Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Deer in the City

This is my neighbourhood just after the recent snow.
These fellows were friendly.
I fed them some apples.
I guess my sketching characters have come to life!
What fun!
I wonderf if the black line is as pleaseing to the eye as the lighter outline?
My first design is on my other blog

Monday, December 17, 2007


It's been quite a week.
To keep this blog up to date I am posting some little pen sketches i've been doing on the side while watching TV.
Christmas is coming on fast.
I am not ready for it and I thought I was.
I haven't made Christmas cards this year and I am realizing it is too late!
That's Santa hiding from me behind that tree.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Creative Process this week

1. The painting.

2. Converting it to a line drawing.

3. Adding flat colour to the vector file.

4. playing with colour in the vector mode.

Maybe I have broken through the block I have experienced over ths past while.

I've been playing with a rooster drawing this week.

I started with a sketch from about five photos of different roosters I have on hand.

First I made some large rough drawings on a sketch pad.

Then I went back to the drawings and worked one of them up into a more detailed line sketch.

Then I stuck him up on the window and I traced him onto a piece of water colour paper 18" x 24 ".

I painted him with watercolors. After that was done and after staring at him for a couple of days and seeing all the flaws, I decided to make him into a tight line drawing fo scanning. Once into the computer I converted him with Corel TRACE to a vector file and colored him in. I tried out a few different ways. I can go on forever with this. It is fun. Not productive at all (maybe) but fun.

And below you can see the little animation I made as an experiment.

So. Now what? Hmmmm.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

An Experiment

It is raining in Vancouver today. Going out just means rain and traffic so I am staying home to play with my drawings and designs.

I am experimenting with this video upload idea.

I have been experimenting with this rooster design of mine. I hope it will upload.

If it will then anything can happen from now on. What fun!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Another day in the life...

Halloween is over now. No children came to my door. I was prepared with tiny chocolate bars. Now I wonder what to do with these lovely treats. I am sure everyone I know is candied out.

I suppose I will have to eat them up myself. Oh Dear!
Of course Tamara can't have any chocolate because it isn't good for dogs. It might make her sick.

We had a lovely walk two weeks ago when the park trees were glorious and the ground was covered in golden leaves. I am posting a few of the pictures I took.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Little Red Stroller etc.

This is the new spiffy stroller.

Tamara loves it. She sits there like a princess as we whiz along at a fast speed. I took this photo yesterday afternoon on the way to the park. Once we arrived there I took her out and she slowly sniffed about thirty maple trees around the park.( The park maples are her favourites.)

We met a few other dogs along the way.Her tail wags whenever she is approached by friendly animals. She is fond of cats as well. That is... all cats except for babette who lives at our house. Babette is very mean to her. She likes to steal Tamara's treats and she likes to scare Tamara by leaping out and hissing.

After half an hour of sniffing time she was very tired and her back legs began to hurt her again. So we popped her back into her stroller and headed for home.

Babette was waiting for us. I made certain she behaved herself.

The most exciting event for me yesterday was listening to the illustrator author Molly Bang give a presentation about her many award winning books. Afterwards she directed a workshop about creating scary illustrations with construction paper and scissors. We were to choose either a shark plus victim or a birds plus vicitim scene.
I chose to try for the shark and victim subject. I may post it. Or perhaps not. I need to think about it.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Strolling with Tamara in October

I took some photos at the park today and yesterday. Tamara sat in her stroller for the eight block walk to the park. Then I took her out and let her have her way with each tree. She loves trees and spends a lot of time sniffing them.

She's a happy spoiled dog.

And because her legs have been bothering her lately and because it is too far for her to walk the stroller solution is perfect.

I get my power walks and she gets to the park without the stress of the extra long walk.

When we'd spent enough sniffing time I popped her back into the stroller and she sat there straight backed and watching the world go by again, When I arrived home I played with my captured park photos and changed some of them to an impressionist style which captures the colours of the maples in a painterly style. I had fun playing with this.

Here are some results. I think tomorrow I shall take some photos of the princess in her pram. She seems to love it. She is a true drama queen.

I love the fall and I am glad to be able to enjoy the beauty of it this year.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

More Adventures With Tamara

Tamara and I had a busy September. Sometimes I take her along with me and sometimes I leave her at home. She is eleven years old and has been suffering a little from arthritis. I keep her comfortable and most of the time she is content. Here is a recent picture of her. We took a little trip to Jericho Park on English Bay in August. The photos are from that excursion.

I can't believe I've been away from my blog for most of September. Where has the time gone?

My grandson Adam turned thirteen in September and we celebrated a birthday party with the family in the garden of their home. His mom is a fabulous gardener and the garden was looking so lovely.

I took lots of photos and then I made a slide show of the event using muvee, a special software I LOVE to play with. Yes that is spelled muvee.

You can read about muvee at the muvee web site. You can even download a free test run of the program. Now I am sounding like an advertising person. And I am not. I just enjoy using the fast and easy little muvee program. You can download a string of photos. Add music. Select a theme, and voila! You have a professional looking movie for sharing with friends and family.

There was a shower to attend the following weekend. The family is excited about the arrival of a new baby to be born in October. Again I took a lot of photographs in another garden. This time I emailed many of the photos using adobe photoshop elements which allows one to create a number of framed jpegs of small sizes to easily sent through email. I just figured out how to use it! And it is a delight to use. I was able to send out five emails of about ten photos each and each email file was no bigger than 600k. Very fast and handy! And reasonably priced too!

The following weekend I visited a church celebrating their 100 Years anniversary because a friend asked me to come and take photos and so I did. I got prints made up of the best photos and now the project is delivered and finished. And while I was experimenting with a slide show, I discovered that muvee has created a new style called photo album that allows one to create a slide show as if each picture is in an album. The pages turn! It is beautiful and such a great way to present a slide show of photos. So I bought it and downloaded the program and used it. It works beautifully and it is so easy to do. I recommend it!

All in all I spent quite a number of days playing with my photos. Now my eyes are so tired. But at least I know I accomplished a lot in the way of exploration and play with photos and images.

I've been reading a book titled Transitions by William Bridges which is helping me to realize that I am in an in-between stage of my life and this explains my exploration phase of trying out so many different things for the past two years since I retired. I am figuring out how I am to be in this new world of being able to explore and create without the every day necessity of going to a job that took all of my energy.

My dilemma is what do I do now with all this time. So I suppose the photography is the way I keep myself busy. And I do enjoy it. Eventually I will find a new cause to volunteer for. And there are so many! And the world is so in need of volunteers. But for the moment I am in the neutral zone. And this is OK.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

August beginning

I have been trying to take my art making seriously as the summer passes by so fast.

I write a little. I draw and paint a little. I do things for friends in graphics areas. I take lots of photos with my digital camera.

I make slide shows with photos of the neighbourhood walkways and gardens, of family events and the gardens of friends.

The last three days I have been under the weather with a fever and what seems like flu. It knocked me down. But now it is time to get back to work because I am better now.

I am coming to grips with the solitude of being retired. Some days I miss the busyness of the schools and the students I left behind in 2005.

I think I have needed this time to reassess just what it is I need to do next.

I know I am at the beginning of something new.

But what?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


This is Wally. A new member of the family related to my son. He is eight months old here. A wonderful dog with great energy and a sweet desire to play with anything and anyone within his range.

I snapped this photo at a family dinner on Canada Day.

I think I am going to try a portrait from this photo.

If I promise myself here on my blog maybe I can actually DO the work. So here's a new goal for my goals list.

Draw Wally. See what happens with it. Then post it.

I talk to myself. Haw!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Catching Up

It is almost ten p.m. on a Saturday evening.

My dog is sound asleep on her blankets on the floor beside me.

My cat is wanting attention as usual.

Today, I have been thinking about how beautiful my neighbourhood in the city is now that summer has brought out the trees and flowers to their fullest beauty. The roses are blooming. Bugs keep falling into my hair when I walk under trees with the dog.

The crows have been noisy as the young crows try their wings.

I met a little girl and her dad on the sidewalk. They stopped to chat with me and the little one started to tell me about her visit to the park. I asked her if she had tried the slide. She launched into a long wonderful story about how she is three and now she can slide on the yellow slide and the blue slide and the red slide. She was so happy about the whole experience. Her joy was a gift to my heart.

I started thinking 'picture book'.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Flowers on the Path

Walking the dog.
Catching the small things along the way.
Thinking about painting.

Moving on

I've been taking pictures along the dog walk routes.

Every week new blossoms wait for us to enjoy them.

Tamara is oblivious of course.

She is motivated by every scent and every sound along the way.

She can't see well because of cataracts.

I keep thinking about painting them.

Thinking is very different from doing.

I can forgive myself because my eye has been out of commisson.

But it is time I started getting down to it.

All the hours and hours I put into Roundtable are over.

I am free.

Free to write and free to draw and paint.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Serendipity Happened

The guests arrived.
They were met at the airport one by one by members of Roundtable.
A drive up the coast to see eagles. A usual part of entertaining guests.
Ron's favourite thing to do.
On Thursday evening there was a lovely dinner party for guest speakers and the steering committee.

I am posting the buffet feast prepared by Avis the poet and wonderful hostess. And the round table setting was the way all tables were set up for the 200 guests who were part of the Saturday evening Gala diner.
Avis served Cold salmon, lasagna, and other tasty treats.
Desserts baked and prepared by Avis. She is the best baker . And I mean the very best!
Her wonderful husband Frank graciously served wine.
People gathered in the garden.
The flowers are all in bloom. The garden is a delight. Another gift of Avis.
On Friday Serendipity began.
Around the buildings involved, The university grounds were decorated in bright colourful paper decorations designed by Kathie and prepared by her team of volunteers.
Every speaker was inspiring. Wonderful. Brilliant. Amazing. How can I explain?
The best of the best.
Pat Lewis, Naomi Shabib Nye, Bill Slavin, Anthea Bell, Stephen Beisty, Elizabeth Bicknell, Cornelia Funke, Janet Stevens, Ian Wallace and Sarah Ellis.
And in between some of BC's best authors for children spoke about their books.
The event ran through Friday into the evening and again on Saturday into the late evening.
Margaritas on Saturday night followed by a gala dinner celebrating Ron's retirement.
An actor dressed as Queen Elizabeth knighted Ron in a mock ceremony.
Many speakers and many toasts and tributes to Ron, the Canadian champion of world wide Children's Literature.
Over 200 at the dinner.
By midnight on Saturday it was all over.
Guests flew out on Sunday.
I am finally coming down from a very busy weekend.
I was asked to take lots of photos and I did.
I made a 20 minute DVD of the event. I worked on it on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I think I am finally done with it now.
My eyes are fried.
I am looking forward to being back to normal.

Friday, April 20, 2007


Still working on this.

Trying to figure out what to do with the background.

Shall I fill it in or shall I leave it alone?

I guess I have a decision to make.

Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


A tree on my street stands with branches raised in a glorious abundance of pink.

The photo is one of many I took on my morning walk with the dog.

The daffodils are pretty well done. But around them the tulips are bursting out in every colour.

I can't get tulips out of my mind.

Two days ago I started a drawing of tulips.

It sits there waiting for me to stop and spend a while between little chores that get in the way.

Slowly it comes together.

It is starting to give me a sense of satisfaction as I watch it develop.

It is more decorative than true to life. But I like it so far.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Weekend

This weekend I joined in with the weekend Event on wetcanvas. Here is my work .

Two portraits. Coloured pencil/ One on on arches paper/ Hot press smooth. One on Strathmore drawing pad paper.
The Arches is a better base I think. More depth to the paper. Approximately 10 inches by 12 inches.

And I found this You Tube video of a wonderful and amazing dancing horse.

I think perhaps this mare actually loves to dance. Her tail was whirling to the music. I would swear it. Apparently she was a sensation. I am posting the site here so that I never lose it. What a wonderful thing it is to see an animal that actually seems to be enjoying her own performance. I think this is an exceptional joy to see. It is worth the download time.

The Magnificent DANCING HORSE Matinee.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

March 27

Today I will begin a series of illustrations for a story I worked on a long time ago. I have pulled it out from time to time. I know that it is time to do it.
My friend Stacy posted her work station so I took a couple of photos last week of my two working spaces. This morning I reduced them in size for posting here.
One table set up is brand new. I ordered it on a whim a couple of months back. It is a dandy little set up perfect for small pieces. Both sides of the table are adjustable. The wheels are unstable though. The instructions were not quite perfect and even though it said to securely screw the wheels into their sockets, there was no hardware fitting this description. However I managed to get the pieces together. It was a struggle. I ended up breathless and irritable when the instructions didn't match the materials. But heck. It is together and the wheels have to be handled carefully when moving it around. But all in all it is a spiffy little arrangement for drawing and watercolours.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Second Day of Spring

That daffodil is one from MArianne's Garden taken last year. Our daffodils this year are waterlogged.
Today is the second day of spring. We are such a soggy world here in Vancouver today. I've been trying to motivate myself. I have been playing two of Rod Stewart's Great American Songbook CD's to cheer myself up. Even the animals are depressed with the gloom and lack of light.
I've been working with Julia Cameron's book Finding Water today.
Now that I have the music on the animals have raised themselves from their napping and both are trying to get my attention so that we can all snuggle up on the couch.
But couch snuggling will have to be later. After the last bit of reading I decided to make myself write something. And the following is all I managed to write. It is just me and my shallow thoughts today about a small experience. But at least I did something. And what better place to place a bit of writing that no one will ever read perhaps except for me. It is a good place to store it in case I lose it the next time I have computer problems. And what does one do on a rainy day? I even tried walking out there alone without my dog. But it is so damp and chilling I realized I'd rather be writing and hopefully drawing.
I bought some tulips. I might draw them. I need a kick in the butt.

Dog Walk
Rain came down outside filling the noisy streets with puddles. The lawns and gardens flooded with water and muddy spaces waited for the dog’s small paws to suck it up into the dog’s toe pads.
She shivered in the chilly air and felt goose bumps raise up all over her body. She wanted to get home. Enough of this second day of spring walk. The dog wasn’t interested in moving anywhere and she had to keep encouraging the animal to move forward. Daffodils bent over in the weight of water. Fresh new cherry tree blossoms tried to be glorious but relented to the rain as it soaked them through forcing them to bend over and downward.
Cars splashed past as drivers impatiently searched for unavailable free space parking spots. There was lots of pay parking in the hospital’s new underground but motorists were mostly unaware of that possibility. The regular pay parking was always filled by eight a.m. on any work day. But if course visitors driving downtown to visit patients or to arrive for tests or surgeries or emergencies mostly probably didn’t know the parking situation.
“Who cares about all of this stuff” anyway she thought to herself as another desperate driver splashed past. She was smart enough to avoid being covered in water from the vehicles by keeping away from the road.
The dog cautiously stepped forward from grass onto concrete sidewalk. It took twenty minutes from that point to arrive back finally at the apartment main door. The electronic key popped the door open and the owner and her dog stepped into the warmth of the apartment building hallway.
They were soaked and glad to return. She shook out the umbrella onto the carpet just before they stepped into the elevator. The dog looked up in anticipation of a treat that always came after a walk. Once the elevator door opened to the fourth floor the dog ran down the hallway. Once she turned the corner to the hallway leading to their door she pushed her jaws into the carpet pushing her butt up into the air with legs going at a fast pace making her little furry body move around and forward in a crazy zig zag of glee. She smiled at her animal with amusement at watching the dog’s joyful way of drying off. Then the key was in the door and they were truly home.
MJM March 22, 2007

Now I shall have a bit of an apple caramel muffin and a nice cup of tea.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Today I worked on a pencil drawing which has been a satisfying activity.

My cat and my dog are content and happy today especially with the sun shining in through windows.

This week I plan to start with some illustrations for a book idea. The story is one I wrote back in 1987. It was for a video project for a course I was taking at Emily Carr School of Art and Design.

I promised my instructor I would finish it one day. How's that for procrastinating? It is all written and edited and ready to go except for the drawings I started and never finished. It is always in the back of my thoughts. I know I have to DO it.

This is the week I shall begin to finish what I once started. I call it 'The Pencil Box'.

The photo is of my sweet little Tamara sitting on my sofa. I have a new camera and she is my first subject.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Soggy Vancouver Afternoon

So far I haven't done anything with my manuscript this month. I have decided not to feel guilty about not getting there yet. Mostly my energy has gone into looking after my dog. We had an emergency health situation and now it is resolved and she is on the mend.

I seem to have been absorbed with getting her back to health and out of pain. To focus on other things has been hard for me to do.
I guess I have always been this way.

So it is time to stop making excuses and time to get writing and editing what I've done so far.

I have to keep that promise to myself to send out at least one of my manuscripts by the end of the month.

I suppose my biggest problem is sending things out once they are done. I always think that maybe I can make it better if I just give it a little more time.

So come on MJ. Get something out there.
My portfolio is alomost ready to go.
Three stories are almost ready to go.
My manuscript has been sitting here for five years waiting to go.

I suppose it could be fear of failure. Or perhaps just a bad case of procrastination.
It is possible nothing is good enough. But that's the risk everyone takes at the beginning.

I think I'll put up an image of Albert and his friends. He was a successful little book and children love the story. My son wrote it and my illustrations turned Albert into a pig.

Maybe it is time to give it another try.

Saturday, January 13, 2007


This blog is revamped now. I'm sure I will find a purpose for it.
Since I last posted the pet portraits have continued.

But I shall keep the pet talk on my new site with paintingpuppies.
This month I am putting together a children's book manuscript and some illustrations with a proposal. Since I am writing this down in real time I hope the action will make me feel incredibly guilty if I don't follow through and actually mail it out.

Let's hope I can keep this up.