Sunday, July 31, 2011


Cartoonist Chester Brown stood in front of a room full of people at Comic-Con and described his sex with prostitutes.  As he went through the details, he displayed drawings from his new book, Paying For It:

Brown belongs to that class of oddballs and misfits with a fierce compulsion to share the most scatological, sexual and personal details of their lives.  After Brown showed us drawings of his penis and described how he paid women for sex because he could not obtain sex as part of a well rounded relationship,  I asked whether he considered any part of his life too personal to put in a book.  He responded, "Not as long as it makes for a good story."

The extreme candor of such artists, combined with their vantage point on the outskirts of society, sometimes makes for interesting reading (and occasionally provides insights we couldn't get from more conventional sources).

However,  I don't think Brown's large audiences are lured by his artistic talent.  Most of the time, he draws just well enough to satisfy prurient gawkers looking for unearned intimacy.  Brown is at his best when he is channeling the work of the more talented Harold Gray (in work such as Louis Riel).  

His writing is only a little better-- he manages some nice touches-- but his treatment of sex in Paying For It  has all of the depth, profundity and imagination of a 1970s Playboy Advisor column.

 If you want a sense for how truly insubstantial Brown's work is, compare his treatment of visiting prostitutes with the writings of Henry Miller or Arthur Koestler.  If you want to see vastly superior explicit drawings of the dark side of the soul, check out the work of George Grosz, R. Crumb or John Cuneo.  For me, Brown remains squalor lite.

The Paper Place

The Paper Place
Amazing Assortment
Lovely Paper
Thank You cards
In the Wild
Here are the photos of our visit to The Paper Place.
I was like a cat in a fishery :)
The cherry on the cake was to spot my Galison 'Thank You' cards in the shop!
Oh! I almost forgot that I ate my first ever macaron from Nad├Ęge,
across the street from The Paper Place.
We had the salted caramel and it was delicious!
Thank you Margie for being such a wonderful tour guide.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Flea Market Treasures

A few treasures I scored
at the Sunday St. Lawrence flea market :)


Canadian handmade paper!
Handmade paper from Canada
Saint-Armand 100% recycled handmade paper.
On top of all the wonderful memories I brought back with me
from my trip to Canada, I also brought back amazing art supplies.
Margie took Sonia & me to visit The Paper Place on Queen St.
I bought a whole stack of Canadian 100% recycled handmade paper sheets from Saint-Armand in all sorts of lovely dark colors, beautiful japanese washi tape,
inkpads, waxed linen thread, etc...
I'll show you some photos of our visit to the gorgeous shop on my next post.
I'm already working on a new collage using a purple sheet!

Friday, July 29, 2011


 I have previously written about the work of Nathan Fowkes, a talented artist for DreamWorks Animation, a fine landscape artist, and an art teacher at the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art.
I ran into Fowkes at Comic-Con, where he was demonstrating charcoal drawing for an enthusiastic audience.

I have always been impressed with how Fowkes works seamlessly between different media. He uses Photoshop to create wonderful concept, visual development and production art for state of the art CGI movies:

copyright DreamWorks
He also works in oils:

My favorites are his watercolors.  he creates light and elegant landscapes, each one a tiny gem:

At Comic-Con, he displayed his approach with charcoal:

At this point in the demonstration he is saying, "I'm desperately trying to keep it simple. You've got to keep it simple."

I think one reason Fowkes is so successful with a variety of materials is his philosophy,  "There are dozens of ways you can apply the medium. It's the principles of value (light and shadow), structure, edges and composition that really matter."

Margie's Magical Garden

Margie's magical garden.
I have a really hard time finding words to describe
how beautiful my friend Margie is inside and out.
I think the wild exquisiteness of her garden is a perfect reflection of her.
I hope you are inspired by all of this as much as I was.
I left a little piece of my ♥heart♥ in Ontario..
Love you M. Lets meet again soon, eh? :)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

To Dye For...

Dye Party
Dye Party
Dye Party
Dye Party
Dye Party
Dye Party
Dye Party
On Monday we had a 'dye party' in Margie's backyard and it was magical.
Margie, Sonia, Arounna and Barbara transformed their fabric
using natural dyes while I made them my husband Manolo's famous guacamole.
I'll post the recipe soon!
Read more about our fun filled day here and here.

Workshop At Bookhou 2011

Hand carved stamps workshop at Bookhou in Toronto, ON.
I was blessed with the most wonderful group of creative, talented women.
I loved spending time with each one of you.
Thank you for welcoming me with open arms and so much love.
Music: "The Littlest Birds" by The Be Good Tanyas

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Studio Corner
Arounna's ArtInspiration board
Screen printingLovebirds at Bookhou
I'm back at my home sweet home after a beautiful time in Canada!
Here are just a few photos I took of Arounna's studio & shop at Bookhou.
Not only is she ridiculously talented and prolific
but she is also very warm, sweet, down to earth and super friendly.
Meeting her, John and their beautiful children was a real delight!
When I grow up I want to be just like Arounna!


I just returned from Comic-Con in San Diego.  This week I will write about five of the artists I encountered there.

One of the best things about Comic-Con is that when 43,000 teenyboppers stampede to the far side of the convention hall for a glimpse of some teenage vampire heart throb, you might be lucky enough to grab a quiet half hour with a legend such as Seymour Chwast.

Chwast is internationally renowned as one of the great innovators of 20th century graphic design:

Together with Milton Glaser and Ed Sorel, Chwast founded the famous Push Pin Studio in 1954.

He is the author of many excellent books including the bible on the history of graphic style, which he co-authored with Steve Heller. They wrote:

[T]he new movement in illustration from the mid 1950s to the present can be summed up in one word: conceptual.  Illustration evolved from explicit and romantic realism to conceptual symbolism because the issues and themes covered in magazines were becoming more complex, more critical.  Prior to this, illustrators rejected illusion, metaphor, and symbolism in favor of explicit vignettes.  But by the late 1950s, photographers had vividly captured the surface of life, leaving the depiction of the interior, subjective world to illustrators.
As I have written before, I'm not as quick to write off art that "captures the surface of life."  I'm still a sucker for artists who express their opinions about natural forms using sensitive line, perceptive colors or an insightful composition.  As far as I am concerned, the melodies that arise from the perception of natural form can rival the most elaborate intellectual contrivances.  (I also disagree that there is such a bright line between the "surface of life" and its underlying meanings.)

Still, you could not ask for a better exemplar of the "conceptual" point of view than Chwast, who was among the earliest and most effective exponents of this trend in the US.  Here is his brilliant illustration for an article on impotence for Playboy:

Last week this blog discussed the contortions of "realistic" illustrators trying to conceal parts of human anatomy.   Chwast's illustration not only solves that problem with creative symbolism, he adds an important layer of psychological insight with the tangled cord that prevents the plug from reaching its goal. Traditional illustration offered nothing to compete with this.

I have said some unkind things on this blog about illustrators in the "I'm-so-smart-I don't-have-to-draw-well" school of illustration.  Too many of them ain't that smart, and the concepts they bring to the table turn out to be a poor substitute for a decent sense of design or an ability to draw.  But Chwast is a conceptual illustrator who does it right.  He has the same winning formula that made Saul Steinberg great: a first class mind, a spirit of playfulness that keeps him overflowing with creative ideas, and a true gift for drawing and graphic design.

Our tastes turned out to differ in several instances, but it was a privilege to spend time with him and hear his thoughts on a variety of subjects. I learned a great deal. Those who heard him at Comic-Con were fortunate indeed.