Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Doodling on Coffee Mugs

Painted Mug

Looks pretty good, right? Well, it almost turned out.

I found various links for Sharpie drawings on mugs or plates and gave it a try. Instead of using the regular markers, I used Sharpie Paint pens. They're oil-based and for some reason I thought it might work better than office-use pens. The mug lasted through the bake time to set the colour but didn't hold up with a light hand wash. After a gentle scrub there were scratch marks and it was apparent it would wash completely away in the dishwasher.

The marker investment won't be wasted. I'm currently using them for my nesting dolls. If anyone else plans on using this method for a gift, make sure it's on an item that won't get regular use. I think I'll put this slightly imperfect mug in my studio as a holder for my new pens.

I know showing a craft idea that didn't work out isn't a new thing. I think there are several other blogs dedicated to botched Pinterest & Martha Stewart crafts. I'm curious, though. Do you have a post or story to tell of a project gone awry? Did you keep trying until you got it right or give up?



Monday, November 12, 2012

Mail Art Monday: Autumn Edition

Did September and October run past you as well? Mine ran past in a screaming blur of school, birthday parties and yard work. Here's what's been arriving in my postbox over the last few months.

In my postbox...

Dana also returned to mail art with a lovely Bert's Bees envelope stuffed full of nautical inspired goodies as well as items with watercolour washes. I am completely smitten with her recent photos of the Praying Mantis on her Echinacea. Aren't they amazing?!

Sarah has a knack for making small envelopes full of interesting ephemera. Her Daffodil drawing was an instant hit for me and the Aurora stickers were quickly confiscated by a certain princess obsessed wee little.

I was in a state of serious Olympic withdrawal when Jill's delightful package arrived and satisfied my British cravings. We are a Lego obsessed house and Jill sent us a Mr Bob Lego. Now I just have to think of an interesting photo shoot for this little guy.

Jessica continued our postcard exchange with an island predator scene. An interesting selection of new material for my turn was included along with some cool stickers and a clipping about my town.

I have several packages on their way to my friends and I'm putting the final touches on a couple more.  The next mail art post should be all about the happy mailboxes across the country and across the ocean.



Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Unpainted Matryoshka

Well, it certainly has been a while since my last post. Where have I been? What have I been doing?

Since late this summer I have been exercising vigorously and consistently five days a week. Aerobics progressed to strength training and then running. I have caught the running bug that always seemed to elude me in the past. I started off in the evenings when the kids were tucked into bed. Once school started for my oldest child, I exercised in the afternoon which eliminated my studio time. When evening rolls around after homework, snacks, meals and cleaning, I am worn out and can only muster a few pages of a book or a TV show. I usually fall asleep during both of those activities, too.

There was also a subtle shift that happened in the summer where I began viewing this blog as a chore. One that took me away from the garden, fresh air or my other activities. I know myself well enough to know that if something feels like a chore it's time to step back and take a break.

Several months have passed without any significant time on here or in my studio and I do finally miss it. This weekend I spent my extra hour (due to daylight savings time) in my studio cleaning, organizing and purging. I discovered a few items and supplies I had purchased years ago and never got around to working with. Starting this week I am spending more time in the studio and I'm working on some of these forgotten projects. I have a set of Matryoshka dolls that I am prepping for painting, a family Christmas card to design, several mail art replies and an acrylic painting that I may or may not repaint.

Am I alone here? Do you ever walk away from your art or design to renew your creativity or do you create until you feel renewed? Thank you for waiting patiently. I hope you'll enjoy the posts and projects on here in the next little while.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012


The first time I visited Futuregirl's site I had been searching the internet for tips on hand stitching felt. I wanted to make a couple of small toys and dolls for my first daughter and found some very easy-to-follow instructions on Alice's blog. I lingered on her site for quite some time, reading her past posts and getting to know her through her writing. When I started this little blog, one of the first posts I wrote was about the felt projects I completed using her tutorials. I ignored my shyness and sent her an email with my link. She replied and featured my bag in a post about projects from her tutorials.

Several months later she wrote a wonderful piece about blog comments and I left a reply. I told her about how thankful I was for her encouragement and kind words for my fledgling blog and artwork. We've kept in touch since, via our blogs and twitter.

Another few months (or maybe a year) later, Alice asked me if I was interested in a trade. A painting for some embroidery, knitting or crochet. I may have made an audible 'squee' sound while I replied YES! After exchanging a few emails in which I showed her links as to what type of cowl I might like and colour, I got to work on her painting.

Actually, I had a few moments of panic first. Ohmygod, what have I agreed to? My painting's going to blow and she'll wonder why she ever asked me to trade. Can I get out of this without embarrassing myself? No, no, no, it'll be fine. Just going to do one quick Hail Mary before I tuck this into the postbox. FINGERS CROSSED! While she may not have done the same desperate internal dialogue, it turns out she too gets anxious over trades and was hoping I loved the cowls.

Scarves from Future Girl

OF COURSE I loved the cowls! They are warm grey, soft and all around beautiful! Plus, I was only expecting one. Imagine my delight when I open the package and find two; one crochet an one knit. I can't wait until our weather shifts just a little bit more so I can wear them.

Painting for Future Girl

When creating Alice's main painting, I layered several washes of colour from light to dark. I drew the triangles and filled them in with gouache then outlined them with ink and drew the trees. Alice mentioned she was reading The Hobbit, so I did a little research and pulled a quote I thought was appropriate for life in general. The very last item was four sheets of hand painted watercolour stickers for her correspondence.

The only detail I left out was a title for the main painting. If I had waited to mail it until I could think of a title, it would still be sitting in my studio. I managed to name two little humans, but when it comes to artwork, I'm always stumped. Any suggestions?

This has been a fantastic summer project. One I'm hoping we'll keep up over the years. It's also inspired me to finally tackle the large canvases I have in our main living space. Lots of colour and forest themes are in order!


Monday, August 20, 2012

Mail Art Monday: Summer Edition

I looked back on my last post and could barely believe that well over a month has past since I last wrote about mail art. What can I say other than the lure of warm weather and time spent in my garden or around beaches took me far away from my computer most days.

In their postbox...

Jill had sent me a few pieces from her side of the ocean and so I sent her pieces of my garden in return. I also tucked in a few pictures from my region along with paper a postcard and a few more lovely chickens.

Sarah received a few photos from my visits (or time living in) BC, Nova Scotia & Ontario along with a few Canadian stamps. A petal from my garden, watercolour pieces and handmade stickers were tucked inside with a local postcard.

I returned Belinda's watercolour card with my fish drawings. The white circles reminded me of bubbles and so a few goldfish popped into mind when I started sketching. I returned the favour with a watercolour sheet of my own along with some handmade stickers, petals, a butterfly sticker and the twenty cents I owed her son for his lovely drawing.

Thankfully, the postcard I made for Jessica turned up while she was unpacking after her recent move.
This time I drew a fan on a scrap of paper and cut triangles out of the paper she supplied to create a colourful breeze cooling the air.

In my postbox...

Barbara spoiled me rotten with two lovely packages this summer. The first was sent during her summer holiday and included a sketch, a gorgeous flower photo, British Columbia paper clippings and the most delightful sprout bookmarks.

Barbara's second amazing package was all about waffles! My family has a tradition of having homemade waffles every Saturday morning. Not only did she create an adorable waffle pop-out illustration with a my very own logo, she went so far as to show me pictures of her own waffles... that she used for printmaking! I'm also assuming she saved some to eat.

Kimi sent me pieces of the Arthouse Sketchbook tour to me with her latest package. She was kind enough to check out my sketchbook while she was visiting (and nicking their paper ephemera for me). A print of a recent colourful and happy painting as well as a clipping of a sweet anchor dress were also included. If I ever came across this dress, I'd have a hard time passing it up!

I'm hoping that I'll post about mail art a little more often than seasonally in the coming months. The idea of spending a few hours tucked in my studio on a cool rainy day sounds like the perfect fall day.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Watercolour Washes

Before I start sharing a few process shots of a painting I'm creating (for a very exciting trade!!), I thought I'd show you the small studies I created. Testing ideas, materials and colours I whipped up a few quick paintings.



I created a few thumbnails of my ideas in my sketchbook then started adding splashes of water and paint onto the small sheets until something interesting formed.

I've rarely done studies or tests before painting. I'm more of a jump in and wing it kind of girl. I'm pleased with what I was able to figure out with these small paintings and it's been handy to have a colour reference right in front of me while I draw or apply layers of wash.

What about you? Do you plan ahead or wing it?


Thursday, July 12, 2012

From Tea to Storage

Over this past winter I became a regular tea drinker. Every Wednesday night I would brew a pot of Calm Tea and drink it all while catching up on Downton Abbey. Next to my Friday night bottle glass or two of red wine, it was my favourite part of the week.

Once the tin was emptied I tried to peel the label off to use it for stamps and stickers but quickly realized it wasn't going to be an easy endeavor. The solution was to slather on some glue and stick some of my origami paper onto the label.

Cardinal & Owl admiring the pretty tin

The best part, other than having pretty storage for my collected stamps, is the smell of lemon and mint that wafts up every time open it up.

On a slightly related side note, I looked at the list of ingredients in the tea and I have many of the plants growing in my garden. Perhaps I'll try my hand at saving leaves for tea.

Have you reused a coffee or tea tin for storage? Send me a link, I'd love to have a look!


Friday, July 6, 2012

4x6 Trade: Sedna & Landscape

Remember my 4x6 trade with Marcus at Lucky Jack Press? Well, I'm happy to report that there is another set to tell you all about.

A blanket of trees over the mountains.

I replied to Marcus's glimpse of the North with an illustration of my new surroundings as well as the landscape that I am much more familiar with, the prairies. The larger half is 4x6 and the smaller, folded bit was around 3 inches. I split up the scene by using only ink on one side and marker on the other.

I find the mountains covered in trees to be comforting in the winter as it looks like a warm blanket of green. In contrast, it also seems crowded and compressed, and limits the amount of daylight we see.

Mostly sky

It has taken me nearly 20 years to truly appreciate the large sky and limitless horizon I grew up with. Seeing a thunderstorm brewing miles away while sitting in a spot of sunshine. The crunch of the dry grass and the smell of sage in the air.

It's not that I don't love my new surroundings, it's a true treasure to live so close to the ocean and the rainforest. It's simply taking a bit of time for me to settle. I imagine an islander would be equally perplexed during the long Prairie winter.

A gorgeous collection of texture. Excuse the thumb placement.

Marcus kept his promise and rewarded me with some amazing Sedna imagery. The mythology is fascinating, but I prefer the version in which her father is trying to help her rather than intentionally sacrificing his daughter. Perhaps I'm biased as a mother of two daughters.

The trade came in the best envelope, SHIPS! There was also an amazing aerial texture postcard with a note attached.

It's my turn to send a reply. I've been stewing on my ideas for a bit, but I think I may have something in mind shortly.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Mail Art Monday: Swaps and Space

The lazy days of summer have officially begun around here. With the end of school, we find ourselves moving through our days at a slower pace and not realizing we're still in our pajamas at 2pm. My list of mail art replies is growing, so I will have to carve out a little bit of time away from my garden and back in the studio.

In their postbox...

Emily received a few more of my origami envelopes full of stamps, prints clippings and punches.

Kelly put on a paper swap recently and I put together a package for Jodi full of postcards and bits of paper from my studio all nestled inside a sea otter envelope.

In my postbox...

Belinda's package arrived with a piece of art from her son (with a note that he is charging $0.20), stickers and a collaborative piece. I'm to draw on the watercolour image and send it back. I think I'll nick that idea and send one back in my next reply.

Jessica's adorable change of address postcard arrived from sunny California.

Jodi's package to me for Kelly's swap was stuffed full of of wonderful bits of paper, stickers and stamps.

Sumi's sea and space themed package was a delight! The ship illustration on the magazine is stunning and the old watch faces are intriguing. The best bit was the 3D paper with glasses!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Poppies, Sketchbook Spread

It's poppy season! The delicate orange California poppies have filled all the available ditches and meadows in the area. I've also spied a few special varieties in neighbour's yards. I was inspired to paint another page in my watercolour sketchbook.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Mail Art Monday: A Three Week Surplus

What happens when I wait three weeks, rather than two, to post about mail art? I play catch up with an enormous post!

In their postbox...

Belinda received another colourful package which included art prints, stamped sheets made with cork stamps, paper ephemera, stamps, stickers and a few prints from my first arthouse sketchbook.

Catherine recently had her first child. I rifled through my collections and found a few paper bits that had images of a mother and child. I also included a few of my art prints, stickers and some Canadian stamps.

For my next package to Sarah, I changed things up a little and sent her mail art supplies along with a letter. Several sheets of colourful stickers and a few sheets of my kozo washi paper were tucked inside a handmade envelope.

Barbara has been sending me beautiful drawings of flowers and this time I returned the favour with a poppy painted using gouache on canvas paper and a columbine with watercolour. I pressed a small flower from our yard (a buttercup, perhaps?) and found a couple of flower postage stamps. I was finally able to print some of my photographs so I tucked those in along with washi paper, watercolour circles and a bumble bee sticker.

In my postbox...

Jessica's next postcard arrived along with a new set of material for my reply. Her nifty envelope included mini scrabble letters affixed near the address. I'm nearly finished her reply and should be able to send it off this week.

Jill's delightful package arrived with a bit of the ocean tucked inside. A piece of pottery with smooth corners, a full, tiny shell and pieces of another shell were all tightly wrapped inside a small envelope with a ribbon. Postcards, stamps, stickers, paper ephemera and drawings were also included. I will have to go on a beach combing trip to find a few small bits from my side of the pond for my reply.

Sarah is featured again! Her royal-themed package arrived in a flash. Upon opening the union jack envelope, I was greeted by a personalized, engraved jubilee medal. This girl is crazy generous. The whole family is a big fan of Wallace & Gromit and, frankly I'm a fan of the royals in general, so this package was an all around hit.

Gardening seems to be at a manageable level these days. I'm going to squirrel away a few hours this week to work on mail art, a new painting and a very exciting trade. What are you up to?


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

LE Sketchbook: Covers

The last part of each sketchbook project I complete is always the cover. I feel as though I have to see all of the completed pages before I can get a good idea for the cover.

The inside front cover has a brief description about the subject of the sketchbook.

The inside back cover ends with a similar style as that of the first page. Our family rhythm repeats our distance and time love story.

See the rest of my Limited Edition Sketchbook pages.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mail Art Monday: Decorated Envelopes

This warm, sunny weather has found me spending most of my free time outside either gardening or playing with the kids. I will be making these mail art posts biweekly for the summer so they'll each be substantial and I get a bit less screen time.

in their mailbox...

Jessica received my first postcard reply this week. I'm not thoroughly satisfied with my first contribution but I am enjoying pushing my comfort zone and the surprises that arise. This card came with a story about fishing in northern Saskatchewan with my family. There was a rush of excitement when I'd catch one but I couldn't help feeling guilty when it was on its way to be cleaned for dinner.

I also included a collection of clippings, paper and circles for her reply.

in my postbox...

Sarah may have set a record for the fastest overseas reply (in fact, she mentioned it was only three days!). I was surprised and delighted to see a sewn envelope with a nautical scene painted on one side and a small pocket with a bundle of paper ephemera on the other.

When I originally signed up for the orphaned postcard project I requested three postcards. In my first reply from Post Muse I learned that two of them had already found a home. After sending off my first card I requested two more which arrived this week. A Portage & Main city of Winnipeg card (my birth city) and a Brugge card.

Barbara has also found herself spending most of her spare time in the garden. To my benefit (and great delight) she found time to put together a wonderful package which, once again, spoiled me rotten. The envelope was decorated with a beautiful flower and inside I found a colourful collection of ephemera, stickers, paper, prints and stamps. Along with lettuce seeds, she also included a helpful clipping on how to keep those pesky cats from leaving 'deposits' in your garden. I had ungraciously announced that I hoped our neighbourhood cougars would eat our unwelcome feline visitor. These tips seem to be a much more humane approach.

Since my heart seems to be in the yard rather than the studio lately, perhaps I'll bring some elements of my garden into my next round of mail art replies.


Monday, April 30, 2012

Mail Art Monday: Slugs and Prints

This week flew right by. While I was a little sad to find nothing in my mail box, I was delighted to hear that two packages arrived at their destinations.

In their postbox...

I had set aside an old atlas page for a mail art envelope ages ago but it wasn't until I was putting together Barbara's mail art package that I found the perfect fit. Her home town of Kamloops was highlighted perfectly so that my stamp and address label fit around the town. There's a great shot of the finished envelope on Barbara's blog. In this perfectly suited envelope I stuffed in a print of my first arthouse sketchbook page that I thought she'd enjoy, being an avid gardener. I made two mini envelopes and stuffed one with bugs and bees and the other with cats. A few clippings including a funny New Yorker cartoon, geometric shapes, a Russian flashcard and a gardening clipping with a wonderful quote about spring. I topped off the package with a couple of silhouette prints.

Sarah received my reply to our first exchange with a bright magenta envelope stuffed full of prints, stamps, drawings stickers and a local postcard. Sarah lives in the UK and I thought it might be interesting to send along some Canadian stamps as well as a postcard that highlights the landscape right around my town on the island.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

4x6 Trade

I was tempted by the thought of Arthouse Coop's 4x6 exchange project but dissuaded by the necessity to have a US stamp on the envelope. While I was asking Twitter what they thought, Marcus at Lucky Jack Press offered a personal trade. I took Marcus up on his offer and quickly got to work.

After some hemming and hawing, starts and stops, I decided to create a self-portrait. I used some of the handmade watercolour paper I received from Jill and started with a wash of green, grey and black in the background. I penciled in my head using my sketchbook page as a reference. I cut the face out and created three, two-sided inserts. I used magazine clippings, illustrations, origami paper and stickers. Each side represents a memory or event.

I put tabs on each insert after realizing it wasn't very easy to get each one in and out.

Marcus replied with fold-out 4x6 card representing elements of his surroundings in the Yukon. A mixed media polar bear with a stoic gaze appears on one side while the inside's colours are reminiscent of a Yellowknife sunset.

The other side held a photo of the northern lights. It took me a little time to recall where I was when I saw them in person. With a little help from my mother, I was able to recall that it was likely on a camping trip in northern or central Saskatchewan. Away from the city lights where the stars are piercingly bright and the gentle waves of aurora borealis can be seen dancing across the sky. It's really magical.

A Baker Lake art postcard was also included with a message that conveyed a longing for spring. I think all Canadians are feeling the same way, no matter how mild or harsh the winter.

Marcus had been teasing me with hints of the story of Sedna. While this initial trade didn't have any Sedna illustrations, I'm pleased to read that our trade will continue and perhaps Sedna will appear one of these days.


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