Thursday, 26 April 2012

Five Minute Portrait of Myself

This took barely any time at all - honestly, it's just a doodle.  I meant it for my other blog, my tumblr; because I like the idea of a hand-drawn profile picture (or whatever it's called on there) but have been using the same stupid pencil sketch all year.  I always planned to replace it when I had time so tonight I just did it, and I ended up being really, really happy with how it turned out.  I was feeling kind of gloomy as I drew this and I think that feeling shows up in this drawing.   It's difficult to describe but it's like the way I was feeling at that moment just came out of my pencil and onto the page.

Anyway that's all...a pretty productive night because I also did some work on some other things.

Hope you're having a nice day today!

Love, Emily.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Strawberry Salad

Let me introduce you to...The Strawberry Salad!  Or, "The only salad I'm going to make ever again for the rest of my life." 

   It all started with a simple mistake, as most great things do.  I had come home from working an eight hour shift on only two hours of sleep; I was starving to death but far, far too tired to do any cooking. 

My boyfriend wisely pointed out that we do not have the money to get fast food, and it would only make me feel worse in the long run anyway.  On nights like these, I make one of two dishes for us to eat: canned soup and sandwiches, or a great big salad eaten out of a shared bowl.  Tonight I chose the latter.

    Usually when I make a quick salad, it's not the kind of salad that has a recipe.  Lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, canned dressing; that's it.  It's fast, filling, foolproof.  But tonight it was not to be.

An agonized cry escaped me; we were out of tomatoes, the second most important ingredient.  I won't describe my long, tiring day at work, but I assure you it was hellish, and Morgan had had a long day too.  Neither of us was going out to get more tomatoes feeling the way we did, it was simply out of the question.

"Why not just use strawberries?"  my burgeoning-chef boyfriend asked as I blinked back frustrated tears.  It never would have occurred to me to do this on my own; maybe for a baby-spinach, hard-cooked egg and strawberry salad with bacon but certainly not for an ordinary garbage salad with Kraft dressing.  However, I was too miserable and too tired to care: I chunked up the strawberries and threw them in, prepared to choke down a disgusting meal and go sleep for seventeen hours. 

   Now, maybe everybody already knows this and I am just reporting stale news.  But guys, fresh strawberries in a garbage salad is the single most delicious thing I have ever tasted in my entire life.  They are better than the caribou steak I tried when my dad took me to dinner; they are better than candy.  They are incredible.  They pop up in your bites of lettuce and cucumber and cheese as little tasty bites of sweet and sour goodness, juicy and fresh, fruity and foreign.  And delicious.

The best part was, every dressing we had complimented them gorgeously.  When applying dressing, I was still expecting it to taste bad and was trying to decide which of the three kinds of dressing we had in the house would be the least awful.  I set aside a few bites on a plate and tried them with zesty italian, creamy ceasar and three-cheese ranch - and they were all fantastic. 

The italian vinaigrette really brought out the strawberries' tartness - it made them seem like little bites of sour-sweet sprinkled throughout the greens.

The ceasar made the whole salad seem like a dessert - everything became sweet and smooth and comforting, perfect for a really hot summer evening.

The three-cheese ranch turned the entire salad somehow meaty and filling, though, so that was the one I chose for this particular time.  It made it taste like there was bacon in the salad even though there wasn't, it made the greens and cheeses seem somehow bigger and more filling - and it made the strawberries POP!  as delicious fruity sweet bits in this heavy cheesy salad.  So lovely.

     So yes - I cannot recommend strawberries instead of (or as well as!)  tomatoes in your salads enough.   Tomorrow I'm going to make another with avocados and almonds and we'll see how that goes. 

   As an aside, this is the second time in two weeks that Morgan has followed an instinct in the kitchen that I never would have done on my own, and both times it has yielded absolutely amazing results.  I think he might secretly be a genius in the kitchen - I have to finish teaching him to cook so I can harness this goodness for myself! Haha!

I hope you all are having a great day, and that you get to eat something delicious today.  

Thanks for reading!

Love, Emily.

Monday, 9 April 2012

My Workspace


Today I am going to talk about where I do most of my arts and crafts...not that I expect anyone to care.  But sometimes taking a look at all the materials and things I own makes me feel so glad to have them, and springboards so many ideas for things I could be doing with them! 

So, this is my workspace:

     It's pretty small, as my apartment is pretty small.  My boyfriend and I have the couch right in the middle of the living room area, so as to divide the room into two rooms.  In front of the couch is the TV, coffee table, and shelf full of dvds and magazines.  That's our "livingroom."  Behind the couch, on either side of one of our big deep windows, we have our desks.  That's our "office."  Maybe it's dorky to pretend like we have office space, but those desks needed to go somewhere!

His space is on the left side of the window you see in the picture.  His desk is covered with his computer and untold wires and gadgets (I don't know what half of them are for!)  and that's where he does his writing, video editing and a lot of his musical work.   (Not to mention internetting!)  It's nice when we are right next to each other at our respective desks,   both working on something important to us.

But this post is about MY side SO:  for the one person out there (me) who cares, the right side of the window is my art space.

1) The window doesn't face the path of the sun, so it really doesn't bring in much natural light.  But, if I am working during the day the view of my pretty little street is just lovely.  I can't wait till the tree outside puts out its leaves!

2) My lamp, for when I am working at night.  (Which is almost always, since I work nights at my job and because I like to sleep during the day.)  It used to be my bedside lamp, but I found a new lamp in the street and it graduated to my art desk lamp.  It's really more suited to the bedside table, it's so elegant and pretty (and the bird silhouettes I added yesterday really make it cozy) but unfortunately the new lamp is just too big to go in the windowsill!  Oh well.  Someday I will have the money for a proper artist's lamp with fluorescent and incandescent bulbs and a swivel head, and I can use the pretty lamp elsewhere.

3) My bag of pretty miscellaneous fabrics, papers and stickers that I might end up using for something.  I save all my old calendars for their glossy paper and pretty pictures, old wrapping paper, gift bags, scrapbooking papers...anything pretty that I might find a use for.  As for fabrics, only "real" fabrics that I have bought or have had given to me go in here.  My scrap fabric from old t-shirts and things like that is in a bag in my linen closet.

4) My pretty mirror, right above my workspace.  It was given to me by my boyfriend's aunt and actually has a matching twin on the other side of my bookcase.  But I love that it's right above my desk because first and foremost when it comes to artsy things, I am a cartoonist, and it is nice to have a mirror right there if I need to research facial expressions.

5 - 9) Things I have made in the past that I am either very proud of or that inspire me to create.  They pretty up my whole space and remind me of things I have accomplished in the past.  In more detail they are:

     5 - a string of paper stars made from magazine paper
     6 - two watercolour sketches I made of "Christmas in Vancouver" which remind me why I am living here and what I want to do with my life
     7 - a sequined Star Trek combadge my friend Hannah made me, to remind me of her, that I am loved, and also that I should be as nerdy as possible
     8 - a pony-bead gecko I made with my friend Krystal, to remind me of her, of childhood, and also that making things with my hands is the most gratifying thing I know
     9 - two more paintings I have done in the past

10) My book shelf.  This holds almost all the books the two of us own, and it's nice to have them right there should I need to look something up.  (I don't allow myself to use the internet when I'm doing art unless I absolutely have to, because I get sucked into the facebook trap too easily.)

11) My desk!!!  I found this on the street last October, just sitting there covered with grass clippings and rain waiting to be adopted!  It's made of particle board and weighs about two pounds.  I seriously would have been able to carry it the four blocks home myself, but Morgan was with me and was nice enough to help.  Someday I would love to have an adjustable cartoonist's drafting table, but for now this is just fine.  I like that it has ugly black paint because I'm not afraid to get it dirty.

12) The aforementioned Krystal gave me this pretty box that used to contain all her incense; now I keep my cartooning markers, favourite pencil and scraps of paper with ideas and character designs on them in it.  And it smells so good!

13) My craft bin.  Any craft supplies I have go in here, seperate from the "art" supplies because I am a snob.  But it's also probably the most opened box that I have.

14) This drawer hold all my cartooning supplies not held in the incense box: my rulers, pencils, pens, erasers, markers, pencil sharpener, india ink, best brushes and notebooks full of ideas

15) This drawer holds all my miscellaneous art supplies: paints, paintbrushes, oil pastels, and small canvases.

16) This drawer holds printer paper, lined paper, a big box of pencil crayons (too big to fit in the cartooning drawer) wax crayons (too bulky for the craft bin) extra notebooks and sketchbooks, construction and other coloured papers.

17) I stuff things that have no other place or that I am in the middle of working on under my desk, because I am a bad housekeeper.

18) My chair.  It came with our apartment, and when we move I will have to leave it behind.  Again, I would love to have a fancy, rolling computer chair with back support and all that, but I have no complaints about this one.

And that's it!  That's where the magic happens if I don't decide I would rather do art on the couch or in bed or in the bathroom.  I'm sorry if I bored the few of you who read this to tears, but it was really good for me to go through all this stuff like this: it made me totally inspired for tomorrow night when I'll come home from work and create something more exciting to share!

Have a great day, and thanks for reading!  

~Love, Emily.
  Tonight I made a quick little craft project to prettify the little area in my apartment where I do my art.

This is my lamp:

It sits in the windowsill above my desk, very useful for Arting at night after the sun has gone down and no more beautiful sunlight comes in the window. 

Tonight, I was craving a crafty, simple cut-and-paste project that would also allow me to beautify my space and muck up my furniture. 


I traced some bird silhouettes from the internet, using my laptop screen as a lightbox because I take good care of my things.  I transferred these to some thick, dark paper I had lying around (it was actually an old calendar page - I save all my calendars for pretty scrap paper) and cut them out.

Then I glued them to the inside of the shade with tacky glue and voila

I liked the effect a lot, and since my lampshade is four-sided I made more for each side so I can turn them around when I get bored.  

      I left one side blank, because it was my last one and I couldn't decide whether or not to leave it blank, or add another bird.  I'm thinking I kind of want a blue jay - those have always been favourites of mine.  What do you think??

I thought about moving this lamp into my bedroom and putting my bedside lamp by my desk - the look is just so cozy and relaxing!  But I think it's going to stay where it is for now; it's yet another beautiful thing I have made to decorate my workspace.

      And that's it for now!  I hope you are all having a fantastic Easter weekend!  

Thanks for reading, 

    Love Emily.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

I drew a warm-up sketch of my friend Hannah tonight and I was really proud of the way I managed to get across the different light spots on her tights.  I love hatching and cross-hatching patterns and I am always trying to get them to look more realistic and get different effects with them, and I am proud of the way things turned out here.

Also my friend is a total babe.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Nail Art Interlude - Perfect Polka Dots

Please excuse the terrible flash; I only got this one picture before the paint was completely ruined at work.

Let's not even pretend that I am good at keeping a blog, but I am good at making pretty nails sometimes and that is what's important.  Even though this was intended to be a blog of my artistic excursions.  Oh well!

This was incredibly easy - everyone loves pretty polka dot nails, probably because they are so versatile.  You can use pretty much any two colours you have and they always look cute and whimsical.

I used to use toothpicks to get a polka dot effect, but I was always dissatisfied with the result: they always made more of a large blob than a polka dot, and often they smudged while drying because blobs of paint take forever to dry!

The other day though, I figured out a fantastic way to get perfect dots of uniform size - or smaller if you prefer and have a steady hand.  Are you ready?

Simply push a straightpin into a pencil eraser and voila - the perfect dot making tool!  Pushing the pin in far enough to stay is painful on the fingertips so I suggest using something else to jam it in there.

Not your teeth, or they will chip.  Not that I would know anything about that or anything.

Then dip the flat end of the pin into a drop of nail polish and dot away!

And that's it!  A fun way to spend a half hour instead of doing the dishes.

Have a great weekend and, if you celebrate it, a Happy Easter!

Thanks for reading!

Love, Emily.