My goal for 2019 is print and sell more of my own stuff on Etsy. So here’s my first effort! The best part is I sized this to fit a ready to hang frame you can find on Amazon or at Ikea. The paper is 11 x 14 and the image fits an 8.5 x 11 display.
I’ve been spending more time painting from pictures I’ve taken, or ones I find, of the weird and wonderful people of New York City. Here I was inspired by those fabulous ladies of upper Manhattan. Never change old ladies wearing expensive jewelry and who have more square footage than I’ll ever live in. I give you more points if you also have a tiny dog in a bag.
I’m a little in shock it’s already 2019, aren’t you? This past year was so fast! To usher in the new year, I made a free calendar to get things started! You can download my free 2019 calendar to print on your own if that’s your thing.
Overall, the best thing I did in 2018 (besides move into my own apt in Ditmas Park!) was practice and practice and practice art. I’m at this point where I look back at things I’ve done and I’m ready to completely redo them, to keep learning, like I’ve hit a new plateau with my skills. I also sold prints and a custom commission via my Etsy store which was a great first time accomplishment. I’m working on that gratitude for things I’ve learned and for myself everyday, especially when it comes to improving a skill like painting.
On a similar note, for the past five days I’ve had all of my social media logged off on my computer and my phone. As I’m writing this, I haven’t checked Instagram in what feels like the longest time. There is nothing wrong with Instagram and social media in general, but I think I have to reset my use of them in 2019 simply because I’m losing time to focus on other things.
So, here’s to 2019 spent in my lovely apartment, full of art, and more time spent doing things away from my phone with people and animals and places. I hope to see you!
My 2018 in Favorites
Trip: Montreal in early December in the snow and cold.
Book: My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Ottessa Moshfegh
Eaten: Honeycomb ice cream is the best flavor I never knew I loved.
New York moment: A summer day when we went to four boroughs in one day. If only we had hit up Staten Island, too.
Music: Janelle Monae, Dirty Computer
Podcast: I’ve kind of stopped listening to new podcasts, so long live Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.
Art: Of course Hilma af Klint
Thing I learned: How to make a kid lit dummy book. How to print and sell some art.
Thing I bought: Bryr Clogs! Long time lurker first time buyer.
Thing I cooked: Instant Pot Butter Chicken
Happy New Year!
For this year’s Inktober, I drew a series of wild things in New York City, from fish in Chinatown markets to lavender on Governor’s Island to parakeets that reside in Southern Brooklyn. What I really liked about this year’s challenge was that I told myself I could only use one box of Blick Brush markers and a single black pen. Restricting color made me more resourceful in needing to use texture, layered colors, and black pen brush strokes with fast drawing techniques to give the impression of what I wanted. I also enjoyed forcing myself to draw something with color every day. I don’t feel the same about each drawing, some were made quit fast or at coffee shops even while on vacation, but a few I really love now. I see them each as a beginning of a larger idea just maybe.
I’m now gearing up to work on a portfolio for 10 to 12 images for the SCBWI New York Conference in February. I’m pretty nervous! But I found a lot of inspiration from this Inktober challenge for that. I’m thinking I might want to do a lot of New York City wildlife scenes for my portfolio, maybe turtles in Central Park or raccoons sneaking into trash cans.
I've been having a lot of fun making patterns recently, using old sketches, work doodles, and even things I've found on random pieces of paper. This one of summer vegetables I made from an unfinished sketch at least three years old. I'm loving my new color palate here.
Download the free summer vegetable pattern, too.
I want to illustrate a full children's book dummy about a New York City bodega cat this summer. So here's a wallpaper I made with my sketchbook studies I've done for the project. Repeat patterns are a great way to keep me occupied and slowly chipping away at the goal while binge watching an TV show.
When I was in ninth grade, with extremely frizzy hair and a strange sense of style that only the early aughts could produce, I met a librarian who told me about poetry. It was a simple breakthrough in my life of books.
This librarian helped me finish an assignment for my honors english class one afternoon at our town's public library. She also serendipitously told me I should I read Lawrence Ferlinghetti's A Coney of the Island of the Mind, too.
Up until that point, I'd really never had an adult show me the good stuff in reading beyond me stealing my mom's Oprah paperbacks. It ushered in a desire not just for poetry but for all kinds of books I'd hadn't been thinking about.
I loved Ferlinghetti's anti-classical form instantly, how what he wrote spoke to feelings I'd had about living in our times even if we experienced different Americas. He was nothing like the sonnets we were learning in class. I didn't need to track his literary devices. I didn't even know who or what the beats were, but I felt like I could actually read what he wrote.
I bought his book on my own after returning that library copy. I never really loved Kerouac or the other beats after that. It was always A Coney Island of the Mind for me.
Even today, I think about his style, especially in this weird time and place in the world. I still have my copy that I move with me from apartment to apartment. Once in San Francisco, I stopped in City Lights hoping I'd get a sighting of him. Maybe I will someday.
(excerpt from I Am Waiting, Lawrence Ferlinghetti)
Happy Almost Summer! I'm wearing a great vintage dress today that I thought I'd have to wait until the actual summer to wear because it's going to be in the 80s. I also made a thrifted (Poshmark, you devil you!) purchase of bright yellow saltwater sandals that kind of match this months free wallpaper. Now I'm thinking I need them in gold, too?
In honor of that summer feeling, download my lemons wallpaper repeat pattern for your desktop.
I'd gladly take a trip to Cinque Terre Italy right now, to eat a slice of lemon olive oil cake.
I love the desktop backgrounds I find over at Design Love Fest so I thought it might be nice to start making my own too. You can expect these to be my new monthly project. So keep your eyes out for more!
Download my free desktop background of house plants to start your spring office day right.
If you're interested, I have a house plants print for sale, too.
March is Women's History month! So in honor, here are a few articles I've saved over the past year or so to remind myself that the path to being an artist (or whatever you want to call it) is long and varied. It's also good to feel positive about women making it for their work and art whenever I'm feeling stuck or confused. It's not a competition, but a journey.
"From one point of view, I’ve succeeded, because I am making a living doing this. But even if I didn’t, the bottom line is that at least I have tried. If we try really hard and things don’t work out the way we want them to, we can move on. ."
"You would think I spend most of my day creating this fun artwork, right? Actually most of my days are filled with reviewing contracts, managing current licensing relationships, developing new licensing relationships, and researching (trends, what’s in the market, etc.) Everyday is different, which I love.
"Like many game-changing ideas, Women Who Draw started in a bathroom. “I was literally sitting on the toilet, looking through a stack of a well-known magazine that uses illustration on the cover,” Rothman, an illustrator based in Brooklyn, remembers. “That’s when I realized: I recognized most of the cover illustrators—but none of them were women.”"
You know what's great about New York? The bodega. The corner store. The deli. You can pick your name of choice.
I love being able to buy a single diet coke with a straw anywhere, at any time. I love egg and cheese as a universal deli rite. I drink lowbrow coffee, with no shame, from my bodegas. Give me a small hot coffee with no sugar, thank you very much. Even if I'm in a current battle with my deli by my work office (how do you mess up a simple turkey sandwich so many times?) I can't imagine living in New York without them. I'll keep coming back, always trying to make the credit card minimum.
I loved this story from the past year from NPR on the bodega. It's neat to think of them as also cultural institutions that change with people and places, passing down through families, and making their mark of New York City.
My Sunday vibes this wintry day are:
Thinking about making a cold soba noodle salad for the week
Drawing and coloring with Blick brush markers (above illustration.) They're more affordable than Copic markers but just as great.
Exploring Woodside, Queens on a wintry afternoon trip.
Bagels are a reason I can't leave New York. Growing up in pretty basic New England town, we had one guy who made bagels the New York Way. They were good, not great, but chewy in a much better way than most non-metro area bagels tend to be. Then I moved to New York and started eating Bagel Bob's all the time. Hello, pimento olive cream cheese. A bagel love affair began in my life and has yet to cease.
Currently my favorite bagels are found at the edge of the Upper West Side and Morningside Heights at Absolute Bagels. This is a non-frills, kinda grimy, bagel cafe.It is not meant for Instagram selfies with matcha and pink walls. But they are one of the best in New York according to Eater!
The bagels are just right: they're chewy, not too big, not too small, salty and perfectly New York-ish. You can literally watch as the bagels are boiled and baked here, emerging from the giant oven like little golden nuggets of joy. The everything bagel is perfectly garlicky and salty, which is my real taste test for a bagel. If there is no salt I am done, that's it. Your bagel is dead to me.
I can't describe it actually but you just know what a good bagel is when you take that first bite.
Spring for the Thai iced tea if you're an iconoclast. It makes a good bagel friend.
Absolute Bagel 2788 Broadway, 108th St.
I feel like the scene of instagramable softserve has exploded in the past five years. I'm a fan of one of the originals in that very important life category (I kid) namely Momofuku Milk Bar's cereal milk. I'm also partial because I live very close to their Upper West Side location so I'm constantly sneaking in trips, even in the winter.
The cereal milk flavor typifies a flavor profile I love: it starts out weird and then sinks right into umami addiction. I love when things are oddly salty and oddly sweet all at once. The layers are perfect here, too You get the crunchies on the top AND the bottom.
Momofuku Milk Bar Many locations across NYC
I started lingering at Caffe Reggio while an undergraduate. Their panini and espresso appealed to my precious nineteen year old self, looking for that dark and quiet sense of another world as angsty college kids are often looking for. Being too manic to decide on any one path (hello, the rest of my life,) I didn't study abroad in college. But I did have Cafe Reggio, which felt like my version of the european bohemian spot, like an Italian cafe exciting to the life of a lowly suburban teenager.
Caffe Reggio opened in 1927 by Italian immigrants, becoming a feature in New York City's cultural scene ever since. It's even a star in movies like The Godfather and Inside Llewelyn Davis. I enjoy the roped off school of Caravaggio painting hanging on the wall, like you've just happened into a bit of a derelict art museum on some side street in Florence. The original espresso machine, large and luminous, is also perched on the side watching as you read and sip a latte.
A cast of characters are always present inside: tourists, locals, college kids, that one dude reading a philosophy book alone, couples on dates, Americans sort of confused as to what New York City is, and everyone in-between.
Over the years I've eaten almost everything off their menu. I like it best though when I order a glass of wine, or a tea, or an espresso, but just with dessert. It's one of the few places I can count on to have chocolate mousse readily available for a leisurely evening.
Caffe Reggio 119 MacDougal St., New York, NY10012
Every New Year's day I always go out for a long walk and I always get a calendar to hang up in our apartment. This year, in the absolute bitter cold, we made our way from pancakes at Spring Natural Kitchen on the Upper West Side to keep this tradition going. The walk wasn't as long this year, though. It was more of a freezing huddle dance as we looked at the frozen over Central Park reservoir. After a subway ride where icicles were hanging inside the subway tunnels like ominous reminders winter is not messing around this time, we made it to The Strand. It was absolutely stuffed full of people all looking for somewhere warm to go. It's the best place to spend any afternoon, full of tourists or not.
I decided this year to make my own calendar, changing the routine a bit. I always want a calendar for home as well as my office at work, so it seemed like a good time to just use my sketchbook as an inspiration so I could print multiple versions, hanging them up with washi tape wherever I desire. Perhaps it is now a new tradition?
If you're looking for a free printable 2018 calendar too, feel free to download the PDF.
A lot changed for me in the past year. I moved from Brooklyn to Manhattan, took a new job, tried to feel grateful every day (thanks, therapy!), recognized where I need to change, started to change, recognized not so good friends, recognized good friends, saw a lot of performing arts which was my only goal for the year. On top of it all, I took several art and design classes from graphic design to UX to illustration, really challenging myself to be creative in a multitude of ways.
I really grew in my art practice. It's so easy to feel like an interest is daunting when you're just beginning so it's nice to take a break and appreciate where I've come in what I started to call this year The Art School of Life.
My 2017 in Favorites
Trip: A birthday in Hong Kong when I turned 30. Movie: Ladybird with Okja in a close second place. Theater: Animal Wisdom Book: Pachinko, Min Jin Lee Eaten: Absolute Bagels New York moment: Walking in northern Central Park. Music: SZA and Lorde. Podcast: The Daily. So simple and short. Art: Chantal Joffee at Cheim Reid. Her work is an inspiration, with such bold figures and colors. Thing I learned: Silk painting at the Textile Art Center, I need to get back there for more classes. Thing I bought: Everlane denim. I've been wearing two pairs of these high rise jeans since they launched. I'm a convert. Also this Innisfree serum. Thing I cooked: This easy lemon tart.
It's almost Christmas but I didn't get to most of the things I thought I'd get to this holiday season, of course. I didn't make those gingersnaps I loved last year, the ones stuffed with cream cheese frosting. I didn't craft any homemade cards. I also decided not to make my yearly biscotti for my dad, opting instead for other gifts because my tiny kitchen is overloaded right now.
But I did get a small streetside Christmas tree, strung with my favorite strange ornaments--with a felted penguin added this year (thanks, Brian!)--that is just right sized for my current tiny apartment. I did bring home gifts from Spain and France for family and friends, so shopping was a bit easier. Plus I've already braved the line at the post office. And just this Saturday I went to see the Dyker Heights Christmas lights which was hilariously fun.
I guess it's better to aim for a few things, not a million.
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On view: Day after Thanksgiving until New Year's Eve
Nom Wah Tea Parlor opened in in 1920, the start of a long (and still going) life in the heart of New York City's Chinatown. It's a longstanding institution that also tells the social-history of the Chinese in all of America, from exclusion to inclusion. I've always found it's storefront to be beautiful, a worn but bright mix of colors on the outside, with an 1950's seeming interior peeking through the windows in a faint neon glow. The dim sum is fast and casual, with the usual stars that are always just right.
And now Nom Wah has expanded with hipper locations in the past few years, a fun sign of what is old is also new again. It's nice for an New York City institution to be growing, not closing.
I always hope to sit in the window, by the maneki neko and the potted plants, at the original. It's a perfect spot.
Nom Wah Tea Parlor 13 Doyers St. New York, NY 10013 (212) 962-6047
I'm feeling energized after a Thanksgiving vacation abroad with a lot of inspiration from the Catalan ceramic tiles and the medieval architecture of hill towns in Luberon. I'll be posting more art and recommendations based on my trip to Barcelona and Provence as I start sketching more of what I saw there.
I'm happy to be back in New York City for the Christmas season. Time for a solstice tree bought from a street vendor.