Monday, September 15, 2014

Birds and More Birds

Here's another pattern that I was commissioned to create by Sublime Stitching, the contemporary embroidery company I mentioned in my last posting. This assignment might have been simple for most artists, but for some reason, it gave me a real run for the money. I find birds to be a challenging subject matter. They are so streamlined and uncomplicated in shapes, and yet I wrestle with them as if I were drawing the blueprint of a submarine. You can view and/or purchase this pattern "Songbirds" on Sublime Stitching's website here.

Because I tend to always overcomplicate things, I am a big fan of the illustrator Charley Harper. His knack of simplifying his subject matter and rendering it with graphic boldness and often sweet humor is brilliant. Check out these great images, courtesy of Audubon.org:

"Green Jay, 1956"

"Cardinal", 1960

"Red-eyed Vireo", 1959

"Eskimo Curlew", 1957

"Baltimore Oriole", 1959

"Water Turkey", 1958

I find it really amusing, as well as inspiring, to know that these simple designs and graphic clean lines came out of this chaotic studio...it makes me feel a whole lot better about my own messy studio!

Charley Harper

Friday, September 12, 2014

Housing Development


I mentioned a while back that I created some illustrations for a fabulous contemporary embroidery company, SublimeStitching.com. I think my favorite was the Atomic 50's ranch house...or maybe the fairy tale cottage, both sketches featured above. You can view and/or purchase the final pattern on Sublime's website here: HOUSES.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Black-Footed Ferret and Prairie Dog



Now here's a couple that are truly up a creek without a paddle. The black-footed ferret depends on the prairie dog as a food source and for their burrows for nesting, but the extinction of the prairie dog is having a toll on the ferret population by extension. In fact, as late as 1981, the black-footed ferret was considered extinct until a colony was discovered in Wyoming. Much of the demise of both species has been caused by a bacterial plague for which they have no immunity, and by ranchers who consider them competition for the grass that their livestock depend on. Oil on wood panel, 30" x 40".

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Salt Marsh Harvest Mice


Another of my "Numbered Days" series of endangered creatures. These cute little fellers are found only in the San Francisco Bay area. They are very unusual in that they drink salt water and swim very well, floating on the tide looking for pickleweed plants to munch upon. Their days are numbered because housing developments continually drain or dyke the marshlands near the bay, eliminating their habitat. I'm not a huge fan of mice, but I'm rooting for them!  Oil on wood panel, 30" x 36"

Monday, August 4, 2014

Roseate Spoonbill


Many years ago I created a series of oil paintings depicting endangered species. Each canvas had a surreal twist to it, usually involving numbers within the creature's natural environment, symbolizing the limited number of remaining species. I really enjoyed this series. This particular canvas depicts an endangered spoonbill found in Florida. Interesting, it was purchased by a Minnesotan who told me it is gracing the living room of his winter home in Florida.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Great Outdoors


Friends of mine are driving up north to the Boundary Waters this weekend to relax and camp out. You know, pitch a tent, hike and do all those outdoorsy things. It's all well and good if you're armed with a can of heavy-duty bug spray and bear repellent, but frankly, my idea of the great outdoors is sitting next to a tent more like these:

photo: London West Hollywood Hotel

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sweet Summer



What a glorious week of summer we have had! I am enjoying it because frankly, it's just a teeny blip on the radar of weather here in Minnesota - the rest of the year is winter. Summer is extraordinarily beautiful, and winter is extraordinarily awful, I just wish the ratio were 50:50. According to the pamphlet that I received from the city when I first moved here many years ago from sunny California, there are only two places on earth with weather extremes more severe than Minnesota: Siberia and Mongolia. I wish I had seen that pamphlet before I moved here. So far this summer I have finished a book project for Dover Publications (fun!), hired someone to shore up my crumbling garage foundation (expensive!), tripped on a curb while jogging with dog (a contusion - painful!) and enjoyed out of town guests (intoxicating!) Speaking of out of town guests, aren't these garden visitors beautiful? I planted a garden specifically for bees and butterflies since they need a little help from mankind, and it does seem to attract them all. My neighbors have milkweed plants in their yard, so next year I'm going to beg for some seeds, since milkweed is a staple source of food for butterflies.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Art-a-Whirl 2014


Neighborhood

My studio building hallway. Photo: Dan Marshall

My studio building hallway
Music event during last year's Whirl
Northrup King Building - my home away from home



It's that time of year again - Art-a-Whirl, the nation's largest art crawl! Thank goodness the forecast is for good weather, which is a small miracle. Come visit me at the Northrup King Building, 1500 Jackson Street NE, in Studio 350 - hope to see you!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Doodles



I've tried to whiten these sketchbook pages, but to no avail, so I'm posting them anyway. Believe me, they are white pages, not gray!

I'm working on illustrating a children's book about bugs, so I went to the library to see what I could find for references. Oh my gosh, I found more than I bargained for! I got distracted and spent an hour just reading about various bugs and their habits, it was fascinating! Then I did some sketches. It was a bit challenging for me since I'm squeamish about bugs, and yet I had to find a way to make them cute. I also wanted them to have a different look than what has already been done by Disney/Pixar studios. After a bit of tweaking and reworking, I got into the groove and had a lot of fun. I'll post the end results later on down the road.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Inspiration from the Past

I think I'm not running on all my cylinders. On Sunday, I watched the mailman walk up to my house to deliver the mail, and I thought, since when did they start delivering the mail on Sunday? That's when I realized it was SATURDAY, not Sunday. That shocked me a bit. Then this morning, I showed up at 8 a.m. at my tax guy's office only to be told my appointment was not today, it's tomorrow. So I drove home and decided what I really wanted to do with the rest of my day was go back to bed with a bag of Oreo cookies. Realizing that this plan would ultimately come back to haunt me, I decided to do something fun on this gray snowy day - I would go to see the Matisse exhibit at the museum. The exhibit was a treat, but the real moment of inspiration came as I left the exhibit.

As I passed through the adjoining room of Native American artifacts, I came across a beautiful Innu Indian warrior hunting coat of the 18th century. The accompanying text informed me that Innu Indians originated in what is now Quebec, and for them, hunting caribou was considered not only a survivalist routine but a holy occupation. The caribou and their god needed to be appeased for the hunt to be successful. Before the hunt, the warrior's wife created a hunting coat out of the hide of the previous slain caribou. The motifs on the coat were dreamed by the hunter and given to his wife to interpret and paint with earth pigments. Here's the part that struck me - the success of the hunt depended on the skill and artistry of the coat's creator!

A great example of the importance of women and art in society!

Image courtesy of : Naskapi News, One Nation, One People

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Goodbye Papa

Dad with his sketchbook


At the Mall


By the garden with Suzi-Q


On Ash Wednesday (a day to remind us of our mortality, ashes to ashes) my beloved Papa departed this world. He was healthy, lucid and comfortable to this last week when he stopped eating. On Wednesday he became very tired and lay down in his bed. We said everything we needed to say with lots of love, and while I held his hand, he breathed his last at 6 p.m. I could not have wished for a more peaceful transition than this. He was seven days shy of his 101st birthday, yet I thought he would live forever and I cannot believe he did not. I miss him terribly, but I hold him close to me in all the things I see and hear that bring him to mind. He was the most important man in my life, a source of inspiration, comfort and wisdom. Today as I walked outside and saw the trees, I was reminded of the time I complained that the trees were so depressing in winter, stark without their foliage. He told me it was his favorite season for the trees, because you could see through them to the beyond, unlike the summer versions. I'm sure his sunny disposition is serving him well in the Beyond.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Several years ago I was commissioned to create a series of illustrations of birds, somewhat in the fashion of a field guide, for Sublime Stitching, a fabulous contemporary embroidery company whose motto is "This Ain't Your Gramma's Embroidery". Indeed it is not! This rough sketch was the first series I submitted, and it was rejected, not because the drawings were bad, but because they were too complicated for embroidery patterns - the illustrations needed to be simpler and more stylized. I redid them, thankful for the lesson in simplicity, and you can see the finished pattern ("Songbirds") here. Check out all the other patterns - the Artist's Series contains some very zany creations!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Grill Girl


It doesn't matter if there is four feet of snow on the deck, you can still go out and barbeque. Well, YOU can go out and barbeque. I'll just sit inside by the fireplace, waiting for dinner to be served. This is all a dream, I confess, since I don't have a deck, a grill or a working fireplace.

However....I can sit by the non-working fireplace and wait for a pizza to be delivered, that's my idea of a relaxing dinner!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Lawnmower Lady


With a hat like this, mowing the lawn is a fashion statement, not a task. I might complain a lot about winter, but I also keep telling myself, At least I don't have to mow the lawn!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Patio Princess


I can't wait until I can be a Patio Princess. First I'll need warm weather. (what is that?) Next I'll need a patio. (no money for that) I'll need to be a bit taller and a lot thinner. (impossible) On second thought, perhaps I could just be a regular Princess.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Mulch Mama


I know we are not into raking leaves right now, but I feel like I need some bright colors, and this chartreuse background is really perking me up. Winter can get so...monochromatic. This illustration is a continuation of the "Garden Girls" series that I began posting a while back.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Happy Trails To You


Time for the annual winter photo! Here's my backyard. Here's my confused little dog. Here's to never having to shovel again this winter. Not only do I shovel my driveway (double wide of course), a winding sidewalk up to my front door and a very long path for the postman across my lawn which is an entire vacant lot..I also shovel paths for miss Suzi-Q because she is so short she can barely get her head above the snow! You can imagine the difficulties she faces in doing her "chores". I still maintain spring is coming, although it does seem very far away!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Garden Goddess

In spite of certain doubting relatives living in Fargo, ND, I will hold fast to my promise that spring will come by posting yet another of my t-shirt illustrations from yesteryear. This one entitled Garden Goddess was one of my favorites.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Compost Queen




Years ago I designed a series of t-shirts with silly illustrations on the front. They were very popular - apparently silly is good! We need more silly! I called them my Garden Girls. In the middle of this winter, as I look out my window at the falling snow, I'm thinking...spring. Spring will come. We can wear our t-shirts and garden once again.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Bedtime Reading




Kids love storytelling and a good bedtime story. Kindles and Nooks are popular now, so it was only a matter of time before kids got their equivalent - this preliminary drawing done three years ago was for a Christmas catalog advertising a reading/interactive toy.