Thursday, February 24, 2011

Applying myself.

In every sense I can I am applying myself. Or at least trying. This is the time of year that an artist should really start preparing for the rest of the year.  I have not been really great at this in the past, but am making an effort to take more control of it all. 

I've started by getting into entering illustration annual contests. Getting into one of these annuals can bring attention to you and drum up business. It cost a bit to enter them but it will pay off if I actually get in. So far I have only entered one, American Illustration. They publish a beautiful hard cover book each year that I would LOVE to be in. It's a bit of a dream. Visit their website if you're interested in entering yourself. The deadline is this Friday the 25th, but you can enter online so you can enter at the last minute if needed. They do have a photography annual as well, but the deadline had passed for that book. I'm going to enter a few more contests, but I have to do a bit more research to decide which ones to "invest" in.

I'm also going to enter a few gallery shows. There are some calls for entry that I'm going to  answer, starting with the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition. After my experience at the Queen West Art Crawl last year I am pumped to do some more outdoor shows. Again, it costs money to enter, but if you get in you have to opportunity to make your money back and potentially much more. The deadline for this application is March 1st, and though a bit more involved than entering a contest, you can also apply online. Hallelujah, internet! As the entries for these shows start opening up I will start entering them. 

This is a piece I created in the fall that I hadn't gotten around to scanning until now. I actually have it hanging on our wall as it's got little Ramona in the upper left corner and my childhood cat Bert in the centre. Often galleries and exhibits ask to see examples of your work as a part of the application process and I think this is a pretty good example of what I do. Patterns? Check. Kittens? Check. Cuteness? Extra check. 

My next application will be to a new website provider. I had a great year with the folks at Other Peoples Pixels and would recommend them to anyone in need of a site- they are great people and make maintaining a website a breeze. It's just time for me to try something new. I've got two weeks to get my act together and get a new site up. I have a prospective new provider but I want to make extra sure that they're "the one" before I tell you all about them. 

If you are on the look out for places to apply your craftiness and artiness I would recommend checking out the following sites:

Both of these sites post call for entries and submissions regularly. And they're awesome. Particularly Toronto Craft Alert.

It's Friday tomorrow and I have lengthy dates with my paintbrush this weekend. Hopefully I'll have some new art to show you soon! G'night!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Gallery show opening: Black and White Ball at Propeller in Toronto

Hey! Not quite done typing tonight folks! 

A good buddy of mine, Brad Leitch, has finally decided to unleash his talent on the internet. It's about time! He's a super talent. He's started a new blog called LEITCH located at and a new portfolio site soon to be launched at I definitely recommend checking out the blog while you're waiting around for the other site. Not only is Brad one of the best painters I know, he's also ridiculously funny.

Brad has a piece in an upcoming Toronto gallery show at Propeller Gallery called The Black and White Ball.
The opening is this Thursday, February 17 from 7-10. Patrons are asked to wear black and/or white. Maybe I'll wear white pants... with rainbow underwear. But that means I'd have to buy white pants. Maybe not. The show itself is on currently and runs through the 27th of February.

I'll be there Thursday and I hope to see you!

Claire loves... Ronaldo!

It's Valentine's time peeps! I hope you all got your smootch on. Not only was yesterday the day to show my sweetie that he's the apple of my eye...

... it was also the first day to show my love for my illustration business in an eight hour with lunch break sort of way. First think I did was move my computer to my desk. We had been using it as a mock television in our living room since we moved in on a little hall table that KILLED my back when I actually had to do work on it for longer than 2 hours. That was just not going to work for me going forward. Here's the new set up!

There a still a few things to put away but it's SO much better than even a month ago. So, what did I do with my first day, you may ask? Well I did some responsible, though not too creative things. I made a new creative industry oriented resume and went to see my financial advisor to make sure I have enough to live on while still stashing some cash so I don't have to eat cat food when I'm 80. I have an ongoing list of to dos that I will be an ever evolving thing. I will fill you in on what I check off as I go along. For day one, I felt productive. My assistant had a much more relaxing day, smelling the herbs and purring. 

I ended my work day at 5 and started working on the Valentines dinner that Ronaldo and I planned. Since we weren't going to let "the man" take all our cash in the name of consumerism (is that even a word?) we decided to make some dishes that we've always wanted to try. Without knowing it we created a theme to our dinner: surprise! The biggest surprise of it all was that everything turned out perfectly, even the stuff I made. 

This is a raviolo. Basically a gigantic ravioli. Ronaldo hand made the pasta and a ricotta/spinach filling on Sunday night and then put two of these suckers together for us on Monday. What's the surprise? He put an egg yolk in the centre of them so when you cut into it you get a delicious yellow that mixes with the cheese mixture to make a heavenly sauce. The black stuff is sage browned in butter. It was bliss. 

Those that know my cooking abilities will be SHOCKED to know that I, Claire Manning, made, from scratch, molten chocolate lava cakes! AND THEY WERE TASTY! Look at the glistening goo! The recipe is absolutely fool proof (evidence above) and I recommend that you all give it a go, especially you chocoholics! 

Ronaldo, I love you. Thanks for tolerating my obsession with cute animals and loving me back. XO.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A twist in the 40 hours.

I have been waiting for a while to tell you some rather exciting news. Papers have now been signed and it's official so it's time to shout it out to the world! 

So, I work a full time job for a major corporation as a graphic designer that illustrates. The job, unfortunately, includes a lengthy commute and has made it difficult to progress the freelance illustration career that I have been striving for. Come hell or high water I WILL be a full time illustrator in the future. I had a one year contract with this company that came to an end last week. When it came time for me and my boss to chat about a new contract, I was very candid about my situation and my feelings about being stuck in a 9-5 world and how it just couldn't continue that way that it had. Now, knowing the background I know about the corporation and it's reputation I was bracing myself to have to walk out the door cold turkey and start pounding the pavement in Toronto to find ways to make ends meet. However, I was met with an unexpected response... a willingness to find a solution to benefit both of us. So, my boss and I basically worked out a two year freelance transition program (I'll call it the FTP) for me to follow. Yeah, I know. Weird that a company would help me very slowly quit my job. Totally amazing, thoughtful, and appreciated too. So, starting next week I will be going to a 32 hour work week at my day job, and spending 8 hours (ONE WHOLE DAY!!!) working on my own personal business. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT??!?? This is the first time I have ever had the time to be really thoughtful and diligent in my actions to move forward in my career! I cannot tell you how excited I am!! As you saw last week I organized my studio stuff in preparation for this transition and am trying to start working on little things every night. Tonight I am gathering and formatting my newer work to put up on the Three in a Box rep site. I did a similar move this passed weekend when I updated my page on the Workbook website. I'm going to build a momentum and keep it going! 

So that's it! I guess sometimes all you have to do is be honest and ask for what you want instead of assuming you'll never get it. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A little bit about Ramona.

I believe I've mentioned I have a cat. Her name is Ramona. She is about 9 months old, and she is ridiculous. Every day she does something that makes me shake my head in disbelief. Last week I picked up some canned food for her that had pumpkin in it to add some fibre to her diet. I was surprised to find that in addition to pumpkin there were a quite a few more veggies with some tasty looking shredded chicken. I almost gave it a try myself it looked so good! Well, Ramona went CRAZY for the truly fancy feast. I after I had human dinner I checked to see if she'd eaten everything. I was shocked to see that she had licked the bowl clean.... except for the peas! She left ALL of the peas! Who knew? So, a tidbit of info about my special lady:
 I hope you're all having a good weekend!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow day.

"One winter morning Peter woke up
and looked out the window. Snow
had fallen through the night. It covered
everything as far as the eye could see." 
                                                                                   -Ezra Jack Keats

I know what you're thinking. Crazy city folks think the world shuts down for 10 centimeters of snow. That being said, here I am at home having a SNOW DAY! I am working today, but I thought I would take a moment to celebrate one of my very favourite children's books that I'm always reminded of on days like today. 

Image copyright by Ezra Jack Keats
 It's, of course, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. I bet more than a few of you have heard of this book, and have fond childhood memories of it. The story is about a little boy who discovers his winter wonderland neighbourhood after the first snowfall of the season. The story is great, but the illustrations are astounding. As an illustrator I am in awe of the wonder of simplicity. It takes real talent to be able to rely on good design and not need to add the kitchen sink into every piece. Keats was a genius in this sense. I love the bright but not garish palette he used in the snowy day, and the way he captures the essence of childhood in his characters is inspiring to me. This book won the Caldecott medal in 1962, and as you can see the art and story remain relevant and current nearly 40 years later. 

Image copyright by Ezra Jack Keats
I love Keat's use of pattern and collage mixed with traditional mediums. He was ahead of his time. I work daily to try to achieve the same level of craftsmanship in my own art. It's really quite amazing to think that there was no Photoshop or Illustrator when this was made. I wonder if Keats was around today what he would think of the digital world. 
Anyway, whether you are in a blanket of snow or in a warm climate (damn you if you are, lucky duck) if you have this book kicking around your house I recommend pulling it out for a read and this time having a good look at the art. 

Stay warm!