You may have noticed, I'm feeling some winter holiday glow already. That's because I am designing the new cards for our USPS Mail Carrier Thank You and Holiday cards.
To come up with designs. I started thinking about my own memories and what I love about the Holidays. My Mom had these little stuffed ornaments from Avon, that smelled like pine. My Grandma always made some GROSS fruitcake, that my father would gleefully eat in giant slabs of green and red, speckled, rum-ness. I also loved getting tins of cookies, because it was a REAL treat to have junk food in our house. My Aunties in Louisiana would send care packages with hand-sewn pillow-toys and little trinkets.
Christmas in our family also meant driving out to the farm in rural Ohio, every pothole in the dirt road softened by deepening lake effect snow. We didn't do gifts, we did long stories, big laughs, sarcasm, and helped in the kitchen. We brought in wood for Grandpa's wood stove and talked about odd foods my Uncles LOVED, that I thought looked weird. Grandma was Volga German and Jewish, and just the perfect, hardworking, role model. Even with 36 Grandchildren, they always called me "Baby" and Gram would find time to brush my hair. She also never threw things away that were "still good" and used her gifted microwave as a breadbox. <3
These are the things that give me the "warm fuzzies" and inspired the sweet kitty illustration below. You can see all my works start as a sketch with a lot of erasing, then the color is hand painted using gouache paint and watercolor techniques.
Mail Carrier Holiday Cards... how did this all begin?
My partner is a city carrier in NY State and as a shop steward for our office, he's really passionate about his fellow carriers. For years now, I would make one simple illustration, and print them on my home printer to share with his co-workers. Then other offices heard about them and asked for a few for their own customers. Before I knew it, I was working with my local printer to run a small (but for me, HUGE) order.
Printing postcards doesn't make millions, or thousands, heck or even hundreds of dollars for us. However, it does give me a chance to talk with other carriers that understand the #mailcarrierlife and are simply a joy to get to know. It's a pleasure, and I am so thankful they chose my art to send their warm regards.
Don't forget to shovel your mailbox, and walkways if you live in a wintery zone!!
(My mail carrier hubby and I thank you, kindly.)
I am not ready to say goodbye to warm breezes, and palm tree weather. However, winter will be here before we know it so... I am working on a cute warm weather Christmas greeting. I know SO many people who have a winter hideaway to avoid the snow. I'll be thinking of them while I shovel my driveway. (Funny-not-funny.)
This illustration will be available in this year's Letter Carrier postcard collection, perfect for SNOW BIRDS! Our annual post card collection will be available Mid-November. (I can't believe I'm talking turkey ALREADY!)
Thank you Hudson Valley's DIRT MAGAZINE for a wonderful story
about FoxFern and how Gates & Bridge began:
Poppy is one of my favorite blooms, a crepey, explosion of color from tiny pods and bristly, lacy, greens. Craning over the garden, promenading exuberantly in full, fluttery gowns seems defiance of physics on such delicate stems. Then to touch such a thing so bold, is a realization of mimicry and pretense around a delicate cache of seeds. The presence was only a well made outfit, that folds nicely in a travel suitcase.
Analog botanic illustration, entirely hand drawn, colored with gouache and illustrated with many sizes of ink pen.
When local community arts organization Wickham Works asked me to contribute to their screen printed calendar, my mind went wild with ideas. I elected August for our family birthdays, and October because it's my favorite. I was awarded August.
August is a fruitful month, a few weeks when growth is at full berth. This is when almost all the produce seasons are still overlapping and the hot breeze is heady with the smell of grasses. I decided to celebrate Mother Earth and her bounty in my illustration.
All of my illustrations start as a simple pencil sketch, I then refine the artwork with colors or pen. In this case, we are going to make screens for screen printing, so I had to create digital files for the screen.
ABOUT THE CALENDAR:
Wickham Works is a non-profit organization based in Warwick, NY. They are responsible for the organization, staffing, and designing of area events such as The Warwick Pride Parade, The Haunted House at Warwick Valley Community Center, LoveLocal Makers Market, Love Local Hudson Valley, TreeCycle and Earth Fest Warwick. Most of these events are run entirely by volunteers, and HOURS AND HOURS of selfless making, planning, building and programming.
The Wickham Works Calendar will be 12 months of art, each month by a different artist and completely unique in its' style. The entire calendar will also be completely hand screen printed and multiple colors. This will be available for sale as a fundraiser for Wickham Works and its community building efforts.
A peek into the process: creating a floral illustration.
It starts with a pencil sketch, then I outline the shapes in a fine pen. The color and plants in this piece were not planned ahead of time; they are entirely freehand. Tested a new idea, got a little scared halfway through. My illustrations are truly analog; the pencil scratch and eraser dance a million times to get the outlines. My water colors, and gouache painting, is all guesswork, with no reference but my own instinct. It’s me, and my gut, a memory and a constant trial.
I then applied all the shading and details using varied point sizes of ink pen.
Work in Progress
24" x 36"
Acrylic on Canvas
I didn't mean to fall in love with my best friend, it just happened. After months of being roommates, I was on my way to Brooklyn on a cold January day, and halfway there I realized I didn't want to be anywhere else, but with him.
Just like the day we found out we had a baby on the way. I was scared to death, but there was no other life I wanted but the one that had unfolded around me.
That's what is amazing about falling in love, you just know you're in the right place when your only answer to the situation is "OK. We can do this." <3
Make space for good things; mind, studio and soul.
A friend of mine recently inspired me to start cleaning out my creative space. I thought that surrounding myself with beautiful materials would inspire me. The exact opposite happened, it distracted me. I would be working on an idea and find an old project, then start working on that. I would be working on a deadline, then see something I always wanted to try then I started putting time into something that isn't relevant. I call this Attention DISTRACTION DEVICES.
Spring is here; we are all tidying house. I highly recommend you make a little time to take a deep look at what you love making (or doing) the most. Refine the mediums you work in, and pour your attention into that. I am a Renassaince Woman, I can do just about everything. However, I shouldn't and it has taken me hours of work on "projects" with little to show for it, to realize this. Picking one or two things is the best way to really get to know your passion, and show your best work.
I realized I should focus on my cards, my fine jewelry, and my art. Everything else should go. Not just GO, but be LET GO. Last week I let go of a lot of supplies I wasn't using and cleared out my space. I donated the items to "Dumpster Dive" at Milkweeds in Sugar Loaf, which was probably the most fun I have had in a long time. As each piece of paper, jewelry supply, and craft item walked away with someone else, I sighed with relief. My attitude lighted as my burden of "STUFF" walked out the door.
These supplies don't fit into what I want to accomplish. I am not going to make scrapbook greeting cards anymore. I don't use base metal in my jewelry. I certainly didn't need so many paper trimmers. However, someone else did. It was joy to see items go home, to their true potential. The people who took items home will do more with that stuff than I ever could.
Consider focusing your craft and removing anything that doesn't support you and where you want to go. If you're not using it, its just baggage on a long journey.
Our blog author is Jennifern; her thoughts on work, events, adventures and other amazing people.