Thursday, November 3, 2016

Big Move

It's one of those big life moments when you decide to sell your home of 30 years and downsize. We actually made the decision over a year ago and it has taken this long to call the transition complete. For me, that included moving my home studio after going thru everything and evaluating if it was going to make the move.

I embraced the change and made it an opportunity to restyle my working space.  This new style I have lovingly dubbed  "William Morris meets Ikea". I combined simple clean tabletops and bookcases with touches of detailed Arts and Crafts design.
While driving down 50th Street in Minneapolis, I saw this stained glass window in the Antique shop's store display and knew it was perfect. The shop owner asked if I was 'seriously' considering buying it because it was going to be difficult to retrieve it from the front window wedged between other antique pieces. I assured her I was. It had the simplicity, the design and colors that I loved. I debated where and how I wanted to display it in my new studio space and decided I wanted to see it as the first thing I was when I entered the room. It is flanked by two hand crafted candle sticks I bought at an Arts and Crafts Show in Chicago and my own framed art.

In contrast, I chose a big drum shade at Ikea to hang over an Ikea table with gray wooden curved legs. The shade has a gorgeous shiny copper interior with slits in it that adds some drama to the space. The framed art was done by a special friend of mine that I brought from my previous space.

I also kept my card filing system with pull out bins. It's functional and looks good. I splurged and bought a William Morris 5x8' wool rug for the floor. I've always wanted one and found the perfect combination of colors and design online. 

There's one last item to hang. I ordered an extra large poster print of my Frank Lloyd Wright Graycliff house illustration to frame and hang on the last empty wall space.

It has been a long year of purging and planning to get here. But I really enjoy how it has all come together to be a space that feels like me.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Whimsy Wendy Stitched Art

It still amazes me to see my hummingbird art translated into an embroidery design.I like the thread colors and how even the wing lines are added on top of the wing base.Thanks to my friend Wendy who generously agreed to stitch some samples for me to share with you. Let's take a look and learn more about Whimsy Wendy.
Lambzie. This coordinates with my Amelia Harper Collection for Modern Yardage. Think how much fun you can have creating clothing or home decor projects that have the added bonus of matched embroidery images.

Peas and Blossoms
Strawberries and Blossoms

Dragonfly as a napkin embellishment
Whimsy Wendy, Wendy Jo Miller
Here is Wendy and her Janome Memorycraft 500e she used to create the wonderful embroidery samples. She loves her machine and is currently busy with embroidery orders for gifts with personalized towels, totes/bags and pillowcases. She has so many ideas and not enough time to tackle them, but has some open creative days marked on her calendar in bold and underlined to devote to her passion.

I met Wendy at The Linden Tree a few years ago and loved her children's costume tutu's, butterfly wings and princess hats that were sold there. Wendy started her business in 2007 as soon as her girls were in school full-time. She was itching to do something creative. At this point 75% of her work is custom that includes personal embroidery orders and upholstery work such as curtains, box cushions and recovering pillows. The other 25% comes from her Etsy shop that includes party decor, children's costumes and home dec.

Wendy said she could see my designs being used for home interiors.The fact that you can tailor the thread colors to blend into people's spaces gives them a lot of versatility, just like you can when you change personalized colors for fabric orders. She feels the personalization of products and services is so important to people these days.  Thank you, Wendy, for bringing my designs to life. Here's Wendy's business links:


As a visual artist, it helps me see how my work looks in its finished form in order to know how to create future images. This inspires me to design new images for sewists to use on a variety of fun projects. Thanks to Janome for these amazing machines.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Graycliff Illustration

As a huge Frank Lloyd Wright fan, I was thrilled to work with the Graycliff Conservancy on this illustration. It is the summer home sitting on the Lake Erie shore designed for the Darwin Martin family from Buffalo, New York completed in 1931. It was saved from demolition in the late '90's, was renovated and now welcomes thousands of visitors annually.

I first became aware of the Graycliff Estate when the gift shop manager, Ryan, purchased some of my cards and prints thru Etsy wholesale for the gift shop. I mentioned that I previously illustrated the Park Inn Hotel and Bank by Frank Lloyd Wright in Mason City, Iowa for their gift shop and asked if they'd be interested in cards and prints of Graycliff. The board approved and Ryan took numerous photos for me since I live so far away. Although now I really want to visit!
One of many photos taken this Spring

The estate is spectacular. My favorite design features the first floor windows that show the lake view from the front of the house thru the back of the house. I added a couple tree trunk silhouettes to try to get the point across. Another unique feature is the use of local limestone that contains iron. Some of the stones in the house and in the pond area have brownish rust streaks to illustrate that.

Here's my pencil that went thru some tweaks before the color version.
pencil drawing

It was wonderful working with Ryan who advised me thru the project. I just got the cards printed and prints made and sent to the Graycliff Estate gift shop.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Twin Cities Bungalow Club Anniversary Project

Although I don't own or live in a bungalow, I have a love for them and an interest in the Arts and Crafts Movement.  I found like-minded friends when I joined the Twin Cities Bungalow Club a few years ago. The Club just celebrated their 20th year Anniversary and the board asked me to create a special gift for their members.  This resulted in a unique four pack of cards, each highlighting a bungalow style found locally and a special art print incorporating the houses into a Minneapolis and St. Paul skyline.

I worked with Tim Counts, club president, and Gail Tischler, board member, to draw the houses and create appropriate color palettes. Some of the reference they provided required some revised drawing since some homeowners had updated and removed original bungalow details from the home.

Here's one of my original pencil sketches:

The Bungalow board reviewed all the pencils and gave direction for revisions in keeping with bungalow details. Once the pencils were approved, I scanned my drawings into the computer, redrew the lines and added color to the shapes.

I kept the grass, sky and tree colors the same in all four illustrations so they would look like a matched set and work together in a combined print.

Here's each individual card with the white envelope:

Then I created an illustration incorporating all four bungalows into a print with a Minneapolis and St. Paul skyline. Artistic license is always taken to make the impossible look believable.

The cards and prints were distributed to the more than 400 members last month and I'm told were well received. I enjoyed learning more about bungalows during the whole process and was happy to create this for The Twin Cities Bungalow Club. If you are interested in joining the Club, here's a link to their website for more info.

Congratulations to the club on their 20th Anniversary!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

My Janome Embroidery Designs

Can you believe this was stitched on a sewing machine? I can't believe it either, but I watched it happen. Sandy at Valley West Sewing Center in Bloomington, Minnesota took me thru the steps of selecting my art file online, uploading it to the Janome Memory Craft 1500 sewing machine and watching it stitch out in layers.

It's part of my new license adventure with Janome. Thirty of my designs are in the Backyard Bliss Collection available as apps for sewists to purchase and unleash their creativity. Besides recreating my color palette, this app has the flexibility to change size and change colors! But I'm getting ahead of myself. Today let's follow Sandy thru the steps of creating my Poinsettia design on a dinner napkin.
Here's my Backyard Bliss Collection as viewed on an iPad.

The Poinsettia design gives the price, stitches, size, and a design credit to me.

Sandy wanted to find the center of the design so she can place it on the napkin.

She placed a print out in position where I wanted it on the napkin to size.

Sandy places an adhesive-backed paper in the hoop and marks the center. 
Then she centers the napkin yellow X with the adhesive paper center X and places it under the sewing machine needle.

The sewing machine digital screen shows the layers used to create the Poinsettia design.

Sandy let me choose the thread colors.

Sandy starts the process on the Janome Memory Craft 1500.

A view of the whole design on the sewing machine screen

Here's a view of the second thread color being added

The second color thread layer is sewn. 

It's almost done!

A view from above the machine.

Sandy is a natural teacher! I enjoyed watching the whole process.

Sandy trims off little threads before removing the napkin from the adhesive paper in the hoop.

Thank you to Sandy at Valley West Sewing Center for letting me share this process with you!  We look forward to sharing more projects together.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Illustrating Coffman Union

Even if you didn't attend the University of Minnesota, you've probably heard of Coffman Union. It's the hub for student activity and is also home to the University Bookstore. I've been fortunate to work with the manager and create new cards for the Bookstore gift shop. The first one was Northrop which established the look with a Minnesota maroon and gold border, and Coffman is my second illustration. After walking back and forth in front of the building trying to see which angle worked best, I decided upon this view...with a few alterations. 

I took artistic license and removed the railing blocking the view and added red and gold flowers along the sidewalk. Previous online photos showed they had planted them in past years. I also added the Minneapolis skyline on the right side, closer and larger than it is in reality, but it enhanced the meaning and composition of the card.

After scanning my pencil drawing, I add the color digitally using saved palettes from the Northrop illustration so they relate by colors in a series.Everything came together well, even the simplified flower bed. Afterwards, I get a final ok from the Gift shop Manager before creating cards and prints. 
They are available at the University Bookstore as well as my Etsy shop. 
Next up is The Mondale Law Building for this Spring.

Coffman Union card in my Etsy shop
Coffman Union 8x10 print in my Etsy shop

Monday, January 18, 2016

Illustrating Madison

Last summer I traveled to Madison, the Capitol of Wisconsin, to take photos for a new illustration.Here's a view of the Capitol from Monona Terrace. It was a beautiful summer day in June, as compared to today in January when it's zero degrees and I'm inside writing about my trip. That day my sister and I had lunch on the top of the Monona Terrace overlooking the lake prior to taking a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's designed building.
Here's a model of Monona Terrace we saw on the tour. It makes a beautiful centerpiece to the Madison skyline. The trouble is it faces Lake Monona and I couldn't go out in a boat to take my own reference, so I had to rely on several online images from which to assemble my skyline.
I chose to enlarge the Capitol in the background to give it more dominance and simplified the surrounding buildings. This is my rough pencil drawing of the illustration.
I added three sailboats out in the lake and like how they activate the front with their sails.
The color palette is a lot of blues with a punch of turquoise in the windows that reflect in the water. The Capitol was very difficult to simplify because it has tons of beautiful detail. It deserves its own illustration!  After I added color, I sent it to the Monona Terrace gift shop manager, who I met that summer day, to review for accuracy. She suggested a couple changes to some buildings which I was happy to do.

Here's the final illustration of the Madison skyline in color. It is available as a card and art print in my Etsy Shop and also available for wholesale. Watch for it around Madison gift shops. I have an order going out this week already!