Flowers and Pods: finals

More drawings/paintings of imaginary flowers and seed pods. I really got into these!

This one was the final assignment, a mid-century inspired design. I used watercolor and dip pen. Also used a little masking fluid but it dries up so fast, I didn’t love using it.

Flowers A – Z

I loved my class with the incredible Este MacLeod and decided to take another one. I’m so inspired by the new techniques she introduced me to. This time, it was acrylic inks with the dip pen. I love the line that it makes and the bright colors.

In this exercise, I took my lower case letters and turned them into imaginary flowers. I tried to push myself to use new shapes.

Different Strokes

Form follows function

As an illustrator, I know that I should choose one style and be consistent with it so people can easily associate my work with me. But not all styles fit all functions.

I was recently asked to design a set of posters for San Francisco Strong (#sfstrong-posters) to illustrate the ways we can protect and support ourselves and others during our current pandemic. The small posters would go in people’s windows so I needed to have the work be bold, graphic and easily read from the street.

My sketch style has evolved over the years to what you see on the rest of my site, but back in my Kaua’i days, my work looked very different.

RedGinger4
Three beauties modeling my work

OldBizCardIn my first major entrepreneurial venture, Red Ginger, I designed and sold T-shirts, which I printed in my garage. At the time, my technique was to cut the drawing and lettering through a thin layer of laquer film that was stuck to acetate. After peeling off the positive areas, I adhered the laquer (with a nasty chemical) to the screen, removed the acetate and then squeegeed the ink through to the fabric. I had to use an x-acto knife as my primary tool (not quite as bad as using your finger as a stylus, but you get the idea).

Additionally, I employed a homemade system of two screens on hinges so I could make two color designs. It was a crude system that could not handle tight registration.

Studio1
The screens in my studio

Studio4
That’s me at the drawing board

Studio3
Everything dried out here on the patio

Due to these technical limitations, my style developed to include white lines between large color blocks.

RedGinger2
Another promo shot

RedGinger1
At Anahola Beach. That’s me, with the hair, on the left

HalleysComet
Full disclosure: not printed by me

Tahiti
Looking at these, I think they’re pretty simplistic but I still love them

 

Fast forward to today (you knew I’d get here at some point). I instinctively conceived of the #SFStrong.posters in this graphic style.

So that’s why they’re so different from my sketches. But actually, I think that most, if not all illustrators have many styles but they choose to put only one forward for the reason I mention above.

Do they wish they could mix it up more? Do they do that? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Stay safe, everyone.
Susan

 

6 Shoes (not feet)

While working a project of posters for Covid prevention in San Francisco (soon to be posted here), I went down a cockamamie rabbit hole. I thought that I’d use different shoes for the 6 foot recommended distancing but that didn’t work in my design at all. Instead, I reworked (and renamed) them. Gossamer comes from my favorite Bugs Bunny cartoon of all time Hair Raising Hare.

6Shoes

Big Island 2020

The incredibly beautiful, serene Waipio Valley
Waipio Valley coastline. Looks like good surf. Heck, yeah!
Plenty of these big ass tree ferns in Volcano
Chillin’ in Kea’au. It was dark and I could barely see the paper while drawing/painting.
All these guys sunning on the South Side.
Love this flower
Pau hana at the Seafood Tiki Bar. These guys just off from work. Celebrating aloha Friday. Had no supplies on me. Used the back of my Long’s receipt and the busboy’s pen.

 

Lassen National Park

Lassen, from Summit Lake

I went to Lassen last Summer with my friends Liz and Jenna (sisters) and about 80 Oregonians, as part of a group called the Chemeketans. I was leery of vacationing with such a large number of people but Liz assured me that it was a great way to go. At a very reasonable price, with communal participation in setting up and breaking down camp, kitchen, meal and shower tents, the group provided the food, drink and facilities for an easy camping experience.

The weather was HOT at the outset

A cook and some helpers are paid and the rest of the jobs are done by campers. I was required to sign up for a few tasks during the week—I requested dish washing.

Liz was right—it was a luxury to wake up to a hot meal and return from a long day of hiking to find dinner all ready and waiting! Yowzah!

Fishing at Hat Creek, the campground where we stayed

Lassen is the least visited of the US National Parks. It’s an active volcano with “steaming fumaroles,” bubbling mud and sulfur pools. Hot stuff! As you can see from my paintings, in many areas, there are gorgeous creeks, lakes and meadows. I was struck by the beauty of the place.

Cliff Lake heather

Mount Lassen is 10,457 feet and in late July we had to pick our way over snow-covered trails at one of the trailheads. Luckily, we were an alert group of hikers and found markers on the trees. Trail crews were at work, a ways down, for the first time that season. We passed three pristine lakes and gorgeous wildflowers as we reached lower levels.

There were hundreds of these miniature froggies

The elevation was tough for us lowlanders. So we continued down the mountain and hitchhiked back to our car. We had no problem getting a ride—nobody was worried about picking up middle aged women with backpacks!

Quick sketch at Shadow Lake
Tortoise shell butterflies

I’d heard, through friends, that monarch butterflies were numerous at Lassen peak at that time of year and I really wanted to see them. We got lucky at another lake where tortoiseshell butterflies virtually covered the path. They differ from monarchs in that the underside of their wings is a dull brown and yellow but the tops are bright orange with black, much like the monarchs.

Camp fire, minus the fire

At the end of each day, all the Chemeketans would bring their folding chairs into a circle (around what would have been a fire if it weren’t Summer in California) and talk about the day’s hikes.

So many hikes, so little time 🙂

The Eyes Have It

Mitch said to me, “My left eye is cloudy—as if my glasses are dirty but I’m not wearing glasses.”

We were boarding a flight to San Juan, P.R., our destination alternative to a Hurricane soaked Big Island. Thus began a four-month ophthalmic odyssey involving around a dozen eye and retina appointments, two nasty procedures, two surgeries and the terror of temporary blindness. It’s been a tough year for my sweetie.

CoverWe got to know most of the doctors at the UCSF Ophthalmology department. With nothing to do but worry, I kept myself busy during the appointments by sketching.

Recovering from retina surgery is an ordeal. The patient has to keep his face down/parallel to the floor 90% of the time for four days. We rented a massage chair thing and apparatus for sleeping as well. 

The planets were aligned against us, as two weeks following the left eye surgery, the right eye retina tore as well. What are the odds? This took us…

1Opthalmology

4TheEyesHaveit21

2Opthalmology-3

DrAfshar

The ordeal—two torn retinas at the same time: blind man’s bluff for 4 months. The sketches are all from eye #2. And it doesn’t include the appointments in Puerto Rico. 

Thanks to the incredible Ophthalmology staff at UCSF for restoring Mitch’s sight! Now for a new prescription…

More Watercolor stamping and details

Here are some more pieces that I created during April of Covid time—May 2020. I was obsessed with watercolor stamping with cut potato pieces and carrots which I was taught in the #explorecolour class. So much fun!

I posted other pieces that were either assignments from the course here or inspired by them here. Thank you, Este Macleod!

Bouquet1WeirdOneSailboats

CleanedUp
This was a sheet of elements that I could use for the other pieces.

King Protea in the ‘hood

I’ve been captivated by a neighbor’s garden where king protea are blooming. Whenever I pass by, I am drawn to the flowers like a bee to honey and I just gape at them. This has brought me to paint them, of course. Here’s the series I completed.

KingProtea

Most of these were created with potato and carrots to stamp shapes in watercolor, with brush embellishments. I got really into the stamping technique.

KingProtea2

Protea
I was trying to get to the basic elements of the flower here. Thin line details were completed with watercolors in a dip pen.

KingProtea3

SketchbookProtea
This was the first one I did. Pent up desire to draw/paint these flowers just came out in one go.

 

Playing with colors and shapes

When I can’t go out, I go in. And usually, that means making art.

I discovered the fabulous Esté MacLeod on Instagram and she quickly became my favorite artist on the platform. She starts with letters or numbers and turns them into beautiful paintings. When I saw that she was offering a free course on playing with shape and color, I was all over it.

The first part was to draw numbers 1 – 9 and turn those digits into leaves, real or imagined.

When I tried to think of ways to do this, I got stuck. But when I just let my pen move and got my head out of it, I ended up with some interesting patterns and shapes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The next step was to put them into more plant-like formations and paint them with watercolor. She encouraged the class to use a dip pen with the watercolor applied by using a brush as well as brush painting. I’d never used this method before and was delighted by the effect.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The next step was to employ potato, carrot, toilet paper roll and other items found in the house, to create flower shapes and then embellish them. Once again, I had trouble because at first they all turned out looking the same and I kept thinking about how I could do it. But when I tried not to think and just moved my hand to draw and paint lines, curves and shapes, the results surprised and delighted me.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

HappyMothersDay
I made this one for my mom since she LOVES flowers and today is Mother’s Day.

Composite
These were all my favorites. I will use them elsewhere, I’m sure.

Studio

IMG_20200509_154416178
My workspace

Shopping during Covid times

The day after we returned from the Big Island, we were directed to start sheltering in place. We’d already planned to do this (after all, we’d been traveling), so it wasn’t a surprise.

It’s just that shopping was (and still is, at time of this post) a scary experience. My therapy is to make comics.

Covid-1

I’m not wearing gloves to the store anymore but I was when I did this comic, and it was a major juggle.

Just wanting to get out asap makes for lousy choices and lower quality produce (grab that bag of mangoes and find out that the ones at the bottom are all wrinkled and kinda brown).

Covid-3

I had seen a video of this doctor who disinfected everything and then I read that I didn’t have to. SO CONFUSING.

Covid-2Stay safe everyone!