Friday, November 20, 2015

ADEM - Day Eighteen, Nineteen, Twenty & Twenty-One

I've been conspicuously absent from AEDM for... hmm, let me see, Day 15 was the last time I posted. For the last five or so days I've been hobbling around like the hunchback of Notre Dame. We McLean's have notoriously bad backs and once again, with no fault of my own, I pulled my back out. I didn't even twist, trip or move the wrong way. Sheesh! You'd think I'd have done a jig or participated in the triathlon with the amount of pain I've had these past days.

It took me four days to draw a spoon. That sounds really pathetic. But every time I went to put pencil to paper my back wouldn't co-operate. I got the idea to do a spoon from Nigel Roberts, he's participating in AEDM too. I visited his blog and learned about The Spoon Theory. I was mesmerized by Christine Miserandino’s explanation of what's it like to be ill. 
I understand how Christine feels. I don't have lupus but I do get how one who is ill has to "count her spoons". Her explanation is the first time I've had a cogent way of explaining what it's like to not have the physical resources one wishes they had. So, that's it for today. I'm slowly healing and I can't guarantee any art in any consistency but I'll keep trying. Until then, I hope you all have a day filled with paint.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Do You Know About The Perfect Sketchbook?

I just thought I'd add an update for all of you lovely artists out there interested in spectacular art supplies. If you're like me, and I don't think I've met an artist who wasn't, you LOVE learning about art supplies.

Some time ago a very cool artist, Erwin Lian, decided to try to create The Perfect Sketchbook. He crowd funded a pocket version of the sketchbook you see on the left. The campaign was a total success and artists around the world heralded the incredible paper and other great features of this sketchbook.

I was so thrilled when Erwin decided to, once again, crowd fund larger version of The Perfect Sketchbook. I wrote all about this new sketchbook's details HERE. The campaign is in it's last ten days so if you want to get your own Perfect Sketchbook, go here and buy into the crowd fund. It is 225% funded so the sketchbook is guaranteed to go through. All who contributed to purchasing a Perfect Sketchbook will be getting our wish. Because Mr. Lian is unsure if this Perfect Sketchbook will ever be available in stores, this is you only guaranteed way of getting one of these gems. I didn't participate last time with the pocket sketchbook and I regretted it, this time, come hell or high water, I was gonna participate. Who wouldn't want a spectacularly good sketchbook with amazing paper and a leather cover that you can actually get embossed with your name?? Seriously, so far, 42 countries full of artists have participated!

Yep, it's popular! HURRY, there's only TEN DAYS LEFT to participate. It would be a great Christmas gift for any artist.


Saturday, November 14, 2015

AEDM - Day Fifteen

Wow, half way through AEDM. Christmas is just six weeks away. I'm stunned. I guess I gotta make a Christmas list, huh? I'm sure there'll be art supplies on it, there always is. Last Christmas one of the things I really wanted were Da Vinci Maestro Pure Kolinsky 1503 watercolor brushes. Here's the story.

When I started painting in watercolor I knew nothing about the supplies, I had a LOT to learn. I bought standard brushes, not too good, not bad either. But I did purchase brushes that were waaaay too large, I didn't even have an 6, everything was a 8 or bigger! I struggled. A few years later I started painting in a sketchbook and bought waterbrushes. What a wonderful invention!! They made working with watercolor so much easier since I didn't really know what I was doing, lol. I took Sketchbook Skool classes and thrived with the waterbrushes. I fell in love with the Niji and bought all sizes. I put good brushes on my Christmas list along with new Niji yearly.
Ode To My Beloved Waterbrushes
What changed everything was when I took a class with Tracey Fletcher King. It was called Delicious Paint (and will be run again in April 2016, I suggest you take it!!) Tracey suggested I try actual brushes but didn't tell me what brand, just that she used from a 1 to a 5 size almost exclusively. I went looking and learned by accident (just by trying to learn about which synthetic brushes were the best) that sable brushes were harder to purchase currently. It seems that the animal (in the weasel family) the hair came from was on the endangered list and no one knew if importing would start again. (I have no idea what happened with that, by the way). This made me decide to bite the bullet and get good brushes once and for all and it seemed many agreed that Da Vinci's 1503 were great brushes. (They're actually travel brushes but then I have small hands and i loved the idea that I could protect the expensive tips by storing them in their handles.

These brushes, along with Tracey's tutelage, changed my art drastically. I went from that looks nice to I'm so proud of that! I'm SO glad I spent the money on my brushes, I covet them. Now though my waterbrushes stand on my desk in a cup, unloved and a little dusty. I mostly use them now for adding water to my paint, lol. They're accurate for that which is great. Maybe someday I'll do plein air work, until now they sit and remind me of when I struggled to understand my paint. I'm so glad I kept struggling because now painting makes me so happy.

Friday, November 13, 2015

AEDM - Dy Fourteen

What a terrible thing to happen in Paris. I'm horrified. It makes one feel so helpless to hear of such terrible acts against innocent people. It also feels a little weird to post about something so silly as my glasses and how I drew them up this afternoon, immortalizing them on a page. Yes, I'm supposed to do art about my life and I'm thrilled to have a terrific pair of glasses that help me see ever so much better. But it feels so trivial somehow. I'm sure everybody is feeling the same way though, I'm not alone, I'm sure.

So, I'm gonna leave it at the art and say I'm so sorry terrorism has landed within your borders again. I hope and pray for the recovery of all who were affected.
My New Glasses

AEDM - Day Twelve & Thirteen

I obviously meant this to go up for Remembrance Day but it took too much time to finish. Do you mind seeing poppies on November thirteenth?? I can't believe it's already thirteen days into AEDM. Where does the time go?

The poppies were so much fun to do. I really did splash paint around, all over my arms (as I put one into a puddle of paint on the page, lol) and drips on my desk. This is probably the messiest I've ever painted. I wanted it to be really free form, the impression of bright red poppies. I'm actually pretty darn pleased for my very first attempt at freeform painting. I really didn't plan anything but the stems (I didn't want to paint over them inadvertently as it's hard to un-paint quin red and pure yellow, they're quite staining.) I just made four mixes of color, pure red, yellow mix, dark red-purple mix and a dark black type color, I used neutral tint actually. I knew I'd just dip and paint for all the other nuances. It worked terrifically, well, except now my palette is kind of a mess, lol. But then that's the best kind of mess, right?? The more paint everywhere the better.

NEVER FORGET - Remembrance Day Poppies
Anyway, here's wishing all of you artist a great and happy weekend filled with art. My plan is to cover myself in some kind of art supplies, maybe graphite or charcoal or something this time. We'll see, I try not to plan my creativity too much, lol.
Talk soon, K? Good!


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Book Review: Death Before Decaf by Caroline Fardig

"Death Before Decaf" by Caroline Fardig begins a new series  that comes out November 17th, 2015 starring an outspoken fiery redhead named Juliet Langley. She is a musician and business owner but when her career crashes and the coffee bar she loves is monetarily gutted by her cheating fiancé  Juliet is forced to take a job as the new manager of Java Jive. It's owned by her best friend Pete, they've known each other since University. What could go wrong?

On Juliet's first day she doesn't make a good impression on her staff. She fights with the head cook and alienates the baristas. The day gets even worse when she finds the cook she argued with dead in the dumpster out back. Now she's a suspect in a murder, her employees hate her, Java Jive is hemorrhaging money and she can't count the health code violations she's spotted all over the restaurant.

Juliet wonders what she's gotten herself into. She decides she better find the real killer before the police decide she's the easiest person to charge in the murder. The problem is she's a hotheaded redhead not a sleuth.

This turned out to be quite a fluffy mystery. For me, it was only a three out of five star. I just didn't enjoy the characters, they seemed so one dimensional and obvious. Juliet is  a redhead who actually blames her red hair for having little control of her anger and other emotional outbursts. Pete, her best friend and secret crush is actually called "Saint Pete" in the book and he's too perfect. In fact he's so perfect he becomes milk toast. Many of the other minor characters are similarly one dimensional, the bitchy girlfriend, the sarcastic barista, the lone wolf mystery man and the foul mouthed crackerjack grandma. 

It was hard to believe that the character Juliet, after being so cheated on only a few months ago, would so easily trust and date a guy she knew nothing about. I just never really got to care about who murdered the cook. I gave the book three out of five because the writing was smooth and easy to digest, there were no superfluous filler bits that bore the reader and it made me wish the actual story was better. I've heard that Caroline Fardig has written another series called the Lizzie Hart mysteries that are wildly popular. I just might try one of those next. I don't want to give up on this author quite yet.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

AEDM - Day Ten

Something simple today. It's been a looong day. I started juicing today and learning to get it right, cutting pup all the veggies and prepping them, all for future juice extraction, has been exhausting work. 

Someone in Sketchbook Skool (on the Facebook website) did something similar to this and I thought is was so darn cute and tongue in cheek that I just had to do a little stealing. And since I've read the book "Steal Like An Artist", I'm just proving I know how to read and do what I'm told. ;o)
(Thumbnail Sketch, you gotta love a little subtle humor.)

Let's just hope life settles down and I have a little more time for art. I have so many ideas like I want to do some poppies. I've wanted to try poppies for months and since Remembrance Day is just around the corner, I thought it was the perfect time. Now, just to carve out some time!


Sunday, November 8, 2015

AEDM - Day Nine

Ooh, I love to add paint to a piece. This one I really wanted to capture the "well loved" nature of the lotion tube. I think I captured that. I decided to do the shadow in purple because the shadows on the tube was neutral tint and the silver top part was Payne's grey. I wanted the cast shadow to stand out from the other shadows.

This is what the drawing looked like yesterday, before I added any detail. It's weird to look at the line drawing after you have the finished product to compare to.
I found that I had to just go for it when it came to putting all the shadows on the tube in. It's kind of hard to mess up a pretty bottle with all those little flowers but if I wanted it to looked squeezed and folded I had to just throw caution to the wind. I think it worked.
Talk to you in a day or so with paint, paint and more paint. K? Good!


AEDM - Day Eight

I expect I've never mentioned that I love hand lotion. I tend to have dry skin but I'm picky about my moisturizers. So many of them leave a horrible film on my skin. Here's my hand lotion hack. I combine two kinds. I use OPI Avojuice because it's really thin and leaves no film and I combine it with a rich and emollient lotion like Cath Kidson. Then the rich one spreads and sinks in but because of the Avojuice it somehow doesn't leave a sticky film all over my palms. TADA, the perfect hand lotion and no dry skin.
I only got the black and white drawing inked today, you'll have to wait until tomorrow to see it in living color. Later gator!


Friday, November 6, 2015

AEDM - Day Seven

Hello again, welcome to Autumn. Can you believe that Halloween and Thanksgiving (for Canadians) is gone? Me either! I can't believe Thanksgiving (for the US) and Christmas is truly around the corner. Seriously, it was just September and kids were going back to school just yesterday. So we're already seven days into AEDM, life is zipping by at the speed of light.

The frightening thing is that I've already sent some Christmas presents out because when they go around the world they take FOREVER. Even worse, I sent them two weeks ago and I'm told they're STILL gonna be late! Time is so short.

I decided I better do an homage to Fall before everything is covered in SNOW!!! Maybe I should whisper that... snow. The only thing I like about winter is Christmas and the promise of a New Year. Everything covered in white fluff is pretty as long as you don't have to go out in it, lol. I'm hoping our precipitation stays liquid all winter. So, here's to a loooooong Autumn.
We'll talk later. Go make yourself a hot chocolate with marshmallows. I think you deserve it. :o)


Thursday, November 5, 2015

AEDM - Day Five & Six

It's another few days into AEDM and I'm madly painting away. I'm determined, after this intense month of Art Everyday, to have a habit that I take into the new year. I'm thinking of it as an early New Year's Resolution for 2016. Planning ahead always helps in these things.

It seems I'm rubbish about normally keeping an art habit. It's not that I don't have ideas to paint or even that I don't have time. I have an abundance of ideas, so many that I keep both a physical list on a piece of dedicated paper and also a folder of ideas on my computer. The computer folder is BULGING with ideas so you'd think, since I do have time to paint, that I'd PAINT. Huh, no clue what stops me in my tracks many times.

It's not even that I think I won't get the effect I want. I'm actually pretty confident in my skills. The course I took with Tracey Fletcher King really helped solidify my skills and her feedback boosted my confidence in my abilities to get what I wanted in my artwork. I'd highly recommend her art courses to all artists especially anyone struggling to improve their skills.

Anyway, I had this idea in the summer to do an ice-cream & popsicle page. I love how it turned out. As I said the other day, it reminds me of that Sesame Street song, "One of these things is not like the others, one of these things doesn't belong!"
Ice-cream & Popsicles
I'll be back soon with more art. Until then you might want to check out a previous post I wrote last week. It's about The Perfect Sketchbook, you might want to order one and you can learn all about the crowd funded project by reading my post. You'll find artists all over the net talking about this campaign, go to their actual site by clicking


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

ADEM - Day Three & Four

I'm combining posts because I'm having a heck of a time catching up to the group doing AEDM. I'm on the Pacific coast of Canada so I'm three hours behind many of the posters in this month's art everyday challenge. This means that by the evening I'm already totally behind. I find myself posting close to the next days ADEM post, the last on the totem pole so to speak. I hate that. So, I did two smaller pieces today and decided to combine them into one post for Day 4, thus getting "ahead". YAY!!

The first thing I did was my trusty Sakura Micron Pen. What artist doesn't use hundreds of these over a lifetime? This is my Ode To My Black Pen. What else can I say, they rock. (Don't forget archival and waterproof!)

Ode To My Micron Pen
My next piece is another Ode actually. My wonderful cousin hooked us up with Netflix a couple of weeks ago. Without his help we wouldn't have tried as I know NOTHING about Netflix or any other streaming services or how to "get" it. Total blank on that subject. Think of an empty box, like that. Someone mentions Netflix (or for that matter, Amazon TV, Shoime, Hulu, Google play etc.) I get a vacant stare that shows no one is home. 

Ode To Netflix
But now I'm totally in the know. Ok, I get Netflix. Don't ask me about all the others. I'm in LOVE too. In love with Netflix. I thought I'd totally go for the TV programs I'd missed over the years like Breaking Bad or The Office, or maybe a bunch of movies. But no. I'm addicted to documentaries. Yep, you heard it. I guess I'm not so much a shallow pool, only interested in mysteries and good fiction. I love information, and I can't seem to get enough! I've watched hundreds of hours of TED talks and since each one is always less than say, twenty minutes, that's saying something.

I've learned SO much in just a few weeks of binge watching. I've seen that engineers have finally figured out how to make a mechanical bird fly just like a real bird. And it flew around the room. I've also seen robotics engineers proudly show an exoskeleton that helps soldiers carry more than two hundred pounds of stuff on their backs without hurting the soldier. They use the same technology to make paraplegics walk. They actually walk, swear to god. I've heard brilliant doctors talk about cancer and that with new techniques like angiogenesis we can actually make cancer a paper tiger, no threat anymore. They've done it in the lab with actual human patients. Holy cow. I'll let you look up angiogenesis, but essentially it has to do with teaching the body not to feed the cancer by not giving it access to our capillary system growth. No food for cancer, no cancer. It dies. And no chemotherapy. 

How about teaching your body that stress is actually good for you? That if you believe that even overwhelming stress cannot hurt you, then it won't. Again, holy cow! And here's a quote that I loved. It came from the same TED talk where this social psychologist told us about stress. Here's the quote...

Chasing meaning is more helpful
than avoiding discomfort.

I'll leave you with that thought today. Have a great day!


Monday, November 2, 2015

ADEM - Day Two

I only got a few things inked out today. They await paint but you gotta admit that they look like they'll turn out to be fun projects. I'm looking forward to giving character to every one of my watercolor paint tubes! And Ohhh, ice-cream. It makes me wish for summer again. The ice-cream page reminds me of the song from Sesame Street. You know the one...
One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn't belong.
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?
Yep, I'm pretty much aging myself. Sesame Street, before Teletubbies, Thomas the Train and all the other kiddie shows. It was always Bugs Bunny and Sesame Street. Which was your favorite character? Mine was Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch. My time was before the eternally happy and endlessly red Elmo. If I was a kid now, I'd totally choose Elmo. I'd be all over that.
Watercolor TubesPopsicles & Ice-Ceam
The tubes of paint are ALL of my tube colors, mostly Daniel Smith. Each tube has it's own unique crumpled appearance and I'm gonna try to capture that uniqueness. Anyway, see you in a day, probably in color, lol.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

AEDM - Day One

So, here we are again, in November. I can't believe how quickly this year has flown by. I have to admit, with the very, very hot summer this year, I was so glad to move into Fall. But now, with the time change already in the wind, we're into WINTER. I don't want to be in winter yet. I protest! I don't think Mother Nature is gonna listen though. Maybe we'll be lucky and only get rain this winter, I've heard that El Niño just may give me my wish. Ooh a Christmas gift before Christmas would be great!

Speaking of Christmas, have any of you started planning your season? We usually start mid-September, collecting recipes, thinking about how we want Christmas to feel this year and dreaming of putting the tree up. Strangely we haven't even started thinking or prepping for 2015's Christmas so far. I'm pretty sure it's because here in the McLean household we're doing a complex diet type thing. I'm trying to find out what foods I might be sensitive to so I can reduce the incidence of tummy pain and tamp down on inflammation. It's actually a cool way of eating, it's just rigorous as you have to only change ONE food per day. It kind of means you cook for two days at a time and change only one item, like today we added chickpeas. Good to go on those so far, lol.
Green Beans
So it's gonna be a month at least until I drag the tree up here and cover it in tinsel. Have any of you even SEEN tinsel in years?? Ya, me either. Anyway, all this has nothing to do with the piece of art I painted today. How am I gonna connect green beans with Christmas? I guess they could be a side dish. (right after I test them, that is, hehehe.) Ok, so for the first day of Art Everyday 2015 we have GREEN BEANS. Anyone got a pat of butter??

Talk later, K?
Good! I need coffee, painting after so long totally did my head in. Give me a few days to acclimate. Maybe I need some chocolate too.....


Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Perfect Sketchbook is BACK!!

From the crowd funded campaign page of
The Perfect Sketchbook
If you're an artist you've probably heard of The Perfect Sketchook. A year or so ago a crowd funded pocket sketchbook was born and it was incredibly popular. It had great paper and all the other wonderful bits that every watercolor or pen & ink artist would want included in the perfect sketchbook. Well, it's being done again and this time the sketchbook is bigger, it's not a little pocket pal like the very popular Perfect sketchbook was last time.

This, once again crowd funded Perfect Sketchbook, is a large 7 x 10.25 inches (approx.) which is much more usable to so many more artists! The Perfect Pocked Sketchbook was so popular and this time with the large Perfect Sketchbook, the sales are going like wildfire. In fact, the crowd funded event only started two days ago and it's already fully funded so the Perfect Sketchbook (large) will go forward, guaranteed. 

Picture from The Perfect Sketchbook B5 page
There are still ways you can participate and get you're own Perfect Sketchbook. Just go to the crowd funded page HERE and choose the way you'd like to participate. You can get your own Perfect Sketchbook for as little as $40USD. The new Perfect Sketchbook (B5) is twice the size of the original pocket Perfect Sketchbook. The sketchbook has 56 pages of artist grade watercolor paper made by Fabriano Artistico. The paper is 100% cotton, 200gsm and is cold pressed. A nice detail is that the side of the pages will be decal edged.

Just to give you an idea of the quality of this sketchbook, the Fabriano paper has been favored by renaissance masters like Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael. This really sounds like a special Perfect Sketchbook, the cover will be recycled leather with rounded corners and a pocket in the back to hold miscellaneous bits. Go see for yourself, I can't imagine any artist who works in any way in a sketchbook not loving this one. Oh, and I almost forgot, you can even get it personalized with gilded lettering (like your name) on the cover for just a little more money! 

I'll be back in a few days for Art Everyday November (read about it with this link). This will be my third year participating and I hope you'll join me. It's a great community and also a terrific way to start a good tradition making consistent art. If you'd like to sign up, just go here! Think of it as an early New Years resolution. All you have to do is go to Leah's blog (everyday if you'd like to) in November, her blog is Creative Everyday. Just add your name and link to your art. See you there.

Oh, and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!!!! BOO. hehehehe.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Book Review: "Host" by Robin Cook

I was happy when I was contacted to find out if I wanted to read and review Robin Cook's newest thriller, "Host". I remembered that the name Cook used to be spoken reverently in our home when I was a teen. His books were always fought over by my parents, who got to read the latest tome first. I was therefore excited to read a Cook thriller, I have to admit, I thought "why haven't I picked one of his books up recently?". This offer from G.P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin Random House certainly would correct my omission.

Lynn Peirce, a fourth year medical student at Mason-Dixon University hospital is our main character. Lynn encouraged her boyfriend Carl to have his simple knee operation done at her Hospital and she even recommended the perfect doctor to do it. But something goes wrong with the anesthesia and Carl doesn't wake up after surgery. Lynn is stunned but when she hears of another case of a simple surgery ending in the patient being comatose she becomes suspicious. Is there something going on in Mason-Dixon University Hospital? As Lynn and her medical school partner Michael look for answers, their medical careers and their very lives are put in danger. Searching for the truth may be very bad for their health.

Although Mr. Cook is still a wonderful writer who illicits feelings of excitement in the reader, this newest novel seems to be somewhat of a rehash of an older Cook thriller. As I understand, "Coma", written in 1977, was Robin Cook's first big hit. I am sorry to say that "Host" seems to be a rehash of the main theme of that first book. 

Now, that's not to say it isn't good, at least for those who have never read Cook. I, however was a little disappointed. For me, because I had read "Coma", I found this book to be only a three star out of five. If you haven't ever read Cook though, I'd recommend trying this one, it has all the latest technological upgrades to the medical field added in that wouldn't have existed in 1977. I just wish this had been more of an original and new Cook book.


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