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Friday, November 28, 2008

My Fish Collection

Today I wanted to share with you my collection of fish...I snapped this shot of them last weekend when I had just come in freezing cold from a couple hours in the garage with my honey, I was fumbling with my big bulky winter boots and as I straightened up, I was struck by how perfectly and warmly the evening sun was setting on the fish and I think I actually gasped and said 'Ohhh wow...' before running for my camera. So now whenever I see this photo, I remember that delightful and delicious but fleeting moment of perfect warm happy lighting and it just makes me feel cozy and content all over again.

I don't know what it is with me and fish but I love drawing them and as pictured here I obviously love collecting them! I have a fish wind chime in the kitchen and 3 scattered about outside....much of my imagery includes fish...oh, I can't forget my 8 years old real live goldfish! But really I don't know why I love them so much, perhaps the roundedness about them...and there's something otherwordly, something quiet and calming about them. Rabbits and fish, my two mostly drawn things I think. In our home, it's fish, rabbits and birds scattered about here in there in sculpture, paintings, etc. Anyhow, these fish I've gotten from different places, a couple right here in town, one in Halifax I believe, one in Cape Breton perhaps, I can't really remember but they are ceramic and hand made and shiny and whimsical and I just love them.

So with one of my favourite things shared and by way of a photograph that makes me feel happy and cozy...I wish you all a wonderfully cozy and joyful weekend. Until next week...be kind to yourself and to others and of course...Happy Creating:D. XXOO, Mandy.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

An Old Illustration "Bunny Christmas"

Hi all, I am sorry but with the horrible week I've had thus far with migraines, posting an older image is about all I can manage for today's post.

We've been getting alot of snow though so it's defiantly feeling like Christmas around here. This is an older coloured pencil illustration of mine and seems to be one of my best selling holiday cards so far. The cards are all hand made, hand glittered and sparkly and if I must say so myself....fantastic.

I plan to put some holiday card sets in the shop early next week but for now I must be off and get some work done whiles there's a lull in the constant pain....until tomorrow, Be Well and hope your feeling better than I am! XXOO Mandy.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My New Art Card Nook

So, I've had this little corner planned out in my head for awhile now. This little corner is just as you come down the stairs from our main entrance and just before you go through the door into my main studio. This weekend my sweetheart got busy and created this for little itty bitty moi...

We decided to leave the shelves the natural pine to tie in with the other pine features in our home....and yes those are clouds and sky and little ladybugs I painted onto part of our ceiling a couple years ago (as per Jonathan request believe it or not, ha ha...)

...and voila...a perfect and beautiful little nook just for my art cards, hooray...I am so excited to see what was in my head finally come to life and work so perfectly...thanks Jonathan XXOO....

And with that I've shared another little corner of my enchanted little world, thanks for tuning in and join me tomorrow for new inspirations, aspirations, illustrations and creations.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A New Illustration "Amaryllis Bird

So after a night of getting at least half a foot of snow, I thought I'd reveal this bright red bird to add to the Holiday Cheer. I created this image primarily as a Xmas card (hopefully on Thursday, I'll be showing you the finished product).
This image "Amaryllis Bird" was created with acrylic, coloured pencil and ink on paper. The original is indeed for sale, I'll let you know at a later time when and where it will be available outside of this blog.
Until tomorrow...where I'll have another exciting new project to share with you. Be Well.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Shadowy ART for a Shadowy Planet

Good Monday everyone. I have quite a few things which I am excited to share with you, but I am trying to pace myself to 'reveal' them slowly over the next couple of weeks instead of all at once, ha ha.
I really wanted to share with you my photos from the Shadowy Art for a Shadowy Planet exhibition/auction. Jonathan and I went to the preview last Saturday and had a good time. There were 30 artist created original shadowboxes...here's a sampling...
...and of course, as you know by now...here is mine "Earth Intruders".
Let me show you some of my favourites...here is one by Alex Maeve Campbell. She is now the gallery coordinator (in my old position) and she's doing a great job as far as I can see. Alex had brought me into her office to give me a sneak peek at the other boxes when I went in to drop off mine and I saw this one and said "Ohhh, I love that one..." and she said with a happy smile "Thanks, that one is mine..". Love it when that happens. Another Favourites of mine was actually Alex's dad...the ever cool and amazingly talented world-reknowned potter/sculpture Keith Campbell (check out his website, Keith makes great pottery). I took some classes with Keith and he's also an amazing teacher. He is also a fellow chronic/acute migraine sufferer so it's always nice to chat and complain with him because we know we totally understand what the other is going through. Now, I am against guns (except for law enforcement) but I just loved this box. It is all created from Porcelain I believe, even the gun. I just find it so strong graphically and therefore beautiful. I also really liked the minimalistic colour and of course the craftsmanship.
And I have to show you Arlie's box. Everyone was so thrilled with Arlie's box because it was so very cheeky and such a departure from Arlie's usual work. Whenever someone would see Arlie's name on the tag they'd go "What....I love it..." ha ha...
The guest support artist for this whole exhibition/auction was local artist Betty Sager. I never get tired of looking at Betty's work, she makes these incredible little self-contained worlds, each one so different then the other. I would like to have one of Betty's pieces someday. I had the pleasure of working with Betty abit when I worked at the Gallery and I remember her being a very nice and warm person. Her shadowboxes are so crowded with doo-da's one would just have to wonder where in the world she gets all the teeny tiny stuff. Apparently she has a group of family and friends who help her collect, they find stuff for her in their basements, at thrift stores, at garage sales etc and pass it along to Betty for her collections and art...I'd love to see her studio. I know that Betty lost her son a few years ago...and well I was happy to see all of these new shadowboxes and to see that she is indeed still creating despite her immense loss.
This was my favourite one of Betty's. I think it was called "The Underground Woman". Some thing hit home with me in this piece. The streets above seem abit cold and full of people and bustle, yet ultimately full of nothing-ness...yet below is this sweet and endearing old lady, cozy in her little crowded abode...the place is full of cats, one sleeps on the bed...there is a photo of a boy hanging on the wall (I assume it's her son) ...I just could have looked at this piece for hours and still find something new.
Here is a detail...
So the big auction night was this past Friday. I did not go as I wasn't feeling well but I hear from a few people that it was a great evening. Sales were abit slow apparently but there were a few boxes that harnessed bidding wars and I was happy to hear that mine was indeed one of them. I know that local artist and metal smith Peter Sloan won my box and I really hope he's happy with it. It always strikes me as funny...just when you think you know who likes and who doesn't like your work, someone new pops in the mix, it's a delightful thing.
So with all that shared I must go. A busy week is ahead of me I think. Jonathan and I are unfortunately starting this new week quite tired from the crazy weekend we just had with house/studio projects. As mentioned before, with the increase of snow and lowering temperatures we're in a race against the clock to get projects in the garage done.
Until tomorrow, be well and Happy Creating.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Just Popping In

Hi Everyone. Today I am just popping in for a quick visit and with a new photograph. The past couple of days have been rough for me, a mixture of a bad, consistent migraine and a flu at the same time just kind of knocked me out of commission there and I fell behind schedule. So I really just want to get myself back onto the treadmill and back to my exercise routine and then to my desk where I plan to ignore the business side of things for a few days and just finish off a couple pictures and begin some other ones.

But for today, here is a recent favourite photo....I LOVE bell jars and whenever I see one I want to buy it, ha ha...but I refrain because well I am simply out of room. Here's a small collection filled with apples which I had arranged on the fireplace mantel (and one of my favourite little hand carved wooden birds and right off to the right side you can see the little glass ladybugs my mom gave me ages ago but which I still adore).

Nothing too exciting today sorry all. I'll see you all here on Monday with new things to show you and hopefully no migraines or headaches or flu-ish-ness! Have a great day and a cozy Friday night.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

An Interview at WhoHub

So I am off schedule for the posts I originally planned for the rest of this week...reason...a badly timed migraine setting in last night and still present.
But please do check out an interview with me over at WhoHub. They sweetly asked if I would provide an interview and I was honoured and happy to do so.
Hopefully we'll be back on track tomorrow with that new picture!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Favourite New Photo

Hi everyone, firstly I wanted to thank everyone who left such wonderful comments about my new wooden dolls. I am working on another batch this week so please do keep your eye open for I'll be putting some into the shop shortly. The past week and for the next couple of weeks I will mostly be concentrating on new Christmas imagery for my greeting card line. For today let me share with you a photo I took recently of a favourite corner in our bedroom...books books books in every room in almost every corner, I can't help it.

I have admittedly been fighting off many smaller headaches over the past week and also some weird infection which is leaving me feeling far from top notch for the past couple of weeks also, so I am looking forward to banishing whatever bug this is and getting back to my normal self. It's difficult to push forward and be 100% creative and productive when your not feeling 100%. So everyday I do accomplish something creative or productive I give myself a pat on the back, an inward smile and I've been letting myself take the evenings off where I would normally get some work done.

Tomorrow I'll show you a new illustration/card design. Thursday I plan to feature my friend Vince Chui and Friday I plan to share with you some shots of the "Shadowy Art for a Shadowy Planet" opening we went to last Saturday. So if any of these things interest you, do tune in.

I also wanted to send out a quick thank you to Susan, who left me a lovely and sweet message recently and I just wanted to say I am so very glad your enjoying my blog and your comment made my day...thank you.

I am off for my bi-weekly tea/lunch date with my friend Becca. I do wish a lovely afternoon for you all as well. Be well, be cozy and be creative. Till tomorrow XXOO Mandy of Bijou's Whimsy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Marlie" our Carousel Horse is Complete

Our journey to bring Marlie to life began quite a few weeks ago....just a blank horse, beautifully carved but awaiting it's colour, life and character...
Diligently working alongside a handful of other talented and local carousel painters who were a complete delight to spend time with every week...our carousel horses, one by one came to life...
After a month and a half, the carousel horse that Arlie and I have been working on is pretty much complete. With a suggestion from my friend Maria, we have called it 'Marlie'.
We met at the gallery for pretty much 2 days every week, sometimes 3 to get it done during the carousel art exhibition.
Our time at the Alex Dufresne Gallery and Museum has been a great one. I want to send out a big grateful thanks to Carol and Christine, who welcomed us in warmly every time, fed us and warmed us up with coffee's and hot chocalate, and who forgave us when we destroyed their light grey carpet with a big pool of dark blue oil paint! Thank you so much for giving us a cozy and relaxing place to work on Marlie for the past month and a half. I will miss seeing everyone there every week, I truly will.
The horses are now on their way back to the carvers, to have the manes and tails attached. Then they will go into storage until sprin. In the spring they will receive any necessary touch ups, they will be 'antiqued' and than receive their final coat of varathane.
It has been a spectacular project to be involved with (again) and I am proud to have this 2nd carousel creation done along side my dear friend, mentor and adopted grandpa, Arlington Hoffman. We put much thought, love and good creative energies into these carousel creatures we help bring to life and we are proud that it's part of our legacy to our beloved city, North Bay.
Until we see you again in the spring Marlie, rest peacefully and happily in the creative enjoyment you were made with. And my thanks to Arlie for asking me to be his partner again.
To the beautiful and enchanting art and world of the carousel...may your live on and enchant the world forever...
Until tommorow....Be Well and May you find inspiration in everyday...such as in a carousel:D

Monday, November 17, 2008

Shadow Box "Earth Intruders" Completed

I promised last week that I would begin Monday showing you all the finished and assembled Shadow box creation that I made for the gallery's fundraiser. Here it is...
What do you all think? I love it in all honesty. It was alot of work but so much fun and different than anything I've done before. My new birthday scroll saw will come in handy to make more of these dolls and trust me, my brain is in over drive with ideals for more. Keep an eye on the shop as these 3 figures will be available for sale very shortly. (I'll give everyone a heads up for when I plan to put them in the shop).
This project was an important reminder that one must constantly push oneself...only in that do we reach those new creative and fun plateaus.
Until tomorrow, I hope your all having wonderful days and are finding a few minutes each day to let yourselves be creative. Be Well and Happy Creating.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Earth Intruders #3 Revealed...

...and here is my 3rd 'Earth Intruders' doll...

She is the tallest of the 3 figures...

...and a sneak peek of one of the two birds I also made for this exciting project...

So there you have it, all 3 dolls. Please join my here on Monday to see how all the dolls come together fantastically into the 'Shadow Box'. Have an excellent weekend all.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Earth Intruder #2 Revealed

As promised...here is my "Earth Intruder" Doll #2 for the Shadow Box creation. Tune into tomorrow where I'll show you the 3rd and final doll...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My Secret Project Slowly Revealed

I am so excited to finally be able to reveal what I've been slaving over the past week and abit. But I've decided to show it to you all slowly over the next few days. I was asked to created a work of art in the form of a 'Shadowbox' for the W.K.P Kennedy Gallery's Gala Auction called "Shadowy Art for a Shadowy Planet" and my creation is entitled "Earth Intruders".
I've created a series of these wooden dolls. So today let me show you the first "Earth Intruder"...

I am so excited about these and as a heads up I will be introducing each individual handmade 'doll' into the shop very soon.

Join me here tomorrow where I'll reveal my doll #2 and again on Friday where I'll show you the third of the Earth Intruders. Then on Monday, I will reveal to you how the whole project came together and looks all put together.

I dropped my box off today and it's getting great response already. I am just so happy and pleased and excited about this project and it's opened up a whole new branch of ideals and concepts.

I apologize for missing Monday and Tuesdays posts, it's been busy with a few projects all coming to a close at once. Not to mention the wonderful and crazy fun surprise birthday party my sweet Jonathan threw for my 31st birthday this past Saturday.

Until tomorrow Be Well and indeed Happy and Joyful Creating. Mandy of Bijou's Whimsy.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Hidden Gem Back Home & A Scroll Saw

My coloured pencil painting "The Hidden Gem" is finally back home to us and we are so happy to have it back. This past weekend Jonathan helped me hang it in our entryway hall and we just both adore it's new home and agree that this one...after 60+ hours and me going cross-eyed twice, ha ha...is indeed not for sale.

(And no...the apples aren't just to look beautiful, ha ha, the rabbits and I just eat alot of apples.)

I am also so excited this week to have been given this awesome 18" Dremel Scroll Saw from Jonathan as an early birthday present (yep I'll be 31 on Sunday...yikes and yeah at the same time!) I have some new ideals for pieces and shop items and I really want to keep my business as independent as I can so the fact that I'll be able to cut my own things etc now on my beautiful new Dremel is so exciting.

Jonathan was so funny in his excitement to buy this for me...he said "How many guys get to buy tools for their wives..how cool is that..." ha ha. Thanks babe, I LOVE it and was happy to find a place for it in my studio even though I know you'd share your garage. I'll make you something extra special with it...and I am even going to learn how to change my own blades:D

So wish me a relaxing and fun Birthday weekend, I am looking forward to it, especially to the decadent cake I am quite sure my honey will be getting for me....I am sharing it with you all in spirit...Have a great weekend and see you here next week for the reveal of what I've been slaving on all week! Till then, Happy Creating. XXOO Mandy.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Mind Games & Tricks For Better Creativity

So as an artist I find that sometimes self-imposed mind games are necessary...especially when your working from the comforts of your own home which is full to the brim with distractions.
One of my new 'mind games' is to take the car whether I need it or not (we only have one) and drop Jonathan off at work bright and early and as I drive myself back home I envision what I want to accomplish that day and I sort of imagine myself driving to my work space, not so much my cozy little abode. Some mornings I really struggle because I do have pretty bad insomnia and I do often have a headache in the mornings but I am trying to keep this routine up as much as possible, it's still abit early to say if this is going to be a successful thing or not but I have hope that it will be.
Another thing I do which I find helpful is to get dressed right away! I just don't seem as energized and I don't feel as professional if I linger about in my p.j's. Plus it's almost a guarantee, if you stay in your p.j's too long, the Canada Post or some delivery guy is bound to knock on the door and it's so embarrassing to hear "Oh I am sorry, did I just wake you up..." at 2 in the afternoon, ha ha! Also another trick I am trying is to wear shoes...I don't know why but I am so much more productive when I have shoes on, than when I am running around the house in slippers or socks
Another thing I do, is I fill my work spaces with linears and drawings and substrates for planned pieces etc...such as my easel here in this photo...it's full of boards and paper, each one already has it's predetermined image. So on those days where I just don't feel like working, I can look at my easel for example and say to myself "Hmmm, I really should work because I have alot to accomplish...".

And it helps me to have little reminders to keep pushing past our inner fears and worries...such as this little quote I have taped to my easel...

Another thing I find that helps me along, to work when there feels like there are so many unsurmontable hurdles, are my friends...the close circle I've come to accumlate over the past year has meant so much and these precious people are so supportive and interested in what I am doing. I know when I am meeting with those friends, I want to have new things to show them and to talk about, new ideals to mull over with them, new inspirations to pass along to them...Like yesterday, I had a wonderful coffee date with my kindred spirit Becca and her support and interest and ideals were all readily there for me as always, but in sharing my current plan of attack with her, it made me excited and happy and even more centered and I hope to have advancements to that plan to discuss next time we meet.

Anyhow, this post is long enough. I hope my sharing some of my tips helps you get past any of your creative hurdles today...goodness knows creative people have a myriad of mental hurdles and obstacles but the important thing to remember is that the only real thing stopping us from achieving our dreams is ourselves...I know I know, how sappy and easier said then done, I am in complete agreement...there also needs to be alot of hardwork, alot of good luck, etc.. thrown into the brillant mess and journey! Anyhow, Be Well and Happy Creating.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My Weeks' Entertainment

Ahhhh...yesterday was so beautiful, after having the heat on for almost a month now, we were able to turn it off, open all the windows and keep the doors open all day long so all 4 buns were outside enjoying the day alongside us...wonderful wonderful wonderful.
Anyhow, I was so happy when I opened the mailbox on Monday and found an issue of Cloth, Paper, Scissors. One of my most favourite magazines and such an on-going inspiration for me. Jonathan gifted me with a years subscription for my birthday last year and Jonathan, I've thoroughly enjoyed it, thank you thank you thank you. So this week, in my spare time, I look forward to diving into this new issue. Especially since I am in a christmasy mood and will soon start on making xmas cards and new xmas imagery.
Also this week I plan to dive into this amazing book. My friend Michelle lent it too me and I thank her again because the imagery in this book is so fascinating and beautiful and inspiring. And to think that Michelle finds similarities in some of my more detailed work is such a compliment. Heather Cooper is a hugely successful Canadian artist, designer and illustrator and I've quickly added her to my list of favourites. I'll have my nose buried in this book over the next couple weeks no doubt and how delicious it will indeed be.

Also, this week, I hope to finish off this book! I started it this summer and just manage to read a chapter here and there...it's not my favourite book but it's defiantly interesting and deserves to be finished.

So now you know what my entertainment this week shall be...so looking forward to them:D Be Well and Happy Creating. See you here tomorrow, and thanks again for popping in.
p.s. Today I must send out an extra shot of energy and strength to my pal Julie who has been having more than her fair share of stresses lately....Everything is going to be 'okay'...more than okay just have faith in yourself and don't give up.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Stacks of Goodness and Joy & Missing My Thodan

For a couple hours every weekend, we've been cutting and sanding wood like crazy. Here is a stack which I am allowing to acclimatize to the inside temperature's of the house, which is important to avoid any unseen problems later when it's too late because the wood or board is covered with a lovely painting! Pine blocks and Russian Birch is currently my favourite to work on, especially with acrylic paints and coloured pencil. I walk into the studio and see this beautiful stack and it fills me with joy and excitement. It's important to have a good stack of substrates to get me through the winter. As our winters commonly go between -30 to -40, and with a garage that has no heating...well you can see why we've been frantically getting these stacks of wood prepared and brought into the house. I think I have enough but if we get another blast of warm weather I think I'll take advantage of that and make perhaps another pile or two just to make sure...hmmm perhaps I am being overly ambitious but better that than not, right? ha ha!
Here is another view of my lovelies:D ha ha....

...and as the wood acclimatizes, I have this stack of ready made canvases ready to keep me occupied and happy as well.

If any of you live in a part of the world with such extreme seasonal changes as ours, you'll appreciate all the work and time that goes into preparing for each...

Also today, I can't not mention my Thodan, today will be one whole year that he's been gone and I miss him terribly. Though my heart aches for him abit every single today...today knowing it's been a full year makes the ache stronger....so little one, if your out there somewhere...I miss you and I love you forever...

That's about it for today. Have a good one and be extra kind to loved ones, to strangers and even more so to all animals. Till tommorow.

On a side note: I am so anxious to see the results of the election. It's been so interesting to follow and well if I could vote, it would be for Obama...I hope the U.S. gets it right...tonight I'll certainly be tuned into the news. I also can't wait to see Religulous, we tune in whenever Bill Maher is on tv and he's just fantastic to listen to. Anyhow...to any of my U.S. readers, good luck with the voting, hope the lines aren't too long.