Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Messy is just better.

Remember how I said in the last post that I can't see getting anything done is a pristine white studio?

Take a look at the tools I use... A lot of my brushes are hard with dried varnishes, curved from sitting in water (for weeks, I will admit...) and I just cut off bristles when they get really raggedly and still use them. I use old painty water for far longer than you should because I like things to have grayish cast to them. And my cutting mat is useless because most of the lines are obscured by paint and stains and ink.
Here is a painting in progress. Its getting its 5th or 6th coat of varnish, some of them tinted purple. This is when things can go great or a painting can easily get destroyed, as each coat could bubble or streak or dry milky. But I try not to be afraid to try things on paintings, because you can always start over.
And here is another one. I am not even sure how this one is going to progress. Its this ink drawing washed with acrylic. I am working on a few really tight and clean custom orders right now and I just want to "paint messy" and not worry about stuff and see what happens. Its a super tiny and fat canvas, and the proportions of the girl on it are all super wonky. Its a mess but I am liking it that way. No stress.

But first I have to eat strawberries with painty hands. Another one of my studio secrets.

What? Its non-toxic!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

In my studio...

sI do a lot of hopping around to other crafty blogs, and its not unusual for people to do "Here is my studio" posts. I find them super interesting, just like the work in progress post below this one, it feels like a little secret look into their head.

I can appreciate the magazine like tranquility of some of these studios, with their carefully folded vintage textiles and whitewashed wood furniture. I just don't understand how they can get any work done. My studio is packed with junk,items,things,objects and stuff. Its messy and has paint on a lot of it. I have cutting boards and brushes and books and paper. AND I don't want to hide any of it, because thats the point of a studio. This is my sewing/shipping/computer/paper area. My sewing machine is a Singer from 1970, and its awesome. I covered its table in stickers to show my appreciation. See what I mean about stuff? There is a lot on that shelf. This is where I keep books and supplies and packing supplies,button machine,silkscreens. Life would be so much easier if I only made one type of thing. Across the room are my work tables. One side is paint and one is general work space. Above are shelves packed with supplies and pins and frames. On the right is my dudes computer, squeezed in and covered with his own things. Yes, I have a TV in my studio, which no one seems to want to admit to. I listen to the food network. I don't really cook.

Its kind of a dark little studio, it has a window and door to outside, but they don't do that much for light. But I make do. I live in a super old building that is a weird shape has handmade closets that don't fit hangers, and only a few electrical outlets (in the closets?!) I counteracted the quirkiness by painting it purple and pink and black apple red.

I have a little helper too....He hates the studio and meows just outside the door all the time trying to call me out into the rooms he would rather be in. Sometimes he gives in an hangs out with me, but is only comfortable if he is the center of attention.

Its not my dream studio by any means, but it works pretty well. And by the time I post these pictures, it will be back to its normal messy self.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Custom Cat

I have been working on a custom order for one of my best customers at my shop. I hope she doesn't mind me posting the progress here. I love seeing other peoples works in progress, it feels a bit like you are are learning their secrets...

This is the original sketch I did for her.This is Neo, this little man cat went off to kitty heaven to cause havoc. He has a wonderful interesting face with lots of character...
I did a few roughs first, to get it all set up and then sketched my "final rough" onto illustration board. I have a drafting table thats devoted to painting, so I can leave out projects and work on them over time. I use a Sta-wet painter's palette, which keeps your paint wet over days or even weeks. I spread a few pictures of Neo around to make sure I get his splotches in the right place.
I rarely paint two paintings the same way. I learned from a few fantastic illustrators in university that everyone has their own way, some work on the whole image, some finish small places then move on to the next. I am usually an "all over" kind of worker. I kind of painted him in reverse, using the background to carve him out. On a lot of my paintings, I use a pigment liner to draw the image then kind of colour it in with paint. But Neo needed a more "traditional" painting feel to him.Ok, I could have put another photo before this one as its progressed quite a bit. I usually go progressively darker and darker, and then start all over with lighter over top to get more contrast. Make sense? My best friend is the hairdryer. I lock each paint wash by drying it.

You can see that even though this is a somewhat realistic painting (for me) I messed about with his face a bit to make him smile. I had to fight the urge to give him fangs, even though his don't show like my cat. And here is the final face. I will admit, its a bit "prettier" than the real cat is. In the photos he is a bit more handsome and masculine, but I have come to terms that I just paint pretty. Its what I like. Most portraits do it intentionally anyway... As always, the original painting looks vastly different than the scan, the computer just can't capture it. You loose the transparency of the paint and it deadens the c0lours. So here is is! The final painting. I wish I could frame it up in a antique oval frame painted black and rubbed with white, and hang it up at my house. :-)

Bye Neo.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Hmm, what can I print on? What can I print on......?Scarves! Much better than T-shirts, as they are one size fits all. Plus summer is almost over and those Fall days are coming... I made three, as a test (I do alot of testing I guess...) I printed on the "wrong side" of the fabric because I thought it would be cooler to have the print on the inside. If I make more I might print on the "right" side as jersey curls up a bit at the edges...

I see a whole bunch of these in my store in the future, I have some ideas for new stamps....Its kind of time consuming, depending on how dense I make the pattern. This Moz one progressed a bit faster, as its more spread out... I timed how long it took me to make them by watching Martha Stewart. (I often forget to actually time my work, and then have to guess if I am working for like $3 an hour...) All three of these will be going into the shop today or tomorrow. I have to fight not to let myself keep the Moz one. or all of them.Rocko the Cat helped me a lot by laying on top of the huge mess that is my printing table. His body is on t-shirts (not for the shop, don't worry) and his face is on a painting. ARGH!!

Damn! Then he has to go and look all cute and fat cheeked and I forgive him (again and again...) Jerk!

*Goes to de-fur the studio....*

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Two and a half hoodies

Oh no. I found a store that sells my favorite kind of weird imported Japanese clothes. FOR HALF PRICE. DANGER.

This hoodie will either call up extreme jealousy or extreme confusion to why someone would want to wear it. I think its so fancy...
Yeah, it has skeleton arms that I failed to photograph. BUT WAIT! Its also has zip off arms and comes with TWO DIFFERENT ARMS! Mummy wrapped screenprinted arms. Like, what the heck?? Its awesome.
Its more of a little jacket, so I won't be able to wear if for a while, which kills me.

Plus, as if that wasn't enough hoodie for my week, I made myself one. (Ok, made it better.)
Moz hoodie! Its printed front, back and arms. It was my first printing on an actual garment, but it came out without too many flubs. the arms were the most trying, as I wanted it to be a continuing pattern all around. Think Moz will like it? I am sure he would approve of my DIY-ness.

Tomorrow I am back to the Japanese clothes store for the "new stuff" they were unpacking and insisted I needed to see, buying clothes/scarves/whatever to stamp on and trying to scrub purple hair dye out of the countertops/floor walls.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Two Colour Printing!

Test batch of two colour stamp prints!
After making the two colour printed skeleton bag, I wanted to try more! So I carved up some second stamps to coordinate with some of my older designs...

They came out really rough and worn and splotchy, which I love. I printed the images with white ink, heat set them then printed over with black ink. I didn't have registration marks, so they are all a little off. I think it reminds me of graffiti. The ones on cotton worked much better than the blended fabrics. But then, doesn't everything?

I took this little batch of tests and made up a little batch of triangular pouches.

Its cool when your "tests" actually work out and can be made into something to sell (or keep!) I am going to start listing these pouches on Etsy starting tomorrow.

I had a helper who tried to eat any threads that fell on the floor all day....Then he runs when I try to pull them out of his mouth. But you would never know by this pic what a pain in the rear he is. Aww.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Hello Skeleton!

New in the shop today!
This is my first two colour printed bag. White first then black over top. I think it came out fantastic! I decided against registration marks, as I don't want perfect prints. The whole reason I love stamping as opposed to silkscreen is that each little skeleton has this unique, worn and interesting texture.

I am working on a few other two colour prints now. I have big plans...

The birth of a new blog


So, here I am.

After 6 years of blogging at Xanga (also a while at Livejournal) I am officially making this my new blog. Its weird starting out fresh again, no readers, no friends to link. Maybe they will come on over to this provider with me! (Its by Google, so you know its not evil.) Its been so long since I was a new blogger. :-)

This blog is going to be pictures of new items in my shop, works in progress, Rocko the Cat pictures, personal photos, links to things I think are interesting and artwork or drawings I do.

I hope to gather up some Etsy friends, other crafty blog people and fans of Batcat, and if you want your blog linked from mine feel free to ask!

Hi blogspot, I'm Tara.