On Trying New Things & Learning From Others



{my first official watercolor painting, made in class last night!}

Last night I took my first ever watercolor class with the amazing Emily Proud. I have written about Emily here before both here and here. I originally met Emily because she came to work as my assistant in 2012. And from there we grew into fast friends. Emily has transitioned into full time art-making in the last few months, and as part of her journey as an artist, she’s begun teaching watercolor classes at Makeshift Society in San Francisco. I’ve been itching to take one of her classes since she started teaching them last year, both because I admire Emily and her work and because I have been wanting to integrate watercolor into my work in a more concerted way. So I was really excited about last night’s class.

I had no idea what to expect from the two hour session, but I was hoping to get some concrete tips. Every time I’ve attempted to paint in watercolor before, I’ve been sorely disappointed with the results. The colors weren’t mixing quite the way I wanted, I had too many brush strokes, on and on. I had always assumed watercolor was really similar to gouache (a medium I use all the time). But I learned quickly it acts very differently!

In the matter of two hours, Emily took us through a series of exercises and demonstrations that addressed (without her knowing) almost every frustration I’d previously had with watercolor. It was the best $60 I’ve spent in a long time.

I am one of those artists who loves the idea of trying new things. But, like many people, I am also afraid of “failing” (I put failing in quotes here because, in truth, I really don’t believe there is such a thing as failure in art-making). I am easily frustrated when I try something new and then it looks nothing like what I’d hoped. And so I often give up.

I am realizing more and more that sometimes it pays off to cut to the chase and take a class instead of flailing around aimlessly in my studio or at my coffee table. Let’s face it — how many times have we bought expensive new materials to try out a new technique or medium only to see those items collecting dust months or years later, because we didn’t have the skill or knowledge we needed to put them to good use? Sometimes it works to teach yourself, sure (I have based most of my career on teaching myself new things); but learning from “experts” (even in a short two hour class or online tutorial) speeds up the process and helps cut through so much of the irritation we might experience experimenting with stuff on our own.

Watching Emily paint last night, watching her talk about how she chooses her brushes, watching how she approaches building up her paintings — gave me so much insight about how I might be a more successful user of watercolor paints myself (she’s an excellent teacher). It also made me realize how much more practice I need. But instead of frustrated practice, I now look forward now to informed practice.

As Abigail Adams once wrote: “Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.”

Happy Thursday, friends!


Austin Kleon :: Show Your Work



I can’t say enough good things about Austin Kleon’s latest book, Show Your Work! If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you may remember that a couple of years ago I met Austin when he was in San Francisco and also wrote about his previous book, Steal Like an Artist. I’m a big fan of Austin’s approach to creativity and sharing your talent. I get emails and questions all the time from fellow creatives who are just starting out about how to “get my work out into the world” or how to “promote what I do as a creative person.” I am so happy that I now have Austin’s book to recommend. It’s really fantastic.


Through stories of his own personal experiences — and with great humor and humility — Austin shares 10 big ideas about what he’s learned about sharing & promoting, including:
+share something small every day
+tell good stories
+don’t turn into human spam
+stick around
These are just a few of my personal favorites.

Austin’s book is based on the premise that sharing — and not hiding — your process (how you do what you do & how you think about what you do) is what draws people to you and helps you gain a following that can provide a sense of community and even help you make a living from what you do. This book is great for creatives of all types, from writers to artists and makers of all kinds.

Austin is currently touring around signing books and talking about his ideas, and I highly recommend going to meet him in person if he comes to a location near you — he’s incredibly smart, inspiring and engaging.

Happy Wednesday, friends! You can see a list of all of the places to purchase Austin’s book here.

CATEGORIES: Inspiration

San Francisco Scarf for The Bold Italic



You may remember when I made this new San Francisco print especially for The Bold Italic. Well, they’ve gone and made a gorgeous scarf with the line drawing based on the print, and it’s now for sale in their shop.


It contains many of my favorite iconic San Francisco images, from cable cars to sea lions to pigeons!



Go get yours here.


Interwoven is Back!



You may recall last year I told my readers about Interwoven, an online class taught by my friends Lisa Solomon and Katrina Rodabaugh. Well, Interwoven is back, and it’s better than ever. The class covers four textile-based projects (soft sculpture cloud mobile, crochet, embroidery, and a mini quilt project) over eight weeks. Each section will include a complete step-by-step tutorial to create a finished project. The class also includes exclusive artist interviews, video tutorials, possibilities for altering the techniques, and more. It’s jam packed.

On behalf of Lisa and Katrina, I am offering a special 10% off code SPECIALFRIENDS if you sign up!

Learn more about the class and register here.

Happy Monday!


New Painting :: Constellation



{Constellation, acrylic on masonite panel 5×7 inches}

I am so happy to be spending so much time in my studio preparing for my upcoming show. It feels fantastic to be making some personal work so many days of the week. Here is a piece I finished earlier in the week. It’s called Constellation, and it’s little at just 5×7 inches!

Have a great weekend, friends. “See you” Monday.

CATEGORIES: Exhibitions | Paintings

New Original Painting for Sale!




City, a recent original painting, is now for sale in my shop! You can also buy prints of this painting (and her companion, Country), here.

Have a great Thursday, friends!


Words for the Day :: No. 19



Another piece from my latest book! Check out the book signing events here!

Happy Wednesday.


Pattern of the Week!



I’m attempting to create one new pattern a week between now and May, which, amidst my crazy schedule, is proving to be difficult (I failed miserably wasn’t able to make one last week). But his week I managed to finish this pattern, called “Pearls” shown here in two colorways.

Enjoy & happy Tuesday.

CATEGORIES: Repeat Patterns

New Work :: Ghost Mountain




Friends, above is my latest piece for my upcoming show. It’s called Ghost Mountain, and it’s 12×16 inches, acrylic on masonite panel. Stay tuned for more new work in the upcoming weeks.

And happy Monday!

CATEGORIES: Exhibitions | Paintings

Wendy MacNaughton :: Meanwhile in San Francisco




Those of you who know me know that I am a huge fan of illustrator, Wendy MacNaughton. I am also lucky because Wendy is a close friend and confidant. I met Wendy in early 2011 through our mutual friend Jen Bekman and we became fast pals; Wendy has helped me countless times to navigate the topsy turvy world of art and illustration (and sometimes just my general life). She is a treasure.

I have written about Wendy’s work before many times, most notably when her last book came out. And now Wendy has another book, and this one is really special. It’s Wendy’s first “solo” book (ie: it’s all her) and it’s about the city we both love: San Francisco. To write and illustrate Meanwhile in San Francisco: The City in its Own Words (Chronicle, 2014), Wendy has both been an acute observer of the city’s quirks (and this city has many) and roamed its streets for the last several years talking to locals about their lives here.

The result: a really funny, touching and true to life account of the different communities of people who live here. Wendy has a really fantastic and distinct illustration & hand lettering style (she uses watercolor and ink), and her work perfectly captures the people she talked to and their stories. The book is also sprinkled with great (and super hilarious) spreads highlighting some of the cities legendary places, traditions and peculiarities. Here are some of my favorite spreads from the book:


{A map of the famous Dolores Park, an almost-always-packed green space in the Mission}


{The famous bison that roam the western end of  Golden Gate Park.}


{Mission Hipsters: “Ex-girlfriend is dating other ex-girlfriend”}


{Critical Mass, a last Friday of every month ritual for the bicycling community here}


{Dogs, oh the dogs of SF: You know their names, but not their owners’ names…}

This book isn’t just for San Franciscans — it’s for anyone who loves San Francisco. Its 176 pages (yes, it’s that thick) will delight and entertain you. Thank you for making this book, Wendy. I have no doubt it will someday be a collector’s item. Get the book here or at your local book seller.

Have a great weekend, friends!


Whatever You Are, Be a Good One :: Book Signings!




You may recall that my latest book Whatever You Are, Be a Good One will be released April 1! I’ve got a few book signings scheduled and I hope to see you there. Here’s what I’ve got lined up so far, so mark your calendars!

SAN FRANCISCO: West coast book launch party and signing
Thursday, April 24, 6-8 pm
Rare Device, 600 Divisadero Street, SF

OAKLAND: Book signing and meet ‘n’ greet
Saturday, May 3, 1-2:30 pm
Nathan & Co. 5636 College Avenue, Oakland

NEW YORK: East coast book launch party and signing
Thursday, May 22, 6:30-9 pm
Makeshift Society, 55 Hope Street, Brooklyn

LOS ANGELES: Book signing and print show
Saturday, June 14, 5-8 pm
Poketo, 820 East 3rd Street, Los Angeles

TBD: Portland, OR, July 2014 (stay tuned for more info!)

As I schedule additional signings I’ll keep you posted! If you are registered for Craftcation Conference in April, I will be signing books there as well.

Have a happy Thursday.


Of History & Hope :: Flower Pepper Gallery




I am so excited to be participating in the Of History and Hope show at Flower Pepper Gallery in Pasadena, CA. Of History and Hope is inspired by & benefits Lions, Tigers, and Bears, a big cat and exotic animal rescue (currently home to Meatball the bear, who you may recall visited several backyard pools in Glendale).

You can see the painting I made for the show above. It is entitled, Bear with Me, and is 8x10x1.5 inches, acrylic and ink on masonite panel. It will be available for sale when the show opens April 5.

The full list of artists in the show includes: Paul Barnes, Jaesun Kim, Cory Benhatzel, Stephan Holman, David Natale, Christopher Umana, Jeannie L. Paske, Halsey Swain, Ron Pete, Angie Jones, Junhee Sim, Marissa Quinn, Raymond Sanchez, Robert Yancy, Leila Ataya, Lauren Marx, Walt Hall, Joanne Nam, Desiree Fessler, Craww, Nicole Bruckman,  Roland Tamayo, Susanne Apgar, Luciano Martinez, Edward Cao, Mariam Keurjikian, Tory Lin, Corrie Gregory, Jon Lau, Paige Moon, Yejin Oh, Kowoon Jung, Lisa Congdon, Graham Curran, Amanda Marsh, Kisung Koh, Blake Aaseby, N.S. David, Jenna Gibson, Samir Evol, Ania Tomicka, Jaclyn Alderete, Junyi Wu, Jeff McMillan, Simon Kangiser, Tiffany Liu, Erich Moffitt, Heather Gross, Jose Carabes, and Erik Flores.

Have a great Wednesday, friends!


Artist Reception :: Save the Date!



{new work: Map of My Brain, No. 1}

You may recall that in January I announced that I was having a solo show at Marion & Rose’s Workshop. I’m happy to announce that the official artist reception will happen Saturday, May 10 from 6-9 pm 4-7 pm (note time change!). Local Bay Area folks, I hope to see you there! If you can’t make it on the 10th, there will also be an opening on Friday, May 2, for Oakland Art Murmur, in the evening.

The show will include new abstract works, including the new piece above and many more. I’ll keep you updated on my offerings.

Save the date: May 10, 4-7 pm.

Have a happy Tuesday!

CATEGORIES: Exhibitions | Paintings

New Blog Design!




Friends, I am so excited to share with you my new blog design! This latest iteration of my blog was created by the amazing Sara Jensen. I have known Sara for a few years and was really excited to collaborate with her. She used my work, including my hand lettering and pattern design, to create a new blog that feels just like me. Thank you, Sara! You were a dream to work with. And also a special thank you to Sara’s husband Thor, who is also brilliant & did all the back-end stuff. These two are the best.

Have a happy Monday, friends!


Professional Illustration Class in SF :: June 4




Friends, I am teaching a professional practice class on being an illustrator –including information on the life & work of the freelance illustrator, different illustration markets, and tips on how to successfully promote your work to garner consistent, fun, paying illustration & licensing work. This particular class is in San Francisco on June 4 from 6:30-9 pm, but I am also planning to teach one in New York City in May, so stay tuned for an announcement on that. You can learn more and register for the San Francisco class here. The class will not be taped or live streamed (we are not set up to do that), so attendance at the class is necessary to participate.

Space is limited, so sign up early!

Have a great weekend, everyone!!