Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Botanical Silhouettes

When I worked full time as a designer I found myself spending most of my time on the computer. At the end of the day or on the weekend, my creative juices were tapped and I rarely had much motivation to create things for myself. Now I'm pushing myself to put hand to paper again and create and experiment, explore and discover. It's been a nice change of pace but I miss the quick key commands and I want to keep up my proficiency with my software.

Today I played with one of my watercolour backgrounds and created more silhouettes in the same style as my first. Here is a collection of botanical imagery, Fronds, Phlox and Purple Coneflower.

It's been nice using Photoshop again for more than just image adjustment. I also have some plans for a sketch to be developed further in Illustrator. The perfect way to merge the hand made with my software is a zine. Something I'll think about but not rush until the right story and imagery come together.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Mail Art for and from Ms. Gowling

I'm fairly new to the art correspondence scene. I dabbled a little bit with a friend a few years ago, but sometimes life gets in the way and before you know it a few months turn into a year between postcards. Now that we're settled into our new place and my studio is set up, I'm looking for large and small projects to keep me busy and inspired while developing my style.

The lovely and talented Jessica Gowling has been tweeting about mail art for some time. While we were in the process of moving and most of my supplies were packed away, I made a promise to trade mail art with her once we were in BC. A few days after we arrived in our new home, there was a postcard waiting for me in my mailbox. I was already feeling happy to be home but receiving this personalized mail piece truly made my day. She wrote about it here.

What I like most about this are the layers involved. The postcard has a design on one side and a message on the other. Upon opening the mini envelope I discovered a small message on the other side. If I flipped that over I discovered her mailing address. Inside the envelope was an array of stickers and interesting found items. (Grrr! I'm 19 years too late for the Llama show.) Not only was this a visual treat, but I loved that I had to explore it a little to get all of the elements.

In my reply to her I gathered items I thought were interesting from a little box of mail trinkets and inspiration. Jessica loves nature so I created my pieces with this in mind. I took an old watercolour card which has a light wash of green, blue and pink and added a root-like pattern with ink. I cut out a few of the crescent shapes for a peek at the inside of the card. I wrote a message on the envelope that contained the stickers and created a two-sided framed piece from from scrapes of fabric and mini paper frames. I remember her mentioning that she loves stickers and I received a Canadiana set with animals and mounties earlier that week. I stuffed in, even though I desperately wanted to keep the cardinal sticker on the page.

The inside of the card includes one of a couple of dozen animal stamps I have from college. I added to the envelopes with ink, stickers, white-out and a snowflake punch-out.

One of my resolves this year is to use all the art supplies I've accrued and stored over the years. Now that I have a place to keep everything I am rediscovering some nifty material that will be perfect for mail art projects in the future.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

First Official Studio

When I was in college I used a storage closet in my small apartment as my studio. Since it was small and had no natural light I usually ended up slogging everything I needed into the kitchen. I had an art room in another house but never really used it to its full potential. Once kids come along a room for art is harder to come by. Now that we're in our new home I have an area I can call my STUDIO.

It's in the front of our house. I wasn't keen to use this room at first because it doesn't have door. It's an open concept little area meant as a music/sitting area or office. There are two windows so during the day I have plenty of light.  Luckily I've been able to keep the kids out and it forces me to be diligent about putting away all of my material at the end of the night.

I share this studio with a piano. She's a quiet studio mate, but she does take up a lot of room. No one in this house plays seriously, but there is interest in it and a desire to play it more often so I will let her stay for a few years.

I'm using our old bookshelves as storage for now. The space is limited, but I've used storage bins to their full potential and stacked on top when needed. The bins are organized by type; watercolour, brushes and tools, acrylic and craft paint and misc. The other shelf has sketchbooks, books, cameras and my beloved label maker. I'm going to confess and nerd-out by telling you that when I feel like my life is too hectic, I organize and label and it makes me feel a lot better.

My desk is large enough for a small project plus the laptop but an additional or larger table may be needed in the future.

I have a couple of open bins on top of the shelves for mail art and inspiration. They are open so I can constantly peek in when I need an idea and a reminder to use some of these interesting found items.

In our move I had to part with a large amount of old books and magazines. Many had not been opened for 10 years and paying for shipping so much material that may never be used seemed rather ridiculous. I do have plans on hitting up antique shops and garage sales in our area to stock up on ideas and material.

For the time being I've decorated with my figure study dude, vases and my mega jar of buttons. One of the walls in this room has what I'd like to call a creative experiment in shelf hanging from the previous owners. There are some decent sized holes that won't look all that great once they're patched. I'd like to make a large, framed cork board to hang art/inspiration/ideas. I'll also hang a few pieces of art from friends and down the road we'll paint.

I have a feeling this room will be in a constant state of change, but I think it's off to a great start.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Down by the Creek

Right behind my house is a path that leads to a really beautiful little creek. This past weekend we went as a family and did a little exploring. I was the annoying one lagging far behind stopping to take pictures and marvel at every little thing.

Moss is growing on everything which is a new concept for this 'it's a dry heat' prairie girl. Here it looks like it's clawing its way over the rock towards me.

My camera doesn't do justice to the beautiful light filtering through the forest. The tree in the middle is covered in moss or lichen which was swaying in the breeze like a delicate lace dress. Now I really understand the inspiration behind Emily Carr's paintings.

Close up of the moss/lichen growing on the tree. I am smitten with all the shades of green. Especially the fresh, yellow greens. Perhaps it's because I just went through years months of dull, gray winter.

A fungus growing on a tree stump. I spent a bit of time Googling to try to identify what type it is, but had to stop after a few articles about deadly fungi. I was reminded of a section of the Planet Earth documentaries in which they were showcasing the extraordinary rain forest fungi and their ability to infect ants and cause them to act irrationally then die. After they die the spores start growing from their brain! Now that I've gone there I must stop before I'm suddenly chewing my nails down to stubs. So, uh... pretty colours, huh?

In contrast to all the living, thriving green, here is a fallen and split tree with a gorgeous texture.

Our creek has the clearest water. Rapids on either side of the little clearing which is perfect for sitting and listening to the water and tossing rocks in to hear the 'splunk' sound and inevitable giggles from the kids. 


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Collecting Inspiration

We took our first family outing to the ocean the other day. I took my camera and faithfully took pictures of things that inspired me. I can't get enough of the many shades of green. I tried, unsuccessfully, to take
photos of the shades of green. In my haste and excitement I blurred most of the photos. I'm excited to keep trying and exploring, collecting inspiration from my new home.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Living By The Ocean

A little background information for this post. I was born in Winnipeg and then spent nine years in Medicine Hat. Our family moved to Saskatoon for a year before settling in Regina. I moved to Ottawa when I was twenty-three and it was the first time I had ever lived outside the prairies. I still define myself as a prairie girl when, ten years later, someone in Ottawa asks me where I'm from. Since I don't think I'll be referring to myself as an 'Easterner' or from central Canada, I will happily tell people I have returned West.

I am very excited about this migration back West for many reasons. Mainly, because our new house backs onto a path that leads to a small creek and we're a short drive away from the ocean. While we have day after day of snow in Ottawa, my mind has been wandering to thoughts of the the vegetation and creatures we'll see on our walks. I'm excited to hear the ocean, find beach glass and discovering the native plants & animals with my kids.

Thinking about waves and the ocean. Marker.

Shells. Marker.

Looked up native fish and discovered Rockfish. Also a practice in marker/strokes/patience.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday Love: Cardinals

In Ottawa I lived in an older section of a suburban area. It isn't very far away from reserved greenspace. This close proximity to natural habitation brought along all sorts of interesting wildlife that I would and would not expect to find in the 'burbs.

Sitting on my front patio in the evening during the summer I would often see either a groundhog or a skunk make the same, daily trek across a few of my neighbours yards. There were also the easily startled but increasingly brave and determined racoons. We had bunnies that snacked on the leftover birdseed with chipmunks who filled their faces so full, I'm surprised they could scamper away. The black squirrels and the occasional grey squirrels bullied the birds away from the feeders. We had a lovely hawk visit us for a while one day, probably keeping tabs on the large amount of chickadees and sparrows. We had bluejays who are lovely to look at, but not as nice to hear. The cooing doves, who always look slightly confused and the starlings, who I really don't like because I was traumatized once. Maybe I'll tell you that story another time.

By far my favourite visitors were the Cardinals. They are easy to spot, since the male is such a beautiful, bright red. His partner was almost always nearby, blending in more easily because she was brown with touches of warm red. They visited often this past summer and it made me happy every time. I will miss my little red visitors.

Male Cardinal. Pen and marker.

Female Cardinal. Pen and Marker.

After doing a few illustrations in my sketchbook I started to skip around the internet looking for Cardinal related imagery and handmade goods. It's nice to see that there are many other people who share my love for this adorable bird.

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