When artists join forces

Nov 29, 2010

I love it when artists mesh minds and styles on collaborative projects.  The results are always so exciting and fresh.  It's like eating an assortment of jelly beans.  The different and unpredictable blend of flavors can produce such a delightful mix.  In recent months, I've come across a number of artist collaborations.  Below are just a few of my findings.   

Tom Moglu and Julie Dru

Julie Dru and Cendrine Rovini

Kozue Schwartz and Mia Christopher

Mia Christopher and Ryan De La Hoz

Last summer, a few of my favorite Portland artists created 53(!) collaborative works for a show at the Together Gallery.  The participating artists were Jill Bliss, Yellena James, Betsy Walton, and Apak (Aaron and Ayumi Piland).  Can you point out all the different artist styles in each piece?

You never promised me a rose garden

Nov 26, 2010

You never promised me a rose garden is my latest embroidery project.  It's still a work in progress.  I just finished the design this week and printed a test run a few days ago.  My plan is to make a limited edition of five, but a lot of this will depend on how detailed I go with the embroidery work.  I actual like how the design looks right now, so I may just embroider the title in the middle and some accent features.   

The new design is nearly twice as big as my previous embroidery works.  Since it's long in shape, I was thinking that the finished pieces would look nice as wall hangings. Once I complete the embroidery part, I'll back each work with muslin and create sleeves at the ends for dowels. 

. . . easier said than done, I realize.

ART SALE- my Etsy shop turns one!

Nov 24, 2010

Away is the newest addition to my Esty shop.  

My Etsy shop turns one today, so I'm throwing an art sale!  Everything in the shop is 25% off, including all original art.  All you have to do is enter GOBBLE25 at checkout.  (Sale runs through this Sunday.)  Click here to start shopping.

With every purchase, I'll also throw in some handpainted magnets

Thanks for all of your support the last year and for all of the Etsy hearts!  It's been an incredible journey, and I look forward to year two of making and selling my art.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Helping kids draw animals

Nov 23, 2010

As a child, I loved Ed Emberley's drawing books.  His easy-to-follow drawings of chipper animals have made millions of kids feel like artists.  Our girls have one of his classic books called Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Animals.  My 7 year-old daughter was going through the book the other day and drew some characters, including this lion. 

Emberley's approach to drawing is quite simple.  If you know how to draw different lines and basic shapes, then you can learn how to draw all sorts of things.  This is the foundation of any beginning drawing class, really.

Emberley's drawing books are wonderful for young learners (and parents!), but having been an art teacher for many years, I also know that students as young as 5 and 6 years of age can be challenged with more advanced drawing techniques.  Once my daughter finished some sketches from the first book, I handed her Illustrating Nature: How to Paint and Draw Plants and Animals

I found this book last year, and I was so excited to find another great drawing book.  If you have ever shopped for books on drawing, then you are fully aware of the lack of good instructional drawing books out there.  When I taught high school art, I used to have an in-class library of art books for students to check out, and I was always looking for more drawing books.  I wish that I had found this book by Dorothea and Sy Barlowe when I was teaching. The 100+ page book is chock full of drawing tips and information on plant and animal life. 

Here are a couple of pages from the book.  On the left are some illustrations showing animals in action, which is a wonderful resource for beginning and advanced artists.  The page on the right walks through some techniques on how to render fur textures. 

When I handed the book to my daughter, I told her to flip through the pages and find an animal drawing that she would want to replicate.  When using a picture as a drawing resource, many kids make the mistake of choosing a subject that lacks detail.  They figure that the lack of details would make their drawing experience easier, when in actuality, it makes it a lot more difficult.  My daughter came upon a peacock picture, and I told her that that would be perfect to draw- so much texture, contrast, and interesting lines.  About 20 minutes later, this is what she drew. . .

It actually helps when a child isn't as familiar with the subject she is drawing because it forces her to look at the details of the subject.   If the subject had been a cat, for example, the drawing would not have been as detailed. 

Again, I'm always on the lookout for great drawing books, for my kids and myself.  Do you have any favorites?

My Week

Nov 20, 2010

twentieth century pattern design, my latest bedside book
this 200+ page book is a survey of textile and wallpaper designs from the last century
lots of great information and images for the pattern enthusiast

a trip to the portland art museum with the kiddos
the youngest took her sketchbook along; there were actually a number of people sketching that day

a beautiful day at pacific city, oregon
took a walk on the beach and found a heart-shaped rock

what i’m working on today

When drawing on walls with permanent marker is okay

Nov 16, 2010

I love these installations by German artist Heike Weber.  Equipped with only a permanent marker, Heike creates a sea of flowing lines on walls and floors of hotels, galleries, and historical buildings.

Heike also creates amazing kilim rug designs using only silicone.  See her latest installation works here.

Three new works

Nov 12, 2010

Remember this box of aged note cards I found at an estate sale a couple months back?  I thought they would make perfect little envelopes for my new magnets.  Then I actually tried folding one into an envelope and discovered that the paper was just too brittle.  Bummer.

I was determined to use the note cards in some way, so I glued a few to birch panels and made these:

The index cards catalog different plant types, which I thought was fitting for my nature-themed art.  I like the fact that some of the cards are typed and others are handwritten.  Based on the classic handwriting and the yellowing of the paper, my guess is that these cards are at least 50 years old.

The top piece is called the way home.  Some of the details of the work remind me of a topographical map, and the red trees are in a path-like formation.  The second work, first snow, features similar design elements, however, the yellow shapes are not trees but floating dandelion petals.  They are mixed in with tiny white dots representing a delicate sprinkling of snow. 

I also finished a third work, which is a new print in my Etsy shop.  It's called Wonderland.

I must have been in a really happy mood when drawing this.  Rainbows, hearts, and roses- so cheery!  And I couldn't find a yellow marker that was bright enough, so I used a neon yellow highlighter!

Too many ideas

Nov 10, 2010

I can barely keep track of all the different projects I've started- or at least want to start.   Here's a look at the latest.

That's right, those are vintage Bingo markers, and a bag of them was delivered to my door this  morning.  When I saw them in an Etsy shop three days ago, a light bulb went off in my head.  I figured the blank wood markers would make great magnets.  I try to add a little something to all my Etsy orders, so I was thinking a few of these with every purchase might be nice. 

Seeing that I like to paint on wood, I've been wanting to do something with this guy. 

I found this wood whale in a Goodwill store at the Oregon coast. It has a beautiful contour, and I love how minimal it is.  The only markings are the carved words "Middleton, Canada" on the bottom of the piece.  I'm assuming this is where the whale was made. 

I haven't sketched out anything yet, but I'm thinking of painting waves along the bottom edge and different patterns on the tail.  I also want to create some kind of design at the top of the whale where the blowhole would be.

. . . now to just add a few more hours to my day.

Nov 8, 2010

A few days ago, I got back film that ran through this camera.  My daughter, who's running up the grassy knoll, took this picture of me.  I needed a photo of myself for the I AM artist exhibition, so I called upon the most talented 7 year-old photographer that I know (not that I know any others).

. . . and no, that house in the first picture isn't mine.  I only wish.

This Weekend: Little Winter Handmade Market

Nov 6, 2010

what :: beautiful art, handcrafted clothes and accessories, plus lovely paper goods
when :: thru sunday 5p
where :: the cleaners, downtown Portland

 darling wooden house ornaments from my house party

MossiƩre, a new botanical-themed collection by Alyson Graves Brown
my favorite necklace by Sulu
a lovely yarn wrapped branch at Secret Pocket's table

the talented amanda blake- and i loved her outfit today

for the latest on little winter market, go here

Framed embroidery and drawing now available in my Etsy shop

Nov 5, 2010

PDX: Home Sweet Home

It feels great to have my first embroidery works finished and framed- a project that started several months ago.  The whole process was a new experience for me, so a lot time was spent problem-solving.   The most challenging part of the process was actually the framing.  I didn't really think through this part when working on the pieces.  I learned it would have been much easier if I had designed the fabric pieces to fit ready-made canvas frames versus designing custom frames to fit the works.  At least I found a great wood shop connection (just a few blocks away!), and the materials used for both of the outer frames was reclaimed wood.  The frame for PDX is reclaimed white oak, and the frame for Opus is reclaimed mahogany. 

Altogether I spent over 60 hours on the two embroidery works.  It seems like a lot of time for two small art pieces, but I'm quite pleased with how they turned out and look forward to starting the next one.  I'm thinking about going bigger this time, maybe a 10" x 15" piece.  (The two current works are around 9" x 9".) 

Another work that I had framed was this drawing called Sky + Forest.  I really like the minimal look of the frame; it doesn't take away from the art work.  I also like the fact that you can hang the art piece on a wall or have it sit on a shelf.

I attached wire to the new framed works, so they are all ready to hang.  The two pieces shown here are currently available in my Etsy shop.

I am in the I AM show

Nov 4, 2010

I'm thrilled to be one of the participating artists in the launch of the I AM show.  I AM, which is an online exhibition and a physical gallery in Austria, is the brainchild of artist Mareike Auer.  A couple of months ago, Mareike invited me to be part of the first exhibition, and I've been busy ever since working on some pieces for the show.  There are a total of seven works that I will be shipping off to Austria, including this embroidery piece, Opus, that I finally finished.

Here's a look at the other six works.

Daydream, arctic explorer, Eclipse

Inspired, Pods, Seasons

There are a total of 23 artists participating in the December show, including Ana Raimundo, Jessica BellCendrine Rovini, and fellow Portland artist, Lisa Golightly.  For a peek of some of the fabulous art in the I AM show, go here.  

Inspired by Kandinsky

Nov 3, 2010

If you're ever in Powell's Books in downtown Portland, you may find me perusing books in the bountiful art section.  Last year, I found this wonderful 1979 book on Russian-born artist Wassily Kandinsky (1866 - 1944).  Recognized as the father of abstract art, Kandinsky's works have inspired artists and admirers for the past 100 years.  Kandinsky has been a favorite artist of mine since I surveyed his works in an art history class 20 years ago.

I have always been a fan of this particular watercolor and ink painting, which art historians identify as being the first nonobjective art work.  Kandinsky painted this piece in 1910, yet it still maintains such a contemporary impression.  I truly love all the loose line strokes and the impulsive placement of vibrant, pure colors.  My work tends to be very structured, so I find this work to be so freeing.

I rarely "doodle" in my sketchbook, and I realized recently that I needed to allow myself to play around more with color and line. So, I started working on some pieces that were less representational and more spontaneous in design.

I like how this sketch turned out. It eventually became a study for a new piece called Daydream.

Daydream is a compilation of design elements that I've been using in my art the past year.  So, when looking at the work, it's like looking at memory bits.

Daydream is one of the pieces that will be part of next month's art show, which I will write more about tomorrow.

Coming up for air

Nov 2, 2010

October was quite the busy month regarding my photography and art.  And, on top of all that, I battled an ugly cold for a few weeks.  As of yesterday, things seem to be calming down a bit, and I finally feel more like myself again. 

For the past few weeks, I have been working on some original pieces for an art show that I am part of next month (more on this in a couple of days).  I was finally able to finish and frame my second embroidery piece which will be in the show.  Since I have several new works to reveal- some for the show and some for my Esty shop- I thought I'd spend the next few days talking about the individual pieces and my creative experience.

The latest addition to my Esty shop is called Autumn.  I tend to be hyper-detailed when working in pen and marker, so I wanted to create a piece that was more minimal in design.  As I began drawing the wave design of the river, asian art and patterns came to mind.  Some of my favorite asian works are traditional brush landscape paintings.  I love the use of empty space and repeating elements in these paintings, and you can see in some of my pieces how I draw on these key features for inspiration. 

Check back tomorrow to find out whose art work has inspired me for 20 years.  

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