Thursday, January 31, 2013

My Creative Space: Sketchbook Collages

Tuesday, I was hit by the collage bug. Hard. In no time, I had collected two images from old calendars, along with a few scraps of papers I had lying on my desk to make a couple collages in my sketchbooks.

I started with the small one, focusing on the colour scheme of the calendar pages (one underwater scene, one rainbow over a field of gold):
Once I'd laid down the basics, I knew I needed some words to complete the page. I started by drawing in the date, but that wasn't enough. I added (soar to new heights) with stickers to the sky and really love how that looks:
But the other page still needed a little something. I thought I'd cut out letters to make my word of the year, purposeful, but it ended up being too big and busy for what I was going for (see the results of that below). Instead, I browsed through my envelope of words and found a few I liked.

Of course, the letters spelling purposeful couldn't simply be left to scatter, so I pulled out my larger sketchbook. But what about a bit of a background...? Hmmm... At random, I pulled out an image from my "textures" envelope. A busy piece from an art magazine. Perfect! I ripped it in four and glued it down, a bit spread out. I really love using this technique.
Of course, I wanted the letters to pop off this crazy background, and for that, I needed to tone things down a bit. Masking tape was just the thing to do the trick!
Now I only wish I had left the top of the page blank instead of writing in "my 2013 word of the year" - the balance was much better before - but at least it's there for the record!

Head on over here for more creative spaces.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday

Some spring bulbs I picked up at Metro. I believe both are hyacinths - the little purple ones are definitely grape hyacinth. Not sure what colour the other one will be... maybe pink?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Recommend: The Song Of Achilles

Ancient Greece is probably my favourite time period. I never liked history in school, but that's probably - no definitely - because history in school (and I mean elementary and high school) was Canadian history. Seriously, up until grade 10, history was ONLY Canadian history. Not that I don't like Canada - I love being Canadian - but 10 years of Canadian history is pretty boring and totally turned me off of any more history courses.

However, I have come to realize that I do actually really enjoy history. Ancient history in particular, but add an interesting plot or characters and I'm hooked. History class would have be so much more interesting if we could have read fiction (full of historical facts) instead of stuffy old textbooks!

One of my favourite tales from Ancient Greece is Homer's Iliad, or the story of the Trojan war. I remember when the miniseries, Helen of Troy, came out in 2003. I loved it (even better than the movie Troy, which was decent). Besides Helen - the face that launched a thousand ships - Achilles is probably the most recognizable character from the myths, one of the greatest heroes of the war. The part I remember most from his story is when he goes crazy with grief over the death of his friend, Patroclus, and finally takes up his sword again to fight for the Greeks and obtain his revenge, despite knowing that this will culminate in his own death. I always wondered about that and the nature of their relationship; what was it about this unassuming man that could inspire such loyalty?

Evidently, I wasn't the only one wondering. Madeline Miller was thinking the same thing when she came up with The Song of Achilles, her first novel. This is Patroclus's tale, a fresh take and perspective on a well-known myth. Instead of focusing on the war, Miller sheds light on the boys' childhoods, the events that lead up to the war and the relationship between the two men. It is a beautiful narrative and one that rings true to me - it just feels right, filling a gap that I hadn't quite noticed was there. Miller brings Patroclus's voice to life, revealing a sensitive and loyal soul. Incredibly well-written, the story sucks you right in from the very first word. I highly recommend it.

What are you reading right now? I'd love to hear your recommendations for more novels set in Ancient Greece!  

Monday, January 28, 2013

My Vintage: New Teacups

I added two new teacups to my collection (bringing the total up to four... not terribly unreasonable or anything):
What I really wanted to buy was a cup to match the black Bell china one I bought at an antique market in Hamilton. I could only find a pale green one on Etsy (months and months ago)... Anyone who knows me well knows that this is even more wonderful than finding another black one! At the time, however, I couldn't really afford to justify buying it.

It sold. I was heartbroken.

A few weeks ago, I thought to do another search. Imagine my surprise when I found another green one in the shop GingerNIrie.
Available in Canada.

Of course, I had to browse through the rest of the store and fell in love with this gorgeous Royal Stafford Broom teacup as well:
The orange blossoms were too beautiful. They look perfect on the shelft in my kitchen:
I love having tea out of these teacups! 

What do you drink your tea out of?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Seven

Here's what I'm grateful for this last week:

Sunday: driving around aimlessly and finding a cute bakery with Pat
Monday: being appreciated at work
Tuesday: one of the big bulky scarves gramma knit me
Wednesday: helping a coworker
Thursday: a nice talk with my gramma before work
Friday: having Pat drive me to the subway station and back
Saturday: exploring a new consignment shop

What are you thankful for this week? 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Inspiration: Paper Coordinates

Yesterday I showed you the mixed-media piece I'm currently working on, and specifically an assortment of papers that inspired my original collage. I'm sort of back to that beginning stage again - I need to pull together some coordinating patterns and colours to construct the flowers I want to add to the canvas.

This coral pink floral was the first paper I chose. Flipping through the pad, I automatically gathered a few more that matched. I'm not sure that I'll use all - or any - of these in my piece, but they sure do look pretty together:
I also picked out a couple of double-sided papers in colours from my painting (instead of contrasting colours):
I'm not sure which colour direction I'll head in... but it was fun putting together some coordinates. I may just have to do it more often!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

My Creative Space: My Favourite Things

This week, I simply had to pull out my papers and paints and get creating. I had a small canvas sitting on my desk just begging to be used, so I used it. I chose some papers from a new pad and skimmed through my ephemera, pulling out photos that fit:
"These are a few of my favourite things." Thanks to mom's obsession with the Sound of Music, that song was floating through my head as I chose the mustard chevron and wood prints, and guided my selection of imagery.

The next day I covered the canvas with a light wash of white, then mixed some yellow and blue paint to add some colour. I stenciled a doily at the top in both colours. A day later, I added washi tape for a pop of green and orange.
After pondering the composition for a while, I decided to make a bouquet of three flowers, using small Post-It notes to work out their placement, along with the quote from the song. Once that was decided, I used the only two colours of FC PITT artist pens I have - orange and indanthrene blue - to draw them on the canvas. I knew I wanted the actual flowers to be 3D (inspired by my friend Angie, no doubt), but I thought something underneath would be nice.
The stems aren't quite right, but I'll fix them with the next few layers.

I'm really enjoying working on this piece. The colours are cheery and I'm taking my time with it. It's rather relaxing. I have the next few steps worked out on the paper I'm using to protect my desk, so I'm excited to get on them!

You can see more photos of this piece in my Flickr photostream.

Head on over here for more creative spaces.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday: Macarons

These were labelled "macaroons" at the store... am I the only one who finds this incredibly annoying? These cute littles cookies are macarons - macaroons are typically no-bake coconut-chocolate cookies...

Anyway, this weekend Pat and I went for a drive, exploring, and stopped at a little bakery. I'd never had macarons, so despite the mislabelling, I picked up one of each flavour. Which was four, but I devoured the lemon one before taking these photos. These are chocolate, pistachio and raspberry. Pistachio was my favourite. They had a really interesting, light texture with an almost-crispy crust. I'd definitely try them again, or put the effort into making some of my own.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Friday Night Concert

On Friday, Pat and I went to a concert with a few friends.
The band playing wasn't anyone super famous - it was the solo band of one of the guys from my buddy's favourite band Phish - and it was at a smaller venue (the Danforth Music Hall), but what an awesome show!
We had a great time jamming all night. I danced my butt off!
The light show was particularly amazing (as Phish is known for), so even though I don't typically take photos at concerts, I had to that night. This is only half of it though - I wasn't able to capture the lights that danced around the hall.
If you aren't one for concerts, you should definitely reconsider and give it a try. Live music is just so much better! If your favourite singers aren't touring, look for local talent at smaller venues or check out the nearest city's symphony orchestra. A night of relaxing music - or crazy dancing - is a great night out.