Published May 20, 2013
Okay, so I have something embarrassing to admit. When St. Louis Magazine first approached me to illustrate a piece about Lewis and Clark, I thought they were referring to the “Lois and Clark” from Superman. (insert blushing face)
After a quick google search I soon realized that these two men are considered national heroes in America. (We’re just not taught American history in the Canadian school curriculum, and I’m sure it’s vice versa for American students). So for anyone else in the dark, here’s the low down: 200 years ago, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark headed an expedition called the Corps of Discovery across the midwest in search of a water route connecting to the Pacific Ocean. Considered a success, this expedition helped spawn the American westward movement where pioneers started settling into the great plains and rocky mountains on their way to the Pacific coast.
There was a reoccurring feature in the many renditions of Lewis and Clark I came across while conducting my research for this piece. Fringed buckskin fashions aside, it was their iconic hair dos that really kept stealing the show: Lewis’ shaggy centred coon tail-like bang and Clark’s sideburn-rich asymmetrical wave.
I guess I wasn’t the only one zeroing in on their coif. I found this clever t-shirt design that does just that! I highly recommend browsing the other historical figures they’ve simplified to hair styles at Hirsute. Funny enough, the do is where I chose to start the final portraits of Lewis and Clark…a little fun to get the ball rolling.
Published May 14, 2013
I’ve gotten used to flipping my artwork on its’ head, and crossing my fingers that everything sticks accordingly. That’s certainly the case every time I go to Toronto Image Works to get my children’s book spreads photographed. Here you can see the set up: lights, camera, magnets, and me with my x-acto knife and two sided tape, ready and waiting for any fly away pieces or unsightly cast shadows!
This past Thursday marked a milestone for me: completing the artwork for “Shaping Up Summer”, the fourth and final book art in the Math in Nature series.
A big thanks to TIW technician and talented photographer, Stephen Brookbank, for his skill and patience in photographing a total of 56 spreads and 4 covers with me over the past year and a half!
Published May 3, 2013
In The Garden
The warm weather has finally arrived and I couldn’t be more ready to garden. And just like blossoms on a tree, little mom and pop plant markets have begun to sprout all over the city, tempting me at every street corner!
Up until this year, my planting style has been strictly vegetable focused, with no consideration for flowers of any kind. I really don’t know why, considering the amount of flowers I depict in my art. But that’s the way it’s been…puzzling, I know!
So as you can see from the photo montage above, I’ve crossed the bridge from utilitarian to frivolous gardener. I’ve planted Pansies, Irises, Columbine, Hollyhocks, two varieties of Poppy (finally!), Lupins, Bleeding Hearts (my mom’s favourite), a couple species of Stonecrop and even some succulents quirkily named Hen & Chicks.
I never realized the burst of colour a group of Pansies can bring to a garden! They’re so individually stunning to look at up close and the variety of colours and patterns are seemingly endless.
And thanks to my early exposure to Disney’s Alice and Wonderland, I keep imagining little smug faces set inside each of their blooms!
Although the emphasis will be on flowers this year, I’ve also made room for some veggies like cherry tomatoes, asparagus, and of course kale!
Published April 24, 2013
Earth Day always brings me back to elementary school, where for one day a year, my classmates and I were freed from our stuffy portables to go out and pick up garbage in the school yard. Equipped with clear garbage bags, we set out to find trash to fill them with—-the most common being empty blue Dunkaroo packages for some reason? I definitely enjoyed it, and I think most of my classmates did too. In fact, we liked it so much that we sometimes fought over who spotted the garbage first!
Growing up in the 90′s, I was part of the Sun Tots vs. Smoggies, Captain Planet and FernGully generation. Our schools raised money to protect the rainforest acre by acre, adopt humpback whales and plant cedar saplings in our backyards. The recycling symbol was as holy as the bible and anyone spotted tossing a wrapper on the ground was looked upon in sheer disbelief.
So when I look at this Earth Day illustration, I can’t help but see these childhood environmental influences shining through. This “Simple, Good, Change” mantra is part of a ongoing series that Kashi releases on their website. The mantras are free to share as desktop/mobile wallpapers, facebook cover photos and posters.
As well, they were so kind as to include an interview with me on their blog, PlantingSeeds, where I talk about my paper collage process and green living ways.
So what am I doing for earth week this year? I’m beginning to plan out my summer garden: a mixture of veggies (for me and my neighbours) and some perennial flowers (for the birds and bees). Oh, and I also picked up some little bits of garbage that had drifted into the yard over winter. What a thrill! ;)
Published April 3, 2013
Lizann and I were pretty excited back in March when our copies of freshly published books arrived to our doorsteps. Knowing that the official release date wasn’t until the first week of spring, I had to hold my breath before sharing the news. So here I present the second book of the Math in Nature series, “Sorting Through Spring“.
Here’s a little sneak peek into my two favourite spreads: the spring peepers (a species of chorus frog) and the prairie chickens (a type of grouse).
Spring peepers are teeny tiny little frogs that produce a high pitched “peep”, similar sounding to that of a baby chick. I had fun making these little guys and was struck with a “cute-overload” once the eyes were applied!
The Prairie Chickens are funny in that they resemble the silhouette of a rabbit. The male birds perform a sort of dance to attract their mate that involves perking their head feathers up, jumping around and “booming” their inflatable featherless neck patches. Actually it was the colour of these particular neck patches that inspired the sky and subsequent background colours of the spread. (I try to inject pink into my art at every chance I get for it’s playful, yet peaceful effects.)
Lizann and I will be giving book signings at the Evergreen Brick Works on Sunday, May 26th, coinciding with a large event called “Walk of Life”. There, we’ll be presenting the book along with an activity in the BMO atrium between 12-2pm.
And on a far, far stretch of a side note, I wanted to point out a little spring-themed parallel between my art and life. I bought these tulips (pictured below left) for my mother this past Easter weekend, while they were still green and tight in their buds. I assumed they’d have yellow blooms as that was the colour of all the other potted tulips on the same store shelf. But to my surprise, a cascade of creamsicle orange blooms began to emerge — a very similar arrangement found inside the book!
Published April 2, 2013
I’ve been suffering from what I call “Blog-Block”.
Blog-block (wow, that’s a mouthful!) happens when the elements of a blog post: images, written content and purpose, are unable to line up for quite some time.
I picture them as three planets circling around my head in a dizzying mess. They spin and spin, and spin some more, until at last, when I least expect it, they magically align into a constellation of blogging brilliance.
(Brilliant to the author rather than the reader, I should point out.)
Believe it or not, a cosmic alignment just happened while I was writing the paragraph above. I thought, wouldn’t it be brilliant to showcase my new favourite tool, a star burst paper puncher that happens to look constellation-y, in this very same post?
And voila! A complete blog post.
Published February 21, 2013
Here’s a little spread I made for the March issue of Chirp. The little girl in the castle’s face was too tiny to do by hand. Thank goodness for this thing called a computer!