Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Calculus Tutor

Recently I designed an icon and ads for a calculus app for the Android Market. It's an interesting challenge to design something that looks good at a variety of sizes and screen resolutions, especially knowing it'll end up on a small device. Plus, with so many apps out there to choose from, I really wanted my Calculus Genie to stand out.

For any of you math types out there, the app is a handy calculus reference - anyone studying or using calculus should go check out the Calculus Genie at Google Play.

Friday, July 27, 2012

When So-So Will Have to Do

Here's the first of nearly 300 slides I want to put in a family slide show. It's my mom at her bridal shower. Nice haul, by the way - just look at that bin full of gifts! Unfortunately, this slide show has been far too long in the making.

During one rainy summer in Long Island, I went through thousands of old family slides (about 25 years worth) and narrowed them down to two slide reels. We got out my parents' dusty old projector, put on some music, and showed them on a bare white wall by the staircase. Then I carted them home with plans to scan them and create a DVD, music and all, to share with the family. Another great project for a rainy day.

That was eight years ago. Obviously we don't get many rainy days here. We've had our share of stormy times, though, and the slides were left to gather dust under my bed.

I finally dragged them out and enlisted my son's help in scanning them. He tore through both reels in a matter of days. Too bad we didn't notice in time that our scanner doesn't go up to a high enough dpi to make good quality scans from slides. Now I have to decide whether or not to go ahead with the project as is, hoping to pass off that grainy, old-timey look as "arty." I had to add a large black border to prevent the image from being blown up far enough to look like a hot mess of colored tiles.

So, what'll it be? Is a half-baked slide show better than no slide show at all? I could wait until I can afford to have them professionally done. Or I could wait until I can afford a new slide scanner AND find time to scan them all over again. I have a feeling if I wait for either of these options, the project will be on hold until we're all too old to remember who the heck any of those people are.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Monday, July 2, 2012

Tee Shirt Fix

The trouble with brand new solid colored tees is they don't always stay new-looking for long. I'm forever trying to find ways to keep them out of the rag pile. Here's my quick fix for one that fell victim to a cooking spatter:

First, I hung the shirt in the shower and spritzed it all over with a diluted bleach solution (a.k.a. shower cleaner). I wanted to soften up the background color and give it a faded tie-dye look. After rinsing and drying, I lined the inside of the shirt with plastic and painted the design on with bleach. I went for the quick and easy approach and just winged it with a brush, but I think a stencil would work well for a more precise design.

After washing and drying, the design will be lighter. I like the faux batik look - and it occurs to me it might be nice to paint on another color using fabric dye. Lucky for me I'm kind of a doubt I'll have more chances to experiment with the technique!

Thursday, May 24, 2012


What quirky impulse grabs your attention away from everything?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Century Schoolbook and a Flashback

I’ve been updating my portfolio to include some of my recent work. I’m pretty happy with the way this type poster turned out. Since the font was designed in the early 1900s with textbooks in mind, I wanted it to have an old-timey book feel to it.

A funny thing happened while I was searching for information on Century Schoolbook. I came across this picture on etsy:

Right away I had that skin-tingly feeling that I’d seen this before. When I peeked at some of the inside pages, I knew I was revisiting my first grade reader. The picture came up in my search because Century Schoolbook was designed for Ginn & Company, the same publisher of these elementary school readers.

I just love it when something unlocks a memory from a dark little recess of your brain. You never know what’ll pop up next. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Response Fail

It was my intention to respond right away to all your considerate, helpful, supportive, encouraging comments on my last post. Since I was getting ready to leave on a mini vacation last week for Spring Break, I attempted to send personal responses by email. Unfortunately, in my hurry to get everything ready, I sent the replies before realizing some of you have no-reply email addresses.

Rather than try to figure out to whom I actually responded, I’m hoping you’ll forgive this considerably less personal mass thank-you, because you understand I’m still in a post-travel stupor and have about fourteen loads of laundry left to do.

Actually I’ve wondered how to adapt to the whole commenting thing, now that people seem to be spending more time on Facebook and less time blogging. I think responses to comments are nice, but on the other hand I don’t really expect people to have time to check back for one. I think somehow social networking keeps creating new ways to be socially clueless.

Anyway, between all your uplifting comments AND several days away from home with almost no responsibilities, I’m having trouble getting back to reality. I’m feeling like this big kitty we spotted at the Living Desert Zoo in Palm Desert:

I could really go for a nap. Followed by a snack. Followed by another nap.

Monday, April 2, 2012

What's Next?

First of all, I really appreciated the comments cheering me on. Second, I didn’t win. Not only didn’t I win, I also had the pleasure of paying a fortune to replace a busted water heater the same day the results were posted. So much for dreaming of little extras. This came after a week sprinkled with family disappointments, so…no point dwelling on it. You can see all the illustrations I’ve submitted so far to They Draw and Cook here. I also have a map posted on They Draw and Travel. I did really have fun working on them – I’m sure I’ll feel inspired to do more.

Now, on to other things. One thing I planned to focus on this year is trying to drum up some illustration work. At the beginning of the year I bought a copy of the Artist’s and Graphic Designer’s Market, and was all fired up to tear through it, highlighter at the ready. Unfortunately, I got a little discouraged going through the listings. Most wanted such specific things – one wants only wooden boats, another traditionally rendered vegetarian food…you get the picture. My highlighter barely got a workout on the first pass. It’ll take some digging to work up a decent mailing list.

Since one of my interests is illustrating book covers, plan B was to visit the bookstore in search of publishers that might be a match for my style. This plan produced a long list, but once I started researching individual publishers I noticed that as with writing, few houses accept unsolicited artwork. I'm caught in a familiar catch-22: you can’t get anyone to look at your work unless you’re already established, and you can’t get established because no one will look at your work. Or, you can manage to find time to produce work or to promote your work, but not both. Even though this is kind of a new start, I’m not a total newbie to the art and design world. I feel like I’ve at least paid some dues, but I'm back at square one.

If this sounds like whining, it isn’t meant to be. I’d just like to work! While I’m trying to figure out plan C (along with school, a tiny amount of freelance work and the usual abundance of other craziness), here’s a promotional postcard I started working on:

Where and how to send it, that’s another matter. It helps me to remember we’re always in transition – a thought summed up by a phrase I just heard in an Understanding Buddhism class: we are always practicing for what we will become next.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Yes, I Do Want to Win

After planning to focus on something besides illustrated recipes, they announced a big contest on They Draw and Cook. I entered two illustrations and thought I’d do what I always do - keep quiet about it. That way I could: A) not jinx it; and B) pretend it didn’t really matter anyway.

I’m questioning the value of this strategy. I’m pretty sure I’ve never swayed an outcome by keeping my mouth shut, or felt better by lying to myself. I conclude that this strategy stinks. So for the record, let me state that I would really prefer to win.

To say the last few years have been tough is an understatement. I’m ready for good news. I fantasize about what I’d do with the prize money. This mama needs a spa day. Should my treatments involve hot rocks or some form of wax? Could I actually treat my family to dinner someplace that doesn’t have freakish cartoon mascots? And let’s face it - Mama would really like to feel accomplished at something other than knowing forty-something ways to prepare potatoes.

If you’re interested, you can follow the link to browse through the Kraft Foods contest entries. New entries are added daily. No doubt I’ll be checking back regularly to recalculate my odds of winning. Doesn’t everyone do that?

If I don’t get a mention, I’ll probably go into the kind of slump that has me licking peanut butter laced with chocolate chips off a spoon while questioning my direction in life. Then I’ll get over it, and move on to the next thing.

So whatever happens, it’ll be okay.

But it would really be so much better if I win.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Marzipan Recipe

I noticed I get a lot of traffic to my blog, particularly in the springtime, for a recipe I posted years ago for Marzipan Easter Eggs. Since it seems to be a popular one, I decided to illustrate it for They Draw and Cook. It turned out to be as much fun drawing and coloring the eggs as it is to roll and shape them out of edible clay!

Click on the following link to see the entire illustrated marzipan recipe.

My original blog post, with photos of the finished confections, can be seen here.

If you have any special Easter or springtime traditions, I'd love to here about them!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Cafe Tacvba Video

Last weekend my son created this clever animation for the band Cafe Tacvba's song Esa Noche. I'm so impressed! He managed to pull it off in a couple of days with only Paint, MovieMaker, and an infuriatingly slow computer to work with. It shows what a little determination and lots of imagination can do.

Enjoy it!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Julian, CA Map

I can see how this could become habit-forming.

When I got an email from They Draw and Cook informing me about a contest on their sister site, They Draw and Travel, I couldn't resist giving that a try, too.

Last year I had to do an illustrated map for one of my assignments, and I thought I wasn't going to like it. All those details! But in no time I got totally absorbed in creating all the little components and piecing them together. For that project I illustrated the pyramids near Mexico City. I'm tempted to try to recreate it in a new format and submit that one, too.

But for this map I chose Julian, California, a tiny gold mining (turned apple farming) town near San Diego. I've blogged about it before after a day trip during their apple festival. If you don't like crowds, it's best not to visit Julian during peak apple season.

The picture above is a detail from my Julian map - hop over to They Draw and Travel to view the rest of my map here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Pumpkin Turnovers

I have a recipe posted on They Draw and Cook! I absolutely love this site and I've been meaning to illustrate a recipe for some time. I don't know what I enjoy more about their site - all the amazingly creative artwork or the fantastic variety of recipes.

This is a detail of my illustration - you can view the full recipe here. I sent it in this morning and they posted it this afternoon. That was quick!

And here's what the final result looks like - of course I had to test out my recipe first (I never actually measure anything). My family didn't complain about taste-testing, either.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Food for Thought (And by Food I Mean Dessert, Of Course)

While packing away the holiday decorations, I started thinking about the how we usher in a new year – lots of hoping and resolution-making going on. We follow the same traditions each year, but the years don’t turn out the same. Some years sparkle like stars overhead, others smack you ‘til you see stars.

Some things we have no control over. All we can do is hope for the best. Only, we don’t always figure that out. We go and put all kinds of energy into trying to change those things anyway. We might as well be trying to teach a seal to tie shoelaces.

And then there are plenty of things we can change, but we get so caught up in hoping and wishing, we forget to actually do something.

The tricky part is to know the difference.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Good Beginnings

With a sudden rise in temperature, we thought a New Year's dinner in the garden was a good way to start off the year. We weren't the only ones who liked the idea; right after we sat down we spotted an unexpected guest:

My mom believed a praying mantis was a good luck sign. At least I know it's good luck for the garden. We named him Champollion. He's been spotted a few times already hanging about the yard, so he may as well have a name.

So begins another year. Enjoy all the good things you can!