Illustrations

Inktober 2018: Wild Things in New York City

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.

Summer Vegetables Free Pattern

I'm in the middle of moving all of my possessions but I'm not letting that stop my constant art school of life approach to learning always.

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.

 

 

Free Cats Desktop Wallpaper for June

Happy June!

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.

Download the cat desktop wallpaper.

A Coney Island of the Mind

 

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.

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I am waiting for my case to come up   
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting   
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier   
and I am waiting   
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right
and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead
and I am waiting
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe
for anarchy
and I am waiting
for the final withering away
of all governments
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

(excerpt from I Am Waiting, Lawrence Ferlinghetti)

Free Lemon Desktop Wallpaper for May

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.

Inspiration from Women Artists

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.

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Illustrator Yuko Shimizu on starting a creative career in your 30s and keeping home and work life separate

"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. ."

Surface Pattern Designer Khristian A. Howell

"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.

Two Artists Built a Website to Help Women Illustrators Get More Work

"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.”"

Sunday Vibes

My Sunday vibes this wintry day are:

Listening to electro pop of The Stars on There is No Love in Fluorescent Love 

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.

Reading The History of Wolves and Call me By Your Name.

Exploring Woodside, Queens on a wintry afternoon trip.

 

Absolute Bagels

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.

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Absolute Bagel 2788 Broadway, 108th St.

Momofuku Milk Bar Cereal Milk Always and Forever

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.

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Momofuku Milk Bar Many locations across NYC

Hello 2018

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.

Happy Holidays!

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.

Happy holidays!

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Dyker Heights Christmas Lights 11th to 13th Avenues from 83rd to 86th St in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn.

On view: Day after Thanksgiving until New Year's Eve

Nom Wah Tea Parlor

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.

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Nom Wah Tea Parlor 13 Doyers St. New York, NY 10013 (212) 962-6047

Sketchbook Scenes from Spain and France

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.

Food Crawling Around Montreal

blog_guide_montrealI love our almost yearly trips to Montreal to visit family. That old cliche The Most Beautiful City in North America rings true. Montreal has a certain historic charm crossed with a old French city vibe that both reminds me of Boston meets a small French city meet San Francisco (if it got really cold, that is.) The old Port is old world, then Westmount reminds me of a bit of Boston's Back Bay, while the streets of Plateau Mount Royal and The Mile End are a mix of hip art, food, and students. I love too that city always seems to have some kind of festival happening no matter the time of year. We've visited in the summer, fall, and even Winter (bring your long underwear, though!) yet there is always something on view like the international fireworks show and jazz fest.

It's funny when you visit a city often for family though, because you're not exactly being a tourist the way you would on another kind of trip. But through these occassions I've come to know how bike-able and walkable Montreal is no matter our itineraries. I'm familiar more and more with the joys of climbing Mount Royal, the public markets, the amazing street art, strolling alongside St. Lawrence, navigating the underground to fight the cold, as well as the glorious Expo 67 architecture.

This year I decided to add to our trip with a guided food tour day, majorly helped by a pair of in-the-know hip Montrealers. Cousins are great! We decided to primarily focus on the Plateau and Mile End as they're both full of hip food destinations and very easily walked in a long day of eating and drinking.

Highlights from our food crawl for me were definitely buttery slices of Kouign Amann, fatty delicious smoked meat, and lounging at a local gastropub for beer.

Of course, there is a lot more to eat and see in Montreal than this little jaunt so take it as a starting point for your food crawl and not an exhaustive list. Next time I'd love to venture farther out east as well as explore more of the markets.

Montreal Food Crawl 

in no patricular order 

Atwater Market: This one is nearer to Westmount as well as the canal,  but a classic open market. It's great for cheese, maple, butchers, and basically everything fresh to eat. Kem Coba: Interesting flavored ice cream shop just made for instagram but still worth it. I recommend my cherry almond swirl soft serve. Dieu du Ciel: This is a great Montreal brewpub! They have a terrace, too. I loved the hibiscus infused draft I tried. Saint Viateur Bagels: Hand-rolled Montreal bagels! Take them to go to just eat freshly baked, dipping into cream cheese tubs. Cafe Myriade: A great latte is always needed on a food crawl itinerary. Cheskies: Decadent Jewish chocolate Babka. I could eat this forever. Pâtisserie Au Kouign Amann: An ethereal buttery cake from Brittany.  Hof KelstensA hip Jewish boulangerie with great coffee and treats. Shwartz's: Smoked meat! This is like what Katz's is to New York City.

p.s. Well okay I didn't include this intially but yes, we ate Poutine at Cafe Claudette. I couldn't help myself. While we tried many versions, I loved the classic. What can I say I love all french fries!

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Inktober Week 4: Why I Love New York

I finished my first Inktober! It was a rush to the finish. I'm very glad I got to think and draw about New York City all month, a place I love to live in, even though it's not always on my side. Hello, stepping in dog poop on my block.

The main thing I learned from this all month draw-a-thon is that drawing fast, every day, is great in strengthening visual thinking and sketching. Even if every drawing didn't come out exactly how I wanted it to at first, I felt my ability to get a drawn concept from mind to sketchbook getting easier with the daily practice.I've taken inspiration from this element of Inktober then, adding a reminder to my phone to draw every night. Maybe some days I won't make it, but if I can, I know it will be a creative practice to keep.

Inktober Week 4: Why I Love New York Corona Park for the World's Fair Unisphere Bodega Roses Times Square (because it's like turning the lights on in the middle of the night) The Art Deco Chrysler building Pigeons! They eat my crumbs even if I am afraid of them sometimes. My metrocard. Dim Sum in chinatown in Manhattan, Queens, AND Brooklyn. Meeting by the clock at Grand Central. And finally, all the wonderful, interesting, weird, and different people of New York City.

NYC Pizza I've Known: Martina

PizzaIveKnown_Martina Martina is a new fast Roman pizza place by the ever expanding Shake Shack crew. I eagerly awaited it's arrival as both a budget New York dining and pizza aficionado.

To start, they have a fried risotto suppli and a lemony arugula salad. I love simple dressed salads, call me a boring lady, but it's my favorite side dish to pizza. The pizzas here remind of Rome through and through: zucchini flowers, gooey mozzarella, spicy salami, and a cracker crust. Martina is a good mix of delicious and quick, a spot I can see myself stopping in before a cocktail date or post-movie in the neighorhood. True to the style, you can drink prosecco in plastic cups which is delightful.

Next time I've got to try the dessert of flor di latte soft serve gelato because it sounds amazing.

I love the illustration on the paper that lines their metal trays, of course. __

Martina 198 East 11th Street East Village, NYC