December 31, 2012

Hello 2013!

Looking back on my 2012, it's hard to forget the multitude of struggles that seemed to have made it an exceptionally hard year. I look forward to this evening's party where I'll dance with friends and hopefully drink away some of those bad memories!

But instead of forgetting, and as it's been said before, struggle makes you stronger. With every bad turn, there is a lesson, which teaches you something new. Once the lesson has been learned and the struggle has passed, you can only be stronger for getting through it.

In this light, it makes it a bit easier for me to actually appreciate these struggles for what they have given me! Here are a few:
1. When I finally decided to go completely freelance last January and let go of a secure income, I became available to work on many new and exciting projects.
2. While dealing with other's expectations of me, I was forced to confront my fear of conflict.
3. Going through a break-up, made me put time towards learning more about myself and gave me more confidence to just be who I am.
4. Spending a lot of money on business prospects that didn't bring the expected return, gave invaluable experiences.

And really, there were some great times. Spending quality time with family who lives on the other side of the world; Moving into a great apartment, decorated with no compromise; A fabulous trip to NYC with the girls; Being in 3 different art shows for the very first time; and being with the people who make me feel happy. I guess perspective can change everything!

So thank you 2012, for preparing me for 2013 :)

November 15, 2012

The One of a Kind Christmas Show

For the very first time, I will be in the One of a Kind Show! Check out booth O35 where I will be selling artwork and drawings. It officially kicks off on Nov. 22, but I will be there for the last 6 days, starting November 27th to December 2nd.

Always a fun event to find lots of gifts for friends, family, and maybe a little something or two for yourself!

Show Hours
Weekdays: 10am - 9pm
Saturdays: 10am - 9pm
Sundays: 10am - 6pm

Late Night Shopping
Thursday November 29th, 10am to 11pm

November 04, 2012

My New Apartment/Studio Reno

It's been a month now but here I am all moved in and decorated! I feel like I was able to completely transform my new apartment for the better and now I'm ready to share some before/after pics with you. Every wall was repainted, every cupboard scrubbed inside and out, and every window, floor, and light switch plate looks so much brighter now without a yellow film of old smoke.


The final touch was this beautiful bench that sits so perfectly just inside the front door. The wood was found when picking up free firewood from Craigslist. Then Huy spent hours sanding down both sides and applying several coats of Tung oil. His brother-in-law made the iron legs and... voila!


All of the walls (and ceilings in the bathroom and kitchen) were repainted Natural White. The cabinets were painted Jamaican Aqua which is also used in the entrance/studio area. I caulked the bathtub which made everything look much whiter. Even cleaning the light fixture made the light look less yellow!


A new bed from Sleep Country and curtains from Ikea. I love waking up and seeing the leaf pattern back-lit from the morning light. The nightstand was found on the street and then repainted... a cute little owl knob is on it's way from Etsy. The large painting was a trade I did with Laurie Skantzos. I just had to get the faux sheepskin rug at Ikea... it's a fun and soft landing before jumping into bed. Both the blue armchair and dresser were found on Craigslist.

Studio/Living Room:

Painting over the dark walls really brightened up this room. Even though the windows face North, the light is quite bright even on a cloudy day. These curtains are also from Ikea. My first-ever couch is from GH Johnson. The shelf is one of the few pieces I already owned and I had made the small table a few years back. Looking at the other corner is my work area. Thank goodness the S-shaped light fixture happened to break which the landlord generously replaced with a more subtle one. The 2 matching tables were bought for $40 each from a company about to relocate. Huy made the 3rd desk by the window, custom designed to fit all my large format papers and some equipment. Sometime soon, I plan to make a half-height bamboo wall to hide the wires and clutter behind the computer.


The light fixture was fixed and a major clean was needed under/behind the fridge and stove. The edges of the tile area were caulked and there was lots of scrapping off of old paint drops. From the over-the-island view, the once looking yellow buzzer now looks off-white. The bar stools were bought for a discount from a small shop on Bloor Street and the large mirror was picked up just outside of Goodwill a few years back. My favourite colour of blue wraps around 2 walls from the entrance into the studio.

So that is my home sweet home :)

October 23, 2012

Elle Interior

During the last few weeks of frantically moving, painting, and shopping for necessities, I completely missed this Elle Interior post back on October 6th. Originally in Swedish but easily translatable to English with Google Translate. Go mountains, go!

If you cannot get a direct link or translate, scroll to "Categories/Kategorier", then click on "Posters and Prints/Affischer och prints".

September 25, 2012

One of a Kind Discount

Next up, is the One of a Kind Show! If you plan to go, please book online and use my promo code to get $11 tickets (regular onsite admission is $14). Thank you!

September 10, 2012

Queen West Art Crawl

This weekend is the 10th annual QWAC art show. I'm looking forward to being outdoors, in Trinity Bellwoods, with other artists and art fans. Please come by to wander through the park and stop by my booth (number N6).

Trinity Bellwoods Park (map)
September 15th to 16th, 2012
11am - 6pm

As well, there is an opening Gala Art Auction this Friday, hosted by Jamie Gutfreund of CP24. Stop by the Drake and watch one of my pieces get auction off. Hope to see you there!

The Underground, The Drake Hotel
1150 Queen Street East
Friday, September 14th, 6 - 9 pm (auction starts at 7:15pm)

August 31, 2012


Mountain Calendars are back for 2013! A new year and four new colour options: Golden Morning, Silver Dew, Coral Haze, and Lavendar Eve. Choose your favourite here on Etsy.

July 17, 2012

Art Brownie Rainbow

"Art Brownies are miniature objects of art created by artists." All of the work can be viewed on the Art Brownie Shop and at the exhibition from July 28 to August 31. Please join us for the opening at INDEXG Gallery on Saturday July 28, 3-8 pm. Keep an eye out for my 4 little pieces (clue: they all join together to make 1 painting!).

My brownies:
Turning on the TV brownie!

July 15, 2012


I saw "WATERTABLE" for the first time last night. It's a beautiful light installation that transforms an otherwise dark and ugly underpass into a magical find in the city. Wave lines made of LED lights softly transition from bright blue to darkness with a soothing sound of waves washing in to shore. I love this idea of breaking barriers by integrating them into art and parks. I hope to see more, our city needs it!

June 16, 2012

What's Happening

Here we are well into June already! Although I don't have any new work to show, there are exciting projects in the works... I'm illustrating 100+ stylish dresses and accessories for a wedding planner, as well as drawing fun characters and scenes for a children's book series. Followed with a line up of shows, starting with Art Brownie Rainbow in July, then my first time in both the Queen West Art Crawl in September and the One of a Kind Show in November.

An integral part of my art process is to visualize ideas in my head and then record some of them into a sketchbook until I go back at a later time to make them 'real'. They could be notes for a proposal, diagrams for an exhibition booth, or thumbnails for a series of paintings. Usually these sketches remain buried within a pile of sketchbooks, sometimes referred to but never shared. Now I'd like to start  sharing them with you, starting with this proposal for a hanging, glass wall in a library. Birds made of words that refer to the local community, assembled into a swirling flock, cut from coloured vinyl:

May 03, 2012

Wedding Illustrations

My friend MJ has been designing wedding invitations for almost 10 years. Recently she launched a new website showcasing her uniquely beautiful designs and processes. As well, a blog including tips and suggestions, with the latest post featuring my illustrations. I love how she has incorporated drawing, fonts, and colours, to create a stylish elegance that is appealing to both brides and designers. Thanks MJ!

April 27, 2012

From iphones to Posters

I recently pulled out my old watercolours to try something a little different. I did have a plan in mind, along with a personal obligation to create something uplifting. These economic times have been rough for a lot of us, and with the days starting to warm up but still quite chilly, the plan called for some colourful, motivational posters! Including my favourite (and shortest) quote, "Keep Going" has been my mantra for the past few weeks.

Watercolour is unique from other paints, creating beautiful and vibrant textures. There are many techniques with different results but the secret is not to use too many in order to keep the colours fresh and let the paint flow naturally. Using bright, painted shapes against fine, black and white pencil lines, an upwards pattern emerged, through the use of colour, contrast, and form. They definitely cheered me up while I made them, I hope they make you smile too :)

Sold as posters on Etsy and modified to a cuter scale on Society6 products.

April 17, 2012

Cherry Blossoms in the Fog

I ventured over to High Park on Sunday, half expecting the cherry blossoms to be finished. To my surprise, they were still out at their peak, in full bloom! The heavy fog created a white backdrop and made the pink flowers look more vibrant. I decided to do something different from my usual close-up shots, to stepping back and getting more of the landscape. As well, instead of using a shallow depth of field, I lengthened my focused area, as the fog was naturally making the trees get lighter and disappear into the distance.

Every year I visit the same Japanese cherry trees and every time they show me something new. They are exceptionally beautiful, magically delicate, and delightfully cheery (cherry!).

April 10, 2012

Website Launch

After much photographing, editing, selecting, writing, and uploading, I am relieved to present my website! My portfolio includes art and graphic design work, to showcase how they are equally important in demonstrating my past experience and future goals.

Please take a look, I am available for freelance graphic design work, illustration (or drawing), and art commissions. Thanks!

March 17, 2012

The Finale

Now that our trip is over, and I've had the chance to relive it several times over while sifting through hundreds of photographs (really, 60 G's worth!), I'll summarize the last 2 weeks. After Cianjur, we took a winding bus ride through stunning tea plantations up to Bogor. A thriving metropolitan city filled with malls and trendy restaurants, Bogor is uniquely designed with a massive botanical gardens, placed smack in the centre of the city. After an afternoon filled with orchids and lily pads, we ate the most delicious, tender, white fish at a Chinese restaurant lit up with glowing red lanterns.

We completely bypassed Jakarta and flew straight back to Bali where we were greeted a second time by Aunty :) Staying at her place in Ubud, with a rice paddy steps away from the porch, was paradise. Especially so compared to some of the guesthouses we stayed at in Java! Then we filled our days walking through the rice fields, eating ice cream, catching up with the cousins, and experiencing a beautiful ceremony, following the Balinese to the temples where they assembled their colourful offerings and were blessed by priests. We visited the extra green fields in Jatiluwih, took goofy shots of us wearing tails and acting like monkeys, and went on the most pleasant bike ride possible--riding downhill the Mt. Batur volcano back to Ubud. And then one sunny afternoon, along a lush gorge, surrounded by rice fields, guests through flowers in the air, and my sister got married :)

Click here to see a slideshow of our adventure!

February 05, 2012


We left the relaxed, surfing town of green waters and vegetation to head upwards and westwards over deep rivers and heavier traffic. A little lost and confused on a late arrival in Cianjur, we only had 1 hotel referral which was full and nobody spoke English. Out of the blue (or should I say, out of the dark night along a busy highway), a young guy asked if we need help. Ahhhhh... our guardian angel! Jay works as a manager, just across the street at a trendy cafe. His English is excellent from watching movies and helping out other lost backpackers who end up in exactly the same situation as ours! He has surpassed all his classmates in a hospitality program that will send him to Italy in a few months to work on a cruise ship. He is incredibly busy (school 8-1 pm, work 2-12 am, watches a movie until 2 am, prays 5 times a day, then up again at 6 am) but still managed to help us out tremendously during our stay.

After a very long day, we were rewarded with a homestay arranged with Jay's Parents! Following a very warm welcome, we crashed in a little pink room covered with cutout hearts and stars :) The next day, we went on a fruit-hunt and then headed to Jay's Aunt's house to play soccer and draw with his cute cousins. Jay's mom closed the door to the kitchen while she cooked up a storm, then emerged a couple hours later with a traditional Sudanese meal--the best I've eaten in Java. Delicious crispy catfish, homemade tempeh, a tamarind-broth-vegetable-bean soup, various vegetables, and hot-red sambal (wow the kids loved that!).

February 01, 2012

A Few Cities Later

It's been a while, so here are a few highlights. Borobudur: Sunrise at the ancient Buddhist temple, bike ride towards the surrounding mountains and villages, playing soccer with a group of children. Dieng Plateau: Moto ride to the craters, steaming lakes and vistas of miles of mountains, chilly air deserving many teas, hot chocolates and kopis (coffees) with great company. Pangandaran: Made an Andy Goldsworthy-inspired art on the white sand beach, ate fresh calimari, jumbo prawns, and tuna--much better than from the can!

Having traveled from East to West Java, I can confidently say that the transportation system is not as efficient, and definitely not as comfortable, as I had expected! Maybe my legs have grown longer (definitely not), or I've become less tolerant with age (hey, I'm not old), or as I see more places, my expectations are gradually becoming more unrealistic (that makes no sense!). We have been able to adapt and in my opinion have been quite lucky with the rainy season, but the roads look like they had just been through a few earthquakes, and our bodies have been shaken around as if we were preparing for our own eruption.

However, today was worth the two-hour, pot-holed, moto ride to Green Canyon! The river was a milky-green, tall trees leaned on either side, and plants dripped off the sharp, black sides. Winding along in the boat, a dark tunnel lay ahead with hanging stalagatites, long vines, and dozens of small waterfalls dripping into the water. Illuminated drops and green moss glowed against black rock. A couple of us jumped in to swim further into the canyon. Absolutely peaceful and beautiful!

January 26, 2012

Prambanan > Yogyakarta

The towering Hindu temples in Prambanan are hidden within a park full of trees. Once revealed, you immediately realize the entire structure is covered in stone carvings. Our efforts to be at the park upon opening at 6 am, proved fruitful. We were the first to enter and had the temples to ourselves. Lucky for us, we missed the crowds yesterday, enjoying their day off for Chinese New Year. Enter the Dragon! The morning air was still cool and the clouds made better light for photographs. Some temples stood completed, with some obviously simpler, renovated blocks. Others had crumbled from age and earthquakes, a few doorway frames leading to piles of somewhat organized stones and columns.

Off to Yogya, we had just enough energy to visit the Kraton (palace). Built in the mid-1700's, this is still the residency of the current King, also governor of the city. He is loved by the people for his generosity with subsidies, low taxes and openly speaking with and making himself easily available to the public. He can be seen every Friday, freely riding his bicycle to Mosque! Much Dutch detailing in the architecture, as there is all over Java. The structures are 3 tiers, larger at the bottom (birth), to middle (life/struggle), and top (death) with a point on top directing to Heaven. Iron columns and white marble imported from Europe. Different colours painted representing Hindu (red), Buddhism (gold), and Muslim (black).

Now, the heat is making us sluggish, we are making the most of air con in the mall and cooling off in the pool :)

January 24, 2012

Solo in Solo

Solo is the centre of batik, a process using wax and inks to make patterns in fabric. The traditional process is still used for sarongs and also for modern fashion on shirts and dresses. Batik patterns are found everywhere, even painted on lamp posts and becaks (bicycle-rickshaws)! After browsing endless aisles of shops at the market, I finally decided on a silk scarf, mixed with several intricate patterns, including one I mostly identify as Javanese.
The Istana Mangkunegaran was beautiful and Solo's Grand Mall was a fun escape from the rain. I finally had a real (not instant) coffee at O Solo Mio and the loud, spinning rides at the amusement park looked like they were made out of paper mache. But what was most amazing about Solo, were the people who lived there. Every street we walked down, every person we passed, gave a warm smile. The toddlers yelled out "Hello, hello" to get our attention. Some shook our hands, followed with a respectful touch to their cheek. Women laughed with sparkles in their eyes and men gently nodded "Pagi" (good morning). A boy showed me how to play his popsicle stick game and a man gave me a couple passion fruits from his garden. A girl glamorously curled her hair as I took her portrait and teenagers grouped around me to take photos on their cell phones.
Having time to wander on my own as Huy was feeling ill, I passed a few girls wearing blue headscarves. A couple more appeared and asked for my name. Within moments I was surrounded by at least 30 blue-scarfed girls from the nearby Islamic school! They shied away from a photo, so I stayed a while to chat. One girl translated all the questions from Indonesian to English, and then my answer from English to Indonesian, followed by a group giggle :) After at least 45 minutes of discussion, they accepted a group photo. As I began to leave, every single girl shook my hand with a pretty smile, and some a touch to the cheek. And an acknowledgement to Huy to tell him they hope he gets better soon. It was so lovely and heart-warming and unexpected and endearing that I cannot properly explain my emotions as looked back and saw them all waving back, saying goodbye.

January 22, 2012

Gunung Bromo

Driving up the curling road to Gunung Bromo, the scenery eventually dissolved into white. Only early afternoon, the fog was dense and completely hid any clues to the massive crater surrounding us. The next morning, we slowly walked up to the viewpoint, capturing photos of people passing with loads of produce on their heads and vegetables planted on the steep slopes. Arriving at the top, the clouds had started rolling into the unusual landscape--several craters within an older, larger, 10 km crater and another erupting volcano in the distance beyond. Only a few minutes later the entire scene disappeared, making the walk down feel a bit eerie.

The next morning started at 3:30 am, into a 4x4 to make the same route up to the viewpoint at sunrise. Despite the clouds, we saw blinks of bright orange light and a surreal scene of mountains, volcanos, and craters illuminated around us. Clouds filled up the valleys and greens, browns, and blues emerged from the darkness. One traveler saw fire flaming for a few seconds from the active volcano! Back into the jeep, we headed down to the flat surface in the crater, filled with volcanic sand. It looked less flat than afar with rolling dunes and crevises. Steep stairs up to the rim left us breathless and a bit dizzy from the altitude. Then after the last step, surprise! On the rim of Mt. Bromo, the view of the crater was immediate and even deeper than our climb... the first thought being, don't fall in! A huge black hole filled with a blue-green liquid that looked like water, was actually hot lava.

January 16, 2012


After two and a half days of travel, Huy and I's lives had been enriched with at least three movies, several games of battleship, a Hagaan-Dazs ice cream bar, and admiring Hong Kong's efficient transportation system. We landed on a wet tarmac in Denpasar, and only minutes later, the daily 3pm monsoon rain poured down. First purchase on my list is a poncho!

Despite the rain, we had a happy reunion with Aunty and had a relaxing first couple of days to get over jet lag in a beautiful home. There are many sunny breaks but my plan is to make use of the wet weather by integrating it into my photographs. Experiment No.1 was on the bus ride to Lovina. We crossed the island North-wise to the black sandy coast. Along the way, we ascended foggy mountains with cliff sides wallpapered in giant ferns and drove along roads that flowed like rivers. Drops of water on the windows became out-of-focus spots splashed across my drive-by photos.

Lovina is a lovely, fun beach town in the dry season. But dry season, it is not, so after a night we continued our journey West towards Gilimanuk. More drive-by shots, mostly of passing motos. Some with cute babies and children dressed in school uniforms. Men drove with piles of greenery taller then themselves, trays of folded banana leaves, a tv, and long tubes of bamboo balanced on one shoulder. Gradually the scenery became more mountainous and lush, until we arrived at the ferry to take us to Java, and then... it started to rain.

Onwards to the sulpher miners at Gunung Ijen, we met Fendy who told us it's erupting poisonous gas! It has been closed for the past 3 weeks and will not likely reopen for a couple more. So one night here in Banyuwangi, and we're on the road (train) again tomorrow. Wish us better luck at Mt. Bromo!

January 10, 2012

Daily Candy

My "Red Sunset" has made it onto Daily Candy!! Scroll down to Photo Galleries where other calendars are featured too.

It's a perfect day to fly to Asia :)

January 09, 2012

Miracle Thieves

Happy 2012!! It feels great to write that number :)

Miracle Thieves is a cute little store/studio space that is filled with one of a kind artistic things made by local artists. At the corner of Dundas and Crawford street, I'm proud to see them in my hood! Plus they have added my Mountain Calendars, Vintage Wallpaper Notebooks, and Gift Tags to their inventory, with much delight.

"Miracle Thieves is a colony of joyful rebels."