Urban street art right up my alley

Jun 28, 2010

I like art that is clever.  On a recent trip to Powell's Books, I was highly amused by the miniature art in Slinkachu's book Little People in the City.  Slinkachu takes little figurines and creates scenes in the urban enviroment that are humorous and thought-provoking. 

His tiny installations have been in a number of European cities including London, Amsterdam, and Barcelona.  After photographing the models, Slinkachu leaves the installations on the streets for others to discover.

Slinkachu's urban art reminds me of another artist's work.  German artist Jan Vormann fills small gaps in walls with Legos, one of my favorite toys.  His work was spotted in New York City just a few months ago.  Other cities he has "repaired" include Tel Aviv,  St. Petersburg, and Quito.  A visual documentation of his Lego constructions can be found here

My Week

Jun 26, 2010

scenic drive to crater lake, oregon
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the deepest lake in the u.s. proved to be a wondrous sight indeed

stairs in the historic crater lake lodge
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me, snapped by my 7 year-old

central valley, california

yosemite, the park that ansel adams loved
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mirror lake

my new drawing

Michelle Ramin's art auction

Jun 25, 2010

Portland artist Michelle Ramin just sent me an email announcing an art auction extravaganza.  Michelle is headed to San Francisco Art Institute this summer for grad school, and she needs our help getting there!  To help pay for tuition and living expenses, Michelle is auctioning off one original work a day for the next four weeks.  Some of the pieces up for bidding include the works shown in this post.  To view the complete gallery of works for auction, go here

I'm a huge fan of Michelle's art (read my interview with her). I attended the opening of her show in March where her mixed media portraits of friends and family were featured.  Below is one of her latest portraiture works.  I absolutely love the patterns and colors in this piece! On July 24, Michelle will be auctioning this art work, along with other larger pieces, at FalseFront in Portland.  If you're in the area, come by and show your support.  There's even talk of homemade ice cream! 

I've got mail

Jun 23, 2010

I received handmade cards from two of my readers this past week- one from overseas! I was so encouraged, not only by the kind words inside, but by the lovely art as well. 

Embroidering my art

Jun 20, 2010

I needed some twill tape earlier this week, so my daughters and I took a trip to the fabric store.  As I was getting 8 yards of twill tape measured, my youngest daughter was checking out the array of embroidery floss nearby. I could see her softly touching some of the brightly colored thread as if to say "I would choose this one."  So, after my twill tape was cut, I asked her if she wanted to help me pick out a few colors.  That few quickly became a dozen. 

In recent months, I have had an urge to use embroidery thread in my work, especially after seeing the works of this artist.  My embroidery floss stayed packed away until I printed out this design on fabric a few days ago.  

The design is based on my drawing "Pods."  I liked how the center of the design turned out and thought that a monogram would fit nicely in the space.  Instead of a person's initials, I decided to use "PDX," which is another name for Portland.  After cross stitching the letters, I accented some of the details in the work, which totaled over six hours of work. (I'm sure an expert embroiderer could've completed the task in a third of the time!)  I still have a few more hours of embroidery ahead of me to finish the piece, but I anticipate that the most challenging part of this project will be the framing.  The finished work will measure 8" x 8", and I'm thinking that I would like to make a frame for it.  Hmm, did I just say that?

Fabric tape now in shop

Jun 19, 2010

I'm having so much fun with this fabric tape idea.  Yesterday, I just bought a gizmo off of Craigslist that can put adhesive on the back of my printed fabrics, and it can take sheets up to 9" wide!  So now I'm able to create larger pieces of fabric tape. This gives some versatility to how the fabric tape can be used.  In addition to decorating gift boxes and letters, you can use it to create custom bookmarks.  Just place a strip of the tape on cardstock and trim the top and bottom edge with pinking shears.  If you can think of other ideas, I'd love to hear them!

I am currently selling the fabric tape in my Etsy shop.   I can only make a few at a time, though, since I prepare and print the fabric in my home studio.  So, there may be a wait until the next batch is complete. 

Just so that you know, I will also be closing my Etsy shop for a couple of weeks starting Tuesday.  I'll be going on a road trip.  One of my stops will be Sisters, Oregon.  I'm sharing a booth with a dear friend of mine at the Sisters Summer Faire.  If you happen to be in the area on Saturday, July 3, please stop by and say hello!

making your own fabric tape

Jun 17, 2010

I was thrilled to discover last week a wonderful new blog called Annekata.  The first post I read was a tutorial on how to make your own fabric tape, and I knew that was the first thing I wanted to do with my printed fabric.

The steps are quite simple.  (And I'm sure you could even improvise with double-sided tape, but I wanted to create a more permanent bond between the fabric and tape.)

I bought some packaging tape and laid a strip of it on some wax paper.  Since the tape had some gloss on the non-sticky side, I used sand paper to prepare the surface for glue.  (If you skip this step, you'll find that the fabric will just peel right off of the tape.  Believe me, I tried it!)

I applied some Tacky Glue on the tape (the bottle comes with a handy brush), and then laid a strip of fabric onto the tape. 

I smoothed out the fabric with my fingers.

Once the glue dried, I used a rotary cutter to cut out the fabric tape and presto!  My very own custom fabric tape.

Printing your own designs on fabric

Jun 16, 2010

Lately, I've been determined to print my own designs on fabric.  After browsing some diy blogs, I finally ran a test run yesterday on my pigment inkjet printer.  It was surprisingly easy and so much fun! The bulk of the work is actually designing the fabric. I didn't want to spend too much time on a new design before seeing the print quality, so I used one of my drawings from this year as the basis of my fabric design.

I formatted the design to fill an 8.5" x 11" space.  Then I gathered some basic supplies to prep the fabric for printing. 

I used two different types of fabric.  One was a muslin and the other a cotton canvas.  I also experimented with using different backings for the fabric while printing, since fabric alone doesn't have the rigidity to run through a printer.  For the first test run, I ironed the muslin onto freezer paper cut to the same size (shiny side to the fabric).  With the cotton canvas, I decided to use cardstock as a backing.  I didn't adhere the fabric to the cardstock.  I just held the two pieces together as they were being fed into the printer.

Both fabrics and backings seemed to work fine in the printer.  I had to refeed the fabric several times, but eventually it took.

The print quality is not as vibrant as the original design (as expected), but the details on the printed fabric were impressive! And I didn't waste any time in using the new printed fabric.  See what I made in tomorrow's post!

Tahoe's heavenly light

Jun 14, 2010

The way the sun falls on Lake Tahoe is as breathtaking as the altitude.  Located a mile above sea level, Tahoe's alpine terrain lends itself to wondrous treks and picturesque photos.  These are just a few from my weekend getaway. 

a table set at Vikingsholm, a 1929 "summer home" mansion on Lake Tahoe's Emerald Bay
the house- inside and out- is modeled after early Scandinavian design

dancing aspen trees

a bride and groom exchanging vows in the evening sun

My Week

Jun 11, 2010

i love the late afternoon light this time of year
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 mystery lettuce that I planted early this spring/ it's spicy and has become my new favorite addition to our dinner greens

above the clouds
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the Reno Airport at 6:30 in the evening

beautiful drive to Lake Tahoe

breakfast at Red Hut Waffle Shop, Tahoe
serious whip cream on the strawberry waffle

working with oil pastels
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sketching in bed

How to hang art

Jun 9, 2010

Most folks are intimidated by the idea of hanging art on their walls.  How high should it go?  Does it look good with the rest of the decor?  What kind of nail should I use? Today, I thought I would take the mystery out of hanging art by giving a few helpful tips.

First, let's start with the materials.  The materials that you need depend on the artwork that you're hanging.  Most of the time, I use a hammer and a hook and nail (shown in the bottom of the right photo).  If the work is heavier than 20 pounds, then I would consider using a drill and anchoring the screw in the drywall.

There are kits that you can pick up in the hardware section of a general store that give you a selection of hooks.  I like this particular kit because it includes hardware for unframed artwork and for walls.  The wire and eye hooks, for example, are for canvases.  I use the the sawtooth hooks (shown in the closet compartment) for my smaller canvas paintings and birch panel works.

If you need to attach a hook to the back of an artwork or frame, all you need to do is find the center of the top interior edge and nail the hook into place.

On all artwork I place on my walls, I add these slip resistant pads on the bottom corners.  To keep works from tilting on the walls, I've also used putty on the corners.

Now you're ready to hang art! The two biggest mistakes I see people making when hanging art is 1) hanging the work too high, and 2) leaving too much wall space around the art.  To hang art like a pro, just place art at eye level and group works together.  A measuring tape and a level may be necessary, but a lot of times I just "eye" it.  If this still makes you a little nervous, then you can trace the artwork onto craft paper and play around with placement on the wall with the craft paper.  Make sure that you look at the arrangement sitting down as well as standing up.

As far as picking art that looks good together, it really depends on your taste.  I tend to prefer a variety of mediums with a visual harmony in color or theme.  I also find it more interesting when the works are not framed alike.

Have fun with it, and remember, art can always be moved around.  If you don't have enough pieces to fill one wall,  consider hanging the pieces on a smaller wall.  The small collection shown above is on a narrow wall in my livingroom.    

For tips on how to frame art, go this post.  

Artist Interview: Illustrator and collage artist Anna Betts

Jun 7, 2010

You know when you come across something fantastic and have that internal gasp? That happened to me when I saw Anna Betts' collages and illustrations on her blog Colour + Sound.  Anna is currently pursuing an illustration degree at the Cambridge School of Art.  And in her spare time, she teaches pottery to kids and scouts for great vintage finds. 

How would you describe your work?

Bright and colorful and quite graphic I suppose. I've never really liked the term "graphic" as it always implied something of the corporate logo, or comic book but it's something I've got over lately. I really believe in a strong sense of design within my illustration and I think white space is really important. I love color and type and am finally starting to enjoy drawing people!

What artist tool/material should every artist know about?

A sharp scalpel. I know this is nothing earth-shatteringly exciting but it's the most versatile tool I use. You can't beat a good cutting-out session and with a new blade, cutting through freshly painted cartridge paper is the most satisfying thing. And of course Photoshop. I don't think you can get by without a firm grasp on those reins.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

Starting my degree. It was a huge decision for me going back to education after 4 years of working in the real world. I'd decided to get my BA as I was considering teaching and couldn't do without it any longer, but it's become so much more than that. I now don't know if  I will pursue a teaching career after all as I've come to enjoy making my own work so much. Quitting two jobs and realizing that for the next three years I'd be living off borrowed money was really daunting, but it's the best decision I've ever made. Seeing two of my animations on the big screen at the arts cinema in Cambridge last week was a good moment.

Anna's flat: her first quilt, vintage wares in her cupboard, and homemade truffles.

What are the greatest challenges of being an artist today?

I think one big challenge today is using the internet effectively. Having an online presence is so important to me, not just for bouncing ideas around but for potential income and making a name for myself.  But maintaining your own style when you're bombarded with amazing bloggers, Etsy sellers and Flickr users can be hard. It's easy to feel like you should fit in with current styles and that's why I tend not to follow many illustration-based blogs. For me, being inspired by real observation is what keeps work exciting.

Anna's Etsy shop is full of fun and beautiful works.

If you were to curate an art show, who would be in it?

Ooh, tough question. There are lots of people on my course whose work I love, and exhibiting the results of a week's drawing in Portugal last year was really special. I think these people are great:
Dominic McKenzie , Nikki Gardham, and Andrew Hudson.

And then from the wider world you'd have to look at my Flickr favorites I think. I certainly can't decide! I love Mia Christopher's work and there are lots of amazing illustrators from Spain on Flickr. One day I'd love to curate an exhibition based on the influence of vintage objects. It would require each participating artist to find an inspiring item and make one piece of work relating or reacting to it. The exhibition would combine the original objects and resulting art. I think it would be interesting.

What has been your favorite vintage find?

There are loads, I'm a total hoarder! Yesterday, a sturdy 1960s slide projector. Before that, the blue anglepoise lamp on my desk, the turquoise Poole plates I have lunch on when I work at home, my collection of wooden letterpress blocks, a huge turquoise vintage pyrex mixing bowl, my collection of lidded sugar bowls. The list goes on...

What is your ultimate art fantasy?

Crumbs. I don't know the short answer! I would love to continue working creatively and to make a living from it, but doesn't everybody? More specifically than that I'm pretty open. I think my work would lend itself to children's books and being published would be incredible. Besides that I've thought about what it would be like to design for Paperchase or Habitat making beautiful homewares and stationery, and would love the chance to do some editorial work for newspapers too. I still feel like the world is my oyster. This time next year when I graduate, I'll let you know my decision!

You can see more of Anna's art on her Flickr or Etsy shop.  And, right now, Anna is running a giveaway on her blog!  The lucky winner will get this handpainted milk jug and happy face brooch.

This week's new works

Jun 4, 2010

It's been raining a lot in Portland, and I think everyone here is in a funk because of it.  For days, I stared at my art desk and felt so uninspired.  I eventually kicked my rear into gear and started working on some art. 

For the past few weeks, I've been reworking some of my older pieces.  Forecast is a black and white monoprint that I decided to add some color to.  There is a lot going on in the background, so I wanted to keep the new elements simple, while creating another layer of interest.

The title Forecast has a double meaning.  The sporadic white dots in the work look like raindrops on a window, which gives the work its weather reference.  The second meaning refers to the unstable economic state and the hope for a more positive outlook in the near future. The weather and the financial market can be both very volatile and therefore, devastating to many communities.  I added little homes to the work to represent the many individuals impacted by such crisis.

The second piece I completed this week is called Coral Bells, which are one of my favorite flowers. They remind me of my grandfather who kept an immaculate garden.  Last year, I took some starts from his garden and planted them in my own garden. 

Like Forecast, Coral Bells is a reworked monoprint.  I painted images of coral bells using watercolor and added some patterning to the background with ink.  Both the works measure 9" x 12".

An unexpected project were these two illustrations I drew yesterday.

I would love to write and illustrate a children's book one day, and I believe these drawings manifested from that desire.
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