December 31st 2010

It's the last day of the year, and I'm taking the day off.
Some friends are meeting for a nice brunch in the morning, and the rest of the day/night are open to our whims- I can't wait!

I hope everyone has a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!

December 20th 2010

Almost there! So close!

As of this time tomorrow I'll be up north in a snowy winter wonderland.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE! And see you in the New Year!


December 17th 2010

Only a few more days, and it will be time for a holiday! I've been busy the last little while, and a break would be welcome.

I just finished up a couple of small paintings for Nikole to use for her shop update on one of my favorite online shops Herriott Grace. I think we had many of the same ideas as far as holiday imagery went- I sent her drawings of juniper berries while she was taking shop photos with juniper berries in them! Funny! I'm looking forward to seeing more of her father's wonderful handcrafted wooden things.

I'm also finishing up a couple of jobs and some Christmas presents, but plan to take a nice break tonight to sit by the space heater and drink hot chocolate with marshmallows in it. (The space heater was purchased yesterday to keep me warm at my desk. Our furnace is currently off, as well as the hot water heater, because there was a carbon monoxide leak into our house in the middle of the night two nights ago that caused the fire department to turn them off for our safety. The repair man hasn't been back to fix them yet, and it's gotten pretty chilly in here). Hopefully we'll have heat again tomorrow!

Even with the chill in the air, this was something to make me smile. A couple of things, actually! My dear friend Mélanie, who wrote Le Géranium which I illustrated last year, sent me the most wonderful surprise gift! I was already familiar with Loyal Luxe through Anabela's blog, Fieldguided. Well, one of their kitty chalet's showed up on my doorstep yesterday! It was the sweetest gift, and I've set it up and been coaxing Dre into it for part of the afternoon. He may be too large for it. This is how I found him a few minutes ago.

Another thing? My neighbour across the street finally got all of his lights up.

December 11th 2010

Anabela Carneiro of Fieldguided posted a nice feature on her blog a couple of days ago. She'd asked some local artists, makers and bloggers to write to her with some of their gift ideas for the upcoming holiday season. You can find parts one and two, (which I contributed to), here.

Above is an image from one of my favorite Christmas movies of all time - A Charlie Brown Christmas. I have to watch it at least once every year, and have the soundtrack on while I'm making and wrapping presents. It's so sweet; I just wish it were longer! The movie was released in 1965, and has such a sweet nostalgic look and sound to it. A couple of other favorites:
- A Christmas Story (1983), which Chris made a new holiday tradition for me, and includes his old elementary school in St. Catharines
I watch all of this movies every Christmas, without fail!

I'm starting to really look forward to finishing up work for the season and taking off up north to my parent's for a short holiday. I'm going to attempt to get Chris out on some nordic skis and our old snowshoes to go exploring the snowy woods. So much fun!

December 9th 2010

Busy, busy, busy!
I do love the holiday season, but it's busy.

I've been working on a ton of little, (and some big), projects in the last little while. Assignments for magazines, (which I'll post when they're published), commissioned paintings, Christmas card designs, (as well as our own!), and sending out prints and things. It's been wonderful.

Chris and I got a tree yesterday, decorated it, and made a nice big batch of, (what my family calls), Scrabble. Other people call it Nuts and Bolts. My family always made this over the holidays. Well, I decided to take over and make this year's batch. It was HUGE! It made two giant roast pans full. I hope everyone we know wants some, because there's no way we, and our relatives, will get through all of this.

I found this video while searching online for this band, Tricot Machine. They're based out of Trois-Rivières, Québec, and have a very sweet Christmas album. I'm in love with this video! It's so well done, and the song is very pretty.

I was sent some very sweet mail recently by an illustrator named Sarah Musi. She has been working on a project where she creates a tiny piece of artwork, about 2" x 3" in size, and sends it to her favorite artists, hoping to get a small piece of artwork in return. She even sent a tiny card for me to paint on, and a return envelope. She posted my painting and reply letter on her blog, here. Thanks for the tiny artwork, Sarah!

November 30th 2010

This is the set of paintings set up at Mjölk. They went up the other day, and should be up during all of December. If you're in Toronto on December 15th, John and Juli will be holding a private party to celebrate their one-year anniversary, the upcoming holidays, and the new collection of paintings. If you'd like to attend, please send me a message through the contact form on my website, and I'll pass on the information.

Today I'm doing a little oil painting. I'm attempting to do it using a little table easel that I got a while back, and it's taking some getting used to. This afternoon I'm looking forward to a tea break with some of my favorite packaged cookies - Dare Maple Cookies! Mm! So Canadian!

It's nice to be at my desk today, because it's really blustery outside. Tomorrow it's supposed to snow a bit, and I'm really looking forward to it. What a nice way to start December.

November 24th 2010

Yesterday I finished putting work in frames and dropped paintings off at Mjölk. There are six paintings total, 11" x 11" framed.

They're all Dala Horses; a take on some previous work, Dalahäst Brodera and Dalahäst Blå, (as well as my newest print). John and Juli, owners of Mjölk, wanted a small collection of these paintings to display during the holidays. Chris made the beautiful frames for them. I want all of our work at home to be framed the same way! They're in pickled pine frames with a semi-gloss finish. So pretty. I'm really happy with the finished pieces!

If you're in the Junction neighbourhood of Toronto, please stop in and have a look. (The shop is certainly reason enough to visit!). It's located at 2959 Dundas Street West.

November 21st 2010

It's a Sunday, (and I love Sundays), and it's snowing outside, (and I love snow), so I think it's going to be a good day.

I finished a pair of mittens a few days ago that I'm really excited about wearing. It's been chilly, (and now snowy, too!), the last couple of days, so I've been wearing them, and they're very cozy. And pretty cute, too. To make the same pattern, use this one by Norwegian designer Wenche Roald on Ravelry.

I've finished the paintings for display at Mjölk over the holidays, and hopefully gotten most of my grant writing out of the way, so it's on to a couple more jobs. I've got a commission and illustration job to do in the next couple of weeks that I'm really looking forward to.

I think it's time to go make some tea with honey and settle in at my desk for some work! Happy Sunday!

November 15th 2010

I'm working away at my desk today. This time of year always gets really busy, just before the holidays. But the last week or so has been especially hectic.

For one, I'm applying for a couple of artist grants this winter, and I always have a difficult time writing about my work. I think many artists have the same trouble. I can paint, but I'm not a writer. I have lots of ideas and concepts in my head, but they find a very difficult time making it to paper in word form. Luckily, I have a very similar set of ideas for this year's proposals that I did last year. I've been working toward a solid collection of oil paintings for well over a year, and I'm excited to keep developing them further.

I'm also finishing up a small collection of paintings for Mjölk. I'll post all of the paintings when they're finished and ready to take in. They'll be up over the holiday season.

I have another couple of projects lined up, which I'll write about another day.

In the meantime, I thought I'd post a few photos of the gents from Team Macho. I was going through some image reference on my hard drive and found some funny old photos of TM.

Below are some photos by Richelle Forsey, (top and bottom). Richelle has been taking portraits of the boys since their first show with Magic Pony back in 2005, (and she never fails to capture the magic)! The other was taken by the boys of some puppets they created of themselves for display in a miniature igloo fortress at Sid Lee in Amsterdam.

They currently have an show up at Narwhal Art Projects, titled Hibernation Sickness. It's their first exhibition in nearly two years, and contains some of their best work to date.

{ photo by Richelle Forsey }

{ the boys in miniature }

{ a very handsome portrait of Chris, taken by Richelle Forsey }

November 5th 2010

I have to apologize for the short hiatus from the blog. Chris and I have been traveling!

We went to Montréal for the TD Canadian Children's Literature Awards (Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse), on November 2nd.

We took the train in to the city and stayed at the Queen Elizabeth, which was a beautiful hotel. We had just enough time from our arrival to shower and get ready.

I met up with Mélanie, the wonderful author and publisher of Le Géranium, in the lobby of the hotel. We hit it off straight away. She was very sweet, and very helpful; (I was hurriedly trying to squeeze in some last minute French speech pronunciation with her!).

We proceeded to hop into a cab to the Canadian Centre for Architecture. It was a beautiful building and we were able to walk around some of the exhibit that was on display before the cocktail party began. There were some amazing hors d'oeuvres, but I was so nervous I could barely eat a bite. Then came the announcement; we were to go into the theatre and give our speeches and listen to Marie-Louise Gay, last year's laureate, speak. Luckily, we were the second presenters out of five to speak, because I was very anxious. Mélanie graciously took over for a good part of it! The presentation went on, and I picked up as much in translation as I could. It was really nice to hear the other authors and illustrators speak about their work. Finally, we heard the juror's verdict.

When we were getting ready to leave that morning I checked to see how my (old) vintage heels looked with my outfit, went to put them on, and snap; the strap broke on me. So the only other pair of shoes I was able to wear with the outfit were the shoes I got to wear on our wedding day next spring. (No more surprises, Chris! Sorry!). But they must have been good luck shoes, because we won!

We finished off the evening with dessert, spoke to jurors and other participants in the evening, then went out for dinner at an amazing local restaurant. It was the most incredible night. We met so many wonderful people and got to see parts of Montréal that we may not have known to visit. I can't thank everyone who organized, and was part of the night, enough.

Below, I've attached a clipping from the Montréal Gazette that showed up in front of our hotel room door the next morning. Exciting!

Also, for more photos from the trip, please visit my Flickr Photostream.

Lastly, I want to thank Mélanie Vincelette for having me be a part of this project. I had so much fun illustrating this book, and I look forward to working with you again!

October 23rd 2010

As expected, I have the best time up at
Tanya's print studio! I wrote yesterday that I'd won a giveaway through her blog, Snap & Tumble, that allowed me to take her letterpress curiosity workshop. It was even more fun than I'd imagined!

I learned how to set lead type into the chase, (see diagram of the anatomy of the machine below), mix ink, apply it to the ink disc, and register my stationery on the platen of the machine. I probably printed about 100 cards with "FROM THE DESK OF MELINDA JOSIE", (what? I'm old school like that). I'm so happy that I was able to use one of Tanya's personal designs; the set of three little flags, as well.

I got to use her new press; the Chandler & Price pilot press. It was amazing. I want to invest in a press so badly now. (I'm sure Tanya's given the local printing press shop, Don K Black Linecasting, up in Scarborough a lot of business!).

Thank you so much, Tanya, for a wonderful intro to printing!

Also, I forgot to post yesterday about the Masanori Oji exhibition at Mjölk. It was beautiful! For some photos of the opening, visit Mjölk's blog, Kitka Design, and Celine Kim's blog, Bonjour Celine. I'm madly in love with the brass faceted pendant light. It's perfect in every way.

October 22nd 2010

I'm getting really excited for tomorrow. I realized this morning that tomorrow at 11am I'll be up in Scarborough at Snap & Tumble, Tanya Roberts' letterpress studio taking her curiosity workshop. I recently won the class as a(n amazing!) giveaway on her blog.

I've had work printed for me, but I've never used a press myself! Chris and I plan to print our own wedding invitations in Tanya's space, so it'll be nice to familiarize myself with the workings of the press, mix some inks, and print away! I've had friends that have taken the class as well and loved it. I'll post my results afterward!

I had a great mail day today. (Actually the last week has been pretty great). But this morning I received a copy of new Toronto-based magazine PLAID, with an article written by Navi Lamba, the newest issue of Uppercase Magazine, and a Mystery Loot Pack from Kid Icarus and My City Lives full of stationery, prints and wrapping paper! So many fun things!

October 21st 2010

It's raining outside and I'm in my warm studio room painting away.

I'm going to try to get a fair bit of work done this afternoon because I plan to take tonight off to go to Mjölk to see an exhibition of Masanori Oji's work, titled Life on the Floor. If you're in Toronto tonight, I highly recommend coming out to see his work. He's also visiting from Japan, so you can meet the artist himself.

Some of my favorite objects from Mjölk are those designed by Oji, including the Kami Mug, Butter Case and Kake Tosaka broom. His work is so perfect and so simple.

Also, here is an article recently published on the HGTV website on the couple, John and Juli, that run Mjölk. They're so well spoken, and you can tell they really love what they do by how they speak about it. That's always inspiring.

October 16th 2010

I'm getting really excited for Team Macho's upcoming show at Narwhal Art Projects. Chris has been working like crazy to finish pieces and frames for their show on Thursday, October 28th. I notice that all of their pieces are getting more and more painterly from show to show. I can't wait to see everything together!

Here is the statement from the Narwhal site :

"Narwhal Art Projects is pleased to present Hibernation Sickness, a solo exhibition with Toronto collective Team Macho. Hibernation Sickness marks the collective's notable return to fine art after a two year sabbatical dedicated to their individual pursuits. A term used to describe the side effects associated with awakening from a period of suspended animation, Team Macho related similar type symptoms when returning to their group practice. Although their creative environment has remained virtually unchanged for the past six years with all members continuing to create out of the legendary shared space, the dynamic within the collective altered as each member developed their individual practice. Embarking on solo projects ranging from classical oil painting to collage to airbrush and woodworking, the collective dedicated themselves completely to a specific practice allowing for a deeper understanding of both themselves and their techniques. Team Macho return to their communal fine art practice with five unique sets of sharply honed skills and a renewed passion for their shared creative dynamic. Steadfast in their loyalty and mutual appreciation for contemporary cultural references, Hibernation Sickness is an homage to rebel fighters, and celebrates the continued evolution of the Team Macho brotherhood.

Comprised of members Nicholas Aoki, G. Stephen Appleby-Barr, Christopher Buchan, Lauchie Reid and Jacob Whibley, Team Macho occupies a large studio in Toronto, where their collective efforts are focused on developing an art-making practice that spans the worlds of both fine art and illustration. With a penchant for using unconventional materials and subverted narratives, Team Macho playfully juxtapose styles and motifs ranging from the crudely rendered to the classically painted. Working with a wide range of media, Team Macho’s diverse offerings convey a decidedly unorthodox and individual approach where figurative painting, drawing, airbrush, collage and sculpture find harmony within the group's infinite reserve of inside jokes and prolific banter. Team Macho have exhibited at Magic Pony and Narwhal Art Projects since 2005, with Friends for Life (June 2005), Team Macho is a Tough Man (May 2006), Fancy Action Now (May 2007) and Kitschy, Gay, And Over In a Second (September 2008). Magic Pony published their first monograph in 2007, entitled Fancy Action Now: The Art of Team Macho."

For a sneak peek at the artwork for the show, visit the artwork page on the Narwhal site. To RSVP for the opening, visit the event page on Facebook.

October 14th 2010

The last day has been so exciting. I received a package in the mail from the Canada Council this morning including a sheet of 'Finaliste des GG' foil seals to stamp on to the cover of my books! (Look how lovely they look with the seal! Growing up, I used to think that books with those foil seals must have been very special books, which makes this feel so surreal).

I want to thank everyone for all of the kind words of encouragement over the last day. It's been pretty overwhelming!

October 13th 2010

I got some incredible news this morning.

I got a call from the Canada Council for the Arts to inform me that I'm one of five finalists for the Governor General's Literary Award for Children's Book Illustration! I'm ecstatic. I never would have dreamed of such an honour.

For the press release, follow this link.