Sunday, January 30, 2011

A sweet review

After trying my hand at living in the country in Nova Scotia and failing, I moved back to Vancouver with the idea that I needed some sort of career that would afford me a chance to be creative and actually pay the monthly bills. I've always enjoyed baking and I thought that maybe, if I went to the right school, I could start a career as a pastry chef and merge my desires to create with my hands, eat sinfully good desserts, and be creative.

As I researched the cooking schools I got frustrated by the costs of the tuitions versus the wages that I could be expected to earn after graduating. Another creative job wasn't going to pay the bills?  One day as we drove past a well-known artisanal bakery, on a whim, I asked my husband to stop so that I could go into the bakery and ask them exactly what I needed to work in a place like that. I got to talk to the head of the pastry department and he was very helpful. To my surprise, he asked if I had a resume I would like to leave behind. I had typed up a resume listing all the types of recipes I had done as a home baker and hoped that I could actually hand it out to someone. Here was my chance! I went home pretty happy but I never thought I would receive a call a couple weeks later from that bakery asking me to come in for an interview. Like a dummy, I refused and said that I "wasn't ready" and needed some schooling before working at such a bakery. Luckily, they gave me another call a couple weeks later and I accepted an interview. Well, the interview went well and I was hired with Terra Breads. I stayed with the bakery for about eight years before I found that the job didn't have enough to it to keep me there. I wanted to grow and I felt like I was standing still. This was compounded by the fact that I now had children and I needed more income without having to work more hours. It was time to leave and I'm grateful for everything that I learned while I was there.

Having access to so much great bread and pastries got me accustomed to quality products and quite critical of most baked goods. Now I search out pastry shops and taste-test whenever I can. I always look at the dessert menu to see if there is something on it made in-house. Today I thought I would share some of my findings from a couple new bakeries in Steveston.

 Bell's Bake Shop is new to the area and I saw interest about it's opening as soon as their vinyl sign hit the window. Bell's sells cupcakes in all your favorite flavors with a big swoosh of complimentary icing. Most locals know of Cupcakes and they have been extremely successful here but I was disappointed in their flavor and I could tell that they must use mixes and shortening in their icing. Blah. Beautiful but not tasty. Bell's cupcakes are the real deal. I saw that she uses real eggs and butter, cocoa, carrots, etc. No greasy film on the roof of your mouth with her icing. I've been twice now and the chocolate devils food with chocolate icing is a favorite. I've always gone in while something is still baking and the smell is fantastic. Fresh! Love it. Welcome to Steveston, we're glad you're here.


The other shop is call The Sweet Spot and it's run by two chef's who have already been able to snag some wholesale accounts in the village. The first time I went in I asked to buy five pounds of chocolate not realizing that the shop had changed hands and there was a new sign on the window. Lucky for me they still sold it to me. I have been in since and have seen that they've added a coffee bar and frozen pre-made entrees to take home. Great ideas.
I bought a small box of treats with the family in tow and everyone drooling over the display case. We got a sour cherry and chocolate mousse and a chocolate-banana pie. One of the chefs threw in a lemon madeline and a chocolate cookie to tempt us to come back for those. Another great idea. Well, I must say that these are my kind of desserts. Traditional and sinfully decadent made with top quality ingredients. These are the desserts you should get for your next dinner party. Another welcome goes to you Sweet Spot.
Chocolate mousse

Banana Cream

Phew! I think that's the longest post I've ever done. I love talking about sweets. What about you? Is there a pastry out there that you just can't walk by without drooling? Do you have a special recipe yourself?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Work in progress

Now that we're well into January I thought I'd show you what I've busily been working on. For ages now I've been wanting to work in encaustic but I've been too intimidated by the process and the expense to try. It always seemed so mysterious and potentially toxic. Alas, I couldn't shake the interest in was and started researching it more.

This January after having realized that I had double-booked myself for art shows, I thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to create an entirely new series of work based around encaustics. This new series will continue with the mushroom theme I've been doing but it will incorporate linocuts, encaustic paintings, monotypes, drawing and watercolors. I will be tackling many new techniques that I've never tried before and it's gotten me wishing that there was some way I could get rid of sleep and work so I could work in the studio more.

Above are a couple of photos of a encaustic painting in the process. The second one is of painting being carved with my linocut tools to help me create details. The wax really is magical and it's always on the verge of being out of my control. I love that kind of creating. So what do you think? Do you work in wax? Do you have any hints or tips for me? I would love to hear them.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Pikapackage Project and Give-away

Woohoo! It's finally here!

The Pikapackage Project 'zine edition has been released and I'm so happy to have been a part of it. My 'zine "True Stories of Honcho Bluesephy" is one of the many 'zines created for the project by numerous illustrators. To purchase a package for your own 'zine collection, you can click here. To view and download a free 'zine of all the participant interviews, click here.

I had been wanting to participate in the Pkiapackage Project for a long time and with the opportunity to create this 'zine I was able to try my hand at illustrating a "book". What a great challenge.

Be sure to visit the Pikaland site for your chance to win one of two sets of 'zines being given away. Just leave a comment and you'll be entered to win. I'm interested to hear what you say.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Opening night at the Firehall Arts Centre

With the first week of the year finished, I'm happy to say that my show opening at the Firehall Arts Centre went really well last Friday. I haven't regularly gone to show openings in ages (read: since before kids) and I felt a little out of place. Once I had a glass of wine in hand and was able to take some photos of the work up, I felt a little more comfortable.

Roz Maclean, the other artist showing with me, had a great set of small pieces displayed and I was really taken with her pen work. Layered with paint, paper, ink, the pieces were evocative in their illustrative style. Each piece seemed to talk about a story and their size really captured the feeling of perhaps being whispered personal thoughts. I am really pleased to be showing with Roz. Please click on the highlighted link to see more of her work.

I know I've said this before but seeing artwork online versus in person is just not the same and I wish there were more venues in Vancouver in which artists could showcase their work in person. Alas, online is less risky and less expensive and I'm glad to be able to show my work in a format that exposes me to such a huge audience. I do wish people would be aware that what you're seeing on the screen is just a portion of what's actually there. More often than not, I think that when you buy any artwork online you will be pleasantly pleased at how much more that piece is once it's in your hands. That's when you get to see its' soul.

If you would like to see the Firehall show it will be up until February 26th. Gallery hours are Wed-Sat. 1-5pm.
Thanks to everyone who came out that night. Stay tuned for news about some shows I have happening in the spring.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Showing at the Firehall Arts Centre

 I have an invite for anyone in the Vancouver area to come and say "hi" to me and Roz at our opening on Friday Jan 7th.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year! Calendar give-away

Well hello everyone! Another full year has passed and we're into 2011. I hope you all had a wonderful and restful Christmas season.

I don't know about you but I enjoy starting the new year as it always looks full of promise and big ideas. I've got so many ideas that I want to work on this coming year and to make sure that I stay on track I use several different calendars at the same time. I have my family day planner, my daily Etsy journal, my studio calendar, my iCal on the computer and our family photo calendar.

Being such a big calendar fan, I thought it would be nice to give-away one of my own art calendars to one of my readers. Leave a comment below for one entry and retweet this post for another entry. I will draw the winner on January 7th. Good luck and feel free to stay updated by "liking" me on Facebook.