Latest Posts
This past week I worked at a few different locations - ones I visit often due to errands and running children about.

This is one of my all time favorite buildings in Montreal. Abandoned in 1989, it's the old Canadian Malting Factory, built in 1904.  I worried that it was on the verge of being torn down for condos as it sits on prime property on the banks of the Lachine Canal, but it seems that it's protected as part of the Lachine Canal National Historic Site. I will no doubt be sketching it on other occasions.

In my effort to sketch daily and build watercolour skills, I'm filling my wee watercolour sketch book quite nicely. I don't always get a completed painting done each day, but perhaps a sketch one day and the painting the next. Sometimes I'll do multiple in one day - whatever the day allows.

Here are a few from the last couple of weeks.

This is the view from the corner front window at the famous La Croissanterie Figaro at Fairmount St., looking down Hutchison St in Mile End. I loathe drawing vehicles, so I'm forcing myself to include them when I see them. Maybe they will grow on me. I sketched with pencil and brown ink and watercoloured over top. 

In Mile End, again, St. Viateur St. I sketched this one on location but had to photograph it and leave to fetch my kids from their music classes before I got to painting, which I later did in my studio. 
Before I added paint, though, I felt maybe I overdid it with the ink.  But I think it feels okay ... 

I live in Verdun, so I'm around to find a lot of fun scenes here. This is actually from a photo I took in December, pre-snow, of this incredibly fluffy dog waiting outside the IGA.  I loved the pop of red in his bandanna.  I wanted to try working in pencil and paint only and skip the ink. It's softer than my other attempts, but also feels kind of inviting. 

I've been watching Shari Blaukopf's Craftsy* video, Sketching the City in Pen, Ink & Watercolor. I just love her style.  She breaks down the steps into bite sized chunks and I think you'll be happily surprised at how satisfying watercolour can be. I resisted learning for a long time, but now I very much wish I hadn't. It's so portable and immediate - great for location sketching. Give it a whirl. 

*I am a Craftsy affiliate. Thank you for your support and for supporting creative people everywhere.   

This is the finishing steps from a looong time ago (see Part 1) to fine tuning and file preparation before sending the file to the printers. I apologize for the delay.

We adjusted the design to minimize vinyl which meant removing the white from the back end. 
After receiving thumbs up on the mock up prepared in Photoshop I transferred the design over to Illustrator. I couldn't find a tutorial on how to properly set up the file in Illustrator, but I did find one for Corel Draw, and it served fine as a general guide.
Basically, you need to create a masking layer to sit on top of all of your other working layers.

This is what I did, step by step...

After some back and forth with the printer, I was instructed that in order to make the file print ready, I needed to create a cut line layer and a bleed layer for my design in Illustrator.

  • The cut line needed to work out to be 2" at full size - that worked out to a 3 pt stroke on the scale I was working at. 
  • I made the bleed colour black to match the colour of the truck. It seemed to make the most sense to me - and the simplest way to create a bleed without having to make a complicated outline that changes colour as it travels around the design.  If you have better way to do this, let me know in the comments.

  • I ran into trouble when trying to create a compound shape to outline because I hadn't realized I had to "expand appearance" in order for the selection to include the stroke and drop shadows. Before expanding appearance (or in some places, simply the "expand" command sufficed - not sure why), the cut line ended up on the inside of the stroke, meaning it would cut it off altogether. Not ideal. If you run into this problem - expand, expand, expand! 
  • For text, "outline type" first, then expand to be able to select everything, including stroke and fx.
  • You have to really get up close and personal with your design - make sure things are smooth and delete any run away points with the "-" pen tool.

I communicated a lot with the printer and confirmed pantone colours with him.  Make sure you have open communication with whoever your client is using to print the vinyl, and be prepared to make adjustments as necessary.

All in all, a new experience for me, but lots of fun. This client ran into some unforeseen business expenses(read, a really expensive machine required really expensive repairs) and had to put vinyl signage on hold so this never made it to print, sadly.

Happy vehicle wrapping!

I went cross country skiing along the Lachine Canal last week. I didn't stop to sketch (it was too cold) but I managed to snap a few photos. This sketch was done at home in my tiny homemade watercolour book.

I recently worked with Kim, a longtime friend, to rebrand her blog from a mom blog ( to a travel and lifestyle blog, Vancouver Island View.  

Rebranding for Kim includes logo, blog header, social media covers, business card, and email signature.

Her focus shifted from kid, homeschool, and family based activities and musings to a more pointed focus on the wondrous experiences of living on, and travelling to, Vancouver Island.

Head over to her site to to discover Vancouver Island in a new and exciting way.

A tiny urban sketch. Row houses in NDG. 

A wee urban sketch of a burger joint in chilly Verdun, QC.  

It's that time of year we all take stock on how we've triumphed or missed the mark again for another year. How did I let this one slip by so quickly and how did I let myself to spread so thinly in so many different directions?  It's frustrating. It's anxiety feeding. It's driving me slowly insane.

I have plans for 2016 - big plans. And at the hub of them is creating better daily habits. To that end I've decided to both write and draw EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  All too often I find myself in the throws of a busy life with kids and responsibilities. Sometimes I hate that I'm so damn responsible. In fact, I use it as a procrastination crutch, so that I'm busying myself with mundane tasks and never quite getting the time I feel I need to see through my creative impulses. So, I've come to finally realize that they can't be creative impulses. They have to be intentional, scheduled daily habits with a goal (ahem, goalsssssss) in mind.

I want to polish and publish my book series. In November I took part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and actually wrote the second book in a month! It's a very rough first draft but I did it. A whole novel in a month. The first book took me the better part of 4 years with a lot of procrastination (aka, fear and hesitation). But November was a turning point for me, and I did it, mostly joyfully, by committing to sit my ass in a chair every morning at 630 or 7 am, make toast with PB and honey and some tea, and write somewhere in the neighbourhood of 1700 words. Sometimes it took an hour, sometimes two. And this was during one of the busiest months of the year for me, leading into THE craziest month of the year. I wasn't sure it would be possible .... but then it was. Like magic. It became a ritual.

I've always said "I wish there were more hours in a day." Turns out, there are. You just have to get up earlier and prioritize your goals. 

Every time I finished my word count for the day a feeling of conquering the whole blessed world came over me.  I kid you not, on more days than one, I'd type the final sentence and my arms would reflexively shoot up in the air like Rocky, victorious in the ring. That feeling can be euphoric and addictive, and can lead to thoughts like, Well shit. I've already written a whole chapter before most people are awake. Anything else I accomplish today is gravy. Potentially, a dangerous line of thought, yes, because I could find a whole lot of things to do to procrastinate the rest of my day away.

Be it writing a blog post, a poem, a short story, working on my book series or carving out time to submit my work to agents or publishers, I endeavor to make a specific time for writing every day. It's that important to me. Yes, I am saying this out loud to myself.  Every day. It is that important to me.

My other great love is drawing. I want to improve my drawing and watercolor skills. So many days I've had it in my head that today I would draw, I would try new techniques. But it was so hard to actually make it happen - even if my day was free of outside appointments. So now I have to get serious about this. Do I want to work on my illustration skills? Heck yes. And drawing is a big foundation. I know I should be doing it every day. And I WANT to be doing it everyday.

I actually made a pocket sized book from 8x10 Fabriano watercolor paper, torn into quarters. It's done with a Coptic stitch and has no spine so that it lays flat when opened. It's not very difficult to make - you should try it. :)  I plan to use this little book for my Urban Sketching endeavors - and again, my plan is to carve out a prioritized time every single day to do some sort of drawing based work, be it out in my community or in front of my television.

Do you have plans to cut through the craziness of life and make a commitment to your goals this year? Do you have techniques on time management you'd like to share? Let me know in the comments.