Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Jacob in Watercolour

A few years ago I painted this portrait of my grandson Jacob. He's now looking older and taller and he plays football in high school as one of the biggest players on the team. I didn't like this at the time I painted it but now I think it works as a likeness.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Greetings

Best wishes to my blogger friends out there who are so kind to drop in here.
I have appreciated all the comments and good thoughts and encouragement from you all.

Thank you so much.

I wish you all a Happy Holiday and may the new year hold good things for all of us.
Good health.
Lots of love.
Time with friends and family.
Projects ahead that fill our spirits with passion and energy.

Much appreciation to all.

Mary Jane

Merry Christmas!

My card this year. I titled it CHALICE. Can you see it?

Friday, December 09, 2011

Holiday Spirit

I am trying to get into the holiday spirit.
Harry the snow guy asked me to put him back on the blog this year.
So this is a start.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

IF - Vanity Paper Doll & Happy Thanksgiving

Annie has little vanity. She just appeared the way she is. Lucky me!
When I was young we didn't have Barbie dolls. Instead if we were lucky we had books of paper dolls to cut out and organize and play with. I am sure there are children out there who don't have Barbies.
I have been thinking about starting a paper doll blog. In the meantime, while I make up my mind, I am posting a paper doll I drew up yesterday. I can't figure out how to post a .pdf on google blogs so  instead I will post the large jpeg version.  It is Free for anyone to have fun with. You can save it and call it up and print it out.
If you click the image it should come up larger.

This is an experiment and in cutting it all out I discovered that Annie is very fine and requires good cutting out skills. Also I put too many tabs around that don't fit arms and legs exactly and can be left out. Use your judgement. This is an experiment.
Don't try to cut out her fingers and be careful with scissors around the arms and keep the base rectangle shape. Fold it around and tape the base so she will stand up.
A pipe cleaner or a pencil taped to her backside will help a lot and or she could be pasted to a card stock for added strength.
I am going to add a coloring page so that kids can color the outfits. And Annie needs friends and more wardrobe items.
Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends. If anyone finds this  to be fun please let me know. I will add to this today as I progress with a line drawing coloring page for kids.

There! A black white Annie for coloring.
And you can find the pdf file .

and thanks to Celeste Bergen for telling me about how to do this.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Information Book Award Winner Tanya Kyi

One of our most talented and prolific B.C. writers, Tanya Lloyd Kyi, a member of CWILL B.C.  has just won the Information Book Award of the year for her book  Fifty Burning Questions .
Members of the Children's Literature Roundtables across Canada voted it the winner.
I thought I would post this news in case any teachers or librarians out there want to have some of her excellent books on their shelves. Tanya's blog can be found   here.
Way to go Tanya. Congratulations!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chugging Along

Yesterday I received my book proposal back in the mail. A very nice letter from the editor informs me respectfully that the story doesn't fit their current picture book needs.
I have to admit it is lovely to know so quickly about how they feel about the book idea. A no is hard but not unexpected.
I was thinking about re-doing all of the illustrations and I am so glad I didn't spend more time on it.
I am working on a new idea now and it is refreshing to get away from the pig characters because I was not really happy with them. I am kind of glad they never had a life out there.
I have been helping a friend with her book of poetry over the past few weeks. And I am working on a new picture book idea and getting back to writing.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bearded Collie Drawing

Wet Canvas all media forum this weekend. I thought I'd give it a try. CorelDraw followed by adding bits with Corel Painter is the medium.
Thank you to 'justjean' the host this weekend for posting this photo of her dog Duchess.
It is either a Bearded Collie or a Sheep Dog. I'm not sure and thanks to Jennifer for pointing it out to me.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Painting and Erasing and Angels

Creative process today.
First - A digital painting on my iPad with Art Rage. I used my Bamboo pen for the iPad instead of my finger.
The pen allows for reasonable control of line drawing.
I made three copies of this image.
Then with the eraser tool I removed the 'paint' to reveal little doodle shapes of wings and trees and characters.
I sent them to my computer, took them into CorelDraw and Corel Painter.
I tried to cut and paste them over each other but a white box prevented it.
I repeated another angel wings using the original painting and the eraser tool in Painter. This time I had more control over the design on my computer because I have my Wacom tablet and my trusty Bamboo Fun pen.
Instead of giving up in frustration, I added the blue angel body shapes and feet and hands in vector format with CorelDraw.
Then I cut out some star shaped from the painting base in Painter and cut and pasted them onto the design.
In the end these characters revealed themselves to me and with a few additions to the painted wings...
I love technology and how it opens possibilities for creating new original stuff.
I never know if things will work out or not. Today I am happy.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Loud Noises and A Felt Effect

Thank goodness Halloween festivities have finally ended and the midnight fireworks have stopped  going off at all hours. My dog Maggie and my cat Babette are settling back into a more comfortable mode. They get frightened and seem a bit traumatized for a day or more following the loudness of the darned things.
To push the pumpkin down the blog page I thought I'd post a little heart drawing I did on my iPad with the Art Rage APP. I think it has a sort of fabric look in the final image.
A sort of seventies look to it maybe?
Easy and fun.
I like the Art Rage APP a lot and I can sit watching TV while sketching mindlessly and just fooling around with the colors and the brushes.
I also use a Bamboo pen for the iPad which is really useful if one is inclined to use the iPad for drawing.

Along the top you can see the stages.
I enlarged the third so you could get a better idea of what the effect is. In the early eighties I made a few wild and crazy banners with felt and applique. It reminds me of felt and beads.
Not great art. But fun and easy with the iPad.
I am thinking of trying some butterflies.
If you click the image I think it will come up even larger on the screen.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Witches and Jack-o-lanterns

I thought I'd try to make a video with a few pumpkin and witch sketches. The soundtrack was made with Garage Band on an iPad. The video was made with Corel Video Studio Pro X4. The software offers quite an assortment of styles and effects that can change a drawing to make things appear a little wild and less boring. And since this is a wild week for dressing up and trick and treating I figure it's OK to play around a bit. No harm done. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Halloween Tricks and Treats

My grandson had a birthday yesterday and now in just a few more days we will celebrate Halloween. At four years old the little guy is over the top with the excitement. First, the birthday cake and presents, and now it is time for dressing up and tricks and treats. How much excitement can a child handle?
I can't resist drawing pumpkins and witches as this week comes to the end of October. In Vancouver  this coming weekend, there will be Halloween parties and fireworks in the dark and a lot of kids dressing up so before it is over I thought I'd post a few pumpkins and witches.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Updated Portfolio

I updated my portfolio this week.
I have almost forgotten how much work I have done over the last three years or so. It is probably too long and  too many images but it was fun to put some of them together. If you have any interest in looking at my explorations in digital art and colored pencil and watercolor illustrations please ignore the advertising for the video which comes up on that site, and many thanks for your interest and time.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I Mailed it Away!

Overcoming my intense fear of mailing away, I made myself feel all the fear and I put that manuscript with my illustrations in the post box. Whew! I had no idea how much emotion I had over this project. I get stuck when I am almost done. For five years since I retired  I have been holding back.
Everything seemed to get in the way.

The Interact Books Contest got me started and led to a picture book with seventeen illustrations completed instead.  But  I can not exactly express my thoughts about how hard it was for me to mail this away.
It was finished and ready three weeks ago. But then I decided to do the whole thing over in order to change the characters from piggies to children.  The entire project changed in front of me on the screen and I realized it would take me to January to finish a new version properly. So I argued with myself thinking that maybe the story actually stinks and no one would want it anyway. And I have other projects I want to do waiting in a box.
But two days ago after setting myself the new goal of the end of October I decided to go back to the completed work I have spent so much time on. I packed it up with a few samples of my new character ideas. I spent a day composing a letter to the publisher. Then I packed it all up with a return stamped self addressed envelope and I headed out the door with it under my arm. While walking to the post office I had second thoughts and almost turned around because of something I wanted to add. But "No" I said to myself.  All the words are there with the illustrations and it either works or it does not work. The worst that can happen is they will hate it and mail it all back. But I can handle that.
Now I am free to move on to other projects. I toasted myself last night with a glass of wine for putting the darned thing in the mail.
I took a picture of the envelope ready to go with some samples of what I placed inside the envelope when it was ready to mail. And on the screen I took a shot of the beginnings of my new character designs to replace the piggies. See below.
So now I will work on other things. And even though I never made that APP on time, this  picture book idea came out of the effort. I decided a book is a better format for this project. I learned a lot about what can be done with Corel Painter and a Bamboo Fun  low end price-wise Wacom Tablet. This was a good project for me to try.
Now I think I might try to create an APP with Interact Books regardless of the contest. But that's a whole other story. And it is waiting for me in my box of papers. I can't wait to see who wins the Interact best APP contest. It won't be me. But I wish them all luck! And I will wait to see what comes back in the mail. I will let you know one way or the other dear blog and any friends who happen by.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I found a great little APP for kids

One new APP for my iPad purchased from iTunes last week is a picture book of The Three Little Pigs by a company in the UK called Nosy Crow. It blew me away to see what can be done with art and music and animation in a way that children can become completely involved. I think it is so new and so wonderful and I hope anyone out there reading this might check it out to see it and enjoy the creativity of these people.
There is a video on Nosy Crow's website that gives you an idea of how it works.
Their new production of Cinderella is an APP that is winning numerous awards. Nosy Crow's 'Cinderella' is one of eight new best APPs for kids recommended in the New York Times this week.
If you have an iPad and children you may want to check out these wonderful creations.

This is my grandson at three years old using what he calls his 'computer' (iPad).

Saturday, October 08, 2011


Today I went with a friend to a NIA class just to check it out and wondering if we were up to doing something we had never tried before. Neither of us would have gone alone.
I was surprised at how smooth and easy it was to move into it. The workout is a cross between dance class and aerobic workout. But it is slow and easy to follow. The music is pleasant and the workout is energizing. Now I feel so much better physically after weeks of sitting in front of the computer. Of course Maggie gets her walks but the Shih Tzu is not exactly a workout kind of dog. So another goal is in place now. NIA classes.

Here is my Maggie with her recent Dr. Seuss style pony tail. The groomer has fun with her at times. Everywhere we go she causes smiles and giggles.
She is my best buddy.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Setting a New Goal This Week

Hello out there. Is anybody there? I have been working on a book and got lost in it revising and changing and editing and I've been wondering when I will finish it. What first began as an idea for an APP turned into so many illustrations I realized I had enough for a book. So...I finished it as a book. But then I started having second thoughts about the character design.
And then my computer had major problems and I ended up with a new computer which is absolutely lovely so far. Fortunately I saved and backed up files all along the way. So nothing was lost. I must have created over six gigabytes of files working on this.
Then once I had the new computer up and running I changed all the characters from piggies into kids. And I like the kids much better. This led me into doing some research about costume and current fashion.
Now it is October and each day I get closer to an ending of this project.
I have set a goal for finishing by October 31.

On and on and on it goes. I need a support team.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Second Thoughts

I felt as if I'd crashed over a cliff last week when I came to the finish  line on this project I've been working on through July and August. After so much intense activity, when I came to the end of the drawings it was like jumping off a merry-go-round. I wanted to keep spinning but I was all spun out.
And now I realize I have enough for a real book and I think it looks pretty good. This assessment is purely from my point of view and not necessarily what others may think. It may suck. But I don't think so.
So instead of taking the story into an interactive APP program as planned, I am first going to send it around to a publisher just to see if maybe it might have life as a real book.
I have been trying to compile a letter to go with the package. Wish me luck because I have no idea what to say.
I kind of feel like the character without the hat. It has been lovely and hot in Vancouver this week.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Still Working on the Picture Book

I thought I'd post  a photo of the illustrations I am working on so far. I know you can't see much of it but I think this is OK because it is copyright protected at the moment. My shoulders hurt and my neck aches from spending so many hours on my computer.  Next step is to lay down the text, record it in segments, make new files for the sound and effects and then figure out the software for Interactbooks. They have extended the deadline to October for their contest. My goal is to get this working and to take it to the finish line. If I can get that far I will be very happy.
The story is a collaboration between myself and my adult son Stephen. We wrote out the basic idea and then I did the rough sketches about twenty years ago. But for some reason we got busy with our lives and forgot about it. Two weeks ago, having been inspired by taking two webinars with InteractBooks,  I started to develop the drawings into full colour illustrations. Now the time has almost come to see if it might have a life out there as a book or an App for children from five to eight years old. What have we got to lose? As I talk to myself about the craziness of getting back into drawing pig characters I think perhaps it is better to do something with this story than to let it sit alone in a dark drawer. And besides, it is fun to do this.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Getting it together piece by piece

I apologize for not posting much this month so far. The reason is, I've been working on the illustrations for a little book that has been sitting in my portfolio for many years along with several other stories and ideas. I am hoping to meet a deadline with Interact Books and I am hoping I can figure out how use their software. The story is for kids from K to grade 3 or so. I can't say much more about it while it is in process. But I hope there are good vibes out there because this is a pretty lonely business when it gets down to the wire. Wish me luck please. No matter what happens, this has been an excellent exercise for my brain and it is fun to work on something that may bring delight to kids. I hope.
Meanwhile, to perk up the boring look of this post  I will post these sun bathing turtles captured at Van Dusen Gardens three weeks ago.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Making art with my ipad

I have several painting APPS on my iPad. So far, Art Rage for the ipad is my favourite App for drawing. I played around with it yesterday testing out my new Wacom pen for iPad. Today I am posting some of the little drawings I emailed to myself. With Corel Draw (in my PC), I organized them into this arrangement.
Realizing there were enough little characters for a quilt type design, I thought what the heck. I'll post this. I get a little obsessed with an idea at times.
But I did learn a bit about using the APP with my new pen. And it was peaceful working on these little characters. The centre design is the base for each design. I erased with white in the negative space. I saved over and over again  always beginning from the original base digital painting.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Playing with line drawings

There's a beautiful new toy for artists or kids or anyone who is willing, to play with online. Scribbler Too is a lot of fun. Check out the website and give it a try. This version allows for saving and one has more control over the line drawings.
What a way to waste time! Yet it can get creative juices going and I think that's the point of the fellows who created this magical drawing software. These are the results of my first attempt to try it out. FUN!
(With a wacom tablet and pen it is a little easier I think. I have a small Bamboo Fun tablet)

Scribbler, the first version by Zefrank is now available as an iPad App and I have tried it out and think it is absolutely terrific. Thanks Zefrank and Quasimodo!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Canada Geese On The Pond

There is a family of Canada Geese living on the pond on Granville Island near the Kids Mart. I've been going down there weekly and have been following the growth of the goslings with my camera. I had to try this with CorelDraw and Painter11 and my Wacom Bamboo Fun tablet. I'm not sure if this works. But it is a always a learning experience.
Step one was the photo reference. Step two - Vector shapes in CorelDRaw. Step three - Blending a base in Painter. Step four - Adding pastel colour and adding details with coloured pencil.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Down at Granville Island

I photo shopped some photos I took yesterday on another visit to one of my favourite places in Vancouver. The Children's Festival is on and I could not resist the colour and sense of fun. I made a little video last night using Corel Video Studio Pro. I threw in a primitive sound track made with Garage Band on my sweet lovely  iPad.

Friday, May 27, 2011

An Evil Queen Speaks

I love reading the Blue Rose Girls Blog because you never know what you will find there and it is always interesting and inspiring. Today there is a lovely poem listed today. Titled The Evil Queen Speaks To Her Magic Mirror by poet Elaine Magliaro and it made me smile today and this is good because it is raining again and I am longing for some sunshine.
A smile is almost as good. I imagine it is good for the endorphins.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Drawing on iPad

Feeling a little blue with all the rain we've been having. Missing the sun! Playing with the iPad.
Art Rage with a small digital pen for iPad...Looks like I have a lot to learn.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Landscape with Eagle

Today's project. A card design I've been working on.
All digital.
CorelDraw and then Painter11.
I started playing with it.
Had fun.
Not sure if it works.
But it feels so good to have something to post.

The days go by so fast.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Card Project two

Today I scanned this pencil crayon drawing from a couple of years ago. Then I worked with it in painter to lighten it up to be more suitable for a card design.
I did the same with a watercolour of pansies adding white to lighten up the heavy darkness of the piece. The pansies are posted on my other blog at paintingpuppies.
I think I need to stand back for a while because my shoulders hurt and I am not sure if it is improved. But I think it is. What do you think?

Saturday, April 09, 2011

IF / Bottled

After the fierce singing competition, four finalists stood  in front of the audience holding their award boquets of spring blossoms. Gerty, Nancy, Helena and Annabelle bottled up the high excitement of their emotions as they waited for the judges to make the final decision. Each contestant was determined not to cry if declared the final winner of the Snort Hall of Fame Singing Championships.

For Illustration Friday's word of the week. Bottled. I know. I am stretching it a bit.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

IF / Duet

A little late but I managed to get this together.
Robin has a lovely deep base voice and piggy is soprano. Her voice is slightly grating and it is a little on the sharp side. But they have dreams of being on TV and they practice a lot.

I sketched this with Corel Painter using coloured pencil and pastel brushes.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Developing a Character

This little character is from my sketchbook. I took him into Painter and had some fun today. Now he needs a background and some friends. I think his name is Freddy. Maybe I will try a different approach tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Waterscape With Gulls

As I ponder the events in Japan I find it helps to make marks and keep working. I once was a liturgical artist and I can feel that process of meditation coming back into the creative process. I have been playing with this image and the field image as well. Today this emerged on my computer pages.
Seagulls are not the nicest birds, but I think they can be beautiful to draw.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Prayers For Japan at Vancouver's Christ Church Cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver held a special service of prayers for the people of Japan this afternoon.

The paper cranes and cherry blossom centre piece was beautiful. After the service ended, many people with cameras came forward to take photos of it. Perhaps there will be many more creations of beautiful art to come forward out of the tragedy that has touched people around the world.

It was a beautiful service and I am so glad I attended.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Playing With Colour

Today I was playing with Corel Painter.
The sheep are vector images pasted over the design in CorelDraw.