I did a whole degree in Psychology. I did lots of postgraduate hours discussing the ins and outs of mental illness, specifically anxiety and depression. I clocked up some clinical hours and then moved abroad and spent more time working with people who had a whole host of more intense illnesses and more varied manifestations.

Since I can remember, I have always wanted to know more about the brain, how it works and why it can help or hinder entire lives and livelihoods.

As most people are aware, mental illness has been in the news a lot recently. I didn’t want to talk about Robin Williams at all. It’s not that I have nothing to say or that I am not saddened by the news of his passing and the distressing experiences that led to him ending his life. My reluctance came from the fact that I had nothing that I wanted to share publicly.

There have been many people who have written excellent posts on depression and their experiences with the dementors of their minds.

I didn’t want to write much. After hearing so many peoples’ experiences though, I did want to illustrate how isolating and dark depression (and anxiety) can be (if you click on it you can view a close up image).

If you want to read more about depression, anxiety and stress, I recommend this website. I also recommend these leaflets and talking to your family doctor. There is nothing as good as medical guidance from a trusted professional. Fact!

 I recently bought some Micron pens and I am in love! I didn’t think they would be as exciting as they actually are. I went ahead and bought the multi-pack of Micron pens. I love that I now have super fine and super thick pens that are waterproof and make my handwriting the best it will ever be. It’s like expensive, luxury make up. It does the same thing as other make ups, it’s still about having the right technique but somehow it all just looks better in the end.

What do you think of these cards? What colours would you use? Recently my line drawings stop at just line drawings, I seem to have developed and aversion to colour.  Sometimes less is more, right?

mendhi inspired patterns and line drawing on the lemon hive

A while ago a friend requested I draw up a wedding card for her neice’s ‘fusion’ wedding. She gave me a copy of a thank you card her niece had sent her and told me the colours that she would be wearing as Aunt-of-the-bride.

turquoise, yellow and purple mendhi inspired painted patterns on the lemon hive

For most of my teens I was obsessed with the middle eastern, Indian and Pakistani design. I loved watching friends write Arabic and if the opportunity for Mendhi came up then I was there. The intricate designs and time consuming pattern appealed to me. I even spent the vast majority of my time absorbing as much as I could about the religious and cultural aspects of the countries, including the histories. Needless to say, I was really honoured and excited to be asked to design this piece of work.

These designs are all rough sketches and experiments with colours and patterns, but I am pleased with the results. Most of all, I’ve enjoyed the pleasure that comes from re-visiting topics, cultures and art that reignites passion and drive.

What do you think of these?

Over winter I was unwell and feeling very sorry for myself. I spent an embarrassing amount of time over that weekend watching Pretty Little Liars (don’t judge me!). I spent time thinking about how I’ve moved around so often and I’ve made friends and then lost touch because of distance.

I was thinking of developing a few greetings card/postcards to send to friends reminding them that even if we aren’t physically close, I miss them, I wish we could do coffee (or tea) and that I’d love a catch up/skype date. Skype dates are where it’s at don’t cha know?

I then realised that there are never any ‘tea’ dates. Coffee dates are rubbish because I really dislike coffee. I also incorporated some fun Yorkshire-/British-ism because I’m amazing like that.

I know that I previously spoke about Micron pens and how amazing they are but these were done with a ballpoint Bic and I love the fluidity of it. Scribble, scribble, scribble.

Tea or coffee? What’s your poison?

A few nights ago, I couldn’t sleep. Hello Insomnia. What do you do when you can’t sleep? You write a blog post! Here it is:

It was one of those nights where it wasn’t cool enough and then it was too cold. It was a night of throwing blankets off in frustration followed by grumpy flailing to find something to warm me up.

My mind was loud. It’s rare that worries keep me awake at night. It’s happened before but never when things have felt so firmly sound in my life.

My tossing and turning ended up with The Canadian leaving the bedroom to find sleep with better bed mates (i.e. the kitties in the spare bedroom). My mind was loud and very very boring.

At 4 a.m., I surrended to the lack-of-sleep monster and rolled out of bed. Insomnia is usually the worst thing ever but, surprisingly, I’m feeling the most refreshed. Somehow, all that tossing and turning, all those loud thoughts and warmth seem to have burnt out any worry that I had. I am now wide awake, listening to creative business podcasts. I am feeling inspired and creative.

Sometimes insomnia is really positive. Except for that time the word ‘insomnia’ started pounding around my head to the rhythm of Rihanna’s “disturbia”. Awesome.

What do you do when you can’t sleep?

When I was in England, I found all of my old art journals and school work. I made the decision to lug them all back to Canada (paying surcharges for overweight luggage and all, I’m nothing if not dedicated!).

Over the years, I stopped drawing and painting and my ability suffered for it. It’s great to look back on these samples because if my name weren’t attached to them, I’m not convinced that I would believe them to be mine. Especially remembering how I used to rush through these projects because I saw them as a waste of time, funny how things change.

This project was kinda fun to do, there are a few others that I will share and some that I probably won’t. Do you have any idea what it is like to see what your 14 year old self  thought you looked like? Bizarre, that’s what.


The best part of reviewing these comes from reading my teacher’s comments. She used to write over a lot of my work and, quite often, the comments were far from encouraging. Yet, when I look through these sketchbooks I am entertained by my positive reaction to what I see. This alone has taught me that creating things is incredibly subjective. So long as I enjoy it, that’s really all that matters. I shall never be good at producing photograph like images but accepting that art allows for things to be ‘not perfect’ is part of the enjoyment, this calms the perfectionist in me. Good thing too, because that perfectionist is bloody annoying.


Looking through these pieces is great for reminding me of mediums and styles that I haven’t thought of in a long time. What do you think? Do you ever  look through old school books and projects to use as a measure of growth?

In 2012, I drove around Lake Superior, which really was one of the most fantastic journeys I’ve ever been on. Talk about breathtaking.

A year later, when I was just starting to take an interest in drawing again, I decided to sketch an image of a -meh- photo I had taken.

The ink sketch was ok, but it was lacking something, so a few months later, I started incorporating ink and acrylic into the drawing.

It’s not completed yet (because I am scared) and not really sure how to finish the top part. Any suggestions, should I just wash it with ink, should I build more into the boat? The biggest barrier is that I am not particularly confident when it comes to detailing vehicles, people etc. If it’s a rock or a landscape then I can use my imagination and interpret it in whatever way I’d like, but that doesn’t work the same with, ya know, boats. Thoughts?

Emeli Sande lyrics on hand drawn patterned wedding card by the lemon hive

Weddings are one of my favourite things to celebrate. I love that wedding cards are one of the most intimate and special items that can be given at a wedding. Most people keep their wedding cards to review time and again and it provides the perfect opportunity for me to really invest time and effort into the card and leave a lasting impression.

I loved spending the time on this detail and, for many months, it was blank. Then a friend in Edmonton told me that she was getting married and incorporating an old, vintage theme into her decor. This card took about 2 hours to complete and, I knew instantly, that I wanted her and her, now husband, to get this card. After listening to various love songs and came across this one by Emeli Sande. Her song seemed to fit their relationship perfectly.

Her album later came to inspire a whole host of art projects for the remainder of the autumn. I love it when a plan comes together.

I think this style would make a brilliant congratulations on your engagement, job promotion, graduation. I just love the potential that white on black offers.

Is it just me that keeps special and memorable cards, or do you too?

I have lots of sketchbooks and notebooks all over my house. I use them to practice new techniques, inks, pens, pencils and charcoals and to jot down some of my thoughts and feelings. I guess in some ways they are art journals but in other ways they are just a place for me to practice, practice, practice.

Here is the art book I bought in the UK when I was there in the Spring. It hasn’t seen as much action as the other art books but here are a few sample pages.


The three images above were practice productions. (1) I was trying out a new pen, (2 and 3) I was using up left over paint. There’s something very, very wrong about wasting paint.


A two hour train jouney from Leeds to Manchester and then somewhere else (Bradbury, I believe) for my close friend’s 25th birthday. My fingers were freezing. I forgot how cold England can be and there’s something about train stations that make the weather feel worse…is it just me that experiences that?

The last two are a result of exploring patterns and potential wedding care covers. They were quick and fun.

Do you have an art book? Do you use it for a specific thing, or do you just put down whatever pops into your head?