Saturday, January 20, 2007


I wandered into the All Media Event in WetCanvas today and found a group of images from Bejing, China which were there for individuals to draw. This gentleman looked so elegant that I had to draw him. It was done in a Strathmore sketchbook 9 x 12 with graphite and pastel pencil and took about an hour to complete.

The man is from one of the minority groups in China. His photo was taken in Xian, a southeastern city in China. He is Chinese but from a group that practices the Muslim tradition.

I have been so busy lately that I haven't had a lot of time to draw anything, so I'm taking this weekend to indulge myself and make sure I get back to speed on some projects. I'm also waiting for news on the impending birth of a new grandchild, sometime soon I hope! Each phone call makes me jump and want to see who it is. It will arrive when it is ready I'm sure. I just hope I am too!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Illustrated journals

There is something curious and fascinating about drawings enclosed with text. Its like a peek into someone's private life and I guess it is in many ways. Illustrated journals have always been around for a long time but are more in the forefront now since the reintroduction of Moleskine sketchbooks. Danny Gregory's lavish books and website feed ideas and generate more interest in creative journaling. Aleta Karstad has created some simply exquisite naturalist journals.

I want to challenge myself to create an illustrated journal for a month to start with and see if I can keep up the momentum. It will include aspects of life in writing and drawing. Nothing will be torn out or censored. Nothing will be erased or corrected. It will be truly illustrated life.

What if?

What if it truly doesn't matter what you do but how you do whatever you do?

How would this change what you choose to do with your life?

What if you could be more present and openhearted with each person you met if you were working as a cashier in a corner store, or as a parking lot attendant, than you could if you were doing a job you think is more important?

How would this change how you want to spend your precious time on this earth?

What if your contribution to the world and the fulfillment of your own happiness is not dependent upon discovering a better method of prayer or technique of meditation, not dependent upon reading the right book or attending the right seminar, but upon really seeing and deeply appreciating yourself and the world as they are right now?

How would this affect your search for spiritual development?

What if there is no need to change, no need to try to transform yourself into someone who is more compassionate, more present, more loving or wise?

How would this affect all the places in your life where you are endlessly trying to be better?

What if the task is simply to unfold, to become who you already are in your essential nature - gentle, compassionate, and capable of living fully and passionately present?

How would this affect how you feel when you wake up in the morning?

What if who you essentially are right now is all that you are ever going to be?

How would this affect how you feel about your future?

What if the essence of who you are and always have been is enough?

How would this affect how you see and feel about your past?

What if the question is not why am I so infrequently the person I really want to be, but why do I so infrequently want to be the person I really am?

How would this change what you think you have to learn?

What if becoming who and what we truly are happens not through striving and trying but by recognizing and receiving the people and places and practices that offer us the warmth of encouragement we need to unfold?

How would this shape the choices you make about how to spend today?

What if you knew that the impulse to move in a way that creates beauty in the world will arise from deep within and guide you every time you simply pay attention and wait?

How would this shape your stillness, your movement, your willingness to follow this impulse, to just let go and dance?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Drawing opportunities

I will be flying to Calgary in a couple of weeks to spend time with my daughters and a new baby that I'm expecting to make an appearance into the world any day now. That in itself is a drawing extravaganza. A new environment, people, some of them new and a city to explore too. I really do hope to spend some time drawing. I say that when I go away and end up getting caught up in schedules and work and seeing new places and drawing goes out the window a bit.

I do need some quiet time to be able to draw well. Yes I can do it on a crowded plane or airport, but there I can be more or less anonymous, interrupted occasionally by someone passing by who stops to see what I'm doing. But when with many other people around its difficult to get that time alone to draw.

I'm also planning a short side trip to Southern California to see some friends, find a few art supplies that I can't get in Canada and to fit in some drawing too. I haven't been in the US for many years and can't say I relish the thought of the travelling part of it. I'm not a great traveller. I do it, but can't say I truly enjoy it and delays and plane changes seem inevitable with rerouting and flight amalgamations happening constantly.

But the change of scene will be wonderful and hopefully a few days to relax before heading back to Calgary for the weekend, then home again. I will be travelling light, leaving room for goodies... So now I'm searching out good art supply stores, drawing and art opportunities in the Irvine/Anaheim/Laguna Beach area. Suggestions are more than welcome.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Winter's summer

Its bitterly cold today - at least to me. -15C with a wind chill of -27. Even with the fire blazing, I'm still chillly and have to keep getting cups of coffee to warm me. The snow that is down is blowing around and it looks distinctly winter like out there.

So I'm immersing myself in summer again. This time in the form of a shrimp shell. Not particularly a souvenir of summer but the colours are warm and soft and summer like. This was done in Derwent Graphitint pencils and Faber Castell water colour pencils, both dry on a small sketchbook.

I'm also rearranging my medicinal herbs. I keep a variety of herbs that I have grown, harvested and dried, rather like an emergency natural first aid kit that treats everything from coughs and colds to digestive disorders and aches and pains. A number of years ago I took a Chartered Herbalist course that I found very interesting and firmly believe that a large number of ills that are present these days can be treated effectively and much more cheaply by herbs than the current concoctions of over the counter drugs.

I make tinctures and salves, hand creams and teas. Its another part of the creative cycle as well as art in its own right. There is something satisfying about being able to produce and use something beneficial that once was no more than a tiny seed in my hand.

The photo above is of sweet cicely. This herb has a lovely aniseed like smell and sweet taste. Unfortunately, in the right environment it becomes a bit invasive. But it is a beautiful plant with soft leaves and that wonderful scent. The seed heads can be used fresh in salads or dried and ground like nutmeg. The leaves and seeds also make good wood polish. Its quite hardy. It has to be to grow here! But the seeds do need to overwinter out doors or in the cold of a fridge or freezer for them to successfully germinate in the spring.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Savage Creek

And so, as one smart bear once said..."If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you." - Winnie the Pooh.

This small cove exists in Outer Cove, about a 10 minute drive from my house. I drew this from life in the pouring rain, ducking into the car for shelter when it became too harsh to bear. Sea, rocks and sparse vegetation clinging to existence always interest me. Its the harshness of the landscape or the ancient feel which calls me. Savage Creek is a good name for it, even if the creek running to the sea wasn't too wild on this day and was spotted with wild ducks enjoying the rain.

Monday, January 15, 2007


Quite my accident I think I found a source of mylar or something similar. I was in a hardware store and walked down an aisle that had all the stuff for making scrapbooks - I am in the process of making a little book for the newest addition to be in the family. Among the hundreds of squares of fancy paper a translucent series of sheets caught my eye. I bought 4 or 5 sheets from white and neutral to pastel pink and blue, with the thought of using them as an overlay for some of the book.

When I got them home I looked at them more closely and thought that the surface might be good for coloured pencil so last night I tried it using a reference picture of me and it seems to work more or less as I've heard it described for Mylar. I can't get mylar locally - well I did get something that I believe was it but it is stiffer and used more for quilting templates. But this is finer and probably more a cross between parchment and rougher wax paper.

The scanned result doesn't do it justice as it looks much better in real life and changes again with a different coloured sheet behind it as a ground. This version has a plain white sheet behind it. The sketch took about 40 minutes using Prismacolor pencils. If it is mylar or similar, I rather like it and now that I have found a source, I can experiment without worrying where the next sheet will come from.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Head in the clouds

I've been playing with clouds and skies in a landscape class by Diane Wright. Landscapes have always been something I've tackled reluctantly but like most things, once you break it down into smaller, more manageable sections, it become doable.

This working drawing was done on Strathmore Windpower Drawing paper that, at least for this technique, didn't please me much. There was too much tooth on the paper to allow me to blend smoothly. As a result the sky and clouds have a grainy look that I'm not happy with.

I'm having a problem getting a reasonable image of this drawing as well, either with the scanner or through a digital photo. Seems the lack of light is against me day or night lately. I was even at the point of considering buying a new camera to see if that helps with the problem, then sanity returned, albeit briefly.

I'll let my head stay in the clouds a few days longer. Its often a nicer place to be than reality.