June 30, 2010

I want to make this!

Yeah, I know, on top of my other quilt ambition for my daughter's big girl bed. These are nice big squares though so I envision it going so quickly. Ha! Special needles needed for denim though. That I know. It's from the June/July 2010 Issue of ReadyMade Magazine, for those who are curious.

June 29, 2010

progress on the homefront

Friday night was spent in a paint store. I bought supplies for:
• painting the shutters, front door, and side door a dark purple
• putting a fresh coat of black on the railing
• painting our rain barrel (vision: dark green with light green leaf prints)

Of course the weather was hot, humid, rainy, or all of the above. None ideal for getting paint to dry. Therefore, I don't have any before & afters shots to share.

You'll have to be amused at the selection process for the purple. I actually brought leaves with me to the store! I went more dark than I did reddish.

June 28, 2010

castle building

We had a family reunion of sorts last Thursday on the shore of Lake Michigan. The breeze was fresh, the lake was warm (65ยบ), the food was plentiful, and the kids were happy. Loved it!

My nephew and I enjoyed some architectural adventures. We designed and landscaped a handsome home that was made all the more fabulous by the backyard pool with dual diving boards.

June 25, 2010

cover art

These are the covers of catalogs put out by book publishers. I love them all for different reasons.

The top one is a catalog of fashion-related books. I love the messiness on the wide brushstrokes, the way they are almost abstract but so carefully capture the movement of the figures. Repetition is a design tool that always works well.

The middle one has some intricate illustration that I always admire. I like that it appears to be a doodle in black ink later filled in with color. And who doesn't admire hand-drawn typography? The bottom one is a photograph of some kind of embroidery – a handicraft way beyond my skill level. Just gorgeous.

June 24, 2010

gravestones are art too

Those of you who are near and dear to me know that I have an odd little obsession with old cemeteries and the designs found on gravestones. I am busting out with Library pride because I just returned from one of two Fulton Street Cemetery Tours being held as a part of GR Reads. I was not the only one with an interest: 140 people were in attendance. Wow!

Tom Dilly, a local historian and Library fan, led us on a tour of who's who in Grand Rapids history. Along the way we learned about the history of gravestone designs, the different stones used, and a whole lot of other interesting tidbits. There's something for everyone: a little art, a little architecture, a little history, and a lot of Grand Rapids pride. If you missed this one then mark your calendars for Saturday, July 24. Rumor has it the Grand Rapids Historical Society is hosting tours of Oak Hill Cemetery on September 18 and 19 too.

June 23, 2010

Chilhuly again!

Back to the Meijer Gardens for Chihuly again. This time a hot and sunshiney day. I still don't think I've seen everything. I am still highly recommending you go if you're in Grand Rapids!

Find more information on Chihuly and his work on artsy.net.

June 22, 2010

a summer "quilt"

Just a peek at my garden these days! And a little fun with photography and Photoshop...

June 21, 2010

Library designers connect!

Someone at work came across the website My Perfect Library which is about branding libraries. Specifically, she found an article about Library logos where the Grand Rapids Public Library logo was mentioned as being a quality logo. Woo hoo for me! I feel famous!

Even more cool is the fact that I've now connected with the designer who runs that blog. I left a comment on her site and she emailed me. Behold the power of the world wide web, people. How fun!

June 18, 2010

mysterious mushrooms!

Recent rainy weather has brought us an invasion of fabulous fungus. I am most impressed with the wide range of sizes, colors, textures, and shapes. Who knew mushrooms could be so beautiful? No? You can't go that far? Interesting then! My daughter seems to have a keen eye for them, perhaps because she is lower to the ground. We enjoy "sciencing" them (investigating with a magnifying glass).

June 17, 2010

treasure from the basement

My sister is on a mission to clean out my parents' basement. This means I have the opportunity to inherit a variety of things. My daughter is in love with an oversized stuffed SpongeBob.

I am in love with this vintage globe. And very amused with the way it was specifically created for residents for the USA. Why else would our country be divided into states? No other country gets that level of detail! Check out the photo below and notice that good ole Grand Rapids even made it onto the globe.

June 16, 2010

I did it!

I finally took my sewing class. And I did not live up to my worst fears. I was not awful and I did not hate it. I have a better idea of what's going on although that final step to threading the machine, getting the bobbin thread picked up (ooh, look at me use a sewing word) is still a bit unclear to me.

Below you will see my, uh, handiwork, displayed. The bunched up section is on purpose, I would like to clarify. It's how you make a gather or ruffle. There is a tidy topstitch that even managed to be straight on the very bottom. Woo hoo!

June 15, 2010

love this artist

Oh the joy of wandering the web and discovering someone new! She sells her prints on etsy. Here's her blog. Here's an interview with her. The work is lovely! So many things I love – the subject matter (very nature based), the colors, her style of illustration. Immediately I am imagining places for them all over my house!

Gennine, you have a fan in me!

June 14, 2010

more buttons!

I just designed a batch of buttons for GR Reads. I did the blue one for each staff person but then designed additional buttons that use the cover art of the 10 chosen books. One of my favorites is the raccoon from the cover of At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream. I had several staff people react in disgust and say "I won't put that thing on me!" I also really like the cover of Stealing Buddha's Dinner, with the arrangement of junk food, so that made a nice button as well.

June 11, 2010

free stuff

We sent a few librarians to Book Expo and they sent back boxes of goodies from publishers. Lots and lots of book bags (but of course!) were up for the grabs. I was very attracted the bold zebra. The two side panels are in zebra print. The teal one has a fun illustration style that appealed to me. The opposite side has an open book with pages (not sprouting the illustrations).

Just a bit of recent inspiration. Anything I lay my eyes on could come out again as art. You just never know!

June 9, 2010

a new poppy!

I couldn't help myself. Plants will move and gardens will rearrange to make room for this new discovery: a white poppy with a purple center! Beautiful! It will probably live next to my other poppy plants.

June 8, 2010

front yard update: the details

For the green thumbs out there, I will provide more information on the plants I chose. I actually think I lost a few tags in the process but most of them are represented below.

I was actually really excited to see the wide variety of ferns. The two I chose had interesting stems: one has red stems and the other has thin black stems that look like wire. I am hoping they both spread. I also was pleased to find a bleeding heart plant with white flowers. The one that is already established has pink flowers. So now I will have one of each. I think the yellow grass is super-sassy and I am excited about seeing it get taller. I am also pretty pleased with the coral bells. There's a wide variety as far as leaf color. I think they're rather unusual.

Isn't seeing these tags all in a row visually interesting? Art project anyone?

June 7, 2010

front yard update: the garden

I've had a "vision" for the front yard for a while. In fact, I shared my color palette with you a while back. My sister-in-law indicated that she would like some of my excess hosta plants. So the day before we were driving down to visit her, the project got started. I got out my shovel and one giant mass of hostas was quickly transformed into 6 plants!

I was busy digging and dividing and my husband started pulling out the creeping charlie groundcover gone wild. Next thing you knew, my garden was mostly bare soil. Oops. So much for the proper "before" picture. I did find this image in the background of another photo. As you will see, there isn't a whole lot going on. Rhododendron on the left, hostas in the middle, a lot of groundcover, and one lonely evergreen topiary in the corner. I also had started some lily of the valley, trillium, and a few random ferns. The patch of garden on the right side has a very happy bleeding heart (he got to stay), some hostas, and some other miscellaneous sun-starved flowers that I attempted to grow.

I shopped at two different greenhouses. One I had a gift certificate to use (from my December birthday!!) and the other is closer to my house, where I bought additional plants and mulch. I forced myself to stay in the "shade loving perrenial" aisles so my focus really had to be more on leaves than on flowers.

After I arranged the plants while still in their pots, I probably only made changes two or three times until I was satisfied. I was trying to vary the leaf shape and also the colors. Several plants are yellow and several others are dark purples so I especially made sure those bright and dark spots got spread out.

There were some rocks around the evergreen topiary (a neighbor rescued him from the curb where he awaited adoption with a "free" sign). I didn't know what to do with them so I arranged them as garden art. Eventually they will be covered up but in the meantime, while my plants are still babies, they add some interest.

Next up:

painting the shutters (they're plastic?!) and the front door a deeper purple

planting a small tree (I am thinking Japanese maple)

new mailbox, light, and house numbers (I am thinking black to match the railing)

new coat of paint on the railing

June 4, 2010

Art picnic

My poppies are staring to bloom! Yay! I wanted to spend some time sketching them in preparation for my vinyl-graphics-on-tile vision. I got my sketchbook (it has been a real long time!), colored pencils, crayons, colored ink pens, and a small blank sketchbook for my daughter.

We spread a blanket out in the backyard near the flowers and started drawing. I won't say we had hours and hours of artistic bliss but probably a solid 20 or 30 minutes.

Eventually we started investigating the nearby creatures: a potato bug and an inchworm.

If you're feeling stressed, try taking a moment to sit amongst nature. It's a lovely distraction!

June 3, 2010

Something else I would like to do

Print making!

I recently read this profile of artist Lisa Price and her printmaking business and was again reminded of how much I adore the look of bold and basic prints. I dabbled in linoleum prints in my image-making class in college. I think it takes a bit of drawing skill to get things to look how you want them to but I enjoyed it despite my lack of drawing experience. Lisa Price sells her work under the name Artgoodies.

I am also a fan of local artist Alynn Guerra. She sells her work under the name Red Hydrant Press. I went to an opening at her studio last fall and was totally inspired. It was a Day of the Dead exhibit called Dead End Prints (follow the link, the exhibit is up online!) and other artists were showing their prints as well. When I went back to pick up a piece of her work I purchased she took the time to answer my questions and show me the presses she uses. Very sweet of her!

I must say, sewing and quilting are probably the focus for now but I am going to have to go at the print making someday in the future for sure.

June 2, 2010

sewing class update

Since this blog is a way I am holding myself accountable to doing things artistic and crafty, I thought I would update you on my plan to take a beginner's sewing class. The 6-week class I was hoping to take through Field's Fabrics was cancelled (boo!) but I did sign up for a one-evening crash course at JoAnn's with my best friend & partner in craft (yay!). I was suspecting all along that I really need to just go for it anyway. I am lucky to know two people with machines so hopefully I can get a feel for things before I take the plunge and buy my own sewing machine. The class is on the 15th; I will let you know how it goes!

June 1, 2010

I'm a winner!

Pardon me for a smidge of bragging. Some of my design work was recognized by the American Library Association. They have annual competitions for various marketing pieces. You compete in separate categories based on your library's annual budget. We happen to fall at the bottom of our category which means we compete with big cities like Chicago (87 branches!) and L.A. So it's really exciting that we've been recognized.

Our book cards took best of show in the Bibliography and Book List category. We've created little two-sided cards promoting titles recommended by staff. The front of the card shows the cover. The back of the card has more detail. I use a close-up from the cover as the image on the back. The color of the card is derived from the cover art as well. It was a fun project and a real team effort. I was very pleased to win.

We also were given honorable mention for our Big Read materials in the Adult Reading Program Category. The title we did for the Big Read was the classic mystery The Maltese Falcon. I drew a very bold falcon silhouette that was used on all the materials. They were graphically striking. I do have to admit that I didn't love the book though!