Thursday, July 31, 2008

little gems

here's a survey of my favorite jewelry from past and present. the pieces i love the most are the ones that have a story to tell: those picked up on my travels, those made by someone i know, those found in unexpected places.

my most sentimental and most often worn piece is the necklace i found for $1 in the junk bin at an antique show; i was fourteen and it was my first real find. i've worn it for years and those who know me are probably really sick of seeing it by now. i don't think it's worth much, but an antiques dealer stopped me once and asked where i got it. she recognized the piece and told me it was from the 1930s; there's a set out there somewhere with a bracelet and earrings to match. i haven't seen them, but that's OK; i don't like to get too matchy-matchy.

do you have a signature piece of jewelry? or one with a really interesting story?

[p.s. i'm having a super sneaky snacky afternoon alternating between snak saks of mini nutter butters and mini oreos. my children are in the other room eating carrots. evil, i know...]

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

the power of the doodle

every day has its moments, when like it or not, i have to do something when i'd rather be doing something else. you know: those little obligations, those built-in expectations, picky stuff we have to get done as part of our daily routine so our lives won't fall apart. for me this is the power of the doodle: it turns an irksome moment into something amusing and worthwhile. it helps me let go of something irritating and move on to doing what i enjoy. and then i draw about that too. this is what art is all about for me. it helps me make sense of everything, even when i'm drawing about something that i didn't want to do in the first place.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

still foreign

this morning i was checking out the route from kansas city to indianapolis. indiana is my home, but i haven't been there for twelve years since my parents moved away. they got the unexpected opportunity to move back, so i'll be visiting in the fall. i'm so curious to see how it has changed.

then my mind drifted to the rest of the atlas, thinking of those states i haven't conquered. there is no excuse for some: nebraska is three hours from us. i lived in minneapolis for 4 years and could have easily busted to north dakota for a day trip. just didn't happen. i'll get to them all in time, i'm sure.

has anyone been to these states? or is there a state you'd like to visit but haven't yet?

Monday, July 28, 2008


my tonic for the day is my longtime favorite mercedes sosa. her voice sets everything right for me. so does dreaming about when i'll get to draw next.

what's your tonic today?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

escaping on paper

sometimes i wonder how and why doodles and words emerge. i find it fascinating to think about the process behind creative explosions. do you? if you sat down an hour later to do your thing, would the result be the same? did the dog barking set you on a new tangent? has your idea been percolating for days or months or did it just pop into your head? what fun to think about how differently everyone's brains work. thinking about thinking is an easy way to get lost in thought for a long, long time.

today was a good day, but a fast one. i'm not sure where it went. first thing this morning we walked downtown for bagels and coffee - and it wouldn't be a normal lawrence experience without running into at least two people we knew (and we don't know that many people) - which we did - and this afternoon our friend amanda made a surprise pit stop on her way home from KC - she runs a PR firm called 'pigs fly' which i think is just a fabulous name.

midnight. it's pizza time. i'll see you tomorrow unless i get lost in thought.

Friday, July 25, 2008

scribbles and stalking

a few scribbles from yesterday and a quick mention of some great blogs i've been stalking lately:

paper schmaper: krissy's fabulous collection of all-things-paper and beyond

kelly loves whales: fantastic printmaker, graphic designer, painter

stephanie levy: gorgeous art - gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous

pintame el dia: esti's beautiful black & white drawings and thoughts

e.beck.artist: elizabeth's happy, bright, minimally punctuated artwork

please sir: super synthesis of design inspiration

jess gonacha: fantastic illustrator, designer, artist, printmaker

also get over to tiny red (i've gushed about her art/design work here before) if you have a chance; thereza also sings professionally and she has shared one of her beautiful tracks on today's post. her voice is as amazing as her artistic talent.

[edit friday a.m. - one more lovely blog to check out - skinny laminx by heather moore, featured on stephanie's blog today. i'm an instant addict. heather does two things beautifully that are on my list for exploration and improvement: illustration and papercutting.]

i LOVE this blogworld of creative energy. it gets better every day. happy friday to you all.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

bursts of color

things that are helping me cope with my limits today [more difficult than usual; i am close to giving up hope that toddlers grow up and become reasonable people]:

drawing a colorful garden that needs no roots to sprout and never needs watering...

reconnecting this week with an old friend, my best pal when i was 17. we made it our duty to turn rural indiana as upside down as possible, driving locals and high school teachers crazy in the process... she skated away into the ranks of the expatriates after college, and we lost touch as so often happens with the flow of life. smiles to you if you're out there reading this and keep on trucking...

getting the new issue of teesha moore's art & life in the mail... full of color and great lettering as always. going into her world always brightens my day. teesha is so open about her artistic process and life experiences, and never afraid to try something new and tell us about it.

and one more thing... a little package arrived from my sister with my favorite trader joe's sea salt scrub. trader joe's and IKEA are the two stores i starve without here in kansas, but often i appreciate things more when i can't get them whenever i want. so thank you...

ah. i had a big scowl on my face when i sat down to write this, and now i'm smiling and happy again.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

within our limits

yesterday esti wrote a beautiful post about barriers - why we have them and how they impact us - which made me think about the roles that limits and freedom serve in our lives. i've felt oppressed and restricted by limits, but they have also pushed me to try something new that i wouldn't have otherwise. i've been exhilarated by freedom, but have also felt suffocated and overwhelmed from too many choices.

so i must strike a balance between the two in order to operate properly. as much as i fight structure, loathe limits and kvetch about obligations and deadlines, i have to have these things. they give shape to my hours and definition to my days. i enjoy my short intense bursts of creative freedom much more when i know there is only a limited amount of time for it. it's a tricky balance indeed and some days i never quite get it right.

today's moments: a deep flash of gratitude for my daughters' preschool teachers. a sundae cone for dinner. the pixies. thinking about how my husband understands me better than i do myself. a beautiful handmade journal from annie. a cry-on-the-floor belly laugh.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

the quirk is the charm

we love old homes, and we've settled in historic neighborhoods with each of our recent moves. old homes are full of mysteries and quirks, and for us the quirk is the charm, even when it is inconvenient. in minneapolis we had no a/c (which you really do need in the summer), in dallas we had no storage space, and in this house, the strangest of the lot, we are short one bedroom, have no storage space, and we have college students next door that shout expletives at 3 a.m. under our window.

but the upshot is that we're within a five minute walk of downtown. things are happening. there is always something fresh and odd to see. there are people. there is life. things are in motion. it makes me feel alive. i love it.

on my to-do list is to figure out how old this place really is. one neighbor thinks it was built in the 1930s; the real estate records have it dated from 1890-1910. we hired a structural engineer to reassure us that it wasn't going to fall down. he said it was more reminiscent of the 1870s. so no one really knows. but i bet the county historical museum does, so that's where i'll be going.

i love quirky old house stories. so please share if you have one...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

a no-good cook

some more fun today doodling in black & white, plus a public airing of my top domestic grievance.

we went out to lunch this afternoon, and we're going out to dinner tonight. i think that's a pretty good day.

almost stolen

some little thrills from our downtown sidewalk sale this week... i made out like a bandit with 4 tops from one of my favorites, kimchi & blue, at urban outfitters for $6.97 each... and the gap, at which i have not shopped for years, came up huge with shoes for $2.97 and hats for 97 cents.

why i am writing about sidewalk sale deals at 1 in the morning is beyond me.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


'a single day is enough to make us a little larger, or, another time, a little smaller': by paul klee for IF this week.

so today, an entire tray of chocolate chip cookies; tomorrow i starve.

Friday, July 18, 2008

dump it

if you dumped out your handbag right now, what would you find?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

after midnight

i wandered into westport yesterday, a charming old area of kansas city stuffed with funky shops and unexpected stuff. it has an uncontrived quirkiness that reminds me of the lincoln park/lakeview area where i used to live in chicago. i only had enough time to get my fix of art supplies from creative coldsnow and a quick cup at broadway cafe, not enough to take a round of photos as i had hoped to do. so my plan is to get back there next week to get some pictures. but we all know what happens when i make plans.

the point of all this was that i picked up a pound of moka java from broadway, and i'm going to need it in a few hours - seeing that it is already after midnight and i'm still wide awake...

[p.s. thanks to jan from daisy janie for featuring me on her blog this week!]

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

roam no more

a [slightly wistful] thought shared [i think] by many gen x parents. i used to disappear for hours, afternoons, even full days on my bike when i was a child and not come home until the sun went down. i could never imagine letting my children do this now. i don't think there are any more nutcases in the world now than there were in the seventies, when i grew up; it's just that we know about it. the internet puts the news stories in front of us 24/7, and there has been a corresponding shift in parenting approaches. it seems that children are always with their parents or under near-constant supervision. but children do have to grow up, and they have to learn how to function as grown human beings themselves at some point. i wonder how this lack of freedom as children will affect their generation.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


yesterday i found this nutty drawing of the stuff that pulls my little head out of the foggy cloud. i remember doing this eight years ago while working in seattle. it's not a cliche or a stereotype; seattle really is stuffed with coffee and i went out three or four times a day for it. not only did i manage to sleep with all that caffeine in my system, i also stayed on a remarkably rigid schedule there, eight months of going to bed at 10 pm and waking up at 5 to stay in sync with my 'minneapolis clock' when i went home for the weekend. oh, that discipline. where did it go?

what i can't remember is whether this idea is original or not. it seems inspired by that 20s-30s art deco period, and i remember doing lots of variations on sketches that i liked from some of my art deco books at that time. i looked through all of those books yesterday but couldn't find one image like this. so who knows. it may have come entirely from my noodle, partially from it, or it might be a complete ripoff. [at the very least, i do know that is my mug, or at least what it looked like eight years ago.]

off to kansas city now, then to latteland for a strong cuppa something.

Monday, July 14, 2008


my summer drink crush...san pellegrino limonata, a fizzy little one-sip-wonder.

[a perfect sunday: blue sky, quiet walk while the city was still, three hours alone to draw and play, no cooking, classical guitar on youtube, little girls chasing butterflies, a three hour dinner with my husband, a night of painting: restored, i think]

Sunday, July 13, 2008

left vs right

usually my left & right brains work together pretty well. Right is in charge, and Left intervenes when necessary. but sometimes Left gets persnickety while Right is being impetuous and then they get in a mean tussle. all i can do is sit back and wonder which side is going to win the battle.


a thought from shakespeare for this week's illustration friday theme.

now, i don't think my little spirit is in a foggy cloud, but my little head? definitely.

(today: much rain, trip to kansas city, caramel sundae at dairy queen)

Friday, July 11, 2008

torn to shreds

i almost didn't get this post finished today. the unthinkable has happened. my 2 year old can now get out of her crib. no more naps. my life is over. i'm cross-eyed in grief and shock.

so i owe my crew of artist friends a HUGE thanks for coming last night for a wonderful evening of wine and painting. oh, did i need an escape! it was so nice to hear real adult voices, with intellectual perspectives and deep thoughts, and to watch such talented people at play.

above is the wreckage of the day: my favorite chagall book, torn to shreds. it sums up this week for us beautifully. i'd best post this now and find out what my 2 year old wrecking ball is up to.

(p.s. a very special happy birthday to robin!)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

a style abandoned

for a while i created a line of watercolor and ink greeting cards, in a very delicate and light style (see the 'thank you' image two posts below). it sold well, and i enjoyed designing it at the time, but eventually but there was a point past which i couldn't do much more with it. i felt like an order taker and a producer and not much more.

this week when i thought about starting something new in that style again, the creative flow just stopped, and that's when i realized that it was because this is no longer the right style of expression for me. it served a commercial purpose at the time, but i wasn't capable of much depth with it. it didn't represent my thoughts or emotions; it was the product of what i thought others would like.

i'll post the greeting card line soon on flickr, for those interested. (EDIT 7/11: they are now HERE on flickr.) i still enjoy looking at them, but in a very detached way. for now, i guess i have to go with my loud, wandering words, because that's where the ideas are. a good lesson: stick with what's working.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

the send-off

here we are preparing the little journal packages for our new friends. i'm fascinated by different places, both near and far, so i used this as a geography lesson for my older daughter. she took great pride in matching the names with the journals, stuffing the envelopes and finding everyone's location on the map. the highlight of the day!

oh one more thing... happy birthday to my sister melissa!

Monday, July 7, 2008

itty bitty journal giveaway

polly want a journal?

my mini-book-making binge is over, and i made more than enough for me, so i'm going to give away 4 of these itty bitties! [edit 7 am: because these went faster than i thought they would, i will give away the remaining 3 of this bunch. so you can still get one if you're joining us; i'll give away 7 in total.]

each one is a little over 2"x2" with 10 blank pages/20 sides, and they are bound with wire and/or silk threads with a few scattered beads along the spine. i made the covers from something that people throw away by the thousands every day. can you guess what it is?

i started to make the journals with pieces of the inky papers i posted yesterday, but the kitsch bug bit me in the booty halfway through the process. hence the colorful photos of a discarded banana peel and the bottom half of some guy walking. i'll have to find another project for the papers.

if you are interested in one of these journals, please fill out a customer comment card and let me know which one you would like. if you're one of the first 4 to respond, i'll drop it the mail this week. international friends are welcome, of course. and if you're local, i'll deliver it to you when i see you next!

p.s. the only one not up for grabs is the orange one, 'marchande de couleurs'. alas, i already started scribbling in it.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

on the verge of a mini-book binge

i'm absorbed in making mini-books this weekend, thanks to a wonderful new art journal group that ricë freeman-zachery started this past week. she's assembled a very interesting, diverse group of journalers ranging from complete beginners to people who have been at it for decades. it's a great forum for discussing journaling ideas, resources, supplies, and inspiration. darn it, ricë. like i needed another diversion.

one member of the group, annie from the netherlands, posted a set of beautiful photos on flickr - one of her mini books, the other of a gorgeous journal with linocuts in black and white - which sparked two impulses in me, one to make mini-books and the other to draw forevermore in black and white...

so, mini-books first. i'm starting with this stash of papers that i painted last year and we'll see where it goes from there. after that, i feel a big wave of black & white approaching - stay tuned...

one more thing: the august issue of HOW magazine is now on the stands, and it has a permanent place in my handbag; i can't get enough. it's almost entirely focused on hand-crafted graphic design instead of digital design this month. check it out!

Friday, July 4, 2008

empty walls are for ART

this week i got an e-mail from my friend julie katsaras asking me to participate in her "Empty Walls...are for ART" program, which benefits domestic violence victims in the st. louis area. julie collects donated work from a group of local artists, and then she installs the pieces in the local shelter where they brighten the environment for the women and their children. when a woman is ready to move out on her own, the shelter presents her with one of the art pieces for her new home.

i'm looking forward to this project - not only will it be interesting and meaningful, but it will do my social conscience some good, too. most of my giving energy currently goes to my children, which quite frankly often leaves me sapped to the point that i feel i have no more to give. sometimes i need a reminder that there are much bigger issues in the world than peanut butter smeared all over the house. i can always find a bit extra to give of myself.

thanks, julie, for that reminder.

[significant moments today: huevos rancheros. fireworks. a pretend birthday party. making a marshmallow hat. open windows.]

Thursday, July 3, 2008


earlier this year i was seized with the desire to open a paper shop and creative studio downtown. it was a little dream i had nurtured off and on over the years, and all of a sudden the idea just consumed me.

after a month of sleepless nights, research, and living inside the business plan, i realized it would never work. i'd be stuck in one place all day, certifiable death for someone who can't stop moving. i would have to deal with customers and operational stuff that didn't interest me. i'd have to devote all of my creative energy to one endeavor, which would be impossible. clearly this was not what i wanted.

no, what i really wanted to do was to scavenge the globe, create the merchandising assortments, develop products, design the layouts and displays, write the marketing plan, and hand it over to someone else to operate. in short, be a buyer again. that's the piece of wisdom i took away from this, and it's something i really would consider again if we moved back to a larger city.

the lifecycle of this idea really was identical to the process of falling in love, followed by the exhaustion and disappointment when i realized that the quest wasn't meant to be. my husband was calmly at my side before, during, and after the fall, as he always is, and i know he'll be there when the next lark strikes, too.

i still love the idea, by the way. but i want someone else to open the shop/studio. i promise i'll be a loyal customer.

[edit 3:55 p.m: being a buyer doesn't sound good anymore; i think i'll be a mail carrier]

[edit 4:32 p.m: maybe an advertising copywriter]

[edit 4:34 p.m: or a software tester]

[6:20 p.m: a banjo player]

[8:30 p.m: going outside with a book and glass of wine]

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


neurons are misfiring everywhere and the day has just started...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


here is this week's contribution to illustration friday, courtesy of the wise roman lucretius. isn't this so true? not only about food, but nearly everything in life?