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

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.

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