Finally, after three odd years, I sifted through all my wedding photos. Despite a constant conversation with myself about why I chose to wear that particular hairstyle, I love my wedding pictures. Reminding me of joy and insanity, friends and family, the photos serve to highlight that blur of a day. I do not know if I would have remembered Uncle Stu wearing a tuxedo with a clown nose or "Redbeef" (my husband's roommate from college) donning a kelly green suit and matching top hat.
However, while photos jog the memory of a place and time, the Ketubah, or Jewish marriage contract, serves to remind the couple of the emotion felt, the feelings had.
The Art Nouveau inspired Ketubah pictured is just that. An original design painted in gouache, the stylized waves are reminiscent of the bride and groom's time in Santa Cruz, where they met many years ago. Contacting me personally to execute both the text and design, it was a joy to create. The text, Art Nouveau inspired English and Hebrew calligraphy, is their vows: promises to each other to be met over a lifetime.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
The craziness has officially arrived. Holiday madness. In honor of this, I am offering *F R E E * S H I P P I N G* through December 18 in my Etsy shop. You may find the perfect gift for your loved ones, work colleagues or yourself from Octavine Illustration.
In addition, I will also be at the amazing, incredible, utterly spectacular craft fair held only in Portland, Oregon: Crafty Wonderland. Outgrowing every space it has occupied, this year, on December 14, you will find me, along with 140 of Portland's best artists and crafters, at the Convention Center. It promises to be a rip-roaring good time replete with goodie bags, gift wrapping and the best handmade gifts out there.
The Moleskine journal pictured is a hand-painted, hand-screenprinted, original illustration by me. It is available through my Etsy shop and makes a wonderful gift for the note taker, poet, aspiring novelist, musician or artist in your life.
Back to work I go, tying ribbons and sealing envelopes, giving each and every package sent out care and love. So remember, this holiday season, *B U Y * H A N D M A D E* and feed an artist.
Friday, December 5, 2008
So I am in a rather esoteric debate with my husband about the nature of music. He read an article recently recalling a study stating that when one listens to a piece of music that they totally groove to, endorphins are released. However, with repetition of said tune, the endorphins subside.
Excited to relay this information to me as I always have a new favorite song that I listen to without pause until I sicken of it and move on, we discussed the matter at length during a recent road trip.
Certain songs speak to me. I want to own them. This can only happen through perpetual play. I cannot help this habit. If I like something, and I have the power to bring joy into my little world, how can I resist?
So here's my argument against this so called "scientific study." Because I listen to songs repetitively yet finitely, those particular songs become a part of my living history. They denote a place in time, a feeling, a person, a series of events that occurred during the time in which a particular song served as soundtrack.
Despite my decrease in endorphins leading to a song's eventual discontinuation, the endorphins increase exponentially when hearing this song much later as the memory it brings back is vivid and sentimental.
This is why I disagree with him and will continue to listen to songs on repeat. Currently it is Furr, by Blitzen Trapper (a Portland band!). I saw them in concert last night at the Wonder Ballroom. I love it. The soundtrack of my life. Right. Now.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
We left London, but not before dancing on stage for the encore of my favorite band (Belle and Sebastian) singing my favorite album in it's entirety (If You're Feeling Sinister). The concert was covered in the London Times; my stage dancing captured eternal.
Finding cheap a fare to Paris and with a free place to crash, the City of Lights was magnificent. Whilst trekking the tourist circuit, we found a Moroccan travel agency specializing in charter flights. Our first destination, Essoueira, a Moroccan beach town made famous by Jimi Hendrix's "Castles Made of Sand" (there is indeed an ancient castle on the beach, made of sand and completely crumbling) was a labyrinth of artisan stalls and fish markets. To Marrakesh and Fez we sojourned, riding buses and donkey cabs (click here to read diary entries and see pictures).
Renting a car for a week to tour the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert is not recommended; a guide or group is advised as our destination was just a few kilometers from the Algerian border. But we did not know that. Although there were close calls (it is considered a given to be lost as many Moroccans change the road signs in order to direct you to their towns), we spent an incredible night under the stars atop a dune in the middle of the Sahara (the sandstorm and the camel stench could not spoil it). Never have I seen so many stars.
We walked across the border to Spain ending up in Sevilla where we found a flight back to London and a plane ticket home.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
My honeymoon was fabulous. I mean truly wonderful. As rough and ready world travelers, we sought the exotic. We knew we had the chops; we met as travelers in the mountains of northern Israel (our first "date" was two weeks in northern Egypt along the waters of the Red Sea). Little did I know we would traipse through Paris, see the Southern Cross descend upon a Saharan night sky and dance on stage in London with my favorite band.
We have camped in the Pyrenees, bartered in the markets of Istanbul, walked the walls of Dubrovnik, partied in Barcelona, explored the castles of Prague, the churches of Italy and the pubs of London, but nothing quite prepared us for the honeymoon.
We never plan. Anything. Even plane tickets. This unnerves most, but we find it exhilarating. There are no hotel reservations, no itineraries, no way home. Adventure on the fly, we call it.
First, we went to London. You can do anything, go anywhere from London. I have always managed to find some sort of last minute deal to London. For very cheap. We stay in the same Bayswater hotel each time and do nothing but walk. I have an extensive collection of London walking tours and historic pub guides. As we walk we look for travel agencies buying tickets to wherever is most inexpensive, interesting or a free place to crash.
So we went to Paris. (To be continued......)
Saturday, November 8, 2008
I keep everything. I have broken dishes, an entire couture collection of single shoes, (Belle, my mastiff-laborador, having chewed the other mate--most recently a pair of handmade snakeskin Italian leather pumps that I picked up at a thrift shop in London years ago. Alas.) almost every single piece of correspondence that I have ever received, and boxes upon boxes of clothing.
I have it in my head that someday I will create some sort of art from my history. Most likely these treasures will remain in my attic, sit in my basement and wait to be moved to their next domicile.
My imagination can actually see the beauty I could create. The broken dishes to be made into a Gaudi style backyard bench, the clothing resewn into gorgeous new frocks, and all those poor single shoes? I once saw a famous garden where old purses were bronzed and placed about. I liked the way it looked. Could definitely do the same with the shoes. Especially my old cowboy boots.
This week I went through my art studio looking for inspiration. I always joke that my workshop looks as if it was hit by a natural disaster. People don't quite believe that until they see it. It's quite amazing, actually. Utter chaos. I love it.
So I am sifting through boxes and drawers and find a linoleum block/woodcutting kit bought about ten years prior. Thought I would give it a go. I found that I truly enjoyed carving the blocks with my various Art Deco inspired images, retro fashion plates and an Art Nouveau inspired nature scene as well. And I enjoyed the printing itself. A new found medium.
Pictured is my 1960s Mod Psychadelic Fashion Plate. A limited edition, signed and numbered linocut print, she is available in my Etsy shop.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
As a child I spent the summers in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn visiting my grandmother. In her one bedroom apartment, walking distance from Coney Island, my sister, my grandmother and I would bunk together in the living room. Almost the last stop on the F train, the dishes would rattle and the seventeenth floor shimmy as the nearby subway traveled the one and a half hour distance to and from Manhattan.
New York was the most different place from New Mexico I could conceive of as a child (as an adult as well). But I loved it. Sojourning into the city each day, my father would act as tour guide (as a relocated Bronx boy he claimed ultimate authority on everything New York). Worrying my sister and I would wander off, my dad made us memorize the entire F train route and study city maps.
Thus, I can navigate New York pretty well for a western girl reared on the Rio Grande. Recently vacationing there, I felt at home despite many years absence. A movie I saw in college came to mind. The Cruise, a black and white documentary, celebrated both the city itself as well as a quintessentially New York Gray Line Tour bus guide. In one scene, the guide, with an encyclopedic knowledge of New York culture, recalls literary giants, artists, politicos, criminals and silent movie stars as the bus whirs past their former residences. So much spark within such a small space. The energy is real; the buzz almost tangible.
I love New York. Therefore, you may imagine my excitement at a mention by the New York Public Library in an article entitled "All That Jazz". So thank you New York from a most grateful gal out west.
Monday, October 20, 2008
I love to write. As in cursive. Or calligraphy. Maybe even a nice block alphabet. In eighth grade my Social Studies teacher, Mrs. McIntyre (who, by the way, wore a bouffant), had a post of the signatures on the Declaration of Independence. I would spend class period upon class period perfecting my proverbial John Hancock.
When I got to college, I would laboriously recopy notes as to both allow the knowledge to sink in and to practice my penmanship. Thus studying became a process to be somewhat enjoyed (and my notes became a much sought after commodity).
Now I create wedding invitations, many in an Art Nouveau or Art Deco style. Each and every letter I forged by hand from my own stylized Art Nouveau alphabet. Much to the chagrin of graphic design buddies, I do not draw my alphabets on the computer nor do I scan them in. Rather each letter is unique unto itself, an organic creation based on the letters both before and after and with special attention to the layout of the whole; an entirely holistic creation rather than a series of computer generated text.
Plus, I enjoy creating fonts (especially those from the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods. Please see the matching RSVP card for this invitation!). Although my labor would be cut down exponentially by using a computer for text, my enjoyment level would proportionally decrease. Many tell me that only I can tell if an alphabet is created entirely by hand, but I beg to differ. Although the average person may not be able to discern hand-wrought lettering, there is a human, organic, emotionally charged feeling emanating from only that which is handmade.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
My daily life can best be expressed as a constant hustle. Either creating or promoting, I seek to find a niche for myself. However, I find that what interests most is the personal: anecdotes that tell of a self-styled bohemian existence. In celebration of this, and in gratitude to Hadley and Tangobaby, here's a bit more....
1. I live in Portland, Oregon. Today is a particularly Portland day: grey, dark and rainy, but lusciously green, perpetually forested. I love it here. The rain is most romantic--like strolling through an Impressionist painting. It is on these dreary days I am creatively prone and rather productive.
2. I love to go to old cemeteries. In Oregon there are random Pioneer cemeteries throughout both the cities and countrysides and I find nothing more relaxing than walking through the decaying stones, each telling a history all its own.
3. I spent my honeymoon in Paris, London and traveling through Morocco. Looking through the pictures this morning provoked a yearning for adventure to the exotic. Backpacking through cities and ruins, I want to explore places unknown and wander through cultures foreign.
4. I do not drive. I walk or take the bus. This affords me the opportunity to create specific routines on my outings. Each and every day I pass by a handmade sign nailed to a street lamp. Its painted words read, "Loafe in the grass with me." No matter my mood, I smile and give a wink to Walt and a nod to Portland.
5. I love buffets. I like to have an unlimited amount of exactly what I want. Rather telling, I must say.
6. I love Masterpiece Theatre on PBS. But I am unhappy with their new format. I don't really need to hear Allan Cummings or Gillian Anderson wax historical. Plus, a modernized theme song? Please. And the new Mystery format also sucks; only snippets of Edward Gorey's drawings and the original music remain. A travesty indeed.
7. I need to get out more. I am comfortable to remain in my house, putter around my studio and only go to the dog park for socialization. Maybe a concert this week. Or a dinner party. We'll see.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Everyone has two outfits: the one they see themselves in and the one others see. In my mind's eye, I am in evening gloves and a ball gown; my hair swept up to perfection, each curl in place. My makeup impeccable, I float through the air on exquisite four inch heels. This is how I see myself. In reality, my New Mexico roots show through as each and every day I don a pair of jeans, a white tank top and cowboy boots. This is the oufit others see me in.
I hearken to the day when ladies wore hats and gloves to the supermarket; when weekly salon appointments were the norm. Yet, I know that practically speaking, I am averse to such nuisances as manicures (I perpetually have paint and/or ink on my fingers and under my nails anyway) and labor intensive hair-dos (my curly hair seems to have a mind of its own).
Both my grandmothers dressed up when they went out. Neither would have been caught dead wearing the paint spattered college sweatshirt, ripped jeans and mud covered tennis shoes that I wore this morning to the coffee shop. No matter, for while others see an outfit sure to be called out by the fashion police, I see myself in a red, full length Valentino gown with heels to match.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
The Ketubah, a Jewish marriage contract outlining a couple's commitment to one another, is an honor to create. Given pictures of the groom's grandparents 1940s Art Deco style Ketubah, photos of grand interiors, and cutouts from magazines, I set to work designing a hip, modern take on the Art Deco Ketubah.
Working with the bride to create an homage to her beloved's family yet incorporate the couple's own aesthetic, I set to work painting in gouache the image of the tree and birds as well executing my own unique English and Hebrew alphabets in calligraphy.
The bride sent me the pictures following the wedding. Held at the Ruins in Seattle, it was most certainly an affair to be remembered. My jaw literally dropped; she was so beautiful and the wedding a spectacular gala event, reminiscent of a scene from The Great Gatsby or maybe Grand Hotel. I felt like a movie star myself to be in some way part of such a lovely Art Deco inspired scene.
Monday, September 15, 2008
I am interested in politics. I like to participate in my democracy. However, sometimes politics is not top priority as life takes hold. Yet the past two weeks here in Portland, Oregon and throughout the United States illustrate how life and politics are inexorably linked.
Two years ago this month I participated in a mural project created and executed by my friend, colleague and personal hero, Robin Corbo. Painted on the side of a carpeting warehouse on busy Interstate Boulevard in Portland, Oregon, the mural serves to represent various Portland communities and celebrates the women who went above and beyond to help further equality within their respective neighborhoods, ethnic groups or human rights organizations.
Perched atop a three story scaffold at times, (a truly terrifying experience which I failed to really get used to) I spent two weeks creating the alphabet, designing the layout and painting the lettering below each portrait. Located next to a century old train yard and working solo without music, I listened to the rumble of the locomotives, the oncoming traffic and the streetcar line. Feeling like an Edwardian broadside painter I enjoyed the industrial feel of my environs.
I think about this mural when I listen to the speeches made by Sarah Palin. Each of the women pictured in the mural fought to further the rights of women everywhere and now a woman stands to threaten those painstaking accomplishments.
I think Eve Ensler and Tina Fey/Amy Poeler explain the situation best for while I think it vital for women to continue to make history I certainly do not want to see it rolled back.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Created from the gears of industry, Steampunk is an expression of a desire to return to the elegance of tea-parties, ball gowns and the glamour of a more formal, ordered existence.
Steampunk fashion celebrates industrial beauty as pocket watch mechanisms and typewriter keys find new meaning in jewelry, adornment or collage. It is in direct opposition to the mass-produced, made in China, sleek minimalist look of the Millennium.
The Dresden Dolls, a Steampunk cabaret duo, embody this new fashion phenomenon. Their large, loyal fanbase seeks to portray this neo-Victorian aesthetic through Dresden Dolls inspired paraphernalia.
By returning to handmade, artisan crafted merchandise, the Dresden Dolls’ new website, Post-War Trade, seeks to provide hand-wrought items commissioned specifically for their fans.
Contacted personally by the Dresden Dolls with a vision for a notecard based around lead singer Amanda Palmer, I sought to create an aesthetic of old Hollywood glamour. With Dresden Dolls song lyrics and my own image of Amanda Palmer, these notecards are designed, hand-screenprinted and hand-painted by yours truly and can be purchased directly through the Post-War Trade website.
In other news, please accept my apology for my long absence. Vacation and weddings ruled the month of August leaving me little time for blogging.
I was however, featured in a wonderful eco-blog, The Organic Mechanic, with a lovely interview all about me and my art along with many ecologically minded details.
In addition, my "Career Gal" painting was featured on a major London travel site, The Londonist. And, of course, when not dancing at weddings or at a reunion, the was month spent working my little fingers to the bone creating Art Deco wedding invitations, an Art Nouveau inspired Ketubah as well as a couple new Moleskine and notecard images such as "London Mod." I hope to get everything posted soon. And I promise I will not be gone for so long again. I missed you all terribly.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
My mother is an excellent cook. She can make just about anything from Moroccan tagine to traditional pot roast. And she can cook for the masses, catering my entire wedding, my cousin's wedding and both mine and my sis's Bat Mitzvahs. Absolutely none of this talent was passed on to me. Or maybe it was but never fully realized as I hate to cook.
I like the idea of pleasing my friends, exacting their love and admiration through gastronomy; but I loathe the notion of spending time creating these pleasures. Food is temporary. Hours spent, adding a pinch of this, a spoonful of that, seem wasted on transience.
Please do not get me wrong. I love cooks. I love food. I love home cooking. I am fortunate to reap the benefits of those whose creativity is ignited by food, whom are impassioned by the combination of spices, the grouping of flavors.
My art, however, is born out of a yearning for permanence. I screen print my images so they will last for centuries to come rather than using a computer to lifelessly copy my work. I hand-paint my cards so they are kept; records of a time and place serving as personal histories. The notion that what I create may last lifetimes excites me and serves to motivate.
But a good meal is remembered. I will never forget the calamari in Turkey or the steak in Belgium or my mother's homemade grapeleaves. And that recollection I pass on to others, as I do now. Thus cooking is not momentary, rather the memory intangible.
Thus I present Bouillon Kub (my homage, painted in gouache on wood, to the original bouillon cube packaging in France circa 1920 and, from what I understand, still used today) to all the amazing cooks out there. May your food be forever remembered.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Next week is my birthday and I want a new dress. This dress to be specific.
Last year my sis and I had a party (we are born on the same day but are not twins). Leo Bash it is called and it is a most raucous party replete with multiple DJs, a kissing booth with Branson the dog, a trampoline and a wild dance floor.
Upon arrival to the festivities, I broke out into tears (and yes, I am a grown woman) because my sis had a new birthday dress and I did not. And yes, actual tears came. My sis was stupefied and rather embarassed, not sure what was wrong with me. I recovered quickly, but my disappointment was real. Silly, I know.
When my sis and I were little my mother would always buy us new dresses; the same style but in a different color. I can remember each birthday most vividly not by the presents received nor the party had, but by the dress worn. Fashion has always dictated my ability to recall events. I can picture the past perfectly if I know what outfit I donned at the time. I suppose this is what creates packrat mentality. How can I get rid of a shirt I can remember going to the best concert of my life in? Or a skirt bought traveling in Turkey? Thus, each fashion memory is cataloged according to style, trend and color and eventually filed away, in the attic.
So each season I go shopping. To the attic I go retrieving old fashions and reliving musty memories. I always come away with something gorgeous, a lovely frock exiled for no discernible reason, that carries a little piece of history and now has the opportunity to create more.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
I have weddings on the brain. Working on marriage contracts (Ketubah) as well as various Art Deco inspired wedding invitations invokes visions of my own 1930s style wedding.
Executing my own Art Deco style invitations by hand influenced by a perfume bottle ca. 1925, I sought to create a unique invitation based on an Art Deco aesthetic.
Held at the Albuquerque Press Club, a rambling log mansion built in the 1880s by the architect of the Santa Fe Railroad, it stands in the middle of the city on a hill, minutes from downtown Albuquerque and my childhood home. An urban architectural gem, hidden from the freeway and old Route 66 by centuries old elm trees, it now serves as the local watering-hole for members of the press.
Both my dress and my shoes were ca. 1930. A simple sheath with a goddess neckline and a long lace panelled train, my gown took little in the way of preparation.
My betrothed wore a tuxedo from a Fifth Avenue tailor dated 1925. With tails, a separate collar for a shirt that buttoned down the back, two sets of cuff-links as well as two-part vest and high waisted silk-stripe pants, his ensemble was terribly complicated and took two people to dress him. He told me he felt like a monkey on show, and I told him to just deal, he would never have to do this again. After all, we were creating a scene, a mood, a time of old romance and sophistication.
With over 300 people, total chaos ensued. With rooms off of rooms off of rooms and stairways that led nowhere, hidden patios and terraces, the Press Club that night had the quality of a debaucherous wild Old West saloon with people dancing, singing and creating a night of revelry not to soon be forgotten.
Monday, June 30, 2008
Much of my time spent as an artist is in waiting. Waiting for the next show, waiting for the customer to call back, waiting for the paint to dry. Just Waiting. And while waiting, beginning other projects that will soon, in turn, be waiting themselves. If patience be a virtue, right now I have virtue in spades.
Currently I have three projects in wait. Two Art Nouveau inspired marriage contracts and an Art Deco style wedding invitation. Both marriage contracts are actually Ketubah (Ketubot in the plural), Jewish legal marriage documents with both English and Hebrew calligraphy denoting the text. One is a simple black and white Art Nouveau inspired assymetrical frame with Hebrew and English written in a simple, yet elegant hand. The second is inspired by the bride's grandparents' Ketubah ca. 1940.
The wedding invitation is in an Art Deco style specifically inspired by the Oviatt Penthouse a Los Angeles Art Deco landmark reminiscent of a F. Scott Fitzgerald novel in beauty and opulence.
The waiting, however, is over for the purchase of my images on iPop magnets. Femme Fatales four pack set and the Fashion Plates four pack set as well as the large La Belle Vie single magnet are all available for retail purchase via the website.
So I sit and wait. Not a bad thing. I sit in the sunshine and work, my art in constant revolution as each project takes a turn in time to become whole.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
I am most pleased to announce the launch of my new magnet line now available from iPop, a division of Madison Park Greetings. Nine of my Art Deco inspired original images were chosen to be licensed and placed on magnets. Available at museums and fine bookstores the world over, this is my first foray into the international market on a mass scale and I am simply glowing with excitement.
They are available for both wholesale and individual orders through http://www.ipopshop.com.
Months in the making, I received the package with the magnets yesterday and proceeded to jump around the house squealing with delight only to get my dog all in a dither and some funny looks from my neighbors and passersby.
iPop magnets, my designs presented for the first time in the National Stationery Show in New York City last month, come in four packs and singles and are designed by independent artists from all over the United States.
I cannot imagine walking into a random museum or bookshop and seeing my art. I hope this will happen. In the meantime, I sit and stare at my magnets still brimming with happiness.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
So titled is this painting. And so titled am I--last week spent painting many new panels; this marketing said paintings. Becoming so engrossed in my work takes an emotional toll only later realized.
My images haunt me--they appear in my dreams, not as people from ages past (haute couture in an Art Nouveau style) but splashes of color I know are mine. They vex me, sitting in wait adjacent to the bedroom (my studio and drafting table are in the "vanity room"--a small Victorian style dressing room with a built-in armoire and dressing table) not having seen the light of day.
I find it peculiar that art should thus exist virtually; a series of code rather than a tangible image when a tangible image does indeed exist. And even more odd, that the audience also be virtual--a set of avatars and comments suited to inspire progress and provide inspiration.
As one who normally eschews technology, I could not be more grateful for it right now.
I shall post each new painting over the course of the next month and will execute many more. They are all painted in gouache (a water-based paint similar to watercolor but with more pigment producing a bolder, matte tone) on Plywerk (a handcrafted wood panel made in Portland, Oregon and using environmentally sustainable practices), ready to hang and available exclusively through my Etsy shop.
Friday, May 30, 2008
I do not drive. Nor do I ride a bicycle, skateboard, or scooter. I do not rollerskate unless in a rink, and as a West Coaster I never had occasion to ice skate outside of doors.
I could not tell you why I don't see lampposts, cars, or other pedestrians as I wander through my somewhat confused existence, but I live in my head, focused on my world.
As vehicular transport eludes me and I prefer to walk or take the bus, I found it odd that I should be a part of Portland's Cycle Seen project.
The painting pictured is currently on display in NE Portland at Cup and Saucer as part of a city-wide exhibition featuring bicycle art.
This image was taken from my memories of my trip through Holland with my sis. In Holland there are bicycle freeways taking one out of town and through the pastoral countryside. Without cars to worry me, I was free to ride past the windmills and frolicking baby goats. I most vividly remember my sis shouting out, "This is the best day ever!" as we rode through the Dutch farmlands. Indeed it was.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
It is 55 degrees out. On Saturday it was 99 degrees. I prefer the heat so I drew her to celebrate the long summer days ahead, much eagerly anticipated and disappointingly not quite here yet.
Yesterday I was tagged twice, thus I thought in the spirit of sportsmanship I would play along. As the tags asked differing questions (one simply asked to write seven interesting things about oneself, the other had directed questions), I am combining them as to not write a manifesto.
Without further ado....
1. What were you doing ten years ago?
Living in Jerusalem waiting tables. I had left college prematurely, moved to Jerusalem by myself and got a job as a waitress. I lived in Israel for two years before returning to San Francisco to finish college. It was a most romantic point in my life and where I began to find my calling as an artist (it would take many more years to realize it).
2. Things that I would do if I were a billionaire?
I would buy a huge sprawling Victorian with stairways that ran nowhere, rooms hidden behind bookshelves, secret passages and an attic full of ephemera (think Winchester Mystery House). I prefer it to be bit decrepit to add history, drama and intrigue. I would also travel, my big orange backpack atop my small frame, to destinations exotic and locales of ancient lore. Oh, and I would buy tons of clothes. Beautiful couture fashions from decades past. And shoes, lots of shoes.
3. Places I have lived:
4. Random Musing no. 1
I want to go to St. Petersberg as my next travel destination. I would like to see the Hermitage.
5. Random Musing no. 2
I have a mastiff-labrador cross named Belle. The name is reflexive as she is named after the Scottish band Belle and Sebastian. Belle and Sebastian named themselves after the early 1980s cartoon about the adventures of a little boy, Sebastian and his big dog, Belle.
6. Random Musing no. 3
If I could eat anything all the time it would be pie. I love pie. All kinds of pie. Especially fruit pie. And desserts in general. Big fan of sugar.
I am now tagging others. All of you. Wouldn't want to pick favorites, so everyone is invited to play; use these questions or make up your own. Cheers!~
Friday, May 16, 2008
My house was built in 1902. As Queen Victoria died in 1901, I suppose it is officially an Edwardian, but just on the cusp. Made from a kit, it is the mirror image of the house next door, although time and various paint jobs, add-ons and decorating schemes now create quite a dissimilar appearance.
With both a sun porch and a mudroom (a necessary little porch frequently used throughout winter for galoshes and dirty dog towels), it is cozy and filled with light:
The back door has a doorbell I believe used for deliveries by the local milkman from
the dairy that used to be down the block (now a gourmet grocery).
On the the front curb there are small rings used to tie up one's course whilst visiting neighbors. Our garage could have easily doubled as a stable.
The attic contains various worn leather suitcases traveled to exotic locales more than a century ago.
There are channels built in to house pocket doors used to open the parlor only for "company."
The kitchen counter has a bottlecap opener built in and our original full Victorian bar matches the formal dining area so nicely (moved to Portland from two different aparments in the San Francisco Bay Area including a third floor walk-up) and provides a shelving unit for a full two-turntable DJ setup.
This tribute to my home occurs as my roses bloom, my raspberry bush blossoms and my grape arbor buds. There's no place like home.
Pictured is my tribute to summer--bare legs and a skirt with cute shoes to match, Edwardian style. Maybe she walked through my house almost 100 years ago....
Thursday, May 8, 2008
My sister is a scenester. A scenester is defined as one whom is always where the action is and whilst there, on the hunt for more. A friend recently sent a picture with a gal wearing a tee with the words, "I listen to bands that don't even exist yet" emblazoned across the front. A most fitting description of my sis.
Recently, our free alternative weekly, The Willamette Week, featured Portland's top ten local bands as voted by members of the music community. My sister, as one of the town's music bookers gave her two cents. As luck would have it the band she chose, The Builders and the Butchers, was voted number one thus her quote selected:
“The first time I saw the Builders and the Butchers was about a year ago at one of those free afternoon back-patio shows at Rontoms. There were these intense storm clouds above us, and we all knew that it would POUR any second. As soon as they started playing, big fat drops came comin’ down—a warm spring rain. Thunder was crashing, lightning flashing off to the east like a high desert storm. The more soaked all of our bodies became, the louder the chorus of wailing voices became—a religious fervor set in. The crowd flailed around, dancing, shouting along to the chorus, ‘When it rains!’ Truly a rock-’n’-roll baptism.”
The musings of a hipster. Tee hee.
In addition, two other bands were chosen in the top ten, Loch Lomond and Nick Jaina. A few months back I illustrated their CD release promotion concert poster. All the fonts are hand-wrought and the image in a French New Wave style.
Although not a scenester myself, (although I do love to go to the concerts of my favorite bands, I find I usually prefer an evening of Masterpiece Theatre and a pint of ice cream to the bars) I may live vicariously through both my art and my sis.
Monday, May 5, 2008
I spent the past week in decadence celebrating my beloved's birthday. One night spent swaying to the gyspy rhythms of Devotchka, the next dancing to the indie jams of Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks provided a much needed rock out.
Dinner at Le Pigeon, their chef voted by Food and Wine magazine as the top chef of 2007 capped the week off perfectly.
Interspersed therein was First Thursday, Portland's swanky art walk, skate show, and street party replete with large groups of revelers congregating in an open appreciation of culture and art.
I painted the above following the Devotchka concert. My favorite tune of theirs, Queen of the Surface Streets,
(I'll give my days to the Neanderthals
With the classic rock
And the wrecking ball
I'll go swimming in the wet concrete
And I'll cast my pearls at the unpaved streets),
inspired her, Art Deco style.
Monday, April 28, 2008
I sit here and write out this blog entry long hand with a fountain pen and a jar of ink. I have no cell phone, I do not drive and feel far more comfortable writing long hand. In college I used to write 40 page history term papers long hand and then transpose. I think better as I the cursive letters form quickly and smoothly, artfully transcribed upon my paper.
As I record my thoughts to be broadcast to the world, there are children staring at me who have only written a letter on a keyboard. My handwritten record could be found three hundred years hence and be a part of a history rather than a random sampling of computer code stored onto an obsolete machine. Tangibility is vital to understanding character, reality and life view. Examining my hand-writing could tell you I'm left-handed, female and a practiced correspondent. A tangible record proves I exist, where I exist and my station in life. Will history understand us as we really were or rather as the virtual reality we now strive to create?
I yearn to provide a living record of my life through my art--how I live, why I live and whom and what I live for. It is that which we physically leave in our wake which proves our existence at all. Those whom we celebrate in our collective social memory are those who left physical tangible remnants for later generations to venerate. With such few examples left to date those that are existant are invaluable regardless of the life lived. In the digital age, a time of infinite information stored onto countless pieces of plastic, what will prove valuable long after our demise?
All of my images are now available as original paintings, ready to be hung. Each is painted in gouache onto Plywerk, a handmade substrate board created by my wonderful friend and colleague, Kjell van Zoen. Pictured is "Farewell Kabarista" painted in gouache on Plywerk and available through my Etsy shop.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
I was born and raised in the beautiful state of New Mexico. Hailing from this "Land of Enchantment," I believe, creates part of my need for space and time. I deplore the notion of being caged in by my surroundings; and the open sky and few people, endless desert and cowboy mentality allow me to breathe freely, openly and privately.
Everything is old in New Mexico. Not like in Portland where everyone lives in a Victorian, but rather old as in "old as dirt," literally. Many homes are built of mud and straw and many date back three hundred years and more.
The image pictured, done in the style of a 1940s postcard, is a piece commissioned by one of the members of a Boston knitting group that was screen-printed onto Eco-totes for use as knitting bags.
The retreat was held at her family home in Tularosa, New Mexico. This southern New Mexico home was an actual military fort used by the Spanish and has served as the family's private residence for three generations.
Listed on the National Historic Register, this centuries old adobe is essentially a fortress with walls three feet deep and window slats used to aim rifles through. The illustration pictured is based on this historical and architectural gem and is my first foray into architectural rendering, Art Deco style.
Monday, April 14, 2008
First approached by Brian of Jive White Boy (don't let the name throw you) through my myspace page to illustrate his debut album, I held zero reservations as this has always been a dream of mine.
Part Eliott Smith, part Leonard Cohen, this local Portland singer songwriter's music is darkly folky, sweetly biting. A fan of Art Deco and Art Nouveau style, he felt my illustrations lended a classic yet slightly sinister quality to his indie rock musings.
The inspiration came from listening to his songs on repeat whilst sketching. The 1920s Jazz Age style image seemed an appropriate one and was also reminiscent of Brian himself. The CD should be available sometime this summer, hopefully in a wide release (or at least it may be purchased globally through the internet; I will provide a link on this site when it is released).
I am most proud to present this illustration as well as the back cover song list (all fonts wrought completely by hand in the Art Nouveau style of the early 1900s and of my own alphabet, of course) as it has been long in the making. I can't wait to see it on the CD itself. A dream come true. Thank you so much, Jive White Boy.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
The blooming of the daffodils and tulips here in Portland signals the beginning of art fair season. This past Monday and Tuesday were spent inside one of Portland's largest office buildings as a group of independent designers, crafters and artists displayed our wares through the newly created artist group, HandmadeNW.
Friday and Saturday will be spent at the school of indie rock star's children (The Shins, The Decemberists, Sleater Kinney, Modest Mouse, Stephen Malkmus and the scions of other famous rockers), Buckman Elementary. The Buckman School Art Show & Sell on Friday, April 11 and Saturday, April 12 at Buckman Elementary School in Portland, Oregon benefits the Buckman Arts Focus Elementary School and will be featuring the work of more than 100 Pacific Northwest artists.
Already written up in Pitchfork, the most popular online taste making music magazine, the Buckman Art Show and Sell is kicking off the event with a benefit concert by The Shins' James Mercer and Pavement's Stephen Malkmus held at the tragically hip Jupiter Hotel next to the tragically hip Doug Fir Lounge.
I am very excited for this event and for the rest of the summer art shows as well. Art fairs provide me with a sense of community, belonging and conversation. I enjoy chatting with customers and artists alike and come away feeling renewed and inspired.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Today my tulips bloomed and I finished a painting inspired by said tulips. Entitled, "Venus in Spring," it is one of a series that I am currently at work on. In addition to a full-size painting, each image is burned onto a screen to print from. The canvas is a Moleskine notebook, favorite of DaVinci and Hemingway. Each notebook is screen-printed with one of my Art Deco inspired illustrations (Grandpa Charlie and Venus among them) and then hand-painted. They are for purchase in my Etsy shop.
Last weekend friends visited from Williams, Oregon, a very small town in the Rogue Valley (a most romantic name for a locale). Living in the country they see little of civilization, thus the opportunity to shop at the garage sale going on across the street was of immense excitement. Filling two cars full with garage sale wares, they made their way home. I picked up a stash of 1980s movies and spent the day painting Moleskines whilst conducting my own personal Christian Slater marathon.
Unlike many artists, I usually do not listen to music whilst at work. Rather I have a little television and VCR in my studio and I listen to movies. The dialogue allows me to focus whereas music zones me out. Funny where inspiration lies.
Thus, four new Moleskine designs and nine new paintings are almost finished. I'm not sure if the '80s movies rubbed off as my usual fare are black and whites, Hitchcock or James Bond (the action keeps me moving quickly), but needless to say I most assuredly enjoyed myself (Mr. Slater in Pump Up the Volume makes me swoon. Sigh.).
Sunday, March 30, 2008
I never knew my Grandpa Charlie. A tailor in the garment district of New York City's Lower East Side, he died two weeks before my little sister was born. She was named Caroline in honor of him.
My grandfather exists in my mind through Grandma Minnie's wedding pictures--quite the 1930s gentleman with a flair for fashion, a confident gait and a sly look.
Delivered in the hospital on my third birthday (yes, we are exactly three years apart), Caroline's birth is my first memory.
Aware it was my birthday and the importance of having one as well as the fringe benefits associated, one can imagine my devastation at the conspicuous absence of both my parents. Rather, my great Aunt Octavine celebrated with me. I received first a Fisher Price record player, and then a baby sister.
Forced to then share all birthdays following, every year "our" birthday celebration included all the neighborhood children. With the Fisher Price record player in tow, we endlessly played musical chairs outside. My mother dressed us in matching Victorian style dresses in differing colors and put our hair in ringlets. Great Aunt Octavine made a cherry cake (white cake with maraschino cherries in the batter and pink icing and maraschino cherries on top) and we would blow out the candles...together.
Most of the presents consisted of Barbie and Tracy (Barbie with brown hair--a favorite among us brunettes) dolls. My mother, not thrilled with the whole Barbie idea, only let us keep one each. My father then stashed the rest. To this day, hidden in the depths of some closet lie various late 1970s and early 1980s Barbie and Tracy dolls, still in their original packaging.
My sister and I are very close and live only minutes away from one another albeit not in our hometown. We still celebrate "our" birthday ever year together and sometimes even wear matching outfits. I think Grandpa Charlie would laugh.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
I love fashion. And I love shoes. When I was little my mother had a pair of Brazilian stacked heels. It was the 1970s and they were black suede with a cutout toe. I used to play dress up in them. They were so beautiful.
But my mother is not a packrat. She does not carry that gene which forces one to keep everything out of sentimentality or a need to hoard.
As a small child, I vividly remember finding garbage bags destined for Goodwill containing her wedding dress (a red velvet mini later worn to my Junior Prom), various early 1970s formals and innumerable pairs of high heels. Apparently she no longer had a need for such things as a mother of two in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Salvaging what I could in the back of the car en route to the donation center, I managed to save much of the lot. But the shoes were lost; destined to exist only in my memory.
So I present to you my mother's Brazilian stacked heel disco shoes (now in red), a beret (from my great Aunt Octavine) and a Diane von Furstenberg wrap-around dress I remember my mother wearing when we went out somewhere fancy.
My tribute to fashion through my childhood self.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Despite an ever present drizzle (I must remember not to complain however, as I am the one who chose to live in Portland), today was most sunny. I was on the front page of Etsy and read a most wonderful interview on Inspiration Boards with one of my most favorite illustrators, Maira Kalman.
My father first introduced me to Maira Kalman's work through her New York Times column. Her illustrations provide social commentary and speak to the mundane aspects of life which fleetingly take on great significance. I suppose I find her most inspiring as her illustrations are not comics nor cover designs nor pictures in a book but rather form a column, a consecutive series of thought meant to observe and comment, to titilate and anger, to provide a conscience and put forth an opinion.
And I found this painting entitled "Devasting: The Movie Star." (See her real identity revealed in the comments section thanks to a most observant reader!) It had fallen behind the bookshelf and forgotten about. Two others were found as well. I suppose having mice in my studio (the impetus behind the cleaning) has a sunny side as well.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
When I'm totally broke (usually the case as a working artist) I cannot, I must not succumb to my most favorite of obsessions: impractical shoes.
As a size 35 European, my choices in footwear are limited to old lady loafers with tassels, children's shoes and couture footwear from discount department stores. I choose the latter most emphatically.
In my recently cleaned out closet(s)--I am also a clotheshorse as well--I found my beautiful Dolce and Gabbana black and white genuine cowhide slingbacks. Still in their box, I have only worn them once, but no matter. I own them to own them. To admire them. To create my own little shoe museum.
I have little occasion to don haute couture fashion. Usually in cotton leggings and my father's ancient oversize promotional tees from various marathons in the 1980s whilst in the house and only a pair of galoshes to spice up the outfit when I venture out, high fashion eludes my day to day activities.
Without money to spare, yet with an itch for couture, I draw. I draw the shoes I want to own, I paint the outfits I want to buy. Creating fashion through my imagination relieves a bit of my fashion anxiety and most thankfully saves my pocketbook from total destruction.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
A year and a half ago I was approached by two wonderful young wine makers whom recently relocated from New York City to Walla Walla, Washington. Following their libatious dreams westward, they bought a large acreage, two German Shepherd puppies, and started their own winery. Fans of Art Nouveau style, the vinters approached me to illustrate the label and work together to design a concept for the winery itself.
Located on the North Fork of the Walla Walla River in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, Stella Fino winery pays homage to its Italian roots through both its namesake and old-world Italian wines similar to those found in Montalcino, Italy.
Pictured is my illustration of Stella Fino as she appeared in New York City in the 1920s. The proprietor's great grandmother, she arrived in the United States through Ellis Island in the early 1900s from Italy.
Perhaps my favorite commission piece thus far, I only last week saw the bottle for the first time. You can't tell in the photo, but all of the lettering and the image are raised. In addition, I also painted a 3' x 2' enormous painting of Stella to be framed and hung at the winery. Already reviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle, I think this amazing wine is on its way to greatness. I feel most honored to be a part of it all.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
My sister plays the electric viola. A member of multiple bands over the past decade, she has played in warehouses and for house-parties; for weddings and in street fairs. For the larger shows she asks me to do the poster art.
The life of an indie rocker violist dictates a measure of flexiblity when it comes to performance locales. Venues include concert halls and ballrooms, but also smoky pubs and basement parties.
Below is my favorite such story:
I had yet to visit the venue in which my sis's band was to play. Next door to the indie-rocker hipster glam bar, Tube, I figured it to be similar--expensive drinks, skinny jeans: the typical see-and-be-seen Portland crowd.
I should have been clued in by the name, Food Hole. It just sounds gross. And gross it was. I could wax at length about the lack of decor, windows (except for one that was boarded) and utter filth, however many a dive bar fit that description. Food Hole out did even the nastiest dive bar.
The single toilet was behind the stage. Not in a room, mind you, simply just behind the stage there was a toilet. And that was the bathroom. Absolutely disgusting. But highly memorable.
Tomorrow my sister leaves for SXSW in Austin, Texas in both her capacity as a musician and as a booker for the Wonder Ballroom here in Portland.
Pictured is my Art Nouveau style illustration of her wailing away on her viola. Designed to be used on business cards illustrated especially for her SXSW sojourn and screenprinted by Julie of Handmade Julz, she is now ready to assume full rock 'n roll status.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Last night my dog got out. Neighbors across the street sought to corral her back into my house lest she run into the street. Run into the street she did whilst a large truck approached. The truck stopped just in time, but poor Belle was so scared she ran right into the parked truck. She's fine, but I'm shaken up.
My nerves still in an uproar, I sit at the computer, drinking tea trying to calm down a bit. When in these moods, I hearken back to a simpler time by going inside my paintings, seeking solace through Art Nouveau styled organic lines, matte colors, haute couture fashion and pretty faces.
Pictured is one such image. I find her countenance peaceful, her expression calming. She has a certain nobility about her, yet no pretension; her life maybe less complex, less trying than her modern day counterparts. I pretend myself there, and somehow I feel a bit more relaxed.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
February in Portland means heat wave parties. Donning your bikini, flip-flops and sunglasses in the middle of winter is only an activity those absolutely starved for Vitamin D will do.
Last night I attended one such party. My wonderful friend Neal turned the heat up to 85 degrees, queued up various surf themed LPs, and mixed pina coladas. February in Portland was never so tropical.
Pictured are The Sunbathers. I proclaim to be an avid sun-worshipper and have spent many a hot summer's day cooking myself to a nice golden crisp. I drew this picture in honor of us leather-chesters. Seeking to capture that perfect sense of gluttonous behavior, note the slight snarl on their beautiful faces. Thus I present
Hedonism and Vanity: the sunbathers.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
London is perhaps my favorite city in the world (thus far). My deep connection to 19th century literature, my love for Brit Pop and mod fashion as well as pub culture, rain and a bizarre fascination with the monarchy, all make London feel like home.
I always stay at the same hotel near Hyde Park. A bargain at £55.00, it includes a full English breakfast (stewed prunes and all), a very small television, views of bustling Bayswater, but no bathroom.
As London is one of the most expensive cities and the pound worth twice that of the dollar, I spend most of my days walking or in the depths of one of their many incredible, free museums. Again, London serves as the focal point for all that I find interesting, and the British Museum its centerpiece and crowning empirical acheivement. I've been to Troy in Turkey (now a parking lot with a phony Trojan horse), but saw Troy in the British Museum. I have traveled to Egypt but saw a mummy for the first tme in the confines of the British Museum. In addition, the Elgin Marbles, Rosetta Stone and much of the Roman Empire lie in wait at the British Museum.
Colonialism has made its mark in the museum world. At the end of the 19th century the study of archaeology began in earnest as various European empires scrambled for power, seeking to conquer and spread "civilization." Looting their conquests of national treasure (and thus depleting signs of native "civilization"), the British, Germans and Austrians among others filled their coffers nicely with what were essentially stolen goods. To visit Troy and see a parking lot or want to go to Tunisia and see Carthage only to find it exists wholly in Berlin is depressing, to say the least. Thus I lift my spirits and drag my thoughts away from quagmire colonialism has created by utterly enjoying myself with all London has to offer.
Pictured is my tribute to London: my illustration of a 1960s mod fashion plate, beautiful but a bit cold.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Last night I had the occasion to attend Design Sponge's Biz Lady Meeting. A workshop held by the wildy popular blog, Design Sponge, as local design success Amy Ruppel as well as a Portland independent woman business owner, a Mercy Corps representative and the founder of Design Sponge herself gave over precious marketing, business planning and PR advice.
As Portland is a hot-bed for indie designers from illustration to fashion to jewelry and everything in between, it was the largest event that the New York-based Design Sponge ever held. There's an design revolution a brewing here, I'm telling you.
For many of us artistic ladies, solitude is the norm. The opportunity to meet others in similar fields and discuss ourselves, our business, our concerns and our future is invaluable.
Thus, I dedicate this painting to Design Sponge. It is entitled Demeter, Goddess of Fertility.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
One of my favorite movies of all time is His Girl Friday starring Rosalind Russell, in what is perhaps one of the greatest roles of all time, and the exceptionally charming Mr. Cary Grant.
Ms. Russell plays Hildy Johnson, a clever, sassy and beautiful reporter. Cary Grant is Walter Burns, her inescapably enchanting ex-husband. The premise of the movie concerns Hildy who will be happy to live a life where she will be treated like a real woman, not a newsman. Walter seeks to lure her back to the paper and the career-driven life they shared.
A sampling of the lightning-fast, searing dialogue:
Walter Burns: There's been a lamp burning in the window for ya, honey... here.
Hildy Johnson: Oh, I jumped out that window a long time ago.
Pictured is my tribute Hildy Johnson: professional, scorchingly intelligent, beautiful and, of course, well-dressed.
Monday, February 25, 2008
The beauty of Hebrew calligraphy is its malleability. One can render letters to create a mood, atmosphere or theme.
Pictured is the cover of a wedding invitation. The graphic is the Hebrew names of the bride and groom interlaced with one another.
The design of a wedding invitation can be quite a process--possibly involving the bride, her mother, the groom, an aunt or sister or two, and, of course, a mother-in-law; quite a force to be reckoned with.
However, so many minds at work produces a work of art in which everyone has played a part. Feeling truly part of the festivities for this most important aspect, the wedding invitation, allows for the family to help the bride and groom begin their life anew.
But sometimes, I am given full artistic license (as in this case) and just go with a feeling I have about the couple; allowing my creativity to simply grow from there.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
My friend Dani is an art therapist. When looking at my work she always analyzes me, rather than my art. She pointedly asks, "What were you thinking when you drew this?" Or, "How does this image make you feel." I simply chuckle at her, smile and ignore telling her to stop shrinking my brain.
Her comment on this piece includes the psycho-babble that I love her for: "This is really a significant piece. I love the tension between the green and the diagonal red and wine colors. This piece must have come from deep in your subconscious..."
To be honest, I have no idea where my inspiration is derived from. Most of the time, I find a model--a photograph, magazine clipping or even a poem and start from there; my creativity a force unto itself.
Friday, February 22, 2008
This poster for The Black Heart Procession was illustrated on the floor of my mother-in-law's Berkeley house. Noting the bands rather dark leanings and thus using various funereal ephemera, I based the illustration on a 1920s burial announcement.
This was my first concert poster for a big-name band. Concert posters are perhaps my favorite illustration project as I usually have full artistic license. Artists themselves, band members tend to trust my vision of their music and allow for complete creative autonomy. Developing my own themes, fonts and color schemes provides the spark to develop a piece that is truly unique yet maintains the band's musical energy.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
My father loves fish. One day, when I was little, he decided he wanted a fish pond. Telling my mother of his vision of a backyard oasis replete with two fish ponds brimming with enormous Japanese koi, she quickly dismissed this notion as a passing fancy; another one of his ridiculous, destructive decorating schemes.
He waited until she was at work, borrowed a jack hammer and went to town on our backyard. Twenty years later there are indeed two fish ponds in their backyard (I have long since moved) brimming with small to medium-sized koi, a fountain and two benches; his dream fully realized.
I painted "I Pesci" in honor of my father. A tribute to the fish for a man obsessed.