Archive for May, 2011

I said I hate sneak peaks, right? Oh well.
Eric sent me a few pages to approve, but it looks like he could be sending this off to the publisher within the next few days! Our Little Lost Caribou book will soon be available for sale to the public! Here’s a preview of how Eric decided to spice up a blank page before the story starts in the book:

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I found two potatoes in the back of the fridge! Homemade hash-browns for dinner tonight! Add some pure maple syrup and you’re got pretty much the best meal ever!! Ok, maybe not quite, but pretty good for my life situation right now. As I was scooping bits of dropped grated potato off the counter and into the frying pan, I was struck by how incredibly much I live like a messy bachelor (bachelorette? …naw.) when I’m living alone. Currently, the kitchen table has pastel chalk dust covering it, a pile of 40 or so drawing pencils rolling off the edges, the bottle of Gorilla Glue from 2 weeks ago and a ton of other completely random stuff. The sink is full of dishes from last week (I needed to clean the frying pan from  who-knows-when just so i could make my dinner) and to add to all this, there is a ginormous cardboard box of vinyl record frames smack-dab in the middle of the floor, with a few frames and packing materials scattered all over the place. I have piles of artwork on the floor next to me, on the living room floor, on both couches, on both scanners, and dishes piled all around those. And I’ve only been living on my own for two weeks! I feel very very lucky to be marrying into neatness. And not as in someone to clean up after me, but someone who’ll keep me in check and make sure I get done what I need to without exploding everything all over the house. I feel incredibly grateful right now.

Alright now, on the the art of this past weekend! I’ll admit, the rain plus some other stuff sort of made me grumpy on Sunday. I did do some work on another commission and some much-needed scanning and Photoshopping, but I didn’t do anything with the 16 Painting Commission. But I feel ok about that, since I worked some 6-straight hours on that on Saturday. So here’s what I did!

I put in the background for all the 15 series pieces. I LOVE the blue on orange! There is no more brilliant a pair. Love those colours so much.

Part of me almost wishes I stopped painting now. Orange and blue! Orange and blue!!

Sorry for the incredible glare on some of these images. It’s so bright in that greenhouse when it’s sunny that it’s difficult to get a good look at how my aperture is doing. Anyways, you get the basic idea.

Inspired by what a slob I just said I was, I’m feeling guilty and I’ve started cleaning up the kitchen and loading the dishwasher as I wait for these photos to load. Haha! Load-load!

You can’t exactly tell by the angle of these photos, but these ptarmigan ones were actually resting on a shelf at about face-level for me. So i had to be painting above my head. It was a little tiring on my arm, but not as bad as I’d thought it’d be.

Next I set out with the backgrounds for the polar bear series. My sketch had northern lights in it… I saw northern lights later that night! But I’d never oil painted them before. They’re one of those things that just seems like it’s too beautiful in real life to transfer well into paintings, drawings, or even photographs. You can’t understand until you’ve seen them dance all around you.

To keep colours from getting muddy I cleaned my brush after practically every stroke, so I found it simpler to do a couple panels at once.

The interesting thing about these series’s is that, since some of them will be kept together and some of them will be split up, I wanted to make sure that they could all stand together as a set of five, that the first set of three could stand together, and that they could also all stand on their own. Hopefully that will all transfer ok.

Foot in the flowerbed! And look! Something is actually growing! So what if it’s a weed?
I’ve heard many people say they think feet are really gross. I don’t understand that. I think feet are beautiful. Like hands! Or even better, ears!! Having to practice drawing them thousands of times grows the appreciation.

Polar bear background: done. And I just started the dishwasher! And a load of laundry! Boom. Aw crap, I see a glass and a plate that I missed. oh well.

Huge globs of paint! I like using these small trays to I can easily carry them around the greenhouse as I switch from painting to painting.


I was on a roll with these ones so I really didn’t take the time to stop and take as many in-process photos as the others.

And that was my 6 hour Saturday! I’ll post Sunday’s work (and my new little friend that I made!!) another time. Thanks for reading! Or just looking, if you skipped over the words! Though, then you’d never know I was thanking you…

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It was so bright and sunny yesterday. I actually got a couple extra freckles from painting in the greenhouse all of yesterday afternoon. And there was a wide streak of bright and twisting green northern lights overhead last night as I walked home across town from a bonfire at 1 in the morning. But now it’s raining; cold and wet. I just started a fire in the wood stove and plan on having a cup or two more of this nice warm hazelnut milk-tea (that’s what they call tea with cream & sugar in Japan, isn’t that adorable? I can’t help but keep calling it that now). I’ll stay inside today, doing the much-needed scanning of the 60-or so pages I did for a story about a bottle bush, and laying out the caribou images for my newest painting commission. Maybe even working some on issue 3 for The Black Meat.

I have tons of images to post for all these projects, plus the tons of work I did yesterday. But for now, be content to enjoy this little bit of hope that winter will soon be completely gone, that I found in the kitchen this morning.

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Ok, I really need to pick up the pace on this. It’ll be two weeks tomorrow since I started this commission, and if I want to have it completed (and hopefully dry) in 4 weeks, I’ve got to get working a heck of a lot faster and get more dedicated. I have to admit that the rain and then snow really sorta set my motivation down low for a couple days. But luckily the weekend’s coming up and it’s suppose top be SUNNY! So I should be able to get a real good-sized chunk of this done.

Enough talk, more pictures! Here’s a basic idea of the three different animal series’ that I’m doing: ptarmigan, caribou, and polar bear.

Apparently as a young girl, my commissioner and her sisters were each given a necklace depicting one of these three animals. (Just fyi, polar bears are not native to Schefferville. Neither are penguins. I know, but people ask all the time. We do have thousands of ptarmigan and, though not recently, caribou.)

I did a sketch of caribou originally that my commissioner loved, and it was her idea to also do the polar bears and ptarmigan. Unfortunately I don’t have the original caribou sketch, but above is the second basic sketch I did for her. The idea is that she’ll keep the first three of each of the series, and then give one of each series to each of her sisters. So she’ll end up with 3 caribou, 3 ptarmigan, and 3 polar bears. Each sister will end up with 1 caribou, 1 ptarmigan, and 1 polar bear. 15 paintings total. 

Here are the 15 canvases, primed with an orangey tinted wash.

Inspiration/reference photos, sketches, brushes, and a tall delicious glass of water. I just need to try to remember not to stick my brushes in it.

Today I laid the sketches on finally, in very soft charcoal. I like to lay out in this medium because it rubs right off if I don’t like something, without leaving a black mess.

The ptarmigan I started laying out in orange wash, but was having some trouble with the ones in flight on the right there, so I switched to the charcoal.

Caribou. In case you were wondering about the different sizes, I just didn’t have 15 canvases all the same size. Luckily I did have 9 in one size and 6 in another. That way all the 9 that my commissioner gets will be the same dimensions, and all the ones her sisters get will be the same dimensions. I live in the Arctic, it’s not like I can just trot over to an art store and pick up canvases. Or even canvas material to stretch my own for that matter! You learn to work with what you’ve got. I think it builds character. Instant gratification is for weenies. And finally, a quick shot of the sunrise one, sitting off to the side on the floor, waiting to be finished still.

Side note: Today’s art was brought to you by Death Cab’s newest album, Codes and Keys, currently up for first listen on NPR: http://www.npr.org/2011/05/24/136465054/first-listen-death-cab-for-cutie-codes-and-keys

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In exactly one month, I will be on a 12 hour train ride south, so a completely new and different life, not knowing when and if I will ever see my old hometown again.

Today is definitely one of those days where I really don’t mind that! I let Pippin out for 15 minutes (if that!) today after school, and he came scratching at the back door looking like this:

Happy May 24th.

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Seriously, this whole commissions gonna be done, and I’ve barely caught up with photos of the process at all yet! I’m not very good at this I guess. I actually got a confirmation on another painting today! This is just a single one. In talking with my friend and co-worker who commissioned it today, she asked me how I could possibly finish this, plus the tons of other projects I have going on right now, in the next five weeks? I shrugged and just said that it’s something that I love to do. That whole cliché about the need to create!! Haha. Well, I guess it’s sort of true. I love it so much, that I’ve been putting it’s priority way above a lot of other things… Like doing the dishes. Or eating. Or even bathing… You know what, forget I said that. ANYWAYS! Here’s an update on the one larger-ish painting in this 16-painting commission:

The main thing she’s looking for in this one is ORANGE!! I love orange. It’s my favorite colour. Especially next to a brilliant blue or turquoise. Amazingly, the woman who commissioned this group of paintings has those two as her apartment’s colour scheme! She had me go check out her place and do sketches to figure what would look good where. The stairway in her place curves around these bright turquoise walls with these long tall windows at the corner, so I suggested some kind of sunrise-type thing. Actually, the imagine I’ve had in my head was from when I was pretty young, maybe 5 or 6, and my big brother Ben got me up early one morning and we went out to these abandoned lots near our house, sat on some big rocks in the crumbling street, and watched the sunrise over Knob Lake. It was so orange and beautiful, and Ben suggested that maybe that’s what it’ll look like when Jesus comes back. Maybe it sounds a bit cheesy, but for my 5 year-old self it was magical, and that scene has always stuck with me… Now I get to paint it! Which is pretty incredible. And spread some of that awesome orange and beauty around. Isn’t that what art is all about, Charlie Brown?

Here’s a shot of my paintbrushes. Like I said before, I’ve set up my studio in the greenhouse. Getting to paint out in the sun motivates me all the more. It’s raining right now, which is why I can justify sitting inside typing out this blog instead of working. pee ess: I love that mug on the right there. It’s so epic. I have a matching stein, but it broke. But I glued it back together. One was from a thrift store and one was from a garage sale. Someday I hope all my dinner ware looks like that. Or is handmade.

I don’t have the original (and in colour) sketch I did, so I put this one together for reference… I guess I should’ve show you this before I did the primed and sketched-on canvas… Oh well. I have a no-backspace rule!

Starting to lay in some solid tones. I don’t like tin layering. I’ve seen hundreds of beautiful translucent thinly layered paintings, and I love them. But ever since I’ve started oil painting (oh my goodness! Eight years ago already?!) I’ve like thick paint and very clean, crisp, BRIGHT colours! For that reason (and to annoy my high school painting teacher) I use to paint only with my hands, where I’d have to use big globs of paint and wipe my “brush” after every “stroke”, keeping everything super clean and loose.  

Here I’m starting to put in the sky. Working in the greenhouse has another big advantage: My reference for this sky was from life.

So much paint! So many bright colours!And adding in some of those darker clouds. I’ve done a handful of other things on this painting since this photo, but right now I’m at a point where I’m not sure where else to go… So I’ve set it aside and I’m working on laying out the other 15 right now. (Plus 3 or 4 other projects as wells! I love working on so many things at once.)

Landscapes were never something I was a huge fan of actually. My very first painting ever, done in acrylics on a pre-stretched canvas board when I was 14 or 15, was from a photo of a tree frog I found in my science text book. The title? “This is Not a landscape”, or something to that effect. As a young painter, it seemed to me that landscapes were always what artists my age gravitated towards when they started out. I found them boring and uninteresting. Of course, as years went by I learned to appreciate landscapes and realize that it’s how you approach a landscape that can make it interesting. Or a skyscape, which is more in this case.

Anndd…. I’m done!

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This post is pretty long over-due. It was overdue when I first started uploading these photos, 2 weeks ago. Then, as you’d know if you read my last few posts, lots of stuff happened to distract me from posting these photos, this announcement, and these thoughts. But I’m finally getting to them now, and I actually think it’s much better that I waiting until now.

The announcement is about that shiny black and white book up there that Eric is holding. I would like to present to you our very first collaborative book, created with lots ‘o lovin’ by the both of us: Eric and myself. This book started quite a while ago; before Christmas even I believe. 

This book started quite a while ago; before Christmas even I believe. I sketched out my idea for how the caribou should look and a quick note on the concept of the book on a bit of scrap paper at work. Eric was really the one who went running with this whole idea. I wanted to do it as block prints, so I laid out sketches on linoleum sheets and started the long slow process of cutting them out. Then I came home from work one day to find Eric sitting at the kitchen table, with huge chunks of the first page all cut out. He was afraid I’d be annoyed that he took over “my” project, but I was actually really thrilled!! He ended up cutting out probably about 95% of the blocks after that!

We didn’t have access to a press, so we printed the pieces by rolling them with black acrylic paint,  laying them onto large sheets of thin paper, and then stomping all over the backs of the prints! Eric then even took it upon himself to not only scan all the prints, but to also do the tons of Photoshop editing that needed to be done! (Since we didn’t have a press, it was pretty ridiculously messy.) 

Finally, not only did Eric work through the tediousness of fitting the pages into the self-publishing site’s guidelines, but he went the extra extra mile and wrote this adorable rhyming script to go along with the original Naskapi for each page. (In Naskapi it’s a basic counting book for very early readers. The first page literally translates to “One hungry caribou.” … “Two hungry caribou.” … “Three hungry caribou.” And so on, until it reaches 10, then “No hungry caribou.” and finally “One hungry hunter.”) Eric’s poem in our English and Naskapi version is much much different from the actual Naskapi, but the same basic concept is there. 

If you’re interested in purchasing this book, we’re currently selling them (and all of our books) at cost. That means we’re not making a profit. Really, we just want to get our books out there. So please, buy one! They’re on sale! Here’s the link: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/one-hungry-caribou-%28english-w-naskapi-version%29/15354154?productTrackingContext=author_spotlight_112389625_ And the link to the rest of our books: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/pocketvinyl And a link to my art page, where you can see every one of the pages: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150154549171218.293205.139428336217

My dad also prints up Naskapi-only versions of all of my Naskapi-related books on a different site, to be used for language-teaching here in the community. I wanted to show off this hard-cover “big book” that he had printed of our book, which is going to be used at the local daycare up here.

Speaking of the daycare, and Naskapi-related things, and our One Hungry Caribou book, Eric and I decided to dedicate this book to Jaiden.

Speaking of the daycare, and Naskapi-related things, and our One Hungry Caribou book, Eric and I decided to dedicate this book to Jaiden.

Jaiden is a three year old (four next month!) Naskapi boy that my family takes care of, and he seems to have won his way into all of our hearts, including my brothers & company. Something about this kid… I don’t know what it is, but he means so much to me. As annoying as he can be at times in his three-year-old way. I was so incredibly thrilled when it was decided that he’ll be with my parents for the summer, because that means he will be there at my wedding in two months. I really meant a lot to me that he’d get to share in this incredibly important event for Eric and I. I’ve even decided to include him by having him be the ring-barer! (We weren’t going to have a ring-barer, but the idea of him dressed up in suspenders and a bow tie marching down the aisle just cracks me up! Plus, it’d be just so awesome to have him as a significant part of our wedding photos and memories!)

He loves playing with the camera and taking pictures of me, and I let him, as long as he puts the strap behind his neck in case his pudgy little hands slip. 

I don’t want kids. Now don’t get upset, I don’t hate your child or anything. I probably do think it’s cute and I’ll even hold it now if you want me to. And I actually have a lot of fun with my students at school, especially the ones in the younger grades (today we finished a project early so I taught one of my classes some skipping rope verses and I had a blast). But I have never, ever, wanted my own kids.

Seriously, one of my first memories was from when I was Jaiden’s age, and I remember being angry that I was a girl because I thought a girl was only allowed to get married and have babies, while the guys got to get cool jobs and go on adventures and have all the fun! Thankfully, I soon discovered that wasn’t the cut-and-dry case… But I still never wanted to have kids.

I feel as though I could (and I have) argue my case in a thousand different ways, but know this before anything else: I think it’s great that you have/want kids. I don’t look down on any of my friends. I’m really happy my parents had kids. Even happier that Eric’s parents had kids! I just don’t want any for myself.

This viewpoint that I hold was the very start of the worst and most painful breakup I’ve ever experienced. But, it was also a viewpoint I heard Eric admit before I was ever even interested in him. And for that I can not believe how blessed I am: that I’ve fallen for and now am even about to marry someone also doesn’t want kids. At least not our own.These past nine months living with Jaiden stomping around the house at 6:00 every morning have more then anything solidified a strong belief within me. Again, I think it’s great you’re having a baby. Go for it! I don’t want to push my beliefs on this subject onto everyone else I know, especially since it is hugely sensitive and important to each individual in their very own personal way.

But for myself, and I know I can speak for Eric too, I could not justify bringing a child into this world when I know, personally know, of the tons of kids already living who just need, thirst, for some kind and any kind of love. My heart aches for those kids. I’m not ready to adopt a thousand orphaned babies right now. But maybe someday I kind of wouldn’t mind having a couple Jaidens.

Oh, and he loves that we dedicated the book to him.

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