sketchbook – monoprint experiments


On making mistakes, ugly things, and the terrifying thing that is an open-ended project

I’m still trying to figure things out, and still trying to get comfortable with messing up and just doing stuff to see what’ll happen; feeling all thumbs and trying very hard to be okay with that is what I find the hardest thing about creativity. By that admission, I think I’ve outed myself as not being truly creative.

I’ve been putting aside Fridays as play days – and the weekends too, if I can get one. That took a bit of getting used to. It took a while to get over the fear of actually starting something – I did a lot of reading & making notes for the first couple of weeks. Puttering in the garden. Napping. Generally practising exceptionally successful avoidance techniques. Now I’ve moved onto playing with messy things, so I think I’m safely over the first self-made obstacle. Still getting over the time allotment thing – it’s been a very long time since I’ve done something just for myself, and it feels more than somewhat invalid.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few years, dreaming of a time when I can work on something for myself, mentally filing away project ideas, chafing under each job’s parameters, only to finally get the chance and feel my brain folding in on itself once faced with all the possibilities.


There are so many possibilities with printmaking, and I’m pretty interested in exploring different approaches to the same subject. I know it’ll help me get comfortable with the medium if I’m less concerned about what it is I’m drawing. At this point I’m just trying to see what different approaches look like, and getting an idea of how I can incorporate my own style into the process.

I’ve given myself some rules. And some goals – but not enough to freak myself. Expect a lot of very poorly executed crow pieces in the next few months. At this point, I (think) I’m totally fine with producing ugly stuff.


it’s a book launch


So, in my other life, I illustrated and designed a picture book which will be launching in a couple of weeks. For those who know me personally, they would probably agree that this has been a very long time in the making (4-odd years), and that this project is launching is a very happy thing indeed (and also, personally, a pretty great birthday present).

So far, reviewers have said nice things about the book, which is always nice! Releasing a book into the world can be pretty scary.

Dream Boats

about the launch

The event takes place on June 13, 2013 at 7:00 pm at Christianne’s Lyceum of Literature and Art, 3696 West 8th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C

Author Dan Bar-el and I will be in attendance, refreshments will be served, and books will be available for purchase (GST-free!).

The launch is open to all, so come by and celebrate with us, and bring along any young people you may know who might get a kick out of a book about boats, and dreams, myth, and folktales, family, and ancestry; containing images of giant floating Ganeshes, star-drinking llamas, outer space-travelling flotillas, cloud-breaching whales, and airborne fish.

Dream Boats

about Dream Boats

Age group: 4-8
Publisher: Simply Read Books
Price: $19.95 cloth
ISBN: 978-1-89747-687-1
Page count: 40 pp.
Size: 11¼ x 9
Released: May

Dream Boats


DB_Origami_boat_black_outlines_sm_varI’ve published a series documenting my process of illustrating the picture book Dream Boats on my picture book website. The whole series is archived here.

There is also a gallery of work-in-progress images including first sketches, reference material, mistakes, redraws, and tests, to final art, here. Or the images can be viewed much larger, as a slideshow here.




sketchbook – flowers for bees


Borage & lavender | watercolour and pencil

Bees are having a rough go of it these days, so I’ve tried to make our garden as bee-friendly as possible by increasing the number of blooming plants they prefer, as well as those that bloom throughout the season. A few years ago, we added a mason bee house to the garden. In return, we’ve been rewarded with a much higher rate of vegetable and berry pollination.

The variety of bees and pollinating insects we now have in the garden has exploded in the last couple of years. It’s been pretty fascinating to watch them. We’ve seen the mason bees hatch from their cocoons, and watched other solitary bees carry cut leaves into little nest holes they’ve dug in the dirt of the potted plants.

For the past couple of springs, there has been a chickadee pair trying to excavate a hole in a nearby telephone pole, without success. This year, we broke down and installed a nest box for them, but I guess they’d already found alternative accommodation because they ignored the box.

Last night we decided to have a peek inside the to make sure it wasn’t becoming a wasp colony (like the underside of the bbq lid) and were surprised to see it 1/3 full of moss and dryer lint. It didn’t resemble a bird’s nest, and there were no feathers or eggs visible, so I poked it with my finger and dislodged a very indignant queen bumblebee. We left her alone, and she went back into her nest where we’ll leave her to in peace to raise her larva.


It must have been quite a job for her to excavate and carry all that moss up into the box; bumblebees aren’t the most effortless fliers unencumbered.

another crow print available


I’ve uploaded another print to my society6 page. It’s this one: society_6crow2_sm

Common Crow [2]

I ordered a test print of my first crow drawing and was happy enough with the print quality that I added another one for sale on my Society6 page.

[Very limited info alert] – it appears there’s free worldwide shipping today (May 17th)

Photo drop – storm light

Horseshoe Bay

We rounded the corner on the highway, and crested the hill above Horseshoe Bay on Saturday around 7:30 pm and were faced with this dramatic scene.

Unfortunately, this humble iphone photo doesn’t do the scene justice, and we weren’t able to photograph it until we’d got down into the ferry line up and out to the village – so we lost out on the high vantage point. By that time some of the weird green light behind the mountains, and the edges of pink on the peaks was gone – so I’ll just have to remember that instead.

This cloud blew toward the village and dumped a quick sheet of rain, and by the time we boarded the ferry 30 minutes later, the sky was clear, and the moon and stars were shining.

Crow print available

Common Crow [1]

Common Crow [1]

I really enjoy drawing and painting crows. I have a few pieces I’ve done in a variety of mediums over the years, and a bit of a project planned for the future.

Currently, I am giving society6 a try with a print of one of my crow drawings (the original is india ink on paper). I’ve toyed with the idea of prints for a while, but it’s just not cost effective for me to go get them printed – and frankly, I’d prefer to channel my time into work, not into printing, packing and shipping. It’s pretty cool that there are now a lot of choice with print on demand outfits that handle the fulfilment.

[Very limited info alert] – From now until March 17, 2013, midnight, shipping is free if you follow this link) –

After March 17 –

I’d recommend the smallest size – it’s closer to the original size of the work.

Some more crows (not as prints) – watercolour crow, unfinished crow oil painting, willow charcoal on vellum crow.

Life Drawing – Dr Sketchy’s (1)

I tried out something different this time around and went to Dr Sketchy’s.

I found this evening super challenging – crowded room, close vantage point, small drawing pad, glass of wine, and corsets doing crazy things to the body shape – tons of fun! I’ll definitely give it another go. I really enjoyed drawing the bits of clothing, especially the hooped, tasselled skirt at the end.

-> photo gallery from the evening on the facebook event page.

1-15 minute poses, Derwent Drawing pencil on 9″x12″ Strathmore drawing pad.




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