Online Shops, paints and pens, stuff i've made

Craft-bottomed girls, get on your bikes and ride!

A girly retro pink bicycle, resplendent with wire baskets and crocheted doily wheels—don’t snigger, this is actually a pretty accurate representation of the bicycle I still ride…only mine’s red and named Ruby Belle—sets off (on her own, because I wasn’t confident enough to paint a rider!) to have an adventure some place exotic and fabulous!

Just posted this in my Society6 shop today.

Art is afoot…society6 has added rugs to their list of products.

The original was painted some years ago, and disappeared en route to Germany by post. Luckily, I took high-res pictures.


Handmade journals with this design are coming, too…no, not on Society6! I mean my own handmade and bound journals, covered in beautiful linen-cotton canvas (as soon as I get my Spoonflower fabric…I’M SO EXCITED!). Stay tuned!

paints and pens, stuff i've made

A vintage cosmetic travel case, tarted up.

Jacobean case

There’s been a lot of interest in the fabric. It’s P. kaufmann’s “Brissac”…also available in the colourway ‘sea glass’. GORGEOUS stuff.

So here’s what I did with my time yesterday: I have been meaning to tackle this project ever since Kris found this vintage cosmetic travel case at the dump a few years ago.

It was very dirty and discolored, but structurally still perfect, and it took hardly any time at all to wipe the leather down with methylated spirits, give the case 3 or 4 coats of matte pastel green acrylic primer, and then paint some crazy Jacobean flowers on the lid. I lifted the flower designs from a gorgeous piece of upholstery fabric in my stash, thinking I would line the inside of the case with it, and the lid would match. Not so sure about that plan, now…at $70 a metre, it’s the most expensive fabric I own, and  I’m reluctant to use it on just anything. We’ll see.

I finally fixed the case up because I need something to hold my greeting cards at craft markets, and after toying with various DIY card rack and display stand ideas, thought it would be simpler (and cuter) to just stand all the cards in this little lockable case.

Jacobean case

Jacobean case


I experience a visceral delight whenever I see anything made by mad genius Jesse Reno. A real “Artist’s Artist”, and one of my absolute favorites, he is often grouped with the Outsider Art (a.k.a. Art Brut) movement, an artistic environment I find compelling, irresistible, alive and of-the-moment. Abstract narratives. Contemporary primitivism. A large and strong dictionary of symbols and icons that come together to form maps of Reno’s wisdom and experiences. Unapologetically personal and confrontational and courageous.

In addition to being a brilliant painter, Jesse composed, recorded, and produced all the music.

This video is over 20 minutes long, though I always find myself wishing it would go on forever. I could spend the rest of my life just watching Jesse paint. Every one of his books is a must-have.

paints and pens, stuff i've made

The Pocket Alpaca

pocket alpacaCouldn’t resist sharing this funny guy with you…he’s one of 9 strange-ified animals I’ve done, so far, for a group show in the middle of the year. Other characters are a Spangled Jerboa, a Scaly Marmoset, an Arctic Salmon, an Omniscient Raven, an Elizabethan-Ruffed Lemur, a Panzer Wombat, a Wooly Armadillo, and a Firehaas (or Firestarter Hare). They all began life as a left-handed drawing, which I wrote about in the post Sinister drawings. (They were painted with my right hand, though.)

A playful bunch, and so much fun to make!

So it hasn’t been all family drama and birthday cake…I’m chugging along steadily, making things, doing things…just not blogging about things, much, because we’re still having problems with our solar power on the boat. If you see the sun, tell him we miss him in Darwin.

paints and pens, stuff i've made

aquarelle, ma belle


I’ve got eight days off, and by the time I go back to work it will be 2014. The monsoon moved in about a week ago, and it has been grey, damp, and rainy most of that time. To while away the dark and gloomy days, I’ve embarked on something new. Two weeks ago I was given a really special present by my favorite mermaid: a 12 half-pan tin of Schmincke Horadam watercolours. Such beautiful paints (or so I’ve heard…I’ve never actually used real watercolours, as people were always telling me that watercolour is the hardest medium, and I never worked up the courage to try them)!

Claudia Nice “Creating Textures in Pen & Ink with Watercolor”

My mission, now, is to learn how to use these paints. I’ve bound a little painting book of 100% cotton rag paper especially for this adventure, and I have one reference book (by Claudia Nice…it’s from Jacksons Drawing Supplies) to help with achieving the look of different textures and materials (good tips on creating the effects of glass, metal, rust, wood, stone, fur, feathers, heaps more…) using aquarelles and pen & ink. That’s all I wanted, really: someone to show me how to make a calm sea look smooth and glassy, or a bear look deeply furry, and not the other way around.

(I tease Kris about this in his acrylic paintings…everything, from human limbs to stone walls, looks like it is made out of plasticine. ;) )

The planning ahead and keeping things light and translucent was a struggle for me but—headphones in and set up at the table outside, with plenty of natural light—I really lost myself in it.

UntitledI started with the blue bottle from Nice’s book (but my wonky drawing has produced a square-sided bottle with a round base) and then tried the techniques out using a real perfume bottle. Then I got ambitious and spread some acrylic plastic beads on the table, and tried to paint them.


There’s something so wonderfully simple about this medium…the idea that a small paint tin, a demitasse of water, a soft brush and a pocketbook of rag paper are all you need to go into the world and start painting what you see. It all fits into a small shoulder bag! It really is the ideal traveler’s medium, and I can’t wait to take it with me on all my big trips next year.

Before that happens, though, I really must work on my drawing skills…look at these wonky half-pans of paint! Talk about distorted view…


bookbinding, embroidery and textiles, paints and pens, stuff i've made

painting makeover, part 2

green gemstone journal

Hmm, so there isn’t really all that much left to show for this Part 2 except what I did with the finished painting/embroidery: a simple handbound coptic journal.

green gemstone journal

A quick shlip-shlop of blue-green paint on the back cover, and some fine lines of gold paint made with a syringe and hypodermic needle, sort of echoes the front cover design. Stitching of the book was done in DMC soft cotton yarn. Endpapers in teal. That’s all there is to it, really.

In other news, tonight I impulsively bought flights to and from Manila, departing at he end of January, returning in mid-February…in the hopes of catching my Mom alive one last time. Hopefully she will live that long. I’m due for a visit back, anyway.


That means I’ll be spending my birthday and Valentine’s Day in Manila. Should be a good trip, actually…good to catch up with my dysfunctional but fun family, and I have really missed my friends. Can’t wait to see them.

That means I’m dead broke again…by the time you pay the taxes, add some checked-in baggage, pick a window seat…what was an incredibly cheap couple of flights nearly doubled. I came within 10 dollars of my total bank account balance. Was feeling like such a scrooge as I neared checkout that I actually clicked “Remove” on the options “Travel insurance” and “Donate $2 to change a child’s life”. LOL Someday, maybe, I’ll change a child’s life; right now I’m just trying to keep my head above the water. You have to laugh at the things life throws at you…laugh or go crazy.

Rubbing my hands together over the next handmade gift…I have tonight, tomorrow night, and a few hours on Saturday. Unlucky co-worker # 5 may end up getting an origami boat. Not even a crane, but a crappy origami boat. Out of newsprint…

*this is how it always happens with me: I make a casual joke, and then ask “How can I run with that idea, and still make something awesome?“* Origami boat, huh? Hmmm…….

Darwin, Australia, Exhibits, Inspirations, music + film, my friends



Last Sunday I sat the gallery at Tactile Arts for Marita Albers’ most recent exhibition, The Last Chance Saloon.

With six hours to kill, I took along a grocery bag of paints and small canvases (just painting backgrounds at this stage) and my camera and tripod, to document Marita’s work (at her request).

Six hours is plenty of time to walk round and round the white walls, getting to know Marita’s paintings intimately. She is one of my favorite painters, and I believe that I would have been a fan of hers regardless of whether I knew her personally or not. Her paintings are both playful and a little bit strange; she also makes the act of painting look so confident and effortless. It’s a lot of work, I’m sure, but looking at paintings from up-close it’s impossible to find signs of a struggle.

She’s also incredibly prolific and I suspect that she lives and breathes this art: I can see her stealing a bit of time to paint a flower or bird onto the canvas during the day’s all-too-few free moments, and then painting more intensely deep into the night when everyone else is asleep. She inspires me so much.

These were my favorites:

Stepped outside for a ciggy break at some point, and heard the loud live-band music coming from the Ski Club across the way. Boy & Bear’s Blood to Gold came on, and I remember thinking “Wow, that’s a really good rendition of the song, that band’s totally nailed it.” Found out later that it had, in fact, been Boy & Bear singing their own song, and tickets to see them at the Ski Club were $70. Wowowow.

Locked the gallery up at four, and went to the Stokes Hill Wharf with my friend (who is also my current boss) for dinner and a few beers. We traded stories of adventure and spirit, and watched other people throw hot chips (er, french fries) to the plump seagulls. I always find myself wondering whether all that starch and saturated fat affects the health of these birds…


art + design, Inspirations, music + film

dowsing for inspiration

Wandering the internet in a dreamy half-trance state is a little bit like dowsing for water. One little link will catch my eye, such as “Gotye-Giving Me A Chance-official video” and, although I don’t much care for music videos, I click on the link thinking “I haven’t heard that song,” and find myself watching an animated world of painted and drawn art creatures—really quirky, bizarre, wonderful characters and scenes.

And I’m hooked…I follow the video to the online portfolio of the artist responsible: Gina Thorstensen

And my evening blossoms like a scrunched-up paper flower set into a dish of cool, clear water…my spirit unfolds like infinite origami.

She is amazing. I can’t get enough of her illustrations,

wall paintings,


…and you’ve already seen the wonderful animations she does, like this one in collaboration with Nacho Rodriguez for Gotye. How about this one for the Mexican band Jumbo:

I don’t know much about her other than that she’s a Norwegian based in Denmark. But I am about to find out all I can about her. I think you should get to know her, too. Here’s her portfolio, and here’s her blog.

I’ll race you there.