February 25th 2012

Here's a quick one, just to show you a painting I finished up last week.  It was a commission for a friend of a friend, and it was a lot of fun to do!

Now I'm working on another, which I'll update with shortly.

February 4th 2012

I'm taking a break from work this morning to post a couple of things that I've had in mind to write about recently.  I don't often feature many other local artists on my blog, (except for Team Macho I guess, but that's because I'm completely biased).  That's not to say that Toronto doesn't have an incredible selection of super-talented artists, so I'm taking the time to mention a few of my favourites.

For a long while, (since I saw her first solo exhibition in 2005), I've been a big fan of Julie Moon's work.  She's a ceramicist currently working at The Clay Studio in Philadelphia, PA.  I've always been especially drawn to porcelain.  There's something very painterly about working in porcelain, but there is another element of richness added when working in 3D.  Part of what appeals most in Julie's work is her glazes; hand-brushed over her pieces.  I've included a couple of images below as examples of some of my favourite work.  These two pieces were housed at the Katzman Kamen Gallery back in November of 2011, and are some of her most recent work.  For more of her work, there is a small collection for view on her page at Narwhal Art Projects, and her website, linked above.

Another local ceramicist and great friend, Naomi Yasui, has recently begun a project with her friend Heather Goodchild that I've been checking in with daily.  They've begun a collection of posts on their site, THE WARDENS TODAY, dedicated "To celebrate the beautiful, interesting, and dynamic people, places, ideas and objects we encounter in our daily lives".  For a short history of their influence and their manifesto, see here.  They're adding to it daily.  It's a beautiful project so far.  They've taken inspired photos of their daily surroundings, the work of friends and locals, and shared them graciously.  A particular favourite post was this, the apartment of artist Lisa DiQuinzio and cinematographer Michael Leblanc.

I'll post more of my favourites shortly; this has turned in to a longer post than I'd intended!

February 1st 2012

I like to consider myself a well-motivated person.

I work from a home-studio, where I get up most days and get straight to work.  I've always sort of prided myself on the fact that I can stay working from home without letting myself get too distracted.

Like every other creative who's come before me, I have my days.  Those days that I feel as though I'm stuck in a rut.  That there's some block that's keeping me from either starting new work, or continuing on with a project.

I have work to do right now.  I have a couple of deadlines coming up, and some really fun work to do.  But I just wasn't feeling it today.  This always happens in midwinter.  I usually blame it on the weather, though this winter's been spring-like.  On a usual day I get up, make breakfast, visit with Chris before he takes off for the day, then go sit at my desk.  I sat at my desk for quite a while today.  I checked my email, checked a couple of blogs, caught up on some paperwork, and kept myself thoroughly distracted.  I made a few brush-strokes on a painting I'm working on, (seriously- only a few!).  I knew that this wasn't going to happen for me.  

So I baked a cake.  Geez, doesn't that sound stereotypical?  Don't people in movies often bake a cake to avoid thinking about the inevitable or getting work done?  I can't think of an example, but I'm sure I've seen it.

I dug out a recipe I've been wanting to try.  It's one with apples, brown sugar and cinnamon, and it sounded so satisfying; that comforting kind of recipe that makes the house smell amazing.  The whole while I was thinking about writing this post.  I'm sure everyone struggles with this at some point, but I don't think I've ever mentioned that it happens to me too.

If you need a distraction from your work, I highly recommend this recipe.  I found it on theKitchn.com, and the link to the original recipe by Faith Durand can be found here.

Apple Yogurt Cake with a Cinnamon-Sugar Streak
serves 8 or more
1 1/2 cups whole-milk yogurt, well-stirred
2/3 cup olive oil
1 lemon, juiced (about 1/4 cup)
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 small tart apples, such as Granny Smith, about 1 1/2 pounds
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch freshly ground nutmeg
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Heat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking pan with baking spray or olive oil.
Whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl. Peel and core the apples, and chop into chunks about 1/2-inch across. You should end up with 3 1/2 to 4 cups of apples. Stir the chopped apple into the liquid ingredients.
Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon right into the liquids and stir just until no lumps remain. In a small separate bowl, mix the remaining 2 teaspoons cinnamon with the brown sugar and butter.
Pour half of the batter into the cake pan. Sprinkle the batter with half of the cinnamon-brown sugar mixture, dropping it on the batter in small lumps. Spread the rest of the batter over top, and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon-brown sugar.
Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, covering with foil at the end if the top is browning. When a tester comes out clean, transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting. Serve the cake warm or at room temperature.

I'm sure it will go nicely with my coffee when I'm painting at my desk tomorrow.