At long last, a blog post! It seems that I took a month off from my blogging to do some gardening. I still haven’t bothered to fix my laptop, but It’s been fantastic; I might need to do this every spring. I had a garden to-do list for today too, but then I ended up just sitting and looking at the garden. I started taking some photos, and then thought that I really should be doing some sketching on a beautiful day like this.
The first sketch is the bouquet that Poppy made for me (with geranium flowers she collected off the ground at the greenhouse we went to on the weekend). The second sketch is the view from my shade garden in the backyard underneath the lilac–which is where I will be going right back to now :)

Spring Break Studio Day.




For this week here are a few Sharpie sketches. The first two are of Bento supplies (an onigiri case and a package of food picks), and the third sketch is my daughter playing phone games. She asked me if we could have a studio day last week (we were on spring break), but then she just ended up playing phone games in the studio. It’s all good though–we had some very relaxing and lazy days. It was like a mini summer holidays.
In other news, I am having some issues with my laptop at the moment so this is actually my first blog post done completely with my phone! Exciting times :)

Every Blah Winter Day Should Have Sharpies, Presents and Birthday Chocolates.

Pink Bunny Bento Leftovers, Feb. 2015,  Sharpies on paper

A new sketch of bento leftovers in a brand new sketchbook that I got for my birthday! My birthday isn’t until Friday but my parents were in town so I got some early birthday gifts. And since my daughter has Thursday, Friday, and Monday off school, and I have Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday off work, I’ve decided to make it one long birthday weekend…which I guess I’m starting now :)

My studio day even started off with coffee and birthday chocolates for breakfast, and it was glorious.

014 (2)

So the leftover bits in this bento are half a cheese string, 3 carrots, and a bunch of round crackers. And a strange thing happened in this bento…I think the crackers absorbed the moisture from the carrots and they developed an odd texture where they kind of dissolved into powder when you touched them. Suffice it to say, Poppy did not like the new texture and wouldn’t eat them.

I also played around a bit with cropping this sketch, which I haven’t done for a while. I really love the mark-making you get with Sharpies–I just want to zoom right in on these. Though I also want to zoom in on watercolours so maybe that’s just me.

Pink Bunny Bento Leftovers crop


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



“What a poignant sight she is.”

My heart is a kicking horse,

She nearly breaks my ribs

Those strong, tawny legs struggling

What a poignant sight she is.

– Melanie Hudson

One of those 1000 journals (or 100 journals) was dropped down the book chute at work. The 1000 Journals was a project that was started in the States where blank journals were just passed around and people put whatever they wanted in them and many similar projects have been done since then. My co-worker Melanie convinced me to draw something in it if she wrote something as well. I’m not sure if this is a journal that someone forgot to return because I think that all the journal projects are over but I thought I would do it anyway. It could also just be someone starting their own roaming journal up for fun, who knows.

So anyway, this is our collaborative effort done during our lunch break. I drew a sketch of her—although she is prettier than this (as my self-conscious sub-title dictates)—and she put in the poem. I think the poem is what makes it.

Carp: Symbol of Success in Life

So this is actually for a friend who wanted a portrait of H.P.Lovecraft to promote his game Strange Aeons (link)—a tabletop miniatures game set in around the 1920’s in a Lovecraft-type world. I’ll have to see what he thinks of this one. I had been putting it off and putting it off and last night I decided I was just going to make myself work on it. I had a preliminary sketch done already, but I just wasn’t excited about it. So I got set up and put my i-pod on shuffle and the song that came up was “In Silence”(link) by a post-hardcore band Thursday (off of a split EP that they did with the Japanese hardcore band Envy). When I get a song that puts me “in the zone” I just set it on repeat and listen to one song over and over while I work. Last night that was the song and three hours later I was almost completely finished the drawing. While I was working I was thinking about what to do with the background (not really wanting to stick Cthulhu over his shoulder) and I started thinking about the band Envy and then about Japan and then about the tsunami and then about the sheer destructive and chaotic power of water which made me think of this wave pattern from a Japanese kimono that I had on an old postcard. The title for the pattern is “Carp: Symbol of Success in Life” and it is attributed to Yaichiro Ichida (1843-1906). I couldn’t find the image online so here is my old worn postcard.

Though now that I’ve done the drawing and I have the waves in the background, I am thinking that it might need to be in colour. And bright colour! Lots of teal waves (not brown). In black and white the waves look a bit like blankets or yarn. So this might end up being a study for a painting, we shall see.