Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cue The Hallelujah Chorus

Finally, it's done. My edition of 5 books "Why I Paint". Which, if you know me is a pretty funny title considering I don't paint, never have, probably never will. You would think I was printing the Bible what with how long I've taken to do these. Mind you they weigh almost as much. So, as you will see below there is a lovely stack of books, each one with different coloured endpapers. It's been a long time in the doing and a lot of learning, especially, that I don't do glue or repetition well. That being said I am pleased. Now on to other things, like another letter to Winter...forecast has up to a foot of snow on Friday. Begone Winter.
Why I Paint, Edition of 5, 8.5 in. x 10.5 in, Accordion Folds, 400 in. long

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Score and Fold and Glue

Almost there. Spent the last day trimming the 44 inch long pages, for the last of the edition. Scoring them, folding them, glueing them into the 400 inch final length and cutting the inside covers. Feels good to be so close to finished and I  keep trying to figure out why this has taken so long. I have never used so many X-acto knife blades and waxed paper. Need to buy more glue and make a glueing pad. The waxed paper likes to dance about and I really need it to stay still while I glue. Next time I also want to try a roller for the glue. As you can tell I still have "issues" with glue.
Prep for the book

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Where Things Start

Last fall a friend was renovating her house and while the fellows taping and filling in the joints of the gyproc were working I took these photos. The men were making the most beautiful marks and patterns on the walls. Something I had previously overlooked. I loved the subtle color, the white on white as the filler dried. All would be covered over and lost when the walls were painted. These photos became the source material for the book "Why I Paint". As I put together the last book in my tiny edition edition of 5, it's  a pleasure to revisit where it all started.
Plaster marks

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Magic in My Veins

Charlie Bierk and Spencer Cathcart are two of my favourite men. Bright, smart, funny and very creative. This short video is their latest collaboration and it's amazing. The title "Magic in My Veins" says it all, so have some fun watching and then check out their websites. Charlie is a painter, mostly portraits, and Spencer is a graphic designer and fellow font freak. Click on their names, which are underlined to go to their websites.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Runs High

Yesterday J and I went to Sherbrooke to see a show of artists books at the Musée, and while the books were gorgeous and the craftsmanship exquisite, there was a decidedly off putting feel to it. All the books were in vitrines, very few open, in fact most had bands of clear plastic holding the pages tight together. I realize that things need to be protected but for me one of the things I most love about artists books and books in general, is the touching, the feel of the paper, the heft of the very book itself.  Pass me the white gloves please. This was more of an historical survey of bookmaking in Quebec from the 1970's on.

Across the parking lot at the Musée is one of my favorite places in Sherbrooke. The Magog river runs a gorge through the city, meeting up with  the Saint-François (St. Francis) river; and in spring or after a heavy rain it's quite dramatic.  Lots of mist and thundering water, and the city has built an elevated walkway beside it that must be several kilometers long. A great place to spend time.

Dramatic spring run-off

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Pressing On Or Should That Be Press On?

Whatever, that's what this time in the studio seems to be about. Almost finished this, almost finished that. But nothing finished. Gluing the covers for the book "Why I Paint", folding the pages and gluing the accordion pages, designing a logo and other material for a client, redesigning my web site. Bit and pieces scattered about. In the midst of my chaos JB paints. Mind you last weekend there was a lot of banging and thumping coming from his studio which is normally a silent and luminous space. Grinning like a 6 year old he gleefully told me he had solved the problem of how to paint a dusty window in his latest painting. Take the bag of dirt out of the vacuum cleaner, throw it at an old window I had lying about, spray it with fixative, place it leaning against one of his north windows and voila. Now he can see what he needs to paint. Gotta love a man who comes up with ideas like that. On the mud front one tiny detail escaped my mind. Zoe's bliss at racing through the mud means the kitchen floor has a lot of paw prints, however I have decided they are beautiful and her way of making marks. Why should JB and I have all the fun.
Zoe's work

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Yea! Walking Zoe up the road the last 2 days has been a treat. The smell and feel of mud. Squishy, soft, smelling of earth and renewal; of spring. The edges of the ice are exposed, water eating away below, so that one can play their favorite children's game of jumping on the edge of the ice and hearing that satisfying crunch of a piece breaking off. Loved to do that as a kid and still love to.  Zoe comes home covered with grit and wet, a very happy dog. Even the tire tracks are beautiful lines on the dirt roads, though we tend to avoid the dirt roads to drive on for the next few weeks, as it can feel like driving in wet cement.
The many faces of mud

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Splash of Red

Watching the birds at the feeder yesterday morning I noticed that some of the chickadees were sporting a new color, a stripe of red had appeared on their heads and a red breastplate had appeared on their chests. Either the cardinal, whom we see infrequently, had been up to something or the guys were getting ready for spring courting. Even the doves were getting into the act wearing black polka dot on their chests. Must say they look adorable and I am pleased to report my lone dove has found a mate. Hello, spring is coming.
red breastplate, red stripe and black polkadots

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Finally, I had the chance to take a intro to letterpress workshop. It was as wonderful as I hoped. The bright and passionate Kelly McMahon of  May Day Studio shared her knowledge and presses with us.  If I had thought 5 cm letters were small I found a huge challenge with the size of type. Now that is seriously tiny. What I hadn't anticipated was the physicality of the type, it is 3 dimensionality, sitting in its tiny plinth, and I felt like a giant in the land of Lilliputians. And, I had conveniently forgotten that you set type in the mirror position. Time to channel Leonardo!  I was so entranced that I forgot to add punctuation. The smell of the ink, the sounds of the press, a fine lentil soup and Kelly's guidance made for a heavenly day. Thanks Kelly.
My typesetting on top, only 1 reversed letter, but no punctuation, and some of the cabinets and drawers in the studio, full of treasure.

Friday, March 11, 2011


Something really interesting happened yesterday. I was working on updating my web-site and taking a break went on to Facebook, where my niece Alice had posted a wonderful, dark animation about Ravens. [You can see it here] The next post that came in was also about crows [first cousins I presume], and then another photo of crows. Serendipity, synchronicity, whatever it's called it was something to take notice of. Got me thinking too, about a series of crows I did and how I love these funny, smart and vastly entertaining birds. We have 3 old crows that stand guard over us, actually or probably, waiting for the compost to be put out.

P.S. oops, forgot the link to Alice's website, besides being a favourite she is a wonderful artist, and here is the link to see the rest of my crow series [don't think you have to join FB as this is a public page]

Variations, 2003

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy Skiers

Well there are a lot of happy skiers around Sutton this week. Apparently we just had the 5th biggest snowfall ever. Shall we say the weather has been interesting the last few days. Saturday I took the shots of the wonderful icicle; Sunday, the rain drops; yesterday we shovelled and shovelled, and today the snow is full of diamonds and pink light. The bottom photo shows my Richard Serra path, now over my head, while the photo beside it are the table and chairs outside the kitchen door. It could be a while before we sit there.    
Saturday and Sunday
Tuesday morning 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

More on the Tiny Letters

Well I finally have my fingers back, meaning the glue I used to build the tiny box has worn off. John says he sandpapers the glue off his fingers [he builds model boats] but that seemed a bit drastic to me. So now the tiny alphabet has a cover and I think I stop here. I feel like I am working in dollhouse size and I am the giant, but there are some things that I don't feel are quite resolved. I would like a simpler solution, and what I find the most pleasing is the folded paper with the letters, so it's back to the studio. Maybe each letter wants to be a cube, that is the latest plan. Could change, it often does.
Another incarnation of the tiny letters

Friday, March 4, 2011

Very Tiny Letters and Boxes

A few weeks ago I showed you the first of my "Letter a Week" alphabet. I soon realized I had to make all the letter in one go otherwise I couldn't remember how I had done them. Ah duh.. so, as they say, I pressed on. Got all the letters done, then had to figure out how to display them. For some reason I wanted them on one sheet of paper, which I knew could be cut and folded, so after some experimentation came up with a plan. Ops, forgot a letter [in my next life I am going to be able to spell, PLEASE], finally printed on heavy paper and folded. Another problem, the white of the paper shows at the folds, no problem paint it; white paper shows up on all the cut edges, no problem paint the edges. By this time I figured I needed another solution. Print on coloured paper. That works, but by now I realize the letters are the wrong size. They need to be 5 cm. and me, not reading the directions thoroughly, have made them 5 in. Re print, all is good. Now I want to make a box for these tiny letter to live in. Wrestle with that as I realize a 5.5 cm box is seriously tiny and I have large hands. So this is where I am; and about to attach tiny covers to the tiny letters to make a tiny book that may or may not live inside a tiny portfolio. Wish me luck and good gluing.
     Tiny letters in a tiny box                                    

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Burst of Yellow

A friend brought me these the other day and when I walked into the kitchen this morning they were aglow, a wonderful burst of yellow. The sky was blue, not a cloud in sight, a zillion little birds were at the feeder, my 3 big crows were on their favorite perch watching over all. The coffee was on, my darling awake, Zoe fed and a fine book to read [The Hare With Amber Eyes, Edmund De Waal]. This is my piece of heaven.