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…)

thrift shopping

 

I seriously love thrift shopping. My parents used to take me as a kid because we didn't have a lot of money but I had no idea that was the reason - I thought they were taking me on a fun adventure. I always had the weirdest clothes at school - but I also got the most compliments on how I dressed. I still buy 80% of my clothes second-hand. Partly because I work part-time and am trying to start my own business (read: I'm broke), but mostly because it still feels like an adventure.

Having done this for a couple decades now, I've learned a thing or to about how to do it well. By which I mean, how to choose the right things and not end up with a pile of crap that I'll never wear. I save money and dress just as well as people who buy all their clothes new. One of my greatest fashion achievements was when I was working in an office where everyone tried to look their best. Part of my job description involved being "put together from head to toe." One of the youngest, hippest staff members told me one day that I always dress really well. I told him that I buy most of my clothes secondhand and his draw dropped. That's right, just because you wear used clothing doesn't mean you have to look secondhand. (more…)

I'm stepping out of my comfort zone again to show you another experiment with DSLR photography. I interviewed a local chocolatier (the blog post will be published here soon) and she gave me a box of chocolates to try. More beautiful than most, these chocolates lend themselves to photography thanks to their vibrant colours and unique shapes and textures. They taste pretty good too!

Here's the story of a beautiful box of chocolates told in pictures.

DSLR photography - chocolate

Even the box is beautiful. It's inviting me in...

DSLR photography - chocolate

This is the magical view you get when you open the box. (more…)

spring flowers anxietyI set myself the goal of publishing a blog post every week, by Wednesday at the latest. At 2:00 last Wednesday what was I doing? Putting the finishing touches on a post? Nope. I was playing Candy Crush like my life depended on it and daydreaming about the weekend. What kept me clicking on candies instead of writing the post I had planned? Laziness? Procrastination? I think it was more likely something that I often struggle with, something that keeps me from producing my best work.

Anxiety, my old friend, was back to lend me a not-so-helping hand.

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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…)

scarab prints

What I love most about teaching this workshop is that it's not just about making linoleum block prints. That's a huge part of it, obviously, but there are a few other things that I think it's important to teach, and they're things you might not have thought of. Here are four of them:

1. How to take an idea from start to finish

Tell me if this sounds familiar: you have the best idea for a project, or something new you want to try. You go out and get all the supplies and dive in, full of enthusiasm, only to give it up halfway through without finishing. We all do this. When something gets hard, frustrating, or even just a little less exciting, we tend to give up and move on to other things. I used to do it all the time. In this workshop, however, you'll get the satisfaction of starting something, and then finishing it. You will leave knowing exactly how to overcome those frustrating challenges that might have made you give up if you were doing it on your own. And hopefully that sense of satisfaction you get from completing a project will motivate you to try and finish more. (more…)

paper mache heartWith one of my biggest shows of the year coming up in two days (it's the spring Royal Bison for all those of you local to Edmonton - check it out!) I thought I would share the process behind my new heart sculptures.

I was first inspired to make these hearts when I visited the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia. This was actually one of the most interesting places my brother and I went on our two month road trip around the States and I highly recommend it. The focus of the museum is on the history of medicine and "medical oddities". Along with plenty of information, the small building is crammed with human body parts in jars and models of body parts. Definitely not for the faint of heart, you could spend hours looking at all the beautiful and grotesque items on display. And we did. My favourites were the intricate models that had been made to teach about different organs like the heart or the lungs. Not having 3-D printers, these were painstakingly made with super fine layers of paper mache and painted by hand. They were breath-taking. Something in me clicked that day and I left with a desire to turn the shapes from the human body into artwork. (more…)

Orchid 8I bought by first DSLR camera in January and I'm slowly learning how to use it. I'd like to do a regular series where I talk about what I'm learning and share some of my photos. If there are any seasoned photographers out there it would be great to know what you think!

The Orchid Show

An annual event put on by a group of orchid enthusiasts, this year the show was held in a beautiful greenhouse outside the city - a big improvement from last year's school gymnasium. Since this was my second time attending I had an idea of what to expect, but was still blown away by the incredible variety of colours and shapes that these plants manage to create. There's so much to look at it can be overwhelming, and hard to decide what to take pictures of. I decided to jump right in, shooting anything that caught my eye - and there was a lot! It took some patience since the place was pretty crowded and everyone had a camera of some kind (most people were using their phones). I gave myself permission to take my time, fiddling with settings and trying different angles, often taking a dozen shots of the same flower. My patience paid off - I was really happy with how a lot of the shots turned out. I've shared some of my favourites, as well as some tips that I learned along the way.

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Up here at latitude 53 winters are cold and dark. Some might say brutal. I say beautiful.

snow sculpture

A Voyageur - a French explorer/fur trader from Canada's early days - depicted with snow and light.

I'm not afraid to say it. I love winter. I can't get enough of the smooth white piles, the empty white fields, the crisp blue skies, and soft pink sunrises. I find that every winter I find more and more ways to get outside and enjoy it. Here are a few things that made me love this winter in particular:

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Last month I challenged myself to draw 30 sketches of Edmonton (my home city) in 30 days, and I invited people to join me in the challenge. The goals were to create new perspectives of the city and to create a consistent creative practice while breaking down creative barriers. It was hard! Though I didn't make it to 30 and there were some days when the last thing I wanted to do was sketch, I learned a lot. I've decided to share some of the photos and a bit of my creative journey throughout the month. You can see all my sketches and those that other people sent in on the project blog at sketchesofyeg.tumblr.com.

The first sketches I did felt liberating and exciting. The idea came out of a desire to be creative every day, and to encourage others to be creative, and at first I felt like this project was really going to help. I was bringing my sketchbook everywhere, finding inspiration in unlikely places, and even pushing myself to draw while I was with people.

Playground     

And then something happened. I started to judge my sketches more harshly. I started to feel embarrassed when the sketches I was posting weren’t perfectly accurate and polished and I was frustrated that they didn’t look the way I thought they should. Soon I saw my daily drawing as a chore, rather than a fun way to inject creativity in my day.

What went wrong? (more…)