New work, "Sierra Basin"

Dec 31, 2010

My latest mixed media work is called Sierra Basin.  It's the third piece that I've deconstructed in the last couple of weeks.  You can read more about the process in this post

Scraping away the initial layers of oil paint was a little tedious, but I really liked how it exposed all the different colors I used.

I have one more smaller piece that I'm working on in this manner.  Once I finish it this weekend, my plan is to tackle the large wood panel painting that's been sitting on my easel for months. 

Today, my art is being featured on the art blog, The FlopslumpChris and I connected through Etsy, and it's great to meet another artist who is not only passionate about his own work but the art of others as well.  While you browse his shop on Etsy, you should also check out my latest treasury.  Christmas has passed, but I still have a long wish list! 

Artists I like: Yukari Miyagi

Dec 28, 2010

Line is the most basic element of art, yet it takes an adept artist to render a subject using a few simple lines.  I have always been captivated by the organic line drawings of Picasso and Matisse, so it only seemed natural that I would instantly be enamored by the beautiful art of Yukari Miyagi.  Her child-like illustrations have been featured in numerous international magazines and books, including this one based on the Little Red Riding Hood.

I always find it exciting when art and product design come together.  This classic tote takes on a fresh look with Miyagi's animated lines and colors.  See more of her product collaborations here.

My Week

Dec 24, 2010

finished a mixed media piece,  In the clouds

a work in progress :: embroidered portraits of my nephews and nieces
(tutorial to come next week)

checked out once again the lights on Peacock Lane

this little guy makes me happy
bought at a local scandinavian shop a couple of years ago

yesterday's event :: making gingerbread houses with the girls
(on sushi plates, naturally)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

Wishing you all a joy-filled Christmas with family and friends!

Felt gift bags for any occasion

Dec 22, 2010

Christmas is a few days away, and the wrapping frenzy has just begun at our house.  I normally use kraft paper and twine when wrapping gifts, but odd-shaped items seem to go best in bags.  I decided to make some gift bags this year out of felt scraps leftover from my Christmas tree skirt project.   The felt is made from recycled plastic bottles, and, best of all, the handmade bags are reusable. 

To make your own felt gift bags, you need the following items:

fabric scissors
pinking shears
sewing machine (or you can handstitch)
embroidery floss and needle
bias tape or yarn (optional)


1. Cut out two identical rectangles (the size depends on your gift).  The proportion of length to width should be similar to a brown lunch sack.

2.  With right sides together, sew along all the edges except the top. 

3.  To create a base for the bag, pinch the corners so that the bottom seam touches each side seam. Then run the two corners through the sewing machine, creating new seams perpendicular to the bottom seam.

4.  Turn the bag right side out and trim the top edge with pinking shears.  The basic bag design is now done!

5.  For the button detail, flip down the top edge and cut a slit in the middle of the flap.  The slit should go through both layers of the flap. 

6.  Sew the button(s) onto the bag with embroidery floss.  

7.  Just add embroidered designs to the front of the flap, and the bag is ready to gift!

Another option, especially if you're running short on time, is to skip steps 5 - 7 and tie the felt bag with yarn or bias tape. 

I can see the felt bags being a great project for young crafters.  They will most likely need a little help with the sewing (especially the corners).  And, instead of embroidery, kids could glue felt shapes onto the bag, like hearts for Valentine's Day. 

My art in The Proper

Dec 19, 2010

One of my goals for 2011 is to have my art in local Portland shops.  So, needless to say, I was thrilled when Tatiana Sakurai of The Proper asked me if I wanted to showcase some of my art in their space.  The Proper is a salon/showroom located in Portland's SE industrial district, not too far from where I had my shop.  The space is in a historical building, so there are lots of neat features- wood slat ceiling, brick columns, and vintage exterior tiles.

I have a number of original works and prints currently hanging in the window display of The Proper.  Mixed in with the art is a menagerie of vintage, found, and handmade items, including Tatiana's beautiful jewelry designs.  I featured a pair of her earrings here.  She also started making again these lovely solid perfumes that we used to carry in our shop.  This one is called City of Roses, and I picked one up for my mom for Christmas.  If only the picture was a scratch-n-sniff!

If all of this doesn't entice you to come down to The Proper, then how about a display of crocheted portraits by Portland artist Jo Hamilton?

Uh-mazing.  And you've got to see her crocheted cityscape of Portland here.

My process of reusing wood panels

Dec 18, 2010

A couple of pieces that have been reworked. The painting on the right is still a work in progress.

I don't have a problem with painting over a painting, especially if I'm not emotionally attached to the work anymore.  This week,  I "deconstructed" three of my wood panel works because they had yellowed over time.  The yellowing was not a total surprise; I was forewarned that this could happen if painting medium was used as a final coat on a painting.  You can especially see the yellowing effect in the work shown below.  On the left is what the work looked like when I completed it a year ago.  The photo on the right was taken yesterday.  

I found out that storing the paintings in the dark most likely made the yellowing worse.  Supposedly, extended exposure to sunlight helps bleach the yellowing factor of painting mediums.  Hmm, I will test this out with one other painting that I have.  Fortunately, I only poured painting medium on top of a select number of pieces, so it wasn't a huge loss of my time, creative energy, and resources.

To deconstruct these pieces, I have been using an xacto knife to scrape away the top surface.  When pulling the top layers off of the cathedral painting, I rediscovered a simple line drawing that I had done on the wood panel (shown in right photo above).  It's so common for artists to work over their drawings or paintings that it's easy to forget what lies underneath.

Here's a closer look at my "new" painting, Mist.  After peeling away the top layer, I glued a segment of a drawing to the wood panel.  (It's actually part of the same drawing shown on the other small wood panel.)  There were cuts already made in the paper, and I liked how the textures of the wood showed through those open spaces.  I painted on top of the watercolor and marker drawing with acrylic and ink.  And while the acrylic was still wet, I took the end of my paintbrush to "carve" into the painting and reveal the bright colors underneath. 

I just added it to my Etsy shop, so you can see more pictures of it here.

The intricate art of Gretchen Wagoner

Dec 16, 2010

I have never met a butterfly I didn't like. They are delicate, have amazing wing designs, and they flit.  Earlier this year, I came across artist Gretchen Wagoner's latest series, Butterfly and Knot, and I was instantly charmed.  The mixed media series showcases butterflies amid knotted rope- an allegorical juxtaposition of profound human emotions.  Gretchen states, "having butterflies or knots in your stomach may physically feel similar but evoke completely different emotional connotations."

Many of her Butterfly and Knot works are monochromatic, either white gouache on light paper or graphite on dark paper.  I love this idea of imagery that changes with shifting perspective.  

As I explored Gretchen's website, I discovered her recent collaboration with one of my favorite Portland designers, Gretchen Jones of MothLove (who just won the latest Project Runway competition).  These images are just dreamy! 

Winners of 2011 calendar giveaway

Dec 14, 2010

Thanks to all who participated in the 2011 calendar giveaway.  I just drew names and the lucky winners are Resolute Twig and Kristy Lynn!

My Weekend

Dec 12, 2010

it's getting a bit chilly at night, so i brought out an extra blanket for the bed
i started stitching the quilt by hand in college and finished it my first year of marriage
{i have only handquilted small blankets since then!}

brought home a package of scrap chipboard from the art store and drew these a few hours later

i've been wanting to do something with this beautiful yarn from my swap-a-thon,
then i saw kenzie's lovely yarn wrapped branch at the little winter market

i already had a branch in my house that was perfect for this, 
and i wrapped it last night while visiting with a friend

i think i'll hang it above my work desk and string from it 
a few origami cranes folded by my late grandmother

Sublime retreat in the woods

Dec 11, 2010

I love the city life, but I also long to have a cabin in the woods one day.  A place that is cozy, serene, and away from the din of man- very much like this cabin built by Greg of Clutch Camera.  He recently completed the 200 sq/ft cabin located in the Minnesota wilderness, just 30 miles from Canada. All the wood used for the timber frame cabin was locally sourced, and the exterior siding is reclaimed western red cedar, milled from old telephone poles. 

The cabin doesn't have running water, but there is a lake on the property!  The cabin is also surrounded by maple trees, which Greg describes as "more spectacular than can be written about" when they change color in autumn.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.  
                                                                                                                                           - Henry David Thoreau
Thanks, Greg, for an inspiring story and such beautiful photographs!  To see pictures of the cabin being built, go here.  Greg and his significant other also recently launched a line of handmade housewares crafted from antlers.  Very cool stuff, check it out here.

2011 Mini Calendar Giveaway

Dec 9, 2010

The mini calendars are finally finished- hurrah! Although I encountered some production headaches along the way, I'm so pleased with how they turned out.  I'm thinking they would make great stocking stuffers for my family and gifts for the girls' teachers (shhh).  The mini calendars are currently available for purchase in my Etsy shop.  Just click here

I'm also giving two mini calendars away! If you'd like a chance to win one, just leave a comment below.  I'll randomly choose two names at noon on Tuesday, December 14th.  (I'm willing to ship them anywhere around the world!)

Good luck!

The bane of my week

Dec 8, 2010

I spoke too soon a week ago when I said that the mini calendar project was going smoothly.  It was as if I had jinxed the process with my progress report.  My printer ran out of ink half way through printing, the blade on the paper trimmer became dull, and my sewing machine now needs to be looked at by a repair specialist.  Awesome.

In the photo above, you can see the issues with thread tension I had to deal with.  Nothing like a few "bird  nests" and broken needles to test a sewer's patience.  I ultimately came to the conclusion that the timing was off on my machine.  Fortunately, each of my daughters have a sewing machine (craigslist finds), so I had a backup machine. 

I was determined to use topstitching thread to bind the calendars, but my persistence turned into an afternoon ordeal of rethreading, adjustments, and tinkering with machine parts.  I finally gave up on the thicker thread idea and am using a standard thread weight.

Today I'll finish printing the calendars (I bought more ink) and then trim them at my husband's work.  Fingers crossed, everything will go as planned.  

this morning

On a much more positive note, the I AM ARTIST/DESIGNER show is up and running.  Each participating artist has a profile page, which includes an interview and photos.  Check out my profile page here.
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