Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Feeling a bit spacey

I've been absent from Spoonflower contests for a while. MATS and other things have taken over my life since February or so, but I couldn't pass up this most recent contest: Cosmic Voyage.

I have a special fondness for space and astronomy. It ranks right up there with my interest in tornadoes and apes that communicate via sign language. Growing up in a rural area with very dark skies, we could regularly see the Milky Way, and in college I was fascinated by SETI and went on a reading binge where I read a bunch of books on the subject. Aside from my own interest, my husband always wanted to be an astronaut when he grew up, so he really, REALLY likes astronomy.

The first Christmas my husband and I were dating, I bought him a big, fancy telescope kind of like this one. It was so awesome: it was motorized, had an automatic star finder device, and could track celestial objects across the sky. It went with us on our trip to NY to see my parents that December, and one night as my husband-to-be and my dad looked at the stars together from out on the driveway, he asked my dad's permission to marry me.

Now, 11 years later, our oldest child is maybe just old enough to appreciate (that is, not break) the telescope. Maybe we'll get it up out of the basement this summer!

Here's what I came up with for the Spoonflower contest -- some astronauts, watercolor planets, and goofy aliens. It's entitled "Space… A Friendly Place!" because thinking that the aliens might not be glad to see us (as in, they might want to annihilate us) is something I'd rather not contemplate. Thanks to my husband's Ancient Aliens just-before-bed obsession, I often go to sleep creeped out by alien abduction and that sort of thing. (Actually I do like to get a glimpse of that guy's hair.) So my aliens are a little bit goofy and very, very nice.

Friday, May 16, 2014

MATS at Surtex

Surtex, the big licensing show in NYC, is coming up this weekend, and some of my MATS mates and other artists I know have been knocking themselves out preparing for it. I've put together a list of their fabulous promo cards and look books. Take a peek at some really amazing work!

This week our 5 year old is graduating from preschool, which happens to be at the same time as Surtex, and of course I don't want to miss her ceremony, so Surtex is out this year. One of these years I'll make it to NYC walk the show. It's been almost a quarter century since I've been to that part of the world… dang, I'm old!


Victoria Johnson


Alex Columbo / Studio Alex


Sarah Ehlinger / Very Sarie


Bari J.


Kathy Weller

Artwork ©Kathy Weller


Feng Liang



Aileen Tu (exhibiting with Cultivate Art Collective)


Gina Linn Designs


Stacy Peterson


Nina Edwards / Metropolitan Miss


Lauren Minco

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

They Draw & Travel

I've been working feverishly (no, really!! I actually did have a fever!) on a map for a contest on They Draw & Travel. The task was to draw a map of the town where you live now or your home town. I decided to draw my home town of LeRoy, NY, even though I haven't lived there in over 20 years, because I know (knew) it so well.

That knowledge was kind of a problem, because OF COURSE I had to include all the details on most of the notable buildings, so it took me something like 100 years to finish it, and both the to-do list of stuff to draw and the time it was taking me to illustrate them increased exponentially because I was so sick. I was still tweaking after I'd uploaded it, but I think I'm going to call it done now.

Today they're posting the runner-ups and honorable mentions…. very exciting! I know mine hasn't won any special mention; really, I'm just happy to have finished it, especially considering the circumstances!

Anyway, I loved seeing all the different ways other artists interpreted the theme: hand-drawn, computer illustrated, some very loosely designed, some more traditional. It was a surprise to find out so many of my fellow MATS-ians created maps, too! I wanted to highlight as many as I could, so in no particular order, here they are:

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

So what? Sew postcards!

I think I may have found a new appreciation for sewing. Thanks to my playtime yesterday (working on my contribution to the Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap), I have some big ideas percolating about combining all the different stuff I do: digital vector illustration, watercolor, paper crafting, sewing, acrylic on canvas paintings.

I almost didn't sign up for the postcard swap. I definitely don't need more stuff to do, especially projects with deadlines. Some days I consider it a really big accomplishment if I take a shower. And my youngest is almost a preschooler… so it's not like I have the new-mom excuse anymore.

When I was about nine years old, my mom, who has loved to sew since she was about that same age, decided I was old enough to learn. So she taught me, but I never really liked it. All the measuring and cutting and seam ripping -- a process I didn't particularly enjoy, all to make projects I liked, but didn't LOVE.

So my sewing machine sits inside a sewing cabinet in the other side of my house -- away from the dog (she's young and still chews table legs occasionally), away from the kids and my computer and art nook (A.K.A. a corner of the family room.) I rarely sew, mostly because of the cabinet's location, but also, out of sight, out of mind. Yesterday I decided to move the machine to the little table next to my computer desk.

I went into making the postcard with no ideas about color, no preliminary sketches, nothing but a little box of scraps, ribbon and sequins that didn't even go together. I just cut and added stuff, used a bunch of fancy stitches that I've never used before, and it was fun! I wasn't following a pattern or plan, just winging it; creating and making decisions about what to add or do next the whole time I was sewing. I think that had a lot to do with it.

So now I'm wondering, what if I made mini quilts like this? Scanned them in? Added them to my vector illustrations and scanned in pen sketches and watercolor blotches? I'm excited to try.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

2014, the Year of Good Stuff

I've always wondered about the philosophy of "everything happens for a reason." If I look back at situations that got me to where I am today, personally and professionally, I can definitely connect the dots. Everything influenced what came after it.

So, A (no money for college) led to B (a "cheap" state school fully funded by student loans) led to C (my freshman roommate who moved to Chicago) led to D (me moving to Chicago) led to E (meeting my husband and having three awfully boisterous but wonderful little ones), led to F (a Christmas present led to my art licensing career), and here I am.

But, does everything REALLY happen for a reason, or do we figure out a reason for everything that happened, after the fact? Do we have any control over it?

The point of all this is, I think sometimes it's good to be proactive to make sure that they're GOOD things happening. (Though I do believe that something good can be found in just about everything. Case in point, the cat "accidents" (ugh) over the past week resulted in a sparkly clean laundry room.) With that in mind, here are the good things I'm planning for 2014:

  • Paint (take Flora Bowley's Bloom True e-course)
  • Develop a truly awesome portfolio (MATS Part B & Bootcamp should help)
  • Get a couple new licensing partners in the Home, Gift and Wall Art categories
  • Figure out the details for an art/craft book I want to write
  • Update my website, including only the stuff I really love to do (and deleting the stuff I don't)
  • Be more calm more often
  • Draw every day