantime, it's fun to experiment.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

andrea needs some help finding stalker songs

main street 1

This is more fun than typing "failure" into a Google search and then choosing the "I feel lucky" option. Kyknoord, who got this from Michelle, put me on to this. Here's what you do: do a Google search on your name followed by the word "needs". Here are my top 10.

Andrea needs:

1. to be promoted to Commodore
2. all her wits and all the help she can get
3. treatment, not a death sentence
4. to be active and fun loving, but also firm and assertive
5. to spend the rest of her life in prison
6. to take a bus to the airport
7. to be able to create written material
8. a profession in which she can express her inventive and idealistic side
9. our help
10. some help finding stalker songs

It's kind of like reading your horoscope: everything applies. Okay, maybe not #5.

P.S. Please forward all songs about stalkers here.

Monday, November 14, 2005

north shore mountains

north shore mountains 14-11-05

This morning's view of Vancouver's North Shore mountains from south of the Fraser River. The ski hills have already been open at least once -- the earliest opening in years.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

strength for illustration friday


Smell isn't everything.

Friday, November 11, 2005

the shipping crate

I have an old, old friend (though she might be offended to hear me call her that) who is a highly-regarded equine/cowboy artist in the equine/cowboy city of Calgary. A few months ago I received a call for entry for the annual art auction/competition/exhibition at Fraser Downs, a harness track not far from where I live. Harness racing is a peculiarly North American sport, the modern version of the chariot race, and Michelle has done many commissions for owners of Standardbred horses. When I got the notification I forwarded it to her and she whipped up one of her "little" numbers (a 40" x 30" oil painting) for entry.

Now Michelle is the ultimate perfectionist -- about as anal about her work as I've ever seen (and I mean that in a good way). So when she asked me to accept the painting she was FedExing to Vancouver and deliver it to the competition I was thrilled because I would finally get to see for myself her famous homemade shipping crates. Great artwork? Bah! Seen it. I knew the painting would be a marvel of detail and skill, but the box it comes in -- now that's worth staying up late for. (Apparently I was addicted to sitting in cardboard boxes as a toddler, so it's a deep-seated obsession.) I wasn't disappointed. When I told her how much I was looking forward to getting the crate, she told me that she builds them so well that she has one that has been run over, treadmarks still on it, and is still usable!

Here is the crate in my kitchen yesterday. There is actually a handle bolted to the top, and detailed instructions on the sides explaining where and how to open it. There were so many screws that I needed to use a cordless screwdriver if I wanted to retain the use of my right hand. Once I'd broken into the box, there was dense foam insulation, then bubble wrap, carefully fitted around the painting (in its own bag) with further instructions on how to remove it without ruining it. Underneath the lid she'd taped more screws for ease of return shipping (if necessary).

After I'd managed to peel back the inner wrapping causing only minor damage to the bubble wrap (oh the guilt!) I finally reached the painting, all important paperwork in clear plastic sleeves attached securely to the back. The painting itself is lovely of course, painted in sombre tones in a traditional style, and evoking a strong sensation of quiet in its use of light. It shows a groom hosing off a horse; the title is "Shower Stall".

Last night was the drop-off time for the artwork, so I headed out at twilight and had my first look at
Fraser Downs in a long time. What a change! It is now Fraser Downs and Casino, with a brand new clubhouse and all kinds of simulcast activities going on. Years ago I went a few times with an ex-boss who was addicted to the ponies. (His last name was, if you can believe it, "Pecker" [shortened by his immigrant dad from something longer and Russian] and he was like a really skinny, flamboyant Groucho Marx -- what a character!) Back then it was a seedy little backwoods mudhole called Cloverdale Raceway.

The first prize for the competition was $1000. I took one look at the entries thus far and I knew Michelle's was far and away the best, so I went home and told her she had it in the bag (and kicked myself for not coming up with an entry, too). But not before I'd spent a few minutes trying to captu
re the atmosphere of the place:

The judging took place last night after all the entries were in and much to my surprise, Michelle only came second ($500). You can bet that I'll be there as early as humanly possible on Sunday to pick up the painting (if it doesn't sell in the meantime) so I can see which painting beat hers. There is a televised awards ceremony tonight. If she'd won, she would've flown out (and we'd have had a fantastic evening of gambling, drinking and general debauchery), but $500 won't cover her last minute air fare on a holiday weekend, and though I have the option I'm such a shrinking violet that I have no desire to accept the award on her behalf (besides, I don't have a "date" now).

But I still have the crate!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

etch a sketch

I was watching the local news while making breakfast yesterday morning and there was an interview with a woman who is an Etch-A-Sketch artist. Then, later in the day, Rudy coincidentally emailed me this link to her and her work. This, of course, caused me to do a little on-line sleuthing. There are some Etch A Sketch programs on-line so you can relive -- virtually -- your creative youth, and way more Etch A Sketch artists out there than is believable (just do an image search). I'm sure not one of them. As a kid, I was so frustrated by my smug, red TV wannabe that after creating crap for less than five minutes, I'd throw it at the wall. It was like the manufacturer had invented the perfect instrument to create humility in the fledgling artist: "So, you think you're good, eh? Let's just see if you can master me!" The Etch A Sketch won every time.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


I'm back! I've been sidelined with a gimpy shoulder/neck that has made sitting at a computer for more than five minutes at a stretch excruciating. But thanks to time and a healthy cocktail of pharmaceuticals, I'm almost back to normal. Relatively speaking.

This diptych is among four paintings that I'm sending off to a Christmas exhibition in Victoria. Besides being a diptych, they're different because they are painted on cradled panels, with the sides painted black and the whole thing with an even coat of gloss varnish. I like painting on wood panel occasionally -- the paint just glides on and sits differently. And in other good news, I have a new dealer and a new show coming up this month in downtown Vancouver. Once I've done another small landscape for the show in Victoria, I can go back to playing with techniques and images in my studio. I'm itching to do more of those urban collages.

I have also been reworking my website. It's just about where I want it now, though not perfect by any means. If you happen to cruise through and find a broken link, please let me know.

Carry on.

Friday, November 04, 2005


For Illustration Friday this week I was planning to try a completely different aproach/medium, but when the topic presented itself this morning ("night"), how could I change directions now? Next week.

This is different from previous drawings in this series as there are no natural elements (not counting the moon), so I found myself at a bit of a loss to create intricacies, textures and patterns. Oh well. Maybe a simple approach was best for this subject matter anyway. It was still fun and I've become a huge fan of Illustration Friday.

south park didrooglie

My kids knew who this was the moment thay saw it. It must be the gloves and toque.

You, too, can join the cast of South Park.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

the burnished gold fish

the burnished gold fish

Though I haven't mentioned it, for the past couple of months I've been in a real slump. Fortunately it hasn't been a creative slump so much as a business slump, but both can leave the same shape of footprint on my butt. Every time I've ventured out into the cold, hard world of commerce I've been beaten back until I was starting to take it personally. Even my back-burner sure-things had gone south. Somewhere along the line I must've really done a number on my karma.

Today, however, I have news that a private art consultant (established and with corporate clients) may take me on (but I won't jinx it by saying anything ... doh!). Then I got a phone call from the FCA telling me that I'd won an award for my painting The Burnished Gold Fish (the title is a phrase from Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea) -- "The Peggy and Harry Evans Award" -- at the current Semi-Abstract juried show at the Federation Gallery. Click on the top image here to view the paintings in the show.

Neither of these bits of news puts bread in my pantry, but it's sure better than getting hate mail...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

tagged again

I was misguided. The last list meme I participated in was "20 random facts". This one is any number of quirky facts. (Thanks a lot, Chitty.) Last time I tried to do 20 quirky (or quasi-quirky) facts. No wonder it was so hard. And now I have to do it all again?! Just kill me now and save me the embarrassment.

1. I have a cowlick, and for most of my life have worn a toque after washing my hair to try and tame it.

2. Whenever I'm under stress I throw things out.

3. When I was in labour with my second son I didn't trust my mother-in-law to drive me to the hospital -- so I drove (and I insisted on having him in a hospital way across town).

4. Whenever I travel around Europe, everyone speaks German to me (I have that Teutonic look I guess). When living in Greece, the butcher where I used to shop insisted on speaking to me in German (for a whole year!) while I tried my pathetic and extremely limited Greek on him. We did not make much progress in our relationship, and ended up trying some very unusual cuts of meat...

5. I am a natural blond down to my eyelashes, and though I've never worn much makeup, I have not left the house without mascara since I was 14.

6. I was christened with two middle names, the second being Twynam. My grandfather's family's surname was originally Twynam-Leggatt, but they dropped the Twynam ... and I got it.

7. When I was a flat-chested 14 year old and my brother was a chubby 11 year old, he'd insult me by saying "My boobs are bigger than yours," and I'd counter it with "Your boobs are bigger than mine." (Fortunately we both outgrew our afflictions -- temporarily anyway -- but not our fondness for swapping insults.)

8. I speak very quickly -- but worked for several years as an ESL teacher. (Apparently I have an additional "teacher voice".)

9. I was given the nickname Didrooglie because I would sometimes fall asleep at parties (I'm a morning person, ok?!?) so Dale lifted the line "Didrooglie don't crash here" from David Bowie's Suffragette City. None of us knew at the time that the line is actually "ah! droogie don't crash here."

10. I am abnormally, even pathologically, attached to a pair of cheap "Fagin" gloves that I bought in London's Oxford Street too many years ago now to divulge (look up). I wear them throughout the winter, even in the house on chilly evenings. The bottoms/palms are all unravelling, my kids think it's funny to steal them and hide them on me, and I'm already panicking over the fact that they'll have to go to that great haberdashery in the sky one day.

I owe Carla one, though she must be listed out by now! I will also hand the reins over to Caroline, L'Oiseau, Calvin, and Tom ... and then run away with no forwarding address...

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

a cheap (but not easy) blog

My blog is worth $3,951.78.
How much is your blog worth?

So far, mine is worth less than any others I've seen as I randomly browse the blogosphere. I don't think my ego can take this much longer, so if yours is worth less please tell me. I promise to be your friend if you do. (As for the rest of you, piss off.)