Thursday, November 30, 2006

birdland calendar

I'll be back soon. I just wanted to mention that these calendars are 20% off ($3.99) until December 3.

Commercial over.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


I am currently in the midst of an unscheduled but necessary recess from blogging (and visiting blogs). Meantime, my TOC* has prepared some quiet seatwork for you. You may amuse yourself playing God here and here. And when that's finished I want a 5000 word essay explaining the merits and drawbacks of this. The person with the highest mark will be given some of this so you can go crazy here.

You may now talk quietly amongst yourselves.

*TOC = teacher-on-call

Monday, November 20, 2006

photo mosaics

Just a couple of mosaics from photos I took while on holiday in the summer.

Need inspiration? Take a peek at the blog of very talented Pacific Northwest artist Angela Rockett (almost neighbours!) and the recent review of her solo show of abstract pieces in the VU Gallery at Western Washington University.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

marketing ... again


I wish I had the marketing gene. I understand the attraction of a marketing career -- it can require the kind of ingenuity and creativity that so many other jobs lack -- but there are only so many vessels for my obsessiveness, and marketing's not one.

It doesn't mean that I don't think about it. I visited this blog today that links to about 20 painting-a-day blogs. Once again I came face to face with the realisation that these guys are making a killing: painting tiny paintings, posting them on their blogs and linking them to eBay where some can command $300+ for each one -- and get it.

These are good paintings, very professional, but some are much smaller than my small art paintings and most command much higher prices. Is it that they already have an established client base, or is it that the most successful ones paint crowd-favourite subject matter (landscapes and still lives) in a realistic or impressionist style? Maybe they have a direct line to on-line buyers that I don't, especially if I just let my other blog hang around out there and don't promote it. It started well, but interest has petered out while I attend to other things, like larger work.

Over the past few months I have also noticed that something I discovered last year has been proven over and over again: there is no art buyer's demographic. There often even seems to be an inverse relationship. For example, if you're a professional, educated person with no (dependent) kids and some disposable income, have some art education and like to paint or do something creative in your spare time, guess what? You won't buy art. I'm sure there are those who do, but I can name several people that fit that description and never buy art. Go figure.

Then there are the people who love beautiful things -- music, painting, photography -- in spite of education/income/socio-economic status: mortgaged to the hilt, but with a few well-chosen and well-loved pieces of original art on the wall. These are people who seem to embrace life and take risks. I love that.

Finally, my brother told me yesterday how someone he knows was recently advised not to go into the arts "because you can't make any money at it." He didn't say anything (even though he makes his living as a storyboard artist) but his first thought was that the poor, misguided soul has no understanding of passion or what makes life worth living. But wouldn't it be great to be both happy and financially secure? Hmmm. Must think more about marketing...

Friday, November 17, 2006

women, know your place

Just because I'm proud to be a venomous harridan:

Illustration friday: thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the theme for this week's Illustration Friday. I used American clip art, but avoided the whole pilgrim thing as Thanksgiving in Canada is different in more ways than the month in which it's celebrated.

How did I get this image? I started by printing up some Thanksgiving-themed clip art from Dover Publications in greyscale. Then I coloured the clip art (with the exception of the woman and her dead turkey) here and there with pencil crayons. Next I scanned the three images I was working with, plus a leaf I found in the garden yesterday. Each image got photoshopped according to whatever struck my fancy at that moment. I then Warholized the woman and the horn-o-plenty images. Finally, I used Mosaic Maker to create the final image. Who says you need to be able to draw to make art? All you need is a brain that has a taste for tangents. I could've gone in so many different directions with this one using the same basic building blocks.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

canadian blog awards

I’m back on-line – sort of. Yesterday’s massive storm on the coast of British Columbia meant that we lost power (along with 200,000 other people) for about 10 hours. I spent a lot of time reassuring a shaking, panting dog that he wasn’t going to die as we listened to the 100 km/hr winds and 100 mm of rain pounding down. The area where I grew up was hardest hit, with houses being evacuated due to falling trees (and the trees here are big!), and parts of the Fraser Valley suffered flooding, so a few hours without power in this burg means we got off easy.

Unfortunately my internet connection is very shaky (probably nothing to do with the storm as it’s been a chronic problem) which means that since we got power back I’ve only gotten a few emails (and the ones I’ve gotten I’ve gotten over and over and over again), haven't been able to visit blogs as I keep losing connection, and I’m taking the risk of losing this post, but I have something VERY IMPORTANT to say. OK, marginally interesting maybe…

Canadian Blog Awards

The Canadian Blog Awards are open for business. Some kind, misguided soul nominated me in two categories (art/photo and overall) but hasn’t revealed him/herself to me (and if you don’t tell me your identity I’ll hunt you down like a dog in the road…). Please visit and vote for the blogs I nominated: Snippets from Spaceship Orion, I Wonder, Tales of Blunderview and Hilda Rose’s Sketchbook. Also nominated (but I wasn’t fast enough) are some blogs I enjoy regularly: Homo Escapeons and Cyclone Cece. Forgive me if I've fogotten any. Voting closes November 21st (note change from earlier). Vote early, vote often.

Monday, November 13, 2006

off to fiji

My poor small art blog is withering away on the virtual vine. I've been neglecting it something fierce, but there are only so many hours in the day. Certainly by January I should be able to give my little paintings more time.

Meantime I had to check to see if I'm a good Canadian. I had a terrible start, apparently only knowing that Albertans are more likely to support the death penalty, then go fishing with a case of beer. In the end I got 13/20. I should be shipped out. I wonder if there's any room for refugees in Fiji right now..?

Later: I was able to do the quiz earlier without being a Globe & Mail subscriber but now it demands that I register. Go figure. It's worthwhile (a) if you're Canadian (and who else would bother?) and (b) keeps you from reading The National Post.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

a night at the races

Last night was the awards ceremony for the Surrey Arts Council's Fraser Downs Art Competition and Exhibition. It was part of the Saturday night race card and the presentation was included in the ongoing telecast of satellite-linked racing in North America that can also be viewed on-line. Greg and I arrived in plenty of time for me to take a few photos and make a couple of wagers. (The photos turned out better than the race results.) Personally, I don't understand the attraction of remote betting. I just love the excitement of being there, at the rail, when the horses go under the wire, and since it was mostly a steady drizzle last night, and cold, we had the rail pretty much to ourselves. We also popped into the casino and what an eye opener that was (we must be the only couple in Vancouver who've never spent a weekend in Vegas): no handsome men in tuxedos dealing cards or sequin-clad ladies behind the roulette wheel (I've seen James Bond movies after all). It was a riot of flashing lights and a sea of slots, each with a blue-hair in the driver's seat.

The doling out of awards was less exciting but more revealing. I will admit that I got my hopes up when I dropped my painting off on Thursday and got a good look at the competition, so was stupidly disappointed to hear I'd only come third (prize: $300) after the judging. Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth (sorry). First place and the cheque for $1000, for the second year in a row, went to Doris Biddle, associate member of the Surrey Arts Council, for the following painting:

Second place went to Jarnail Singh, a director on the Surrey Arts Council, and this painting:

Unlike those who pull down a regular paycheque for their work, be it brilliant or crap, artists must rely on the integrity of jurors, the business acumen of gallery owners and the tastes of the buying public to make ends meet. It can be harsh. But at the end of the day, this wasn't the right venue for my work and the work I submitted was definitely a departure from my normal M.O. It's not my place to tell anyone, especially a community arts council, how to conduct their business and let's face it, I left Fraser Downs richer than when I arrived, which is more than I can say for about 90% of the people there. I'd call that a success, wouldn't you?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

cafepress update

Excuse me for this crass bit of advertising, but I've just spent a couple of hours updating my Cafepress Shop with new products and designs. If you've never bought anything through Cafepress before, the quality and service I've experienced have been excellent. I have worn my long-sleeved t-shirt to death and the mug we got has the design baked right in, so it doesn't come off in the dishwasher.

You may now return to your regular programming.

Friday, November 10, 2006


In spite of an earnest effort to think outside the box/colour outside the lines/polka outside the mosh pit, when I read that this week's Illustration Friday theme was 'clear' I was stumped. So I sat with it a bit. What kept popping into my brain was the way the TV triage team always yells "clear!" when they use the paddles on a patient suffering from heart failure. So I googled defibrillator, drew one of my black velvet Elvis numbers (below) from the image I found (also below) and randomly photoshopped it. Perversely, I love how fuzzy my illustration of 'clear' turned out.

PS If you have no idea what I just said, you're in good company.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

it was 20 years ago today

This is an I'm Too Lazy To Bother Thinking sort of post. I'm taking a break from painting to catch up on other things, so have nothing new to share, and while visiting Ces and Muddy Red Shoes really enjoyed their photographic posts of themselves in younger years so thought I'd do something similar in hopes that I can encourage others to do the same (I'm not only lazy but also nosy). Here's the deal: find your favourite photo of yourself from approximately 20 years ago and post it, saying why you like it. If that means you're only two in the photo, so be it (and I hate you). It needn't be your most flattering photo (see example). The one I chose of myself was taken during some sort of intense conversation and I was unaware I was being photographed so for once I wasn't mugging self-consciously (always happier behind the lens). The pathetic thing is that I still wear my hair in the same too-lazy-and-cheap-to-ever-go-to-a-hairdresser style.

Join in. You know you want to.

Monday, November 06, 2006

overheard in vancouver

This is definitely making it into my daily reads. A sample:

Your Typical Vancouver Public Service Announcement
September 29th, 2006

Overheard at the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s concert
Guy gets up on stage to do a PSA, Vancouver-style:
“If there’s anyone in the crowd tonight smoking marijuana cigarettes, please remember to share, as not everybody brought some.”
*crowd cheers & gets high*

And this is a must-see video for those of you, like me, who are in need of a smiley-face intervention. It's a 12-step program worth its weight in cat chow.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Afternoon Leg Stretch 16" x 20"

Done! I waited 'til the last minute, as usual, but I have finally finished this painting for an art exhibition/competition at Fraser Downs, a local harness track. I first heard about it last year when my good friend, Michelle, entered (and I blogged at length about her shipping crate, not to mention her trophy boyfriend at a much later date), and won the $500 second prize with her large, beautifully framed, highly professional piece. Now, seeing as Michelle's painting (pictured below) was done by a seasoned, sought-after and famous-in-equine-art-circles artist (she has also designed coins for The Royal Canadian Mint) and this is only my second equine subject in, oh, about 20 years, I realise that I'm being a wee bit optimistic, but the lure of the $1000 first prize is strong at a time when I need to make money. Besides, she's not entering (hee hee). If nothing else, it at least forced me to paint outside my self-imposed box, both stylistically and creatively, for a few days, and I always find that helpful in re-charging my creative batteries.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

how do you spell that?

I was writing a post a couple of weeks ago and ran into something that has become an increasing problem for me: spelling. Now don't get me wrong. My eyes may glaze over the minute you mention chemistry or finance, and trying to fix a cabinet door is a guarantee that I will end up kicking it into next week out of impatience and frustration, but spelling has always been something I can do. I wowed 'em in school whenever I did any kind of English aptitude test. But in this case, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, and my tendency to want to sample everything, even spelling styles, has been causing me grief.

As a kid I learned to spell the Canadian way ... mostly ... except I was addicted first to British pony books and then to anything with an orange spine (selective literary snobbery) so had also received a heavy dose of English spelling and have never, therefore, been able to decide whether I want to spell it 'realise' or 'realize'. I took a purist approach for awhile, probably borne from the typical defensiveness of the Canadian whose culture is regularly stomped on by the Goliath to the south. When Yanks and Brits divided the spelling world into the American way and the English way my knickers would get soundly knotted: "No -- it's the American way and the way the bloody rest-of-the-English-speaking-world spells it. We Canadians, Australians, South Africans, New Zealanders, etc., are not British even if we share the same spelling." I was, of course, ignoring the fact that in spite of my loyalty to centre and cheque, I wasn't likely to be using aluminium or aeroplane anytime soon.

So when I got kicked to the curb/kerb by defence/defense recently I decided to do a little on-line sleuthing and came up with this fabulous page:
It has a place of honour (not honor) at the top of my bookmarks. Now I can colour outside the lines with a little more knowledge and a little less hit-or-miss. Check it out, eh?

Friday, November 03, 2006


In September I was flipping through the latest copy of the Opus Newsletter and came across an article about a new quarterly magazine called cahoots. It sounded like something I'd enjoy -- an alternative women's magazine ("it is about diversity, critical thought, and engaging conversation") with lots of arts content -- because I have absolutely zero interest in mainstream women's rags, but do like to sit down with a magazine on occasion. (On the other hand I would be addicted to People and Hello magazines if I allowed myself to buy them; I actually look forward to visiting the dentist and often choose the longest grocery-store queue so I can catch up on such all-important reading ... did I just say that out loud?) But, as usual, I promptly forgot after putting down the newsletter. Then Heather at Fumbling for Words mentioned it to me (she's writing an article for the magazine on blogging) and I paid attention this time.

Long story short, I have been invited to be the feature artist for the spring issue. Each issue has a theme and next spring's is 'many cultures'. I got my sample issue a couple of days ago and it's great: smart, topical and entertaining. A brief description from the website:

cahoots intends to be a place for diverse, original, strong, humorous, fearless writing about things – such as work, health, home, life, the world – that really matter to women. As well as printing articles, cahoots also prints fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and beautiful visual art. We invite reader response and have nine regular columnists who comment on everything from pop culture to physical health issues. cahoots is a truly original title in tone, focus, and content.

Visit the website for more information and to get a sample issue or subscribe.