Friday, August 31, 2012

Living With Art

     You can never go wrong when you live with art you love- or as one of my favourite stores so eloquently puts it on a tote bag " Love Where You Live"- thank you to The Cross for putting things in such simple and easily understood terms! I would consider myself a very choosy collector- I don't really go in for mass produced posters or cheep knock offs- I like the real deal or an artist's signed, limited edition print will do nicely as well!

    I do not buy art as an investment or because people will think it is "cool" I buy it because I love it- and I use the word "I" and in "we" my entire family. Because yes I buy art for the kids- they each have a tidy little collection that I like to imagine they will attempt to take with them one day when they set up house. Even before they were born I started their art collection after falling in love with two little bird paintings - I imagined them laying in their crib staring up at the birds in party hats- yes I  now know newborns can only see about 6 inches but I was a newly pregnant woman- give me a break!

    When the kids were babies and before toys became the preferred method of birthday payment I bought them art for their birthdays- Miss Lo received part of Jessica Bell's series Eighteen Pictures of November when she turned one. The Boy received a John Derian skull and cross bones plate for his second birthday- totally fitting for my little pirate in training! As I said art is easy when you buy what you love- both these items spoke to my heart and bring happiness to our walls.

 Curating a Collection:  I find that even when you have really dissimilar objects you can keep them cohesive and show them as a series by keeping your frames and mats really similar. In our dining area we have hung a grouping of artwork from a few of our favourite artists together- we kept the mats ( paper bit that acts as a barrier between the art and the glass) all one shade of white and the frames are either black, white or not at all. There is a heavy theme of the colour red used in many pieces of art work here which helps everything work well together.

from top left: Anna Coghlan, Jessica Bell,Tara Cooper, random card, Stephanie Frame, Sarah Lige,
Suzanne Summersgill & Heather Renney( photo of our kids)

Utilitarian Objects as Art:  Not all art work needs to be bought in a gallery or art sale- many of my favourite pieces have come from vintage stores or antique malls. We have the bold directive EAT hanging over our table and I find each letter beautiful in it's own way. The scruffy paint on the E, the shine on the blue. Every day house hold objects can be turned into a collection and hung together to create a pleasing vignette- a friend of mine has a collection of vintage rolling pins that is beautifully displayed in her kitchen. It really is whatever you find inspiration and beauty in- there is no right or wrong if done from the heart.

vintage letters such as these can be found at Stepback in Kitsilano as well as in abundance on Etsy

the bird that started it all!  Party Birds - Suzanne Summersgill
    I want to encourage everyone this year to think about buying some local art and supporting your local arts community. In Vancouver we are so lucky to have a variety of venues for local artists to sell their work- Emily Carr University of Art and Design has a student run sale every November - this year it is November 4-6- run - don't walk and buy some amazing art at amazing prices! Of course most famously here in Vancouver is the Eastside Culture Crawl which takes place November 16,17 & 18 in artist's studios across East Vancouver. Where ever you are these things are happening so get out there, drink some wine, take in a bit of culture and buy some original art!

May you find a pencil in your hands and a fresh ream of paper at your elbow- Happy Friday Friends!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thrifted Thursday

    It all began with this pile of thrifted goodness in the spring- a length of Swiss Dot, a piece of tatting, some embroidery. My mom and dad were visiting us and my mom came up with the brilliant idea to leave the kids with my dad for a few hours while we hit the antique stores near our apartment- well you didn't need to ask me twice! Of course once we had sifted through the main bits of the antique stores we started in on a box of random fabric bits- old curtains and throws- which is where I came across all these lovely treasures!

  I always knew the Swiss Dot would end up on a dress or skirt for Miss Lo- in it's previous life the fabric had been a window valance - perfectly pleated with finished edges. This week I finished a full fall skirt for the little miss and used the Swiss Dot as an accent - obviously it goes super well with sparkly stripped tights! I didn't use any pattern as such and just sort of made it up as I went - we are both happy with the outcome and Miss Lo has declared this is her new twirling skirt!

 Another bit of fabric seemed to obviously be perfect for a bib like accent on a tunic for me- I believe at one time this piece was a doily of sorts but I thought it went perfectly well with this grey linen that I have been hoarding!  The pattern came from Simple Modern Sewing and is pattern 2a- the Short Raglan- Sleeve Top- I have made several things out of this book this past summer and love the overall simplicity as well as the beautiful images.

   When one starts to think outside of the proverbial box a person can achieve a much more interesting life- this holds true for many things including my wardrobe- never will I have that awkward moment when walking into a room and spotting someone else wearing the same thing!

p.s.- thanks to Caro for taking my picture- I have no idea why I always squint when getting my picture taken but there you go!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Finding Inspiration

    We are so lucky to live in a beautiful place- I know I have said it before but I will say it again- we are surrounded by beauty on the West Coast. I grew up in a nature loving household and I would venture a guess that is the reason why I find so much inspiration out in the natural world- the patterns, colour combinations and textures are enticing and being outside is so good for my soul. It is a bit of a no-brainer then for me to say that outdoors and nature is where I get a lot of my ideas for our kids art projects as well as inspiration for "lessons" in the natural world.

The above is really one of my all time favourite colour combinations- sandy grey, white, the grey green of the ocean punctuated by the red from a swimming buoy.  It is a completely natural combination that takes no effort- this on it's own is a painting- the trick is teaching your eye to look for "paintings" where ever you are.

A run on the beach yields multiple lessons- and I use this term loosely-  what many refer to as Un-schooling I refer to as life lessons- does learning ever stop at 3pm when the bell rings? The beach really is one of the best classrooms available- learning about the different shells, sea plants and other creatures that inhabit the beach are one conversation. The tide and the moon another. The effects of the wind on the waves is yet another.

    So we gather our inspiration here on this beach- some like these shells get put into our buckets to be taken home. Sand fills our pockets along with beach glass and stones- why are they so smooth Momma? How does the sand get so tiny? Why is this crab dead? All lessons to be learned and held onto.

 A curly bit of bark has made it's way home with us-  what sort of tree do we think this comes from? Outside we go once again to match this wee bit of bark to a tree in our neighbourhood.

    Our trip to the beach is considered the next day- buckets emptied out and shells examined then our minds start to work overtime. What colours do we remember from yesterday? What shapes and textures? How can we make the froth from the waves on the shore? Was the ocean flat and one colour? What noise do we remember? This is the conversation we have as we start to create a landscape that had it's origins in a morning spent digging in the sand- not doing much of anything!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rebecca Chaperon- Artist Extraodinaire

    Recently I sat down with artist and friend Rebecca Chaperon in her studio to talk with her about... well all sorts of things! As with any good chat our conversation veered from subject to subject but the overall theme seemed to revolve around the freedom and the bonds that go hand in hand with working for ones self. Here is a part of our conversation :

 S.K-Ok the obvious- your work is so mystical where to you pull inspiration from?

R.C- Although I don't have a great deal of time for reading these days I have always been a big reader and I think that it has inspired my imagery. My work is very narrative - as in, it tells a story, I feel that it's my own way of story telling with out being a writer. My favourite types of books are works that have a surreal quality to them. I also like mysteries, I think this comes across in the images that I make. I also love the Surrealist painters- they are pretty inspiring!

S.K- I feel kids take art in school often to get an easy grade- I took it because I loved it and was passionate about it- I'm hoping to pass this onto our kids. What was your early exposure to art like? did your family encourage and support you?

R.C- My mom was always making things, knitting, sewing, baking bread. It was like there was nothing she couldn't do- it was a real inspiration! There was this attitude of independently understanding something and making an effort to craft it through practice. We also would make drawings together and she and my dad read to us ( Rold Dahl and C.S. Lewis). They were supportive when I went to art school although none of knew what I would do afterwards. Going to art school was a tough decision for me at the time, my parents left it up to me completely-I was worried what I would do afterwards/what my path would be.  Now I know  that no one can tell you what your path will be like as an artist but you will try different things and you will come to understand how you want to pursue your creative practice.It's exciting, there are many opportunities out there but you have to be persistent and clear about what you would like to do.


S.K- Do you have any feelings on the role of art in the education system? Or should it be left to the parents as an extra curricular activity?

R.C- I think that art is important at school. I just don't think that it is utilized very well with in the system, at least not when I was at school. Everyone should get a chance to develop visual organizational skills. It will set people apart in their fields even when they are working outside of the typical art world. It would be great if schools presented art as a visual language no matter what field of study you enter. I do not think it should be left to parents alone to develop this skill.

S.K- What do you feel is the most important part of the practice of being an artist? Or more specifically- your favourite because the most important and favourite are often very different!

R.C- my favourite parts of my practice are sharing the work with others and seeing the ideas come together in the studio. In the studio I work very hard to get to the point where it "all comes together", things can be a bit disheartening when you are working away on something for a long time but it's not quite coming together, you have to keep pushing until it starts to work- it's really rewarding when you get there! I love to exhibit my work  and I love when others get something out of the images, they talk to me about their perceptions of the work and it's really like they are sharing a bit of themselves by describing how they understand it. It's a beautiful thing to have the work reciprocate like that! 

     The most important part of the practice has been balancing life with studio work. I have a pretty simplified schedule in order to keep up my practice- not  much socializing and lots of exercise keeps me happy and healthy!

S.K- OK so this is a fun one- if you were stranded on a deserted island what art supplies do you wish to have with you?

R.C- Winsor and Newton Series 7 brush- size two, Golden Fluid acrylic paints, stretched canvases. I guess I'd need a sketch book, tracing paper and a mechanical pencil too. Oh- and some gesso.

     I always come away from any encounter with Rebecca feeling fresh and full of inspiration, she always seems to tap into whatever I am thinking about- perhaps she is part empath?  With an illustrated ABC book coming out next fall through Simply Read Books, and  a recent Canada Council Grant for another project in the works this is an artist who is on the brink of something great! If you haven't already flown over to her web site prepare to be blown away by past and current works, follow Rebecca's blog for a glimpse into the workings of her studio plus updates on the ABC book.

   Thank you Rebecca!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Creating a Creative Family

    I often get asked how we manage to be so creative? The follow up question is usually - Doesn't it take a lot of effort? In response to the first question- I don't know how we manage to be so creative- it just is the path I have followed for so long- in fact it is more of a drive than anything- a feeling deep with in that I must make things. Why do anything normally when you can make it special? This is something that we try and have in every aspect of our lives- from how we eat, to what we wear (OK the Mr. is not so concerned with this point) and how we spend our time. The follow up question is answered with yes it does take an amount of effort to live creativly- at first- then it just becomes second nature.

    With so much interest being shown in living a creative life and more specifically raising creative kids I thought I would dedicate this week to sharing with you all how we are creating a creative family. We don't just want to raise kids who are content making things for themselves- which is great- we want them to question why they should be making and doing for themselves. For creating is not just a visual thing, creating is a revolutionary way of life- by revolutionary I mean - to start a revolution!

    Arts and Crafts, home cooking and canning hardly seam the stuff of political resistance however I find that any time one pauses for a moment and thinks about who made their pants or harvested their lettuce a swing in consiousness happens. Now I understand not everyone can sew their own clothing or even grow their own food- wouldn't it be a great thing if we could! By pausing and considering all aspects before making a purchase and perhaps even just being open to considering other options one starts down a more creative path and this is what I like to use as my compass.

    Politics aside I just really enjoy making stuff- I find deep satisfaction in knowing something I made is out in the world being useful and beautiful. This week I want to share some of my key ways to lead a more creative life- an interview with a dear friend who is a fantastic artist, where I find inspiration, a project for kids and living with art- all these goodies are here at Weekdays From Scratch this week!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Learning to Breath

   I will be the first to admit that this whole Mom gig can be all consuming and overwhelming at times, I love my Littles but have a difficult time carving time out for myself- I forget to breath. This leads to an often cranky Mom come six o'clock which happens to be the witching hour at our house- you know that moment when you are trying to get food on the table and everyone is having a melt down- yup that is six o'clock for us! So in an effort to reclaim some of my adult brain cells that have nothing to do with lifting someone up or counting garbage trucks and dogs- which I happily do all day long- I went out on a grown up picnic the other night with my friend Caro.

  Initially we were just thinking mainly where could we go to drink wine that isn't too expensive and there are no kids around- immediately we thought of Spanish Banks- OK there are kids there but they aren't ours on this night! What started out as a couple of glasses of wine and some cheese turned into this epic evening of sunshine, warm breezes, great food and loads of giggles!

   Food and drink always tastes better when consumed outdoors-especially with the sunshine beating down on your back. The view could not have been beaten and I would like to argue that The Real Housewives of Vancouver are not nearly as rich as Caro and I were this evening out at Spanish Banks!

   Now that word has gotten out about our adventure there is talk that more of our friends want to join us - this should not be a surprise because we all like a largish glass of wine- or three! We are all Moms with kiddos around the same age, all university educated women who have worked for the larger part of our lives and while we all love and cherish our children there seams to be an underlying thread of struggling to find balance. I think there is a fair amount of camaraderie between us all as we figure this balancing act out- one thing I know for sure is that after a few hours of pretty flowers, good food & wine, all topped off with excellent company I am a happier and more tolerant Mom.

  Happy Friday friends- if you are in the Lower Mainland it is harvest season and the Farmer's Markets are bursting with goodies- check one out & support your local economy! Where ever you are in this great planet of ours hope you are surrounded by love and joy! See you Monday!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thrifted Thursday

   This is the wall above our bed- above it is what I refer to as our Family Gallery- a collection of random mis- matched frames filled with the faces of our not- so- wee- any more- babes! I can not lie- I love to wake up in the morning and see these little faces beaming down on us- I think this is the best art we could possibly have above our bed. I have been looking to expand - adding in a few newer portraits of the Littles and  to re-organize the entire wall. I'm thinking the re-vamp will take place when the weather is a bit more dismal and I'm not daily at the water park but I am always on the look out for frames to add to my collection.

   Last week found me visiting with an old friend- she herself is not old it's just that we have known each other for quite a while- anyways this friend of mine has quite the enviable stash of vintage frames. Apparently she was looking to part with a few because much to my Mr.'s dismay when he came to pick me up I had an arm load of new- to- me frames! These will be perfect for the re-vamp of my Family Gallery wall- although at this point I have yet to decide if I will spray paint the frames different colours or if they will remain as is.

    I have a bit of a frame problem- I used to work in a framing and art supply shop- I was constantly debating what frames "could be made into mirrors"- yah I'm a freak I know. I really do think though that sprayed out cloud white or shrimp pink this big frame would make a great mirror! Stay posted for the big reveal with these frames- I will eventually make up my mind!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Literacy in the Arts

     I often get asked if I expect our kids to become artists "when they grow up" - I imagine this is how actors feel when asked how they feel about their own children following in their footsteps. I don't expect or even hope my children will follow in my footsteps- for the life of an artist is surely not an easy path to travel. What I do expect from our children though is that they are visually literate- to understand and appreciate how things are made and designed.

    To that end I am always looking for teachable art moments- we do a fair amount of free style art work around here but I feel it is also important to balance that free creativity out with a dose of art history or colour theory or a lesson on design. Life after all is about finding a good balance right? One way to experience art is obviously go to an art gallery- I feel it is so important to expose kids to as much original art as possible. Posters are great but nothing beats an original!

     And so a recent rainy day found us on a visit to the Vancouver Art Gallery which yielded this little activity gem for us. The current summer show is Collecting Matisse and Modern Masters- The Cone Sisters of Baltimore- we all loved the show which was part curated-life- well- lived and part Modern Art show. The thought that these ladies lived a life which included hanging out with Modern Art Masters like Matisse and Picasso is kind of mind boggling- the artifacts of their life are very moving and inspiring.  I find as well Matisse is a really accessible artist to introduce the idea of Modern Art to people- very graphic and un-intimidating- more fun than anything but still waters always run deep.

    Back to the activity book- as mentioned this is a little gem- the kit comes complete with a lesson plan highlighting how Matisse worked through his colour cutout "drawings", a brief history of Matisse all easily laid out with images as well as stencils and coloured paper with which to make your own master pieces. Although not our typical style this little book was a refreshing change for us all- something we could explore together while referring back to our visit to the gallery.

P.S.    A few tips for taking toddlers to an art gallery on your own- start small and slow- do not expect to see the entire M.O.M.A. in one day with toddler in tow! For our trip to the V.A.G. we just went to the Modern Masters show as well as the Rodney Graham exhibit- one hour and lots of discussion on what we saw kept them interested and constantly moving. Boredom is the enemy here people! We also had a discussion prior to going into the gallery about behavior- no running, hands to our selves and quiet voices. I also set the kids up to know that they could each spend five dollars in the gift shop- they pooled their money and bought the art book- who says toddlers are unreasonable?


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bean There Done That!

     Several Months ago we had a few little packets of seeds that we planted with Poppa in his garden in Okanagan- fast forward to last week when my dad delivered pounds and pounds of green, yellow and purple beans to us. Needless to say we ate a lot of beans last week- good thing beans are one of the Little's favourite veggies. No coercion or sneaking or hiding of vegetables needed they straight up devour beans- steamed with a little butter.

    So what is a Mamma to do with several pounds of beans? Well after we have eaten our fill and moved onto our next favourite vegetable- cucumbers- also from Poppa's garden- Mamma starts stashing those delicious goodies from the garden away for a rainy winter day.

    In the midst of a heat wave you could find me washing, trimming, blanching and portioning beans into freezer bags. Our kitchen is always hot anyways but this task made the kitchen a very special place to be! I'm not trying to be a martyr but blanching beans in the midst of a heat wave takes some dedication to your task at hand!

        Along with the beans I have also froze 30 pounds of blue berries and 3 pounds of strawberries- now we can enjoy blueberry smoothies, and muffins and pancakes in December. We all enjoy Endless Summer Jam which I make mid winter with frozen berries and apples a little reminder of summer!

   This time of year I often feel a bit frantic- like I should be storing more food away for the coming winter. I know we could easily pop down to the grocery store and we wont starve when we run out of blue berries- at this point frozen berries and beans are more of a luxury or treat in the winter- we aren't existing solely on these foods! Our dream is to one day exist off the food we have put up for the season- to live sustainably off the land and more in harmony with the seasons. Until that time comes I will frantically freeze and preserve as much of this harvest that is available to us and enjoy it all the more when it finally arrives on our table one chilly winter day!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Pinned It- Did It

    I love Pinterest- I "pin" a lot of stuff often- I have all ready discussed this addiction here - but lets refresh- I like to Pin and often! I came across this cute little project the other day and thought that our littles would love this- anything to do with paint they are in- throw in some glue even better! This project is super short and simple- just the project to do with a half hour to spare before lunch. To start with I cut out a very simple tree top and trunk- which the littles then glued to a piece of back paper.

    The use of a few corks as stamps for leaves and apples was a fun change of pace - creating unusual shapes and patterns while at the same time being really easy for the kids to grasp. The original project on Pinterest was a fall project with yellows,oranges and reds- but I was feeling inspired by all the apple orchards we had been surrounded by all weekend. A discussion on apple trees and growing followed by a snack of sliced apples after lunch rounded out our apple project!

   This was a cute and easy project that bridged the gap between outside time and lunch time- it helped everyone unwind a bit and also got them excited about eating their apples after lunch! The use of corks in lieu of traditional painting tools is a valuable  experience as kids can learn to be flexible and to value surprise at the outcome of their work. Corks are just one type of alternative mark making tool- what other tools have you used to create fun and interesting marks? I would love if everyone shared!

ps- feel free to follow me on Pinterest! Just click the red Pinterest button to the right of the screen!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Plain Jane

everyone's favourite little notebook is back by popular request $8 ea

    I took a big step today- encouraged by my ever lovin Mr. I applied for a juryed craft sale. I have done loads of sales in the past- one big sale -Portobello West I had participated in for several years- I thought maybe it is time for a bit of a change. So I applied for MAKE IT! - I am really excited at the prospect of getting into this sale! So I thought I would share a few things I have been working on lately- nothing like the prospect of a new show to get the creative vibe going!

If I had to pick one I think it would be the bird- one of my favourite silk screens on my favourite Moleskin note book- accented with a felt applique- has a hidden pocket at the back of the book for love notes and stamps!

dreamer tee pee $110- sticks-$45
    Brand new to the Plain Jane line is the Dreamer tee pee- made of 100% cotton painter's canvas this is great indoors or out. It makes a perfectly shaded reading nook for bigger kids outdoors in the summer and comes inside to be set up for those long rainy days of fall with the under five crowd! Doweling is not included with online orders but locals can purchase on pick up.

the mini market tote bag- $20
I know I posted about these tote bags not too long ago but I feel like they need to be mentioned again- made of durable cotton, lined with inside pockets- these bags are great for library totes or for hauling stuff to Grandma's. Toddler tested and approved!

$11 ea or two for $20
  100% Linen tea towels hand screen printed - these tea towels are great- use either for hand towels or to actually dry dishes!

   In a crazy turn of events it is almost fall again- this always leads me to start thinking about the Holidays- I love them! The idea of bundling up in layers of wool and tramping around with a toboggan, camp fires with marshmallows and this year teaching our kids how to ski. One tradition that I love is the giving and receiving of mail for no other reason than to say- Happy Holidays- I am thinking of you- I love you- Hope you are warm! So start thinking about your holiday cards soon- bulk and custom orders are always welcome! The sooner you get your orders in the more you save!

    So keep your fingers crossed that I will be a busy gal this fall- this little venture of mine is starting to pick up again. If anyone is interested in any items posted here fell free to message me in the comments section or email me directly-