Friday, April 27, 2007

blogging like a girly man

This is way too cool not to share. First of all, read the NY Times article here, or the Guardian article here about the computer program developed by a team of Israeli scientists designed to identify the sex of the author based on gender differences in the way we use language when we write. Then cut a large piece of text from your blog (I removed any outside quotes) and paste it here.
I did this three times using my most recent entries and was clearly female twice and male once. I have always thought that I write in a fairly gender-neutral way so I went back a couple of weeks to find something a little longer that mixes the personal anecdotal with the pseudo-philosophical, figuring that was most representative, and was pleased to have my suspicions confirmed. Almost a 50-50 split, but still wrong: Female Score: 704 / Male Score: 760 I dare you to try and pick me up in a gender-bender bar and get it right, though I'll admit that plumbing isn't everything.
But to prove that I am definitely female I'm attaching a photo I scanned from Canadian House and Home magazine to give you some inspiration to collect small pieces of artwork and display them in cluster groupings. (No straight man would ever write a sentence that includes "display them in cluster groupings.") And if, by any weird chance, you happen to need small original pieces, Etsy is the place to go. Especially here. Was that subtle enough :). OK, no more shameless advertising for the next two weeks.
I'm off now to have my moustache waxed.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

from the vaults of time

Here's a departure: a postage stamp design in gouache on illustration board. How old is this thing? Almost 20 years? I discovered it while cleaning out the storage room. I believe it was a demo piece for a high school class I taught at a time when I was often mistaken for one of the students, but I'm not sure. I really can't remember when Canadian stamps cost just 32 cents. Anyone?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

small drawings

Here are a few things recently added to Etsy.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

garden vignettes

at Etsy

Friday, April 20, 2007

illustration friday: polar

polar mosaic

Small paintings done first, followed by the negative-space drawings.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

house arrest

The gentlemen in white coats tell me that I need to take a break, so here's Rudy and a few of his quirky on-line destinations to keep you entertained. Enjoy.

Transform your face:

The Infinite Cat Project:

Online debating (like people on the internet aren't pissed off enough already):

Vote for the worst sound in the world:

And my day isn't complete until I see a large appliance flung from a catapult:

Monday, April 16, 2007

maslow meets the parents on parliament hill

There's a great opinion piece in the Ottawa Citizen this morning about how the desires of parents can affect the career choices of aspiring artists, writers, musicians, etc. It was written by the younger brother of Dan Hill (Canadians of a certain vintage will remember his signature hit song Sometimes When We Touch). Marianne Lepa of Arts News Canada says this about Hill's article:

A career in the arts is not the choice most parents would make for their children. What parent would want to see their offspring toil away for merciless hours making pennies a day? What parent would wish garrets and draughty spaces as their child's dream home?

But then, a career in the arts isn't about the money, is it?

"I can't imagine a saxophonist, painter, ballerina or poet deciding to follow his or her passion because of the money," says Hill. "Truck drivers, plumbers, teachers and even people flipping burgers at minimum wage earn steadier money -- and more money -- than most Canadian artists." But art is a social need, says Hill. "We need art as individuals, and we need art collectively, and virtually every civilization I have visited or read about has valued and thirsted for artistic expression. To me, art springs from individual genius. But that genius is fragile, and it won't flower if it's not cultivated. We need parents who read to their kids and encourage their creativity and teachers who know how to nourish artistic promise, but we also need institutions, business and governments to support the arts vigorously and creatively."

This pervasive money=success attitude was typical in my family and affected my younger brother (a storyboard artist) and me for many years. But it's not just non-creative types like our parents who don't get it. An old friend who does fabric art in her spare time never asks about my creative process or buys any art herself (in spite of her own financial success in city management), only about how my sales are going. (When I was making a lot of sales at a certain point she quit asking. What does that mean do you think?) The only artists who seem able to take a break from the questioning and criticism are those who have become financially successful or those who are surrounded by family and friends who understand (a) the psychological need for creative people to create and (b) the larger societal benefit. Unfortunately it usually takes someone with the same kind of creative drive to really get it.

But enough finger wagging; I ain't no saint myself. We all make judgements and deliver opinions through the filter of our own experiences, upbringing, interests, jealousies and desires (I'm doing that right now) and many people are not able to break out of the Social and Ego levels of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs in their own lives, so showing support for those whose needs are in a different category altogether is a leap some are simply unable to make. Often they have the best intentions, and most parents do want the best for their kids, but this can get hopelessly lost in translation.

Having been a teacher I value education like no other 'intervention,' so I'm rooting for the "coalition of writers, actors, dancers and others who will be on Parliament Hill today. They are holding an 'Awakening' that organizers hope will 'open the eyes of the Harper government to the cultural and economic contribution the arts make to Canada.' The group is urging for the reinstatement of the $11.8 million dollars cut from Foreign Affairs' international cultural promotion budget last fall."

Keep your fingers crossed.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Ever feel like you're spinning your wheels but instead of not moving forward, you're actually creeping backward? I have spent the entire weekend researching, experimenting, painting, drawing, pasting, cutting -- and have managed to throw out TWO paintings (@!?:%#@!*). But not all my creations are bombs. I had a small hand in creating two masterpieces, ages 14 and 12.
Number one masterpiece ran the Vancouver Sun Run for the second time today. The first time he was only ten years old and ran it with my husband Greg and me. We ran at his pace and like a trouper he finished the 10K race in 1:06. Today, with walls of people to run around, he finished it in :51. This is quite an event for Vancouver: one of the world's biggest road races with an estimate of over 54 000 people entered. (I felt so left out -- sidelined by my stupid foot.) Next challenge? His first half marathon on May 6th.

My other masterpiece raised funds like a madman -- well, OK, like a sideshow clown -- to go to Quebec with his Grade 7 French Immersion class. We got so sick of collecting/counting/sorting bottles! Well, he made it, and I got an email from him today:
Hi, guess what? I'm in Qu├ębec! Does that surprise you?
I'm feeling well, my throat is doing better. (and don't think I snuck on, we're in the computer room to email our parents.)

My partner in crime (Greg) went along as one of the two parent chaperones. (It had to be two fathers as the two teachers are female.) His pay? The joy of a very challenging week with hyper and hormonally 'gifted' 12 and 13 year olds.
Apparently it's still winter at l'Auberge du Mont. Here's a view of it from this morning's hike:

And here's number two son (the blondish one lying down) enjoying the leftover snow with his classmates:

See? I can do something right! I am blessed with wealth and genius ~ you just have to know where to look!

But back to the drawing board anyway...

Friday, April 13, 2007



This is one fortunate cat and lots of fun to do for Illustration Friday this week. (Yes, that is a bird-laden straw hat he's sporting.) While thinking illustration, I also produced a set of original notecards. Check out Etsy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

a little fun

Some fun by Caroline. More of her remixes here.

Monday, April 09, 2007

political recess

My 14 year old son put me onto this site. We wasted ages on it. Do take the test; I'll show you mine if you show me yours.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

happy easter

didrooglie egg

gecko egg

eden egg

made with dumpr

Friday, April 06, 2007

throwing out the baby with the bathwater

A few days ago I heard a radio interview with a guy who has simplified his life to the point that he only has 40 things ... and I immediately sat up and took notice. There's some sort of crossed wire in my brain that causes me to want to throw out everything I own when I'm feeling any kind of stress, and I've been feeling all sorts of it lately. Fortunately the big neighbourhood spring cleaning pick-up happens in less than two weeks. I just wish I could find a way to make money at it, like the 40 things guy who, in finest American style, now has his own cable TV show. (And no, I don't do garage sales.)

I've been dabbling, experimenting, trying to find a niche like there's no tomorrow. Seems I'm always dabbling, experimenting, trying to find a niche. I threw out the most appalling attempt at collage (again) today. I love mixed media -- I just can't make any meaningful sense of it in my own practice. The smart thing would be to figure out a way to make money purging stuff and instead buy a lot of mixed media pieces with the money I make! But that still doesn't solve my creative direction problem.

I'm beginning to realize that my current 'creative investigation' (read: obsessive web surfing) can be divided into two fairly distinct fields: art and design. It never even occurred to me that design was on my mind until I discovered myself compulsively checking out design blogs. And then I made the connection between all the really successful Etsy artists and what's popular in the design world. And I started looking more closely at the Gudrun Sjoden and IKEA catalogues lying around and then there was this interior design article in a local newsmagazine that said "It's all about birds this year..." and like an Easter chick I suddenly emerged from my shell to discover the world of design and its trends. Where's it been hiding all my life and what can I do with it? I've had a fairly narrow focus on fine art these past few years but, let's face it, the number of people who make a living in the design world make those of us attempting to make a living producing Real Art look like we might have a screw or two loose.

I'm not ready to throw in the towel quite yet. Doing what you love is important, in spite of what your parents might say, but when the government is still managing to ding me on the small amount of money I made selling my work last year (hiring an accountant turned out to be a waste of time and even more money) I'm throwing things out like there's no tomorrow! (And there won't be any beautiful new inkjet printer walking in the front door to replace those purged items anytime soon.) Just when my fretting reached a crescendo, though, I decided to take a break and head to Chapter's with my husband and son. I tried to stay away from the art section but couldn't resist, and this book practically jumped off the shelf into my hand:

I think this is the art therapy I've been looking for. The first chapter has been so good that I've been savouring it slowly, afraid I won't internalize every single last important message.

Meanwhile, I have also come across a couple of good, completely unrelated blog posts that still somehow address the same topic, either directly or obliquely. Check out Christine Kane's wise words and then pop over to Ian Lidster's blog. I'm feeling better already. Now, I wonder if I can get that armoire back that I gave away...

illustration friday: green

Eat your greens!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

U8 and visions

Excuse my absence; life suddenly got extraordinarily busy. Included in my frantic scramble to keep up was a quick, last-minute packaging up and shipping of eight small paintings to this exhibition at Sopa Fine Arts in beautiful Kelowna, B.C. This is a gallery that represents one of my favourite artists, Christopher Griffin, so I'm happy to participate.

Also, any Seattlites (is that correct terminology?) who might like to experience a little spiritual art this Easter (and 'til the end of May), please drop by another exhibition in which I am participating (see below). More over at Angela's blog.