I’m Hearing Voices

Standard

Heee-hoo. Heeee-hooo. That’s the sound of chickadees in my neighborhood repeatedly calling to one another from the treetops. They’ve been so insistent (heeee-hoo) that I decided that they must be trying to tell me something.

Pencil drawing of chickadees

Pertinent chickadees. Pencil drawing from my sketchbook.

I recently posted about looking for inspiration in color palettes of artworks. After I wrote that, I went shopping and had a lot of fun choosing fabrics to use as future book cloth. Even so,  I was still a little “meh” about any real direction. I didn’t want to just fall back on the same cats for imagery.

(I know! I can’t believe I said that. I love cats, but it can’t be all cats all of the time, can it?)

That’s where the chickadees come in. But how to print them? The lamp in my Thermofax machine burned out and, despite calling every rare bulb dealer in the US, I’ve yet to find a replacement. That means no easy way to screen print. (If anyone knows where I might find a replacement lamp for a 3M Secretary with 15 amps, let me know!)

Chickadee drawings, fabric, printed fabric

Upper Left: Fabric for soon-to-be books; Upper Right: The inked version of the drawing above; Lower: Birds printed on fabric using ink jet printer

As a possible alternative, I tried my ink jet printer to print the chickadees on the fabric. This isn’t exactly a new idea for me, I kind of re-remembered it as something I tried once and liked. I’m satisfied with how the birds appear on the cloth, but I’m not certain about how archival this method is, or how durable it will be as a book cover.

Ultimately, I want more complex patterns. And I’m not sure if I would print the whole book cloth cover, or perhaps cut out individual birds and sew them to different cloth, or both. Or, something else entirely.

Heee-hoo. I’m waiting for the chickadees to give me a sign.

 

This Is Not About Cats

Image

Today my route to work was dotted with bright yellow springiness. The daffodils have arrived! So, when I got home, I was inspired to make a drawing in honor of the official harbinger of spring here in the North.

Pen and ink drawing of daffodils.

I don’t usually draw flora, but I was happy to see these in my neighborhood.

Spring Cats by EriN Kotosaka

Postcard from Japan!

As I was inking in the values, I noticed the postcard I had received from the awesome Marc-Andre of Katzenworld lying on the table. And….I noticed….DAFFODILS! The artist is EriN Kotosaka. I was unfamiliar with her work until I got Marc’s card. I love her drawings of cats, they’re so whimsical and mischievous. Alas, I digress because I was not going to write about cats.

I hope it’s spring where you are, and that you find beauty in the ordinary, and wonder in the small connections that make life interesting.

 

Finding Inspiration

Standard

I’m gearing up for art fairs, and looking through my current book inventory. Here is a collection of sketchbooks and journals of different sizes and bindings. I have themes other than cats, but I’ve offered images for feline-lovers for awhile. I’m trying to think of some fresher ways to approach the work, including making the whole collection look more cohesive.

Hand made books with cat covers

A selection of cat themed book covers that I created. The fabrics are all hand-dyed and/or screen printed.

On a recent trip to the Art Institute of Chicago, I encountered a few pieces that, while very different stylistically, employ color palettes that are similar.

Paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago; Whistler, Balthus, VanGogh

Upper Left: The Artist in His Studio, by James McNeil Whistler; Upper Right: Girl with Cat, by Balthus; Lower Panel: The Parisian Novels (The Yellow Books) detail, by Vincent VanGogh

I love how these artists use the primary colors in muted tones and variation to create a cohesive looks. So, I was thinking I would try to emulate some of these colors in my book covers for spring and summer. I particularly love the gray-blues and gold tones interspersed with pink. I also want some patterns that are more intricate, and  viewable from multiple angles without seeming “upside down.” My current cat designs, for example, only face one way, so I’m thinking of incorporating rotational symmetry, and adding other images and shapes to make them more dynamic. Other possible themes include birds, tea, and geometry.

How do you find inspiration for your art work? What resources to you use? How do you keep your work interesting and fresh? I’d love your feedback!

In the meantime, the books above are still available to a good home. You can check them out here on my Etsy site.

 

 

Maybe It Was the Tea

Standard

Tick….tick….tick….tick….I am awake. It is the middle of the night and my brain has gone into monkey mode. No position is comfortable. No amount of yoga breathing will distract my busy mind. No amount of sheep counting sends me into dreaming.

I have a cat firmly asleep on my legs. When I try to move, said cat goes into noodle mode and protests with a tail twitch. The last time I looked at the clock it was 3:42 a.m.

Watercolor close up of a worried cat

If only my cats were concerned about the quality of my sleep.

Eventually I drift off. In what feels like only minutes, I am jarred awake by my husband’s alarm, a song by Queen about bicycles. I groan. For a minute, the bed cat remains a full impact noodle. Another cat thinks it’s time for breakfast. Cat number three starts clawing on the cat tree. Full noodle cat is now walking on my chest. My husband is now snoring and oblivious.

I give up any hope of more shut eye and lurch downstairs to rectify the urgent dish bottoms issues of the cats. Maybe tonight will be better.

Cats Get Around

Standard

You may or may not know that I post a bi-weekly feature called The Friday Art Cat on Katzenworld, an amazing blog about all things cat. Well, it’s turned out to be a lot of fun for me, and other bloggers like what I’m doing enough to re-post my art! You can see how My Daily Musings‘ features My Article Read (this week, The Friday Art Cat is #22 on the list,) and Ravenhawks’ Magazine, a comprehensive site about spirituality and earth-friendly practices, has given The Friday Art Cat a prominent place on their post.

Closer to home, Vera, Lucy, and Bean are starting to get a little supervised outside time on the back patio to soak up the warming sun!

Three cats laying on a patio.

Left: Bean, Right: Lucy, Lower: Vera                                    We love our sunny patio!

Happy Spring weekend, everybody, and thanks for checking out the cats and news this Caturday.

Cats Helpful, Not Helpful

Standard

This is the time of year where I work on costumes for a local high school musical. We’re doing Bye Bye, Birdie, a bouncy musical set in the 1950’s. (Imagine lots of circle skirts and Americana.)  At first, the cats were very interested in assisting, that is, until they realized that there are no actual birds in the show.

Cat looking at vintage patterns

Lucy likes to give design advice and has a good eye for color.

Cat sitting atop clothes.

Bean, ever the rational one, knows when to question my decisions. Here she asks, “you’re not really going to do that, are you?” She’s saved me from bad decisions more than once.

Sleeping cat on a sewing table.

Vera is content to allow work to progress, as long as she has a place on the sewing table.

Shelter

Standard

I may have mentioned it before, but I love Illustration Friday, a site where illustrators respond to a weekly prompt based on a theme. It’s a great place to see a lot of creative responses to the motif, and to post your own theme-related work. This week’s prompt is SHELTER, which fits perfectly with some of my other recent posts. Like this Friday Art Cat on Katzenworld, this previous post about Los Gatos de Panama, and this one about a little kitty who lives in a culvert.

Cat under an umbrella, watercolor painting

Rainy cat.

Here’s a watercolor sketch that was inspired by a rainstorm and my cat, Miss Bean, who is wary of any water that falls from the sky. For me, it’s not only a portrait of my own cat who was a stray, but also a symbol for all the cats, and other homeless animals who need protection, food, medicine and shelter.

Nothing But Love

Standard
Nothing But Love

I love Valentine’s Day, not for the commercial expectations for diamonds and romance, but, rather for the idea that there is a day where we are asked to contemplate and appreciate the love we experience, give and receive in our lives in all its forms.

Linocut heart prints with Chocolove

Linocut prints and chocolates waiting for delivery.

To celebrate this year, I carved a simple sentiment out of linoleum and printed multiples to give to friends and family along with a hug and some good chocolate.

Cats with Valentines.

Not all the cats are equally impressed with their Valentine hearts.

I tried to get the cats in the spirit. Bean was slightly tolerant of my heart placement, and Vera was completely disinterested. But, Lucy was enthusiastic, with appreciation for my cause.

Give appreciation to all beings who touch your life. If that involves hearts and chocolate, great! Otherwise, just a nice hug, or a slow blink, will do.

A Hole in the Door

Standard

Between the place where there is the food dish, and the place of the litter box, exists a miraculous openness, The Magic Portal. It doesn’t require any thumbs to operate, and it allows free passing to those in need. In the best of a times, a cat may travel unhindered up and down the stairs. At it’s worst, it is used as a political tool in the power struggle for territory and domination.

Ginger cat sitting in a kitty doorway.

The view from the other side.

The humans like it because they don’t have to continually open and close the door for a cat, or leave the door ajar. In addition, The Magic Portal is a great source of entertainment for the humans, as the cat politics do not go unnoticed.