I used to be a hooker.

It’s true. I used to be a hooker.

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And I was a happy hooker.

It all started with a long time admiration for the needle arts and a constant surplus of colourful clothing outgrown by my three school aged children.  It wasn’t until I stumbled across the website of Louisa Creed a brilliant hooker of rag rugs and drooled over the mind-boggling combinations of colours in Kaffe Fassett’s hooked rugs from his book Glorious Interiors that I got the scissors and with mad glee started cutting up the kid’s clothes.

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Armed with a good sturdy hook (a lucky second hand find gifted to me by my mom) and burlap from the sewing store I began to joyously paint with strips of fabric.  Although it was a very traditional and primitive style of hooking I liked my rugs to pop with colour.

Here are just some of the rugs that I had fun with.

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Hooking here and there for about three years my brief affair with rag rugs finally came to an end for alas my kids stopped growing. It was time for the happy hooker to pick up her paint brush again. It wasn’t the last artistic affair I would have though.  But I’ll save that camera story for another day.

A selection of my hooked rugs are available for purchase at my mini retrospective online art show.

Bleep inspiration quotes.

My apologies to any young-ins who might see (that their auntie used) the F word. This is probably the most “shock art” and opinionated my art will ever get. I used to really like inspiration quotes and even collected them in a book. But lately I have come to find them one of the most annoying over-posted types of posts on social media. Personally I’m inspired by things that take some sort of effort. Where someone has taken a risk, tried something new or put in some kind of effort to accomplish something and not just pressed a share button. It’s just my humble opinion but it inspired me to draw this and share. Press on image for the bigger picture.
Bleep inspiration posters

It was a banner day!

Back in the spring of 2012 I was asked by the Street Scape committee of town of Chestermere where I lived in Alberta Canada if I would be interested in designing some banners for the town. It was not a paying job but I wasn’t a big fan of the current banners around town at the time and thought it would be a kick to add some colour and locally made art to the streets of Chestermere.

So I put on my thinking cap and thought about what I should create. My ‘dot’ style of artwork that I paint most frequently is very colourful but I doubt it would have translated well once enlarged onto the banners. Also, painting with dots is a rather lengthy process and seeing as though there was a time limit to when the artwork would have to go to print that style just wouldn’t work. When my kids were little I loved any of the very popular books they read by author and illustrator Eric Carle. Eric Carle‘s books feature bold and colourful artwork made from hundreds of painted tissue paper cutouts arranged together to form lovely happy images. I thought perhaps I would try my hand at some Eric Carle inspired banners.

The banners were to hang during the spring and summer seasons so I got out my paper, paints, acrylic medium and scissors and set to work. For the next month my workspace would have little bits of colourful cut paper pieces everywhere! This is what I came up with.
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Chestermere has a lake which is home to the Calgary Yacht Club. Often you see the little ‘training’ sailboats grouped together sailing back and forth with their practice.
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The lake is also known to have a lot of weeds which are kind of creepy to swim in but I thought would make a colourful picture.
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Spring and summer of course bring beautiful flowers. And with them come the dandelions which I happen to think aren’t so bad especially since they are a super-food.
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But two of my favourite things about the two S seasons are the birds and the bees!
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It was a lot of fun to see the banners printed and hung along West Chestermere Drive that summer. They continue to be displayed each year during spring and summer since then. I believe there are more over by Sunset Park on East Chestermere Drive.
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I’m now selling the original pieces of artwork. They are each 12″ x 5.5″ on canvas paper. I used golden acrylic paints, golden medium, and various papers to create each piece. Each art work is selling for $50 each not including postage. If you are interested please email me at lesleypaints@hotmail.com

Out the window and across the street

For almost two years my husband and I have lived in a lovely little neighbourhood called Crescent Heights in Calgary, Alberta. Our kids had all moved out and we did a huge down-size. We moved from a big home in the burbs closer to downtown to see what it was like to live near the city centre. The neighbourhood is full of beautiful little heritage homes and big trees that overlap and touch each other’s branches from opposite sides of the street. Squirrels and bunnies are abundant and there is a beautiful park at the end of our street. It hosts a lot of nature for being so close to downtown. But you know the city is very close as from our window you can see The Bow which one of Western Canada’s tallest buildings.

It’s been a delight living here and having so many beautiful things to draw from the neighbourhood. I’ve drawn in the park, as well as some of the heritage homes and quite a few times I’ve drawn the view out the window and across the street. There is one house in particular that stirs up my imagination. It’s the green house directly across the street. When we first moved here I noticed an easel up in one of the top floor windows. Aha, I thought! A fellow artist lives there. Sure enough I have seen an artist supply/frame truck pull up several times delivering goods while we have been living here. I wonder, is it the man or the lady who is the artist? Or maybe both? I wonder what they paint? I wonder if they know an artist lives across the street in the apartment and has drawn their house more than a few times?

Well it may all have to stay just a fun mystery as we are planning a move in the spring. We’re both craving a little more space and a lot more light. We’ll always think fondly of our time in Crescent Heights and I’m very glad to have recorded so many things in my sketchbooks from this place. Some of my favourites are of course the view out the window and across the street.

Here are some of the drawings…
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out the window

someones moving

onthe patio

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Holy Cow! David Duchovny, an X-Files thrill, and some folk-art making memories

Yesterday I read that the actor and now published author David Duchovny has a new book out called Holy Cow. From what I’ve read it’s a funny book about a cow and her farmyard friends who escape the farm and the adventures they have finding a better life.

Check it out!
Holy Cow by David Duchovny

It made me remember a time, specifically between the years of 1991-2000 when I made and sold a lot of folk art for a store in Vancouver, B.C. called Folkart Interiors. I painted literally hundreds of paintings, painted old furniture, made medicine cabinets, birdhouses, mailboxes etc… mostly themed with cows, chickens, pigs, sheep and various farm animals. It was ideal for me as a stay at home mom and provided a way to make an income while being with my kids. I was always a little embarrassed of my folk art as it wasn’t fine art but there was a demand for it so I looked at it as more of a job where I could be a little creative. Later in life when folk art was a distance memory I visited the second floor of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia which is home to examples of extraordinary folk art from around the province and I suddenly felt pretty okay with the work I had done during those years. But perhaps I will write about that in a future post.

During my folk art making years I was also a massive X-Files fan and thought David Duchovny was the most handsome fella on t.v. One night my husband and I were sitting watching the newest episode of the X-Files called ‘The Red Museum‘. The episode involved a vegetarian cult of ‘walk-ins’ which I thought was funny as back then I was vegetarian as well. (I am vegan now.) There was a scene where Scully and Mulder were eating at a rib joint (filmed at a family restaurant in Ladner, B.C.). It was during that scene that I jumped up and said “Hey, that’s my painting behind Mulder’s head! Sure enough the film company had visited Folkart Interiors for ‘cow props’ and choose one of my paintings to be in the scene. It was a thrill and a kick indeed!

My big thrill!

The Red Museum episode trailer

Here’s a tiny trip down memory lane with just a sprinkle of some of the cows I painted…

A very pregnant me working on folk art for one of three new Cactus Club Cafe restaurants that opened in Vancouver, Richmond and Edmonton.
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Complete with weird spiral perm and mom-jeans but happily working away.
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Packing up for delivery to a Cactus Club Cafe.
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Painting outside, or with my kids, or at my neighbour’s kitchen table was always a pleasure.
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Holy Cow, I’ve painted a lot of cows!
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I’m not really sure if painting all those farm animals back then really agrees with my feelings on eating animals now. Back then I painted happy farm animals living happy lives which is not the reality for most food animals. The majority of food animals live very short lives filled with incredible suffering in factory farms. I see that Mr. Duchovny is now a ‘mostly’ vegetarian. As for me I am happy when I hear of people thinking about where their food comes from and being conscious of what kind of lives the animals lived no matter if they are meat eaters or not. And lastly I look forward to picking up Holy Cow and having a good read!

Making art here, there and everywhere!

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If you are one of those artists like me then you just like to try everything! Over the past seven or so years I’ve experimented with painting (oils, acrylics, & watercolours), photography, rug hooking, crochet, needlepoint, knitting etc… trying different styles and approaches to each. In that time we have moved a few times as well and my workspace has often changed. I’ve been lucky enough to always have my own little workspace where ever we have made our home and there is always that kitchen table or sofa with a ‘pillow easel’ that we often drift to! Earlier this year I made a little video that recorded a bunch of my workspace memories.

Room to Draw

This past week was a particularly fun week for me when it came to getting my homework done for the extremely excellent and highly recommendable online Sketchbook Skool I am taking. Our assignment was to draw a book cover be it a favourite or make-believe cover. I thought of a few favourite real life book covers I would love to reproduce starting with Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends or David Hockney’s The Bigger Picture or maybe even one of the many eye candy art books of Friedensreic Hundertwasser. But the dreamer/schemer in me thought why not make my own authored book cover which for now definitely falls in the make-believe category.

Backing up, in March of 2013, over a year and a half ago when my husband and I were visiting our sons’ apartment I had brought along a sketchbook and decided to draw while we sat and chatted. That was the first room drawing I ever drew. The lines were pretty simple and quick and I didn’t put in a lot of detail. But the result made me happy and I’ve since drawn many more rooms gradually taking more time on each drawing and adding more details.

The first room drawing I ever drew
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Here is just a small sampling of many more room drawings that have followed the first.
A view into the kitchen
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From my in-law’s kitchen looking out
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Having a cuppa at a cafe with my husband
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The view from our hotel room in Banff
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My computer desk at our old house
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When we moved into our apartment
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Sitting in bed
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The living room
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From a magazine but with some ‘extras’ added in
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The living room
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I think I may have the start of a pretty good collection of room drawings. I say start because I have a long way to go before I could ever fill a book. This week’s assignment however gave me a chance to have a little fun and imagine what that book if ever created might just look like. I would call it Room to Draw and it would be a collection of all the room drawings I’ve ever drawn in my sketchbooks.

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So now that I have had a chance to imagine the cover it’s time to fill up the pages. Here’s what I’ve done this week.

The corner of our livingroom
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From a magazine but with some ‘extras’ added
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And perhaps is it time to visit someone else’s room when you start drawing your bathroom?
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Stop motion silliness

Last week in my workspace it was week 1 of semester 3 of Sketchbook Skool. One of our homework assignments for the week was to illustrate a ‘how to do or make’ image. When deciding on what I would illustrate I thought of some doodles I had made several years ago of our cat Tang Tang in various yoga positions. I had drawn them after observing one of his daily stretches with the idea that one day it might be cool to make a yoga picture book featuring Tang. I never got around to making that book and only thought of the drawings again last week when our homework assignment came up. So I dug them out and decided why not make a little stop motion film of Tang demonstrating a Simple Suryanamaskar or Sun Salutation.

Here are the original drawings.
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I first drew and painted a ‘background’ in my sketchbook. I wanted it to be as colourful as possible as Tang Tang was a flame point siamese and was mostly white/cream coloured so he needed to stand out while doing his poses. Then I hit the stationary store for some of those groovy little fasteners that would allow Tang to bend and move. Next, I drew out the words that would explain the various positions.

Throughout the week my workspace moved from my art room, to the couch to the living room table.
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With all the art work finished it was time to turn it into a little film. All I needed was my iPhone and a ‘set up’. A couple of board games, a rubber bin, a large ruler and a rubber band became my tripod. Sometimes I think figuring out how to film it can be as fun as the artwork part. I rolled back the living room carpet and set up where I could take advantage of some natural light. Getting the right light was a challenge because of it being a partly cloudy day. The sun would come and go so I found myself in a bit of a hurry.

The final workspace was the living room floor.
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I’ve always loved silly little homemade stop motion films so I was especially delighted when I found out I could make these kinds of films very easily with just an app on my phone. Here’s my homework…How to do a Simple Suryanamaskar (Sun Salutation) featuring Tang Tang Spooky Longclaws.

Of stickers and sketchbooks

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A couple of months ago I purchased artist Tommy Kane’s fantastic book ‘An Excuse to Draw’. When I turned to page 8 my eyes saw the most glorious sight ever. Stickers on sketchbooks! Wow, I couldn’t think of anything more hip or cool. Being a new admirer of his work my husband and I bought a print of one of Tommy’s drawings. And to my delight when the package arrived he had included along with the print two magnificent stickers! Tommy’s signature squirrel-yielding-a-handgun as well as a happy-Buddha-man sculpture both drawn in his distinctively cool style. I was equally excited about both the gorgeous print and funky stickers.

So I’ve fallen in love with these groovy little stickable art forms. I’ve been collecting them everywhere from visits to the Glenbow Museum and trips to the town of Banff, to my very own art stickers now available at my Red Bubble shop. Rest assured I’ll be coming up with new sticker ideas in the near future. I love that the outside covers of a sketchbook can be just as much a work of art as the drawings and paintings contained on the pages within. All of it documenting and celebrating the things we are drawn to.