End of June art day – Yellow Door collage

box of paper scraps

Opening Pandora’s Box – where I keep my favourite scraps – and starting a fresh page.

It’s been a month since I’ve had a chance to work on any art. I’ve been thinking about it – my little scraps of paper, how I’ve missed them. Many are hand-painted papers I’ve made, others are found from the ground or are scraps from among my ancestors receipts and papers. A few are actually pressed leaves. Scraps from books, vintage notebook pages I found outside a demolished house, etc.

I noticed I was hording my artwork a little bit, so for my friends’ birthday recently, I gave each of them a piece of artwork that I had on hand. One of them was a similar collage to this, so I thought I’d make another one today. I found a scrap of paper on the ground last week, and that was my inspiration. It’s kind of hidden in the picture, inside a semi-circle.

Step 2 - most of my composition figured out.

Step 2 – most of my composition figured out.

fine art collage

Grounded the ground in step 3


A yellow door – this was my six-year-old’s suggestion.

Et voil√†, fini. Now I just need to press it, as it’s pretty wavy with all the different aged papers.

Yellow Door collage on paper

Finished collage, Yellow Door, 2014


Creative progress: Boom Town 2

canvas with aerial river view

Step 1: Boom Town 2

In April I started a new canvas themed after my collage called Boom Town (see it here). I just got back to it last weekend. I don’t often do a study and then try to recreate a similar painting in a larger format (this one is 16″ x 20″).

mixed media painting on canvas

Step 2: Boom Town 2

I love experimenting with different methods to achieve the look I am going for. To tint the white paint for the snowy ground, I used pigment that I have from France. It had the perfect effect. I also used some coffee to add more stains on the lower part.

True to the study, I did a similar collage on the left-hand side using a mix of vintage receipts and handmade textured papers.

I enjoyed working on the river to make the colour more accurate for a frozen river. A few years ago when I flew to Ottawa one January, I remember being enchanted by the deep blue of the frozen lakes and rivers we flew over. There was something very Canadian about this network of deep blue waterways, encased in ice of all shades of white, patterned by rivulets and afternoon’s slight thawing.

I’m looking forward to this drying so I can keep working on it.

mixed media collage painting - aerial view of river

Step 3: Adding more detail and nuances

Collage on paper

After the “Scary Lady” fiasco described in my last post, I thought I’d try to go for something a little softer, more feminine.

I have several scraps of blue paper that were torn from a vintage school workbook. One of them looked like a dress, which inspired this piece.

collage beginning

Purity collage, in progress

I have so many vintage scraps of paper, cloth, buttons, patterns, and receipts I ended up stopping because I am not sure what to do next. I think the old photo album sheet in the background is a bit overwhelming; you may see white introduced in the next phase of this piece. I was trying to do it all in one night, but there’s no sense in rushing the creative process.


Work in progress: Purity, collage on paper


sun behind cloud and painting

Day 16: Form

Most of my artwork does not feature a strong form; I tend to paint abstract landscapes with a horizon. This painting actually hangs in our laundry room. I liked it more in one of its previous stages, when it featured several smaller circles in a row. For some reason, this form happened. Is it a sea creature? A planet? I don’t know. So to the laundry room it was banished.

The same morning as I was scouting a form to photograph, I noticed that the sky had an incredible radiance. It’s interesting how the sunburst echoes the form in the photo of the painting.

I have to say, for a rainy cool winter, we’re having our share of beautiful skies. I’m thankful for this, and thankful to be able to pause my day to notice things like this.



lone willow on plain

Day 15: Mood: Lonely tree

On our weekend family hike, we took an adventure in a new direction on the nearby trail. It was an overcast day, but kind of flat light. I loved the look of this lonely tree, above, which I think captures some sort of mood.

We were surprised to see this somewhat urban-looking tunnel full of street art, which was juxtaposed with the natural beauty of the plain and the forest where we usually hike. With the power lines and the discovery of the burned paper, below, with the charter of rights and freedoms, it was quite a dark mood.

moody graffiti and burned paper

Day 15: mood

The land, as we carried on, was also starting to show signs of spring. Where moss grows, it was rich and verdant green. It was mild enough for the kids to enjoy a little snack beside an enchanted brook. And we found some pussy willow to bring home. I would describe the mood of this set below as content: we are content as a family, enjoying everything these days. It is not always easy: life is very busy. But we love being together on our weekend walks or creative times. We are content where we are.

children eating by stream, pussy willows

Signs of spring


open book and symmetrical mugs

Day 10 – Symmetry

Symmetry is a calming, static element in composition. On day 10 of the artsy forager’s instagram challenge, #artsydefined, I was enjoying a relaxing Family Day holiday, so I enjoyed an easy start to the day with a good book and coffee (above).¬†

Later in the week, I took a better photo representing symmetry at work. Symmetry is a key element in First Nations art, as seen in the example below.

Kwantlen First Nations artwork outside Sxwimele gifts at Fort Langley National Historic Site

Symmetry: Kwantlen First Nations artwork outside Sxwimele gifts at Fort Langley National Historic Site



old and new books

Day 9: Juxtaposition

Juxtaposing things is a big deal in art and photography. I can’t imagine an artist talk that doesn’t at some point juxtapose incongruent things: an impoverished person seated in front of a sports or an elderly person holding a newborn infant. So I was surprised that I was having trouble thinking of things to juxtapose. I tried old and new books, and also a large and small spoon.

So the true artsy story today is probably more about what two girls, 30 years apart, were doing whittling spoons in 2014.

spoon carving party

My daughter and I carving spoons.

Here I have juxtaposed my six-year-old and I carving spoons at my friend–and old college room mate’s–party. I love that my friend brought together a bunch of people of all ages to make spoons and then eat a big pot of soup together. I love breaking bread with people and this was a great way to bring creativity into daily life.

This is a big part of what I value about a community: to live life together in a creative way with the people who live near you. My friend has been living this way for years, although not always easy, she is breaking down barriers and walls in her neighbourhood. Living as much as possible without a car. Bringing about life-giving change.

I hope that our family can also start inviting more people near us into our creative lifestyle. For me, that is integrated with enjoying nature together, and just maybe hosting a carving party (or not, I don’t think I’d like cleaning up after that, but maybe a painting party).

In conclusion, I offer up this modern blog chronicle in juxtaposition to the ancient nature of gathering with neighbours to carve spoons and eat from a communal cauldron.