I think my craving for old colonial buildings in Brazil is finally mellowing. I am spending less time running around trying to draw them all, and more time being inspired by my own sketches, using them as a springboard for more imaginative works.
In this one I imagined a three-storey building as a vase for giant flowers and foliage. The original painting was made with watercolours, gouache, and a sepia drawing pen on Arches HP paper. At first I really meant to colour the house as brightly as the flowers, using this sketch of Theatro Santa Roza as my guide, but after drawing the building in pen, saw that an almost black-and-white house provided better contrast.
I can always try again: the ideas that I didn’t use in this painting will probably turn up in the next, and in the ones after that… This is available as an Art Print on paper and canvas in my SOCIETY6 shop. I will try to have the design available as bags, throw pillows, phone cases, and other products, before the end of the week.
As promised, here’s the finished redwork bird design from yesterday, done up as a mock kitchen journal cover using the font Asterism, and a woven fabric texture from Picmonkey, to sort of give me an idea of how it might look.
Also some very small (the size of a playing card) watercolors from this morning…just playing with ideas and stuff. I really wanted to jump-start a big painting, but didn’t feel well…think I have picked up someone’s flu. It was bad enough to prevent me from heading in to work. So I consoled myself with these little things…they sort of serve as warm-up exercises for the large painting I had in mind; whether I use all the motifs or not is not important…what matters is that I’ve dumped my ideas somewhere for reference, and my mistakes on these teeny-tiny canvases will possibly save me from making the same ones on a larger scale in acrylics.
An idea that has been with me for a long time (too long!): a jellyfish that is also a terrarium. Because the two forms have always seemed to be crying out for each other, in my imagination.
There’s something very right about this combination.
A jellyfish like a pink silk muumuu with pleated ribbons.
Not happy with this one: Just. Too. Much. Looks like the sort of horrible lampshade you sometimes come across at a Salvation Army shop. I like the tentacles, though.
The Meh Jellyfish…every smack of jellyfish has to have one: kinda boring, lacks spark. That beaded curtain was a really lazy, unimaginative, clichéd way to finish what might have been an okay exumbrella. (That’s that outer, umbrella-looking part of the jellyfish. I looked it up just now.) Maybe if I transplanted the tentacles from the crocheted lamp jellyfish…
One interpretation of mangroves.
Speaking of mangroves, check out my accidentally fabulous tomato plant, growing like nobody’s business in the middle of a mangrove creek! It sprouted from some kitchen scraps thrown onto a basil plant! Pretty soon it had ousted the withering basil and become the star plant on the F/V SonOfAGun.
This Sunday was spent just the way I have fantasized about spending a Sunday for many, many weeks: no craft market, no dinner parties, no social commitments, no dramas, no urgent errands, no housekeeping. I got up at a lazy 8 a.m. and—after breakfast and getting a huge pot of coffee ready—set to work with the aim of getting one simple project done, from start to finish, in one day.
I took an idea for a new journal cover design and moved it from daydream…to doodle…to finished illustration. In these pictures it isn’t quite done…but dusk came along just as I put in the finishing touches of opaque white ink, and then it was too dark to photograph the illustration properly.
This is going to be the cover fabric design for a hand bound “Recipe Journal”…the title, in handwritten Spencerian script, was supposed to go inside the empty label, but I’m glad I held off from writing straight onto the illustration…text can always be added in Photoshop, later. I think I’ll keep the label blank, so that the design can be used for other things besides a recipe notebook.
I loved devoting the entire day to making something. Now it’s dark outside and my eyes are a little strained from all the fine brushwork I did, so I’ll probably spend the rest of the evening listening to music in the dark and then turn in early.
It’s been a perfect, perfect Sunday. Hope your weekend was peaceful and satisfying, too!
Process: Pencil drawing (4B), watercolours on cotton rag paper. Redwork details (I was trying to capture the feel of embroidered redwork stitches) in matte flow acrylic paint applied with a fine-tipped gutta applicator. Opaque white details (not pictured) using white ink and a mapping pen.
Ukraine-born and Israel-based artist Sveta Dorosheva is one of just two or three artists I follow on Béhance. Over the years her work has been consistently rich, ornate, delightful, meticulously drawn, and tells such wonderful stories! She’s like Ivan Bilibin, Harry Clarke, Katsushika Hokusai and Hieronymus Bosch rolled into one.
In her latest post she shares 6 or 7 huge collages of her sketchbook and diary pages. It is such a treat to see so much creativity in one place, it’s kinda overwhelming! But don’t stop there…please look at all her projects—she draws some of the most beautiful women, and the costumes are to die for. There is so much to look at and love…medieval ladies, Persian miniatures, the Tarot, steampunk, calligraphy, flapper girls and the Art Deco, lovers through the ages, fairytales…her creativity and her imagination are top-notch. Most of her illustrations are drawn by hand
Clicking on either image will also take you to her Béhance projects…
And I just discovered, tonight, that she has a Society6 shop! The chance to own something with her work on it makes me feel a little giddy! I just don’t know which one to choose!
I’m working five days a week for the next month and a half, while my manager takes her much-deserved annual leave. That means precious little time to do anything like play or dream…especially as I’ve also had a stall at a craft market every single weekend in a row this May. That means the most I can do to satisfy my creative hunger is to read a few blogs, gaze longingly at the beautiful things others are doing, and pine for the days when I can stay home half the week, again, and explore my own ideas, turn things nimbly over as I work them with my hands, or stroke paints onto a surface and build a world where there never was one.
whose style carries some of the folk art qualities of her native Uzbekistan, and yet definitely feature both a quirky and sophisticated take on those traditional patterns.
Just the kind of wonderful inspiration I needed this evening, as I enter the long dark tunnel of full-time work…and yet also triggering a deep yearning in me to be free of these everyday responsibilities and back in my own dreaming and playing space.
I discovered Mirdinara via the uppercase magazine blog…always a good place to go for excellent design, beautiful photos, fabulous artists and tons of inspiration.
What I did on Easter Sunday and Monday: Repainted the H.M.S. Pomp & Circumstance on a larger canvas.
I loved the idea of a city-ship with an animal figurehead, lurching through green waves and clouds, but the first version of this illustration was too small (5″ x 7″) and a bit cluttered. I’ve streamlined my ideas, since, and cleaned up my city, and am liking this version much better!
My apologies to those of you who purchased a Society6 print of the first version and now feel cheated! I just couldn’t help myself, after I saw the bigger Society6 prints, and how terrible the tiny image, enlarged to 13″ x 16″ and every bump of canvas showing, looked… (Psst! Moonike, message me!)
Gold Roses of the Sun…a one-line poem from Monochords by the Greek poet Yannis Ritsos; a teacup inspired by Islamic tiles, a tea-stained page from a book about Australian Literature…
Still making teacup illustrations. I have done 7 or 8, now. It’s impossible to paint teacup after teacup, and not get fancier and more ambitious as I go. I really can’t repeat a series of steps over and over, it bores me silly…I don’t know how other artists do it! For me, every teacup has to trump the one before; I have to accumulate what I’ve learned previously, and bring that to bear on the next illustration. Eventually I will hit a ceiling, where my teacups (or anything else I’m illustrating) become so baroque, so slick, ornate, and extravagant, that they are monstrous and kitschy, and the balloon I have been soaring in pops, sinking slowly back to earth again.
The Sea Dog’s Teacup, below, is maybe two or three cups away from that point at which my designs and ideas will collapse under their own weight. Still, it was fun while it lasted, and I loved, loved, loved drawing the seascape and albatross on the side of the cup…as well as the magic realism of the sailing ship inside it.
And just for fun, I’ve posted it on Society6, as well (everything I make, pretty much, is going to go on there from now on…sorry if it gets boring, but a girl’s gotta pay for her art materials and South American adventure somehow! ;)
I’m trying to keep up a sort of regular ‘feature’ on über embroiderers on The Smallest Forest: These are the big kids, the crème de la crème, the leet of needle and thread…that runts like me long to play with, but will never even exist in the same universe with. *stabs herself with a #24 chenille* Oh, crewel world!
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Admiring Chloe Giordano’s fine handiwork this morning: delicate little animals rendered in minute embroidery stitches and subtle colors, miniature 3D forms that don’t sacrifice any detail or cut corners in the making. They are quite dazzling, in a calm and self-possessed way…the mark of a professional.
Chloe is an illustrator, like many of the über embroiderers I’ve featured here, and I continue to be intrigued by the slightly different ‘feel’ of embroidered works produced by artists who have come to the craft from some other area of the visual arts, using thread and stitches as though they were paints and pens. Their work seems to be less constrained by the rules that one tends to follow when trained strictly as an embroiderer. I like the freedom with which these visual artists manipulate thread, and the expressiveness that their stitches have. I’ve also noticed that they tend to stick to simple stitches…no fancy, exotic knotted and looped moves that stand out on the fabric.
In traditional embroidery it sometimes seems that the medium is the message and not a lot of imagination or creativity goes into the actual design (pay a visit to the craft pavilion at any Royal Show and you will see the judges flipping fairly boring embroidery designs over to inspect and fuss over the threadwork on the back). These contemporary approaches to the craft allow the subject to shine, and have stitching play a supporting role (not that any of this nitpicking matters, they are all beautiful, wonderful, and our lives could use more of both approaches!)
Here’s a portion of the brief FAQ on her blog page:
How did you learn to embroider/sew?
I’ve learned mostly from trial and error, usually I’ll draw out what I want to sew first and try to work out in the sketch how I would stitch to get the effect I want. I also try to look at work I admire and figure out how they did it – this especially helpful when I’m working on something 3D
How long does a piece take you?
Anything from a couple of days to 2-3 weeks. Usually the planning stage takes the most time, once I’ve got everything hammered out the actual sewing doesn’t take long.
What materials do you use?
I mostly sew on an off white calico, if its dyed I use powder dyes. Generally I used embroidery thread for text and sewing thread for everything else, but it’s not set in stone.
Where/what did you study?
I studied Illustration at the University of the West of England, in Bristol.
Have a look at Chloe’s Tumblr, and keep an eye on her (hopefully only momentarily empty) ETSY shop for more work by this sensitive and soulful young artist.