Bento Leftovers.

Bento Leftovers, Jan. 2015, sharpies on paper

Poppy has decided that she is “allergic” to vegetables. One day I took a photo of her bento at the end of the school day with the uneaten edamame still on the food picks (in order to text it to my husband to complain about it), but then I found that I really liked the photo. I have since started taking photos of her lunches at the end of the day as well as the beginning. It’s interesting to see the contrast between the neat, orderly lunch and the disheveled leftovers. I think next I’ll do a diptych of a before and after bento…maybe in watercolour…

In doing all of this bento art, I am remembering Mary Kelly–a conceptual artist I studied in University. More specifically, I am remembering her Post-Partum Document, where she methodically documented her sons’ first 6 years. Even though what I am doing doesn’t come close to the scale of her project, I do find it interesting to see where motherhood will take ones’ art.

For reference, here is a photo of what this bento lunch looked like at the beginning of the day (taken under very different lighting conditions):


Sharpie On.

Self-portrait in Nextfest shirt, Jan. 2015, coloured sharpie on paper

Yesterday morning the Roxy theatre in Edmonton, Alberta burned down. All day I was reminded of those summer days when I was living in Edmonton and attending University; and of when I was selected for the poster art for the Nextfest arts festival in 2003, which was run out of the Roxy. I realized that the last place I saw my 3 paintings, after they were purchased for the poster art, was hanging in the stairwell going to the second level of the Roxy. I don’t know if they were still there, or packed away, or long gone, but that doesn’t really bother me. I remember how obsessed I used to be with archival quality, and making things last. There was an urgency about everything, and everything felt like a big deal. That Dayna would never have believed that one day she would be making art with sharpies. Maybe I am getting old, or my values have changed, or maybe I am finally starting to not care so much about things that don’t really matter. Or maybe I have realized that I probably won’t ever “make it”–at least not in the way that I used to think I would.

I was reading through blogs that I follow, catching up with everything I missed the last month, and one blogger/writer, Christian Mihai, wrote:

“What people never seem to understand is that success it’s not about never failing. It’s about not quitting. It’s about keeping at it, regardless of the consequences.” (read the post here).

I keep coming across this sentiment, maybe because it speaks to me right now. It’s hard to keep going when you don’t seem to be getting anywhere, when everything you do seems mundane and a bit pointless, but doing nothing is right out of the question. Even talking like this about myself seems a bit pointless when there are 15 people from the Roxy who are out of the job, and a major venue for the Edmonton arts scene is gone.

There is almost too much going on in the world that I can’t think about. I feel guilty posting happy little paintings when there are major world events happening that should be taking precedence, but I just don’t know what to do. I am torn between letting it all get to me and doing nothing, or trying to contribute something good to the world in the best way I know how.

Another blogger/writer, Shawna Lemay, once included this quote by Gertude Stein, and it has been above my studio desk ever since:

“The artist’s job is not to succumb to despair but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence.”

So I will keep at it–this is my job–and I think I just at this moment fully understand the recent success of the “Keep Calm” meme.

Nextfest brochure 1Nextfest brochure 2Nextfest brochure 3

Coloured Sharpie Bento Fun!

Flower Pattern Bento, Jan. 2015, coloured sharpie on paper

So Poppy got these new coloured Sharpies for Christmas and I have been coveting them. I think I might have to go get some for myself because they are super fun–I mean there are FOUR different pinks! This was a really fun little sketch to do; I forgot how fun sketching is, and how satisfying it is to finish something quickly.

This was the second lunch that I have made in her new bento box. She loves the new bento. Maybe it is easier for her because it has just one tier to open…or maybe it’s just because it’s new. The food in this bento lunch is: yakisoba noodles with sausage and cheese cut-outs on top, and strawberries and cookies.

Bento 2.0

Poppy's Coloured Version, Oct. 2014

If anyone was getting bored with my Bento paintings, here’s something a little different. We were having a lazy studio day on Sunday, and I was doing a Bento sketch with a Sharpie marker; Poppy came up to me and asked if I could make a copy of it for her to colour. Prettier than the real thing I think. She got bored and didn’t want to finish it, but what can you do, she’s only seven.

And here is the original sketch, which we could just keep printing out to colour…if only the attention span of my seven-year old were but a bit longer.

September 3rd Bento Sketch, Oct. 2014, pencil and sharpie on paper



On Comics and Coming Full Circle.

Comic-style Landscape 3, Sept. 16, 2014Comic-style Landscape 2, Sept. 16, 2014Comic-style Landscape 1, Sept. 16, 2014

Ah, finally a good studio day! And I didn’t even get the paints out. Instead, I put my touchscreen laptop to good use and figured out how to use my Freshpaint program to digitally paint onto existing watercolours, just adding some comic-style outlining to them. I hadn’t been as happy with how finicky using a real brush to outline onto the paintings was, and I have been meaning to try out digital painting for a while.

I love how versatile doing the outlining on the computer is–I can un-do brushstrokes or colours, and I can do multiple versions from a single painting until I get what I want. I even have a “digital” paintbrush that I got specifically for touchscreens. I don’t know if it is much different from using a real paintbrush on the touchscreen (if that even works, I’ll admit I have not tried it), but the brush was on sale so I thought I would try it.

At first I thought that my interest in doing these comic-style watercolours had come from reading a lot more comics since we opened up our comic store, but the other day my husband pointed out that I was doing this back in University. How would I forget that? Maybe because it was met with disapproval at the time–I was doing acrylic portraits and then drawing back onto them and outlining with charcoal. I was told that drawing did not belong in a painting course, and I nearly failed the course because of it–and would have had it not been for the other instructors who defended me. Blah, I get stressed just thinking about it. It is interesting that 10 years later I am back to doing something similar, maybe I am finally continuing on with what I had actually started back then.

Even so, I have definitely been inspired by comic books. One of my biggest “Aha” moments came when I was reading about how the Saga series is illustrated by Fiona Staples. She does it all digitally and in layers and she is phenomenal. I tried to meet her at the Calgary Comic Expo this year, but the wait was so long; then I became too self-conscious about what I would say to her when I finally got there, so I chickened out. At the time I was also cos-playing as one of the main characters from Saga (Alana) which was only making me more nervous. Oh well, maybe next time I’ll catch her.

Kikwi Book Number 1(pages 1-9).

Page 1For this post I am going all the way back to February of this year. It’s funny how much my daughter’s skills have changed in just a few months. I forget how well she writes–back in February she was only using a few words in her drawings, and now she is writing whole pages. This was the first of the four Kikwi books she made. I had bought her one of those mini notebooks at Dollarama or somewhere, and she promptly filled it up with these very intricate comic-style stories about Kikwis (from The Legend of Zelda video game), along with some other mash-up references from anything she was into at the moment. The other main character she uses is actually Link (also from Legend of Zelda), but when she and my husband were playing the game he renamed Link “Lamesauce”, as Dads are apt to do, and the name stuck. So Lamesauce features heavily in her Kikwi stories.

There are 60 pages like the first page above, some with more panels and some with less, but all more or less following a storyline. I attempted to get Poppy to tell me what was happening in each panel, but we only got to page 19 and we were both pretty tired. So in Poppy’s own words, with only some minor clarification on my part, the story goes as follows:

Page 1 (pictured above) Panel 1 and 2 – Lamesauce leaves his room. Panel 3 – Two Kikwis and a Pony (a My Little Pony) sneak in. Panel 4 – An elder Kikwi and a little Kikwi bring Lamsauce a present. Panel 5 – A bunch of little Kikwis and an elder Kikwi bring Lamesauce presents. Panel 6 – Lamesauce catches some butterflies (just like in the video game).

And just for reference, this is a Kikwi: Kikwi_SS

Page 2 Page 2 Panel 1 – A Kikwi took the book from Lamesauce’s desk. Panel 2 – Four Kikwis get a giant book. Panel 3 – Seven Kikwi’s go down a vine. Panel 4 – One Kikwi lets go of the vine and takes a sailcloth landing (how Link lands in the game) into the water. Panel 5 – They all fall in the water all at the same time. Panel 6 – They swim underwater.

Page 3Page 3 Panel 1 – Lamesauce dropped his sword! Panel 2 – Then he threw off his green hat and green-like jacket (she was very specific about the “green-like jacket”). Panel 3 – The Lumpy Pumpkin (a place in the game). Panel 4 – A bunch of pumpkins and the pumpkin field of The Lumpy Pumpkin. Panel 5 – All the main Ponies find Lamesauce’s green hat and green-like jacket. Panel 6 – Both Unicorn Ponies do a spell to be able to hold the purple blanket.

Page 4Page 4 Panel 1 – The elder Kikwi and a little Kikwi find a globe that shows a burning eye (from Lord of the Rings)! Panel 2 – The elder Kikwi is trying to think what book to read next (because he is on the last page). Panel 3 – One of the little Kikwis  brings out the book saying “Yes yes” but the elder Kikwi says “No!”. Panel 4 – He reads the first page of “The King Who Tickled the Moon” (one of Poppy’s home reading books from school). Panel 5 – All the Kikwis say “We” because they want to read the book but the elder says no. Panel 6 – He’s like “Umm these Kikwis are too crazy!”. Panel 7 – Then they all say “Wii” because they want to play Boom Blox (a Wii game). Panel 8 – The elder Kikwi says “Yes.” and he puts the book away.

Page 5Page 5 Panel 1 – Lamesauce picks up a Kikwi, ready to read a story. Panel 2 – The Kikwi starts reading a story by saying “We.” Panel 3 – The Kikwi reads more by saying “We go.” Panel 4 – The Kikwi reading says “It’s me.” because the Kikwi who is reading is the Kikwi waving the sailcloth around and around. Panel 5 – Then he is showing a picture of Kikwis on a bus. Panel 6 – A Kikwi raising a phone and a Kikwi raising a book. Panel 7 – Kikwis pouring seeds. Panel 8 – Kikwis pouring more seeds.

Page 6Page 6 Panel 1 – Then the seeds pouring slows down. Panel 2 – The book is showing you how to love other Kikwis. Panel 3 – Then it’s showing a lucky heart envelope. Panel 4 – It talks more about the heart envelopes. Panel 5 – Then it’s telling Tutu (one of the Kikwis) to go to the ponies. Panel 6 – A Kikwi shouts “It’s The End!” (of the Kikwi Yearbook). Panel 8 – A Kikwi catches a heart ladybug.

Page 7Page 7 Panel 1 – A Kikwi watches her crystal ball, holding her bug net. Panel 2 – A bunch of Kikwis go dancing while one holds a book. Panel 3 – Then a Kikwi sees the vine jumping. Panel 4 – A bunch of Kikwis go “We’ll hang onto the vine with you.” Panel 5 – They all go down the vine and two let go and take a sailcloth landing into the water. Panel 6 – They all fall into the water at once. Panel 7 – The elder Kikwi went searching for all his little Kikwis. Page 8 – All the Kikwis meet Lamesauce under water.

Page 8Page 8 Panel 1 – A puff of pink turns into Spike (from My Little Pony). Panel 2 – Spike tells the Kikwis about the best My Little Ponies. Panel 3 and 4 – A heart turns into Sweetie Belle. Panel 5 and 6 – A puff of pink turns into Princess Luna.

Page 9Page 9 Panel 1 – A Kikwi thinks about Lamesauce. Panel 2 – Then she thinks of dowsing for Lamesauce. Panel 3 – She started dowsing and it said Lamesauce was underground digging for Rupies. Panel 4 – Then Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and Applejack came up but that was wrong! Panel 5 – Then a minion (from Despicable Me) disguised as Lamesauce came up. Panel 6 – The Kikwi thought it was the real Lamesauce. She didn’t notice the minion pin. Panel 7 – It pulled off it’s disguise and looked like a minion. Panel 8 – Then she was like “Urgh!” and she said “No more wrong things!”


So that seemed like a good spot to end off. I just love how she can portray emotions and express actions with her simple little Kikwi drawings. I don’t think I could do it. Especially just sitting down and drawing out of my head.



(The Beginnings Of) A Studio Poppy Book

Poppy Loves Ponyo Cover Page Another Studio Poppy project! I was kind of waiting for her to do a bit more on this one, but I think she may have lost interest in it. She has already done all the best bits, and after all she is only 6. This one is based on the “Agatha Parrot” books by Kjartan Poskitt. Agatha Parrot book cover She basically went page by page and copied the introduction pages, changing things a bit to make them her own. I think she was also imitating the drawing style. She has been doing a whole lot of reading this summer and has been inspired by everything she reads, wanting to copy them and change them up a bit with her own ideas. I am guessing that she might be a bit overwhelmed by starting the actual chapters, but who knows–I have been wrong before about her, and she might up and finish this book next week. For now here are the introduction pages she has done (including some two page spreads). Dedication pageTitle pageThe gangPoneie StreetTable of ContentsChapter 1 page 1Chapter 1 Page 2 And here is the Table of contents and first chapter beginning from the Agatha Parrot book–just so you can see how she changes it. I am very intrigued by her version; she already changed it to be very personal to her by making it about Ponyo (from the movie Ponyo by Hayao Miyazaki that she has been completely obsessed with lately). Agatha Parrot table of contentsAgatha Parrot chapter 1

A Studio Poppy Film

My daughter gets to be featured two weeks in a row because she is doing some amazing stuff! Although looking at the finished video I guess this was pretty collaborative, which is neat. Lately, we have been working our way through all the Hayao Miyazaki movies. I was trying to explain to her how cartoons were made and thought stop animation would be an easy way to show her. This took us most of the day to do, but it was fun. She also picked up that all the Hayao Miyazaki movies said “A Studio Ghibli Film” on them. She has since taken to titling the books she is making with “A Studio Poppy Book,” and she has been asking to make a movie which (of course) would be “A Studio Poppy Film”.

You may also recognize the music from the movie “Wreck It Ralph”–it is played A LOT at our house.

She also did some storyboards for her movie to show four of the different scenes–at their home, in the Arctic, at the beach, and the last one she just says is Love.

Scene 1 (Home)Scene 2 (The Arctic)Scene 3 (The Beach)Scene 4 (Love)




Pop and Puppycat!

Pop and Puppycat comic coverIt has been a long time since I posted anything of my daughter’s. Since I last posted any art of hers, she has been busy making books. She started doing a lot of comic-style stories with panels, but her newest book (not this one) is going more into text-based stories. One day I will post one of her first books which she called her “Kikwi Books”. She made four of them and Titled them Kikwi Book 1, Kiwi Book 2, Kikwi Book 3, and Kikwi Book 4 and they are a mash-up of influences from My Little Pony, Legend of Zelda, and Lord of the Rings. Though they each have 60 pages and there is a whole lot of information on each page so I haven’t decided the best way to showcase those. For now here is “Pop and Puppycat” (her shortest book so far) which she did based on the comic “Bee and Puppycat” by Natasha Allegri–a new favourite of hers.

Bee and Puppycat by Natasha AllegriWe have been talking about creating art and copying art and how when you are learning to be an artist you often start by copying and imitating other artists that you like until you find your own style, although you can still be influenced by them and their work. Poppy has really latched onto this idea and is prolifically copying anything she loves but always changing things just a bit so she isn’t directly copying it. I think it’s pretty incredible for someone who isn’t even in grade one yet!