Saturday, December 31, 2011

Peacock Shawl Finished!

I finished Mom's shawl!  I'm really glad that I don't have to say "I started this last year." 

Look look!

Before Blocking

During blocking, pinned to the floor.

This thing is big.  it hangs down to my fingertips when I put it on.  It's probably 5 feet in diameter.  Mom shouldn't struggle to keep it on, at all.  And she's tall, so the size should work out just fine.

True, it's not perfect, but I'm still rather pleased with the result.  I hope Mom is too!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Text and Textiles

It seems that my logo was not as finished as I thought.  As soon as I posted it, someone said that it looks like "Of her" instead of "Other."  I looked at it, and thought to myself "dangit, you're right."  It has been updated, and I'll post the new and improved version soon.  I'm actually very happy with the result!

In other news, I received my corset supplies.  Yay!!!  I mail ordered the coutil, busk, steel ribs, and some twill tape.  Since this is my very first corset, I wanted to keep it simple, and neutral.  Simple to give it the best chances of turning out well.  Neutral because I have no idea what I'll wear it with, or if I even will.  I've been thinking about adding color with the lace, edge bindings, and flossing.  I'm thinking a very pale green or blue, but we'll see.  It will be a while before that decision has to be made.

Our gracious sew-along host has set up this flickr group, but of course, I'll post photos here, too.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Other Side: Part II

Rachel's been plugging away at the latest project, The Other Side.  I was right there with her, tweaking and adjusting the logo.  When I finally got something she loved, I traced it for a nice clean copy.  After a not-so-quick scan, here's the final result:

The next step will be to turn this into a vector image.  I don't know if I'll ever go to an all digital way of working.  There's something oh-so-satisfying about the feeling of pencil on paper!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Pretty as a Peacock

Now that I've shown its recipient (my mom) the project, I can show you all!

A couple of years ago, I picked up the Pretty as a Peacock shawl pattern, with the intention of making it for my mom.  I thought of her the instant I saw it, and I knew I had to try.  One thing stood in my way: I had never attempted to knit lace before.  So I tried a few projects, and finally, I felt comfortable enough to try it out.

With only a month to complete it, I left myself little room for error.  Not enough, actually.  It's still not finished.  But, it's very close.  Here are some early photos.

The pattern at the beginning of the shawl is not
super obvious.
I think that was the cause of my rough start.
Here, you can see the first "eye" of the feathers,
and the smaller feathers at the top of the shawl.

Check out all the sequins!
I'm not usually a fan, but I like these.

Mom didn't mind that she couldn't keep it.  She's a pretty patient lady.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Other Side

I'm getting some steam again, now that I'm drawing much more regularly.  Rachel's a big help, for sure.  One of my latest projects has been a logo for her next project.  I got kind of lucky on this one, having come up with a lot of different ideas in one go.  I was pretty pleased with all of them, and Rachel liked one in particular right away.  After that, I just did a bunch of variations on that theme, and fine-tuned it until we arrived at the final versions.  It's a little creepy, a little elegant, and I like it a lot! 

Here's a photo of all the working versions:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

1911 Corset Stuff!

Let me say it one more time:  I'm SUPER excited to be joining in in the 1911 Corset Sew-Along at Bridges on the Body.  I just purchased my corset-specific supplies, and I'm already frantic with anticipation.  I ordered from the recommended Etsy supplier, and, instead of the UK supplier.  I'm just hoping their stuff is of good quality.  Of course, I'm too new to this process to really know what I'm looking for.  I do know that shipping stuff from the next state over is cheaper than shipping from across the ocean!  And either way, it will be worth the learning experience, I think.

I'm also a little uncertain that one yard of fabric will be enough for my... ample... frame.  At 56" wide, it should be.  I hope.  Coutil is not cheap, running about $20/yd.  Still, I want to do this the right way!  All in all, I'm looking at spending about $100 for the finished product, which is nothing, compared to buying one already made.

If you've ever wanted to try this, now is the time!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Best Sew-Along Ever

Jo, from Bridges on the Body is doing a sew-along!  That's right, folks.  This is going to include fitting, cause you can't well make a corset without doing that part!  This is for a 1911 style corset.  Jo said it's about as easy as they get, so if you've always wanted to try, this may just be the right time!  It will be for me, for sure!

I'm just hoping she includes a list of providers for the materials, because I have NO IDEA where to get busks.  Yikes!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Projects and Progress

I have been knitting like a fiend, trying to finish a gift (a really ambitious one) that I can't tell you any more about, on the off chance that someone reveals this to its intended recipient.  I have also been working on studies of birds, for my next series of paintings.  They will (still) probably not be anything a person would hang in their living room, despite the beautiful plumage appearing in these pieces.  And I'm ok with that. Needless to say, I'm very excited about life, and keeping busy.

Rachel has been working away as well, both on several projects, and on maxing out all of her levels on Skyrim.  That girl is super ambitious in everything she does!  That's why you haven't heard from me.  When I have something I can show you, you'll understand!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Inspired by Charles Vess

Rachel bought me the illustrated version of Stardust last weekend.  It was illustrated by Charles Vess, who has this amazing way of drawing old, twisted, gnarled trees.  I love it!  So I tried my hand at it.

Autumn Forest Scene - After Charles Vess

As I was drawing, I kept thinking about this woodcut I had done years before.  These pine trees live a very long time, and get twisted, with a sort of spiral to their branches.  To achieve the Vess look, I basically did the same thing, but made the trees much smoother.  
Twisted Tree - Woodcut

I'm going to list it on my Etsy page, so keep a lookout! 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Featured on Bernat's Ravelry Page!

I haven't logged in to my Ravelry page in a very long time, since I've just not been in a yarn craft mood.  I did it on a whim today, and found a request from the Bernat Studio to feature my ugly blanket photo!  That means people who are not logged in to Ravelry can see it.  I'm totally geeking out about this!  I kind of felt bad about calling it the ugly blanket, but since it's not that ugly, I guess it should be ok.  Check out this pattern here.

It just goes to show you how important the photos of your work are!

Thanks to Jesse for asking me to make it in the first place! :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New Painting!

You don't actually get to see the new painting, but you DO get to see its beginning.  Namely, this guy:

African Weaver Bird

Weaver bird here is going to be the main character in my new painting.  But he's going to be doing much more than make little teardrop shaped apartments out of straw.

What is important to know about these guys is that they build without anyone ever teaching them how.  That is, they have an instinct for it, and the female birds choose their mates according to who builds the best house.  Better houses = shelter from the weather, and safety from predators = baby birdies live, the species continues, etc, etc.

We are not unlike these guys, but we think we are.  Humans choose mates based on all kinds of material stuff now.  Big, nice houses are not excluded.  The difference is you don't necessarily have to build the house to get the girl.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Science of Drawing

Since finding some inspiration again, I have resolved to do at least one sketch every day.  I'm not always great with these sorts of rules, but so far, I've held up.  I don't necessarily know where I want to take my work, but I can at least keep my chops up while I work on that.  In order to do that, I've been taking requests, and drawing everything I find.  New friend Harry asked me to draw his cat.  I've never done that before, and it turned out to be more difficult than I expected.  I had to slow down, and pull out the old drawing geometry.  It doesn't involve calculations.  It does involve points and angles.  It will help you get proportions correct, and it is the very reason that I say anyone can learn to draw.

First, find some points that you can connect.  You'll need to make lots of angles from these points, so the more clear they are the better.  Ramona here has three great points that I'll work with: the tip of each ear, and her nose.

Next, connect them by holding up your pencil to your subject matter.  Get a good feel for the angle.  You've probably seen people do this:

This guy is finding the angle and length of some aspect of his subject matter.
Once you know it in your mind, you can draw it 

From there, use these point to fill in other angles.  You'll start to understand the structure of your subject matter as you realize that the line from the nose to the bottom point of the ear also touches the bottom of the eye (blue line).  

Most important, you can find points like the corner of the jaw by using these angles.  For this one, take an existing point, like this tuft of hair at the back of the head, and draw your angle with another point, the chin (red line).  Then I'll use the nose as a starting point again, and find the correct angle out from it to the corner of the jaw.  The intersection is the point of your new feature. You'll find that if you've done it right, it falls in just the right place on the face.  

Keep doing it for all the shaded parts of your subject. This is a very methodical practice, but it works.  It's perfect for proportions that give you trouble!  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Out of the Rut - Thank You NYCC!

Perhaps a comic convention is not the normal place for a person to find their way out of the creative slump.  However, when you get to meet with well known comic creators, established (and EXTREMELY talented) artists, and hang out in Artist Alley all week, looking at people who do amazing work, it can light a fire under you.  It did for me, anyway.

So I did a little sketch yesterday, to improve upon my background work.  It's a little comic-ier than my normal stuff,  (It's like I only saw comic art for the entire time I was in NY, or something.) but I'm rather pleased with the amount of detail I achieved in a short period of time. I've needed work on backgrounds, environments, landscape, and detail in general for quite some time.  The trees are a little spatially confused, but I'll keep at it, and hopefully see some improvement quickly.  I'm just glad to feel this inspired again!  Hooray!!!

I was drawing from the book Lost Cities from the Ancient World.  Here's my pencil sketch, for your enjoyment.  Critique is welcome.
Pyramid at Palenque

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Converting (Lose the Sleeves!)

Everybody has a favorite t-shirt, whether it's funny, or has their favorite band, etc.  Well, Rachel has quite a collection, but being the stylish lady that she is, wanted something cuter to wear.  In preparation for New York Comic Con, she asked me to take an Anathema shirt and turn it into a v-neck.  Here's what I did.

First, we decided where she wanted the neckline to fall.  She likes a deep V, and wanted to make it about 4 inches lower than the natural neckline of the shirt.  No problem, except for that would have cut into the logo.  My logo.  So that wasn't happening. :)  I decided I would lower the neckline by turning it into a tank, and using the sleeves to add the extra length to the straps.

Second, I deconstructed the shirt.  With the aid of my handy dandy seam ripper and a good cooking show, I now had a tube of a shirt, and some weird scraps of ribbing, etc.

Then, I found the center of the neckline, and traced out the lovely V.

I used a tank of mine to determine what to do with the back, and decided to basically leave it where it was.  I added the sleeve material directly to the back.

Here's where I made Rachel try it on a bunch.  We figured out exactly how the neckline needed to lay, and pinned it in place.  I sewed it up.  Then, I used the tank of mine to trace the armhole.

But I realized that it was hanging all wonky because I had lowered the front of the shirt. (Wonky is the technical term for lower in the front than the back.) That, plus the fact that the original arm hole protruded, and made for a very weird side seam.

Side seam with new arm hole (left) and original arm hole (right).  
I came to the conclusion that I had to split the sides.  I had been trying to avoid this, but I couldn't find a way around it in the time that I had.  (I'm still working on it.) So I split the sides (taking probably a foot out of the circumference of this 3x tee), sewed them back together, trimmed the bottom hem, re-hemmed, and finished off the arm holes.  It's pretty dang cute, if I may say so! 

Zig-zag stretch stitch.  I really liked the less-finished look of this one.

Finally, the exclusive Anathema v-neck tank!

By the time I get through converting Rachel's wardrobe of band t-shirts into cuter ones, I'll have this system down pat!  

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Help - Creative Slump

The thing you most need to know about me, is that I go in phases.  I get bored easily, and have to move on, so a rotation of projects is absolutely necessary.  I am approaching the end of my most recent sewing phase.  I can feel that.  But it is a terrible time for the onset of what I'm suffering from: creative block.

The wallpaper world project has left me feeling uninspired, unenthusiastic, and unsure where to go next.  There is a possible portrait commission in the works, so I really need to paint.  I WANT to paint.  But what?  I think I need to go back to the fantastic, illustrative version of the concept.

So tell me, folks, what do you do to overcome this block?  What really gets you inspired?  Help!

It's been a while since you've heard anything from Rachel and her crazy way with words.  So I give you this gem:

While fixing dinner:
"Cheese me, queen bee!"

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Post-Wedding Creativity

The lady and I went to Old Man's Cave yesterday, and did about a 15 mile hike.  While I recover, I thought I'd bring you all up to date.

The wedding went off so beautifully! Seriously, I could not have asked for a more perfect day.  Sunny, but not hot, no rain, no humidity.  The food was delicious, the decorations made me super giggly, and I had the best time!  I hardly got to see my new wife that evening, but that's the way it goes, I guess.

We've been flexing our creative muscles, just trying to use up our leftovers!  Quesadillas made from marinated chicken?  Yes please!  Potato chicken soup from the potatoes and chicken.  Steak burger chili.  And lots of leftover sangria mix!  If anybody knows anything to do with refried beans (too sweet for the chili) let me know.

Perhaps what I was happiest with were the dresses.  I felt so good in that dress, and Rachel said she did, too!  Of course, it wasn't until after the wedding that I learned how to properly install an invisible zipper.  Anyway, here are a few pictures. :)

I learned three things that allowed me to go back and fix my zipper.

1. That I was installing it completely incorrectly, and how to do it properly.  This tutorial helped me out a lot.  I watched it several times!
2. Invisible zipper feet are NOT cheap if you have a Husqvarna sewing machine, but soooo worth it!
3. That my machine has a variable position needle, and how to adjust it.  I always knew that dial did something!

Here's the before:

See?  Not invisible.

But I'm proud of the after!

Much better!  And the old seam holes pressed right out!
The beauty of these dresses is that they're not one-trick ponies!  We get to wear them again!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

For the Love of It

Evidently, September is National Sewing month.  Boy, have I got the bug!  This year's theme is "Sewing for the love of it."  I think my latest projects fit: two dresses for my lady and me on our wedding. Can't wait to show you!

Anyone have tips for how to prevent your fabric from rippling around a zipper?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Beginnings and Endings

The last couple of nights, I've been working on the wedding dresses.  I finally bought the material for mine on Wednesday.  I've been determined to do everything the right way, so fabric for both has been pre-washed, and pressed.  I cut out all the pieces for both of them, and started construction of mine last night.  This was per Rachel's request.  I think hers will go more easily than mine, and I would have started it first. I did alter the bodice, and didn't alter the pattern for the skirt, so I might have some reworking to do there.  *sigh*

Last night, I managed to cut all of the pieces for my dress, and I have probably 7/8 of the bodice construction complete.  All of the seams are smooth and tidy.  I'm pleased so far.  Can't wait to show you, but it will have to wait until after the wedding! :)

Today is the final day of the Anathema Kickstarter.  Rachel changed the lineup a bit, and John Statema has been brought aboard.  Yes, THE John Statema.  Loves horror comics, knows the same stuff that inspires Rachel, influenced by Berni Wrightson.  Can you say PERFECT? His "rough" drawings for the story made me weak in the knees.  Seriously. So if you've been thinking about backing this project, make your way over there soon!  It all closes at 10:00 tonight!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Staring Problem

The first rule of being an artist is you have to look.  At everything!  Whatever you're working on, look at examples, look at references, look at other things you might be able to incorporate in an interesting way.

Lately, I've been sewing.  That means I look at people's clothes a lot.  Probably too often, as there's always an available mass of them rushing by on bodies in droves.  I keep thinking "oh, that girl probably thinks I'm staring at her, but I'm really just looking at the jacket."

I was just sketching this cute racer back tank that I saw on a girl in Chipotle a month or so ago.  It was plain, light grey, but had a band of gathered material where the "straps" meet in the back.  Such a cute detail!  She probably bought it at forever 21 or some such, but it would be extremely easy to pull off at home.  I'm going try adding this detail to a couple of things, as I build my home-made wardrobe.  Which consists of nothing, at the moment.  You have to start somewhere!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Silk, Satin, and Glass

Last night, I was able to get my grandmother (Oma) out of the house.  This is something I think she desperately needed.  And she took me shopping to get the wedding flowers.  Yay!  Between having a small wedding and going for clean, simple elegance, this resulted in a rather minimal purchase, all things considered.  It was kind of difficult to get into Oma's head, but she was very much of the opinion that "it's you're wedding," and "you only get married once.  Get what you want!"  So we went to Michael's, and got

some of these...                                                                        

 ...and these...

...some ribbon...

...and these.

(None of these images are from the Michael's website, because they don't have these things listed, or they're impossible to find, or the images were not good.  For a store that's so nice, the website could use some work.)

We put a few things together last night, and all I can say is it's gonna be gorgeous!

As soon as those are complete, I'll be doing the dresses. All the pattern fitting is done, so that's the hard work! Between the quickly approaching wedding, and only having a week left on the Anathema Kickstarter, things are getting really excited.  And Oma? She's pleased as punch to have helped out. :)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Small Celebration

I have learned in the recent past that pattern alteration is a must for the vast majority of us. (If you want to have a well-fitted garment, that is.)  I've researched and tried my hand at altering, and after several versions, I finally have a mock-up that fits Rachel very well!  I'm so stinking excited!  I'm also too burnt out on it to work on my dress.

Also, Joe Hill (Steven King's son) has pledged to the Anathema Kickstarter, and is now following her on twitter.  She's gonna be famous!

Thanks for celebrating with me!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bride Pride, and Sewing Inside

Firs of all, Rachel has done a number of interviews for Anathema, and is being mentioned in articles pretty regularly now: Comic Booked,  The Outhousers (They loved the illustration of her on the toilet.  I had so much fun drawing that!), and on AfterEllen which is pretty rad, if I may say so.  I'm super excited that all of her hard work is being noticed.  Another one with a rather exciting site should be up soon.  Yay!

Since she's so awesome, I'm totally marrying her.  :)  I think I've finally found the pattern for our dresses for the wedding!  I was looking through my favorite projects on burdastyle, and I saw frkbustad's That Little Black Dress.  Only then did I realize that I have this pattern, and was working on a mock-up/toile/muslin of it.  Problem: I hate the bodice.  The gathering in the front, while simple, is a little too... gathery for what I want. But when Rachel and I were talking about her dress, I found an alternative in my stash!

Meet New Look 6557.  This one has gathering around the bust line, too, but since it's a horizontal gather, it's much simpler to turn into a dart.  I'm working on the muslin for Rachel right now.  She's doing the halter version, which I'm already excited about, even though the muslin is a patchwork of blue, black, with pencil marks all over it.  For myself, I'm going with version E.  Love that neckline!

Why, oh why, did the weather have to get nice when I have so much work to do inside?!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Constructive Criticism vs Anonymity

I'm part of a group which is all about communication.  Specifically, it's about public speaking.  Each achievement requires a member to give speeches with specific goals in mind, whether it is using visual aids, being aware of body language, or word usage.  It's been very helpful to me in a number of ways, but I feel like I could get more out of it if only people were not afraid to give constructive criticism.

My assigned evaluator was very positive.  She gave me all excellent scores.  While it's satisfying to see that big A+, I know there was something that could have been improved.  There always is.  The interesting part is that each member can give a mini critique anonymously through these little feedback slips.  I get more insight from these than I do from the formal evaluations.  I'm told that most groups don't do the mini feedback slips.  We would really miss out, if we didn't.  I had a couple of people say it was a little difficult to follow from time to time, or they weren't really sure of the direction of my speech the whole time.  That's something I can work on.  I wonder why my evaluator did not offer anything to improve.

Maybe it is my art school, four-hour-critique background, or maybe it is from being in a leadership role, but criticism, when delivered sensitively, is wonderful.  Wouldn't it be nice if people didn't feel the need to hide behind a veil of anonymity to give it?  Do we need to teach people how to give criticism properly, and thereby show them that it is ok, or should we just make them sit through a few hours of grad students finding every flaw in their work?  Why is the former option more difficult than the latter?  Curious.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Venus and the Vampire

I finally started to make real progress on this painting.  Last night, I drew a grid onto my panel so that I could draw the damask pattern.  I laid it out in a terra cotta color, and did a more detailed version with my favorite sky blue, which is much more visible on the black background.  I will likely have to do a lot of retouching on the black.  Erasers don't work all that well, unfortunately, but I'll make it work.  I think I'll stick to shades of grey for the damask on this painting, in order to make the glowing blue of the squid really stand out.  

Subject: Vampyroteuthis infenralis (Quite literally the Vampire Squid from Hell)
Damask: Dionaea muscipula (Venus Fly trap)

They have similar methods of capturing their prey. 


It's just like me to show you the worst section of the whole piece... oops. 
Rachel loves it so much already that she doesn't want me to sell it.  I hope to have a whole series of paintings I'm not supposed to sell in a few months! 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Squirrel Rescue

Like any other Saturday morning, I woke up much earlier than I would have liked.  I took the dog for a walk.  I noticed a strangely shaped rock in the yard.  Wait, is that some sort of figurine?  No, it's a baby.... something.  No, there are FOUR baby somethings.

I ran the dog inside - somehow, she had not taken notice - and woke Rachel up.  We got a little basket, towel, and the heating pad.  We gathered them up - they were cold, and it's not exactly cold outside - and took them in, got them warmed up.  Rachel did some research while I drove around town trying to find various things with which to rehydrate the little fellows.  Turns out, they were squirrels. They wouldn't take anything from us, but we did manage to find a wildlife rehab center across town.  So about three hours after we found them, we drove them over. 

The lady there said that it takes about 5 days for an animal to die of starvation, and these little guys are probably on day 4.  She told us that squirrel babies will stay in their nest and wait for their mother to come home.  It will take days for the strongest one to decide to come out of the nest.  Sometimes the others follow, sometimes they don't.  We seemingly found the whole litter. 

They had to give these little guys injections of fluids, and told us that they'd let us know how they fared, either way.  They also said that no news is good news, and so far, no news.  It's driving me crazy though.  I hope those little guys are ok!

Rachel and I are thinking about volunteering out there.  They do such a good thing.  They get absolutely zero government aid, and don't charge anything for their services.  Volunteers are what keep their doors open.  Go help the baby animals!! 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Anathema - Going Strong!

Rachel is very close to achieving 50% of her funding goal!  Help her out!

She fed me small details about the story after much begging.  All I can say is I can't wait to see this thing printed! I truly believe that goes beyond my biased opinion towards her. :)

Procrastination Alert

I've been plodding along, diligently working on my artwork - it's not anywhere near ready for today's submission deadline, so I'll have to pull something from the archives.  But there are so many distractions in my life.  I can't stop thinking about the wedding and how ill-prepared we are!  We haven't ordered the lights for our lanterns, haven't chosen the food, and I haven't made my dress!  Plus, I think I might be overdressed in a dress, since we're having a jeans allowed wedding/party.

My in-laws (is it completely weird if I love saying that?) are working to get their house ready.  When they bought it, it was basically a crummy shell of a house, and it is going to go through a drastic transformation here soon.  Susan planted beautiful flowers all over the place.  We're not going to buy any.  We'll have under 30 guests.  I think some candles on the tables, the lanterns, and some expertly placed tulle and ribbon will be enough.  it will look beautiful against the still-very-green of their 17 acre property.

I imagine a lot of people feel this strange mix of excitement and anxiety when it comes to planning these events.  But I'm a bit frazzled.  5 weeks until the big day!!!

Wish us luck!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Always Changing

I've decided that this here blog is going to be dedicated to the pursuit of creative stuff.  I love my organic life, but I won't be jabbering about it anymore, unless somehow tied in to art or craft.  So organic fabric is cool, but no more food stuffs.  I'll leave that for the pros.  You'll be seeing some changes to reflect that, soon.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Glowing Problem

My work, my real-deal-for-the-galleries work, deals with contrasting innate survival skills, instincts, and physical attributes against those which are manufactured.  Remember Clownfish?  That's part of this body of work.  There are so many ways to explore the topic, and I love it so.  After Clownfish, I decided it might be fun to do a series on bioluminescent creatures.  Most of these guys don't just go around glowing all the time; there's a behavior associated.  So this is a twofold topic: crazy physical adaptation (glowing) and using this as a tool (instinctive behavior). But this has turned out to be an ambitious project.

I'm not alone in saying that the vision in my head is amazing, but the real world example is less awe-inspiring.  I think I have a handle on getting things to glow, but the oh-so subtle color transitions are killing me.  Not to mention, I've only tried to paint such amorphous things as jellies and sea cucumbers.  The sea cucumber was far more successful as it had more structure, and more colors.

I think I have a plan:

  • black gesso - these things live in the abyss that is the deep sea.  It's DARK down there.
  • paint with glazes - hopefully this allows for the subtle color variations that I'm after.  It seems to work on the studies.
  • paint things that ARE NOT amorphous blobs.  It's hard to suggest depth in a clear creature with a short depth of field.  I think I'll have much better luck when I start painting recognizable things like the dragonfish (love!) or octopus.
  • use oils - nothing else conveys light the same way.  Not watercolor, and certainly not acrylic.  I'm avoiding opaque materials at all cost!
If you've tried this before, or you want to, let me know what you discover(ed).  

If you're not a painter, check out these cool videos.  They'll explain exactly why I want to paint these guys. :)
There's a ton more, but I'll save them for later. 

Edith Widder:Glowing Life in an Undersea World - kind of technical, but super informative.
                     The Weird Wonderful World of Bioluminescense

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Anathema Progress

Rachel hit the 1/3 mark of her funding goal today!  And, while doing all this advertising, she has made quite a name for herself as a letterer.  I couldn't be more pleased - except for maybe when I see that progress bar hit 100%.

Like her on Facebook, and Twitter, and Everywhere else!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Open Show - Instant Motivator

Open show at the CS Gallery in August.  Deadline for submissions in one week.  Don't have anything ready.

But I will.

I need this motivation.  Anyone else trying to make something new and show-worthy in just a week?  I'll do it if it means I have to submit my sketches and studies, by golly!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

New Anathema Art

Rachel just got the third page of pencilled art for Anathema!  Alan is so stinking talented!  And so is Jorge.  Oh, and Rachel, too!  We've got the project almost 1/3 funded, which is greatly exciting!  (I say "we" like it's my project, too. Ha.)  Anyway, if you  haven't checked it out yet, please do.  And don't forget to spread the word!

Anathema Kickstarter

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hit & Run - No. 1

Last night, I attended an event called "Hit and Run Happy Hour" at the CS Gallery.  It's a really unique monthly gig, that's opening, closing, art fair all in one.  Artists pay a fee to be able so sell for these two hours. Basically, it earns the artists some quick cash, and allows us to network "without working that hard," as Daniel said. Plus, refreshments are provided. I had a great time, though socializing with strangers usually leaves me feeling pretty drained.  It was really interesting mix of mediums.  My table was between O Joy Photography and Paper Pieces by Vicki.

I brought in my patrons, and a friend who I think should start showing there.  It's a great venue, and Daniel is very easy to work with - very relaxed, not stuffy at all.  I'd really like to eliminate that idea of fine art being pretentious.  We have to pretend to be pretentious so that the wealthy will pay attention to us and buy our stuff.  It's all a big dumb game.

But anyway, here are some of the people that participated last night.  If you couldn't come out, take a look at their websites.  A lot of them are part of the Columbus Etsy team. Great stuff!

Blue Flame Leather - leather items for very, very, VERY reasonable prices! I didn't get to talk to this girl, but I look forward do the chance. :)
Cam's Crochet - great crochet jewelry and accessories.  I would have bought all her bracelets if my dumb hands would fit through the things.
Cobenick Studios - This is Daniel's shop.  Handmade paper, books, calligraphy.
Cassandra Glass Photography - beautiful candids and scenes. No website, but this is her e-mail, right off her business card.
O Joy Photography  - her photos have a hazy, dreamy feeling to them, and she puts them on functional objects!  Win-win!
Paper Pieces by Vicki - Pre-made scrapbooks.  Totally worth it, in my not-so-humble opinion.
The Roscoe Room - Suzanne is so much fun, and the story about the name of her studio is great!  She's full of insight and encouragement, and I would totally be best friends with her. :)  The Roscoe Room is her studio, and is attached to the CS Gallery.  It's much more appropriate than the insurance office that used to be there.

I can't wait to show with all these great people again!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Anathema - A Return to Classic Horror in Comics

Here's the reason I was drawing Rachel so much!  If you like horror, or comics that aren't your garden superhero variety, please help spread the word!


Monday, July 18, 2011

Night Light - The Trick

Not too long ago, I told you that I was very excited about the way painting digitally allows you to manipulate colors consistently, and therefore keep continuity and make your work believable.  I had to take an existing character, and make it look like she's sitting in the dark, illuminated by her laptop only.

Here's a little dose of color theory: the darker it is, the cooler everything looks, and the less contrast it has.

Whenever I have to do a series of images in photoshop, I create a palette layer, and include all the colors I use.  This means everything can have perfect continuity, within a single image, and from one frame to the next in sequential art.  To make a night scene as believable as possible, you must do the same thing to each color.  This is incredibly easy on the computer.
With your palette on its own layer, do a color overlay.  Use a very cool, almost grey blue.
Shoot for something like this:   Make adjustments as necessary, but this will make for a good, dramatic difference.

Then, when you pick up the colors from your palette, it will find the adjusted colors.  Paint away, and it will automatically look like cool, evening light!  Here's the difference:
Illustrated Rachel - Daytime

Illustrated Rachel - Illuminated by Computer

I did cheat a little when it came to the hair color.  The highlights were much lighter than I thought they should be, for only having light on a little bit of her hair.  This is where one must use a discerning eye and take liberties!  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Night Light

When it comes to how I choose to do things, I'm often a traditionalist.  Give me home made ice cream and clothes, paper literature, and real, messy, paint!  So when I say this, please understand how much it means:

I found a new appreciation for painting digitally. 

I had to take illustrated Rachel, and paint her as if she was in a dark room, with only the light of the laptop illuminating her.  This is not something I'd ever attempted before, but I know the way it should work.  I gave it a whirl, and what can I say, but success!  It was a really fun and interesting challenge, and will really test your knowledge of the way light works, and your understanding of human anatomy!

I can't wait to show off this drawing!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

New Project!

Rachel and I are going to do it!

We're going to start a web comic!  I'd like it if people read it, maybe even laughed a little.  But this is more important, on a personal level.  We're both artists.  This single platform will keep us working, and together, no less!  She'll have to come up with some short story, I'll have to illustrate it.  I'll gladly work on this project, dedicating time to it every week, just to keep the fires hot.  Once we finish this video, we'll be in business!

I'm excited.
: )

Friday, July 8, 2011

Illustrated Rachel

Here she is!  This is the illustrated version of Rachel.  It will be used for her Kickstarter video.  She added her initials to the background.  (RAD, in case you couldn't tell.  She's as proud of hers as I am of mine.) I've got 8 more illustrations to draw, and 16 or something to color.  At my current pace, I'm getting four drawn, and half of one colored each night.  That's three or four hours of work.  It doesn't feel like I'm getting much accomplished.  But when I consider that it took two or three weeks for Rachel's penciler to do her first page, I don't feel so bad.  

I need to start figuring out how much time it takes to do the illustration and color separately.  Then, perhaps I can start making this into a business.  My goodness, I would love to. As much frustration the hair caused me, I still feel better than I have in months.  It's like I've been missing a crucial nutrient, and getting it back, I realize how sick I was feeling.  

We're thinking about doing a weekly web comic.  It would naturally, feature us! Well, her,  mostly.  She's the funny one.  (Look for my Things My Sweetie Says posts.  Redonk!)  What do you think?  Totally lame idea, or would you read about us and look at my pretty pictures?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

TMSS: Winner!

Upon agreeing to go to the comic shop:

*alarms sound and gold coins fly out of my butthole*

You might have to have a good imagination for this one. 
I promise, it's hilarious if you do.

Drawing Up a Big Batch of Happy

Rachel and I always try to work together.  She's very much an ideas person, and I'm very much a do-er.  Unfortunately, our combined skills and ideas usually leave some kind of gap.  When she said she wanted a fairly normal, calligraphic logo for her comic, I doodled one.  Lo and behold, she liked it!

Now, we're in the process of putting together a video for a kickstarter page.  For those of you who don't know kickstarter, it's a website where creative people can collect donations to have their projects funded, and pledgers receive fun rewards.  Rachel doesn't like appearing in front of a camera, so we decided to draw her video.  Yes, that's right, I'm DRAWING the video.  I'm not fully animating it, that would be crazy.  I am doing sequential images to complement the sound.

Last night, I managed to draw 4 of the roughly 20 images we'll be using.  I got one partially colored, too.  Drawing black hair is kind of difficult, as it turns out! Nevertheless, those four hours we spent at the computer working on these drawings were some of the most enjoyable ones I've had in a while.  I was seriously sitting at the computer GIGGLING because I was so entertained.  Of all the things I enjoy, making art is the most enjoyable.

May you always have as much fun being productive as I did last night!

Remember the Zornow Challenege?  I do.  I'm still working on it.  When I post the video, you'll have to let me know how I'm doing. :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Coffee Table to Bench

I'm going to have to try this!  

I'm thinking the library could definitely use one, someday.  I love the lines of the table.  They make such an elegant bench seat!  

Oooh, the possibilities!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

I Love the Library!

I've had a library card for about a week and a half.  In that time, I have checked out three books on deep sea life, two on William Morris, one on face painting, two on comic books, and a movie.  This is amazing!  Why didn't I get a library card earlier?

Seriously, people.  And if you're one of those e-book people, you can rent those too! I don't know how that business works.  I'm a paper purist.  But I saw the station.  I know it works.  I love buying books, and I do when I can.  But now I don't have to stop reading because I don't have cash.  If you're lucky enough to have a public library, USE IT!

Thank you for listening to my rant.
Soon, you'll see what I've been putting all this research towards!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Home Made Dress Forms

Home Made Dress Forms:

This one's the best duct-tape version I've found.
This one somehow appeals to me more, though.  It's Papier-Mâché, and not pinnable, but more accurate to your shape.

Has anyone tried to do this before?

Bodice Fitting

I just found a rather informative article on how to fit a bodice.  I'll be needing this.  These are some of the trouble I have with fit:

  • Long torso
  • muscular
  • large frame for a woman
  • broad chest
  • full bust
  • small waist
  • wide hips
  • short legs
Needless to say, clothes are always a little wonky on me, but I'm escaping this world, slowly but surely!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Thank You's

This year has been one of so many challenges for my family.  We lost a dear friend in early March, and my mother was hospitalized at the end of the month.  This led to surgery in May, and complications arose.  All this while Rachel and I were house hunting, moving, and trying to get our careers under way.  Now, Mom's on the mend, but getting rather frustrated with the thole thing, and the emotional challenges of the whole spring have affected us all.

Through this whole mess, we have all acted as a support structure, each taking our turns as a shoulder to cry on, each taking our moment to weep.  I don't know what I would have done without my people.

I just wanted to take this moment to put it out on the great big interwebs that I appreciate you, my support people! Thank you!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Revising Goals

Everything is transient.  It's a very Taoist thought, I know, but it's true.  And so, rather than be rigid in everything we do, we must change; we must "be water," as Bruce Lee said.  I haven't met my goals of two finished pieces a week in a long time.  Why?  Because things change.  When I set that goal, things were different.  I didn't have a house with a TON of yard work to do.  I didn't need to remodel anything.  I was working on small projects.

Now, I have this house, the jungle outside to contend with, and my projects have become broader and larger in scope.  Completing two things a week is simply just not possible.  Being a pretty textbook Gemini, I always have a lot going on.  I do indeed get bored easily, so I've found that the only way for me to complete projects is to rotate my working time.  It also helps me to have rules, even if I made them up, and can change them as I please.  It helps keep me focused. So I'm making new rules.

First, I need to keep my new house tidy.  True, the carpet is ruined (bought it that way), but that doesn't mean I can't run a vacuum.  A friend of mine told me that the best way to keep on top of the house work was to do a ten minute "cleaning frenzy" every day.  That's something I can adhere to.  I like a clean house, but cleaning for hours and hours is no good.

Then, I have the yard work, and the house remodel.  If it's nice out, I'll be outside for probably two hours.  That's just how it goes.  I'm trying to leave the house work to the weekends, because it's just better that way.  It's very involved, and hard to work on for just a short time.

That's all the stuff I have to do.  So is there enough time for the stuff I want to do?  Well, sure.  I want to work for at least one hour on my creative work, every day.  This could be sketching, sewing, research, buying supplies, anything, as long as there is forward momentum.  If I work one hour, chances are I'll work longer than that!  And this still leaves time for dinner, and a little bit of relaxation.

I haven't quite worked in where my exercise routine (forgotten, of late) will go.  I'm thinking that I'll have to wake up early and do it, which is preferred anyway. How do you balance everything?

Home Ownership --> Hand Strength

Since we started moving - and we did it twice - my hands and forearms have been KILLING me!  I've never had much of a grip, but out of necessity, I've had to force my fingers to hold tight to everything I own.  And then do it again.  And now, they have to grasp crazy plants firmly enough to remove them from the earth.  And squeeze the lawn mower handle (I mowed for the first time last night!).  I expect that once everything is tamed a bit, I will be able to needing mostly only the delicate grip required to hold a paint brush or a sewing needle.

I keep promising pictures, and not pulling through.  But I will show you the garden, now!  Sadly, I neglected to take pictures before we started tearing plants out, but it's still not the prettiest thing in the world.  I think this will lend an adequate before and after.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Overdoing It - Yourself

Dear readers,

I pose to you this question: Can you be too involved with doing things yourself?  You see, I have dreams of growing vegetables, baking bread, making all of my own clothes, all while I fix up my house - with help, but without hiring it :) - and make a name for myself in the art world.  Is this crazy?

There are a few exceptions: jeans, shoes, and I don't particularly feel like butchering my own meat.  I've considered raising chickens, and well, I hate chickens.  Do any of you suffer from this condition?

Thanks for listening to yet another odd rambling.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Must Make This Coat!

I was over on burdastyle, checking on a plea for help (wedding dress pattern suggestions), and I was told to check out Vogue patterns.  I thought I'd take a look.  This was the pattern on the page when I opened it.

All I can say is: WANT!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Quiet =/= Stillness

It's been quiet around here, for a lot of reasons.  Mostly, I've been working on the house, and trying to get a routine back together.  During the midst of this, I did manage to sew up four purses.  I'm rather proud of these, and I hope they do well our there on Etsy land.  Check them out!  >>>>

Friday, May 27, 2011

People Make All the Difference

My team at work is fantastic!

I've been super busy, not only because it's just a busy time at work, but because my boss has been on vacation for a week.  My work load triples when he's gone.

So this morning, I got a phone call, saying "Jessica, could you come in here for a second, please?"  I was thinking "great, what exploded?"  I walked in to find cake, balloons, and my whole team singing me happy birthday.  They're such sweethearts!

Ruth doesn't like to have her picture taken, but Sheree was trying to get me in action.

I don't like to keep people waiting for cake, so I went ahead and cut it.  Emory called it the "cake autopsy" photo.  We have verified that it is in fact Red Velvet cake.

Left to right, Julia, Chelsia, Jacki, Nancy, Annie, Emory.
They'd kill me if they knew their photos were on the interwebs.  ;)

Thank you all so much! You're a wonderful bunch of people to work with!

Friday, May 20, 2011

New House - Week 1

We've spent four nights in the house, and despite the fact that it's in complete disarray, it feels more like home than any place I've lived since I left for college.  Maybe it's just the knowledge that it's ours, and we can do with it what we want.

Now that all the madness is over and the dust is starting to clear, I'm trying to get my life back in order.  I haven't met my two creations a week goal in a very, very long time.  I'm making up for some of that time this week though.  I had last night to myself, and cut out two handbags and two totes, both from the 241 design.  The handbags feature the same teapot fabric as well, but one is in red.  The two totes are in Amy Butler and Robert Kaufman prints.  And I've managed to use a ton of the strange teal fabric my grandmother gave me.  I wonder how much I have left....

It's fantastic to have a designated studio space again.  I can't tell you how badly I need that.  And Rachel has her office, which is another splendid thing.  She can have as much scary stuff in there as she wants!  There is so much work to do, to make it our own.  If I think about it all at once, it becomes rather daunting.

So for all you people who have a secret creative life at home, how do you balance it all?

And how do you organize all your stuff......???

Monday, May 16, 2011

I am...

a homeowner!!!!

This is me, giddy with excitement!

There's much to do, to update it from its 70's glory.  You all can look forward to lots of photos of our journey: me, Rachel, and the house!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Exercise for Moving

What's the workout you should be doing to prepare yourself for an upcoming move?  Yoga!  I'm always an advocate (not that I look it).  

If you're having to lift heavy, awkward objects, hold them for a long time, climb over things in your storage unit/apartment/home while holding them, yoga will prepare you!  

Do you need to not fall into all of your valuable belongings, damaging them, and you?  Yoga can give you the balance you require!

Want the mental stamina to get you through hours of this grueling labor?  Center yourself with this ancient practice!  

All I can say is, I really wouldn't have survived this weekend if I hadn't been working towards that perfect half-moon pose.  

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Teapot Purse for Spring

Two things happened:

  1. I bought a pattern for the 241 Tote from Noodlehead.
  2. I found DELICIOUS fabric at Sew to Speak that I just had to have!
The purse I had been using was a little too small, and very very autumn-y.  Thus, I went on the hunt for springy stuff.  Naturally, I found the perfect fabric for this pattern.  After reducing the size of the tote (we all know I prefer smaller purses) and adding some teal fabric from my stash, I came up with something that I'm rather pleased with!

The Teapot Purse

Side Pockets!

I bought enough fabric for a few more, so once we get settled with this move, expect to see some in the Etsy shop!  The more I sew, the better things turn out.  Who knew!  But I'm also building confidence in messing with the patterns.  It's been rather enjoyable, if I may say so!

One of the greatest thing about making things or having a skill, is being able to barter for them.  When I posted this photo, a friend of mine said she wanted one.  Well, she happens to cut hair, and very well.  She's my go-to gal.  So I said "Hey lady, want to trade purses for haircuts?"  Naturally, she said yes.  So get out there and learn something new.  Put those hands to use!  It will pay off.  It will!