Saturday, March 18, 2006

Something or someone I love

In another group that I am part of, Everyday Matters, there is a weekly challenge in drawing an item and then journaling about that drawing. This week, the challenge is to draw something or someone that I love.

That is a difficult choice as there are many somethings and fewer someones that I can commit to paper or words.

I will start with two images. One is the completed portrait of my youngest daughter. She is 27 now and lives thousands of miles from me. I recall good times and hard times and funny times with her. We clash at times because we are so alike and we laugh because we are so alike. I love her because of our differences and despite them. My oldest daughter is another of my loves, who also lives far away. Her portrait will come soon as it is equally important to me. As is her presence in my life.

Another love I had that I didn't know was so great until it was gone was my dog. He died 3 months ago at the age of 16. I watched him in the last year as his health faltered and old age gripped him. He didn't complain as most dogs don't, but stiffness and heavy sleep filled his days along with deafness and the cough of heart and lung congestion. I sketched him as he lay sleeping on the floor or the sofa, noticing how rough his fur had become. He had that 'old teddy bear' look and the same musty smell.

Once he was gone, it felt unbearable for a week or so, then gradually I adapted to an empty house. It is true. You don't know how much you love someone or something until they are gone.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Ireland - Two Thousand Miles Closer

That is what Newfoundland is. A little piece of Ireland, with origins after the Vikings to Ireland and England. Even now you can tell where someone's roots are by listening to them talk. There's still a thick brogue in some and phrases in others that aren't heard anywhere outside of Ireland or the West of England.

So St. Patrick's Day here is the same excuse for a party as it is in Ireland.

I don't participate usually with green beer, kiss me I'm Irish hats, or Celtic music even though I ahve connections to Ireland. My first husband was Irish, from Cork and I lived there for a year experiencing all the good and bad that it has to offer.

A conversation tonight sparked off memories of my early days in Ireland and how I travelled from coast to coast, some by bicycle, some by train, some by car. I went from Cork to Galway and the Aran Islands to the north and back across to Dublin, visiting small vilages are large urban centres, each different and unique.

One spot that captured my heart and imagination was a tiny village called Inch in the southwest on the Dingle Peninsula. I bicyled from Killarney to Dingle over two days and spent one night in Inch. Its claim to fame is a 6km sand beach that is breathtaking. This is an image of Inch Strand.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Most of us are familiar with pub crawls where you go from bar to bar to bar but end up with nothing much to show for it besides an empty wallet and a hangover.

Sketchcrawls are similar in principle but you spend a day sketching, exploring your city, town, house, garden, wherever you choose to go and fill your sketchbook. You can go alone but there's safety and more fun in numbers.

I will explore this idea soon and take my sketchbook on the road for a morning and afternoon, a day and see what I come up with. is a great place to visit and see worldwide sketchcrawls. Join in, draw, enjoy.

My sketchpad is always at the ready and here are a couple of samples.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

My Stash

I have a confession to make.

No, I haven't had secret plastic surgery or run off with a delicious man. Its more secretive than that.

I have a stash.

Of knitting yarn.

Now don't look so shocked. It is a common affliction. Let's be a little generous here.

I knit. I have knit since I was taught to by my father and in a painful experience in 4th grade by a teacher. Even though those experiences, I still stuck with it, knitting big baggy cardigans in the 70s, on to baby clothes as my children arrived, endless sweaters for people, myself, for no one in particular. Hats, mittens and scarves are countless in production. I evolved from basic forms to complex patterns with historical significance such as 16th centure guernseys or arans and usually have at least two projects that I can work on at the same time. One for simple, mindless knitting that takes no thought and another that demands full concentration with complex patterns or colour changes to test my mental ability.

Part of the process of knitting is in the planning, and poring over patterns and yarn choices. That is where the stash comes in. Yarn stores or yarn sections of larger stores, even online yarn stores have a magnetic pull to me. And I cannot leave without at least a couple of those on sale alpaca yarns in my hand, or that pure wool handpainted in Uraguay. Then there are the simply too good to pass up sales of brand names at bargain prices. Sigh.

I have a full set of cupboards in my utility room, like a set of kitchen cabinets, top and bottom. The bottom is filled with yarn and some half finished projects. The top cabinets are filled with patterns. Yes, I admit it. I can't help it. But it IS good insulation and Ill never run out of things to knit with and people who come to visit browse through it for hours as if it were a store, selecting yarn, patterns, needles and settling in for a good afternoon knitting and chatting.

The stash of yarn is like art in the wings, waiting to spring to life. The colours are my palette, the patterns my lines and the final product is a piece of art. You can't buy one of those sweaters or hats or mittens in a store, each is unique with history, time and love gone into it.

So now I have a few more balls tucked away in the sideboard that I must transfer downstairs....did I mention that part of the stash habit is being secretive? Others just don't understand the need to keep searching for that ultimate Trophy Yarn. Then again, I'm fickle, my Trophy Yarn changes every few weeks.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Mice and art

There really isn't a connection unless you consider that both are found everywhere. Even here in a blog.

But although I don't like the thought of mice running with wild abandon through the house, I do like their form with tiny faces and delicate feet. Yes, yes, they harbour disease and germs and bubonic plague you wait, that was rats. (they, I don't like much)

The barn is the ultimate Disneyland vacation world for mice. Warmed by animals and poultry. Hay and sawdust to make nests with and lots of grain and feed that chickens or horses spill. Horses aren't a danger to mice, in fact they're quite scared of them and at times won't go into their stall if they've seen a mouse scutter past. Can't blame them really, I wouldn't want one in my bed either. The chickens and ducks are another story altogether. They will chase down, kill and eat mice. Traps keep mice at bay to lessen risk of disease and keep the population at bay. The trappings are then tossed as a peace offering to the crows - a sort of pact with them not to get me out of bed at 5 am in the summer with their 'melodious' songs.

An overpopulation of mice in the barn was the inspiration of this drawing. And just as the barn houses more inevitably, so does my head and hand so this little guy is for sale. The drawing measues 6 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches. Rendered in graphite on Bristol smooth and framed in black with white corrugated matting rimmed in black.

Monday, March 13, 2006


Aren't emotions the oddest things?

How do they take over your body and your mind and your soul no matter how hard to fight against them? They creep in and invade all elements of your life, no matter what the origin. They can interfere with functioning, eating, sleeping, speech and creativity.

Today I can feel the frustration as a physical knot in my stomach. Its real, tangible proof of its existance, but I can't reach it and remove it. A combination of my mind and circumstances can make it disappear, but I can't will it away.

Creativity doesn't exist well in the circle of frustration and becomes stifled. I can't reach that magical point of almost disappearance into creativity if it is present. It is like a wall blocking my entrance.

I came across the following article that may serve to break the circle.

The Ultimate Creative Conspiracy Theory

Whether it's the second gunman on the grassy knoll, the alien mystery at Roswell or what really is hidden within the high-security confines of Area 51... conspiracy theories abound. Many of us are amused by the speculation, while hardcore buffs examine every nuance looking for clues to support their version of the story.

If you'll notice, all of these conspiracy theories involve some type of dastardly deed or cover-up. Someone is out to brainwash us or hide the facts from the public. After all, "the truth is out there," according to X-Files scripture. I never seem to hear people suspecting, for instance, a conspiracy by furniture salesman to stuff money into the nooks and crannies of the couches they sell. Yet I always find change under the cushions when I clean. Hmm... maybe they're secretly... Oh, never mind.

There's another kind of conspiracy conjurer. You know the type. The artist, musician or writer who believes the deck has been stacked against him or that nobody will ever give her a break. "This town is just not artist-friendly," he/she proclaims. "This sucks. Why bother?"

To listen to these people, you'd think the radio stations, theatre groups, art galleries (or whatever venue applies) were all part of a sick joke, trying to obliterate creative growth. And just like the bigger conspiracy nuts, they find clues and plenty of ammo to support their claims.

"See, that guy never returned my call," they announce. "I can't buy a job in this town." Anything even remotely inconvenient that happens to them lends credence to the devious master plot.

Here's a fun little game that I challenge you to play. It's called the Inverse Conspiracy Game. For one entire day, I encourage you to go through the day believing wholeheartedly that there is a conspiracy involving you. Only with this Inverse Conspiracy, the whole world and everyone in it are involved in a conspiracy to help you succeed.

If you're familiar with the recent Jim Carey movie "The Truman Show," you know what I mean. In the film, everything that happens to the main character is a preplanned scene -- only he has no idea it's fabricated.

So for one day, imagine that everyone is pitching in on a secret mission to help you. There's a positive reason behind everything that happens to you. Even seemingly negative events are put into action in order to propel you toward a reward that's just around the corner. And it's your job to break the code and figure out exactly how the world intends for you to use what happens to your advantage.

True, this isn't your father's conspiracy theory. It will take some brain work to reorient your mental perspective -- especially to keep it up for an entire day. But just think how this shift in attitude might alter your progress. You'll be forced to view everything in a far more constructive light. And when bad things do happen, it will be your mission to find the hidden opportunity (instead of more reasons to stop trying to reach your creative goals).
Give this inverse conspiracy theory a try. You can always go back to looking for evil schemes and cover-ups. In the meantime, you just might discover an alien on a grassy knoll waiting to help you succeed.

Bob Baker is the author of "Unleash the Artist Within," "Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook" and "Branding Yourself Online." Get a FREE subscription to Bob's newsletter, "Quick Tips for Creative People," featuring inspiration and low-cost, self-promotion ideas for artists, writers, performers and more. Visit for details.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Lost weekend

I have been holed up all weekend trying to catch up on work and drawing that is well overdue and I actually made progress.

Sometimes deadlines provide the incentive to create or finish tasks as without them I can meander and put things aside for another day. Today I made inroads on a number of creative and mundane tasks, mostly satisfying even if some of them weren't quite what I would have chosen to do.

One of my horses is the reference for a weekly drawing thread. Lady, a quarter horse is a beautiful animal, but rather tempermental. In her short 6 years of life, she's had at least three homes that I know of and some of them with less than ideal owners. As a result, she is very mistrustful of people, but slowly coming around. Here is the image that was used as the reference and a sketch that I started of it, but haven't yet completed.

I'd like to start this drawing again but in colour. I just need another 'lost' weekend.

I've worked more on the portrait of my daughter and am at the adjustment stage. I have most of the elements and tones in place but am finding slight adjustments to features or tone need to take place to ensure a likeness. Its always tiresome to do this as it becomes a little frustrating but it helps me learn to be more accurate and not rush my drawing in the future! Here are the updates as they occurred. You can see the adjustments as the drawing evolves.