Thursday, October 29, 2009


I'm ashamed to admit that this blog has become far more about pictures than words. It's my answer to keeping it going when I have too many balls in the air and need to prioritize. I suspect that, once I get back to serious painting, I will become nauseatingly chatty again.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I have been working myself into a knot over painting these glass tree ornaments to donate to a fundraiser. After a frustrating day yesterday I managed to drop and smash the only one that was actually holiday-themed. It sucked, though, and breaking it didn't improve it any, so I did a second dragonfly ornament today (using Christmas colours at least). It's raining out; can you tell?

Next project: my website. It's in seriously overdue need of an overhaul and I have ideas (gasp). I suspect it'll take me about a week to get it where I want it. Meantime, check out the great, protective packaging my 2010 Celtic Tree Calendar came in. Coco liked it, too. The actual calendar is really pretty great, so if I can entice you to do a little Christmas shopping while being inspired by these tree ornaments then please do. :)

And if that gets you thinking about the upcoming holiday season, then check this out, too. I don't advertise my little Cafepress shop so I only make enough money to cash in on the occasional t-shirt, but about once a year I update the products and have always been satisfied with the quality.

That's the end of this "public service announcement". It's earned me enough guilt to keep me going for about six months now. I can't imagine a life where I'd have to actually sell stuff and not starve. (On that note, I should probably re-title this post "No Balls".)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

halloween art

Now this is Halloween art. I discovered it over at Neatorama.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

tree drawings

And it's a wrap! The final drawing in the set of four is over here. Next, I need to paint two Christmas ornaments to donate to a fundraiser for a children's centre. Then, and only then, can I start playing with my oil paints (yay!). That doesn't stop me from playing with Flickr Toys, though:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

sweet and slow

Three down, one to go!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

christopher reiger

I love it when I discover an artist whose art and practice ring all my buzzers. I discovered Christopher Reiger's work a few days ago over at Chris Rywalt's blog, NYC Art. (Oh, Angela -- will you take me to New York with you in your carry-on luggage?) The natural themes of his work, presented in a unique, thoughtful, and visually skillful way, are like candy to me. While sifting through his website I became particularly interested in his charitable sales model. Take a close look; I've never seen such an ethical approach to the nuts and bolts of art sales. I won't say any more as Chris Rywalt just did, but check out his
blog for juicy embellishments.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

help wanted

I did it! For years now I've been promising myself that I'll invest in oil paints. I loved using them at university, but when I started painting again in 2001 (after a way-too-long-to-mention break) I hemmed and hawed for a bit, then decided on acrylics for ease/economy/ low toxicity. I liked them immediately though I'd never used them before. They suit my graphic/layered style very nicely though, granted, it was a style that developed as I learned to handle this new medium. (Which came first -- the chicken or the egg?) Anyway, for years I said to myself, "When I make X amount or sell this much I will treat myself" ... and never did. I realize now that the whole idea of 'treating myself' was what was holding me back. I was considering this a luxury rather than a business expense (a huge, blind pothole in the road of artists who are second-income earners). After all, there's always a transmission to replace, teeth to straighten, vet bills to pay, etc. So when I realized that the series of paintings I've had germinating in my brain for the past few months would work better in oils rather than acrylics I knew it was time to pony up and make the investment. I waited until I was paid for the Texas commission, though! :)

I'm hoping using oil paint will breathe new life into my work and that my attitude won't sabotage my fun. What attitude you ask? Robert Genn summed up my approach using a very positive spin in a recent letter:

Esoterica: There are two kinds of students--recipe takers and recipe fighters. The former listen to the instructor, try to get it "right," and often succeed in doing so. The latter strike out on their own, pay the price of rugged individualism, and fail often. In art, it's all about failure. In art, the journey outshines the destination. In art, mistakes are golden.

I'm one of those golden forgers of grand mistakes. I'm the person who hates asking for directions (fortunately I love maps), never reads the instructions, and nods off when given an explanation that consists of more than two steps. I love to putter and explore. I get frustrated. I throw a lot of stuff out. So tackling the materials is going to be a bit of a learning curve for me. Here's what I got to get me started:

There are eight colours of Gamblin paint, plus black and white. I was looking for Liquin but they were all out so I got Galkyd as a medium. I don't use medium with acrylic so I'm not sure what to make of it. I bought three brushes that I won't use with my acrylic paint and old-fashioned "The Masters" brush cleaner. Oil painters: am I on the right track? What should I use to rinse my brush between colours? Should I use rags or paper towels? How much medium should I use with my paint? I also discovered this old can of Ecolse Quick-Drying Oil Painting Medium III at the back of a cupboard. Is it any good and, more to the point, will it still be any good? Also, if you know of any on-line info that is short (very short) and sweet, please point me in the right direction.

Before I get to play, though, I have to do two more of the landscape-plus-goodies drawings for Effusion Gallery. Do you think I have enough discipline to keep my fingers off those tubes?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

fools rush in

The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too.
~ Samuel Butler, Notebooks, 1912

Friday, October 16, 2009

promised land

solar cycle

Thursday, October 15, 2009

2010 olympic medals unveiled

So ... what do you think? The 2010 Winter Olympic medals were unveiled in Vancouver this morning and there's bound to be controversy over their dramatically different design and shape. I would love to hear your opinion, so please leave a comment.

For more, go here or here.

Vancouver's Olympic organizing committee has unveiled the gold, silver and bronze medals for the 2010 Games. The medals were revealed by B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell at a news conference in downtown Vancouver Thursday morning, designs inspired by the ocean waves, drifting snow and mountainous landscape found in British Columbia and throughout Canada. Each medal features aboriginal artwork and no two medals are alike. The medals are circular in shape and, at between 500 to 576 grams, are the heaviest in Olympic and Paralympic history. The medals are based on two large artworks of an orca whale and raven by Canadian designer Corrine Hunt.

Monday, October 12, 2009


My favourite weekend of the year is almost over. There's just something about Thanksgiving weekend. It's all about autumn colours, family, food and hiking. There isn't a single commercial element to it, which may be part of the attraction. American Thanksgiving's proximity to Christmas and the fact that it's already winter here in Canada at the end of November (which means endless gloom and rain on the wet coast) means that I'd rather have it now, at actual harvest time.

Saturday we made the return visit to Lindeman Lake, about two hours' drive up the Fraser Valley. It was cold this year, with a brisk wind, but the colours were the stuff Disney's made of. It's a good hike the five or so kilometres up and to the far end of the lake, but then there's the reward of a beautiful, isolated beach at which to picnic, and the easier hike down. I was like a kid in a candy shop, getting lost with my camera. My co-hikers almost went back to look for me, convinced I'd been eaten by bears as punishment for gawking violations. I know it's like postcard overkill, but check out these photos.

I spent Sunday in our sunny kitchen, making the Thanksgiving feast while watching old Woody Allen flicks, followed by food and frivolity with family. Today was for ODing on pumpkin pie and uploading Saturday's photos to Flickr.

Either someone's been spiking my coffee or I have been exposed to a particularly virulent strain of Pollyanna virus because it's all good (which is bad, because I'm losing my edge). I'm actually ready for the long months ahead now.

Thursday, October 08, 2009


Because I'm a fan of her writing and her art, check out this offer from Hazel Dooney. More importantly, though, I think artists need to keep tabs on her pioneering efforts at changing the way we market our work.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

yesterday and today

Yesterday and today have been two pretty great days. Maybe it's the sale of four drawings all at once, maybe it's hearing from an old and dear friend, maybe it's meeting Tippi, Ellen's new puppy, maybe it's finally getting the all-clear at the x-ray/ mammography clinic or maybe it's even taking my dad boonie bashing in his wheelchair and not losing him down the riverbank! Whatever it is, "Hey, thanks, Powers-that-be." Here are some photos from yesterday at the beach at White Rock:

And here are photos I took today in downtown Vancouver (mostly from behind the wheel), and then had a little Photoshop fun with:

Sunday, October 04, 2009

thinking outside the frame

In February I started painting a 20" x 24" landscape of a winter scene, but got bogged down and couldn't figure out how to finish it. I have been staring at it, then hiding it, then staring at it again for over seven months now. Last week, during my purge/reorg, I pulled it out again and resolved to resolve it. First I threw out two small landscapes that I painted at the same time and hated even more than this one. That positive action seemed to kick the gears into motion. I realized that there were parts of the painting I liked, particularly the handling of the paint in the lower left corner. How could I salvage just that part?

So I used my hands as a frame and moved around the painting, trying to find a more interesting composition within the rectangle. That's when I looked at a stack of unused cradled panels sitting on a shelf. Before I knew it I had decided to cut the best part of the painting into 8" x 8" pieces and rework it into a square, four-panelled painting.

Out came the x-acto knife. Cutting the canvas away from the stretcher bars was strangely satisfying after months of indecision.

Next I cut the square pieces to fit the panels.

Before attaching them with acrylic gel medium I painted the sides of the panels in the same dark green as the flat, forested background in the painting.

I put an isolation coat of gloss medium cut with water over the canvas and sides of each panel then finished with a gloss varnish, also diluted with water about 50-50.

I like the result a lot better than the original. Its strange birth hardly brings to mind the deep, spiritual landscape painter alone with her thoughts and easel in God's Country, creating works of great beauty with her blood, sweat and tears, but creativity works in strange ways sometimes. And now that I figured out how to resolve it: what do I do with it?!
deep cove winter left

Saturday, October 03, 2009

2010 tree calendar

So much for good intentions. While setting out to avoid distractions I got distracted, and had hours of fun (OK, hour of fun -- maybe two) putting together a 2010 calendar using Lulu. I already had the raw material -- the Celtic Tree Calendar series I made last year -- so just experimented until I got what I wanted. I decided to go with the less expensive version and only take a wee profit so it's very reasonably priced. More on the meanings behind the Celtic lunar tree calendar here. Check out the calendar here.

Before I go I must share this. As an (admittedly-lame-and-have-totally-lost-interest) Etsy vendor I haven't laughed so hard in ages. Take your time and check out the disclaimer and post titles while you're there.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

cancel that

What was I thinking? In an effort at owning up to my forays into self-abasement, I won't delete the last post, but the draw is now a race: first person to comment over at my Small Art blog gets the prints then that post gets deleted. Time to quit seeking distractions and make art instead. My new guide to art and ethics is not WWJD but WWDD? (What Would Dooney Do?) Today, anyway. Tomorrow will probably be WWHD? (What Would Homer [Simpson] Do?)


I'm knee deep in administrivia. While purging obsolete files, reorganizing digital folders and sorting through old work I came across three prints I made about two years ago when I first experimented with the digital colouring of pen-and-ink drawings. They're quirky bird cartoons with text that I then used for my experiments in mounting prints on cradled wood panels. It was technically successful but ultimately doomed to failure: a labour-intensive process that was worth learning but had a low payoff financially and an even lower payoff 'vocationally'. I don't make prints of any kind any more.

While going cross-eyed with boredom, and taking frequent breaks from my drudgery (damn you, Facebook!), I came across another zinger from Hazel Dooney in her analyses of the way art is being marketed in the twenty-first century. It made me realize that I'm being as big a slack-ass as ever about promoting my own work, and have pretty much completely neglected the blog I set up to sell small original art almost a year ago. I checked the stats today: I'm averaging two hits a day! Woo-hoo! That's probably what comes of thinking I can set something up, walk away and it will take care of itself. Nothing in life works that way.

So, in an effort to combine today's discoveries and ruminations, I'm having a draw! (Seems logical, dunnit?) Those three bird prints I mentioned? I have posted them over at my Small Art blog and I am having a draw for them. I even opened up the comments just for that purpose. The point is (a) to at least get a little traffic over there before I give it up as a completely lost cause, and (b) find a home for the prints that belong together but aren't doing much good in my studio storage closet. So, please visit and send others over, too.