Naturae Dominae

Whew!!  That was a whirlwind!!

I created this piece for Lilla Rogers' 2014 Global Talent Search.  Sadly, I didn't make it into the second round, but at least I have this piece to show for it.

We were asked to create a piece of wall art based on the theme "Little Terrarium".  I opened the emailed assignment right before I was headed to bed.  After reading it I jumped right in and stayed up until the wee hours drawing.  I worked hard and fast on this one.

I decided to go with a Mother Nature theme, the title of the piece is Gaia, the Earth personified as a Greek mythological goddess.  She's the great mother of all, the creator and giver of birth to the Earth and all the Universe.  Naturae Dominae is latin for Mother Nature or Nature Lady.  Sticking with the plant theme, I liked the idea of using the latin name for her just as plants and animals also have latin names.

I played with shadows to create a diorama feeling.  I also included some photographic elements as well, some flowers on her head piece and two butterflies that I met a few weeks ago. We recently visited a walkthrough live butterfly exhibit where I photographed lots of different butterfly species that I had never seen before.  One of them, the black and orange spotted one, landed on my husband and stayed on him for the entire tour.

All in all I'm glad I participated in the Global Talent Search this year.  I had a lot of fun making my terrarium piece and I'm really happy with the final product.  I've learned a lot through this process too, I'll definitely do it again next year.  I'm gearing up to take Lilla's MATS B course this fall and looking forward to making more inspired art.

You can see the top 50 Global Talent Search submissions here.

Or you can see the full gallery of all 999 submissions here.



The Fox and the Crow

Lilla Rogers' MATS A class ran over a 5 week period, so there is a lot of ground to cover.  Another one of our projects was to create a book cover for the Aesop Fable, "The Fox and the Crow".  In the story, the vain crow has a piece cheese.  The sneaky fox wants that piece of cheese and schemes to take it from the crow.  He tells the bird to sing because he loves to hear her beautiful voice (ha!), when she opens her mouth to sing, the cheese falls out of her mouth and the fox makes off with it.  

My goal was to illustrate the entire story with just one image.  I tried to keep it sparse, yet to the point.  The bird is dressed up in her finest hat complete with netting and wearing her sparkly blue eyeshadow and false lashes.  

The cunning dapper fox wears a three-piece suit and bowler hat with a feather tucked into the band.  His whiskers are the animal equivalent of a John Waters-esque pencil mustache.  He wears a monocle but he's clearly a dubious dandy.  Initially I did a quick little fox study to figure him out but in the end I knew I wanted him to be in a fancy suit.

fox study_mara penny.jpg

I always look at new projects as little puzzles to solve, this was no exception.  I only wanted to use a few "objects" on the page but I wanted them to be rich with interest.  I kept it minimal, only the text, the fox, the singing crow, the piece of cheese and two matching branches.  I also stuck with a pretty tight color palette.  I wanted it to feel slightly sinister, yet still be bright and alluring enough for kids to want to pick it up to read the story.

I really loved this assignment, hopefully it shows.  





In Heaven Everything Is Fine

Here's another project from Lilla Rogers' MATS A class, this was a favorite of mine. We were asked to make a lush zipper pouch inspired by items from our personal collections. I collect wishbones, which is ironic because I've been a vegetarian my entire life. I also photograph random hearts that I come across in my travels, as well as clouds. When we were given the assignment I immediately started looking through my heart photographs and came across the pink paper heart that I used along the top of the pouch.  Ready for trip down memory lane? Good.

 In the early 1980's, back when I was still a kid, I sat next to my grandmother as she opened a letter from a dear friend of hers.  When she took the letter out of the envelope, dozens of little paper hearts fell out of the folded paper.  We scooped them up and put them in a small dish on her desk, there they stayed for the next 30 years.

Fast forward to 2012, she was very sick with cancer. I had just driven back to the Bay Area from visiting her in Tahoe, I drove straight from her house to the grocery store in Oakland. When I came back to my car to load it up, I looked down and saw that one of her hearts had hitchhiked back home with me and was lying on the ground next to my car door.  I recognized it immediately.

Just seeing the picture of that old paper heart flooded me with memories and I knew I wanted to make a piece about her. On my desk I keep a photograph of my grandparents dancing at a "hard times party" from 1950. You may have noticed that my gram has a patch sewn onto her pants... Wait. What? Fun party theme. Anyway, I look at that picture 100 times a day and miss her like crazy.

She was an artist and an astrologer. A force of nature and the kindest most caring person you could ever meet. I added the astrological signs of their lineage beneath their feet, she would have liked that.


P.S.  Here's a funny fact: I was so enamored with my grandmother that my toddler "security blanket" was actually an oil painting of her created by her friend, Tink.  The edges are completely bent and worn from me dragging it all over the house when the portrait was still bigger than I was!

Grammy Portrait.jpg

Jell-O Craze

Minty Jello Lady.jpg

The second project Lilla assigned us was to create bolt fabric inspired from vintage Jell-o molds.  Hooray!  This was my favorite!!  As you'll see, I made lots of Jell-O girl sketches for the mini at the beginning of the month.  I had so many that I had a hard time pairing them down.  I could draw these lovely dancing ladies all day.

Orange Jello Lady.jpg

I tried many, many, many different color ways and layouts.

Bright background  Jello Girls Fabric .jpg

In the end, I ended up going with a bright, yet soft, color palette.  I also made a few coordinates to go with the ladies.


You can see the whole assignment bootcamp gallery here.




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It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new blog for me....

And I'm feelin' gooood!

Happy 16th Birthday to the Grande Dame of the place, the Girl.