Monday, September 7, 2009

My music week


One of the great things about playing in a band with a school teacher is that she comes to practice with some preprinted charts and sharpened pencils, so you can dutifully take notes for your upcoming recording session, and see all the things that you better get working on. We're finally going to finish the Onward Voyageur cd that we started almost a year ago, and I have about a week to fix all the lyrics and guitar parts that aren't quite up to scratch.

Its quite a challenge mind you, as I've had a few Duplex! rehearsals for tonight's show in Veda's backyard, as well as picking up the drums for my son's best friend's band, Youthful Exuberance. Its fun to be the old lady on the drums behind a 12 and 8 year old songwriting team and we worked pretty hard on convincing their Dad to play bass, in spite of his conviction that one should not be playing a gig after one day playing bass - he isn't taking into account his inherent musicality. Playing drums is fun fun thing. Anyone out there need a drummer whose meter isn't too bad but never does any fills? (but I don't own my own drum kit).

And Duplex! sure is fun, because after being a bass player for many many years, I suddenly find I rarely play it anymore. Since Duplex! averages about a gig a year I find I'm losing a lot of flexibility in my it time to start playing with a pick? And I can't even begin to tell you how much fun, and difficult, singing harmonies and playing bass is.

Oh, and just for fun, I was messing about with a band photo. What do you think? This is just a first draft.

Picture 2

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The New Duplex album is here!

duplex! worser

At last, the new record from the laziest band in show business. More rock songs for small people and their minders! Topics covered: noble gases, sandwich making, photosynthesis, same-sex divorce, dogs in sweaters.

Its taken us 4 years but we've finally managed to get it together to put out our second album, Worser. I'm pretty darn happy with it, and not only because I got to do the silkscreened art. Great song contributions by everyone in the band, too. Here's a song - Orange Popsicle, by Duplex!:


(I'm going to post my little demo version of it later, so keep an eye out for it!)

One really, really great thing about playing music for kids is you get to do early shows, at say, noon. This works perfectly with my schedule. Oh, and if you're trawling around on myspace or reverbnation, add us as your friend!

buy the album

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Recently one of my workmates was unloading some things her children had outgrown, and I picked up the book The Biggest Best Snowman by illustrator Will Hillenbrand. I was pretty intrigued by his style and the textures he was getting, and (like most picture books) there was a bit of info regarding the media he was using - the one I was most curious about was his paper, which was vellum.

Always eager to hand over more dollars to my local art store, I went to buy some but was rather discouraged to find that the heaviest they carried was something like 29lb and that that was as heavy as it got. How did he use watercolour and acrylic on it? My own experiments were horrible, wrinkled messes.

Luckily for me, googling the illustrator turned up his website and a whole section on his process! Isn't the internet fabulous for sorting out your problems for you? :) It turns out the trick is he's dry mounting the vellum. Not having a dry mount press, I've resorted to vellum spray glue, but after playing around with the mixed media bit I'm back to oil pastels. The spray glue stinks and is probably not the most environmental solution - I'm either just going to tape the vellum to bristol to keep it flat, try dry mounting with an iron (apparently some mixed results with this) or try out some Letratac adhesive sheets.

In the meantime, here's a picture I made for my new book, done with oil pastel on vellum:

picturebook illustration

I have to say I love it - I finally feel like after 2 years of experimenting I've found my materials - no small thing, I assure you! It works beautifully with oil pastel, its so easy manipulate the pastel with a paper stump.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Gratefulness You!

I haven't written in a month, and the first thing I did was wade through my comment spam and came across this:

I was just reading a point on how to place your down comforter all puffy again and on the brink of all the answers said that you can save some tennis balls in the dryer to amount to that happen. how to build tabular tennis tables So how does that chef-d’oeuvre exactly? Why does this happen? Can you throw away something else rather than tennis balls? Gratefulness you!

Why does this happen indeed!

So I will try and encapsulate what I've been up to for the past month:

a) my daughter was frightened by my hairy armpits recently (they're not grotesquely hairy!) and tried to put my arms down so that she would no longer have to look at them (I was lying on the couch at the time). When I told her that she would have hairy armpits too when she got older she wailed, no, I want to look like Barbie!! This is a sign that I am failing horribly as a parent.

b) I love my new house. Although we have been here for two weeks today is the first day of officially being moved out of the old. I'm writing this from my kitchen window where I am overlooking the courtyard and the crowd of children playing outside, including my own. I cannot stress enough the joy I feel at booting my children into the great outdoors after dinner.

c) Here is a little picture of my new deck. I have been foregoing my studio of late just for the sheer pleasure of sitting outside with its gorgeous view of the mountains. What is missing in the photo is the smudge left on the glass door by my forehead when I ran into it. As I later remarked to a friend, I'm not used to things being so clean.


d) some gigs again finally, and practicing once a week is starting to pay off. I was horrified lately when I came to the realization that I have been playing guitar for 16 years. 16 years!! Ok, not religiously or anything, and there was quite a long bout of only being the rhythm guitarist, and yes, sometimes my fingers still behave like they're clinging to a bass guitar, but shouldn't I be better by now? The tradeoff though, is that I am not so professional that I find it a chore to practice every week. In fact, I love it.

e) Mood lately: I'm a happy happy camper. Grateful Me!

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Big Move

We take possession of our new place today, but we haven't even begun to pack - luckily we have the whole month. We have been spending most of April weeding out all the things we've accumulated over the last 6 years, and once again I despair over my giant footprint. I'm trying to gather up all the toys that my children don't play with, and the awful thing is this: one tiny piece is missing from this toy/game, rendering it useless if I don't find it, but surely it has to be in the house somewhere! And what if I get rid of this now and it turns up when I start moving out the furniture? I already had one instance when a boot of my daughters went to Big Brothers and the other one was mysteriously left behind. That nagged at me forever.

Seriously, there has to be a better way to deal with stuff. Obviously, acquiring less of it would be the best place to start (and that should be easier considering the jump in rent that we've undertaken) and I'm really thinking that I'm going to buy only second hand toys from now on. My daughter's birthday is coming up and she's dying for one of those new disney princess dolls, and so far they have not turned up on craigslist. If I buy something on ebay is it really better considering what it takes to ship it here?

Meanwhile I have been working on my third picture-book (number one is still out in the world, and number two was ready for sketches when I was sidetracked by number three). Its amazing how difficult they can be to write - isn't there a better, simpler way that I can say this? Also compounding my difficulties was the fact that this time I created a story around what I felt like drawing. It may be to my benefit that if a line doesn't feel right I will literally have a physical feeling about it, and I have to keep writing and rewriting it until I can read it without that nagging sense that those lines are just wrong. I think I may have got it, though, and I'm keen to continue with the sketches!

Friday, April 24, 2009

all about the tourney

So you may have noticed from my twitter update that we won the international tourney out in Delta last weekend (which just goes to show you, we WILL drive an hour for 19 minutes of ice time). It's taken until today to start feeling slightly like myself again, to get over the exhaustion and the aches and pains that left me largely immobile yesterday. It was worth every minute of it.

Highlights included meeting some fine new hockey players (our team was two teams combined, as neither could get enough players out), bonding with my Kaos team-mates (have I mentioned lately how great they are?) and playing alongside one of the best defencepersons I have met in awhile. And there was a hot tub in there too - the only down-side was two days of greasy pub food.

But most of all, it was pretty satisfying to beat 3 American teams (we faced off against Canadians in the final), one of them being a university team, the USC Trojans. Are there divisions in university hockey? I was slightly confused by our beating them, although they gave us the best game. I was also surprised at how apologetic they were on the ice - not the kind of behaviour one expects from Americans, and this was true for all three teams we faced - they kept saying sorry at the slightest bump. And the more they apologized the more I was like:


So much for the unapologetic Americans and the nice but boring Canadians!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Homeless Pt. III

About one hour before the realtor called to tell us our house was sold, we were offered a 3 bedroom in a co-op one block from our house. Can you imagine any better timing? We got a bit of help from my friend Vanessa who put in a good word for us (and now tells me to bloody go to church already, because someone sure is looking out for me - I think it's just her, so I'm going to make sure I have lots of extra sugar), and the best thing (aside from living next door to our best friends) is that we won't have to leave our neighborhood. Our son gets to stay in his school AND there's a secure playground outside where he can go play with a bunch of kids AND we won't get kicked out yet again because someone wants to sell AND we get a whole month to move.......phew.

Honestly though, how wrong were we in thinking that the place wouldn't sell quickly? 589,900 for a 3 bedroom duplex (better make sure you have a cat for the small rodent problem) when there's a 9 bedroom 5 bathroom house for sale about 4 blocks away for less that. We thought that the real value is in developing the lot (its huge) and the economy is rotten and it's a bad time to develop blah blah blah....but people are buying even if they barely look at the place, and Canada's economy is hanging in there and for that reason yesterday the Globe and Mail called us a nice but boring nation.

We'll see if we're that boring. Tonight is our women's hockey tourney where we get to face off against some Americans, and trust me, we take our hockey very very seriously, over here.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Band Practice


Its odd how some nights you can go to band practice and your instrument sounds like shit, and then the next week its amazing. A week ago I could barely tolerate the tinny sound of my guitar, even rolling off all the treble didn't do anything. Last night it was fracking great and I have no idea why. It's too bad that I'm always forgetting things - I've been short one guitar cable since our last gig and the kids scattered my guitar picks all over the living room (but luckily I had the one that Christine gave me last week in my pocket) and worst of all I broke a string and forgot to put a new one on. I am seriously pushing it with how old my strings are, and how sad is it to show up to band practice with a 5-string guitar?

The thing about playing in a band with two songwriters is there's no shortage of material, and we were working on Christine's new song in which I was having a grand old time with the delay pedal, rendering my bandmates near-deaf. It took us awhile to navigate our way through 3 segues (Third Segue same as the First!) but by the end of it we'd trimmed it down to 1. I'm pretty excited about it, and I'm keen on getting myself some more fancy effects.

The time has come to try and get the band out there a little more, and I've got some BIG plans in store (she said, rubbing her hands together excitedly).

Thursday, March 26, 2009



There is one team in our division with a player with 53 points in 18 games, and she's scored 8 goals on us in the two we've played against them. It's been driving me crazy that she's just one person, and we haven't been able to stop her. I was ready for her on our game on Wednesday, but unfortunately she wasn't there. We ended up winning 2-0, and it was a hard enough game for us (we had a full bench, they were quite shorthanded), but considering they have lost every game without that one player, I hope it tells them something. Often in women's hockey you will find a player whose skill far outstrips the division they're in, and that's usually because of a girlfriend or group of friends they want to play with. I just feel its unsportsmanlike.

Our goalie was outstanding though. She's quite humble about it too, which really makes up a part of why I'm in love with my team this year. Ok, I'm also loving our new great forwards and the winning and the great team spirit from everyone. But last year we had a troll for a goalie (there's really no other way to describe her) who quite blatantly blamed any losses (and there were a LOT of them) on the team, derided the D, and we ended up dropping a division and losing all the time there too. It was quite disheartening, and doesn't say much for finding such a key player via craigslist.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Homeless Pt. II


I'm still soon-to-be-homeless, but it was really great how a few people quickly jumped to my defense (hi Scott), and maybe it illustrates that the city does have some feelings about homelessness or, at the very least, dislikes being accused of causing it. But I was in error thinking it was their fault, and so I'm sorry for shaking my fist at you, Gregor (but I'll still face off with you on the ice).

It would have been nice if someone could have at least told us what was happening, since we're the ones to be the most affected by it.

I did find these things interesting:
a) that wordpress seo plugin really works, and
b) when the City Caucus blog wrote about this they mentioned me as being a single mother, and while not expressly saying it, gave me the impression "someone give this poor woman a job". This info was quickly corrected, but it made me wonder - does it make it more interesting, more of a plight this way? Because the truth of the matter is, I mostly can't afford Vancouver rents because I've chosen the lower-paying job that I absolutely love (illustration) over the higher paying design work. (Actually, I currently have a tiny part-time design & computer job which I rarely mention because, even though the work is mostly interesting and I couldn't possibly praise my co-workers and bosses enough, it's not really me.) So I can whine about the price of rent but I'm sure there are a lot of you out there that would say, its your own damn fault - we work 40 hours a week at jobs that don't really mean anything to pay for our rent, so quit your bitching. Does a mother of two with a great husband (who does his share of house-cleaning) and a million resources to fall back on make less of a story, or a better one?

Friday, March 6, 2009

My Children's Favorite Show

My kids have been pretty obsessed with this t.v. show lately, and I have to limit the amount of time they spend watching it, because they pretty much want to watch it all the time. The hardest thing about that is that I love it too. But when your 3 year old (ok, almost 4) twirls around in the middle of a crowded restaurant, singing at the top of her lungs "Too Many Dicks on the Dance Floor", you do have to pause for a second and wonder whether its really all that appropriate. But how can I stop her when I can't stop myself?

To be honest though, I have to say that I prefer her liking Flight of the Conchords to the Little Mermaid - I had a discussion with her Swedish Grandma about how disturbing I found that movie, how much she changes herself to find her prince (although my husband counters that what the prince really loves about her is what is essentially unchangeable, her voice), and every time I read the book to her I can barely contain my disgust. What really appeals to my daughter about FOTC is the songs (her current favorite is If You're Into It), and probably the fact that the rest of her family almost passes out laughing watching it. It's pretty damn funny that she likes to pretend we're the great romantic figures in her world - she's Sleeping Beauty, I'm Prince Derek, she's Ariel, I'm Prince Eric, she's Coco, I'm Bret. Sally doesn't figure in because she broke their hearts but Brahbrah, well, there's no such name as Brahbrah.

She doesn't get that there's only what may be the very last 3 episodes in the world or that the only tickets left to their Vancouver show are 4 times the price because Ticketmaster is scalping their own tickets and therefore we can't afford to go, and for this, at least, I'm happy.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


One of the big campaign promises from Vancouver's mayor (whom I voted for) was ending homelessness, and contrary to all promises, the city has just kicked us out of our home. The owner of our rental passed away recently with no will and I mistakenly imagined that there would have to be an amount of time that passed before the city, the trustee, could sell. What if an heir turned up? I guess I was wrong.

What's a little more insulting is that we haven't actually had official word from the city, we just had realtor Barbara (BrahBrah) Graham call up to ask if it was ok to show it this Sunday. During dinner, yet - I knew I shouldn't have answered the phone.

Brahbrah seemed to be slightly affronted that this Sunday was not convenient, like I was just saying it to get back at her because I was pissed and NOT because I'm having my in-laws over for a brunch like we do every year when they visit us from Montreal, so we can also invite over those friends that we're closest to and share what our lives are like when they're not visiting us.

Why does the city have to kick us out of the place where my daughter was born? There's a property manager, its not like they even have to look after it. No, they'd rather move us all out into the street. It's looking pretty likely that the best possible outcome will be finding a basement suite for double the amount we're paying now somewhere way the hell out so that my son will have to change schools and we'll have to buy a car just so we can get anywhere.

I shake my fist at you, Gregor Robertson.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Its interesting the response that I get when I tell people that I'm using oil pastels - most often they look at me like, you're a glutton for punishment. I always have to respond that they're not as hard as watercolors. I used to think that I was doomed to be a failed watercolorist for the remainder of my life, but I was quite pleased to discover yesterday that I'm actually enjoying the pastels more.

To be honest, I still struggle with the oil pastels, but I made a pretty exciting discovery - the colorless extender. There's two of them in my box of Erengis that have been largely ignored, but I tried them out as a replacement for the white that I sometimes lay down first. Here's the result, which gave me some nice translucent areas in the background and on her face:


The nice thing about it is it gives you some nice washy effects, and if you color your paper first you can scrape back to the white of the paper.

Another thing I've been playing with a bit is mixing the pastel with linseed oil, and because I was doing some washy areas I used some mod podge as a size. This was maybe less successful because of the blotchy areas, but maybe worth exploring further someday:


Anyone else out there having fun with oil pastels?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Saturday, January 31, 2009

My Messy Table

I've been working from home for the last few days, which has meant toting all my art supplies from my studio to my house. Fortunately I'm pretty portable these days. I have less space working on the dinner table, and it doesn't take long before I'm spread out everywhere, especially now that I have 3 different brands of oil pastels I like to use.

I just bought a box of Erengi Art Aspirers having read a few reviews comparing them to my much beloved neopastels.They were on sale and in spite of having to get them shipped from the States were still a pretty good deal. An example of overconsumption though - I did not need to buy more, but now I have a lovely new range of colours to play with!

I'm working on the color images now for the picturebook for Rubicon, and this is the tough part for me. I've read a bunch of books on colour and it still pretty much boils down to instinct. They'll either feel right, or they won't. Its funny that I've been having troubles with skin tones - why is it in nature we never look at someone and say, your complexion completely clashes with the landscape! Wouldn't that be funny. But my kids were far too orangey in the beginning, and making them a little darker brown sure helped.

Here's a version I played around with a bit on the computer. Not the final piece, though!

I Hear Thunder
click to view larger

Friday, January 30, 2009

As Good As I Get


I've just sat down in a cafe with my coffee and realized that I haven't brought the pen for my tablet with me, and while I do have a pencil here to do my drawing I don't have any paper, all because of my silly rush to get out of the house.

Part of the reason for trying to get out of the house quickly is because I should have been working all day, but instead I went to stick and puck (and here I am still not working). Its seriously been about a year since I've done any practicing on my own, and I have come to the conclusion that I am as good as I'm ever going to get. I simply cannot seem to get better. Ok, one could infer from that, that maybe I should go to stick and puck more than once every year and maybe I would get better, but there are things that I was doing better a year ago that I can't seem to do anymore. Like handling the puck while skating backwards, or my backhand. And because stick and puck is so much more exhausting than a regular game, every now and then while I'm resting I like to check out the skills of all the men on the ice (men everywhere! I was the only woman, and I had to change in the bathroom because they took up all 4 dressing rooms!), and I realized that here is where I need work: backwards crossovers. mohawks. stopping left foot first. A proper hockey stop. Speed. A quicker start. stickhandling. my backhand, forehand, slapshot, and wrist shot - I'll probably never manage a snap shot. Actually, probably the same for the slapshot, and part of me thinks, who even cares about a slapshot? Although, being a defenceperson, the likelihood of my hitting top corner from the point with a wrist shot seems very, very, unlikely. At this point the only thing that I seem to do well is wear my helmet properly, although by the end of it I was getting this pain in the side of my head so maybe I can't even do that well.

Seriously, I'm not discouraged though. I've come to terms with the fact that some of those beautiful goals that I see on the tv I will never, ever be able to do. But that's ok, cause the main thing is I'm still having a hell of a time playing.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Dream Come True

Most musicians dream about having their band mentioned in Rolling Stone, for me, its on the Canucks website (it’s down at the bottom).