Has it really been a year?

I realized this morning that I neatly skipped over my one-year blogiversary, which was on Sunday. 164 posts, 411 comments, and 23,885 views later, I’m still here. And you’re still reading. Wow.

In honor of the fact that you’ve been encouraging and patient with me for an entire year, I’m going to have a little giveaway. (Yay, I love giveaways!) I’m giving away five Alphabirdybet letters of your choice, which I will happily package and send to you for free. And if you want to take this opportunity to add a few more letters or a print from le shoppe, I won’t charge you shipping for those either.

If this sounds good to you, leave a little comment below. You have until midnight this Friday, November 2.

Thanks for tuning in. :)

[Whoops, Diane reminded me that I forgot a few key details. I will put your names in a lovely knitted hat on Saturday and announce the winner that afternoon. ]

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B is for Baby.

…Blinking in the sun.

B is for Baby.

This is from an early alphabet series that didn’t get any farther than B (I do seem like the alphabet, don’t I?). The medium is acrylic + acrylic glaze, which is something I discovered around that time. It makes your plastic paint act a lot more like oil paint without the mess…not a bad thing.

I got some good news at the end of last week that I forgot to share: the Sing & Shout Crafts girls will have a table at the Holiday Gala at the Dahmen Barn! The barn is in Uniontown, WA, and was converted a few years ago into artist studios and a little gallery of sorts. I went to the gala last year and had a really good time, but this year they decided that vendors could only participate on Saturday and Sunday. Argh. But then they changed their minds and let us participate on Saturday only, which will be tons of fun!

I was rather sad when I thought that I wouldn’t get to be in even one token holiday craft fair this year. Holiday craft fairs are so much more fun than those at other times of the year – they smell like candles and peppermint soap, people actually want to buy things, and someone always puts Christmas music on in the background. Mm, I can’t wait.

(If you want to stop by, we’ll be at the Barn on Saturday, November 10, from 9 am till 5 pm. I think that the Idaho-Washington Choir will be singing carols for part of the day and there should be cider, etc. Come say hello!)

Some James and the Giant Peach.

These two pieces are from a class assignment to illustrate scenes from James and the Giant Peach. How fun, eh?!

James inside the peach.

The first is a full-color piece. The text was overlaid on orange borders to the right and left of the main image, which I cut off in this photo.

James underwater.

The second is two-color (orange and blue…the black didn’t count). Perhaps I should also say that both of these are supposed to be two-page spreads rather than extra-wide pages – you can imagine a folding line running down the middle of both.

I’m running short on time so that’s all I’m gonna say about these. But I’ll have more illustrations tomorrow…

And the leaves came tumbling down.

I still love fall very dearly, but I’ve recently come to think that there’s something rather melancholic about the way the leaves drift from the trees to the ground. The tree in our backyard had two or three weeks of autumn gorgeousness that left our backyard swathed in crunchy leaves. But now the branches are bare, and they will be until April. Why do leaves take so long to grow and so little time to turn pretty colors and fall down?

Backyard leaves.

I’ve decided to take a little break from drawing this weekend and next week because I really need to get some sewing done. To everyone who placed an order for a doll: I haven’t forgotten you! I’m going to try to finish all of them within the next week or two, depending on how badly I’ve miscalculated the amount of time it will take. I want the dolls to arrive in time for Christmas as much as you do. :)

Curled leaf (old work).

So while I’m doing all that boring sewing, I’ve decided to post a couple of student pieces from my studies at RISD. I spent two years in Providence, RI, getting certificates in children’s book illustration and natural science illustration, so the paintings and drawings I post here are older (i.e. from 3 or 4 years ago) and pretty varied. I don’t post old work very often because I used my student time to experiment with some different techniques and styles, and as a result I feel as though I was kind of all over the place.

But why not, eh?

Oak leaf (old work).

In honor of autumn leaves, I’m putting up these two pieces from a natural science illustration course in which we focussed on drawing techniques. The top piece is in pencil and the lower one is ink on vellum. (The particular technique I used is called stippling, which uses lots and lots of dots to create shading. It’s a tad time-consuming, as you might imagine.) 

Any other artists want to join me in a little “blast from the past”?? If so, leave a comment below…

Oh, I almost forgot that the very kind and helpful Dottyral put up a little blog post about my shop. Dotty’s been awfully helpful and patient with my newbie questions, and if you’re in the market for a pincushion, her shop would be a great place to start.

Happy Friday, all.

Thinking about the holidays.

For some reason, the Macy’s in our little small-town mall has decided to open a rather large and ambitious holiday store. When husband and I walked past it last night, the poor salesgirl was leaning against the doorpost looking unquestionably bored. We figured that she’d had maybe three people walk inside all day, and this figure probably won’t change for the next month. Serves ’em right for trying to sell Christmas ornaments before Halloween.

Christmas cards, on the other hand, have been on my mind for quite a while. My Three Days of Christmas print began as a holiday card idea, but I’ve decided that it’s not quite showy enough to warrant a large order. And if I don’t order a lot, the cards are quite expensive and I have to charge a lot for them. You see the problem.

In the end, I’ve decided to go with a tried-and-true illustration that I created a few years back when I was taking classes at RISD. It began as a class project, but I discussed the design with the publications coordinator at the Quaker prep school where I was working and they ended up using it as the school’s holiday card that year. I got quite a few nice comments and they’ve sold well at local craft fairs, so I decided to go with the sure thing and placed a big order so I can sell them in packs of 6 or 8.  (In case you, like me, are worried about copyright issues, I did check first to make sure that the school doesn’t feel as though they have the copyright to the design.)

My holiday card.

Obviously, the card is carefully religiously non-specific. And multiracial. It’s the kind of thing that I might be tempted to make fun of in Barnes & Noble when I’m having one of my anti-PC moments. But you know what? I really like it anyway. I don’t care that the candles might stand for Hannukah or the Quaker divine light or nothing in particular. I do care that the boy in the top right corner is supposed to be my then-boyfriend (now-husband), that the girl in the middle on the left is me, and that the red-haired girl in the bottom right was put there because my friend said that “there always has to be a curly red-haired girl in one of these things.” I wasn’t happy with a lot of my student work, but I did like this one. And I hope you will, too.

The cards will go in the shop as soon as I receive my order (another week and a half, maybe?).

Monster Mash: Bigfoot and the Birdy.

Thanks for the craft room love, all! It still thrills my heart when I walk down the back hallway, peek inside, and don’t see heaps and heaps of stuff.

I finished a little painting last night that’s my entry for Penelope Dullaghan’s Monster Mash contest. I don’t think it’s a winner, but it was a fun project. I did it in lieu of this week’s Illustration Friday topic, so I’m still finishing a painting a week (right?).

Bigfoot and the Birdy.

This painting is titled “Bigfoot and the Birdy” and it’s a tribute to all those times that you wanted to be just a little bit indimidating but were completely undone by your brother/coworker/spouse/2-year old and ended up feeling like this.

It’s hard to be a big, scary bigfoot when a little birdy comes along and roosts on your head.

Now that’s better.

Hey, remember that little craft room clean-up I started a while back? I’ve decided that it’s done enough to share, although still not really a thing of beauty. If you’ll take a second to look at the old photos (wince), you’ll appreciate how much stuff I got rid of. Lots and lots of stuff. I took a pretty ruthless look around the room and sorted out (1) things to keep, (2) things to give away, and (3) things to finish immediately so they’re not just sitting around. I tend to accumulate a lot of future projects, so it was a little tough to distinguish between (2) and (3). A lot of future pillowcases went to the Goodwill, but I also painted a frame and a few other odd pieces that I’d had kicking around for a long time.

I’ll start with the view to the right since it’s still not that pretty and I want to get it out of the way.

Craft room entrance (right).

Lots of shipping supplies = lots of boxes, obviously. Sigh. But at least everything is easy to find.

Craft room wall.

The view to the left is what makes me much, much happier. Isn’t that cozy-looking?

Craft room entrance (left).

The desk was my great-grandmother’s, and I love sitting down at it and wondering what she use to do there. Sew? Paint? Write letters?

Craft room desk.

This little bookshelf holds some of my extensive collection of photo albums and sewing books. [Does anyone else have trouble figuring out what to do with all the photos you’ve collected over the years? Which are really heavy and take up lots of space??] I found the wine-bottle crate out by our trash bin and decided it was perfect for organizing my prints and cello sleeves.

Craft room bookshelf.

This little shelf was an old craft fair prop that I almost had to give away because I couldn’t find a home for it. But then I realized that it had loops and could be hung on the wall. It’s very classic-vintage looking, and I was sad when I thought I might have to give it away.

Craft room display.

My fabric collection is now greatly reduced. It was hard to part with such a large part of my stash, but the happy thing is that all the pieces I own now are my favorites. Gone are the only-okay, might-be-useful-someday, and just-the-wrong-colors pieces. Hello, everything I really like.

Craft room shelves.

In the end, de-cluttering was totally worth it and I’ll probably want to go through the whole process again in another year or so. I still wish I had the time to paint, but my little Ikea lamps are doing their best to make the place look less dingy and more inviting. I’m also happy about the fact that I was able to package a new order this morning in about 5 minutes and have it ready to go for my lunchtime post office visit. Success!!

Woh, sorry about the photo problems. WordPress hiccupped mid-post, but I think we’re up and running now. Sorry if you stopped by while things were looking really weird.

A little Friday tour.

I love blogging on Fridays. Thinking about the weekend puts me in a very good mood, and time seems to pass more quickly on Fridays anyhow. Today I got to spend the world’s fastest hour snapping a few more stock photos for a work brochure, so instead of showing you the new mailing labels I made yesterday (they make my Etsy packages look so cute!) I’m going to take you on a little tour of my office plants.

(Cut me a little slack, it’s been a busy week.)

Office vine.

First we have the vine affectionately known as the “Chinese restaurant plant.” (It was given to me by a coworker who didn’t know the scientific name and said that was the only place she’d ever seen one before.) This plant seems to grow a foot every few weeks and is very hardy. Highly recommended for non-plant people like myself.

African Violet.

Next, we have the only African violet I have ever managed not to kill. Some fortunate combination of the right amount of sun and once-a-week watering has made it grow and bloom profusely for the last two years. Wish I knew what I was doing right so I could replicate it at home.

Office plant.

Finally, we have another mystery plant. This poor little guy is actually a bit sickly but he’s growing against a nice white wall next to the window and was very photogenic. So I’m not going to show you the yellow leaves.

I’ve got a few more office plants growing in the darker corners, but these three were the only brochure-worthy ones. I also grabbed my collection of interesting-leaves-I-found-on-my-way-to-work and stuck them on a white sheet of paper. These ones got a little dry and crackly overnight, but the colors were still vivid.

Dry leaves.

The building next to mine has a gingko tree out front and the leaves are so amazing. They have such a pleasantly simple shape that I have to stop and pick up a handful every time I walk by, which is probably amusing to the college students and people working in the offices inside (there’s that leaf-collecting girl again).

Gingko.

Man, fall is so great. I walked to the post office earlier to mail an Etsy package and experienced the most wonderful combination of warm coat + cold wind + leaves blowing in herds across the street + Jose Gonzalez in my ears. I’ve decided not to blame the Idaho autumns for not being as gorgeous as the Rhode Island autumns and just enjoy all the color I can get. Things are much more yellow over here, but yellow’s not a bad subsitute for the color-by-Technicolor oranges and reds I saw in New England.

‘Nuff rambling. I hope you have a lovely, leaf-filled weekend!

Oh, in case you’re interested, all these photos were taken with a borrowed Canon EOS 10D and a lensbaby.

Illustration Friday: Extremes

This time I made it with a whole day to spare…

Extremes

The small dog was originally going to be a chihuahua, but a quick internet search revealed that great dane + chihuahua is a pretty common image. So I used my little Bean instead. I pointed her portrait out to her, but she was unimpressed. :) Yes, she is that fat. And she does get that look from time to time.

This painting will be going in le shoppe later today. One of my Etsy goals is to have some originals for sale, and I don’t plan to make prints of this one.

Thanks again for all your kind comments lately, by the way – you all have been so encouraging!