Thursday, June 30, 2011

30 Days of Creativity: Days 27-30 & Project Round-Up

The 30 Days of Creativity have wrapped up and it flew by in a blur. I really can't believe it's already July! The days following the end of my sketchbook were a mix of photography, scouting, prepping and finishing.

Heedless Ceramics had an interesting call for people to take pictures of ordinary scenarios or arrangements to create a mundane still life. I started doing that but my house was (is) a toy explosion and taking pictures in a manner that drew attention to itself would result in wee littles begging to use the camera too. Instead I crept around during nap time and took pictures of my favourite textures.

Day 27 - Textures around my house. Branches, pine cones, string, woven basket and the metal (and dusty) base of an antique globe.

Day 28 - Grass, mini pine cones (not really sure what they are), feather and branches.

This project was a good incentive to start the preliminary work on a new project. I have a few pages to put together for a traveling journal about international mail. I'll write a more detailed post about that in a week or so. It also put a little fire under my butt to complete the first spread in my ArtHouse 2012 Sketchbook. Now that it's done the rest of the pages seem much less intimidating.

Day 29 - I tore out a few pages of mostly text from a magazine, cut out city and mountain shapes and painted them with watercolour. All this was a prep for a mixed media pieces for a traveling journal collaboration.


Day 30 - I have had my ArtHouse 2012 sketchbook for a while now and have only penciled in a few pages. I finished up the spread, my first spread in this sketchbook!!

While the project was fun, I am glad it has concluded so that I can tackle some other projects I haven't had the time to work on this month. It was a good exercise in completing a small project every day for a consistent 30 days. I created some interesting techniques and surprised myself on how well a few items turned out with a very limited time to complete them. I'll likely sign up again next year and would recommend it to anyone out there who is already creative or needs a little incentive to start.

If you're curious, you can take a look at all 30 of my days on my Flickr site

... J

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mail Art Monday: Road Kill Treasure

I was planning on either skipping this week's post or showing you some of my daughter's most excellent doodles to fill the gap of my sad, empty mailbox. Luckily for me Jessica Gowling was exceedingly impatient to send me her 'road kill' reply.

I'll begin by explaining the background a little. She tweeted this:

I jokingly asked if there wasn't some sort of mail art protocol against sending road kill by mail. Turns out my guess was quite perceptive. She actually DID send me road kill in the form of a delicate honey bee. She included a letter with the story of going for a bike ride and spotting this little fellow out of the corner of her eye (that is some seriously good eyesight) and turning around for another look.

Not only did Jessica give me such a precious, thoughtful gift, she also included a SIGNED copy of a David Suzuki book about insects which includes information on how to mount them. I have the perfect shadow box frame squirreled away which I'll use for this. I think I'll press a flower and mount him with a little scene, insect taxidermy-style. 

And that isn't the end of the spoiling.  She also sent some sailor and nautical items, a Wills and Kate clipping (!!) Burt's Bees lip balm (great brand & really tasty) and bee stickers. 

Perhaps the arrival of this little bee has been a good omen. Sounds as though Canadian mail will be up and running again very shortly.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mail Art Monday: Lesson Learned

I'd like to think that my over-confident vibes regarding the Canadian postal strike had nothing to do with it going from rotating to a full-blown national shutdown. If you believe in feng-shui, I hope you'll forgive me for writing and saying things as silly as "this strike is nothing, the mail is faster than ever" because, literally, the very next day the corporation locked out the union. Whoopsie-doodle. Merely a coincidence, yes, of course.

That said, I did get one piece of lovely mail and quite a few items managed to make their way to their destinations. 


Following Ezerd on Twitter is a joy. Not only am I enjoying all her "dang, dang, dangity dangs", but her contests are equal parts challenging and hilarious. A few weeks ago she was generous enough to send all the people who entered her contest a few pieces of her art, and I was a lucky recipient.


Ashley Gaia is an AMAZING printmaker and works at a bird sanctuary. She shares the most precious pictures of baby birds on Twitter and her passion and love for these creatures comes through in 140 characters or less. She asked for an exchange of bird related mail art and I happily agreed. I pulled together all sorts of bits from magazines, stamp collections, vintage books and a few of my art pieces. Next mail art swap I'll create more original art for her but I think she enjoyed this one as an introduction.

Sumi Senthi was the winner of my cork guessing contest. She was so incredibly close that I think she was three away from the actual number. I had just sent her a package in the mail but couldn't resist sending her a few more bits and bots to fill the box. I loved the Vermeer postcard as it reminded me of someone working on mail art. I'm hoping she'll be able to use the cork stamps in her sketchbook or mail art.

After laying on a serious amount of peer pressure to send a reply to Jessica Gowling (that girl is a mail art bully, beware. Kidding!!!) the package arrived not long before the strike. *Shakes fist in direction of mailbox* She was a bit distraught for not winning the cork contest, so I sent her six stamps along with some origami paper, a few original mixed medias (a bear and a sailboat) as well as a whack of clippings including a bear, deer, moose, polar bear, Lady Gaga and Hit Girl.

Perhaps now I've learned my lesson and I'll keep those silly comments to myself from now on. Word is that the strike won't last much longer, which is very good news as I have a few goodies to send and some great stuff coming my way.

... J

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mail Art Monday: Mostly Outbound

I was very relieved to discover that our current postal strike is rotating rather than Canada-wide. Surprisingly, this has also not affected the speed because several of my letters and packages arrived exceptionally quickly.


Helen MacDonald from Jolly Good in Scotland sent me a a sweet package just when I needed a little pick-me-up. Her letter included a set of circus themed buttons and a map puzzle piece button. The circus buttons have a personal connection because when I'm very stressed and need to inject humour into the situation I always say "I've had it, I'm running away to join the circus." I think my daughter will go a little bananas for the puzzle button as she is a whiz at puzzles and has been coveting all my buttons for a while now. There were also two sweet postcards and a perfect little business card.


Michelle Ashton sent me a lovely package that I am STILL gazing at when I work in my studio. There was so much lovely in there I hope my reply did it justice. I put together a combination of what I'm working on now, something from my home, things from my archive and something 100% just for her.

A few animal stamps from a collection I've had for over 10 years, a bird clipping from a magazine, a set of sparkling stickers, a Japanese Maple leaf from my yard, a fuzzy 'M' and 'A', a stamp on Rolodex paper and a set of googly eyes.

A moscow clipping from the New Yorker, the original image transfer of a bear from her first mail art package and an original architectural drawing.  

I really like how this piece turned out. I have been sketching images of houses and buildings with roots lately so thought I'd apply it to a piece done just for her. I'm happy to report that it WAS a hit. She mentioned that she'd like to frame it and wrote a few sweet notes about it here.

Katie Whittington replied to my request to exchange mail art with some excellent treasure. I quickly got to work scavenging through my magazines and collections. I sent her a pressed Japanese Maple leaf from my yard, fuzzy initials, googly eyes, a cat and flower clipping, animal stickers and a rolodex print. I sent her a collection of blue buttons for our button swap and a picture of a gazelle with antlers to fill in the gap of the antler postcard she sent me.

I finished off the package with one of a series of mixed media pieces I've been working on. I have been playing with a Sharpie liquid pencil lately. I scribble a background then go back over it with the eraser soon after. The beauty of that pen is that if you wait too long, it turns permanent and can no longer be erased. I glued a watercolour and stamp octopus (yes, with only four tentacles he's not so octo) to the card to finish it off.

Anika Starmer from AisforAnika was the cork runner up in my cork stamp contest. I was ready to call her the winner the evening before but woke up to a tweet with an even closer guess. I've been eager to exchange mail art with her so took this opportunity to send her a package.

Along with six hand-carved stamps, I threw in sparkly butterfly stickers, googly eyes, fuzzy letters, four reptile picture stamps, origami strips to make stars, origami paper, Rolodex sheets and a few colourful clippings from magazines.

I'm a lucky recipient of one of her 20in20 paintings so I'm happy I crammed so much into this first package.  


Here's hoping the strike situation is quickly resolved, or at least doesn't escalate. I'm hoping next week's post will be heavy on the incoming side.

... J

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Mail Art Monday: Fangirling, Royal Obsessing and Saying Thank You

Despite the (rotating, not national) postal strike, it was a good week for my mailbox. It must have been my lucky trout.


Rhya posted about her new wolf zine recently and told her readers that if they were interested in one to leave a comment. I did and am so delighted with this exceptional mini zine. I have been mesmerized by her envelope diorama posts lately. I am a smitten kitten over this zine, Kitten face and Monster Factory. I think I may have developed a little fan-girl-crush.

I love the watercolour, the layers of texture and colour and the fact that most of her animals seem to have a little bit of stink-eye going on. They come equipped with a little attitude. They're my kind of animal.

I've been keeping track of all of my correspondence with Jessica Gowling and this is round four! Her packages are a delight to examine and devour and this time I almost stopped before opening the envelope... it was just that good. She sent me this wonderful package wrapped up in a royal themed, slightly cheeky, custom envelope. Seriously, it took some coaxing to get me to grab my x-acto and carefully open it. 

I have been infatuated with the royal family lately. I, like everyone else, was swept away by Will & Kate's wedding but it seemed even sweeter that my oldest daughter is nearly the exact same age I was when Diana married Charles and I remember being just as thrilled by every detail of that wedding. The only difference is that then my mom saved newspaper clippings for me to gaze at, and now we keep watching bits of the wedding from my PVR.

The awesome envelope (!!!) included her "who? HOO!" zine about owls, a hilarious sheet of paper with veggie stickers asking me if we could agree on any of the several listed (I'm Team Mushroom and she is, sadly, Team Brussels Sprouts) a piece of note paper with a viking ship to satisfy my love of all things nautical, a seriously cool sticker and a few sheets from some kind of illustrated, snarky school related book. I also received several bingo sheets which was a little funny to me. One of the last design jobs I did before leaving my job in Ottawa was to create custom designed bingo sheets for a company's promotion.


As a thank you for the world's most adorable Bee-Zine, I sent Hollie McManus a few items that I thought represent a bit about me. A stamp and watercolour postcard and a small mixed media piece. I included a set of nautical themed stickers (I must embrace all things nautical with a name like Saylor) as well as a clipping of a snail (oh my there are a lot of them out here) and flowers that I thought were quite pretty.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A series about hair

A series of studies of hair... cool hair. The kind of hair I'm a little too scaredy-cat to try myself.

I started with a large watercolour wash of grey with some orange and pink. Next time I'll try several  tones of grey and more orange and pink as it was a little on the light side this round. As I was penciling in the outlines I tried to erase a tiny bit and wound up taking the watercolour right off. It worked out in the end, as I like the lighter tone it made on the face.

The comb way-over

Spikes and shaved

The mega bangs with dark tips

The extra short bangs with a streak of colour

... J
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