Sunday, February 7, 2016

On Slug Marmelade and Life Stages

An anthropologist friend of mine pointed out that even the niftiest artists and crafters go through life stages where their work has different levels of meaning and focus. Parenting a toddler is a life stage that is not to be trifled with. Which is to say that rather than sketching on this amazing sunny weekend during which spring was indeed starting to spring, I found myself...

  • Introducing the kiddo to the concept of catkins, and showing how the pollen poofs out when you shake them,
  • Clarifying that crocuses come in a whole range of colors, from yellow to white to purple, and
  • Inventing fancy new common names for certain wild fungi (in Spanish, no less) to clarify that even though they are stunningly pretty, they aren't meant for human consumption. Thus, "witches jelly" is now "mermelada de babosa" (marmelade for the slugs) in my book.

And in turn, the kiddo did some marvellous drawing on the lids of cardboard boxes. Not only do I applaud the control she had to make all those broad parallel strokes, but she also 
  • Clearly articulated the differences between "light" and "dark" versions of colors (claro/oscuro) for the first time I've heard, and
  • Narrated a very specific strategy for which colors she wanted to use first and then which would come next, in a very deliberate way.
Dang. Landmark city in my brain, at least.

Plus, she declared "I love the catkins," which is the first time we've ever heard her say "I love (x)" about anything.

Am not sure if I am realistically going to keep updating this blog much in the near future, so this post can be a nod to the dynamic force of life stages in the meantime.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Our Bodies, Our Bikes

Just got my copy of the brand new Our Bodies, Our Bikes book. I am sometimes nervous to see my work in print, how will it turn out in the final form? But this book is quite simply gorgeous.
 Snapshot of my first draft of the cover art above with finished books alongside. The color and paper choice of the cover are so satisfyingly lovely. (It's the little things, like how it feels in our hands, that can really make a book special, you know?) And the graphic design inside is super great too: lush, sophisticated, yet very reader-friendly layout and color pallette. Bravo.
Super proud to be a part of this collaboration. Learn more at the Microcosm Publishing site!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Wigwags and Zucchini Muffins

A favorite attraction at the Oregon Zoo is now the wig-wag train crossing signal that's across from the leopards. Sorry leopards, but you don't go "ding ding ding" or have a red light in your belly, do you?

A slightly clumsy attempt to capture the dynamic wiggler bouncing around in the cafe chair while eating her muffin. The proportions are all cattywampus, but the general concept of seat as jungle-gym is coming across at least. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Oh Bacteria, My Bacteria!

I work as an exhibit developer at my local science museum. Folks often ask what the difference is between an exhibit developer and an exhibit designer. Short answer: I read all the scientific papers and figure out how to make the juicy data fun for 8 year olds. And then I coordinate with the exhibit designers, who do everything from color schemes and fonts to figuring out how to make structures that won't fall over when countless 4-year-olds throw themselves headlong at them.

It's mostly a writing and thinking job, but I do get to scribble in the margins to help me communicate my ideas. And I will admit that I've gotten very fond of creating fast scribbles of microbes in fat felt-tip markers. Kind of a zen circle sort of thing.

My big new project, Zoo in You: The Human Microbiome, is just now packing up and getting ready to head to the next stop on its national tour. Look for it in Ashland, Oregon, or San Diego, California, or Boca Raton, Florida, or beyond!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sunset, ballpoint pens

Experimenting with new angles on portability in this new life phase of sketching, knowing that my toddler's needs (diapers, wipes, spare clothes, books, snacks, etc) outweigh the bulky kit of art supplies that I used to carry before.

This little series used a set of 3 double-sided ballpoint pens, total of 6 color options, in a super-slim little pocket notebook. Not terribly elegant, but it's enough to keep me having fun!

(Perseid meteor shower star party, Rooster Rock State Park, Oregon)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Meanwhile, back at the Huntington...

Years ago, I did a project that was a mix of exhibit development and science illustration work for the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. I'm always delighted when their team gets in touch with me again for new adventures in art.

This time I was invited to mine their collections (rare books, cool old plants, fabulous sculptures, historic manuscripts, elegant furniture) and cobble together into a sort of fanciful patchwork quilt that would decorate the windows of their new entrance and orientation gallery.

The idea was to make it a sort of filagree pattern, that would be applied to the windows as a giant vinyl decal. I drew the images in Photoshop first, then converted the final draft to vector images that could be scaled up to fit the windows.

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I haven't seen it in person yet, but these pics of the installation process are delightfully fun. (Image credit: Karina White.)

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The Huntington's blog, Verso, wrote an article about the project with more fun photos. Fun adventure all around.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

American Visionary Art Museum (too fast!)

During a trip to the east coast in May, I visited the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, MD. Only had a short time to check it out before I scrambled to catch the train to DC, but it was worth the visit for sure.

No photography was allowed inside, so I just caught a few glimpses of my favorite moments in the sketchbook. (Yay, sketchbooks!)

Really compelling stories of self-taught artists doing impressive work that brought more than one tear to my eye. Hoping I can go back some day soon and dig in deeper.