samedi 27 juin 2009

Ten things - dix choses

Inspired by With Love and Affection I was thinking today about all the things I want to get done in the next few months. I figured making a list of the ten top priorities would be a nice start. Ten things, let's say, before autumn comes around.
1. Prepare the baby's room
2. Make the Tarot deck ready to sell
3. Create at least one art doll
4. Sign in for a nude drawing and an engraving course
5. Sew a pregnancy rococo outfit and wear it to an event
6. Get into the promoting stuff
7. Open a shop on
8. Reorganize my personal website to link it to Serpentaires
9. Buy a new digicam
10. Make enough stock to add new items to my shops every few days (I'm a blatant copycat on this one)
Oddly enough, it seems doable - a bit unusual for the woman who always makes unfinishable lists. I'll try to keep track of this over the summer and to keep you posted ! Anyone wanting to share their ten summer projects ? Consider yourself tagged!

Inspirée par le blog de With Love and Affection je pensais aujourd'hui à ce que j'aimerais accomplir dans les mois à venir. Lister les dix items prioritaires serait un bon début. Dix choses à faire, disons, avant l'arrivée de l'automne.
1. Refaire la chambre du bébé
2. Finir le jeu de tarot
3. Créer au moins une poupée
4. M'inscrire à un cours de dessin de modèle vivant et à un cours de gravure
5. Coudre un costume rococo pour femme enceitne et le porter à une sortie en costume
6. Faire la promo de nos boutiques
7. Ouvrir une boutique sur
8. Reorganiser mon site web personnel pour le relier à Serpentaires
9. Acheter un nouvel appareil photo numérique
10. Produire suffisamment pour pouvoir lister des nouveautés plusieurs fois par semaine (Je fais une copie éhontée pour le dernier item)
Etrangement, cela semble faisable - ce qui est plutôt bizarre pour uen adepte des listes infinissables. Je vais tâcher de suivre mon progrès et de vous tenir informés. Quelqu'un qui se sent de partager ses dix projets estivaux ? Considérez que je vous refile la patate chaude !

vendredi 26 juin 2009

My new best friend

This... is going to make my life so much easier soon. It is amazingly light and fits in one (my !) hand. This is so much closer so a woman's tool than any of the power tools I've panipulated until yet, my non-existant muscles are extremely thankful. Before I had this lovely little hand-grinder, I had to make to with sanding paper. It's doable for little surfaces like the ones pictured below, but not for the bigger home-improvement projects we have planned.
(For the record, I don't think a woman's tool should be pink. I think it should be the right size and weight to be used by a woman)

Ceci... ca rendre ma vie bien plus facile dans les jours à venir. Elle est toue légère et tient dans une (ma !) main. Enfin quelque chose qui ressemble à un vrai outil pour femme, pas comme ceux que j'ai pu manipuler jusqu'à maintenant, mon absence de muscle est très très reconaissante. Avant l'arrivée de cette petit ponceuse excentrique dans notre ménage, j'en étais réduite au papier de verre. Ca va encore pour de petits projets comme ci-dessous, mais pour les plus gros travaux comme ceux que nous avons prévus, ce n'est pas faisable.
(Pour la petite histoire, je ne pense pas qu'un outil pour fille soit nécessairement rose. Je pense que c'est un outil d'une taille et d'un poids adaptés à la morphologie féminine)

I'm not sure the hand-grinder would have really alleviated my pain with those... The sanding wasn't that problematic, but the painting was ! The non-toxic paints I got (special paints for toys) did NOT behave like they did on the test piece. They were NOT nice. The white was much more opaque than all other colors, whereas the black was barely gray, and the wood reacted badly eveyrtime I tried to achieve a clearer tint by diluting the paint with more water. The colors bled, and the outlines bled even more. And the same happened when I applied the matching sealant.
My bad, there are things I know I could have done but didn't bother with. Applying some kind of primer or linen oil to the wood so that it wouldn't absorb the colors that much. Making a test piece on a cube bought from the same place. Sanding lightly between coats.
I'll do it all for the next series of cubes I'll make - a few more friends will get custom presents for their babies. Then, if I get good enough at working with the medium and fast enough, I might put some up to sell in France. Sorry for you guys in the US, I can't afford to deal with this CPSIA crap. Although I know my cubes are okay for kids.

Je ne suis pas sûre que la ponceuse à main m'aurait beaucoup aidée sur ce coup... Le ponçage n'a pas été torp orblèmatique, les ennuis ont commencé avec la peinture ! Les peintures aux normes jouets que j'ai achetées ne se sont pas DU TOUT comportées sur les cubes comme sur la pièce de test. Le blanc s'est avéré beaucoup plus couvrant que toutes les autres couleurs, le noir était à peine gris, et le bois se mettait à boire comme un trou dès que je tentais d'éclaircir une teinte en la diluant dans plus d'eau. Les couleurs coulaient, et les contours encore plus. Et rebelote quand j'ai passé le vernis. C'est en grande partie de ma faute, j'ai sauté certaines étapes du travial du bois dont je sais pourtant l'utilité. Passer un apprêt ou de l'huile de lin pour empêcher le bois de se gorger de peinture. Faire un test sur un bois de même provenance. Poncer légèrement entre deux couches...
Je serai plus consciencieuse pour les prochaines séries de cubes - d'autres copains vont recevoir des cadeaux personnalisés pour leurs bébés. Après ça, si je me débrouille suffisamment bien avec le medium et que j'atteint une vitesse d'exécution suffisante, j'en mettrai peut-être quelques-uns en vente en France. Désolée pour ceux qui sont aus USA, je n'ai pas les moyens de me coltiner le CPSIA. Même si je sais que mes cubes sont sans dangers pour les enfants...

mardi 23 juin 2009

Etsy wow !

I meant to make a post about something... but then something else happened. I have finally started setting up our Etsy shop last week. On Sunday I listed our two first items, two reproductions of drawing by myself, Green Martha, on recycled paper. I didn't even start promoting, I was still learning how to set up things, I'm slowly making more stuff for the shop.
And then...
... on Monday I got an email : one of the two prints has sold ! We made our first Etsy sale only one day after listing our first items ! Even now, my brain still turns to pudding when I think of it. The print was mailed this morning, I guess I'll only calm down once I know it's arrived and the buyer loves it in person too.
Les Ballons
J'avais prévu de faire un post... et puis ile st arrivé quelque chose. Je me suis enfin attelée à notre boutique Etsy la semaine dernière. Dimanche j'ai mis en ligne nos deux premiers articles, deux reproductions de dessins de Green Martha (moi !), sur papier recyclé. Je n'ai même pas vraiment commencé à faire de la pub, encore en train de comprendre comment ça marche. Je suis toujours en train de faire de nouvelles choses pour le boutique, petit à petit.
Et puis...
... lundi j'ai reçu un mail : une des deux illustrations a été vendue ! Nous avons fait notre première vente un jour après avoir listé nos premier sproduits ! J'en suis encore toute tournechamboulifiée rien que d'y penser. L'illustration a été postée ce matin. Je pense que je ne me détendrai vraiment que quand elle sera arrivée et que j'aurai confirmation qu'elle plaît bien à l'acheteur une fois qu'il l'a en main.

PS : Did you spot the new layout ? Graphic part by the three Serpentaires Girls, techie stuff by the Home Geek and friends, thank you boys, you saved my non-CSS-savvy neck !
PS : Avez-vous remarqué le nouveau layout ? Graphismes par les trois artistes Serpentaires, technique par le Geek Domestique & friends. Merci les gars, vous avez sauvé ma vie de non-pratiquante-CSS !

mardi 16 juin 2009

Lost along the way

Feeling a little bit under the weather today. Sometimes I hit those places along the road where I don't really know what path to take next, what I should work on now, which areas I'd need to explore. I suppose it's a normal part of an artist's journey, once you have cleared some obstacles on your way you have to make new decisions and set new goals for yourself. Right now it feels a little overwhelming, though. I have a lot of ideas, but they're elusive and often disappear before I can write them down. There are new techniques I want to try my hand at, but I'm stalled trying to do that on my own. There are different styles I want to give a go to, but I feel restricted by some of my technical abilities - or lack thereof. There are, in short, a lot of question marks and ifs and buts. Which is highly probably not a good thing to cultivate on the long term, even though now and then they will open new doors where there were none. In the midst of this mental down I must admit to have neglected my 365 project photography lately. I think I have a one week gap :/
I must say I have come a long way since embarking on this journey. Looking back, I think it started last August with the sudden death of my paternal grandmother. She's always been the artist in the family, she worked as an art teacher for her whole life and once she retired became an artisan. I'm lucky enough to have quite a few jewelry pieces and scarves made by her, including my wedding jewelry. She learnt to work with glass about fifteen years ago, and explored many new-to-her art branches with it. I always adored her style, and was very very lucky that she gave me some private art lessons over the years. She's the one who taught me the basics of perspective, drawing the human body and metal engraving.
Over the last few years I had been neglecting my drawing and painting a bit. I'd created things that were still quite close to works of art - historical costumes, interactive freeform roleplaying events - but where the primary focus was not on making "art". My grandma's unexpected passing away started a reflexion that slowly drove a point home : I could no longer ignore my longing to create, especially graphic works. I needed them. Sewing or developping plots and characters was too long a process, with too many strings attached (historical references, fabric availability, sewing machine failures, players' satisfaction...) to satisfy the creative craving I had inside of me.
So back to the drawing board I went, and dusted of the vague project I had to open up a shop in the virtual world. I knew just creating for the sake of it could not get me any further than it previously had : some nice pieces, a lot of unfinished ones, some voluntary custom work that wasn't quite satisfactory. There have been times in the past where I drew a lot, but the outcome wasn't very brilliant, nor was my personnal progression as an artist because what I created did not really matter in the end. It had no impact on my life, so it didn't really matter that much to me, and when I drew for someone else it usually was in such an amateur context that they took whatever my first suggestion was because they just needed a picture, and which one they got didn't matter that much either.
If I wanted to go anywhere with my art, that needed to change. Opening a shop on the web isn't for me just a way to turn my creativity into money. It's a challenge to myself. It's a way to push myself further in what I make, to make the outcome matter, to force myself to go as far as I am able to go with my art. I can't satisfy myself any longer with knowing that this piece has a good potential, that the composition in that one is good, and that the color in the third is pretty good. I need to create something that works as a whole. I have to make a rounded, complete piece of art. In the end, I need to put up a cohesive line, something that says "me". I learnt a lot of thigns about this "me" lately.
I don't think I've often been so graphically productive as recently. I have discovered my inspiration works well in series, and I enjoy the self-imposed limitations they imply (the love of self-imposed boundaries is not new to me, the series thing is). I previously showed pieces from the Domestic Wonderland print series, I have three others in the early sketching stages. I think the Pendragon Tarot should also be considered as one.
Another thing I learnt is that I love children's art, and childhood inspired themes. I still go back to fantastic elements I have been inspired by in the past, but the focus has shifted a bit. This might of course have something to do with the impending arrival of our first child. It might also be related to moving a little bit further away from comics books and closer to illustration. The comics style and way of working is still a very strong influence, but I've come to detect this influence more frequently, rather than just accept it the way to work.
And so I have come to change the way I work, little by little. I have been forced to look for other ways to work around my limitations, to think around color and composition. Those steps are of course needed and pushing me forward, but not standing on a firm, familiar ground is scary. Working with Lady Fi and Argyronete has helped immensely - although they are a bit quiet on this blog and very busy in other areas of their lives right now, they are my creative soulmates and the ones I turn to when artistically in doubt. I am thankful I can find my path with such amazing friends and artists by my side, their work and styles never fail to give me the right insight to get back to my own sketchbook with a fresh eye. Thanks a lot, girls, see, even typing this long-winded post made my mind clearer.

jeudi 11 juin 2009

Busy Bee !

I've spent the past few days rrrrrrunning... Whizzz... whizzz... So this was ready a few days back but I didn't get to post it until now.
Illustration Friday - Craving
Illustration Friday - Craving

J'ai couru de partout ces derniers jours... du coup impossible de poster cette illus avant aujourd'hui, alors qu'elle est finie depuis le début de la semaine...

lundi 8 juin 2009

Creative space


I'm experimenting today... I dug out the non-toxic inks and played around a little - see the little elephant ? That's my trial run. And.... WOW ! Those are A-WE-SO-ME ! It really doesn't compare with my previous experience of painted wood (with gouache or watercolor). This is so much more like watercolor on paper... I'm super excited about them, unfortunately I have an appointment now so I can't start really playing with them right now but when I'll get back I'm going to have some fun, teeeheee !
Je fais des expériences aujourd'hui. J'ai ressorti mes teintes transparents aux normes jouet et j'ai fais quelques tests - vous voyez le petit éléphant ? C'est mon essai. Et.... OUAH ! Elles sont GE-NIA-LES ! Sans comparaison avec mes tentatives précédentes de peinture sur bois (à base de gouache et d'aquarelle). C'est beaucoup plus proche du travail de l'aquarelle sur papier... Je suis excitée comme une puce, mais malheureusement j'ai un rendez-vous et je ne peux pas me mettre au travail tout de suite, mais à mon retour j'ai l'intention de profiter de mes nouveaux joujoux... Yeeeha !

dimanche 7 juin 2009

Of pirates and expecting mothers

I just finished sewing some custom creations and took pictures right away. In the absence of the recipients, the garments will be modeled by Karringa, the fakir-woman, and Nick, the nearly-headless dress dummy.
Je viens de finir quelques commandes que j'ai photographiées aussitôt. En l'absence des destinataires, les vêtements seront présentés par Karringa, la femme fakir, et Nick, le mannequin presque-sans-tête.

This blouse was a specific request for a pregnant lady. I reused the pattern from a pregnancy blouse I have made for myself. Both garment are made from upcycled fabrics - cushion slipcovers and bedspreads. The pocket actually conceils a spot where the fabric was ripped and patched.
Cette blouse était une commande pour une jeune femme enceinte, d'après le patron d'une blouse que je me suis faite. Les deux tops sont faits dans des tissus recyclés, d'anciennes taies de coussins et couvre-lits. La poche cache un endroit où le tissu avait été déchiré et rapiécé.

Which buttons do I choose ? For what you ask ? For a pair of pirate shirts... Aaarrrrh !
Quels boutons choisir ? Boutons pour quoi ? Pour une paire de chemise de pirate, moussaillon !

I went with the dark bronze, plain military style buttons in the end. I know I have enough of those for the matching waistcoat and justeaucorps. Nick was nice enough during the photoshoot, he neither collapsed nor tilted so far to the side that you'd mistake him for a hunchback. That's not common for him, so please say with me : Good job Nick !
The shirts are a mixture of 18th century patterns and the client's wishes. They're machine sewn, finely pleated at the neck and wrists, with gussets at the armpits and shoulders, and an applied piece to reinforce the end of th neck opening.
Je me suis décidée pour les boutons vieux bronze tout simples, de style un peu militaire, car je sais que j'en ai suffisamment dans ce style pour le gilet et l'habit assortis. Nick a eu la gentillesse de ne pas s'effondrer pendant les photos, et de ne pas non plus pencher au point de paraître bossu. C'est plutôt rare de sa part, alors, tous avec moi : Beau travail, Nick !
Les chemises sont un croisement entre des patrons du 18ème siècle et les desideratas du client. Elles sont cousues à la machine, finement plissées aux poignets et au col, avec des goussets sous les bras et sur les épaules, et une pièce de renfort au bout de l'ouverture devant.

And finally, something I'm rather proud of... The logo is still in the works. We have a temporary version but I can't send that to have labels printed so... I present you the all handmade shirt, with matchign handmade label !
Et pour finir, j'en suis assez fière... Le logo est en cours de finalisation. Nous avons une version provisoire, mais pas quelque chose que je puisse envoyer pour faire imprimer des étiquettes donc... Voici la chemise où même l'étiquette est une pièce unique !

samedi 6 juin 2009

And with color...

Illustration Friday - Adapt
I told you the color version was coming ! The black outlines are worked with a Pentel calligraphy inkbrush, and the color is watercolor. I used up the last sheet of Cotman water colour paper I had for this one, it is a truly remarkable paper to work with a water-based medium. The only problem being it's heavily textured, so it's hard to get good reproductions in print.

Je vous avais bien dit que la version couleur arrivait sous peu ! L'encrage est fait au feutre-pinceau à calligraphie Pentel, la couleur à l'aquarelle. J'ai utilisé ma dernière feuille de papier aquarelle Cotman pour ce dessin, c'est vraiment un support exceptionnel pour travailler avec de l'eau. Malheureusement c'est ausis un papier avec un très gros grain, ce qui rend la reproduction sur papier du dessin un peu compliquée.

vendredi 5 juin 2009

Illustration Friday - Adapt

Illustration Friday - Adapt

I went back and forth a little and in the end decided to go for this version. The tea-cup lady will get finished as well, don't worry, just not for this week. I'm going to color this one as well - not feeling the greatest this week and subsequently slowed down in my work.
I've been very fond of Goldilocks' story as a kid, and loved the idea of going back to it to illustrate it. What if the little girl had just tried to pretend to be a bear as well ?

Après mûre réflexion, je me suis décidée pour cette version de l'illustration. La demoiselle à la tasse de thé sera finie également, pas d'inquiétude, mais un peu plus tard. Et cette illus aura droit à de la couleur aussi - je ne suis pas très en forme cette semaine et considérablement ralentie dans mon travail de ce fait.
J'adorais l'histoire de Boucle d'Or quand j'étais petite, et j'ai trouvé intéressant d'y revenir pour en tirer une illustration. Et si la petite fille avait tenté de se faire passer pour un ours ?

mardi 2 juin 2009

The Lamp's name is Mario

The lamp

To me this little fellow is italian, there's no other possibility. Here's a glimpse of my first print series, Domestic Wonderland. These will be available as 8,3"x11,7" black&white prints once the shop opens. We're currently working on branding finalisation - logos, that kind of stuff. There's probably a blog make-over in the works as well. Stay tuned !

Pour moi, ce petit bonhomme est italien, forcément. Voilà un aperçu de ma première série d'illustrations, Domestic Wonderland. Elles seront disponibles au format A4 en noir & blanc dès que la boutique ouvrira. Nous sommes actuellement en train de finaliser les détails de l'identité visuelle - les logos et tout ça. Le blog va sans doute avoir droit aussi à une nouvelle façade. Restez en ligne !
The alarm clock
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