Saturday, September 27, 2008

because this is a picture blog

My dad had very little in his apartment worth saving, but I did pick up four or five small items. Top of my list was this ceramic dish, sort of half bowl/half plate that I've always liked. And isn't that the weirdest looking gourd? I found it at a farm market last weekend. The tomatoes are still coming out of my garden every day. For years I've thought the 'drought bed' at the front of the house would be good for tomatoes and this year finally planted three little plants. Well, they went wild, completely taking over, and have been providing us with these delectable little beauties for over a month now. Why did I wait so long?

It's been an interesting summer creatively. Before June I had used coloured pencils only rarely. Since then I've been using them almost exclusively. I've been looking for something appropriate in which to store them the past month or so and when Michelle was here she went over to Victoria. While there, she found this old, wooden silverware box for $5 at a junk shop. I ripped out the old, grungy lining and relined it with black flannel, making the dividers from bits of cardboard box covered in more flannel. The hinges look art deco and now I must go to Lee Valley and see if they have any nifty cabinet hardware for a clasp.

And speaking of Michelle, she wanted to play with coloured pencils, black paper, etc., while here and, being an equine artist, here's what she came up with:

Finally, here's a flounder wannabe courtesy of this bottom feeder:

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I am reworking some of my favourite imagery from the three or so drawings I did for each season in the Celtic tree calendar and making four new drawings. These are the first two: Winter Medley and Autumn Medley.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Yesterday Michelle headed back to Calgary and my brothers and I emptied my dad's apartment and scrubbed it from stem to stern, so suddenly I feel like I can breathe again. I really do mean to get back to those commissions as of tomorrow! Actually, I think I need it as much for my mental health as my bank account.

Meantime, here's a little sketch I did in front of the TV. And speaking of TV, Michelle introduced me to TLC and
it was like watching a car wreck. I didn’t look away for three hours! Have you ever watched it? John calls it the sideshow channel: human women who have litters of children, conjoined twins with effectively one body, 750 lb people who can’t get out of bed and bodybuilders with 40” arms. I think I caught flies. I really need to get back to work after that.

Friday, September 19, 2008

fraser downs

Today is opening day at Fraser Downs, the harness race track in the Vancouver suburb of Cloverdale. On Tuesday night Michelle and Austin arrived on our doorstep after making the long trip from Calgary in one go. So on Wednesday morning we headed to Fraser Downs, me with my sad little excuse for a camera next to Michelle and her Nikon D80. Now there's a woman who might get smothered in her bed. Michelle is a way better salesman than me and managed to get us past security and into the backstretch so we could take more photos. These are mine. I won't show you Michelle's because they make me look bad :).

Here are a couple of 'arty' shots. The rest of the set is here.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

creativity and education

Ken Robinson is my new hero. He has managed to articulate, with amazing insight and humour, all the truths I have discovered as an artist, parent and former teacher, but had no idea how to formulate into actual language. If you visit this blog and DON'T watch it I'll know, forcing me to hunt you down and smother you in your bed with your pillow.

Don't say you haven't been warned.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

dead trees and business cards

Enough of the scenic vistas already! I know! But since I drew these little things (4" x 4") from my reference photos of dead trees I had to post them. And now that I'm getting back in work mode it's time to order more business cards. I don't think I'll be able to do better than these though.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

road trip

I've always been lousy at editing myself (remember those evil novel summaries we had to do at school?), and the idea of trying to edit our 10-day trip across British Columbia and into Alberta has been daunting, to say the least, especially the photo aspect. It was hard enough editing down to only 107 photos for my Flickr photo set, so here goes nothing.

We headed out on a beautiful day and shared our lunch with the marmots, grey jays and Clark's nutcrackers in Manning Park.

That night we stopped at Christina Lake, where we borrowed a friend's cabin and kayaked, swam and just chilled for two nights.

On our way through the Kootenays to the Columbia Valley we passed through Rossland, a beautiful,

historic gold rush town, only five minutes' drive from Red Mountain (I skied every weekend when I lived there), and the location of my first teaching job. I would still love to live there.

The next three nights we spent at Radium Hot Springs, near Invermere, where the gallery show/demo took place. We saw some interesting things there including a car that swims, deer hanging out in the road and a mountain or two.

Off to Calgary through spectacular Kootenay National Park to spend three nights at the home of my friend, Michelle. The hottest day of our trip we spent exploring part of south-central Alberta, as Greg's great-grandfather, James Wishart, settled the Rosebud Valley. We found the original restored log cabin, their grave in Gleichen, and visited Rosebud itself, a charming village in a beautiful setting. What was most interesting to me was the board illustrating the original Rosebud train station (which no longer exists) as my great-grandfather, Winnipeg architect Ralph Pratt, designed it. Talk about an interesting intersection between our two families.

We also visited the famous Royal Tyrrell Museum of palaeontology in Drumheller, something we've wanted to do for years and year. It actually reached 40C in the Badlands that day!

The next day
Adam and I went with Michelle to visit her horse, Champagne, on a hobby farm near High River. Check out these characters! Then there was Daisy, the world's tiniest and cutest pony, and my extra-long legs. They MADE me ride her! Every time I tried to put my weight down she tried to bite my knee. We laughed like idiots for ages.

Home again through the Rockies along Highway 1, we stopped at Sicamous for a night. In Golden we stopped at a fascinating place, Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre, and discovered how really backward British Columbia is in its wildlife stewardship, particularly of bears and wolves.

Ten days and 3000 km later I can confidently say that it was a fantastic experience.

As for editing, this is the best I could do. There's so much more here.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

crossing bridges

I promised to come back with more roadshow, but this past week had to make a major detour. It wasn't a huge sacrifice, though, because I've sort of lost interest in keeping up with my online life lately. I haven't been visiting many blogs and, with one brief exception, have totally abandoned any pretence at checking Crackbook. Maybe it's just a time/stress thing, but I did notice this summer that during my long breaks from the Awesome Power of the Interwebs I didn't suffer from discomgooglation at all. This is new for me.

This past week I have been the poster child for the sandwich generation. My 81 year old father's most recent stroke in July was a serious one, and it was only a matter of time until a bed opened up in an extended care nursing home. While driving my kids to their first day of school I got the call. Between getting my dad installed, dismantling his old life and dealing with a class-scheduling crisis with my younger son it's been a drop-five-pounds-from-the-stress sort of week. I'm not patient when dealing with bureacridiocy at the best of times and this was a week full of the worst kind of fuckups. I spent a great deal of time crossing bridges from where I am now to where I grew up on the North Shore. And yes ~ I mean that metaphorically at least as much as physically. Last night was my first chance to relax so we settled down in front of a DVD and a preview for the movie The Savages came on. I almost leaped out of my chair (OK, off the sad-sack futon that we should have trashed 10 years ago) as I suddenly saw my brother, dad and myself in a series of video bytes. (I like that Laura Linney plays me.) My brother, who is even more of a movie nut than me (and even works in the industry as a storyboard artist), has been telling me to watch it for six months. A perspicacious friend has also been urging me to see it. It's on order at the library at this very moment. Fortunately Rob and I have a well-developed sense of the ridiculous (we also have another brother whose sense of humour is not quite so, er, evolved) so actually appreciate the amazing fodder for comedy our father has provided us. The anxiety and worry has been nicely balanced with side-splitting moments. Too bad the film has already been made.

Now, I am weeks behind with my commissions, so my next move is to get back to work. Until I'm back, here are a few eye-candy type doctored photos from the Great Western Canadian Road Trip.