Show & Tell (blog)

  • Rounding out the work I made as a response to 2014’s Light Grey Art Lab Icelandic Residency was a little accordion book that documented a few moments and thoughts from the trip. Pulling this book together was challenging and went through a lot of different iterations (first it was a Risograph* book, then a longer accordion book); with every compression (refining that puffin coupled with balancing freelance, teaching and mentoring duties ate up such time!) it began to be trickier to pick out moments to show. Again, when you pack dozens of amazing experiences in a handful of days, how do you pick and choose which were most meaningful?

    Including my sketch on the first page (which admittedly is way more refined than my actual sketchbook!), I focused on six moments from the trip– from exploring the fields near our farmhouse with the most fabulous Icelandic horses to leaping gleefully across huge squishy moss fields to one of my most quietest moments on the trip, focusing on the rock cairns I found myself fascinated by and would later build. To tie it all together, I decided to hint at a subtle horizon across the pages– it starts with the shadow of my trusty backpack and invisibly connects across rocks stacked in a cairn on the last pages. The pages flit between autobiography and fiction, as initially I didn’t really want to illustrate any of our group. But a couple of photos in Sólheimajökull (one of my favorite spots on the trip) really struck my fancy, seeing my backpack and pink hair light up against the grays and blacks of the scene. So I knew that I would wind up inserting myself into that image. That moment I chose to take a longer breath across two pages for visual punch– that dose of wonder as you round the corner and see your first glacier.

    There are still lots of things about Iceland I’d like to explore, so while this book is a finished object for now, I’m not done ruminating about it and thinking about what else I’d like to add. I guess that’s the fantastic thing about travel! My many thanks to Light Grey Art Lab– I have felt really lucky over the years to be able to take part in so many experiences with them, from gallery shows to workshops to now travel. To many more, my friends.

    You can buy Explorer’s Log and all the other art from the exhibition (including my dear puffin friend!) at LGAL’s shop! Don’t miss out!

    *I probably still will make that Riso at some point, or maybe after a couple more travel experiences and residencies so I can talk about travel! I am hooked.

  • Been slowly getting back into the swing of sharing things… These were some smaller, experimental pieces tied in with Light Grey Art Lab Iceland exhibition. All throughout the process of travelling and reflecting on this incredible experience, I couldn’t shake the fact that the landscape was so impenetrable for me. So much detail and ever-changing strangeness! I was in awe; but every time I sat down to draw from it I got stuck on the details in my memory and in my photographs.

    So instead of trying to focus in on realistically nailing the space I thought back on the other wonderful part of this trip; the people I shared it with. Many of my photos were of my peers peeking at details, collecting samples, snapping photographs, soaking it all in. For much of the trip, it felt like we were alone in the world left to explore this strangely lovely place. So these pieces involved me getting back to carving rubylith into the shapes of explorers, moss and stones and then overlaying them on top of abstracted versions of the photographs I took, letting colors happen by chance. For the last piece, I wanted to make sure I had a little piece of my husband Mike’s experience on the trip too, so I lettered a little thought he had based on walking through Þingvellir.

    I’ll share the last piece (an accordion book) later this week!

    PS: Have you looked at the work from the exhibition? It’s really fantastic.

  • On Friday, Light Grey Art Lab is hosting the opening for the 2014 Iceland Residency Exhibition. I took part in the experience which was one of the most mind-opening inspiring things I’ve experienced. I still have trouble putting it into words (let alone images!), and I’m glad to see my fellow residents knocked the visuals out of the park– they’re all incredible people I feel deeply lucky to have explored with.

    My contribution to the exhibition is a little looser/more experimental than I initially expected it to be; the landscape still baffles me and pulls my brain into a thousand pieces when I try to capture that color and detail. So my work for the show bounces back and forth between figures and landscape, between 2D and 3D with an accordion book, a few images that pull colors and patterns from the photographs I took, and this needle felted puffin. He seemed deceptively simple when I sketched him out– but he proved me wrong! It took a couple of weeks of poking and filling and wiring to toughen him out, harden his rocks, abstract the patterns in the volcanic rock and mossy textures, and still making him stand proudly and fluffily atop it all.

    Hope you check out the show if you’re in Minneapolis!! You won’t be disappointed.

    Puffin Cairn, 2015.

  • The newest issue of Plansponsor is out and I got to make a little illustration for it. The article was about the many different ways to find/consume information and stay educated.

    Inadvertently, this piece turned into an unofficial cousin to the personal piece I made at the start of the year, The Seed-Savers. Funny how that works.

    Thanks as always to AD SooJin Buzelli for the project!

    PS: Interstellar Cinderella process post to come soon! I just taught my last class of the semester so I will be sharing a lot more now that it’s summer!

  • Hi everyone! Exciting news: the picture book I recently illustrated is now officially on the shelves! Meet Interstellar Cinderella, who dreams of fixing robots and having lots of adventure.

    I wanted to snap a few photographs of the book to share with you– on Friday I will have a full writeup to share the process and story of how this little book came to be and what I learned by making my first picture book!

    In the meantime, check out some press about the book at the following places online!
    Publisher’s Weekly
    Mr. Schu Reads
    The Book Wars
    Nerdy Book Club

    Want to read it? Pick it up at Powell’s or Amazon, or check your local library!

  • I’ve been posting little peeks of a jungle-themed zine up online elsewhere recently; unfortunately I have to put the project on hold for a bit while I juggle other project deadlines. Total bummer! But I wanted to share this little primate themed spread in the meantime.

    Stay tuned, I can’t wait to share more!!

  • Some recent editorial illustrations for Notre Dame Magazine’s spring issue– some interesting stories for these, from a topping out (beam signing) ceremony at a new medical center, to dealing with memories and a father’s brain tumor, and the power of family and friends to comfort the loss of a child.

    Editorial illustration is such a fun challenge– so is mixing up process a bit!

  • Hey everyone! I just wanted to let you know my shop has returned back from its… yearlong hiatus! (Oops!) It’s been a busy time but I’m excited to bring back these friends that debuted at Crafty Wonderland back in December. Screenprints, bandanas, printed ornaments, embroidered pendants, and new glassware too! And my Curiosity Brigade medal pin too.

    To check out these items and more, please go to:

    Thanks all!

  • Working digitally has its pros and cons; much as I love the versatility of Photoshop, I also find it takes forever needling and nitpicking, picking the right brush to do the job (there are too many brushes out there, which is a blessing and a curse!). And even though I do a lot of traditional drawing/markmaking to break up the digital, I have been wanting to push my traditional/digital ratio. So after a lot of research, I decided to order some cel vinyl acrylic paints from Cartoon Colour, seeing awesome results from folks like Martin Ontiveros, Tim Biskup, Drake Brodahl, and Martin Hsu. This is my first little painting experiment, and I have to say, it’s pretty awesome stuff. I always love the look of gouache but for whatever reason mixing it and getting really opaque results with fine lines and drybrush has been beyond me. This stuff makes it easy, and I suspect there’s some really fun things I could do with markmaking and layering traditional and digital mixed media with this stuff.

    I don’t really think like a painter, more like a drawer or a printmaker, but I’m hoping with practice this will change! I will share more as I keep playing around with this stuff.

  • The lovely folks at Working Not Working did a little feature on me; I thought I’d share the little behind the scenes snippets of my studio space I shot for it. This space is little, but comfortable.* I do wish I had slightly better lighting– eventually I need to get a replacement light for my drawing area. You can see my newest studio addition, an adjustable standing desk (The hardware is from Stand Desk, and the top’s an Ikea bamboo, if anyone’s curious)! I have been using it for about four days now, and besides being a very effective high-rise perch for my little canine buddy, it feels really nice to try and work in a hopefully healthier way. Hunching over a monitor or piece of paper 10hrs a day can’t be that great for anyone! Plus I apparently tend to shuffle and dance a lot more while I work this way. It’s not DDR but I’ll take it!

    *Fun fact: my dedicated studio workspace (not counting art storage) is like 35 square feet (enclosed by my two desks and flanked by my husband’s workspace.). The standing desk also makes it a bit more open, which helps me not feel as claustrophobic. Always a bonus!

  • A special new year surprise– my lovely editor and art director over at Chronicle sent me an advance copy of Interstellar Cinderella– my first illustrated picture book! What a blast to work on. Every page was made with sheets of rubylith, ink, shape, washes and pencil– all meshed with digital process into a cacophony of color, shape, texture and pattern. The book, written by the lovely Deborah Underwood, is a retelling of the classic story where Cinderella is a fiery girl who wants nothing more to fix spaceships and be a space mechanic. Plus, the front cover has this amazing holo foil treatment that looks like oil on pavement. So neat.

    It’s available this May– preorders are already up on Amazon and Powell’s. I can’t wait to see it at Powell’s and I hope lots of kids enjoy it! Meanwhile, I can’t wait to work on my next picture book– any takers? I’m itching to incorporate collage :)