Tag Archives: inspiration

Lady Heart’s Portfolio: Period Pin-Ups

18 Jun

I recently created a painting series/installation that juxtaposed the products, messages and imagery of both the pad/tampon companies, and the pornography industry in order to make a comment on the ridiculous, misguided, sanitized and patently false ideas that both have marketed to the public in regards to women’s bodies, sexuality and real experiences.  Though this is a serious topic, my intention was to use humour to highlight the common absurdity in what these two industries have created.  The following is a bit long, but I think the paintings need a bit of explanation in order for you, my dear readers, to see what a good artist I am.  No, seriously though, you should read it.

My work consisted of five paintings of pin-up type photographs of women painted onto the colourful,  and wonderfully smooth and matte  surfaces of menstrual pad wrappers.

This project was inspired by a few, seemingly unrelated things.  The paintings were inspired by and created in reference to a deck of  nudie cards I had that is from the 80s.  The pictures on the deck were laughable, consisting of  preposterous scenarios, (like taking a naked sponge bath while sitting bare assed on a bale of hay) and sexual cliches that have little to nothing to do with the true nature of women’s sexuality (laying on the ground in ecstasy while spraying one’s naked body with a hose, standing or sitting around topless squeezing one breast between thumb and fingers, and just awkwardly posing with no bra or panties, but wearing long gloves, pearls and/or brimmed hats.)

Let’s all take a look at what I mean here for a sec.  And keep in mind these are here for artistic purposes only, and I will not be posting anymore nudity or pornography.   I’ve already attracted some wierdies with that post about pantyhose packages I did a while back that gets multiple views everyday and is always in my Google search terms stats, which show the keywords people have used to get to this blog.

There’s really nothing more relaxing, or sensual that sitting naked in some hay, am I right? Ladies, I know you must be nodding your heads in agreement out there. Plus, the immaculate environment provided by animal bedding and feed creates an excellent opportunity to bathe, obviously.

How did she even hold that pose? Look at it, its a semi-squat in high-heels, each foot on a different stair, and you know that water is making the ground slick.

The cards weren’t really sexy, they were more just…confusing than anything.  Anyways, I got thinking about how the tampon and pad companies also portray women’s bodies and reproduction and sexuality in a distorted way.  I think we’ve all seen the commercials that have women cartwheeling around in white pants, or the ones where the whole message and design of the product is based around concealing one’s use of pads and tampons, and by extension, the occurrence and existence of one’s menstrual cycle.

I decided that the pad wrappers as a canvas would be a good way to bring together the two industries, the tampon/pad companies, and the pornography world.  The name of the product says it all, “Sanitary Napkins” , a product that is meant to sanitize, for the wearer, and the public, the realities of female reproduction, an issue that is also “sanitized” in pornography and the like, where birth-control, pregnancy and menstruation are completely out of the picture. I also liked the pad wrappers because the way they open, in three sections, is very much like the centre-folds in adult magazines like Playboy.

So many of the pad and tampon advertisements focus on cleanliness, freshness, like the white bleached cotton of the pads and tampons and the clean looking mystery blue liquid stand-in for blood, two things that don’t exactly match women’s experiences I’ll bet.

Another element that helped gel this whole concept was the following.  I laughed out loud when I saw this sticker on a truck stop bathroom tampon machine, which succinctly summed up the gist of the marketing message the companies try to sell women about the freedom and benefits of their products:

Large sticker from truck stop bathroom tampon dispenser. Are you seeing the hilarity?

The image at the bottom is of a woman in an old fashioned long dress with a scarf, standing on the edge of a cliff in front of the ocean, the breeze whipping at her face and through her scarf, the sea spray misting her face; the freshness must just be unbelievable for this woman.

Isn’t the sticker relatable ladies?  I mean, a new tampon while on pit-stop from a long car ride is about as refreshing as the ocean breeze, no?  I presented this sticker along with the series of paintings, to punctuate the disparity between tampon marketing and reality.

And now, finally, here are the paintings, which range in size from 5 to 12 inches:

“The Hose Pose” Girls: have any of you done this in an attempt to seduce someone? If you’ve answered “yes,”  I don’t believe you.

I always thought cold showers brought the sensuality down to zero, but perhaps this is some sort of hot water hosing.

I love that it looks like her skirt just blew forward.

“Ooops! Tee hee!”

I thought the card that the painting below was based upon, depicted a very odd pose.  I guess it was supposed to be sexy, the woman touching her breast in a come-hither kind of way, but it just looks stupid to me, like she’s squeezing her breast like “honk, honk!”

honk honk!

And this next one, check out the “outfit,” and why is she posing like that?  The only time a person might do that pose in their life, is with a bat in one hand while posing in the front row for the baseball team group photo.

She didn’t even co-ordinate her shoes to her clothes. God!

And lastly, there’s this one, which I guess is the least absurd conceptually:

I hope you have enjoyed another look at my eclectic art portfolio, and that you are pleased with these paintings and the accompanying sticker.   Laughs aside, I think we’ve all learned a lot today about the false images of female sexuality, bodies and reproduction.  This is a series that I hope to expand upon with more paintings.  The pad wrappers are a wonderful surface to paint on.  I love the smooth, velvety texture, and the white tabs at the top are perfect to hang them.  Try making some of your own feminist, political art today!  I think you’ll find feminism is a popular topic that everyone is always eager to hear more about!  Menstruation too.

Tip for budding artists: Take a picture of your work while it is installed in the gallery.

Bonus:  Two pictures of public art (ie: vandalism) found in the same public bathroom, weeks apart:

The bathroom tampon machine: A veritable roundtable for relevant political discourse

And here’s a statement I think we can all enjoy


Thrift Store Finds: Betty Crocker’s Dreamy Dessert Portraits

4 May

I rarely look through the cookbook section of Value Village, (a local Salvation Army-type thrift store) although it is interesting as a sort of monument to the various food trends and failed weight loss ambitions of our over-satiated culture, (Scarsdale Diet Program, South Beach Cookbook) and it’s ripe with opportunity for an occasional laugh at food non-sequit0rs (for instance, a cookbook entitled Microwave Gourmet!)  But one day my tendency to towards zeroing in on brightly coloured plastic led me to notice a set of Betty Crocker recipe cards packaged in a little yellow box.  I love retro photographs of food as they are usually elaborately staged and often feature very ostentatious interior settings, plus, I love the  super-saturated colours that are characteristic of 60s and 70s photos.  My sweet tooth led me straight to the dessert section where my senses were so overwhelmed by the pastel loveliness of some of the photographs that I graciously ruined the set by taking the best cards so that I could present to you, dear reader, this curated photography exhibit of readymade art:

Neghiborhood Egg Dip

Princess Party

Filled Lemon Cookies

Cherry Berries on a Cloud

Are these not lovely?  They are like the postcards of art  masterpieces you can buy at the museum gift shop.  I mean, a white heart-shaped cake topped with cherries shown on a lace tablecloth?  Betty Crocker recipe cards, get out of my head!

More Frozen Desserts

Grasshopper Pie

I love the suggestion of a little tea party with two cakes, a turquoise one and a pink one.  Each card comes with a suggestion for a party or activity to go with the recipe.  The ones that are for children’s parties are especially sweet as the activities proposed, such as making paper-bag puppets or letting each child make their own candy apple, bring up fond memories of the kind of simple fun that used to make up children’s parties that you don’t really see anymore.

Cake n’ Ice Cream

This Cake and Ice Cream card has a collage like quality, wouldn’t you agree?  The creamy soft yellow cake with ice cream, which looks like it’s covered in tinsel for some reason, looks like it’s been decoupaged onto the background.  Just stunning.

Pink Bavarian Cream

And the Pink Bavarian Cream cake?  It’s like a beautiful sculpture, almost figural in a way.

Gay Nineties Ice Cream Party

Fabulous!  A gay ice cream party!  I love it!  And I love that these are all regular sounding desserts.  Everyone tries to be so fancy and unique with their cakes and stuff, they don’t make vanilla, it’s marzipan instead, or, you know the cheesecake has gooseberries or something gross on it.  Have you watched any of the shows on the Food Network lately?  It’s horrifying.  The host will start off making something good, like a chocolate cake.  They’ll bake it and put it on a plate and it’s looking all yummy, but then, in a misguided effort to seem sophisticated and unique they’re like “And now we’ll make the icing, which will be a mango chutney salsa spread,” or something equally as bad and I’m watching like “Noooooo! Stop you’re ruining it!”

Anyways, I hope you have enjoyed attending my readymade photography art show.  Stop by again soon to see more used goods that I have decided are now an “art”.

Dessert recipe cards purchased at Value Village, 3130 Dixie Rd, Toronto

Vintage Books: The Raunchinator

2 May

While looking through the mystery and suspense section of the book aisles at Value Village (a Goodwill-like thrift store,) I came across a set of books that were smutty and cheesy looking in that perfect way.  They were just some second rate Jame-Bond-type suave- cocky-guy-fights-international-super- evil novels, but the cover photos and titles were so of the genre they should be used as teaching materials for those wishing to learn more about this exciting, dynamic literary style.

Not familiar with the type of protagonist that inhabits this domain?  The back of one of the books offers a tantalizing peek at this cliche of a hired gun:


Jonas Wilde, eh?  Good name, it makes the character seem so rebellious, so, so…wild, don’t you think? But the best part of these books are the covers, which of course feature half nude women with guns.  And check out the consonant titles:

"The Dominator" By Andrew York

Who is that, a character in the book?  His girlfriend?

"The Expurgator" By Andrew York

Does anyone see the irony in this title?  Allow me to supply the necessary information:



verb (used with object), ex·pur·gat·ed, ex·pur·gat·ing.


to amend by removing words, passages, etc., deemed offensive or objectionable: Most children read an expurgated version of Grimms’ fairy tales.

to purge or cleanse of moral offensiveness.
(Courtesy of (cut and pasted from) dictionary.com)
It’s a cheap assassin book with a semi-nude woman on the cover wearing a fur coat and carrying a gun while sitting, legs spread, in the front seat of a car.  Is Jonas Wilde’s mission to censor this book?
And lastly there was this one:

"The Captivator" By Andrew York

“The Captivator”, what is that, an allusion to her outfit?  Anyways, hopefully these armed women were a good help to Jonas, even if only as vehicles to boost the books’ sales.

Books purchased at Value Village, 1319 Bloor St. W., Toronto

Thrift Store Finds: Give-a-Show

1 May

When shopping at my favorite junk store I came across this great Kenner “Give-a-Show” Star Wars projector toy.  It’s a small flimsy projector that comes with slide strips that you manually feed through it to create a movie like experience.  A few of the slides have small captions at the top or bottom, but the bulk of the ‘show’ must be filled in with either imagination, or memories of having seen the film,  the latter seeming like an unlikely senario for the age group reprisented on the box:

How old are these kids, like four?

There are 16 slide strips, and though they are numbered the fact that so many of them are just illustrations of ships shooting at other ships with “Pu! Pu!” type sound effects written on them makes recreating the plot of the film with these a task only suited to a hard core Star Wars fan, not a toddler.

I noticed a few other blogs posting about this item, but none thought to properly highlight how hilariously awesome the slides are.  The bold colours and simple graphic illustrations are wonderful to begin with, but as I mentioned above they are also punctuated with unusual sound effects, like “Ktang!”, “Sfoom!”, “Ftik!”, and “Wok!”.  On closer inspection of the other bloggers’ sets, I realized that some of my slides have been printed irregularly, creating extra colourful scenes that are really quite striking.

And so, as the box suggests, I will now “Give-a-show” to you, dear reader, and hopefully this post will be something you “Give-a-Shit” about.

These first slides are the misprinted ones, which are my favorites out of the bunch.  I love the unintended pink and purple result:

"You are my prisoner Princess Leia!"

"Artoo! Where are you going?"

"Into the trench!"

It’s quite a show eh?  The slides are perhaps better viewed this way, as they lose their saturation when projected with the cheap toy projector.  These misprinted slides would make awesome t-shits and other pirated merchandise don’t you think?  But again, please refrain from stealing my idea to make counterfeit goods and sell them.

Here are some of the best of the properly printed slides:

"I cant shake them!"

"On to Alderaan!"

"The fighters...trouble!"

"Where's Alderaan?"

"Get that Capsule!"

"Use the force Luke!"

These are just a few of my favorites, as there are 112 slides in the set there are too many to show them all.

Did any of you have a Give-a-Show toy as a child, and if so, did you ever Give-a-show with it?  I think these types of toys are kind of cool in theory but they taint the child’s imagination and confine their play to things they have seen on the TV or in the movie, kind of like when you read the book after you’ve already seen Girl, Interrupted and you can’t get Angelina Jolie’s vacuous face and whole “I have my children’s shoe sizes written in Swahili tattooed onto my shoulder blade” persona out of your head.  Thoughts?

Star Wars Give-a-Show found at Odds and Ends, 703 Queen St. W., Toronto

Convenience Store Treasures: Barbie Party!

26 Apr

Here’s a couple of awesome party related items I found at a local variety store, Jusil Convenience.  The first is an old package of Barbie party invitations:

Barbie party invitations

Look at all that hair!  I love the colours, and the white halo around her.  I’m a bit confused as to what the blue thing on the right is in between the strands of her hair; it’s clear she has a blue shirt on, but does it have a giant puff at the front that protrudes all the way up to her chin?  Or is that supposed to be her shoulder?  Either way, it looks a tad akward.  Anyways, I love Barbie stuff from the 80s and early 90s.  Her hair and clothes were the best then, and also the font of the Barbie logo was much nicer than some modern versions I have seen.

Isn’t that preferable?  I love this these invitations, the bold, graphic illustration, free of text cluttering up the image, and the lavender barbie logo on the pink grid background.  I bought a couple of these, and I believe there are still more available, but if you want them, you’ll have to hurry before I go back and snatch them up!  Can you imagine the awesome little girl parties that must have been thrown and been well attended thanks to these enticing invitations?

Next on my imaginary-nostalgic-little-girl-birthday-party supply list  are these great clown loot-bags  Remember loot bags?  You would get like some little trinkets like sparkly pencils and penny candies, little reminders of the fun day.  Why don’t you get stuff like that at adult parties?  That’s what I’d like to know.

The clown loot bags. There’s even a space to write the recipient’s name!

I don’t really collect a lot of clown stuff because most of it is bad but not bad enough to be good, but I really liked this clown.  But as you can see from these pictures, these poor bags are not long for this world, as the plastic is so old it has dried out and is disintegrating into tiny pieces.  Kind of a sweet metaphor for fading recollections of childhood, all the super -girly-sparkle-sleep-over-pink party-penny-candy memories scattering, swirling behind us in the winds of time, like so many bits of plastic loot-bag.

Don’t these flaky bits of plastic make you feel all sad and nostalgic inside?

Both items purchaised at Jusil Convenience, 2305 Yonge St., Toronto

Vintage Books: Health Knowledge and Reader’s Digest

25 Apr

I love to check the vintage book section at Value Village as they often have wonderful old books with beautiful lithographed illustrations.  The colours achieved with this type of printing are far superior to anything you see nowadays in books, even when a limited  colour pallet is used.  These illustrations are a great resource of inspiration for unusual colour combinations, drawing composition, and illustration styles.  Some are suitable for framing just as they are, I think, or maybe they could be turned into decals, stickers or t-shirts.  Perhaps I’ve said too much!  Don’t steal my idea to steal other’s work and turn it into unauthorized merchandise.

The first illustrations come from a 1953 Reader’s Digest condensed book that contains the stories “Black Widow”, “The Silent World”, “East of Eden”, “Karen” and “The Curve and the Tusk”.  I love how the illustrations are rendered with mostly blues and browns, an unusual combination that is never the less very satisfying.

The cover of the Reader's Digest book

An illustration from "Black Widow by Patrick Quintin

another "Black Widow" illustration.

My personal favorite of the "Black Widow" illustrations.

An Illustration from "Karen" by Marie Killilea

I have a few of these condensed RD books and the lovely  illustrations are uncredited for some reason.  They even feel nice, the ink is somewhat thick, and smoother than the paper.  These types of bright lithographs would make excellent solvent transfers.  This technique, in which you apply a light coating of solvent, such as gasoline onto the image before pressing it onto another surface, will unfortunately ruin the book though.

The second book I would like to share with you, dear reader is a beautiful thick medical atlas from around 1919.  Entitled, “Health Knowledge” this book, volume II of an unknown number of volumes was published by Medical Distributors Inc.  It boasts “34 Departments Scientifically Illustrated”.  I was lucky enough to find this beauty for only $6 at Value Village, a bargain for a book with as many lovely full colour plates and black and white illustrations in the text.

The cover of "Health Knowledge"

Diseases of the teeth

The above illustration of the jaw and teeth is my favorite in the book.  The colours are so beautiful.  Wouldn’t you just love some stickers or a t-shirt of this image?

A close-up of the jawline

Diseased teeth

Look at those colours!  These diseased teeth are stunning through the eyes of this medical illustrator.  These old medical illustrations are so different from the type of digitally rendered illustrations and plastic models you see today.  Modern medical textbook illustrations are very sterile, the frailty of life, the reality of death, and the experience of aging are filtered through a scientific perspective to achieve a comforting emotional  distance. The old illustrations speak to a different experience with death and disease, a more visceral, yet more romantic connection to the body and aging.  During the Victorian era and into the beginning of the 20th century the notion of death was seen as more poetic, medicine was more of an art.  My sculpture thesis was inspired by the fusion of death, medicine and science at that time.  Take for instance the wax medical models that were produced during that era:

a wax model of a baby born with syphillis

This is a lithograph of a photo of a wax model of a baby with syphilis.  Notice how it’s mounted on a piece of wood painted black surrounded by white fabric.  Other wax models of this type can be seen mounted on fine stained wood enveloped in silk.  It’s presented like a little jewel, like a little sleeping doll.  Many full body wax models of women were presented in white nightgowns on purple velvet pillows.  It speaks to the body as the original site of entertainment, theatre and show business, which is also evidenced by the development of traveling sideshows that presented preserved body parts and medical oddities, and the dissections done in front of live theatre audiences that were offered to the public at the time.

Check out this colourful illustration of different colours of urine and what ailments they indicate:

a scale of urine colours

Now wouldn’t you just love that image on a shirt?  Perfect for any occasion, am I right?

the joints

And here’s a happy looking fellow:

The black and white illustrations within the text were also nice, my favorites being this skull:

and these two dapper looking fellows in an odd, almost  homo-erotic embrace (not that there’s anything wrong with that)(actually, I think everything is homoerotic, I just love homoeroticism, don’t you, dear reader?):

"Dont look now Edmund, it appears we're being illustrated into a medical book"
"mmm.. yes, quite."

Two books I will treasure forever.

Both books found at Valure Village, 1319 Bloor St. W., Toronto

Found Photographs: THOR!

19 Apr

When I was around 17 I landed an internship at eye Weekly, an alternative Toronto newspaper, now called The Grid, that centered around arts and local politics.

An eye Weekly cover from 2008 ( a good 5 or 6 years after I left) Isn't it sooo ironic and hipster and ironic? I mean, could you be any more...whatever!?

This internship entailed fact-checking, compiling music and show listings,  (both extremely tedious tasks in a paper like this where every band and artist featured had some special, stupid way they wanted their name spelled) writing small blurbs on upcoming events, and other time consuming work that actually made up the bulk of the paper beyond the 8 pages of articles at the front.

As most of you know, an “internship” is that special kind of  job where you do a lot of work for free, and in exchange they get to treat you like dirt.  Despite this arrangement, the people at eye added an extra twist to the  fair exchange of free work for writing exposure, wherein they take ideas for articles pitched by interns that would be written for free, and “give” them to paid freelance writers, thereby circumventing the cost/benefit balance that is so delicate to maintain, creating a situation in which the possible value accorded to each the intern, (in terms of potential published writing for their portfolio) and the paper, (for what could be a free article) is reduced in direct proportion to the value, in this case actual money, that now has to be paid to the freelance writer.  Clever, no?

And so, like every intern or poorly paid employee who seeks to recoup that lost value, (a feat usually accomplished with stolen office supplies) I set out to recoup what I felt I was owed.  But, this being an arts and culture paper where all sorts of bands, artists and film-makers submit press-packs for review, I was afforded the chance to make up for all that I endured and then some, when I found, and stole this photo:

THOR on Enigma records

Now the photo is aged, and curled, so I know it may be hard to see how awesome it really is, so let’s take a closer look, shall we?

Here, in a rare pic from his gay Mexican wrestling caveman days, we see Jeremy Irons on lead vocals.

And the band: From left, Adrien Grenier in his 'caveman chic' phase, Carrie Fisher, Jeremy Irons in his ninja-goalie Chippendale's outfit, The Wire's Dominick West as "Thunder Thighs" and a young Jon Lovitz. For superior enjoyment, click to enlarge!


With this photo in my possession, I consider the time I worked for eye Weekly as paid for in full.