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Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

Not to be confused with the 5-second rule (where some believe that if you drop something on the floor, it’s still safe to eat if you pick it up in 5 – maybe 3? – seconds. Yech.) Anyway, this is a whole different animal.

Look at that broad, open expanse – fabulous. Some basics, morning vitamins, access to everything. And that catalog lower left? About to run headlong into the 5-Day Rule!

I created the 5-Day Rule as a result of a massive cleaning effort on my part about 2 weeks ago. Wayyyy too much stuff on my desk, too many things in the way when I needed to get to the stacked sorters, too many chotchkas, just too many, too much and all a distraction. I was long overdue for a clean, inspiring workspace. But where was it all going to go?

I have 2 very spacious file cabinets and they were very full. But that’s where much of the paperwork on top of my desk had to go. It was a huge task and took the better part of 2 days. From those file cabinets I pulled outdated business papers; so many photos and materials from my long-ago dog rescue; and the old boyfriends. (I’ll always remember you in my heart, guys!) I pared and whittled and proceeded to fill both garbage and recycling containers — it was heaven.

Next, I filed away what needed to be filed and then, stripped the desk of what was left and cleaned it. What went back was only what I want and need, giving me complete access to the stacking shelves of current material that I use regularly. The desk is now a vast area of open workspace. Woo hoo!

Okay, so the Komodo dragon is a desktop essential. Somebody has to watch over the day’s work, right?

So what is the 5-Day Rule? Anything I put on the desk, such as that new mail order catalogue, for example, can only be on the desk for 5 days max. That gives me time to read it, order from it, whatever. After 5 days, any item has to be gone, whether in the trash or some other location. And I plan to be brutal about this. Dee Hock says, “Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.” I like that, and I’m sure it also applies to wherever we spend time in our work and creative efforts.  Feeling overwhelmed by clutter? Clear it – you’ll feel a cool breeze of creativity wash right over you. Really.

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Everyone likes to share a little sweetness with someone special at Valentine’s Day. How about sending this adorable Frenchie Valentine?

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Check out those just-frosted cookies  – this cute pied Frenchie is. And they’re not just hearts for Valentine’s Day. Why, yes, there are some cookies with rather familiar big ears! And you know what that means. That these blank notecards are not just for Valentine’s Day but for whenever baking cookies is a good time! Yup. ANYtime!

I’ve drawn these new Frenchie notecards in my usual style, but somewhere in between a sketch and a finely detailed colored pencil drawing, all on a nice, recycled matte paper. Blank inside so you can write to your heart’s content and never be out of season.

We all know how digital everything has become nowadays, but I’d like you to take a moment and remember the last time you opened your mailbox and found inside a real, 3-dimensional card from someone in your life. Put a big smile on your face, didn’t it? I know that’s what happens to me. So go old-school and send some smiles to the wonderful people in your life. Better yet, send those smiles with my adorable (if I say so myself) French Bulldog notecards.

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Do you ever find yourself missing you? And by that I mean a part of you that you have always enjoyed but for which there seems to be little or no time nowadays?

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On the rare occasions that I bake these days, I am reminded of times when I really used to cook and bake a whole lot more … and loved it. So when I do get in the kitchen, and take my sweet time baking a cake, (which may be to raise funds for the local equine rescue I help or when I’m a dinner guest and have offered to bring dessert), I not only enjoy it, but feel like I’ve re-found a part of myself. I call her the “domestic dolly” part of me.

Dolly likes to cook and bake – from scratch, of course – likes to sew, paint stuff – walls, furniture, do crafts – and yes, sometimes, actually enjoys cleaning … or at least the result. But as our lives get busier and stay busier, other things demand our time and attention, and these may fall to the wayside,  and hey, I’m not 28 anymore. Yeah, then there’s that.

So we pick and choose, and try, somewhere along the line, to occasionally rediscover the parts of ourselves that sometimes get lost in the shuffle. It’s a challenge. Life has different demands than in the past. We have different goals. But it’s good to remember ourselves, even if for a little while.

What about you – are you a cook or baker with no time? Love to go out dancing? Travel? Play music? Hike? Just curl up with a good book?

My suggestion? Dust off that `you’ and take her or him out for a spin. Find that time or make that time. If it’s something we love, we can’t afford to go missing.

 

 

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Doodle4GoogleHeader
Do you appreciate kids’ art? You have the opportunity to tell them so by voting for them in this year’s Doodle 4 Google competition.

Each year Google holds an art contest, encouraging kids from kindergarten to 12th grade, broken down into 5 age/grade categories, to submit artwork which would be suitable for the Google header, such as their event header featured above. There was a theme for the children to draw to, and that was “What makes me … me”, and all kinds of materials were acceptable. Google has winnowed the entries down to 53 U.S. state and territory winners and now you can vote for a finalist. You can check out all the details in Google’s How It Works section.

They’re looking for 5 National Finalists, one of whom will have their artwork featured on Google’s Home page. And that one Finalist will receive a $30,000 college scholarship, a $50,000 educational grant for their school, and the list goes on.

But the best part – for me, anyway – is checking out the amazing talent of the kids who created artwork around the Google lettering we’re all so familiar with. If you just want to go straight to the artwork — vote here!

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Doors-ClositerArches2The beginning of each New Year spreads out in front of us – a year of promise, of dreams, of hopes and plans. I leave resolutions for those who are so inclined, and prefer to believe that I will take those steps in exactly the right time.

Ahead are the doors opening to what we dare to dream – what we’d most like to do, our heart’s desire, and how we can get there. Ahead are the doors to our imagination – to what we can create if just given the chance … to those we’ll know, who will inspire us, and whom we can inspire. The doors that take us out and through can take us in as well.

To all who stop by, I wish you the year of your dreams and the open doors to find them.

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TheTigerRising-KDiCamillo2What first draws you to physically pick up a new book? The title? Perhaps. But what makes you think that it may be truly wonderful? Chances are it’s the cover. And when it’s a children’s book?  The artist’s cover illustration is what will make you long to see more.

As an artist/illustrator myself, I am always thrilled to come across new and fabulous illustrators whose work I’ve never seen. This has happened twice recently and I was so impressed with these two artists’ work, I thought I’d share with you.

The first artist is Chris Sheban and I searched him out because I was so taken with the cover art on the Kate DiCamillo book I’m reading – The Tiger Rising. Turns out, Chris has also illustrated another favorite middle grade novel of mine, same author, Because of Winn-Dixie. Take a look at Chris’ portfolio – he’s amazing.

InAVillageByTheSea-AChu2The second artist is April Chu. She came to my attention because she is the illustrator of the soon-to-be-published Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine, the debut children’s book written by author and dear friend, Laurie Wallmark. What inspired me about April Chu are the illustrations of her most recently published book, In a Village by the Sea. It takes a lot of talent to portray the ocean as beautifully as she has, not to mention everything else in her illustrations. Take a peek at April Chu’s portfolio. Her work is truly outstanding.

Just as reading, as well as watching plays, movies, and yes, even TV, adds to our depth as writers, looking at other artists’ work adds to our richness as illustrators.

EdmundDulac-PrincessPea2I’m going to add one more artist who has been a longtime favorite of mine. I can’t add a link to his portfolio because he is no longer alive, but his work glows with a richness and vibrancy that I have loved since I first set eyes on it many years ago. He is Edmund Dulac, born in 1882, passed away 1953.  You can get background on him here, if interested, but will see more of his images here, where prints of his work are for sale. Pictured here is a 1911 illustration of Dulac’s for The Princess and the Pea.

It’s a good day to be inspired!

 

 

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Scarecrow-Bride2Take a walk with me … on the pebbled brick paths through Peddler’s Village … and see what we found along the way to the carousel.

Each year the merchants hold a scarecrow contest, and in front of each shop or restaurant is a scarecrow – or two or three – which is their entry. Although I know there are different entry levels, as I noticed some were the handiwork of children, I don’t know much else. I was just appreciating the creativity of those who put these amazing, sometimes funny and sometimes scary, scarecrows together.

So come and dawdle along, and here are a few of the ones that caught my fancy.

 

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Both the above sat on hay bales outside the shop’s window.

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This maître d’ stood outside one of the well-known restaurants.

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The scarecrows may have been the main attraction, but every shop was completely decked out for Fall.

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And what a fetching bride she was!

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Did you know that Google holds an annual contest – Doodle 4 Google – whereby children in 5 different school grade groups design the Google logo on a specific theme? I just found out, and the voting ends May 10!

The contest is sponsored by the New York Public Library, Crayola, and, of course, Google. This year’s theme is “If I could travel in time, I’d visit ….”   There are several tiers of prizes but the National Winner can really clean up! That person “will have his or her doodle featured on the U.S. Google.com homepage, will be awarded a $30,000 college scholarship to be used at the school of his or her choice, a trip to New York for an event on May 17, 2012, a Google Chromebook computer, a Wacom digital design tablet, and a t-shirt printed with his or her doodle on it. We’ll also award the winner’s full time school a $50,000 technology grant towards the establishment or improvement of a computer lab or technology programming.”  Holy moly! Go vote and help out some talented kid!

Check out the Doodle 4 Google web site for information, but be sure to vote for your favorite. In New Jersey in the Grade 10-12 group, Cynthia Cheng, an 11th grader from Edison, NJ, is our state’s winner, and chose the Vikings. Her artwortk is really fantastic, featured above in smaller format, and you can vote for Cynthia here.

What a great chance for young artists — and perhaps future illustrators — to be recognized. Signing off … I’m going to vote!

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FONT-inaHere’s a fun little diversion for those of you who are mightily drawn to cheese and/or fonts. Play the Cheese or Font Game – it’s quite the challenge!

You are given the name of a cheese or font, and you have to decide which one it is. Sound easy? Guess again! The game seems to have an endless amount of selections, (can you say addictive?), you will be told after each choice if you were correct or not, and what percentage of players got it right.

So give the Cheese or Font Game a go, and let the cheese begin! (Gotta go – getting some crackers.)

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Kerry Blue ProfileStalled? Change your venue!

I prefer the word stalled to blocked, because sooner or later we always get going, and blocked is so …. well, final. One of the things I have found to work when I am feeling stalled is so simple it sounds like the obvious – do what you’re doing someplace else. If you normally draw in your studio, but the space now seems as arid as the desert, take your sketchpad and your materials someplace else. Try the kitchen table, the back porch, the patio, the park, a favorite restaurant or someplace further away.

If it’s writing, and you, as many of us do, write at the computer, but it’s staring back at you with all the blank stare it can muster, shut it off. Grab a notebook and your old-fashioned pen or pencil and go elsewhere. If in the house isn’t far away enough, go further, maybe even for a drive or a subway ride to some other part of town. Sit in a gallery or the library; go eat someplace with fabu food. Hang out with your friend’s dog or cat. You get the idea.

When we have associated our art with a particular location, that very same location can seem the antipathy of inspiration when we have something really BIG to do or are looking at a looming deadline or want to get back to something we started a while ago. Perhaps you haven’t spent time in your creative space recently. So jump start your project somewhere else and you may just find your self rolling along in no time. Works for me; hopefully, for you, too.

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LetterJust a quick entry … for all you graphic designers/artists as well as those who have a fondness for a well-designed page of any sort, but ESPECIALLY for all of you who have a lifetime love affair with fonts – this little video is for you. You may want to play it twice, (or listen very attentively),  because there’s a bit of funny dialogue that isn’t spoken as clearly as it could be in a couple spots. Enjoy!

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As creatives, we often find ourselves stuck – like there’s something in front of us that we know we can only trip over. We don’t want to risk hurting ourselves so we don’t go forward. While staying in place is the seemingly safer path, in the long run it is far more painful. When we don’t try, we don’t grow. Not pushing through ultimately makes us frustrated, depressed, anxious – all the emotions that we don’t want to feel. Ironically, these are good things in the sense that they are signposts showing us the way …when we look at our writing pads, computers, sketchbooks, cameras, canvases, etc and feel those emotions, we see right where our issues are. Thank them and let them go.

As both an artist and a writer, I need to make time for my craft one way or another every day. Because I journal every morning, my writing skills are always kept well-oiled and in gear. While I do need to get new things down, edit and refine, it is much less effort because the fluidity is there. Or I blog, all so I can focus on my real craft, writing for children.

As for my drawing, that takes more effort. Many years ago, when I was in Pratt, our instructors had specific requirements of us students. From when we first took 2-D (drawing) in freshman year, we were required to have our sketchbook with us 24/7. And so we did. When I began to become more involved with photography in my junior year, we were required to carry our camera with us 24/7. Both these exercises had the same result – if you had it with you, you used it.

We began to draw and photograph each other, the cat, the campus, the subway – didn’t matter – it became a routine because that sketchbook or camera was attached at the hip. Admittedly, one felt like a fool after awhile having it there and ignoring it even when going through a dry patch. The bottom line is, make it easy for yourself, be kind, and without criticism, just do it.

All the moaning and excuses in the world won’t get any project advanced, but tinkering about with our craft will. What I’ve found is that even while we’re busily avoiding exactly what it is we truly need to get done, we can trick ourselves by doing something else. For example, I have a heap of work I want to do to strengthen my portfolio. It’s a big task and a lot to do. I really am psyched. But the enormity of it sets me back a bit. Should I do nothing? No – I decided to just draw other things – a little oil in the gears, and then I’m going.

This tree frog I drew has nothing to do with portfolio requirements. It had everything to do with actively kicking aside whatever might be there to trip me. So for all of us – take the back door approach if you will – draw, write, paint, doodle something … anything … just do it!

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