& much rejoicing

Saturday, May 31, 2014

mother nature at her most spectacular - tiny & amazing forget-me-nots + the lovely & shaggalicious, Miss Winnie Darn Dixon

When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty. John Muir

we are gardening, gardening, gardening, basking, drinking ice tea, barbecuing, hanging out with cats  & dogs, making lots o' nuts granola, reading, planning, relaxing, enjoying & oh so much rejoicing - my season has indeed begun - happy weekend !!

sunflower part 1

Friday, May 30, 2014

layer No. 5 with metallic gold details

Normally when working small (to fit my scanner) slightly less than 9 x 12 I always try to remember to scan each step as I go. A safety measure of sorts, a just in case I go too far, wished I hadn't glued something down, painted black lines, etc. And it also documents the interesting & mysterious evolution of a mixed media collage piece.

Below is a step-by-step series of photos from my blank 16 x 20 heavy kraft cardboard sheet to where I stopped last night because my cardboard had a huge big curl in it - I should be working on masonite or thin plywood but I do LOVE a good piece of otherwise recycled cardboard. The top image (sadly out of focus a bit) is a place along the way that I could have/should have maybe stopped - it's beautiful, this layer No.5 but I knew I wanted to collage on top, these first layers were always meant to be background. I knew my "plan" was red sunflower(s). Plus truthfully as much as I wish sometimes that I was more of an abstract kinda gal - I'm just not. I mean it's fun as practice & fooling around & messing around layering paint, mark making, collage & more paint - but ultimately at this point in my creative journey I want the end product to be representational and I am still working on getting the finished product to BE how I want it to be, to be that how I can see sort of clearly in my mind's eye.

Where I left off in No. 9 below is not where I want this piece to be - so it's currently being weighted down by stacks and stacks of magazines (that I just happen to have hanging around, my magazine obsession/hoarding is another story for another time). I'll work on this red sunflower piece more once it's flattened again. I must  also mention that this piece "red sunflower" is a collaborative piece I'm working on with my studio mate and Creative Director Oliver :-) he of course is an integral part of every finished product.

stages 1-8 + most excellent collaborative art partner Oliver - you can see the bend in my surface in No.9

cats, cardboard & calendars

Thursday, May 29, 2014

some older photos, some very recent - cats, cats, cats the cats of 29 Black St. with lots of Miss Personality - Missy IBB*

Creativity is intelligence having fun
Albert Einstein

Thursday's have been unofficially deemed Creative Days - new rule ritual No. 27 in my constantly evolving attempts to create more space, more time & way more creativity into my days. The kind of creativity that is completely self-directed, as intuitive as I can possibly muster, just mess in' around- the kind of creativity that should feel nothing but liberating but most often feels anxiety inducing.

I know for a fact that the most interesting work that I've created over the last 4 years is also the work that got me noticed in this busy chock-full-of-amazing-illustrators/artists world and is work I created with hardly a plan - at the most a really loose sketchy line drawing on tracing paper. Since "planning" is my other middle name, my security blanket & my comfort zone - this idea of diving in, especially when you haven't been diving in this particular pool for ages, is ... uncomfortable, scary, yadayada.

This morning already, after my chores ;-), I've been cutting 16 x 20 surfaces to work on from my ever growing stash of adored kraft cardboard. I plan to create several new calendars this year (sorry no more owls) but would love requests and/or suggestions. My initial planning is for 2 smaller size 6 x 9 wall calendars 1). cats - much like my popular lil' owl calendars 2). typographic (collage quotes/words) & and at least 1 large size calendar, a 12 x 18 Botanica - I will create (at least) 12 new large size botanical collage/mixed media pieces - always inspired by my adoration of the Cavallini wall calendar.

First up ... 16 x 20 begonias + red sunflowers - oh boy !! here we go ;-)
I actually put an apron on ... look out, 'cause things are about to get messy

*Missy IBB - the adorable, very popular Itty Bitty Betty

mindfulness, meditation & memoirs

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

editorial illustration for an article on Learning to Meditate / our May assignment in Lilla Roger's Assignment Bootcamp

Mindfulness is about training our minds to be more focused, to see with clarity, to have spaciousness for creativity and to feel connected. That compassion to ourselves, to everyone around us - that's what mindfulness is really about ... there is no work balance. We have one life. What's important is that you be awake for it. Janice Marturano - Institute for Mindful Leadership

I'm currently reading 3 memoirs, a chapter of each every bedtime. I'm re-reading Gabrielle Bernstein's - Spirit Junkie, Arianna Huffington's new & fabulous book - Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well Being, Wisdom and Wonder and Piper Kerman's - Orange is the New Black - the memoir that created the popular new NetFlix series (which I'm saving for after the book).

I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself. Mikhail Baryshnikov

I've been using the tools of mindfulness & meditation in small ways every single day of my life. Practicing mindfulness & most often tiny 2-5 minute meditation breaks throughout my days (& nights) whenever I feel that feeling - that all too familiar Dread feeling. Now when I feel that feeling, a physical "oh oh" that most often begins in my stomach area ... I immediately stop what I'm doing and I try to become mindful. I breath. I focus on my breath. I sometimes put a drop of peppermint essential oil on the back of my hand and breath deeply of that exhilarating scent - that smell that has out of habit & ritual become kind of heroic to me because it chases away the Dread, nearly every single time. I'm rewiring my brain.

I have learned so, SO much about myself this past year, SO much about my mostly former (thankfully) demons Anxiety & Dread and I have learned these amazing life lessons the hard way. Either from making some seemingly serious mistakes, from stumbling and falling failing and most recently by doing some really hard things - things I really didn't believe I could do. But ... I always knew, I always know that I can try. I'm very good at trying & I do

I always try ... I love that about myself. There (gasp) I used the word LOVE & myself in the same sentence - what is the my world coming to ;-)

The meditation illustration above was meant to be just a sketch for this month's assignment. I did a line drawing first, then was inspired by Lilla's suggestion of painting 50 shades of blue - I thought I'd paint a sketch of my drawing in blues fully intending to create a much more elaborate final assignment in my go-to collage-a-go-go style - paper, paint, ink in my favourite mostly neutral (coffee, cream, black, kraft + 1 colour) palette then lovingly layered ;-) in Photoshop (my new best friend) - it just was not happening the way I wanted it to - the deadline loomed & I submitted my blue  watercolour sketch as my final. You can view the May gallery here

Our greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another. William James


Monday, May 26, 2014

another favourite springtime flower - we have many large clumps of these amazing teeny blue-lavender blossoms all around the grounds of 29 Black Street - this post is for my Aunt Sally (it's her favourite flower too).

some blooms

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Recent blooms from the gardens of 29 Black Street. 

From the top frittalaria + fornicating lily beetles I didn't have the heart to stop them and/or move them along and they since have decimated my 3 purple & 2 white checkered lilies ;-( / narcissus / tulips in the front garden / hyacinth - Cavallini calendar / pink tulip / magnolia / daffodil with tiny spider / more tulips

& a sweet baby Oliver, from my cat Pinterest board, taken back in the day (8 years ago this summer) when my photos were pretty basic. He, Oliver, is the best ever cat, my favourite dog, friend, creative director, companion & all round comfort cat - love him.

regular scheduled programming

Saturday, May 24, 2014

'tis the season - hooray !! / Winnie Dixon, Samuel & Itty Bitty in the back garden / oh my geranium / Creative Director Oliver working hard from his harbour view office / tuna melt & a petite salad with pea shoots - yum / Samuels' big dig under the picnic table / pretty pale pink tulip / I ♡ gardening & tall glasses of summertime ice tea / citrus green creeping Jenny / Sam & Betty / magnolia blossom

Hey ! we're back to regular scheduled programming here at 29 Black Street !
thank you all so much for the lovely supportive comments on my Starbucks project post.
Happy, Happy Weekend to all !

exciting news part 3

Thursday, May 22, 2014

1. an early blog photo hint & my favourite ever coffee mug 2. collage of North America on 22 x 30 - watercolour paper 
3. I created a paisley swirl pattern to layer under the coffee-stained oceans using coffee beans, the star shaped coffee plant flower and leaves & swirls - swirls have become a bit of a signature element in my work 4. collage of Europe & Africa on 22 x 30 - watercolour paper 5. painting my 22 x 30 pattern with a No. 2 brush and transparent raw umber ink 6. collage of Asia, Australia & New Zealand - 22 x 30 watercolour paper 7. I was shocked at how many hours/days it took to complete my paisley swirl pattern but in the end I think it added a lot to the final mural 8-12. - my friend Carmen Mok who lives near Toronto visited this just opened Starbucks location at 1Yonge Street and kindly took tons of photos for me ;-) 13. a mini version of my final photoshop layered artwork !!

I couldn't have done it without you dear Photoshop 

Exciting news part 3 (subtitled yah ! for me) a 12 x 5 Starbucks map mural - My most recent BIG (literally) top secret project revealed. I had exactly 1 month to meet my deadline, 1 month from the morning I enthusiastically said YES !! of course I can create a 12 x 5 foot mural map of the world's coffee growing regions using my own coffee stained, hand drawn typographic collage style - Sure, you bet I can ! 

Then of course I promptly free fell into a seemingly bottomless pit of despair, stress & anxiety. Yikes !! I thought, HOW would I pull this off and COULD I pull it off ? this particular pit, this abyss - a stop along every challenging creative project - was by far the deepest, the scariest & the longest lasting that I can recall. It was the technical issues of creating something that in it's final state would be 12' x 5' that had me so paralyzed in the beginning. Finally after nearly 10 full days of starts & stops & mostly fear I did 2 things that changed the course of this project.

1. I gave myself permission to FAIL. I came to terms with the possibility that maybe I had met my match with this particular project, maybe the technical aspects were beyond my capabilities, if Photoshop was a giant iceberg (which in a way it is) I know and am comfortable with the teensiest, tiniest tip of that iceberg. So if I did FAIL, meaning I'd try and in the end the client wouldn't use my art ... that would be the worst thing that could happen & I can't expect to win every game, can I ?

2. Realizing that I'd need to work large scale, meaning I'd need large scale scanning done I called Craig Yorke at ImageHouse in Halifax one fateful early Monday morning - the smartest thing I could've done. ImageHouse specializes in large format printing and they're famous for working with artists. I knew he had both the technical knowledge and a creative's eye & care working with artwork. Craig and I spoke on the phone many times (& ImageHouse did my large scans) he hand held me, commiserated with me, talked me down from that scary place, cheered me on & in the end complimented me on the final, FINAL art. I could not have done this project without him. Period.

I think I can speak for most designers when I say that Starbucks and it's brand identity, packaging, shop art & decor has always been a company I've admired so to list them as a client is a huge thrill. Not to mention the incredible feeling of faith & confidence in myself that comes with successfully completing (on deadline) such a challenging project. Yah ! for me.  Y-A-H !!

* Joanne from Blue Heron noticed the coffee bean motif early on in my pattern painting photo here ;-)