200 Yards Photos

Just found out today that one of my photos made it into the 200 Yards exhibition at Rare Device! The opening reception is on my birthday, June 1st, which makes it doubly exciting.  I took a ton of photos and whittled it down to five submissions.  I won’t spoil the surprise by showing the photo I’m exhibiting just yet, but here are the other four I really liked that didn’t make the cut:

Through the corner windows of Rare Device

Bus Shelter Reflection on Hayes (I think this one might be my favorite)

Flat Old Pick-up on Scott

And here are a few that I didn’t submit, but still kind of like:

Starling Perch

Automotive Service

Planter on Fell


About four years ago I started this generic travel illustration (pardon my scanner, which is total shite).  It depicts the fictional island nation of “Travalin,” complete with disgustingly adorable destinations like the “Memoriviera,” the “Ghettiway” region and “Mt. Delycius” located in the “Gormay Mountains.”  After completing the cutesy place names I had no desire to actually finish the coastline, so I put the project away indefinitely.

A few weeks ago I pulled the piece back out and gave it a hard look.  The shape of the island was a non-descript ovalish form, communicating nothing other than its being an island.  In a fit of inspiration, I pulled the whole collage off its backing and cut it apart to be reassembled into the shape of an airplane, (an international symbol for travel!) but it still doesn’t salvage this piece as an illustration.  The airplane shape is based off of a three-quarter view, which resulted in some foreshortening that makes it look more like a shark.  The place names are also still too small to read effectively, so there’s no publication/medium where this would be useful.  Still, it’s nice to have it finished and put away, and when your only stakes are practice, every failure is also a success.  So, success!  I declare it, take my ball and go home.

Drawing a Day: Month 1 Re-cap

There’s nothing like documentation to keep you motivated through a project, but when it comes to my drawing-a-day practice, let’s just say you don’t need to know how the sausage got made.  In order to spare you the gory details (or the awkward sketches, as the case may be) I’m just going to post my progress on a monthly basis, highlighting some of the things I’ve tried an learned along the way.  I began the project on December 20th, 2011, so today marks the end of the first month.  Here’s a sampling.

Not knowing what to draw, I started drawing animals from memory, alphabetically.  I started with an aardvark, which was so pitiful I threw it out immediately.  Next I tried to draw a bird (a penguin, actually), which was also horrendous.  Here’s my third attempt with a monarch butterfly, but I couldn’t remember the actual pattern their wings have:


After that I gave up on animals for the time being and just decided to work with the alphabet itself. i had just finished a typography class, so it was kind of fun.  Here are a couple of typography doodles. I won’t share the hundreds of random letters I drew, though you can see some of them show through the back of the paper.

10,000 hours of expertise starts with a single sketch….

It was two days after Xmas.  Can you guess which movie I went to see?

Tired of making stuff up, I decided to try drawing some things IRL. Here’s my attempt at drawing a rubber tree leaf that looked like a bird.  It took a surprising number of tries to get the proportions and curves right, even with a ton of erasing.

And this is a two-minute sketch of the back of my husband’s head before he moved.

Then Tina Jett asked me how things were going. She is doing a drawing-a-day project too, in the form of an illustrated blog, which inspired me to illustrate my last two blog posts, too.

Anyone else embarking on a similar project? How are things going with your New Year’s resolutions?


What should I do with this drawing?

A few months ago the Society of Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh commissioned a Sweet Meats installation for their EAT Space gallery.  One of the things they wanted was a life-size drawing of the inside of a meat locker.  The wonderful women of Avedano’s butcher shop let me take some photos inside their meat locker, and I drafted up this 18” x 24” image.

I had to make this image 16 times larger to be life sized, so I placed a roll of paper on the wall, and set up a 4” x 4” grid (I could only fit one half of the drawing on the wall at a time).  The last time I made a big grid to enlarge something I did it the stupid way, and drew the grid lines directly on the paper with a pencil and a ruler.  This time I was smarter and used thread and drafting tape (like masking tape, put peels off paper easier).  It went much faster and I didn’t have to erase anything later.

The big drawing (8’ x 6’, oy) is in Pittsburgh through March, but I inked, scanned, and vectorized the little drawing for printing.  I thought I might turn it into a paint-by-numbers kit, but there aren’t enough color blocked areas and too many lines.  So now I’d like to ask you folks: is this image interesting enough to print as just a line drawing, or does it need some color (or something else) done to it?  I was hoping to have some available at my holiday fairs this year, but I can’t tell if they’re compelling.  Would you want one hanging in your space?  Please be honest, not kind.  Thanks in advance!

The Big One: Mrs. Grossman’s Sticker Mandala

After making a few smaller 6” x 6” sticker mandalas over the holidays last year, the Mrs. Grossman’s Paper Company sent me about 8 pounds of stickers and a commission for a big piece to put in their factory store in Petaluma. Last week I finally completed the sucker (which is two feet across!), but it still needs some finishing touches. I’m missing a couple of stickers in the bottom quadrant that need to be filled in, and then I need to erase the guidelines and varnish everything so it’s protected from dust, moisture and UV. At that point I’ll reshoot it and stick in the portfolio section for good.

In the meantime I’m working on several really exciting plush projects that will be on display at ComicCon at the end of the month. Preview photos next week!

Thing-A-Day: Craaazy Eyes!

Last week I was working down at Klutz Books, helping them mock-up advance copies of some of their newest books.  One of them contained a painting of a certain U.S. president, and it was our job to cover up his painted eyes with a set of especially jiggly googley eyes.  Now, I’m not normally a sucker for googley eyes, but for some reason, this combination was hilarious.  Literally everyone who walked into the room laughed out loud when they saw it, so I couldn’t resist taking home a few leftover pairs and experimenting on my own.  My thoroughly scientific conclusions were as follows:

Googley eyes are somewhat amusing/disturbing in any size…

…but they’re even funnier if they’re just a couple of sizes too big…

…or they’re looking in a shifty direction…

…or in two different directions.

Athletes are pretty funny with googley eyes…

…especially when they make intense faces…

…and “rockers” are pretty funny, too…

…but no one is funnier than babies!

Magazine/catalog images courtesy of Sports Illustrated and Knit Picks ©2010.

Thing-A-Day: Birthday Bot

I know I’ve already made a few of these, but there’s something so irresistibly fun about turning gift wrap into its own little work of art.  I made this Birthday Bot for our friend Paul, who is really into robots.  And no, he’s not five, he’s thirty, but this gift was presented at a party with the theme “It’s Your 5th Birthday!” The party included balloon animals (I made a snail hat! awesome!), dinosaur tattoos, and a game of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey in which everyone missed the donkey’s butt but managed to collectively and blindly create the longest inappropriate fixture I have ever seen at a children’s party.

To make Birthday Bot I wrapped a huge encyclopedia of beers (Paul is a brewer) in mylar wrapping paper, inside out.  The wrapping has a really pretty print on it (from which I cut B.B.’s eyes), but I thought plain silver would be more appropriate for this project.  The mouth was made from Mrs. Grossman’s stickers I had leftover from my first mandala projects, and his arms are made from cut and folded cardstock.  The antenna thing that is holding the CD envelope is one half of a broken tape dispenser I had sitting on my desk.  The “Robotophant” is a sticker from Neon Monster.  Paul also loves Neon Monster.

As it turns out, what Paul loves more than anything is opening presents, so Birthday Bot didn’t last more than 30 seconds after he got to the party.  Happy 5th birthday!

Thing-A-Day: Knitting

Knitting is one of the most relaxing ways I am able to accomplish making a-thing-a-day.  It’s quietly repetitive, which is very meditative for me.  It’s also relatively stress-free, because as long as you follow the pattern (and the pattern is good), you know exactly what your finished piece will look like before you’ve even started.  The potential for failure or unmet expectations is extremely minimal.

If you like to knit, too, you might enjoy some of these patterns that I have used in the past month (free ravelry membership required for some):

“Owls” sweater by Kate Davies.  Free pattern from Needled.

“Sally” fingerless gloves from Getting Purly With It.  $6 pattern available through Ravelry.  I’m wearing these right now as I type!  The awesome brass lion buttons came from my grandma’s old button box.

Greenleaf Baby Hat by Evelyn Uyemura.  Free pattern on her web site.  This one is going to a newborn in Paris!

Thing-A-Day: Oscar Night!

I’ve always wanted to have an Oscar Party.  The visuals are so dazzling on Oscar night — from the incredible gowns to the elaborate dance numbers — that it makes for the perfect party theme.  So this year I’m taking the leap and actually doing it.  I’m REALLY excited!

My time is very limited these days, so I’m focusing just on games and food.  To start with, I’ve created twelve bingo cards for red carpet time, because we all know that’s when the show really begins.  If you want to use these on Oscar night, click this link to download the pdf.  I’ve designed them to be reusable year after year, so if you have an annual Oscar bash, you could laminate these and use them with dry-erase markers.  You could even play several rounds this way.

Before the awards, guests can fill out an Oscar scorecard to guess who/what will win in each category.  I found a good one over at Rotten Tomatoes.  At the end of the night, the best guesser wins!  For the awards themselves, I’ve downloaded Jessica Jones’ Oscar Bingo cards from her blog How About Orange.  I’m using cheesy $1 DVDs as prizes.

To keep everyone’s bellies happy during five hours in front of the TV, I’ve put together a no-cook Oscar food and drink menu based on all ten nominated films:

  • Avatar: “Unobtanium” (Blue Tropicale cocktail)
  • The Blind Side: Superbowl veggie dip (decorated to look like a football)
  • District 9: Popcorn “Prawns”
  • An Education: Apples for the teacher (kinda lame, but it gets fruit in there)
  • The Hurt Locker: Stealth Bomber cocktail
  • Inglourious Basterds: Nazi pigs in a blanket
  • Precious: Harlem cocktails
  • A Serious Man: Bar Mitzvah bagel chips with cream cheese and lox
  • Up: Kevin’s bird food (assorted chocolates)
  • Up in the Air: Airline Snack Pack (cheese, crackers, raisins and nuts)

I tried to keep the menu as simple and varied as possible, so I can get everything ready in under an hour, and no one would feel sick if they wanted to sample everything.  If you’re low on ideas for your own Oscar party, feel free to use any of these.

Enjoy the Awards, everyone!