Monday, February 11, 2019

Serving time for protesting the pipeline

Sentenced to 14 days for blocking the road to the Kinder Morgan facility. A symbolic gesture: the trucks used a 2nd entrance and there were 5 of us arrested on August 20, 2018, all seniors except for one young woman sat on folding chairs on an empty road. Now serving time. It will be 14 days reduced to 10, served over 1 day and 3 weekends. Here are some drawings of my cell. Will write more later but right now I want to try to enjoy the snowy morning, catch up on my work and try to shake off this depression. Only paper available are the backs of forms. Stubby pencils like the kind in the library–no erasers. The suction seal on the pencil sharpener is broken so it's a 2-person operation - one to try to hold the sharpener steady on the countertop, the other to sharpen. 



Sunday, January 20, 2019

Consistency in illustration style

I'm struggling to keep the style consistent in my pencil illustrations for my juvenile novel Kiddo, due out this spring. The drawings done in numerous sketchbooks, usually on the bus or other locations where I have to wait for appointments or otherwise put in time are all stylistically different. Illustrations where I'm dependent on photo references are particularly problematic.  Then refining the scanned sketches in photoshop produces another style variation because digital pencil isn't the same as real pencil on paper.  Tracing sketches has always produced a lifeless result for me, so photoshop seems like marginally better option. Fingers crossed it will come together in the end.

Pop sculpting alien. Sketchbook drawing with no photo reference or photoshop. I wish I could do all the illustrations in this style. But there's a problem: Pop's motto is "safety first." I'm sure he wouldn't use a tiny welding mask like this, especially with his whiskers. But I like the drawing of his face.  Maybe I should try to reproduce this face in another illustration of Pop and put the full mask on this one.
Kiddo carrying Dwarf Star, a lovable, but very heavy baby. No photo ref for first sketch. The 2nd drawing shows a lot of cleaning and redrawing in photoshop. But it feels over-refined compared to the Pop Welding image at top.


Kiddo confides in Pop while he fixes the sink. No photo ref except for the p-trap pipe under the sink. very messy sketch with quick cleanup in photoshop. Need to redraw either by tracing over in photoshop, or with tracing paper.

Kiddo and Winston on the run. Mostly done out of my head with a reference for the dog. Did an experiment of drawing with blue and red Col-erase pencils, then overdrawing with 2B mechanical pencil. But was unable to cleanly remove Col-erase in photoshop without losing a lot of good pencil overdrawing.

Kiddo putting on roller skates. Heavily reliant on a photo reference and it shows, especially in the face. 


Kiddo and Winston. No photo ref, style is messy, but too idiosyncratic to trace. A case of getting it right by accident which is what usually happens to me. Plus each head is drawn with a different pencil: Winston was done with a 2B mechanical pencil and Kiddo drawn with a wooden 3B. They were on different pages of my sketchbook and I combined them in photoshop. I wish all the illustrations were messy like this or all clean like Pop Welding. Ideally, nothing would be done with close reference to a photo, but there's too many things I need references for. So frustrating.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

My 2018

I've been keeping a reading diary for 40 years and every New Year's Day I count up what I've read during the previous year. This year my list comprised:

Novels: 52 read
The best ones were:
My Favorite Thing is Monsters, Emil Ferris. Masterpiece.


The Bartimaeus sequence by Jonathan Stroud. Brilliant audiobooks read by Peter Jones
The Blanche series by Barbara Neely
The Power, Naomi Alderman
Thief Lord, Cornelia Funke
My Life as a White Trash Zombie, Diana Rowland (I only liked the first book in the series.) Southern gothic wonderfully read by Allison McLemore,
The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths. 10th in the Ruth Galloway series–I've read them all
Trail of Lightning, Rebecca Roanhorse, American Indian sci fi
A Skinful of Shadows, Frances Hardinge
The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, Joanna Cannon

Indigenous memoirs of residential school 
No Time to Say Goodbye: Children’s Stories of Kuper Island Residential School, Sylvia Olsen, Rita Morris, and Ann Sam
The Education of Augies Merasty, Joseph August Merasty with David Carpenter

Nonfiction
Austin Kleon’s Show your work 
Katie Wood Ray’s In Pictures and in Words: Teaching the Qualities of Good Writing Through Illustration Study
Dr Mary Roche, Developing Children’s Critical Thinking through Picturebooks: a guide for primary and early years students and teachers

Many picturebooks: my favourite discoveries this year include
Little Fox in the Forest,  Stephanie Graegin


El Deafo, Ceci Bell
The Funeral, Matt James
Blue Whale, Jenni Desmond



How to Mend a Broken Wing, Bob Graham
Chirri and Chirra books by Kaya Doi
Kuma-Kuma Chan books by Kazue Takahashi
Carletto books, Susanne Rotraut Berner
Iridescence of Birds, Hadley Hooper and MacLachlan
Melvin, the unluckiest monkey, Claudia Boldt
Do You See What I See and So You Hear What I Hear by Helen Borten
My Dog Mouse by Eva Lindström



The Wonderful Fluffy Little Squishy and On a Magical Do-Nothing Day, Beatrice Alemagna
The Little Black Fish, Farshid Mesghali, Samad Behrangi
The Visitor by Antje Damm
Jerome by Heart, Thomas Scotto and Olivier Tallec
What Does Baby Want, Tupera Tupera
The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC’s (the Hard Way) by Patrick McDonnell
Professional Crocodile by Giovanna Zoboli, ill. Mariachiara Di Giorgio

It turns out I actually like teaching book illustration.  My 2nd year teaching in the Illustration certificate program at Emily Carr was very hard work but enjoyable. So far I've taught three levels of picturebook illustration, writing picturebooks, introduction to illustration, and 2 sessions of children's comics. It's difficult because I have to create the courses which takes a huge amount of preparation, study, and research. I also have to lug shopping carts of books to and from the college on the bus in all weather and often late at night.  I envy instructors of degree courses who have offices.

Got arrested: One of the biggest threats to the Pacific Coast and its inhabitants is the Kinder Morgan pipeline which proposed transporting filthy bitumen from the Alberta tar sands. Now the Canadian government has purchased the company and is bent on digging up every last teaspoon of fossil fuel from Canada whether it's unceded Indigenous land or not. So I joined in the protest and sat on the road leading to the Kinder Morgan tank farm. I got arrested and will be sentenced on Jan 18. I might go to jail for 14 days if the lawyer that Protect the Inlet paid for doesn't get me out on bail. Evidently it's a criminal act to try to protect the water and the whales.


Wrote a book and made two animated picturebook trailers. I still have to finish the illustrations for the book (a juvenile novel) and have two new trailers to animate. I should add learning to meet deadlines to my list of New Year's goals but at my advanced age I know there's no point because I'm hopeless.


Spent most of 2018 getting my finances in order. I'm still struggling but things are improving.

My ex-husband died of Huntington's disease at the end of this year. He never forgave me for ending the marriage and refused to be friends. Now there's no chance of that ever happening. He's still visiting my dreams. Here's a 1988 sketch of him tapping along to music.


Joined the Vancouver Urban Sketchers and Instagram.



Bought new art materials after not buying any for decades.
  • Caran D'Ache Neocolor II watercolour crayon. Saturated pigment that dissolves into beautiful washes wherever you touch it with a wet brush.
  • My ongoing fascination with fountain pens–I haven't purchased a disposable pen in 7 years– has grown to encompass the brush pen! Wow! So lovely to draw with. Mine is the Kuretake Sumi but the Pentel Pocket is a favourite too and available at Opus. Because I'm trying my best to be zero waste I'm eschewing disposable cartridges and using an ink converter and Noodler's bulletproof ink or refilling the cartridges with an ink syringe. I wish Kuretake sold their cartridge ink in bottles because it's lovely. It's very hard to buy waterproof fountain pen ink in Vancouver to use in line and watercolour wash artwork. The Vancouver Pen shop refuses to sell it because they only cater to writers not artists, and believe waterproof ink will wreck their customers' fountain pens. And Opus doesn't have it because they're a monopoly here and aren't interested in people who want to draw with fountain pens using bottled ink.
  • The water brush - any brand, they're all grand.
  • Sailor Fude De Mannen Fountain Pen for drawing. This inexpensive pen has a bent nib that is wonderful for an expressive ink line.
  • Watercolours: Mungyo from Korea and Kuretake Gansai Tambi from Japan. Rich artist-quality paint for a good price.

  • Pencil grip erasers. Soft erasers for the end of your drawing pencils, unlike the dreadful office pencil erasers. My new faves are the Faber Castells at The Vancouver Pen store or on the Jackson's website


  • I've used mechanical pencils to draw with for my entire life but am giving them up because they're plastic and break easily and the leads only come in unrecyclable plastic boxes. So back to the wood pencil. My favourites pencils at present are the Tombow Mono and the Blackwing soft. The Blackwing's attractive extendable eraser doesn't actually work but slips back in. So you have to stick a bit of paper in the base of the eraser holder.
  • materials to do linocuts but haven't started yet


Vegan, organic and zero waste

This year I've driven myself crazy by adding zero waste and organic stipulations to my three years of veganism. My main reasons for these criteria are compassion for animals and insects, and pollution.  What a palaver it is to try to shop for organic, vegan groceries with no plastic packaging! And often so expensive! It's forcing to me to focus on things domestic and do a lot of things from scratch–I practically feel like a pioneer.
Best discoveries this year were that the legumes, oatmeal, and raisins are fresher and cheaper at the zero waste Soap Dispensary than at Famous Foods which wraps everything in plastic. Plus FF's organic legumes must be ancient because no amount of soaking and cooking softens them up. The Soap Dispensary also sells delicious Tempea tempeh which is made without plastic.
Whole Foods lets you buy bulk foods in paper bags but not in your own container. Nada is fiendishly expensive.

Household discoveries! 
Litter box splash guard: I'm probably not the first person to discover this, but I found that a piece of cardboard on 2 sides of the litter box acts as an excellent splash guard. It seems to last forever without getting stinky.


Perfected no-knead sandwich loaf.  Kept experimenting until I got a delicious no-knead bread that fits in a loaf pan and is easy to cut. Organic loaves are too expensive for me to buy.


Tooth powder made from 1 part bentonite, 1 part xyletol, and 1/2 part baking soda. London Drugs now sells bamboo toothbrushes (Humble Brush) for $5.

Coir brushes happily replace plastic scrubbies and brushes. Cheapest and best selection is at Daiso.

Homemade refrigerator jam is cheaper than organic store bought. No sterilizing needed, just a clean jar. Cook any kind of fruit for 20 minutes and thicken with tapioca flour or cornstarch. Grated organic carrots are an economical extender of other more expensive fruit, like apples and pears, provided you add lemon juice and sugar. I picked wild blackberries by the railroad tracks all summer for gorgeous refrigerator jam.


Coconut oil works for butter in recipes and on toast, face moisturizer, and hair conditioner if you rub it into your dry hair after shampooing.

Powdered soap mixed with washing soda in a shaker is good for cleaning the bathroom.

Still problematic for the person determined to be organic, zero waste, and vegan
  • it plays havoc with your social life and might even cost you friendships
  • affordable shoes
  • cat food
  • affordable black loose tea
  • dental floss
  • tofu is murder to make from scratch
  • rubber gloves 
  • affordable nuts
  • stopped buying liquid soap because it comes in plastic but it's hard to find household bar soap for washing dishes etc that doesn't cost the earth.
  • how to wash or get rid of fleece and polyester clothing without sending microfibres into the water.
2019 Goals
  • Be a better teacher
  • Grow a patio garden for bees and hummingbirds
  • New picturebook
  • Try to convince ECUAD to cooperate with the MA in Children's Literature program at UBC by offering a 400- or graduate-level credit studio course on children's book illustration. We're in the 2nd golden age of children's book illustration and there are no degree programs in children's book illustration in North America. You have to go to Cambridge!
  • Do animation or other artwork to support environmental action.






Thursday, November 22, 2018

Drawing in Court

I've been going to court to hear the proceedings against a few of the 230 people arrested for protesting the Kinder Morgan pipeline. Today we were in a smaller courtroom without security glass so I was close enough to the action to sketch. Judge Affleck has been handing out some harsh sentences to the water protecters, many of whom are seniors. I'll be in front of the judge on Dec 5 and might end up going to jail. Probably won't draw that day.



Saturday, July 21, 2018

Gelli prints

Tried Gelli printing this week. It's harder than it looks, but still very easy compared to other types of monoprint. You do have to work very fast with regular acrylics, even if adding extender. The acrylic still dries quickly and might tear the paper if you're using very cheap bond and aren't pulling if off fast enough. But like the other kinds of monoprint, every print you pull is a surprise and the medium seems to do a lot of the work of painting for you. 


Denise Fleming used Gelli print for her new book This is the Nest That Robin Built. Her text is wonderful, as always. More about it here.


I took Gelli Plate Printing: Mixed-media Monoprinting Without A Press by Joan Bess out of the library and found it useful. There are masses of Gelli print videos on youtube, but I find they either go by too fast or are too chatty and slow. The book was helpful for me to try one method at a time.


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Fall 2018: my new illustrated novel!

Kiddo, my new juvenile novel with Tradewind Books is coming this fall.




There will be black & white illustrations inside. I'm scanning pencil drawings, then creating washes
in photoshop.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Clifi - Climate Fiction in Children's Literature

So this is interesting! Cli-fi is a new category in children's and Young Adult fiction. I've read nearly everything by writer Paolo Bacigalupi who writes intelligent and well-researched thrillers about a future irrevocably altered by climate disaster and corporate greed. These include the gripping Drowned Cities YA trilogy and the adult novels The Water Knife and The Windup Girl.



Children's literature academia is catching up and Cli-fi is the theme of the 2019 MLA Conference, which just put out a call for for papers, suggesting the following topics:

- Children’s and YA cli-fi in the media
- Children’s and YA cli-fi and climate change awareness/activism
- Conventions and characteristics of the genre
- Social and environmental justice in children’s and YA cli-fi
- Corporate corruption in children’s and YA cli-fi
- Depictions of altered geographies
- Kinship/community in children’s and YA cli-fi
- Resilience in children’s and YA cli-fi