Spending Time with Finn

I’ve been so busy these days. Busy good. I have been juggling logos, patterns, apparel designs, summer school classes, teaching curriculum and store graphic designs. Whew! But I did manage to fit in a very special project for a friend who lost her canine companion last June.

Doing pet portrait embroideries are my greatest joy. As of today, I have completed 10 of these labors of love. I love doing them because invoking the handicraft that my “abuelas” taught me makes me feel close to my heritage, while spending time being mindful and productive. It soothes my soul. I simply love the feel of the floss against my fingers, weaving together patches of color to form an illustration I may have had a creative inkling about, but just knew was somewhere in my mind waiting to spread onto the canvas. This is a special one. Meet Finn. I spent many peaceful hours with her nightly over 5 weeks. Those eyes.

Thanks to Nancy White Jayson for letting me share this story. 

“[Finn] was a rescue from Emmonak, Alaska.  A friend saw she was being abused by little kids and untied her from a post where they were throwing things at her (I still can't understand this).  Finn followed him around to a point where he couldn't get rid of her.  Unable to care for her himself due to his job (field work) he ended up bringing her down to Tucson, thinking he would give her to his mom.  I was in Tucson at the same time taking care of my mom who was terminally ill.  Without giving it much thought, after only knowing her a short time, I offered to take her and we have been inseparable ever since - August 2006.  She was at the foot of my mom during her illness and passing, traveled with me up and down the coast, landed with me back in San Diego, came to know and love my husband Eric (and tolerates his cat, Don Gato)...we even got her a little veil for our wedding.  

She had some high anxiety around other dogs and never fully got over her fear of little kids.  She loved ALL food - even veggies (except onions), especially carrots and chicken!  Her favorite times of day were breakfast and dinner.  She was the biggest cuddle bug ever.  She hung out with us at the beach, but only went into the water if we went in and she followed us.  When we would take her to the beach, she would just sit with us, protecting the perimeter of the blanket.  She wasn't much for long walks.  She basically liked to lounge around and accept belly rubs whenever offered.  Even exposed her belly for easier access.  I believe she was around 12 or 13 years old.  She died on June 21.“

I have a special place in my heart for all animals, especially rescue dogs, and so, it was a bittersweet pleasure to memorialize dear Finn with an embroidered portrait retelling her story in pictures.

As I think about Finn and what she must have meant to Nancy and Eric, my heart swells. She must have been such a joy and comfort to them throughout life’s many ups and downs.  I pictured Nancy and Finn flying down I-5 to attend to her mom’s bedside. That’s why I’ve included the California style palm trees, highway and road sign.

Nancy is a surfer and spent many days at the beach watching the sun rise and set as Finn (part Corgi!) stayed put on her little corner of her blanket. So, I added the San Diego sunrise and waves. Also, included is an Alaskan iceberg. While I’m sorry Finn was mistreated there, it’s part of her touching story with a very happy ending.

And of course, the cacti and desert flowers. I have a special place in my heart for Tucson, the town where I went to high school with Nancy and her sister. It will always be my home.

Oh! and Don Gato! The skeptical grey cat who eventually came to love Finn as part of the family.

I imagine that in doggie heaven, Finn is chowing down on a whole rotisserie chicken! And carrots! And milk bones! And maybe even Pup-a-cinos from Starbucks as she loved getting treats on her coffee runs with Nancy.

Rest peacefully, dear Finn. You are loved.

A success milestone! I'm now represented by Parcai Designs

Wow. I feel like such a grown up lady woman. After two years of hard work, drawing my heart out everyday, researching and networking I finally signed with a wonderful licensing agency based in Dallas, TX called Parcai Designs.



Yay! I'm looking forward to being able to focus on my art and having the support of experts in the industry. I've always been interested in crafts and sewing, so the quilting or bolt fabric markets seem perfect for me. However, lately, I'm obsessed with the home decor market. I never met a throw pillow I didn't like! Or a duvet cover for that matter.

Anyway, today is a beautiful day and I'm so excited to share my news with you. Parcai Designs represents a variety of artists with different styles. I think that's a recipe for success. You should check them out! For any licensing inquiries, please contact my AGENT, Teresa Cain at TCain@ParcaiDesigns.com.

Editorial Illustration: How to Succeed at Becoming a Digital Nomad

Most artists that I know are very nervous about drawing people. Unless, of course, they have a signature character style that comes naturally to them. I’m of the former. But, I must say that I will always be game for reaching outside my comfort zone. So, I welcomed our last MATS Bootcamp Class "mini" assignment which was to draw people. If we wanted a bonus mini, to draw people using technology!

Here is a snapshot of my first stab at people:

I love these cool kids, but once it was confirmed that we would be doing an editorial piece, I  wasn't so sure that the style really fit the article that we were to illustrate: How to Succeed at Becoming a Digital Nomad.  After some research, I started thinking about what it is I like about this kind of illustration. For me, I am drawn to those editorial styles that are simple, flat, minimal in color and typography focused. I’m also a fan of collage and I really like illustrations that are more conceptual than literal. Check out these cool examples from Pinterest:

editorial illustrations 2

My first plan of attack was to draw the 10 essential items needed to succeed at being a digital nomad.

Power cord, phone, notebook, headphones, sim card, and battery (duh!)

Power cord, phone, notebook, headphones, sim card, and battery (duh!)

Then, I decided, since I am a digital nomad, that I would make my illustration a self portrait. 

I really do have a dotted bikini, but I don't usually work in it. There's a first time for everything.

As you can see, I stayed pretty literal. And gave myself pink hair. The horizontal format of the piece was a bit awkward to work with at first, but once I dropped in my hand lettering, it kind of all came together.

As usual, there were very many different interpretations of this assignment. We had 150 class submissions and you can check them out here:

Next up on my development calendar is another round of MIID Summer School Modules 1, 2 and 3. I'm excited to have access to the latest trend reports and also the camaraderie with fellow students from all over the world.  I am very proud to share that my some of my work made it into last year's summer school look book. Here’s to summer and making art all year round! 

Cajun Crustacean Pattern Mash Up!

Wow this months bootcamp assignment was fun. As a tie in to Lilla Roger’s MATS: Creating Collections for Home Decor Class beginning in June, she gave us the assignment of designing plates with a crustacean theme. Now, I hate shellfish, but adding googly eyes made it doable for me. Juxtapose that with the hot trend of a colorful, modern pattern background, and I'm in! Here is some of the visual references provided to us. I absolutely love these decorative plates at Lula’s Pantry.

Our mini assignment was to draw crustaceans in all their spidery, crusty and pointy glory. Check! Did you know that the potato bug is considered a crustacean too? I added turtles to my sketches because they’re cute. We were told to think about rendering these in dark colors like the inspiration above.



But wait, that’s not all! There was a second part to the mini assignment, and that was to create gorgeous patterns in color. I am  a big fan of color, and I've been experimenting with different palette. Here’s one I liked comprised of these inspiration tears:

So we put the crusties together with the patterns and created some lovely home decor pieces. I went bonkers and created a zillion. Here are some of the out-takes:

I also did some cartooning for my own delight!

In the end, I chose the three best designs that filled our design brief objectives. I call my Cajun inspired dish ware line “laissez le bon temps rouler.” So fun.

Today, Tuesday, the class gallery is open for public viewing! There are over 250 submissions and everyone did a fantastic job. Have a scroll through the many different takes on a theme here.

Until next time, Soignez vous-autres (Y'all take care)!

Rock bands, dinosaurs, and pom-poms, oh my! Influences for April's Bootcamp assignment

This was a fun one, you guys. The April brief took it up a whole nutha' level in making this a real world assignment: a poster design for the upcoming Make Art That Sells Global Art Gathering, a live event being held in Brighton, UK on June 12th, 2015.

Here is an excerpt of the brief:

Create a single design that works as both a poster and a postcard, for the ADVERTISING market.

The poster should be designed at full size 20” wide x 30” high, portrait.

[as for the style] consider where the poster will be used. It will be displayed on the seafront and around the city of Brighton, which is a highly creative place. The poster should appeal to men and women, and to a very hip crowd. … Ensure that your lettering is clear and legible.

We were given copy to include, and a specific color palette, which I think is lovely.

As all of our Bootcamp assignments begin, we were given a “mini” of hand lettering the words: THE GLOBAL ART GATHERING. Okay. So, this is right up my alley. I love typography and I love writing. I send hand written snail mail ALL THE TIME. And, I’ve been practicing my lettering a lot over the past year, to beef up this section in my portfolio:

So, this is where I brought out my pens, paints and markers. Lots of this is crazy doodly junk, but I did find a few useful sketches.

Sketches, books and COFFEE!

I have pages of this stuff!

My most time consuming study was this script lock-up which I later refined in illustrator using anchor points and bezier curves. I'm glad I spent the time because I'm really proud of the way it turned out in it's final rendition.

Brighton is so interesting! I WANT TO GO TO THERE.  Look at all these gorgeous images I found!

The Brighton Pavilion

Brighton Pier Amusements

Brighton Pier Ferris Wheel and Seagull

The pier is like our Santa Cruz pier, only 1000 times cleaner, arty and way more sophisticated! If I have my geography right, one of the most interesting tidbits that I “dug up” is that Brighton has an association with dinosaurs and fossil discoveries.

Brighton Pier dinosaur postcard, 1947

Awesome. That got me thinking….

Tea Rex?

During the development phase of this project, we were in the throes of redecorating our home office a la “Fillmore Room West.” My husband has a great collection of concert posters that heavily influenced my designs.

I had also attended a Pom-Pom making workshop as Makeshift Society, SF, and that got me thinking about confetti, and festivities and general colorful fun. I took some really great photos that day.

Pom-Pom remnants

You can see how this creative expedition infiltrated my mind to produce one of my final selections later in this post.

In the end, I exhausted every inkling of every idea that I had in order to come up with these three designs:

Tea Drinking Dino at the famous decorative railing on the Brighton Pier

I loved this design the best, but thought that the next one fit the whole concept better.

I love this hipster art maker!

After taking polls among my friends, family and classmates, I chose to submit my hipster arty seagull. Thanks, everyone for your awesome feedback, especially Dionne and Martina, art directors extraordinares! I love this little guy and his art maker tattoo. I had great fun with the textured, layered background, the fancy swirls in the famous Brighton Pier railing, and of course, the hand painted typography. I think this poster design really does capture the energy of the event. We'll see what happens next!

The class gallery went live today. There were 300 submissions from our class of 700; so many different takes and mediums. I think you will enjoy having a scroll through these inspirational pieces:

Click here to check out the beautiful posters!

The prize for winning the competition is, naturally, to have your poster printed and displayed out and about Brighton, a corresponding postcard printed and distributed, $500.00 and the pièce de résistance, a one-on-one portfolio review with artist agent, Lilla Rogers. Wow! I could use all of those things. For now, I am very happy that I have three great new portfolio pieces. Thank you Lilla rogers and Make Art That Sells Bootcamp for the amazing opportunity!

Have highlighter, will travel

I went to Virginia for three weeks. I had no art supplies but a 5 pronged highlighter from a health fair, a black pen, and a small sketch book from the dollar bin at Joann Fabrics. This is what I made:

Go to Tommy's in Hampton, VA for breakfast. Just do it.

Sh*t my stepmother says.

Words of encouragement for my sweet dad, Florencio, Jr. aka "Larry"

A gentle reminder for Dad as he recovers.

Old Skool repeat pattern

An illustrated statistical recap of our adventures.

My fond farewell.