February 29, 2008

Illustration Friday: Leap

This was a cover illustration I did a couple years ago for a children's scrapbook. Happy Leap Day, everyone!

February 28, 2008

Yes, you can buy a little inspiration

When I was in high school I hung out with the art and music weirdos (surprise, surprise). My best friend dubbed us his "Muffins". Oh yes, we were even assigned a different muffin flavor in accordance to what he thought matched our personalities. (It's stuck to this day.) When we weren't at school or working at our mall jobs, we spent our free time playing. We'd drive out to the middle of nowhere to listen to a massive quantity of peepers chirping and watch the fireflies. We'd fly kites and swing in playgrounds. We'd hit 7-11 for Slurpees and candy cigarettes. If for some reason, we had to stay in, we'd paint silly pictures together or make elaborate mix tapes for our other friends. These tapes included comedy sketches performed by us and were usually elaborately packaged. We'd dance in the living room while one of my friends played the piano.

These days we've all grown up, have degrees and "real jobs", moved away, some of us have gotten married, and one of us just had a baby (our first mini-muffin! Congratulations, Blueberry!). The point being that the playing has stopped. We all take our art pretty seriously these days. Every painting is geared with thoughts towards the portfolio, every song could be the next piece on an album or musical try-out. It's too bad, because even as adults I think sometimes we still need to play. Especially when you are in an artistic slump.

A few years ago, my job was right off an adorable New England Main Street. There were all kinds of cute little shops that I'd stroll into on my lunch break. On a trip to my favorite one, I stumbled on a book by Keri Smith called "Living Out Loud: Activities to Fuel a Creative Life." I was psyched. First of all, Keri Smith (like me) is an illustrator. Second, look how completely adorable her work is:

The book was a breath of fresh air. It felt like a throwback to my high school days of playful creativity. It's full of little games and ideas to get you to relax, create, and most of all have fun while doing it. Of course I bought it immediately:

There are little activities you can tear and cut directly out of the book. There are stickers in the middle and tear-out postcards in the back. She'd officially won me over. One of her ideas that I did was "Permission Cards". She included a perforated page with different ideas on them. You tear them out, put them in a jar or bowl (my jar of choice was an old Lindt chocolate jar with a big lime green ribbon in it). You say to yourself "I give myself permission to..." reach in, and pull out a little card. They say things like "dance", "create", "dream" etc.

It's a little silly, but that's totally the point. I've got a few days left on my va-k. I think that once my studio is clean, I'm going to kick back, re-read this book, and rediscover my love for creative play once again.
What do you guys do to get the creative juices flowing?

February 26, 2008

Procrastination Station

I've been thinking about intentionally neglecting my online shop(s) for a little while. For some time, I got super-obsessed with updating and maintaining it, and all that diligence did for me was snag one very tiny sale. It's just not worth it. Not until my HGTV show airs, anyway. Frankly, I'm starting to think the real reason I have a shop at all is for the art community...because I'm certainly not making any money. I've taken all the advice there is regarding promotions and shop updates, but I'm still not making regular sales. (Sorry, Etsy. I love you, but what have you done for me lately?) I do better with commissions.

And besides, I have a few other projects that got pushed to the side ages ago that could use some TLC. The area behind my drafting desk looks like The Isle of Lost Art. One of the "lost" is a painting I was working on as a gift for my dad...for Father's Day. Last summer. Yikes. It's a tribute to my paternal grandparents. I had this grand idea to have a base painting of their 50th anniversary photo, and then paint their wedding portrait on glass over it:

There were also some Edith Piaf lyrics involved, but that's beside the point. The point is that it was never finished. It's going to be even harder to finish it now, too. Though my grandfather passed away when I was 19, my grandmother just passed away while I was in the middle of doing the painting. Guess I gotta just get to it...maybe with a box of Kleenex on hand.

Needless to say, when left to my own devices, I NEVER finish ANYTHING. I think this is why I went into illustration. This is why I need to be an illustrator. You get a client. That client gives you a deadline that you need to meet otherwise you don't get paid. Deadlines do a lot for me. I can meet a deadline, even if doing so nearly kills me. I'm good at meeting deadlines. If I invent my own project, there's no deadline. Which means I can keep working (or not) on something until the end of time. Which usually means it gets abandoned half-finished. By the time I get back around to it, the idea is so old that I've lost inspiration.

Also, my studio is a hot MESS. I would post a picture to prove it, but it's simply so shameful that I need an "after" picture to redeem the "before". Since I haven't cleaned yet there will be no pics today, folks. It's probably just as well. I'm going to make an attempt at some sort of organization and cleaning in here this afternoon. I know the hubby wishes the fridge was my priority, but I've got to organize my studio first...for my own sanity. Sorry honey. Wish me luck!

February 25, 2008

I'm still alive!

I've momentarily crawled out of my week-long haze of illness to let you know I've been featured on 2 blogs. One is The Art of Craft, the blog for Q Branch Ltd., and the other is the blog on the MySpace page for the same folks. They were nice enough to post a little interview they did with me, and link to my online shop.

Q Branch Ltd. is a husband and wife duo and are Etsy sellers themselves. They sell a variety of gifts, from delicate hand-crafted wood pendants to tiny character bears, and even some folk art. My favorites are the wooden jewelry created by hand, like this "Circle of Love" pendant necklace. Q Branch Ltd. have listed their location as Long Island, but I still can't help but get a lovely rural folksy feeling from their shop. I'm a New England girl, so I keep imagining autumn day-trips to Vermont's little mom-and-pop shops. Even if NYC is a stone's throw away from them (and they are, in reality, "Big City" folk) I think I'll just continue to imagine there are horses out back. Go check 'em out:

February 21, 2008


Apparently some people actually do read this thing, because it's been noted that I haven't blogged for a week. Sorry guys, but I've been down for the count. My hubby became really sick this weekend and even stayed home from work on Monday. I followed on his heels by about two days, and yeseterday stayed home from work too. I had a 101-degree fever, and couldn't even pick myself out of bed. I certainly couldn't sit up long enough to log onto my computer. I spent the entire day lying down with a pile of blankets on top of me. All I did was watch junk TV with a box of tissues, a bag of Ricolas, and loads of fluids on hand. My main meals consisted of soup. (Which, apparently, is the Magic Anti-Flu Food according to this study.)
I'm still not feeling 100% today, but I did manage to crawl into work. (Hey, the body aches are pretty much gone. That alone was a reason to celebrate!) I'm sort of thinking maybe I should've taken a second day off, since my coworkers seem to be concerned that I'm Typhoid Mary. I work for the school district, and February vacation is next week. All I've heard all day is, "Don't give it to me!" No one wants to have this flu/cold combo for their cruise or trip to Mexico. My plans are nowhere near as exotic. I have no extra money to speak of, so I'm just driving 2 hours to visit a friend. But hell, even I don't want to be sick by then!
At least it's almost the end of the week. Hopefully, I'll be back to my artsy self in no time. I'm going to be featured in a blog this weekend, so I'll even have something to talk about. That is, besides me being sick. *Cough, cough*

February 12, 2008

Valentine's Day Contest!!!

For once I'm actually going to promote someone other than myself or an Etsy artist. This person isn't even in the visual arts field. *Gasp!* It's a post about a musician who is hosting a contest. The prize is your very own personalized song!

My friend, Ryan Love (yes, that's his real name) is a very talented pianist and singer/songwriter. His style is pretty unique - I wouldn't dare try to stick him into one category. The best description I can give is that he effortlessly flows between alternative/indie and electronic genres. It might just be easier if you hear him yourself. I recommend you take a listen to "Heaven Help Me" or "See You Soon" (those are my personal favorites). Here:


Anyway, he's hosting a very cool Valentine's Day contest and I figured I'd share with all of you. As I mentioned before, the grand prize is your very own song (about you, your honey, your relationship, or other topic of your choosing) written and performed by Ryan. He'll work with you, ask you some questions, and construct a song specifically for you. You will receive your prize via e-mail with an mp3 attached. If you're not savvy with technology, he can send it in a cd format via snail mail. But be aware that it will take longer to receive it. Even so, it would still be worth it. I mean, what could be a better V-Day gift to your significant other than a song about them written by a guy named Mr. Love? LOL.

There are two ways to enter. If you have a MySpace account, all you have to do is click on the link I already provided and add one of Ryan's songs (or RyTunes as he calls them) to your profile. If you do not have a Myspace account (or if you're already absolutely wedded to your profile song), you can drop me a comment here on my blog. PLEASE make sure you leave an e-mail address, a link to your own blog, or some way to get a hold of you. There will be a random drawing tonight and the winner will be notified immediately. Your customized song will be sent directly to the e-address you provide Feb.13th BEFORE Midnight. Hurry up and enter - the boy needs some time to write and record your song!!! Good luck everyone!!!

February 11, 2008

Illustration Friday: Choose

This bunny believes you can choose to have your cake and eat it too! (Especially when it's carrot cake!)

February 09, 2008

It's a small world after all

Haha - now I got that song stuck in your head!

Tonight I'm celebrating the fact that I finally added international shipping to my shop. It's been about a year that I've been procrastinating. I bought a postal scale last week. Tonight I packaged up my items like I would for shipping and weighed them. Then I went online to http://www.usps.com/ to calculate the postage.

That tactic worked fine for US and Canadian shipping. However, there's an option on Etsy to charge a single rate to ship "Everywhere Else". Now, I'm sure the cost of a box going to the UK as opposed to AU is completely different. What I had to do (and the reason I was putting off doing it) was sort of make an educated guesstimate. I basically averaged those costs together. I hope I didn't undercut myself. I didn't factor in delivery confirmation or the insurance I buy for items over $35. I guess only time will tell if it'll need to be adjusted or not.

In the meantime, I'd like to extend a big smiling welcome to all of you international buyers. *waves* I've finally shown you some love. Come on over and take a look around!

Mr. B says, "I pity the fool without international shipping!"

February 07, 2008

Friday Etsy Artist Profile!!!

It's Friday. For me, that means it's time to lighten up a bit. I figured it was a good time to feature another Etsy seller. This will be another biased post because I know this seller personally. (It's another friend of mine from college.) Don't worry, I've already profiled one Etsy seller I didn't know, and I plan on doing more in the future. Today however, I'll be featuring Karen:

Buy Handmade

Karen has her BFA in textile design. Her understanding of texture and pattern is apparent in the prints of her adorable little collage pieces. Little mice snipped from the leather of a lady's glove, ticket-stub deer, and birds formed from discarded train schedules inhabit a world of rolling tissue paper hills, sparkler box mountains, and topographic map fields.
My favorite might be the Dear Talking Dear. A bright orange deer on a background of light green gives a little speech (within a paper-cut out speech bubble) regarding UFO lore.
If your walls are sad and naked but you're not interested in buying boring mass-produced "art", I would suggest taking a look around Karen's shop. Her work is unique, whimsical, and you'll be sure to find a color or pattern appropriate for any room of the house. Take a peek! (o:

February 06, 2008

I <3 Typograpy (ok, well maybe not yet, but I'm working on it!)

Let's start Wednesday morning off right:

This is a baby picture of my hedgehog, Baxter McPrickles. Baxter is currently getting on to hedgie middle-age. He's a big boy now (2 1/2!) so I'll have to put come current pics up later. In the meantime, I thought we could all use a little nostalgic cuteness on Wednesday. It's cold, dreary, and wet here today. Frankly, it cheers me up to look at Baxter's little face.

Anyway, I was a bit worried and whiney in yesterday's blog (sorry, it happens). It was pretty much unnecessary, as many of my fears are. I wound up feeling right at home in my Typography class last night. My homework was fine, and appropriate. Not only that, but I'm already feeling more comfortable in my ability to understand the program I've enrolled myself in. I may not know graphic design yet, but I'm learning. And I do have a solid background in illustration. It's still all design principles...just applied to different aspects of the visual world. It shouldn't be impossible for me to translate one to the other. It's just a matter of learning the other language. All it took was class #2 to make me realize that. Sometimes you just need to freak out, get it out of your system, and keep on truckin'. Oh well.
I'm going to attack my homework this week, and hopefully still have time to make a few new mini-illustrations. I sold one this weekend of a sheep sipping a coffee. That was awesome. I have been drawing those stylized sheep since time immemorial. I used to draw them (always drinking coffee for some reason) in the margins of my notebooks in college. I love drawing them. I'm glad someone liked looking at them enough to buy one of them.
Other plans for this week include working out international shipping in my Etsy shop. I bought a postage scale last weekend, so that should help quite a bit. I just need to weigh my items in the boxes I'll be sending them out in, and do a few calculations on the USPS website. With any luck, maybe sales will increase once I open up my shop to buyers from countries other than just Canada and the US. I'll keep you posted.

February 05, 2008

Design Whine

I'm exhausted. The weather is just miserable. Coffee isn't even helping me this morning - which is a shame because I have a long commute and an even longer day ahead of me.
I have class tonight, and I'm not at all confident in the homework I completed for it. I worry that I misunderstood something about the project, or missed some crucial direction and that my work will stick out like a sore thumb amist beautifully executed pieces.
I really don't "get" typography and layout. It's like my brain simply isn't wired that way. You might as well be speaking to me in a foreign language. I suppose that's why I'm in school in the first place, but still...you don't want to be the worst girl in class, right? You want to at least appear that you're catching on. Especially when I already have BFA from an excellent art school. I imagine people raising an eyebrow at my credentials then pointing at my homework and saying, "And this is the best you could come up with???" (I realize no one would actually do that. But that's what goes on inside my head sometimes.)
Adding to my misery, I'm working on a PC at home. A Mac is really more appropriate for these design programs. I think I missed out on a pile of potential fonts that I could've used last night for this project just because I'm working on PC platform. Not to mention that my bare-bones knowledge of design programs will eventually conspire against me. I certainly don't have any money right now to invest in a new computer system. (Unless I win the lotto...which would REALLY help right about now! Where's that genie in the magic lamp?)
Last week, our teacher mentioned that we could work our school's computer lab, but he also doesn't know that I am an out-of-state commuter. I'm not going to drive down an hour (sometimes 1.5 - 2 hrs depending on traffic) on a non-school day just to pop in the hopes there's a free seat in the lab. I do have a full-time job, an online shop, and a home to maintain. Ugh.
Anyone want give me a boost of confidence? Or at the very least, a really strong cup of coffee?* I need it today. :oP

*Along with the lotto genie, there should definitely be coffee fairies. They're much needed creatures, you would think nature would've designed them by now! Lol.

February 02, 2008

Illustration Friday: Blanket

This piece was a gift to my mom. The baby is wrapped snugly in a baby blanket, but the piece itself is also actually a mini blanket. The materials I used to create it were various fabrics, thread, and cotton batting. I thought it would suit this week's topic.

February 01, 2008

The Bad Weather Blues

My SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) meeting was canceled tonight due to the storm that's expected to hit us this afternoon. It's a shame, because I haven't met with my illustration crit group in ages. Between work and school, I simply haven't had any time. Then there were the holidays, during which time we usually don't meet up anyway. The next meeting is scheduled for the 18th, which I'm not at all sure I'll be able to make. Class is on Tuesdays for me this semester, and I usually find myself eyeball-deep in last minute homework on Monday nights.
Guess I'll just have to look at everyone's blog today and pretend. If you'd like to join me, the links are on the right hand side of my page. The Pineapple Diaries and Life With Sam are the blogs for two of our members. Enjoy!