Sunday, October 21, 2012

Playing with Paper Dolls

I did an illustration for a little girl's dress sewing pattern for Simplicity Pattern Company way back almost a year ago, and wrote about it here.  Here is what it looked like:
I illustrate specific fabrics when drawing these.  The sewing patterns are are kind of a co-op with the designer of the garment (my client) and the fabric manufacturer.  Featuring the sewing pattern in the Simplicity catalog helps to promote the sale of the fabrics, and vice versa.  As it turns out, this fabric group did not get manufactured, but another group was chosen instead.  The client liked this piece of art: the pose, the girl's expression, etc., and wanted to re-use it.  My job was to re-draw the dress, using the new fabric designs.  This could be done by computer, with a map-and-drape program, but it always looks kind of "fake", and the client prefers the hand painted look.  So, I played paper dolls and came up with this replacement:

While I was at it, I changed the color of the boots and tights to the same charcoal grey in the fabrics. Here's what the new version will look like when it appears in the catalog:
Good as new!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Cast Concrete . . . My Favorite Leaf

I painted lots of concrete leaves the other night, but this one is by far my favorite.

It was a happy accident of many layers of color washing, plus many layers of dry brushing in various colors.  The leaf itself is very flat--meant to be a trivet, I guess (it was one of Roberta's rejects)--so at first glance in its natural unpainted state, I didn't think it was very exciting or had much potential.  The dry brushing brought out so much of the subtle texture captured in the casting that I didn't even realize was there.

I just finished about 3 hours outside today, raking up leaves in the back yard, and now nursing 3 new blisters (even through my gloves!)......, I have a LOVE/HATE relationship with pretty fall leaves!!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Concrete Leaves...In Living Color

I posted about making cast concrete leaves this summer here,  and since then I've been back to Roberta Palmer's backyard classroom to make more.  Once you've taken a class, she lets you work on your own, making as many castings as you can fit in your three big cardboard take-home boxes.
The dark areas on the kiwi castings, above,  are leaf fragments that I haven't removed yet.  The kiwi leaves are fuzzy, have to be sprayed with cooking spray before casting, and are still really difficult to remove. But they are such a cute HEART shape!

I made 9 more, to add to the three that I already had.  My crazy friend Chris went with me, for her third visit, so I think her grand total was 20 leaves!  We both wanted to make plenty, both for ourselves and to give as Christmas gifts.  So the leaf count between the two of us is up to 32.  Okay, Chris decided to take Roberta's painting class, taking several leaves she'd already made and cured, to learn Roberta's techniques of masterfully painting with exterior latex paints, dry-brushing, staining, and finishing.  Roberta is quite a perfectionist, and the beautiful leaves she sells at many markets and shows around Portland are only her very best---resulting in 'rejects' that she literally throws away.  Seeing Chris's enthusiasm and growing 'collection', she offered all FIFTEEN of her 'seconds' to Chris for free!  Chris brought them all over to my house,  we looked them over, and said "How can these be REJECTS?? They are better than the ones we've made!!".  Now the total count between us is 47 LEAVES! (Obsessed much??)
The leaves starting to pile up on my kitchen table...
...and my kitchen island.  Boxes-full are out out of camera range.

Chris showed me the paint techniques she'd learned; I tried to follow, but just ended up doing my own thing and winging it.  I had many pots of latex paints left over from a mural project I did at my daughter's school, plus lots of acrylic craft paints, so we just plunged in and started painting.  Here are a few of the ones we've finished...I think we did almost twenty over two evenings!  Some we loved, some were a little funky, some we'll keep working on until we like them.  Here's what we've got so far:
There are bowl shapes, flat trivets, ones with a copper coupling to display later on a copper pipe, others with wire embedded for hanging.
These get several coats of outdoor sealant to help them withstand the elements.
It's really a lot of fun painting them.  The trick is to add subtle dry-brushing of a color over a dried color to blend it all, and that easy technique makes them come alive.

As much as I love the painted ones, I still like the look of those left in their natural concrete state.  Here are the first three I made, in my backyard (so many fall leaves fell in the past couple of days--it's a little messy out there right now...):
Our yard is kind of rustic and free-form, not a traditional 'manicured' space, and I like the look of the plain concrete with all of our rocks, etc.  But I'll probably put a few of the painted ones here and there as well.  I mean, there are 47 of them, for Pete's sake...I could practically pave the whole yard with them!
The rhubarb leaf on the right always fills with water and makes a sweet small birdbath.

I think we are done making any new leaves (ya think??), and will concentrate on painting the remaining ones.  We have our annual Holiday Boutique in November at Chris's house, and will have a few for sale there, but mostly they'll be gifts and 'keepers'.  
My dear goof-ball Chris with our 'mini masterpieces'!

Monday, October 1, 2012

October's Here...another Collage Challenge

It's the beginning of another month, so I headed over to Mary Green's monthly collage challenge, and got to work.  I'm still learning little baby steps in Photoshop, so I thought I'd add in elements with some drop shadows, and keep it fairly simple.  Here's my submission:

A Rose for Agnis

Here are the original elements she had us work with:
Hoping to add more posts in the next few days.  I've been busy with my cast concrete leaves, and other artsy fartsy things that I want to share.  I'll be back soon.  Hope you will be, too!