Category Archives: Inspiration

Working on words

©Deann Stein Hasinoff In Progress 1 2019

Words are an important part of how I develop an artwork.  For my current series on anxiety, I wanted to use them in a more overt way.  The challenge was “how?”.  During a night when I was having trouble falling asleep due to some anxiety, I had a bit of a eureka moment.  A quick search and I thought I could possibly use stencils and paper.  Then to decide on the words.  I found if I tried to write down exactly what I was anxious about, the ideas would disappear.  I decided to think more in generalities.  I believe this will also result in the artwork being more universal.  


New series in progress & DIY light table

Light table

In a previous post, I mentioned I am working on a new series for a solo show at Harcourt House Artist-Run Centre‘s Art Incubator Gallery in 2020.  I would like to incorporate text into the series in some way.  So far I have spent a lot of time thinking about how this might work and I have not been satisfied with my attempts.  

Last week having trouble sleeping, as can happen when anxiety levels are high, I thought about a different method using embossing.  Some excited searching at 1:30 am made me think it could work.   Lucky for me I had some supplies at the ready, due to a brief flirtation with scrapbooking in the early 2000’s.  The next step was to find the right material to work with.  My work is digital and I have not bought art supplies in a long while, however I do still have a fairly good assortment of paper from my traditional art material days.  After some unsuccessful attempts, I went to You Tube to look up embossing (spoiler alert – the stencil goes under the paper).  Next step was to think about making stencils.  After trying to trace on paper taped to a window, I realized this was not sustainable.  My arm was aching something fierce.

Experimenting with paper


DIY Light table – dust-free, chemical-free, one stop shop

Next step, searching light tables.  These can be a bit pricey, from $60-$150 depending on what size you would like to have.  If I was going to trace things all the time, I could see making the investment, but for now I want a cheaper option.  After looking up DIY light tables I was starting to think I would need to check out some used furniture places for a glass topped end table (not my favourite activity as I find they are like a dust mite rave and I have a strong reaction). Most of the information I found in blogs involved using a router or sawing, getting a specific size of acrylic sheeting, spray painting, etc.  I wanted a dust-free, chemical-free one-stop shop kind of option.  I checked out Ikea, based on a comment made by a blogger about using an Ikea picture frame and some LED lights.  Success!  I didn’t think a picture frame would work, now that Ikea uses a thinner plastic for their glazing, but I did find another option.  

I purchased the Nesna Nightstand on sale, then sourced a white cardboard box (note: white to increase reflectivity) in the home organization section and purchased LED string lights (lights do not get hot so won’t be a fire hazard).  After assembling the nightstand, I put the lights into the box and slid the box under the table top, using the lid to raise it up for a snug fit.  Once I knew it would fit, I used a piece of paper palette left over from my painting days and taped it to the underside of the glass top with painter’s tape (you could use waxed paper or white tissue paper).  I didn’t want to make it permanent as I want to be able to repurpose the table when I don’t need it as a light table.  All in all I am pleased with the result.  It cost me about $30.  I am thinking of replacing the LED string lights with an LED camping lantern I found in the basement, as I’d like the light to be a bit stronger.  My Ikea was out of the 24 light strand, so I bought two 12 light strands, which are ok but not as bright as I’d like.  As you can see in the photo below, it will fit a pice of 9″x12″ paper.  

Light table

Light table


To make it more permanent, you could close in the sides and bottom of the table and/or use LED strip lighting, however this will increase your costs so you’ll have to decide if it still makes sense to DIY.  If you would like a larger table and you don’t mind dust, chemicals and using tools, I found this video, as well as several other options.  


Keeping my eyes open

In my last post I wrote about taking the time to look around and appreciating the landscape, whether it is picture perfect or not. In my day to day travels I keep my eyes open to my surroundings, and continue to take photographs. Some work out and some not so much. I try not to worry too much about those that do not work out and just keep taking photos. It’s interesting to see if the image I took matches the one in my mind’s eye. I have a lot to learn! That’s ok though, as I am always happiest when I am learning. Today I am sharing two photos from the past week.

In other news, three of my digital drawings were accepted to be a part of Visual Arts Alberta/CARFAC’s Ten Voices 2017 show. One of them is the diptych Overwhelm/Overcome. I am excited and thankful to Visual Arts Alberta/CARFAC for the opportunity!

above: ©Deann Stein Hasinoff Rooftop flock 2017, photograph

©Deann Stein Hasinoff Energy 2017


Research or more inspiration

It’s a snowy April day here where I live. A perfect day to sit down with a coffee and do some research. I’m getting back to a book I started a couple of weeks ago: Reading Cy Twombly Poetry in Paint by Mary Jacobus (Princeton University Press, 2016).

I love Twombly’s uninhibited scribbles and his use of text and writing. He drew inspiration from poetry. In the book Twombly is quoted “I like poets because I can find a condensed phrase…I always look for the phrase.” (p.3) Traditional poetry is not something I have used, but I do mine song lyrics. I connect with a phrase from a song and it becomes the catalyst for a work or a series of work. A small notebook is always in my bag to write down the names of songs, a lyric, or an artist to look up later. I have many sketchbooks filled with pieces of songs (usually more songs than sketches!). Some I go back to over and over again.

Moving from language as inspiration to using text or writing in my work is a new challenge. Seeing how other artists use words and language is part of figuring out what I connect with, and to give some direction to my experimentation. I recently saw work by Tacita Dean at a local art gallery. I loved the handwritten words in the pieces. (and, surprise, surprise, the black and white palette drew me in as well 🙂 )

It seems I always have at least a half dozen ideas floating around in my head about where I can go with my work. Research is the next step to solidifying those ideas and we’ll see where it takes me.

©Deann Stein Hasinoff Wintry Spring 2017


Inspiration or what’s next?

Author Elizabeth Gilbert talks about inspiration in her book Big Magic (2015).  In it she says inspiration will find you and jump around trying to get your attention but if it doesn’t succeed, it will fly off and find someone else.  You may only realize it’s gone when you finally get around to the idea and find the originating creative spark is gone.

In my last post I wrote that I successfully completed my final portfolio review for my visual arts certificate (YAY!).  My graduating solo show will be the first two weeks of October.  In my review one of the preceptors asked what I planned to do next.   My answer involved expansion of themes I have touched on in my work to date, and hopefully finally figuring out Photoshop (I know it’s a great tool but it’s complicated and I have limited amounts of patience!)

About a month later I went for a walk in the river valley.  I am lucky to live somewhere where I can easily get onto trails and into nature.  On this walk I looked down on the breaking ice and thought wow look at those beautiful marks, and inspiration showed up and started jumping around.  I took some photos thinking they might be good grounds for future work (you know, when I finally figure out Photoshop).  A few days later I remembered Elizabeth Gilbert’s take on inspiration and sat down to look at the photos.  More inspiration!  I spent many happy hours this week playing with them and going back into the river valley with new eyes.  I can’t say it’s doing much for my fitness level, as I keep stopping to take photos, but I am excited by this new direction.  Here is a selection of my recent work: