In honor of Valentine’s Day, I decided to make a little tribute to the creatures who know unconditional love better than just about anyone else: dogs. I created this set of six printable Valentines based on my life as as the human to two slobbery canines. Big thanks to my dopey foxhound, Ivy, model for the hound at the bottom right, and the inspiration for the top right troublemaker, our scruffy mutt Murf, who lived up to his illustration just this afternoon by spreading trash all over the house. Good thing they’re cute!
Summer to me will always be wide open farmland, meadows full of flowers, ditches overgrown with weeds and grasses, things growing and buzzing in the sunlight. Take that image and add one part Willy Wonka wonderland and you’ve got the paintings of Australian artist Clair Bremner. Full of boundless color, abstracted plant life, and tiny patterned details, her paintings sing on the canvas, capturing the energy and wonder of the natural world in a completely unique way.
It’s hard to believe, but I’m not over 1/3 of the way there on the 100 Day Project. The daily drawings have given me a chance to play with different subjects and styles, from single characters, to collections, to patterns, and experiment combining hand drawn and digital illustration. Not to mention that it’s been an opportunity to get up close and personal with a sketchbook, something that I haven’t done in years. Here are a few favorites from the past couple of weeks.
I’m lucky to go to work every day in Chicago’s South Loop, a neighborhood that’s a fascinating blend of cultural institutions, colleges, and business. While I work on Michigan Avenue, one block west is Wabash, a cavernous street slightly off the tourists’ path, topped by the El tracks and full of hidden gems. One of my favorite parts of this area is the Wabash Arts Corridor, a so-called “living urban canvas” spearheaded by Columbia College Chicago to make visible the creative community of its campus.
When I attended Columbia in 2008, they were just beginning the murals and large-scale art installations that have now taken over this area. At that time I was lucky enough to create a window installation that was on display for a few months at 623 S. Wabash, a hint at things to come. Today the Wabash Arts Corridor encompasses Wabash Avenue from Roosevelt to Van Buren, Michigan to State Street, and features more than 20 large-scale outdoor art pieces, from murals to sculptures to installations.
As part of this spring and summer’s Big Walls event–in which WAC will install 18 new pieces– Dutch artist Collin van der Sluijs recently completed a mural at 11th and Michigan. Featuring an explosion of flowers, van der Slujis researched native Illinois plants and animals to include in the piece, rooting it in place figuratively as well as literally.
I’m lucky enough to pass this spot every day on my afternoon commute and got to watch the mural emerge against the huge brick wall over the course of a few days this month. All of the artwork on the Wabash Arts Corridor is inspiring, and I’m especially thrilled to have this beautiful piece now greet me every day.
March is Women’s History Month, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts has launched a campaign to bring attention to the many amazing women artists whose work tends to be overlooked. Asked to name five artists, way too many people will come up with a list of solely (dead, straight, white) dudes. This campaign aims to reframe the conversation– a move I am definitely down for.
Narrowing my favorite women artists down to just five wasn’t easy, but I decided to go with five that are most inspiring me lately. Check my blog archives for about a hundred other awesome art-makers, many of them ladies.
Margaret KilgallenA post about Margaret’s work and my love of hand-lettered signage.
This week I’ve been immersing myself in the paintings of Alex Beck, a Virginia-based artist whose work combines an old school painterly style with contemporary subjects and vintage mash-ups. I’m always intrigued by work that gives a nod to other techniques, as with Beck’s paintings that look like photographs, and paintings that look like collages of photographs. Plus, I’m a sucker for a bright pink/cool blue color scheme.
Frida Kahlo is one of those historical figures that just about everyone likes. This mass appeal means that as she’s become mainstream, though, it’s easier to forget what a revolutionary she truly was. Like so many other cultural icons, Frida’s story has become sanitized over the years and it’s easy to forget the aspects that truly set her apart–a bisexual, Marxist, woman artist of color working in a time when any of those identities counted you out of the mainstream entirely. Even as big of a fan as I am, it was only last year that someone mentioned was an icon Frida is in the disability community. A survivor of polio and a catastrophic bus accident, it’s rarely mentioned the example she set in engaging so fully in life at a time when disability was not something to be talked about, let alone displayed in public. All these revolutionary aspects of her life get glossed over for the quirky but safe version of Frida we see so often.
It’s exactly Frida’s otherness, though, that draws people into her art and continues to make her story relevant. This revolutionary Frida is the spirit that’s captured in Todos Podem Ser Frida (All Can Be Frida), a photography series from Brazillian artist Camila Fontenele de Miranda. The project features gorgeous photos of people “being” Frida, complete with flowers, brows, and richly-detailed textiles. Featuring models of an array of genders, races, sexual identities, and ages, the series draws power from the revolutionary statement that being a person like Frida continues to be today. Via Bust
Besides maybe The Golden Girls, there aren’t a lot of role models for how to live like a badass as you get older. I firmly believe that we don’t lose our coolness just because we age– it’s just that that’s not a story that gets told very often.
Luckily there are people like crocheter Grace Brett. At 104, she proved that contemporary art need not be just a young person’s game. Grace participated in yarn bombing her UK town with her colorful, crocheted creations. Fanciful and vibrant, they are still most definitely cool.
There’s nothing like the wind in your hair and sun on your skin. Like, all your skin. Some fun and funky pieces celebrating body liberation–
Running Lady by Amy Victoria Marsh.
Ceramic figure by Laura Berger
Illustration by Cecile Dormeau
Kama Sutra paper dolls by Maria Dubrovskaya
Naked holiday ornaments from Liv & Dom.
Boob pillowcase from Gravel & Gold.
Let’s Get Cosmic by Laura Berger