March 31, 2008

Misery Monday

What's that saying..."If you don't have anything nice to blog about, don't blog at all"? Or something like that. Sorry everyone, but I won't be following that rule of thumb today. For everyone's sake, I'll try to keep this venting session down to a minimum.

Over the week, I was very diligent and spent quite a bit of time on my 3 different typography projects. Somehow, all my hard work has NOT paid off. I have found myself facing a ton of work to finish up before class tomorrow. So much, in fact, that I almost feel as if I should've called in "sick" to work today. I didn't. What I am skipping today is the gym and grocery shopping (even though we have no food in the house). I'm going straight home after work.

All elements seem to be conspiring against me. Last night I planned to have at least one project done, but I had major issues with printing. Then, at midnight (the icing on the cake) my black ink cartridge completely ran out. There's more complications: I had to retrace my steps and re-design my logo from last week's failed assignment. That set me back on the second half of that project. I'm concerned the time constraints are going to make the rest of my efforts unsuccessful as well.

I remember being this stressed out (and more) in undergrad. But at least back then I was in school full-time and it was my main focus. Being a grown-up working full time and being in school is a whole other ball of wax. I am so cranky today. Anyone else having a miserable Monday morning?
P.S. For a happy post with lots of pictures, scroll down for yesterday's blog!

March 30, 2008

Currier Museum of Art: Grand Reopening

As I blogged earlier this week, today is the grand reopening of the Currier Museum of Art. The museum has been closed for over a year and a half due to its expansion and renovation efforts. (You can also read more about it here in the Hippo Press.)
I attended with my sister and brother-in-law. We arrived just in time to see the last several minutes of the ribbon-cutting ceremony. I took a few pictures and thought I'd give you a sneak peek into my day:

This was the view from one of the side streets leading up to the museum. The first thing you can see is sculpture piece newly acquired by the museum. It's titled "Origins"; the artist is Mark di Suvero. That statue stands in the Currier's new plaza area. (There's now parking in front as well.)


...closest! This was taken at the base of the sculpture.

Some of the media covering the ribbon cutting.

A few of the costumed musicians playing for the ribbon cutting. Within the museum, there were even a few actors dressed up in period costume as the artists of the time. One was even strolling around complete with brush and palate!

This is the new Winter Garden Cafe. Previously, this area was the front of the museum. I remember seeing, from the street, those lovely 1930's mosaic murals and the columns flanking the doors. Now they are enclosed within a lovely glassed in area with galleries on either side. I have to say, I'm rather glad the murals are protected from the weather now. I'm not sure how well you can see them in my picture, but you can get a feel for the new cafe.

In fact, here's a map of the new layout. It was in the little booklets the museum staff handed to us as we entered.

Here is one of the many activities going on over there today. These gals had a table where they were making balloon sculptures based on the Mark di Suvarno piece I posted above. Cute, non? And a great way to get the children involved.

There were quite a few families at the grand opening today. In the European art gallery, I heard an adult ask a little girl (who couldn't have been much older than 6 or 7) which painting was her favorite. She pointed to "A Knock at the Door" by Laura Alma-Tadema(1897). "What do you like about it?" the adult asked. "I like her dress. I think she hears somebody knocking." said the little girl. Awww! What a great way to get kids interested and involved with art. I hope I can do the same someday when I have children.

I didn't take any photos of the 2D artwork within the museum. I have a few reasons for this. First and foremost, flash photography is not allowed. It's very damaging to paintings, drawings, printmaking pieces etc. Think about how old some of these works of art are. They're being protected by particular museum lighting and climate. The only way I can explain it is - think about what happens to a bumper sticker stuck in the back window of your car all summer. Eventually over time, it gets bleached. Repetitive flash photography can aid in the disintegration of some of the pigments in these works. I cringe every time I see a big flash in a museum.

It is fine however, to take personal non-flash photographs, but I choose not to do that either. My argument is this - you're at the museum to see art "in person". If you wanted to see a photo of it, there are art photographers who have done a much better job than you at documenting the work. Why bother going to the museum at all? Just buy a book or find a picture on the web. (Personally, I like to find little postcards in the giftshop on the way out).

Hang on a second while I climb back down off my soapbox. Ah. That's better.

That said, I am gung-ho for bringing your sketchbook. As an artist, there's so much to learn from sketching master works. One of these days, I'm going to pick a quiet evening to hang out, wander around, and draw. I would encourage anyone interested in art to do the same...even if you don't think you're much of an artist! You might be happily surprised. Inspiration can come from a wide variety of sources. I had a great time today and felt like I'd recharged my creative batteries a little.

If you live in the area, you should definitely take a trip to see all the new changes in the museum - especially since this first week is free admission. Woo-hoo!

March 29, 2008

Illustration Friday: Homage

This is yet another previously created illustration that I felt was appropriate for this week's topic. (I swear, someday I'll do it properly and create a new illustration specifically for the topic du jour). In the meantime, there's this. The little boy is painting a portion of Picasso's "Woman Seated in a Chair" which is in the collection at The Currier Museum of Art. This was my sneaky little homage to the first Picasso painting I ever saw. I blogged about it and the museum this past week. Enjoy!

P.S. This is my 50th post!!! *does a little dance*

March 28, 2008

Merry Christmas! Wait. Whaaaa...?

Oh sorry, I was having a dream where there was a raging snow storm going on outside and...AAAAAACK!

It's no dream! This is the scene I work up to this morning. I wish I could animate this photo to show you how heavy and fast it was coming down. Welcome to "spring" in New England. One of my favorite old jokes about the area is that we have 4 seasons - Almost Winter, Winter, More Winter, and Construction. I believe we're currently in the "More Winter" stage. Last year we had two April blizzards.
Since I work for a school district, this means it's a day off for me. Yep. I wish I could tell you I'm going to do something marvelous and creative with my day. But what I plan on doing is chipping away at my typography homework. Sorry to disappoint you. Trust me, I'd much rather be finishing that painting for my dad or trying my hand at some ATCs.
Since I have the time this morning (and a big cup of coffee which I have the ability to refill) I'm going to do something a little different in my blog today. I woke up to find that I've been tagged by DivaDea to write 7 random facts about myself. I'm not about to let a fellow Etsian down, so here we go. First, the rules:

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as their blogs. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Get it? Got it? Good. Here's my seven:

1. Hi, I'm Nicole, and I'm an NPR addict. I'm serious. There is no such thing as silence in my house. The radio is on ALL THE TIME. I started listening to it in college because, one summer, my friend had an internship at NPR in Washington D.C. and I missed her. Now I can't stop. On the upside, I'm more informed about the news than I've ever been in my entire life.

2. My husband has been friends with my sister (and best friends with my brother-in-law) since high school. Even though we grew up right down the street from each other and attended the same church on that street - we never met once. Not until after I had graduated from college.

3. I love seafood, but hate scallops. I keep thinking I should like them so I keep trying them, and still hate ‘em every single time. I think it may be a texture thing.

4. My favorite flowers are lilacs. In the house I grew up in, there was 2 giant bushes of them below my bedroom window. One purple, one white.

5. I used to have a canary named Beck. His name had meaning on several levels. Like the singer Beck, my canary was blonde & could sing. “Bec” in French means “beak” and can also mean to give “a little kiss”. As in “a peck on the cheek”. I thought I was terribly clever.

6. When I was a kid, I took dancing lessons. I tap danced for 8 years. (Sometimes I still kind of miss it!)

7. I often drink tea or some other hot beverage while I’m painting. There’s been many occasions where I’ve almost drank out of the water cup I was washing my brushes out in. (Haven’t yet. Though, I have washed my brushes off in hot chocolate by mistake.)

That's it! It might not be 7 people, but here's a couple gals who I plan on tagging: Sarah at Pink Shoe Diaries, Gina at Pineapple Diary and Pat's Motorcycle Travels blog.

March 26, 2008

Baxter Blog

Since the only big thing going on in my art-life right now is my typography homework (and I'd rather not think about it at the moment), I'd figure I'd distract all of you with a cute post until something more exciting happens. So...look at the cute hedgie!
This is the hedgehog love of my life, Baxter McPrickles. Most of you have already seen his baby picture in a previous blog post I posted a while back. This is Baxter today - he's a big boy (and middle-aged, actually). But still a scaredy cat and as grumpy as ever. Unless, of course, you come bearing meal worms or other hedgie-friendly food items. (o:
If you hadn't already figured it out, Baxter was the inspiration and model for my avitar and banner. (Though in real life, he wouldn't be caught dead munching on a bit of melon.) Has anyone else created artwork inspired by their pets? Or am I just obsessive hedgie mom? Lol.

Under Pressure

(Minus David Bowie or Freddy Mercury.)
Is it just me, or does anyone else have a problem creating their art under the weight of high expectations?
I'm not talking about the stress of deadlines or anything like that. I'm fantastic at working under that kind of pressure. It's not even really other people's expectations that get me. It's my own.
Let's say I was about to start a painting and someone said to me "This piece has to be PERFECT because it's going into your portfolio", I'd be frozen. I wouldn't even be able to pick up a paint brush.
I think the equivalent happened to me this week in my Typography class. We have an ongoing logotype assignment. Most people just made up a company for themselves and branded it. I have my real shop - Honeydew Studio - which has been waiting for some sort of logo and branding since I opened it last year. It's already gone through probably half a dozen shop banners.
I worked up about 7 logos, none of which I was happy with, and brought them to class. Oh. My. God. My project went over like a lead balloon...and rightly so. None of my logos were any good. I'm starting to feel almost incapable of producing anything great because of all the pressure I'm putting on myself. I mean, if this logo comes out well, I'll be using it in the real world for years to come. I can be fabulously creative when I have to brainstorm a project for someone else. It's just that this particular project is for me and it isn't just a school assignment.
It's quite literally back to the drawing board for me this week. That will put me a bit behind everyone else. (They'll just be resolving their final logos and starting to design business cards etc.) Ugh. Any suggestions how to get myself out of this deer-in-headlights mindset?

March 25, 2008

Typography Tuesdays

Oh you know what time it is! Time for another heartwarming typography discussion. Lol.
I have my class tonight, so that means last night was homework-cram time.
I was working on my logotype assignment for today. We had to invent a "company" and services (which isn't difficult for me since I have a real, still as of yet unbranded, online shop). Then we had to pick a color scheme and design the logotype for business cards, stationery, envelopes, etc. Six different versions were due today.
It's been over a year now that I've been trying to do this logotype thing for myself for real with no success. Of course, up until this year, I also had ZERO graphic design training. So, I thought maybe tackling the whole "identity" thing would be easier since I've been in school. Now that it's an assignment and I have to do it, it'll just come rolling out, right? Wrong. The only thing that was easier for me was deciding which fonts stink. Other than that? Same level of difficulty. How do I sum myself up when I'm not even sure what I want to say about myself?
Right now, the things I have for sale are children's illustrations, funny bumble bee ornaments, and stuffed animals. But I don't want to pigeon-hole myself into some goofy logo, because I plan on eventually expanding into more "grownup" artwork as well as (we all hope) graphic design. My favorite logo is probably the most boring one in the pack. I have 7 logos, but I sort of feel like not one of them are that don't ask me to post them! I'm worried it's going to look like I didn't do a ton of work on this, when in fact, I've been wrestling this beast for too long. What a mess. My best hope is for a productive critique tonight to get me back on the right path. I guess we'll see what my teacher and class have to say. Sigh. Wish me luck!

March 24, 2008

Culture at the Currier

This was the first Picasso I ever saw. It's in the collection at the The Currier Museum of Art.

That museum has been a huge influence in my life. For 10 years (through my childhood and teens), I took art classes at the Currier Art Center. At the end of each year, we would have an art show and display our best pieces. Every other year, the museum would let the children exhibit in one of their galleries. I remember dressing up to go to those shows with my parents. (Those years are probably the only time in my life I'll ever see my work hanging in a real museum!) In a room adjacent to Sargents and Picassos, my sister and I would proudly point out our little watercolors and crude ceramics to our parents. It was a big deal.
As a teen, I became interested in pursuing art as my career path. There is a landmark in the area - a home created by Frank Lloyd Wright. It's called the Zimmerman House and though formerly a real lived-in home, it now belongs to the museum. Even though everyone knows the Zimmerman house is here, it's tucked back on a residential street. It seems that the address isn't generally given out, so as to not bother the other homeowners on the street with the traffic of curious drive-bys. However, the Currier offers tours to the house. My friends and I happily spent a weekend afternoon walking around that house with our shoes off and protective booties on our feet, listening to a tour guide.
It was also the Currier that offered a day-trip to New York City to see the big museums. They even provided the busing. I begged my parents to let me go. They relented, and my friends and I were off on an adventure. We visited the Guggenheim and The Met. It was the first time I'd been in the city. I was so happy to be that overwhelmed with art. I'll never forget it.
The following year, I took a portfolio class with Elaine P. at the Currier Art Center. I had decided I wanted to go a fine arts college after I graduated from high school. Elaine helped me choose the pieces that would become the slides in my portfolio, she allowed me to work on the required drawings for one of my applications in her class, and then even wrote me a shining recommendation. I not only got into every school I applied to, but I got into my #1 top choice school...RISD. My high school art teachers had dismissed the thought of me even applying. (After all, if they couldn't get in, why would I?) Their tune changed after I got that fat envelope in the mail. RISD was one of the best experiences of my life. I will be forever grateful to the Currier (and to Elaine) for not only believing in me, but helping me get there. I owe them a lot.
Over the last few years, the museum has undergone several big changes. The first being the name. It's a small museum, and for the majority of my life, it's been "The Currier Art Gallery". They're now "The Currier Museum of Art". I can't remember the details of how when or why the name changed occurred, just that it was several years ago now. The most recent change the museum has undergone has been their big expansion project. The Currier has remained closed since the summer of 2006 as it underwent all the construction for their renovation. The grand re-opening is scheduled for this Sunday, March 30th. Even though it's been years since I've regularly attended the museum, I feel it's necessary I be there. I'll even get all dressed up. Only this time, instead of my own lopsided ceramic pinch-pot, I can proudly point to all the work our local art museum has accomplished.

March 21, 2008

Illustration Friday: Pet Peeves

I could probably do 100 illustrations based on all the pet peeves I have, but since I don't have the time, here's just one. Haha! As usual, I still can't seem to find the time to crank out a "fresh" illustration for IF, so I dug this one out. When it comes to gifts, I know people say, "It's the thought that counts". But what if it's obvious the person put absolutely NO thought into it?
Now, I'm not talking about an ugly sweater from Aunt Pearl. It may not be your taste, but at least she tried. I'm talking about when the person clearly didn't even think or exert any effort at all into your gift. What if it's something you can't even use? (For example: getting a DVD for Christmas when the person knows darn well you don't even own a DVD player. Ahem. Thanks?) Poor fishy. She's been a victim of a utterly thoughtless gift. Sometimes I think it might be better to get nothing at all.

March 20, 2008

Too much of a good thing?

I have this problem...when I get too overwhelmed with something, it results in me not being able to do anything at all. For example, if the entire house needs cleaning, I don't know where to start and nothing ends up getting done. My husband always advises me to pick one thing, start with that, and to not even think about the other things until I'm done. Then pick one more thing, etc. Before you know it - voila! Your chores are done. Unfortunately, this isn't how my brain works. I think of everything at once and get distracted. Things will end up half-finished as I rush off to do something else. Or I'll just give up altogether.

Unfortunately, this goes for my creative work as well. Normally, having a plethora of ideas is fantastic. It's soooo much better than being stuck in a rut or feeling uninspired. But, right now, I have too much on my plate. There are simply too many ideas that I want to work on. I don't even know where to start, so I haven't been doing anything lately.

Here is what's going on: I have two paintings that I started last year that really need to be finished. One was part of a series of "grownup" artwork I wanted to start. They're fairy-tale and mythology based, but more serious. They are definitely not to be grouped with my children's illustration. The other is a painting of my grandparents that was supposed to be a gift for my dad...last summer. I'm the worst. I know that painting should be priority. I know it. But I was halfway through the painting when my grandmother passed away. This spring is the one year anniversary of her death, and it's almost too hard for me to go back to it.

Aside from that, my brain is bubbling over with ideas for other really fun projects that I'm anxious (and inspired!) to start. I was thinking about starting a second Etsy shop for more mature artwork (I even have a couple projects in mind). I had plans to make stuffed animals and donate the proceeds to charity. I'm dying to apply to an ATC group and start trying my hand at those. I have half-finished bumble bees I want to finish painting and post on the Etsy shop I already have. Also, my best friend (who is a musician) has been bugging me to design a cover for his album. On top of all this, I have homework to think about. And my biggest excuse not to do anything is that my studio desperately needs to get cleaned and organized. I simply can't work in there as-is. I feel like I'm holding a giant jumble of yarn, and I can't find the end. So...I've been procrastinating.

If any of you guys can see through my mess easier than I can, please help! Go ahead - feel free to prioritise for me. Tell me what I should get done first. I could use a good kick in the pants. If you're really good at organizing, I'd welcome some advice. I promise I'll take it. (o:

March 19, 2008

Geeking it out in Typographyville

I had my typography class last night. It was a busy night, and we had a lot of ground to cover. The homework due included a type project, a paper, and mid-semester review of our big "journal" project. AKA - my infamous "artist business card project". It went over well, and everyone seemed impressed at how many cards I've received so far. (Thanks to all of you!)

I'm slowly starting to understand type design. Previously, I never really liked or cared about this sort of thing. I appreciated good design, but wasn't really interested in talking about it or doing it myself. Typography seemed like a foreign land to me. It's like if you were suddenly plunked down in Paris with no French language skills at all. Once you get a handle on the language (be it French or type), the world opens up and there you are on the street cheerily waving to people shouting, "Bonjour! Commant ca vas?" Or in my case, getting way too thrilled with receiving artist business cards in the mail and looking over all the different designs. You know what I mean?

I'm even excited for the next big project. We have to "brand" ourselves and create a type logo for letterhead, business cards, etc. We'll even get to use color. (We've been working in b&w all semester so far). I am psyched. I've been struggling to do this very thing for Honeydew Studio for more than a year.
I have a banner which was made for me by the lovely Ms. Jelene, but a banner is not necessarily a company identity. The last business cards I have were from YEARS ago and are really poorly designed, generic mass orders I made through an online printing shop (which will not be named). When trying to sell your artistic and design ability, these are maybe not the best things to hand out to people. Now I'm going to have my teacher as well as an entire class worth of critiquers to take a look at my design ideas for Honeydew. As far as I'm concerned, this is not merely a class project. For me, this is "real world" design for my shop and services - an area that where I've felt lost and lacking for a very long time. Now, I'll get getting loads of help at long last. (Hooray!!!)

Man, is this the first telltale sign that I'm geeking it out for graphic design? I guess you'll know of sure if I ever start getting excited over font.

March 18, 2008

We have a winner!

Due to the incredible response I received from all of you, I've already gathered nearly 200 business cards from artists, designers, and craftspeople for my typography project!!! I've received mail and digital files from all over the country and even as far away as Australia. I can't even begin to express my relief and gratitude. Since it's impossible to thank each of you individually, I entered all the names of those who sent me cards into a drawing. The prize is a print of one of my children's illustrations. I kept a careful list, printed and folded the names up, and randomly pulled a name out of a jar the good ol' fashioned way! So, this morning, I'd like to announce the winner:

Congratulations to Tanya of Razorberries!

I'd like to thank you all so much for your help! Though this marks the end of my contest, I'm STILL accepting business cards for my project. It isn't due until mid-May, so the collecting continues. Again, please e-mail me at if you'd like to contribute.

March 16, 2008

The Art of the Graphic Novel

Before I start this blog let me clarify that I am, by no means, an expert on graphic novels. I can't launch into a in-depth discussion with you regarding the history of the art form, or even the careers of famous writers/illustrators. I'm not a literary critic. I'm not one of those obsessive fans. As a reader, I don't even have that many graphic novels under my belt. I simply love and respect the medium...a trait I have in common with my husband. (So be forewarned, the poor guy is about to be mentioned...a lot) I just felt like sharing with you what I've (we've) read and liked so far.

That said, I'll start with the only series of graphic novels that I have followed and collected as a fan. I looooove Neil Gaiman's writing. I've devoured each of his novels within a day or two of buying them. So, of course I've read "The Sandman". Neil Gaiman's story-telling skills are incredible. He weaves myths and tales from all over the globe (and across time) into the fabric of the mythic story he himself created. Somehow, the result is not fractured, but a unified world. The series follows Dream, a member of The Endless, and his siblings - Death, Desire, Despair, Destruction, Destiny, and Delirium. If you love fantasy, myths, and legends you should definitely look into the series:

The last graphic novel I read was "Watchmen" written by Alan Moore (also the author of V for Vendetta) and illustrated by Dave Gibbins. My husband's friend lent it to him, but it wasn't in the house very long before I picked it up. My husband and I had to take turns reading it since I sort of stole it out from under him. To be honest with you, there's so much involved in the plot of these graphic novels (especially this one) that I'm having a hard time summing them up. I guess what I can tell you is that it's about a group of very flawed, very human, retired superheros - and a series of tragic events which befall them. The Sandman can be very dark at time, but also had moments of humor. To me, Watchmen felt tragic and black all the way around. As the mystery surrounding the story line grew, I found that I couldn't stop reading.
And as an illustrator, I was absolutely taken by Dave Gibbons' skill at sequencing his panels. It was like watching a movie. In fact, it was one of his opening sequences that made me realize this graphic novel was going to be so much more than I originally thought I was in for:

His illustrations move like a piece of film. He zooms into that detail of the happy-face button in a puddle of blood and then slowly pulls us (the viewer) out. As we fly up and away, we can see more and more of the picture. One of the main characters strolling through the blood as a man tries to hose down the sidewalk, then aaaaall the way back up the skyscraper to the detective looking over the side. Visually, that got me. I don't even know how long I stared at this page. Wow.
Apparently, there's a Watchmen movie due out in '09. You can see pics and stills from it on the official website. I feel a little geeky because I'm kind of psyched about the prospect.

Speaking of graphic-novels-turned-movies...the hubby and I have also been buying and reading the Sin City books by Frank Miller. I'm sure most of you have seen (or at least heard of) it already, so I'll spare you the details. Except to say that having seen the movie first and then reading the graphic novel, I'm impressed at how faithful the movie was to the books. They didn't mess around with the dialogue and most of the shots in the film are direct translations from Frank Miller's (mostly) black and white illustrations. They basically used the novel to storyboard the movie, and did a fantastic job. This is Marv, my husband's favorite character:

Next up is the new graphic novel based on Stephen King's epic "Dark Tower" series. My husband introduced me to the series years ago and I tore through them. I read the first two books on our one-week vacation to FL. The graphic novel version actually starts with the storyline from "Wizard and Glass" which is in the middle of the series. It's a good place to start because that book is a flashback to the adolescence of the main character, Roland Deschaines, and sets up the rest of the tale. Stephen King was interviewed by NPR this week. (If there's anything I'm obsessed with, it's NPR.) To read a portion of the interview, and to see more images from the graphic novel, click here. The illustrations are by Jae Lee and Richard Isanove. They are a perfect match for the material. They're intense, gorgeous, and thick with impenetrable shadows.

I haven't started reading the graphic novel version yet. I gave it to my husband as a Christmas gift, and am nice enough to let him get a crack at it first. Haha!

And lastly, there's the graphic novel that I want to read, but have yet to do so. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is an autobiography about her childhood in Iran and also currently an animated film. I haven't seen the film yet, but have been hearing about the novel for ages. I'm determined to read it first. I actually had the book in my hand at my last trip to Barnes and Nobles, but I already had gone over my $50 gift certificate, and had to put it back. It'll definitely be mine the next time around.

So...what are you reading?

March 14, 2008

Skinny WHAT??? (Featured Etsy Seller)

Spring has arrived, whether or not the temperature in New England wants to admit it.

Along with spring comes lighter clothes and eventually...*gulp* bathing suits. More people are crowding into my aerobics classes in preparation.

You might be on a program like Weight Watchers and have a big weight loss goal. Or maybe (like me) you just want to tone up a little more for the fierce little red dress you'll be wearing on your upcoming summer vacation. Either way, I have a fabulous accessory for you!

Let me introduce you to Naya Designs:

Naya's come up with a stylish little way to keep up with your diet and exercise goals: the Skinny Bitch bracelet. (You heard me!) Her idea is so smart and creative. I tried to explain it in my own words, but I can't possibly do it justice. Since Naya Designs does a much better job at her own product description than I ever could (obviously!), I'm just going to post the description directly from her shop:

"How it works:
Your Skinny Bitch is a beautiful bracelet in and of itself. The bracelet is made of 27-28 6mm beads. Every 5th bead is a different color making it easy for you to count. With your bracelet (this is the best part) you receive two sterling silver charms. The first is the Skinny Bitch! She is so skinny, that bitch. Anyway, she is running towards the second charm, an adorable STOP sign.

You start your day by setting the stop point. If you are using a weight loss program that has a "points" system, you would set the stop sign at your "points" limit. Next, your Skinny Bitch is connected at the first bead. As you go through your day, you simply move Skinny Bitch along, one bead for each "point". When Skinny Bitch reaches the STOP sign, you STOP eating! Pretty simple!

BUT WAIT! There are other ways to use the Skinny Bitch. You can set the stop sign to track anything. You can keep track of how much water you drink in a day. You can track how many times you go to the gym in a week. You can track how many times you hug your husband in a day. You can even use it to track ovulation. Get creative, your Skinny Bitch will be your new best friend."

Brilliant, right? I just bought this one today:

It's made from rhondonite beads. Pretty!
I'm not on WW, but I thought it might be good to start keeping track of my work-outs over the week. Heck, with 28 beads, I could probably keep track of them all month! And besides, it's just a really cute and pretty reminder to stay healthy.
Head over to Naya Design's Etsy shop. She also creates really pretty earrings...and for the men - there's even a "Skinny Bastard" bracelet available! (o;

March 12, 2008

Mr. Postman, do you have a letter for me?

Last night the first two envelopes of business cards arrived, as promised. Yippee!!!

I expect more to be rolling in all week. I think I might be getting a little too excited about the prospect...but, c'mon! I opened my mailbox yesterday, and for once it's not stuffed with bills or misdirected pieces of mail. (I'm still getting mail for the previous owners of our place. We've been here for 3 years. And we also still get mail for my MIL. She stayed with us for only 6 months and I swear she gets more mail than we do!) Anyway, it's doubly nice to be getting something that will be an aid to this ginormous typography project that I have looming in front of me. You guys rock.

This is not to say that I don't need any more cards. I do. In fact, I need A LOT of cards. Nothing would make me happier than to be up to my eyeballs in business cards. (o; Like I've been saying all week, if you are an artist/crafter/designer I still need you to send your business cards into me! E-mail me here:

Moo cards are great. Digital files are perfect. I'll print them up myself. Anything and everything would be great as long as it's a) from a creative person and b) in business card format.

Now, to discuss a different kind of card...As I've previously mentioned in other blogs, lately I've been very interested in ATCs (artist trading cards). I have a book about it and have been doing a little research. From what I can gather, ATC trading was created in 1997 by Zurich artist M.Vänçi Stirnemann. He came up with the idea as a way for artists to get share and socialize with each other.
For those of you who don't know, an ATC is a 2.5" x 3.5" sized original piece of art. Artists trade and collect them. There are a couple general rules about ATCs -first is the aforementioned size restriction. Second, they have to be original works of art. And lastly, they're not sold. You trade one of your cards for one card from another artist. (Generally, you aren't allowed to trade other artists' cards.)
The idea of collecting small works of art became so popular, that many people do sell them, but as ACEOs (art cards, editions and originals). I know ACEOs are available on Etsy.
I'm not looking to sell. I'm interested in the original concept, which is artist-to-artist trading. I'm dying to find out more about them, and to try my hand at making my own when I have some free time. Does anyone out there belong to a good online ATC trading group? I'm interested in joining one and getting more info from someone involved with the process. Leave me a comment if you're an ATC artist. I'd love to hear from you!

March 11, 2008

Just another reason to love Etsy (as if you needed one!)

Over the last two days, I sent my plea for business cards out everywhere I could think of. Including begging on this blog. (I'm sorry, but if you can't whine on your own blog then where can you whine?)

You know why I need so much help? Because these were all I could find in my house for artist business cards:
I'm hoping there's more lying around somewhere. Even if there are, it won't make much of a dent since I need hundreds for this project. The instructor told me via e-mail that over one hundred cards would be a minimum.

I'm a member of several art, craft, and illustration groups so I e-mailed or posted on the sites of every last one of those groups. Only a trickle of responses came in. With one exception. Etsy. The deluge of e-mails and convos from Etsy folks simply blew me away. It makes me so happy, I could do a little dance. In fact, I just might!
The support and help I have received from the Etsy community is astounding. I even received international e-mails. I would hug every last one of you if I could! You can imagine what a difference all of you guys made (and can still make). Especially when some of you are including cards of artist friends and family when you mail me. By the end of the week, my pile of material will have increased 100 fold from what I have now. I expect the final product (the book I have to make) will be fabulous.

For those of you who haven't been following my typography project saga, scroll down and read the blogs from the past two days to catch up. Then, if you haven't sent me your card yet but would like to, feel free to e-mail me at and I'll let you know where to send it. Although the first half of my project is due next Tuesday, I will continue collecting cards until nearly the end of the semester (that's when the project is due). Every last card is needed and welcome! So, please keep sending them!

Now...onto another topic. (You deserve it. Especially since you've been listening to this homework stuff for 3 days in a row now!) I was browsing at Barnes and Nobles a week or so ago with the hubby. I decided to poke through the art and design magazines and just became overwhelmed.

What I want to know is - do you guys read art mags? Which ones are your favorites? I usually like Juxtapoz...even though it sort of makes me feel like I stink as an artist after I read it. It's like fashion magazines for women - you know you'll never be Gisele but you keep looking at (and comparing yourself to) pictures of models anyway. Haha! Oh well.

Anyway, this month's Juxtapoz was all encased in plastic. I don't know about you, but I hate when I can't flip through a magazine before I buy it. First of all, that plastic is such a waste! It creates so much extra (non-biodegradable) garbage and for what? I mean, is there a special gift inside that they don't want to fall out? Usually not. Basically we're just not allowed to gaze at the magazine before we buy it. thanks. First I want to know if I'll even be interested in what I'm paying for! I find that most of the other fine art magazines consist of 99% ads. Which annoys me. Art magazines are expensive! I don't really need to pay $8 or more for you to sell me something. If there's hardly anything inside aside from ads, why bother creating the thing at all? I thought ads were supposed to help pay for content. So...are there any other worthwhile illustration/design/art magazines you can recommend? Good articles, great pictures, etc? I want something worth picking up. I think I have another B&N gift card with $15 on it somewhere and I'm looking to spend it! (o:

Oh boy. I'm in trouble.

As many of you know, I'm not only working full-time but I'm taking night classes for the graphic design program that I'm enrolled in.

Right now, I'm working hard on a BIG project for my typography class. This is a semester-long project. We had to pick a theme and start collecting typography samples on that topic. (We should've been collecting since day one of this course.) Later, we'll be compiling them into some sort of creative journal format. I had absolutely no clue what I wanted to work on, so I arbitrarily picked something. I recently decided that I hated my theme, and didn't want to work on it.

I decided it would be much more fun and interesting to collect business cards from other creative people (ie: illustrators, designers, and craftspeople). I e-mailed my professor about it this week. I received an e-mail back saying that would be ok, but that I should've been collecting all semester...and that I'm going to need hundreds of business cards.


Ouch. I'm still dedicated to this project, but I desperately need your help. If you're an artist, illustrator, graphic designer, or crafts person (or know someone who is) please please please send me your business cards!!! If you read yesterday's blog, you'll know I even have a contest running right now for people who get their cards to be before March 18th.

Some folks have been asking if it's ok to just e-mail me a digital file of their business card, and the answer is YES!!! It's totally fine. I just got a professional-grade printer this week, so your cards will print up beautifully on my end. Just send 'em. If you want to go the snail-mail route and need an address, just e-mail me at and I'll happily send it to you. You can also send me your digital files at the above e-mail address.

Lastly, I would like to say a very big THANK YOU to those who already responded to this request. You guys have been fabulous and so generous with your help and support. I can't wait to open my mailbox later this week. *Hugs*. Keep 'em coming!!!

March 10, 2008

I need YOUR help!!!

I'm looking for artists, illustrators, designers, and craftspeople who are willing to mail me their business cards! E-mail me at for info on where to send them. Please title your e-mail "Business Card" so I can respond asap.

Now, you might be wondering why I'm on a quest for artist's business cards. As most of you know, I'm taking night classes right now to get certified in graphic design. I'm currently enrolled in a typography class. We have a BIG semester-long project where we have to collect tons of different examples of type and arrange them in a book format. We also have to have some sort of theme. I thought - what would be more interesting than a book full of business cards from creative people? They're like mini representations of who you are - the variations would range far and wide. I would love to create a book full of sooo many different approaches to design.

There's an added incentive to helping me out. For those of you who send me your business card on or by March 17, you will be entered to win a print of my illustration Ben's Dragon. The drawing will be random, and the winner will be announced on this blog no later than March 18th. (Please make sure your address is included on your business card so I can mail the print out!!!)

If you know any artists or designers, send 'em on over to this blog. Or at least send their card for them. Everyone is invited! Please help me out.

I promise to post pics of my project on this blog at the end of the semester too. I'm sure it will be fabulous. (o;

Thanks everyone!!!

March 07, 2008

Illustration Friday: Garden

I know I've posted this illustration previously, but it was so perfect for today's Illustration Friday topic that I couldn't resist reposting. This was a commissioned painting I did last summer. My client was giving it to her friend as a baby shower gift.

March 06, 2008

HGTV Update


As you probably already know, the minute the calendar changed to March, I figured it was time to contact HGTV to get my air date for the episode of "That's Clever" that I'm due to be featured on. They said to call in the spring, and I figure March = spring, right? So, on Monday I e-mailed the contact at the address given to me after my taping, and awaited a reply.

Well, I finally heard back last night. I was told the 400 season still has yet to air...and apparently I'm part of the 500 season. What does that mean to me? First, it means I'm not going to be on tv any time soon. Not this season, anyway. Second, it means I have to call back in the fall. It sounds like my show is at least put together, and my contact gave me the number for my episode (HCLVR-560 - if that means anything to you), there just isn't a date when it'll air as of yet.

I mean, I'm a patient girl, but all the hope I had for any kind of national publicity in the near future has just crumbled. I mean, it'll happen eventually. They have my show and it will air, but it could very realistically be 1 1/2 to 2 years from the time they taped me to the time the show airs. Good things come to those who wait, right?

I have a whole new perspective regarding cable tv now. Exactly how old ARE those reality shows I've been watching? Have those people been back at home 2 years after their adventure...knitting and waiting to be famous? Wow.


March 05, 2008

Wednesday picture blog

I've really been trying hard to stay on-topic with this blog. It's supposed to be my forum for art, illustration, and craft-related subjects. That said, it's totally ok to break your own rules once in a while, right? This isn't really art-related, but I figured, "Eh, why not?" I'm feeling very blah today. Like I got a case of the blues for no good reason. Maybe it's because there's still nothing but a snowscape around here that I feel the need to brighten things up. (With any luck, it'll inspire spring to get here quicker!)

Here are some pics from last year of one of my favorite spots of all time, Pickity Place. It's a 200 year old cottage out in the middle of nowhere. It was the inspiration for the illustrations in the 1948 Little Golden Books version of Little Red Riding Hood. They have the most amazing (and totally affordable) gourmet lunch - just take a look at their online menu. Make sure you call to book your reservation weeks in advance - they fill up fast! There's a greenhouse, herb and flower gardens, and quaint gift shops. I grew up going there and it's still pretty much instant happiness for me: I took this pic on the way there. Ah...

We've arrived! This is where you have lunch. I'm kind of in love with that twisty old tree. Here's some shots from the herb and flower gardens around the cottage:

Tiger lilies

Teeny strawberries

Big fat bumble bee sitting on a flower. I love big furry fat bumble bees! You guys must have figured that out by now...seeing as how I sculpt bees out of clay and sell 'em on Etsy. (o:

Here's a little secret about me: sunflowers scare me. Oh yeah, they make me totally uncomfortable. I'm sorry, but no flower should be 7-8 feet tall. I feel like one of them is going to lean down to my ear and say, "Feed me, Seymour!!!" Agghghh!!!

Sleeping kitty. Though I'm terribly allergic, you can't help but say "Awww" to a cat sleeping in a puddle of sunshine. Pickity Place used to have sheep. I remember them from my trips there as a kid. They don't anymore, but I wish they did. I'd probably have photos of them too!
There. I just cheered myself up.
I don't know if it did anything for you, but I'm inspired to go ask my husband to make a lunch reservation for us.

March 04, 2008

Just a little update

No word back yet from the folks at HGTV regarding when my show will air. I'm going to give them a week or so to e-mail me and then I'm gonna start calling!

This morning I joined my local Etsy street team. I'm now included on their Yahoo Groups mailing list. They also have a very cool little blog. I'm pretty excited. I love meeting local artists and crafters. It's great to be part of a creative community. Unfortunately, I don't always have the time to meet up with my SCBWI crit group, so I'm hoping this team will be another outlet for me.

In other news, I have my typography class tonight. It's pretty warm out right now, but by this evening we're supposed to get a "wintry mix" that'll make driving conditions rather icy. Why must this happen every night that I have a lengthy commute to and from school? I'm done with winter. Really.

That's about it for a Tuesday update. I hope to have some ATCs to show you at some point in the (very) near-future.

March 03, 2008

Spring is in the air date...

Can you believe it's already March 3? Though the calendar and the 6 foot (plus) snowbanks around my house tell me otherwise, I officially consider it spring. As far as I'm concerned, that means it's time for me to contact HGTV.
For those of you who weren't aware, I was taped for an episode of "That's Clever" last summer. The crew was over my house for over 8 hours (phew!). After everything wrapped up, the producer gave me a little slip of paper with contact info on it. It instructed me to e-mail or call in the spring of '08 in order to find out the air date for the episode I'd be on. "Spring" a is fairly vague term. Especially seeing as how we got April blizzards here last year. I decided it was better to start bugging HGTV sooner rather than later. God forbid I miss my episode! "That's Clever" is on every morning, 5 days a week with 3 artists featured on each show. I don't even know how to set my VCR, and we certainly don't have TiVo. It's absolutely necessary that I find out the date way in advance!
I decided that today was the day to start bugging them for a date. I'll keep you posted if (and when) I hear back.
It's a fun/goofy show, and I know I was certainly silly during the taping (beware - bad puns abound!) I may live to regret telling all of you when my episode will be on. Even if I wind up looking sort of ridiculous, national exposure has got to be better than none! I'm excited and mildly mortified at the prospect.

In other news, my hubby and I went on our "date" to Barnes and Nobles last night. We both spent the entirety of our gift $9. I bought 3 books - Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith, Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton (can you tell what I'm currently back in college for? Lol.), and Artist Trading Card Workshop by Bernie Berlin.
I'm probably most excited about the Keri Smith book and the Artist Trading Card book. Both will force me to relax, play, make a mess and have fun making art again...with no major expectations of the outcome. I was actually dreaming about ATCs (artist trading cards) last night - how ridiculous is that? (Etsy calls them ACEOs = art cards, editions, and originals.) I love the idea of ATCs - it's just a little baseball-card sized piece of original art that you trade with another artist for one of their cards. You can collect all kinds of mini gems through trading your own tiny pieces. Some people sell 'em. I imagine this happens even more frequently with the very collectible ones created by notable artists. Personally, I don't like the idea of selling ACEOs, I feel that it sort of defeats the purpose and the spirit of the movement. I would love to find a good group for ATC trades, so if you know of any online or in the New England area, let me know. I suppose I'm getting ahead of myself...I should make some of my own little cards first! I'll post 'em up here once I start creating. (o: I can't wait to get started!

March 02, 2008

"Sunday clears away the rust of the whole week."

The above blog title is a quote from Joseph Addison. I'm feeling very wordy today. You've been warned! (o:

This is the view out my studio window this morning:

Tomorrow, it's back to work for me after a week-long vacation. I'd like to say I'm going to make the best of this beautiful day, but it'll probably involve staying indoors....especially since today's plans have changed. Unfortunately, Holly's come down with the same flu-like illness the rest of us had all month, so it looks like I won't be doing the 2 hour drive to visit her after all. (Feel better, doll!)

I've got more to do inside the house today than out (it's freezing cold, anyway). Maybe I'll actually get my homework done so I don't have to stress out on Monday night. I've also decided to try having a sale in my Etsy shop. I know I said I was going to ignore my shop for a while, but a little attention won't kill me. Starting today, big plush characters will be $5 off and all prints will be $3 off. The sale could be a week long, it could be all month long - we'll see how it goes. I just felt like I wanted to mix it up a bit.

I may not be going on a road trip today, but my hubby has given me the consolation prize of a trip with him to Barnes and Nobles after he gets out of work this evening. The two of us are huge bookworms and we both have gift certificates burning holes in our pockets. Anyone have any reading recommendations?

Since my brain has been on books today, I remembered one my mother gave me quite some time ago called "Affirmations for Artists" by Eric Maisel. It's full of great quotes from other writers, artists, and musicians. I decided to post a quote today. (That is, a quote from the book....aside from the other one I already posted.) Maybe it'll be a regular thing...I don't know. I do love a good quote. Anyway, here you go:

"Art is an idea. It is not enough to draw, paint, and sculpt. An artist should be able to think." -Gurdon Woods

I try to explain this to non-artists all the time. You know when you're at a museum and someone scoffs at a painting saying, "I could do that!" or worse, "My five year old could do that!" Well, guess what? At the time that painting was done, no one had done it. Sometimes, it's not the actual art as much as the concept behind it that was so revolutionary. Making art in a new and controversial way broke down walls that had been up for hundreds of years. That is why that piece is hanging up in the museum.

I remember my first illustration course in my major. It was the final critique for the semester, and the guy was tough. At the time, my drawing skills weren't quite living up to the strength of my concepts. I remember my professor telling me, "Your concepts are strong. Some people are strong in technique, but their concepts are weak. Those who don't think on a conceptual level can't really change that fact. It's better to be where you are - you can always work on improving your technical skills." That's always stuck with me.

I think good art should have a strong idea and should make you think. But then again, I'm an illustrator. Our goals are a little bit different from those of a fine artist. After all, it's our job to get a message across or tell a story. Maybe that's why I think the way I do. But I'm still a sucker for fine art with a strong concept. I love it even more when the materials used in a piece are married to the idea. Here's an example - I was at the Armory Show last year in NYC when I saw this piece:

"The Abduction From the Seraglio," a woven rug by Cristi Pogacean. She used the stereotype of the Persian carpet, the title of a Mozart opera (which features Westernized representations of Turkish music), and a now all-too-familiar Middle Eastern hostage scene (with the hooded terrorists pointing giant guns at their victims) to express her point. It disturbed me, but was also probably my favorite piece at the show.

Anyway, time to get off my soapbox. I've got stuff to do today! Enjoy your Sunday, everyone. I hope it's as sunny and lovely in your part of the world as it is here. (o;

March 01, 2008

March? Madness!!!

Welcome to March first in my neck of the woods:

4 to 8 inches of snow today! This was not the pic I had planned for this morning. I was hoping to have "before" and "after" pictures of my studio. I wanted to dazzle all of you with how organized and clean it was, but uhhhmmm...that's not the case yet. I don't know what happened to me this week, but my vacation turned me into a zombie. I didn't get a whole lot done. I spent some time with my sis, which was nice. But, my biggest accomplishments were getting hedgie's front nails cut and booking an estimate for some much-needed work on our house. Woo-hoo! Don't get me wrong, I did start cleaning...I just didn't finish.

It probably is just a fantasy that I'll get it done this weekend at all. I've got homework to do today, and tomorrow I have a trip planned to go see my friend Holly. She's a fellow RISD alumni and illustrator. So, I figured I'd talk about her today.

A long time ago, I decided to base one of my plush characters on Holly. Here's my interpretation:

I can't even begin to describe Holly's work or style. It's a bit strange - sometimes funny, sometimes creepy but always lovely. She incorporates vintage elements into her collage pieces, and her illustrations and paintings take inspiration from different cultures around the world. Maybe it's better if I just show you a few of her pieces:

Holly doesn't have an online shop yet, though I wish she did! She's still working on her website and it's almost done. The only category still missing is her 3-D work. Wait until you see her rod puppets! They're amazing. She used to do these crazy little drag queen finger puppets that I was in love with too. Feel free to contact her for more information on commission work. I believe all her info is included on her site. To get a look at more of her gorgeously detailed art, and to read her bio, go here. It's like a free trip to an eclectic, exotic and beautiful little world! (o;