Thursday, June 26, 2014

Past Illustration Highlights and Newly-Released Prints

If I don't blog about something right away, sometimes I forget to share it. So, I'd like to peel back history and show you a selection of illustration commissions I worked on since last summer. 

One of the illustrations from a wedding invite I illustrated for my friend last year. She was born in the year of the Dog, and he in the year of the Horse :)

Another commission from a friend - a watercolor picture for his son who was born in the year of the Snake.

CD art I created in pen and ink for Caitlin Currie's "All A Dream" EP. It's a really cute album featuring Currie's melodic folk-pop vocals and guitar and ukele playing. Check her out at "Fallen Love Records," a label "dedicated to friendship and pop songs" based in Ontario, Canada. I just visited the site and her EP is temporarily sold out, but maybe they'd print more if you ask nicely.

A linocut cover and disc art for the band "Hallelujah Hill Quartet," a gospel group from West Virginia. This was commissioned by a couple whose grandparents, led by Ella Hanshaw, had formed the musical group in earlier years. Ella loaned them her old tapes, which they digitized and inventoried, going through hundreds of hours of listening. The result is this special album, showcasing the band's heartfelt spirituals and performances in churches all across West Virginia's hollers. At the moment, it has only been circulating among friends and family, in the hopes that one day it will be picked up and distributed by a record label.

In April I created this map using watercolor and pen and ink for The Visual Arts Center of Richmond. They used it for their spring Open House celebration to highlight the day's events and activities. If you notice, there is a cow flying near a white tower. This is in reference to the building's historical use as a dairy.

A poster I created for a craft show coming up this weekend in Richmond, VA. I used digital coloring for the first time, which was fun.

Here are pieces from my art show "Return" which I exhibited last year at Studio Two Three. You can view all the pieces and their accompanying poems here. Archival reproduction prints of the art are now available through BuyOlympia and I've just listed them in my Etsy shop, Sprout Head

BuyOlympia is an online and retail shop/gallery originally based in Olympia, Washington, but relocated to Portland, Oregon. They started out to help sell the creations of their artist friends online, and have expanded to include artists around the world. BuyOlympia has always been super-supportive and helpful to me ever since I met Pat, one of the owners, when I lived in Portland in 2008/09. I encourage you to check them out and find other cool goodies from their roster of artists. I try to keep my shop stocked with all 20 reproductions of my art that BuyOlympia prints for me, but my inventory may fluctuate. So if you can't find the print you want, please order it from BuyOlympia.

I hope you've enjoyed seeing these past projects! Most of what I've created after June of last year has been commissions for other people, so it's a nice change to be making new art for myself these days.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Unmotivation, Gustave Baumann Woodcuts, and the "Bloom" Giveaway Winner!

I must admit that I've been lazy for the last week or so. I hate the word lazy. Okay, I've been in a rut. But that's not exactly true. It's not artist block. I have ideas, I have some direction, I have materials ready.

Unmotivated. That's the word. Whenever I feel lazy or unmotivated it's usually because I feel tired out (probably from travelling to Philly a week ago to do the Punk Rock Flea), or I'm in limbo because I need to decide on something but I'm afraid to or not ready to yet. Also, recently I spent a lot of my time cleaning and organizing my studio and finishing up older projects. I wanted my physical space and my head space to be clear and ready for new things. Now I'm ready but still feel unmotivated. Argh! I blame it on the heat.

Aspen Money, 1929 / 1946, Color woodcut,12 7/8 x 12 13/16" by Gustave Baumann

I have an art show coming up in November, and I've been trying to plan on what I want to create for it. I have two threads of ideas that I'm not sure will mix well in one show, so I tried to choose between them because I only have so much time to work. It was really hard for me to decide! For now, I'm going with the theme of landscapes and city scenes. I've taken lots of photos in the last few years and I want to translate those into linocut prints to reflect the beauty, spaciousness, and colors of the places I've seen.

Plum and Peach Bloom, 1912, Color woodcut, 19 3/4 x 26 5/8" by Gustave Baumann

It feels a bit scary to me because most of what I've created in the past has been infused with more of my own imagination. I wonder if my landscapes will seem devoid of my artistic personality (ha ha, there's my ego creeping in!) I am also feeling a bit daunted by producing this body of work because I will be working with more colors which will take more time and planning. I have to find ways to simplify the images if I'm to finish enough work for my show! I want to get the right amount of detail but also capture the essence of the image. All of these are challenges, but I think that they will stretch my artistic muscles. I'm taking a lot of inspiration from the woodcuts of Gustave Baumann, one of my favorite printmakers. When I look at his work, I am reminded that it doesn't matter whether the image came from my imagination or not - it just matters if it has life in it. An artist's job is choosing what and how to depict something in order to give it that special life. Baumann's work is very recognizable as his own, even though there are lots of landscape artists out there.

Tom A'Hunting, no date, color woodcut, 11" x 13 1/2" by Gustave Baumann

I love the way he captures light, and his subtle overlays of color. I tried to count how many colors he uses, and it's usually at least 7 different colors. Whew! 7 colors in one linocut print is a lot for me. I'm going to try to simplify down to 4 or 5 if I can. But we'll see.

Cherry Bloom, 1917, Color woodcut, 9 5/8 x 11 1/4" by Gustave Baumann

His landscapes are so spacious. They make me feel calm, like I have infinite space to breathe within them.

White Desert, 1930, color woodcut, 9.5 x 11.125" by Gustave Baumann

I also love his artist's seal - the open hand on a heart in the middle of his signature. So cute! Man, I need a seal.

According to my Pomegranate book of Baumann postcards, Gustave Baumann (1881-1971) was born in Germany and immigrated to the United States when he was 10. When he was 16, his dad left and it was his responsibility to support his entire family! He began full-time work at a commercial engraving house and took night classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. If I think I have it hard sometimes, it's good to remember that some artists had it WAY harder. I'm also thinking of artist and illustrator Wanda Gag, who was put in a similar position when she was young. I'm just plain wimpy compared to them. Baumann later worked at an advertising studio, and also travelled to Munich to study at the School of Arts and Crafts. In his mid-thirties, he moved to multiple cities on the East coast and then finally settled in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he lived for more than 50 years. I love that even though Baumann had a hard start, he really took his life into his own hands by making a living as an artist, attending school, travelling, and finding the place he could truly call home as an artist and person. And his work is AMAZING.

A Lilac Year, 1949, Color woodcut, 12 1/4" x 13 3/16" by Gustave Baumann 
One of my favorites!

I can only strive for my landscapes to possess a bit of the magic that Baumann's did. It's time for me to get back to work!

And sorry I took forever with this, but I would like to announce the winner of the "Bloom" print giveaway:


You've won my "Bloom" linocut print! 

Please get in touch with me and let me know which color scheme you prefer: good_old_fashioned_smell (at) hotmail (dot) com.

Thanks everyone for leaving comments. I was inspired and encouraged by all of you, and will take your suggestions into consideration. I already have plans to print on tote bags, make more zines, and do some black and white linocuts! Actually, most of your suggestions were ideas I was considering anyway, but you all gave me a push. Thanks so much!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Re-Released Books - "Genius (Love)" and "non sense"

I was inspired by a couple of readers who responded to my "Bloom" giveaway post (and speaking of which, I'll announce the winners in my next blog post). They mentioned how much they liked my zines. Encouraged by this and as part of my ongoing effort to simplify my life, I've re-released new versions of a zine and a chapbook that were out of circulation for a long time. 

The zine "Genius (Love)" has been out of circulation for 4 years because I never found the time to screenprint the covers! I decided to re-do the cover so I can just photocopy it instead. 

While it's not quite as fancy as before, it's better to have a zine in the world than not at all, in my opinion. 

I also re-did the cover and hand-binding for my poetry chapbook "non sense." The original version took an incredibly long time to make each one, and after awhile I just never felt like doing it. So I linocut-printed the cover instead of making an individual cyanotype for each one, and I simplified the binding. 

The binding is a modified version of the "Two-Sewn-As-One" binding that I found in "Creating Handmade Books" by Alisa Golden, a book that I highly recommend to beginners looking to get into bookmaking.

Both books are available for purchase in my Etsy shop:

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Golden Moth 2nd Anniversary...and a Special Discount!

In early February of 2012, I launched my Kickstarter campaign to produce The Golden Moth Illumination Deck in a limited run of 300 decks. In mid-June of that year (2 months later than I had planned) I sent off the first decks to generous Kickstarter backers who supported me. It has now been over two years since it all began. Little did I know that the Golden Moth would sweep me up a whirlwind of fluttery wings and deposit me back on earth as a changed, and hopefully wiser, person.

I mailed deck #254 out of 300 last week, which means I only have around 40 or so decks left for purchase from the original edition and I'm keeping a few for myself. Last week I went through all of the remaining cards and finished sorting out the printing variations/errors so that the remaining cards would be ready for corner-rounding. 

Here are the last remaining cards on my shelf:

Some of you might remember when they took up a kitchen counter and two tables:

Back in 2012 I had arranged for my printers, Parcell Press, to print and trim the cards for me but I had decided to sort, collate, and corner-round the cards and assemble the boxes by hand in order to cut down on my costs. My boyfriend, parents, and a handful of friends helped me out as well. Before I received the cards, I had envisioned assembling all 300 of the decks within a relatively short span of time, maybe a couple months. After a couple of months of almost losing my mind from the pressure of delivering 127 Kickstarter rewards, I decided from then on the decks would be assembled in periodic small batches. I would spend literally hundreds of hours doing the aforementioned tasks for the next two years.

What led me to this situation was severely underestimating the time it would take me to do these tasks by hand. Why, oh why, did I not time myself in making a prototype from start to finish? Take corner-rounding. Each card has 4 corners to corner-round. Each deck consists of 75 cards. That's 300 corners per deck. That's 90,000 corners for 300 decks. Let me repeat that: NINETY-THOUSAND. Hmm, when you break it down like that, that's a lot of corners and a lot of potential shoulder pain.

Here are some other fun Golden Moth statistics: 

* For my Kickstarter campaign, I was backed by 127 people. Most were from the US, and 31 of those people lived in my current hometown of Richmond, VA. I also had 10 international backers from Canada, Australia, England, Singapore, Italy, New Zealand, and Norway.

* I raised $4,800, $800 more than my funding goal!

* 102 decks were purchased through the campaign.

* For the other Kickstarter rewards, I sent out 194 postcards, 67 notecards, 39 bookplates, 26 screenprints, 111 pieces of small original art, and gave 7 Intuitive Card Readings (like tarot readings but using the Golden Moth cards).

* I've given at least 30 Intuitive Card Readings to people using my pre-Golden Moth deck prototype, which was much smaller with loosely-drawn black-and-white images. I've given an estimated 50 or more readings to people in-person and online using the published Golden Moth deck.

The other day when I went through my Kickstarter campaign report to tally up these numbers, I read through the list of backers again. I re-experienced the amazed, encouraging feeling of having friends, relatives, and strangers donate money because they believed in me and my project. At one point during the midst of Golden Moth assembling madness, I told the people closest to me that if I knew it would be this hard, I might never have done the project at all. I don't handle stress well to begin with, but producing The Golden Moth Illumination Deck has been, to date, the biggest and most overwhelming project of my life. Now I look back and affirm that the statement was true, that I probably wouldn't have done it if I'd known.

And so I'm really glad I didn't know, because the deck has also been one of the most far-reaching and positive projects of my life. I made some new friends and became closer with friends I already had through the project. I've had many people tell me how much they've enjoyed and appreciated the deck, and how it has brought some clarity to their lives. I am very thankful for that. This has also been the most "collaborative" project I've ever done. The cards take on different meanings with each new owner, and their use and purpose goes beyond just me. I love that about the deck.

So I'm forging ahead with the next step. I would like The Golden Moth Illumination Deck to reach an even greater audience. I plan to make a larger commercial run of decks so that I can lower the per-unit cost of producing the decks and get more decks into stores and other venues. I don't want to do any more handwork on the decks in order to free up my time for promotion and creative energy (as opposed to corner-rounding). I also plan to revise and expand the handbook.

To celebrate the 2nd Anniversary of the Golden Moth and to pave the way for this new expansion, I'm now offering the limited edition deck in my shop, Sprout Head, for a $5 discount - from $50 to $45. Added to this, I'm offering a super-special (and super-short) sale in my shop that ends on Wednesday, June 15th. Use the coupon code FLYAWAY upon checkout and receive an ADDITIONAL 10% off your entire shop purchase! If you apply this to the deck, it will cost only $40.50 - that's $9.50 off the original price! Remember, you must apply the coupon code upon checkout or you won't get the additional discount. If you've been waiting to get your hands on this limited edition handmade version of the deck, don't delay or else they'll soon be gone!

I'm also offering a sweeter discount for those of you who already own a deck. If you complete this short survey, you are eligible to receive a coupon code for 20% off your entire store purchase. This coupon will expire on August 31st. To take the survey, click here. Please respond by the end of June if you want your feedback to be incorporated into the creation of the new deck and handbook. If you do not want to take the survey but would still like to provide feedback, feel free to post comments on this blog or leave a comment/message on my Golden Moth Facebook page:

Happy 2nd Birthday, Golden Moth!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Follow me on Bloglovin'

Another way to make your life easer - Follow my blog with Bloglovin. Bloglovin' is a site where you can add your favorite blogs and discover new ones in one easy-to-track feed. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Introducing Mr. "Bloom"... and a Giveaway!

My latest linocut is of a slightly apprehensive broccoli guy encountering a bee. It comes in two different color schemes. I call the print "Bloom." Personally I think of him as "Mr. Bloom," But I don't want to be too gender-specific with a plant in case some people perceive him as a "she" or an "it." Maybe I'm overthinking it.

Anyway, back in 2012 after I successfully launched my Kickstarter campaign to produce The Golden Moth Illumination Deck, I had promised to create 96 small original artworks for backers who chose it in their reward levels. Here are some examples of artwork I created. You can see another vegetable-ish creature in the bottom right corner that looks like an asparagus!

I kept the paintings simple. Most started out with me just putting blobs of watercolor onto several papers at once, and then I decided what each blob should become. I kept some of my favorites, including this broccoli guy. Recently I decided to make him into a linocut, because I hadn't done any personal printmaking work in awhile.

He looked silly to me because he was so serious-looking. I added the bee to give him more of a relationship with the outside world.

For this print, I created a stencil for the green/pink portion of the print and rolled the ink with a brayer directly onto the paper. I made the stencil by taking a piece of computer paper and varnishing it on both sides so it was waterproof and I could re-use it. I chose computer paper because I thought that if I rolled the brayer of ink over something thicker like cardstock, the ink might not lay down close enough inside the edges of the stencil. 

I took this picture after I had already cleaned the stencil, so you can't see the mess of ink on the stencil itself. Also, the border part was printing weird, so I just blocked it out with tape and didn't use it at all. I cut out little right-angle triangles on the corners of the stencil so I could see through to my printing paper underneath and it would line up correctly.

It took me a couple proofing sessions to figure out the greenish-blue I wanted for the linocut. Then I took it to the etching press and printed the linocut on top of the stencilled part.

Ta-da! I also added the yellow to the bee with colored pencil.

If you like Mr. (or Ms.) Bloom and want him/her to be part of your world, please enter my giveaway!


I'm giving away one version of this print (either pink or green, winner decides) to one randomly-selected person who enters the giveaway. You must do the following THREE things to enter the giveaway:

1. Please visit my online shop, Sprout Head, and leave a comment on this post telling me both what your favorite item/s are in the shop and why, AND what you'd like to see more of (either something similar to what you see already or an entirely new product that you want me to make).

IMPORTANT: You must either adjust your settings to receive e-mails about replies to your comments, or send me your e-mail address - or else I can't contact you if you win! You may e-mail me at: good_old_fashioned_smell ( at ) hotmail (dot) com. You may also private message me on my Sprout Head Facebook page. In fact, head on over there anyway because you also need to do the following:

2. "Like" my Facebook page! If you want to be the first to get notifications on the Sprout Head page, also make sure that after you "like" my page, click on "liked" and scroll the drop-down menu to click on "Get notifications." Otherwise, you may not always see updates from my page on your news feed.

3. Share this giveaway with other people on Facebook by posting it on your page and/or sharing it on your friends' timelines. Here's the link:

OPTIONAL: Your name gets thrown in the hat for each additional OPTIONAL thing that you do. Make sure to let me know in your comment if you do the following things:

- Follow my blog - you can find options to do so on the right-hand side of the blog - Subscribe to my E-Newsletter here (I only send out updates 1-2 times a month)
- Follow me on Twitter and tweet about this giveaway
- Blog about the giveaway on your blog.
- Pin an image of "Bloom" on an appropriate board on your Pinterest page. You may pin from this blog post, or from the Etsy listings here: pink and green versions.

REMEMBER, you must do only the FIRST THREE of these things to have your name entered once into the giveaway!


* P.S. Don't forget to contact me with your e-mail address or I cannot contact you if you win! *

Good luck!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Monster-Fixer, or, Everything is Unfolding as it Should

My best friend and I were talking about not wanting to rush so much in art and life. We figured out that some of our reasons for rushing and keeping busy were to feel that we were involved in important endeavors, as well as a way to allay anxiety by always being occupied.

Recently on a walk around the neighborhood with my boyfriend, I started yelling and arguing with him. He threatened to walk away and said how much he disliked the way I got like that on walks. I asked him why he thought that was, and he replied something to the effect of "You're out of your element and your brain needs to be constantly occupied about something. You need to be fired up at all times."

I thought that was pretty accurate.

I've been slowly evolving the way I do and think about things. One value that I want to hold to myself these days is taking things at my own pace. With my art, I like to work slowly sometimes because I like to spend time and respond totally to it, and I think that also extends to the way I experience life. I don't enjoy rushing around and feeling like I have to do everything at once. When I think back to important moments in my life, there were times when I had to act quickly and intensely, for example when my apartment caught fire and I had to move out and prepare for a conference that was coming up soon. In some ways I felt rushed, but more so I felt it was necessary action.

There's a difference between seizing the moment and rushing. There was a freedom in making a decision quickly that I felt right about, and it released the energy I needed to get things done.

When it comes to long-term goals, I've decided to pace myself. I am much more trusting of life and its timing. If something doesn't work out, I trust that it wasn't necessary. And things that I really want to work out, like creating and earning a living income from my art, I know (not hope or wish) will happen one day. Whatever is right and true will happen because I am seeking/gravitating toward it and incorporating it into how I think and do.

These days I find ways to to do the best I can with what I have... to not always seek the most rushed or difficult way to do things... and to just have some faith that everything is going well.

I've always had a very active mind and imagination. As a child, I worried about EVERYTHING. My fearful anticipations felt like realities. I believed that the worst would happen, and felt so relieved when it didn't. I'm still like that. My dad would always tell me "Your fear isn't real" but it didn't help me. It was like telling a child that the monsters under her bed that she was terrified of weren't real.

Here is a drawing I made in college called "The Specialist." For me, it's about a person with a very specialized job who goes into monsters to fix them. There's a door on the monster for him/her to get out, so there's no need to worry about being trapped. At the time, I was going through a lot of emotional trauma. Creating this piece was a way for me to make my monsters more objective, less scary.

These days I'm facing some monsters. They come in the forms of the anxieties of running my art businesses in a very active active and directed way. I am afraid of making mistakes, of angering people, of not living up to what I promise, of being unsuccessful. I'm reading a lot of books/articles/blogs about how to organize myself and about the different art industries I'm interested in. Learning about these realities, as well as realizing that I don't have to do things perfectly or even well at first, has helped me feel more at ease and happy in my life.

It's an amazing confidence booster to try to get better at something that I was afraid of or thought I could never be good at. It makes me feel more whole, if that makes sense. And it reminds me that life is a constantly unfolding process, not some race from start to finish.

I'll leave you with some inspiring words by Max Erhmann. I used to have a mug with the second part of this quote written on it:
"You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should."