Tuesday, July 03, 2018

What an honor!

I recently found out that the piece below was selected to be included in the ICON10 Exhibition at the Red Bull House of Art in Detroit, Michigan. BIG thanks to the folks at ICON10 and Red Bull House of Art for this opportunity. It is an honor to have my work included in this show.

If you happen to be in Detroit (or live in Detroit), c'mon by for the opening on Friday, July 13 from 8-10pm. It's only up for one week: July 9-16!

The Optimist / acrylic and posca on wood, 14x34 inches, 2017

Monday, July 02, 2018

shifting gears

With the end of every semester, I begin to get excited about being able to shift gears and spend some time in my studio. Whether I'm cleaning, organizing, or making stuff, I enjoy having the time to simply play and experiment a bit. Every semester proves to be challenging in one way or another, but this summer it's been especially difficult to shift gears; to get out of the "head-space" of teaching and administrative work and back into the "head-space" of making. So as a way to ease into my studio time, I decided to scan a bunch of drawings out of my most recent sketchbooks and see what I could make out of them.

new die-cut sticker

Admittedly, the blue robot was something that I had on hand that I made for the Made in the Middle conference two years ago. Stickermule was running a great little promo, so I decided to finally finish out the die-cut Robot Friends set with this little bot. It was fun to put this together!

Robot Friends sticker set!

Moving on from the individual die-cut stickers, I decide to explore making a simple sticker sheet, again through Stickermule. I have so many character doodles in my sketchbooks so I spent an afternoon going though and scanning some of my favorites. The specs on these sticker sheets are somewhat rigid; each sticker needs to be at least 1x1 inch and every sticker needs to be a quarter of an inch apart. Although I wish there was a bit more flexibility, after a bit of noodling I was able to get them just right. Again, this was pretty fun to make!

Sketchbook Friends sticker sheets!

As I think about my studio time, I've also been thinking about my online shop and cleaning up my online presence. These are the first of many steps to clean house, redo the shop and update my website. It's something that I've wanted to do for a long time but it's not as much of a priority during the academic year as my focus is on other things. These stickers are just the beginning of a slew of new products and pieces that will be available for Christmas 2018. Stay tuned!

Doodle redraw!

Bathroom redo!

Another thing that I LOVE to do are pattern doodles. This past month, I have been scanning lots and lots of patterns, printing them out and redrawing them at a larger size (or, playing with them on the computer). The first pattern is this crazy geometric pattern that I can see using on all sorts of things, maybe even fabric! After we had our bathroom floor retiled recently, we talked about repainting the walls and changing the space a bit. After spending some time looking at custom shower curtains I began to play with the idea of seeing what this pattern might look like on one. A week later, my shower curtain arrived in the mail. Here it is, installed in our little doodley bathroom!

If you're interested in purchasing any of the stickers you see here, hop on over to my online shop.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Thank you Ed!

Well... this blog entry has taken me months to write, literally. I'm sure that part of that is the sheer nature of a wonderfully busy semester but a bigger reason might be that I still can't believe that I met Ed Emberley, an artist whom I have admired from afar for years. But first, a little back story....(click on any image to make it larger)....

My favorite Ed Emberley drawing book Ed Emberley's Make a World, ©1972

Another favorite Ed Emberley's Big Orange Drawing Book, ©1980

As some of you may know, I have been a fan of Ed Emberley's work for a long time now...since I was about 7 or 8 years old, to be exact. I first wrote about Ed's work on this blog 10 years ago, when I first started blogging, and then again in 2011, when I was invited to be part of the Cloudy Collection print suite featuring Ed Emberley and his work. This March, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Ed and his wife, Barbara, at their home in Ipswich, Massachusetts.

Portrait of Ed Emberley by Todd Mazer©

Last November, I heard that there was going to be an exhibit of Ed Emberley's work at the Worcester Art Museum, entitled KAHBAHBLOOOM, in Worcester, Massachusetts. I immediately checked the museum website to see the dates of the show. Although I was relieved to see that it was going to be up through the first week of April, I really wasn't sure that I'd be able to see it because of my semester load. Then, in February, Juxtapoz magazine ran a feature on Ed and the show and I was hooked; I had to see it. Thanks to my husband, we did!

Since I was part of the Cloudy Collection print suite with Ed back in 2011 (which you can still purchase!), I decided to reach out to David Huyck, curator and creator of the Cloudy Collection, to see if he happened to have Ed's contact info. A few days later, I emailed Ed to let him know that my husband and I were going to be traveling to Boston to see his exhibit at the museum in Worcester and to see if he'd be up for a studio visit. Ed and his wife Barbara graciously replied and invited us to join them for lunch at their home in Ipswich. Needless to say, I was beside myself and so incredibly excited to go to Boston, see the show in Worcester and ultimately, meet Ed. If anyone had told 7 year old me that I would one day meet the artist/illustrator who made the drawing books that I loved, I wouldn't have believed them!

Entrance to Kahbahblooom, at the Worcester Art Museum, March 2017

The show was well curated, amazing to see in person, overwhelming and incredibly inspiring. I could tell that artist/curator Caleb Neelon (a fellow fan of Ed's work) spent a good amount of time looking through Ed's work and selecting the pieces for the show; it was thoughtful and engaging and included such a wide range of work. There was great deal of original artwork, of course, that included everything from woodcuts to pencil drawings to pen and ink drawings to paintings. In addition, there were also quite a few original book mock-ups and artwork that was created and pitched for book ideas but that were never used. All of these things were such a treat to see. (To see more pictures from the exhibit, check out my Instagram page.)

My favorite part of the exhibit: Ed Emberley's Drawing Books!

I loved the show, overall, but my most favorite part of the exhibit was the huge wall of original artwork taken from the various drawing books that Ed has created. It was so inspiring to see these in person; seeing these pages brought back all sorts of memories for me. I've spent so many hours with these books; I love them! Not only did these books encourage me to keep drawing but they also opened up my imagination and taught me how to see

If you can draw these things, you can draw anything!

Just about every drawing book of Ed's starts off with these simple instructions: If you can draw these things (a capital U, a capital D, a circle, a triangle, a square and a squiggle), then you can draw everything in this book. The instructions are easy to understand, simple to follow and overall, encouraging and empowering. I poured over these books and after spending so much time with them, I started to invent my own things based on this same "Shape Language" (for lack of a better description). I created my own characters, faces, worlds and robots!

A Neebort DRIM, one of my all-time favorite robots to draw and one of the first robots I learned how to draw

Seeing the original artwork for the Neebort DRIM (from the Big Purple Drawing Book) was an incredible treat! I love this robot not only because it's fun to draw but also because it sparked my imagination. For that matter it still does, so many years later! I love all of the simple shapes in this little bot, and how they come together. What these instructions taught me was that just about everything can be broken down into shapes; I started seeing shapes everywhere. I still do!

 My husband, Jake, and I on the train on our way to Ipswich

The day after we went to Worcester to see the show, we caught the train out of Boston to Ipswich, where Ed and Barbara live. My husband and I were both really excited and admittedly, a little nervous. As soon as we got to their house, however, my nervousness disappeared. Ed greeted us at the front door with open arms. Ed and Barbara are wonderful and we had a great visit with a wonderful lunch, great conversation, some tasty local beer, lots of laughter and all around warmth. We talked about everything from the book and illustration industry, being an artist, the influx of technology and how it has influenced art and art-making today to what kinds of pens, markers and other art supplies we love to use - it was all over the place! I am incredibly grateful.

My two favorite Ed Emberley drawing books, signed by Ed himself!

Remember those two books that were pictured at the beginning of this post? Well, I brought them with me and Ed was kind enough to sign them for me. I love the drawings he did in each of them. I brought a couple of things that I made to give to Ed, too, which he seemed to enjoy. This exchange ended up sparking a conversation about why I haven't written and illustrated a book of my own yet. I guess I never really thought about it but upon returning home to Kansas City, I sat down and started writing. I now have a rough draft of a goofy, rhyming book for toddlers that features robots. Of course!
Ed and I, in Ed and Barbara's home in Ipswich, March 2017

Ed and Barbara, thank for opening your home and studio to my husband and I for an afternoon. Thank you for the stories, the conversation, the advice and the encouragement. Most of all, Ed, thank you for the inspiration, your generosity and for simply being you. Thank you for allowing me to thank you in person, and talk with you. I know that your books will continue to marvel, excite, encourage and inspire generations to come.

New linocut prints: Happy Square, Happy Triangle & Happy Circle, June 2017

When we got home I began thinking about creating something to commemorate the trip. I have a bunch of drawings that were part of another piece and as I was looking through them these 3 happy shapes - a circle, a triangle and a square - jumped out at me. These are the 3 shapes that Ed tends to highlight in the simple instructions at the beginning of every book, so I thought I'd make some linocuts of them. These are now available in my shop.

Big thanks to my mom, for all those visits to the Bloomfield Hills library every week so many years ago, to Martin Venezky for reminding me about what's important, to Bob Flynn for the great tour of Fable Vision studios and the wonderful conversation, to my cousin Kelly for taking time out of her busy schedule to have dinner with us, to David Huyck for his help and for including me in the print suite back in 2011 and to my wonderful husband, Jake, who understands how important this trip was to me, for encouraging us to go and making it happen.

Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it.
- from Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Friday, December 02, 2016

Still here...


To simply state how much the time has flown by would be inadequate, but it truly has! My last post was over a year ago; I failed The Blog Challenge miserably! What a whirlwind the last year has been. I've learned a great deal and worked with some amazing students and although I didn't think that I'd have very much time to make stuff, I managed to do a bit of that, too. A few of my larger projects moved to the back burner but as we approach a new year, I'm looking forward to stepping into those projects once again. 

As always, I've managed to keep making robots of some sort. The two robots here are from a new series that I've been doing in my sketchbook. Each one is 6x8 inches, done in acrylic and gouache on watercolor paper. My sister gave me a Moleskine watercolor sketchbook a few years ago, but I've only really gotten into using it this year. I'm going to need a new one soon! Although I had hoped to give my online store a (much-needed!) refresh in time for the holidays this year, other things took priority. Chances are the above bots (and others) will be offered as archival prints on my online store sometime early next spring.

More recently, this October I was honored to be part of the first ever Made In The Middle Conference, which is the brainchild of designers Tad  and Jessica Carpenter of Carpenter Collective. I taught a workshop that utilized simple shapes as a means to create textures, patterns and imagery. It was so much fun and great to see the wonderful stuff that the workshop participants made. Lots of inspiring stuff! I made the above robot that day, using simple shapes and a bit of gel pen.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

a new adventure + The Blog Challenge

So, this happened!
As some of you may know, I have been teaching at the Kansas City Art Institute in the Illustration department for the past 5 years. I never imagined that I would go into teaching, nor did I aspire to become a teacher (or holy cow! a professor!). As an alum of KCAI (Illustration, '93), it's such an honor to be teaching here. Most days, I really have to pinch myself because I still can't believe it. This might sound strange, but I've fallen in love with teaching. I thoroughly enjoy working with my students, seeing their work develop and helping them with what they want to achieve. 

This fall, I was asked to step in to the role of Interim Chair of Graphic Design. I'm honored and excited to be in to this position working with students and faculty from Graphic Design. Now that we’re into the fourth week of the semester, it’s been non-stop. Balancing my time between Illustration and Graphic Design hasn’t been easy, but I have made significant adjustments to my schedule so that I am available to students from both departments, when/if they need me. I am teaching 2 classes in Illustration and one class in Graphic Design; I have dedicated office hours for both departments on different days of the week. As you can imagine, it makes for a full week but it's going to be a fun, busy semester.

Considering the fact that I am currently asking my students to blog about their work and their process & progress every week, I thought that I'd take on The Blog Challenge too. As you can see, it's been just over a YEAR since my last post. I'm ashamed to admit it, but it's true. Like many of my students, I'd rather be making than blogging. So, every week - starting with this post - I will be posting an update on what I'm working on, how things are going and what's on the horizon. It's about time!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Oh, little one you are a brilliant star

Oh, little one you are a brilliant star
8x8 inches, mixed media on board, 2014

I dropped this piece off to the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art at Johnson County Community College (JCCC) the other day for their 2014 Beyond Bounds art auction. It's always an honor to be a part of this event.

This year's theme is ELECTRIC! and they gave each participating artist a box a various blue art supplies including Cobalt Blue acrylic and oil, a non-photo blue Prismacolor pencil, and several other gems to play with. I chose to use the Cobalt Blue acrylic and went from there. As with so many of these collaged pieces, I never have any idea what the piece is going to look like or what it's going to be. It's a puzzle that I'm figuring out as I go along. I love that.

Beyond Bounds ELECTRIC! is on Saturday, October 18 at 7:00 pm. For more information/tickets, visit the event page on their website.

Friday, August 01, 2014



Blue Gallery
Kansas City, MO

In just 2 short months my show, PLAY!, opens here in Kansas City at Blue Gallery. Although the show will be smaller in scale than I originally intended, I am very excited to present this new work. Above is a little sneak peek of three of the pieces that will be in the show (they are smooshed together in this shot). 

I'm not sure yet if I will be giving a talk about the work, but if I do I will let you know about it as the details come together.

Big thanks to Kelly Kuhn at Blue Gallery for her support!

Friday, February 28, 2014

new tattoo! wahoo!

(click on the image for a better view)

Two years ago, when I turned 40, I wanted to get a new tattoo to commemorate this milestone. Turning 40 might not seem like that much of a milestone, but to me it was. A great deal happened during my 30's so I wanted my tattoo to reflect my work, the symbols & patterns that repeat within it and what they mean to me.

The above design is what I landed on. There were several other versions that I played around with but these symbols and patterns seem to be the ones that recur the most. Since I already had a circular tattoo on my right arm, I designed this so it would line up with the circle that already existed and form a band around my arm.

My 40th year came and went and I did not get the tattoo. Several of the tattoo places I went to in town didn't want to do this design, for various reasons. Many places offered suggestions of how to change the design, keeping the elements but moving the circles. As much as I tried to remain open-minded about it, I didn't end up changing it and so it remained in my sketchbook. 

A couple of years ago, our good friend Chris Stubbs designed a tattoo for my husband that is amazing. For lack of a better description, it's kind of like a steampunk-ish octopus that's made up of all sorts of mechanical part & pieces. My husband calls it the Cephaskelamech! Check it out!


Late last year, Chris started apprenticing with Tyler Moody at Surreal Tattoo. Part of his apprenticeship requires that he does a certain number of hours of tattooing before he is able to become fully certified as a tattoo artist. Considering the fact that he finished the completion of my husband's tattoo and how great it turned out, I thought I'd approach him about doing mine. Chris graciously agreed to do it (!) so we set to work. After a few emails, he suggested some minor tweaks to the line work of my design which I was happy to do. Once that was done, we were ready to go!

Chris, checking the transfer

Here we go!

It burns!

All done!

BIG THANKS to Chris for the wonderful work and to my husband for the great pics! If you'd like to see a few more, check out my flickr page.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

so honored

Assembly Unknown, 2013

Last April, I blogged about the above piece and how I created it for a group show in Oregon. Last November, with the deadline for the Society of Illustrators annual exhibition approaching, I decided to enter a few pieces for consideration. 

I had never entered anything into this revered exhibition, neither as a student nor as a professional. Thinking back to when I was a student, entering work into exhibitions wasn't something that I could afford and it wasn't something that I was really interested in either. My mind was on other things, my interests were elsewhere. So why, 20 years later had I decided to enter? I decided to enter a few pieces because of my students.

Every year I encourage my students to enter work into the Society of Illustrators Student Scholarship Competition. Prior to the spring semester starting up in January, I realized that although I was asking them to enter work, I had never entered work myself. Somehow, that just didn't feel right. The more I thought about it, the more determined I became to enter something. I ended up entering two pieces and to my surprise and delight, the above piece was selected for inclusion into the show Illustrators 56.

Illustrators 56 is on display at The Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators in New York, NY. Part One of the exhibit was on display from January 7 to February 1, 2014 and Part Two of the exhibit will be on display from February 5 to March 1, 2014. All of the work from the show will also be published in a hard bound book to be released in January 2015.

I am honored to be a part of this show and publication and to have my work exhibited amongst such wonderful, amazing talent. Big thanks to all the jurors and to the Society for this opportunity.

I am also really pleased to announce that 9 of my students - both past and present - got work into the Student Scholarship Competition! Way to go!!

Friday, October 25, 2013

NEW, FOUR: Kansas City Art Institute Faculty Biennial

oil and enamel with enamel markers on canvas
48 x 48 inches, 2011

ARRANGE AND REARRANGE is the sister piece to YESTERDAY, TODAY, TOMORROW, which was completed in 2009. Both pieces are 48x48 inches, both are done in oil and enamel and both pieces are highly personal for me. Although each piece carries a different message, they both have to do with decision-making and how we, as individuals, choose to move through life.

Throughout my life one thing I have learned is that despite how much planning we put into moving towards a certain goal or plan, sometimes those plans can change in an instant. Although we are sometimes able to see our plan(s) come to fruition, when a change comes it usually happens suddenly and unexpectedly. We then have to shift, rearrange, reassess and try to adapt to this change. How we adapt to change(s), how we (re)arrange and shift says a great deal about who we are as individuals.

Since I was a little girl, my eyes have been drawn to pattern. Dots and lines and stripes and squares, zig-zags and stars and squiggles and circles -- I see it everywhere, and love it all.  As an adult, I am still drawn to pattern. When I was working on this piece, I imagined the squares and rectangles of pattern as three-dimensional blocks. The arrangement of these “blocks” is a puzzle. How we make the blocks fit within our lives is up to us. What is the arrangement? What stays in? What goes away? What needs to shift or move to a different place? It is up to each of us.

ARRANGE AND REARRANGE is part of NEW, FOUR: Kansas City Art Institute Faculty Biennial which opens tonight at the H&R Block Artspace. I'm honored to be a part of this show. If you're in Kansas City, join us tonight for the opening reception from 6-8pm. NEW, FOUR will be on exhibit through Thursday, December 12.

Photo taken by David Kuhn.

The Robot Army continues...

This latest little set of robots is part of an Artist Trading Card project that I give my students on repetition. Robots #77-#93 were my contribution. They were done with cut paper (Color-Aid!), acrylic and posca markers. Each piece is 2x3 inches, 2013.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Print Exchange 2013

When the Art House Co-op of Brooklyn, NY announced that they were looking for contributors to a project called The Print Exchange, I was immediately intrigued. Printmaking has always had a special place in my heart and when I read about the project, I thought that it sounded like a lot of fun. It worked like this: Each participant was asked to create an edition of 12 prints from a single plate, screen, stone, woodblock or whatever chosen method. Each print had to be 5x7 inches, and mailed in a flat envelope. 10 of the prints became part of the Print Exchange, 1 print went into the Art House archive and the last print became part of a gallery exhibition to be shown in San Francisco and New York. The coolest thing about the project, however, was simply being part of the exchange itself. Each participant would receive 10 random prints in the mail from artists who were part of the project. So fun!

Tired Robot, 2013

Since I'd been wanting to get back into woodcuts/linocuts, I decided to do a simple linocut for my piece. Although they didn't turn out exactly as I envisioned, I (re)learned a few things in the process and am pretty happy with the results. I had never used water-based ink before and was surprisingly happy with how it worked (plus, it dries super fast, which is nice). I think this robot might reflect how I was feeling at the time....close to the end of a busy semester and ready for a reboot!

Art House Co-op has posted all of the artwork from the Print Exchange on flickr. Seeing the variety of work has been really great to see, not only because of the imagery itself but also because of the variety of techniques used. Below are some of my favorite pieces from the show. Be sure to check out their flickr set to see all of the work from this project.

Matthias Kern

Courtney Rose

Suzanne Hackett Morgan

Lockstep Studio

Agneta Ostlund

Lene Bladbjerg

Deborah Klein

Sarah Jeata Montgomery

Joolie Bracken

Christopher Kelly

Poli Marichal

Christopher Alday

Angele Switzler

Toru Sugita

Ben Iluzada

Sarah Robinson

Although Art House Co-op's biggest project is The Sketchbook Project, they have had a variety of projects over the last several years and are always adding more. If you're interested in participating in one of their projects, check out their Projects page.

Lastly, if you happen to be in New York during the month of September, be sure to stop by and check out the Print Exchange show at Robert Blackburn Printshop. The show will be on exhibit from September 5 - 29 with an opening reception on Friday, September 13 from 6pm-8pm.