Saturday, September 19, 2015

Back in the US of A

Hello!  I just wanted to say hi.
The rest of this post is really an extended sulk session so you can skip it if you'd rather stay cheery.  I'll be back to my normal upbeat self in a few weeks I imagine.

What happened?!

My long silence was completely unintentional I assure you.  It was a few days after my previous post when my partner left to start his new job in the U.S. and I stayed behind in Germany with our son, and prepped for our international move.  August was a very, very emotional and distressing month to say the least.  And we're still not at our next location!  Everything was a bit too crazy to write, but I wanted to keep my blog current so here goes...

I'll begin with the sad.  You know that feeling you get when you leave a party, and you know you might not see someone you like very much for a really long time... that super-sad, aching, regret-longing kind of feeling?  Well, after seven years in Munich, I've really come to love my friends and had this huge mounting sense of anxiety and loss.  And I felt like that *every* time I saw my friends. And I tried to pack in as many visits with them as I could before I left.  My partner called it the "slow band-aid" approach to saying good-bye.  I kind of agree.

September is now three-quarters done.  I have been in Miami at my mom's house for two weeks, and my sense of loss is still so fresh.  I keep trying to cheer myself up with hopes hanging on our next destination which is California, but I don't really know what to expect.  Instead, I find myself overwhelmed in the grocery aisle of the local big box grocery store with all the overly-sweetened everything.  I get frustrated I can't find anything comparable to the simple (often organic) food I used to buy for my son that had been so easily accessible and affordable in Germany.  Here, they're specialty items and very expensive.  Why should healthy food be a privilege reserved for the rich?

It's also really disheartening to come back to the U.S. during such a terribly polarized political climate.  It cannot be ignored - there's such a palpable dislike of women and minorities in today's political rhetoric.  My goodness, even the most conservative of Germans agree on the fundamental need for universal healthcare.  People should not be scared of going broke if they get sick.  Where's the love for our fellow human beings?

All those grey clouds aside, we're here.  That's the reality.  And it looks like we're here to stay for a while.

- - -
The work... and the happy.

I've gone back to the basics and started painting with watercolor and gouache.  And, I've started knitting again.  I was able to complete a bit of work in August before my laptop had the green-screen error and had to be shipped off for repairs, before selling my sewing machine, overlocker, and all tools that plugged into a European electrical socket.  So hopefully, when I get the laptop back from the shop, I'll have lots of lovely work to show you!

If you want to see my sketches, sewing, or knitting progress, it's definitely best to follow me on instagram.  If you're not on there yet, it's a really lovely little platform-- an ever-replenishing feast for the eyes.  I can post directly from my mobile device so I'm able to post nearly every day.  My illustrations are definitely more positive than this post.  I promise!

Oh yes, and somewhere in the mix, I started an art collective.  I've got lots to say about it, and can't wait to share!  See?  I had some good news! I hope you all are doing okay and that your life is not filled with those grey clouds.  I can't wait to see some emotional sunshine again.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Summer School Illustrations

We're in the thick of summer here in Munich and it's been non-stop illustration, sewing, and knitting... okay, not so much the knitting because my current knit-along includes very warm yarn, lots of cables, and a steek, so I tend to wait for the weekend for that.

But I've been painting and illustrating and printing and working on building up my portfolio in preparation for Surtex 2016.  I enrolled in the Make It in Design course The Ultimate Portfolio Builder, and also their Summer School course.  These are much more self-directed than the Make Art That Sells courses, but I'm determined!  And, I've really appreciated the personalized feedback that the UPB course offered.  I got to hear directly from Khristian A. Howell herself about her thoughts on my work and website.  That was probably the most valuable 15 minutes of my career.  I found her feedback so helpful and it really makes me want to push my work to the next level!

Here is some of my most recent work...

(Mind you, these are mock-ups and none of my work is actually in production yet... YET!)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Super Simple Patchwork Quilt WIP

How do I deal with the stress of moving internationally?  I multitask like crazy, make lists, post stuff for sale... and do a simple patchwork quilt to deal with the need to do machine-like sewing and stash-busting.


4.5" scrap squares that have been hanging around for a while

later that day...

sewn into strips

and today!
nearly done with the quilted top

I still have five more rows to add, then sashing, then quilting!
Lots of progress!  Hurrah for the feeling of pseudo-accomplishment!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

MATS Bootcamp Recap

Another recap!  It's the end of the MATS Assignment Bootcamp unfortunately, and our last assignment was an editorial illustration.  We were given an article about digital nomad-ism and it felt pretty close to home.

I am definitely a digital nomad.  I spend lots of my time traveling back and forth from Germany to the U.S., but also to other parts of the European continent while still maintaining contact with clients and working on personal projects.  I related so much to the advice in the article... it's all about wi-fi and connectivity.

Traveling has been a constant in our lives, but now we're looking at repatriation as a reality.  We'll be moving back to the U.S. in the autumn and I simultaneously eagerly await the next chapter in our lives while mourning the separation from my long-time friends.  It's not our first goodbye to Munich (remember that Amsterdam 6 month dream sequence back in 2011?), and hopefully it won't be goodbye forever.

So where are we headed?  We're going to sunny California!  Don't worry, I'll be writing when I get there, but I'll first be stopping by my mom's place in Florida while we figure out where we'll be living in California.
- - -

Back to the MATS Bootcamp re-cap!

May brought us the crustacean sensation theme as I called it...
I was really pleased with the background pattern and came out with a stoneware plate or tray that I'd buy.

April was the Global Art Gathering poster.  I'm so glad I got to see Brighton in real life... I'd draw the dome differently now that I've seen it in person.  At the moment, it looks a bit like our American capitol buildings. I am still happy I did some painting, though.  The loose style came very naturally to me when used paint and collage.

March we worked on MATS Part A so Bootcamp was on  hiatus.

February we painted on wood.  We were riffing off of Lilla's plate collection and I had been drawn to a central character with foliage.  I'm loving the ladybug character, but I think I could push the whole thing a bit further in one painterly direction with more texture.  Something's missing and I don't know if it's just the mock-up or what.

I took February's assignment further and mocked up some plates too with some of my preliminary designs...

And January we worked on a journal cover. I feel like I've come a long way since our first assignment.  I was so nervous, and I clearly overworked the design now that I can see it with a fresh eye.  I enjoyed every minute of it, though!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Global Art Gathering

Last Friday was the Global Art Gathering in Brighton, UK with Lilla Rogers, Margo Tantau, Rachael Taylor, and Kelly Rae Roberts!  Weeks before the event, we were asked to illustrate a tea-towel based on the theme "Englishness"... I brainstormed for weeks until stumbling upon the rich history and enormous variety of English breeds of sheep.  Here's my assignment...

Once I figured out a way into the assignment I was mega-inspired!  And so, I happily attended the event with no idea what would come.  The event was held at the Brighton Dome which is situated on the same beautiful grounds as the Brighton Pavilion and it's gorgeous gardens.  So many, many beautiful flowers to see...

pretty, pretty blooms everywhere...

Anyway, let me get my head out of the flowers and get straight to it...

- - - Recap of the Global Art Gathering, 2015 - - -

We started off in the morning with an interview-type chat between Lilla & Kelly Rae Roberts.  If you're not familiar with Kelly Rae Robert's work, she does a kind of smudgy, painterly, sweet collage work with rough text and positive affirmations.  I wasn't too familiar with her work or life before the event, but was so happy to learn about her and meet her in person.  She and Lilla said a lot of things that resonated with me:

  • Stay childlike, keep dreaming, and respect your passion.
  • What is it that you love? Have confidence in what you choose.
  • When you can, delegate tasks that are better done by others.
  • When you are fully "you" there is no competition.
  • Avoid burnout/overwhelm by taking it one task at a time and keep choosing the joyful thing each time.
  • In practical matters, try to make everyday tasks joyful.
  • When talking to yourself, use your kind voice.
  • Commit to making the work you want to get.

Kelly Rae also talked about selling original artwork and how it makes room for new things, ideas, and new opportunities!  The lingering question I had about this point was... how do you properly record an original or scan a slightly 3-D object before you sell it?  Is there a proper way to do it?  Also, when selling original artwork, be sure to stipulate that the new owner of the physical artwork is not the copyright holder, that the rights to the image are retained by the artist.

Next, came a lovely affirmation project directed by Lilla, where I learned to embrace my "sassy-ness".

Afterward, we learned about branding and embracing our individuality with a talk from Rachael Taylor, Margo Tantau, and Joanne Hus.  That was really informative, and I took lots of specific notes about improving my website.  So much to do!

Rachael spoke a little about making sure your work is registered with A(c)ID or similar in case the need should arise as it did for her in her landmark case against M&S back in 2012.  I remember her case -- it seems to have been one of the first high-profile "artist-being-ripped-off-David vs. Goliath" type cases to use Twitter and social media to bring attention to the matter.  It was funny to hear her annoyance, more so in that M&S chose one of her simplest designs and it would've saved everyone the hassle had they just done their own version.  (Your positive attitude shined through, Rachael!) She was a joy to chat with and is as sweet as she sounds on paper.

At lunch, I chatted with Flora Waycott and Trina Dalziel who are much further along on their illustration journey and are a real inspiration to me.  Both work with lighter colors and softer palettes than I do, but I just love their style and composition!  So beautiful!

After lunch, Lilla went over a slew of color trends and textures... and then the review.  I was certain that on a regular day, my work wouldn't have been reviewed, but as luck would have it, Lilla Rogers reviewed all the tea-towel designs!  Yay!  She noted my anthropomorphic sheep in her comments.

The whole event was so personalized and special.  Each of us received these lovely totes made by Rachael Taylor and there was so much care put into everything.  Lilla signed a copy of her book "I Just Like to Make Things" and even hand-wrote our name tags...

I am so grateful to have had the chance to attend.  I'm not sure if I'd have been in the U.S. whether the opportunity would have afforded itself, but there it is.  I just happened to still be living here in Munich!

After the Global Art Gathering we all landed at the North Laine Pub
I feel like I could write 10 posts on the event, but I'll end it here.  I loved meeting my fellow artists with whom I've shared a digital classroom for the last six months. In fact, meeting everyone in person was the highlight of my trip.  It can be very isolating to work as a freelancer for so long.  I missed them the moment I had to leave the pub as it was nearing on 9pm which is bed-time for our boy.  I walked off abuzz with new ideas, new friends, and a positive outlook on my future career as an illustrator.

Hopefully see you all soon fellow illustrators and artists!