Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category


Christmas ornaments

I just decorated a Christmas tree for the first time in years and it was a amazing to pull out ornaments I forgot I had. Personally, I've never been interested in those colour-coordinated Christmas trees, with carefully chosen sparkling balls that match the perfectly hung garland or ribbon. They look nice, but they have no feeling. I like a tree with a jumble of colours, shapes, and sizes, where each ornament tells a story. As my brother and I were growing up, our mom bought us each an ornament every year, so by the time we moved out we had quite the collection.

Christmas ornaments

One year I made ornaments for my family as gifts and I was hooked. The joy of making something pretty to hang on the tree, plus the fact that I've spent most of my adult life on a tight budget and can't splurge on decorations, means you'll often find me pulling out the glue gun at this time of year to make a new decoration or two.

christmas ornaments

Do you prefer the handmade look on your tree? Are you trying to save money around the holidays? Here are my suggestions for making your own ornaments. Give it a try! I hope you have as much fun as I do. (more…)

Jim Henson

I believe that we form our own lives, that we create our own reality, and that everything works out for the best. I know I drive some people crazy with what seems to be ridiculous optimism, but it has always worked out for me.

Christmas is coming and for me, 'tis the season to watch Muppet Christmas movies. There are so many to choose from! When we were growing up, the Muppet Family Christmas was on TV every year. Moments from that show stick with me as if they were my own Christmas memories: (more…)

People who see my heart sculptures are often amazed that I make them entirely out of paper. When we think of paper mache, we usually think of children mucking around with newspaper and balloons, though the truth is that people have been making sturdy, beautiful objects out of paper mache for centuries - probably for as long as there has been paper.

Here are some of the ways that paper mache has been used that I find most interesting:

Medical models

Back in the 19th and early 20th centuries, religious dictates made it hard for medical schools to find bodies to use for dissection so models had to be made to teach students about anatomy. Many of these  were painstakingly made with paper mache. If you haven't seen these models, I highly recommend taking a look (if you're not too squeamish!). They are truly beautiful. You can find a good selection here.


Draw Paint Print Marion DeucharsIn my constant effort to bring a little more creativity to my everyday life, I've decided to start a new project. I have come across dozens of books with exercises meant to get creativity flowing. I tend to read them quickly, anxious to get to the next thing, and I rarely do very many of the exercises, if any. However, after receiving Marion Deuchar's book Draw Paint Print as a birthday gift, I've decided to work my way through it and - gasp - do every single exercise. 

This book is a treat to look at. Deuchars based the exercises on the work of well known artists that have been influential to her. Each chapter starts with a sketch of the artist, and a graphic explanation of what makes them unique. This is followed by exercises ranging from quite simple to more complex, all in an effort to get the creative juices flowing and help the reader better understand how art comes together. It's bold and bright and colourful, and the texture of the paper reminds me of a colouring book. I definitely ignored my family's conversation as I leafed through it, trying to soak it up, wishing I had pencil crayons with me. The book is meant for younger audiences, but that's part of the appeal. It's simple, clean, and easy to follow.

My immediate thought was that I didn't want this book to languish on my shelf unused. It was meant to be drawn and painted in and I wanted to fill it up with playful experiments. Sadly, I knew my tendency to start working on something and then lose interest early on (see the perils and joys of being multi-passionate). I realized that I would have to make my efforts public. If I tell the world that I'm doing this, then I have do it, right?

So here's my plan. There are 18 artists in the book. I'm going to do the exercises for one artist each week, which will take me just over 4 months. I'll be posting my progress on Instagram and Facebook if you would like to follow along. If you're really keen you can order the book from the publisher or if you live in Edmonton, you can ask Audrey's Books to order it for you (go local book stores!). In case you're wondering, I'm not affiliated with the book in any way - I'm just really excited about it.

This week I'm starting with Joan Miro and experimenting with lines and shapes. I'll try to post progress reports throughout and a recap when I'm done. If this goes well I might start doing a regular series with other creativity boosting books. I can't wait to see what happens!


different nameI think children's books are a source of inspiration that often goes untapped. The combination of an intriguing storyline with beautiful images can get those creative neurons firing like crazy. I remember one Christmas my mom brought a huge stack of children's books home from the library, and we spent hours reading them by the fireplace. It was both relaxing and energizing at the same time, and became one of my favourite Christmas memories. Over the years I've found a small collection of books that are meant for children but still appeal to me as an adult - probably because, like many things that inspire me, they're a little dark and very strange.

Two of the writer/illustrator teams that grabbed my attention for both their stories and their illustrations are: (more…)

StephanieMedford0914Like many people, I collect objects and images and use them to decorate my home. Some have flown with me across oceans, some were made by friends and my boyfriend, and plenty are gifts from people I love. I have always loved having these objects out where I can see them - minimalism is definitely not for me. When I met my boyfriend and saw that his apartment was crowded with his own collection of objects of wonder, I knew that we would get along fine.

Sometimes I feel guilty for feeling so connected to objects, and I sometimes wonder - why these things? What is it about them that makes me never tire of looking at them? (more…)


visual journalingLast week I wrote about my experiences with journaling and apparently I'm not ready to let the subject go since this week I want to talk about visual journaling - about how I got into it and how you can get started.

What is a visual journal?

Any form of record keeping that uses images can be described as a visual journal. In the book, Drawing from Life: The Journal as ArtJennifer New explains that the word journal can be used almost interchangeably with sketchbook, field notes, notebook, or logbook. Visual journals are most frequently associated with artists, but they can also be kept by scientists, musicians, travelers, parents, or anyone who wants to keep track of their ideas and observations. In fact, rather than dividing her book into sections based on disciplines, New called her chapters Observation, Reflection, Exploration, and Creation - though most journals contain a little bit of everything.

New explains the magical properties of visual journaling: (more…)

making zinesA few years ago some friends of mine got into making zines and started a group where everyone would make a zine and bring copies to trade with the group. They called it Zine-Aged Angst, because they're clever like that. It was a brilliant idea because it gave us all a reason to do something creative, and a concrete deadline by which to have it finished.

A zine is an original DIY publication, usually a small booklet reproduced with a photocopier - though they can come in many forms. It can be on any topic imaginable and contain any kind of media, as long as it's reproducible. Over the years I've gathered quite a collection, on topics from building an ant farm, to the things you find when you pick up garbage for a living, to how to quit drinking coffee. (more…)

When I was 13 years old, my mom gave me a treasure of a book. It was the story of an "extraordinary correspondence" between an artist and the woman who sees his art develop as he makes it. The truly compelling part was that the book was made up of postcards and letters sent by each character, with stunning original artwork, and real letters that you could pull out of real envelopes. I was completely entranced. Not only did the story light up the part of me that loves a good, dark mystery, but the artwork was like nothing I had ever seen before. The book was Griffin and Sabine and the author/artist - Nick Bantock - went on to become one of my greatest artistic influences.

Nick Bantock - Griffin and Sabine    nick bantock griffin and sabine     (more…)

personal mapsIf you've followed me from my I Heart Edmonton days, or have seen very much of my artwork, you'll know that I'm a teensy bit obsessed with maps. I'm inspired by them and love incorporating them in my work. What's the big deal about maps? I could write for days about all the interesting things I've learned about them (and maybe someday I will), but for now I'll just share what I think is one of their most interesting features: how we can use them to tell stories. (more…)