Five Favorite Tools No. 4: Chloe Warner

© Lindsay Gardner

© Lindsay Gardner

Interior Designer Chloe Warner expresses her artistic vision through a unique blend of pattern and color. Her work balances vibrant, traditional florals and textiles, with light and airy geometric pieces, fresh color and modern touches. Chloe's sensibility was enriched from a young age by her mother's and grandmother's elegant interiors and, as she says,"passion for flowers and fabrics," a propensity that has stuck with her and has become a defining aspect of her aesthetic.

After graduating from Harvard's Graduate School of Design in 2005, Chloe founded Redmond Aldrich Design. Since then her business and imaginative perspective have thrived and become a well known design beacon. She's been prominently featured in a number of design publications, and this year, her work was featured in the esteemed San Francisco Decorator Showcase.

She continues to cultivate her creativity, drawing inspiration from a well-rounded confluence of sources - patterns, textiles, art, comedy, literature and architecture. While she takes craftsmanship and design very seriously (she doesn't mess around!), she maintains a refreshing sense of humor and whimsy, giving her work that very special something. It's elegant and approachable; inspired, yet always livable and cozy- the ideal combination.

Here are Chloe's reflections on her Five Favorite Tools: 

1. & 2. Mechanical Pencils & grid notebook.  These are such a staple for me - I use them to sketch plans, render an elevation, take notes, and I love the look of 20 yellow pencils peeking up from a nice cup.  Order, you know?

3. Swatches. If paint were the only tool I had I swear I would be just fine. These British colors are my favorite, because of the limited choices (all options are good), and the moody descriptions. For example:  Green Smoke No. 47 - “An uncertain green/blue/grey color popular in the second half of the 19th century.”

4. Pinboard.  So much of my job is about combining beautiful things that other people have made, and I couldn’t live without a surface where I can see, for instance just how a pink velvet looks with an olive ribbon and a geometric wallpaper.  I am constantly adding and subtracting, stealing and editing.

5. Pom Poms. I love having poms of all shades ready to pop into a scheme.

 

Five Favorite Tools No. 3: Sara Sandler-Greisberg

© Lindsay Gardner

© Lindsay Gardner

A multi-media artist, with a diverse range of skills, Sara Sandler-Greisberg makes all kinds of creations from paint, collage, vintage and repurposed textiles, and sewing. Since 2009, her main creative focus has been Grass & Clovers, a line of clothing for women and children, home accessories and soft goods that she lovingly co-founded with her mother, Deborah Fell. As a child in the 1970's, Sara watched her mom's creativity at work with her patchwork quilt business, "Strawberry Patch," and was constantly surrounded with colorful fabrics and crafty activity. When she had her own daughters, Sara started making patchwork appliqué clothing repurposing the same vintage fabrics that she played with as a kid. Her sweet, detailed pieces embody modern bohemian life.

Tragically, in 2013, Deborah lost her battle with cancer. Despite this profound, life-changing loss, Sara has continued to be devoted to her own art practice and the expansion of Grass & Clovers. An incredible testament to the importance and beauty of all that she and her mom started together, and the creative spirit that is engrained in her. As you'll see, her tools tell an especially meaningful, intergenerational story.

Here are Sara's Five Favorite Tools, in her own words: 

1. Vintage Fabric. I always get inspired by looking at vintage fabrics- I love the feel, colors, textures and patterns-  especially in a piece like this- there is clearly a story behind it. Collecting remnants of old quilt pieces- once intended for a project and left abandoned. Someone took the time to cut these pieces, sew them together in such a way and left the final product unfinished..  I like to take these pieces and make them new again.

2. Flea Market Pin Cushion. I found this pin cushion  at the Pearl River Mart, when it was still in Soho. It really just spoke to me. up until finding it, I placed all my pins on this ugly tomato shaped pin cushion, and it had no soul. This pin cushion, with all its bright colors and cute little people always makes me smile- and brings me a bit back to my childhood. It is playful and sets the perfect tone for me to become inspired.

3. Color Wheel. My color wheel is a huge part of my every day life. I love working in color combos but need to make sure they work harmoniously! This color wheel has been with me since college!

4. Sewing Machine. This sewing machine is incredibly special and valuable to me. This was my mom's sewing machine. She was the inspiration for everything that I do; I feel closer to her when I use this machine.

5. Sewing Scissors. These are the ONLY small scissors I use to trim loose threads or cut small pieces of fabric. The finger holes are perfectly rounded, the weight is just right and they are perfectly sharp. These were also my mothers scissors and I use them every single day.

 

Five Favorite Tools No. 2: Brian Herrick

© Lindsay Gardner

© Lindsay Gardner

I first met my Brian Herrick about eight years ago when I volunteered in his art classroom. In addition to being a super inspiring kindergarten through eighth-grade art teacher, Brian makes his own art, often in the wee hours of the morning and night. He proudly works on multiple interests and mediums- illustration, drawing, painting, and comics. His work is filled with nature-based imagery, witty observations and sarcastic humor, bright color, retro-inspired lettering, intricate line work and painterly form. Here are his five favorite tools, in his own words.

1. Porcelain dish. I use this for mixing gouache, ink or watercolor.  Can't handle using plastic. Must be this.

2. Nibs for inking.  I've used classic nibs before, but these two are special.  The nibs are Turner and Harrison #33 nibs which are not made anymore. My friend Sam Sharpe (amazing cartoonist) turned me on to these and gave them to me from his stockpile of nibs he's sought out over the years. They are AMAZING and give that classic cartoonist line which is deceptively hard to achieve.

3. Pentel 0.9 mm pencil. This is a fat pencil and I prefer sketching with this than really fine tipped pencils

4. Winsor and Newton Series 233 nr00 brush.  Get's the job done. I also like the 01-05 brushes. I go through a lot of these.

5. Expect the unexpected: The Skilcraft US Government pen. First: I love it because it is, hands down, the very best ball point pen you will ever use. Always works, even in cold weather, and gives a magnificent line. I love drawing in my sketchbook with it. It just slides over the surface.  It's just really, really buttery.  Here's the interesting part: I first found this pen on accident about 15 years ago. They kept turning up at national parks but I couldn't find them in stores.  I did a little research and was able to find them online. Skillcraft is made by the blind. Due to a 1938 law signed by President Roosevelt, it was created to give jobs to people who are sight impaired. Skilcraft now employs 5,000 blind Americans in the US.  And it is an amazing tool. Order a box today. I prefer the medium not the fine point. 

 

Five Favorite Tools No. 1: Pamela Baron

I'm excited to announce that today I'm launching an ongoing series called Five Favorite Tools. 

Like so many, I spend a great deal of my days thinking about the best way to balance my time, and how to structure my art practice so that I can fire up my creative brain efficiently when I have time to work. I've recently come to realize just how important having the exact right materials at hand is to this aspect of my practice-- specific brushes I love, and that feel great in my hand, paint that I can't wait to squeeze onto my palette, a messy palette that I want to jump back into, my favorite paper. When I sit down to make art, the physicality of these materials activates my senses, wakes me up, and makes me want to get started.

In thinking about these questions, I became curious about the ways other artists approach their tools and materials. What are the tools that are super familiar? Which ones are essential? What tools make someone want to dive into their work, and why? Are there special or rare tools that are particularly important? These particulars are super interesting to me, so I decided to delve a little deeper by asking friends, fellow artists and other creatives to participate in this project. I asked the generous folks who said yes to send me pictures of their five favorite tools and answer a few brief questions. Then I illustrate the objects, and share them with you every other week here on my blog and over on Instagram.

Though I'm just getting started with this project, I'm thrilled and fascinated by what I've received so far. These talented, wonderful, imaginative people have sent in thoughtful and thought-provoking descriptions of their tools, and why they matter so very much to what they do. I can't wait to share them with you.

So, without further ado, let me introduce you to the Five Favorite Tools of Oakland-based artist Pamela Baron.

©Lindsay Gardner

 

I am fortunate to have gotten to know fellow Oakland artist, Pamela Baron, in the past year. She makes delicate and whimsical watercolor and ink paintings, and is well known for her detailed paintings of funky Bay Area homes. Here, Pamela describes her five favorite tools, why they're important to her and how she uses them. 

1. My brushes. I use Raphael 8404 Kolinsky Sable brushes almost always in the 3/0 or 2/0 size. My work involves a lot of details and line work so I need the precision of a kolinsky sable brush.  I usually have about 3 or 4 of the same brush that I rotate between. I also have one junk brush with firm bristles that I use to mix paint. My brushes live in a small ceramic house that I found in a vintage store when I first moved back to the Bay Area in 2011. When I saw it in the store, I couldn't believe that I found something that looked like one of my paintings come to life.   

2. My paints. I am obsessed with Schmincke but I also use Daniel Smith on occasion. I discovered Schmincke in college (well, watercolors in general) while I was studying abroad in Rome. In my terrible Italian, I asked the local art supply shop owner what his favorite product was in his entire store and he gave me a pan of Schmincke watercolor. I spent that summer falling in love with watercolor. I love the vibrance of the paint and how thickly I can paint it if I want. This set is special to me because I have been coveting it for YEARS and just this past November I was finally able to afford it so I bought it for myself as a birthday present. I do a lot of mixing in my palette for my own artwork, but for my clients, all paint gets mixed in tiny jars and labeled.

3. My sketchbook. This is a new obsession for me and I am still on the hunt for the best sketchbook with watercolor paper in it.

4. My Fluid Watercolor Pads. I love to experiment and I go through paper rather quickly so this is the most economical watercolor pad I've found. I also like their orange covers. I used to use Arches, but they were so pricey I felt bad whenever I made something not good with them. I find that I paint more often with the Fluid pads. For special projects or for house portraits I use Sennelier watercolor pads which are the best.  

5. My black Acrylic Artist's Ink by Daler Rowney. I put it into a glass jar with an eyedropper top. I think most people assume my black line work is a pen, but it's brushwork with my 3/0 brush. I squeeze a drop or two from the dropper into a bottle cap and run my brush along the ridges to get the perfect amount of ink on my brush. My husband brews and enjoys beers so I have an endless supply of them. (It's also nice to think of him during the day while I work.)

 

Studio Tour: Before & After

Before

Before

 
After

After

 

When we moved into our house in 2015, the space that is now my studio was a sunroom annex off of what is now our daughter's bedroom. As you can see, it was a tad dingy and VERY yellow. After much consideration, we decided to build a dividing wall, which made the bedroom smaller and created a tiny hallway conduit. Et voila: my studio! It's not huge, and it gets pretty warm sometimes and frigid at other times. But, this small, well-lit, breezy space is all mine! I can even close the door when I leave, so that when I return everything is still in the same place (a key factor when sharing a house with two curious kids under the age of five). It's quiet, bright, and my generous windows face the yard, which someday will be even lovelier and full of shady trees and fragrant blooms, as I like to imagine. Having this space, separate from all the distractions of the rest of my domestic life, has been key to me being able to make art these past two years. I feel so grateful to call it mine.

Take a gander below to see more pictures and details about how I organize my space.

Looking in from the hallway we made when we separated this sun room from the bedroom. I use a lot of hot pink artist's tape. And I use a vintage letterpress tray to keep my paints (semi) organized. We collected the posters from concerts at the Fillmore over the years.

Looking in from the hallway we made when we separated this sun room from the bedroom. I use a lot of hot pink artist's tape. And I use a vintage letterpress tray to keep my paints (semi) organized. We collected the posters from concerts at the Fillmore over the years.

When we moved in, this wall was a wide, shallow closet with a broken sliding door. I took the doors off, and had built-in shelves put in. This is where the bulk of my supplies and flat files are stored. The light fixture is from Schoolhouse Electric.

When we moved in, this wall was a wide, shallow closet with a broken sliding door. I took the doors off, and had built-in shelves put in. This is where the bulk of my supplies and flat files are stored. The light fixture is from Schoolhouse Electric.

BOOKS! Having inspiring books around me is comforting and helpful when I'm distracted or in need of a little oomph. My shelves are filled with books, succulent plants, prints and special photos. The house print on the upper left was a gift from Pamela Baron, and the smaller house print is from Kate Pugsley.

BOOKS! Having inspiring books around me is comforting and helpful when I'm distracted or in need of a little oomph. My shelves are filled with books, succulent plants, prints and special photos. The house print on the upper left was a gift from Pamela Baron, and the smaller house print is from Kate Pugsley.

This window bench doubles as storage. Without it, I'd have no where to put all of my shipping and packing materials. Also, it's awesome for aimlessly staring out the window when I need a break.

This window bench doubles as storage. Without it, I'd have no where to put all of my shipping and packing materials. Also, it's awesome for aimlessly staring out the window when I need a break.

Old-school clipboard solution for tacking up inspiring stuff on the back wall of my studio.

Old-school clipboard solution for tacking up inspiring stuff on the back wall of my studio.

Some of my desktop essentials. Vintage scissors that I inherited from my grandmother. That hot pink tape again. Pretty string. Business cards. Palette, watercolor paper blocks, brushes, water. I collected the small rocks along the window sill with my daughter last summer on the shore of Lake Michigan.

Some of my desktop essentials. Vintage scissors that I inherited from my grandmother. That hot pink tape again. Pretty string. Business cards. Palette, watercolor paper blocks, brushes, water. I collected the small rocks along the window sill with my daughter last summer on the shore of Lake Michigan.

The best seat in the house.

The best seat in the house.

 

Behind the Scenes: Flow Magazine's House-Plant Guide

Several months ago, the wonderful dreamers at Flow Magazine asked me if I'd be interested in illustrating plants for a special house plant guide they were putting together. Clearly, being the pretty plant-loving woman that I am, I accepted with glee. My editor, Alice, sent me a list of 15 plants in their latin names, and I promptly started gathering inspiration imagery. 

Here are some of my initial sketches of the plants, objects and latin nomenclature. These helped me get a sense of where I was headed down the road with the full color illustrations. See below for how they came together in the end. And in the meantime, stay tuned for images of the final house plant guide, coming soon. 

Happy sunny springtime, Friends!

Plants1.jpg
 

2016 Christmas Ornament Roundup

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Welcome to 2017 (a little belated) ! I thought I'd kick off the year on the blog by thinking back about the end of 2016. My year's end was full of activity; between holiday prep, many cookie baking sessions with my four year old, and holiday meal planning, I made a bunch of ornaments for lovely people all over the country.

Custom and personal projects like these are so satisfying to make. Making these reminded me of how much small, thoughtful gestures mean when it comes to gift-giving. At a time of year that can get filled with busy plans, parties, errands and tasks, it is really nice to be able to take a moment, hang a special ornament on the tree, sit back and reflect on the year. Especially now that I have kids of my own, trimming the tree has become one of my favorite parts of the holidays. Unwrapping each ornament from the dusty box is like scrolling back through years of memories. It is a time-consuming holiday tradition in the very best way. I hope these ornaments become treasured heirlooms for everyone who got one. 

I hand made each ornament with a good old fashioned rolling pin, cookie cutters and white Sculpey clay, baked in the oven. I drew directly on the surface with oil-based paint pens. Here are a few details of  two custom house ornaments and a stack of pretty packages all ready to go under the tree.

I'll be back next month with a behind the scenes look at one of my big projects from 2016. Happy Friday, friends! 

 

Behind the Scenes: Custom Work for Danielle & Brad's Tuscan Wedding

Last week I shared a glimpse of Danielle & Brad's gorgeous wedding with you, when it was featured on Vogue.com. In 2014, they got in touch with me to ask about working on wedding invitations for their summer 2015 wedding in Italy, and we ended up working on the details together for six months. I am so glad to have had the chance to work with this friendly, warm, thoughtful couple! Today, I'll take you on a behind-the-scenes tour of the process.

Above: the wedding invitation complete with custom monogrammed wax seal, next to the ceremony program. Image by photographer Lelia Scarfiotti.

Above: the wedding invitation complete with custom monogrammed wax seal, next to the ceremony program. Image by photographer Lelia Scarfiotti.

Danielle and Brad's wedding was in Arezzo, Italy, a small city in Tuscany. From the start, we knew that creating a color palette to reflect the Tuscan countryside would be of utmost importance and would guide much of the rest of the process. I  made half a dozen color palette variations for them choose from.

Here is the final palette we went with, which is reminiscent of bright Tuscan summers, with a slightly 1960's twist.

The couple also had in mind a custom-crest for the front of their wedding invitation, as well as a monogram incorporating the first letters of each of their last names. Researching the history of heraldry was super interesting, and I loved looking at images of florals native to Tuscany for inspiration. Below are some of my preliminary crest, monogram and floral sketches. 

Above: various crest sketches 

Above: various crest sketches 

Above: sketches of monogram variations

Above: sketches of monogram variations

Above: floral sketches  

Above: floral sketches  

Danielle and Brad also knew they wanted all of the writing to be hand-lettered throughout their wedding invitation suite. I sketched several styles of lettering, and they chose a not-so-formal cursive style that fit the rustic-but-elegant, relaxed mood they envisioned. Here are the final components of the wedding invitation suite: the two-sided wedding invitation, reply card, and information card. The pieces were put together in a vellum enclosure, sealed with wax and pressed with a custom MW monogram stamp before being sent to guests in a craft paper envelope. 

Above: The final wedding invitation suite.

Above: The final wedding invitation suite.

Danielle and Brad also asked me if I would help them with various pieces for the wedding weekend- a ceremony program, place cards and escort cards, and lettering that could be used throughout other pieces they would use to welcome their guests. They thoughtfully chose every detail that was part of the celebration, including this beautiful poem by Hafiz, and a letter to their wedding guests, which I hand-lettered to adorn the cover and back of their ceremony program. 

Above: the ceremony program front cover

Above: the ceremony program front cover

Above: the back of the ceremony program.

Above: the back of the ceremony program.

Every detail of the wedding weekend was beautifully coordinated. Danielle & Brad incorporated my hand-lettering in a weekend itinerary they designed for their guests. The gorgeous floral arrangements throughout the reception tied into our original color palette. 

Above left: various hand-lettered components incorporated with Danielle & Brad's wedding weekend itinerary. Above right: Image by Lelia Scarfiotti.

Above left: various hand-lettered components incorporated with Danielle & Brad's wedding weekend itinerary. Above right: Image by Lelia Scarfiotti.

Above Left: my hand-lettered escort cards soaking up some bubbly. Above right: the tables incorporating the escort cards, place cards and menus along side gorgeous floral arrangements. Images by Lelia Scarfiotti.

Above Left: my hand-lettered escort cards soaking up some bubbly. Above right: the tables incorporating the escort cards, place cards and menus along side gorgeous floral arrangements. Images by Lelia Scarfiotti.

The wedding meal was obviously a huge aspect of this Tuscan celebration. I illustrated and hand-lettered the menu, which was placed atop gold chargers with a sprig of olive branch at each guest's seat.

Above: the final dinner menu I created for Danielle & Brad.

Above: the final dinner menu I created for Danielle & Brad.

Above: menus and place cards amid stunning table arrangements at the wedding reception. Images by Lelia Scarfiotti.

Above: menus and place cards amid stunning table arrangements at the wedding reception. Images by Lelia Scarfiotti.

Above: a close up of the dinner menu framed by shiny gold chargers at each guest's seat. Image by Lelia Scarfiotti.

Above: a close up of the dinner menu framed by shiny gold chargers at each guest's seat. Image by Lelia Scarfiotti.

Above: more wedding details incorporating my illustrations- on the left, matchbooks printed with the hand-lettered wedding date, and on the right a beautiful guest book hand-embroidered with the crest I illustrated for Danielle and Brad. Image by Lelia Scarfiotti.

Above: more wedding details incorporating my illustrations- on the left, matchbooks printed with the hand-lettered wedding date, and on the right a beautiful guest book hand-embroidered with the crest I illustrated for Danielle and Brad. Image by Lelia Scarfiotti.

I feel truly lucky to have met Danielle and Brad, and honored that they trusted me to help them create pieces for such a huge moment in their lives.

Complimenti, Danielle e Brad!!! 

The happy couple in their first married moments! Image by Lelia Scarfiotti. 

The happy couple in their first married moments! Image by Lelia Scarfiotti.