Studio Shots by Sarah Deragon



One of the things I am working on at the moment is redesigning my main portfolio website (new site coming by the end of the year!). I wanted to have some photos on my new site that showed my studio — work in progress, my materials, my random collections, my shelf displays, the light and color in the space. I asked my dear and talented friend Sarah Deragon to come take those photos, and I am so thrilled with what she caught. Sarah is mostly known for her portrait photography (she took my new headshots earlier this fall), but I’m here to testify that she’s pretty skilled at capturing the beauty of a place too.  This is just a handful of the shots she took, but they are some of my favorites. Enjoy.















Have a great Thursday, friends.

CATEGORIES: Collections | My Studio

On Messing Around



{A shot from my studio yesterday; some of this got painted over by the end of the day}

One of the greatest things about making art is that moment when you find you are on a roll with something: you cannot stop, and all you want to do is paint and paint {or whatever it is you do}. This moment (or this extended moment) is really pretty special, because often the opposite is true: that we are stuck or feel like we are onto nothing at all or that everything we do is unoriginal or just generally sucks.

Most of the time when we feel we are onto something potentially great, it happens because we are just messing around. We allow ourselves time to play, without external pressures, requirements or deadlines. I heard something recently (and honestly I don’t remember where I heard it) that play leads to mastery. I think this is why it must be great to go into an MFA program — to literally pay thousands of dollars to buy time to experiment and play and then to get feedback on it (so you can go back and do it over again).

As a full time working illustrator I have found that I just don’t have enough time to mess around in my studio. Lately I have been trying to change that, even if it means taking on fewer illustration jobs. I feel like I haven’t had a breakthrough or been on a good “roll” in a long, long time (even when I took the month of January off). And I think it’s mostly because I don’t have or make time to play in my studio. I truly love most of my “work” (aka illustration jobs), but I also want to push my practice so much further to break out of the habits/methods/motifs that are safe for me. But so far I haven’t felt that I could give sufficient time to both illustration work and zero pressure, playful experimentation. I always feel stretched a bit. Sometimes I feel stretched a lot.

Yesterday I made some time for play in my studio (aka, didn’t do other stuff on my list) and I hit the beginning of some kind of roll  (I think?). But just as I was hitting it, I had to leave the studio to go home for dinner. Sometimes I wish I was one of those artists who sleeps at her studio, and lives and breathes “her work” (aka her personal work, not her client work). But then I think about sleeping on the tiny sofa in my studio and cooking dried ramen on the hot plate for dinner and being away from my significant other, and I think, no, I am too old for that.

I wonder sometimes if the plight of the illustrator is finding this balance between making a living making illustrations for other people/companies/publications and also keeping up with personal creativity and experimentation. Regardless, that is my plight.

Old story here, new words to describe it (aka, balancing illustration & personal work). I am determined to figure it out.

Happy Wednesday, friends.


Digging in to Abstraction


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You may recall that earlier this year I announced I was going to experiment with abstract painting. I’m happy to report that (nearly a year later) my work on abstract paintings happily (albeit slowly!) continues. The painting above (not yet finished) is the largest I’ve ever worked on. This photo was taken in my studio Friday, where the light was pouring in. Here’s a close up of one section that includes some of the detail work:

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I’ll be sure to share with you the completed piece when it’s finished. Last week I signed for my first two abstract commissions, so there will be many more to come over the next two months. It’s quite an addicting practice and I can’t wait to get back to this one.

Happy Monday.


CATEGORIES: My Studio | Paintings

Progress in the Studio


lisa in studio

{Me in my studio, taken by my friend Kelly Wilkinson)

You may remember back in July I made a commitment to myself that I’d spend at least one day a week — mostly Wednesdays — making personal work in my studio. I gave a short update in August. Two months in, I am happy to report that my one day a week has been pretty life changing, which was the goal. I am hoping in 2014 that I have even more than one day a week to dedicate to this kind of exploration in my studio. Here is the progression of some of the pieces I’ve been working on. First, a reminder of where I started:


And then…







Some of the pieces are finished. Several of the paintings still need a lot of development (thank goodness there are always more Wednesdays). The shadowbox collages are going into a show at Bedford Gallery in December. The paintings I’ll put up for sale soon in my Big Cartel Shop. Stay tuned.

Happy Thursday!


I Like Wednesdays




A few weeks ago I shared that I was dedicating time once a week on Wednesdays to make personal work in my studio  (as opposed to commissioned illustration work, which is what I spend most of my time doing). Wednesday is turning out to be my favorite day of the week, as you might imagine.

I realized that I’ve been so busy painting and drawing that I haven’t cut paper (in my studio) since March 17 when I took Lisa Kokin’s mixed media class. This is crazy, especially for someone whose medium used to be collage. So I got out my scissors and exacto knife (along with the usual graphite, ink and gouache) and and finished this piece. I’m participating in a couple of group shows coming up, and she will probably also be for sale. I’ll keep you posted.


{Gouache, ink, graphite and cut paper; finished piece is 11×14 inches, framed in shadowbox}

On another note, so many people wrote kind notes and tweets yesterday after I posted this short essay on comparison. I can’t respond to all of them (there were so many), but I wanted to say thank you to everyone who wrote & tweeted. Most simply said: “Yep, been there too” — and that alone was comforting to hear. It makes me remember that it is our humanness that connects us.

Happy Wednesday.