Friday, June 28, 2013

Summer Softie Sewing

For those new here (or as a reminder to old friends,) I teach art to middle through high school students on Fridays throughout the school year.  I am blessed to be able to teach at a small charter school where I can completely design my own classes.  This year, I introduced a new class called "Softies: Design & Construction" and it was wildly popular.  It was quite a challenge for me to teach 20 students how to sew all at the same time but we managed and the resulting creations were absolutely darling.  I loved watching the students hug their completed softies and listening to the marvelously inventive stories behind their creations.

Since I find myself with a wealth of free time now that summer break is here, I am in the process of revamping and freshening up my curriculum.  That includes making new samples to show!  As I practice my cartooning (in anticipation of teaching that again this fall as well), I have developed a bunch of new ideas for softies so I've been sewing up a wee menagerie of critters and creatures.

These are really a three-dimensional extension of my cartooning and illustration work and I enjoy the challenge of taking a doodle from paper to felt.  Once I get going on these, I find it very, very hard to stop.  I usually make monsters but I think my favorites in this group are the softies inspired by real animals.

P.S. Mr. Marley Bear loves it when I sew since the studio table becomes covered in all sorts of soft things upon which taking a nap is required.  Stitch by stitch, I work on projects, soothed by the handwork and the Bear's gentle snores.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Field Guide Concludes: Day 4

My pattern play in the last several weeks owes a deep debt of gratitude to Mary Ann Moss of Dispatch from L.A..  Mary Ann has been painting gorgeous patterns for some time and I have been crazy inspired by her journals.  (She has a new class beginning July 4 called Sewn which is all about painting papers and then crafting with those papers so check it out for a fun summer treat!) My stuff feels a lot more controlled and perhaps a good deal less spontaneous than Mary Ann's work but I was going for "inspired by" and not "copied from" so it's all good.  This journal feels like it is my own style.

During the process of making this journal, I discovered that some hand-painted papers came in very handy as collage fodder.  The collage pieces add some texture amid all the painting. 

If you make one of Teesha Moore's 16-page journals (created from a single sheet of watercolor paper), you'll see that there are lots of flaps that extend the pages.  You have the option, of course, of cutting off those flaps but I love the interactivity required by all those folded pages.  

Here I've included a picture of that little flap on the right closed so you can see the pattern on the back.

And finally, the back cover...Whew!  I hope you enjoyed this field guide to play and that it has inspired you to do some playing of your own!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Robots Attack: ICAD 19-26

Hello Wednesday!  Today at Lost Coast Post the robots are invading once again!  Seriously...I don't think any challenge would be complete for me if I didn't add in some robots so this week's worth of index cards are devoted to those mechancial men I hold so dear.

I drew and colored these robots on gridded index cards that I trimmed down slightly and then mounted to vintage tabbed dividers I found at my local creative reuse center.  The illustrations themselves are drawn with pencil, inked with Microns, and colored with Pitt pens.

These cards also represent characters 157 through 164 in my quest to create 365 drawn, painted, sewn, and/or sculpted characters in 2013.  Just 201 characters and about half a year to go!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Set Sail Aboard the Ship of Destiny

Here's my entry for this week's Glue It Tuesday created by the artful Aimee at Artsyville!  This page in my "Unexpected Convergences" journal turned out a bit more Valentine-y than I might have desired but I still like it as I managed to translate the idea in my head onto paper.

I'm so very close to finishing up this particular journal.  If you'd like to see all the pages I've completed so far, take a peek at this set from my Flickr photostream

Monday, June 24, 2013

Play: A Field Guide: Day 3

It is taking me several posts to show this little journal in its entirety.  Today's Day 3 of "Play: A Field Guide" and features spreads 7, 8, and 9.  (To catch up, see the posts on June 20 and 21 which should show up directly beneath this one.)  Enjoy...

P.S.  The fourth and final day of this reveal will be Thursday June 27...

Friday, June 21, 2013

A Field Guide: Day 2

I had a tremendous amount of fun with this small journal.  The brightness of the colors, the soothing repetition of pattern-painting, the quiet concentration required for hand-lettering...all of these factors made for a very enjoyable journaling experience.

In regards to lettering, I have several Dover books of copyright-free fonts.  I choose a font I think is suitable for the tone and length of the quote I want to letter and then I draw each letter in pencil, referring to the font exemplar as needed.  Once the quote is drawn out in pencil, I use an ordinary fine-tip marker to color in each letter.  It takes time but I find the process oddly comforting.

Not every page in this journal features a quote.  Many pages are just pure pattern and wild clash of colors.  I wanted this "field guide" to be as much about the actual process of playing as it was about the insightful quotations that encapsulated the essence and philosophy of play.

This reveal will continue next Monday and Thursday so stay tuned!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Field Guide Revealed: Day 1

I have become completely enamored with short-term journals.  Rather than working in huge bound journals filled with an endless sea of white pages, I am making my own journals from a single sheet of watercolor paper.  (Teesha Moore shows you how on her You Tube channel.)  These journals are much less intimidating and allow me to focus more closely on a single theme.  As a bonus, they are much easier to store!

Over the next couple of days, I'll be showing, in order, pages from my latest mini-journal called "Play: A Field Guide."  This one is full of exuberant patterns and quotes about play and possibilities.  With the exception of the cover, which features a bit of commercial scrapbook paper and some stamping with a commercial alphabet set, this journal is entirely hand-painted and hand lettered.

I've shown this particular page before but in order to show you the journal as it progresses page by page, I've included it again in this post.

As far as my process goes, I began by laying down blocks of vibrant watercolor and let that dry before using craft acrylics to paint various patterns.  I did all the watercoloring first and once the entire journal was dry, I began focusing on individual pages.  Once the patterns were dry, I lettered each quote.

For Day 2 click here...
Day 3 is here and...
Day 4 is here!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Index-Card-a-Day Pattern Play

For this next set of index card art, I was just playing around with simple and bright patterns.  (I've been doing that a lot lately!  Must be summer's influence!)  It's highly likely that I'll use these index cards in some future project.  I could tip them onto a journal page or cut them up and use the pieces as collage fodder.  For those of you keeping track, this represents cards number 13 through 18.  Just 43 cards to go!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Just a Reminder About Pinning

Just a quickie reminder...this is a "No Pinning, Please" blog and that includes "work arounds" that manage to circumvent my "no pins" code embedded in my blog.  I am so happy that you visit and that you like my stuff but for now I'd just rather it not circulate willy nilly on Pinterest.  Someday, I might change my mind about this particular social media site but for now, please respect my wishes to stay as "un-pinned" as humanly possible.

Monday, June 17, 2013


Just six more pages to go in the seemingly endless Dylusions journal I'm working in called "Unexpected Convergences."  Here's my latest page in this journal, inspired by Henri Matisse's painting Madame Matisse (aka The Green Stripe.)  There's no green stripe in my version and the facial features are different but I wasn't aiming for an exact copy.  With Matisse's painting guiding me, I went way outside my portrait painting comfort zone and discovered that I like it very much!

Friday, June 14, 2013

A Bear in the Studio

I have a constant companion in the studio, one who carefully supervises my every project.  Mr. Marley T. Bear (known more simply as The Bear) is 20 pounds of marmalade love.  He takes up quite a bit of room wherever he decides to lay his head whether it be the computer desk...

...or the studio table as he carefully observes my early morning cartooning and journaling sessions.  He pays very close attention to the scritching of pen on paper.  He'll watch until his eyes get heavy with sleep and then he'll stretch out and take yet another nap.  Typically, this reduces my available workspace by 85% and yet, I can't imagine not sharing my life and art life with this gigantic, infinitely lovable, and sometimes naughty kitty.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Watercolor Wednesday: Greyscale Yearbook Portraits

I absolutely love it when I can combine multiple challenges in one project!  So today's Watercolor Wednesday also serves as entries 7 through 12 in the Index-Card-a-Day challenge as well as characters 150 through 155 towards my goal of 365 characters in 2013.  (A mere 210 characters to go! Ha!)

These greyscale portraits were painted on vintage tabbed index cards from old yearbook photos using only white goauche (opaque watercolor) and Payne's Grey.  The point of this exercise is to learn to really see, compare, and translate changes in value.

My yearbooks are all from the 80s so I focused on the teacher photos since they were all that 80s hair and sad fashion choices!  I would love to get my hands on some older yearbooks (say from the 50s) so I can continue this series.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Full Circle

Just a little bit of art play in the "Unexpected Convergences" journal for Glue-It-Tuesday.  This was a peaceful activity on a Sunday afternoon while stew bubbled in the crockpot and King Kong played on television.  I might have have done a couple things differently with this page had I started with a plan but I do like the final results.  As always, the point was just to play and see what developed on the page.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Playful Peeks

Work continues on my new, short term journal "Play: A Field Guide" and in today's post, I've included some detail shots of the pages.

In this journal, I began with blocks of brilliant watercolor in the background which I then used as inspiration for the patterns that I rendered in equally-vibrant acrylics.  Other than paint, I am allowing myself to use handcarved stamps, hand lettering, and hand-painted "commercial" products (with the exception of the cover where I used a little bit of scrapbooking paper before I decided to be so restrictive.)

The sole point of this journal is to play, of course!  The jarring juxaposition of shape and color may seem wild but I find the process quite soothing.  As I work, I'm leaving room to letter some of my favorite quotes about play and I'll do this when all the pattern work is complete.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Index-Card-a-Day 2013 Begins: Cards 1-6

Well, we go...the beginning of my posts showing what flows out of my head, heart, and hands for the annual Index-Card-a-Day challenge (hereafter known as ICAD).

I had the great fortune of discovering a stack of ancient tabbed index card dividers at my local creative reuse center.  These babies are made from heavyweight stock, almost like cardboard (thicker than what you can find at Staples) so they hold up under a lot of abuse without severe warping or curling.  Plus, they have this beautiful aged cream them!  Anyway, that's what I'm using for ICAD this year.

This year, I've decided to work in small series of 6 to 10 cards at a time and as you can see here, I began with some abstracts.  I printed the cards with my Gelli plate, added some stamping as I desired and then began layering on bits of paper scraps.  Simple, bold, playful: These pieces of index art fit in exactly with my summer plans. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Girl and Her Dragon

As summer break settles into my bones, I feel my imagination blossoming anew in my relaxing brain.  Some time ago, I developed a cartoon character named Og and when this little dragon came to life, I made some notes, thinking maybe, some time in the future, that I'd have him star in a little comic strip.  However, I really haven't had the time or energy until now to work on this project.  Since I'll be teaching cartooning again in the fall, I think this is the perfect time to play around with these ideas and see what becomes of all my doodling and note-taking.

So, long story short, here is the debut of "A Girl and Her Dragon" starring Og the Dragon and a wee child simply named Girl.  At this point, I'll just be playing around with single panel cartoons as I practice body positions and storytelling in a limited space.  All in all, it is grand fun and I feel like a nervous mom as I release this toon into the world...hope it brings a smile to your face today!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Dwell in Possibility

Aaah...summer break has begun!  While I have a massive list of projects I want to accomplish in the next three months, I am making sure I schedule plenty of play time.  This is the time of the year when I relax and recharge; the other three-fourths of the year is typically busy, busy, busy!

In the spirit of celebrating summer vacation, I have started a new, short term journal called "Play: A Field Guide."  I intend to fill this little journal with bold color, wildly clashing patterns, and inspiring quotes.  This page seems finished to me at this point but I give myself permission to revisit it at a future date if the whim strikes.  That is the spirit of dwelling in possibility...
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