Friday, 12 December 2008

Working 9 - 5: Doll Face

Above: I am unusually proud of 'Doll Face', a design which I based on the babushka and painted up a few months ago at work. I scanned her into Photoshop, cleaned and re-coloured her in our palette for that month's range, then sent the artwork to China. There it was printed onto white cotton poplin, then turned under and neatly and sewn onto the t-shirts by hand. The hair was also made of two pieces of navy blue fabric, again sewn by hand. I hope that the people doing the sewing got some enjoyment out of it.
Pssst: next winter she will have a sassy sister...

Friday, 5 December 2008

For the Love of Mordy

Above: Often I have moments when I think "I wish I had my camera". The other evening, when I found myself down in Mordy (that's Mordialloc to non locals) I realised that I actually did.

Above: I love this logo! It's so odd. I wonder what the thought process was behind it?!

I've included the above snap to contextualise the place for the non Melbournian readers: Mordialloc is not the most beautiful or exciting "sleepy" fishing town (suburb, really) but I think that's the reason why I like it.

Monday, 1 December 2008

The Chef: Version 2

Above: the chef, who first came to life quite a few years ago now, reworked for the submission first mentioned below. I am not as happy with him as I am with the babushkas and the seaside children, but I think that if I keep going with him I will just get sick of the whole thing and will end up submitting nothing (I need to submit three at once, he is the last one I need to finish).Above: a beautiful 1950's TWA advertisement which I used as inspiration for the chef's colour palette. I love the mixture of bright and pastel colours, it's very 1950's and pleasingly odd to contemporary eyes. And the topic: aeroplane food (supposedly!) is one of my nearest and dearest. The uniform is also rather elaborate and looks technically impossible, except to a Paris couturier. I stumbled across this picture at work: I believe an ex colleague with no respect for the sanctity of books tore it out of a Taschen vintage advertising compendium.

January 9: I only just submitted the three illustrations today, after too many trials and tribulations for my liking: the test (which I sat twice due to a technical hitch), their server problems over Christmas, as well as (probably related but unacknowledged) changes in the format, including a now compulsory zip compression requirement for which I had to buy Winzip. I wish I could also download some patience...

Inspiration 4: A Primary Coloured Assortment

Above: the previously mentioned stunning Italian Dinner furnishing fabric from Svenkst Tenn. (The piece shown here is about 80 cm high I think.) I will have to return to Stockholm one day to buy a few metres. It so beautifully encompasses the bounties of Italian cuisine that I declare all Italian restaurants and Italian-cooking-loving-kitchens should be decorated with it! Or mine, anyway.
Above: Vindija quality, detail from a yoghurt container from Croatia. That landscape is crying out to be magnified many times over yet again and turned into something grand...
Above: Lodalientje, a plastic pin badge found at a second hand shop in Amsterdam. She is actually less than one centimetre tall. I have not had any luck in finding out who she is or what Lodalientje means, but I think she is very cute.

Above: my aunt's bowl. I realised during this year's visit to Croatia that my penchant for semi-kitsch fruit decorated kitchen items comes from her.

Surely the German artist Neo Rausch (b.1960) must share my love of primary coloured kitchen kitsch? His grand 255 x 199 cm oil on paper work Pfad (2003) above looks exactly like blue and white Dutch china brought to contemporary life. A man after my heart: if only he knew.

Friday, 7 November 2008

By the Seaside

Above: I have turned a sketch I did a few years ago into a piece of vector art for the iStock submission (as I discussed in the previous post). You would think that by having a sketch at the ready to trace the vector art wouldn't take that long, but it has taken me most of today. Drawing an entire picture by making bezier curves with a computer mouse is not much fun. It becomes fun when you finish drawing and start filling in the colours. The hardest part was doing the girl's face. It needed to look simple but not overly so, and a bit retro. I quite like the result but I'm not sure whether she should look happier considering she is on holiday.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

A Green Babushka Family

Above: I am working on some illustrations to submit to the vector section of iStockphoto, having read about it in the current edition of Desktop. There's alot of rules: the work must be compatible with the Jurassic Illustrator 8, may not include pattern fills or images from an outside source like Photoshop, all lines must be joined and no transparencies are allowed. One must even sit a test in order to gauge whether the rules have been understood before submitting; and even send a jpeg of their driver's licence for good measure. A bit daunting, but I have decided to take the challenge anyway. The above will be part of my initial submission. An environmentally conscious babushka family. I thought it would be a nice way to combine tradition with a sense of the future. Or rather a future I would like to imagine, and believe may be getting written about by someone out there for whatever reason and require an illustration. Never mind if it doesn't, I have included it in my updated illustration portfolio anyway.

Above: the colour palette inspiration for the illustration above. Part of the endpaper of Queen Elizabeth's Coronation Book, printed by The Herald and Sun News Pictorial Melbourne in glorious colourgravure. Purchased by me in Camberwell last Sunday for $3.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Queen Cactus takes the Bus

Above: As it appears in situ, on the pockmarked studio wall. Queen Cactus takes the Bus, while Jamila is ready to defend with her sexy* weapons of hook and chilli. Not sure yet whether Queen will be taking the bus or something else.

*I have never used this word in my blog before. If I pepper my entries with these sorts of words, will my blog get alot more hits?

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Toucan Saw Leaf

Above: Maybe this is where the "anthropomorphic" tag will start to loosen. I want to see how loose it can get, before it's completely lost. I suppose it depends on the context: this little 'figure' might read differently when not seen alongside his friends below. Or maybe not?

Saturday, 11 October 2008

The Mitre 10 Man Satellite

Above: The Mitre 10 Man has made another comeback. His smiling head is now attached to a satellite (1960's Sputnik era style) and he is juggling a pretty assortment of single cell organisms.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Shark Pasta Unicycle

Above: after having completed the Rat for the Illustrators Association exhibition I am back onto the series that I keep referring to as 'animal vegetable mineral' in my head. That's still my overriding criterion for the three parts that make up each one (though I don't always stick to it). Another is 'head thorax abdomen' -- how insects are built -- though oddly I haven't included any insect parts yet. Time to find some. A hairy moth's body perhaps?

Saturday, 27 September 2008

The Unfinished Birthday Present

Above: a dear friend of mine, who doesn't have internet access, is having an important birthday in a week's time. I started making this scarf for her back in February, but I got stuck about a month later, and haven't gone back to it since. I kept confusing the grey for the red in the black & white graph. (Did the black dots represent red, or the white squares? I kept forgetting in the middle of every row.) I should have just coloured over the dots in the graph in red. Or maybe that was the squares. I hope my friend doesn't mind that her scarf won't be finished. Is the fact that it's Spring in Melbourne now a good excuse? Um, no.

I think I've got a bit of knitting to do this week.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Inspiration 3: Sweden

Above: a very pleasing book display in a shop window on the island of Sodermalm, one of the extremely lovely floating precincts of Stockholm.

Above: book jacket detail from the store above, showing lovely floral pattern. (I find European book jackets in general to be more pleasing than ours.)

Above: another shop window in Sodermalm: antiques placed on a piece of pretty floral wallpaper.

Above: even a supermarket advertisement can be aesthetically pleasing.

Above: detail from a cushion designed in the 1940's by Carl Malmsten. I love the various patterning overlaid on each coloured section, like textile design over textile design. This cushion lives in Florence now with my cousin. A nice bit of Sweden in Italy. (Could you get two more disparate but equally appealing European cultures?!)

Above: my proud purchase from Under, a cute little shop next to the hotel I stayed in on the Sodermalm. It sells new and vintage clothes, books and decoration mostly for children. All very now and very Swedish with that bright, simple aesthetic. [The following is an amendment made on September 29] A detail from my Barbapapa curtain/wall hanging. Barbapapa (French for fairy floss, or literally 'father's beard') was created in France in the 1970s. According to Wikipedia: "Barbapapa ... is a generally pear-shaped, pink blob-like creature who stumbles upon the human world and tries to fit in." I can relate to that, especially lately as I have been eating too much chocolate.
Above: fabric at home, wrapped and waiting to become a cushion cover. Printed linen purchased after hours agape at Svenskt Tenn, an incredible, legendary design house on the Strandvagen that has to be seen to be believed. This design from the Josef Frank archive is called "Poisons", although whether both grapes and tobacco are poisons is a matter for debate. Svenskt Tenn designs are simultaneously elegant and crazy and that's why I love them. I bought enough to make a large cushion and a handbag, and then I had no kroner left for dinner. One day when I am wealthy I will order a length of Frank's kitsch and beautiful Italian Dinner, and I will be satiated forever.

Monday, 15 September 2008

The Year of the Rat: Illustrators Australia 2008 entry

Above: this year's theme for the Illustrators Australia 9 x 5 Exhibition is The Year of the Rat. I had previously been thinking of making an artwork showing an innocent little lab rat cut open to display a very beautiful and glamorous version of his innards. (Perhaps it would be a way to restore his dignity.) At the time it was influenced by a a piece by Del Kathryn Barton which I had seen at Linden. It was a stuffed bird made of fabric, with disarmingly human-like eyes and it was covered in hundreds of old buttons. I liked how the 'real' eyes played against the crafty notions. When I received my annual piece of plywood and the accompanying theme and entry form, I thought: here's my chance. I like innards you see. I think they are rather beautiful, especially the versions that you find illustrated in mid century school books. But real ones are pretty as well.

Ha! As I wrote that I just thought of a title: Many Treasures Rat.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

The Wheel of Fortune

Above: The Wheel of Fortune was completed as part of my Bus exhibition last year. This week I have entered it into I Art Sydney Road competition (part of The Fringe Festival). It has aged appropriately from sitting in my back garden, and now it has more of the vintage sideshow feel that I wished I could just magically have emulated when I painted it. (The talented carpenter was my friend Jason P.) If the work is chosen it will sit in a shop window. People will come up and spin the wheel and declare themselves unfortunate.

October addition to this post: I won third prize!!!

Sunday, 31 August 2008

Illustrative Berlin Entry

Objects found in my home, my books and magazines; painted onto thick paper using acrylic, then cut out with a scalpel and stuck to a surface with blu-tac. They can be re-arranged, like a matching game. Sizes vary, but most arrangements fit onto an A4 sheet of paper. Pssst: These examples have been scanned and the backgrounds cleaned up a bit in Photoshop!Above: The sweater is one that I made when I was nine. I found it at Mum's recently. The lady's leg comes from a Parisian mini-mannequin from the 1940's. (Mini sized couture gowns were made and displayed to promote the couturiers' skills and to please the Parisian public during rationing.)
Above: Jamila henna box from Sonsa, the lovely Turkish supermarket in Smith Street Collingwood. Hook from the Walt Disney version of Peter Pan.

Above: dinosaur with intriguingly human-like features from a Ladybird book.
Above: this one I am not that happy with and think I will amend it -- perhaps it could be holding something.

Above: this one is slightly evil, I like it. Easter Bunny wrapper from a Coles catalogue, Christian lady's safety vest with "Smile God Loves You" badge from (Un)Fashion by Maira and Tibor Kalman, neatly amputated finger from Farquarson's Book of Operative Surgery from the 1960's (not sure, it's not to hand -- ha ha).

Above: boy from Ladybird book.
The above were completed as part of my entry to Illustrative, a competition based in Berlin. The monkey and rooster from my first effort were included too with amendments, but stubbornly refused to be uploaded again. The first paintings from this series can be found by clicking here.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

While on Holiday

Above: the sum total of my artistic effort during my recent stay in Pucisca. Better than nothing-? The stone wall is very Island Brac, as is the little house. Onion from my uncle's little farm and ubiquitous summer washing. Bird from one of my mother's Chinese tea tins. Girl from my head.
Photos, postcards and souvenirs from my trip up next.

Monday, 9 June 2008

I don't know

Above: Sometimes I write sentences in my diary that seem quite profound at the time; and then a few days later don't make any sense at all. I like this one, because it kind of makes sense but kind of doesn't. Perhaps a series of drawings based on nonesensical diary musings would be good? -- I don't know.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Working 9 - 5: Babushkas

Above: One of my proudest recent moments at work (Seed) was getting to design a set of Babushkas. I drew them up on the computer, rather than painting up a prototype set. Besides being alot quicker, it meant that I could grab colours and motifs from recent fabric designs I had already done. I wanted the babushkas to look like the other products that we had in store -- otherwise there would have been no point to us doing our own version.
Above and below: these photographs are of the one of the first prototypes. They were hand painted by ladies in Russia. Can you imagine?! I wish that I could have been there to watch, learn and perhaps even help them paint a few strokes. I am told that the ladies approved of my design, thinking it unusually simple but pleasing. Or something like that -- it must have sounded more impressive in Russian.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Visible Boy Hiding Bird

Above: The other day in the studio I started absentmindedly copying part of the human body illustration from the old Yugoslav children's encyclopedia (which I have posted here before). I decided that I liked it as a motif, especially when combined with relatively benign elements: a dressed body, an idealised landscape sketched from a tin of Italian beans, and a bird. The boy ended up disturbingly reminding me of someone I know very well. Oh, the magic of art making -- cliched but true!

Friday, 11 April 2008

Monkey is a Lung

I moved into a real studio recently. I was a bit nervous about what to do on my first day so I decided to decorate my white walls with some strange new pictures. A Japanese book on Swedish children's interiors (from work) reminded me of those great games where you assemble a person from different cards showing heads, bodies or legs. A clown's face might have the body of a policewoman and the legs of a prince, etc. I love to play with anthropomorphism. Even when disparate elements are put together, the mind creates a story. I think that's amazing. I dipped into my slew of books and tried to get as silly as possible with these, to see how far the mind would go in creating beings out of ridiculous combinations. Above, yes, Monkey is a Lung. Badly photographed on the wall where it now lives.
Above: Chicken is a Fork. (My titles are not very imaginative).

Above: Man is an Orange. I think that one is quite profound, actually. I'm not sure why I am so into the cheesy Mitre 10 Man, but he has appeared again in my work.

I have been away from the blog for a couple of months. Thank you to all of those lovely people who have been looking and commenting -- both online and in person!

Friday, 1 February 2008

Portrait of a Young Man as the Artist

Above: As I write, a film is being made in my very suburb about an artist who obsessively makes self-portraits in an attempt to understand himself. (Not a bad method, I think.) Because it is a film, other people were asked to actually provide drawings of the actor who is playing the character (thespians are too busy to draw themselves, and anyway, I think the director required alot of portraits to cover the studio set). So yesterday I was e-mailed a series of photos of this pretty, self-conscious young man with wavy black hair, a bushy beard (what is it with beards? They are so, like, now!), bright blue eyes, pale skin, a round pink mouth and big pink ears. I had 40 minutes to do both of my drawings, I wish I had had longer: I would love to have been able to concentrate on those three colours that I saw (black, blue and pink) and really simplify his features against them.
Above: this is my second attempt, using my medium of choice, which was black ink. I loved the curls in his hair and I wanted to show their blackness against the pale skin. And even though the blue eyes don't look quite right as there is too much black around them, I'm pleased that I coloured his little mouth brightly. And his ears. An homage to the pretty male subjects of Elizabeth Peyton, as promised a few posts ago (Book Review, December 28, 2007).

Inspiration 2: Italy

Above: one of the many lovely habits that the Italians have is that they like to wrap fruit in printed paper. (In retrospect, it is probably environmentally speaking not such a great habit.) Anyway, it looks incredibly pretty, advertises the good work of the farmer and has probably kept alot of artists employed. I'd love to say that this wrapper is from an orange that I ate in Rome in the summer of 1998, or something, but it is actually a notecard published as part of a series by the ever clever Chronicle Books and bought from Readings in Carlton.

Above: Cool chick of Rome, from Southern Italy, by Mattieu Smedts (The Hague, 1966). Photograph by Kees Scherer. A fantastic book of 1960's technicolour photos, so great that I could almost reproduce the whole thing here. A find from Booktalk, Swan Street, Richmond.

Above: a stamp on a letter that I would have received in the early 1990's, probably from The Florentine Cousin. How could you not love a country that produces such pretty stamps??!!

Above: again, credit to The Florentine Cousin, for finding and sending me this butcher shop's bag. In case you have pondered what might happen to a printed plastic shopping bag after it has sat under glass in a picture frame for approximately fifteen years: the red colour has all but disappeared, rendering those previously irresistible steaks almost unpalatable.

Above: images from The Cooking of Italy, Time Life Books, New York, 1969. Because these photographs sit on opposite pages in the book, I like to imagine that the people sitting in the little nook above are waiting as the lady below them bastes their main course. However, the first picture above was taken in a home (yes a h o m e) on an island near Venice, and the picture below it was taken in a country restaurant near Treviso. I'd be happy to dine at either. Photographs by Fred Lyon.

Above: a reproduction found on the internet of my beloved 1946 Carta Gastronomica by Vsevolod Niculin, which lives in my kitchen and was purchased from The Chapel Street Bazaar many years ago. Mine has faded to a nicer shade of green. If you look across the sea to the Croatian coast, the 'south' pointer sits handily above Brac, the island that my parents come from.

Above: I love vintage Italian (and French) posters. I searched the internet for an example of a travel or food related one to reproduce here. This one caught my eye instead. It translates -- I believe -- to 'Walk in Pirelli'. I think it's beautiful: simple and clever. (Unknown artist, 1950. Image taken from International Poster.)