Some places you can get free and/or discounted coffee today on National Coffee Day~
Shhhhhhh! I don’t want to hear any grousing about made up holidays when they involve free coffee ;D
And yes, I definitely got my Agent Cooper on and had a damn fine cup of coffee!
Unf- I love Camille Rose Garcia. Her art reminds me of lost Fleischer cartoons. I have her version of Alice in Wonderland (so incredibly acid pastel that it hurts my eyes) but the colors in Snow White are more to my taste. I love when books have details like this- the cloth bound cover is printed.
The book was designed by Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich and it’s amazing. Amazing! So is his name. I thought maybe it was made up, but it looks legit!
She has a version of Cinderella that she’s been working on and posting wips on her Instagram. No word on when it’s due to be released, but it looks delightful as well!
“Gordon Laite’s breathtaking artwork for a Little Golden Book edition of the Andersen fairy tale was found recently in the Golden Books archive. Planned for a 1970 release but never published, this Little Golden Book is finally making its debut for today’s fairy tale fans! And it couldn’t be a lovelier retelling of the story of a determined princess whose loyalty saves her brothers from being turned into swans by an evil queen.” ~Random House
What the what? Yes, you read that right. This is all the more valuable bc Laite died at such a young age, before he had the time to illustrate many books. I’ve already reviewed some of his other stories- like Cinderella, Diamonds and Toads in the Blue Fairy Book, and More Tales to Tremble By.
Based on Hans Christian Anderson’s story, the adaptor, Robin Davies does a wonderful job changing Anderson’s story (of which I’m not a fan) into something nearly identical to the Grimms’ fairy tale, “The Six Swans.” The Late Medieval 15th century setting is amazing. Check out the evil step mother’s bizarre hennin. I also love that she’s nearly green with envy. FYI- if I’d had thirteen kids, I probably would have died too. The beautiful raven haired Elisa meets a fairy woman. I love the little details like mushroom gathering, leaf crown, and blue stockings.
Those ladies are throwing some serious shade Elisa’s way. But not as much as this guy! I almost forgive him bc his fur hat is all kinds of amazing. Can these illustrations get anymore awesomely gothic?Why yes they can- I love that Laite ditched Elisa’s amazing truncated butterfly hennin so he could illustrate her gorgeous hair in the remaining pictures.
This little book is a dream come true for me. Not only is set during one of my absolute favorite time periods for fairy tales, it’s by Gordon Laite, the most influential of my childhood art heroes.
For a not particularly violent person, I love murder mysteries.
As I mentioned last time, I don’t find tv watching relaxing. The minutes crawl by, so I have to have something next to me to distract me, usually my phone where I’m reading an article (I don’t have social apps on my phone except Instagram). I would knit, but having the light bright enough doesn’t really enable my husband to watch tv comfortably. However, over August we made it through the first 5 seasons of “Supernatural.” After a predictably rough start, midway through the first season it got good- really good! It may have had something to do with Ben Edlund’s involvement (if you haven’t read or watched The Tick, find it immediately. It’s parody still holds up brilliantly, perhaps even more so now that ninjas & superheroes are hot again). After the end of season 5, which wraps up the series nicely, we decided to take a break before we watched the more recent seasons.
Next we watched “Broadchurch.” WOW. I mean, we knew we’d love parts of it bc of David Tennant, but everyone was well written and well acted, especially Olivia Colman. They’ve remade it for America as “Gracepoint,” which will be starting October 1st. I don’t know that I love Tennant’s American accent and to be honest every else looks so shiny. But while the first two episodes of Gracepoint are supposed to mirror Broadchurch, from there it diverges and has a different plot. Who am I kidding, we’ll totally watch it, but probably start at episode 3 & power watch 1,2, & 3 at once so we don’t have that sense of disappointment. We loved Broadchurch so much that it left us with that feeling of a bad breakup. Does that ever happen to you? You love something so much and when it’s over nothing else compares (cue Sinead O’Connor and her glycerin tears).
picture is Luther wallpaper from http://stylefavor.com/luther/luther_wallpaper/
We decided to rebound with Luther. We were first introduced to Idris Elba in The Wire (another show that left us like a bad breakup). Luthor is good, really good and it features a delightful anomaly: a female master villain. Neither my husband nor I found Ruth Wilson as Alice attractive. She has what I term, “the Innsmouth Look” (Lovecraft! & seriously, please stop putting fillers in your upper lip), but I soon fell in love. I explained to my husband that she’s like what would happen if Batman had to team up with Poison Ivy- (side note, how amazing would Idris Elba be as Batman? He’s tall, gorgeous, and radiates intelligence). He ended up coming around to her & now every time she shows up we squeal bc we know the show is going to get SO GOOD!!!
Oh! I should mention in case it’s not apparent, these shows are SUPER messed up and not for the faint of heart. Netflix has Supernatural and Luther, but you have to pay for Broadchurch on amazon. it’s worth it. Be careful, apparently the BBCAmerica version cut scenes out :(
Along with my permanent musical inspirations- Bowie, Roxy Music, and all things late 60s/70s- there are a few more current musicians that I find inspiring.
Of Monsters and Men- My Head is an Animal- an Icelandic group with whimsical, cheery music. They’re like listening to a weird and wonderful children’s book.
Florence + the Machine- Ceremonials. Lush music that reminds me in some ways of Siouxsie and the Banshees. It’s like listening to velvet. Florence is also heavily influence by the Pre-Raphaelite aesthetic, which is also why I love her! Doesn’t she look like Ophelia here?
Arcade Fire- Neon Bible. Oh My Goodness, is there anything better than “Black Mirror”? The lyrics will float up from my subconscious at those quiet moments. A few months ago I woke up at 4:30am with this on perma play in my head-
“The black mirror knows no reflection
It knows not pride or vanity
It cares not about your dreams
It cares not for your pyramid schemes
Their names are never spoken
The curse is never broken
The curse is never broken
Un! Deux! Trois! Dis: miroir noir!
Un! Deux! Trois! Dis: miroir noir!
It may have something to do with us having a black framed mirror (thanks Ikea) as well as my ambivilent attitude towards tv. I love shows and movies, but I just can’t sit and watch something without doing something else at the same time. It makes my husband a little crazy bc it’s his go-to way to relax, but I don’t find sitting to be relaxing at all. Our nighttime hour of show watching is definitely something I do bc I love him- although we have been watching a slew of shows that have captured my interest! I’ll post about them next time.
Despite what the calendar says, September is the beginning of Autumn! The days are hot, but the afternoons already show the long shadows typical of my favorite season. Fall also means I’m feeling invigorated. My table is full of projects that I feel great about. The work of the past year is finally coming together. It’s so nice to create something and be satisfied with it.
A few things I’m working on-
Clothed in her retro 70s Biba style dress, Kora is busy adjusting her black gloves in a grove of abstracted, shimmering Art deco trees…
Here’s a work in progress shot that I posted on Instagram a few weeks ago-
Generally, my work flow is something along the lines of first getting visual inspiration. I watch my favorite movies or shows (like Twin Peaks), browse books and magazines (my favorite drawing books, Rackham, or Pinterest), &/or listen to music (Of Monsters and Men has been on perma play). Then I make a quick sketch in a small notebook (upper left). I take photo reference & print it out (upper right). And then I make a sketch in my large sketchbook. Sometimes that gets scanned into Photoshop, tweaked, and printed. But even then it may not still be right, so I’ll cut up the print and move things around, taping them until they finally look right. After that I transfer the drawing to thick Acrylic paper or canvas.
The color process involves going back to my sketch in Photoshop & slapping some color on there for a general idea before I actually put paint on the paper or canvas.
Some more wips (works in progress) in this same series-
As well as the dolls that are part of the same series-
Sigh, I have been dreaming of Pumpkin Spice Lattes! I’ve already had 4 so far. My husband thinks I’m crazy, but I explained to him that they’re seasonal and so they’re gone after Thanksgiving. He was tempted, but decided to stick with his ice coffee.
My husband brought me flowers and a gift the other day! A week or so ago, I came across this paperdoll on Pinterest which I had when I was a kid. “Star Princess and Pluta.” Seriously, were the 70s/early 80s the best or what? he tracked it down and surprised me with it!
They are thick cardboard dolls with plastic stands.
Inside the box there are outfits for both Star Princess and her robot friend, Pluta. This set was published in 1980 and seems heavily inspired by the movie/show, “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.” She looks a lot like Wilma Deering and wears clothing similar to both Wilma and Princess Ardala.
OMLord, all I want to do is scan these in so I have a version to play with!
“All in the golden afternoon…”
For me, Alice in Wonderland is the quintessential summer book. I have a number of editions. Rackham’s glorious version- so hard to believe it was ever controversial. A Norton Critical Edition with Tennial’s original drawings. And Camille Rose Garcia’s delightful psychedelia. But Moser’s is not often seen and that it really deserves its moment in the sun. Copiously illustrated with his strange and detailed woodcuts, you really get a sense that Alice’s adventure is less dream and more nightmare…
Moser’s Cheshire Cat is a hairless Sphynx.
The text is annotated throughout in red
If you’re in St. Louis, MO please check out The Bees Knees Show at the Alexi Era Gallery.
“Public Opening Reception : July 19th 7-9PM
The Bees Knees is an awareness and fundraising exhibition for Honey Love, urban bee keepers and activists trying to help our honey bee population. The Exhibition will feature 100 artworks on postcards from artists all around the world. All postcards will be priced $5-$50, and available to take home right away showing your support along with a honey tasting feature local harvested honey. On the back of each postcard is a special message about how you can help the bees. 100% of all sales go to HoneyLove and their commitment to save the bees! We aim to raise awareness, bring hope and also create a dialogue about the importance of bees.“
I contributed a postcard to the show~
4″ x 6″
It depicts two of my ladies communicating a message in the language of flowers.
In retrospect, I wish I’d made the background something other than blue. I feel it clashes with the purple. The background should have been cream or lilac. I’m thinking of doing a larger version with greater detail for myself, so we’ll see how that pans out.
I was ready to start making doll clothes before I’d even finished my doll. I’ve been drawing their clothes for the last couple of years and going to fabric stores & picking out fabrics & trims. Basically endlessly geeking out.
Concept art of Posy Rabbit’s clothing. She wears a Biba inspired outfit. As you know from this post- I love Biba.
Working on the slopers in Photosop. If you haven’t seen “Moon” starring Sam Rockwell and directed by Duncan Jones (David Bowie’s son), then you need to.
Posy is a patient model during the fitting
Drafted & sewn tiny shoe prototype along with a sketch of Posy’s teddy or camiknickers
Well, tomorrow I have to get the apartment ready for out Wednesday night get together. I have a full day of cleaning, grocery shopping, & baking peanut butter cookies scheduled. Then, Mikael’s parents are coming up for a visit. They’ll be here Thursday which means I won’t have any time to work on the final versions of her dress, teddy, and shoes. She has a caplet too, but the drafting on that is obviously very, very fast and easy.
I have a couple of blog posts I’d like to work on about my favorite illustrated books that remind me of summer, as well as a post about Biba fashion. Hopefully I’ll get to them along with the Sherlock t-shirt I’m working on.
If you want to see my wip in a more timely manner, I’m on Instagram.
The Complete Book of Dollmaking by Pamela Peake. It’s a really simple introduction I picked up years ago at Half Price Books in Berkeley. It’s a great book for beginners who just want to make a cloth doll to get their feet wet while perusing other doll styles.
It gives a basic overview of different kinds of dolls, but if you want to really make something complicated, I’d pick up books specializing in just that particular kind of doll making.
This basic cloth doll has a separate head and a simple body.
My initial dolls used this basic idea- separate head & center seamed legs. It was a good learning experience.
This doll has a shaped bust that I tried out, but ended up rejecting. I did like this head shape more though & it introduced me to the idea of placing a stick to strengthen the neck. The pattern itself is missing a leg piece, but it would be easy enough to draft.
This felt doll is very cool. With a little tweaking you could get a really beautiful looking doll reminiscent of Dare Wright’s, Edith from the “Lonely Doll” series of books. In the future, I’d like to experiment with making my own felt masks. I haven’t yet though so I can’t say if this system works.
The book comes with patterns you can photocopy & enlarge.
Storybook Toys by Jill Hamor is awesome. Half of it is dolls & the other half is stuffed animals. It’s for an intermediate/advanced audience. Beginners beware.
Most of the dolls have “baseball heads.” See the seaming? Like a baseball. They were super popular in the 50s & 60s. Understandably, Jill doesn’t want you to use her patterns to make dolls to sell, but you can find similar vintage patterns online that are in the public domain & use them. I toyed with using the baseball head as the basis for my lady dolls, but the style is much better suited to children’s dolls, especially if you’re crafty and want to make a kid an American Girl’s style doll without the hefty price tag.
She makes the most beautiful yarn hair I’ve ever seen. It’s labor intensive, but turns out beautifully.
One of the first dolls in the book is a flat pancake doll to get you started. She’s really cute.
Some of the patterns are both in the book pages- to be traced or photocopied-
While others are on a pull out sheet in the back.
More Felt Friends from Japan by Naomi Tabatha. Nearly all of the items are felt animals, but there are a couple of awesome dolls.
Some of the patterns are inside the book, waiting to be traced, while others are inside the dust jacket, also needing to be traced.
Miss Kitty & her amazing wardrobe made me buy the book. Everything is made of felt, so hemming is pretty much nonexistent. It’s a great place to get the feel for constructing tiny doll clothes.
I LOVE Japanese pose dolls, so this was a big selling point. The dolls are anchored to their bases. There are simple instructions for wiring them that is way, way easier than what I’ve seen in other books. I wired a few of my prototypes, but the extra time and expense wasn’t worth it. Maybe if I ever convert one of my bookcases into a doll house then I might make posable dolls.
There were a lot of other books I found at the library. But they mostly focused on making cloth art dolls that didn’t appeal to me.
That’s about it. I’ve been working on Posy Rabbit’s tiny wardrobe. I love sewing tiny clothes!
I have two notebooks dedicated to doll ideas. My doll ideas have gone through an evolution from when I first started. Years ago, I wanted to do something with the 25-27cm Volks Dollfie bodies. They came in a range of skin colors, height, and bust size (recently discontinued). But, I knew with my schedule that it was going to be a while before I was able to tackle another craft like doll customization.
Flash forward a few years and while pinning away on Pinterest I came across this little beauty:
There was so much to love! The sweet little expression! The tiny detailed clothes! The utterly beautiful hair from wool roving! And, she was made of cloth. I’d seen and owned cloth dolls when I was a child, but none as sophisticated as this. I was instantly drawn to the idea of combining two things I love: dolls and sewing. How hard could it be? (famous last words)
I mulled over which dolls I really loved and of course Blythe was in the top 5. She’s very popular in Japan and if you’re lucky enough to have a Kinokuniya Bookstore near you you can find issues of “Dollybird” Magazine with clothing patterns and customization tips for her.
They’re so cute! But I don’t make big head art, so after a few tries making dolls with oversized heads I realized that they weren’t going to make me happy. They are just too far from my own aesthetic, which is more mid century, 60s and 70s.
I started focusing on dolls that were closer to my artistic style~
Barbies from the late 60s to early 70s are my favorites (pre Superstar face mold). Characters such as Barbie, Francie, Casey, Julia, Stacey, & Christie. You used to be able to buy Barbie & her friends as blonde, brunette, or redhead- even as different shades of each. And characters like Francie, her mod cousine from England had brown eyes and a straighter body to reflect the Carnaby Street Twiggy look. I love me some side eye!
Les Petites Mains makes these lovely cloth dolls with wool roving hair. Her color palette is so dreamy.
The amazing Nadya Sheremet. Look at the face on this doll! The face embroidery is so fine and I love that the hair is made from embroidery floss.
Delphine Manivet This was a lovely little doll made for flower girls, but is no longer available. I flipped for this doll. I loved everything about it. The simple face, and the slim arms.
The mighty Momoko. Momoko is a Japanese doll who stands 27cm. She features the side eye that I go crazy for as well as the most beautiful clothes.
Japanese dolls in particular seem to be addicted to giving the side eye. I think what I love the most about this is that the expression is ambiguous from different angles.
And of course cloth dolls based on the doll patterns of Edith Flack Ackley-
It was the Ackley dolls and patterns that crystallized a few things for me like the neck construction. I also borrowed her foot construction as well:
Before that I had the typical cloth doll legs with the seams running down the middle. I’m too embarrassed to show you them bc they make me so unhappy!
Next I’ll post about some of the books and tutorials I used. I had never made a doll before and definitely needed help. The most frustrating part is that you don’t know how good your pattern is until the very end. You have to draft, transfer, sew, cut, and stuff before you can see the flaws. That’s why my house is littered with past dolls, half stuffed and then I had to stop bc suddenly there was a huge problem staring me in the face. Whew! I’m so glad to be done! Now I get to move on to the infinitely more fun part of designing clothes!
After an embarrassingly long development, my dolls are almost done. Posy the Rabbit is roughly 12″ tall, not counting her ears. I made her 12″ to fit into 1/6 scale furniture, in case I wanted to stick her in a Barbie sized apartment. For something so simple, these dolls took forever. It was a constant process of paring them down. I actually don’t like overly realistic dolls, which is why I like Barbies from the 60s & early 70s better than modern ones.
That sword I’m using to sew with is a doll needle. It’s 5″ long.
Tucking and sewing the rabbit ears.
Just like in my paintings, her extremities are also blushed.
And here she is next to her original sketch, which also shows her costume that I’m making. I’m having a lot of fun making early 70s inspired clothes for her. I love Biba and Ossie Clark so I want to explore that very lovely and romantic look.
I’ve been working on, well a million projects really, but I’ve been wanting to make some cool t-shirts for my son, Karl. He likes David Bowie, so I dug up one of my old characters, Major Tom, the space cat co-pilot to my space girl, Martine. Available here is baby, children, and adult sizes-
Obviously Major Tom is inspired by Bowie’s tragic, beautiful, and wonderfully weird and hokey song, “A Space Oddity.”
My Major Tom entered cryogenic freeze and was revived thousands of years in the future. He has a successful career as a space pilot and loves his new home planet, Mars, but misses his family. *kri*
Happy Father’s Day to my beautiful husband! I bought a mug at Starbucks that came with a black and white porcelain pen. Karl and I drew on it, then popped it into the oven for 20 minutes. Once it was dry it’s ready to be hand washed and filled with lots of coffee!
Karl is obsessed with Kraang from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He’s also been referring to himself as Michelangelo, Mikael as Donatello, and me as Master Splinter.
I also picked up some See’s candy for Mikael and some flowers. Snapdragons are his favorites, but they were out and the peonies were amazing! And you can see our new goldfish in the old coffee pot behind the flowers.
Karl went to two birthday parties on Saturday. Unfortunately the first one decided that goldfish were to be the party favor. they meant well, but well… Anyway, we ended up with a goldfish. Karl kept calling him “Goldfish” so I explained that naming him that was like me naming Karl “Human.” I suggested “Spot” but after careful consideration Karl decided that the fish was named, “Ninja Turtle.”
The second was a costume party. Karl dressed as the Hulk, although he went back and forth over whether he was Hulk or Michelango. Looks like I’ll be making a Ninja Turtle mask and shell very soon!
With the movie “Maleficent” due to be released May 30th, I got into a discussion about the different ways the “wicked” fairy has been portrayed in the fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty and it reminded me of this book floating around on my book shelf, “Behind the Scenes at the Ballet: Rehearsing and Performing The Sleeping Beauty.”. It combines two of my favorite things, fairy tales and ballet. The ballet, with a score by Tchaikovsky, was based on Perrault’s version of the story, “La Belle au Boise Dormant.” But, instead of being completely faithful, it takes off in a rather brilliant direction and embraces its fairy tale-ness with an almost meta quality.
The wicked fairy, Carabosse
The benevolent and powerful Lilac fairy
On the Princess Aurora’s 16th birthday there is a grand party.
She receives gifts from many people, including (while her parents are distracted) a bouquet of flowers. The old woman is the fairy Carabosse in disguise. Hidden in the bouquet is a spindle, which Princess Aurora pricks her finger on, fulfilling the curse. This is also one of the best explanations for how Aurora manages to prick her finger. The versons where her parents are away on a trip didn’t make sense to me even as a child. Come on! They knew the curse was supposed to happen on her 16th birthday and they’re not watching her like a hawk?
100 years later Prince Florimund is dancing with his fiance, the Countess at a hunting party. He does not love her and finds her cold. He wanders off into the forest.
The Lilac fairy appears and shows him a vision of the Princess Aurora.
The Prince and Princess dance and the Lilac fairy explains the curse.
Prince Florimund is guided to the castle by the Lilac fairy, finds Aurora, and kisses her, breaking the enchantment.
The wedding guests include many fairy tale charcaters
The White Cat dances with Puss in Boots
Princess Florine and the Bluebird
Red Riding Hood and the Wolf
And finally Aurora and Florimund dance their pas de deaux.
The book also has behind the scenes photos. There are people sewing the ballet costumes. Dancers practicing. Ballet stage makeup being applied. And at the end a couple of photos of famous dancers such as Robert Helpmann as Carabosse (who can be played by either a man or a woman)-
and Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nurevev
I love the costuming of the Birmingham Royal Ballet production of Sleeping Beauty. The costumes are incredibly detailed and baroque.
I finished “Brooksie.” She’s gouache on 10″ x 10″ canvas. Unfortunately, this painting took me forever to complete despite its small size. I spent all of March with hives because I suddenly developed an allergy to rye bread. So, so weird. I’m not allergic to anything- or at least, I used to not be.
Anyway, I’m pretty happy with the progress from “Zelda.” This is much closer to what I had in my head. Now I wish I’d been bolder and more committed to outlines with “Zelda” but I’m not going back to rework it. I already have the next canvas for a new painting prepped.
As a teen, I discovered Louise Brooks in a book about silent stars and fell in love. She was so mischievous, passionate, and intelligent. I hunted for any of her films in the local video shops, but there weren’t any. I wouldn’t see her most famous movie, “Pandora’s Box” until decades later. If you’d like to know more about Louise, I suggest you read her memoir, “Lulu in Hollywood.” Peter Cowie put together an impressive and beautiful photo book about her, “Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever,” that is incredible. It’s expensive, so it may be a good idea to check the nearest library.
This is the photo by Eugene Robert Richee that inspired my painting.
Work in progress pictures:
I received the Wes Anderson Collection by Matt Zoller Seitz for my birthday.
The book is beautiful. However I found the interior art serviceable, it didn’t knock my socks off.
But the book design more than makes up for it.
Each movie chapter consists of an essay by the author and an interview with Wes Anderson. The essays are brief and spot on, but the real treasure is the interview. Matt Zoller Seitz asks thoughtful questions and manages to get Anderson to open up about his work.
The interview is profusely illustrated with behind the scenes photos and inspiration.
Hitchcock’s Rear Window and Satyajit Ray’s The Lonely Housewife influenced Moonrise Kindgom
Sissy Spacek’s eye makeup from Badlands, contrasted with Kara Hayward’s makeup in Moonrise Kingdom.
When I first saw the movie, I fell in love with Frances McDormand’s 60s shift dresses.
I love how the aqua of the wall mural ties in with the aqua of her dress. I also just really love her legs.
Fake books created for the movie. Susie likes to read “stories with magic powers in them. Either kingdoms on earth or on foreign planets. Usually I prefer a girl hero, but not always.” I love the Isaac Asimov/Arthur C. Clarke mash up.
The needlepoint of the church inspired needlepoints of the rest of the main sets.
One of the things they get into that I love is Anderson’s use of miniatures, rather than using all CGI. It’s not that he thinks miniatures look less fake than computer graphics, but that he prefers the fakeness of miniatures.
The book is wonderful and I can’t recommend it enough!
I’m very excited that my Sketchbook Project: “Here Be Dragons,” was chosen to go on the 2014 national tour. It was originally part of a small tour last year called, “The Mysterious Maps.”
I’ve pasted the tour info below so if you’re interested in seeing my book in person, please check it out when it comes to a city near you!
3/29 – 3/30
The Goat Farm Arts Center
Church Street Entertainment District
The Contemporary Austin
Fort Worth, TX
Amon Carter Museum of American Art
Norman Arts Council
San Diego, CA
San Diego Museum of Art
5/30 – 5/31
Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles, CA
Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
6/6 – 6/7
1st Friday Art Murmur / Saturday Stroll
San Francisco, CA
SF Center for the Book
Portland Art Museum
Emily Carr University
Madison Public Library
Fergus Falls, MN
9/18 – 9/21
The Distillery Historic District
Maine College of Art
Today is my husband’s birthday! We celebrated with cake, ice cream, cream cheese bean dip, and chips last night. I developed hives after an allergic reaction to medical tape, so we had to post pone a get together with friends :(
I made a yellow cake from this recipe: and chocolate frosting by modifying my usual frosting recipe. Then I edged it in gold sugar-
3 cups conf. sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup softened salted butter
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup (and then more) whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt (and more to taste)
whisk the sugar and cocoa together in a bowl. In a separate bowl mix butter, shortening, vanilla. Add cocoa/sugar mix a little at a time. Add milk. Mix. Alternate cocoa/sugar with a tbspn of milk until the consistency is to your liking. It starts out really fudgey, but the milk will fix it. Lastly add the salt. You don’t have to, but I love salt in chocolate to cut the sweetness.
Anyway, I’ve been listening to a mix tape (on cd) that he made for me when we were first dating. This was one of the songs he put on it and it perfectly sums up how I feel~
Yes, I’m your angel
I’ll give you everything
In my magic power
So make a wish
And I’ll let it come true for you
Tra, la, la, la, la
Yes, you’re my fairy
You give me everything
I ever wanted from life
Have I made a wish
And is that why I have you
Tra, la, la, la, la
We believe in pumpkins that turn into princess
And frogs that turn into prince
We believe in moons that smile to us
When we hurry home before the midnight strikes
Tra, la, la, la, la
Yes, I’m so pretty
You’re so dizzy
And we’re so happy every day
Let’s make a wish
And let it come true for us
Tra, la, la, la, la
I’m in your pocket
You’re in my locket
And we’re so lucky in every way
We make a wish
And let it come true for us
Tra, la, la, la, la
We believe in houses built in the sky
And love that lifts us high
We believe in the sun that looks over our shoulders
And brings our shadows together
Tra, la, la, la, la
Yes, our hearts are one
Our bodies, too
And it’s so good (um) every time
We make a wish
And let it come true for you, too
Tra, la, la, la, la
Happy birthday, my love
I’m your angel
I’ll give you everything
In my magic power
So make a wish
And I’ll let it come true for you
Tra, la, la, la, la, la
In January, I was chosen to be part of the pop up at the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn, New York. Afterwards, the kind people at the Wythe sent the participants a gift, a new Sketchbook Project! As soon as the tours open up in March I’ll choose where it’ll be traveling to.
My title this time is, “Princess Witch,” featuring my ladies of the Four Forests. The idea behind is, that here in the western world, women are often put into 2 categories, either a positive one, “princess” or a negative one, “witch.” That doesn’t even begin to describe a whole person, but sadly, it’s what we women are often saddled with. What I’ve been exploring is that we embody both. Our benevolent and malevolent sides are often less dependent on what we do and how we view ourselves than by how we’re perceived by others. I’ve experienced this first hand where I’ve been praised for being perfect when my desires jibed with whoever I was dating, and then denigrated as a “unreasonable” (aka, a crazy bitch) when they did something I didn’t like & I called them on it. Through art, I’ve been mashing those two sides together, featuring women who are conventionally attractive and horrifying at the same time. I’m so excited!
Thusday evening, Mikael brought me flowers and candy. See’s is my absolute favorite! (Yes, I already have candy on my pants.) We went to dinner at a local mexican restaurant and relaxed and people watched with our son.
Friday I took Karl into San Francisco to Kinokuniya in Japantown. I found an awesome sewing magazine, “Female.” Afterwards, Karl and I went to Arizmendi Bakery and had coffee, milk, and treats. We picked up Mikael and got take out from Big Lantern (our favorite!). Their General Tso’s meatless chicken is to die for.
Some color photo instructions and some line art instructions.
There were quite a few patterns, but some also required you to draft them yourself using a sloper. A great challenge for a seamstress!
These are the patterns included with the magazine. So many really cute pieces.
Mikael is such a tv hog, but I got to pick what we watched and I chose “Pacific Rim!” It’s amazing! If you love mecha, Godzilla, Robotech, Voltron, etc, you’ll love it. Every character was an anime type. The movie had very few civilian deaths, little swearing, and no super creepy gender roles that you’re praying your kid doesn’t pick up on.
On Saturday we went to Berkeley. Browsed two books stores, got coffee and ice cream, and finally came home and crashed.
The sun had set and I’d just started watching David Fincher’s “Zodiac” for the first time. My cell rang and it was an unfamiliar number. I got a sudden thrill. “A cute boy is calling me!” I was pretty sure it was the guy I’d given my number to the day before. I let it go to voicemail, paused the movie and listened to his message. Yep. It was him. I was giddy with nervousness and decided that I would call him the next day and see if he wanted to meet up. Then I unpaused “Zodiac.”
The next evening when we met up I found out he shared a love of the 70s, serial killers, and Donovan. And he lived in San Francisco. We have many “songs” but whenever I hear this one I’m instantly transported to the first time he called~
Thrown like a star in my vast sleep
I open my eyes to take a peep
To find that I was by the sea
Gazing with tranquility.
‘Twas then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man
Came singing songs of love,
In case you’re wondering what a hurdy gurdy is and what it sounds like,
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Feeling incredibly rejuvenated. Karl is back in pre-school. Finished a large job for a client. And I have personal projects organized and ready to create. Today I put on Grant Morrison talking on Keven Smith’s Fatman on Batman podcast. I loved Morrison’s “Supergods,” which made me feel like I could accomplish anything despite my anxiety. I knew that since I was going to begin painting “Brooksie,” that I would need an extra shove to get me started. Strangely, the detail work on a painting is the least stressful for me. It’s actually very relaxing to take each piece and tap away with my tiny brush. But the initial laydown of color always freaks me out. I start procrastinating. But I knew Morrison’s unique abundance of creativity would inspire and loosen me up- and it did. So much so that I started putting together a muslin of Karl’s shirt while the layers of my paint dried.
And I finally signed up for Instagram. Yes, filters are fun.
“Zelda was very beautiful and was tanned a lovely gold colour and her hair was a beautiful dark gold and she was very friendly. Her hawk’s eyes were clear and calm. I knew everything was all right and was going to turn out well in the end when she leaned forward and said to me, telling me her great secret, ‘Ernest, don’t you think Al Jolson is greater than Jesus?’
Nobody thought anything of it at the time. It was only Zelda’s secret that she shared with me, as a hawk might share something with a man. But hawks do not share.”
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been working on this and others like it for over 4 years. My early 30s were a time of feeling incredibly uninspired. I had focused on learning 3d which left me no time to express any ideas in the time consuming medium of painting. And my usual medium- india ink and watercolor on watercolor paper just wasn’t cutting it for me. I wanted to both eliminate the india ink outlines I’d been working on to give my watercolors a greater softness and also make the jump to canvas and explore texture. Back in my late teens, when I first started painting large pictures in watercolor, I couldn’t get those really big, smooth flat areas of color that I wanted, so I began stippling the color in and fell in love with it. So artistically, I milled about in my early 30s but all that changed when I got pregnant with Karl. Suddenly I was overwhelmed with ideas- must have been the hormones- and worked toward trying to uncover a cohesive theme. Finally I realized my overriding obsession wasn’t just quirky surrealism, nature, and maladjusted ladies, but our connection to nature and how our world constantly attempts to sever us from it. Not in an eco- “let’s recycle” way, but in pretending that we’re not animals and that our marvelous brains should allow us to overcome our evolution through sheer willpower. It’s a message we’re constantly bombarded with- from the way we eat to who we have sex with- and if we don’t conform it’s regarded as a moral failure. I’ve always been more comfortable with being an animal than fitting in with humanity, so my chimeras make me feel right at home.
One of the things that’s great about being older is, I’ve had so many years to discover, explore, and love, artists, books, movies, and music. The other day someone posted a Leonard Cohen line, and it suddenly brought me back to where I was when I first heard him (Pump up the Volume) and my subsequent frantic accumulation of secondhand cassettes. Through the years, my favorite song of his teetered between, “The Future,” and “Waiting for the Miracle,” but this one, “Everybody Knows” transports me to that moment- when I’m a young girl in my thrift store dresses (back when they were the only affordable option for someone of my means) with my head shoved between my stereo speakers (the same ones a horrible creature who I had to put up with bc of school politics constantly told me were cheap) listening to various cassettes all purchased for less than $3, giddy with the knowledge that Mr. Cohen understood the absurdity of life.
Life is still frequently absurd. This year came in like a rabid lion and is leaving a ram. Here’s to next year being as wonderful for my friends as the second half of this one was for me.
Happy New Year~
Tove’s commentary on modern art ;D
And her thoughts on being an artist.
The beauteous Snorkmaiden, beloved of Moomin.
The Moomins go to The Riviera. Snorkmaiden meets “The Great Little Audrey Glamour,” (Audrey Hepburn).
Snorkmaiden tries her first lipstick and bikini.
And meets a Riveria rake.
The Mymble and Snorkmaiden encounter adorable pirates and promptly fall in love.
But even in the early 1950s Pirates love rum.
My illustration, “Yellowcake,” was featured on Redbubble’s blog today celebrating National Chocolate Covered Anything Day. Not real? I disagree, we celebrate almost everyday in my house.
Recently two friends gave me the most beautiful gifts. They were complete surprises and way out of my current budget for myself. Everything I make currently goes toward paying for Karl’s preschool, and since we’re isolated from family and most of our friends up here, preschool is important for his socialization. Both of these were on my “dream” list, but they showed up on my doorstep!
Another surprise was this little beauty, Harper, from my friend Jennifer~
Evangelione’s little dolls (they’re about 11″ tall) are handmade beauties. Made of muslin and simple embroidered faces they are ultra kawaii.
Even without these lovely and thoughtful gifts, I am incredibly fortunate. I always get the impression that when you write a blog you’re supposed to pretend that your life is “Pinterest Perfect,” even if it’s not. But living here in the United States, even though we’re part of the “first world,” is challenging and stressful. Obtaining healthcare for your family is difficult. Even though it’s provided through my husband’s job, he still had to forfeit any bonuses he made for an entire year. While I work from home, the work is uneven and requires late nights. And finding a job outside of my home would mean paying full time preschool/daycare for my son which is astronomically expensive- it starts at $800 a month and goes up- way up (we didn’t get into the only local co-op). Part time preschool, which starts around $600 for 2 half days simply didn’t work either. No one would hire me without a completely open schedule.
But this year, the ACA passed, my husband got a great internship at NASA, I’ve had the pleasure of working on a delightful and long commission, and we found a preschool that’s run through our local Parks and Rec that is completely affordable.
Now, I have some Thank You cards to write. God Jul and Happy Holidays! I hope everyone has much love and a respite from your burdens.
Thanksgiving was delightful and now we’re gearing up for Christmas. We keep things very low key and try to focus on enjoying just hanging out. It’s cold up here in Northern California- not Mid West cold, but when you can see your breath, it’s cold.
I’m mostly recovered from the “mini flu” and sinus infection and slowly getting back into working. I’ve reached a pretty good place with my dolls, pattern wise, and now I’m painting their little faces.
I’m really excited to start their tiny clothes! I’ve had their clothes sketched out for ages and it’ll be delightful to actually see them put together.
This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.
As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.
I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.
When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.
As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.
In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?
Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.
Coppola and Eiko on Bram Stoker’s Dracula, part 1.
This movie introduced me to the work of Eiko Ishioka, costume designer extraordinaire. Coppola’s Dracula has problems, mostly stemming from the stilted acting of Reeves and Ryder (I still remember the horror of realizing that Ryder had limited range. Up till then, she was my favorite actress), and the intentional hamminess of the rest of the cast. It also introduced me to Gary Oldman. Although I had seen “Sid and Nancy,” Oldman’s submersion into Vicious’s persona was so complete I overlooked him (I was a Johnny Rotten fan anyway). But with Dracula, I sat in the theater spellbound. A quarter of the way through the film I looked at my sort of boyfriend sitting next to me and realized that our relationship wasn’t going to be long term. He was a total Harker and I wanted Dracula. I wanted a consuming love that would cross oceans of time for me. That level of craziness would characterize all of my subsequent relationships. I’m an emotionally reserved person and it takes serious devotion to lure me into expending any actual emotion.
“The luckiest man who walks on this earth is the one who finds true love.”
Coppola wanted Eiko’s costumes to be the scenery. Her artistry tells more about the characters than script.
“What devil or witch was ever so great as Attila whose blood flows through these veins?”
“I never drink… wine.”
“Do you think you can destroy me with your idols? I who served the cross, I who commanded nations, hundreds of years before you were born?”
A few years ago I decided to make some jointed paper dolls. Unfortunately, after they were finished my printer decided to die, so I never posted them. But, gearing up for some painting has made me realize that, since I usually post digital work, no one is familiar with what my paintings look like. I use a stippling/ small dash method. Not a big surprise, but I like Wyeth’s beautiful tempuras combined with the flatness of medieval manuscripts. So here they are:
I LOVED doing this project. I LOVE Agatha Christie and became quite infatuated with the archetypes peppering her work (that’s a kind way to say that complex characterization was not considered her strong point). I read nothing but Christie for almost two years. HERE is the link to some of my Christie books. I’m particularly attracted to their lurid covers. I love mysteries and since it’s Autumn, it’s the perfect weather for magic, mystery, and beautiful colors. These were, not surprisingly originally painted in the Fall. They are all gouache on Acrylic paper.
The Spinsterly Sleuth (obviously Ms. Marple) with her gardening gloves, spade, birdwatching glasses, embroidered knitting bag, a book to track clues, a cup of (hopefully poisonless) tea, and a scrap of burned paper (most likely a clue). In case you’re wondering, I have a very similar skirt and the exact same shoes.
The Clever Vicar is genial and well liked. He’s known to take an active interest in his parishioners and always has time for a hard luck case and a shoulder to cry on. So who was that letter written by and how did his letter opener get so… bloody?
The Dark Horse is the Vicar’s wife. She loves venturing into the forest alone to collect flower specimens and store them in her vasculum. However, her bloody pruning shears and burned envelopes seem more than a little suspicious. HERE I am working on the “Dark Horse.”
The Good Sport is the envy of every man for both his talent at tennis and his beautiful wife. He never loses his cool, on the court or off, but then, what are those stains on his sleeve and racket? With so many questions to answer, no wonder he needs a scotch on the rocks. HERE I’m working on the “Good Sport.”
The It Girl- that chimeric creature both sporty and a bombshell (The lovechild of Katherine Hepburn and Gene Tierney). Highly competitive, with a wicked temper (usually where he husband is concerned), she longs to be taken seriously at golf and escape the shadow of her more famous husband. No wonder she claims to have had one too many martinis and can’t remember how her golf club could have possibly gotten so bloody.
I have sketches for more, but I’ll probably convert them into illustrations. The next set will be “English Seaside Murder.”
Now that Karl is in preschool I can finally dig into my piles of sketchbooks and flesh out some of my sketches into paintings. The “Four Forests” is part of my “Imps” story, which has slowly fermented over the course of the last 7 years, beginning with Kid Krowley and ending with the Ladies of the Four Forests.
“Most writers agree upon the general influence of Egypt, especially upon magical practices. Pennethorne Hughes thought the famed Thessalonian sorceresses in classical times to be unlicensed devotees of the moon goddess- Isis or Nut.”
The Weird Gathering & Other Tales
“I am an artisan. I work with my hands. My model is from the Renaissance. The bodega. The artist workshop. Giotto. Rapheal. Michelangelo. These are my inspirations.”
I just finished Bill Buford’s, “Heat.” He gets a wild hair and asks to work in Mario Batali’s restaurant, Babbo. From there he goes to Italy and eventually ends up in Tuscany, apprenticed to a famous butcher, Dario Cecchini. Dario’s scenes are by far my favorite and his approach to his work is beautiful in its passion. Yes, he’s cutting meat, but the care, work, and intention he devotes to it is more thoughtful than most modern art I encounter.
“What I saw now was what Dario called, ‘my works’ (le mie opere), which I’d been reluctant to acknowledge because it sounded so pretentious. But that was what you got: a butcher and his works… And yet as I stood there, suddenly taking in the display case, I had to admit that the food had something of an artist’s purposefulness. Every item there made a point… But every item really was a “work,” even the ones that seemed very simple.”
“I wondered if I was glimpsing Dario’s secret. Fundamentally, he didn’t want to be a butcher, and therefore if he had no choice- then he would be unlike any butcher you’d ever met. His was a calling, not a trade- he was an artisan, not a laborer- and his “works” were about history and self and being Tuscan and only indirectly about dinner. They amounted, ultimately, to a tortured response to grief, and the “works” had become Dario’s way of remaining in touch, physically… with those who are no longer with him. When you came to his shop, he didn’t want to see a butcher- and wouldn’t be able to say why- but he knew what you should see instead: an artist, whose subject was loss.”
I feel strangely reinvigorated.
I have two modes dictated by the seasons: Magic (or Magick if that’s your thing) and Space.
Every Autumn and Winter I gravitate towards everything supernatural and every Spring I switch over to technology. Everything from the clothes I want to wear, the shows I want to watch, and the music I listen to. I even have two playlists on my ipod with these themes that I put on while working.
Ah Autumn! All I want to do is eat baked goods and watch shows about murder. All. Day. Long.
Here are some of my current Autumn inspirations~
September 24th is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s birthday. I have to admit, one of the joys of reading Fitzgerald are his abhorrent characters. Everyone is so rich, so pithy, so good looking, and above all else so fucking blond that they make me sick. And then Fitzgerald lets them have it. All of their darling vices overwhelm them, crippling or destroying them. I find it embarrassingly satisfying. Pure literary schadenfreude. I’m not going to lie, I’ve hate read, “Beautiful and Damned” far too many times, gripping the pages and mentally punching every character. But then I get to the end and think, “that was good. That was justice. I love you Scotty.” He’s one of my top five authors and I find his life is as interesting as his work.
Gerald and Sara Murphy were socialites and friends of the Fitzgeralds- scratch that- they were friends of everybody. If you love the mood and time period of the 1910s through the 1930s, you’ll find this book endlessly fascinating. Spoiler- just like Fitzgerald’s characters, they have a terrible end.
I freely admit I love Zelda as much as her husband. Don’t believe Hemingway. She was magnificent. Scott plundered her diaries for his heroines, including Nicole Diver of “Tender is the Night.” When she had a chance to read the finished book, she felt so betrayed she had another breakdown.
Annnnnd Hemingway’s posthumous fuck you to everyone he knew. From slyly referring to the nameless Murphys as “the understanding rich” who were determined to corrupt his talent to exposing Scott Fitzgerald’s small penis, this book is a non stop shit talking fest with poor Ernest at the center just trying to be so darned authentic and write really good books. Take it with a grain of salt and enjoy Hemingway’s vigorous writing style.
And if you’re feeling the bug to live out your inner flapper, dig in to some of the books above, make a gin & tonic (try Bombay Sapphire. It’s amazing.) and lounge around in your decadent drop waisted dress. Here are some Burda patterns that are in a 1920s style.
From Burdastyle 4/2011
And yes, I can Charleston.
My first Burda Easy Magazine (covering sizes 34-44) came in the mail last week. Usually the patterns inside don’t spark my imagination, but this time, there were these:
What the what? These are great! You can check out the rest on the Russian Burda website. (P.S.- the Russian Burda website is all you will ever desire in a Burda website.) Instead of waiting for it to pop up on ebay for $20, I just signed up for a year subscription (2 issues) for the same price. It’s a really cool magazine. Here’s what it looks like inside:
As you can see, it has eight patterns, and two of those you draft yourself. (The monthly Burda has 16 to 24, not counting childrens, crafts, draft yourself, and multiple versions.) Still, the four patterns I showed above are so awesome, for $10, I’m sold.
There are multiple tissue patterns in the center. They aren’t printed over each other in different colors, like regular Burda, but you still need to trace them bc the patterns are printed on both sides of each sheet.
The back of the magazine features detailed, for Burda, sewing instructions. All in all, this is fun. Karl starts preschool next week which means I have two mornings to myself. I do have a project I need to finish the first week, then it’s on to producing some dolls and paintings for sale, but I’ve promised myself that I have to get into my five year old fabric stash and make some clothes for myself, my husband, and Karl. I refuse to be a doll lady whose dolls are better dressed than myself. Refuse.
As you may have heard, if you read the American Burda website, there is going to be an American version of Burda. Apparently, it will have fewer patterns, but more detailed instructions. I think it’ll end up being something like Burda Easy. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, bc I feel that there’s a market for it. But I’m glad the other international versions with more variety will still exist and will end being the copies I buy.
My husband started his archiving internship at the Nasa Ames Research Center. He’s wearing grown up clothes!
Last Friday we went to the Nasa Ames research center to watch a broadcast of the launch of LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer) from Virginia. There were lots of people all geeking out about science. And so many children! It makes me really excited for the future. Before the launch they had a live band playing, which quickly turned into Toddlerstock.
I’ve been on a thing where we treat science the same way other people treat sports. It was great to be among people who do the same.
If you’d like to know more about LADEE, please visit Nasa’s website, here.
Thanks to Karl, I’ve discovered Jon Klassen’s delightful art. After checking out, “I Want My Hat Back” and “This is Not My Hat,” I found this series written by Maryrose Wood and illustrated by Klassen. I wish wholeheartedly these books had been written when I was a child. They combine so many of my favorite themes: Victoriana, orphans, wolves, curses, explorers, and intelligent, well mannered people making the best of difficult situations.
Miss Penelope Lumley, recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, is engaged as a governess for three children. These children, Alexander, Beowulf, and Casseopeia, are a special case. “Of especially naughty children, it is sometimes said: “They must have been raised by wolves. The Incorrigible children actually were.” Miss Penelope has her hands full teaching them not only History, Poetry, and Mathematics, but also how to sit at a table and not howl at the moon.
The series is enchanting and the the forth volume is due out in December!
So, my husband and I forgot our anniversary. Someone well wished us 2 days before on facebook and that’s when we remembered. Whoops! In our defense, we were preparing to have Mikael’s parents come up for a 10 day stay, so we were scrambling to get the apartment into not just clean, but, “guest clean.”
Five years of married life! It doesn’t feel like we’ve been together that long. I feel like I’ll be saying the same thing ten years from now. Some people I know get really freaked out by marriage, but when you’re with someone that you not only have a lot in common with, but both of you are also committed to compromise and working together, it is amazing. It also doesn’t hurt when your significant other is a total fox. Instead of scrambling and stressing about planning something, we decided to forego presents for each other and spend our money going places with his parents. Seriously, we’re so lucky right now. The last thing we need is more “stuff” just for the sake of saying, “this is my official anniversary gift.”
Instead, we went to the Nasa Ames Exploration Center in San Jose. We had a blast!
Karl is mega excited. He’s been really into planets and space lately.
It was really dark inside because most of the exhibits were illuminated. Karl as an astronaut.
I had to get my picture with the large astronaut cutout. Mikael was too shy to have his picture taken.
Mikael and Karl In the space station.
Gemini and Mercury spacesuits! If you want to know more about the evolution of Nasa’s spacesuits, check this out.
The space shuttle simulation
Karl and I fought over who was the captain.
Standing in astronaut prints.
Karl and his Grandfather
We had such a great time. It’s free and definitely worth going to if you love science, space, and exploration!