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A Garden’s Pulse

Nothing like taking time to sketch to get the creative juices flowing.
Black-capped Chickadee – A Garden Sketch

Each year I look forward to spring and venturing to our backyard to enjoy the many birds that populate our neighborhood. Growing up in the country, the pulse of life included harmonious songs of a multitude of birds. Life’s energy filled the world around me. When I moved from the country to a new development in town the absence of these beautiful songs and the lack of life was disheartening. Fifteen years ago, there were no trees and no birds in our neighborhood.

Today, after much hard work and time, we have many mature trees and numerous types of birds. This year we have a new addition, a chickadee family.

Captivated by the tireless efforts of this chickadee pair, I watched them carve a home out of a log stump in our yard.

This photo shows the result of many weeks of nonstop labor. Amazing! I would love to know what the inside of the stump looks like. Google, however, will have to suffice since I respect the hard work and home of these adorable little birds.

Black-capped Chickadee facts

  • lay 1 egg per day and may lay anywhere from 6 – 8 eggs
  • most friendly of wild birds, social birds
  • create numerous food caches and can remember where they are
  • can lower its body temp in winter
  • has 15 different calls
  • nonmigratory
  • the nest excavation averages approximately 21 cm deep
  • the female picks the location for the nest

For more information on Chickadees check out The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, The Canadian Wildlife Federation.

Life in Our Backyard

I am married to an amazing man who happens to be a very talented photographer. He captured these photos in our backyard a couple days ago.

Drawing Inspiration

The colors, shadows, shapes, subjects, and life in my own backyard often become part of my drawing inspiration. It is essential for me to spend time working outdoors. Quick sketches, like the one at the beginning of this post, help me to develop a creative pulse – some of those sketches work their way into other projects during the year. Being outdoors allows me to take a break from the normal grind of life, and not feel bad about keeping up with social media posts – a great way for me to reconnect and reclaim balance. The pulse of the garden is a tiny gift that money can’t buy.

One More Photo

Baby Robins

There are many other types of birds that add to the pulse in our yard like this robin family. Every year there is a momma robin who builds her nest under our deck. I managed to get a quick photo while momma went for a worm run.

…guess we are sharing the strawberries again.



To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles.

-Mary Davis
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Recycling – Spring Goals

Environment

As an artist who deeply cares for the state of our environment, I want to share a little bit of my process for living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.

Media coverage brings to light many environmental issues that we face and how these issues damage our ecosystems. The more I read and research, the heavier the sinking feeling in my gut. I can no longer look away.

Last summer our LARGE black garbage can overflowed or came very close to overflowing (how embarrassing). After implementing a few small changes, our garbage shrunk down to two small bags, probably a fifth of what we used to throw away.

While at my local recycling facility, I decided to take note of all the items my community recycles. More items can be recycled than I thought!

Yay!!!

Plastic

Strathmore, Alberta Recycling

I found it helpful to know which plastics I can recycle and how to organize them to take to the recycling yard.

Paper

The above images show the guidelines at the Stathmore Recycling Facility. For more information, check out the Town of Strathmore or the Strathmore Recycling Facility. If you do not live in the Strathmore area, plan a trip to your local recycling facility and take a look around.

Reduce

When we reduce our garbage, we become more mindful of how we use resources and ease the pressure on recycling systems. Use reusable bags where you can and buy products packaged without the use of plastic.

The earth is filled with art for those who look.

Don’t let Garbage cloud the view.

Art

The world around me inspires my art – I strive to create positive and life-giving art. Implementing an eco-friendly lifestyle allows me to see the beauty without having to look past the trash.

Next week…

I will be creating more art products – hope you have a chance to join me.

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Crafting the Creation – Book Bag

Roam the Earth With Gentle Hands

Environmentally Friendly Art

As an artist, I continuously observe the images, colors, textures, tones, values, and life of the world around me. The world changes constantly, for better or worse. Regardless, most changes do not happen overnight and, because of their subtle nature, can be easily dismissed or not even noticed. When I reflect back, however, I do see the changes in our environment. I strive to create eco-friendly and functional art products in order to make changes in my own life and reduce my environmental footprint.

The Creation of this art piece

In my previous post Intentional Living, I talked about the eco-friendly materials I used in creating these bags and why. Today I will focus on the artwork.

Roam the Earth with gentle hands, and shape the World. Believe it or not, I contemplated the wording of that sentence for a long time. I thought a lot about our Earth, our environment, and the impact of each individual on the ecosystem. Why now? Good question. The old adage, “ignorance is bliss,” applies to me. I need to stop being ignorant and face what is going on right in front of me.

The entire Earth belongs to all of us. When one part of our Earth falls ill, it affects the rest of the Earth. With summer holidays right around the corner and travel increasing, we struggle to remember that we need to be good stewards of the land no matter where we journey.

The meaning behind the illustration

The illustration is a reminder.

  • As you travel, be aware of how much garbage you create. Try leaving the area you visit cleaner and better than when you first arrived. Gentle hands – be a good guest, pick up your mess. Better yet, make less.
  • When you interact with others on your travels, use Gentle Hands. In other words, be kind.

Simply put, if we all tried a little harder, we would Shape the World, and it would become a better place to live.

The Process

Click on any image below to scroll through photos.

The Book Bag/Art Bag

Features added to this bag

  • 10oz natural cotton
  • Leather straps
  • Interior 17 x 16.5″
  • Four outside pockets, 10 inches deep/8 inches wide
  • Magnetic closure clasp
  • Inside zipper pocket
  • Inside key hook

Thank you for joining the journey. Till next time…

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Intentional Living for a Sustainable Life

If you look up the definition of intentional living you will come across words and phrases like conscious attempts, life choices, attitudes, deliberate decisions, purpose, self-awareness, and the list goes one. Recently I watched a Market Place episode on plastic waste and it’s impact on our environment. As I sat there watching I was appalled by the lack of knowledge and concern of how our lifestyles are impacting the environment. Yes, this includes my own ignorance! I was struck with guilt the very next day when I made a quick stop at the grocery store. A plastic bag for the tomatoes, another for the lettuce, …the avocado, does it really need to go into a plastic bag, and that one lime I bought…

The story continues as I proceeded to the checkout and realized my reusable bags were at home. Really?!

I thought I was doing my part, growing my own vegetables, composting, recycling, and making products that are better for the environment and better for my family. After all, I chose to use water-based ink over plastisol for screen printing. What does that matter when other areas of my life are contributing to the problem? Better yet, how am I going to fix this problem?

First, a quick definition to clarify goals and intentions.

  • Goals and intentions are not the same but work well together.
  • Goals are set in the future and have a destination.
  • Intentions are in the present and focus on how you live in that moment.

Back to the question I asked earlier. How am I going to fix my problem? I have decided to set intentions and goals that revolve around helping our environment. Simply put, I want to recognize and live my values daily, with intention, to help meet my goals that include reducing my footprint.

The Project

I love fun bags and totes and I love creating items that are not harmful to our environment. For me, having pretty totes that are multi-functional sets me up for success – I am more likely to have totes with me when I have to make that quick stop at the grocery store for one or two items. Let me be honest here, one or two items usually turns into more items than I can carry with my two hands.

Natural Cotton

It is important to me to use natural fibers in my creations. This bag is made from 10 oz. natural cotton. The design is screen printed with water-based ink. Functionality is also very important to me. The printed design portion of this bag creates four deep pockets for books… The main large section (16″x 14″) is perfect for the “one or two” items from the grocery store or for carrying books and lunch on the way to work. I included an inside zipper pocket for my phone and a key clip. I also decided to incorporate leather handles to add a little class.

Moving Forward

As I move forward I am excited to make a variety of totes incorporating an assortment of custom surface pattern designs. I plan to make some of the bags with canvas handles and others with leather handles. To keep it fun, I will introduce color into some of the designs. I am excited to start creating!

In order to help fulfill my daily intentions and environmental goals, I will be designing other environmentally friendly and sustainable items. For those who have joined me on this journey, thank you, I will keep you posted.

For more images follow me on Instagram.


If you don’t think using plastic is a problem, check out the Market Place Episode on Plastic Waste. Every little step helps!

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Where Have You Been

Or should I say…

Where Have I Been?




Where have I been is a very good question?  I have been here, busily working.  Early this year I decided to change the focus of my website to reflect where my art venture has taken me.  I have come to realize that doing something well takes time, but I am still here and I am excited to give everyone a glimpse into what has been keeping me so busy.

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, so let’s start there.

…I love screen printing apparel, and creating unique designs. 

Along with creating beautiful designs and screen printing, I think it is very important to be aware of the impact that we are having on our environment, and be proactive in making changes that will have less of an impact.

Combining these two elements, screen printing and the environment,  took me down a long path of research, exploration, seeking industry advice, consulting with other artists, and lots of practice.  I have a box full of shirts that have become shop rags to prove it.

Using plastisol inks would have been easier.

  • Plastisol inks print well on all fibers, not just natural fibers.
  • Sourcing water based inks that I like, is a little tricky, especially here in Canada. 
  • Plastisol inks print well on dark shirts.
  • Plastisol inks won’t dry in the screen. 

Plastisol ink would have saved me many head aches and moments of frustration.


So, why even bother with water based inks?

  • Water based ink is better for our environment, and that is the number one reason for me.
  • No harsh chemicals are used in the cleanup.
  • The feel of the water based prints is softer than plastisol.
  • New advancements in water based ink are making them easiler to use allowing artists to create halftones, detailed work, and produce beautiful rich images.
  • Working with water based inks means I have to work with natural fibers, which can be harder to source and a little on the pricey side, but it is exactly the path I want to head down.  Products made with natural fibers are sustainable, biodegradable, better for our skin, and last longer than synthetic fibers.   I am still working on the best way to incorporate natural fibers into my art line, so stay tuned as I work through the progress.  I will post updates on my progress, sources, and any useful information that I find along the way.

…pulling ink is so much fun.


Our Home

Yes, I love our home, and that is why it is so important for me to do this right.  As I proceed forward I want to learn, grow, and educate for the better of our planet.  It would be a sad day for me (and our planet) if I no longer encountered beautiful creatures on my hikes with my family.

So that, in a nutshell is where I have been.

For more photos of the day-to-day activities join me on Instagram.


We – the current generation – have a moral responsibility to make the world better for future generations.

Priscilla Chan

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Training Creatively – Growing As an Artist

Portrait Training


Growing Artistically

Treasures - Training
Most recent portrait, charcoal on white paper. I have always tried to steer clear of blonde hair but realize now it is not that different from the grey hair of my first portrait.

In order to grow as an artist, regular practice or training is necessary.  Just like any skill, the more practice the better the skill becomes.  Over the last year, I started on a journey of drawing portraits of Canadian musicians.  This journey had two purposes.  The first being practice.  Committing to drawing a variety of Canadian musicians in my sketchbook is a good way to incorporate regular specific practice sessions.  Although I have not posted a Canadian artist for a while, it is still a journey I am continuing.  What I find interesting as I continue to practice is the freedom in trying new styles, techniques, and artistic feels. 

I love any opportunity to explore Canada.  This brings me to the next reason for these weekly practice sessions – a celebration of the diverse and rich landscape of Canadian musicians.   I had no idea when I started this trek how many great musicians Canada had/has.  With this newfound appreciation for Canadian Music, I now find myself incorporating more songs from Canadian artists into my playlist.  I think that is pretty cool.

Measuring the Growth

My first portrait which was done in 2010. Even though I enjoy the simplicity of the lines in this piece I know where and how I would make changes while incorporating simple lines.

Every once-in-awhile I like to compare portrait work that I have done.  I am always surprised by changes that I see in my work.  Sometimes it is hard for me to measure where and how growth has happened, but when I compare pieces from a year ago (or even six months) I can see improvements or style changes that I have unknowingly incorporated.  What a great feeling!

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Countless Female Musicians – Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell – Canadian Musicians

Musicians - Charcoal Drawing
Joni Mitchel – Charcoal on Tan Paper

With so many amazing female musicians it is hard to choose which talented lady to feature.   Each artist has made a  contribution to the music scene in Canada.  This week, however, I chose to highlight Joni Mitchell (Roberta Joan Mitchell).   There is no question that she has had successes as a singer and songwriter, it is, however, the poetic and musical intellect that I am fascinated by.  Also intriguing is the evolution and progression of her musical styles that include folk, rock, jazz, and pop.  Her willingness and ability to explore music through piano and open-tuned guitar show a great depth and understanding of complex harmonies and rhythms.  Poetically developing her music from many genres, she has had a strong musical presence in North America.   It is hard to sum up in a few words the influences that Joni Mitchell had during an exciting musical time in our country.

Check out the Joni Mitchell website for more information along with her collection of paintings.

Earlier this year I watched an interview with David Yaffe, author of the biography Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell.  I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall during his interviews with Ms. Mitchell.  I guess the next best thing would be to read his book.  I am excited and looking forward to reading it and learning more about the influences and factors that led to the growth of Joni Mitchell’s musical career.

The Artwork

Another reason I chose to highlight Joni Mitchell this week was the artwork.  In comparing the four pieces seen here I decided to be less rigid and closed with the drawing I did of Joni Mitchell.  I feel it gives a lighter and unbound feeling.  Each style has a different type of beauty, but for me, there is something refreshing and freeing when I don’t get too detailed.

Musicians
Shania Twain – Charcoal on Tan Paper

 

It comes down to knowing when to stop the piece.  Is it finished, or should I add more detail?   Do I want it to look like a photograph or artwork?

Musicians
Serena Ryder – Charcoal on Tan Paper

 

 

This type of self-reflection along with studying artwork that intrigues me is what helps me grow as an artist.  I am hoping to develop a more open style as I continue to study art.

 

Musicians
Alanis Morissette – Charcoal on Tan Paper

The list of Canadian female musicians is a long one.  I am looking forward to exploring more great music as I spend time with my sketchbook.

Follow me on Instagram for weekly art updates @eisycindy

More Canadian Musician Drawings

 

 

 

 

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Canada’s Music Greatness – Michael Bublé

Exploration of Music Greatness

As I continue on my journey exploring Canada’s Music Greatness I am astonished as to how many amazing musicians have helped create the Canadian musical landscape.  I know we have an abundance of great musicians in Canada but was not mindful of the vast numbers until I starting exploring the Canadian music world.   Just when I thought I had compiled an extensive list, I would receive a message or email with a couple new names.  That is amazing, and I love it! 

Music Greatness – Michael Bublé

Music Greatness
Charcoal on Tan Paper – Sketchbook

 

At some point in an artist’s career, they are unknown. What is that pivotal moment when they move from just a singer to a household name?  Singer, songwriter, actor, and record producer, Michael Bublé had such a moment. 

 

Michael Bublé
Hand lettering – iPad

Michael Bublé was born in Burnaby, British Columbia in 1975.  As a child, he had a passion for singing.  His musical talent allowed him many performing opportunities and even talent show wins.  He recorded three independent albums.  The wheels of change were set in motion when Michael McSweeney, a former aide to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, saw one of Michael Bublé’s live performances.  He played one of Mr. Bublé’s independent albums for Prime Minister Mulroney, who then decided to hire him to play at his daughter’s wedding.  As it just so happened, Grammy-winning producer David Foster was also in attendance at the Mulroney wedding.  Meeting David Foster set a new trajectory for Mr. Bublé’s career.  Many albums, hits, tours, television appearances, awards, and specials later,  Michael Bublé is a household name known worldwide. 

Michael Bublé has been a favorite singer of mine for years.  His soulful and classical jazz performances are mesmerizing, helping to reinvent and keep the classics alive. 

Thank you for joining me on my journey as I continue to celebrate Canadian Musicians.  Please feel to comment below who you would like to see next.

 

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Canadian Musicians – Diverse, Rich

Celebrating Canadian Musicians

Canadian Musicians
Charcoal on Tan Paper, Sketchbook – Leonard Cohen

Diverse and rich, Canada celebrated its 150th birthday this past summer.  This focus led me to explore many facets of Canada’s history.  As I journeyed through some of its histories I was reminded of the countless Canadian musicians that have laid a rich musical foundation for our society.  I love music – all types of music.   Celebrating some of these musicians through drawing seems like a good fit. 

Working with Tan Paper

Canadian Musicians
Charcoal on Tan Paper, Sketchbook – Gordon Lightfoot

With a variety of subjects in mind and a goal set out, I have decided to explore the warmth and tone that tan paper can add to a drawing.  After purchasing a new Strathmore Toned Paper sketchbook and grabbing my charcoal pencils, I set out to sketch and learn more about the various artists that have enriched Canada. Three Canadian Artists portrait’s that I completed this summer include Leonard Cohen, Gordon Lightfoot, and Terri Clark.  Each of these musicians has helped shape Canada’s musical landscape.  I will post more information on each artist in the upcoming weeks.

 Canadian Musicians/Hand Lettering

Canadian Musicians
Charcoal on Tan Paper, Sketchbook – Terri Clark

Deciding that I should continue to develop my hand lettering skills, I plan on incorporating hand lettering with each portrait in upcoming posts.  As I continue drawing portraits of more Canadian Musicians, I will incorporate hand lettering. The hand lettering will give more information about each artist.  Although Canada is only 150 years old, it is wonderfully rich and a diverse musical country which should be celebrated.  I look forward to exploring more Canadian musicians as I grow and develop as an artist.

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, please feel free to comment below or send me an email at eisycindy@gmail.com.  Thank you for joining me on this journey.  I look forward to seeing where it will lead.

You can also follow me on Instagram for more photograph updates at eisycindy.

 

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Old Window Treasure – Portraits

For some time now I have wanted to draw portraits of my three children and  incorporate these portraits into a rustic window frame.  Well, I have the frame and have completed one portrait.  The challenge that I have is what style do I want these portraits to be?  Which look will satisfy my eye?  Soft?  …maybe heavy, or loose?  What style would complement both the window frame and the artwork? There is never any harm in doing multiple portraits.  In fact, the process of pairing portraits with the frame is a great exercise.  With endless combinations and many questions to be answered, the best way for me to learn is to jump right in and try a collection of different styles.

Softer Style Window Portrait

window frame portrait
Daydream

The use of graphite  in this sketch complements the dreamy nature of the pose, creating a gentle feel.    I also chose to keep the background (negative space) light to help create a balanced softness.

The Window Frame

Window Frame

This well-preserved old window frame will make a great addition to my decor.  Little needs to be done to this treasured piece, however, removing  a bit of the white paint will keep the frame and the artwork from competing for the viewer’s attention.  I am very excited to try a variety of styles to see what will unite the window and artwork into a beautiful composition.

As the summer progresses I will post updates with the different styles and pieces I create.   Feedback is always welcome and may be helpful in my decision-making process, so feel free to comment below.

Also check out:  Summer Days,

  … a deeper richer feel.