Friday, January 27, 2012

nature in my heart

It's been a mild winter so far. I mean, technically, winter started on 21 December 2011. So, it's only been winter for a little over a month... here in Michigan that usually means we're 2/5ths of the way done. Maybe by May we'll have had the last snow. Maybe. I make no promises.

It's been mild so far, but we still have bitterly cold days - like last Friday it was about 6˚F. Brrrr.
So, I spend most of the winter inside trying to avoid frozen fingers, chapped skin, and shivering. And it's also project time.

Sometimes things just happen. Because when I plan things, the statistical possibilities of the details have this habit of getting in the way... and then I have another thing in the pile of unfinished projects. It's a never-ending cycle.

Well, sometimes I just sit down in front of the computer and go. No over-thinking it, no hemming and hawing... no what ifs.
nature in my heart

The project came together in the span of 3 hours, technically... I had been working on printing photo cards, and in the last few weeks I had done collage Valentines. And well, this project was just the natural progression.

The actual heart - I folded a piece of paper in half and cut it out. It was for yet another incomplete project involving tea bag filters (I drink a lot of tea, and the pattern left on the filter paper of the bags intrigues me). I haven't gotten that project done, but I do have my paper heart. Well, to use the heart for my collage Valentines I scanned it and turned it into a template - so, you know, it's just there in a folder on my computer.

Now, I like weird stuff and arty stuff, and I suppose I like indie stuff. I was always into science in high school. Pictures of cells and microscope enlargements were always just so interesting to look at... so, when I take pictures - I take pictures of all sorts of things - from flowers to the sky to tree bark to rusty things to fallen leaves.

So, I have all these pictures of all these strange things. And I had my heart template, and I thought "why the hell not?" Obviously I'm biased, but I think the finished project looks pretty cool, even if I know some people will think some of them are a bit ookie. I know they're a desired taste kind of thing.

You can check them out here ; )

I've been on a bit of a project spree lately, partly from being stuck inside, and I suppose residually because it's January. You know, the month of New Year's Resolutions. I'm not so much a resolution person myself... but I suppose I can pretend that I resolved to impulsively execute projects, at least for a little while. Then I can stave off the thought of "what if?"

Saturday, January 21, 2012

ubiquity and tidings of Valentines

This song has no title, just words and a tune... well, okay, actually, it's an Elton John song from "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road." My Mom had that record. It was a double LP, those were a big deal back in the day. "This Song Has No Tittle" is one of my favorites from that album along with "Grey Seal" and "The Ballad of Danny Bailey." Anyway, I like that song and when I thought about presenting another blog entry - it popped into my head.

I'm not a religious person, and I've never taken much stock in the adage that everything happens for a reason. I think there is the explicable and the inexplicable, and someday what was once inexplicable will one day be explained. Time marches on, time stands still... Yeah, I'm one of those people who likes Warren Zevon. We can't all be the same, you know.

Anyway, I tend to come from the camp of thinking that often (but not always) things are relative, and discordant threads can be connected. So, let's give it a whirl, shall we?

I just spent 20 minutes re-working my banner for my etsy shop. If I was a different person, then I might plan to do this stuff and have everything coordinated and whatnot. But that's not me. I looked at the stuff I was working on, I looked at the way stuff was organized in my shop... and I thought it's time for a new banner... since I think I had the current one for like 3 whole weeks. I hear that's like centuries in internet time.
I like internal rhyme, alliteration, assonance, consonance - that kind of stuff. So, after I'd been on etsy for what felt like a century I looked at my one shop and thought "well, this thing needs a name, I guess." I mean, if you go on the etsy forums — a whole gaggle of people will tell you that your shop name is really important or some such thing... but they'll tell you a lot of things.

My shop is actually sarahknight, but I can slap whatever text I want (within the bounds of reason) on the banner. So, I was bored for 10 minutes or whatever, and I thought up "technicolor emporium." It's rhymey & Latinate-ish, the latter part redundantly indicating it's former...

I seem to have dropped the name. It was, after all, just some thing in my banner; some thing that rhymed. But it was there for about a year, and well, the earth didn't stop rotating around the sun, so, well, it is what it is.

I had this idea that I would do the basic design and then just rotate a segment of a painting or a photo in or out for the background. That was the simplest design... and that lasted for about a year. At least it did until I re-formatted the design early this morning. It's the same difference, just without the idea of a name.

I am Sarah Knight, and the items in the shop are what I make. In real life, as opposed to the internet where this isn't surveillance footage, I make a lot of things. But in addition to sleeping, eating, showering, and leaving the house to go to work or the post office or to buy necessities — I make a lot of stuff. I draw, I paint, I take photographs, I make jewelry, I play with sculpey or clay on occasion... and for whatever reason I have a lot of glitter. I did some cleaning recently, and it's always funny to find stuff that you stashed away in some bag or box somewhere... and virtually every time, for whatever reason, there was a tube of glitter. You'd think I'd have something with glitter in the shop... but I don't.

So, I'm back to having an etsy shop with no title. It's just me — sarahknight. Not that anything has changed, really, because I have the same items. I just have a new banner. As I type this it's the second one from the bottom in that graphic. The previous one was the picture of sprinkles. It's a fun picture, but I never formatted it for the shop, and well... I dunno, it's getting on Valentine's Day, so I guess I should act more Valentines-ish.

I like chocolate and chocolates, I think you might have to be suffering from a medical disorder to not like chocolate or candy or sweet things... that's just not normal. But, I'm not a big Valentine's person. So, every year it rolls around, and I'm like, "oh, yeah, that."

This year I decided to make some Valentine's for people like myself slightly less committed to the conventions of Valentine's Day. I wanted to do something with collage, but I got halfway through that project and just kind of stalled into "meh" territory. It sits in a pile next to the paper cutter. Instead, I was cleaning and I have all these old books hanging around, and well, on etsy everyone prints stuff on old book pages. So, I decided to engage my inner hipster and I too would print stuff on old book pages and make Valentines...

As it turns out - my old book was a psychology text book, and the first page I ripped out - almost at random, since my criteria for a page was something with no pictures and mostly text - was about drugs and the brain. It felt ironically humorous, since I was printing the shape of a heart filled with a selection of one of my photos. Hallucinogen Hydrangea was actually the first one I printed. It seemed adroit. It still makes me chuckle. And well, I am that kind of person, I guess. We couldn't all be Martha Stewart or someone's wonderful mother.
People less committed to 19th century poets and Victorian era decor need Valentines too...

So, while watching "The Finder" I glued my hearts to some poster-board that I cut to size and scored and folded, and then added a coat of varnish... and well, they're done. At least I can cross that off the "things I never got around to doing" list.

So, what does that have to do with my banner? Well, that red-winged blackbird photo is on one of my Valentines, since in order to make them I took a little trip down memory lane and sifted through my photos... the rest of it? Maybe not so much.

I changed up the font. I like Century Gothic. I like Coke, I like the color Violet. Pink Floyd is my favorite band, and I wear a lot of black concert t-shirts. Some things are just ubiquitous. But every once in a while you gotta change something up, or everything just turns into background noise.

So, I nixed Technicolor Emporium and picked a new font. I wanted something in a handwriting style. My go-to font is usually Bickley - because it's just a pretty font. But it wasn't fitting the mood... so I picked something different. Font geeks probably know what that's called. Basically, it's fancy, but it's not too pretty or too uniform. Looks a little less like script and a little more like handwriting - the fancy kind.

I'm totally guilty of being a casual devotee of fancy penmanship. For whatever reason I found making letters in certain shapes or styles to be entertaining way back when we were doing primers in elementary school. I'm quite fond of my own handwriting... you can see me being neat and uniform with my penmanship on my name on my business cards:

And you can see my unyielding fondness for Century Gothic. I like Century Gothic mostly for the circle shape of the "o" and the "e" but also for the "a." You see, my name is Sarah, and no one writes an "a" with that goofy little glyph thing on it (except maybe Lisa Bellamy in fifth grade). It's a relic, is really what I'm saying, and I'm not hipster enough to think it's cool.
Anyway, sometimes people being snarky confuse Century Gothic with Helvetica... if you're having one of those moments — look at the "a" and you'll know which it is.

You probably know me as this face... well, also in my shiny new banner - yeah, those are my eyes. Yes, I do have green eyes. No, I'm not Irish, or descended from Irish people. I've eaten too much goulash to hold onto any such inclinations. Mom had green eyes, and so did Grandma Duda (nee Hajos)... of course, it also has something to do with the bey2 gene and the gey gene... Dad had brown eyes, and Grandma Knight has blue eyes. Yes, go make a punnet square now ; )

Anyway, the photo is one of the product shots I took for the lizard barrettes. Yeah, I'm a weird rock'n'roll kind of girl like that.
In the event that you ever wondered...

That's me.
Mind you, it's a blurry shot, and since I'm trying to smile-ish for the photo I have sort of a dumb look on my face. I do not have glamorous teeth; thanks, Mom. So, yeah, I don't go for the toothy grin or the idea of spending $30,000.00 on dental work. And yes, I am wearing a Pink Floyd t-shirt, and my favorite violet colored shirt with the little red flowers on it from the Gap which I bought at a thrift store like more than 10 years ago. Slackers represent.

Anyway, I spent the last couple of hours sifting through photos... it might not have been the most productive night, since other than a new banner and a new potential banner I didn't make anything per se. But well, it's January, and yesterday we had the coldest day so far this winter. Yes, it was a balmy 9˚F here in Michigan. Obviously that's why I scheduled my appointment to get the oil change yesterday. Brrrrrr.

Anyway, I look forward to April or May when it's warm enough to leave the house, because I'll probably go back to the marsh where I took that photo of the red-winged blackbird...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Picture Story: winter winds

So, in the first week of December I had 2 out of 12 calendar graphics done... and sometimes that means that I flip through the old sketchbooks and look for things that I drew that I never quite got around to finishing. I needed a picture for January, stat.

I think I had some idea about a girl and a snowman sledding. But I was out of time to sketch new ideas...

The snowman with the kite was what I found. There's a note at the bottom that says "for January 2010." What that actually means is that I sketched this in 2009, and was thinking it could be one of the graphics for the 2010 calendar.

I scanned the sketch, converted it to a blue page and printed that. I inked the snowman and the kite, but nixed the birds (which were supposed to be bluejays).

Now, the snowman is wearing a scarf and a hat, so I needed something to fill those in with... this scarf appears in a lot of my winter pictures, like this one.

sapphire sunshine alchemy
For the sky - I wanted something more than just a photo of clouds. So, I decided to combine a scan of one of my paintings with a photo of the sky. I picked "sapphire sunshine alchemy." I played with the color settings and changed out the magenta and yellow - and made the layer more saturated with blue... and then used some layer styles to combine it with a photo of clouds.

"winter winds"
And this is what the finished picture looks like, of course after I filled in the snowman, the snow, and the kite. And that became the graphic for January 2012... so it only took me 2 years to get around to executing it, ha.

Technically, my illustrations may be digital, but visually, they are an accumulation of physical things: drawings, photos, paintings, a scarf... and then there are all those snowflakes in the background that I designed individually. There's a point at which making the picture seems mechanical: draw it, scan the drawing, convert that to a blue page, print it, ink it, scan that, block the scan, and then start filling it with bits and pieces of digital files - like photos or scans... but all that stuff comes from somewhere. I actually stood out in my backyard photographing the sky on some summer day. And I actually went out and took photos of tree bark - which were what was used on the arms of the snowman.

Anyway, it snowed here in Michigan for the first time in 2012 just yesterday. It's pretty, but I would rather not have to drive in it. I guess I like my snow better when it's on paper. At least then I don't have to scrape it off my car.
: )

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Picture Story: fox trot forest

Every year for Christmas I make a calendar. It's the gift that I give to all my relatives. Last year (and by last year I mean 2010) — I was more organized about getting it done for whatever reason... this year? Not so much. It's funny, because I've made one every year for at least the last 6 years. So, you'd think in the first week of December I wouldn't be looking at my sketchbook and computer and thinking "oh, shit."

Yeah, I had one graphic done: fall fantasia
I finished it in September... and actually, every year I have the designated sketchbook that all the general ideas go into. And I drew my little chart somewhere in the back pages:

And things get sketched in, and things get erased, and new things get sketched in... and sometimes this thing isn't that accurate by the time the calendar has actually been produced. Because a lot of it was mocked up in August.

I actually drew the background of this picture a long time ago. And I think when I did I had a different idea of how it was going to look and how I was going to execute the illustration. I think the sky was supposed to be pink, and that I was going to fill in the trees with birch bark. There was probably supposed to be leaf litter on the ground - and I was going to print it out and do an impressionist style of painting of leaves - probably in red or red-orange tones... the entire picture would have a poppy & warm cast.

Instead, I sketched in a fox and a running figure in a cape. I'm sure I was thinking "little red riding hood." But as you may know, it was a wolf, not a fox... I was also thinking etsy cliches. So, yeah, it's a fox, not a wolf. And, yes, the hooded figure has conveniently run almost off the picture plane thus negating the need to draw hands or a face...
Anyway, I scanned the sketch, converted the graphic to a blue page, printed it, and inked it. People that use pens with nibs and ink wells may shriek in horror. Yup, mechanical pens. They make consistent lines. I've also never 'spilled' one all over anything, heh-heh.

In the course of a year, I take a lot of inane photos... at least when I die and someone finally looks through all these things, well, the excitement factor just isn't going to be there. Yes, uh, it's another picture of tree bark. Yes. There's a method to the madness though. I took those mundane, questionable, and inane photos with the intention of using them in bits and pieces somewhere in some illustration... not print them off, frame them, and hang them on a wall.
So, I filled in my trees with birch bark. And I hemmed and hawed and finally picked just the right photo of leaf litter and got it situated... and then hemmed and hawed some more until I had the sky picture that I wanted. And then there was some layering and some big blurry fills, and maybe a color adjustment or ten, and some layers were merged... And yes, my birch forest finally had a ground and a sky. And then I filled in the fox and the hooded figure with some color and printed that out...

Then I take my prismacolor pencils, sort through them until I have the colors I need or think that I need - and I color over the print out.
Of course, once that's done (5 December 2011) then I scan in my colored print out and make any necessary adjustments...

fox trot forest

Of course, at the time there were still 10 more illustrations to finish in 17-20 days depending on when my family was actually planning on doing Christmas. Ha ha ha...

It's amusing to reflect though, and watch everything come together when deadlines are fast approaching. Suddenly decisions are easier to make. Things don't get to just drag on or "I'll do it later." As it turns out - later is now.

I suppose this is why some people buy presents or give people money or gift cards at Christmas. But that's just not who I am. I'm not a religious person, and my family isn't particularly religious either. Christmas is a time when we get together and actually spend time with each other. And yes, it's about gifts and food...

I'm not religious, but I also don't spend X amount of dollars per person or budget for Christmas gifts or whatever. There's a fine line between being non-religious and profanely materialistic. I'm also the weird one in the family, so in addition to the calendar everyone gets an assortment of candy, and a lot of people got socks this year. Sometimes the dumbest gifts come in the handiest - like when it's been a while since the socks and underwear have been washed, and you just need one more pair. And really, who hates candy? Well, besides my overly picky sister? Everyone can blame her for all the chocolate and the mint. I was standing there in the store with a bag of truffles that were flavored like pumpkin (or something else really questionable) but I put them back... because even I couldn't pull the full on Grandma Duda and buy chocolates with pumpkin filling. She was an adventurous lady ; )

So, I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday - whatever you do with it... now I just have 10 more pictures to write about.