Saturday, January 27, 2007


I drew this image in my Moleskine very early this morning. The image is a bit unsettling to me, but I'm not sure why. The metallic sheen of the face and the half real/half unreal reed mask probably does it along with the intense gaze from that one dark eye.

Masks aren't often seen in North America except at Halloween or cultural festivals and are more comonplace in some other other countries. They do transform a person and provide mystery.

The image made me think of how many invisible masks that we wear in real life to mask our emotions without realizing it.

Friday, January 26, 2007


Tonight Blogger won't cooperate. Each time I try to post an image, it makes my whole browser shut down. It may be Blogger, it may be my computer, it may be the snowstorm raging outside and interfering with electricity. So I'll stick with words and leave images to your imagination as I don't want to lose this post for a third time.

Each day I drive to and from work, a journey of about 20-30 minutes depending on traffic. I rather enjoy that time to myself, cocooned in my car. It gives me time to think, to listen to music or to prepare for or unwind from the day. It also gives me time to consider what I will write in my blog. Some days I am bursting with ideas and am anxious to put words to computer. Other days, I draw a blank. Friends tell me to write anyway, to post images, to let my mind spill onto paper.

I can see how a writer's block is the same as an artist's block. During those times I must satisfy myself with snippets of nothing. I draw tiny vignettes that may be no more than 2 inches high on scraps of paper or sketch obscure objects, anything to keep my mind moving in the general direction. It may not have immediate effect but it eventually works and something flows, either words or images.

Tonight I'm not uninspired, but rather spoiled for choice and lazy. I know what I want to draw, but am too lazy to go through the necessary steps to make it happen. So I'm instead drawing an eye in pastel pencil on colorfix paper- one inch square. Its a test to see what detail I can fit into a tiny space. Quite a lot in fact!

Thursday, January 25, 2007


I've completed the drawing of the Westie and it wasn't as stressful as I'd anticipated. There's always room for improvement and I can see some areas that I'd rework, but just doing it was a good experience as I'd avoided long haired dogs wherever possible in the past.

Now the next challenge, a long haired black dog!

A friend who I met through an art forum sent me a piece of Colorfix paper that arrived today. I have wanted to try this paper which has a very fine sanded texture that works with pastels and coloured pencil. I can't wait to try it but deciding just what to draw on it is the next decision. Should I use the whole paper about 9 x 12 it looks or should I cut it into smaller pieces and experiment. I think the latter may be a good idea. I'll see what I can come up with over the next few days.

Another winter storm is due tomorrow afternoon. Not large amounts of snow but very high winds - 100- 120kpm - which makes that wonderful horizontal snow that whips into you and around you, making visibility virtually nil. I've driven in many blizzards before, not because I enjoy driving in blizzards but its usually a necessity. Blizzards don't often cooperate and start overnight, making it a simple decision at 6:30am to look out the window, go 'nawwwwwww' and head back to bed. Blizzards usually start after you've gotten to work and then you have to fight your way home at some point when everything shuts down through snow clogged city streets, sliding sideways, white knuckled at the wheel vowing to move somewhere south as soon as the airport is open again. How many days of winter are left now??

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Snow day

This is my driveway after a winter storm. Its been plowed and another light layer of snow on top of the stuff piled up there.

A severe winter storm shut down most of the city today. High winds and heavy snow put about 20 cm of snow down then turned to rain late in the afternoon. There haven't been many snow days in the last few years. Perhaps another effect of global warming. We get snow but not in the same quantities as we once did.

A snow day is a bonus holiday in the middle of the week and even though I know nothing is operating, I still feel somewhat guilty about not being at work. But I got over it. I cleaned and did laundry and drew.

I also started cataloguing photos that I have on various computers in the house. They build up quickly and take up substantial space on the hard drive. Today I catalogued and put on cd 2300 photos and drawings. That was just my laptop. I then started on the desktop computer. That one is scary.

What did we all do before computers? Where did we file all those photos or are they like the ones I have from my mother's house, in folders and boxes, rarely in any order and people racking their brains to find out who the guy in the back was?

Then comes music. I have a lot on my computer that I load on to mp3 players or listen to on headphones. Music is another space eater but using my cds in the sound system at home seems a rarity lately. Actually I prefer headphones. The sound level is more intense and I can hear more with them than when I am surrounded by music in a room.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Art stamps

In March 2007, Canada Post will issue two new stamps showing the art of Mary Pratt. Jelly Shelf, shown here is one of my favourites of hers. I love how the light shines through the glass and is reflected on the shelf. I visited Mary's exhibition Simple Bliss at the Rooms before Christmas and saw this image there. Her ability to create works of art from everyday things is amazing. From cakes under glass to basting a roasting turkey, the reality and colour of each piece is exquisite.

The second stamp will be both local and international and will feature an iceberg. I listened to an interview with Mary Pratt on CBC this morning talking about these paintings being turned into stamps and how the paintings were produced. She is so down to earth about it all and gives the impression that it isn't a big deal, in fact, quite the opposite. Its refreshing to find an artist whose career is established, accepting that art is art, and not a pretentious object to be revered, analyzed and solemnized.

Monday, January 22, 2007

More white

Its amazing what a snowstorm does for creativity. I spent more time yesterday working on the white dog, refining hair and trying to achieve that hairy, yet soft and appealing look. I can see that this drawing is going to take some time to get it where I want it to be. I'm a little worried about it becoming too dark, after all, it is a white dog. The animal has that 'I've done something wrong and I'm in big trouble' look on its face.

I used to have a West Highland Terrier many years ago. She was so full of energy it took all mine to keep up with her and keep her out of trouble. She was fearless, attacking any other dog that moved, true terrier style. I remember prising her jaws off the neck of a large German Shepard who she took a dislike to while I let her run off her energy in the corn field near my house. The GS dog was pretty unperturbed by this little hairy creature attached to its throat. Luckily no one got hurt - especially me.

In that field there was a badger sett still being used by a family of badgers. Badgers are fairly large animals and low slung with fierce jaws and claws. The sett was deep in the ground and had been there for many many years. Misty would occasionally head for the set when I let her off the lead and I remember lying flat on my stomach, arm down the badger hole dragging this dog, who was muttering under her breath out into the air again so I could clip her on. I lived in fear that my arm would become badger food one day and I so hated it if she tried to go down into the sett, so she was usually kept on her lead in that field.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


I'm testing myself with a new dog portrait today.

Its a West Highland Terrier and they are so very hairy to draw. I've been inspired by Mike Sibley's book Drawing from Line to Life which I just received and want to make myself tackle more complex pieces. I've always shied away from long haired dogs and have found that it's a perceived notion of difficulty for the most part. Once I break the piece down into manageable sections, it doesn't become quite so horrific. So I'm drawing hair. White hair. I do like to test myself, don't I?

Meanwhile outside, another mini storm is hitting with horizontal snow falling. (Does it actually fall if its horizontal? More like pile up in a corner. ) Wind and snow go together here it seems. I rarely see it snow where the flakes fall straight down. We don't have fairytale snow here very often.

So I'm going to sit by the fire and draw white hair, drink coffee, eat cinnamon rolls while a home grown chicken roasts for supper. Winter demands comfort in whatever form it comes.