Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Paint, stitch, ink, repeat.

I am busy. You may have guessed that by my lack of presence on this blog. Though I have been neglectful I do have some news and work to share with you. 

As I've been mentioning, I have been working on my crafting business and creating a new line of screened tea towels, greeting cards, and embroidered pillows. I will be participating in three craft sales over the next three weeks. As of right now I am nowhere near ready and am nervous but I am doing my best to stay focused and I know that by next Saturday (the first  day of sales) that I will be ready. 

So, the first show. It's the Hippo Craft Fair!
The fair takes place in Toronto near Christie and St. Clair Ave. To stay up to date on the information about the fair you can visit their facebook page here. If you're in the hood just drop on by!

The second show is this year's Speakeasy Holiday Sale!
Now, I am no spring chicken at this show. In fact, I'd say I the speakeasy team feels like home to me. It's such a great show to participate in and I'm pumped to have my third display of goods. The sale takes place at the Gladstone Hotel at the corner of Queen Street West and Gladstone Ave. in Toronto. 
The third show is the Broadlands Winter Festival and Craft Show! 

This show is for all you folks north east of Toronto. From the information the planners have provided it is looking to be much more than just an opportunity to pick up some awesome handiwork, so if you plan on coming to this show don't forget your passport to fun! I'm hoping to get in on some gingerbread action myself.

It's not over yet, my friends! I have more for you to see. I have created two teeny weeny itty bitty paintings for a great show that is opening this Saturday the 19th of November at INDEXG gallery just north of the Gladstone Hotel on Gladstone ave.

The idea behind the show is that each participant creates art on one of many identical wood blocks provided by the gallery. They are about the size of a fudgy awesome brownie, hence the name. It's all in the name of making affordable art. None of the art at the show will be over $100 and may even be priced as low as $30. From the preview images on the event's blog it's working out to be a really unique show. The show is opening this Saturday the 19th from 3-6, running until the 18th of December. New artists always welcome throughout the month, so if you've got an itch to paint something tiny just email to arrange a brownie pick up and get to work!  

 Here are mine. Tres cute, n'est pas?
Phew! I think that's enough for the evening. More soon, and next time I will show off some product! I hope to see you at one of these shows!


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Got my balls in the air.

I live my life open to imagination and happiness
through my unique view of the world.

I am fearless, optimistic, and take on any challenge,
always growing, learning, and bettering myself.

I wear my heart on my sleeve
and show my true colours.

This, folks, is my brand spanking new, one of a kind mantra. It's a great example of the fantastic-ness I was able to absorb from my class. Not only did I learn about the financial side of my work, I also learned about myself as a person. How was I able to do anything without defined values that I live my life by and align my work to? It was by far one of the hardest things I've had to do, but I feel much more grounded knowing exactly what I deem most important in everything. When I get frustrated, overwhelmed, or down-trodden, from now on I will go back to my mantra to remind myself why I do what I do in the first place. I am still working on my mission statement and vision but those will also help too. The fact is that it's gettin', it's gettin', it's gettin' kinda hectic in here. All good, of course. I have secured three craft shows so far for the holiday season, which means that I've got to start producing things to sell. This time, I'm working to make money too and I think *fingers crossed* it may finally happen this time. 
Here's a shot of some rough work...
...that I refine into final line work....
...and then inked and ready for screen.
I am really looking forward to throwing myself into screen printing. It's new, it's exciting, and it's inspiring to me. This is just the beginning, really, and I can't wait to really explore it. I'm also continuing my embroidery, and continue to add new stitches to my arsenal. I'm hoping to get a bunch of decorative pillows completed to sell over the holidays. Here's a quick preview... what do you think so far?
Now, this is where the mantra comes in handy. The craft shows and prepping for them is not the only project on the go. Perhaps I'm feeling inspired by my new day job (that I actually really like) but I've taken on three more projects (albeit two are fairly small). I'm going to HAVE to put my nose to the grindstone, simply because I promised I would. I'm hoping that everything goes peaches and cream and that I can keep my balls in the air. 

I just said balls.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

From Maker to Making a Living, class #2: just say yes.

I've had a day to digest my second class in the workshop series I'm going to be taking for this month. I think I needed it, as last night was a tough one, for me and a lot of my classmates too. Jacqueline's task for the night was to look at all the directions businesses could go in. We're talking blue-skying it. If money wasn't an option, what could I do? You'd think it would be an easy answer, but it's hard not to default back to thinking "I could do that, if I had the money, time, space, etc.". Jacqueline's catch phrase of the night was JUST SAY YES. I have to say it really opened my head to the possibilities I have available. It's funny that though I came into this class thinking that I wanted advice purely for my crafty endeavors. Tea towels and pillows. I went up to Jacqueline after the first class to ensure she knew that though I said I was an illustrator in my introduction that I wasn't intending to bring that part of my business into the class. I'm not sure if you'd call it an "ah ha!" moment or a "duh" moment, but my crafty business IS my illustration business. All my conversation about what I could do with my crafts lead straight to ILLUSTRATE A BOOK. Of course, I didn't talk about how difficult it is to get into a publishing company and that making money in books is hard, I just said yes. It was hard to keep my trap shut, but refreshing after the fact. It's really exciting to see all your potential sprawled across a big, white piece of paper. I really cannot wait until next week's classes!

Now, speaking of just say yes, today we lost an incredible man that did just that and more. I have to make a little shout out to Steve Jobs, as I sit here typing on my third Apple desktop computer. Thank goodness he was one of those guys that saw that the sky has no limit. It really is one thing to have a brilliant mind and limitless imagination, but another to have the guts to use them fully and fearlessly. Macs have changed the way I look at computers, digital media, and, from a girl who once would rather spend hours painting in gouache than open photoshop, digital art. As CBC news stated today, he really was the Henry Ford of our generation. I'm getting a bit teary over here.... anyway, I've wanted to share this speech on my blog since I first heard it, as I've found it to be so utterly inspirational. If you've got 15 minutes I would highly recommend watching it and remembering Steve's genius and heart.  I know he's resting in peace knowing he's left the world a much better place. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

From Maker to Making a Living, class #1: same problem, different boats.

Wow! What a great start to a month of learning! I know for sure that signing up for this workshop series was a great idea. Jacqueline is even more amazing in real life than she is on paper (or web page) and I am looking forward to taking in all her words of wisdom and learning from her experiences. 

There are ten business owners participating, including myself. Tonight was about getting to know a little about everyone's businesses and history, and determining the key issues we all have in making successes of them. I don't know why (ego, maybe?) but I figured that I would here similar stories to my own. Boy, I couldn't have been more off. The areas of craft were wide spread, from weaving to jewellery, furniture making to ceramics. Though everyone had a different perspective on their issues, there were definitely a few common threads. I'm looking forward to seeing the progression of my fellow classmates, and myself.

My first homework assignment was to breathe (lots of information in one night), and then write down what I see my dream business to be. So I started jotting down ideas, and really thinking about it. At the end of the day, my dream business is along the lines of one of my favourite illustrators, Susie Ghahremani of Boy Girl Party. Look to your right and you'll see the permanent link to her site. She's really got it all. She sells stationary and such that gets produced by a third party, necklaces, bags, etc., all featuring her amazing characters. In addition she sells prints of her work, and original paintings. In addition to all of this she's able to participate in art shows AND she's an active illustrator. I like to read her personal blog too, as she is honest about the issues a creative business owner has. Plus, she's funny. Hopefully if I share this with Jacqueline she'll have a better idea of my goals.

So, homework done for the night. I'm a bit of a keener. Now this keener is going to try to read more of her book club book that needs to be done by Thursday. Class number 2 tomorrow!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Back to school.

That's right, kids. I'm about to start some learning. Tomorrow night I start an eight class workshop called From Maker to Making a Living put on by the ever wonderful Ontario Craft Council. The lectures are being led by the very successful Jacqueline Sava of Soak, a money-making crafter extrordinaire. From Maker to Making a Living is a series of classes designed to guide craftspeople through the process of understanding, designing and building their individual businesses. Obviously, if you've read even a few posts on my blog, this has been my pursuit and dream since forever. You would also notice that I've not had amazing results as of yet. I am conceptualizing a whole new plan of action for my handiwork and am hoping that these classes will not only get my plan off the ground, but allow me to keep up a momentum. I will be posting a little bit about each class after I've attended it, starting with tomorrow night. I'm actually really excited to interact not only with a business mentor, but to meet people who are in the same ship as me. 

Stay tuned tomorrow! Off to get ready for class!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Catch up.

Well, hello there. 
It's now officially fall. Here in Toronto it couldn't be more beautiful. The Sunnyside Pavilion art show was a wonderful weekend. The three day show was full of lots of friendly guests, live musical performances, and hot weather. The Toronto waterfront is a totally awesome place to throw an art show, so kudos to the organizers for picking such a dream venue. 
This time I thought I would invest in my own tent. 
The decision was definitely cost effective one, but the blueness of the tent made everything under it dark, and, well, a little blue. Next year I plan on either splurging on a white tent and sending this one to the land of kijiji or attempting to make a white one myself. We'll see which option is the most cost effective. 
I was able to get a few new pieces completed for the event. I've posted them up on my website, but here are a few shots for you to oogle right here and now. 
Copyright Claire Manning
Copyright Claire Manning
Copyright Claire Manning
Copyright Claire Manning
I'm pretty happy with the work that I was able to complete, especially considering August just wasn't my month. I was able to sell a few paintings, but am now thinking that I need to get back into a craft mode and see if I can make more money if I sell screen printed versions of my art on tea towels (not handmade by me this time) and work on some custom embroidered decorative pillows for the upcoming Christmas craft season. In my next post I'll tell you about the workshop classes I'm taking to help make sure the third time really is the charm when it comes to my crafty endeavors. In the meantime, head over to to see the rest of the art from the show.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

C'mon down to the lake!

I have been a busy bee preparing to show my wares at the upcoming Sunnyside Juried Art Show this weekend and I am getting excited thinking it's only a few days away! Of course, if you are in Toronto, or near Toronto, or have friends that like art in Toronto, I would love to see as many people as possible. I love visiting and chatting with people, especially since I've all but shut myself off from the social world for the past few weeks, going cross-eyed making beautiful new paintings. I know I'll be feeling talkative. Anyway, a re-cap on the info.

Please visit the website link above for additional information, or stay up to date through the show's facebook page.  I will be located on the upper level of the pavilion in booth #2. Come by and you can pick up one of my brand spankin' new business cards! 

I just received them in the mail yesterday and I love them! I needed to update my card in a huge way. Big thanks to Richard Meneely at USB cards out of New Jersey for the beautiful job and the extremely fast turnaround. I love the letter press and it's so fitting that it's on chip board. Richard offers a number of natural surfaces on which to have your cards pressed. He's also known for printing on recycled cereal boxes. Not really my thing, but cool nonetheless.  

Please don't forget to stop by the Sunnyside pavilion for a visit this weekend if you are in Toronto. I will likely blog on location, for those who want a play by play but can't be there in person. 

Now, back to work! G'night!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Before and after.

Here I am, a week before the big Sunnyside Art Show weekend. It's also the first week of September. It's been the fastest summer on record for me. I say this mostly because I lost August for the most part. I thought I would concentrate on the beginning of the month and the end, and less about the nasty middle.

So, Ronaldo and I ended up going to New York City for the first weekend of August. It was incredible. Great food, lots of sightseeing and walking, and a visit to Fishes Eddy! I was so excited and bought a few things. If I were independently wealthy and came on the plane with more than carry on luggage I would have bought more. 

The after has been very busy, as I simply did not plan to lose a month. I have been able to do quite a bit of painting and have some more time to work on some additional pieces in the upcoming week. 

I have a week because I am transitioning into another position with a new company. This company is not only very close to home, but it's smaller with a more boutique feel to it. I'm actually pretty excited to see where it takes me. I'm thankful for the extra time to prepare. I will update with information about next weekend's show on Monday. Be then I should know where my booth location is.

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Claire DOES NOT Love... rashes.

Well, here I am, over a week since my last post, with another sad post. I have been fighting a bacterial infection called cellulitis in my leg that sent me to the hospital for three days last week. This infection is accompanied my a painful, swollen rash. I have been taking antibiotics and taking it easy for a week and things were starting to look up for me. That is, until this morning when I woke up with an itchy head-to-toe rash. Yes, another rash. This one is a reaction to a drug that I was taking to get rid of the other one. Sigh. I'm stuck with this one for two weeks. The good news is that it isn't going to change my recovery from the cellulitis, it's not contagious, and it's not dangerous to me.  I'm lucky enough to have a great group of friends that have been taking care of me and watching out for me. These are some flowers from a couple of them, Raquel and Ryan. I am incredibly grateful for all of my friends.
With that in mind I am pushing through and working when I can. I am prepping for the show coming up in a few weeks and hoping I'll have more than a few new pieces to show off. I'm still trying to find the balance between working and recovering. The last thing I need to do is make myself more sick and rashy by not taking care of myself. 
As Ronaldo has so kindly quoted, "no more rashes". I consider it my new mantra.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Taking the good with a healthy dose of bad.

Hello folks! 
It's been a while, no? Well, I have apologize for that. The past few weeks have been a whirlwind. I was fortunate enough to return to the Printsource show with my day job at the beginning of the week. Ronaldo and I opted to add Saturday and Sunday to my Monday and Tuesday work schedule. The whole experience was great. I was at the airport in New York ready to head home when I got the message that my Grandpa had passed in his sleep that morning. I swooped from a pretty big high to a very low low. It was a total shock. I had only seen him a week and a half ago and he was doing well. I have to say, in the midst of this bad news, that I couldn't have been luckier to grow up with two sets of amazing grand parents. As much as I miss them now some folks don't get the chance to know their grand parents at all. My low got even lower at I contracted a deep tissue infection in my right leg that made me so physically ill that I was unable to attend my Grandpa's funeral. I'm now pretty much lower than low at this point. I will be digging deep to continue working on artwork for an upcoming art show. 

Have I forgotten to tell you about this art show? Let me fill you in!
 It's the Sunnyside Beach Juried Art Show & Sale. It's happening at the Sunnyside pavilion off of Lakeshore West in Toronto during the second weekend of September. Please visit the show's facebook page for more information. 

For tonight I've got a date with my rashy leg, Ramona, my couch and some netflix. Hopefully tomorrow brings a bit of goodness.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Bunny love.

That's right. I'm in love. With a bunny. 

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to take a visit to the ever popular Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition. It happens every year during the second weekend in July. Though I was not accepted to participate this year a few of my friends were and I went to support. It was a great show, but I really can't wait until the construction that plagues the location of the event to be completed so that more artists have the opportunity to participate. Particularly me.

I always go to the show with a little money in my pocket as I know that I will always find something I like and enjoy supporting fellow artists, even on my meager budget. This year I knew the minute I saw the booth that I wanted one of Sonja Ahlers beautiful bunnies. 
Sonja spreads her time around Vancouver, Whitehorse, and Toronto (though I heard that she's not often in Toronto) and has been evolving her amazing bunnies since the mid 1990's. They are made from hand picked vintage sweaters that she boils to felt the fabric and hand dyes. They have been featured in magazines, museums, galleries and movies (namely one that involves a lame shimmery vampire and a lovesick teenager). She uses the earnings on these sweet guys to help fund her other art projects. I've seen Sonja's work at The Magic Pony before, but only one at a time. To see a whole booth of them was almost too much for my heart. 

I have a thing for artsy toys and have a little collection that I've grown over the years.
Sonja's bunny fits in well. Even Ramona gives her seal of approval.
 Sonja uses the extra scraps of sweater to make little shawls. Each one is had sewn with care.
My bunny came in a cute little peach teacup. It makes me happy just to look like.
It seems this purchase opened a floodgate. They say things happen in threes, and I suppose art toy purchases follow in that tradition. This is a hand made, hand painted little guy from a friend of mine, Gosia, who participated in this year's exhibition. I adore him too!
 And just this weekend while at my favourite store in Kensington market, Good Egg, I found this bird whistle. At $4.00 I couldn't say no. The whistle blows (haha!) but the bird is sweet as can be. 
 Now it's time for me to start saving my money for my big trip to New York City. My day job will be sending me to attend the upcoming print show and Ronaldo and I are taking the weekend before as a mini vacation. Until then I've got loads of stuff to do. I will share it all with you! 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Biking in the city, Claire style.

Have you melted yet? For goodness sake- go get yourself a popsicle or something before you read this post!

Okay- cooling device in hand? Let's continue. So, new work! I was asked to create a piece for the cover of the Toronto section of the National Post for this passed weekend. Yes, you can still find a copy of it likely until the end of the night of you'd like to see it in person. Otherwise, here are a few shots of it to look at digitally.

Courtesy of Claire Manning
Copyright Claire Manning
So, what do you think? The concept surrounded maneuvering the oddly placed park spaces in Toronto on a bike. I had a great time working on this piece. I chose to hand paint this with acrylic, and then added some touches (mainly the plaid patterns) in Photoshop afterwards. It's been a while since I've done work for the Post. I feel a bit nostalgic creating art for them as they were who gave me my big break and first payed gig as an illustrator. Thanks for the work, Post, and I hope to work with you again soon!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Illustration Mondays.

It's Tuesday!

Today is a vacation day for me. A little relaxation in the hazy summer is an okay thing. After nearly a week off of day job tomorrow will be a bit of a downer. I still have this whole day ahead of me and I plan on making the most of it, including a bike ride and a trip to Chapters to do some potential client research. I figure if they aren't coming to me that I will go to them. Checking out magazine mastheads is a great way to find out who the current art director is. 

Before I get into illustration Mondays, I wanted to share a piece of my weekend with you. 
Originally published on, photo by Sean Kilpatrick AP
Yes, that is me in my finest red Canada day dress, running for my life on Parliament hill in Ottawa amongst the half million that came to see the newly wed royal couple. It really was a case of run or be run over. I ran all the way to the front of the stage, got hit by the wave of people, and then tried to find my group and head back to an open spot away from the die hard Will and Kate fans. Thankfully, no one was hurt. We found a comfortable spot to sit and relax and enjoy the festivities in our nation's capital. 

Now, illustration Mondays. There is a website out there called Illustration Fridays. Every Friday the folks on this site send out a form of inspiration, usually words of some sort. I've decided that much like I'd exercise my body I need to exercise my illustration abilities, so on my Mondays I am creating a quickie illustration study based on their inspirational word(s). The idea is not to make it perfect, just get an idea down and finish it as fast as possible. Here are my first two.

Monday June 27th: Midsummer's Night
Copyright Claire Manning
Monday July 4th: Remedy
Copyright Claire Manning
So far I've found it a fun practice. I will keep posting them here for your viewing pleasure.

Now, off to enjoy my vacation day! Keep cool everyone!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hitting the ground running.

Good morning!

One more day until I celebrate Canada's birthday. I am heading to our nation's capital, Ottawa, for some royal watching. My goal is to be able to add Kate Middleton as a friend on my facebook by the time I come home on Sunday. Perhaps I'm aiming high.... I'd be satisfied if she'd "like" my fan page.

Reeling it back to illustration, I can share with you some work that I did in the spring. I was asked to paint running shoes for various promotions by the fine folks at the CIBC Run For the Cure. I was totally honoured to participate in this project, as I have participated in this run a few times and I am a big supporter of the cause. There are three different scenarios. As far as I know this is the first one. It was printed various times in the Globe and Mail this week. I'm keeping my eye out for the other two and will share them with you once I see them.
Here are some shots of the actual shoe. It was definitely a challenge to paint on the bumpy plains of a true running shoe, but the more I painted the easier it got. You've just got to go with the ups and downs and not fight them. 
Have a great Canada Day, fellow Canadians!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Beautiful things.

To preface, I am home today with a terrible face rash. I don't know where it came from, but it's itchy, painful, and make's me look like an ogre's bride. Not too happy about the rash. Anyway, to make myself feel better, I wanted to write about some pretty stuff that I've seen lately that definitely turns my swollen red frown upside down.

First thing is courtesy of an old college friend, Gosia. She makes the world a cuter place and for that I am one of her biggest fans. She's an illustrator, but over the past few years she has turned into a fabulous sculptor as well, and makes these gorgeous nymph like characters (opposite of ogre, might I say) that would melt your heart. This weekend, as my rash lay just under my skin, ready to ravage my face, I went to see an exhibit that featured one of Gosia's sculptures. 

Amazing, no?
Copyright Gosia 2011

The second thing that I discovered last week  was an online store FULL of beautiful things. It's Fishs Eddy! Fishs Eddy is a housewares store that is located in New York City originally and carries not only those classic kitchenware pieces, but a lot of graphically touched pieces that make me want to start painting plates. 

Well, just watch this video and you'll see what I mean.

It literally gives me heart palpitations to watch this. I can tell you where I will be going the net time I'm in NYC! Anyway, they are currently carrying a collection of Charley Harper dinnerware.  

Charley Harper is on my top five list of the BEST illustrators EVER. He passed in 2007, leaving behind a world of beautiful nature inspired artwork. 
Copyright Charley Harper
The graphic and geometric way that he approached his art is a constant inspiration for my own work. His colours are vibrant his composition is incredible. His work is totally classic and timeless.

Wow! It's funny, but even now after writing this post my face feels a little less on fire. I think I'll try to keep up the good feeling by NOT looking in the mirror today and creating some beauty of my own in my sketchbook. 

Have a pretty little day!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

That warm, fuzzy feeling.

Yes, the warm weather has arrived. Some may say it's muggy, but it really does give me a fuzzy wuzzy feeling inside. I was clearly meant to be born south of the equator. Cold weather and me are oil and vinegar. I love every sweaty minute of the summer and am looking forward to three solid months of it. 

June has brought more than just a sun tan for me. I am June's artist of the month at Three in a Box! You can check out my profile here. I know that I've mentioned the fine folks at Three in a Box before, but just as a refresher, they are my artist representatives. There are three reps here in Toronto and one across the pond in London, UK. I enjoy having representatives. It's nice to know that there is always someone that has your back and that believes in your work. They do good work and I am honoured to be their artist pick for June.

Now on to the work that comes through Three in a Box. I can now share with you the latest illustration project that has just gone into publication. I completed 5 spot illustrations for the magazine Canadian Underwriter.  For these spots I used a slightly different technique than usual. I played with opacity of the fills to create a slightly watercolour, softer feel while still using my ink line work. 
Copyright Claire Manning
Copyright Claire Manning
You can see the rest on my website and on the Canadian Underwriter website. They were a great client to work with. It's been a while since I've done business themed work and it was nice to get into it again. I'm happy with the way that they all turned out. 

I spent my day yesterday running errands (so I could be in the sun) and sanding old frames to refinish them. I have lots of little tasks to do, and, as long as the sun is shining, I will do as many of them outside as I can.