Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Rear end of the year.

I hope that you all had a merry holiday, whatever you celebrate! It's hard to believe that the year is nearly over. 2010 started off so promising and ended, well, like a rear end. I let my world slip out of my control, and I promise to get it not only back on track, but hopefully get myself ahead of the game. This goes way past resolution, my friend.

My holiday when by in a flash. In fact, I'm already back to the carpool and the full timeness of scheduled life. I had said that I would post my holiday card on Friday. I wish I had time, but Christmas shopping needed to be done and then I was off to Ronaldo's parent's house and from there I was in full celebration mode, and heck, I just got caught up in the fun of it. And it was indeed a very fun past days, with lots of family. Here it is, albeit a little late.

I really wanted to do an ocean theme this year, and settled on a happy mermaid and her star fish. Hope you like it!

I have some exciting posts planned for the next week, including a glimpse into my process from concept to final, plus some very exciting news. I'll also share the illustrations I worked so hard on last week that hits the newsstand on Saturday. Until then, enjoy the tail end of your year!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

'Tis the season to be jolly!

Merry Christmas to all of you! I hope that you make wonderful memories with your loved ones and have a fun, food filled day! Thank you for reading my blog, and I promise to write about lots of exciting topics in the new year!

Love, Claire

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Claire loves... illustration!

Even though I lose sleep, miss out on fun events, and my house looks like the Tasmanian devil spun through it, I love illustrating. I just finished a really challenging project that really tested my concentration abilities being able to put my head down and plow through it. At the end of the day I was really pleased with the end results! Here is a sneak peak of some progress work I did on what ended up being my favourite piece of the series:

It's for an article about being alone. To be an artist sometimes you need to spend large stretches of time in solitude so I really connected to the concept. Check out all of my hard work next Saturday January 1st.

I really can't wait until I can say that illustration is my full time job.

Oh, and by the way, Christmas eve is tomorrow. Excited much?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Just when I thought I was in the clear.

So, usually at Christmas time I will get at leastone illustration project, whether it be something Christmas related or a rush job to complete before the office clears out for the holidays. This year, I didn't think that was going to happen. I actually thought I would have ample time to complete my ambitious Christmas crafting list AND bake a few batches of cookies to boot!

I was wrong.

Thursday I had a phone call from the fine folks at the Toronto Star. I don't want to ruin any surprises, but know two things. First, pick up a copy of the Toronto Star on New Years Day, and second, I will be working every moment of the day until Christmas eve. This project is HUGE in multiple ways.

Anyhow, this was where I left off my crafty pursuits, and how I used my Gocco supplies:

Here are some pre- drawings.

Here is my messy creation centre, and Gocco machine.

End result- and ornament.

Here is my holiday card in progress.

You'll get a closer look on Friday when I can unglue my hand from paintbrush.

Have a good Monday peeps!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Go go Gocco!

I'm sorry for my short absence. I've been feeling a bit under the weather, but I'm back in almost full force and have been able to catch up on my Christmas presents. I have loads to share with you! I will start where I left off on Friday, with my mystery package from Japan. What was in this package, you ask?

It was some much needed screens, light bulbs, and ink for my Print Gocco print machine. Exciting!

I hear you- what the bleep is Print Gocco? Well, it's a portable screen printing machine from Japan invented in the 90's. The machine has not evolved much since its inception, and have stopped production on it's supplies. Up until this year I was able to find what I need to run it here in Toronto, but now I must etsy it up and have them send from a Gocco hoarder in Japan. It prints 4"x6" screens so it's great for cards. It's a little wasteful in supply consumption and can be pricy, but it's very convenient and easy for home use and the end result looks great!

I'm using mine to make my annual Christmas card and a few extra goodies. Consider the following posts a Gocco 101. I'll post links of where to find machines and such in these posts. For now, check out the save Gocco web link above for more info.

Only 9 more sleeps until Christmas, so back to work for me!

Are you pumped for the holiday too?

Friday, December 10, 2010

One down.

What a Friday!

I am succumbing to a cold- surely I will be fully infected by the end of the weekend. My wonderful carpool driver is sadly also sick, and shared her cold medication with me this morning. It was just a Buckley's tablet, but it kept me high and spaced out the whole day. It made for an interesting work day, to say the least! I'm back from my cold tablet induced trip, and have been quietly embroidering on my couch all night.

I've started on three more presents. Here is the embroidery project.

This week I had a young lady of the high school persuasion contact me and ask me to mentor her on the design process for her computer arts class. Through my many years becoming and being an artist I've been lucky enough to have some really wonderful people help me along the way and I can only hope to pass on whatever knowledge I can. Perhaps she will let me post her final project for all to see.

This weekend I plan on doing some resting, but mostly working. Tomorrow I go to pick up a special package that will help me with my Christmas cards. I will tell you about the contents in my next post.

What are you up to this weekend?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New stitch in the arsenal.

It's snowing! I relish this time of the year as it's the only month that I enjoy snow. It really gets me in the Christmas spirit. Speaking of, I am almost finished my most ambitious present I plan on making this year. I was a little iffy about if it would turn out or not, but I'm pretty proud of it coming around the home stretch. I even learned something in the process. I found the need for a blanket stitch- I've never encountered this is my embroidery adventures. It wasn't hard and it looks great! Here's a sneak peek.

Full reveal post holiday.

Are you guys making presents this year? Love to hear about them!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Feeling friendly.

Good morning! Today I write you from carpool central, inching north on a Toronto highway on my way to my day job. What can I say- I take my moments to blog when I can get them!

As December arrives, so does the flurry of holiday gatherings. This weekend marked the beginning of the season for me. This ties in to another one of my guides to lead me to independent worker status:

Don't forget to hang out with friends and family.

Again, sounds super easy, right? I find though that when I am busy at the office and have to come straight home to work that I often spend time alone and don't make the extra effort to visit or call. It so important to do this as they keep me sane when things are nuts. It's a goal of mine to spend more time with my peeps this year. Friday night I got to hang out with my book club peeps for a festive holiday dinner sans books.

My crafty friend Julie hosted at her beautiful home (note the amazing lighting!) and we did it potluck stylie. See those potatoes? That's my contribution. I didn't cook them, but that's something to get into in another post. The dinner was delicious, and followed up with some cozy conversation.

Snuggie style, of course.

Friends rock.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Goodbye, Miss Sherlock.

Hope you are having a humping hump day. I know am! I started my corporate work day super early today and because of that I'm now sitting on a GO bus that's homeward bound. I am off to make a special delivery tonight. It actually ties into another item on my list of things to do in order to go freelance 24-7. It's actually a simple concept, but at 8 pm when you have dinner dishes to do and a load of laundry to fold and you've been up since 6 it's not easy to get motivated to do it.

Email people.

That's it. Email art directors, other illustrators, friends, family, and in the case of today, general inquiries. Someone who saw a show I put up at a Starbucks a few years ago emailed me out of the blue and asked if I still had one of the paintings and if it were for sale. Old self would read the email and tell myself I would respond later and then totally forget. New self emailed her right back, and now one of my paintings has a new home!

This is one of my favourites. Lesson learned: you never know what will come of an email.

Now here's a shot of Ramona, who helped me wrap the painting for delivery. So cute.

Keep on humping!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Claire loves... embroidery

Merry is the perfect word to describe how I feel when I'm embroidering. I can happily sit for hours in front of the computer acting as a TV and stitch away. This is going to come in handy this year in line with my new agenda. One of the key steps to ultimate corporate freedom is saving money. Those that know me will understand that shopping is my addiction. Much like an alcoholic I'll even hide it from people. Christmas time is always the worst. This year I plan on and intend on making as many presents as possible. This is a bit of nĂºmero UNO! Off to a good start!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The times, they are a-changin'.

Remember me?
I hope so.
If not, My name is Claire. As my mother says, I colour.
I have not forgotten about you, but have felt one million miles away from being able to function as a blogger. To be completely truthful, this year I have not had an easy time of functioning as much of anything aside from a corporate employee. If you look back to the beginning of this year, I was so excited about 2010. I started it off with a brand new job at a large Canadian retailer as an apparel graphic designer, a position I held at Sears Canada for four and a half years prior. For me, Sears was good because their offices are right downtown Toronto, and I live right in the heart of the city. This new company's offices are in Mississauga, which is to Toronto what New Jersey is to New York City. My first true commute. Traffic has become my mortal enemy this year. Every day I spend at least an hour and a half on a highway, and and hour on streetcars on top of that. At first it was not so bad, and I have an amazing car full of car poolers that have been sent from heaven to take me to work and back, but after a year I really notice the time that I've lost. When you calculate it over a year, it's more than 365 hours. That is 365 hours that were taken away from friends, family, boyfriend, and most importantly, my illustration career. I am really feeling the toll at this point. I've just completed 36 hours of over time for my employers, and I feel now more than ever that my priorities are shifting. I have always only wanted to be an illustrator. There is always that fear of making the rent and paying your cell phone bill that has kept me snuggly in a 9-5 world instead of jumping off the deep end and seeing if I can really make it as a freelancer. This is my time. This is my clearly focused goal. My friends Morgan and Michelle have both decided to make major life changes this year and it's inspired me to start making serious steps to get myself to the freelance career that I've always dreamed of but has always just been out of reach. I am going to use this blog now to track my progress, and keep myself accountable for the steps (and mis-steps, let's be honest) that I'll be making in the next few months. Of course, I will also mention a few things that I love. This way my loved ones can make sure that the time not spent with them is well spent on chasing my dream.

So, here we go. Getting back to blog world was step numero uno, just so you know.

Here's some more work to thank you for reading this super long post.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

The big day is here!

And also now! I'm blogging live on location.
I'm all set up and ready to start day one of the Queen West Art Crawl in Trinity Bellwoods Park. People are starting to pop in to see my work so it's time for me to shmooze a bit. Here's a shot of the booth to intice you to drop by!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Queen St W,Toronto,Canada

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Come crawl with me.

Happy Thursday!

It's a rainy cold day here in Toronto today, but the weather forecast for this weekend is lots of sun. This is a good thing, as this weekend is my first ever outdoor art exhibition!! YAY! That's right- the big event has arrived! From September 17th through the 19th is Queen West Art Crawl here in Toronto at Trinity Bellwoods Park.

Here is a map of the park with where I'm located. I'm in booth E60 (close to Queen St West) for those with poor eyesight. If you're in the hood either Saturday or Sunday between 11 AM and 6 PM I would love to see you! If you have kids or dogs that appreciate art, this is a great opportunity to expose them to it. Both are welcome in E60!

I have spent many nights with paintbrush in hand to make some fresh new work to display. Having this to work toward has definitely kicked my butt back into work mode post move- something I definitely needed. I have a feeling that I'll keep my first class ticket on the painting train and ride it until it just won't go no more. I will post up photos of the new stuff once the show is over. You will therefore have to come view it in person if you'd like to see it before Monday. I will also feature a selection of my older work and original illustrations available unframed at a reasonable price. This is your opportunity to own a piece of my world for cheap!

There are loads of amazing artists that I will be keeping company with this weekend and that alone is reason enough to drop by. If you are in town I hope to see you there!

To bed I go. Tomorrow I'm off of work to get everything pulled together. Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The glitz and glamour of premiere night.

You may think that I am referring to the Toronto International Film Festival (which, in fact, is happening right now and IS pretty exciting) but no. Tonight at the Leslie Jones on Queen Street East in Toronto, is the opening night for the highly anticipated POST NO BILLS 2. The show is organized by the talented Jeremy Kaposy as was the first POST NO BILLS that happened last November. The theme of the show revolves around movie posters. The lineup of talent in this show is impressive and includes...

Jamie Tucker
Sooyeong Lee
Gavin McCarthy
Jeremy Kaposy
Don Wilkinson
Zen Rankin
Alana McCarthy
Tyrone McCarthy
Matt Joudrey
Andre Jolicoeur
Andrew Duff
Lisa Cote
Justin Erickson
Jason Loo
Brian Hoang
Jeff Smalley
Evan Munday
Gillian Newland

I bet you're getting goosebumps, eh? The art is going to blow your mind! The event starts at 7, but come on down any time as it's going to be a hopping party until late.

In personal news, I am tired. Really, really sleepy. I have been working from the minute I get home from my day job into the wee hours of the morning every night for the past week getting ready for the crawl and the show above. I'm a truly lucky girl that I have Ronaldo to make dinners and do dishes. Otherwise my desk would be surrounded by empty sandwich wrappings or I would not eat at all. I barely finished my piece for the show above- by the skin of my teeth I did. I have brought some paintings in to my framer, and spent yesterday at home depot figuring out how I'm going to hang everything in an outdoor venue. I feel like things are starting to fall into place, but I still have a ton of work to do prior to next Saturday morning. I will do my best to post some of my progress this week, even if it's at 2:30 just before I hit the hay. As sleep deprived as I am, when I'm not breaking down in tears saying that I'm never going to be ready and why did I ever sign up for this it's kind of fun.

Back to my desk I go. I hope to see you at the Lesley Jones tonight!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

FAQ on deep fried butter

Good morning!
I'm writing from the road today on my trusty iPhone. Though I have been busy painting away, getting ready for both art shows coming up...

... I took a break to go to the Canadian National Exhibition (or the Ex) last night with some friends. It was good fair fun- pet some farm animals, play some crown and anchors, people watch- with the addition of a new phenomenon. By far, the most popular attraction at the Ex this year was the deep fried butter stand.

Yes. Deep fried butter. Here is a little FAQ for those of you who are curious.

What exactly is it?
A: globs of butter that are battered at deep fried. They are little and there are 4 in a serving, but I recommend a serving of one.

What do you put on them?
Though likely good with savoury toppings, this stand served them with sweet syrups. I tried with vanilla.

What do they taste like?
Hot melted butter in a fried batter. It was not as bad as I thought it would be.

Pat, being lactose intolerant, regretted that bite a bit later, but enjoyed it here. Is it worth the hour wait in line to experience the buttery goodness? All I can say is that if you choose to make the time commitment at least pick up a side of chocolate covered bacon as well.

Back to the ol' golden acrylics tonight. Will continue to post sneak peeks at my work as I finish!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Claire loves... Saving Grace!


I've been meaning to write this post for a while- what's a blog called Claire Loves If I don't tell you what I love every once in a while, eh?

Saving Grace is my favourite brunch location in all of Toronto. I am NOT kidding. It blows me away every time I go. It's on the corner of Grace St. and Dundas St. West in Toronto. We recently went there a few weekends ago, and it reminded me just how awesome it is. Just look at these specials!

The restaurant itself is pretty tiny, and is only open for breakfast and lunch. I won't lie- there is usually a line to get in, but it's worth the wait. They have the most incredible french toast with caramelized bananas.
I had the poached egg special this day and it was perfect. The Sunday we went they had opened the alley way beside the restaurant as a seating area. Tiny, yes. Fantastic? Definitely. Go there. Now.

In other news, last weekend I completed my first ever illustration job for a client Overseas. I did a series of three illustrations for a UK magazine called Mother and Baby. Of course, I will reveal the art once it's been published in the magazine in October. It was such an uplifting experience! More about this at a later date.

To cap off this post I thought I would post a shot of Ramona. She's been attempting to be my assistant when I paint or ink. She's cuter when she sleeps.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Make your own darn robot!

This is a safe statement to make, as you now can do so. All you need is your handy dandy, brand spanking, hot off the press, copy of this month's BROKEN PENCIL MAGAZINE!!

I must say I am a bit biased, being the illustrator featured on the cover, but in all truthfulness, Broken Pencil is a great magazine featuring literature, articles, and artwork you wouldn't find in your everyday Maclean's. In this month's issue, the D.I.Y. issue, you can learn how to build a robot of your own. I wonder how I would construct these odd fellows.... likely with lots of plastic and love. Anyhow, I would definitely pick up a copy if I were you! Here is the final illustration prior to the addition of info:

Hope you like it!

I just finished working on some roughs for an upcoming illustration gig. Will tell you all about it in the next post because I have to get my butt up for work in only 5 short hours. Ahh, the joys of 9-5 (or rather 8:30-5).

Sunday, August 8, 2010

M. Night Shyamalan, I understand now.

Do you remember a movie that came out a few years ago called "The Happening" by one M. Night Shyamalan? *SPOILER ALERT* It sucked total balls, so I don't recommend it. Anyhow, it's all about how the wind was making everyone kill themselves. Stupid, I know. However, after spending the week spray painting my frames for the big show out in my backyard, I know where Mr. Shyamalan must have found his inspiration. I didn't want to kill myself, but man oh man, the wind this week brought me to the brink of insanity. That being said, I am now finished the colour spray process- yay!!

I'm going to spray them all with a thick gloss to make them extra awesome, but I've decided to wait a week to calm my nerves and focus on my painting. PAINTING!! I haven't done it since moving into the new joint. Last weekend I found an awesome deal on a little corner unit desk and bought it as a temporary solution to my desklessness. I've started setting up my work space so I can whip out my acrylics, like, now. Here's what I've done so far:

Note my prized Jon Todd painting and Raquel Schmidtke bunny taxidermy. Very important, inspiration wise. Also, I love the nice big bay window. I think it's a sturdy start.

In other news, I just got the issue of Broken Pencil that features my illustration on the cover, and I'm as pleased as punch! Expect me to show that off later this week.

On to painting!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Antiques Roadshow meets New Yankee Workshop meets my backyard

Do you hear that? It's the sound of my heart beating a bit faster than usual. The long weekend is over and August is now in full swing. Where the hell did my summer go? I'm now in full speed ahead mode getting ready for the Queen West Art Crawl here in Toronto. I just got home from a lovely weekend split between my friend Brad's cottage and the Manning family cottage. So relaxing, and even a little productive. I've been searching for unique antique frames to refurbish for the show. Finding frames in Toronto has been time consuming and expensive. In cottage country this weekend, my Mom found bargain antique frame heaven. She brought me to this awesome sale outside of Goderich, Ontario that had, literally, thousands of amazing frames, all for $10 each! This is just one of many piles!

I wish I could have taken them all home (I do have a three bedroom apartment now, right?) but settled on four of them. That including a trip to the local value village, a Toronto antique store, and a generous donation from Brad I now have loads of frames. I have started the hard labour now. I've been in my new backyard sanding, staining, and prepping the frames for spray painting.

I have had a little help from a little friend.

I am (hopfully) going to start spray painting the primed frames tomorrow after work. I've just got to find a place spray:)

Will keep you in the loop of the process. Until then.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Workbook page up and running.

So, is it hot enough for ya?

It's perfect for me. I've been living in mostly kitty bliss mixed with a bit of kitty hell (damn you, fleas) all the while sanding and priming frames, and conceptualizing some cool paintings. Fun stuff!

I just wanted to give you the heads up on a new promotional gig my wonderful reps at Three in a Box have organized. The Workbook has been a staple in advertising your art for ages and ages. Their website now houses a portfolio of my illustrations for viewing and (hopefully) inspiring some new jobs. Here is a link to my part of the site. Stop by and have a look if you'd like.

Now go have a popsicle!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Meet my big surprise!

I am very happy to make an amazing introduction...

This is our new kitten, Ramona!

She's as sweet as can be, but is SUCH a kitten right now. She can play with anything, but enjoys our legs, under the covers, in bed, at 3 AM, when we are sleeping, the most. It was instant love.

I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of inspiration she will have on my work!

There are literally 5 boxes left to unpack at our new place, and have fulfilled my bridesmaidly duties and intend to be working like a mad woman from now on. A big freelance gig is under negotiations right now, the days are ticking down to the Queen West Art Crawl, new promotional work through my reps, and a new show is in the works.

Can't wait to share all the upcoming artwork!

Monday, July 5, 2010

New season, new home, new news!

Happy belated Canada day and Fourth of July! I hope that where you are is lovely and summery and full of fresh picked strawberries!

So, it may have seemed as though I was gone for good. Perhaps I had thrown in the towel? Not so much, my friends. I took a small hiatus to pack all my belongings and hightail it out of my old studio apartment and in to a beautiful new 3 bedroom. If I could please note that when you read the number three imagine that there are fireworks and stars shooting off around it. This is HUGE!! In 5 years I have not lived in more than one room. The addition of three glorious rooms means that I won’t have to sleep where I work where I sleep. Seriously- there were days where I would wake up to the vision of tubes of acrylic and pizza crusts. NO MORE!! WOOHOO!
I can now have what every artsy girl dreams of... a studio space! Though I will be posting more pictures of my place when the boxes and mess has been put away, here is a shot of the room that will be my studio (be sure to focus on the fact that there is a door. A DOOR!!)

As a browser of many a craft and design blog I have had lots of studio space inspiration to pull from to make my space a true haven of illustration wonder. Here are a few of my favourite shots.

This beautiful studio belongs to Natalie Zee Drieu found on Apartment Therapy. LOVE the blue walls and the dueling work/computer spaces. This would really be a convenient layout for a gal like me!

Danny Seo's studio (also found on Apartment Therapy) is so cozy looking I could work in it all day. My inner 60 year old adores the plates on the wall. My outer 29 year old also does.

This is Angela Hardison's work room, found on Design*Sponge. I envy someone who can live clutterless like this. I love the layout. Alas, I have too much stuff. A girl can dream though.

I cannot wait to get started on this project so that I can get started on my next big art project. My new news is that I have been chosen to participate in a large outdoor art exhibition and sale here in Toronto called the Queen West Art Crawl. I have always loved going to this show and am super excited to be sitting along side the talented people whose work I oogled in years passed. I have a whole plan to create a load of new work and lots of fun ideas for themes. I will keep you in the loop on all my progress. I have one more bit of new news as well... it’s extra amazing and I want to tell you now but it still feels like a dream that it’s happening at all and I want to make doubly sure that it is before I share. Wish me luck with unpacking!!