Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Home again, home again.

After a big weekend full of travel, family, and food, I am now back in San Francisco and nearly fully recovered.  

Walks help. 


Friday, April 20, 2012

Chreekats! Chreekats everywhere!

Last night I started working on a little project for someone special.  

Here's the first round of proofs for a set of hand-stamped business cards:

Sometimes making artwork for someone other than myself is really challenging, but I am having SO much fun with this!  In fact, it's a little hard to tear myself away.  

Now I have to pack my bags and get ready for a road trip.  I'll be attending my sister's bridal shower in LA this weekend.  It will be a long drive, and originally I had planned to leave by 11 o'clock this morning.

Too bad 11 o'clock came and went half an hour ago, and I'm still in my pajamas :-o

Okay, time to go!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

It's a Small World, Take 2

This morning I painted yet another watercolor drawing to add to the Small World series.

First I laid some color down over the pencil drawing:

Then I drew in the detail with an ultra fine-tipped pen:

Now to just get all three of these guys ready for the wall!  The pieces are actually quite small (how could they be anything but?) - each has been painted on 8x6" watercolor paper.

I think all three would look great hung in a kid's room - maybe in kind of a minimalist frame behind some colorful mat board?  What do you think?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

It's a Small World.

I had so much fun with yesterday's piece, I couldn't help but keep the theme going:

I don't know which excites me more, the idea of a giant mushroom, or a deer that can fit in the palm of your hand.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Small is Beautiful

I made a very exciting discovery while on a camping trip at Bodega Bay a few weeks ago:

A whole miniature universe growing on a small piece of rotting tree!

Lichen Town delights and inspires me to no end.  So full of magic and mystery.

I love to imagine what it would be like to shrink down to size and explore the wild jungles of this tiny world at an enormous scale.

I suppose this is the idea that has inspired my most recent watercolor creation:

Just a cluster of mushroom caps towering like tree tops.  

It's unclear who has shrunk and who has grown.  Bluebird doesn't seem bothered either way, but Fox appears somewhat confused. 

I think I'll continue to experiment with more small worlds, large-scale.  It is certainly a recurring fascination of mine, ever since I was very young.

This being the case, you can imagine how much it pleases me to be staying in an apartment with giant snails living above the refrigerator.

And a pair of tiny cats fwipping their tails atop a tin piano.

I'm fairly certain that they hold little recitals on the coffee table while Bryan and I are away.

It really does make me smile.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

For the love of Paint.

I found some really amazing old watercolors here at the apartment the other day.  They turned out to be just the thing to help alleviate the funk that marked the earlier half of last week.

It's a medium I haven't had much experience with, so I basically just let myself play around with shapes and colors.

Not surprisingly, a few of my favorite friends decided to show up. 

Contented Fox.

Sunbathing Bunny.

Painting just for the love of it.

Ahhhh definitely feeling better :)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Inspiration Point

It's been a gloomy week.  I think I needed a few days to lay low and integrate some of the big changes that have taken place over the past month.

It is challenging to realize that, now that I have all the time, all the privacy, and all the tools to do exactly what I love all day,

I am having a hard time freeing my creativity. 

Wednesday I sketched a little something that I think sums up how I feel.

Funny how one little drawing can help so much.  It gave me a clearer understanding of this strange hesitation to truly embrace my creative freedom, both on the page and in life.

I suppose what I really saw was a story.  

I watched it unfold so clearly in my mind's eye, as though it already had a life of its own.  I even saw how it would take shape in the material sense - perhaps printed as a little zine, or a tiny hand-bound book.  

Something to share with people.

Something to inspire. 

And yet this, too, became painful.

Expressing myself through art can make me feel so completely present, whole and at peace.  But whenever I de-emphasize the creative process and focus instead on bringing a particular project to fruition, the experience becomes unbearable. 

The task looms heavy over me like a joyless chore.  Nothing ever looks good enough.  The concept seems either too naive or pretentious.  I realize I hate my work and maybe even myself and I wonder how I ever had the audacity or nerve to think myself an artist, and what am I really doing with my life, anyway? 

It's rather impressive how quickly this sort of thinking escalates.  

Still, one sketch turned into a few more.

Which I suppose means I managed to cope alright, to some degree.

Yet I couldn't seem to completely shake the negative self-talk, and it became clear that I needed to walk away from the drawing board for a while

So I got on my bike and simply rode.  

Bicycles are such wonderful anti-depressants.  They seem to bestow upon the rider a unique gift by unlocking an ability to see and discover all of the magic of the world that is hidden in plain sight.

Leaving the apartment, I cut through Golden Gate Park then headed north, up and down several hills.  With no planned destination, no preferred outcome, no particular expectation - simply enjoying the ride.

The last hill was steep.  Another cyclist had even pulled off to the sidewalk, electing to walk his bike up the incline.  Shifting into high gear, I managed to make it to the top without dismounting.  

That's when I noticed that the road forked sharply, sloping downhill in either direction.  In a split-second decision, I opted to coast to the right, sill clueless as to where I might be headed.

Then a vista unfolded as I come around the bend: To the right, a neat row of Victorian style homes hugging the edge of the city; straight ahead, a hill blanketed by a lush canopy of trees; and floating there on my left was the peaceful San Francisco Bay.  

The scene was so beautiful and so unexpected, it literally brought tears to my eyes.  

I pulled into the lookout area to catch my breath, and couldn't help but smile when I spotted the sign informing me where I was:

Inspiration Point.

Yes, that would do.

I sat there for some time.  Watching the boats on the water.  A hawk riding the thermals.  Some hikers inbound on the trail.  And by the time I got back on my bike to leave, something miraculous had happened:

I had remembered myself.

What a beautiful gift.
Isn't this what expression and creation are really here to help us achieve?

Maybe that's the only part of my art I need to worry about.  Not if it is technically good, or culturally relevant, or likeable by others.  Not what possible future effects may result from its creation.  Simply:

Is it honest?  Is it authentic?  Is it me?  

Can I let myself love it?


Monday, April 9, 2012

Birthday picnic!

Every once in a while, my birthday falls on Easter Sunday, and this was one such year. 

It was a gorgeous day - which makes me feel all the more fortunate to live across the street such a big, beautiful park. 

So how could I celebrate by doing anything else but going on a picnic?

That morning I baked some fresh scones to go with the clotted cream and strawberries Bryan and I picked up from the market the day before.  

Then we brewed some hot tea in a thermos, packed our bags, and set off by bike.  

We picked a nice spot among the daisies near the Conservatory of Flowers, where there were plenty of interesting people to watch.

And proceeded to dine. 

Thanks to everyone who helped make it such a special day!  I'm looking forward to another exciting year :)

Friday, April 6, 2012

A visit from the Easter Wabbit

Whipping up some last-minute Easter cards!

Earlier this week, I mentioned how eager I have been to try my hand at carving my own rubber stamps.

So I took a trip to the Blick art supply store on Market and picked up a few Speedy-Cut blocks.  

This was my first time working with this material, and it certainly feels a lot different than carving a linocut.  It cuts very easily compared to linoleum, but luckily I didn't find it too difficult to adapt. 

I also love how it's sturdy enough to cut into even the tiniest pieces.  The grass I threw in as an afterthought, just because I had some corners to spare.  I'm grateful it happened to work out this way, since the added color and texture seem to pull the scene together.

I think I'll get to work addressing some envelopes.  Of course they wont arrive in time for Easter, but hopefully they'll serve to brighten someone's day all the same.

Update: I ended up carving even more wee stamps from scraps

...and have used them to create some original stationery.

...in festive spring colors!

That's the envelope on the left and note card on the right

A little detail of the mushrooms.  They are tiny - about as big as my thumbprint. 

I love snail mail! And rubber carving! And Spring!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Snail Mail Art

Two of my friends recently welcomed their first baby into the world, and yesterday I got to sit down and create a special card to send them.  It was a great opportunity to pull out one of my favorite inventions: the watercolor postcard.

The set of watercolor cards I am currently using I have had for some time, and came all the way from Germany.  I had just finished up a semester abroad in Rome and was traveling through Europe by rail.  Poking around the city of Freiburg, I stumbled upon a cute little art supply shop where I picked up my first set of Aquarell Postkartenblock.

Back then, I never could have guessed that 8 years later I would still have a handful of these cards to spare, let alone that I would be using one to send to my friend of 12 years in honor of he and his wife's first-born!

And how exciting that this would also be my first time painting in my new home studio  :)   

So much magic and mystery in life.

Speaking of which, at the time I sat down to begin my postcard painting project, the subject matter of the piece was still entirely unknown to me.  So I did what always seems to work best in those situations when I simply haven't got a clue: I doodled.

And wouldn't you know that just the perfect thing presented itself almost immediately:

A handsome elephant with a curved trunk.

Elephants are beautiful symbols of family, so I was happy to roll with it.  After just a few minutes, with a little tweaking, I had come up with a simple, symmetrical design:

And then added, of course, a baby.

Started out by laying down some green grass and yellow-orange sky.

Then threw some color on the pachyderms, plus a little red to bring out the heart silhouetted by their trunks.

Hmm... still missing something...

Ah, perfect :)

I hope this inspires you to try sending some crafty love via snail mail.  Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Quick Craft & New Digs.

Over the weekend Bryan and I settled into our new/temporary April home in the beautiful city of San Francisco.  Being a pair of minimalists, we managed the move with just one car load and the help of a good friend.

It seemed that all had gone smoothly, though going through my art drawers today, I encountered a bit of a mess.

I was relieved to find that this rubber eraser was the only casualty of a leaky ink jar, and equally pleased to realize that this was a great excuse to try my hand at something I have been thinking about for some time now:  

Carving my own rubber stamps.

He's a cute little feller. 

As I was saying: 

So I live in San Francisco now.  Bryan was offered a 6-week programming contract here in the city, and it's hard to believe he is already through the first two weeks.  It will be a short stay, but already our little place feels like home.  

Presenting:  My new Art Studio

Our humble sublet belongs to an artist who has filled the apartment with paintings, photos, sculptures, and so many other interesting and inspiring things!  

Not only that, but our window looks out over Golden Gate Park, and yesterday I enjoyed a nice run through the trees all the way to Ocean Beach.  It's such a blessing to have so much nature right outside our door.

And not only THAT, but my self-appointed job while living here is simply to write, paint, and draw as much as my heart desires.  

I am so grateful for this wonderful opportunity!