Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Some leather books for etsy- I am very proud of them, and they've been selling! Woohoo :)

The last one is a planner, with a different calendar drawing for each month every 20 pages or so (the rest of the pages are blank). The stitching along the spine spells out "MMXII" (2012 in Roman numerals, ya know?).
Don't expect much from this blog in the coming months. :) I mean- :( I'm working on developing a plan for a blog that chronicles only my art adventures and that is more "professional" in general. In the works also is a website, which may or may not even involve a blog section.

Monday, October 3, 2011


The poems that I printed last year for the CGU conference "Religions in Conversation" are now available for purchase through my etsy site! Aren't you excited?? Yay! They're $20 each, or $120 for the set (collect them all!); this is seriously a good deal.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

interesting artworks

I discovered artist Jim Kazanjian last week and am in awe of his "photographs". I love their dream-like quality, their mysteriousness, their impossibility and their realness (after all, they are photographs...right?). This is where I found his work: http://www.23sandy.com/kazanjian/catalog_kazanjian.html. Here's his website: http://www.kazanjian.net/ (the red magnifying glass takes you to his bio). The top image here is my favorite (Untitled "Chateau")- I'd love to live in a hand-made, cobbled-together castle over a waterfall. :) The other two are "Untitled (Outpost)" and "Untitled (Backyard)".

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

next project...

My next project involves this:
It's a page from the Book of Kells featuring the writers of the gospels in their symbolic forms (clockwise from upper left: Matthew the man, Mark the lion-yes, that's a lion, John the eagle and Luke the calf). The art in this masterpiece is utterly stunning, but I also have to include part of an email from my pa that perfectly encapsulates some of the more unusual stylization methods the artists used:
"I did have one observation. Didn't anybody back then know how to draw eyeballs?? The pictures are all great, but then it looks like they needed some coffee when they got to the eyes, and called over their 4 year old kid and said: 
Gawain: would thee likest to scribe some eyeorbs on yonder face?
Yes daddy! Should I make them widest open?
Sure lad...
(Goes and gets coffee...)
(Comes back...)
Look daddy look!!!
(Dad faints...)"

- - - - - - - -

I've noticed, and come to embrace, some things about my "process" of artymaking. I often start a new project with serious zest and energy and focus, and then hit a wall (I get sick of it, run into some sort of issue, etc.) at full speed and completely abandon working on it for weeks, or more likely, for months. The piece mentioned in the previous post is an example, actually. I think I started it around the beginning of the year, got tired of poking holes (gee, I wonder how that could've happened), and filed it away. I'd actually forgotten about it until organizing my studio a couple months ago. Then I was like, "Oh yeah! I should finish this!" and dove in once again. But it's rare for me to finish projects on the second go-around - usually I have to rediscover something every four months, work on it for a few days or weeks, and then abandon it again, over a period of a couple years before it's finally finished. 

I used to feel really guilty about this, but now I realize that it's important to give pieces (and ideas) time. Most of the time I abandon a piece because I hit a problem and can't figure out a solution- often I can't figure out the solution because I'm already thinking about the piece constantly. But if I set it aside, my brain can continue to process ideas consciously and subconsciously while I throw myself into another piece, and then I'm able to think about it without any sort of stress.
So all that to say that I spent a couple weeks engrossed in this project and have since abandoned it. :) Hopefully I'll pick it up again soon, but I have five or so other projects that I can work on in the meantime.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Illuminated Manuscripts

So I finished this piece a while ago: “Fruit of the Spirit II” is the title, I guess; it’s 19x24 inches, made by poking holes in paper with a bookbinding awl.

Bart and I have been thinking about ways of displaying it with some sort of backlighting. I think that would be cool!

Here are some of my thoughts behind it.
This is one interpretation of “illuminated manuscript” I’ve been thinking about recently- a literal interpretation.

There are a few characteristics about God and the Bible that have drawn me to creating images this way: The word of God is alive (Hebrews 4:12); God is beautiful (Psalm 50:2); God created the world and the universe and it follows an orderly pattern. The description of Scripture as being alive and God’s beauty and sovereignty spurred the idea to make images out of the individual parts of the text. In their symmetry and complexity they resemble snowflakes, flowers, microscopic organisms, galaxies; they are orderly without being static; they tumble and spin. With the added light, they glow like stars and other sparkly things (sparkly things!).
It is not immediately obvious that the shapes are words, but I think the intricacy of the piece may draw people in to explore it and try to figure it out (I strive for this in all my work). In a sense it forces the viewer (this is all hypothetical, since the only viewer other than myself to see the actual piece is Bart) to engage with the image because its meaning is not immediately apparent; we are also invited to engage with God and Scripture, to search them and to think about them.

As an artist who is a Christian, I want to present the Bible and the Gospel in a new way, focusing on the characteristics above: life, beauty, order. Because I don’t really enjoy drawing things “realistically”, and because I’m not really an abstract person either, and because I do love to use text as image, this seems like a good method for me.
I would be so, so honored if you left comments about this piece. Please feel free to ask questions and critique it. People rarely see anything I do if it isn’t a commission, and although Bart is super thoughtful and insightful in his observations and ideas, I would love input from others as well.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Book arts exhibit!

I’ve been helping set up an exhibit that will accompany this fall’s Goudy Lecture at Scripps College, presented by the Scripps College Press. The exhibit features over 140 artist books by around 40 women letterpress printers who have been in the business for at least twenty-five years. There are also some historical books. The books are incredibly beautiful (unfortunately, you don’t get to flip through them like I did :) ); they range from “normal” book shapes and sizes to large, sculptural pop-up books. 

The lecture, which is followed by a panel discussion and the exhibit’s opening reception, is free and open to the public and takes place on Saturday September 17, starting at 1:30.

I've enjoyed learning about how to set up an exhibit. It's a lot of work, but very rewarding because you can see your progress so easily. On the first day I worked, we had to rearrange the shelving in thirteen cases in order to fit the books that Professor Maryatt (director of the Scripps Press, who is curating the show along with Judy Harvey-Sahak, the Special Collections librarian at Denison Library) chose and assigned to each case. That took all day. Then came figuring out how to display each book, which ones needed stands, which ones needed special treatment, etc. Most just stand up, so I picked a nice spread in each book and "taped" them open. That took two days. Yesterday we worked on all the labels, one for each artist, which feature a brief bio for the artist as well as some information about their books on display in the exhibit. We also put up five broadsides (posters). The show opens in a week and there is a lot left to do. I'll try to take some pictures when I go in on Tuesday.

In other news, I had four cavities filled this morning. It took two hours and my face feels ridiculous. Actually, the right side of my face is starting to feel more normal, but they had to give me extra numbing-juice in the left side, so it’s still all weird and numb up to my temple. Although painless, it was a procedure I hope never to repeat. I went eight years without going to the dentist, and now I have been once a week for the past three weeks. I am so ready for a break.

Friday, July 29, 2011


A while back I mentioned a project I was working on to create a covering for the not-so-lovely bare bulb in the bathroom. I thought I could make something out of sea glass and translucent shells, inspired as I was by a light fixture available in a local store. Something like this. I bought a couple spools of fine wire from OSH, as well as a thicker wire that would hold a circular shape, from which I could hang the shells and glass once I had wired them together beautifully. The result was not so beautiful (nor is the picture...blah):
I tried adding more shells and glass, but all I could see were wires and the ugly bulb, and I couldn't figure out how to hide those things while bringing out the awesomeness of the shells and glass. I devised a plan B. Here is finished plan B:
A bit simpler, a little bit less of a "home-made craft" feel. Unfortunately, it used a whole lot less of the materials that I was trying to use UP. Le sigh.

Another project involving light- one that is up there on the list of my most labor-intensive projects...A hole-poking project! It's a variation on a piece I did a while ago featuring the Fruit of the Spirit. Here's the piece on my work table/light box. I trace the images with pencil, and then stab the paper along the pattern with an awl (with a cutting mat underneath).
A close-up (below): Gentleness on the left, Peace at the bottom, and Joy above it. It's a pretty neat effect, I think. Once finished (and properly installed...hmmmm), it could be quite striking.
Without the back-lighting: Initially I erased the pencil lines after poking the holes (as in the design on the far left), but I kind of like the added dimension the graphite gives the patterns, so I've left it on most of the others.
 Another close-up of the same spot as above, without the back-lighting.
I worked on "Goodness" (the one on the top right in the first image) this week, taking an hour to an hour and a half each day. Poking holes is laborious and tiring, and you have to be precise; it's really hard to work on it for extended periods of time.  Ack- I just noticed that I'm missing one of the "fruit"- kindness. Oh goodie- I'd better go figure out how to squeeze that one in...

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Arty adventures

Here are three recent projects!

A drawing:
The goal was to combine the text with a global theme, with the four triangular-ish quadrants representing seasons/time. This is one of my favorite custom pieces to date. It was a challenging drawing in many ways- balancing the colors, drawing lots of tiny, tiny people and trees and buildings, etc., but it was great. Moreover, I loved being able to express my love for my client (hehe) by filling the drawing with tiny details that I knew would be meaningful. I wish I knew her better so that I could have added even more! 

Another drawing:
A fun little piece for some people who very important to me, though they are far away and I don't really even know them well (my mom and step-dad commissioned it as a gift for their pastor and his wife).

A guestbook for a cute couple who saw my books at a local consignment shoppe called Belle's Nest (on Baldwin in Sierra Madre) and contacted me for a custom piece:

Their colors were peach and cream. The peach-colored design is based on the floral image from their invitations; I painted a piece of cardstock the right color (because I couldn't find ANYTHING at three art stores), and then cut out the design. It was fun and exciting to create something for strangers, since most of my "clients" are friends and family. ;)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

OH YEAH, there was this project I was working on...

...which I keep forgetting to write about! Silly!

I did the illustrations for a children’s ebook (for the iPad) about the life of Jesus, told through Mary’s eyes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/a-gospel-diary/id431504351#

The project was a collaborative piece that involved several people from church who did the narrating, writing, programming, promoting, etc., and was released in time for Easter. I was thrilled to be a part of it- what a challenge to portray something of such importance, so often horribly cutesified or cartoonified in children’s books, in a simple, straightforward yet imaginative and engaging manner. And it was a challenge to figure out how to incorporate my style- how to use my strengths to make the message stand out. I am hoping that the intricate doodly style will help convey the mystery and beauty God’s sovereignty and of what Jesus did on the cross!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Gloria in excelsis Deo, etc.

Here are some pictures of a commission I finished recently for some friends. They wanted an illuminated/calligraphy-ized version of this prayer to go in their prayer/devotions corner. It was a fun and challenging project- we exchanged tons of emails and design ideas before settling on this one. I think it turned out pretty well, and best of all, they love it. Yay!

Here are some other things I've taken pictures of...

Do you see the happy tree-gnome, too??

This is a poinsettia that Bart and I "rescued" from church after Christmas. It promptly dropped its leaves (apparently part of the problem was that it was getting too cold in our house during the night. I tried to give it some no-nonsense pep-talk: "What, you're cold? Boo-hoo, plant. Toughen up." It ignored me.) and I left it for dead in our little side room/mud room, because it looked awful on the kitchen table. Simply depressing. Anyway, lo and behold, a couple weeks ago I noticed tiny little leaves growing where the old ones had been. Yay! Now I sort of baby it. ;)

I love how the morning light looks coming in through the east-facing window in the bedroom. The window itself is horribly ugly, as far as windows go, but the shadow-effect is pretty cool. We have vertical blinds, which cause the vertical shadows. the window itself is one of those awful, inexplicable things made of slats of glass that with a little pull so that you open the whole window like a vent. And when they're closed you have a really drafty window. But what's actually causing the horizontal shadows is residue from the packing tape that the previous tenant had used in an attempt to staunch the draft (clever!).

Thursday, February 24, 2011

time flies.

oy- three weeks since my last post??

here are some pictures of recent happenings...
we went north last weekend to eat good food and walk on the beach. it was cold and windy and rainy and beautiful. 

 this seal was bound and determined to lie on the rock. it didn't look comfortable. 

we bought a couch eons ago, and it was finally ready for pick-up last week. YAY! it is large and greenish-goldish-brownish and perfect.

i made a series of journals from leftover papers with cool cut-paper covers to sell here.

i'm working on a fun project right now. more about that in the next couple of months.

the end!

Friday, January 28, 2011


no time for posting today, really, but it's already been two weeks since my last post...so...

i recently finished a commission (yay!), and will post pictures as soon as its recipients receive it. i was about to start on another commission yesterday, but it will have to wait a bit because a roll of paper i'd ordered arrived and i couldn't wait to immerse myself in a different project. not a commission, not just "for fun", but, i hope, Art. stay tuned.

actually, you may want to reconsider that ("stay tuned") in light of the following...

ooh, but i do have a new "for fun" project that i'll soon start working on. it's something that those of you who know me well could probably see coming (maybe...?). the pasadena joann fabrics is closing, so everything is on sale. i went in and bought the largest sewing hoop they had (it was on sale! so in a way, it wasn't my fault...)- 23 inches in diameter. which means...GIANT BEADY!!!

yeeees...it was only a matter of time. i started small- 2 inches, then 8 inches. with countless 2-inch beadies and 3 8-inch beadies made, i knew it was time to go BIG. this will only take me the rest of my life (lord willing, i'll live to a thousand and five). but i'm ok with that. i like the idea of having a project that's years (decades?) in the making. there's no rush...and just think how shiiiiiny it'll be... :)
(the black outline represents the 23-inch hoop, with the three larger beadies i've made (argh! i need a better name for these!!) copied and pasted to fill the space. as you can see, i'll have to create the equivalent of 7+ of these. eek.)
there! now that you all think i'm crazy, maybe you won't want to see any more blog posts, and i'll be off the hook! ;)

Friday, January 14, 2011

things, stuff

I meant to share this a while ago, but got bogged down in the attempt to write a how-to. Our apartment has seven rooms/distinct spaces, and five ceiling lights. Of those five ceiling lights, only two have coverings- the rest are bare bulbs. Recently I have undertaken the task of creating coverings for those naked bulbs, and here is my first project: the hall light. 
I had seen things like this earlier and boldly thought to myself (as I so often do), "Psh! I can do that!" While this does often turn out to be true in the end, it usually takes weeks or months to actually do it because my over-confidence (which you can probably detect in my thought process in the previous sentence) leads me to not think through every step of the project, which leads to problems, me getting discouraged and frustrated but refusing to start over again...usually I'll figure something out (with the end result possibly not being as good as if I'd taken the time to think it through completely in the first place). This project worked out pretty well, but the circular pieces at the top and bottom, and especially the attachment piece, stumped me for quite a while.

The second lampshade I made was for the bathroom. Because we don't have any sort of fan in there (and having the window open isn't always an option), it tends to stay humid for a while after showers. So a paper shade probably wouldn't be best. Also, I wanted to be sure that whatever the shade, it didn't make the room dim. Bathrooms, in my humble opinion, should be bright spaces. Bart and I were meandering Old Town looking at couches a couple months ago and I saw a light sort of like this. I was entranced by its shiny glowy-ness. And I thought, "Psh! I can do that!" Well, upon reflection, I realized that I couldn't. But from there my thoughts went to the jars and boxes of sea shells I've amassed (and intend to continue amassing, because I loves them). I pulled out all the thin/translucent white ones, the white sea glass, and sand dollars. I bought heavy-duty wire, and some very very fine-gauge wire. I made a large ring and a smaller ring with the heavy wire, and then wired the shells to the ring. When I ran out of shells, I hung the rings from the mounting fixture in the bathroom (with the smaller ring a couple inches below the larger one). It looks a little sad- more shells and possibly a third, smaller ring would do the trick. So I need to go to the beach. My lampshade needs more shells!! Then I'll take a picture of it and post it.

Here are some drawings I finished recently. Faith, Hope, Love. 

It was sunny and warm yesterday for the first time in a while- warm enough to open the doors and windows, which was really nice- somehow our home has felt really damp for the past several weeks. 

We went out to Choza Mama last night. It's a fairly new Peruvian place in Old Town (replaced the Hooters that had been there, thanks be to God). We ordered chicha morada, fried plantains with custard-like coconut dip as an appetizer, and had the pulled pork (Bart) and paella (me) for the main course. There is enough paella left that I'll add more rice to it this evening and we'll have plenty for dinner for the two of us tonight.

Happy Friday!