Design - New Patterns

The above patterns represent a different direction for me. I have always shied away from character drawings. Getting the proportions and facial expressions "correct" was a source of intimidation, I was never happy with the results. To challenge myself, I embarked on a small side project to practice drawing subjects that are outside my comfort zone, with each attempt I found myself more focused on figure drawing. I hope to continue this new series called " Ladies Who..." So far I have developed "Ladies Who Swim" "Ladies Who Bike" and "Ladies Who Golf"
 
As a side note, my "Ladies Who Golf" pattern elicited comments on social media to the effect that my design was not racially diverse, my ladies were all white. It never occurred to me to draw politically correct figures, I draw what I know. I play in a golf league and I do not believe there are any women of color in our group - not by design, it's just the way it is.

That said, I am open to suggestions and appreciate feedback, the remark got me thinking..perhaps my designs would be more universally appealing if I were to include more women of color. My latest pattern, "Ladies Who Tennis" is the result of that experience.  

LadiesWhoTennis

Inspiration - #52weeksofprint

When I first started my year long project #52weeksofprint, it never occurred to me that I would experience periods of boredom and would feel unmotivated. The month of July was a struggle to complete.

I've realized I was uninspired by this month theme "Shapes". Oddly enough I was excited when I first selected the prompt for the month but as I actually sat down to create, I felt nothing.

To combat this boredom, I found other more interesting creative projects on which to focus. I suppose it's normal to experience moments where ideas just flow and others where a blank page endlessly stares back at you. Make no mistake, I was plenty creative and was able to accomplish a lot however my energy towards #52weeksofprint was waning.  

In addition to not "feeling" this month theme perhaps to some degree, I have learned all there is to learn. That is to say, I've learned all I am able to teach myself.

I have been using a soft-cut rubber material for all of my carvings. I know there is only so much detail you can carve with this particular medium. I should perhaps as the project continues, look into carving more complex designs using linoleum. Linoleum will allow much finer detail plus I can explore new tools which are required to be successful with this type of block.

Finally, I am already beginning to explore screen printing and love it. I think I will redefine the original scope of my project by expanding it to include more complex designs using linoleum as well as screen printing. These two medium may require a bit more time to complete so rather than creating a new design every week, I will allow 2-3 weeks for each depending on the actual design and printing technique.

The beauty of creating you own project, is that you get to change the "rules" You can follow along on Instagram for daily updates.

 

Inspiration - Exercise Fail

I did not meet my exercise goals for the month of July - no big deal right? I've missed a few exercise "dates" before however for the month of July I did nothing! Zero. Zilch. So what happened.....

Truth, I got sick the last week of June, and was in bed for 4 days. I did not "bounce" right back into my exercise routing simply because it's something I do not enjoy doing in the first place. It's a constant struggle to convince myself almost every time to push thru and "just do it."

I had hoped I would have learned to enjoy exercise at this point, but that is not the case. I understand and appreciate the health benefits, and acknowledge I actually feel better afterwards, not just mentally for having finished but physically as well.

However I am at odds with exercise and have come to realize I will probably never like it.  The biggest irony of course is I was a "star" athlete all throughout high school and in college. I enjoy the teamwork and camaraderie, something which is lacking when you exercise alone.

I finally talked myself into getting "back on the wagon" and guess what...my elliptical machine is broken! I know...seriously I thought perhaps it needed new batteries for the display unit but that did not fix the issue. 

So what's the "fix"? Since I enjoy a team/group environment and my elliptical was starting to get a bit boring (and now it's broken anyway...) perhaps it's time I ventured into taking a class somewhere. It's been about 4 years since I last took a yoga class, not sure why I stopped but I'm ready to give it another try. For August I will find a yoga class that will allow me to drop in 3 times a week.

So what happens when you fail? For me at least, you try again. Figure out what was not working and adjust accordingly. You learn to forgive yourself and move on. Stay tuned for next months email newsletter where I will post an update.

 

Inspiration - What if you did'nt quit

 NEW - Swim wear inspired patterns available for license

NEW - Swim wear inspired patterns available for license

What if you didn't quit? If there is one thing "universally true" about human nature, it is that we tend to give up to quickly. It's far easier to just "throw in the towel" especially as compared to doing the actual work.

The emotional ups and downs in search of success, can be enough to derail anyone from their intended path. Just remember, the only steps that really matter are those which allow forward progress. The key is to give yourself a break - recognize and acknowledge all your small accomplishments along the way. Eventually you will have achieved some measure of success on a larger scale.

It’s easier to give up. So we do.

But what if you didn’t?

Who knows where you could be or what you could be enjoying, doing, creating, savoring—five, ten, or fifteen years down the road.... if only you didn't quit.

Decide today to keep going.

LIVE EVERYDAY BRILLIANT

Discover - A Moroccan Tea Ceremony

This past New Years Day I was able to relax with my friends and family by celebrating with a Moroccan Tea Ceremony. Although the ceremony was somewhat modified because I was lacking a proper bred (the round-bellied metal or cast iron teapot) we were able to "Make It Work" (in your best Tim Gunn voice) 

In early 2018 (I know-it's a ways off...) I am planning a trip to Spain and Morocco with my friend Bonnie. This is our "bucket-list" trip - something it seems we have been talking about for the past 2 years! It's now getting a bit closer to a reality. We met over tea to discuss the timing of our trip, how long we wish to travel and to which exotic destinations. We decided to work with a travel agent to firm up details and an itinerary, I will share more once things are settled.

The tea ceremony was fun and something anyone can do at home with a bit of planning ahead.

The Ingredients

  • Loose Chinese Gunpowder Green Tea
  • Fresh Bunches of Mint
  • Cane Sugar
  • Tea Pot
  • A Tea Ball Infuser
  • Tea Kettle
  • Tea Glasses

The Snacks

  • Salted Almonds
  • Sugared Pecans
  • Dried Apricots
  • Medjool Dates
  • Almond Flavored Cookies
  • Fresh Peeled Orange Sections

The Ceremony

Boil approx 4 cups of water over stove in tea kettle

Put 2 teaspoons of loose tea into tea ball infuser, set inside tea pot

Pour out 1/4 cup of boiling water into tea pot, just enough to cover the tea ball. Let seep 5 minutes. Discard this water. This step is to "clean" the loose tea leaves.

Pour out 1/4 cup of boiling water into tea pot, again just enough to cover the tea ball. Let seep 5 minutes. Pour this water into one of the tea glasses and set aside.

Pour out 1/4 cup boiling water into tea pot, this will be the 3rd time, cover the tea ball with water and let sit another 5 minutes. Discard this water. Return the tea water from the 2nd pouring (in glass) back into the tea pot. 

Add mint leaves to fill inside of tea pot. Pour in remaining boiling water. Make sure the mint leaves are covered so as not to "burn" and turn black. This will make for a very bitter taste.

Add 3 tablespoons of sugar. Let tea, water, mint and sugar sit

To blend all of the flavors, begin by pouring a full glass of tea, return it to the tea pot. Do this three times. This will make sure all of the ingredients are properly mixed. Remember to start your pour from the rim of the glass and slowly raise the tea pot higher as you pour. 

The pouring the tea high above the glass allows the tea to “breathe” the oxygen and develop its full minty flavor. The ceremony of pouring from a distance in general needs a bit of practice, to make sure not to miss the glass, I suggest using a serving tray underneath your tea glasses.

Enjoy!

Discover - The Metropolitan Waterworks Museum

 Waterworks Museum - Building Exterior

Waterworks Museum - Building Exterior

If you are like me, often times you may drive by a place of interest but find you have never actually stopped to investigate more... this is the case for me and the Waterworks Museum in Boston (technically Brookline)  I have for years driven by this beautiful building and remarked to myself how stunning the architecture is and thought "wouldn't it be cool to check it out"  As it so happens, I drove by the building this morning and as I passed decided to turn around and make today the day I learn more.

WaterworksMuseum
WaterworksMuseum

Located directly on the site of the original Chestnut Hill Reservoir, the Waterworks building was conceived to hold a very large water pumping station to serve the Boston area in the late 1880's.  The station was fully operation until 1975. The exterior of the building does not immediately appear to serve an industrial function and although it is remarkable in itself, the engineering surprises hidden inside are even more fascinating. 

WaterworksMuseum
WaterworksMuseum

The Great Engines Hall, which houses three historic, steam-powered pumping engines, is a Steampunk lovers paradise! I found the main hall to be filled with many interesting details, all of which are a great sources of inspiration - the red brick of the building, the huge expanse of windows, the wooden slated ceiling detail, the shinny brass fixtures from the pump valves and fixtures, the curving spiral stairs and the black of the wrought iron - all serve to tell a story and may find their way into some future creative pieces/patterns.

WaterworksMuseum

To learn more about this wonderful building and the mission of the Waterworks Museum, click HERE or follow on Twitter.  A quick shout-out to Alan, thank you for the tour and building history-much appreciated!

News - Sshh......

Subscription boxes are gaining in popularity - for a monthly or quarterly fee, you receive a box full of goodies of your favorite products. These boxes can include beauty items, fitness products, fashion accessories etc. There are boxes for just about any interest, remember the Dollar Shave Club? (their ads are hilarious)

I was contacted this past February by a large subscription box company based out of California and was asked to design two pieces for an upcoming coloring book. The coloring book will be included in their September box. I couldn't be more thrilled and so looking forward to seeing the end result!

Due to a confidentiality agreement, I can not yet reveal the name of the company nor post any images of the artwork I submitted. I will include updates on this as September approaches. Have a great day!

News - New Studio Space

 Mood board and inspiration wall

Mood board and inspiration wall

 Tools of the trade

Tools of the trade

Today I want to share a few photos of my new studio work space. But first...a little back story - after almost 19 years of working at my outside sales job I retired this past September to pursue my art full time. I was long past due for a change, nothing is more satisfying than pursuing something you are passionate about!

Initially I "made it work" from my home office but quickly realized my "office" configuration was not ideal for creating art. In my sales job I did not require much other than a desk, computer and storage. (for binders, catalogs and project folders) My former office served me well in that capacity for many years but the room was dark, crowded and not very inviting.

 My old office set-up - looks and feels like an "office"

My old office set-up - looks and feels like an "office"

 Two coats of white paint made a huge difference

Two coats of white paint made a huge difference

Ideally in my plan, the new studio would be light and airy, have lots of open space to create and mostly I wanted the space to be bright and cheerful. Step one involved getting rid of all of the paper I had collected over the years- not just job folders but personal files as well. All told I was able to throw away (7) 35 gallon trash bags full of shredded paper and I donated 10 boxes of books. That process took a full month. Shredding paper with a small home office sized unit is slow going - my shredder would continually overheat...Next out with the old furniture, and carpeting.

 My vision

My vision

 Lots of layout space

Lots of layout space

I replaced the flooring with hardwood to match what is already existing in my front hallway, it's a light oak color. After a few coats of paint and some new furniture from IKEA I was nearing the finish! I selected some very simple white tables which I configured into a large "L" shape. This set-up allows for a ton of layout space for painting, printing, etc. I also have a dedicated area for my laptop and a small sewing station. I couldn't be happier with the end result and look forward to spending many fun filled creative days.

 Where the magic happens

Where the magic happens

Studio
Studio

Inspiration - Boott Cotton Mill

I am fortunate to live in an area of New England where there is a rich history in textile manufacturing and development. Lowell, MA is an area which at one time was home to 55 textile mills - that is an incredible figure if you consider the size of each of these buildings and the required energy needed to run them efficiently. Lowell was built as a factory city around the Merrimack River to take advantage of the water power generated by the nearby Pawtucket Falls. 

Boott Cotton Mill
Boott Cotton Mill

While Lowell is extraordinary in terms of it's contribution to the Industrial Revolution, the mill owners were also viewed as somewhat progressive in their thinking by hiring a very large number of women employees. The vast majority of mill workers in the early to mid 1800's were young single women from small rural farms. A factory job promised a brighter future - a chance for independence. What's not to like? A cash paying job, room and board, not to mention the excitement of living on their own in "the big city" This combination was a huge lure for these women whose only other prospect was a hard life working in the fields. 

Boott Cotton Mill
Boott Cotton Mill

As part of my tour, I was able to view some of the large looms in operation. The first floor loom room consist of close to 100 machines. At the time of my visit, only 12 machines were actually running - the noise was deafening. I can not imagine what conditions were like for "The Mill Girls" - not only was the noise unbearable, add in the inherent dust and lint generated in the manufacturing process - what a horrible environment! 

Boott Cotton Mill
Boott Cotton Mill

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the mill as well as at the Mill Girls Boarding House and would encourage anyone to take the time to schedule a visit.    

News - Succulence Blog Tour

The tour is in full swing! I hope you can join me and 15 other talented designers, makers, sewing enthusiasts and crafters. Read more of the details after the jump

Succulence Blog Tour

Earlier this month I was asked to participate in a blog tour sponsored by the lovely Bonnie Christine of Going Home to Roost.  Bonnie is a successful surface pattern designers who has licensed her art for use on a variety of products such as fabric, wallpaper and ribbon. She also has a few popular classes on Skillshare-I have taken all three! Bonnie selected 16 makers to participate, each blogger is to craft something using a fabric (or two) from Bonnie's most recent product release from Art Gallery Fabrics, called "Succulence" Bonnie generously supplied all of the fabric-I selected the following patterns from her collection- "Early Winter-Rosette Rain" "Early Winter-Trailing Agave" and "Light of Day-Spiny Oasis Lush" If you want to learn more about how the blog tour actually works, read my blog post HERE. My blog tour date is tomorrow February 12th, I hope you'll tune in!