Monday, 5 September 2016

Canopy Tree Services

Well for those of you that think I was too busy to do anything creative this summer, you're very much mistaken. I may not have been "crafting" but I had/have many creative projects on the go still.

Here is another that I'm finally getting around to sharing... Canopy Tree Services.

I was approached to do a logo for a local Tree Service company earlier this year. A long time family friend has been at this successfully for a few of years now and finally decided to get a logo done. As usual, my response to being asked to help is "Of course. I'd love too."

If you have never watched a Tree Service company work, you really should. This is crazy work! I will recommend Grant to anyone who needs help with trees in their yard or property. It is fascinating to watch, totally dangerous and with the heat we had this summer, exhausting work. But Grant is passionate, knows his #$%&, always smiling and just one of the kindest people I know.

When he approached me to do work on this he really wanted a tall tree with a canopy depicted in the logo. The problem I had with that was that every tree service company seems to use the same silhouette of a guy climbing a tall tree. I wanted Grant's logo to be different.

A couple of back and forth emails and here is the final product.
Oh, and being that I had a few trees that needed trimming and a few that needed removing, I had that done too! Charlie, my Dad and I got to be honorary employees for the day...

Friday, 2 September 2016

Megan and Brandon - Wedding Invitations

Well this project was a fun! Not only did I get to play with all sorts of really cool papers (awesome), but I sort of rekindled an old friendship if you will.

It starts like this: Megan is my God-sister. My sister (Melanie) and I grew up doing many things with Megan and her older sister (Katie). Our parents are best friends you see. So, us four gals swam all Summer in each others pools, did Girl Guides, spent time at their Sand Lake cottage, got the same dogs (Buddy and Molly - Bichon Frises), even celebrated a Christmas together in Florida once. But, as life goes on, you hit highschool and everyone goes their separate ways and indulges in their own interests. And of course from there off to College/University. Megan, the youngest of the four of us, trekked across country to British Columbia for school and many years passed that we didn't see each other. The occasional session with our Moms probably filled us in on each others lives.

Eventually Megan moved back to Ontario and in a nutshell, met Brandon, fell madly in love and got engaged. As time went on, I learned Megan and I had another connection through a mutual Yoga friend. Our paths crossed a few times and it was fun running into her and briefly catching up. Last year when I moved into my new house, Megan wasted no time coming over to visit Charlie and I. We got lost in our chatter and it was so fun getting to know her again. She is such a bright and positive spirit, it is very contagious. She took me out for my birthday last year to a guided mediation/yoga class. We sat and cried listening to each others readings and spent hours in the car talking some more. Not long after that, she asked me if I would be interested in designing her wedding invitations. I jumped at the opportunity.

Of course after our initial consultation, I started to wonder what I had gotten myself into. I’ve never worked with a Bride with such complicated invitation dreams. Not from a design standpoint- from an assembly standpoint. I've cut, pasted, tied, taped, glued and bedazzled more than my share of wedding invitations, but these invites were probably going to double that! lol. Pocketed folding cards with sparkle paper, shimmer paper, monograms and of course ribbon and lace and pennies. I wish I could take credit for some of the awesome ideas, but this all came from Megan.

Here is a sampling of her wish list:
- Classy
- Cream/Taupe/Rose with Red??
- Canada Day - hints of it
- Pocket folder
- Lace? Ribbon?
- Initials
- Layered inserts
- Particular Fonts
- Kitchen sink (kidding. sort of.)
- What do you think of a Penny??
- Love this red envelope
She had her heart set on a few things which I love to see. But struggled to make decisions on others. This is overwhelming for most Brides as there are really no limits.

I was excited and trying to contain myself. Fancy paper is like candy to me. I want to touch it and smell it. My mind races about the possibilities as I move them around to find combos I like. But, alas, this was not my wedding and I was there to listen to her wishes and guide her in the decision making process.

Between talking and paper samples, it took two more sit downs over tea and cupcakes to finalize the design and put together a plan to assemble them. The plan: get our Moms to drink champagne and tape paper for a few hours. After all, they wanted to help. Right?
So here we are, 4 hours of taping, laughing, ,drinking, eye-rolling, taping some more, drinking some more, gluing and stuffing envelopes.
I am happy to have people help assemble. But I cut everything.

The final result was pretty awesome I think we hit just about everything on her wish list. The penny is the icing on the cake for me. So cool!!

As a little side project in keeping with the Canadiana theme, she asked for tags she hang on the wedding favors - Maple Syrup of course. She hoped to use a line for the National Anthem as well, “with glowing hearts”. Does this get any more clever?!

These were attached to little bottles of maple syrup.

So the wedding is over and I know that Megan and Brandon will live happily ever after. I’m honoured to have been able to help and witness them celebrate their day. More importantly, I’m excited to have recreated a friendship with someone I have known my whole life. It’s been a great year getting to know her again and support each other in these new ventures.

Congratulations Megan and Brandon.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Aaron's Room - Blue Jays Mural

In keeping with my busy Winter, I was asked by a dear friend to help out in her son's bedroom. Yeppers! I'm in. How couldn't I? Friends are friends, and she has gone the extra mile for me this past year and half or more. You know those people who help you out in hard times and all you can do is say Thank You because there is never really a way to repay them for their help and support? This was just a small way that I could somehow say Thank you to her. She had me over on rough nights, she was a great listener when I needed to talk, she has an amazing sense of humour and no BS attitude that I would kill for sometimes.

She also has been through what I've just gone through and has a son a few years older than Charlie. Having just moved to a new house and feeling a bit of pressure on myself to provide my son with a space to call his own right away, I understood the importance and desire for her to want to give that to Aaron too.

I also love kids rooms. I'm pretty sure I wrote a blog about Charlie's bed that we built him a few years back. It was so fun and he is still using part of that bed in this house. Kids rooms give us the opportunity to be kids again and even better is listening to their ideas. Charlie loves paint chips, he picks one out every time we go to the Hardware store. He has clear vision of what he wants most of the time. He also wanted to help paint (even though the perfectionist in me just about had breakdown when he did). It's so interesting to watch their minds work. That said, I'm also a bit of a realist and recognize he is only 6 so his tastes will change. For this reason, I'm not ready to commit to mural status in his room. His favourite hockey team might change again this year depending on who wins the Stanley Cup. So for now, I was lucky enough to find decals of one of his favourite movies.

For Aaron's room though, we decided on a mural. Aaron is die-hard Blue Jays fan. And I think it's safe to say, that ain't going to change. He also loves the Pittsburgh Penguins. To Brenda's credit, she came up with this entire idea. She found a comforter set and it tied the colours together perfectly. These two logos couldn't have worked better across the room from each other. They are primary colours (as we went with the retro colours for the Penguins logo). They both feature strong triangular shapes too. The only point of concern was how big to paint them. Brenda said she trusted me, but she was nervous. I may have freaked her out intentionally by leading her to believe the logos would be 5' wide or it wouldn't be worth it. Hahaha! But I get her being nervous - you hand someone your house keys, some brightly coloured cans of paint and say you'll be home in two days - that could be hard.

In my head I knew this was going to look so sweet though. Sometimes it's frustrating to not be able to show people what I see in my head. Because all I could think was Aaron is one lucky kid. This is going to look awesome! Not just the mural but all the other touches and decor that Brenda sourced out to be able to surprise him with this. Pretty cool.

I was lucky enough to get some help from another friend, Michelle, for the weekend while Brenda was away with Aaron. It was super fun. We spent Friday night tracing the logos on to the wall. And, yes, for those of you who wondered how the image got on the wall, I used a projector. We were back first thing Saturday to lay down a few base coats and again on Sunday to finish it off. We cleaned up and left so Brenda could come home and surprise Aaron. How cool?! I might still be there if it wasn't for Michelle. She was a great help and of course it was fun hanging out with her.

My favourite part of the whole thing was the phone call I got from Brenda when I got home. I know how grateful she is for everything. And even though I haven't talked to Aaron yet (who does owe me a hug), I know what it means to him too from what Brenda has told me. There is a sense of pride for both of them and I'm nothing but honoured to be able to have been apart of it. Because I know what it was like to have Charlie come home and show him his room. To see that stunned look on their face and that sparkle in their eyes. It's priceless. And even if they want to play it cool, you just know their going crazy inside. They feel special and it's just as awesome as a parent to know you've made your kid feel that.

So, here are the pics. Enjoy.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Loving You is My Favourite Adventure

Finished another painting recently. This was kind of a fun project. I knew it was coming last Fall when a friend asked if I would be interested. Of course! Always willing to challenge myself. So, I finally got to it.

The request came because of how I like to combine words into my paintings. My friend, Sarah, wanted me to paint a scenery picture for her friend who was getting married. The painting was to be a wedding gift. She thought as they enjoy travelling, that it would be fun to give them a painting of one of their trips with an inspirational quote about love included some how. Sarah picked a few photos that she thought would work and a sent a couple of quotes she had found. We discussed it a bit more and settled on "Loving you is my favourite adventure".

When adding the words into a painting, I find less is more as it allows me to change the font size around and display the words a bit differently. The picture was of Lake Louise. How could I not? The colour of that water is insane!

I'm really happy with the finished product. It's been a really fun winter with all these painting projects. But I'm already onto the next. I've got a few things up my sleeve for this year.

Anyway, here are some pics.

Friday, 12 February 2016

My Grandparents (or Beer Pong Table - Part 2)

Beer pong table is complete.
It was picked up a few weeks ago. What a project! It was just what I needed to get motivated and moving this year. And it was the perfect to reflect on my Grandma and Pa Cook...

Pub signs are something of a collection I have. Well, pictures of them anyway. All specific to Borrowash, Derby in England. My Dad and I visited his parents there 6 years ago this month. It was the last time I saw my Pa as he passed two years later. It was also the last time I saw my Grandma but she has continued on with her daily routine ever since.

My Grandparents brought my Dad and his sister to Canada when they were kids - some 50+ years ago. My Grandparents moved back when I was in about Kindergarten. It's funny, I have a very vivid memory of sitting on my Pa's lap colouring a red wagon (as I remember it) in a colouring book. Him teaching me about staying in the lines. Makes me smile to think about it now.

Clearly I haven't had the opportunity to be very close with Grandma and Pa because of the distance. Since they moved back I have been there twice and they were here twice. In 2010 I visited them with my Dad. One of the greatest trips of my life. My Dad has been going over every February for probably close to 10 years now, but that particular year I got to go as well. I'm forever grateful for that.

Of course we stayed with my Grandparents and walked with Grandma into town each morning to see what was on special a the grocery store. We watched all her game shows, Corrie Street and Doc Martin. Dad and I toured around the local areas checking out Pubs. I was specifically interested in The White Swan, remembering it from my trip when I was in grade 5. And Noah's Ark, supposedly a pub that my Grandma worked in at one point her life. I decided to take photos of all the pub signs hanging around the village. I would love to say that we ate in all of them, but we didn't. A few other names stuck with me like the Ye Olde Dolphin Inne. Which we did eat at, it was so neat. And The Twitchel Inn. We ate there as well. In fact, my Grandma bought Charlie a lamb stuffed animal while I was there and we named him Mr. Twitchel after that pub.

It's nice to go to a place like that with people who know the area. Listening to my Dad talk about being a kid at the park. Going into the now library which used to be his school. We even go invited in to this outstanding home in Borrowash while we were out to find out some more history of the area. The nicest lady just opened her door to us and gave us these books on the history of Derby and Borrowash.

What I haven't mentioned is that my Grandma is very sick. It's cancer. She didn't tell anyone. We found out at Christmas. Four days later my Dad was on his way over to be with her for a couple of weeks. This painting came a great time for me because it was the perfect way and time I needed to remember. It was a bit of mirror for me. The parallel of stories. I was able to paint away and think about the memories I have. To feel lucky I got to visit when I did. That I got to have a couple of conversations with Pa. That I got to sit with Grandma and sense where some of my "stuff" comes from. Like that feeling that if we had have lived closer to each other, we would have gotten along smashingly. She seems like a no fuss kinda lady. She is cheeky. We would team up on my Dad. She is also strong. She cared for my Pa all on her own when he was sick. Once he passed, she was still getting up everyday to walk into town. Maintaining her home and gardens. Going on bus trips. She seems to possess qualities that I am envious of. She seems so confident to me. I can only hope that some of that "stuff" is in me somewhere too.

As I write this, she is still alive. She is now in a nursing home and they say it won't be long. My Dad has been over again for a few more weeks to organize that move and talk with doctors. I can't imagine to be him and what he must be feeling. I know I feel sort of helpless from this far away.

In all my learning this past year, I've been told to use creativity as my outlet. To use it as a form of meditation. Which I think it always has been, I've just never acknowledged it as that until now. So what painting this table allowed me to do was reflect, focus, and send my thoughts and prayers to my Grandma and my Dad. I love you both! I thinking of you.

I'm grateful for this project. Here are some pics of the finished product.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Beer Pong Table - Part I

Timing is everything isn't it?

A few weeks ago, 3 to be exact, I called on an old friend. We see each other maybe once or twice a year. Usually on whim. So, as usual, the call turned into, "What are you up to this weekend, you should come visit." and so I did. And, as usual, it was an awesome visit. Leaving was awful. Maybe because of the hangover, maybe because I hate driving on the highway, maybe because I had so much fun. In any case, we really should do that more Jen!

It was great to catch up with her and her family and see what reno projects they have taken on. They have been busy and this time it worked to my advantage. Jen, an incredible artist in her own right, called me part way through the week to see if I would be interested in taking on a painting project. It was offered to her, but she was too swamped to take it on and wondered if I wanted too. YES! I said. She passed my info along and before I knew it, I had taken on a project that was, how do you say it?? "Meant to be."

Once I contacted the client, and found out more, I was so pumped to find out it was to paint a custom beer pong table. It isn't everyday that you get asked to paint a beer pong table. What an awesome project. And just different enough to make me giddy with joy. She (the client) said it just kinda came to her as an idea for a birthday present. So as if I'm not excited enough to paint such an unusual canvas, then I'm told it isn't a family crest (like Jen had told me), but a pub sign! For real?! So cool! If you know me well, you know my Dad is from England. If you know me really well, you might know that I got the opportunity to visit England, about 6 years ago, with my Dad. We toured around Derby and Borrowash where he was born and where my Grandparents moved back too when I was little, to take pictures of all the local pub signs in the area. Those photos were all on the wall in my old house, one of my favourite art collections actually. I haven't found the right place for them in this house yet.

And as if this project wasn't perfectly suited for me already, she also asked if there could be a Canadian flag at one end and Union Jack at the other. Of course! I work at a Flag company so this didn't pose much of a threat to me. Could this project be any cooler?!

Like I said, it was meant to be. I couldn't wait to get started and less then a week later her Contractor was dropping of the 8'x4' piece of wood in my kitchen. I've never painted anything this large before - unless you count the entire wing of Georgian College when we were in a Murals class (Ahh, listening to Eve 6 in the basement with Darryl, Mike and Derek painting oversized computer graphic murals...memories).

I didn't have any time to waste in getting started as this was also a rush project. I had less then two weeks to complete it. The timing actually worked out perfect as I had the weekend to myself and managed to prep enough of the main areas in the evening after Charlie went to bed during the week. Leaving me with a few nights to Varathane it.

So timing, it was great. Great time to see a good friend. Great time for her to be too busy for this project. Great time in my schedule for such a project. There is also another big timing issue that I've opted to write about in a second post for a few reasons; It's more emotional and I don't want to show the final picture to you all until the client has seen it first. And it would have made this post way too long.

So these work in progress pictures will have to do for now. Don't worry, shouldn't be long.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Quilt is Finished

A couple of years ago, I had made the decision to try something or accomplish something new each year. A sort of bucket list if you will. But being that I'm not really the "jump out of a plane" or "bungee jumping" kinda girl, you shouldn't be too surprised that one of the items on my list was to "make a quilt" - so adventurous I know!

If you read this blog a few years ago, you would know that I got a really great start on this goal. I bought and cut all the material to make a king sized quilt. I even stitched the entire top piece together. I even bought the batting and backing and started to put that on too. But all of it got sidelined when Charlie's new bed was made. I instead started another quilt for Charlie out of his old t-shirts. Of course I finished that one and was able to check "make a quilt" off my list. But for the past 3 years I've had an almost finished king sized quilt tucked away.

I knew I couldn't let this venture go the way of my "learn to knit" goal - the half of a scarf I started when I lived at home. I'm sure if I looked hard enough now I would find it in a box downstairs with the knitting needles right where I left them in 2002.

So when I moved it seemed like the perfect opportunity to decorate my room and what better jumping off point then this awesome quilt I'd started. After Christmas I dedicated a solid few nights and a weekend to finishing it. I did it! I finished this massive quilt. I watched you tube videos on how to bind the edges. I took my own creative liberty to improvise a bit in some places. I'm sure people who quilt regularly would be horrified if they looked at the back of this thing. But if you look at the top, it looks so great. It weighs approximately a thousand pounds, which I love. The colours and the textures make it interesting. There is wool and tweed and all sorts of stuff. There probably isn't one row that is straight. In fact, who knows if the quilt itself is square. All of this is besides the point. It's a homemade quilt. I'm so unbelievable proud of myself. It's a real accomplishment. Maybe because it's just a finished project? I don't know, but I'm proud. And happy. Of course I'm never going to make a quilt this big again - I'm crazy but not that crazy. I will leave the quilting to my Sister! Tackling this project gave me a whole new respect for this artform that is for sure.

It's left me thinking though about quilts. What is it that makes them so comforting? Why did I want to do this project so badly?
I think it's because they are like a story. Whether you bought all new material, or chopped up old clothes, whoever made the quilt had an idea in mind. It's not so different to a painting or any other creative outlet. The quilt tells a story. The different materials, the textures, the stitching, the colours. It is like functional artwork.

My Mom has two quilts that I adore. One she has had as long as I remember. It is so colourful and it reminds me of her Mom - my Grandma Newton. It's heavy. It's abstract. It's satin and velvet and corduroy with beautiful hand-stitching. I can't remember who made it, but I feel like it might have been someone I would get along with really well! In fact, that quilt inspired my Mom and I to make a quilt back when I was teenager. I still have that one too.

The second quilt she received a few years ago from her co-workers who as a group, made it for her. They gave it to her to celebrate becoming a Grandma when Charlie was born. How cool is that? This same group of ladies has done the same thing for others in the group as more little ones were born. There's a story! Each of them sewed a section and the whole thing gets brought together at the end in a beautiful quilt. This one happens to be of water and trees and it is stunning. Way to go Ladies of the Ridge!

Now that I'm writing I also remember the quilt on my bed a kid. It was mostly pink and white. It had a large circle pattern in it and the pieces of material were pie shaped. I remember spending nights falling asleep trying to find all the pieces of the same material. Or the one piece that had actually started to come apart at the seam, I would always stick my finger in it. I know someone had made that for me. I just cannot remember who.

Maybe it's all these memories that made me want to make a quilt of my own so badly.
In any case, here are some pictures of it. High five to me! It feels so good to have this done. Now to finish the rest of the room!

Finished King Size Quilt and Shams!

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Putting Yourself Out There

So, 2015. Quite the year. Personally I couldn't wait for it to be over. Not be over in a my life sucks kinda way, but in a new year, fresh start, clear slate kinda way. I have been saying this past year was more a "trip" then a journey, so fingers crossed 2016 marks the start of the journey.

There is one last event from 2015 though that I would like to write about before we get this year kicked into full gear. For the past 5 years I have been an Artist on the Midhurst Arts and Crafts Home Tour. This year, for the first time, I was a guest artist in someone else's home instead of displaying in my own home. I was worried people wouldn't remember me because of this change up. And I was worried that people would remember me and have questions as to why I'm wasn't in my home anymore.

I live in small community where everyone knows everything. I was scared to be part of this show and stand alone as a guest on a tour I've been a part of for so many years in a community I grew up in. Knowing that everyone knows I'm not in my old house because I'm separated. Feeling like people don't know what to say or worry they put their foot in their mouth while talking to me about the change in location. This wasn't the weekend I wanted to spend talking about my personal life to strangers, but it's also the exact thing that you sign up for at an Art show. It's not just your work that sits out for people to look at, it's you. You've put a piece of yourself out there. And people want to know your story. The story could be the very reason they connect to your work. So you stand there, totally vulnerable - a word that keeps coming up for me lately - being judged, hoping people like you and your hard work. Work that is a direct reflection of me, what I represent, what I believe, where I've been, how I see things. But a funny thing happens when you put yourself out there. Support. Support of a group of artists that are now friends. Support of friends and family who make the effort to come by and say hello. Support of those who can't make it and send their love. Support of total strangers who come year after year to find me and ask how I am and how my son is.

As Artists, we are constantly vulnerable. Always putting ourselves out there. It's all subjective. My stuff isn't for everyone and I don't like everything. That's what is cool about it. But you've gotta own it. I work hard on my line of arts and crafts. Everything I make is an extension of me. When you buy something of mine, you are taking a little piece of my energy with you. If I'm selling it, it's something I'm proud of. So it is a very vulnerable state to stand beside your work and hope to God people respond to it. You put yourself out there professionally AND personally. In the creative world, you can't do one without the other. So when people do react, it's such a rush. In that moment you know you're not crazy (well, maybe a little bit), and you're proud of yourself. Watching people smile and connect with my stuff is so incredible.

I am so grateful to all my family and friends, to the group of artists and crafters on this tour, to this community and to the people I don't know, that all come out and send their support to myself and all the other incredible artists on these occasions.

What do I take away from "putting myself out there"? That it might be scary, but it's so very rewarding. I'm trying to embrace the vulnerability that I'm so accepting of in my creative career and apply the same confidence in other areas of my life. So Cheers 2016. Lets do this!

Friday, 1 January 2016

Paper Chains

Well, my first Christmas alone, or "single" as I guess they might say and it was my Son's first Christmas with myself and his Dad apart. This meant new everything to him. Routine and traditions up until now were questionable and it seemed to me like a good time to switch it up a bit. I was really stressed out about this for a long time. More then I could probably admit. I was worried about him, but I guess I was also pretty worried about me. What do I continue to do? Should I take this opportunity to change things? Would I upset Charlie if I changed anything?

The other thing for me, was that it's been a pretty strange month and half, and a tough year all around really. I was kinda faking my Christmas spirit this year. That's not like me. I was going through the motions if you will. I have about 4 rubbermaid bins of decorations, 2 trees, a box of garland and a bunch of items that don't fit in bins and none of that includes ornaments, lights, wreaths and seasonal towels/linens. I got my trees up. That felt good. There were a few little decorations I put out as I thought of them but I just didn't feel like trying to figure out where to put anything. I had no energy and I had no desire to dig through bins of memories.

But Charlie, being the incredible spirit that he is, inspired me. Kids will do that to you in strangest ways and this one never ceases to amaze me. We were out shopping when he started talking about decorations. It hit home as I realized that beyond the trees, I hadn't made very much of an effort to embrace the season thus far. And like I said, he is 6, prime Christmas age. We watched "Elf" that night and I just love the scene when they wake up in the morning and there are paper snowflakes everywhere. It's breathtaking. I said to Charlie, we should do that. His eyes sparkled. I knew this was going to get us in the spirit.

And so we went to work. Because we were hosting Christmas dinner, we decided to make the dining room the most festive place to be. We cut strips of coloured paper and spent a few nights stapling chains together. We had to stash the chains away in the closet some nights when we knew Grandma and Grandpa were coming over so they didn't see everything before it was ready. Then, the weekend before Christmas, we started to hang them. It looked incredible. I wanted paper snowflakes too but we ran out of time. That was until my friend Michelle (AKA Edward Scissor Hands), came over on Christmas Eve and helped make it a reality.

It looked spectacular. In fact it's still up because I can't bear to take it down.

I think what makes me so happy with this is the simplicity. This is what I wanted - what I needed really. Colour. Fun. Whimsy. Love. Creative. Spirit. Energy. Simple. It makes me smile. My tiny house is very quickly becoming quite the little home. This is the energy that I hope to continue to invite in 2016. Merry Christmas everyone and Happy New Year. 

And a shout out to Michelle (and Kim cause if she was here she would have helped) for helping me with the snowflakes. Eddie Freak n' Roid Paper Snowflake Manufacturers. Est. 2012. I just realized I didn't put my banner out. Ah...Memories.