03 February 2016

lynda barry's syllabus

one of the things that i both LOVE and honestly sometimes dislike about teaching is that you are continually re-thinking how you do things in the classroom. this is great because it keeps you engaged. this is hard when you realize things you used to do that motivated students no longer work in the same way. 

a friend asked if i had seen lynda barry's book syllabus [she teaches at the wisconsin institute for discovery (don't you just love that name???)]. i hadn't and then immediately had to get it.

over break i poured over it and found it so incredibly inspirational. i remember the first time i saw one of barry's comics. i was in high school. it was in the local "alternative" newspaper. i was captivated by how different her drawings looked than what i was used to seeing. i also liked how simultaneously humble yet smartly unapologetic they were. [i couldn't have phrased it that way then, but really that's what i felt]. 

barry uses composition books. and wants her students to use/fill them too. the idea of using something less "precious" than a sketchbook is one i gravitate to. 

the book contains not only coursework, but random thoughts about teaching that SO HIT HOME. like the above page about time and rushing. 

or these thoughts about how she gets to know them. and how she wants them to be good right away. i always get giddy when i walk around a class full of students concentrating. and i can see how their work is improving that VERY DAY. they might not see it, but i do. 

or this bit about time. OH MY GOD the time question. it always irks me. how long did that take. why does it matter? 

and that making art puts you into a "meanwhile" space. this is very true. things feel like they take both a long time and no time at all. i often find that after i do something that has taken me a VERY LONG time - say days/weeks/years to pull off - that time becomes so compressed and it all fades away. or i even forget that i was part of the making of that thing that i'm looking at. it has indeed just appeared. it's surreal. 

the pages in the book are FULL. no space is left blank. i love that she takes the time to handwrite all this stuff for her students. it's so appropriate. it makes me wish i did that [but truth be told i won't]. thank you lynda barry for a very inspirational book. you can find more on lynda on her tumblr or her twitter....

19 January 2016

upcoming workshops and the like

i have a post brewing about the start of the semester, but first i wanted to let you know about some other upcoming classes i'm teaching.

first up is an embroidery sampler class - Jan 30th, 2-5 at Handcraft Studio school . i just checked and apparently it's SOLD OUT ! woo. if you are interested, though, contact them to be on the waiting list. it's definitely cold season, so someone may drop out. also if you are interested and local i'd love to get a headcount as to how many more of you want this class cause then i can schedule it again ;). this is the sampler i designed for the class and printed on spoonflower. i'm so excited to try it out [all attendees get it in the kit that's included with their fee]. 

next - running feb 2nd and 9th from 6:30-8:30pm [2 tuesdays] is my Artist Packet Class at Kala Art Institute. we actually met enrollment for this class as well, but i had them add a couple of slots. so if you'd like to join us - i'd love to have you. this is one of my favorite classes to teach, because it feels like it actually makes an impact. we discuss all the things you need as an artist to apply for what your heart desires: your CV, your portfolio, your artist statement... it's student driven based. so we talk the most about what you want to learn about. 

i'm not teaching professional practices right now at the college level since they are revamping their curriculum - and i miss it - so i'm really looking forward to this. 

i'm going back to craftcation in 2016 April 7-10 and i couldn't be more excited ! i loved it last year. the sense of community and the energy was absolutely so wonderful. it's a great chance to see lots of friends and learn a lot of new things. i'm teaching color theory, a block repeat pattern class and an embroidery necklace class. here's the schedule. there's a discount for registering early [through Feb. 10th], so if you are thinking about going i'd say sign up NOW !

and in other news. the little turned SEVEN. [oh how could that possibly be?]. i thought tiny donuts were in order. and aquamarine is her favorite color. so... 

also i've been working on a piece for walter maciel's 10th anniversary show. they wanted to do a show that was him/gallery centric so i created a thread portrait of him from a photo on the opening night of the gallery [i was there for that]. i did it on translucent silk because it's going over another part. while working i realized how fun it was to see how different backgrounds effected the piece so i started laying it on top of random things. from top left - painting rag, watercolor palette, grid paper, japanese ink set box.

2016 feels like it's off to a whirlwind start. had a very interesting studio visit this morning, and a meeting for a cool show i'm co-curating on thursday. yay.

11 January 2016


amazing holiday ornaments given to me by paper monkey press

oh hello. happy new year. how were your holidays? do anything great? good? worthy of documenting? we had a pretty good old time here - it's hard not to when you have an almost 7 year old. the decorating gets more elaborate. the count down to santa is loud and boisterous. 

a quick recap of some of the stuff that happened round here?


i took down the keepsake project. i am sad to see it go. i'm working on a book to document the whole thing. and am contemplating proposing it again [and maybe again and again. different locales could offer different situations, no?]. we shall see. 

i made and drew a foraged wreath. i dreamt about being a florist in another life. 

we saw san francisco's version of the nutcracker. it was good. [i actually think i like the oakland version better - we saw that a couple of years ago]. the sugar plum fairies' costumes were absolutely stunning, though. i couldn't get over them. here's a real photo. the former costume designer in me was kind of giddy. that doesn't happen too much any more. i decided to draw a version and in the process was frustrated working from memory. i finally found the picture online and then was much happier. the little was watching me do this and she stated "mama, you take what you see SO seriously!". leave it to the brilliance of a child to distill something so precisely. YES. i do. it's what i do. ALL the time. 

i made a darth vadar jello for our holiday meal. i have completely re-fallen in love with jello. i want to make a jello zine. 

i also made bon appetite's red version of their ombre holiday cookie. i have to work on making the layers even, but i then contemplated being a pastry chef in another life [sensing a theme here?]

i also took jen hewett's  block printing class at hand craft studio school. SO MUCH FUN. 

oh we did. in 3D even. [not sure if 3D is necessary]. and yes. even though it's like a new hope all over again i fell for it. it's good. and i'd be lying if i didn't say i'm kind of excited that rey is one tough female lead. hurrah. 

and i also breaked. hard. which is really really unusual for me. i usually don't stop working because of the whole entropy thing. things in motion stay in motion. but with a kid home for 2 weeks, and the demands of a holiday season with a small person, i had to mostly stop. and i am suffering from it now. i still want to kind of sit around and do nothing, but i can't. deadlines loom. classes start in 2 weeks [which now seems like tomorrow]. 

this is my current research/want to read/interested in pile. yeah. [truth be told there's another pile too, but i can't really photo them together]. i'm working on both old ideas [sen/1000] and a few new ideas. i'm trying to figure out if it's time to completely shift into something, or.... and i don't have much time to make up my mid. 

one thing i did realize - very clearly - is how much i miss this space. the writing. the processing that i can do here. i definitely post daily on instagram, often with short fleeting explanations of what i'm thinking, but this space offers more room. and while i have no idea who might even still check this space i think i've decided that it's time to attempt to write more regularly here again. no promises. but we'll see if i can pull it off. maybe once a week at least. not just posts on HEY THIS IS HAPPENING - which will definitely be the case - but more about HEY THIS IS WHAT I'M THINKING. because in the end i think that is what i'm craving. not just links or snippets, but bigger chunks. i didn't want to start another daily project or big 2016 thing, but maybe the thing is to return here. which in a way feels like coming back to my roots, back to where many a thing started. hmmmm. 

happy 2016. i'm planning on putting one foot in front of the other and hoping not to fall too far or too hard. 

13 December 2015


do you know about creative bug? [you probably do, but just in case]. so i filmed an acrylic class with them that is coming out in february... but they have an amazing array of classes with incredible, thoughtful teachers.

they are currently hosting a giveaway - a copy of courtney cerruti's "playing with surface design", a copy of my recently released book "20 ways to draw a chair" [i know i haven't even really talked about this, but i will ASAP], and a collaborative drawing with courtney and pam garrison . both courtney and pam have classes on creative bug and i admire both so much. 

there's a couple more days to enter the giveaway and there will be FOUR winners - so you have a good shot. there are a lot of ways to enter - visit CREATIVE BUG's BLOGPOST on the giveaway to learn more. 

30 November 2015

the keepsake project comes to an end ...

i can't believe i'm typing this... the keepsake project is just about complete. i'm working furiously to finish them in time for the closing sentimental food potluck that is happening this saturday

December 5 from 2-5 pm
bring a comfort food [or not -  just bring yourself. i will be attempting to make a jello mold a la my grandmother]

Irving Street Projects
4241 Irving Street

there are 60 items... hard to believe.

21 November 2015

in the studio :: emily demsky

one of the biggest things i was looking forward to when i went to baltimore this summer meeting emily demsky face to face. 

she is a LONG time internet friend. back in the day flickr friend. and if you know her at all, it's always about the red shoes. in particular the red clogs.

needless to say. i was so happy to see them in person in her studio. 

emily is also one of the founders of habit blog. a space that is no longer "current", but still incredibly meaningful. i remember the first time they invited me to participate and it felt like i had entered into this sanctuary. a space i had loved from a far and was suddenly asked to join. it was a thrill. 

this summer emily also opened up her home to me. i stayed with her for the better part of the week that we installed chroma. and not only was she my amazing host, she helped me arrange things - giving me tips on where to get an airbnb for the family, where to eat, what to do [along with cyndi]... she always was my DRIVER- taking me to the train, picking me up after a long days work at the gallery. and in those moments- at her kitchen table for coffee, in the car... she was everything a good friend should be. 

at the time - emily had just recently moved into the most glorious studio. it's a dream. high ceilings. white. brick walls. a separate room. fabulous light... sigh. her work is intuitive. abstract, but leaning toward the natural. it's flowing and free and really heartfelt. and here are her answers to my studio questions. 

please name 5 artists/creatives/makers that you know personally who you find inspiring
and influencing ? 

I know this seems like an easy questions - it's just that there are so many!  I've chosen all Baltimore-based artists/creatives/makers for the purposes of answering this question.

1. Pam Negrin, textile artist and print maker

2. Bridgette Guerzon Mills, encaustic painter

3. Ellen Frost, florist

4. Jill Andrews, wedding gown designer

5. Deena Margolis, painter

And 5 artists/creatives/makers that you don't know but love from afar?

again, there are so many!  here are a few highlights:

the last thing or two you read that had you marking or dog earring pages?

1. The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte

2. A Year with Rumi by Coleman Barks

your top 5 tools/supplies

1. my camera - iphone and dslr

2. glass jars leftover from my husband's kimchi and saurkraut (from Hex Ferments in Baltimore) which I use for water on my painting table

3. paint brushes and palette knives in all shapes and sizes

4. artists tape

5. #2 x-acto knives

a material or idea you most want to try but haven't yet

oh, everything.  I make encaustic monotypes but I've never done encaustic painting - that's something I'd love to try.  dyeing fabric.  weaving.  i could go on....

name a song or album you will grow old with

that's a funny one...and the song that comes to mind and stays in mind as i scroll through the playlist in my head is "closer to fine" by the indigo girls.

favorite beverage? 

easy peasy - water.  no ice, not cold.  water.

how many studio spaces have you had ? is this current one your fav ? why or why not ?

I suppose that I've had 3 studio spaces - the first was a communal space at a local community center.  It was a multi-purpose room and a group of us used it as a painting studio two days/week.  About 7 years ago I moved from that community center space into the spare bedroom in our home and I painted there until this past spring when I moved into a proper studio space about 15 minutes drive from our house.  The current space is by far my favorite and I still can't believe that it's mine.  It's bright and huge and I can work with ease on more than one project at a time, which is something I've never been able to do before now.  And it's all mine - nobody leaves stray items lying around, or borrows my scissors and doesn't return them, I can leave it as messy as I want or tidy it obsessively, rearrange the furniture or leave paintings all over the floor.  To say I love it is a grand understatement.

what is crucial for you to have in order for your studio day to be productive?

A stretch of uninterrupted time.  It doesn't have to be long - 2 hours is good, 4 is better - if I have lots of interruptions, I have a hard time finding my flow.

do you have a studio routine? if so will you share it with us?

Do you have a studio routine to recommend?  Last fall I read "Daily Rituals: How Artists Work" by Mason Currey.  It's a collection of short essays about various artists (of all types - painters, poets, filmmakers, etc.) and their work routines.  Now that I'm in the new studio I've been thinking a lot about routine, and since it's summertime, there really is no routine in my life at all right now.  I'll let you know what happens in the fall!

is there a place that you've been that really resonates with you?

Yes!  More than one...

We spent two weeks in Italy in June and I told my husband that I think I must have been Italian in a former life - I felt so content and so inspired being there.  I loved the language and the relationship between the ancient architecture and modern life, I loved the food (what's not to love!?) and the lifestyle, I loved the way even the simplest things are packaged so beautifully.  I loved being there and I could have stayed if only I had my dog with me!

And no mention of places that resonates with me is complete without Provincetown, Massachusetts - it's at the eastern-most tip of Cape Cod, the beaches are all protected National Seashore, the air is fresher, the light is brighter, and I have a little love affair with the dunes and the marshland.  We've been going every summer for 12 years and my family would probably say it's my happy place.

where have you felt the most "at home"

For better and for worse, I live in the city where I grew up.  I went away for college but other than those four years, I've lived in Baltimore all my life.  I've traveled lots and I love to travel, I'd also love to live somewhere else at some point in my life, but for now I'm here.  And though I've felt at home in other places (see previous question!), I'm going to have to answer "Baltimore."

dancing? pro or con?

pro in theory, learning to be comfortable doing it in public :)

it took a tremendous amount of willpower for me not to steal this little gem of a painting. with the rocks next to it of course.

thanks emily... so much love
hope to see you soon. 

19 October 2015

the keepsake project // open studios THIS WEEKEND

hi... i know... crickets around here. that's partially because i've been so busy with the keepsake project !  it's been growing by leaps and bounds - which is great ! i've got 30+ items photographed and in the process of documentation. i'm excited [and a bit overwhelmed]. 

i wanted to let anyone who still checks this space know that irving street projects will be hosting an open studios this weekend and i will be there. you can come say hi. you can purchase copies of my books/zines and perhaps a few artworks. you can purchase artwork of kelly inouye , leah rosenberg, and mary anne kluth

i've been pretty good about updating the keepsake project blog - so there you can see and read the stories of different items that have been brought in. 

if you are around - please stop by
4341 Irving Street
San Francisco

Saturday i'll be there from 12-4
Sunday i'll be there from 12-5.

hope to see you !

09 September 2015

on being an artist and mother

sara irvin asked me to write a piece on what it's like to be a working artist and parent.
you can find it here on her blog the [pro]create anthology. there are a lot of other interesting takes from other artists/parents.

03 September 2015

the keepsake project

this week i moved into the irving street projects - a residency space in the sunset of san francisco. it's kelly inouye's  studio that she's also turned into a space to support artists and their projects. 

my project is entitled the keepsake project -i will be "collecting" and documenting the public's {AKA YOU} keepsakes. i'm curious what you consider a keepsake. why some objects seem to be imbued with nostalgia. where the heck does nostalgia come from anyway. you can read a lot more about the project on the tumblr i've set up, or the press release.

i will be there tuesdays and thursdays 10:30-ish to 2:30-ish documenting keepsakes. like this ponch that my grandma made for me, and that i've now passed onto the little:

i will photograph keepsakes [documenting them]. i will render them in some sort of painting/drawing. and i will be tagging them with some vital information [like an archeologist].

if you are in the Bay Area and want to stop by - i'd love to chat with you about a keepsake of yours. [any kind of keepsake]. you can book an appointment here, but you can also just stop by. if you want to come on a friday or weekend day, please email me to make a separate appointment.

and if you aren't local, and want to participate, please email me too... you can take a photo of your keepsake for me and i can interview you via email. the more the merrier.

i started on kelly's christmas sweatshirt today. she made it with her grandma.

please come visit me [and invite anyone you know who might be interested in the project to get in touch!] 4331 Irving Street, San Francisco.