psychedelic shadow

shadow and sidewalk chalk

This is just a fun photo of my own shadow that I took while out for a walk several days ago. The sidewalk chalk flowers were huge, and I thought my shadow – made super skinny by the setting sun – looked interesting in contrast to them.

This photo also makes me think of my favorite parts of this summer – which otherwise has been a really challenging one, in many ways. I’ve loved walking in my neighbourhood in the early evening, when the air is warm and the sun is low, and my steps are lazy.

I appreciate the beauty in those moments.

citrus fruit

citrus 1

These are some details taken from an in-progress art journal spread that I’m working on. It started as a fragment of a tear sheet from a magazine, with a photo of some sliced limes. I love citrus fruit, although I don’t eat much of the sweet stuff anymore. But I still buy limes and lemons to squeeze over my summer salads, or slice into my cold water on hot days.

citrus 2

citrus 3

penny carnival

penny carnival

Last week I attended a children’s penny carnival for work, and took these photos. When I looked at the images afterwards, I was struck by how nostalgic they made me feel. Something about the power of fun and games, and the riches you can buy with a bag full of carefully saved coins.

I came across two children kneeling on the ground. They were picking spilled pennies out of the dry grass. Moments earlier, the pennies had filled a blue plastic Stax tube. “Good eyes,” I said, when the little boy found some especially hidden coins.

“Good eyes,” he kept repeating, turning the words over and over again in his mouth, like a hard candy that he was trying to suck every last lick of pleasure from.

“Do you have a girl?” his big sister asked me, as I helped them re-fill the Stax container.

“No, I don’t have any kids.” Like empty pants pockets turned inside out, my woman-ness felt momentarily deflated, and empty.

There was a water balloon relay race. Each team member had to break a water balloon over their head. It was a hot day. I laughed to see the expressions on the kids’ faces, and hear the squeals, when the cold water hit the backs of their necks.

relay race

And colouring… is there anything more thrilling than a container full of crayons or pencil crayons? There is a world of possibility in a handful of pigment.

I appreciate the fun you can buy with a penny or two.


playing on the weekend

art journal workspace

I’ve been spending so much time writing lately, I thought I’d put my visual art aside, but on the weekend I had the sudden urge to pull out one of my art journals and do some collaging. (I don’t think that’s a word, but anyhow.) Here’s a snapshot of my work area, gluing in progress. The finished art journal spread is below. I’m going to use it in an upcoming post on Kitchen Sink Wisdom.

art journal spread what is essential

on waiting for inspiration

Spots, an art journal spread

I posted two quotes about creativity here and here on my Tumblr blog yesterday. They came from an old issue of Organic Style magazine that I was reading in a relaxed moment.

I love waiting for inspiration to visit me.

I often keep some of my artwork or sketches out in plain view so that the colours and images can percolate in my unconscious and lead me to the next thing. Recently I’ve had this art journal spread on display in my front room. I’ve been obsessed with trying to come up with a quilt design that uses these colours and this layout.

My wall-o'-shelves, 20110801
Art journal displayed on my wall-o'-shelves
Detail of art journal spread
Detail of art journal spread
Detail of art journal spread
Detail of art journal spread
Detail of art journal spread
Detail of art journal spread

This was the first design that came to me one day.

Quilt design sketched in my Moleskine

But it wasn’t quite right. A few days later, it all came together.

Quilt design sketched in my Moleskine
Quilt design sketched in my Moleskine
Quilt design sketched in my Moleskine

What I love about this design is that the quilt blocks are oriented on the diagonal, and I’ve managed to translate the thin red lines around some of spots in the original drawing into the blocks. Now to find time to actually make the quilt…

Quilt design sketched in Moleskine
Quilt design and art journal inspiration


drawing of crow

I have a special fondness for crows. During my university years in London, Ontario, I enjoyed seeing a family of crows return every year to the same stretch of trees that lined the long driveway leading up to Brescia College. I would walk past them on my way to class every day, and their large, bold black figures fascinated me.

Years later I was walking through an older neighbourhood in London when I suddenly felt something land on my head. I immediately stopped in shock, and moments later the crow that had alighted on me hopped down onto the sidewalk in front of me, then turned and cast me a curious eye. We stood together for an endless moment, staring intently at each other, before the bird casually flew away and I was left to continue my walk, bemused.

Shortly after this I began taking singing lessons, and eventually came across a song that I loved to sing. It was a German Lied from Schubert’s song cycle Die Winterreise (Winter’s Journey), called Die Krahe (The Crow). Click here to listen to a recording (scroll down to track 15). The song tells the story of a man near his life’s end, followed ominously by a carrion crow as he walks out of town.

I was terribly upset when the crows began dying in southwestern Ontario, victims of the West Nile virus. For several summers the skies were empty of their raucous cawing and sweeping black forms. Sometimes I wondered if they’d ever return to visit me again. I’m happy to say that I often hear crows now, as I sit working at my desk near my open apartment window.

This post was originally published on my art blog, Crayola washable marker on paper, 1998.