Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Less Talk, More Rock Wednesday: Doors

From now on, on Wednesdays, I'll just be posting a couple images of something I love.  It could be an artist's work, architecture, typography....anything really.  From this week forward, there won't be much if anything written before hand--just pretty things to look at.  And I will always try to link where the image came from, to the best of my knowledge.

But before I shut up, I'd just like to inform you that I'm featured on Grace Louise's blog right here and that you should go read it and enter to win any four cards from my shop.  You know you want to.

Now. Where was I? Ah, yes, doors.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday Spotlight On: Sarah Hennessy of SometimesISwirl

I don't remember how I came across SometimesISwirl on Etsy.  She might have shown up in a TasteTest or in my activity feed as someone else's favorite or in that little section at the bottom of the front page labelled "You May Also Like."  All I knew is she was one of the few shops I favorited nearly immediately.  I have to admit, I think I like her art so much partly because it reminds me of my own.  Simple black lines that curve and swirl and move, basic color palettes, weirdly cool looking flowers and plants...any of this sounding familiar?

 Well, she's also like me in that she's twenty-eight (okay, I'm twenty-nine, but close enough), and is a brunette (though she dyes it red).  She's not like me in that she works as a university administrator and makes amazing pen and ink illustrations that are downright complex and beautiful.

Climbing Flower Pods 8x10 Print

Tell us three things about yourself: 
1) I majored in art history in college and wrote my senior thesis on the early French surrealist movement, which is by far my favorite art movement 2) I am obsessed with books about criminal psychology and memoirs about traumatic childhoods (I am quite well adjusted myself, though!), and 3) I am physically incapable of getting a brain freeze - I have never had one.

What’s your medium and how did you get into it? 
Although I’m constantly dabbling in everything, the medium I use the most is drawing with archival ink pens, preferably Prismacolor. I got into it by literally doodling on everything as a kid – in notebooks during class, on my shoes, on my walls, on my hands, quite seriously everywhere. And from there, I started focusing my linework within a 5x7 composition, then got bigger to 8x10, then 11x14, and so on. I also took quite a bit of art classes in high school and college, so I picked up some wonderful things there, and experimented a lot on my own. I also consider paint and fabric/thread to be favorite mediums as well.

What’s your favorite thing you’ve made? 
I would probably say my “City Built on an Axis” drawing because that’s what started my entire City Series.

City Built On An Axis 8x10 Black and White Print

From where do you take inspiration? 
All over the place – just last week, I was stuck in a budget meeting at work and was inspired to draw a new City Series composition after studying the wood paneling of the meeting room walls (the repetitive rectangular panels are a component I’m exploring in a new drawing). I was recently inspired by a swooping teardrop shape in a chandelier at a friend’s house and incorporated the shape in one of my flower drawings, so things jump out at me at all times from everywhere. If I had to be more general, I’d say the mehndi art tradition has a huge influence on me, as does the surrealist art movement. The early surrealists’ automatic drawings, or any black and white pen drawing really, are big inspirations. And I have to mention the early drawings of Paul Klee, who is perhaps my favorite artist of all time.

Name one piece of art you wish you’d created and why?
 I wish I had created Rene Magritte’s “The Key to the Fields” or something with the same concept, because I think it’s genius.

What are you doing when you’re not crafting? 
Since I’m still fairly new to home ownership, chances are good I’m doing something around the house, whether it be sewing a pillow cover, painting a room a new color, rehabbing a piece of furniture, I enjoy all of that. I also loooove to go thrifting (estate sales and church rummage sales are my favorite places to score deals) and I also get very addicted to books, particularly memoirs, or like I mentioned above, anything about criminally insane people. :) I have two cats and they entertain me quite often, and I also just enjoy hanging out with my husband - on evenings after work, we often go out to the backyard and just sit and chat over yummy wheat beers while firing up the grill.

If you had to give up your medium and pursue another, what would it be and why?
 I would probably go to sewing full-time. Lately I’ve been experimenting with my free-motion foot, which means you can sew with your machine in any direction without the machine actually feeding your fabric through at a steady pace, in just one linear direction. That means you’re literally creating pictures out of thread by pushing and pulling the fabric under the needle as it’s going a mile a minute. I also love quilting and embroidering, so fiber art is something I’d definitely be happy to take up more.

OOAK Black & White Swirl Pattern Pillow

Tell us about a time you were making something that came out better than expected and how it happened. 
Well when I first started embroidering, I had no clue what I was doing. I had never embroidered anything, and there I was trying to recreate one of my designs WITHOUT a pattern, and although it’s not perfect, I was shocked that I was able to translate my drawing into fabric and thread and that it turned out okay. Ever since, I’ve been doing a lot more embroidery hoops and actually have researched different types of stitches, etc.

Who is one person, living or dead, famous or not, who you wish owned one of your creations and why?
My first instinct was to say Tori Amos, and I’d say it’s because she is one of my all-time favorite musicians. She is so weird and wonderful and kind of “out there” and yet so so in touch with current events with a really smart, humanistic take on things. I just love her.

How would you explain how to do what you do to an eight year old?
 I would say that I get a piece of blank paper and some pens, I close my eyes and imagine something, anything that pops into my head. Then I open my eyes and try to draw it. Start with a small detail and let my hands work the design out from there. I never look at an actual physical object and try to draw it, everything pretty much comes up as I’m drawing.

What’s your favorite part of the process? 
Allowing new, unexpected things to happen on the page. One random thing you think people should know. I am obsessed with carbs – so much so that one year, for my birthday, my husband got me a gourmet loaf of bread and stuck candles in it instead of getting a cake. I could never, ever go on a low-carb diet.

Your shop address/facebook/Twitter/blog/website. Etc.

Rushing Swirls and Pods Original Illustration

If you could have one superpower what would it be? 
Definitely the ability to fly. It seems so freeing and amazing. I actually had a dream that I could fly when I was about 11 years old, and I can still remember to this day just how it felt in the dream – so cool.

Illustration Friday #5

This is my fifth Illustration Friday and the theme this week is Midsummer Night.  Simply put, here is my interpretation of Titania, one of the lead character's from Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Stuff I Love: Little Bits of Green

Lately, I've been favoriting a ton of jewelry on Etsy, which is funny because, on the average day, I wear my engagement ring and wedding band and that's it.  On days when I remember, I'll put in the sapphire and diamond studs my husband got me for the anniversary of our first date.  They're my most beloved earrings, simple, classic, and sapphire...which makes it even more amusing that the majority of jewelry I've been hearting has been emerald.

I guess there is just something about that deep green stone that's so damn mysterious.  I have to love it, even when it's not my favorite.  It's just too alluring, the way it immediately reminds me of the green fields outside of Copenhagen, the Carolina mountains in spring, and a million other far-off places.  It's a stone that makes you want to run away to, or at least daydream about, a place that's magical. Here are a few of those pieces, for you to gaze into and think travelling thoughts.

Tiny Emerald Crystal Pendant Necklace by withlovemandy
Emerald Gold Hammered Ring by PetraCollection

Emerald Green Recycled Glass Antiqued Brass Necklace by GlitzGlitter
22k Gold Vermeil & Smooth Natural Emerald Bracelet by delezhen

Thursday Spotlight on: Joe Bagley of PapercutsByJoe

A few months ago, I attempted to get into the art of papercutting.  I thought it fit in with the simple silhouettes I love to draw and paint, but I found I just don't have the patience for the incredibly artistry and intricacy involved in snipping away so carefully at paper (to make truly beautiful papercuts, one has to practically have the steadiness of a surgeon).  Joe Bagley, a twenty-six year old Boston native and proprietor of Papercuts By Joe, does have that skill and tons of it.  (He's and his wife are also archaeologists, which is just downright cool in my book.  Then again, so is papercutting).

Ibis Hand-cut Paper Silhouette

Tell us three random things about yourself.
I recently convinced myself that I like blue cheese, I desperately want a dog (but our aparment forbids them), and I play the fiddle.

Papercutting is an art that has it's roots in a lot of different cultures, from China to Mexico. How did you get into it? I first started cutting stencil designs when I was 10 during a summer art program for kids. I then copied designs from a book on paper art and crafts that my mom had. By 20, I started making my own designs using my photos as references, and developed my own style. I actually did not know about the regional styles until a few years ago when I started researching the history of my art and collecting books on it.

What’s your favorite piece you've made? Why?
My favorite piece is called Flour and Grain. It combines everything I like, impossible detail, stone texture, challenging patterns, and a bit of branch designs. The piece was purchased by the owner of the building and it now hangs on their office wall in the building.

You have cut everything from shapes of islands to squid to couples on bicycles. What makes you decide you want to cut something? I go through phases. I started with people and bikes, then did a bunch of map designs, and lately I've been doing a late 19th century anatomical/wildlife drawing approach. Fortunately, what I'm interested has sold well, so I just keep doing designs I think are good, and hope people agree.

Tall Ship Hand-cut Paper Silhouette

Name one piece of art you wish you’d created and why?
I wish I had made the "Bean" in downtown Chicago. When I was about 15, I had a half-asleep mental image of a gallery full of fancy mirrors where the glass was dripping and pooling out of the frame and making blobs on the gallery floor. I've been wanting to create a series of polished chrome framed drippy mirrors since, and the Bean would fit in well with that.

What are you doing when you’re not crafting?
I'm working on archaeological digs! I work for a company that does archaeological survey before major construction projects, then document, excavate, and publish important archaeological sites in New England before their history is destroyed.

If you had to give up papercutting and pursue another medium, what would it be and why?
I've always wanted to draw like the old masters (DaVinci, Verrocchio, etc).

Tell us about a time you were making something that came out better than expected and how it happened. I tend to work extremely close to the piece, especially in areas with lots of tiny detail. Because of this, I don't always get to see the overall effect of the piece unti it's done. I think Bass Harbor is a good example of it. I thought it was a good design, and I enjoyed working on it, but it wasn't until I had framed it and looked at it from across the room that I was like "wow, that came out good!"

Bass Harbor Hand-cut Paper Art

Who is one person living or dead, famous or not, who you wish owned one of your creations and why? I would be beyond honored if Tord Boontje or Peter Callesen purchased one of my pieces. They are major paper artists that I really admire.

How would you explain how to do what you do to an eight year old?
The same way I say to everyone else: I take a piece of black paper and cut lots of holes in it. Being humble is a very good thing.

What’s your favorite part of the process?
Cutting the last piece and holding the finished design up to see how it looks finished.

One random thing you think people should know.
My paper is actually white paper with one side painted matte-black. In other words, if you peeled the piece of the background and flipped it, it would be white! Its the best paper available for this art and is specifically designed and manufactured for silhouette artists.

What do you think you'll cut next?
I'm working on designing some less-literal designs that are combinations of two more literal things. The one I'm designing now is a large skull composed of tree branches.

Your shop address/facebook/Twitter/blog/website. Etc.

Adams Courthouse One-of-a-Kind Papercut

If you could have one superpower what would it be?
My wife and I have listed travel as our #1 priority so I would love to have teleportation abilities to avoid 12 hour plus plane rides.