Sketchbook Project : Pages 6 & 7

This is my little joke on "below the surface of ladies' coats".
Since the paper of this sketchbook is so thin, you can also see "below the surface" to the fisherman on the previous page.

Colour Project Number Two

I can't really express how frustrating this project was to complete. I thought that gouache paint and I were getting along, you know, we had a bit of a rocky time at the beginning - which was, I might add, all gouache's fault for being so streaky and lame - but yes, we were making it happen.

And then. This project.

At first, it was a horror show. Globs of paint sticking everywhere, clumping up my brushes so that I couldn't have followed a straight line if my life depended on it. The mixing, oh! the mixing! Having to work so fast before it dried, then working too quickly and not mixing correctly (revenge of the streaks!). I can't even begin to talk about the colour in the centre. It's just too painful.

Gouache and I... well, we're taking a break.

Illustration Friday: Satellite

Ok, space is cool. I watched more than my fair share of Star Trek: The Next Generation as a kid (hm, overshare?) and even then I've never really been able to wrap my head around how huge and endless space seems to be. Perhaps one day we'll actually be out there, exploring it, but for now, all we can do is send our satellites to be our eyes and ears for us...

Pages 2 and 3 - Below the Surface

Head in the Clouds

I'm really enjoying today's blustery, sunburst-through-clouds weather, which is where I think this person came from. I'm also really enjoying painting acrylic paint on cardboard, which creates this very interesting texture. I'm not sure if it's done yet. I love images that seem unfinished, or that mix line drawings with more traditional paintings, but I might take this a little bit farther.

Sketchbook Project Page 1

As you may remember a few posts back I talked about getting my sketchbook in the mail for The Sketchbook Project Tour: 2011, and I think I'm going to have a lot of fun blogging the pages as I work on them. My book's theme is "Below the Surface" so I thought it would only be appropriate to have a kind of title page as the first one in the book!

And, let me tell you, now that the book is no longer completely and utterly blank, it's going to be a lot easier to put pencil to paper! That was a little intimidating!

I've included an upside-down version of the page here on the blog, so you don't have to turn your laptops or monitors over to see the detail.

I hope to do more pages that make the reader turn the book different upside down or sideways, and that entice them to spend lots of time with the drawings as they see all of the little details.

And speaking of something else below the surface, we had an earthquake here in Toronto that registered 5.5 on the Richter scale! My bookshelves and walls were definitely moving!

No City is Fun when it rains

Actually, I don't believe that's true. We've had some spectacular thunderstorms here lately.

And speaking of thunder and lightning, the band I play with has a show next Sunday, July 4th!

Look what came in the mail...

It's my new sketchbook. And it's not just any sketchbook. It's a sketchbook that is going to be a part of the Art House Co-op's Sketchbook Tour 2011, and will be eventually included in a permanent sketchbook collection at The Brooklyn Art Library. I have until the middle of January, 2011, to fill all of the pages in the sketchbook with images on the theme of "Below the surface." (There were many different themes to choose from) And then I mail it back to the Art House Co-op, and voila!

I've always loved thumbing through other people's sketchbooks, and I love the idea behind this project. At the various tour locations, people will be able to "check out" certain sketchbooks, spend some time looking through them and get lost in other people's imaginations.

I've also paid to have the pages of this sketchbook digitized (since I won't be getting it back) so that I can link to it, or people can browse through it online.

I'm so excited.

If you want to read more about The Sketchbook Project or even order a sketchbook for yourself, go to

It's a Brand New Day

More experiments in hand-drawn type. It's a lengthy process, and there are still some curves in there that drive me nuts, but for now, it's good. (I'll probably fiddle with it later.) I'm also concerned that the word "New" is reading like "News" because of that flourish at the end.

Well, onward and upward!

Back to Basics

Sometimes I expect things to happen too quickly. I can be so impatient for long-range plans to pan out that I run the risk of giving up on them altogether. So many times I've wished I had a little "life coach" who would tell me "Chin up, young person! Focus on your goal and break it into manageable, accomplishable pieces! Don't dishearten!"

Apparently, my life coach is a mix of bland self-help aphorisms and the dance instructor from that Jennifer Aniston movie where she falls in love with her gay best friend.

Well, without a life coach, on dreary days like this I have decided to go back to the basics. Pencil and paper.

And boats.

Class Project: Santa Postcard

Here's some homework for this Thursday's Children's Book Illustration course and the project was to make a postcard for an event like Christmas, Easter, Hallowe'en, or a Birthday. We had to use a technique that we had learned in class, and I chose to try that Gouache and Ink Resist technique that I tried on the ghettoblaster a few posts ago.

Except this time, when I washed off the dried black ink, I DIDN'T RUB. I just let the pressure of the tap water peel and wash away the ink. And that worked oh-so-much better.
In fact, I chose to rub away some of the gouache (like on the toy bag the elf is carrying) to create highlights, which I quite enjoy.

So, even though the Santa looks a bit on the snarky side, I think this a technique that I'll have fun playing around with.

Illustration Friday: Ripple

This week's Illustration Friday post has an altruistic side to it. A person by the name of Kelly Light asked everyone who submits to Illustration Friday to consider making a 2.5" x 3.5" sketchcard that will be posted on

These cards will then be made available for a small donation of $10.00 to either The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies ( or The International Bird Rescue Research Center ( It's so interesting to see how all of the illustrators in the group responded to this call for submissions (or to arms, I suppose).

I wish Kelly all the best with this project!

Swing Times Two

Letterpress Workshop

Thanks to an Introduction to Letterpress Workshop with Akemi at Kozo Studios, I walked away with two tiny runs of letterpress prints today. It was so much fun to try the two kinds of presses she has in the studio! In fact, I think I've fallen in love....with printing. Enjoy!

Imagination is the key...

I'm working on a series of images with the theme "Imagination is the key..."

The road was done in gouache and then scanned into Illustrator, where I added pretty much everything else. I wanted to do something with some hand-drawn type as well, because I love it! So much!


I thought I would post this new technique I learned last week in one of my classes, as it gives a pretty interesting final result that looks almost like a coloured print. First, I painted an image in gouache on watercolour paper, leaving the paper white where I actually want black in the final image:

There were a few parts of the image that I wanted to keep white, so I covered a couple of holes and buttons on the image with masking fluid. Then, I covered the entire thing with India ink. This is was a bit nerve-wracking...
And then I washed the ink off under the kitchen tap. It gives a pretty interesting effect. I lost a lot of the intensity of the original gouache colour, but I really like the traces of black ink in and amongst the gouache.


Pop-Up Card

In my Children's Book Illustration course last Thursday we started Pop-Up Card project and here is mine, pretty much finished. It's based on Rapunzel, but it makes me giggle a bit because when you open and close the card, the prince is pretty much flung about all over the place. Sigh. It's the little things, you know?

Illustration Friday: Trail

This week's answer to Illustration Friday. I haven't gone hiking in years, but I was a devoted member of my Grade 10 Outdoor Education class, and not only because we got credit for missing class to build an outdoor shelter, or, say, hike up Mount Washington. I can probably still make a mean tin-can stove.

The image of the hiker was drawn in pencil, then scanned and live traced into Illustrator. I'm still playing with the Live Trace function, but I sort of like the quality of line it creates.

Picnic Club

On Tuesdays, some friends and I have starting having picnics in different parks around town. The idea is to try a new park every week (weather permitting). We sit on blankets, look at the sunset, and eat. Two weeks ago we sat in Broadview park:

And this week we're going to try Riverdale Park, near the Farm and the Farmer's Market.

This little piece is an homage to Picnic Club and unfortunately it's not a great photograph. Imagine the background to be all clean and flat white.