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:
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.
In 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!
What does being multi-passionate mean? It means I've never been very good at doing one thing. When I was a kid I wanted to be an archaeologist, and a palaeontologist, AND an artist. In high school when I took career aptitude tests I was always disappointed with the results because I inevitably started thinking about all the interesting exciting careers that weren't contained in that one job title. I am usually reading at least three books at any given time - often on wildly different subjects.
In university I majored in drama and I started with the goal of becoming an actor. Then I took a class about set design and fell so deeply in love with it that I was convinced it was my ideal job. But when my counsellor suggested that I apply for the BFA in theatre design and focus on that exclusively, I was overcome with resistance. (more…)
I have been anticipating turning 30 for way too long. Some of my friends who have hit this milestone told me it was the best thing ever, and there's a big part of me that couldn't wait to leave my tortured twenties behind and get on with being a real grown-up. Obviously there were parts of me that were a little anxious about where I'm at in life, but mostly I was really excited. I like who I am, I'm proud of how far I've come in the last decade, and I was ready to celebrate.
I've held a number of themed parties over the years. Starting with a murder mystery that my mom wrote for me for my 13th, I went on to host a music awards themed Halloween party in high school, complete with lip-synced performances by my friends and papier mache "Golden Pumpkin" awards. In more recent years I hosted "Gangsters through the ages", with gangster trivia, prizes, and a home-made piñata, and a blue themed goodbye part when I moved out of "The Blue House".
Last year the theme was endangered species since I had made a sloth costume for my boyfriend for his birthday and I wanted him to have somewhere to wear it. Everyone dressed up like animals and we raised money for the World Wildlife Federation.
I love hosting these parties. It gives me an excuse to do a ton of research on obscure topics and to make things I would never have the opportunity to do otherwise, and it gives all my friends reasons to dress up and get creative themselves. I'm so thankful for how enthusiastically they play along.
This year I wanted to do something a little more special than usual (more…)
These last few weeks have been a bit tough. Nothing terrible has happened, but I've been going through some transitions (like moving in with my partner) that have made it hard for me to keep up with my usual routines. My self-confidence dropped due to a business set-back (I almost didn't get accepted into the craft fair that I count on for holiday income) and it's been hard to get back the momentum that I've been working so hard to build up.
I came across an old blog post and it seemed like a very timely reminder that living this life - running my own business, committing to creativity, building relationships and community - requires the very best of me. And that the very best comes, not from sitting back and hoping that things turn out okay, but from consistently choosing, in every moment, what sort of reality I want to create. I wrote this a year and a half ago on my blog about dealing with anxiety and I wanted to publish it here as a sort of self-care manifesto. As a statement that I'm committed to living this life with intention and purpose. Every minute of it:
Something I'm learning:
If you want to feel good, if you want to be happy, if you want to love yourself and the life you've created, if you want to feel confident, if you want to feel brave, if you want to feel joy... (more…)
Fall is, in my opinion, the most beautiful time of year here in Edmonton, and is normally much too brief. This year we were blessed with a full two months of changing colours and warm weather and I managed to take my camera out a few times to capture the magic. The sun is low in the sky at this time of year which made for some very dramatic lighting and made the gold tones of the leaves and grasses pop that much more.
Of course, on the first day I went out the sun was behind the clouds and the colours weren't translating at all. Everything was coming out so drab that I almost lost heart. (more…)
I have been asked by artist and fellow blogger Tara Leaver to take part in this artist blog hop and share a bit about my creative process. First of all, I couldn't be happier, since I would really like to connect with more artists online and this is a great first step toward that goal. Second of all, the whole point of this blog is to share my experiences with creativity so the topic is perfect. I'm hoping that this exploration will give you a better idea of how and why I do what I do.
Considering how much I write about creativity these questions were surprisingly hard to answer! I'll give it my best shot though.
How does my creative process work?
For the most part my ideas seem to come from my environment, and particularly from travel. I can trace back many of my current and past artistic projects to things I saw in museums, nature, or on the walls of a coffee shop. I'm really inspired by natural history and the ways that art and science intersect. Most of my work tends to use maps in some way, and often is made to look weathered and old.
Usually I get an idea (more…)
October is an amazing, crazy month. Birthdays, anniversaries, Halloween, Thanksgiving (my favourite holiday - and yes, here in Canada we celebrate it in October)... and I'm moving. The days are getting shorter, the last of the green leaves are turning colour and falling to the ground, and that inescapable winter chill is starting to creep in. It's a month of celebration and transition. What better time to sharpen my creative muscles and focus more clearly on the world around me?
This month, my creative challenge is back with #InspireOctober.
Last week I wrote about the importance of rituals, habits, and routines to help you stay creative every day. This week I have just the thing to help you with that goal! Introducing #InspireOctober, a 31-day creativity challenge that will inject some inspiration into your creative practice every day this month. It's easy to play along: Each number on the calendar is a day of the month. Using that day's prompt as a jumping off point, take a picture or write a short post and publish it on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook with the hastag #InspireOctober. That's it! Full "rules" (there are no rules though, really) below. Enjoy!
To stretch our creative muscles a little bit each day in October. To open our imaginations and share our stories.
1. Use the words above as prompts to create a story: either a visual image or a small piece of text each day.
3. Interpret the prompts any way you want, literally or off-the-wall figuratively.
4. Use any media you want. Try to stretch a little bit and think about the different stories you can tell with each word. Will you sketch or paint a picture? Make a collage? Take a photo? Use found objects to make a sculpture? Take a video? Use found text? Transcribe overheard conversations? Create a map? Of course, if you want to use all photographs that’s fine too!
5. Do as many or as few as you want, in any order you want. I don’t want to stress anyone out, so make this challenge whatever you need it to be to have fun.
6. Share with your friends! The more people we have playing along, the more fun it will be.
The challenge starts tomorrow and will go to the end of October. I hope you’ll join in on the creative adventures!
"If I waited to be in the mood to write, I’d barely have a chapbook of material to my name. Who would ever be in the mood to write? Do marathon runners get in the mood to run? Do teachers wake up with the urge to lecture? I don’t know, but I doubt it. My guess is that it’s the very act that is generative. The doing of the thing that makes possible the desire for it. A runner suits up, stretches, begins to run. An inventor trudges down to his workroom, closing the door behind him. A writer sits in her writing space, setting aside the time to be alone with her work. Is she inspired doing it? Very possibly not. But this is her habit, her job, her discipline. Think of a ballet dancer at the barre. She is practising, because she knows there is no difference between practice and art. The practice is the art."
Dani Shapiro, Still Writing
Last year a friend gave me a Tarot deck for my birthday and I tried a reading for the first time. It was a time of upheaval and uncertainty so I asked the cards what was the next step I should take in my business. Many of the cards made a lot of sense but one that confused me a bit was the Hierophant card. Here's an interpretation: "The Hierophant Tarot card suggests that you may be wise to follow established social structures and traditions. You may be involved in some sort of ritual, ceremony, or the trappings of religion. There is also a need to honour some tradition in your life, or maybe start some traditions of your own if you have none."
After thinking about it for a bit it became clear what kind of "rituals" and "traditions" the card was asking me to try. Creative rituals. (more…)
I 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…)