Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Holiday Week Vector Cat

Last night I joined up with the Wet Canvas weekly all media events projects under my name bluelilac. I tackled a photo reference of a beautiful cat. And here she is. And it was fun. I think it would make a nice card? Thank you to Elizabeth of Wet Canvas for the reference photo of her beloved cat in her garden.

Vector art in CorelDrawX4. I had trouble with the fur and I may try to adjust it today.
I hope everyone is enjoying a week of Peace and good things.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Maggie Comes Home

I have no idea how this happened so fast. But the offer came over the telephone from a trusted friend who is a certified Canadian Kennel Club breeder and I was missing my Tamara so much. It was as if a piece of my heart was gone.
So last night I brought my new kid home.
No sleep last night but settling down.
Here is my adorable Magnolia...Maggie for a nickname.
When I get her to sit for a grooming still I will arrange her adorable top knot. She had just taken a drink of water and her beard is wet and her top knot elastic came out. I had just introduced her to her bone toy and she was delighted. She played with it for an hour.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Tamara, My Fathful Little Friend Is Gone

My little dog Tamara died today and I am missing her so much. She was the sweetest friend to me. She came to me four years ago when her previous owner went into a home with altzheimers.
She became a part of my heart. From the beginning she had physical problems but the vet always had a solution until recently when her diagnosis of Cushings Disease pretty well explained the reasons for her skin problems, the weakness of her back legs, infections, dry eye problems, skin lesions and an inability to walk very far before her back legs gave out..
But she was a trooper and I tried to keep her comfortable. I bought a little dog buggy which enabled me to take her for long walks. She loved her buggy. She'd sit there with her nose sniffing the neighbourhood smells. And I'd let her out to sniff her favourite trees and she'd say hello to neighbourhood dogs. Her little tail wagged all the time.
In October, The vet prescribed a new drug for Cushings which helped her through the days and then into November. Her skin cleared up, her fur grew back in thicker and softer and she started walking farther each day. But when I renewed the very same prescription two weeks ago, it seemed the new pills did nothing and she began to crash.
She got an infection, her skin broke out all over her body and the itch drove her into a frantic state. Her one seeing eye became blind and her total deafness closed her off from her world with the passing of each day. She wanted to know where I was and she began barking at strange moments. I think it was her way of calling me to her to comfort her.
I made the decision today when I woke up to see her struggling with collapsed back legs along with an intolerable skin itch. It was so hard to decide!
This morning I took her to the park in the buggy she loved for a last tree sniff and a pee and then I took her to the vet. He said it was the right decision. And after she was sedated and comfortable in my arms he injected the fatal dose.

I am so very sad today. I can hardly bear it.
She was a true and loyal friend right to the end. I guess this sadness and grief is the price one eventually has to pay for the gift of joy from the comfort of a pet that gives only love and shares a sweet life of joy in grass and bushes and trees and other animals and people. And most of all the love they give to us is unconditional and irreplaceable.

Thank you Tamara. I hope there is a dog heaven.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

IF / Entangled

This week the word for Illustration Friday is entangled.

Santa's enthusiastic elves got carried away with decorating.

I drew a line cartoon on paper, scanned it into CorelDraw and then into Corel Painter and using watercolour and impasto brushes coloured it in
I admit it is kind of messy but I don't have much time because I my grandsons will be playing trumpet and French horn in a gala Christmas concert.

I think I will take along my camera.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Overcoming a Rain Slump

Yesterday, while the rain poured down outside, I sat at my trusty computer and went through some of the photos I took when the sun was shining. This one I took just before the maples shed all of their leaves. I had some fun creating this little scene from my photo reference.


I have just come across a wonderfully illustrated book by the gifted artist Tomás Serrano He has actually posted all of the story with illustrations on his special book blog. It is beautifully rendered with colourful illustrations and beautfully drawn backgrounds and it is a story to make anyone smile.
You can find it HERE.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Illustration Friday/Music

With music as the theme for this week's illustration friday here is Christmas Bird singing Jingle Bells, the only song he knows so far.
 After a while his singing gets a little tedious. But he means well.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Canada Geese Card Designs

I wish I knew where I was going with this. I am afraid I am lost in a creative process that has taken me around in so many directions. Last week's Santa illustration for Illustration Friday bothered me because it is so stiff and set. Let's face it. BORING!
So I started drawing shapes in vector format with my favourite program CorelDRAW. I love sketching Canada Geese as they are abundant in our city of Vancouver. They are bothersome in many ways yet they have such an elegance and beauty. I am thinking perhaps I might turn these into cards for family this Christmas.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Santa and his photographer Eddie led the reindeer down to the fozen pond. Eddie instructed them to line up in a way that would balance and look good for the Christmas card photo. But just as Eddie pushed the camera shutter button Santa toppled over. As Santa fell to the ice beneath him he realized he'd filled one pocket with extra donuts causing him to become unbalanced. Fortunately the donuts cushioned his fall.

Unbalanced is the word for Illustration Friday.
I welcome comments from any visitors who might come by.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

An Autumn Walk

Last wednesday I met my friend RJ for lunch at Van Dusen Gardens. After a lovely meal we wandered around the gardens with our cameras. I was so surprised at the beauty still remaining in spite of recent windy wet weather. I took over 100 photos.
This photo  is one I touched up with photopaint because the duck was blurred so I zoomed in and sharpened the duck's outline. I am fascinated with the image of that duck swimming across the brilliant red reflections in the water.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

IF FAST Halloween Witch

ILLUSTRATION FRIDAY word for this past week is FAST. So better late than never.

She knew there wasn't much time before the Ancient Binder of Great Spells would be lost forever beneath the depths in the Lake of Black Skulls. She could see shards of moonlight shining on the lake just beyond the hills below. Pressing her bony fingers into the wood handle she screamed at Sweep "Faster. Faster!" But she knew that Sweep was flying as fast as an old broom could fly.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Girl Playing In The sand

This is a digital drawing again.
I am posting it on wetcanvas as part of the WDE for this week's all media events thread.

I have also made another process video to document the steps of drawing with the digital conte brush of Painter11.

At the end I adjusted the background colours for fun to see what would happen if the background was red or yellow.

But I still prefer the blue.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


On Friday I took my camera to the North Vancouver Public Library and I took over 300 photos of an event held by CWILL B.C. (Canadian Writers and Illustrators of British Columbia). The celebration of fall books released by BC members.
I spent Friday evening editing and on Saturday I posted over 80 photographs to two websites.
One is the Flickr CWILL site and the other a site from Adobe Photoshop Elements provided with the software package from my Bamboo Tablet.

I really like the design templates with Adobe. The whole thing looks very spiffy and professional even if I am having focus problems with my camera. They give a nice sense of the energy of the event.
But downloading is not possible of individual photos.
And the Flickr site is also most impressive and probably more practical to CWILL members for easy access to individual photos.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Monthly Sketch / two apples

Inspired by Stacy today over at Stop and Draw The Roses Blog I decided to take part in a new art participation started by Jennifer Rose. So here is my interpretation of the reference photo. I used the digital pastels of Painter11 and I have to say I had a lot of fun with it.

I documented each part of the digital painting's development in twelve parts and I made a short slide show.

If anyone at all is interested, the link to the twelve steps slide show is HERE.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Pond Duck Slide Show of Creative Process

Let's see if I can post this as a video of the duck in progress with Corel Painter11 with my little photoshow version. Click and it should appear. Only a few seconds long.
from the beginning sketch above to the finished duck painting.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Another Digital Duck in Painter11

I enjoyed painting this one.
I captured each stage along the way and I made a slide show of the steps but I don't know if I can post it here. I think the file is too large for one problem. Here is the finished duck in Corel Painter11.
I also painted a neighbourhood dog named Max and posted him on my other blog. I'm enjoying the painter program so much. I find it as satisfying as using real paints. The process of creation is so similar except for the fact one has no messy hands and smells and rags to deal with. But what I will do with all this? I have no idea. I think the point is I am learning something new every day and this satisfies the artist part of me.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Playing With Painter

This was fun.

I am so amazed at this software.

As I explored the digital brushes and mediums this little elephant just decided to appear so I added a rabbit and then the flowers.

I have been spending time with my small young grandson and I think I am into picture book mode again. I have so much to learn.
Young children have such joy in everything around them. I think I caught a little of his sense of wonder this past weekend.
I hope I can keep it up.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Digital Learning

This week I am trying to figure out
Corel Painter 11. I must say it is cleaner than using real paint and less messy and it is also a lot of fun. I do have a lot to learn. This is a good thing.
I feel like a kid in virtual kindergarten. A little joy in having a lot of paint to play with. No teacher to tell me I am doing it all wrong. Yet.
I have been using CorelDRAW for many years. But this painting program is different in many ways. I think I love it.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

One Touched Up Watercolour

Two days of messing up paintings.
I scanned the worst one and digitized it in photopaint. The top image is the original.
The bottom image the digital version.
Maybe I can fix the original or maybe I will start over with something completely different.
In any case, I regard it as another learning experience.

Monday, August 03, 2009

What Does One Do In A Heat wave

The past week has been a challenge. Our province is part way through a heat wave. I think the worst is over. But no one was prepared for the heat that drained energy and made it impossible for some of us to do anything more than sit sweating in front of fans.
Still, there are family members I know who had no problem with 33 degrees Celsius. It seemed to me that those who live in houses with basements fared much better than people like me.
I am on a top floor of an apartment with a flat roof above me and windows facing south and west which catch the morning and afternoon sun. Wonderful for light for an artist but impossible when the sun gets hotter and not only blasts the windows but also the roof above.

I have my own little system and routine for summers and for keeping cool but it wasn't working this time. I am careful with my dog, taking her out to shade to do her thing and then bringing her back home. No hot paws on the pavement. But she has been listless and weak and when she fell over on the grass last week, I realized she needed more help to cope with the heat. What to do?

I showered her down four and five times a day. Once showered and wet she came to life again.

But still, the heat was beating us.
I bought two large gel ice packs and cooled them. I wrapped one with a TOWEL and placed it under bed sheet of her bed. It was brilliant. She sniffed around but then settled down on top of the cool spot. When it got too cold she moved to different positions. She slept and seemed comforted by her cool bed.

I tried the same thing with my cat but she did not take to the idea. But she didn't mind me wetting her coat down with cool water.

And then there was me. What to do? Lots of showers and even better cold baths to cool down when it was too uncomfortable. But mostly I was becoming a slug. Couldn't work. Couldn't think.
I thought about lucky folks with jobs in air conditioned offices or cool places.

After three days of this I decided to buy an air conditioner.
I bought one of those portable things. The guy at London drugs carried it to the car for me. When I got home I was wishing I knew some strong fellow to help me, because it was heavy to get from the car to my apartment. But thanks to the elevator and my ability to push and slide the huge heavy box along the concrete and carpets... I got it home. I spent an hour trying to open the box. I had to pry off all the heavy duty staples one by one in order to open the box around the protective foam packaging because there was no way I could have lifted it out as directed. The temperature in my apartment was getting above thirty and I was sweating and going out of my mind with stress. My brain was not working. My body was soaking. My animals were panting. It took me three hours in all to get the thing ready to go.

Of course the hose thing didn't fit my window with the attachment provided. I think I knew that would be a problem. So...I made up a thing with a piece of foam core and lots of duct tape and I managed to get everything working.

And so the magic moment came when I turned on the heavy duty connector plug and my apartment slowly became live able again and my animals automatically settled down close to the machine of the soothing cold air.

The little machine is noisy and in the way...but it is earning it's keep when the afternoon sun hits the roof and windows.
I block the windows with fabric and old quilts around the foam core to help my little machine in the battle against the sun.
When the sun is down, I turn off the machine and open up the windows and turn the fans inward to blow in the cool evening air (on evenings when there IS cooler air) . We sleep without the machine because the apartment is not super heated as it would have been without the machine.

Today is a much more comfortable and normal morning. A cool breeze is coming in the windows without benefit of fans. The animals are sleeping soundly without stress.
No need yet to again turn on this energy burner yet. But at least now we have a back up plan to handle too hot days which may come.

I think I shall post this list of things one can do so I can come back next time in case I forget.

When it gets impossibly hot

  1. Use as many fans as you can. ( I have six small fans. Worth the investment.)
  2. Large Gel ice packs are handy to have for a fast relief as well as great to cool down a pet's bed...but must be wrapped in a TOWEL because they get too cold against the skin. And monitor the pet to make sure they don't get too much cold pack exposure. Even just cooling a pack down in the fridge rather than freezer is a little less icy cold but cool enough and safer.
  3. Close the windows and pull the drapes and close the blinds when the sun beats down against that side of the dwelling.
  4. Open the windows on the shady side, put a fan in the window and blow IN the cooler air from outside.
  5. Drink lots of water and make sure the pets have fresh water at all times.
  6. For apartment dwellers, take the dog out early morning and after the sun goes down at night and if one must go out in the day time, stay in shady areas. Sidewalks get too hot for the paws.
  7. Never leave a dog in a car parked outside in hot weather. Even with open windows temperatures can become life threatening.
  8. At night it helps to turn on bathroom fans and kitchen fans which draw off the heated air. If one can place portable house fans to draw in the outside air then even better. Noisy perhaps but it can bring the temperature down a few degrees enough to be more comfortable. Cool air is drawn in while hot air is moved up and out.
Last night I met a retired couple in my age range who told me they have three portable air conditioners. One for each bedroom and one for the living room. Now there's a good idea. Maybe the high hydro bills will not be so hard to bear if one can feel normal and be able to think.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I made another photoshow

Yesterday was my birthday. I took along my camera and had some fun again with Roxio Photoshow. We had so much fun especially now that our newest family member is such a delight.

You can watch my little movie here.

It was a beautiful day. After the cake we went to the lake where the sun was setting but bright.

A family of ducklings hurried away when we came down to the water. Frogs stopped croaking until we left. We could hear them start up as we walked away.

I think it was one of my best birthdays ever.

Monday, July 06, 2009

A Little Play

I am not one for computer games but I came upon a website by a brilliant fellow who has developed quite a number of interactive play items for artists and anyone wanting to improve memory or learn something new or just hang out.

I highly recommend his SCRIBBLER. I haven't had so much fun online for a while.

One simply sketches a drawing and then the computer takes over to turn a simple drawing into something quite interesting and fun.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Illustration Friday - Drifting

The word for Illustration Friday this week is Drifting.
This character is from a little sketch I made a while back.
She seemed so dreamy I thought she could float into a night sky.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Unfold - Illustration Friday

A project is unfolding as I go along. I have been glued to my computer trying to colour illustrations from my original line drawings (with green) for Gynn, the little book I did so many years ago. I am not sure about trying it in digital this way. I might just go to watercolour or pencil crayon. Comments would be welcome. This coloured version is the third version and the one I like best so far. But...I am just not sure.

I came across a great UK Illustrator's blog today. I think I will follow her blog along. She is inspiring with her energy and wonderful children's illustrations. Her name is Lynne Chapman and her blog is here.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Albert's Old Shoes and Gynn

A teacher called me up this week to ask me if I might come to their school to give a book talk to Kindergartens and grade ones and also a mix of three and four year old pre-school children from a local community centre daycare.

I was so excited and happy to be asked to do this.

She said that both of the books, Gynn and Albert's Old Shoes are favourites in their school library. The event was made possible by the Ready Set Learn Program which is designed to help preschoolers to get ready for school.

So I prepared myself for the day. I gathered up a few copies of the books, I put together some of the original illustations in my big black leather portfolio. I bought a set of fresh pastels and I found some big sheets of paper. And at the last, I bought a guinea pig puppet to add a prop.

I was up early at five A.M. to prepare myself for the kids. I was wired with adrenalin.

I drove to the school at 9 A.M. I gave four presentations over the day. I read the books. I answered questions from the children and enjoyed their curiosity and intelligence and desire to take part in the whole experience. I drew the favourite characters of Gynn the guinea pig and Albert the pig with old scuffed up brown shoes as they gave me directions like

"Can you give him running shoes?" or "Can you add the sun?" "In the middle?"

and "You forgot the clouds!" and "It looks like it is raining." and "Where are his shoe laces?"

It was a great day. What fun! And all because of those little books from the 1980s that are so much a part of my life. They are like living books. They have a life that goes on and on. Like those batteries.

Friday, May 22, 2009

IF - Cracked

Illustration Friday again. This week's word is CRACKED. Sometimes I don't know when to stop. But I had fun with this.
Drawings scanned and then colour added and clean up in Corel Photo-Paint and CorelDRAW.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Illustration Friday - contagious

I thought I'd try taking part in Illustration Friday tonight. This silly little idea was in my head all day and it wouldn't let up. The word for the week is CONTAGIOUS.

This is my interpretation of the word.

It reminds me how I feel when I walk into a room of strangers.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Step 5 - I Think This Piece Is Complete, Almost.

Except for some tweaking to come over the next few days I am almost finished with this drawing.

I am glad I went to the end with this one. It took a great deal of patience. I worked on it for two hour stretches and then I had to go away from it for a while. At times my back hurt and I realized I needed to consciously relax my back while I worked on it. I had to sit back in my chair and the angle of my board had to be just right. Otherwise it was painful.

I kept sharpening my pencils. Sharp pencils are absolutely necessary I think.

I am really glad I set down the base in watercolour. It is on Stonehenge paper and I was surprised the paper didn't curl up when it was originally wet.

But I used a minimum amount of water placed in placed the washes in small spaces.

No grand washes over it or anything like that.

Very simple beginning.

I think I will make a mat for it.

I kind of like it.

I am pleased. It needs more work on the lower left side. But for now. I am happy to stop until I am ready to see what needs to be done.

And thanks to Stacy and Karen for cheering me on with this one.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Watercolour and Pencil Experiment

On Sunday while I worried about my little dog and tried to decide whether or not to go ahead with a surgery for her, I realized the neighbourhood was showing off in spectacular fashion with rhododendrons in glorious display. So with my dog in her buggy and my camera in my hands I shot about a hundred photos of blossoming plants. When I got home I downloaded the images into my computer to take a close look at what I had captured.
I decided to try a new approach to a sketch by using both watercolour and pencil crayons after being inspired last week with the virtual sketch date artists.
So here is the progression of another rhododendron bud. About 11 x 14.
About the photos...
1. the laying down of watercolour
2. adding pencil crayon
3. more pencil crayon.
4. more pencil crayon.
I shall post the final work later today if I can manage to make myself finish it by this evening. Maybe tomorrow is a more realistic deadline. I know that working on this piece helped to keep me calm as I worried about my dog.
Meanwhile my little dog is recovering nicely.
She has passed a painful kidney stone. She does not have a serious cancer inside her organs according to the ultrasound. So they were able to go ahead with the more minor surgery although there has been extensive cutting out from her head and back side.
The vet cleaned her teeth, removed a rotten tooth, removed several lumps from her skin including a large cherry sized head lump.
I am hoping she isn't going to have pain. So far she seems a little groggy but happy.
When I look at this painting/drawing I shall always remember the worry as I watched over my little Shi Tzuh.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Will I Find Her After Stage Three?

I struggled with this painting today.
Rosa is such a beautiful child and I want to capture her. But she eludes me.
This is stage three and tomorrow I may paint it all out with white and try again.
But in the meantime I am learning more and more about managing these acrylics.
I am trying for a soft look.
This has a long way to go.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Work in Progress

Easter is over and family stuff is over and income taxes are filed and now I am taking a deep breath. I want to get back to a painting I started last week. I have never tried a portrait in
acrylics and it's a bit stiff but I am taking it where it will go. I always learn something new whenever I tackle the plastic paint.
Tamara had a hair cut last week and yesterday was her thirteenth birthday. I love this little dog. Sweet and opinionated, she has lots of attitude when it comes to going for walks. Trees must be sniffed. Hedges and telephone poles as well. Hurrying is out of the question. She likes to choose the direction and which streets as she pokes along on her old legs. The red buggy makes it possible for faster walking when I am feeling particularly fat and she loves riding in it. She sits with her pink tongue peeping out between black lips, her eyes watching the world go by as we speed along the sidewalks towards the park. People smile or raise eyebrows at me. Dog owners seem to understand why one pushes an old dog with arthritis around in a buggy and non dog owners think I am insane.
Susan Boyle
Regarding the last post: I am so delighted to see that Susan Boyle has hit the world big time. The Vancouver News folks ran the video on the news last night. It seems everyone will cheer for an underdog with talent. I know she touched my heart when she started to sing. I do hope her dreams come true about singing on stage as a professional. Now she has a fan club on facebook and over 9 million hits on YouTube. All of this has happened since last Saturday! Go Susan! Show them that beauty is bigger and deeper than a pretty young face.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Moment of Transformation

Have you seen this? Since I am older and I experience this sense of 'ageism' a lot...The attitude that older women are useless and silly and fat... I found this video today via 37 Days Blog and I thought I'd post it here. In case you have a few minutes. Watch this beautiful spirit take them all on. From the Britain's Got Talent show Susan Boyle

Monday, April 06, 2009

Sunshine Day

The new version of the poppies is waiting for me to continue with it.
But I need to let it sit for a while.
I think it is more painterly than my other attempt.
And I am having fun with it as I go along.
It's not great. But I am working on improvement all the time as usual.
At last we have spring.
Met Bob and Dan today and we cruised the sandbox area on Granville Island.
Had lunch in the food court at the market.
Took photos.
The sun was shining.
The sky pure blue.
Boats on water.
Kids on swings.
Drove home and took the dog for a walk.
She looked like a dust mop so I gave her a bath.
Scrubbed her down and added conditioner.
Now she is content and asleep.
Went online and checked out the Blue Rose Girls blog.
They speak of a brand new book.
It sounds exquisite.
I checked out the website of the author illustrator.
This guy is wonderful and his website is brilliant.
Kids will love the cow with flies around it.
And the sheep that bleat when you click them.
And his work is beautiful.
One of his characters, a bulldog named Chowder has a blog.
It has been a good day.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

At the beginning again

I realize the finish line is only the beginning. Now I need to work on my manuscript.
And while i think about it, I need to make a new painting. I have set up an empty clean white canvas on my easle. It has been staring at me for two days.
I watched my video of Stephen Quiller this morning trying to gear up to inspired thought.
He is quite wonderful. I love his sense of colour and pattern and movement.
I hope I can make myself get back to the paint.
Why is it so hard to begin?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

At the finish line at last.

I got lost in writing over the past two weeks. It felt a little bit like being under water for a while holding my breath as I worked towards the end of my little book in revision number two. In the process I added another three thousand words to the thing. I ask myself over and over why am I doing this.
  • It keeps my brain working
  • I stay focused
  • I have to remember what I wrote in chapter one when I am in chapter twelve.
  • The story has to be clear in my mind.
  • I feel a strong need to do this for some reason.
  • It is fun to make something new. To dream up something new.
  • It takes courage to believe in trying this without an agent or publisher. ( yet.)

So I suppose I am doing this for the exercise of my brain. Plus it is fun. Whether I ever again find a publisher interested in even looking at my work is not the point at this time. What is important is that I finished it and brought it to a conclusion that works. This is very important to me because for a while I was worried I could not actually pull it off. Now I have asked my twelve year old well-read grandson to read it over for me. He has agreed to check it out. I am hoping he will be able to set me straight in case I have missed anything in the world of the children in the story. Plus he can critique it with honesty. I hope I am up to it.

I am happy about my manuscript. My 10500 word chapter book manuscript. Not big. But bigger than a picture book and a lot more editing than a picture book. Whew!

Yes. I AM HAPPY about my story. I like my story. I believe in it. It works. I did it. And it works as a fun story for kids to enjoy.
Now I think I may sketch up a few characters from the story. This may or may not work well enough to be included with a proposal. I just have to try for a while. Besides it is good to take a break from sitting down writing and editing and changing things for hours at a time.
I bought new pencils, a new sketch book and the paper I love to work with when illustrating things. Beinfang graphics 360 translucent marker paper because it is great for sketching character design with loose pencil and then tracing over the drawings to refine them into line.
And I have also bought a new spiffy looking pad of Strathmore 70 lb Drawing paper which it says is good for coloured pencil and graphite drawings.
I will see how it measures up to Stonehenge (my favourite) for pencil work.
Maybe I will record my progress here at Maple Pancakes.

This would keep me moving on it while I wait for Jacob to read over my manuscript for me. There is nothing to stop me except myself.
And I have sent a copy to my friend Liz in Enderby. She is a writer and a teacher of creative writing. I read the whole thing to her over the phone last week and she loves it. This is good. But I always have to remember she is also my best friend and therefore maybe she isn't going to see it for what it is. But I value her advice and perspective. And I know she would tell me if it stinks. She is good at that.
And I have sent a copy to Stephen who is great at editing. He may also have some new ideas to add to the humour of the story. Meanwhile I keep tweaking it and getting new thoughts and adding and changing the thing as I wait for them to get back to me.
So now. Today I will get out the sketchbooks and warm up to drawing again.
Because I like to post images...I posted a little sketch I did last fall for another project. It is coloured digitally with Corel4X photo paint. She is a little too 'cute' and I hate cute. It was supposed to be a doll who looked alive yet was a doll with legs that would not bend. Therefore she is stiff and too cute like the particular doll. But I learned about what I could do with my photo paint program so it was not a total loss. And I can post her here because she is mine.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Paper Toys

Today I discovered a talented American illustrator, Marilyn Scott -Waters, who has created a wonderful book titled The Toy Maker. It is a paper craft book and what makes it unique is that she also has a website where she generously provides a number of free paper toys in the form of pdf files and if one has a colour printer it is easy to print them out and put them together. What a great idea for children all over the world to have access to these creations via the internet. I just have to mention it here. Since I have been dabbling in a paper doll idea for some time I was so pleased and delighted and not surprised that someone else has similar interests. Her toys and creations are delightful.


Saturday, March 07, 2009

Taking The Writing Seriously Is So Hard Some Days

I have been up and down and all over the place. I need to keep working at something and I keep feeling I am accomplishing nothing yet I am doing all kinds of stuff and maybe if I vent a bit and write I can feel better.
At this very moment a hail storm is pounding my windows and a cold chill is pushing through the window glass. Whew. Winter is back with vengeance from the Arctic after a morning of sunshine and dropping temperatures. I feel sad for the many little crocuses that were spreading their petals towards the warm sun this morning when I walked the dog wishing I'd taken along my camera to capture them in the perfect light and shadow.
Today I wrote (by hand into a new notebook) four new chapters of a NEW attempt at capturing my young 13 year old experience in a new way. I have been following Elizabeth Lyon's book MANUSCRIPT MAKEOVER and as I follow her advice in the first chapter, I think she has set me off flying into new territory. I am revising my manuscript that I've been sitting on for five years now. Now I have the story and making it from a too close to home and much too dark memoir into a fiction adding stuff along the way...It is amazing how much more fun it is to write this way. And more fun to read I think. I am so glad I took her course last October. It is hard to take positive criticism yet it is so good when one listens finally and Sees how to make something better. Like taking a painting course from a pro.
I have no idea if this is working because I have only myself to critique myself and besides I am no way ready to expose this to anyone yet. Yesterday I was depressed because I wasn't s writing or drawing. I feel so much better now that I am writing today. Man! That BIT advice... Butt In Chair...is the best.
Now the hail has stopped. It was amazing. The streets are wet with puddles so the hail has melted already. Good. I hate icy sidewalks.
I took what I wrote today and I read it into my sound editor on my computer and listened to my voice coming back at me. I do believe I have captured a twelve year old voice of an inexperienced kid. This is what I want. I think it is so much better than my first seven drafts. Haw. This is totally different but since I have the story so entrenched in my head I somehow know where I am going yet I Don't!
Writing is a lonely business. Painting is a little less lonely since I can paint and draw with music or TV on. But with writing I need mostly quiet although I have been playing James Taylor's COVERS album music today and dancing around a little whenever I catch the beat.
Maybe I am flying with the writing today. This is a good thing. It is the music, the music helps.
I can write and have music on after all!

I think I need a writing group of other supportive writers but I don't know how to begin.

Monday, March 02, 2009

A Family Celebration Yesterday

We celebrated my son's birthday yesterday. Afterward I managed to put together a little video of a few moments when the dreamy chocolate cake (store bought but what the heck!)was brought into the room alight with candles with the family singing away. So here's the post if anyone comes by.

It is about three minutes long. Maybe less.

The cake was delicious!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Red Boots in Mud Puddle

The other day we walked to the park with Tamara in her red coat in her red stroller because these days the walk is too far for her old legs. The little guy wore his red winter boots perfect for mud puddle stomping. We all had a good time. I took my camera.

This version is tiny for a cell phones. I drive my family nuts making videos.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A book promo video by Jarrett Krosoczka

I came across this funny wonderful book promo video today. I think I will post it here so I can look at it whenever I feel like laughing at this idea of writing or trying to write and illustrate and what happens next.

BOOK BY BOOK: the making of a monkey man
by Jarrett Krosoczka

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


I couldn't resist posting this silly little piggy from my sketchbook. I have been writing a story this week and as I develop the characters these silly piggy characters are calling out to me to exist. I think her name is Giggles and maybe she knows Albert. And Valentines day is coming up soon and between the pigs and valentines she just appeared in colour last night as I played with Corel DRAW X4 Photo-Paint.
CWILL Question of the week posted by Tanya:
This week’s question: How do you prepare for school presentations? Do you get stage fright?

When my first book came out I had no idea it would lead to author visits. I didn't even know what an author visit was. But it was 1986 and I was green and young and rather silly.

The phone call asking me to give a talk at a Richmond school came out of the blue. The librarian on the phone was charming and most persuasive. They wanted me! And they thought I was somehow special just because I had a published book. This seemed strange and somehow it made me feel excited and that maybe I had done something quite wonderful. This I realized later was simply my ego being lured into a trap.

And so it was I managed to get permission at my day job to take one day of my precious holiday time (two weeks a year) to travel out to Richmond to give two book talks in two different schools. I was like a fly entering into a web. I thought all I was to do was read the book to a class of children. I had imagined a class of maybe thirty children in grade three would sit with me in a library and I would simply read the book to them.

Someone took me to the school gymnasium and left me there. "This is where you will speak. The students will come soon." she said to me.

I could feel my heart pounding and the sweat pouring from under my arms as the entire school of Kindergartens through to grade sevens paraded into the gymnasium to hear my presentation.

Stage fright is not the word for it. Terror might be a better word for what I was feeling.

I came quite close to passing out from not being able to breathe but somehow I managed to open my mouth to read the first sentences of my little picture book about a guinea pig. I realized my voice was totally inadequate in the space and so I began to yell out the story. To make things worse, the school's heat system had failed. The temperature was freezing so everyone was wearing coats and it seemed the entire school was shivering. I was standing there feeling absolutely terrible, my heart doing loops, the sweat pouring down and I had such a need to run out of the room for a pee. It was a disaster worse than anything I could have imagined.

When I was halfway through yelling the book, I took a breath and looked up. The older students were silent and staring. The younger students sat on the floor in front of me below my eye level staring up silently. Behind the entire student body I could see teachers standing in a long row with arms crossed looking unmoved and silent. I could tell they hated me. I was shaking the whole time.

Fortunately my brain talked me into carrying on, yelling out the story right to the end.

I think they clapped at the end. I really can't remember. I was so glad when it was over. I think I almost ran out of the school to the car where another teacher was waiting to take me to what I assumed would be another disaster. I just wanted to go home.

Fortunately, I was taken to school where the furnace was working and the librarian had arranged a library setting for a group of three classes of Ks to threes. She even gave me a cup of tea and a sandwich! This was much better. This was a piece of cake! The children were smiling and responsive and happy and bubbling. I read the story to the children and they liked it and they wanted to talk about their own pets and they wanted to start writing their own stories with pictures. We had a lively question time. I made some drawings for the children. It was good. Everyone was happy.

If it hadn't been for that second smaller school library experience, I think I would never have agreed to make another book talk. After that day I have visited many schools to give book talks over the years and I always get the feeling of butterflies in my stomach before a presentation. But nothing can compare with that first time when I felt as if I was in the centre of a bad dream.
The photo above is from a reading I gave about fifteen years ago when I was so much younger.