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Showing posts with label stories. Show all posts

Have you ever been reading a book that creeps into your every day? 

Such is The Bees by Laline Paull.
And I'm not entirely sure why it's scraping at my consciousness? But it surely is. And now I have bees on the brain. Maybe because I've always thought of bees as a rather benevolent insect. Helping mankind, stinging only when necessary, pollinating our food, if bees die, we die. 


The book focuses singularly on honey bees calling all OTHER insects The Myriad, mostly dangerous to their hive, in particular, wasps. And spiders?!? Oh. I don't know, that they've been anthropomorphized into a caste system so like our own has made me sad? unsettled? even cranky? (why does every.freakin.thing need to reflect US?!?) I guess, maybe, I just don't need another reminder of what an utter failure humanity is right now. *sigh*

But I digress.

As is often the case, I use art to make sense of what's going on in this giant, whirling dervish of a monkey brain of mine, so I've been printing illustrations of  bees and drawing bees and gel printing bees and adding bees to other papers. Bees. Bees. Bees.

And per usual, I have no idea where this is headed. But. I just primed to larger canvasses/boards so maybe BIG bees?!? Stay tuned. 

 Firstly, I'd like to thank you for all the interest in Three Ravens from last week. They've all SOLD! Yay! Love when that happens. I may have mentioned here, in the past, that I don't actively sell much these days...or at least don't MARKET my work (other than y'know the socials) it felt/feels SO forced. But I do love it when someone (maybe you?) wishes to buy something. Warms the cockles of my heart. Thank you! Thank you!

Last Friday, I spent the day, cleaning up the studio, putting everything in its place and shoving my easel to the side and hauling out my folding table because I NEEDED to do some sewing and really that's the only way it was gonna happen. It literally took me four days before I said, "Nope. That's all I'm gonna do. I need to MAKE. ART!" I did manage to alter 2 dresses, a couple of tops and make a tunic but the other dress and tunic are just going have to wait. Six days without my studio is five days too long. I'm really gonna have to think about how to make that work for NEXT summer (the year of heading to the Yukon. woohoo!) or I'm going to be one cranky customer. Let me know your favourite take-along art kits in the comments.

I received a (GORGEOUS!!) package of collage papers from long time friend, Amy. OMG. They are stunning. I oohed and ahhhed and fondled them every day until I got back into artmaking mode. That dotted paper particularly made me swoon. The technique is from Cat Rains wonderful (FREE!) class Collage Kickstart. I tried it but because I didn't have any molding paste(?!?!) and tried using gel medium which really didn't work well (in case you want to try it) so was thrilled to have some dots of my very own! Thank you Amy!

Also. I need to get this stupid painting OFF the easel. For the last few weeks all I've been doing is lightening, then darkening, then lightening the areas around the houses. I need to rethink those stripes as its still waaaay too close to its original inspiration. I HAVE to decide what this is about. Do you ever do that? Invest time and effort into a piece of art and suddenly realize you have NO idea what you're trying accomplish. Oh. Don't get me wrong, much of my work (most?) starts off with a burst of inspiration-colour palette, a particular technique, slapping paint onto the surface- a purely physical reaction to the substrate. And that is awesome! But. Eventually, you...I...need to focus on the "intent" for the work to have any substantive direction. Or you'll end up going back and forth (light to dark to light) ad nauseum. 

Play needs to evolve into a plan.  

Not much else to report this week, other than...if you have refillable acrylic markers/Posca pens whose nibs have splayed, check out Bombing Science for extra nibs, plus other cool art supplies. I was very disappointed in my regular art suppliers who didn't have any replaceable nibs. Dudes! If you sell Posca pens? Sell the nibs too. (y'all know you can refill posca pens, right?) Highly irresponsible in this day and age to have throwaway items without at least giving us the chance to reuse them. /soapbox

Have a great week!

 In between the video learning curve and planting the garden and getting ready for my daughter's wedding, I took a course from Judy Woods. I learned of Judy through Jackie who I discovered on YouTube. She took this stARTSworkshop last year and I was curious. Initially, I held off (read above) but I eventually succumbed. Because my nosy art brain Needed to Know.

I enjoyed it.

The idea of having a (relatively) foolproof way of starting a painting, even though I've kind of worked out a similar method for myself - was particularly intriguing. I glue old book pages to the substrate then cover with a thin layer of gesso but dividing the canvas with the addition of black creates an immediate contrast. Follow that with collage and markmaking? Well. You know this was tailormade for me. 

There was also a discussion of the types of questions to ask at any given point. For example:

What have I got?
What is the opposite of that?

Or  What DON'T I have?... thick lines vs thin lines, colour vs black and white, organic vs geometric, big vs small, squiggly lines vs straight lines etc.  

My three pieces really moved along. Until they didn't.
In fact, I've been futzing with those 3 original paintings ever since.

When did I stop being able to actually FINISH something?!?  And its made me think about this idea of finishing pieces ever since. I know that I work best under a deadline. Procrastinate. Procrastinate. Do anything BESIDES what I'm *supposed* to be doing. Procrastinate a bit more. Then flurry-scurry-flurry until it's done. And y'know what? I'm okay with that. But. What if there's NO deadline? What if I just need to move on to something new? Do I leave half-finished pieces floating around the studio ad nauseum?

Case in point.

I've been working on this painting for literally MONTHS! (and if you consider I've painted over it with gesso at least once... YEARS!) I wanted to try copying another artists work I love (long ago lost their name) and try to make it into my own. Figuring out what drew me to it and then work off that. (Caveat...NOT for sale!)

I slowly add or blot out something every few days. If I have excess paint? On it goes. If I don't like something? Erase it with paint. On. Off. On. Off. Which is fantastic for building up layers. But Geez Louise at some point I've gotta get off the pot and FINISH the durned thing. Where it is today...

Still nowhere NEAR being done. *sigh*

And those three pieces from Judy's workshop?
Sitting in the pile of other unfinished stuff on my desk. Ugh.

I clearly need to submit to a bunch of shows otherwise I'm gonna be buried in a sea of WIPs! If you have any tips, tricks or suggestions, I'm all ears. How do YOU finish your work? 

 I had THE best Life Example in my Dad for the Art of Learning New Things as we get older. At 50 he changed careers - and I don't mean moving laterally from one company to another. Nope. He went back to school, driving for hours through Quebec winter nights- from engineer to teacher. Learned to bake bread and make ice cream for my Mom's cafe (STARTING a cafe in their 60s!). Took up the trombone in his late 60s. Carving rocking horses for his granddaughters in his 70s. Short story, long, he was a life long learner and it struck a chord. (I miss him)

Back in my early computer career pre-internet, I was creating 'movies' using Macromedia's Director. It was a love/hate relationship but I persevered. We even secured some big name contracts from south of the border which was pretty sweet given our rural Nova Scotia location. And then the internet came along and the idea of even TRYING movies was laughable. (can you say "removing individual pixels to hasten uploads"?!?) So I returned to imagery. And loved it. 

Not  entirely surprising then, that I've been highly skeptical, and a bit pissed off to be frank, about the proliferation of video in previously static social media programs. Recently however, I noticed that my own usage was thoroughly enjoying watching artists create...on Youtube AND Instagram Reels... and had to laugh, "Oh. Yah. Hello! Kettle!"

Fast forward to this week when I attempted a time lapse of making a collage. It was fraught with anguish and aggravation not to mention scurrying to find an app that I could work with. (so. many. apps!). But I did it. And it wasn't bad. Given my MacGyver tripod setup, phone microphone, and rudimentary skills. In fact, I was quite chuffed.

I'm not sure where this whole video thing is headed. I'm not interested in doing classes or starting a Youtube channel or monetizing this in ANY way (sorry instagram pundits!) but I had fun (ish). And in the spirit of my Dad, learning new things is always a Good Thing. 


I was invited by Andrea (Chebeleu) a bunch of months ago to take part in her successful Under the Influence Art Journaling class and now it's LIVE. Here's the class description:

Featuring 9 individuals and their art we sample in our Art Journals.

How many times do you swipe through social media admiring the work of these wonderful, talented and generous artists and think, I'd like to try that?  

Our Under the Influence series is your opportunity to do exactly that in community. You will be guided and prompted by watching Andrea, Artist and Session Facilitator, work along with you live.

We practice noticing and identifying which design principles and elements engage us as we create together under the creative influence of the featured artist.

 I'm being featured on June 6/7.

Click HERE if you're interested in taking part. 


After a class, particularly one as intense as Sketchbook Revival (13 days, 2 classes per day, most an hour each... oof!), it takes me awhile to get back into gear. So I play, with my sketchbooks, with techniques I've learned, with new colour palettes but nothing really "important". Important in this case meaning with intent. Maybe even far reaching.

And all the while, over these last few weeks, I've been using up my print outs for SBR, overprinting with the wonderful photographs shared by Oliver Wasow on instagram (@owasowfoundphotos).

Why you ask? I have no idea. But they excite me!

I've been pondering them...numbering over a dozen now... and I'm thinking they deserve a series of some sort. I'm thinking BIG. As in feet x feet vs inch x inch. Maybe all together? Maybe separately? I just don't know right now. But one thing I do know is it needs to happen. 

And that my friends is the beauty of showing up in the studio every day. Even when the direction is fluid and waffley. Because sometimes things happen without you really even knowing it. 

So. Today. Get in that studio. Play in your sketchbook. Print stuff out. Glue shit down. Make marks. Glob on paint. In colours you don't normally use. Write with sticks. Get messy. Don't overthink it. Just. Play. Maybe today's mess will lead to tomorrow's inspiration.

 I'm immersed in classes this month (you can check out WHY in my last post) so I wanted to come up with a quick #fridaymusings post and what's better than a list!

Ten Things I've Recently Learned (or RElearned!)

  1. Tracing a stencil on the INSIDE is easier that tracing on the outside. This is one of those DUH moments (of which I seem to have a lot lately). But. I have a little card I use to make the grids in my Grid Journal. I couldn't find it the other day and found instead, a small viewfinder. That thing made  tracing the grids SO. MUCH. EASIER.
  2. Apply plaster with a brush. I have struggled in the past with getting thin layers of plaster/gesso. Why did it never occur to me to use a brush rather than a spackle or palette knife?!?  Thanks Miss Stephanie!
  3. Use your Posca Pen caps to make circle marks. Another DUH. Its right there. It's already uncapped. Either express some extra paint onto your palette and dip your cap into it OR just run the pen around the rim. Easy Peasy.
  4. Splatter water on almost dry acrylics. Let it sit for a minute then simply mop up with a dry towel or rub off. It creates wonderful negative splatter marks. Highly recommend!
  5. Make marks on dark magazine images. Put your page over some sequin waste or a fruit bag or stencil and lightly sand with a high count sand paper. Instant texture!
  6. Ultramarine is a WARM blue. Be still my heart. I've always had such a hard time using blue in my work. I've figured out teal. Mostly. And Payne's Gray because it's essentially black. But anything else? I always frig it up. As my tendency is toward the warm side of the spectrum most blues don't play well with that side of the colour wheel. But Ultramarine does. Thanks to Louise Fletcher for that eye opener!
  7. Contour drawing with your eyes OPEN. I've done many BLIND contour drawings over the years. But it never occurred to me to keep my pencil on the paper while looking at what I'm drawing. The result is a lovely, loose sketch. Thanks to Jeanne Oliver for that little tip!
  8. Coloured pencils are a delight over watercolour. I love coloured pencils and have used them many times in my art journey. Most often as a stand alone though and I'm not sure why  I never tried over watercolours. They work SO. WELL. Go. Try it!
  9. Colour studies as gel print fodder. Another DUH moment. I've often used monochromatic papers in my Grid Journal or general collaging. But making gelprints EXCLUSIVELY for a collage grid? No more searching for light, middle and dark tones cuz you've already done the work. Perfect for compositional studies. Hooya!
  10. Mixed media means MIXED media. And maybe my biggest DUH! exclamation this week. Sometimes I am SO dense. Just because you start out with watercolour (or acrylic or collage) does not mean you can't introduce other mediums into that work. This has been an ongoing growth cycle for me but the idea that a piece can be representational AND abstracted? Or refined AND whimsical? THIS was such an eye opener and DOOR opener for me. I've stuffed my graphic/illustrative nature down thinking it wasn't "fine art" enough and here, all along, I could've been incorporating it into my work.
And these are the reasons I take classes. 
Because... sometimes even if you know you don't KNOW.
Change is a comin' folks!

Sketchbook Revival 2020

You may ask yourself, "I'm on my art path. I know what I want to make, why should I take classes, at all? And you're right to ask. Maybe they aren't for you. But. Every year for the last few, I've dedicated the first few months of the year to taking (online) classes. The reasons are many and I'll try to list mine  below.

Learning something new is ALWAYS a Good Thing

Even if you are an accomplished artist with a strong vision, adding to your lexicon through new skills or exposure will always, always be helpful in the long run. Sometimes "the New" doesn't reveal itself immediately but every single thing we experience as artists (as people!) informs our work/state of mind. If you only need one reason to "take that class"? This is it!

Extreme Composition - Jane Davies

Filling up before burning out

So often an artists life is in "all decks on hand", "balls to the wall" mode before the end of each year what with shows and markets and general life stress of "The Holidays" so that when we get back into the studio in each New Year we may feel a little shell-shocked. Perfect time to let someone else do the leading. Our  Creative Wells may be registering empty and nothing fills if up faster, better than learning something new. 

Grid Journal - Kellee Wynne

New Skills

This is pretty self-explanatory but always worth noting. Even if we take classes that are in our artistic wheelhouse there is always something to learn from a fellow artist. From different methods to brand new techniques, everything feeds the inner Muse. As a side note, even watching artists work is highly informative from their set up to their preferred tools down to their actual process. Highly recommend finding a few folks to follow on YouTube and veg out!

Botanical Relics- Stephanie Lee

Change it Up

Going down a completely different path ...ceramics if you're a painter, paper arts if you're a ceramicist. Three dimensional work if you're a two-dimensional artist and, obviously, the reverse. Working in a totally different medium can really throw open the doors on your creative outlook. 

Vehicular Varmints - Michael deMeng

And some cautionary tales, as well:

Choose Wisely

Not all classes are created equal. And if time is of the essence, get a recommendation before taking on that 3 week class. I'd hazard to say a day or two is probably worth the jump if only to let you know what you DON'T want to do without a huge commitment but if life is time sensitive, do your homework. Nothing is more aggravating than taking a class that is a bad fit. For everyone involved. 

Divergent Paths

If you are an easily distracted artist maybe choose a class you KNOW will add to your skills/lexicon. In the past, I've taken assemblage classes whilst in a two-dimensional mind-set and though I might thoroughly enjoy myself, getting waylaid is not in MY best interest. Learning how to handmake chain is awesome but virtually useless if what you need is Colour Theory.


Don't get sucked into anything market related if MAKING is at the top of your list. Nothing kills your creative spirit. Nothing! (or maybe that's just me!)

If it Ain't Working? Ditch it!

Even if you've paid good money. Your time is worth something and you need to guard it carefully. The person whose work you adore may be a tremendous artist but a lousy teacher. Don't feel compelled to stick with anything that isn't filling up that creative well. For what it's worth, most classes these days give a healthy amount of time to take the class. It might not be a good fit today but may be just the thing six months from now.

If I've convinced you to take a class, here are some folks I would always highly recommend:

Jane Davies ... I loved Jane's Extreme Composition but I think anyone could learn anything from her. Love her work. Great teacher!

Kellee Wynne ... The (FREE) grid journaling class is a must but I learn something from every class or YouTube video of hers I've watched.

Stephanie Lee ... Whilst a good friend, Stephanie is also an amazing, thoughtful, accomplished teacher. Take anything,  you won't regret it! (and will learn so much about yourself in the taking)

Michael deMeng ... Winner of the Most Fun Teacher award and I do not use the word "Fun" lightly. You'll learn a ton as well but will have such a Good Time doing it!

Sketchbook Revival ... A special note about Sketchbook Revival ... it starts at the end of March and goes for 2 full weeks with an amazing cast of artists, teachers and mentors who are sure to get your juices flowing. This will be my FOURTH year and am so looking forward to it. Sign up Today!

Relax! I'm not talking about no longer making art but when do you decide that a piece is not working/will NEVER work? When you do you pull the plug and say, "Nope. Not gonna happen!"?

This happened to me earlier this week.

Spontaneously, decided to jump on the Februllage Bandwagon. Given I am not a "collage artist" but more a "I use collage in my work" kinda artist, I'm not sure why. Because from what I've seen most who do this challenge are full-blown Collage (capital "C") Artists. 

And as an aside, I can only think these folks must have the same amount of space I give to assemblage stuff, to paper stuff...magazines and books and brochures and pamphlets. Or a really astonishing printer. (and if it is a printer? I wanna know what brand! cuz... uhm...YUM!)

Yah. So. Jumped in and the first few go okay. Until "cloth" which is an unmitigated disaster. I had chosen a photo I'd printed onto a piece of fabric (testing Golden's Digital Ground which I'm not even sure they make anymore, that's how long it's been kicking around). And while it was on "cloth" it wasn't about cloth and I started looking for a link, deep diving into vintage books with anything to do with "home" (image subject matter) and "cloth" (collage prompt).  And frankly? I lost my direction.

It. Was. Horrible.

It was so bad, I just gave up
And here's where I started thinking, but, why?
What was the tipping point?
Where was the line?

I mean, I'm a pretty stubborn person. I don't give up easily. If I read a book? I read the damn book. (I'm looking at you Kevin Smith)Surely this was redeemable?!?

And then the next day's prompt was "Cactus".

I didn't have any cactus imagery. I tried to print out some vintage botanical cactus illustrations. My printer sucks. They were unusable. So I went to some black and white silhouettes thinking I'd do a gel print. Yah. That sounded doable. Only they turned out, meh! as some gel prints are wont to do. And I was about ready to pull my hair out but from the previous day's disaster, I wasn't about to quit. Yet. So I tried to add some paint. And then some image transfers. And well... you look.

What a frickin mess! 

But something kept me going. And you know what? It came to me WHY the "cloth" piece got left behind and I kept trying with this one. The intention was good. Let me emphasize that:

The intention was Good.

The cloth piece didn't have a clear direction. My intention got lost and I just couldn't pick up the thread. Nor did I WANT to find it. It was worth ditching.  And y'know? I was perfectly fine giving up and calling  QUITSs on it.  (should've also done that on the Kevin Smith book FYI!!! there's two weeks of my life I'll nver get back!)

But this cactus one? Sure it was a mess. The gel print sucked. But the intention was still there. I felt I hadn't discovered all I needed to and it WAS redeemable. So I kept on.

And it worked! So if you happen to be at your wits end with a piece, ask yourself this question... Is it STILL true to where I wanted it to go? If it is? Figure it out. If it isn't, stop. You aren't a quitter. It just got away from you. And that's perfectly okay. Put it aside and start something new. And focus...REALLY focus... on what your intention is. Because that's where the magic lies. 

Something I've been thinking about lately ... posting EVERY. DAY... on Social Media (and when I say that I'm really talking about Instagram. Facebook is its poor cousin for me these days) I read a post the other day (coulda been yesterday. coulda been a month ago.) about how we are short changing ourselves, hurrying to post a finished work every day.

Finished? Every. Day. Let that sink in for a second.  

How? HOW?? Oh! I get posting during a challenge when maybe the work IS finished but likely not thought about, or thoroughly fleshed out. Been there. Got many tshirts ...shoved to the back of the drawer never to see the light of day again, I might add. 

Let me step back for a second... last year I was gungho to get my Instagram account over 1000 followers. I don't know why. Just seemed important at the time. And so I started posting every day. Initially on the weekends too although that waned after a month or two. And you know what? It worked. Go me! Only..

“A goal is something that goes away when you hit it. Once you’ve reached it, it’s gone. ” Jason Fried, founder and CEO of Basecamp
And I just kept doing it. Posting something. Every day. My numbers grew, my interactions grew, and my need to keep doing what I was doing...well...grew. Or at the very least kept me in place. Then this quote started showing up. Not once. Not twice. But more than a dozen times.

"Never play to the gallery. Never work for other people in what you do. Always remember that the reason you initially started working was there was something inside yourself that, if you could manifest it, you felt you would understand more about yourself. I think it’s terribly dangerous for an artist to fulfill other people’s expectations.” –David Bowie
Okay, Universe. I get it. I'm listening.

The problem with posting every day is it's an insidious, dopamine fix.
As artists, we often work alone. And frankly most artists I know are introverts who prefer it that way (raises hand) but it also means we don't have someone to bounce ideas off or show our work to even if its to laugh at what a dismal failure today's work was. When I googled 'stop posting art online', google just dropped the 'stop' and showed me all the why's of how posting my art online was going to make me a "successful artist". The few articles that showed up about NOT posting art online was more along the lines of "why I had a Social Media break and why you should too' all touting how taking a break would have you refreshed and ready to return to becoming a posting maniac. (hmmm. this POST could become a drinking game... DRINK for every time I type P.O.S.T. annnnnnd GO!)

ANY. Way.

The thing is, if we want to grow as artists, dare I say human beings, we need to dig in. We need to wallow in the mud. For days. Maybe even weeks. We need to explore everything. We need to follow all those little ideas that pop up in the periphery as we draw or paint or apply wax, sew, cook, craft, whatever it is you do. And that takes time. And there is often NOTHING that bears taking out your camera and making a pretty Instagram worthy photo. I mean seriously how often do people want to see panoramic shots of your studio or works in progress on your desk or easel before they hit "unfollow"??? 

Lest you think I'm going to come up with some brilliant solution to wrap this up? Sorry, I don't have an answer. I just know I need to head down those art/idea rabbit holes to grow. And I also know, I'm not quite ready to leave the ethernet and go it on my own. Conundrum.

If YOU have any ideas how I can achieve both, please. I'm all ears.

 I promised you a Sketchbook Tour in my last Friday Musings and I started...I really did! but then I got sick and I'm in the midst of week two and the brain fog lasts a lot longer than clear skies. So. We'll have to leave that until the New Year.

As the year winds down and the holidays fast approach I realized that the best thing for me to do was to wish you all time to look at the lights, to delight in something that tickles your fancy, ease to let things go and only take on what really makes your heart sing and know The Light Returns!

Happy Solstice everyone!

Thank you for being in my life.

See you in 2023!

For many years I cruised through December without a thought to the previous year or what the new year might hold. In fact, I used to make fun of my husband with his lists and retrospectives and plans. And then we started a Solstice tradition...maybe 5 years ago?...of writing our regrets for the year on slips of paper that we'd throw into a fire and watch as they burned away. Highly therapeutic if you want to give it a try! We also write down our wishes for the upcoming year and throw those into a fire on New Year's Eve, sending them into the ether on a hope and a prayer. Again, highly recommended for setting intentions with flair (and flare!)

But I digress.

Since that change, December has become an in-between month, caught between what was and what will be, a No Man's Land of  physically winding down and mentally gearing up. And sometimes it drives me crazy. I thrive on getting things done, crossing To Dos off my list, moving forward, ticking the boxes. I'm way better with the starts of things, even the middle of things but the end of things? Not so much.

As I get older, though, I find sitting in that quiet space of "done" without moving quickly to "what's next!", whilst still not a comfortable place for me, is showing me where my attention, my intentions have been focused and how, if at all, I might want to change that focus.

I love the progress I've made in my art journey this year. I finished two sketchbooks...stay tuned for a Sketchbook Tour!... the most EVER, and have a good start on two more. I feel really comfortable with collage again. As well as abstract landscapes, which kinda blows my mind cuz I never in a million years thought THAT would happen.

I'm still grappling with the marketing side of things. I'm not sure where I want to go with showing or even selling to be honest. And yes, I know I'm lucky that I don't HAVE to sell my work. (Maybe it'd help if I did!) But those are obstacles for another day.

I liked taking some courses, participating in some challenges and making a daily collage, all things I'll likely incorporate in some way next year. But I also feel the need to dig deeper, more focus or longer time frames? I don't know right now, they're still burbling in the background. 

So I'll sit in this in between space and ponder some more about what I liked, what I found satisfying and what was missing or needs some tweaking as I look back on 2022. I hope you find some quiet moments to savour what worked for you this year, too!

And next week, I'll be showing my Sketchbook Tour so don't forget to sign up!

As November slips away, the insane month of December rears its head. Insane because everyone seems to be stressed out trying to cram as much buying and selling and making and baking, as much visiting and eating and event attending as possible before the 24th. 

 As an aside, a Black Friday advertisement crossed my socials for a really amazing price on art supplies and I thought, "I need more art supplies! I need to buy this!" Only I didn't. I'm okay for art supplies right now. At some future point, I'll need some paint but until then, I'm fine. Just fine. And it made me realize how caught up and invested we become in the hype to BUY! BUY! BUY! It took me a minute but then I thought, "Chill out, dude. The stores will remain open AFTER the 24th." There will always be more time to buy shit. 

 For the past number of years, I've bought my grandchildren Advent calendars as their gift from us. They are blessed with plenty. They don't lack for anything. The calendars, we try to get some sort of activity (think Lego, puzzles etc) last longer than the half second of ripping off the paper to be tossed with a mounting pile of "stuff" and they are a lovely slow way of counting down, building up, to Christmas Day.

I was thinking about that a few weeks ago, "*I* want a daily thing to do in December!" and sure I could've bought a calendar for myself but I wanted it to be something I could share with Tom. Something that was enjoyable, not based on food and would serve as a lovely slow way of counting down, building up, to Christmas Day. 

So we put our brains together and came up with a daily activity for each day in December, marked it on the calendar and we're going to give it a whirl.

 As I am very much an introvert hermit, we were cogniscent of not slamming things in for the sake of "Doing it". We gave ourselves easy tasks between more involved ones. Some of the activities we were going to do anyway, but we added intentionality to them. In case you'd like to create a lovely slow way of counting down, building up, to Christmas Day, here are some of our ideas:

  •  December 1: Go buy all supplies for our crafts and baking days. 
  •  December 3 & 4: Baking days ... we made a list of the things we'd like to gift people this year, an annual tradition, and decided we could put in a blitz weekend to get most of it down in one sitting. Cue Christmas music! 
  • Every Friday evening in December, we've committed to watching a Holiday movie or show. Must watches in our household: Charlie Brown's Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas - the OG. I voted for Elf. He voted for the new Spirited. And there is room for one super schmaltzy Hallmark one in there too! 
  •  Go out, just the two of us, for a holiday coffee/beverage. We almost never do this, so it'll be a real treat. 
  •  Make a trip to either the city or our town to walk around and look at the lights.
  • Make a craft for our Solstice Tree. (we're making homemade air clay! Here's a recipe!

  •  Take in a Christmas concert. Preferably with choral singing. 
  •  Go for a night woods walk on the December full moon (Wednesday, December 7: The Cold Moon)
  • Have a bonfire. 
  •  We pencilled in our tradition of meeting with friends for lunch. And another with other friends, for a coffee at a local shop. 
  •  Make a "bird tree" and fill it with edible treats for them. Here's a great one!
  • We decorate our Solstice Tree on the day before Solstice and have a tradition of writing down then burning our regrets for 2022, shared or not, on the night itself. After which we come in and dine by candlelight. 
  •  Christmas Eve is our turkey dinner. We take all day to prepare and again, dine by candle light (then all dinners until the Spring Equinox). Candle light is a big part of our winter world. 
  •  Christmas day we've planned a beach walk. 

 I hope this has inspired you to think about how YOU'D like to spend your time at this crazy time of the year. And I wish you a lovely slow count down, build up, to however you celebrate! 

 I do.




the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

"a fortunate stroke of serendipity"

Similar: fortuitousness . providence . coincidence . chance . happy chance . accident . fluke

Every time I finish a deadline or series I feel a little out of sorts (just ask Tom!), a little lost, unmoored. So I tidy the studio, clean up the detritus of packaging and business cards, tape and bubble wrap.

Yesterday I was reshelving my Art Inventory binder (and yep. REALLY need to get that sorted out!) and underneath, I found a stack of gel prints I'd stashed there for future consideration. I even had post-its tacked to sectioned off prints saying: "drawing ink on top", "tissue paper transfers" and "almost done".  

Welllll... I might disagree (now) on the 'almost done' ones, but what struck me is, HERE is what I need to do next. Figure out how to  make these prints from ...last Spring, a year ago, two??... reflect who I am now.

Because in an equally odd and serendipitous find, I stumbled across a journal of notes (and doodles and diet stuff and ideas for future projects) to discover these words:

Content Crime

  1. Inconsistent  [not commited]
  2. not enough about Art
  3. ignoring mailing list [#1 Asset]
and underneath I'd noted "build trust" and in big letters, FOCUS ON THE ART.

And it's exactly what I needed to read/hear.
In this bash up to the most buyingest time of the year, I forget (every. frickin'. year.) that MY job isn't to try and sell you stuff. MY job is to make art. If you...they... want it? Great! If you/they don't? Well, frankly, not my problem (and yes, I know I am lucky enough not to HAVE to sell my work in order to eat. But I don't. So. I'm sorry?). 

Focus on the art.

Last week on Instagram I mentioned in my stories how one of the pieces I'm working on for an upcoming show was kicking my ass. I've just put the final touches on it and thought it would be a good reminder to me, and, hopefully inspirational to you, on how sometimes Starting Over is the only true option. And that's okay!

These works are all on 6 x 6" cradled board. Six are bird themed. I often cover the panels with a mixture of old and new book pages (shiny and not so shiny) so it adds layers before I even start. I'd used a bird as a mask for the gel plate and I kinda liked how it looked with some grungy areas as well as stencils and patterns I'd used for that print.

I wasn't a big fan of the larger words so I used gesso to tone that down. Then I thought it'd be cool to have the bird singing a song with some sheet music I had. There were a couple of iterations but I ended up adding some white pouring medium as well as some stars and it sat there for a week or so.  It was NOT coming together the way I wanted. Further it wasn't telling me (or I couldn't hear) what it needed/wanted next. Which is when I posted about it kicking my ass.

I sanded back the song bubble and then realized, "Yep! The whole thing needed to go." Broke out the palm sander and took it back to the page layers. It felt better already!

I had another gel print of this same bird and cut it out to fit between the stars. Only when it came to adhering it onto the board, I turned it the wrong way gluing it down in the wrong spot. Doh!  As so often happens, serendipitously, I liked it better! Oh! The stars needed reorienting and the background needed finetuning but it was finally coming together, clear messages were being heard.

As an aside... does that sound too WooWoo to you? That the works "speak" to me? Obviously they don't ACTUALLY verbalize their wants and desires. Just my gut ...intuition...Muse...the Universe...experience, however/whatever you want to name it... tells/shows/intuits what my next move should be. Don't knock it until you've tried it. Seriously!
Adjustments were made. Marks were added. And THIS is the final product:

I love it when an artwork comes together!

And if you're still with me (thank you!) I've been thinking of doing another 10 Questions for Artists series in the New Year. If there are questions you'd like to ask me (or other artists), if there is someone you'd love for me to invite to be part of it or if YOU'd like to be part of the series, drop me a comment below or email me. Thanks!!

 Do you have regular Go Tos when your work is ALMOST finished but still needs that 'sumthin sumthin'?

I do.

In no particular order...and you'll probably notice more than one in each of these!

1. Letraset (or Geoset) lettering. I often burnish across an entire line rather than an individual letter or number. They give a graphic quality that handmade marks cannot.

2. Handwriting ... usually in graphite. Sometimes I actually write real words (maker of things has the t's to cross, i's to dot and upper and lower case letters), sometimes I use asemic writing (lines that appear to form words but that are without specific meaning).

3. Ink or paint spray ... often but not limited to black. This gives a linear work a taste of randomness. I have to be careful with this one as I very often go overboard. 

4. Using gloss medium or gesso as a 'bring up/knock back' effect. This has become really useful when using gel prints as backgrounds (gesso) . For a long time, I've used a coat of gloss medium where I want to add transferred text or an image as it takes the transfers so much better than a matte finish ( added bonus: if you don't like it? easily wipes off!) I noticed that the layer of gloss, when added to just part of the piece (the bird in this one for example), really makes it stand out without altering colour or intensity.

5.  Text. Usually found, in that the piece did not start with a text prompt. I like using backwards text a lot. But also upside down text or random sentences. Often as stripes.

6. Circles, swoops, dotted lines, stripes. There aren't very many of my mixed media collages that don't have some form of these. They are my visual language but also serve to unify disparate elements into a more cohesive whole. 

That's just a half dozen of some of my final touches. If you have any that are your tried'n'true, I'd love to hear about them!