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Hands up who's a lifetime member of the Mary Blair Appreciation Society (if there is such a thing)? Meeeeee!!!
I've loved Mary Blair since I was little & first read I Can Fly. Isn't it funny how kids study things so intently? Well I know every brush stroke of every illustration from that book, & when I recently got hold of a first edition copy & flicked through its pages for the first time in over 30 years, it was like being dumped over the head with an ice-cold bucket of 'OMG, I remember that!' My favourite picture was the one I've featured here, of the little girl as a make-believe worm in her fuzzy green beret & matching cardie. I wanted an outfit just like it when I was 5 - so stylish!
The beauty of Mary Blair's work is that it's just as fresh as it was 50 years ago, & her influence extends into the 21st century with so many artists (either consciously or otherwise) borrowing a little something (or a lot) from her style.
There's so much I could say about her work - about her amazing instinct for colour, how much I love her textures, the way she uses paint, etc, etc - but what I love most is her energy & spontaneity, the boundless sense of joy, & most of all, the memories her art evokes.
The illustrations I've posted are scanned from my own collection as follows...
Top Left: from the front flyleaf of The Golden Book of Little Verses by Miriam Clark Potter, first published 1946.
Top Right: also from The Golden Book of Little Verses.
Centre Top: from I Can Fly by Ruth Krauss, first published 1950.
Centre Bottom: Two spot illustrations from The New Golden Song Book, first published 1945.
Bottom Right: from the endpapers of The New Golden Song Book.
Well, yesterday was my birthday & I waved goodbye to my 30s. I also just happened to finish my current sketchbook the same day (I rip through at least one a month) & my new scanner was delivered. So put it all together & what do you get? A blog entry with some scans from my sketchbook.
I'm a perfectionist by nature (& I don't mean that in a good way) so I have to approach my sketchbooks with the attitude that they're for my eyes only & it doesn't matter how messy & unfinished they are. If I was too conscious of showing them to other people, it'd defeat the purpose of having a place to scribble down the seeds of ideas that may or may not grow into something. So for that reason, my sketchbooks are not particularly interesting...but here are a couple of the less scribbly pages.
You might recognise the fox from my Fox & Flowers print. The colour samples are gocco inks.
In other news...I've been adding more pages to my blog, including one about my mailing list (there will soon be a link to it in my sidebar). Just wanted to let you know that subscribers to my mailing list will be eligible for monthly giveaways & the first one will be held at the beginning of November, so go join my email list if you'd like to be in the running for regular Magic Jelly freebies!
Please tell me I'm not the only one who's hopelessly disorganised...
Starting my new blog right at the busiest time of the year isn't what I'd call great timing. I'm itching to get it finished, but there are only so many hours in the day, & most of those I seem to be planted in front of the 'puter lately or bundling up wholesale orders.
I did just upload some button & mirror designs to the Products page I'm working on...including some new ones that I'll list in my Etsy shop as soon as the weather's brighter & I can take some good pics!
I hope you're more organised than I am...
People sometimes ask me about my photo manipulations - how much of them is real, & how much is digital trickery. I thought I'd post a few before & after pics...I don't know about you, but I find them interesting to look at.
Firstly is the original photo I used for Gone to Earth: Plate One. As you can see, I even gave the poor boy a new face!
Although photo manipulation, retouch & restoration aren't my main line of work, I still do some commissions from time to time, & also like to do them sometimes just for enjoyment. I find restoration very relaxing...kind of like unravelling a big ball of tangled string (but rather more creative!), you can zone out & just lose yourself in the painstaking detail of the task.
It's incredibly difficult to colourise a B & W photo convincingly. Sometimes you want that flat, over-painted look that has a kind of retro quirkiness, but other times you might want to bring the photo to life in a more realistic way. Skin tones are particularly hard to do. No one's skin is uniformly one colour, you have to add those subtle variations like a little redness on the nose & maybe blueish shadows under the eyes.
A friend of mine bought a cardboard folder full of glamour photos from the 1940s & I had a lot of fun messing with them. As you can see from this example, the original has degraded with time; the mid-tones & shadows are quite flat. I've tried to freshen it up, not only with colour, but also bringing back some dimension with tonal adjustments, & painting in some highlights. Her face & arm are quite flat in the original so I've rounded them out in the colourised version with some airbrushing. The hair is still pretty flat & there was not much I could do to bring back the lost detail. I've added a few subtle highlights, but I didn't want to overwork it & make it look too painted.
I love a good milestone, & today I reached a doozy - my 1,000th sale on Etsy! I can't believe I've sold so many things! That's a lot of customers, & a lot of parcels, & a lot of work.
I am so grateful for my good fortune & want to give a big thank you to all the wonderful buyers who got me to 1,000. That includes quite a few return customers too - thank you so much! And let's not forget my fellow sellers & artists who've helped me along the way with their generosity & wisdom - & thank you Etsy for being so good to me!
My 1,000th sale was my Sunday Morning print which I think was one of the very first artworks I listed & has sold really well ever since. Thanks to Etsy, it even made an appearance in American Airline's in-flight magazine.
I wanted to do something extra special for my 1,000th sale, so have made up a little gift package for my 1,000th buyer, Stiletto Heights.
In addition to her purchase she will receive the following...
I hope she likes them!
Thanks again for everyone's support - here's to the next 1,000 sales! :)
When my sister Josella & I were kids, we used to collect little treasures such as toys from cereal boxes, Christmas crackers & vending machines, & keep them in tin toffee boxes (we had one each) which we called our 'Little Things Box'. We'd spend hours looking through our prized collections, & sometimes we'd swap pieces. I remember in particular, a pink plastic poodle I loved, & a tiny deck of playing cards. I wish we had kept those relics of our childhood (remember Bretodeau's boyhood stash in Amélie?) - I'd love to see them again!
I still collect plastic toys & keep them in vintage cigar boxes. Here's a small sample from my collection. Some were bought from Covetable Curiosities' & A. Bel Emporium's Etsy shops. The rest I found foraging at secondhand markets. I love my collection of little things!
Now where are you ever going to see a spectacle like this other than in a bizarre Max Fleischer cartoon? In the lead up to Halloween, here's one of my very favourite cartoons from the 1930s. Betty Boop runs away to a haunted cave to the soundtrack of Minnie the Moocher by Cab Calloway sung by the ghost of a walrus - truly surreal! Check out Cab's moves at the beginning.
You can download it from the Internet Archive where you'll find a wealth of amazing stuff - I practically live there!
Check out this voluptuous little number...it's from a 1950s outdoor setting that I made my friend buy last week. I'm really good at convincing people to buy things...I'm that little cartoon devil that sits on your shoulder & whispers, "Go on...you know you want to..."
He did want it, but just needed that extra little push.
There's another chair & a two-seater. I just love those curvy lines & curlicues. So elegant & fine, like an ink drawing. In fact, it reminds me of mid-20th century illustration that has that organic sketchiness & spontaneity, & lots of curly lines. Much like the work of one of my favourite illustrators, Mary Blair (I'm planning a little Mary Blair tribute in my blog soon!).
I think I'm going to sit out in the garden in the sun & draw this chair...
I've had these Moleskine notebooks half finished for a few months now. They need something...I'm just not sure what yet.
My love for brown kraft is bordering on obsessive. But who can blame me? It compliments almost any colour & has that beautiful, tactile texture, almost like wood. It's oldschool, low-tech & utilitarian. It takes ink really well. And it smells good.
So I thought I'd explain the significance of that phrase & why I had it written on a bracelet (see previous post). A few years ago I was going through a particularly stressful time where I was constantly in worry mode. I woke up one morning with this sentence in my head..."Everything you need, you carry around with you." I don't know where it came from - whether I dreamed it or picked it up somewhere - but I like to think it was my inner-wisdom sending me a little message to help me put things back in perspective & stop fussing about inconsequential things. It was the inspiration behind this picture (top right), which was one of my very first vector illustrations when I was learning how to use Illustrator.
And so started my fascination with masked women. There's something so powerful about this image - I keep drawing it over & over again. She turned up again in Giddyup & more recently, my Benediction series.
It's my birthday in a couple of weeks & I thought I'd treat myself to something I've been coveting for a while...a custom made bracelet by Keys & Memories made from vintage celluloid typewriter keys. Yep, that's my name (very handy in case I ever get amnesia). I love love love it!
This is my second custom jewellery purchase from Etsy. I also have a beautiful silver cuff made by Kathryn Riechert. I obviously like jewellery with text on it. This cuff features a little message that's very personal & meaningful to me..."Everything you need, you carry around with you."
Further to yesterday's post, the giveaway promotion has now been launched over at indie art & design
Go check it out for the chance to win this swag of Magic Jelly stuff!
I am very happy & honoured to be featured on indie art & design this week - a fantastic Australian art & design blog run by Carolyn. She has written the most thoughtful & eloquent critique of my work - thank you so much Carolyn! She's also organising a giveaway of some of my stuff, so stay tuned to her blog for further announcements!