Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Maker Series: Draw Me A Lion

         Hi Friends! One of the things I love best in life is discovering wonderful artists- makers- creators- and the sharing them with everyone I possibly can. With this in mind I decided this year with the run up to the Holidays to feature some of our favourite local makers- folks living and working in British Columbia- making a living form scratch- doing what they love. When shopping for Birthday or Holiday gifts these are the folks I go to time and again for gift giving- I love giving well crafted- lovingly made goods and I like to try and keep it as local as I possibly can. Many of the folks featured here in the coming weeks will be familiar to friends and family- like today's feature on Draw Me A Lion- seriously my favourite go- to gifts made by one of my favourite people!

     Of course I had to ask Draw Me A Lion owner and operator Lisa Cinar the obvious questions- what is her inspiration and the drive behind her brand as I like to know what makes people tick. Lisa was gracious enough to share some insight into her process as well as lots of lovely festive images- getting me excited for Christmas creating- bring on the dancing trees!

Q: What is Draw Me A Lion all about?

A: I have always loved to draw and create things. I had written and illustrated a couple of children's picture books with a local publisher and thought to myself, wouldn't it be nice to become my own little publisher of fun things? ... I had always had the idea in the back of my head, but it took a while for me to realize what exactly it was that I wanted to create. 

           Today I make everything from greeting cards, to wall-prints, pins and of course one of my favourite parts ... tons of colouring items. I especially love the activity-involved items like the Colouring Posters, Mask Colouring Books and the new Ornament Postcard Booklet because I think of them as a collaborations – the final object is created only once the receiver of the item has coloured it and made it theirs. 

            Everything at Draw Me A Lion is drawn, designed and assembled by me here in my little studio and printed locally. I love creating items that make other people happy and It's a fantastic feeling to see your own creations on the shelves of some of the best local stores. It's quite fun to see my studio space shrink-and-shrink as I create more-and-more items that my online-shop has in stock. 

 Q: What inspires you? 

A: My childhood has always inspired me. It's when I first started to be creative and I have the good fortune of having a stack of drawings I did when I was a kid that my Mom wisely saved for me. Sometimes when I feel un-inspired I like to look at them. It always helps me get in touch with that wondrous-magical-feeling you can get when you have a blank sheet of paper and realize that you could draw anything. Something else that always inspires me is drawing with kids. I think that all kids are by nature incredibly creative, spontaneous and free in their drawings and we adults have tons to learn from them. 

           My style of illustration for Draw Me A Lion is very much about this free spontaneous line quality that is much more about expressing a feeling and having a drawing look-alive rather than focusing on technical accuracy. It's no big surprise that a lot of my favourite artist and illustrators have illustrated and written childrens picture books. Some of them are Tove Janson, Joann Sfar and Marc Boutavant. However I am also a huge fan of Alexander Calder and Marc Chagall, two fine artist who's work also often references childhood.

         Be sure to join Lisa to celebrate Draw Me A Lion's 3rd Birthday this coming Saturday - Nov 1-at Collage Collage- noon till 2pm! Draw Me A Lion can also be found at a number of upcoming markets in and around Vancouver first up November 29 at the Annual Strathcona Craft Fair- always a great market with a killer bake sale! Followed by the cult classic TOUQUE at the Western Front December 5 & 6 as well as Got Craft December 13 &14. With plenty of opportunity to stock up on Draw Me A Lion goodies be sure not to miss out on meeting Lisa in person- you will walk away with some creative gifts and surely a smile on your face- she's contagious like that!

P.S.- just a trip- Draw Me A Lion makes so many wonderful things that are perfect for popping in the post- flat and easy to mail- our favourite is the Mask book!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Rhythm of The Weekend

          This past weekend found me with three entire days to myself- well sort of- to rewind back to the beginning. Friday was a professional development day in our school district- so the Littles had the day off school- we started out with a family breakfast at our new favourite neighbourhood bakery- Pure Breads- yummo! Once everyone was fully fortified with treats- Momma and Pops well caffeinated- I loaded up my wee family and sent them on their way to the Okanagan- the Mr. included- off for a weekend of corn mazes and pumpkin partying! Aside from work- I had the weekend to myself- something that hasn't happened in years!

          While I of course missed them terribly I was so happy to have the time to tackle my to do list- a pile of mending and a stack of fresh fabric that had been calling my name since late August. This wee little smock top was a custom order for my own wee girly- she had picked this fabric out at Spool Of Thread way back in the summer and I knew how excited she would be to come home to a new frock hanging in the closet.

          I love being a part of the family unit- being a Momma was all I have ever wanted to be- that said I am also a person who craves solidarity- I actually enjoy doing things on my own. Sitting at my sewing machine with Pearl Jam cranked on the stereo I was in my element- I sewed through dinner time- I sewed right through bed time- I sewed well into the evening! When all was said and done I had a new small frock for Miss Lo, two pairs of panama pants for The Boy and a stack of mended garments- a sense of accomplishment and a well deserved beverage!

         Upon their arrival home my Littles gleefully regaled me with stories of the weekend- showing me all their treats from the weekend- new french books, crafts from the corn maze, carved pumpkins and creepy headbands. When they finally started unwinding and headed into their room- both kiddos were back in a flash- The Boy so excited to have his favourite pants back in action and my girl so excited about a new frock to wear on Monday!

         Since Momma has gone back to work we have all had to adjust a bit- my Mr. doing more than his fair share around the house- my Littles trying their hardest to help Daddy. It's hard for them to understand why I have to miss out on things like this little road trip- but they are doing their best. I know it is so important for me to have that time for myself- and I can see how the loosening of apron strings in benefiting my children. It's different yes but oh so good!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

In The Nest

            The cold weather arrived with a gust the other night- actually several gusts- all night long- our first real storm of the season sent umbrellas inside out and patio furniture scattering. I am feeling that once the clouds part we will see snow dusting the North Shore mountains- it's just that time of the year. With the less than delightful weather I have been pushing myself to stay active outside- which can be tricky because I would rather spend my winter curled up in the corner of the sofa next to my knitting basket.

           So much can be said about self care and for me it is so easy to just hibernate- spend my days inside where it is warm and dry- my inner bear really likes this behaviour. I've been around this old sun enough times to know better though- my mental health is always better when I am breathing the fresh air and stretching my legs. Striving to find that balance between the cozy nest that is our home and the bracing elements which always give me a clearer head is hard and something that does not come easily to me.

           My new goal or challenge every week this winter is to document the delightful surprises I find on my urban hikes- juxtapose them against the splendid coziness of home and be celebrate the extreme differences. To be honest this little challenge will not be all that hard- not only do we live in a beautiful place but lets be honest the elements in Vancouver are not all that harsh! A fun game I will make of it all indeed- tricking myself into a fun fall adventure!

           As the days get darker and the earth starts to fall into slumber I notice like most animals our family wants to tuck into home more and more- drawing in closer to the light. I love this time of year-  when the veil is thin- this is truly the season for relaxing- slumbering and recharging.  I'm bringing lots of yummy textures into our living space- warm, nubby blankets from Mexico- fuzzy pillows- of course the lovely texture in my knitting basket- all encouraging us to cozy into our den.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Deep Thoughts

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift
and the rational mind is a faithful servant.
We have created a society that honours the servant 
and has forgotten the gift.

                                                                                                        Albert Einstein       

Monday, October 20, 2014

Simple Sewing

              The other day I had a few hours and two meters of fabric on my hands so I decided to do something completely radical- sew something for myself! Shocking! I haven't done much sewing for myself in quite sometime as my Littles grow so quickly and constantly seem to be in need of longer garments on a constant basis. So this fall I decided to make my own wardrobe a priority and jumped in with this easy little tunic from one of my favourite Japanese sewing books Simple Modern Sewing.

          What I like about this book is as per the title the items are simple and basic- just what I need in my day to day life. While the fabric and styling may be cute I can bring in little details like the ceramic flower button to make things a bit more interesting- this fabric has an interesting texture to it so I really didn't want to overwhelm that.

             Aside from the patterns this book is so well styled and a pleasure to look at for leisure- lots of great wardrobe building tips- in a restrained manner- not too much but just enough. I am working to build a uniform or look for myself- something I can just throw on at a moments notice and not really think about- this top fits the guild lines I have set for myself. Simple Modern Sewing- great basics!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pumpkin Patch

           Today- instead of another Thrifted Thursday- I thought I would change things up a bit and bring you highlights of the most adorable and soaking wet field trip to the pumpkin patch! All three kindergarten classes from our school boarded yellow school buses first thing in the morning and headed out of town to Westham Island Herb Farm. For a group of city kids the bus ride - on an actual school bus- was exciting on it's own and they were all in the highest of spirits by the time they reached the farm.

        We were all treated to a tour of the farm with one of the farmers leading a conversation on food that they grow on the farm- including talking about where our hamburgers come from while standing in front of the cow. While this may seem a bit harsh and possibly upsetting it is important for kids to know where their food comes from and see the face of what they might be eating- all the kids took it in stride and most seemed to know the facts already. We visited the chickens, donkeys, goats and more cows- which they all loved.

        It may have been pouring rain but everyone had a great time- these are Vancouver kids after all- they were all well kitted out in full rain gear- ready for anything. After our tour and a quick lunch break in the green house we headed out to the fields to find the perfect pumpkin! With an entire field to choose from the pickings were abundant and it was difficult to chose just one! Miss Lo managed to narrow it down and found a pumpkin she declares will make the perfect jack o lantern- Halloween is only a few weeks away!

         Westham Island Herb Farm is such a grew place for a day trip- close by the Rifle Bird Sanctuary we were treated to flocks of geese stopping over for a break- the giant formations filling the steely grey sky. There is history here as well- a long tradition of feeding British Columbians as a former supplier of potatoes to White Spot Restaurants.

          This was my first pumpkin patch trip- I missed out on going last year with The Boy as tiny siblings were not invited along. Although it was possibly the wettest day we have seen so far this fall it was still filled with laughter, fun, lots of mud and puddle jumping as well as making new friends. It was so great to see my girl with her little kindergarten friends- at one point they all were giving group hugs- they are just so happy! With that kind of joy it is tough to feel crabby about the weather!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Studio Wednesday

          I have been thinking a lot about where I come from as of late- thinking about connections with the earth and my ancestors- thinking a lot about these ladies pictured above- my Grandma- Great Aunt and a long forgotten cousin. Young women posing by the lake and in their Sunday best- familiar faces yet totally a mystery at the same time. They are part of a life I have very little connection to- life on the prairies- on a farm- before- during and after the Depression.

          In the studio I am starting to explore their lives- explore ties to a farm and land I have never visited yet feel strangely connected to.  I am bungling my way through working with encaustic again this week- enjoying the physical act of scraping back more so than building up layers. Loving how the wax reminds me of layers of prairie sky- creating depth by working the under painting in oil and graphite- honest materials for a more basic and possibly more honest imagery.

         So much about this life of my own amazes me- the fact that I can "play around" in the studio where only a few generations ago my family was working to eat- literally farm to table. The pretension that surrounds much of what I do does not go unnoticed- the shear luxury I have to pursue this life as an artist. Yet the connection between my Grandmother and art is strong and the reason I am who I am- she gave me my first set of oil paints for my eight birthday- she was a painter.