Sunday, April 19, 2020

Cut and Paste

April 16

I slept in til noon.  I woke up and the cat was lying on my head. 
I didn't feel like doing anything, even told Becca that I was going dark for the day.  

I grabbed some cheap paper and was going to make an angry face.  I started vibrating and decided to just get it out.  Turns out, I couldn't.  This is what happened.  I guess things aren't too bad.

This is what I started with.  I drew a bunch of eyes, mouths and noses.  

National Garlic Day

April 19

I'm such a loser, I celebrated National Garlic Day today.  I've reached a new low.
To further expound on my pathetic life, I will list my three top garlic memories in honour of the clove.

1.  I remember having an argument with Jacob at the cottage and he was so angry I thought he was going to slug me.  His face was red and his neck got blotchy.  He said, "Come here".  I followed him to the kitchen.  He opened the fridge took out the jar of minced garlic, and grabbed a spoon.  He scooped some out, stuck it in his mouth, and mushed it around.  Then he grabbed my shoulders and went "AHHHHHHHHHH"  and breathed in my face like some Italian dragon.  I fell on the floor laughing.  I can't remember what we were fighting about, but it was quickly resolved. 

2.  Roasted garlic used to give Grandma Kay gas.  Once, after a particularly delicious caesar salad, she turned to me and said, "Don't worry, I've trained my farts to go in the corner."

3.  Simon and Cheri were cooking supper together one weekend.  Cheri was slowly chopping garlic cloves, and Simon grabbed the knife and said, "That's not how you do it. Watch me."  He went to smash the clove with the side of the knife, but it slipped and went flying through the air and stuck RIGHT to his forehead.  We held back our laughter, but he was furious.  He took that knife and flung it down with all his force. It stuck upright into the floor with a boyoyoyoyoing.   We froze.  That was the night of the big fight and when CFS told me I was going to move again.

Covid Concert

April 18.

I felt kind of empty all day.  It was grey and cold and I started feeling anxious about what's going to happen to me when this Covid thing is done.  If I never had to do anything, that would be fine.  

I lay on the couch like a lump and started watching the Lady Gaga Together At Home special.  Most of the artists were old has-beens.  I thought of how Grandma Kay would have loved it.  Except for Celine Dion.  She couldn't stand her.  She used to do an awesome parody of her performing.  It would crack me up.

I grabbed my sketchbook and started drawing.  Blind contour, semi-blind, fast fast fast.  At one point, I realized I was drawing in time of the music... like I was conducting with the flow of my pen.  Maybe the pen was doing interpretive dance.  Whatever it was, I enjoyed myself.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Fish Lips

April 16, 2020

I had preprinted some sketchbook pages in my journal.  Grandma and I used to do that.  We'd make monoprints by smearing acrylic paint and printing textures with a gel plate. I have the box of stamps that she and I carved.  I had brought them with me here in January because I hoped to use them.  I cracked them open yesterday.

One Christmas, she gave me my present on Christmas Eve.  It was a box of erasers and an X-Acto knife.  Mom went nuts.  "Fer God sake, Kay. She's only 10. She's going to spend tomorrow in emerg. Those are way too dangerous".  I always thought it was strange that my mom called her mother by her first name.  Anyway, Grandma and I spent the evening carving stamps and then all day that Christmas, stamping patterns and designs.  She taught me how to make a repeating pattern.  I kind of forget how.  Maybe I'll hit Youtube later.

She had carved a skeleton fish stamp. It was the first thing I saw when I opened the box. My stomach turned a bit, but as I was going through them all, I kept going back to that one.  I had used it so much I had worn away a few of its bones. I laid down a bit of colour and stamped it on the page. Tonight, I went back to the page and drew around them. I'm not really happy with the picture, but who cares.

Sometimes when I draw, I hear Grandma's voice faintly saying things like "wow", "Way to go", "I never would have thought of that". It makes me feel sad, but kind of like she's hugging me.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020


April 15

There's a picture on the fridge that I can't figure out.  I assume it's some meditation thing that Heidi is into. She sure has some weird stuff around the house.  There's a little sign in her half dead jade plant that says "Please repot me. Signed, The Plant".  There are giant pinecones beside her woodstove and a walrus skull on her coffee table.  Artists are cool, but weird.

Pssst.. Fake me doesn't know about Block Therapy.  

Becca's crown

April 14, 2020 

One of the perks of this house-sitting gig is Heidi's studio. I went out there today and did some monoprinting with the gelli plate. She had told me to use the space as much as I wanted, but I've hardly gone out there these days. This morning, I thought I would try keeping an artist's schedule and put in some studio time each day. There was a note for me on a green tub of printmaking supplies, "Have fun, Nori."  I have to admit, I did.  

It's Becca's 18th birthday tomorrow.  I had nothing for her, and the dollar store isn't even open these days. I drew her face on top of one of those printed pages and gave her a crown. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2020


April 13, 2020

Grandma Kay had a whole bunch of wacky artist friends. They used to go on an annual road trip to the Minnesota State Fair.  They'd pile into the Peugeot with a cooler full of frozen meatloaf sandwiches, junk food and Diet Dr. Pepper, and meet their friend named Sue at the fair. They'd all come home with their sketchbooks filled with drawings of animals, people in sunglasses, and little snippets of writing.  Sue is an artist in Stillwater who draws and paints bears.  Her work is awesome. 
She friended me on Facebook after Grandma Kay died and she's always sending me photos of her daily mandalas.  I never really go on Facebook, but I was so bored that I was looking at different art groups and it popped up that she had gone live. So I clicked.

OMG. I laughed. It was the perfect thing.  She was showing her sketchbook from the State Fair 2015.  I couldn't believe it.  She told about a beauty pageant for cows where first prize was a purple folding chair.  I remember hearing that story from Grandma.  She was so surprised to see me.  While she was showing us her ceramic "Hound of Accountability", I drew her. It was so fun.

I had stenciled in my sketchbook this afternoon, so I thought it was a pretty fitting page for Sue since it already had a built in mandala.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Three word mantra

April 12

I had a bowl of chili for Easter supper.  Inga and Jocelyn called me and we talked for an hour.  They were having their Easter dinner and eating paska bread.  I laughed because I thought they said Posca bread.  I've been using Posca acrylic pens in my sketchbook and imagined a brightly decorated loaf of brilliant colours.

Jocelyn said she had read one of those "be happy" articles today which recommended adopting a 3-word mantra each day to keep you feeling chipper and positive.  So, today she chose "Eat more chips".  I love her.  Those two make me laugh.  Inga reminded me of the beautiful Easter eggs that Grandma Kay used to dye.  She would dip the ends and sides in food colouring making these gorgeous plaid stripes and patterns with primary and secondary colours.  I remember doing that with her.  She'd pull the high stool up to the sink and let me pick my own colours.  

I got off the phone and felt like my insides had kind of dropped out of me.  Like I was a hollow shell.  I felt that familiar jittery anxious feeling in my solar plexus. I remembered the breathing exercises I learned from Dr. E. In and out through the nose - in for 4 out for 6. Concentrate on the exhale and at the end of the 6 count, pause for a moment before the next breath. After a few slow breaths, I was lingering longer and longer in the pause.  It felt so good... like everything could disappear for an instant.  My lungs would fill again, but before I knew it, I'd be back inside the beautiful pause of nothingness.  Then I got the idea to pick a mantra.  3 words.  I grabbed my Posca pens and put on "Keep Breathing" by Ingrid Michaelson on repeat.

Saturday, April 11, 2020


April 11, 2020

It hit me. I guess I've kind of been in shock.  About ten times today I wanted to scream. I hadn't felt vibratey like that for about a year. I almost called Dr. E, but then I could imagine her saying, "Nori, how great to hear from you. How can I help you?"  And then I'd be back at square one.  Back in her office.  Back feeling like an angry loser with acne and an attitude.  I don't need to talk about my feelings. I don't need to embrace my discomfort with the unknown. I'm just lonely. There, I said it.  

I ended up going for a walk down the road. Then I came back and found a picture on Instagram that spoke to me.  I knew how this guy felt.  I sat quietly for a couple hours drawing him.  I couldn't think of what to put on the page behind him. So, I imported him to Procreate and played with colour.  

While I was drawing on the iPad, I realized I was having a good time.  I wasn't vibrating anymore.  I wasn't even in a bad mood.  And, I wasn't lonely.  

Friday, April 10, 2020

John Prine

April 10

My internet was down for two days.  What a piss off. They said something went wrong with the tower.  I went a bit nuts and was scared to go over on my data.  Becca and I texted instead of FaceTime in order to save me overage fees. 

The first thing I saw when I got back online was that John Prine had died.  He was Grandma Kay's favourite.  We used to sing along to an old cassette in her '75 Peugeot, when she would drive me to the orthodontist in the city. I kind of went numb when I thought of those times.  I wanted to listen to Angel from Montgomery but knew that would do me in.  I noticed my tongue was slipping over my front teeth while I was remembering this.  Like it was missing the braces as much as I was missing Grandma.

I found a picture of JP that his wife had posted and blocked it out in pencil in my sketchbook.  Then, I went in with a brush pen and added watercolour, gouache and acrylic pen. 

I put it on the couch to photograph it for IG and right when I was focusing on it, a rainbow passed through.  I felt like Grandma was there in the room catching the sun in that crystal prism and aiming it over my shoulder. I didn't know what to do. So, I said, "Alexa, play John Prine".  Angel from Montgomery came on. 

Full Moon Dream

April 8 - 9, 2020

I knew it was a full moon, but when I went to bed it was cloudy.  I awoke in the middle of the night with the room flooded with light and long blue shadows striping the backyard.  There's that moment between sleep and waking, a twilight time of consciousness where you don't know what's a dream and what's real.  I don't know if I experienced it while waking up or falling back to sleep.  But whenever it was, I wanted to linger there.  I felt like I was on water, nothing felt solid beneath me.  I was dizzy, but it felt like flying. My body was paralyzed but I wasn't scared.

During this nocturnal moonbeam voyage, my backlit bedding became waves and the round moon became a head of a person approaching me.  The water on my bed was getting rougher.  There was now a full figure at the foot of my bed, standing holding something in their hands.  

I felt a bit off yesterday.  Kinda sad, kinda lost.  For the first time in months, I didn't open my sketchbook. I totally forgot about all of this until today when I returned to draw in my journal. There was a perfect circle from a monoprint on the page with a figure-like shape coming down from it. When I saw it, the dream came flooding back.  I drew that figure with empty hands, but then this image came.  I think my dream visitor was rescuing an empty wooden sailboat out of the stormy seas.  
It's weird when art works out like this.  Sometimes it scares me.  Sometimes it feels exactly right. This was the original page I started with.  No wonder it reminded me of my dream.  It was perfect.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Poet Tree

April 7, 2020

I sat on the deck and looked out at a yard that yesterday was completely white.  I thought I heard rain in the middle of the night, but I had no idea that I'd wake up to see winter washed away.

I remember some poem about spring that mentioned a little goat-footed balloonman.  We took it in Grade 9.  I couldn't understand its meaning, but I got the feel of it.  I think that's why I like poetry.  It's word-juggling and precision-placing of words and syllables until things just fit into the only place they can. A palette of words on a page is kind of like colours in a painting.  

I'm feeling like I'd like to try and paint on a canvas. It would be a huge step to move from my safe sketchbook, but I'm hearing a call. It's not like I'm doing anything these days. Maybe I'll write a poem.  In the meantime, here's a Poet Tree.


April 6, 2020

The white rabbit that visited me in January was back with his brown summer coat on. Easter must be coming. I wonder if he'll hide some Cadbury eggs for me in the backyard. Doubters. 

I remember one of my teachers (who has a beautiful garden) saying how much he hated cute little bunnies because they chomp all his spring shoots the shoots from his spring bulbs. I think this guy is dreaming about fresh green things.

I went for a walk and took some reference pictures in the woods.  Then, I came back in and flopped on the couch with a sunbeam on my face.  It felt so wonderful I just shut my eyes and tried that breathing exercise that Dr. E taught me.  I woke up 2 hours later.  

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Another day, another tarp

April 5

I stayed here for months, not ever feeling alone.  Now that it's a health order to stay home, I feel like bolting.  I woke up lonely. And anxious. Actually, for the first time in a long while, I wondered if I should reach out to Dr. E.  I sat and had a cup of chai and looked out the window with the cat on my lap.  Another blue tarp. More fresh white snow.  Pure and clean at a time when the world is covered with disease.  I sat and looked at my journal from last year.  It made me want to draw. I just want to draw and never stop.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

The Trees Have Eyes

April 4. The trees have eyes.  I thought that as I walked through the forest. I walked out to the edge of the field.  Hard to believe the sun is still shining bright at 8pm. Long days and deep snow.  The world is not right. I took a selfie, and tried to draw myself, but I had to stick in an extra tree in Procreate.  Wouldn’t it be great to be able to fix everything in Procreate?

Friday, April 3, 2020

Fresh snow

April 3

If this had happened to me last year, I don’t know what I would have done.  My morning meditation is saving me, even though I did wake up several times in the night.  I stayed in the house all day except to go out for firewood.  I guess I’m just a bit numb. 

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Blue Tarps

April 2, 2020 

It’s supposed to storm. Enough already. I got groceries yesterday, and watched Netflix til I wanted to scream. Becca and I FaceTimed. She’s equally pissed off, because she was going to come with me for the first two weeks of my trip.

I did a gel print on toned paper with acrylic and then drew with my Zebra brush pen and went in with gouache.  Again, I took it into Procreate.  

International Fake Journal Month Day One April1, 2020

This year, I had NO IDEA what to do for my fake journal.  At a time when the world is in crisis, and life feels heavy and stressful, I hope that "fake" me finds solace within herself and inspires resilience and strength for others.
Fake me is the same character as last year.  18 yr-old Noreen, (no longer a troubled teen) was recently hired by a travel magazine to blog and sketch in Chiapas, Mexico during the month of June.  Because of the pandemic, she has been forced to self-isolate and her contract has been postponed indefinitely.

April 1, 2020

I'm beyond pissed.  No job, no trip, no life.  I'm house sitting for an artists and have been forced to remain here indefinitely.  She can't get home and I have nowhere to go. At least there are lots of windows in her studio.  I'm out here now.  I did a one line drawing and then went in with watercolour, but it sucked. I went took it to procreate to save it. 

Here's the view and the before...