28 July 2012

sending mail

Extremely patient mail-art friends finally got something in their mailboxes last week! When I visited the Arthouse Sketchbook Project Tour in Oakland, I picked up a few things to share with some of the artists whose books I checked out. One was Jessica Gowling ~ also my first mail-art correspondent and a prolific, savvy, friendly and nature-inspired artist. I cut out a few things that reminded me of her to send along with the Arthouse goodies.

I also sent her a note inside some geometric paper that I made in a design class last year and a little print of my latest painting. She recently moved to a new town and I hoped my mail in her new mailbox would help welcome her there.

Jeannine Saylor is also a patient mail-art friend who has sent me many lovely things in the mail. I also checked out her book in Oakland so I sent her a few Arthouse pieces as well as some San Francisco magazine cutouts of photos that I liked and another of a girl from a catalog wearing a dress that always reminded me of her (saylor/sailor theme!).

I have two more mail-art envelopes in the works for other friends. Hope to finish them soon and share them with you here once they're received across the sea.

18 July 2012

observing the magnolia

Large magnolia trees grow outside my new office. I see their dark leaves and large white blossoms from my window, and walk under them on my way in and out each day. When we first moved in, the flowers were bright and fresh, but lately they've begun to wilt and then drop their stamens to the ground.

You can see the little anther head peeking up from the center of the flower.

When they fall, I like to pick them up. The seeds are fuzzy and so closely packed. It feels like a little paw.

 I kept one that I picked up on my desk at work. It had the anther and pistil of the stamen and was absolutely fascinating. At home last night, I was thinking about these curious plants and decided to try to draw the stamen from memory. This is how I drew it:

magnolia seed from memory

And this is how it actually looked when I checked today:

magnolia seed
All dressed up with fishnet stockings! Elegant!

Not quite right, is it? The real one has so many more details that I neglected in my sketch. The anther looks really fuzzy and the seed bits look like claws, whereas I drew more of an asparagus head with strawberry seeds. I forgot the ridge around the middle and quickied the net "stockings" even though they're one of my favorite parts.

It was fun to check my powers of observation and memory, however. A good drawing game I'd like to try again!

magnolia stamen

17 July 2012

a few nice things

The orchid that I placed in the window near my desk is blooming. I am fascinated by the interior pattern and layers of soft, translucent petals. Sometimes I find the center exquisite and other times it looks like some kind of futuristic symbol. Am also wondering how all that flower fits inside that tiny pod?

At the beach there was a giant driftwood log on the sand. It looked as though it had been there a long time. It looks like part of a large redwood, so as a living tree it could have lived nearby. I love the rough texture and wish I could mimic it in clay but I probably lack the skill and patience.

And at home, these two young doves sat on my fence for hours and let us approach them very closely. We were surprised they did not fly away. Sometimes they cocked their heads at us, and other times they rounded their feathers and sat, puffed up, as if they had no necks at all. Even though they have plain coloring, I really like their neutral tones and sweet shape.

Speaking of sweet, my bunny is weathering the hot summer days by spreading out flat in the cool dirt. She's also become a bit naughty and refuses to go in her cage at night, but we love her anyway.

Hope you are also enjoying your summer days (and nights)! I'll soon share some sketches and crafts that I've been working on lately.

xo kimi

07 July 2012

sketchbook report, part 2 ~ {2012}

Continuing the story of my visit to the Oakland tour of the Sketchbook Project, let's start with a gorgeous book by Satomi Sugimoto. This book was beautiful, with very fluid works of unknown yet seemingly natural (and therefore potentially familiar) objects. Were they living things? Scientific stills of one liquid dissolving into another? Enlarged images of seeds? It was hard to tell, but each page had a new form and a singular beauty.

I had come across Satomi's sketchbook on the Art House site and really enjoyed it online. Of course it was even better in person, and these pictures don't really do it justice, as I seemed to be sitting in a darker area of the library when I took them. Along with Satomi's book, we received Michael Ciccotello's book. He has a really great free-flowing style and often fills the entire page with connected images. He drew everything during his train commute which was kind of neat to consider while turning the pages.

If you'd like to see his whole book, he put it online here and you can flip the pages with your arrow keys.

I met a fellow Sketchbook Project artist in Oakland during my visit, Eliza Wee. She was sitting at the same table as me, and we got to chatting a little and sharing some books we'd each checked out. I showed her my book and hoped to see hers but she'd already turned it in. Since it was getting late the tour was not allowing any new books to be checked out, so I looked her up online later, and found her artwork with a most engaging title, Topography of the Spork as a Young Artist. There are spoons and forks, and yes, sporks, plus dogs and some realistic pages and some very cute cartoons too. You should definitely check her out! She's ewee on the Art House site and also has a great set of Sketchbook Project photos and notes here on flickr. I was really happy to make her acquaintance. I really like her style.

Nice to meet up with my own book again at the tour.

One of the things I love about the Sketchbook Project is the new friendships I've made. Two more artists I've met in 2012:

Lelainia Lloyd ~ she was the first person to check out my book on the 2012 tour which made me really happy, not just because my book finally got seen on the tour, but mainly because she is such a kind person with a very generous and caring spirit as well as being a talented artist. She wrote a great post about visiting the tour in Vancouver on her blog and you might also enjoy posts about her participation in Challenging the Myths: Disability and Art museum show. I like her blog as there are lots of photos of Vancouver and community activities she's involved in like the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay. She also has an Etsy shop with vintage postcards and such.

Alison Lew ~ a Bay Area artist! She travels all around as a flight attendant and snaps photos of all kinds of cool art and yummy food she finds along the way on her tumblr. She returned several times to the Oakland Sketchbook Project tour and posted a lot of great pics of her visits, including the Closing Night Party. Totally made me wish I were there! Her sketchbook this year, Travels and Eats, is full of artful, delicious food drawings (largely sweets) laid over maps of the places where she ate them. I really, really, wished I had more time so I could have checked out her book!

I took photos of a couple more of the sketchbooks I got to see during the Oakland tour, but I'm a little disappointed with myself as it turns out I didn't keep perfect track of whose art I was reading. Above you can see some of the books we had checked out. I remember enjoying both of the books you see on the left but I'm not sure who the artists are. The third one over that's kind of hidden might be Michael Ciccotello's, then there's mine and then a corner of Jessica Gowling's that is being read.

For those first two, Uncharted Waters and One Day at a Time, I found two names in my hasty notes that might go with them: Carla Usery and Jasibe Cure-Twede. I couldn't find any corresponding art in the Art House list of artists to verify, so... hopefully I'm giving proper credit. The books were very interesting. Here are a few photos of the pages inside.

I went to the tour armed with a giant list of artists I wanted to check out, either because I loved their work last year or because I'd discovered them newly this year. I'll just mention them here before I go... Rossana Bossu', Justus Cekauskas, William Yu, Heather Reinhardt, Junko Miyakoshi, Chantal Vincent... and many more...

Sketchbook Project 2013 is open for sign-ups, now, with lots of new and fun themes to inspire. Are you signing up? Go ahead and try it!

new painting

I finished a new painting! I'm so glad that it turned out to be pleasing to me. I'd been trying to paint the past couple months but was so busy/stressed that my paintings turned out that way, too. It was dreadful. This canvas actually has three painting attempts on it, and I'm finally happy with this third one. It's also very nice to have gotten through all those super-busy times and to have a little time to breathe and contemplate a pleasant summer ahead.

I had the perfect place to hang it ~ on a blank wall in my new office where I can see it when I look up from my desk.

Hopefully I will complete some more works and can change the paintings through the year. My own little one-work-at-a-time gallery. ^_^

02 July 2012

sketchbook report, part 1 ~ {oakland tour}

In just a few days time the Sketchbook Project 2012 will have traveled back across the United States from Oakland, California to Lynn, Massachusetts for three glorious library days July 6-9. I was lucky that here in the Bay Area the tour stayed for over two weeks! My days have been extraordinarily busy the past two months and I really had to squeeze in my visit. I wished I could have gone every weekend and stayed entire days there but alas, it was not possible. Even so, I have a lot to share with you from my Sketchbook Project Tour experience. And it was great!

Once we found the tour location, hidden cleverly down a pretty alley and across a lot to the back of a handsome brick building, we were greeted with a huge Welcome sign, no lines to queue in, and a few seats left, but most of them full.

I didn't remember to bring my library card from last year, so the first thing I had to do was get a new card. That was easy - one simply picks a card from the bowl, enters one's name and such on the computer and scans the card to activate. I attended with two friends, and we each got a card so we could check out as many books as possible.

There were new rules this year: two sketchbooks can be checked out at a time, and only one of those books can be chosen by you. The other one you receive is a completely random selection. This is a drawback if you have a big list of friends' books that you'd like to see in a limited amount of time, but it's also a nice feature because it's a great way to discover new artworks and artists too. Once a request is made, the efficient and helpful Sketchbook Project Tour staff gather your two books for you in no time at all. While you're waiting, you can admire all the fab chalk art on the walls or goggle at the shelves and shelves of sketchbooks.

The first sketchbook I requested was Jeannine Saylor's Ask Me How I Can Help. She had done such a good job posting her progress while making the book that I was already familiar with the pages, but there's such a difference when actually holding the book and flipping through the pages. The art just leaps out, colors are brighter, textures are touchable and it's really cool to hold something made by a friend you only know from a distance.

As a Saylor Made fan, I am proud to say that I also checked out Jeannine's book that she made last year for the 2011 Sketchbook Project Tour. While I enjoyed both of them, I felt that she kept the theme really strong in this year's book and I really liked her use of stamps. One day I'll have to go to the Sketchbook Project Library in Brooklyn and see her Limited Edition book so I can follow the entire series. :)

At this point, my library-mates had also checked out some books so we started passing them around to each other. Usually the random book would match the theme of the chosen book, so when a friend checked out my Uncharted Waters, he received another Uncharted Waters to go with it. It was pretty neat to see how varied the interpretations could be upon the same theme.

The second book I requested was that of Jessica Gowling, whose fur cover and wildlife-inspired pages were irresistible. Especially since her black-furred book from last year went missing in the postal system on its way to the Sketchbook Project Library, I knew I didn't want to miss the chance to meet her white-furred 2012 book while it was in the Bay Area. We were not disappointed ~ it even had a 3D page with 3D glasses to whip out for full effect.

In tribute to her lost 2011 book, she drew inspiration page by page from her old book to create her new book. In the back of the new book, she attached a mini-zine version of her 2011 book. How about that?

She worked hard to make many copies and now you can buy both zines in her etsy shop. I always a learn a lot from Ms. Gowling!

The third book I requested was by another friend and favorite artist of mine, Juriko Kosaka. Her sketchbook documented a visit to her parents' home in Japan. Just as I expected, it was charming and delightful. Her ink drawings are simple yet detailed and she often adds just a hint of color. She's very good at conveying a mood, and it's usually a lighthearted, peaceful one.

I liked her parents' shy cat and the photos and objects in the room. I felt like I was getting to know her family, even though we've never met. Juriko is very good at composing her art to tell her story a piece at a time, until by the end of the book the whole picture has been presented. I checked out her sketchbook on last year's tour, too, and had a similar feeling of getting to peek in her world.

I love how personal the sketchbooks become as we make them and how that personal communication goes out into the world with the Sketchbook Project. So, a big "thanks!" to the fine Art House folks for making this all possible.

I hope you enjoyed this first report of my visit. Next time I will share with you some of the new art I discovered and admired on the tour. (I even met a fellow sketchbook artist, too!)

In the meantime... keep creating! ^_^