The Sparrow’s Nest

Behold, within the leavy shade,

Those bright blue eggs together laid !

On me the chance-discovered sight

Gleamed like a vision of delight.

– William Wordsworth, The Sparrow’s Nest, 1807


Chinamarker, ink, acrylic, watercolour, embroidery on newsprint (12” x 12”, 30cm x 30cm)

Bird School- Head feather groups

I am obsessed with birds.  I have this strange belief that I will not uncover truths that I seek in my art without first understanding birds fully.  So I am taking myself through my own Bird School– developing my own rudimentary curriculum and drawing out the answers and stitching together the truths.


Part- Parts of a Songbird


Today’s lesson: Head Feather Groups

The head feathers can be divided into five main groups:

Other subdivisions of head feathers:



Die into life.

I haven’t posted for awhile.  That’s not to say I haven’t been writing, drawing, planning, thinking, working.

A new job started January 15 and somehow 5 months have sped by.  Work has given me a place to land.  During that time there have been some exciting new developments…

Ah, blah blah blah.  Fuck that.  I don’t need to write that.

Start again.

I have been thinking a lot lately about death.  

Oh my God.  That is nothing new.  Ugh, start again.

I am sitting in the kitchen at my favorite spot, by my windowsill garden.  There are fragrant buds on the jasmine plant.  The rosemary and mint are sprouting new branches where I snipped off leaves for cooking and for my water.  I do not take this seat, this spot, for granted.  My role has changed.  And I celebrate that I have been given the gift of …

Ugh. I am just regurgitating the same old musings.  That’s OK.  That’s what this journal process is all about.  But I have been away from it for awhile.  And if I haven’t been writing in this online journal, what have I been doing creatively, that is?

I have been stitching.

Thought after thought after thought.

Stitch, stitch, stitch

Obsessed with stitching.  And what have I been stitching about, quite obsessively in fact, is that I want to be OK with dying tonight.  Not specifically tonight- but “tonight.”


What do I mean by that?

What I mean is that I know I will never complete all that I want to do… and that is OK.  If I die tonight, not having completed all I want to do– that has to be OK.


Stitch, stitch, stitch…

What I do know is that I want to relax into life (and death)- relax into its unfolding.


Stitch, stitch, stitch…

Depression has had me by the throat many times.  I have desperately tried to find a way to ease my pain.  And the fear of the effect of my pain on my family.  There have been times I admit, I have forced myself to look forward and walk with an even pace.  Simply to get off that proverbial bridge.   Death, or thinking about it, has been a way to cope.  The option has been a way to get through the day.


Stitch, stitch, stitch…

I have been lucky not to have tried to hide from it- to numb it.  My mom needed to numb it.  And that is a sadness I will always carry.  

Last summer, I made a pact with myself to live life as a second chance.  To die into life.  To be a ghost.  To walk in peace amongst the noise, haste, stress, pain, joy.  To understand all the ups, downs.  I was so tired of resorting to perseverating thoughts. I made a pact.  Life as a second chance.

I realize that dark journeys help me understand the characters I research, and feed my quest of understanding of human nature.  The understanding of ghosts I walk among.  How else could I walk the path of those I write about?


Stitch, stitch, stitch…

So much happening.  With so much to come.  What makes me feel this peace?  What makes it different now?

I am older.  I am old.  I am approaching the other side of the staircase.

A Swedish Dala painting with kurbits ornamentation, by Winter Carl Hansson from 1799

I am truly blessed to enter this new chapter of my life- I call the chapter putting on the crown.  

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I am so blessed to have been given the gift of art to use in every aspect of my life.  It heals me, it unmasks me, it opens me wide open, it hides me.  It allows me to live. And to die into life.

And if I die tonight, I am ok with all the unfinished projects, knowing my life is mine, and my children’s lives are theirs.  They are grown.  And how incredible is that?

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Stitch, stitch, stitch…


Every stitch a thought- problem solving embroidering drawings.

I’ve got a lot to think about these days.  (Not really any different from other days, I guess, but seriously, there is some amazing stuff brewing).

To stay on track with massive projects, to dos and ideas racing around in the head, I have found great solace in pulling out embroidered drawings.

As I stitch, my mind relaxes and somehow- magically, solutions arise, anxiety dissipates, energy refreshes, ideas come to light.  Fascinating.


It’s all about following the lines of my drawings, just wandering along the pathways, new ways of looking at things, no attachment to the thread or how things unfold.  Just let it unfold.  And I think that is my greatest lesson in all this- let it unfold.

When you can step back at moments like these and see what is happening, when you watch people you love under fire or evaporating, you realize that the secret of life is patch patch patch. Thread your needle, make a knot, find one place on the other piece of torn cloth where you can make one stitch that will hold. And do it again. And again. And again.
Anne Lamott, Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair

You have to keep taking the next necessary stitch, and the next one, and the next. Without stitches, you just have rags. And we are not rags.”
Anne Lamott, Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair


The Mulberry @ParcLiving Fox Panels

Without art we do not die.  But without art we do not live. 

Intersections Media Opportunities for Youth Society participant, 2012

I have the pleasure of working with an extraordinary group of individuals at Mulberry PARC doing art projects that range from drawing, interactive art, sock animals and group painting/quilt!

Our latest session involved drawing the fox and creating two panels for tomorrow’s art show!

Fox animal symbolism takes a turn of intelligence in the Celtic realm, as the Celts believed the fox to be a guide, and was honored for its wisdom. The Celts understood the fox knows the woods intimately, and they would rely upon the fox as their guide in the spirit world.

At tomorrow’s art show ART IN THE PARC we will be showing our Fox panels… 



… our owls/bunnies/hummingbird/ladybugs embellished panels…

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… and our sock owls!

See also:

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Around 3 am… I felt a tap on my shoulder.

Around 3 am yesterday morning (November 19) I woke up because I felt a tap on my shoulder.


More like a double jab.

On my right shoulder.

It felt so real—


I just knew it was a message regarding Molly but it didn’t even feel like her- felt like a male presence.

Like he was telling me to PAY ATTENTION.


And all day  yesterday I was thinking about it- knowing that if I just let go of seeking the answer, the answer would come.

I was prepping info last night to bring along to a meeting today about the Babes in the Wood and I felt a chill as I wrote down Molly’s father‘s birthday- November 19 (1891).

And more and more clues have unfolded this weekend.  I am on my 13th year on this project.  I keep stitching the information together.  Molly, I am listening.




The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.  – Marcus Tullius Cicero

Special sale: Dead Bird Collection- embroidered drawings

I am a BIG BIG fan of symbology, imagery and metaphor.  I feed on it like some kind of voracious vampire.  

As I was collecting a few books from my personal library to donate to our local community mini library, I pulled out an old book I had forgotten about.  

Oh, how I love finding what I need in my personal library!  I guess the whole exercise in finding books to donate was actually Universe letting me know I was supposed to find this book today.  Sorry!  I am not donating this one!  It goes straight into my tote bag for coffee shop reading.

The imagery Shakespeare instinctively uses is thus a revelation, largely unconscious, given at a moment of heightened feeling, of the furniture of his mind, the channels of his thoughts, the qualities of things, the objects and incidents he observes and remembers, and perhaps most significant of all, those which he does not observe or remember. -Caroline Spurgeon

Symbols and metaphors play a huge part in my creative process.   For example,  in my current project, Molly- a true crime analysis, birds (dead birds, bird skulls and live birds as well as forest animals and insects) act as messengers and symbols of the main character’s quest for liberation and redemption.


In dreams, dead birds can symbolize a loss of freedom. Various cultures view birds either as a way the soul is carried to heaven, or, in the case of vultures, ravens and crows, as a symbol of death. [source]

And of late, those of you that know me, know I have been obsessively embroidering my drawings.

Why embroidered drawings?

I have mentioned this in previous posts that certain drawings in Molly (in particular chapter headings) are embroidered as a means to reflect the act of connecting the dots and weaving together timelines, evidence and research.  The stitches are footsteps on a map.  It reflects deep thought and the passage of time.  It is historical.  Traditional.  Sacred.  It is about strengthening the fragile.  It fascinates me that a medium so cheap and easily torn such as newsprint becomes strong and hardy when layered and sewn together.  It can be manipulated and folded, handled, and only gains a lovelier patina.   There is something magical in that.

Embroidered drawings and forensic taphonomy

My passion project, Molly- a true crime analysis, centres around a 63 year old Vancouver cold case.

On January 15, 1953, the skeletal remains of two children were found in the forest of Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  The victims became known as the Babes in the Wood.  The physical evidence indicated that the children were killed using a hatchet and confidently pointed to the involvement of a woman, likely the children’s mother.  Unsolved for over 63 years, the double homicide still haunts the city and fuels the imaginations of Vancouverites.  Several theories have been explored and many leads and tips have been followed; yet the identities of the two victims remain unknown.

Molly- a true crime analysis illustrates my research into this heartbreaking mystery.

Sparrow feet, a gift from Hannah Ackeral

My involvement initially began as a volunteer researcher on the Babes in the Wood task force from 2003 to 2004.

This passion project- an illustrated book- is as much about the PROCESS and my deep involvement as it is about the cold case and the ultimate “end” product.  And yes- that process.  The creative process is incredibly magical and rewarding.  The project is directing itself in a sense, and I am following and trusting.

The book will include text (facts and interpretation), illustrations (including magic realism), photographs, primary sources, physical evidence, circumstantial evidence and artifacts.

I am currently reworking the text and illustrating.  I am experimenting with embroidered drawings.

Why embroidered drawings?

Certain drawings (in particular chapter headings) are embroidered as a means to reflect the act of connecting the dots and weaving together timelines, evidence and research.  The stitches are footsteps on a map.  It reflects deep thought and the passage of time.  It is historical.  Traditional.  Sacred.  It is about strengthening the fragile.  It fascinates me that a medium so cheap and easily torn such as newsprint becomes strong and hardy when layered and sewn together.  It can be manipulated and folded, handled, and only gains a lovelier patina.   There is something magical in that.


… And when they were dead
The robins so red
Brought strawberry leaves
And over them spread;
And all the day long,
The green branches among,
They’d prettily whistle
And this was their song-
‘Poor babes in the wood!
Sweet babes in the wood!
Oh the sad fate of
The babes in the wood!’

“The Babes in the Wood,” Anonymous (ca 1595). Public domain.

The Babes in the Wood, in progress

For serious inquiries, contact: Peter Breeze

10 Tuesdays. 10 Fridas. Frida No. 9: Frida and the magpie portrait

I’ve been celebrating my blog with an art event. The event honors the woman who inspires me to keep it going as an artist: Frida Kahlo.


For 10 Tuesdays, I have been creating/posting 10 different portraits of Frida Kahlo (plus some additional posts here and there) in some form/medium or another. It may be a drawing, an object, a doll, multimedia, whatever… A surprise.


Frida No. 1: Sock Doll

Frida No. 2: The Dream

Frida No. 3: The Chakras

Frida No. 4: Frida and her magic cone of truth

Frida No. 5: A Coloring Page for You

Frida No. 6: Sock Doll in Tehuana Dress

Frida No. 7: Fetal Frida

Happy birthday Frida

Frida Kahlo July 6, 1907- July 13, 1954

Frida No. 8: Dia de los Muertos sock monkey

Frida No. 9: Frida and the magpie portrait

10 x 14 ” China marker, spray paint, acrylic, embroidery thread on paper.

The magpie’s speech is symbolic of communication and creative expression. When we hear the magpie speak it is a message to us that we might need to listen to what is being spoken to us – listen with more attention. The chatter of the magpie is also a symbolic message that we may need to speak our minds more clearly….speak up, express our opinions, be creative with our spoken words.

The magpie’s obsession with shiny things is symbolic of our tendency to chase after false ideas or perceptions. When the magpie comes into our lives it is often a reminder that we may have to re-evaluate our priorities. Are we chasing after unsuitable desires? Are we serving a false ideal? Are we putting materialism ahead of matters of the soul?

The magpie builds its home in the thickest “V” of trees. Forks or V’s in nature are symbolic of gateways or paths into the spirit realm. In this fashion, the magpie asks us about our level of spiritual perception. Specifically, the magpie asks to keep an open mind in matters of the spirit. She also asks us where our spiritual foundation is and encourages us to open the gateways of higher (spiritual) vision… [source]

Limited edition hand-embroidered print sale #graphicnovel

I am making available 10 hand-embroidered prints entitled Who is it that can tell me who I am? featuring an original image from my graphic novel, Molly.


The print captures the moment a crow, the magician of the forest, adorned by a child’s skull as a crown, looks, with intense curiosity, into Lost Lagoon (Stanley Park).

The reflection in the pool features Jocelyn Louise as Molly. (Photographed by Rick Legal).

The imagery in the graphic novel will include drawing, embroidery, photography, collage.  Birds are often included to reflect the core theme/core value of the book: freedom.


“Crime Scene, 1947” (in progress)

To purchase a hand-embroidered numbered and signed print (measuring approximately 6″ x 8″):

Email transfer $28 CAD ($22 USD) to britakatarina@gmail (include your mailing address)

[Allow two weeks for delivery]

Who is it that can tell me who I am?
Lear’s shadow.

(William Shakespeare, King Lear, 1.4.236-237)

Pay attention to the birds: Part 6- Starling

Ah, the birds— and their delightful ways— this time of year in particular.  I just LOVE watching them!

And I love when I feel something extra special in a particular moment that makes me stop and pay attention.

The other day, I observed a flock of starlings.  I know many people call them rats, greasy rat-birds.  But if you really stop, and take a close look, they are absolutely stunning.


I identify with these little commoners.  I find it so therapeutic to study them, and embroider their detailing.  It reminds me to take time to STOP.  To OBSERVE the beauty around us.  Indeed, I feel most at peace when embroidering my drawings in solitude.  Why?  Is it a question that needs to be answered?  What makes you feel at peace?

So what was it about this particular moment?  What lesson did I need to learn?

Let’s look up some symbolism.  Here are some fave findings:

Starlings… are messengers from the spirit realms. They actually are a wakeup call and reminder that changes in situations are coming. Usually for the better. They signal the end of one cycle and the beginning of a new one…

The first changes will be spiritual, (these have already begun) which will start the “domino” effect of your physical and logical life as well. Though it may seem that things are getting more complicated in these areas first, this is actually a shaking off of the dust and the opening for the new. [source]

Starling teaches how to behave within a group setting – how to be effective and assertive without becoming a bully. Communication is important to Starling people; however, you must be careful what you say, for people may take it incorrectly or blow it out of proportion. Watch your own sensitivity to other’s words. You might be reading more into it that is truly there. By learning Starling’s behaviors, you can live peacefully within your community of friends and family. [source]

See other bird posts:

PART 1: Kingfisher

PART 2: American Robin

PART 3: Pigeon

Part 4: Hummingbird

Part 5: Sparrow

POST: They let their wings down…

POST: Dead messengers

“Crime Scene” creative process #graphicnovel

Spending more and more time alone these days.  Craving and receiving great moments of solitude to work. To figure shit out. To surrender.



Testing chapter heading visuals for:

Molly, my graphic novel.

Creating on nickels and dimes.

“… even if I had to paint my pictures with my wet tongue on the dusty floor of my cell.” – Pablo Picasso‬

I can’t stop despite money worries and fatigue-inducing insecurities…

Can I pull this off?  Am I good enough?

But the process carries on anyway.  Despite myself.

If I just keep the pen to paper… that’s the ticket.



Allow the creative process.



You can support this project via PAYPAL here:


Donors will be listed in acknowledgements