Friday 30 January 2009

Working 9 - 5: A Bird and a Teapot

Above: this bird and its companion the teapot below, will appear in Seed stores from next week, as hand stitched appliques on t-shirts. Sitting here under a ceiling fan, in searing 40+ heat, it seems odd to extol the virtues of a vector bird wrapped in a scarf and a steaming pot of tea, but I will try. The bird was invented just after I came back from Scandinavia: he is a sort of "Marimekko" puffin. (Well, not really, because I might get into trouble for associating that holy word beginning with 'M' with my own work, but Marimekko is pretty brilliant, simple and so vividly Scandi, that I can't help but see it as the apex of all that is great about design there, and I did want my puffin to be stylishly dressed.)

This is my original concept for the teapot. On the t-shirt it will appear without the cup (and that 'stitched' trail of steam that is making me feel even hotter just looking at it), on some differently coloured backgrounds. As we sit wilting in Melbourne, the stores are filling with winter clothes. How did the fashion industry get to be so silly?!

Saturday 24 January 2009

My Life as a Chicken

Above: I am doing an online course at Designboom, which I am enjoying very much. The first task is a self-portrait. I sat in the studio yesterday and wrote down words which popped into my head: bicycle, folk art, chicken, pig, coloured pencils, human body parts. I decided not to go with anything too gruesome (which might be a sign of psychological progression) and composed a picture just using some of the words. I gave the chicken a human face with red lipstick (of course) so as to give it an element of the unexpected. Rather Edward Lear, I thought, complimenting myself. Then I became worried that my internet classmates would think that I am proportioned like a chicken. I had plenty of time left in the studio, so I worked up an old sketch: While those shown agreed that it looked more like me, I feel uncomfortable with the result and I don't find it very interesting. So I worked it up again below (this time it really doesn't look like me, thankfully) removing the girl's clothes, which hopefully contextualises it less and makes the idea a bit more interesting. She is holding a bunch of sage, which covers her body parts and goes nicely with pig.
I decided however to forget my vanity and send over the chicken.
I really enjoyed using watercolour: it's a very dignified medium, although it intimidates me to be using the same medium as alot of the mid 20th century illustrators I admire, and alot of contemporary European ones as well. (Beautiful examples here: Le Crayon, a society of legendary French illustrators.)

Friday 16 January 2009

Neighbourhood Watch

Above: As previously shown in progress here, this is my entry for the Linden Postcard Show, a house made of balsa wood with a sign depicting a smiling Wayne Carey. I have called it Neighbourhood Watch, partly in honour of the questionable types that the average Australian tends to place on a pedestal. (Yes, it could become a series.) On another level, Wayne Carey himself is the product of a very difficult childhood and with alot of tragic things going on behind closed doors all over this country, the idea of a "Neighbourhood Watch" is laughable.

Putting the house together was surprisingly quick. The glue took hardly any time to dry, and the pieces sat together easily as they were incredibly light. So Nick was right after all -- balsa wood is the way to go. Though I will probably learn shortly that it is a highly questionable material in environmental terms, and why can't I just go out and find some old wood to recycle, etc., etc...?!

January 9: NEWS! My work won second prize! Today all the recipients were photographed near one of the brimming-full walls. Standing in the centre smirking at the camera, I felt like the lead singer of a rock band. My fifteen minutes.

Motifs to Print

Above: while looking through some old folders at work the other day, I found this page of motifs. I can't remember painting them, but I thought I would sneak them home because I might yet use them for something. One day I will learn to carve potato halves painstakingly, and will do a series of French Provincial style fabrics. Maybe using little French potatoes. In France, of course.

Friday 9 January 2009

In Progress: A Plywood Creature

Above: I am actually taking a break from this project while I finish the house. This jellyfish was inspired by a nineteenth century drawing found in my old copy of KOS, a beautiful science history magazine published during the 1980's by Franco Maria Ricci.
(Click here to enter designboom which explains more about Ricci and his publications, among other tempting things like online design courses and interviews with great designers .)

Above: the Queen makes a reappearance too, partly because I lost my previous Queenie to the fundraising event at Seventh about a month ago. (I wonder whose wall she is gracing now?!) So far, the idea is the same as the paper versions: these too will be cut out and assembled into a new type of creature, though I'm not sure how yet.

Monday 5 January 2009

In Progress: Building a House

Above: I am slowly making a 30 cm wide house as part of my entry into the Linden Postcard Show. Part of my plan is to evoke the sort of weary brick boxes that were the most careless examples of "home" in the suburb where I grew up. After much spying and embarrassed photographing in various courts and crescents off the Nepean Highway, I conveniently found my muse a street from where I live right now: a quiet aberration squeezed between two Victorian workers' cottages. (I am sure that the workers' cottages were just as depressing in their own way, once upon a time. Very interesting how these things change.)

The original idea was to use plywood, but the wise brother advised me to use a material that I could easily cut by myself using a scalpel, rather than relying on him to cut it by machine in his workshop (he's clever). Initially I hated the way that the balsa wood sucked up the paint and was cursing my brother's name (he'll never know) but then as these things happen, I got used to it. There was plenty of opportunity to get used to it, painting each wall brick by brick, below. The typically 1970's shiny tiled roof is next. I can't wait. And I naively thought that only being on the computer all day could make my eyes that sore!