I Found It!

I honestly did not know that this picture still existed! I wrote about it in A Sad Little Story About Pencils and totally figured that I had thrown it out years ago. So this is the picture that I drew when I was maybe 11 that was the last picture I drew for a few decades or so.

I found it in an old Readers’ Digest World Atlas that we had kicking around the house my entire life. I went through a few old yearbooks and, yeah, that’s pretty much what he looked like!

 

A Sad Little Story About Pencils

Day 1There aren’t a lot of pictures out there of me. Not deliberately, it’s just I’m usually the one behind the camera. And I’ve only really attempted to sketch my own face once, the results so unrecognizable that I actually doubted my ability to draw humans. (Just kidding, those were pencil contour drawings from the workshop). Continue reading

More Wee Sketchbook Lessons

tumblr_o39wslaNXZ1qhderro1_1280The lesson in short: I’m getting better at working with watercolors! The secondary purpose of this little sketchbook is to give me some practice in letting go. Not everything will be a masterpiece and it shouldn’t be, I cannot be attached to any one of these pieces because it’s already another day and I have another one to do. Continue reading

Good Luck On Your Journey!

The sunset postcard is probably the best watercolour landscape that I’ve ever done. I don’t generally do well with the loose or fast style of painting but I had taken a class that taught a different technique for painting gradients and it totally worked for me. I painted the postcard in the morning and in the evening, dropped it into a mailbox bound for Hong Kong. Not even an envelope for protection, just naked. Continue reading

Suzanis

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In Uzbekistan and regions of Central Asia, the walls are lined with colourful embroidered cloths called suzanis. The large cloths are created by hand asuzani2nd are an integral part of a young woman’s dowry. When a daughter is born, a large piece of cotton is brought to a village woman, the kalamkash, who sketches am elaborate design onto the cloth and divides it into strips (Union Purl, 2009). The portions of cloth are distributed to the women of the family who will work on them individually, returning them when finished for reassembly. This piece will become a symbol of the bride’s first home and family. As for the young girl, from the age of six, she learns and practices her embroidery skills on suzanis which will eventually be used to decorate her home.

A typical suzani pattern (above, Heilbrunn, 2007), features a central medallion surrounded by flowering shrubs and floral sprays, especially tulips, carnations and irises. It is not uncommon to find other natural patterns: leaves and vines, fish, birds (left, O’Connell, 2009) and fruit, especially pomegranates. The embroidery is traditionally done with silk thread although the colour seems to vary by region, both vivid and muted colours being used.

suzani3The very root of the word suzani is the Persian word for needle and the patterns, while complex, traditionally use only chain, satin and buttonhole stitches (bottom right, Union Purl, 2009). The base stitches are done with silk thread but one of the characteristics of suzanis is the extensive use of couching. This technique allows the use of thicker, sometimes metallic, threads that do not draw so well through cloth (top right, O’Connell, 2009). They are laid on the fabric and sewn into place with a second, finer thread.

suzani4While the oldest suzanis identified are only a few hundred years old, there are references in court records to embroidered textile wall hangings that fit the description dating back to the 15th century (below, Wikipedia, 2012). It is an art form still alive in this region however and still a part of the daily life of the people.

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CITED REFERENCES

Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, Wall hanging [Uzbekistan (Nurata)] (07.72), <http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/07.72> October, 2006, (Accessed November 7, 2012)

O’Connell, Barry, “Suzani Embroidery the O’Connell Guide”, <http://www.persiancarpetguide.com/sw-asia/Rugs/Uzbek/Suzani.htm>, November 18, 2009, (Accessed November 7, 2012)

Union Purl, “S Is For Suzani”, <http://unionpurl.blogspot.ca/2009/02/s-is-for-suzani.html>, February 8, 2009 (Accessed November 7, 2012)

Wikipedia, Suzani Textile, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzani_textile>, July 31, 2012 (Accessed November 7, 2012)

Wandering the WAG

WAG

I was lucky enough to spend the day wandering the WAG with two of my favourite women. Twice! The 100 Masters exhibit let me see paintings by artists that I have studied with intensity, trying to decipher HOW George Reid managed to show the light in just that way.

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Van Gogh’s texture absolutely terrifies me. It took everything that I had in me AND the presence of a security guard standing 6 feet away to keep from touching the bronze flower in the centre, the paint so thick for each petal.

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And how does the giant red block of David Blackwood’s door not completely overwhelm this painting? My eyes kept moving.

Home from Bragg's Island

I wish that I was more comfortable working with abstract images. I want to be. Jean-Paul Riopelle said that he didn’t believe that abstract painting and the natural world were mutually exclusive. That one inspired the other and gave it emotional context. I want to adopt that.

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So many plans now, so much clarity about what to do next.

Maribou Mules

Picture it – Hollywood 1950. You’re lounging in your penthouse flat waiting for your gentleman caller. You’re wearing the most delicious peignoir set, filmy, flowing and feminine. There’s a knock at the door and you pad barefoot across the carpet. Wait a minute – that’s not right. Look down, what’s wrong with this picture? Your feet, love. They look so… naked.

You need mules. Marabou mules to be precise. Briefest history? They’ve been around a lot longer than we think. Mules showed up in the 19th century French courts where a glimpse of a girl’s foot was an event to remember (and, really, is it any different today). No one knows who added the stork feathers but isn’t it wonderful that they did? Mules reached their peak in the early 1950’s when any sex kitten worth her whiskers had a pair tucked away for special occasions. Dainty and delicate but, most importantly, fluffy. Like the best lingerie, they hint at what’s underneath but don’t give away the whole story.

Now, I hear you asking: what about my pumps? My ballerina flats? Well, there’s a time and a place for everything, love. Most women save them for more private times but if you have a hankering to strut into the dentist’s office or the daycare, who am I to argue? I can tell you personally that feathers on your feet will definitely spice up your next trip to the grocery store.

The best part? They look good on everyone and good in every color. Truly a remarkable feat. (I’ll leave it to you to decide if that pun was intended, darling). For a quiet night at home try champagne or white. Playing the coquette? Pink will fit the bill. Taking no prisoners? Cut straight to the heart of the matter in red. You’ll find them in all of these colors and more. Black, beige, blue, brown, and, Heaven forbid, lime green. You can even find leopard, zebra and tiger prints if that’s what’s you’ve got a secret yearning for.

So figure out your favorite color and take those first few steps towards your next adventure. With a crossed leg and that little powder puff dangling just so carefully off of your toes, you are a force to be reckoned with.

And when you hear that knock, get off your chaise lounge and sashay over to the door in a pair of marabou mules. Let your inner bombshell out to play because, darlin’, company’s coming and he’ll never know what hit him.

—I wrote this a few years ago for RetroRadar

It’s All In The Details, Darling – Red Lipstick

There are some staples to a woman’s wardrobe that simply cannot be ignored. A little black dress may catch a fella’s eye and strappy heels may turn a gentleman’s head but nothing puts the shine on the apple like luscious red lips.

Briefest history? Babylonians used ground jewel powder (expensive, no staying powder), Cleopatra used ground beetles (yuck and yes, I know we’re still doing it but we hide it well and let’s leave it at that, shall we?), less affluent Egyptians used henna and ground leaves (poisonous mercury-based plants no less). The long and the short of it: women figured out thousands of years ago that red lips look lovely and who are we to argue with history. Time has marched on however and there are almost as many styles and brands as there are women to wear them. Glossy, matte, pearly, metallic – have a little fun with it, I’m here to talk about the color.

I know that it’s hard to resist the rainbow that greets you when strolling up to your favorite cosmetics counter – nor should you have to, that’s what samples are for, darling. Pink, peach, even plum (if you must) may put you on the cutting edge but the right red can be your best friend long after those others are relegated to the bottom of your oldest clutch purse. Are you a Blonde bombshell? An exotic Brunette? How about the Girl Next Door? No matter – there’s a red for you.

Picture it. You’re in your sweetest frock, smartest suit, or slinkiest strapless number. Your hair is a masterpiece and your eyes sparkle, shine or smolder. Your beau is waiting but you’re still missing that certain je ne sais quoi. Jewelry? Right where it belongs. Shoes? Perfect match (and comfortable to boot, after all, it’s your fantasy). What could it be? The right red on your lips brings your face to life. You’re still you, just more so. Paint on a little glamour and prepare to get noticed.

MAC Dubonnet. Chanel Barcelona Red. Cover Girl Really Red. Lancome Red Desire. Anna Sui Rouge Chine. Mary Kay Red Salsa. Elizabeth Arden Slink. See what catches your eye. Just between us, I can’t tell you which brand I use – no endorsements darling – but I don’t leave the house without it. So put on a little lipstick dear, there is a whole world waiting for you to make your appearance.

—I wrote this a few years ago for RetroRadar