27 January 2009

Holiday Greetings & Handbag Dreams

Here's another of my holiday card creations from this past season. An old high school friend with whom I reconnected on Facebook (mad props to FB!) hired me to create these. The card depicts her making holiday cookies with her 2 boys. At their request, they have created Lego cookies. At my friend, MK's, request, she has made a Coach bag cookie!!! If you think I'm making it up, you are wrong. Mk has a major Coach bag obsession!

So her holiday greetings this year betrayed her guilty pleasure. Oh well, sometimes the first step is admitting you have a problem. Now she can really get the help she needs.

Love you, MK!

26 January 2009


When I lose myself in a doodle, this is how it turns out.

I did a loopy, black ink drawing one day with my eyes closed. I just sorta "felt" the shapes come out of my fingertips very organically. Then, once the framework was down, I added to it. I varied the thickness of the curves and added flowers and branches and shapes until it felt balanced and bold.

After the first one, I started experimenting with the backgrounds. The one above is on decoupaged book pages. I have one in my hallway that is about 6 feet wide by 18" high....a nice wandering, horizontal, meandering collection of swooshes and swirls. I've tried a light color on a dark background, metallics, you name it. I think the shapes have sort of become like my signature. Always different, but always identifiable and the "same" as well.

I suspect I will continue to complete pieces in this family for a long, long time. It relaxes me. And the end result puts me at peace as well. Maybe it's something about the way your eye follows the curves, and occasionally rests, in a long, and endless loop. It's like watching fish in a fish tank. You can't be sure exactly how long you've been looking, but you really don't care because you feel so darn good!

If a doodle can make me feel like that, then in my book, THAT is a GOOD doodle!

It's A Process!

Every time I complete a project, my hindsight kicks in and I just about kick MYSELF. I always forget to take before photos, progress photos or any other sort of "see how I did this?" type documentation. I find those sorts of pictorials so fascinating when I see them elsewhere. Why don't I do it????

Mental block, I guess. I am always so preoccupied with the process itself and getting a good result.

But this time, I prevailed. This tree mural in a nursery is actually the 2nd of it's kind. I completed one almost identical a couple years back and a new client fell in love with it when she saw it in my photo gallery. We softened the colors a bit for her space and added some woodland creatures, but otherwise, kept true to the original.

The image on the left shows the first wash of color on the trunk and the taped-off section of wall that depicts where the crib will be. (We wanted to make sure the branches arched gracefully over the crib back.) The image on the right is the completed tree.....well, almost. The narrow dimension of the room made getting a complete shot impossible. I couldn't back up far enough! But you get the idea.

The process for a mural is often long and, in this case, there were so many more leaves than I could have conceived of when I first began painting! But the effort was worth the while in the end....especially since I remembered to snap some pictures.

24 January 2009

Tough to Do Her Justice on Canvas

I started a series of 3 paintings 2 years ago and just finished in late October. I know, I'm a slacker, right? But not really. I had a great excuse.

I had posted on this painting on my old blog, so some of you have seen it before. But since I had to start fresh and give up my old posts, this was one piece I just had to post again. I'm partial, of course, because this is my niece, Ava. Ava shares my birthday and we are going to be best buds.

I completed 2 monochromatic oils paintings of Ava's older siblings quite some time ago and we had purchased a third canvas to reserve for sweet Ava, because she was a just a newborn then. We agreed she needed time to grow into her face and personality before I attempted to capture her. So we waited......and waited. I'm glad we did, because she changed so much in those first 7 months until I took a photo at her (somewhat late) christening. I knew it was the perfect source photo for the painting. Doesn't she look so sweet?

So now, the wall of siblings is complete. I am assured by my brother and sister-in-law that I needn't worry about ordering up any more blank canvases. haha! This is it. They went out on a high note for sure.

23 January 2009

I'm Feeling Delicious

Those of you who know me, also know that apart from my personal artwork and commissions, I also work as a freelance graphic designer. (Hey, we all gotta pay the mortgage.) Anyway, I am blessed to have some super fun clients who give me some projects so fun, they really don't feel like work at all.

I hope my client at Hope's Cookies will be pleased with this plug for his product.

If you have never eaten a Hope's Cookie, well, I am so sorry for you. They are the closest thing to homemade there is ....or better! There are tons of flavors and a singular, quaint, retail location in Rosemont, PA. The cookies are such a popular choice for gift-giving, that Hope's web-based mail order business is booming. www.hopescookies.com They will ship practically anywhere in a flash and they have ump-teen styles of boxes and tins to choose from for any occasion.

OK, here's where I come in. I have designed 2 labels for Hope's, both with a child-like, crayoned look. Now, everybody reading this needs to go online and buy up a jillion boxes and tins with my stickers!!! HaHa! The whimsical designs make these the perfect choice for teacher gifts, coach gifts, babysitter gifts or gifts for children's birthdays and such!

The slogan isn't a bad one to live by either......"Share your cookies." The good folks at Hope's will keep making more.

Shameless Homage to my Kidlet

I couldn't possibly post my recent handiwork without throwing in this little quickie-photo-card for good measure. OF COURSE!, I had to do a holiday greeting starring my favorite 2 year old. He wasn't feeling game for a Christmas-y photoshoot, so I dug through some recent everyday pics to see what I could find. A little photoshop trickery later, the design emerged.

So here is my Coop-a-doop licking his beloved brownie batter. I couldn't resist the brownies and I couldn't resist this photo which just screamed to be shared.

If I missed you on my mailing list, consider this my holiday and Happy New Year well-wishes to you, courtesy of my little chocolate bug.

22 January 2009

Pencil Portrait Cuteness

Pencil portraits of children are a staple in my workload each month. I do especially large quantities of them during the holiday season each year. They're a great gift for those pesky folks who have everything.

Anyway, a client of mine (who has since become a very dear friend) gave me an awesome opportunity to do this touching father and son portrait of her 2 favorite guys. I love it. It's definitely holding the 1st Place position amongst my favorite recent pieces. The grip of that tiny hand and the barely touching noses? It is my joy to complete drawings like this one that capture a moment and not just facial features. I know its complete when I look at it and have the immediate instinct to say "awwww."

I knew this one was done.

21 January 2009

Silhouettes for the Folks

When we moved into our new home 2 summers ago, I was faced with the reality that I had left behind a huge custom closet we had built into our old home. And now I had 2 teeny closets in which to squeeze all of my and my husband's clothes. Our glorious walk-in had been complete with drawers and cubbies, so we didn't own any dressers or armoires. My parents came to our rescue. They gave us their very first bedroom set that they used when they began their life together. It was a little worse for wear, but I was grateful to have a spot to store my socks and unmentionables.

Imagine my surprise when, in removing the drawers to do a once-over cleaning, I found some old tattered pages beneath the drawer liner.

The sheets were large, about 18x24 and they were yellowed with age and the glue had long since lost its "stick" so the carefully trimmed, silhouetted heads that were once adhered to them were loose. My mom had kept these life-size profile silhouettes for 20 years! There was one for each of my 3 siblings and me. You could pick us out easily.

Anyway, I stored the papers and created the above piece for mom & dad this past christmas. I photographed each silhouette, cleaned them up in photoshop, favoring a crisp white background over the yellowed paper one. I sized them way down and framed them all together in one, 5-holed mat/frame using the extra space to list our names.

It took mom a minute to understand it was her OWN children, not the grandchildren. I think it went over well. Hard to say, since she was a little speechless in the moment.

20 January 2009

Holiday Cards 2008

This year, as every year, I spent the better part of my November and December sketching cartoons of families for customized holiday cards. It's a festive way to spend the months preceding the big day. It gets me in the spirit. But it was also nice this year to have two non-holiday card orders as well.

The art at left was created for beautiful baby Mallory. Mallory is a magnet for gifts and her mama needs a special way to send thankful correspondence. Since clapping is baby's particular talent, I thought this layout was fitting.

Mallory's mom also ordered a similar card set to give to her own sister as a gift; a thank-you card featuring all three of her sons with corresponding check boxes so the lucky card recipients will easily see who is offering thanks.