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.
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.)
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!!
Earlier this year, I had the supreme joy of working with Danielle (Mastrangelo) and Brad Walish on various custom illustrated components for their wedding stationery and other paper goodies. Over the course of several months of collaboration, I created a custom color palette, floral motif and hand-lettering that was woven through different aspects of their gorgeous Tuscan destination wedding, from the invitations, to their ceremony programs and dinner menus.
This was the first project of this kind that I had taken on since officially launching LGA&I in Fall 2014, and let me tell you- it was an absolute blast. I loved every step of working with Danielle and Brad - they were enthusiastic, fun, thoughtful and had a clear vision for their wedding atmosphere. As an artist, this kind of project is so satisfying. Knowing how meaningful each aspect of my work was to them was the most gratifying feeling.
So, it was really icing on the cake yesterday when I found out that Vogue.com featured Danielle & Brad's beautiful wedding story and photos, as well as images of the ceremony program I created for them. Take a moment to look at these stunning, ethereal and utterly romantic images of a truly incredible day for a truly wonderful pair. See the full article and slideshow right HERE. Congratulations Danielle & Brad!
Oh! And check back on Thursday for a behind-the-scenes look at the process of working with Danielle & Brad, and the various pieces I created for them.
Happy Saturday, Friends!
In the not-too-distant-future, I see myself wistfully telling our daughter, Lucy, about the good old days when I’d flip through my huge, overstuffed Caselogic CD case to choose an album to listen to. To her, the technology that fueled the musical backdrop of my teenage years will seem as ancient as a phonograph did to me when I was young. I remember saving my babysitting money until I had enough to go to the music store, then holing up in my bedroom, greedily tearing open those pesky cellophane wrappers and methodically paging through the album art, pledging to learn all of the lyrics while listening to every song on repeat.
When we moved to Oakland earlier this year, I found four of huge Caselogic books packed away in storage. Flipping through their heavy pages, filled with thick album covers and shiny discs, I found myself lost in thought about times in my life that haven’t floated through my brain in years. Not just specific memories, but also the feelings of moments in time. Moments when it truly seemed that the music I had chosen was the actual soundtrack playing in my life, just like in a movie.
I have hauled my collection of CD’s around with me for years, not having a use for them, but not willing to part with them. This time, though, when I flipped through them, I saw everything they contained in a new way. Maybe it is because this year has brought profound changes in my life and the life of my family. Maybe it’s because I feel like I have been fast-forwarded into grown up mode: wife; mother of one, with another on the way; new homeowner. These primary aspects of my life are everything to me- they come with immense joy and emotion, immense love and gratitude, and immense responsibility. It seems like eons ago when what mattered most was carefully choosing a CD to listen to while driving the ten minutes to my high school. That album would predict my day, that song was meant for me, those words somehow reading my mind.
Maybe, it’s that I am three weeks away from welcoming another precious little soul into our family and I am feeling nostalgic. But, maybe not. My memory is jogged by this music in the best possible way- I remember those days and all they carried with them in detail, especially the way time moved more slowly then. And I am pretty glad I’ve held onto these weighty tokens of the past for all the years.
So, today, I’m introducing the first installment of my new series: Music + Memories. Each month, I’ll choose an album cover to illustrate, and post it here with some brief ramblings about what that album recalls for me. I’m looking forward to unearthing some real treasures. I'd love to hear about your musical memories too, so feel free to comment below as you follow along.
Without further ado, the first album: The Allman Brothers' Band: A Decade of Hits
More than any other album in my collection, I think this one got the most wear and tear, through the biggest expanse of years of my life. The 16 tracks on this album played through teenage heartthrobs, giddy laughter with friends, and the first time I drove my beloved first (used) car. It was a Saab. 1989 turbo, manual. I spent countless summer hours in that car, sunroof down, listening to Allman Brothers croon away, with their slide guitars. This album spurred my desperate, 14-year old desire to learn the to play the guitar myself. I remember dragging my mom along with me to a seedy guitar shop a few minutes from our house, to inquire about lessons. The denim-clad man behind the counter, who eerily resembled Gregg Allman, looked at me skeptically and promptly asked me what kind of music I wanted to learn. When I answered innocently, “Uhmmmm...The Allman Brothers,” he nearly laughed me out of the joint. I ended up taking a few lessons- but didn’t stick with it. This album, however, has stuck with me, for a long, long time.
Happy Thursday, Friends!
As many of you know, I was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan and have a lot of pride for my home state. If you happen to bring up the midwest in conversation, I tend to get a little chatty. Even though I'm now a California girl, my heart still belongs to the Great Lakes State in so many ways.
When Craig and I got married in northern Michigan in 2010, I made a series of drawings of native Michigan wildflowers to adorn the tables at our reception. I was thrilled when Grand Rapids' incredible Blandford Nature Center asked if they could repurpose the drawings for a set of note cards to sell in their shop. BNC is a place near and dear to my heart- a serene, bountiful 143-acre nature preserve and education center in the middle of Grand Rapids, where I spent a lot of time as a kid romping through the woods. The cards are currently in production, and will be for sale in BNC's gift shop this fall. If you're ever in West Michigan, I highly recommend a visit to this unique place.
Happy Thursday, friends!
In the spring of this year, my friend Maggie asked me make a custom birth announcement and coordinating stationery for their second daughter, Frances. Sweet baby Frances and her gigantic smile happily landed on the scene in mid-February. I loved the idea of making a birth announcement, something I'd never done before. Maggie and I agreed on a springy, colorful palette and lots of florals. Check out the color palette, sketches and hand-lettering samples that were part of my process.
Happy Thursday, Friends!
Earlier this year, the lovely Danielle Walish and Jessica Stambaugh of interior design studio, Decorative Traces, asked me to illustrate and hand-letter a menu and place cards for their table at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House's annual gala. Lenox Hill Neighborhood House is a 121-year old settlement house in New York, offering human services to 20,000 people a year.
Each design studio hosting a table at the luncheon, was charged with creating a table inspired by the event's Garden of Eden theme. Danielle and Jessica developed a lush, tropical direction for their table, infused with vibrant greens, watery and dark blues, and touches of gold.
Here are some behind the scenes images of my sketches, color palette, final menu and place cards, for their tropical table design.
Happy Thursday, friends!