Friday, May 27, 2011

The Fish Bridge to Japan Project - Gyotaku printmaking

What do you know about natural science printmaking? Not much? Me either, until just recently!

Through the Guild of Natural Science illustrators (GNSI) I learned about a project that one of the GNSI members, Stephen Di Cerbo, is working to get funded through Kickstarter called The Fish Bridge to Japan. Stephen has been developing his technique in Gyotaku printmaking for over 20 years and is hoping to travel to Japan to study under the tutelage of master Gyotaku printmaker Mineo Yamamoto.

As described on Stephen's blog, Icthyography, Gyotaku is "a relatively new art form [that] came to America in the 1950s and its history can be traced back a couple hundred years. Used to identify species of fish and record size of catches, gyotaku is often seen as a parallel to Taxidermy. It has evolved into an art form and unique type of illustration, and techniques and methodology continue to be refined today. A form of relief printmaking, it allows for an intimate familiarity with the morphology of the fish.

Not only are Gyotaku images popular in gallery art and editorial illustration, the process is a great tool for art and science educators to expose students to ichthyologic identification and morphology, as well as relief printing."

How cool does that sound?

I have been a member of GNSI since 1998 and am continually in awe of the very talented artists and illustrators who are a part of this group. I am going to contribute to the fund and hope to encourage others to do so if you are so inspired! 

Pledges start at just $1.00 and Stephen is offering pledge rewards to those who back his project including note cards, limited edition prints and more - check out the project details at The Fish Bridge to Japan. He only has until May 31st at 12pm EDT to reach his pledge goal.

Even if you don't want to pledge, click on over and take a look to learn more about this fascinating art form!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Spring Giveaway winner! And some big Zazzle Memorial Day sales.

Congratulations to Brittany R. who is the winner of my Spring Giveaway!

Thank you all so much for participating! And thanks for all of the additional Facebook fans and blog followers! I will be adding more drawings and creative posts throughout the summer.

But wait! There's more :) 

Zazzle is offering some great Memorial Day sales. Come on by and check it out! Great gifts for graduates, Father's Day, summer fun and more!
Use this code at checkout: MEMORIALSALE

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Only One More Day! Reminder - Spring Giveaway!

You have just one more day to enter my Spring Giveaway! At 12 noon tomorrow, Thursday, May 26, I will use a random number generator to choose a winner from the comments listed in my original post from last week. 

See the post for details and enter today!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Giveaway! Botanical Art Note Cards and Matching Seals

It's giveaway time!
In honor of spring, I am excited to offer another give away, this time it's a set of 5 of my botanical note cards with matching botanical seals! The set includes the following illustrations:

  • African Daisy
  • Purple Cyclamen
  • Daffodil
  • Woodland Peony Seed Pod
  • Tulip 
Along with each card, the winner will receive 4 matching botanical seals for a total of 20 seals! Three of the cards are "thank you" notes, and all of the cards are blank inside. These make terrific additions to your stash of note cards for thank yous, congratulations, birthdays or other greetings. The set also makes a lovely gift for the gardener, botanist or flower-lover in your life!

Each card is:
  • 4" x 5.6"
  • Printed on ultra-heavyweight (120 lb.) card stock with a gloss finish.
  • Each card comes with a white envelope and is blank inside.
The seals are:
  • 1.5" x 1.5"
  • Gloss finish

To Enter

Leave a comment on this post with your name and contact information (email address or website/blog address is fine), by Thursday, May 26, at 12 noon (EDT), and I will use a random number generator to choose the winner. 

For extra chances to win, leave an additional comment here to tell me if:
  • You already follow my blog OR you have become a follower
  • You have posted about this giveaway on your blog (please include a link to the post)
  • You have posted about this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter (please include a link to the post)
  • You go to my Facebook page and "Like" it! Or, if you are already "liking" it.
All of these cards, seals and much more can be found at my Zazzle store. Please stop by for a visit!

Be sure to tell your friends about the giveaway!
And thanks for visiting!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Circle of Art 2011 is today! Starting at 12 p.m. at Saline Picture Frame Company

The 7th annual Circle of Art party is today! If you are local, stop by the Saline Picture Frame Company in Saline, MI to bid on your favorite small works of art. 100% of the money goes to Food Gatherers to feed the hungry in our community.

More than 450 pieces of art have been donated by local artists, including myself. My purple cyclamen is there, ready to be bid on!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

New Fabric Swatches from Spoonflower!

I recently received my latest batch of fabric swatches from Spoonflower. I wisely read the instructions online this time and ordered the swatch sampler, which was much more reasonably priced per swatch. I can get up to 30 designs on one large sheet of quilting weight fabric. I think this one contained about 27 designs and it was around $39 total with shipping. Much better than $5.00 per swatch, individually.


I think they all turned out pretty nicely, with a few favorites like the purple cyclamen, the tulip and daffodil variations with different backgrounds, and the woodland peonies. I also like how some of the frog prints turned out. Ok, I really like pretty much all of these. :) Most of these are now for sale in my Spoonflower profile (I may revise the windmill prints before posting for sale...), so feel free to check them out there for a closer look! I'd love to hear what you think and am always open to suggestions for improvements, different sizes, etc.

A little closer view - loving those tulips!

The purple cyclamen looks especially nice, I think. And I love the idea of using that large, single woodland peony on a pillow or tote bag.

Other project ideas? I'm thinking bookbinding (covers, perhaps embellished with some beading), a bag or purse, maybe a table runner or even a nice scarf. So many ideas, so little time! What fabric projects do you envision with these, or what fabric projects are you currently working on?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Pierce Cedar Creek Institute Art Retreat - Part 2

So, what kinds of things did I get to draw on my art retreat weekend? Take a look below!

[See Art Retreat - Part 1 for details on PCCI where the retreat was held.]

Most of these drawings were done in the field as I stopped when something caught my eye. I wanted to include color in some of these, so I made a point to do some sketches with ink and colored pencil. It really helps with the wildflower sketches since I wanted to capture what I was seeing at the moment and do my best to identify them.

As you can see, I often scribbled little swatches of color on the side of the page to see if it would match before adding it to the drawing. I used a tan-toned paper for this first drawing of beautiful little spring beauties (Claytonia virginica) that were all over the woods, many right alongside the trails. I think the paper gives the drawing some warmth, and I like drawing a white flower on toned paper. A number of the talented artists who were at the retreat with me already have a good grasp on the local flora, so I was able to identify these very quickly with their help.

I spent a good bit of time sitting on the ground (on my trusty garbage bag to stay relatively clean and dry) drawing the details of this small plant which was only about 4-5 inches off of the ground.

Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica)

I continued my walk along one of the trails and kept seeing small trees with these gorgeous, papery leaves that were all curled up. I believe these are beech trees and so I stood for a bit right in front of this tree and drew some of the leaves in graphite pencil. I love the shapes. They looked like speckled parchment, all rolled up.

American Beech Tree and Leaves (Fagus grandifolia)

Right after I had done the leaves, I thought I should do some more walking and not just sit in one spot all day! But then I saw this little peek of yellow on the ground and found a beautiful trout lily. Again, I didn't find out the name until later when I showed someone my sketch. They have graceful, bell-shaped flowers with really interesting, mottled leaves. The color in the sketch below wasn't quite right on the leaves, but it was the best I could do with the pencils on hand. The leaves were sort of thick with almost cloudy light green patches mixed in with darker purple/brown mottling. The drawing and colored pencil work here isn't as nice as I had hoped, but I took lots of photos of this one and others I saw later so I plan to do a nicer, finished piece sometime.

Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum

I included this sketch of mushrooms on a log to show that field sketching often includes partial and not-so-attractive drawings. The point, though, is to work on visually capturing things that I was seeing. It doesn't have to be perfect, but I will always remember crouching by the ground doing a quick pen sketch of this.

Mushrooms on Log

These beautiful, red flowers were growing right in the bed near the Education Center. We think they might be a wildflower called Prairie Smoke. They had not quite bloomed yet and it was too windy right up on the sidewalk every time I went to draw them, so I just did a couple of quick sketches and took some photos for future use.

Prairie Smoke?

Finally, on Sunday, we did some more hiking where there were lots of wildflowers, and I saw a delicate little flower called Dutchman's Breeches. There are multiple flowers on one stem, so it was hard for me to capture in a quick sketch. They do have these frond-like leaves, so I drew part of one in this study. We also saw a number of white trillium, some of which were not yet blooming and some that were. I had a chance to sit and study some leaves and wanted to capture the drape and venation pattern of them, so I didn't mind that it had no flower yet. Again, I have tons of reference photos, so this is on my to-do list as well.

Dutchman's Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) and Trillium Leaves (Trillium grandiflorum)

I hope you enjoyed following along on my art retreat adventures! The weekend went entirely too fast. I am definitely inspired not only to do more artwork, but to start exploring some of my local parks and of course the Arboretum here in Ann Arbor as the weather warms up!

Have you had a chance to do any field sketching or nature observation lately? I would love to hear about what you have done!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Pierce Cedar Creek Institute Art Retreat - Part 1

Relaxation, creativity and new friends! What a great combination. I just returned from a fantastic weekend art retreat at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute (PCCI) in Hastings, MI (near Battle Creek.) It is a 661 acre public environmental education center whose mission is to promote environmental education, research, preservation, and appreciation.

 View of the back of the Visitor Center, heading over from the Education Building

I met up with nine other natural science artists and illustrators to spend some time recharging our creative batteries. It was a friendly and good-humored group, and I very much enjoyed spending time with like-minded artists in such a relaxing setting. 

There are seven miles of trails to explore at PCCI, many of which are easy to walk and perfect for frequent sketching and painting stops. Everything from fungus covered logs and spring wildflowers to deer, birds, and wetland critters were visible and great subjects for sketches. I was able to squeeze in a few drawings while walking around and will post some this week. I also took a lot of photographs and have a nice stash of reference photos for future project use.

 Part of the Blue Trail

 Part of the Green Trail heading that circles the back of the Visitor Center

Spring Beauties that peppered the sides of many trails

Our accommodations were in Hyla House, a remodeled farmhouse with ten single rooms and one double room, four full baths and a kitchen. It was a charming and very comfortable place to stay with a short and pleasant trail walk to the Visitor Center and Education Building. We didn't need the kitchen at the house, though, as we had wonderful meals in the Visitor Center dining room created by the Institute's chef, Richard Centala.

Hyla House

The weather held out for us rather nicely. The sun was shining brightly on Friday with clear, blue skies. Saturday was a bit windy and cool, but not too bad. And today started out warmer and cloudy, but by the time I left at lunch the sun was back out. We were fortunate to avoid any rain, which allowed for lots of exploring and outdoor time for those who chose to do that. The Education Center and it's classrooms allowed folks to enjoy a beautiful view of the grounds while working on projects indoors or taking a break from exploring the trails.

Sketchbook, pencils, wildflower

Sitting on the trail, on a garbage bag which was handy for getting close to those low-growing wildflowers, I worked on drawing a Trout Lily that you can see off to the left of my sketchbook. A close-up is below. What interesting, mottled leaves it has with a graceful, dangling yellow blossom.

Trout Lily

Even though it was a quick couple of days, I feel entirely different and appreciated having such a great opportunity to change the routine and focus on observing nature for a bit. The creative juices are flowing!

Check back for Art Retreat - Part 2 where I'll post more photos as well as sketches that I worked on this weekend.  Have a great week!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...