Latest Pins

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Just a few of my latest favorite pins! (Click on each to learn more.) Are you on Pinterest? Let me know, I'd love to follow you. If you enjoy these, you can follow me here! I pin a mix of recipes, fashion, illustration and patterns, and fun DIY projects for the home, or for kids.

Whispering Pines Writer's Retreat

whispering Pines Edit:  I thought I posted this a few months ago! Whoops! I'm posting now because I really did have such a fabulous time!

A couple weekends ago, I went to the NESCBWI Whispering Pines Writer's Retreat. (I actually got married at Whispering Pines, --remember?-- so it was funny/nostalgic/ironic to be there, not only without G, but also as my first time away overnight from my little kiddo. I survived!)

If you're into writing for kids, I highly recommend this workshop. Such a great group of really talented people, and put together with such care. I was kind of horrible about taking photos, so I won't do a whole recap. Don't worry, lots of other people did! However, I got the above shot of a doe and her fawn after they'd safely made it across the frozen lake... It was gorgeous there.

Huge thanks to Mary and Linda for organizing and being such fabulous hosts! I'm already looking forward to next year.

We are super tiny small.

Earth in Perspective Have you ever been to the planetarium at the Natural History Museum in New York? The museum is probably my favorite museum ever, and obviously the planetarium is cool (A. its a planetarium and B. this guy runs it,) but did you know the whole display design outside  of the planetarium, as you're walking up, isn't just pretty hanging sculptures of planets? Its really an exhibit that attempts to explain how large the universe is. (So next time you're there, resist the urge to run up the ramp and leave some time to go through the whole thing.) And it does a great job of it. But still, its just so hard to understand. To grasp. Don't you think?

I came across this series of illustrations (one above,) on some cheesy website that does a great job of it as well. So click away if you need some perspective. Or to just join me in nerding out about space stuff.

Calvin & Hobbes Documentary!

So who's seen the Calvin and Hobbes documentary, Dear Mr. Watterson?? Did you love it? (No surprise I'm pretty excited about it.)

I think we're gonna wait and try to see it in our local theater, but apparently you can order it now as well. Which is tempting. You can hear a short interview with the director here on NPR.

Also, did you see this interview with him? The first one in years. Get the whole thing in the December issue of Mental Floss.

Bill Watterson Kenyon Speech by Gavin Aung Than

I can't say enough about Calvin & Hobbes. Like many of you, I grew up devouring them. With my cousins and siblings we'd spend meals quoting and riffing off our favorites. I read C.S Lewis' The Screwtape Letters after learning Mrs. Wormwood was named after a character. I was furious when Watterson announced his plans to retire the comics. My 16 year old self took it personally and frankly, thought him lazy to desire a less demanding schedule. (Of course, I relate to this now.) Creatively, his work had a huge influence on me. His technical skill, combined with wit, dry humor, and spot-on childhood observances, continues to inspire. So it's no surprise I love this piece by Gavin Aung Than at Zen Pencils that illustrates the fabulous commencement speech Watterson gave at Kenyon in 1990.  As my husband and I start our own family, beginning to navigate that with working for ourselves, this becomes all the more poignant and timely to me.2013-08-27-watterson

OMHG Calendar!

I need to update the blog with all the work (that I'm really happy with!) from the Make Art That Sells class, but first I wanted to post about the Oh My! Handmade Goodness Calendar project!

OMHG calendar


The OMHG community wants to spend 2014 with you + your friends & family! For our first Oh My product you can actually hold in your hands, we teamed up in our forums to create a letterpress calendar focused on the theme of community. 12 of our members (cheered on by everyone) created diverse and beautiful art that represents what community means to each of us.

This is a community funded project and we are offering 85 pre-sale calendars at flat rate shipping to the US & Canada to raise printing costs. Give the gift of community this year by being one of our first supporters! Click here for more details.

OMHG calendar

OMHG calendar

Looks gorgeous, right? Pre-order your limited edition copy here!

On Shame, Vulnerability, and Resistance. (aka MATS class starts next week!)

Part B of the Lilla Rogers class, Make Art That Sells, is starting this Monday and I have a confession to make: I realized the other day that I was dreading it. Uh what?

Yep, you read that correctly.

snail and the rose
At some point during the last half of Part A I had let comparison, and subsequently shame, get the best of me. In the beginning, I was so excited to start the class and had decided that I would use it to really do some creative stretching! I would try new techniques, different styles-- experiment! All things I don't consciously do with my art work on a regular basis. Sounds fabulous, right? And it was. Mostly.
So here's the thing with experiments: often times they fail. You try something and it just doesn't work for whatever reason. But almost always the failures lead you down a path you wouldn't have found otherwise. Which leads to growth, aka the whole point of experimenting in the first place.
lilla rogers Mats class A
Know what is really not helpful while experimenting? Comparing your work to other people's, never mind a bunch of really talented artists. And I'm embarrassed to admit it, because I consider it such a rookie move, but I totally fell into that. In general, comparison can be pretty deadly to creativity, but it felt even more so combined with the growing and stretching I was trying to do. Instead of inspired by my fellow classmates, I just felt not good enough. Instead of having fun and playing and trying new things, I got nervous and tentative. I was not so nice to myself. Doesn't someone compare your inner artist to a child? (Is that from The Artists Way?) Well, I was total jerk to that kid. And forget about discovering any new paths through my hard won experimenting. It became too scary, too uncertain.
I should note that all this was sort of kicking around under the surface. I knew something wasn't quite right, but I couldn't put my finger on it. The class, (which is great,) moved at a fast pace, packed with information and I scrambled to keep up, confused as to why it seemed like it was getting harder and harder to do so.
And then it ended and I breathed a sigh of guilty relief.

Gaia Cornwall Ice cream!

Fast forward to last week, when my fellow classmates all started bubbling with excitement over the impending beginning of Part B. It couldn't come soon enough for them! Meanwhile I was using words like "impending" and maybe "looming" when I thought about it. And I was ashamed to feel that way. What was wrong with me? Why am I being so lame? As a creative person, this should be like unlimited ice cream sundaes for five weeks. And instead, I'm dreading it?? WTF, Gaia?

In a burst of synchronicity the universe swooped in and offered some guidance. Fellow classmate, Cheryl Bakke Martin,  posted Oprah's interview with Steven Pressfield. He wrote The War of Art, which is one of my favorite books. One that I recommend to everyone, I have a much loved and dog eared copy. Though apparently, I hadn't picked it up in a while, because I kept having "Aha moments," as Oprah likes to say.
Pressfield starts by defining Resistance:
"Resistance is the negative force that arises whenever we try to move from a lower level to a higher level. When we're trying to identify with our nobler nature. --Our higher nature."
And then Oprah mentions the list of activities he compiled that commonly elicit Resistance. Number 1 is "The pursuit of any calling in writing, painting, music, film, dance, or creative art, however marginal or unconventional."
Oh yeah...

[ted id=1042]

And then, because I can be a stubborn person who needs things hammered home, what book should be prominently displayed at my local library? Brene Brown's Daring Greatly.  (You might know her from TED talks, like the one above.) The book opens with a passage from Theodore Roosevelt's speech, "The Man in the Arena":
  It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,
because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly...
 And then Brown says:
"...Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it's understanding the necessity of both; it's engaging. It's being all in."
"...Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection."
I put the book down and was like, "Ok. I get it!"
Lilla Rogers Class
I share all this in the hopes that it will find some reader out there who is struggling with the same stifling thoughts and heavy self doubt. I hear ya. But I'm happy to report that after a kick in the pants from Pressfield and Brown, I'm raring to go! Dare I even say, Bring it on.
And to my fellow classmates, who are continuing on this journey with me, let us be brave and vulnerable explorers together. I can't wait.
Note: All the art shown here was done during the second half of Lilla's class. 

Lilla Rogers' Class Week 3, part 1

Week 3 focused on the picture book's market! Hooray, my favorite! Easy-peasy, rainbows and sparkles, right? Well, I thought so too, so I decided to not work in my own style, but to try something different. To experiment.  Well, I gave myself a run for my money, that's for sure. Our main assignment ended up being a spread or cover of the story The Snail and The Rose Tree by Hans Christian Andersen. Lilla wanted us to focus on expressive characters, color story, and hand drawn type --if we had time.  I chose to do a spread.  Mary Blair, one of my (and everyone's!) favorites was talked about a lot. I was thrilled.

I wanted to play with the following new-to-me elements:

  • flat, graphic shapes
  • "cute" large eyed characters
  • negative space
  • limited color palette (so hard for me!)
  • no pencil lines
  • retro details

Lilla provided us with vintage book covers for inspiration and I gathered my own as well:

vintage books Mary Blair

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vintage book



Eye Candy

Last weekend we visited old friends in New York City for a few days. We hadn't been in SO long, so the whole thing was such a treat. On Saturday, my friend Lila (who is an amazing artist,) and I visited the MOMA to check out the Rain Room exhibit. Sadly, the member's line was over 4 hours long(??!) so that didn't happen. Sob. But of course the rest of the museum was wonderful. Since I'm taking the MATS class I've been thinking a lot about color, negative space etc. --Here are some random pics I took of color/pattern/texture inspiration for me. Series of monoprints with collage additions by Charlene von Heyl, 2007:

Charlene von Heyl

Charlene von Heyl

Charlene von Heyl

 Ellsworth Kelly, 1951:

ellsworth Kelly

ellsworth Kelly

ellsworth Kelly

ellsworth Kelly

 Diagrams of microchips (?!) from Hewlett-Packard and AT&T. (The prints were about 4x4 feet and were stunning.)

photo 1

photo 3

photo 4

photo 5

I guess I should apologize for all the crappy photos/lighting, but just believe me when I say the colors were completely awesome. Aaand, fellow classmates, look what I found in the store:

Lilla Rogers I just like to Make things Book


Lilla Rogers: Color Studies

We're working on week 4 right now and I wanted to just quickly post these color studies. I was supposed to collect yellow, green and neutral colored items from around my house. I have tons of vintage paper and it was so fun to go through it! green color study Lilla Rogers

neutral color study Lilla Rogers

yellow color study Lilla Rogers

I took a bunch of photos of green and yellow objects in the house as well, but I haven't uploaded them yet... We find out our assignment tomorrow and we'll see how we'll use all this!




Paperman Disney short

Have you see Disney's new short, Paperman? It's wonderful for so many reasons. If you haven't, check it out:

Some behind the scenes here:

Can't we get the CG to carry those drawings along with them?.. I feel we're definitely in a golden age right now of CG--there's this explosion of content...But there's part of me that believes that kind of that stylized photo realism it isn't-- it can't be the only way that computer animation can look. There's gotta be other ways that animation can look. And I feel like bringing the drawing back to it has a great deal of potential.

~ John Kahrs, Director

Yes. Hooray for drawing!

Happy Friday everybody!

It feels like the first time...:

Obama wins! Woo!

I was thinking we could all take our post-election vigor and channel it into helping folks still effected by Sandy-- especially with the incoming nor'easter. Here in RI, you can donate food, clothing and household items to The Jonnycake Center. They are doing an amazing job of distributing goods to those who need them in Southern RI. And for NY/NJ, check out this Amazon Registry list set up by Occupy Sandy.  You can shop for goods that will get shipped directly to volunteers helping with the recovery. Pretty genius.

Edit: My friend Sarah pointed out that it would also be helpful to donate goods specifically for people with food allergies. (This should have been obvious to me as I can't eat gluten!) She pointed me towards this post on Allergy Girl blog. It has a ton of info and resource information. Thanks Sarah!

Note: I know Red Cross is an obvious choice for donations and I certainly wouldn't dissuade anyone from giving their dollars to them. But the general consensus on the ground is that local organizations are the ones moving quickly and being the most effective. 


Life is for Living

In Maine...My dad said something to me this summer that I've found myself repeating over and over again: "Life is for living."  It's become sort of a mantra as G and I navigate this particularly busy season in our life.

And then, when I start thinking about how we are inevitably at the beginning of this "season" that will likely last decades as it keeps ramping up, I can feel something similar to a panic attack coming on.  But if I catch myself and say "life is for living!" it somehow snaps everything into perspective, and instead of impending insanity, it just feels like we're on the right track.

I ran across this earlier today. I'm enjoying the similar sentiment.

“Life is an opportunity, benefit from it. Life is beauty, admire it. Life is a dream, realize it. Life is a challenge, meet it. Life is a duty, complete it. Life is a game, play it. Life is a promise, fulfill it. Life is sorrow, overcome it. Life is a song, sing it. Life is a struggle, accept it. Life is a tragedy, confront it. Life is an adventure, dare it. Life is luck, make it. Life is too precious, do not destroy it. Life is life, fight for it.” ~Mother Teresa