Happy Holidays

Over the holidays I went to visit family and old friends in Ottawa, and had a really wonderful time. And one afternoon, one of those good, old friends (yes, we're old now) and I took four hours out of our jam-packed holiday schedules to make melted snowman cookies.

Sugar cookie base, royal icing, chocolate chips, microwaved marshmallows, coloured icing noses, faces, arms. Et voila.
Easy as...melted snow? Not quite. Did I mention that it took us four hours?

Mid-stage melted snowmen.

We thought we were really clever to mix the icing for the eyes/arms right in the ziplock bag, but it took us a lot longer than we thought it would. 

But, in the end, we were happy with the results. My brother gave the sugar cookie base an "A +" and my 3-year old niece went nuts for the marshmallow head.  Actually, that's all she ate off of the cookie. Ah, well.

This is some serious face application.

Happy Holidays!

Custom holiday cards for two very special clients

Making custom cards has got to be one of my favourite things to do, and so it was really fun to work on this commission for the holidays.  The clients (full disclosure: my parents) themselves are avid kayak enthusiasts, so it just seemed to fit.  (However, when I suggested "Merry Kayakmas" for the inside, apparently my dad made a face. Weird, right? Right?? So, they remain blank.) These were done with the same digital collage technique as most of my illustrations, but since all of the textures have been reduced to a very small size, in some cases I think it looks almost like they've been painted.  It's a neat effect, I think.

December Desktop

I know I skipped November (by accident, I promise!) so here's an extra-magical one for December.

New Holiday Cards for sale

I'm working in Winnipeg on a show here at the Manitoba Theatre Centre, and the city just had its first snowfall a few days ago.  Okay, perhaps "snowdusting" would be more accurate, but still... I can see several rooftops from my hotel room that are still sporting snow like a layer of icing sugar.  Perhaps it was this wintry weather that inspired me, because I just finished working on these new holiday cards and am happy to share them here with you!  As with last year's cards, these are available in two sizes (4" x 6" and 5" x 7") and are fully customizable.  The cards say "Happy Holidays" on the inside, but you could personalize them even further if you wished.  Get them here at my Zazzle store!

Science can be beautiful

Certainly Michael Chrisman's photograph of the Royal Ontario Museum's new powder diffractometer is.  Apparently this machine used to see inside the atomic structures of crystals. Yup.

Read the whole Torontoist article about the ROM's Collections and Research Building (not the crystal) here.

Michael Chrisman's website has more beautiful images of empty rooms and places, if you're into that sort of thing. (I am).

Stacy & Tim's Wedding Invitations

Here's a sneak peek at the invitation set I did for Stacy & Tim's wedding.  Stacy approached me with the idea of a "carnival / circus" theme and I ran from there. Her colours were yellow and grey, with hints of surprise red.  The whole set included an invitation, directions / accommodations card, menu, wedding favour, and thank you cards.  This was such a fantastic and rewarding project, and I wish nothing but the best for that lovely couple! 

Hungry Hungry Header!

I am so excited to share this blog header that I just finished designing and illustrating for my friend Hilary.  Her blog, Hungry Hungry Hilly, is a really enjoyable collection of new recipes she's tried at home (and most often tweaked - Hilary has been a low-G.I. devotee for a few years now) and restaurants she's tried here in Toronto or on vacation (check out her New York and St. John's, Newfoundland posts). For the header, Hilary wanted it to reflect the fact that she is no self-appointed "amateur gourmet" or food snob, but simply a big fan of cooking and eating FOOD. And also that she has a quirky one-eyed cat named Mr. Leo.

For the caricature, I traced a pencil sketch that I did of Hilary and Mr. Leo with a thin, black marker.  I scanned the drawing into Photoshop to clean it and adjusted the contrast so that it would trace much more easily into Illustrator (make those whites whiter and blacks blacker!) Using the Live Trace function, I converted the jpeg into a vector drawing, and I decided to keep the sketchiness quality of the drawing by pushing up the threshold quite high (this meant, though, that I had a lot of cleaning up of jagged edges once the trace was done).  I coloured the drawing in Illustrator, and added the scanned decorative paper in the background. The font is Ostrich Sans.

October Desktop Wallpaper

Happy October!  We're getting some truly blustery weather today, right on schedule for fall. Get out your scarves and peacoats, kick your way through crispy leaves and enjoy!

I'm working right now on a wedding invitation suite for a really fantastic couple, and part of the invitation included a little hand-drawn caricature of the two of them.  They liked it so much that they had their uncle make it into the large, free-standing item you see here.  As my friend said, who sent me this photo, "ever wonder what one of your sketches looks like life-size?" Not anymore!

I'll post the whole invitation set in a couple of weeks. Congratulations to Stacy and Tim!

Oh dear, it's not a good sign that the last entry I posted was the August desktop wallpaper. That means  I've done nothing art-related in an entire month, which is slightly upsetting. 
Hope you're all enjoying your long weekend, and here's a September wallpaper for your lovely desktops. Hopefully I'll be back before October! 

August Desktop Wallpaper

Must still be on long-weekend time: here it is, just a day late. Enjoy!

Getting Ready for the Market

Well, here goes....I'm all set up now down at Arts Market, and doors open officially at 11am this (Saturday) morning. I'm excited, and realistic, and I'm looking forward to meeting everyone who comes into this incredibly fantastic space this weekend. And, hopefully, I'll also still have time to check out the Beaches Jazz Fest once I'm done!

If you're in the area (1114 Queen Street East), please come by and say hello - I would love to meet you. Hope you all have a splendid weekend!

Arts Market this weekend

Hi guys! I just wanted to let you know that if you're in Toronto's East End this weekend, you should come check out the new Arts Market. It's being touted as Toronto's all-year-round artisan market, with all kinds of local crafts/art/clothing/jewelry for sale. And I'll be there this weekend, selling prints and cards! It's my first time doing something like this, so I'm very excited.

The Arts Market is located at 1114 Queen Street East (Queen & Pape) and it's open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am - 7pm. Drop by and say hello!

Is it cheesy to paint a drawing in Photoshop?

I am completely undecided.

Life lessons from watercolour portraits

I'm not normally a big fan of media where you can't fix your mistakes easily. Watercolours have to be the most precious of all of the colours: if you even look at your brush the wrong way, you'll have made a mark you can't erase. Some people think (an art teacher of mine included) that it's the mistakes that make the art special. I say that if you inadvertently get blue paint on your forearm and then make a big blue splotch on your paper riiiiight as you were putting the finishing touches on a fashion illustration that you were doing for the second time already because you didn't really like how the first one turned out, then that is indeed special. Very, very special.

That being said, however, with practice comes...not perfection, but at least more confidence. We have been doing portraits (from photographs) for the past two classes and although I initially balked at all of the steps involved (drawing the face onto a clean sheet of plain paper, fixing the proportions, outlining the shadows, covering the back with graphite, tracing onto the watercolour paper, fixing the lines, and THEN starting to paint - and I didn't even talk about preparing the watercolour paper) I see now that of course those steps are there to help you make fewer mistakes. The more patience you have with the structure and prep work for media like this means that your final product will be, inevitably, more satisfying. Though it won't necessarily guard against getting paint on your arm.
That can happen to anyone.


July Desktop Calendar

I'm posting July's calendar a day early because tomorrow I'm flying off to Montreal for the weekend! Happy early July, Happy early Canada Day, and Happy early Birthday to my roomie. This weekend will be full of street festivals, good restaurants, outdoor art, and 24-hr poutine. I. Can't. Wait.

Ryerson University Library

Oh my old alma mater. Just after I graduated, Ryerson went on a pretty aggressive expansion and building campaign and has already added two brand-spanking-new glass & steel buildings to its downtown campus, with a third now under construction. Thankfully (unfortunately?) the brutalist library building near the corner of Yonge & Gould remains unchanged...

Looking for Love 2

Illustration Friday: Launch

I'm trying something new with this illustration: instead of colouring each scanned paper texture - I usually do it with the "Duotone" function in Photoshop - and then "cutting" out the shapes I need and pasting them into my illustration, this time I actually built the image using grayscaled textures only. Then, in their own separate layers, I added the colour in slightly off-register chunks. It gave me a lot more control over the final colours, and I could change my mind as the picture evolved. In the technique I've been using up until now, if I didn't like the colour I had chosen, I would have to go back to the original coloured paper sample, fix the tint, and cut out that same shape again.