Words for the Day :: No. 17

02/14/14

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{Attributed to both Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Roy Croft}

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Here’s to LOVE. Happy Valentine’s Day to all you lovers.

Have a great weekend.

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Kate Bingaman Burt :: Daily Purchase Project

02/13/14

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Today my friend, artist, illustrator, designer, teacher extraordinaire (and overall awesome, kind, spirited person) Kate Bingaman Burt, finished her daily purchase project, in which  she drew (in an effort to be more conscious of her consumption) one of her purchases every day for exactly eight years. I first met Kate in 2007 when she was just a year into the project. My friend Rena and I invited her to install some of her drawings and other artwork she’d made about consumption at the gallery we ran inside our store (called Rare Device) in San Francisco. From there we became fast friends. Since then she’s gone on to do new/more great things.

This was Kate’s first drawing in the project, made in February 2006:

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Over the course of  2,192 days, Kate drew and posted 2,192 drawings! She brings the idea of a daily project to an entirely new level! You can see Kate’s complete collection of drawings here.

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“This project has lead to incredible collaborations, lots of drawing, new ways of working and thinking.” says Kate. Her work has led to books & incredible public talks & textiles and patterns & installations (including the one she did at Rare Device in 2007) & copious illustration work. I am sure it’s also led to many new friendships & personal relationships that she wouldn’t have had otherwise.

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I often tell people, GO WITH YOUR CRAZY IDEA. This, my friends, is a case in point. Kate exemplifies that creative spirit and drive that makes this world a better, more hopeful place. I am excited to see what she comes up with next. I’ll leave you with this photo of Kate blowing up a giant pretzel in her office.

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Happy Thursday, friends!

CATEGORIES: Inspiration
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2014 :: A Sewing Odyssey :: Dress #2

02/12/14

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{Aside from the two dresses I’ve made, you can see my hair is growing like crazy!}

Hello friends! You may recall that in January I made my first ever dress, and that I’m committed to sewing more of my clothes in an effort to be more conscientious about consumption (I’m also not buying any new clothes this year). You can read about my goals (and my first dress, pictured upper left), here.

Dress #2 comes from the same pattern as Dress #1, though it was a bit easier to piece together since the repeat pattern on the fabric was random (unlike the pattern on the fabric for Dress #1!).

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{I used this awesome fabric by Rashida Coleman Hale, designed for Cloud9!)

Next up I plan to make something from this book, which I’ve been ogling over since I received a copy in November.

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I’ll keep you posted on what I make next.

Have a happy Wednesday!

 

CATEGORIES: Sewing & Upcycling
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Carrie Strine :: Handwork

02/11/14

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I am so excited to share with you the quilting work of artist & photographer Carrie Strine. I first met Carrie through my work with 20×200 and then we became friends when I contributed to Volume 1 of her magazine project, The Knot. As I got to know Carrie, I fell in love with her quilted handiwork. While she was completing her MFA and working on a series of photographic installations, she started “a tiny project hand sewing tiny little pieces of fabric into a pair of pillows,” she said in an interview with It’s Nice That. “It started out just for fun—I didn’t even have a sewing machine—then it became really clear that there was a relationship between my quilting and the installations I was making in my studio. I used to think it was just that quilting was just a little hobby that would keep my mind from getting lazy while away from my ‘real’ work, but its just not the case these days. Quilting has become central to my practice.”

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Carrie’s work is so meticulous that one wonders: how long does all of this take? And, as you’d suspect, it varies. “I always have one project going that is done completely by hand,” which takes much longer. Most of the time, however, she combines machine piecing (that’s sewing together the small pieces of fabric with a machine) and hand quilting. “A bed sized quilt can take somewhere between 6 weeks and 1 year depending on the complexity and my engagement.”

My favorite part of Carrie’s quilts are her use of color and her eye for perfect composition. This one, entitled Medallion, is her masterpiece. It took her three years to complete! And, to top it off, not a single inch was worked with a sewing machine!

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Carrie says that most of the time quilting is very meditative. “I will also think for weeks about what my next step will be with a color or fabric while working on a certain part of the quilt. I really enjoy having the space to work slowly.” In a world where working artists are often forced to work fast to meet deadlines, I love the idea of “slow art.”

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Carrie is currently having her first exhibition of her quilts at Art in the Age in Philadelphia. The show, Handwork, opened Friday, February 7th and will be on view until March 31st. Its a collection of her newest works, both large scale bed quilts and smaller wall pieces.

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You can read the entire interview with Carrie and more images of her work over at the awesome blog It’s Nice That. For more of Carrie’s quilts, I recommend following her on Instagram.

Happy Tuesday, friends!

CATEGORIES: Inspiration
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The Good Life Project Mashup

02/10/14

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{from my sketchbook}

You may remember in a couple of years ago I sat down with Jonathan Fields of The Good Life Project and recorded this video. Since 2012, Jonathan has been recording interviews with entrprenuers around the globe about what it means to live a good life. Recently The Good LIfe Project launched this mashup video of interviewees talking about what makes a good life, and it’s a great listen.

Enjoy!

And happy Monday.

CATEGORIES: Inspiration | Sketchbook
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Folkhaus Painting Now Available

02/07/14

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“Folkhaus,” an original painting inspired by my love for Nordic folk imagery, is now available for sale in my shop! This painting is made on a 12x16x1.5 inch panel and is ready to hang. Purchase it here!

Have a great weekend, friends!

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Valentine’s Day Cootie Catcher

02/06/14

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If you grew up in the US (and maybe they were popular elsewhere too), you probably remember the folded paper contraption called a Cootie Catcher. Essentially they are silly fortune tellers, and they are incredibly fun to make and play with. Last year Michelle Taute published the book Fold Me Up: 100 Paper Fortune-Tellers for Life’s Pressing Questions, a cootie catcher book for adults. She asked artists from around the world to create unique cootie catchers, and today in honor of Valentine’s Day, we’re offering a free download of the cootie catcher that I designed for her book (which is all about love, FTW). The download PDF looks like this (below, except larger), and includes the design and directions for assembling it.

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Enjoy and happy Thursday!

 

CATEGORIES: Books I'm In
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I’m Having a Solo Show (It’s Been Awhile)

02/05/14

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Friends, I am so happy to announce that I will be having a solo show of my paintings and some other mixed media pieces at Marion & Rose’s Workshop right here in the town of Oakland, opening May 2, 2014. This is the first solo show of my work since November 2012, and I’m pretty excited to be working on it.

I’ve begun a new body of work (in progress, above, though most of these paintings will look much different when they are finished). I’m hoping to make between 15-25 pieces in all at various sizes and price points.

If you are local and would like to come to the opening, I hope you will mark your calendars! For those of you who are not local, the work will be available for purchase online.

I’ll be sharing the work as I make it, so stay tuned for more.

Happy Wednesday!

CATEGORIES: Exhibitions | Paintings
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Playing Around with Collage

02/04/14

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I’ve been trying lots of new things in my art practice lately, and to help me do more of that, I’ve been studying again with a small group of artists under the tutelage of well known mixed media artist, Lisa Kokin. Each week, Lisa gives us another mixed media assignment. A week ago, we were instructed to make a collage on the back of a hardback book cover (which makes for a great substrate, BTW). I had been cutting hands out of a collection of 1950′s LIFE Magazines, and decided I wanted to make a collage with them. Normally, I’d have arranged the hands in some grid-like formation (much like I did with my Collection a Day project), but Lisa encouraged me to layer the hands with paper and to break out of my traditional way of arranging things. What resulted is the collage above, which I made last week in her studio.

I was so excited with the result (and the process of layering) that I made two more collages over the weekend, also from collections of things I’d cut from LIFE Magazines. If you’ve ever looked at a LIFE Magazine from the mid-20th century, you know there are a preponderance of certain types of imagery (packaged and canned food, cigarettes, liquor, etc). These collages are themed around that imagery. Next up, cigarettes:
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And televisions:

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I am also using colored paper from the ads, photographs and illustrations in the magazines to create the layered effect. So the colors of the collages also reflect the colors one would find in magazine of the time (full disclosure: I did use some yellow paper in the hands collage that didn’t come from the magazines).  Lisa has been encouraging us to work within constraints — and I’ve loved this challenge (ie: in this case, only using the magazines themselves as the raw material).

After I was finished with the cigarette and TV collages, I noticed I had a lot of interesting scraps on the table from cutting the shapes from the magazines. I used those to make this collage/ink drawing in my sketchbook, which was in some ways more fun than making the collages themselves!

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I plan to continue this series and I’ll share them here! Stay tuned for more.

And happy Tuesday.

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Words for the Day :: No. 16

02/03/14

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From Whatever You Are, Be a Good One, due out soon!

Happy Monday.

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On Making Friends With Emptiness

01/31/14

 

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You may recall that on January 2nd I wrote about having a clean slate &  that I was taking January off from illustration work to paint abstracts and read and relax. I’d had a difficult 2013 and I wanted to recharge before diving into 2014. I fantasized about long, luxurious days of bliss, maybe dabbling a bit in my studio, reading 20 books on the sofa and taking long hikes in the woods.

As happens to most of us when we take vacations (or in my case a “staycation”) –  it came and it went way too quickly. And, as many of you may have experienced, at the point this past week when I finally began to relax a little, it was nearly time to go back to work. I could use another month off, sure, but I also need to contribute to my household income. So Monday I’m back, and in full force (more on that in a bit).

I have been thinking a lot lately about what happens when we have emptiness in front of us — time to relax, no plans, blank canvases & sketchbooks, no incoming work, fewer responsibilities than we are used to. I love what I do for a living, but I use my work as a way to distract myself from the nothingness I fear. And so while you might think that having time off from work felt great (and at times it did), I also had a lot of empty time. And without the distractions of work, I was pretty anxious.

So what did I do? I created work for myself, of course. I took on about eight painting commissions. I re-opened my Etsy shop to make a little cash. I started a new sketchbook. I sewed a couple dresses. I negotiated five new illustration assignments that I will start Monday.

My wife said to me more than once, “You know, you really haven’t taken time off this month.” And she’s right. Sure, I didn’t take any illustration work, but I was still working. I didn’t read one book or lie around all day (even when I spent a week at the beach). I did hike three times. But I didn’t ever have that feeling of  bliss.

One of the things I’m working on right now is making friends with emptiness.  I am coming to terms with the illusion of safety I take in staying busy. I am even going to talk about that next month at the Nevada Museum of Art in a lecture I’m giving sponsored by the Reno/Tahoe AIGA. I’ve started meditating (more on that another day) and I’m working on being friends with my thoughts and feelings. I’m staying off the internet (another huge distraction) for intentional periods of time. If there is one thing I learned this past month, it’s that I am not comfortable not having much to do.

But it’s really true that rich creativity comes from a place of nothingness. When we are most open and relaxed and present our best ideas come to us. For me, that mostly happens when I am on airplanes (more on that also another time). Making friends with emptiness is my charge for the year. Sure, I’ll work hard (I am wired to work hard), but I want also to get more friendly with the act of relaxation. I am hoping it will allow me to bring a better, more laid back, even more creative self to my work.

So while I didn’t exactly achieve the level of bliss I’d hoped this past month, I learned something really important about my relationship to bliss: you can’t get to bliss without embracing even a small amount of emptiness.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress. Next week: a post on the trials of meditation.

Happy weekending, friends.

 

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Scott Patt :: Bigger Smaller Funnier

01/30/14

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Sometime in early January, I noticed that my friend, artist Scott Patt, was posting a series of new peices on Instagram. I love the graphic boldness of Scott’s work, and was intrigued. These new pieces Scott was making were awesomely weird, and instantly I wanted to know more, so I emailed him. The series, entitled Bigger. Smaller. Funnier. is Scott’s ongoing year-long visual record “of things seen, objects found, notions noted and ironies observed.”

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“I started the series because I needed a broader outlet to keep up with the amount of ideas and thoughts running through my head on any given day,” Scott told me. “If we each have 20,000 – 60,000 thoughts daily, even on the low end there’s got to be SOME quality stuff in there,”  The result? Scott’s random thoughts, beautifully illustrated.

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Scott, who is also a talented graphic designer and art director,  wanted  to explore and share his work in a concerted way. What better way to do that than through a year-long series?

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For those who want to get more romantically involved with the collection, each piece is available in a series of 100, 8.5″ x 11″ limited edition prints for $25 each (plus S&H).

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You can purchase Scott’s prints here (many, many more to come this year), follow him on Instagram here, and Facebook here. I’ll leave you with my favorite of the series:

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(This one cracks me up every time.)

Happy Thursday, friends. I hope you have a good one!

 

CATEGORIES: Inspiration
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New Abstracts

01/29/14

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{Above: 16×20 inch commission; acrylic on masonite panel}

I have spent much of January making abstract paintings! It’s been great fun. Here are a few I’ve just finished, including two new originals in my shop.

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{Above: 2x 12×12 inch paintings, made as a pair, acrylic on masonite panels}

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{Above: Two 11×14 inch panels, each now available in my shop, sold separately}

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Happy Wednesday, friends!

 

CATEGORIES: For Sale | Paintings
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Anthology Magazine Feature

01/27/14

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We were pretty excited when Anthology Magazine contacted us last year about featuring our home and a little story about our move to Oakland from San Francisco in their Winter 2014 issue. The issue hits newsstands this week!

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Thayer Gowdy shot amazing photos of our home (and interestingly, her SF home is also featured in the same issue!).

To create ambiance on the day of the shoot, we even made a fire. It was 80 degrees out that day, so you can imagine the laughs we had as we tried to imagine it was winter.

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You can pick up the issue of the current Anthology at any of these stockists or subscribe to this beautiful magazine here.

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The Winter Issue also includes several other home features (and stories of transitions), a beautiful travel story set in Paris, recipes, and much more (including tons more photos of our home). I hope you will check it out!

Happy Monday, friends!

 

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Sketchbook :: Playing with Image Transfers

01/24/14

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You might remember recently I wrote about my friend Courtney Cerruti’s book, Playing with Image Transfers. This past week I’ve been doing just that. In Monday’s sketchbook entry (above) I transfered some images from a vintage book about Germany using packing tape and water (for more information on this technique, I highly recommend Courtney’s book). The rest of the spread is painted & drawn with my own hand. Words by the late German poet Johannes Bobrowski.

Have a great weekend, friends!

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