Reflections and Decisions

It’s been a while!

Summer finished on a high note, and after a turbulent fall, I returned to the mountains proper for a new job in town. It was only supposed to be part time until I could move back to the city, but you know how things are… looks like I’m staying for the foreseeable future. This time though, I’m happy and have a place to go within the company in the future :)

That wasn’t the only change: I moved once this past fall, once to a new place in said mountain town, and just recently again. It was another big eye opener to what I could live with in good conscious, and although the rent was good, it wasn’t worth the worry. I’ve got a new place and I love it dearly :) in fact, I’m going to find some plants today to brighten up the space!

With all this change, it’s also made me realize that I want to bring some change to my artwork. As much as I really do love the style I’ve been working in the last three years, I do want to expand out. I’ve been feeling a bit caught, and I need some breathing room. Which is why I’m dedicating the rest of this year to trying new things and experimenting. The piece below is the first of this branching out, and I’m super excited to see where the summer will go :)


Summertime... Madness??

Hey folks! 

We're in the thick of summer here, and I am back in Canada. I've been back for almost a month now (wow, that's insane), and have been trying to take it easy, but not entirely succeeding. For a good reason! I'm very pleased to say that I'm participating in some Farmers Markets and Art Walks this summer! If you are in the Edmonton area, I have a table at the Fort Saskatchewan Saturday market, a table at the Redwater market on Tuesdays, and I will be a part of the St Albert Art Walk next week (August 2nd) and on September 6th. It's been, so far, a REALLY cool experience, and I have to say, selling my work has been an experience I will never fully adjust to. It still blows my mind that people like my stuff enough to spend money on it. I'm EXTREMELY thankful and happy that they do, I just have really bad self esteem. But if it brings them joy or inspiration, then it makes my heart feel full. 

Because of all the markets, I've also been doing more work as a result, and I have some REALLY exciting stuff in the pipeline :) I can't wait to share it with you all! I'm finally finishing up some projects I started last year, and expanding on others. 

But it's definitely meant that, although I don't have a standard job, I'm busy more often than not! And it will continue for the rest of the summer, in what will hopefully remain an exciting and educational time.

Stay wild!

Journey Eesti: There and Back Again

Tere from Tallinn! 

No, I haven’t stayed here for five weeks, but I have come full circle. What an amazing, beautiful, crazy time. I can’t believe I go back to Canada on Thursday. I’ve done so much, seen so much, and I feel I can now really give Anu’s story the justice it deserves.

My bag did come to join me the next day after I arrived in Tallinn, thankfully, and hasn’t left my side since. It may be a pain to haul around, but I am lost without it, and it’s great for building some muscle. 

My first stop after Tallinn was Laheema National Park, where I stayed at Projekt Kodu for four nights. It was truly in the woods, and I loved every minute of it. The air was fresh and clean, and cuckoos called from everywhere. I love the sound of them, it’s so lulling and comforting. The woods offered some great hiking and scenery, and I got to test out my new wide angle lens properly; I can’t wait to share some of the photos I took there! 


The woods of Laheema

The woods of Laheema

I bid a rather sad farewell to Laheema, and made my way to Saaremaa, the largest of Estonia’s islands (of which there are many). The islanders were a bit more relaxed, but made to help as much as possible. I stayed at two different places, one which was very cute but a little spooky, and the other a hostel that was in an old Soviet computer server building. It was SUPER cool, and I loved it there. I loved the island in general, actually! I mean, castles, fresh fish, beach, a booming arts community, what’s not to love? I really hope I can go back one day, and explore it some more.


Toes, meet Gulf of Riga

Toes, meet Gulf of Riga

Pärnu was next, and another hostel. A very quaint, clean place that I thoroughly enjoyed, and was a great place to rest after exploring Pärnu. The city itself was gorgeous, and was a great mix of nature and urban living. Pärnu is a holiday destination, and it’s easy to see why: with it sitting on the Bay of Pärnu, you get a truly spectacular beach, as well as various parks and shopping centres for relaxing of all sorts. I took in the beach my first day there, and the museums my second day. Estonians really pride themselves on their history, which was so nice to see. And it’s also very accessible, with most everything coming offered with English descriptions or videos. Honestly, my only wish for Pärnu was that I had stayed longer! 


Murals like these were everywhere

Murals like these were everywhere

I didn’t go far from Pärnu, but I definitely was out in the sticks. A holiday farm just south of the city took me back to the woods, and tested my comfort levels, as the weather (naturally) became cold and rainy for the next three days. Now, that wouldn’t normally be a problem, but I was also without heat and hot water for that time, which did make things a little uncomfortable! Luckily, the nature made up for it. Leaving was a bit of an interesting experience: my host had a couple of very large dogs that he let roam around at night, and since I was leaving so early, I had to do some sneaking to get to the bus stop. Nothing like an early morning walk in the trees to get you awake and ready for the day :) 

Cuckoos everywhere

Cuckoos everywhere


My first shower in three nights was much appreciated and enjoyed, let me tell you. And now, I was basically into the home stretch of the my trip. I spent a week in Haanja, getting a lot of creative things done, and enjoying the surroundings as much as I could. I even got to sauna again, which I LOVED. Seriously, if you can use a proper sauna, do it, they’re the best. I didn’t get out as much, due to weather; when I did (the first time) I had a run in with a dog, and a very near run in with a bear. THAT will get your heart going, let me tell you. Luckily my next foray out was much better. I went to the highest point in the country, a whopping 318 metres above sea level. After living in Banff two years, it was kind of funny to see people considering 318 metres high. 


Sunsets were spectacular 

Sunsets were spectacular 

After a week in Haanja, it was time for me to go to Tartu, and my god. My heart has been captured. Tartu is a gem of a place, with so much culture, art, and beauty to offer. The people were all amazing, and my hostel was the best. The food was fantastic! I may have gone a little overboard, but it was completely worth it. I finally allowed myself to start buying some bigger things to take home, and they are gorgeous: a pair of mittens for myself, gloves for one of my dearest friends, and a hat for my brother. I honestly could have bought a LOT more, but with more travel to be done, it just wasn’t smart.  I was able to see a few museums as well, and again, I am blown away. Estonia has so much to offer, it’s truly awesome how much they have for being as small as they are. 


The kissing students

The kissing students

Once more, I wish I would have stayed longer in Tartu, but the next place was the one I was most looking forward to: the writer’s cabin in Endla Nature Reserve. And it was everything I hoped it would be, and more. My host was amazing. The cabin was cozy, cute, and felt like home. The woods were beautiful, and the bogs. The bogs. I nearly cried when I first saw them. This place was where I modeled Anu’s home, and to see it in person was very emotional. I could truly picture her there, living and trying to survive, with the wolves at her side, and Raph learning his way in the woods. Leaving there today was bittersweet, as I am very excited to properly look around Tallinn, but I would have loved more time to see Endla. I can’t wait to go back one day.


Bogs, at long last

Bogs, at long last

And now... here I am in Tallinn. It is raining, and a bit breezy, but I think it will be a good night. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring.


Stay wild 🐺 

Journey Eesti: Arrival

Well, I made it (barely). I’m in Tallinn proper. What a BEAUTIFUL city! So much new and old in one place, so many colours, so many TREES! It smells amazing here with the blooming trees and bushes, fresh and floral and big. 


It’s been quite the journey to get here: getting to Dublin from Sligo (I’ll have to talk about Sligo soon), getting from the hostel to the airport, getting the flight, getting the connection, getting to the AirBnB, and finally, getting IN the AirBnB! I’m very glad I did decide to get a hostel in Dublin yesterday, and not try to make the flight coming directly from Sligo. THAT would have been a nightmare. As it was, today was all sorts of chaotic. Getting sorted in Dublin went pretty straight forward, but I made my first mistake in not finding a charge station for my phone. It doesn’t hold a charge well anymore, as it’s quite old, but I naively thought that there would be USB charge stations on the chairs, like there had been for my flight to Europe. Nope! Out of luck. 


Well, perhaps I could charge a bit before my connection to Tallinn? HA! I must laugh at myself. We landed in Stockholm at 3:30, and my flight to Tallinn boarded at 3:40. I barely made the flight, and my bag didn’t at all :( if all has gone well, it is hopefully on the way to Tallinn right now, and I can get it tomorrow morning. My fingers and toes are all crossed! It was inevitable that something would go wrong, so I’m hoping that, once I get my pack, the worst will be over (knock on wood).


The weather here, at least, is BEAUTIFUL. Warm, sunny, exactly as it should be for late spring. I’m very glad it worked in my favour, as my dear host (and she is dear, I’m not being facetious) lost track of the time and didn’t come back to greet me until 9. But, she’s given me bread, invited me to a free concert her friend is putting on tomorrow, and made me feel right at home, so I’m going to make the best of this all. Things will work out, and it’ll be fantastic ❤️


It’s now time for bed! Stay wild :)  




Day one is officially done! I’m not counting yesterday as day one, as I was SUPREMELY tired and wired at the same time, and didn’t get a whole lot of time to enjoy things. Sleep and not getting lost were more big priorities. Today, I was more alert(ish), and mostly ready to venture out on my own. 


The weather here was AMAZING: sunny, not too hot, not too cold, and a little bit breezy. Kilkenny, where I spent last night and tonight (I move on to Sligo tomorrow) has treated me extremely well, from the people to the scenery, and everything in between.


The river running through Kilkenny

The river running through Kilkenny

My primary goal today was to see Cartoon Saloon, the animation studio behind ‘The Secret of Kells’ and ‘Song of the Sea’. Unfortunately it appeared that it wasn’t really open to people walking in (and I was too scared to inquire otherwise), so although I saw where they housed everything, I didn’t see a whole lot. However, all was definitely not lost! I found a lovely cafe just around the corner, and had myself a scone with butter and jam, and a latte. Yuuuuuum  


Latte, scone, sketchbook: happiness

Latte, scone, sketchbook: happiness

After some nourishment, I continued my wandering. Where Canada, at least Alberta, seems very neat and structured in terms of roads and buildings, Ireland has thus far been a delightful mash of chaos and organization. You really have to pay attention to where you’re going, otherwise you’ll miss full roads and shops.  


I eventually found myself in a small shopping centre, and promptly found my first book store. I mean, naturally. Books would be the one thing I have no trouble finding. It was a small, delightful, character store, at least compared to a Coles or Indigo back home. They didn’t have what I was looking for, but they did have a retelling of ‘The Little Mermaid’ with a GORGEOUS cover, so I bought it. Hopefully it’s good! 


After checking out a few other places, I decided to check out the museum that was displaying some work from Cartoon Saloon’s latest film, ‘The Breadwinner’, and found yet another bookshop, bigger than the other one. And this one had the books I was looking for! 


There is no greater joy than these two books

There is no greater joy than these two books

I won’t lie, getting these two were pretty much my goal for Ireland. I mean, there are other things, but these films have inspired me so much, and are so incredible, that getting these art books was high on my list of things to acquire. I’ve gone through them both now, and wow. Just wow. If you haven’t seen these films, YOU NEED TO. There are no words to describe them properly.  


Books acquired, it was now back to finding the gallery in the castle. And find it I did. I love going to film art exhibits, there are so many amazing sources of inspiration and process, you can’t help but want to create after. It wasn’t very large, but it contained concept art, story and colour boards, and several interactive parts. It was wonderful. 


And with all that done, I went a-wandering on the castle grounds. We don’t have many of these in Canada (which is to say those we do aren’t really castles, and they’re mostly in the east), and it’s always so mad to see them in person. So majestic. So worn. So... present. They weather and discolour, but they remain, and it’s so great to have these old relics still around. In the future, I wonder how many of our skyscrapers and large buildings will remain and inspire us. 


Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle

I went back to my AirBnB shortly after. Although it wasn’t the longest, most adventurous day, it was so much fun and so inspiring. Tomorrow I get back on the bus and head to Sligo to spend a few days with one of my closest friends. It’s sure to be awesome :D 


Until later, folks, stay wild! 

Journey Eesti

Greetings! It's been a little while, and a lot has changed. April was a very busy and marginally chaotic month, as I handed in my resignation. Why? I'm going traveling! Next Monday, I get on a plane and head to Ireland for one week, and then Estonia for five. It hasn't really hit me yet, and I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not. I guess I'll see in a few days time. 

So, why did I decide to quit and travel?

A few reasons. I haven't taken any proper time off and done any real vacation for several years (I think since I was 15), and after seven years of school and another two years of work, I was ready to do something. I'm foot loose and fancy free, so it's easy right now to just up and go! At least in words. 

The second big reason is I'm nearing the halfway point in my book, and I feel it would be disingenuous finish and try to publish it without going to the place that it takes place and really EXPERIENCE it. When I talk about the forests and the bogs that Anu and Raph go through, I'll know what to actually say. 

And the third. My job the past two years has affected me more than I care to admit, and I desperately needed to alter something. So, I needed a change, and this trip is indeed a VERY big change.  

So what now? Well, I travel! I see amazing places, meet amazing people, and get a little lost. Maybe a lot lost. After I get home, I have some BIG plans, but I'll talk about those later :) 

I'll try and update this blog as much as I can once I hit Europe, and take you along on this journey! If you're looking to follow along more closely, check out my Instagram, as I'll definitely be posting there all the time.

Until then, stay safe and stay wild :) 

Ink of the Permanent Kind

Tattoos! Polarizing, beautiful, big, small, you name it, tattoos pretty much are it. I've been wanting one for years, but didn't know what to get, and I certainly didn't have the money. Those are pretty important, if you want something this permanent on your body for forever. Therefore, getting one wasn't high on my list of things to do or get for a very long time. 

But, as of today, that's changed! 

It all started last year, when I was wanting to get some ink before the summer, but I was at that point saving for a very large project, and I was still settling on ideas. I wanted an owl, and, I'd decided, I wanted my wolves as well. The owl I'm still not sure just where to put it, but Paavo, Eha, and Alver are now preserved in permanence on my right forearm. And they look beautiful

I'd gone back and forth on what I wanted them to look like; initially, I wanted them to be a geometric, simple design, but as time wore on and my dreams got a little bigger, the design evolved. In fact, I had to pull it back just so they'd be doable and wouldn't break the bank. I saved from March to October, drew and hemmed and hawed over what I wanted, and kept telling myself 'Okay, I'm going to go in on THIS DAY, and book my appointment!'

I was going to get this done back in October, so you can see how well that worked out. Finally, after an art class, and with my bestie at my side, I got up the nerve to go up and talk to the artist.

Except he wasn't there. But I wasn't foiled, as I got his business card, and I sent him a text over dinner (whilst internally freaking out). He got back to me, and he couldn't have been nicer. When we met a week later for my consult, he was open to ideas, enthusiastic, and just generally awesome. The seeds of excitement were planted. I gave him my marker drawing that I'd done the night before of the wolves, and he went from there. The wolves on my arm are his design, but he did them justice in a way I never dared hope. Two weeks from that meeting, I would be back and I'd be getting the ink done. 

I prepped like crazy for this, perusing all sorts of subs and sites that dealt with tattoo work, buying snacks, preparing sugary drinks, food, the whole shebang. When I walked in this afternoon, I was physically ready to go. My stomach was in knots, but not because I was worried about regretting it. No, sitting there today, I knew this was not going to be a regret in any way. My anxiety was over how much this was going to hurt. You hear the horror stories, you expect the worst, and then it happens, and you know what? It hurts, yeah, but it's not mind bogglingly awful . It felt like a wasp sting, but less painful. The needle going in feels like that initial sting, but unlike the sting, it doesn't linger. Right now, typing this, it fees a bit like a sunburn, and it's not really uncomfortable. I know it's there, but it's not bad. 

Now begins the healing, and the planning for the next ;)

If you happen to be in Canmore, the guys at New World Samurai will treat you right and give you some art you'll love. My artist was Ben, and I can't recommend him enough.

For now, my wolves will be with me forever. 


Enter Safari, nursery style

For all my painting supplies, I don't really paint a lot anymore. Ever since I finished at ACAD, all my finished work has been digital, and all traditional work has been in pencil, marker, and sometimes pen, so this was a wonderful return to the past! 

My friend, Jaylene, and I were approached by our mutual friends to paint their nursery; we said yes, rose glasses on, and thus began the journey into the proverbial wild. 

I'm embellishing for fun, this actually went very well! I had some reservations going into this, mostly based off of how I have reacted in group art situations in the past (I'm a stubborn, prickly human in those scenarios), but Jaylene and I were able to work through it. We had some arguments that got rather loud, but nothing that ever got heated. There may have been some paint fights though. 

The initial idea took some time, and Jaylene handled the first sketchings, which I then used to draw my rendition of the scene. We used my scene base for the initial drawing, and then combined our designs for the animals. It was pretty true to form, minus one male lion, whom we both ended up hating and cutting from the final painting. The piece works better without him! 

We used regular house paint for almost the entire painting (monkey was the exception), and it was the first time I'd used house paint as a fine art medium. As it was a latex base, it wasn't that different from normal acrylic craft paint, which was great; it behaved fairly similar to craft paint, although it wasn't as delicate in action. It certainly was pretty great for large areas, and most of it covered really well, but it wasn't that great for small areas or detail. Opacity issues became apparent when I started painting the details on the lion cub, and then again on the giraffe. Craft paint has, in my experience, been very good with its opacity, and had I had the budget for it, I honestly would have preferred this painted entirely with craft acrylic. However... it wasn't the end of the world, and we were able to make it work successfully. The lack of opacity did end up helping with the blending, and blending nicely. 

We tried to keep everything fairly flat, once we started into fine tuning and detailing, but that always wasn't successful (cough cough tree trunk, lion, cough cough); all the animals got a nice black outline, while the foliage and scenery remained blank. Finishing up ended up being very quick, and the end result was a mural everyone was happy with. 

I'm so happy we did this: the nursery looks awesome, friends are happy, and I remember how awesome painting is. I can't wait to do another :)