Sunday, January 25, 2009


The artwork in this post is all on 8.5 x 11" paper in some combination of ink, watercolor, and oil pastel. Shipping is included in the listed prices.


When I was five years old, I knew I wanted to be two things when I grew up: an artist and a writer. Though these desires have never flagged, at times my confidence has. Therefore, my life has occasionally strayed — quite unhappily — far from the mark.

About ten years ago, I was working construction by day and dabbling in (but mostly feeling discouraged about) my writing and art at night and on the weekends. Perhaps it was the day that I learned to run the jackhammer that things began to change.

Running a jackhammer was a secret dream since childhood. It seemed entirely outside of my grasp. After all, I only saw jackhammers on construction sites in the hands of muscle-bound men in hardhats. Construction sites, not to mention hardhats, seemed completely inaccessible. Great big biceps seemed, well, not exactly desirable. But the day I ran the jackhammer I learned that not everything that looks hard is hard.

Perhaps it was a true epiphany. Perhaps my brain had just been jostled out of complacency by a loud, violently vibrating machine, but very soon thereafter it hit me: I was already both an artist and a writer. And not only that, but: I can run a jackhammer! It didn't matter if I believed in myself. It didn't matter if I was "successful" in any sense of the word. I am free to dedicate as much energy and resource as I can muster to my cause: the full realization of me.

These drawings/paintings of grapes come from that time. In fact, they were the first thing I did after realizing that I wanted to keep my art and writing as the central creative pursuits of my life. I gave a bowl of grapes to myself as an assignment, a drawing challenge, a creative inspiration, and finally, after several nights' work, a snack.

I hope you, dear readers, invest in yourselves similarly.










Thursday, January 22, 2009

Lost Cause

Me, that is. Apparently I need to be a surface designer for a little while. I can't stop making patterns. Now that I'm making collections (there's more where these came from), I think it's time to bring them to market. I'm researching like a mad woman. I'll let you know if anything comes of it.

Click on the images to see them bigger.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Repeat Repeat

(My latest pattern - Napkins? Placemats? Boxer shorts?)

In his talk on the TED (Technology Entertainment Design) web site, comic artist Scott McCloud lays down his own personal four rules of engagement:

1. Learn from everyone.

2. Follow no one.

3. Watch for patterns.

4. Work like hell.

I'm not sure I can get behind this list entirely. For instance, I'd like to work a little less hellishly. Toward that end, I believe that to fuel oneself for deep work, it's important to feed your passions with plenty of play, fresh air, rest, good food and great company.

But I am intrigued by the idea of watching for patterns. And of course it makes sense to learn from everyone. Then again, as evidenced by my recent pattern-design research forays on the internet, "everyone" is a quite a lot of people. Which brings me right back to working like hell.

McCloud says that in paying attention to patterns "visions of the future begin to manifest itself."

So from this, I look into the future and see that I will go round this wheel again and again - taking breaks from working like hell in order to feed my passions, which will lead me yet again into working like hell.

Good thing I got outside this morning for a walk with a friend. And I'm going back out in a few minutes to stack wood for the stove.

In the meantime, a few links for pattern seekers and aspiring pattern makers:

Get your own patterns printed on fabric for $18/yard, satisfaction guaranteed, at Spoonflower.

PhotoTessel, a plug-in for Photoshop from HumanSoftware, promises to facilitate pattern making for seventeen types of symmetry. Works on PC and Mac.

Designer Julia Rothman has a great tutorial for making repeat patterns by hand at DesignSponge (nice blog, by the way.

Another useful tutorial, for making repeat patterns with Illustrator, found it at DigitalArts.

Another Illustrator tutorial, for circular and linear patterns, worth a look.

Here's one for creating repeat patterns with Photoshop.

Check out JHillDesign for some inspiring repeat pattern work.

Another inspirational fabric designer: Anna Maria Horner.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Lead and Follow

Through his studies of ancient mythology and religion, Joseph Campbell arrived at a philosophy of life that has guided me since the eleventh grade, when I first saw him interviewed by Bill Moyers on PBS. "Follow your bliss," Campbell said. If you let your passion lead, he insisted, it will take you where you need to go.

Where is this pattern compulsion leading me, I wonder? From abstract to whimsical to possibly even political. For this series, I was thinking about a juxtaposition of antique porcelain and desert wildlife. Got me thinking about the European colonization of Africa. Perhaps I should call it "Colony."

There are six images - the second three are details of the first.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Do They Have a Twelve-Step for This?

I can't seem to stop making patterns...

Those three go together - I'm thinking shower curtain and bathroom stuff, or sheets, pillowcase, and comforter set, for a Jetson-style science-fiction-lover?

This one (below) turned on it's side would make a nice blouse fabric, perhaps, maybe cut cowgirl-style? I'm calling this one "Double Diamond."

Last for now, a variation on one of yesterday's themes.

So far these are all of these patterns are constructed with rectangles and squares. Long ago, I played with tessellation (creating interlocking patterns based on other geometrical forms) thanks to a great tool in a free copy of CorelDraw I acquired along the way, but that software (and the computer that housed it) is long gone. I've been researching Photoshop plug-ins but am yet to settle on anything. Advice is welcome...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Again, I'm wrapped up in pattern-making. Not sure where this will all lead except to keep me up too late when I ought to be sleeping. Can't quite see the application for these: Printed on wrapping paper? On silk? Not your typical quilting fabric, that's for sure.