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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Wildsam :: San Francisco

01/23/14

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Every now and again an illustration job comes to your desk that makes you jump out of bed in the morning wanting to get to work. One such job came my way last year via Taylor Bruce, founder, editor and writer of the Wildsam Field Guides. Taylor was making a SF Guide and he wanted me to illustrate it. I could not have been more excited.

Wildsam Field Guides are not like regular travel guides. They are small books (they could easily fit in a large pocket) filled with local lore, interviews with local characters, hand-drawn maps, personal essays, lists of local “must knows” and more. “Equal parts travel guide and tribute, the field guides suit both weekender and native,” says Taylor.

In all, the book includes about 15 of my illustrations. I had never drawn a map before taking the Wildsam SF assignment (gasp!), but had so much fun drawing the six maps in the book. The maps are clearly not to scale, but designed more to highlight different aspects of the city’s culture, landscape and history. Here are two I drew for the book that I love:

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Part of what made working on Wildsam SF so great was working one-on-one with Taylor Bruce. In addition to making Wildsam Guides, Taylor is a writer. He’s written for magazines like Men’s Journal, Budget Travel, Southern Living, Oxford American, Paste, Travel + Leisure, National Geographic Adventure, and others — so he’s obviously pretty smart. Taylor is also incredibly gracious and kind. And he was great to work with because he took every illustration so seriously, but at the same time he let me guide the look and feel of each drawing with my own flair. For example, he allowed me to infuse my own quirks into each map based on my own memories and knowledge of the city.

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Wildsam Guides are perfect little books and you can get them here. The San Francisco Guide is also sold in many stores around the city. If you are planning a trip to San Francisco, I highly recommend bringing one along.

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Rumor has it both Detroit and Brooklyn are on the short list for upcoming Wildsam Guides. Stay tuned for more!

Happy, happy Thursday.

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Words for the Day :: No. 15

01/22/14

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Happy hump day!

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2014 :: A Sewing Odyssey

01/21/14

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I come from a sewing family. My mom is a master sewer, and she taught me to use a sewing machine when I was about 8 years old. I’ve sewn countless pillows, patchwork throws, curtains and even a bag or two over my lifetime. But I’ve always been intimated by the patience, time and exactitude required to sew clothing.

This year, all of that is going to change. I have made a goal to consume less. As part of that goal I can have new clothes if I a) make them myself or b) buy them second hand. I have been greatly inspired by my friends Katrina Rodabaugh and Sonya Philip who have both in their own ways committed themselves to making & upcycling over buying new. “Making clothing is a conscious choice; it is an investment of time over convenience,” says Sonya.

This past Friday on my birthday I set out to make my first dress for the year. Recently, I set up a sewing area in my studio. For my first dress, I used a pattern I’d gotten from my friend Kristine at A Verb for Keeping Warm and fabric by Anna Maria Horner (that I also purchased at Verb). It was a tricky pattern to cut. The dress has sleeves and side panels, and the fabric repeat requires that you line things up in a precise way in order for the dress to look symmetrical (thank you to my mother who helped me figure out the best way to cut the fabric to accomplish this!). The neckline also required handmade bias tape (made from the fabric), which I’d never made before. Of course, I had to choose a fabric with a complicated repeat for my first dress!

I was intimidated but determined. It took me about 3-4 hours, but I finished it! And then I wore it out to my birthday dinner that evening. I’d probably get sent home from Project Runway for my hems and neckline, but overall I was pleased with the result.

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I plan to sew and upcycle a lot of clothing this year, and I’ll share some of what I make here on this blog.

Have a happy Tuesday!

CATEGORIES: Sewing & Upcycling
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Words for the Day :: No. 14

01/20/14

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This hand lettered quote, in honor of one of my nation’s greatest heroes: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birth, life and legacy we celebrate today. I am so honored that last year I was granted permission to include this quote in my upcoming book Whatever You Are, Be a Good One, which comes out in a few months.

Have a great Monday, friends.

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On Turning 46

01/17/14

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{43 years ago I had a Raggedy Ann cake!}

Today is my birthday. Today I turn 46 years old. Unlike a lot of people out there, I am excited about getting older. Every year that passes the freer I feel from all of the things that used to keep me up at night: Am I cool enough? Do people like me? Am I a complete dork? Of course, I still worry about those things a little bit, but only a little. And I’ve come to embrace my inner dork (most of the time). I don’t even worry so much about my skin sagging or my already thin hair thinning more or the more frequent aches and pains. I’ve given up finally on looking 30 and accepted that I’m 46.

I’m a little bit of a late bloomer. I didn’t get my first tattoo until I was 29. And now I’m covered in them. I did not pick up a paint brush for the first time until I was about 32 years old. And it wasn’t until I was 37 that I started to show and sell and license my art work. I didn’t find my true love until I was 40 or get married until I was 45.

From the time I graduated from college in 1990, it took me many many years to figure out who I was and to get moving with my life with a clear sense of purpose. But I got there eventually. Then last year happened. Last year was one of the toughest years of my life. I worked way too much, became exhausted, and also some other hard stuff happened. I began to lose that previously clear sense of purpose. I began to question what I was doing with my life, why I was doing it, and why I wasn’t feeling as excited about my work or my career as I once had. For the record, last year also included some of the happiest moments, namely, my wedding and honeymoon.

All of this makes me realize (or re-realize) two things: a) life is never all good or all bad, it’s always a mixture, and rolling with (or persevering through) the hard stuff is part of what we must do as humans and b) I want to regain a sense of purpose this year. So I’m thinking a lot about What do I want from my life? How can I be a better person? What do I want my career to look like? What do I want to create?  You might notice that I am playing around with new styles and mediums in my work. This is all part of the exploration. I’m also spending more time having fun – something I didn’t do enough of last year. I’m stepping back and I’m trying a lot of new things.

Because it’s my birthday, I want to say thank you to everyone who comes here and reads my blog and all of the support and love you give. Today I’m offering 20% off in my Etsy Shop until January 19. Just use coupon code FORTYSIX (sorry I had to change the code because I’d previously used HAPPYBIRTHDAY!).

On that note, have a happy Friday and a happy weekend.

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Words for the Day :: No. 13

01/16/14

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Last night’s sketchbook entry.

Have a great Thursday, friends!

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A Painting, In Phases

01/15/14

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For two days now while I’ve been staying at the ocean, I worked on the painting above. It is 3 feet by 3 feet, acrylic on canvas. This painting took me two days (with many breaks!) to complete. I photographed the painting in different phases as I was making it. Take a look at how it started, how it evolved and where it ended up in this slideshow. You will notice that towards the end of a painting, the changes are much more subtle.

Music by Sigur Ros. (This will keep looping through until the song is finished, so feel free to hit the pause button to end after you’ve watched it go through once or twice!)

Psst: My Etsy Shop has reopened, and I am offering two new small abstract paintings for sale. Take a look.

Happy Wednesday!

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Molly Hatch :: Tea Cups

01/14/14

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Last year, ceramics and visual artist Molly Hatch was so inspired by an article written in Selvedge Magazine about a curator at the Nordic Museum in Stockholm, Sweden who spent her entire career hand-painting a catalog of objects in the museum (pre-color photography) that she decided to embark on her own cataloging project. Yep, (with their permission, of course) Molly has been painstakingly painting the tea cup collection of the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

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I am a huge fan of Molly’s work, and when Molly told me about her endeavor, I was so inspired that I asked her to share some of it with us. In all of her work, Molly draws inspiration from beautiful, old things. She plays with the tension between historic objects and contemporary design expression through her paintings, ceramics, and design work. This latest project is a perfect example of Molly’s passion.

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Amongst its vast holdings, the Clark Art Institute has a sizable collection of historic teacups. According to Molly the majority of the cups were acquired over a lifetime of collecting by the museum founders Francine and Sterling Clark. Molly challenged herself to make a small painting of 300 of the cups in the collection. “These paintings serve as an artistic response to the historic archive of the collection, an effort to view the historic collection through the eyes of a contemporary ceramic artist and designer,” she says. In creating them, her paintings become a hand-painted artistic catalog of the collection.

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The cups Molly painted were originally collected by one family and are all 18th century porcelain. Molly chose these 300 because they are from the same era during which the curator in Sweden was painting her catalog.

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Lucky for us, Molly’s project is being published into a book by Chronicle Books, due out in the Spring of 2015. Through the book Molly invites us to take a fresh look at antiquity through her modern and beautifully executed paintings. Molly’s paintings are complemented with an opportunity for readers to learn more about the history of the teacup through timelines and written components and an index of the original teacups in the Clark collection.The book highlights the role of collector, collection, artist, and museum.

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Thank you to Molly for sharing these images with us! I will keep you posted on the release of the book and where you can purchase it.

Happiest of Tuesdays!

CATEGORIES: Inspiration
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Wherever You Are, Make Art

01/13/14

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As some of you may know, I’m taking the month off to step back, reflect and relax a little before I embark on a new year of work. Some questions I’m thinking about: Where do I want to take my work next? What ideas do I have for new creative endeavors? How will I create a more sustainable and positive sense of work/life balance?

I’m at the beach by myself for the next several days. I didn’t come here with an agenda about what I am going to create, but I did bring a lot of art supplies with me in the event that I’m inspired. Over the weekend I found myself collecting smooth rocks from the beach at low tide. When I got back to the beach house, I pulled out some white paint and started painting designs on them. I know I’m not the first to paint on beach rocks (my friend Diana is quite exceptional at it), but it was the first time I’d ever done it myself. And let me tell you, it’s an addictive (and rather inexpensive) hobby!

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I wonder what else I will make while I am here and how it will be influenced by my temporary surroundings? Hopefully I’ll have more to share while I’m here. In the meantime, you can follow me on Instagram.

I hope you will come back to visit tomorrow. I will have a very special post on some incredible new work by Molly Hatch that I am very excited to share with you.

Happy Monday.

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Tip o’ the Day

01/10/14

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This is what it’s all about.

Happy Friday, friends.

CATEGORIES: Drawings | Sketchbook
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Upcoming Talk :: Embrace the Abyss

01/09/14

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I’m excited to announce that I’ll be giving a talk sponsored by the Reno/Tahoe chapter of the AIGA at the Nevada Museum of Art on Wednesday February 26! The talk, entitled Embrace the Abyss and Other Lessons, will explore some of the important things I’ve learned in my journey as an illustrator and surface designer. You can purchase tickets here.

I’m also speaking this year at the TYPO International Design Conference in San Francisco. More on that soon! You can get tickets to TYPO here.

Happy Thursday!

 

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Book by Its Cover Relaunch!

01/07/14

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I am so excited that one of my favorite blogs has relaunched in 2014. Book by Its Cover, the brainchild of illustrator Julia Rothman, is a blog dedicated to bringing attention to the beauty of the printed page and showcasing images and reviews of creative publications. Julia now has a team of writers who contribute to the site for even more rich content and gorgeous imagery, including features on artist sketchbooks (my favorite) and interviews with illustrators and authors. There are also new features on the site including a bookstore, publishers’ directory and event listings.

Happy Tuesday!

 

CATEGORIES: Inspiration
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Words for the Day :: No 12

01/06/14

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Another quote from my upcoming book, which you can pre-order here.

Happy Monday!

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On Having a Clean Slate

01/02/14

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When I saw the drawing above on Instagram this morning (drawn and posted by my talented friend Christopher David Ryan), I realized that the person in the drawing was me. I have been hurriedly trying to finish work and other projects over the past several months so that I could begin January with a clean slate. In fact, I have only one more client project to finish today and then I am taking the rest of the month off. All good and exciting, right? Yes! But I must admit that I am so used to facing my long to-do list and a pile-up of future expectations every morning that I’m feeling something in between fear and mild melancholia about the alternative. I’ve become so used to working and being “busy” that I don’t even know what the opposite feels like. Now that it’s finally here, I wonder what will I do now?

Of course, I’m going to use some of my down time to do things like read and sleep and be otherwise lazy. This alone will require effort, because the voice in my head will be telling me to clean the linen closet or reorganize my portfolio in my down time. What I want most is to dive into my personal art work — the work I make purely for enjoyment and creative exploration, without the distraction of client work or a list of deadlines. I haven’t had the time or luxury of being able to spend hours and hours on personal work in years. And yet I am also frightened by the open-endedness of it all.

I plan to share here on this blog some of what I make and do this coming month. In 2014 I am determined to redefine my relationship to my work (and what work is most important to me) in profound ways, and now — this month of January — is my chance to start.

What now? I’ll keep you posted.

 

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