Monday, June 30, 2008

perfect sky

O what a day!

i had nearly three precious hours to myself to draw and get lost in my mind outside this morning at latteland. it was a gorgeous day, cloudless, perfectly still. the sky was a perfect deep blue that i call an arizona sky blue - one that pulls me back to my graduate school years in AZ, to that aimless, totally unfocused period of my life where i'd walk out of class and go directly to the superstition mountains to wander around even more aimlessly.

three packages arrived in the mail today: a book from my friend jo - she's an english professor so i read whatever she recommends without question; a beautiful print that i ordered from dan-ah kim's etsy shop; and another beautiful print from the talented illustrator elizabeth metz as part of a print exchange that we just decided to do on the fly. it was a thrill to see her work live and in person!

and finally, erin released her debut issue of mankind mag today. she outdid herself; it's wonderful. you can download it for free or order a print copy. it was great to see thereza's and esti's beautiful work featured in this issue, plus a cameo appearance from jennifer new's *drawing from life* book. jennifer is an exceptionally gifted writer, and i especially love her *mothers of invention* series of articles about balancing creativity with the demands of parenting. her words have saved me so many times when i felt totally alone trying to reconcile those two often-conflicting worlds. ooooh, jennifer, when are you going to get that mothers of invention blog up & running?

so, anyway, an outstanding day - i'll have to check with common denominator to see how his day is going - but from this side it couldn't be better.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

oh, to be five

this afternoon i was combing through the mess-of-the-weekend around the house when a few of #1's paintings caught my eye. five year olds have such magic and they don't even know it. they have the skills and just enough knowledge of the world to start performing their interpretations of it on paper, yet they're not old enough to criticize their work or even to think of it as work. i should look at her drawings more often. in them i see what's going on in her mind, which i'm not always able to read easily. i see the magic of what it must be like to simply draw what's on my mind without thinking about who is going to see it or whether they'll like it or not.

so, this afternoon, i'd like to be five again. (but just for an hour.)

patterns and boundaries

i have been obsessed with patterns as long as i can remember, either drawing them or looking at them. about three years ago, i went on a massive pattern-painting binge, then stuck them in a box and forgot about them. this weekend i pulled out the book of those patterns, which were originally in watercolor, and started re-doing some of them in pen and gouache. first i saved the drawings in black & white, then printed out the patterns on watercolor paper and gouached away in a couple of different color combinations.

i really enjoy working within small, limited spaces like these circles. i usually have to have limits to start something creative. it seems counterintuitive, but if i have total freedom with something like a blank page, it's too overwhelming. i don't know where to start. i guess blank pages and canvases do have their own boundaries, but they're someone else's boundaries. once i define my own area, on my own terms, it seems so much easier to start drawing.

this morning: a soothing bit of classical guitar (sor and aguado), strong coffee, and off to kansas city. i plan to do take-out from pei wei on the way home, too, to avoid cooking today. what is everyone else up to on this gorgeous sunday?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

language lesson

i was planning a little drawing about our road trip to atchison, kansas yesterday (immortalized by the song "on the atchison, topeka and santa fe", but the idea evaporated. today my mind drifted to hindi. i started learning it about six months ago, for no good reason other than i just wanted to. i'm close to learning most of the characters (my friend sandra, who is way ahead of me, made an excellent little cheat sheet bookmark for me), and now i'm ready to start learning a few words. for any hindi speakers out there, sorry for any grammatical errors or typos in the script. for those who don't know it, now you know as much as i do (unless i've bored you silly with this post!) about you? what is your current knowledge quest, or what are you yearning to learn next?

Friday, June 27, 2008


a thought and a scene from prowling the suburbs this week. my mom is visiting us for a few days, and today we took a road trip up north to the most haunted town in kansas. details tomorrow!

p.s. a thunderstorm is approaching.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

on the road again

we've started our regular trips back to kansas city once more. i love being on the open road. my mind gets to wander and drift uninterrupted as i zip through green hills, fields, and peaceful meadows, then BAM! we're in the sprawling suburbs. the transition is so quick it sometimes startles me. one moment i'm in a place with yards full of dandelions, brick streets, and mom-and-pop shops. the next moment, i'm driving by clean and tidy lawns, wide and orderly boulevards, and mass-merchant heaven. it's fascinating to switch back and forth between two such different worlds in the same day.

after i reached cruising speed yesterday the road trip song "california" by luna popped into my head. i hadn't thought about it for years, but it returned totally intact. during its time, i identified with the sentiment. now that i think about it, i still do. i just wander around like a trucker, like i've always done. it's funny how songs can retreat into a little corner of the mind, for years at a time, and the brain knows exactly when to pull them out. happy travels to you all today, wherever you may wander!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

blogstalking: design for mankind

another blog in my hoard of favorites (thank you illustration friday for the perfect prompt; this is precisely the word i wanted) is design for mankind. i found this jewel from another enduring favorite of mine, tiny red. i visit so much i shouldn't be allowed to return.

design for mankind is more than a blog about art and design; it is about lifestyle and inspiration. erin (the design for mankind mastermind) scours the globe and beyond for intriguing products, artworks, and concepts from nearly all ranks of life and industry - high fashion, underground culture, mainstream, kitsch, the beautiful, the unexpected, the undiscovered, the obscure - and she is rather clever in how she goes about revealing her discoveries. instead of one long daily post, she delivers her goods in swift, clean punches throughout the day: photo of the day, print of the day, style pick of the day, product of the day, and so on. it's just often enough to make you wonder what and when she'll post next.

another thing that makes design for mankind unique: unlike other design and lifestyle blogs where comments usually go into a black hole, erin does a great job moderating the comments on her posts. she is a thoughtful correspondent and loves feedback from her readers.

be sure to check design for mankind on june 30, the release date of her e-zine mankind mag. you can download it for free. from the teasers she has give us, i can't wait to see it!

banner day

i'm playing around with a new banner. i liked the pieces that were on the previous one, but i'm not doing much with watercolor and collage these days so i felt i needed to update it with more of my current fixations. right now all i need is a technical pen, gouache, and hot press paper, and i'm a happy girl. it may change yet again - that seems to be the only constant element in what i do!

as for the incomplete statement above, it is dedicated to anyone who has trouble managing a thought from beginning to end because they keep getting interrupted by a

(ha ha)

Monday, June 23, 2008

the thing left undone

this, from one of my favorite authors, should be stamped on my forehead. his books are not easy reads - he writes in a very dense style, with sentences lasting up to a paragraph - yet each thought is connected to the next and fits with the others like a puzzle. every so often he rolls a gem like this into one of those paragraphs, reminding us of the beauties and faults of human nature.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

good day

lots of little things rolled up into a very good saturday. hope you all had one too!

Friday, June 20, 2008

friday inspiration

things that inspired me today: little storefronts around town. painted newspaper boxes. intriguing things in store windows. stuff on building walls.

an impromptu rapid photo session with #1. i don't like having my picture taken but she loves taking photos so after a few attempts to dodge the shots i gave in. we traded cameras and took as many pictures of each other as quickly as we possibly could. (if you're ever stuck for inspiration, spend an hour with a five year old.)

more friday inspiration: a messy art class with #2. an evening out with my family wandering around town. a four minute appearance at st. john's mexican fiesta. chaotic dinner at ingredient. walking down mass street. bumping unexpectedly into friends throughout the day. trip to kinko's for jared's new passport photos. chasing fireflies and bunnies. "moonrise" by nitin sawhney. the progress of a street being returned to brick. thinking about the letter #1 wrote me, unsolicited, thanking me for making her breakfast. and - the perfect way to end the day - a big fit of little girl giggles.

instant illumination

i love this thoughtful reminder that not everything has a quick and easy answer, and that we are never truly "finished products" as human beings. there is always more to learn about ourselves, others, and our world.

enough deep thinking for the night; my last priority is to finish the last of the mini ice cream sandwiches.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

a surprise

after my daily tussle with #1 to get dressed and to the arts center on time this morning, i went outside to find five art students sketching our house. it changed my mood instantly; i love little surprises (pleasant ones) that interrupt the normal flow of the day. now, I love our house, but i was intrigued by why these students chose it for their drawings. my first thought was that it faces east and has the full attention of the sun in the morning; jared thought perhaps they were attracted by the exceptional handiwork he did on the brick steps last weekend. i didn't ask them why - it was more fun to wonder. whatever the reason, it was fascinating to see our old, crazy little house evolve on paper through the eyes of others.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

blogstalking: heather smith jones

now that i'm ultracharged with caffeine, i need to calm down, and so i enter the quiet, peaceful world of heather smith jones. her braille-like pinhole drawings remind me of those intricate papercuts that require days of painstaking labor and thousands of separate movements, yet are so effortless on the eye when finished.

her paintings have just the right balance of color, shape and space. even heather's photographs are works of art; she can capture a universe in one simple picture. i'm no cook or gardener but she makes me want to become one. i won't, though. i'll just keep returning to her blog for my daily dose of serenity. this summer, i'm lucky enough to see her once in a while; she's just as lovely in person as her work.

blurry eyed

one more diversion. it was a very L O N G night. i started noodling on a new creative identity (i do this a lot), and it got me supercharged and unable to sleep. (does this ever happen to you? after the end of a long tiring day, do you ever get fired up again, against your will?) by the time i finally unwound, a rogue thunderstorm passed through just long enough to wake up child #1, and by the time she calmed down, it must have been 4 am, and then it was just a matter of time before the newspaper thunked on the front porch and #2 started her morning chirping.

so i'm quite sleep deprived; my first priority is going to z's divine espresso to sort this out.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

sangria & paint

i'm excited about an upcoming diversion: our next escape to artsyville! every 3 months or so, some of my favorite creatives gather at my house for an evening of wine & art (for summertime, we're doing pitchers of sangria). we start with a general theme or concept, then go where the wine takes us. there's a diverse range of creative backgrounds - graphic design, fine art, publishing, advertising, writing, crafting, doodling - so each person tackles it a bit differently and it's fascinating to watch what evolves as the night unfolds.

i always look forward to this evening because most days get eaten up doing stuff for other people, and this is one time that we can relax, escape, drift into the creative process, and make art for no one other than ourselves. this time we're going to paint with acrylics on wood. robin and i are going to do the prep work this weekend so the gesso will be dry and everyone can paint away once they've arrived. i think we'll do a trial run on the sangria, too. so far there are eight of us and counting; i can't wait!

also to-do this week: redesign a simpler blog banner; my work is becoming more garish (i'm enjoying it, so i'm going with it for the time being) and it's clashing with the work on the existing banner. write thank you notes. start running again. try to get to bed before midnight. learn ten words in hindi. teach my daughter how to get ready without help in the morning (something that doesn't interest her in the slightest; she'd rather dream and dawdle, just like someone else i know.) create a name for my notecard line that is just as cheesy as artsyville. bug the landscaping company to replace our dead shrubs. send baby gifts. gear up for regular treks to kansas city starting again monday. decide which identity to pursue next.

next post: back to blogstalking.

Monday, June 16, 2008

blogstalking: tiny red

it's high time i mentioned a few of the blogs that feed me creatively throughout the day. when i can't be creating myself, which is a lot of the time, it's nice to know that someone is out there doing their part to move the creative world forward. so i take surreptitious peeks into these other worlds way more often than i probably should, but it's impossible to resist when i stumble onto a great blog.

i stalk tiny red design relentlessly. shamelessly. i found this blog during a bout of random surfing a few months ago and have returned nearly every day since. thereza, the brain behind tiny red, just gets the human condition and has the talent to channel it into something remarkable, in a style i've never seen elsewhere. i love her combination of words and imagery, her moleskine sketches, the pictures of her wanderings through london, the "objects" she sees in her pictures of shadows, and the wit she brings to each of her posts even when she's had a challenging day. it's hard to pick a favorite post, but if pressed, i must pick this. thanks, thereza, for sharing tiny red with the world!

i'll post more of my favorites later - i generally only get to work and think in 30 second increments and my time is up...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

an ideal breakfast

it's nearly 5 pm and i'm still in my pajamas. i did think about getting dressed for the day, but with impeccable timing a thunderstorm arrived (what IS it with this place?) and i lost interest even after the sun came back out. so i've been drawing, having coffee and eating cake all day long. i'm no longer bothering to cut a slice; there's a fork inside the cake box.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

happy birthday, little birdie

as of today, june 14, my baby is officially no longer a baby. this means i now get to hold her accountable for painting the sofa with butter, drawing on the wall, throwing food, and whatever other devilish whims get into her head.

congratulations, little bird. you made it. i'm proud of you. i'm going to play this all day in your honor. let's eat lots of cake and smear it all over the walls.

(edit: here are a few pictures of the girls playing this afternoon. this blog is supposed to be just for my artwork, but i couldn't resist on such a special day. besides, i'm still high on birthday cake.)

Friday, June 13, 2008


a fun prompt for illustration friday.

a series of unconnected thoughts

i spent a lovely evening with robin, amanda, and christy at genovese tonight. good wine, good company, good conversation. i always love to hear what's going on in their ever spinning - and ultra productive - creative minds. lucky me. this is the second night out i've had this week. on sunday jared and i had dinner alone; we got to gaze at each other all starry-eyed for three full hours and let our conversation drift on a thousand tangents. it's wonderful when that happens. that's when we learn new things about each other and our thoughts. with little munchkins running about it doesn't happen as often as it should.

the day ended at midnight under yet another tornado watch. odd strong storms and funnel clouds keep dancing around us every few days. are there any kansans out there? is this normal? should i get used to this?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

it's fun to paint

It's Fun to Paint, 1947: "we warn you that painting as an avocation is alluring and seductive. once you become involved, you neglect your garden, forget your meals, ruin your clothes and, in general, become a family problem."

customer comment card

when i first started artsyville i decided to keep the comments off. my main goal was to discipline myself to make art on a regular basis and i was OK with keeping it an isolated world. now that i've gotten into my daily art groove, i've also started connecting with some wonderful people out there in the art & design blogging communities, and it seems odd to keep comments off my blog while i'm posting on theirs.

this phrase "i need to fill out a customer comment card" has a storied history in our family. long ago one of my co-workers insulted another, and instead of reporting exactly what happened, the offended person hemmed and hawed and told our manager that she wanted to "fill out a customer comment card" on this person's rude behavior. obviously the rest of us found this very funny, and jared and i still use that phrase to this day on all types of comments - good, bad & everything in between.

so if you're passing through artsyville, feel free to fill out a customer comment card! i'd love to hear from you.


my dear friend jo wrote this poem. i love its simplicity and beauty. solitude means more to me than ever these days because i get so little of it. last saturday after dropping #1 off at the spencer for an art class i went across the street to the KU union to draw and write for a while. it was empty and there was no noise. no sensory input whatsoever. i stopped drawing and just sat there for a half hour doing nothing. nothing at all. i think i gained back a year of my life in that half hour.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

seattle revisited

just finished a little blast from my past. technically i did not live in seattle but i think commuting back and forth every week for eight months counts for something. this piece will probably not mean a whit to anyone except for me and those who worked on that illustrious nordstrom project with me, but i had a good time painting this, and that also counts for something because i had one of my worst parenting days ever and desperately needed to escape into something fun tonight. i won't torture you with details other than this: an entire container of land o' lakes butter spread all over our sofa was one of the minor incidents of the day. as i've mentioned to several people already, if jared had not been here to take over the evening shift of preschooler antics i would be wandering the streets muttering strange things to myself right now. now that i've had a few hours off, a few glasses of wine, and a few moments to return to myself, i'm no longer waxing nostalgic about the past. although i wouldn't mind making a fat salary and flying first class again.

yawn. i think i'll go stalk some of my favorite blogs before i'm off to bed. one final indulgence before the madness starts again in the morning.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


i'm all itchy to travel. i need to go somewhere. but for today: lunch outside, rebrick the steps, a swim maybe, an evening out, and the start of a new memory piece (seattle this time, i think.)

happy sunday everyone!

Friday, June 6, 2008

walk around town

what i love about lawrence: it has great coffee, people-watching and shopping. and it is utterly walkable. here are some of my favorite spots/scenes around downtown.

the casbah market. their "most nice hummus" truly is most nice.

la prima tazza. i enjoy sitting here and listening to people discuss their problems.

au marché. my local escape to europe. thanks, lora, for letting me take photos inside your beautiful store!

the front part of au marché. i love lora's ever-changing displays as much as her unique merchandise.

prairie pond clothing & bead studio.

genovese. actually, my favorite restaurant is teller's, but i couldn't get a decent picture of it.

round pharmacy, one of the oldest buildings in downtown lawrence.

the bay leaf in its new location.

this beautiful mural near great harvest makes me stop and think. i can't decide if this thought - "everything connects to everything else" - makes the world seem simpler or more complicated.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

done with dallas

this memory piece is from our three year stay in dallas. round 2 for me. it was odd to move back to a city i thought i had left for good. it was a better experience the second time around, but i still had the same issues with dallas that i did the first time: it's too decentralized and it is not walkable. we lived in a historic district not far from downtown, which in most cities would mean that we'd be able to walk almost anywhere. not so in dallas. on the upside, i had access once again to the dallas arboretum, which i think is one of the prettiest spots on earth. the setting, the layout, everything seems to fit just right. but just the same, i wasn't sad to wave goodbye to dallas again. this quirky little city of lawrence, kansas, was ready and waiting for us.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

finding answers

it's tempting to look elsewhere for answers. sometimes it's necessary. but most of the time it's not.

Monday, June 2, 2008

purple & orange

the theme is purple & orange this week on inspire me thursday. A Clockwork Orange and The Color Purple were the first to come to mind and now they're on my summer (re)reading list.


things that restore balance: the first word of a new language, ice cream cones in the back yard, binge reading, an unexpected e-mail from an old friend, an open window on a cool morning, a free hour, a thunderstorm.