Sunday, May 30, 2010

Illustrating children's books

My friend, Isabelle, told me about a publisher who is accepting submissions for illustrations for children's books...I am working on one of my own (bunnies, hand-painted black-and-white-someday....someday), but I decided to dig out a few of my drawings, and photograph them for submission..who knows...In today's economy, when noone is building high-end homes (which is what I specialize(d) in..(builders would buy my time, and give it to their clients to start their homes...saved a few marriages that way)..anyway, one has to diversify...In fact, on Tuesday, a woman is coming to interview me for a local magazine regarding my floorcloths...hey, free never knows..but, I digress.
This pen-and-ink pointalistic drawing was fun...I like repetitive movement with my soothes the savage beast within me (funny, when I look in the mirror, I don't see a savage beast, but it's sometimes there..this calms me)...making little, teeny-tiny dots for hours on end is fun???

This cow was done in markers...I later did it on fabric and made a pillow out of it for a little friend of mine...He loved that cow pillow...wonder whatever happened to it...
Again with the details and repetitive movement..if you double-click on the image, you will see how much detail there is. One doesn't have to be obsessive-compulsive to be an artist/designer, but it helps...In real life..not so much..

I saw this photograph and just had to draw it....all these have been sitting in a portfolio in my closet for years...when I lived in North Carolina, I submitted these for a position with the state historical society as an illustrator..they lost their funding, and that was that (they had hired me)...such is life..maybe they will come in handy now..who knows? Maybe that's my new mantra: "Who Knows"????

This graphite drawing was from a postcard (okay, pencil), but now there are woodless, graphite pencils that I just fact, I am finishing up a drawing of a nude, but think it might not be appropriate to submit for children's books??? Back to the drawing - I am one-quarter Cherokee, and the older I get, the more I am drawn to (no pun intended) my heritage....Funny, when we lived in Oklahoma on Indian Land, I was ashamed of, very proud..Things change.
So, there it is...makes me want to do some more..but, I need to finish the nude first...

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things....

Hmmmmmm hummmm hummm hummm...hummm hummmhm ...and whiskers on kittens, hummm m hummhmm, hummm hummm and mittens, bright paper packages, tied up in strings, these are a few of my favorite things.....I suppose I could Google the words to Julie Andrews, singing in "The Sound of Music"..but, I'm too lazy.
I have a lovely home...I have lovely things....and even though my life is far from perfect, I am a very fortunate woman. I am not a "status" status McMansion, no fancy car (I drive Aunt Lily's big ol' Buick). I have pretty jewelry, but not diamonds and emeralds..I wear mostly my turquoise and silver (much of it passed down from my mother), and my clothes are nice, but I buy many of them at resale (albeit nice resale) shops...
All that said, I do have some things that I love..things that I shall never tire of (at least, I don't think so)..some things that bring me great pleasure.
I have inherited fine china, silver, crystal, and I love setting a lovely table. I stand to inherit more of the same...I can remember coveting such things, but I would much rather have the people from whom I inherit....
So, I thought I'd share some of my favorite things...(okay, my darling Gussie is not a "thing", but the I couldn't resist the line from the song...) This is my girl as a baby...just "hanging out"...I cherish this photo... I love the pair of etched-crystal vases, circa 1930's, that were given to me by my mother-in-law..I love the lily...I love the set of gold-and-red embossed books of the classics, that I bought years ago, one a month, when my husband was in graduate school and we were broke...I love the photo (hand-colored, black-and-white, by moi)...

I love the sheep that hangs over my says on him, "carry an umbrella when you see this flying fella"...that's a vintage child's hat, with cherries on it, that I often put on my "subjects" during my portrait photography days...
The sheep hangs over my Country French, carved pine bed, and the wonderful, red reading lamp is a new aquisition from Tuesday Morning...paid all of fourteen dollars for it. I love to lie in bed at night and write my novel(s)...I have tried writing on the computer, but I need to put pen to paper for some reason...nightime is my writing time.
I love the feather-trimmed silk, red pillow....even though one of my precious cats has damaged the back a bit..sigh.
Speaking of precious cats damaging my things...this was one of my favorite, silk, plaid was $75.00 a yard, and I loved killed it..don't ask how...
I love the faux-fur, red throw (read "woobie) I keep at the foot of the bed to pull over me during the night...ala "Target"..
When I went to New England School of Art and Design in Boston, I took a faux finishing course..this screen was my final project...(got an A)..This was back in the day, before all the synthetic materials (which are much better for you) came out...I learned the old-world methods, and am glad I did...It is in my dining room, hiding my sewing machine in the corner....
When I was doing a photo shoot for Springs/Graber Window Fashions, (I did the photostyling), I acquired this the time, he was white resin, but I "tarted him up", so, he came home with me. On July 4th, he sports an American flag. The rest of the time, he's in my laundry room....
These two, antique bunnies (I think they are circa 1920's), are horse-hair, straw-stuffed, and I believe they have been much loved...Poor Rupert (I named them Rupert and Nora) only has one ear, and Nora's gown is bedraggled, but somehow, making her a new one just wouldn't be the same..Rupert sports such a fabulous outfit...When I was doing children's portraits, they were the secret I would pull out of the bag when the children melted down..worked every time...they are the subject of my children's book in progress (okay, it's been in progress for way too long)..The smaller bunnie is Peter Rabbit..belonged to my husband when he was a baby. The cloche is always changing...and I love my fun, little Easter animals...the duck's wings flap..

I love making herbed vinegars...steeping the herbs in vinegar, bottling them, and making hand-made tags, embellished with pressed pansies from the garden...

The photograph hangs in my bedroom ("Grace", hand-colored, black-and-white..again by "moi), and I used wall covering to cover the hat box...I have boxes everywhere...stashing photos, letters, and momentos...
Sunflowers in blue-and-white china....

Peonies in blue-and-white china....when I lived in Wisconsin, I had many bushes of them..the scent is heavenly, but look out for the ants!

I love using china platters on walls..this was one of my favorites in Wisconsin...note to self, do not try to use it as a bird feeder...shattered...sigh. Also, loved drying my PeeGee Hydrangeas...

This angel is in my kitchen...she's a blessed thing..again, she was white when I got her, but I used a "rusting" technique...She cradles the small bird in her arms...(and she hides the outlet on my granite kitchen counter)....
She and these silly "things" are things I cherish, that have wonderful memories, or just bring me pleasure.
What are some of your favorite things?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Evolving Spaces

Rooms, homes, and people should evolve, don't you agree? I have always encouraged my clients to never consider a room "finished", even if,at the time, they love it. There is something too "static" about a room that is installed, and then, never changes. I'm not saying one needs to repaint every two years, or change the room out entirely; but rather, add, edit, embellish, or rearrange the space. Perhaps treating it differently seasonally, which is what I've been doing with this corner of my living room. Our living room doesn't have the lighting I wish it had. My builder did a wonderful job on this house (it was a spec, but with custom upgrades). It was already too far gone when I discovered it to make the changes in lighting that I would have liked; as in floor outlets, more outlets, no pot lights, but rather, halogen, and a front door with some glass in it to let in more light. But, with time, I am making changes - I will not change my front door, as it is beautiful wood, and I know I would regret it afterwood. I lived in the house for an entire season without making any major changes. It's important to watch the lighting in the space over the seasons...For example, these two windows face our back porch, which is recessed, and there are Live Oaks shading the porch. This is Texas, darlin, and after a summer in this house, I was grateful for the shade from the relentless (we get 300 days of blistering sunshine a year) sun and heat. I was also grateful for the stained concrete floors, that feel so cool on bare feet (except I wear slippers, as there are also scorpions).
As you know from a previous post, I finally made window treatments. These windows flank our fireplace, and on the other side are French doors. I wanted to be able to drawn the curtains, light a fire, and feel cozy. Yes, we actually do have some cold, rainy days, and once, it SNOWED!
That got alot of Texan's really excited (being from Wisconsin, me, not so much).
I found the lamp at Hobby Lobby, added the elephant finial, bought a little chest (only piece of furniture I've bought since buying the house three years ago), and I had found these fabulous, Chinese silk pillows, still in the packaging at Goodwill, for $3.00 each - I added the fiberfill.
The fern needed to winter over, so I placed it on a plant stand (okay, I lied, I bought the plant stand at Hobby Lobb y -$60.00), and viola', my winter corner was established.

There's a wonderful, small town not far from me called is small, but chock-full of historical buildings, housing shops, antique stores, and galleries. I love it. I found these silk sunflowers (I know, I once said no silk flowers, but these actually move in the breeze..not stiff and tortured like so many...I have changed my stance...if you can't tell if they are real or not, why not?). I put them in this blue-glass vase, but didn't like seeing the stems.

When I was in Madison, my friend, Cam, and I went shopping (alot)..we had such fun. There is, or rather, was, a wonderful shop owned by a friend, who had shared a space with me when I had my gallery. He was moving on to NYC, and had a wonderful clearance sale going on. I bought these striped candles (they are usually quite expensive). In fact, Cam commented that she just knew I would buy these candles. At the time, I wasn't sure where I would use them, but when I returned home, I realized they were perfect with the color-blocked window treatments, and the pillow. By the way, even if you have candles that you would rather not burn, please, light them once, and then, blow them out.....they look so much better than the pristine, white wick..just a Designer's Tip.
I won't go on-and-on with each angle...just wanted to show how wonderful (at least, I love them) they are...and how changing the vase to something more organic highlights the flowers better.

The small, enamel box on the table is hand-painted from Russia. One of Aunt Lily's acquisitions on her many travels...I cherish it.

I put three mirrors in the living room, (you can see the corner of one)..two of which are hammered tin and tile from Mexico...they do help reflect the views and lighten the room. I also love seeing the table through the window, where the plants are thriving (out of reach of the deer).So, this is my "Summer Look" may continue to be my "Winter Look" , as well, until Christmas, when the tree takes it's place....
I started to glaze the foyer two years ago, but hurt my wrist..had to wear a brace for six weeks...well, it's happened again - it's called, DeQuervian's Syndrome, or "Washer Woman's Syndrome"...tendon injury...I call it "Fall Down in Fort Worth on Your Anniversary While Wearing Stilleto Heels on Cobblestones Syndrome"......back in the brace again..just in time for hot weather.
They say "When life hands you lemons, make lemonaide"...I say "When life hands you lemons, put them in a lovely dish and enjoy them on a table

Friday, May 14, 2010

Is it Cheating???

First, let me fill you in on my life (if anyone is interested)...After my trip, I've been thinking about priorities...and although this blog is important to me, other things are taking priority...but before I go there, I wanted to share this photograph with you, along with it's story. Short story...we have wild peacocks in the neighborhood - one male (I call him, "Gigilo George), and three females - no names, just "The girls". I had some strawberries that had become mushy, so I tossed them off the back porch, assuming "Blossem" the opossem, or our new friend, the racoon, would find them. Instead, I opened the door to check on the grill, and there were "the girls"...They took off, but I managed to get the photograph. Our Raisenette Funicello Buttafuco (he headbutts) was in the chair on the porch, eyes bulging, calling to them to not go....I love our little piece of the country. Now, to the issue at hand...since the "recession/depression/economic downturn/whatever, I have pretty much come to a designing for builders standstill. That said, as many have had to do, I am assessing my talents and my possibilities. I am a fairly decent artist, good seamstress, and an artisan. Again, with the economy the way it is, not much happening there...So, I have the opportunity to take this time to do what so many people threaten to do....I am writing a book. Actually, I am working on two novels and a children's book. Writing is easy, you just sit down and open a vein..(not my quote)...I slave and sweat and ponder and write and toss away and save and hope that I am not writing something that will be considered dreck. I cannot write to please others...I have to write from my heart, and so I will. Will I get published? It's unlikely, as there are "slush piles" of wonderful books out there, with overworked editors, who are pretty much struggling with the publishing industry (as in Kindle, etc). But, again, it is a luxury provided by my husband to get the "green light" to just go for it...and so I am. So, after writing every day (at least I am attempting to do that), the blog suffers.

I have seen a great change in blogging; especially, design blogs...I have seen many drop out of the game..for me, it's not been about how many followers I have, and how many "hits", etc., but it's been about reaching out and sharing. I will continue to do so, even though I don't have 10,987 hits...just do what I can when I can.

As to the "Is it Cheating?", here's my question (rather, two questions) it cheating to repost some of my past work that I've had on here before (but with a bit of a twist), especially, some of the very early stuff? Also, I see so many blogs, where the "blogger/designer/whatever" scans photos from books and magazines, and then comments on in "what inspires". I ask this question - is it interesting? I have over the years, compiled entired loose-leaf notebooks, jammed with photos from the seven million design magazines I have accumulated over the years. Since they would otherwise be piled to the rafters, I cut out what I wanted to save, and I catagorized them, as in: Kitchens, bedrooms, window treatments, etc...Problem with that is I do not know who's work it is, and to whom to attribute this great talent (I don't save boring stuff).

All this said, here's a bit of an experiment: Here are several powder rooms and bathrooms that I have created in the past. Every single on of these were from the ground up. I wanted to repost them, and talk about the client's personality, and why these rooms work. So, for what it's worth....

This was my favorite "over the top" powder room. My clients were world travelers (he is Phillippino -sp?), and she's not. They both love color and drama. I gold-leafed and aged the ceiling, trim, and the inside of the pocket door. I also used outdoor lanterns for lighting (with auxillary lighting up top. I usually recommend side lighting to put on make up, but for a powder room - as in "powder one's nose" (do women actually do that anymore", and a bit of lipstick, one can cheat a bit....
This was a Parade of Homes powder room, but sold before building (people who buy Parade homes before they are built get all kinds of discounts and's a smart thing to do, but they do end up having 28,000 (literally) people go through their homes. Good builders make sure you cannot tell anyone has been there. It is in Wisconsin, where saturated color is uplifting during the long, grey winters. I glued "gimp" trim between the color sections to better define the borders. This was a young, vibrant family, a contemporary, couple, who entertain alot.
My clients for this bathroom were two men (it happens, deal with it), who were busy professionals, with an adopted child...a wonderful couple, but wanted to have some "masculine influence" in the bath...I used Ralph Lauren Navy Blue paint, floated the cabinets, and designed a giant shower (reflected in the mirror). I am not a "design Nazi"...a good designer takes the wishes of their clients seriously, and does the best one can to make thier wishes come to fruition.
This bathroom was designed for a gorgeous blonde...beautiful in every way..she and her husband (a pro-hockey player), were in Switzerland eight months out of the year (he played for a Swiss team), so there was alot of back-and-forth decision making.....

This was the blonde's powder room. Small but dramatic...My regret is that I didn't get a good shot of the obsidion and onyx tile floor.
This was another Parade powder room, but wasn't presold, so I got to do as I wanted...using a vanity that is more like furniture, and wallcover, covered with what feels and looks like glass beads...Everyone who passed through just had to touch that wallcovering...the glass stayed on!

Last, there is the cool, contemporary "Barbara Barry" influenced bathroom. I painted an opalescent strip through the room, and a carried it into the bedroom, as well.
So, that's it folks....I will be interested in seeing if there is any response at all..If not, I will continue to come here when I can...I do care about those people, who do come here for some news and inspiration..

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day..

I don't know of too many (especially, female bloggers) who aren't writing about Mother's Day in some form or another....Remember, this started out as a "Design Blog", but has also been about life...mine, and those who are sharing this world with me.
This is an especially difficult weekend for me; my Mama's birthday would have been yesterday (she passed at 58, 25 years ago), and today is Mother's Day...A day doesn't go by that I don't think about her. She was beautiful in every you can see...and I thank her for inheriting those legs.... We were poor...really "dirt poor"...literally, dirt floors (which were swept, sprinkled with water, and hand-made rag rugs covered most of them)...a "RC Cola" sign for a roof...we lived on Indian Land in Oklahoma...We never went hungry, were always clean..and we didn't have much, but as I got older, things improved..for awhile.
I don't want to bring out the violins, and play, "I've been traged", but merely paying tribute to a woman, who always worked..and after my father, a police officer, was shot in the line of duty, she went to work at the police station...later, the sheriff's office...
We always had books in the house, and paper in pencils.. both my sister and I loved to draw, and she encouraged and praised us- she was my best friend, my muse.

Babies are babies.....

And kids will be kids (this time, literally)..getting themselves into all kinds of situations...whereupon, the mama has to rescue them..I know mine did, many, many times..After which, they often need to rest....Thanks to all the Mamas..and rest in peace, dear Mama..I will always love you.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Garden

Blogging takes alot of patience...I have no patience...but, I do want to share my wonderful friend's garden(s) with ya'll...Especially, since returning from my stay with them in Wisconsin, it is now in the 90's in Texas...All the green and harbingers of Spring up there are a respite from what promises to be a hot, dry, Summer...but, I still love Texas...

So, since I've shared Cam and Jim's home, I want to share their wonderful acre over which they toil endlessly with love....(and Jim has a wicked aim with a stone...scaring the bunny that just ate their tulips away)..they do, however, usually catch and relocate..(except the deer)..

This is the view from my guest bedroom window...I love the birdbath from "Gatherings" in Madison, which is sadly, moving to New York..

The photo after this is also from the much has happened already, and plenty more to come..wish I could see it. I am going to play, "One picture is worth a thousand words"; only commenting when it's necessary..enjoy...

Jim is an amazing metal sculptor...this mermaid is fantastic..and large..I shot in front of the bench to give you a sense of her "presence" her..

Jim is a wonder at building anything..he added this porch (as I explained in my previous post)..last summer...Here it is this Spring....Cam was going to put some lovely flowers in the pots for the shot, but we didn't get that far....still a bit early there..

Cam took this photograph (which I love) last winter...which is why I left Wisconsin (one of the reasons...)..Spring is wonderful...Winter (for me, at least) not so much...

I created this vignette, using the wonderful, Italian-inspired pottery, and the spring flowers...I can't wait to see the painting Cam will do from it.
I once contributed some photographs I took of Southern porches for a book called, "Out on the Porch", which celebrates the integral part porches has played in the South...Hey, porches are important in the North, as well. Love the color of these chairs.

I didn't get to stay long enough to see the lilacs in full bloom, nor smell their heady scent...I do miss my lilac bushes..

This is the back entrance to the house...Cam commented that she hadn't "dressed it out" yet, but I love it as it is...very Italian..

Jim built the looks like gnomes went to work during the night...eventually, honeysuckle, which is already growing nearby, will cover it...just imagine the scent!
I love bleeding heart...I wanted to cut some and press it to bring home with me, but didn't have the heart to cut it up (no pun intended)

Perhaps Cam will grace us with photos of the garden as the season progresses??? Please and thankyou...