I've just listed my new Lily of the Valley print on my shop. From now through March 14, which will mark the one month anniversary of the horrific Stoneman Douglas Shooting rampage, I'm donating all proceeds from the sale of this print to Everytown For Gun Safety. This is a small gesture- one that seems tiny in comparison to the tremendous challenge that lies ahead on the path to creating common sense gun laws and ending gun violence. But every little step helps, I've got to believe that. I urge you to research and consider supporting any of the following organizations, get involved locally however you can and most importantly, VOTE and encourage other people to vote in November.
Today I meant to do a lot of responsible things but instead I listened to this album (on CD), retraced a lot of teenage-angsty-hair-blowing-in-the-wind-with-open-windows-in-the-car feelings and drew this cover art and had a nostalgic afternoon thinking about the freedom and crucial nature of music and art and how profound and hard and beautiful and important and delicate this life is. Call me a sap, but it's been a shit week, with so much inexplicable violent tragedy and loss, and the reality of how no one really has any answers. and this actually helped a little.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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!
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!
Last December, the lovely Vanessa Dina at Chronicle Books got in touch with me. She asked if I was interested in working on this gem of a project: illustrations for a holiday cookie cookbook with one recipe for each day of the advent calendar. I was two weeks in to having our second daughter. As I remember, at the time, part of me really wondered if I could pull it off while entertaining an antsy three year old, nursing a newborn and prepping for our first Christmas in our home. The other part of me was thinking "don't bat a single tired eyelash, of course you're going to do this." So I did it. And I am so glad that I did! This was an incredibly fun and creative project to work on. Two years ago when I officially launched my business, I did not imagine I'd be working on my first book cover by this point, let alone with Chronicle Books.
So, here's a look-see at the process of making these illustrations. Going back through these sketches, I was reminded of a very cozy time in our house. Long days, getting used to being the mama of not one, but two sweet birds; swaddling one girl and playing imaginary games with the other, catching zzz's whenever we had the chance, and feeling really grateful for my family next to our own Christmas tree. I hope the illustrations in Cookie Advent Cookbook inspire the same feelings in you. You can pick up your own copy at Chronicle Books right HERE.
Let's start with color! I created five color palettes in all. Here are two of the five:
And this is the final bright, cheerful palette:
Because the cover of the book would have real paper flaps that would open for each day of the advent calendar, I knew from the start that the illustrations needed to be flexible and easily moved around to accommodate the design. I decided to do the trees and decorations as separate pieces that could all be manipulated later. Here are the first round sketches of trees, trimmings and other patterns.
I worked simultaneously on hand-lettering ideas for the page numbers, title, etc.
Once we nailed down the general color and direction, I reworked details in the ornaments and trimmings. Some of these got woven into the main tree illustrations, and others became interior patterns and additions to the recipe pages.
Then I put it all together! Here are a couple of versions I played with for the cover illustration. In the end we reworked the title lettering and including a painted red banner in the final version.
And finally, here are a few shots of the final product! Such a gratifying feeling to flip through the pages of a real book and see my work all throughout! Woot! What a dream.
You may remember that I worked on this super fun project for Chronicle Books last year. I made a few dozen black and white hand painted illustrations of classic bar tools and bar glasses, and this is the final product! Its' so surreal and awesome to see my work be transformed in this way, and also to get to work with the amazing Chronicle Books. The set has two snazzy screen-printed tea towels- one in black with metallic ink, and one in tan with black ink. They are available to purchase for pre-order HERE on Chronicle's website, and will be officially released on March 22nd. Wouldn't these make great hostess gift with your favorite bottle of booze?
Cheers, friends. And, remember, it's five o'clock somewhere!
Just over two weeks ago, we became the proud parents of our second daughter! Though we had almost the entire year to prepare ourselves for this change, nothing could prepare us for the overwhelming joy of the moment we got to meet her. She was born the day before Thanksgiving, and we brought her home the day after. And, despite some overwhelming moments upon arrival in the first few days, our home has never felt more complete. Normally, our holiday might be occupied with busy plans and travel but this year our Christmas is going to be a simple, quiet one, and we couldn't be more excited about it. With the help of our very enthusiastic three-year-old, we have trimmed our house with lights and ornaments, and filled our days with stories and conversations about holiday traditions that have made both myself and my husband remember how magical this time of year can be, especially for kids. But more than any holiday details, we are feeling abundantly grateful for our healthy family, and safe home. There's so much to be thankful for.
I hope you have a peaceful holiday season filled with joy and laughter, Friends!
P.S. A holiday shopping heads-up: My Etsy shop will be closed starting Wednesday, December 16, 2015 and will reopen on Friday, January 1, 2016.