Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Illustration Friday: Whiskers

After the art show I needed to take a little break from Illustration Friday.  But I'm back, baby!

Actually, I booked an art show in August which means I need to have 15-20 pieces framed to show.  You may think, "Julie you have plenty of time!"  But if I get busy with picture books and Spring school visits and Monkey Ono marketing, I'll have little time for art, and deadlines always come up fast.  So I'm jumping in.

The topic this week is WHISKERS.

Java                  2012                  j.c.phillipps
Usually when I find out what the topic is, I try to think about what the common image will be.  Like, if the topic was reflection, there might be a lot of mirrors.  Then I try to brainstorm three or four ideas beyond that.  Well, when you hear whiskers you go to cat, right?  I do.  But I love cats.  I've always owned cats.  And, maybe most importantly, cats sell.  I always sell my cat art.  So I figured, What the heck!  Let's cat it out.

(Above) I had recently taken a photo of my little Java kitty, back lit, with the sun highlighting her whiskers.   Since Magoo had just drawn that lovely black and white charcoal picture of the skull, I took a page from his book and did a charcoal Java.

And I like it.  I do.  But it didn't seem very me.  (Maybe because I haven't done a charcoal drawing in years.)  And I heard that little voice in my core say,

Little Voice:  This isn't it.
Me:    Cram it, Little Voice.  It's fine.
Little Voice:  Eh.
Me:  It's only Illustration Friday.  It doesn't have to be perfect.
Little Voice:  I guess.  If you want to be that way ...

Then I started to image how I would do whiskers in collage, so I went ahead and did this:

Whiskers                     2012                    j.c.phillipps

This feels more like a J. C. Phillipps collage to me.  I like the charcoal drawing too, mind you, I do.  And I think it will look great in a white mat and black frame.  But I love the white whiskers in the collage above.  They pop a little more and I also really like the texture of the papers.  I guess I'm satisfied with this because it turned out exactly how I envisioned it. 

So my Little Voice is happy now and I can move on.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Monkey Ono and an Awesome Skull

About two months ago I bought some fabric to make a Monkey Ono doll.  I used to be into sewing BIG TIME but lately not so much.  So it sat and sat.  Then, Sunday, I said "Today is the day!  Today I make a Monkey Ono doll." 

It's not perfect.  I had to fiddle with my homemade pattern a bit.  But all in all I think it looks like my little monkey.  And because my cat Java is also a character in the book, I had to pose them together.  So there they all are: Monkey Ono, Java, and the book which features them both.  (Due out March 2013.  Pre-order on Amazon.)

Moving on...

Magoo brought this home last week.  They were studying the skulls of Georgia O'Keefe in art class.  This is a charcoal and white chalk drawing Magoo did from a skull in the classroom.  I was blow away.  I think it's GORGEOUS!  I love the slight distortion and the strong contrasting black and white.

And I loved it so much I broke 2 panes of glass before I could get it successfully framed.  (D'oh!)
Yeah, that's right, my clunky Hulk hands shattered not one, but two panes of glass.  Clearly I'm not used to working with such large pieces of glass (it's a big piece.)  But I had two frames lying around in the basement so, technically, I only had to buy the third frame and - bonus - I cleaned out the basement a bit.

I love it.  It's definitely worth three frames.

I have it hanging in my studio right across from my drafting table so I can look at it all the time and beam proud Mama vibes at it.

In other news:
It's snowing.
The Honda is in the shop.
I'm making chili.

Have a great Tuesday!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Holiday Happenings

It's been a BIG weekend.  Lots of holiday stuff going on.  I'm going to give you the highlights and some of my better visuals.

Thanksgiving is a big pie holiday at my in-laws.  And OH how I love pie.  But my husband and son do not love pie (crazies) so I made them a honey cake.  To be festive, Magoo located a dark chocolate turkey at Whole Foods, so we popped that gobbler on top.  Ah, cake toppers, what would we do without you?

Thanksgiving is also the BIG family holiday on my in-law's side.  The majority of the family gathers: grandparents, cousins, aunts & uncles, a whole bunch 'o folk.  And some day I would love to attempt to get a huge group photo, but until then, I am certainly thankful that the kids gather for three minutes every year so that I can snap one of these.

And, of course, there's the trampoline.

It was so great to get to see everyone and catch up and see how the kids have grown.  Lovely B ended the evening with a beautiful violin concert.

The next day we were back home and welcomed our good old buddies (formerly from down the street) the Metcalfes.

You know how when you have a baby, how it's super important for your sanity to have another adult with a baby to talk to.  Well, that was Sara.  Her eldest, N, is 5 months older than Magoo, so it worked out great.  They moved away about 3 years ago, (sigh) but since they have family in West Hartford, they come up for holidays.  (Yea!)

Magoo and N had a great time reconnecting, and they even did a little concert for us.  (N is a singer.)   

(It was a very musical weekend.)

Then, because we like to whip that tree up ASAP, on Saturday morning with dug out all the ornaments and got decorating.

The breakdown of the ornaments goes: 40% from my childhood, 40% handmade by Magoo and myself, 20% store bought or gifted.  And it's so nice to go through them one by one because when I make ornaments, I make them topical.  There's a little Magoo baby ornament.  There's one I made of our old cat Dizzy.  There's karate Magoo with his yellow belt and a Thomas train from when he loved those.  Oldly enough, I don't have a ninja.  And maybe I'll make a Monkey Ono ornament.  But I think I NEED to make a Java ornament - poor Java get's no love.  And since Magoo is a swimmer now, I definitely need some kind of little dude in a Speedo.  :)

But since Magoo made a little clarinet ornament - I suppose we're good this year.

Hope you all had a lovely holiday!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Holiday Crafting Has Begun!

The other day, Magoo and I pulled out the polymer clay and started crafting.  I have a goal to make 5 Monkey Ono magnets to send to certain folk.  As it turns out - these are a little challenging to make.  For one thing, they are small.  They are magnets - so, yanno - small is good.  But the real challenge is cutting the curves about the blue face.  Not easy to do!!!  But I'm happy with my two little monkeys so hopefully, gradually, I'll get a few more out.

Magoo made a fantastic little clarinet out of one of my gummy erasers, so I requested a clarinet ornament for the tree.  I like to add at least one ornament per year and a Magoo-made clarinet is WAY better than anything I could buy in the store.

I asked him to make a second one for the lovely young lady that gives him lessons.  I think she'll really like it.

Welp, tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  There's much to do.  I have to find an outfit that is flattering and will allow for an expansion in my waistline, make a honey cake and carrot muffins, and make my pack-up list.

Java is ready for left-over turkey.  Keep dreaming, cat!

Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Friday, November 16, 2012

Wintery Clip Art & My Busy Week

It wasn't until this morning that I realized that I hadn't blogged all week!  That should give you some indication of how busy I have been.

I'll break it down, but first here are some visuals:

I have a couple new collections of clip art in the NinjaWoman Clip Art Studio on Etsy

I'm also happy to report that I made my first clip art sale last week!  Woooo!  I'm well on my way to becoming a Clip Art Millionaire!  And if that doesn't pan out, I just got a letter from Publisher's Clearing House that revealed that someone in my area with the initial JP will be a winner!  You guys, my initials are JP!   It's so exciting!  Ack!

I'm having fun with the clip art.  My goal is still to get about 12 - 15 collections up and see where things go.  I have 5 up now.  Magoo suggested I do characters like Little Red Riding Hood and Jack and the Beanstalk.  I think that's a great idea!  Now I have something to work on at Magoo's swim practice tomorrow.

In author news:
I've been super busy this week working with my agent, Scott Treimel, on a new picture book project.  I'm not going to tell you anything about it, because I am super afraid of jinxing it, but Scott's excited about it and I think it could be so much fun.  So that little baby is out in the world of editors right now.  I certainly hope it charms someone.  Or there's a bidding war.

But if that doesn't pan out, once again, my initials are JP.  So one way or another, I think 2013 is going to be an awesome year!  ;)

Have a great weekend!  Sorry I've been away!
I'll do better next week.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Open Studio Hartford: Update

It's Sunday morning.  One day down.  One day to go.  Some years it's a very slow Saturday and then Sunday is great, but I'm happy to report that I had a very good Saturday.  The sun was out.  It was nice but not too nice.  And the place was hopping.

(Below)  See that big crane painting.  That was the second thing that sold.  Yanno, when you sell the big painting right away, you can just relax and have a good time.

The collages have been selling pretty well.  I sold two zombies (American Gothic Zombie & Zombie Descending a Staircase.)  I am very happy to welcome the zombies back into my house so it's alright with me if I don't sell the other two.

 I sold the collage with the red cat that was inspired by Magoo's poem from third grade.  He was pretty psyched about that.

But the abstracts are not attracting much attention from this crowd.  It was a gamble, and some of them, I can say I think are quite good.  But I'm not surprised that Open Studio audience isn't really going for them.  And that's OK.  I used really nice bamboo frames for them so I'm totally going to use those next year for something else.

This is my friend Stefanie posing, pointing a the red cat collage for Magoo's benefit.  It was the only shot I had where you could see more of the hallway.

I'm hoping to be able to get out a little more myself and explore the other floors.  There's really a lot going on this year but the artist's have a little more space, so it's not as crowded as last year, I feel.

It's tons o' fun.  $5 parking at the train station.  We're open from 11 - 5pm today.  Come on out if you're in the Hartford area.

555 Asylum Ave.
Hartford CT

Friday, November 9, 2012

Open Studio Hartford

Hi all -

Just wanted to remind local folks that the art show is THIS WEEKEND.  I'll be at the Artspace building at 555 Asylum St.  Hartford, CT.  Validated parking is across the street at the train station.  I'll be up in the 3rd floor hallway with my: watercolors, collages, cards, postcards, prints, t-shirts, and books.  I think that's it for the merchandise.  The show runs Saturday & Sunday, 11am - 5pm.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Baking Bread and Falling Snow

We're having a bit of a snow storm* here today.   It's early, of course.  There usually isn't snow until Thanksgiving.  Except last year at Halloween.  If it happens again next year, I think we know there's a shift in the weather patterns.

And even though I knew this was coming, it caught me a little off guard because I thought it wouldn't snow until late afternoon.

That's why Magoo went to school in a hoodie and vans.

I lugged his winter coat and boots over to the school for pick-up so the poor monkey wouldn't freeze his tail off during the walk from the school to the car.  And good thing I did, because boys in the first snow of the season... come on.  You know they HAVE to run around in that.

Tomorrow is Magoo's presentation for International Day and Breakfast at his school.  He'll be doing a presentation on Ireland.  All the kids in his class have their own country.  Then the kids and parents will retire to the cafeteria for a sampling of tradition foods.  Thus, Irish Soda Bread.  Actually, it's called Spotted Dog because there are raisins in it.

I made two loaves of that and then one loaf of Magoo-friendly bread.

So it's pretty outside and smells wonderful inside and this is where I plan on staying for the rest of the day.

* We're only supposed to get a few inches.  Nothing to get worked up about.

Monday, November 5, 2012

NinjaWoman Clip Art Studio is NOW OPEN

Hi everyone!

Remember that secret project I mentioned a couple weeks ago?  Well, the secret was that I was planning on opening an Etsy shop with clip art.  And I did!  NinjaWoman Clip Art Studio is up and running.

It all started when my friend Heather, who is a 5th grade teacher with her own excellent blog, The Wild Rumpus, told me about clip art and how teachers were buying this stuff left and right to make their own flyers and games and whatnot.  And apparently people who are big into scrap-booking also buy a lot of clip art.

I'd tried an Etsy shop before and I found it rather annoying to have to take a ton of photographs of whatever I was selling and write all these clever descriptions and then, if someone bought it, you had to package it up and get it to the post office.  Too much hassle for me. 

But I thought, Well, with clip art, you just send it via email, so no post office.

And, since I'm only doing clip art, most of my product descriptions are the same. I don't have to write a new description for each item, just a few sentences  These are birds, these are kid... yadda yadda.  That's do-able.

I did my research and figured out how to make a transparent background on a PNG file and how to gather the images into a .zip file and all that good stuff that required patience and chocolate.  But now that I have it, it's a much smoother process.

So I have three collections up now and my goal is to put a new collection up each week until I have about 12 - 15.  Then I'll settle down and see if this is a worthy endeavor.

If you're into clip art, check it out.  Or if you know someone, give them a heads up, won't you?!

In other news:  1 week until Open Studio Hartford.  Today's goal: make sure all the wall art is frames and wired.

Also, since it's November and all the writers go crazy with NaNoWriMo and whatnot my group is also participating.  (NaNoWriMo is when you write an entire novel in the month of November, for those who do not know.  There is also a picture book version  PiBoIdMo: Picture Book Idea Month.)
I'm doing the latter, so each day I take about 30 minutes and try to flesh out the basics of a picture book idea.

What can I say?  It's a busy month.  But we have heat and power and cable and internet, so all is well.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween 2012

Yay!  We made it through Halloween this year.  Considering last year's holiday was cancelled and this year's weather had been extreme, I think we had a FABULOUS Halloween.  Clear air -a bit brisk, but no rain.  And when you're wearing a headpiece and a wool blazer, you're right at home.

But let's go back a bit, shall we?

Magoo is almost 10, that means the little bugger can help with the jack-o-lantern. (Below)  I think this is the universal facial expression for digging out pumpkin guts.

I cut the top out with the big knife, but Magoo carved the face all by himself.  It's a cat!  Awesome!

This year Magoo went as Frankenstein's Monster, Mo was Dr. Frankenstein, Curly was Merlin (sans facial hair b/c Heather KNEW he would not want to wear the beard) and out neighbor went as a ninja.


And I was the Mad Hatter!  Although many kids on the street thought I was Willy Wonka.  That works too.  Any Johnny Depp character, really.  Maybe next year I'll be Capt. Jack Sparrow!  ;)

Magoo got a TON of candy, which we brought home to redistribute about 3 minutes too late.  Mike had just gone out to buy more.  It was a CRAZY busy year so the three bags I bought were running thin.  But that's OK.  Too much candy is a pretty good problem to have, and I'll just put a bowl out at Open Studio.

Hope you all had a HAPPY HALLOWEEN!