8 December 2015


I've been gone for more than a very long while... simply too long away from this precious one to one page where I can pour out the tribulations and the inspirations of my soul.  I've come back victorious after having faced my demons of how and when can I be an artist, a writer, an illustrator when my life is  overwhelmingly weighing me down with responsibilities, debts and obligations.

After a long couple of years of stating that I wanted to write and illustrate... after being half way in my second novel (unpublished) deciding I might not be such a good writer (insecure you think?) because of my bilingualism so I decided to go go to Concordia University and take a courses in creative writing and travel writing (just because) and take online courses with Will Terry at SVS because I wanted to be up to date in my drawing techniques....long breath here... I finally took a stand and jumped off the proverbial fence.  Well maybe life pushed me off the fence...or rather my hubby off the roof.

It all started when my hubby broke his femur.... well, that's when things really started rolling. Desmond was on the roof of our house putting up a vent for the kitchen fan.  He decided to go up on the roof to do this...and of course I was not home.

We had finally decided to renovate one half of the town house to rent by July which would then give us time to find a new house to buy.  A house with a studio and a writing/illustrating room!  Woohoo!  Slow but sure right?  Wrong.  Five minutes after he facetimed me to proudly show me his aeration pipe that he took the afternoon to do, he calls me up.

"Hon, I think I've had a little accident!" he states very calmly.
"Why what happened?" I ask nervously.
"I think I broke my leg," he replied.
"Really?" I ask completely thinking he is exaggerating since he is sooooo calm about the whole thing.
"Ya, I fell off the ladder and it's really painful!" he says still very calmly.
"Okay I am on my way! I replied. Then I heard voices around him.
"Whose there?"
"The neighbours down the street, are you coming home soon?"
"Yes, what neighbours?" I asked.
"I screamed so hard that the neighbours three houses down heard me and are helping me here, hurry!"
Oh shit.
I drove home as fast as I legally could.  The front door was open and the "neighbours" were in the house and on the deck taking care of Desmond who was lying on his side.  He did not look very good.  It took the ambulance one and half hours to get home (we are in the country) and there were more important emergencies than a possible broken leg.  Needless to say after about an hour of putting him on the stretcher, moving away the furniture to let the stretcher go by, taking down the patio door...we rushed him to the hospital where they took xrays and yes he did have a broken leg.... a broken femur.

Now my mind was going a hundred miles a minute... my hubby is in the hospital, my house has no kitchen and no bathroom... so he can't come back home here... what am I going to do?

6 December 2013


This morning at breakfast I told Desmond that I would like to write a blog about brainstorming by yourself.  As soon as the words came out of me, we both bursted laughing.  It is a little bit absurd since it takes more than one person to brainstorm. But what I am hearing is that it is lonely out there for alot of artists and illustrators and writers.  The path of an artist or writer is in fact a lone venture. I sometimes can feel that loneliness as many other artists do.  A few years ago I would brainstorm with a couple of other creatives in my graphic shop where we would design products, write marketing texts, etc... During our lunch time we would talk about our personal projects and brainstorm.

The energy that happens when you share your ideas and then others build on that idea, which in turn brings you other ideas is very stimulating.  However when you are by yourself, in your home or studio and you are trying to brainstorm an idea and there is but an echo in your house from no feedback... it is in the least not very stimulating.

I find that when I am in writing mode, I get stimulated by anything I hear.  It could be on TV, a conversation, I hear more new things in a day than  I see.  (Unless I do research for visuals).

When I write it is all in my head, the inspiration is within and unless I actually talk about and explain in legnth, another person can't see or feel where I am going because I also have a huge amount of information stored inside which no one else sees or knows about...

However brainstorming for illustration purposes is quite different.  The drawing will stimulate emotion or a feeling to whoever sees it, be it finished or not.  People will give their opinion more openly and sometimes without even knowing what the project is about.  Constructive criticism or not, that is not brainstorming.  However someone might say something about your work which you hadn't seen and sometimes that can get you going.

With lack of other creatives around me, I brainstorm by doing research on the net.  It is my way of being up to date on what is happening artistically out there.  However the enormous pool of talent out there is incredible and you shouldn't let that de-motivate you.

A critique group could be a good place.  If you do not have a group you can make one up.  Post on facebook and ask others with the same interests as you if they would like to join.

Apart from that, I find that brainstorming is best when you are just waking up and nothing is disturbing you.  Of course if you have children or you have to hurry up for work, that certainly puts a damper on the brainstorming. Which in that case, when everything quites down... I just close my eyes and start thinking specifically about a project and then ideas just come.  You have to let all the crap step out of the picture and that sometimes takes some time to achieve.

Tip #1 : Give yourself some time.
Tip #2 :Carry a notebook at all times

Listen to everyone around you, what they are talking about.  Always keep in the back of your mind how you can have an idea for an illustation or a book.

For artists or illustrators, I found a get together they were giving on nude models.  Everyone brought paper, and the mediums they wanted to draw with.  It cost 25$ for a 4 hour session, with 5, 10 20 minutes poses.  You get to meet other artists and see how others work and improve your drawing skills.
Make new friends and be inspired!

What ways do you go about helping yourself to be more creative?
I am sure there are alot of artists out there that would really like to know.
Have a great week!

27 November 2013

Where the heck is that sketch?

Do you often find yourself searching for that sketch you did a while back?
Do you get frustrated looking through piles of paper for that exact sketch you know would be perfect?
Do you have a system?
If you don't, read on and hoepfully I can give you a great tip I am using to organize my drawings.

If you are like me, you sketch on paper, in pads, or whatever flat material that lies around.  And in my opinion nothing replaces the sketching on paper. I can sketch in bed, in a waiting room, looking at tv, talking on the phone... etc. 
I often sketch on the backs of paper too, because I can go through a lot of paper and isn't it often the case where that drawing that you were scribbling about comes out spectacular and it is, of course behind another drawing.  That also hinders my search of drawings and sketches. 

Do you also stuff your drawings in filing cabinets, drawers, piles on top of your drawing table, on shelves, in between books and pads... I hope I am not the only one ;-).

Anyhow in between working as a graphic designer and illustrating and trying to write, I search for my stuff alot!  I've tried different systems of organization... does organization and artist go in the same sentence?  Not for me, I'm a little disorganized.  But that really frustrated me and so I had to find my things quickly and I was really fed up at not being able to find them when I need them.  I mean I do not want to look everywhere, through the piles of paper to find what I need and it only gets worse when I am working on more than one project.  Needless to say, the more I would search for that " special " drawing the more disorganized my papers would get.  Filing was tedious and I did not like going through file folders.  So I just wanted to share with you what I do now to find that sketch, thumbnail or comp etc... and now when I am coming up with story ideas.  It's not that long and it hardly costs anything!

What you will need is binders, different colored ones. 
Indexes (you can also use your file folders cut in half and three hole punch them.
Then write on the tab of the file folder.
I separate them by theme such as :
manuscript, thumbnails, comps, character sketches, environment, stories etc...
When I work on a specific story, I put the manuscript I am working on in the front section, 
I keep a double spaced print.   I also make dummies and what I do is I use the plastic transparent sheets and stuff them in there.  There are binders that have pockets and you can put your dummies in there.
I gather all my papers and try to work as much as possible in a 8.5 x 11 format for sketching and that way it is easy to just three hole punch.  If you don't want to three hole punch your drawings, you can buy those plastic protective sleeves that you can insert in binders with a space that is already allocated for the three holes.  That way you see both sides of the paper and keep your drawing intact.
If your working on more than one project, use a couple of binders.  So the red is one thing and the blue another.  If you have more projects and you need more binders just write on the spine of the binder what the project is.
This way, I find you can quickly spot the binder, open the section 
and quickly flip through the pages and find what you need.
Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other way to find that little thumbnail, comp or drawing!

Keep drawing or writing... just keep being creative!

19 November 2013


Do you work out of your home?  Is your studio in your house? I've moved my office back home and I have the distinct feeling, some people don't think I actually work.

I have a print shop and a graphic studio.  When I am at the print shop people think I work because I am at an "official" work place.  A couple of months ago, I developed an allergy to the fumes that were emanating from the machines when they were being washed.  I found out that you can develop allergies at any age.  But now I had a dilemma, I had to continue to work but how would I manage it.  I decided to move my office the graphic part at home.  By the same token, I would have more time to devote to my illustrating, since everything for illustrating was already at home.  Research books, light table, drawing table, paints, pencil crayons etc... So I merged both together.

So since I've been "home" in my studio working.  I find that certain people around me don't really think that I am working.  At one point over supper a family member was jokingly saying that I had an easy job, I just played all day and drew.  Hmmmm. It's funny how people perceive things.  In my reality, I am not playing... drawing takes alot of time and technique and planning.  To have a good drawing, I need to think it through, doodle, thumbnail then make a comp... then add a bit of color, try out different colors schemes and then get down to finalizing the actual drawing.   But the drawing is a product.  A finished item.  An item that I can sell and make money with.  That's what I think people that are not in a creative job don't see.  They don't see how much work is involved.  When they do have a chance to see a glimpse of the process it looks easy.  They didn't spend the whole time it took for us to come to this point.  If we make it look easy it's probably because we are good at it.

I too, love looking at illustrators draw on youtube.  The speed painting videos are amazing and inspiring.  The talent pool out there is stunning.  Yeah, they make it look easy and it looks like fun, doesn't it.  When you see someone draw, it's rather rare that you see someone painstakingly frown and cry and be in an frustrated state... they usually are happy or content when they draw.  That's probably because it brings us in that "creative" space and to me, any kind of creating is good.

So if people around you think you play all day and you "just" draw.  Take it as a compliment, and maybe, just maybe you are inspiring them by having the audacity to follow your path, your dreams.
Maybe, just maybe a part of them wishes they had that type of courage.

Keep drawing!

1 November 2013


Are you one of "those" people that wake up at a specific hour each night?  Or around the same time each night, or every so often?  Are you one of "those" people that have an incredible idea in the dark, in the middle of the night, when everything is silent around you?  But in your head is a whirlwind of ideas just boiling with excitement and just crying to come out?  What do you do about it?
If you let it go and try to shut your mind off, you are shutting your inspiration.  If you are trying to ignore it and are just mad at yourself for waking up at such hours, for no good reason, you are shutting your creativity down.  If you are rolling around in your bed, tired, aggravated over the fact that you are not sleeping and trying to force yourself to get back to sleep after all you only have a few hours left and you have a big day tomorrow...you are blessed and don't even know it.  

Yes, I am one of "those" people.  At first, I would talk to myself, yes in my head... don't you?  "Come on Annie, go back to sleep.  Why am I not sleeping, too much caffeine, to many worries, financial problems, family problems, what is keeping me awake?  Or is it the list of things to do that is so long and that you might have forgotten something that had to be done and you blew it?  

However, one night I decided to just sit up and just write everything that was in my mind.  My company was the thing that was waking me up, I had to do this or that the next day.  Or I had to give marching orders for such and such a project.  But I soon found out, that my mind was bombarded with all sorts of things... not only work.  Then I started listening to ideas and then it gets interesting.

As I was preparing for bed, sitting at the edge of my bed, I would give myself my marching orders.  I wanted to get ideas.  It can be for anything.  At first it was for fashion designing outfits.  What I would do is lay down in bed and just close my eyes and try to see different things.  If I wanted to be inspired by nature, I would imagine nature elements and eventually fall to sleep on it.  It didn't take long that I would wake up with an incredible idea.  At this point.... VERY IMPORTANT... do not think you will remember the next day.  Chances are you probably won't.  Or worse, you will remember you had this amazing idea and it will be sooo close to remembering, but again, the chances are you won't. 

So you MUST at this point open the light and take your notebook and draw it out or write it out.
If you are not alone, at that moment and you want to have peace and not be disturbed and this becomes a habit... I would invest into a small light, flashlight any kind of little light that won't wake up the person next to you.

I find these nightly episodes a treasure trove.  This is the best time, where the best ideas come out.  What do I attribute this to?  Probably the silence of the night, the lessen activity around us and meaning all around us even outside our home.  A time where our brain sorts things out and finds the answers to our questions.  A higher self in tune with what we need and what we are open to hear, listen or receive.
I believe it is a place where we can tap into ideas, creative sources and is a higher state than what we deal with on a daily basis.  

You will be on a natural high even if you might feel somewhat tired.  The exhilaration of the great idea, invention, poem, story, illustration or whatever idea you had, will well be worth it.

Notes:  Look at the time you wake up and see if you always wake up around the same time... I wake up around 3 or 3h30...
Always have a pen, pencil and notebook, sketch pad
Write, draw just grab that idea!

Are you one of "those" people?  Let me know.  If you are on FB, just like if you are... i want to know how many of "those" people are out there.

31 October 2013


In the past few months I have been exploring many different venues for my illustrating career.  I've been following lessons for up-ing my game with the DIGITAL WORLD...and I have been dabbling and doodling around different ways of painting.  I once heard that it was better to have one style and stick to it.  Really?  

I mean I can understand that if your doing a series of books, the style has to stay completely consistent throughout. That's a given.  But in my opinion, depending on the level you are illustrating for, you need a certain type of illustrator.  For example for a young children's book maybe Justin Gerard would not necessarily be your first pick.  But Will Terry or I may be a good pick.

When I illustrate a picture book, I want to know the age group I am illustrating for.  I want to put myself in their shoes and I want to know their level of comprehension, curiosity, interest, fascination.  I want those tiny awesome beings, be in awe and embark on the fascinating journey those illustrations can bring.

In my opinion, not all illustrations styles can create that magical place.  But all illustrations have to be drawn with the intent, to capture the imagination of the child and create a visually magical place that will stimulate their imagination and creativity.

So many books in my childhood have stimulated my creativity and imagination, as well as songs and rhymes that I will never forget.

I understand that the publisher, editor, artistic directors and all those who choose the illustrator already see or have a sense of what the book is suppose to look like, and most of them already work with a multitude of extremely talented artists.  

Of course when you think of a certain artist and their style there are those that stick out in my mind such as, Dolie Day, Will Terry, Nicoletta Ceccoli, Rob Scotton, Petra Brown, Mary Engelbreit, Jean-Baptiste Monge, lafianceeaubeurresale,
Arianne Delrieu, Elina Ellis and the list goes on 
and on...

But then there are those who are multi-disciplinary such as Kevin Keele, Jake Parker and others that can draw in different styles.

Now the question came, where do I want to be?  I want to have the freedom and capacity to draw in different styles too.  If someone asks me to draw something quickly or in extreme detail I want to be able to do exactly that and more than satisfy their expectations.  

So from my experience as a traditional artist I turned my methods of producting art around in order to better serve my 
clients.  Here are a few of the different styles I do...

(1)oil painting, (2)  to sketching (3) to digital painting (4) Colored ink and digital enhancement
(5) Vector only clipart (6)  Watercolor effect digital (7) Color comp digital.

What do you think?  Do you think it is better to have one style or many?

23 October 2013

MY ACORN ADVENTURE (The artist's point of view)

 Last weekend was just a wonderous feast for the senses... it was warm with a breeze of that incredible autumn smell.  I was in a great place.  I had just discovered an incredible artist, Jean-Baptiste Monge and I had planned a private workshop with him.  It didn't matter that he wasn't giving workshops.  
You see I had contacted him by email asking if he gave classes around the Montreal region or online for that matter.  He politely answered me back that it was not excluded in his possible things to do, but at the moment he was too busy with all sorts of contracts. Believe me, this guy must have not enough hours in a day, if you saw his stuff, you would understand.  But that is irrelevant (the fact that he is not giving classes) this is my goal now.  To see if I can achieve that level of drawing, painting. Yeah the bar is up there, way, way up there.  
So going back to my private courses with him,  I am a unknown LIKE in his facebook page.  But what that has brought me, is to his postings.  So a few days before, he posted a speed drawing video, which I quickly went to see on youtube.  It's almost like a silent film, which is a good thing because you are not distracted by noise and too much talking.   I would love to have classes with this guy, but how do I do it?  So I decided to auto-evaluate where I was in the scheme of things.  I would begin by  drawing a pencil sketch of a goblin type creature... which I have never done before a la Anne-Marie.  What did I need to do that apart from paper and pencils and my faithful electric sharpener.
Props!  Acorns would be a good one and I must have an incredible supply of them in the backyard since I have a magnificent oak tree.
I happily made my way to the center of the garden where the majestic oak tree stood half naked, but still, in all it's splendor.  I rummaged through the pile of beautiful rusty colored oak leaves, trying to find a couple of acorns.  i wanted to see the hat!  Feel the texture the smoothness, so that I can draw it exactly.  Alas, all I could find was pieces of acorns and no hats!  I hurried the squirrels above me communicating between each other.  It almost sounded like laughing.  As I looked up I noticed a little squirrel partially hidden behind the branch.  He was all dressed up in combat gear.  He suddenly bravely exposed himself in a bold manner and started the stare down.  As I stood there with my hands on my hips, I just wondered what he would do. He slowly scampered to his secret hiding place and
 brought out his brothers and sisters.  They were all ligned up on the branches above.  You must be wondering what they would do next?  Exactly what i was wondering.  I could feel the squirrel countdown... I knew something was going to happen.  I felt a ping on my head and then another, and another.  I was being bombarded by pieces of acorns aimed right at me.  They were attacking!  Of course, Desmond was on the other side of the yard behind the shed, hammering away.  I was there to fend for myself.  I hid behind our Martha Stewart garden living room set in our gazebo, which wasn't a great idea since we didn't have a roof yet.  I was hunched over behind the chair, I wished I had my dad's binoculars right now.  The attack had stopped.  Suddenly I hear a little squeaky sound.  I got up and slowly but surely, right above me, I see an acorn slowly being lowered an inch at a time and dangling in front of me.  It was hung by thread of some kind which was hooked to a little branch, which was held by the squirrel!  He was fishing, the acorn was the bait and I... well, I had to get the acorn. 

Needless to say, I tried to get the acorn and everytime I came to grab it, the evil squirrel would pull it away.  After about what seemed like an hour of fruitless grabbing, I stomped home terribly upset over the fact that I had no props and was totally acorn-less.