Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Most Delightful Wedding!

Preston called the bank I used to work at one day a couple of years ago. He was patched through to my desk, and when I picked up the receiver I was greeted with, "I know she's the one. I'm going to ask Kaela to marry me. Do you think it's too soon?"

I won't confess here how early this was in their relationship, that's a story for them to regale the grandkids with someday. I will say that from the moment Preston fell for Kaela, he knew--and knew without a doubt--that she was the one. Being one of his closest pals it didn't surprise me, I could see the happy change in him since meeting her and wholeheartedly seconded the motion. As would everyone else who knew them and observed how wonderfully they complimented one another. From the moment they began dating they were in tune, they were in step (sometimes as they hop down stairs arm in arm, quite literally) and most importantly they were the best of friends.

Ryan and I journeyed back to Rhode Island two weeks ago for their wedding, and it was absolutely beautiful. They choose a 1920s circus theme and pulled it off without a hitch. I had the honor of sharing the role of best man with our friend Dan. Many of our other guy pals made up Preston's grooms party. Yesterday we were all teenagers roasting marshmallows at camp outs and playing Dungeons and Dragons. Today we were standing beside Preston while he waited for his new bride to walk down the aisle. That's the kind of thing you don't realize in high school, where those friendships are going to take you, and all the great moments you're going to get to witness in each other's lives. Those friendships that last a lifetime, and transcend into family.

The photos are still coming in, but here's a small taste of what was truly the most fun wedding I've attended. 

Tim, Preston, and Dan wedding day brunchin' at
Crazy Burger in Narragansett, RI
Nelson, Ryan, James, and Dan on our very fun
adventure to find belts for the groomsmen!
Tim directs folks hanging a sign as we decorate the
Narragansett Towers for the Wedding
Preston and Kaela during the ceremony.
Photo by Jamie Dufault
Kaela and the lovely bridal party.
Photo by Jamie Dufault

Preston and the grooms party at attention.
Photo by Jamie Dufault
Oh that whacky wedding party!
Photo by Jamie Dufault
Preston and Kaela, est. 2011
Photo by Jamie Dufault

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Looking into Santa Monica Beach Permits

Ryan displaying the fortune Zoltar the Fortune Telling
Robot gave me at the Santa Monica Pier.
Ryan and I loved Santa Monica beach when we visited there in April with Preston, Kaela, and Megan. Today  we looked into what we would need to do to get married there in August. We read the do's and don'ts for getting married at the Santa Monica State Beach/Palisades Park and it turns out it's pretty darn easy to hold a wedding ceremony there! Not only does is no permit required, but you can build a stage if you need to? WHAT? You're not allowed to stake anything into the ground however, and this breaks my heart because I've recently fallen for bunting. I don't know why, don't ask me why, it's just a fact. Whatever madness it is that takes over brides has crept into me in the form of bunting, I suddenly have a need for it in my life. (In shades of blues and oranges). I had been hoping to perhaps erect some simple poles with bunting, and it's hard to prop up poles without stickin' 'em in the ground.

Parasols are a second madness which have taken hold of me--and Ryan too, as it turns out he loves the idea of having some parasols at the beach wedding. It was the kind of idea I was hoping he would talk me out of, but instead he thinks they're adorable and now I'm trapped in unbearable, impending cuteness. As an incredibly fair skinned person, a parasol might actually be the most practical item to obtain for a beach wedding. However as I looked this morning I had a difficult time finding something simple. Every parasol I came across had feathers or streamers or giant flowers, or a monogrammed letter (and try throwing a giant "F" on something without making it look obscene). I'll keep searching and hopefully I can locate parasols in simple shades, maybe with a few painted blossoms or birds.

Thank you, Google Image Search, for this random beautiful photo
of the Santa Monica Pier!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Monster Parade Finished Illustration!

I just finished the Monster Parade illustration. It started off as this pencil and ink sketch:

Monster Parade Sketch
Around dinnertime today I fired this blurry, wretched cell phone shot to my sister, Ryan, Preston, Amy, and Tim for general feedback (my friends endure a lot of 'hey, how does this look?' pic texts).

The initial wash, just the log, water, and grasses.
And now several hours later here is the completed illustration!

Monster Parade!
Detail of Claus waving his little banner.
Detail of the Grand Marshals
Detail of the monster caboose 
I don't always paint something and immediately wish it was real, however I would be pretty delighted to have these little guys march through my kitchen tomorrow morning.

Monster Parade Sketch

My trip to Rhode Island last week was wonderful. Little things, like going to lunch with my mother or researching Beatles lyrics for my best man speech with Ryan's aunt, were such a comfort. I enjoy our life in Seattle, but truly 'there's no place like home'. Preston and Kaela's wedding was so beautiful and just a blast. The 1920s Circus theme was pulled off without a hitch, and it was as fun and pretty as the theme promised. I'm going to devote a post to their wedding and our trip soon, I'm just waiting for all the photos to come in!

In the meantime I used my flight hours to sketch. I spent some time on a project that is going to hold my focus from now through June. I also drew these two sketches and I look forward to painting them in the next couple of days:

Little Red Riding Hood

Monster Parade
While I'm happy with the 'Little Red Riding Hood' sketch, I can't lie, I'm really excited to work on 'Monster Parade'. I'm going to set the background in summer with a lot of blues, greens, and browns. The Monsters themselves will probably be in grays, beiges, lavenders, and rosy tones. If you look in the center you can see one of my favorite monsters, Claus, holding a banner.

Hopefully by the end of the day I will have some progress on 'Monster Parade' to share. I'm about to dash to the store to pick up masking tape for the borders (we run out of tea, masking tape, and tabasco sauce often in this house).

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Confessions of a Not Reluctant Bride

My sister has been teasing Ryan and I for having such a short engagement, echoing everyone's suspicion that I'm pregnant (I'm not). In the latest twist of her running gag she has registered me on Babies R Us. A healthy sense of humor runs in the family. The moment Ryan and I announced a four month engagement tongues began to wag and all I say is there are going to be a lot of disappointed folks five months from now when there's no baby. We're just in love, and want to be married as soon as possible--and the sad part is no one seems to understand this reason. Has the wedding industry really dragged us that far from love and romance? When I was a little girl I delighted in Edward Lear's 'The Owl and the Pussycat' and their romantic getaway in a pea green boat to elope on a distant shore. Would the Owl and the Pussycat have to share an 18 month engagement now to pay for a lavish wedding? How can I explain the marrying urge Ryan and I have when folks just can't understand a four month engagement anymore?
I was in college I first met Ryan. Then he was a tall, lanky teenager in long, baggy pants he’d painted himself to look like stained glass. Over the years as we kept in touch he grew into a confident, hilarious, gorgeous maniac and when he finally got up the courage to ask me on a date my heart melted for him about two hours in. We fell in love by the next day, there was no preventing it despite the fact that he had built a life for himself in Seattle, WA and I was still living in our hometown in Rhode Island. We had just enough in common—art and sense of humor—that we’d admired one another from afar for years. He showed me a business card of mine he’d kept, I’d given it to him one 4th of July when he was about 19. Our sense of humor, our shared interests, and—I won’t lie—a strong chemistry bonded us close and quick. 

As I type he is practicing a new funny face in the mirror and laughing hysterically to himself. He’s everything I wanted in someone to love: funny and sweet for funny and sweet’s sake.

We both had difficult pasts. When we were first dating Ryan confessed to me that he somehow admired my health difficulties, even my early short marriage and divorce years back. “You’ve been through something real. A lot of young people spend their time thinking they have it so hard and they’re so deep, they get sad when they’ve never had anything really happen to them. They get sad out of boredom, almost. You had some real stuff happen to you, and you just kept going. And you’re funny and eager to experience more on top of it.” That touched me deeply, that he saw the sad things I’d been through—the things I certainly had felt badly sharing with men before—as assets. I could see where he would appreciate it. Ryan lost his mother to cancer at 17, only to be thrown out of his home by his step father months later. Where I’ve seen some sadness, he’s seen more. He left everything he knew to pursue a career in animation, he’s very successful for his age, and he made everything happen himself. He put himself into situations where he had no choice but to succeed. He was grateful I had witnessed some of the world’s bad times where other men couldn’t handle it because their lives had been sunnier. Ryan got it, he understood chasing and nurturing happiness. He’s not a person who gets mopey—he knows what actual sadness is and why wallowing is a horrible feeling. He’s laid back and content, he’s loving and gentle. He makes jokes to keep laughter always close at hand, he tells me he loves me 6-7 times a day, we hold each other close and say things like, “I’m so glad we’re young, and healthy, and together.”

Marrying Ryan feels like the most natural thing in the world. I just want to spend evenings hearing him softly sing to himself (as he is doing now). I’ve always felt like a separate character as it were, the great and unstoppable me. Even dating people in the past 3-4 years, I was firmly defined: they were the person I was dating, I was me with my goals and them with theirs. As awful as it is to admit I often made fun of them with my friends. I had this blackened reputation as sort of a heart breaker, but I had my share of heartaches too. My sister can back me up, she was one of the few people to know me well enough to share them. I just always kept the line between them and myself sharply defined.

However, I lost myself in Ryan immediately, and he in me. I loved him as dearly as any friend, because he had been a friend to begin with. There’s no making fun of him, because he makes his own funny stories by just being outstandingly wild. He took my goals and added them to his. I added his to mine. His career can be demanding, I take care of all the home stuff and have dinners ready. My career aspirations require a lot of time and effort, he supports us so I can spend the day illustrating and courting promotions. We work together helping one another, we sacrifice together, we celebrate together. We set our pasts aside and re-wrote our futures around each other.

He’s the only person I can see myself with anymore. I could never bear the thought of living without him. We’ll live our lives together, and be rewarded with one of us dying first—and that scares both of us. Maybe that’s when you know it’s time to get married, when you know you don’t want to miss one second, even the scary final ones. Even when you know the reward for true love is going to be unspeakable pain sixty years from now (if you’re lucky). Whether you’re the one dying, or the one who stays, you’re both torn apart for a few years until the great black beyond. 

If there’s Heaven (and I pray there is), you can meet there. If you have children, your DNA will intertwine through them. Two silken ribbons of life united through the generations, thousands of years into the future: A person in 4011 with my eye shape and Ryan’s iris color. And if you never have children, you’ll fall back into dust, the same star dust we all supposedly came from, and one day you’ll be drifting in the same spiraling cosmos with all the people you’ve loved, known, or heard of. In a very real way we never quite disappear, that’s known certainly from the ol’ ‘matter can neither be created nor destroyed’. A piece of you will remain, an ash, a speck, a sparkle, and that piece will drift until it’s reunited with its most familiar speck. We’ll all be together, on a mantle, on a table top, drawn toward a collapsing star together. 

There’s a lot of time to be that. And only a blink to be who we want to be, and be with who we want to be. I don’t know if realizing that is when you know it’s time to get married, but take it from me: when you know, it’s unmistakable. And remarkable. And utterly wonderful. 

Monday, May 09, 2011

Magic Bean is up for Scoring!

The Magic Bean threadless design has been accepted and is now up and ready for scoring! This is my 12th accepted threadless design, and the second collaboration between myself and Evan Ferstenfeld. It was Evan's concept and my illustration for their children's shirt contest. You can score it for yourself here.

Additionally threadless is hosting a variety of give aways/contests/events next week--Summer Camp style! Evan is one of the four 'threadless ambassadors', heading up the cabin Scrapplejuice. It looks like a lot of fun!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Brooch Bouquet Update

Two weeks ago I began collecting brooches to create my brooch bouquet for the wedding! Right now I've been concentrating on finding fairly large and vibrant brooches in blue and orange, so that the bouquet is sure to have some splashes of color. I figure there are enough white and rhinestone brooches out there, so I can worry about those later!

Here are the four I've found since I began searching. I tracked three of them down on etsy. The fourth, the big peachy colored flower with the white spotted center, I found at my favorite store in Freemont, The Vintage Mall. (Where I found my wedding dress!)

The new brooches! The peach one to the left is about palm sized
to give you an idea of the scale. I have been really hunting orange
because I anticipate blue will be much easier to find.
These are all of the brooches so far. I'm lucky to already have
so many from Nana Irene--and there are even more back in RI!
My mother's dear friend and one of my aunts have lent their efforts to the collection as well and I'm very excited the bouquet will have pins from the Quinns, the Dunns, and our friends!

Elvis was very contented to be included in the photos.
Note: the brooches are laid on top of him, not pinned, as I am not a monster.
Puck on the other hand was only content to chew on the brooches.
...Not even metal could thwart him.
I have two more sets of brooches coming in this week, I'll post pictures of them. I was lucky enough to find a small lot of blue and orange flower jewels, and an enamel pin-and-earring set in blue. For me the game is locating pretty-and-yet-very-very-affordable (cheap) brooches. It's no fun spending a lot of money, that takes all the challenge out of it. I have not spent more than $10 yet! And that was just the big peachy one, the others were between $3-$7.

Many have slight nicks in the enamel or are missing a small stone, and to me that lends charm and character to the brooch. (Not to mention easing the price down). I like to think of the women who loved these pieces and wore them and maybe knocked them against the edge of a jewelry box or dropped them onto a tile floor. It gives them their own little spark of life.

The Undead Bazaar!

I just finished my interview for Zombies & Toys for their upcoming 'Undead Bazaar'. I tried my very hardest not to sound like a total weirdo (rest assured, I still probably sounded like a total weirdo).

They sent me some banners to use in this blog when the interview and the giveaway contest are in full swing, and I just have to share them now, especially the third one.

Imagine me looking these over: "Cute, good information. Nice design...."

"Aw, that's really cute. I like the slogan."


I can't wait until the time comes and I can actually post these on the blog with links to the Undead Bazaar!

The Sketchbook Project: First Few Pages

 Is it terrible to admit I don't really like the first couple of pages I've forged in my Sketchbook Project? My idea to chose the Time Traveler theme and create the sketchbook based on the idea of a time traveler keeping field notes has translated to a lot of white space between sketches that I'm not happy about. Luckily my first few pages are also the time traveler's first few pages, and perhaps I can make my initial frustration his own. There's no reason he can't be looking at his field guide and thinking to himself, "Well, I can do better than this" and then begin to progress.

I still have the option of rebinding the sketchbook with sturdier paper and doing my usual watercolor and pen illustrations. It's allowed in the rules, though I did not want to. Now however I'm keeping it in mind as a comfort. The pages are quite thin (I'm not complaining, it is a sketchbook after all! The pages ought to be thin) and would not allow for any kind of water wash. I'm going to give the pencils a few more entries however, perhaps I can start feeling better about it. This is what I have so far:

Pages 02 -03 May 7, 1957
Pages 4-5, September 19, 1764
I do admit I like the gun and the sketch of his wife. 

I spent my afternoon sketching some new scenes starring my penguin with the balloon and I'm pleased with how they came out! Tomorrow I plan to continue those sketches and finish an interview for Zombiesandtoys.com. I've been asked to participate in their Undead Bazaar with a giveaway of my Zombie Paper Dolls and they had a few questions for me along the lines of what and why I like to paint and what kind of zombie would I be, etc. I'm really looking forward to answering them!

At some point this week I have to decide which two paintings I want to submit to the 100 Illustrations book. Their new project involves food, but I'm in the previously posted project which is open to any subject. I'm pretty certain that 'An Octopus Drinking Tea' will be one choice. Some have suggested my 'Penguin with the Red Balloon', but I have other plans for him right now and don't wish to tie up his copyright. Ryan thinks I should also submit the Clockwork Widow or the Time Weaver too.

If you reading this and get a chance, I would love your opinion. Which two illustrations here would you choose to be published in a book for modern illustrators? I would be grateful to hear your feedback, I'm having a heck of a time deciding!

Puck makes his past shelter's newsletter!

Our young cat Puck made the newsletter for the shelter he came from. For those of you who don't know, we were lucky enough to get Puck from an amazing no-kill shelter here in Washington called Purrfect Pals. When he came to them he was missing part of his leg. No one knows for sure, but it was suspected that a predator had bitten part of the leg off. It was badly infected, and thankfully due to the fund mentioned in the newsletter they were able to give Puck a life saving surgery to remove the rest of the leg and infected areas.

I can't imagine what Puck went through when his leg was injured. When he came to us he was about twelve weeks old. His leg had been removed a few weeks before and his fur was still growing back over healing incision. He was fostered by a marvelously kind and patient woman named Sue who brought him to our apartment. From his first evening in our living room Puck has been sweet and brave, a little bundle of hopping energy. Nothing slows him down. I watch him every day test jumps, explore the closet shelves, and teach himself how to get onto various pieces of furniture. You can see a video of him climbing the bookcase and then Agatha's cage here.

Hie is just remarkable, especially in light of the hardship he faced as a kitten. Every night he sleeps beside me, rolling under my chin when we face each other, or spooning my back when I turn over. I feel pretty honored.

He's a happy go lucky little charmer, always curious, always gentle, a terribly sweet little guy. We're so lucky to have him! Elvis thinks so too.

Elvis and Puck relaxing beside my desk.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

100 Illustrations and other exciting projects!

In other news, I was contacted by 100 Illustrations to do a two page spread in their upcoming book! While I await the contract and some more details, I'm already looking forward to it.

I received my sketchbook for The Sketchbook Project in the mail on Tuesday! Oh my goodness, to friends who were on the fence about participating in this project: I again encourage you to just do it! The sketchbook is only about 30 pages, and it's sized about 5x7--totally doable. I plan on working on it in the evenings after dinner. The paper really does encourage straight sketching, and so I may be taking up colored pencils briefly. The Art House Co-Op allow you to rebind the book with your own paper if you desire, but I'm happy for an excuse to play with pencils for a spell. I still plan to do my book as a time traveler's field guide, and to 'document' all the interesting people, items, and creatures he comes across in his journeys. I'm not certain what his name will be yet, though I've named his wife Marion. I'm toying with naming him after my good friend Destry. Expect sketches soon!

And I have one more project in the works which I am most excited about, although I don't want to give details of it just yet. I am beyond thrilled to be working on it and should be able to explain a little more soon. (I apologize for being cryptic, or more to the point superstitious, ha!)

Magic Bean: A soon to be unveiled
Frickinawesome and Pseudooctopus
In the meantime, Evan and I have completed a second design for threadless and it should be up for scoring in a few days. It's Evan's concept and my illustrating: "Magic Bean". How stinkin' cute is that? He really does have fantastic ideas for shirts! You can read about his previous tee shirt designs here.

I also begun some Little Red Riding hood sketches I'll probably be sharing very soon. I can't get the wolf exactly as I want him to look--but hey, leave it to the Big Bad Wolf to be difficult, huh?

Because every girl needs a robot apron.

Nana Irene holding me when I was a newborn.
Mom says she was full of non-stop energy
and excitement her entire life.
My Nana Irene had a saying, "We're good to ourselves!" She said it whenever she and my Mom (her granddaughter, on the family tree) would sneak a late night bowl of ice cream or buy something a little frivolous. She never missed an opportunity to do something lovely on a whim. This is a woman who painted all the furniture in her house some new bright matching color 2-3 times a year just because. (We have a rocking chair of hers that has countless layers of paint). She cut out birds and flowers from magazines and painstakingly pasted them in pretty scenes to her bureau drawers. When she passed away they found handwritten notes in her desk detailing color theory, copied from encyclopedias at the library as far as my Mom and her brothers could tell. Over the years "We're good to ourselves!" has become a kind of sweet echo from the past, a gentle reminder to take the time to do something nice and completely, wonderfully unnecessary for ourselves as a treat. My Mom will say it over hot buttered lobster rolls in the summer or a new pair of mittens (when the old ones would do just fine) in the winter.

Last week I bought myself a gift--an apron with a retro robot print from the absolutely divine etsy shop Boojiboo. Amy already owns three of this gifted lady's aprons, two with skulls and one with cupcakes, and they are all adorable! Boojiboo's designs are so feminine and flattering and her choice in patterns is terrific. I can't imagine where the heck she finds some of these fabrics! For a few months I've had my eye on the retro robot and the classic horror movie prints. One day last week they were both in the shop, and before I could even click on the 50s horror print with its wonderful Frankenstein and Dracula ghouls--it was sold! I snapped up the robot print as quickly as I could, as Ryan tried to purchase the exact same apron as a gift for me after I shared the link with him. When thwarted he bought these astronaut glasses instead from the Bread and Badger--another shop I can't get enough of. What can I say? He's a sweetheart.

Baking is my favorite hobby and being a clutz comes naturally, so believe me when I tell you I spill a lot of flour. This apron will see a lot of action in our kitchen.

It arrived today and I wasted no time tying its lovely yellow polka dotted straps around my waist. As I stepped back from the mirror I immediately smiled and said to no one in particular, "We're good to ourselves." I think Nana Irene would have approved.

A somewhat-blurry-but-very-happy photo of me cooking
tacos in my new apron tonight.