Saturday, February 28, 2009

Alien Insect Brushes for Adobe Illustrator

A free brush set for Adobe Illustrator from Human Nature. This pack contains four brushes that will turn your strokes into organic shapes that look a lot like alien insect creatures...

You can get more effects by experimenting with different stroke size, color and layer transparency.

To use, load the PDF file in Adobe Illustrator (Use the File>Open method, not click+drag) and open the Brushes Palette (Window>Brushes). Download


More fun stamping on Kraft paper :)
Hope you all have a sweet weekend.

Studio Saturday With Jangles

Welcome to Studio Saturday! Each week one of our contributors gives you a sneak peek into their studio, creative process or inspirations. We ask a related question of our readers and hope you'll leave comments!

As an incentive we offer a free prize each week to bribe you to use that keyboard. The following week we choose a random winner. Last weeks winner is Carolyn, Congratulations! You have won a surprise bead bead from Cindy Gimbrone. Send us an e-mail with your address and we will get it right out to you.

This week we are visiting the studio of Jangles, where Jennifer is trying her hardest to think spring!

Have you had it with winter? I don't know about you but I am ready to be sitting on my porch in the warm sun. This time of year is really hard for me because I am longing for the warm weather and with a chance of snow this weekend(in Georgia!) it's hard to think spring will be here. I have seen hope the baby lambs were born at the farm down the road from me, that's always my sign that things will be getting warmer. Okay, enough about the outside, let's talk about inside my studio.

I just returned from the Buyers Market of American Craft last week. For me this show is always my kick off to the spring season. I know when I get back I will have orders to fill and need to start getting ready for my trunk shows and bead shows. This year, because of my worse than usual spring fever, I added a lot of flowers to my line. Below is a picture of some new pins I made.

I have always enjoyed making flower beads but I have always tried to keep them the same. I decided this year to really push my self and make some new designs, new colors, etc. With ceramic clay, I can think in my head what I think I want it to look like but until it comes out of the kiln and is finished, I just don't know exactly. It's not like a painting where you can keep adding to the layers until you get it right. I have a lot of trial and error in coming up with new work. I would say 99% of the time, I have a new beads in the kiln I am firing, sometimes I like them and other times I don't. So here are some of my flower experiments that I liked.

First of all I had to add some polka dots to my standard flowers I make. I think it's just spunks them up a bit.

I tried some white, for some reason I am in love with white this season. I usually like to add black to my colors schemes but not with this phase I am going through. I think white so much cheerier .

This is a pendant that I made a bit thicker so I could paint the sides, with polka dots.

This is a pendant I made with some texture. I really like how this one turned out, so I think I will try this one in some new colors.
As you can see I have been having some fun in the studio getting some new ideas worked out. To me, spring is a perfect time of the year to start working on new designs. This leads me to this weeks question... What are you working on that's new? Is is new designs? Is it a new display, new color combinations? Leave me a comment in the box and this weeks winner will get one of my new flower beads. Good luck and Happy Saturday!



William Aylward's name doesn't stand out in the annals of illustration. Yet, if you skim through old pictures in books or magazines, his work stands out from hundreds of other anonymous illustrators because he was such a master of value-- the darkness or lightness of color.

Try it yourself -- if you scroll through a hundred thumbnail images, you are likely to find that the pictures with confident use of value-- more than other artistic qualities, such as accuracy, color, detail, or technique-- are the ones that seem to pop right off the page.

Passing the line to the "Potomac" from the Dock, published in Scribners, May 1907

It is not easy to control the "value structure" of a painting, balancing blacks and whites and grays. This next picture could easily have sunken into a black hole if Aylward had not been such a virtuoso.

Night watch from the Deck, published in Scribners 1907

Very little is remembered about Aylward today. He was a student of the legendary Howard Pyle-- here he is, sitting at the great man's feet:

Aylward loved the sea and specialized in nautical themes. He illustrated very few books, primarily The Sea Wolf and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

Most of his work appeared in magazines of the day and will never be republished, which is too bad. You won't see any coffee table books about him soon. But his work still speaks for itself with honor and dignity.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Infographics with Adobe Illustrator

A comprehensive digital illustration tutoarial from Digital Arts Magazine. Wendy Ding takes you through the differents steps of translating abstract elements into a 3D, easy to understand illustrations that will enforce the visual communication in your composition. 
"Infographics, such as the one above, are great visual tools for communicating large amounts of data. Breaking down large amounts of abstract data, they place the information in context and transform it into tangible and useful knowledge." Full tutorial



The Chronicles of America Series By Allen Johnson Edition: abridged Published by , 1920.

The original two-dimensional work shown in this image is free content because: This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.
This applies to the United States, where Works published prior to 1978 were copyright protected for a maximum of 75 years. See Circular 1 "COPYRIGHT BASICS" from the U.S. Copyright Office. Works published before 1923 are now in the public domain.

This inage may however not be in the public domain in countries that figure copyright from the date of death of the artist (post mortem auctoris in this case C.W. (Charles William) Jefferys 1869-1951) and that most commonly runs for a period of 50 to 70 years from December 31 of the year of death. If your use will be outside the United States please check your local law.


Long before men awoke to the vision of America, the Old World was the scene of many stupendous migrations. One after another, the Goths, the Huns, the Saracens, the Turks, and the Tatars, by the sheer tidal force of their numbers threatened to engulf the ancient and medieval civilization of Europe. But neither in the motives prompting them nor in the effect they produced, nor yet in the magnitude of their numbers, will such migrations bear comparison with the great exodus of European peoples which in the course of three centuries has made the United States of America.

That movement of races — first across the sea and then across the land to yet another sea, which set in with the English occupation of Virginia in 1607 and which has continued from that day to this an almost ceaseless stream of millions of human beings seeking in the New World what was denied them in the Old — has no parallel in history.

Jan Balet's 'Amos and the Moon' conclusion

For those of you who have not been following along with the story, here's a brief synopsis:

Amos awakes one night to find the moon has moved into his mirror.

He is delighted at the prospect of playing with the moon the next day, but when he wakes in the morning, the moon is gone. He sets out in the neighbourhood, asking everyone he encounters if they have seen his moon.

Each shopkeeper gives Amos a small gift to assist him in his quest to recover his moon.

In the end, its Joe Ming, the Chinese laundryman, who solves Amos' dilemma.

He gives Amos an old bird-cage and tells him, "You hang this over your mirror. Once in a while, maybe once or twice a month, you will catch the moon, and he will be with you for a little while."

By this time its getting dark. In his travels Amos has collected, besides the bird-cage, a lemon, a piece of bologna, a watch and chain, Harry the Horse, "and a couple of drops of water which was all that remained of the piece of ice."

I love that Balet thought to include the policeman, still watching over Amos even though he has been on duty since early in the day, when Amos made his first stop to visit Pete the Iceman. Why in the world did we choose to trade in our cops walking the beat for uncaring surveillance cameras?

In case you missed this yesterday, there's a quirky element that Balet included in the story that gave me pause: everyone had been kind to Amos except the barber. "The barber," Balet wrote, "was an angry man. "Here you, I don't care what you wonder, " he shouted at Amos. "Don't bring that stuff around here."

What an odd thing to include in a children's story, especially as each shop-keeper is branded with a distinct national identity. I doubt you could do such a thing in a modern children's book for fear of offending one group or another. But I believe Balet included this element, not to suggest Italian barbers are mean-spirited in general, but rather to simply say to children, "this is reality - not everyone you encounter is going to be nice to you."

"That very night," writes Balet, "... the room was filled with a wondrous blue light and Amos remembered what Joe Ming had told him. No one has the moon always - just once in a while."

I like that Balet found a way to strike a balance between the magical wonderment of Amos recapturing the moon, and the idea that such moments are fleeting, and should be cherished. Nothing lasts forever.

Jan B. Balet, died on Saturday, January 31, 2009.

Born in Bremen, Germany on July 20, 1913 he was schooled in Friedichshafen and Munich. He attended schools of arts and crafts in Munich and Berlin and spent several years at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. After traveling throughout Europe he left Germany in 1938 in protest to the Hitler regime and immigrated to New York City as a free-lance artist. While living in NYC he was the art director for Mademoiselle and Seventeen. He was also well-known for his illustrations in various magazines, including Vogue, Good Housekeeping, and House and Garden. He did work for Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and many other shops. He has written and illustrated many children’s books including What Makes an Orchestra, Joanjo, Amos and the Moon, Ned, Ed and the Lion, The Five Rollatinis, Ladismaus, Das Geschenk, Der König und der Besenbinder, Der Zaun, Ein Skizzenbuch, Katzen-Skizzen, Skizzen-Paare, and Paris-Skizzen. He has also illustrated many books including Rumpelstiltskin, Bean Blossom Hill and Papa Pompino. He received many Gold Medals, Awards of Merit and Certificates of Excellence for his children’s books and graphic arts exhibits. His ads for Lees Carpets won an Award for Distinctive Merit from the Art Directors Club of New York. While in NY he had a residence and studio in NYC and a summer home in Long Island. He traveled throughout North America in his own plane. In 1965 he moved back to Munich, Germany then La Landell, France. In 1978 he made his home in Estavayer-le-Lac, Switzerland where he continued to paint and produce masterful lithographs which are fancied all around the world. For the past thirty years he has had many successful expositions throughout Europe. He has also been cited in many publications and books including American Artist, Vogue, Schöner Wohnen, Masters of Naïve Art, and Die Naiven der Welt.

Balet’s works are in permanent museum collections in Europe, including the Stadt Museum in Munich, the Regierungspräsidium in Tübingen, the Kunsthalle in Bremen and the Langenargen Museum in Bodensee.

Though often described as a “contemporary primitive” or “naïve” artist because of the simple stylized appearance of his work, Balet referred to himself as “a sophisticated primitive.” His works exhibit a dry wit and refreshingly candid, satirical view of life. Droll yet charming, enchanting yet dark, Balet’s works are the perfect marriage of nostalgic yearning and slightly rueful knowledge. Throughout all his works is the force of human nature which is humorous but insightful. Balet said he drew inspiration from both ancient Greek and ancient Egyptian art. Brought up by his maternal grandparents, Balet evokes the era of these people, the most important figures of his formative years.

In the business and among his peers Jan Balet was known as a cartoonist or a ‘decorative’ illustrator who worked in a ‘humorous’ style. American Artist magazine called his work “graphic whimsy.” One gentleman wrote: “He was a great person to know, with an honest, salty sense of humor which one sees in his artworks.” He was an avid collector of folk art in all its forms from painting to sculpture, metalwork, weaving, pottery and music.

He is survived by his son, Peter Balet and wife, Marie, of Ballston Spa, NY. His grandson, John Balet, and wife, Sandra, granddaughter, Suzanne Haight, and husband, David, and great grandchildren, Benjamin and Elizabeth Balet, Andrew and Julia Haight all of Ballston Spa, NY

With thanks to Peter and Marie Balet for providing the recent photo of Jan Balet and his obituary. We will not forget him.

* My Jan Balet Flickr set.


I made a quilted cozy
for Manolo's French press
using my little succulent stamps.
(When stamping on fabric always use ink pads
intended for that purpose)
I was inspired by this beautiful cozy.
That gorgeous white mug
made it all the way to Mexico from
the talented hands of Nancy Bauch of
White Forest Pottery
I've been making so many birdies lately
that I decided to challenge myself
to a month of bird-free art starting today,
let's see if I can make it ;)

Fit to Print Book Review - Art Nouveau

Is it possible to be in love with a book? This is one that I have been pouring though for the last few weeks. It's so inspiring! Beadwork Inspired by Art: Art Nouveau Jewelry and Accessories from Judith Durant and Jean Campbell features 12 projects inspired by the designs of Art Nouveau. Each project has been inspired by a design from the time period, not only paintings but the architecture too which adds depth to some very interesting jewelry elements. Along with the projects, they write about the art work that inspired the piece and offer all sorts of helpful hints and tips along the way.

The projects focus on beadwork, but there are also designs for wire-wrapping and stringing. Most of the beadwork projects are smaller components that would be easy for a beginner to follow along and learn some of the basic techniques. The beaded vase inspired by Gustav Klimt's painting, "The Embrace" is simply amazing!

This would be a great book to use for inspiration. Like our monthly challenges, I'd love to go through each project and create my own design from the Art Nouveau art work. If you look for bead books that offer much more than a how-to, this is one to add to your collection!

Human Nature Brushes for Adobe Illustrator

A stunning brush set for Adobe Illustrator from HumanNature84. The pack contains ten art brushes which can be used for drawing organic graphics or decorating abstract compositions.

If you experiment with different stroke sizes, colors and layer opacity value, you will get a variety of eye catchy effects...

To use, load the PDF file with Adobe Illustrator (File>Open) and bring up the brush palette (Window>Brushes). Download

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Jan Balet's 'Amos and the Moon' part 4

As I've been preparing this week's scans from Jan Balet's 1948 book, Amos and the Moon, I couldn't help but marvel at some of the interesting details...

How times have changed! Can you imagine a children's book today that includes a nudie calendar as a prop?

Even the notion of a young child wandering alone down a city street, going shop to shop without parental supervision, is a frightening concept to most moms and dads in today's society.

A sad side effect of urban planning that encourages isolation and the corporatization of shopping. Balet shows us the charm of a time when people shopped in their own neighbourhoods and the shopkeepers were their friends and neighbours.

Another interesting point: Balet included shop owners from a variety of ethnic and national backgrounds, associating them to the sort of businesses they would stereotypically have been involved in. Perhaps I'm mistaken but I get the feeling that very few Americans (outside of a few large metroplolitan cities) could have related much to the likes of Zirimis the baker, Blanchard the butcher, Krailevizchs the shoe maker or Salvadore the barber.

Times have changed... that sort of 'united nations' inclusion is almost mandatory in modern kids lit (just as showing nudie calendars is definitely out) but in 1940's America, as much as Jan Balet's atypical style of art, it reveals, I think, a certain European sensibility.

* My Jan Balet Flickr set.

From the heart

This little birdie might not be the best singer,
but he sings from the heart.
Two new bird stamps I made this week.
I had the honor of making the second one
for a very talented artist from Rhode Island:
D.S. Brennan.

Mirror, Mirror...

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, What's the coolest blank of all...
This Mirror Blank is of course!
I stumbled upon this website that makes blank for you to showcase your buttons and beads.
Since I make buttons, I thought this was a great idea. It's a Mirror compact. The area for your button or beadwork is 1 7/8".
This would be perfect as a prize to win at show for customers signing up for your mailing list.
I may have to order some for my next show to see if they sell! Get all the details at

It could work!