Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Hedgehog

Today I had the luxury of staying home most of the day, and had the time to paint the little Christmas hedgehog.  I love hedgehogs, they are just the most curious-looking creatures!  Wish I could have one for a pet, but in some states it is illegal to have one, Arizona being one of them.  Not sure why...

A little early, but wishing everyone a Merry Christmas!!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Holiday Craft Fair This Saturday!

This Saturday, December 3rd, I'll be participating in my first ever craft fair!  The event is the December MACFest (Mesa Arts and Culture Festival), a holiday arts and crafts shopping fair in conjunction with the Downtown Mesa Holiday Festival.  It's an all-day event from 10:00 am to 8:00 p.m.  You can read more about it here:
There will be 40+ vendors and music and food as well!

So it's been crazy busy for the past few weeks getting everything ready!  Above are some of the necklaces and earrings I'll have on sale.  Many of them have not yet been listed on my Etsy shop.  I'm hoping to do well, but even if I don't, it will be a fun learning experience.

The table set-up in my living room.
If you live in the greater Phoenix area, come by and say hi!  I'll have another post in the days to come to tell you all how it went!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Illustration Friday: Round

The swirls in the candy went round and round...and my head has been spinning round and round.

It's been a while since I've posted on Illustration Friday.  Life has been crazy and busy the past month with deadlines at work, family emergencies, and preparing for a holiday craft show.  Aaaaaarrrgghhhh!!  But I've survived, and life goes on!

This painting is 3" x 3", just a tiny little thing, painted in acrylics on watercolor paper.  It will be on sale at the upcoming craft show (more on that later).

Happy holiday weekend everyone!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Lemonhead Stamps from Memi the Rainbow

2-part Lemonhead stamps!
Recently I was scrolling through my blog reading list and came across this post on the Memi the Rainbow blog.  I've been following her blog for a while now, and just love her hand carved stamps.  When I saw the post about the Lemonhead stamps, I just knew I had to have it!  As you know, my last name is Lemons, and I've amassed quite a collection of lemon-related items in my 11+ years of marriage.  It must have been fate, as I actually had some lemon items going all the way back to childhood.  More about that in a future post!

I checked her Etsy shop, and the stamps were not there for sale.  But that's what custom orders are for!  In short order my stamps were being carved and I received a message that they were being shipped.  In just five short days they arrived from Paris, France.  The packaging was just as cute as I had expected from her blog and shop:

Inside were the stamps in a small cello bag:
I think I'll keep them in this small Lemonhead candy tin that I bought a few years ago.  Perfect!
Can't wait to start using it.  Be sure to check out her blog and shop on the links above!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Facebook Giveaway!

In celebration of reaching 200 fans on my Facebook fan page, I am having a giveaway!  It's been a long and steady climb and I am thankful for everyone's support.  From now until October 26th, leave a comment on my giveaway post here:

One lucky winner will win a print of their choice (large or small) from my Etsy shop and an extra, secret goodie!  Winner will be announced on Friday, October 28th.

Thank you and good luck!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Brooches in Etsy Shop!

At last!  My brooches are in my Etsy shop!  Shown above is the Bird Love brooch.  Also available is the Owl Reading brooch.

Check them out!

Monday, September 26, 2011

New Jewelry Projects!

With the holidays coming up, I'm getting ready to stock my Etsy shop with new items.  First on the list is jewelry.  At the moment, I'm working on hand-painted brooches and pendants.  The above two are wood tiles, each about 1.5 x 1 inches.  They were both practice samples I made.  Painted in acrylic, with glitter pen accents and sealed with resin.

Working with resin is a challenge, to say the least.  My first attempt failed, as the resin stayed gooey, sticky and did not dry!  Most likely the mix ratio was off, and I didn't stir the mixture long or well enough.  Eventually, I scraped off the old resin and started over again.  The second attempt was a success, much to my relief.

On the above photo, I attached a pin backing to the bird on the left, and a bail and silver chain to the one on the right.  Below are two brooches that will receive the resin treatment soon.

Some close-up shots of the pin and pendant:

Another bird I'm starting on, that will be a gift for a friend.

I start off painting the background in burnt umber, then draw the outline of the bird with a white colored pencil.

Will post again when they're in the shop!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Me and Little Popof (ぼくとちいさなポポフ)

I've fallen in love ... with a book.  The book in question is Me and Little Popof by Japanese illustrator/author Ai Akikusa.  I first spotted the book in Moe magazine, the monthly Japanese magazine dedicated to children's picture books.  The cover art with the fox and a bird had me intrigued.  When I found out the book was about a fox and his budgie named Popof, well ... I just had to have it!  I love foxes and I own two budgies, one of which is green just like Popof.

After locating it on Amazon Japan's site, I was about to order it until I saw the shipping cost, which was approximately forty dollars!  What!?  The book is only 800 yen, roughly fourteen US dollars.  Eventually I hit upon the idea of having my mom order it through Kinokuniya Books in Los Angeles, and having her ship it to me from LA, avoiding catastrophic shipping fees. 

The book arrived earlier this week, and I was surprised to find it was quite small, about 6 x 7 inches.  A cute little book, it's apparently for very young children, probably about 4-6 years old, as it's printed entirely in the Japanese Hiragana phonetic alphabet.  Luckily, that means that even a Kanji-challenged Japanese girl like me can read it easily! 

The story centers on the fox and his little baby budgie Popof, and their daily life together.  The illustrations are simple yet full of warmth.  I can tell that Ms. Akikusa must have budgies herself.  Every time I turn the page, I keep thinking to myself, "my budgie does that too!"  She's caught all the nuances of budgie behavior.



At the end of the book, Popof grows out his wings and flies away.  The translated text reads:

You can now fly as much as you want.
Come back and sit on my shoulder once in a while. 

A bittersweet ending to a wonderful little book. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Illustration Friday: Stay

Squirrel's got the right idea!  The best way to stay cool in the summer is to eat a big ice cream cone!  For this week's Illustration Friday, a quick, small painting (4 x 6) done in acrylic gouache.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Peach and Blue for the Dan Santat Illustration Workshop

This week has been busy!  I'm preparing for an illustration workshop this Saturday, June 11th, sponsored by the Arizona chapter of SCBWI and presented by none other than Dan Santat!  Dan is the award-winning author-illustrator responsible for illustrating such children's titles as Chicken Dance, Always Lots of Heinies at the Zoo, The Secret Life of Walter Kitty, and Oh No! Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World

It'll be an intensive, all-day workshop, but loads of fun as well.  What kept me busy this week was a homework assignment that we need to complete and bring to the workshop.  There are two, but I'll just talk about one of them here.  The assignment was to choose an illustration that we love from a children's book and copy it the best we can.

A couple of titles sprang into my mind immediately, and ultimately I chose Peach and Blue by Sarah S. Kilborne with illustrations by the husband and wife team of Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher.  Peach and Blue is the heartwarming story of an unlikely friendship between ... a peach and a frog.  I know it sounds strange, but it's one of my absolute favorites!  Only in a children's book can such a relationship exist!  I cried the first time I read it (and just about every other time I've read it).  The gorgeous illustrations accompany the story perfectly.

I chose one of the interior illustrations for my assignment and took some progress shots:

Here's what my desk looks like when I'm painting...

The last photo below is a side-by-side comparison of the original interior illustration from the book and my copy.  Can you tell which is which?
My version is on the right.  Close, but with differences -- most obviously in the peach.  I believe the original illustration was painted on paper, I chose to paint mine on canvas.  It was a worthwhile exercise, as this is more detailed than how I normally paint my children's illustrations and has given me some ideas on painting future illos.

Looking forward to this Saturday!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Illustration Friday: Asleep

An earlier piece that fits this week's topic ... mama owl and baby owl fell asleep together!  Painted with acrylics on canvas. 

Happy Friday to all!

Monday, May 02, 2011

Illustration Friday: Lesson

For this week's Illustration Friday topic, the birdie practiced the violin for his weekly lesson.  Collage background on canvas, painted with acrylics and acrylic gouache.  Happy Monday!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Craft Inspiration from my Father

Three small bears made by my father.  Clothes knitted by my sister and I.
Now that I've embarked on my Etsy odyssey, I've been thinking about what to offer in my shop.  Little plush toys?  Jewelry?  When I think about such things, I can't help but think about a person who has been influential and inspirational in my craft adventures.  This person is ... my father!

Now 80 years old, my father is retired, after working for decades as a machinist.  As a young man, he worked as a carpenter for several years after leaving school at 15.  Always interested in photography, he now indulges in it as a hobby.  He's always enjoyed working with his hands, and he's made wooden gates and fences for our backyard.  When I was in art school, he even critiqued my stretcher-bar making skills!  (Not quite perfect he said -- the wood pieces weren't quite flush with each other.  I thought they were passable and looked okay.)  I often felt that if he had been born in another place and time, he may have pursued something artistic.  But those opportunities were not available to him when he was growing up.

What most people don't know about my father are the other things he made -- for my sister and I.  The three bears in the photo above were all made by him when I was about 7 years old.  Years before when I was about 4, I had a plush frog that I absolutely loved.  Unfortunately, I loved it a little too much and before long, it was dirty and the stuffing started to come out of it.  Eventually, my mother found it disgusting and threw it away without my knowledge.  I was heartbroken, and for years afterwards whenever I was mad at her, I would bring up the frog incident.  Well ... my father is a softie, especially when it comes to his daughters.  He decided to cheer me up by making me a bear to replace the memory of my lost frog.  The first bear he made is on the very left of the photo above.  I can still remember that day, and how he drew out the silhouette of the bear on the pink scrap fabric, and sewed it all by hand.  He sewed on buttons for eyes and stuffed it with cotton balls!  Ever the perfectionist, he wasn't satisfied with his first attempt, and made another (the center bear with black bow tie).  At this point, my older sister became a little jealous and wondered why they were all being made for me, so he made another bear for her (not pictured).  The final bear is the lavender one on the right.  The garments were all knitted by my sister and I.  I think the blue one was the one I knitted. 

Years later, when I was an adult, he made some rings out of scrap metal he found at work.  He took some stainless steel, drilled a hole in the middle and filed it down into a heart shape (second photo below).  My mother, sister, and I each received one.  I keep mine safely in my jewelry box.  

Heart-shaped stainless steel ring made by dad.
When I look at the bears and my ring, I'm reminded of why I have chosen my career path.  The joy of creating something with your own hands that didn't exist before is magical.  I have my father to thank for planting that seed in my head.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Etsy shop open!

After weeks of preparation, I have finally opened my Etsy shop!  At the moment, the shop is stocked with prints of my illustration, such as the pig and owls above.  Prints are 5 x 7 and 8 x 10.  In the future I'll also be offering original art, greeting cards, and small handmade goodies. 

Take a look here:

I'm excited about this new venture, stay tuned for more!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Illustration Friday: Warning

Without any warning, the Parrot Pirate appeared!  Aaaarrrrrrrr!  Feeling a little silly for this week's Illustration Friday topic.  Painted in acrylic gouache with color pencil accents on watercolor paper.  Happy Thursday to all!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell at North Carolina Museum of Art

The Problem we all Live With, 1963
A Happy New Year to all of my readers!  Already it is three weeks into the new year, time is flying!

My first post of 2011 is about an art exhibit that I was lucky enough to catch during the Christmas holidays while visiting family in Raleigh, North Carolina.  The North Carolina Museum of Art is hosting a traveling exhibition organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.  I have to admit that in the past, I didn't always have the most positive view of Rockwell's work.  In my younger, art student days, I considered his work to be cliched and corny.  A painter of Americana, I only knew about his Saturday Evening Post covers with the cute kids.  As I became older (sigh..) and more involved in children's book illustration, I realized that he was a master draftsman, and there was more to his work.  After seeing this exhibition, I have to say I have even more respect for the man and his work than I ever did before.

The traveling exhibition presents 40 of his large-scale canvases and a complete, archival set of all 323 covers he did for the Saturday Evening Post from 1916-1963.  There are also numerous smaller paintings and sketches.  A short film about his life and painting also runs continuously in the gallery.  I was surprised to see that many of the Post cover paintings are actually quite large.  Painted in oil, some of them have quite a bit of texture in the white background area.  In some paintings the figures are thinly painted in an almost sketchy manner, while in others there is thicker paint application.  His ability to depict the different facial expressions of children is quite impressive, as seen in the painting below.  Apparently Rockwell liked painting children and older adults because they were less self-conscious and less concerned about how they may be portrayed.

A Day in the Life of a Girl, 1952

Eventually, Rockwell stopped working for the Post, where he was beginning to feel constrained, and began doing covers for the politically charged Look magazine.  His most famous cover for them was The Problem we all Live With, seen at the top of this blog post.  It was his first assignment for Look, and depicts a 6-year old African-American girl being escorted to school by US Marshals.  The civil rights movement was important to Rockwell and the new political direction taken by his work surprised many.  Back when he worked for the Post, he was once told to remove an African-American figure from a painting, the explanation from his editor being that they can only be shown in a service capacity.  Rockwell complied, although he did not feel right about it.  On prejudice he has said,    

"I was born a white Protestant with some prejudices that I am continuously trying to eradicate... I am angry at unjust prejudices, in other people and myself."
Southern Justice, 1965

One of the last paintings in the exhibition is Southern Justice, painted for Look, for an article about three civil rights workers murdered in Mississippi.  The incident became the basis for the movie Mississippi Burning.  A small room contains the large finished painting and numerous sketches.  It's hard to believe this was painted by the same man who did all the innocent Post covers, but it shows his growth artistically and politically. 

A thought that occurred to me after seeing this show was how much illustration was used at one time in American magazines.  Of course, Rockwell worked during the golden age of American Illustration.  Sometimes I wish those days would return, but I know that's wishful thinking.

American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell, will be at the North Carolina Museum of Art until January 30th.  From there it travels to the following venues:

Tacoma Art Museum, Washington: February 26, 2011-May 30, 2011
Dayton Art Institute, Ohio: November 2011 through 2012
Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA: November 10, 2012-February 2, 2013
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas: March 2013 through May 2013

If it comes near you, it is definitely worth seeing.