Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Editor's Choice - Top Sponsor Picks

We love our sponsors and want to thank them for offering such great prizes to our readers each month. Today is the last day to enter the September Monthly Challenge. Get those photos in today!
Ornamentea strives to offer unique finds for creative jewelry designers. Their product line favors the vintage-inspired, mixed media and the unusual! Above are my top picks from their shop: crepe cord, Czech glass, Elaine Ray bead caps - they look like acorn tops, don't they? An Elaine Ray tree pendant, check out the Fall issue of Stringing to see a necklace I created with Elaine's pendant. And look at that awesome bias cut silk dupioni ribbon. I love silk dupioni and have a huge stash. I tear my own ribbons from my fabric, but this ribbon is beyond awesome and I must have some!
Tari of Creative Impressions in Clay creates buttons that range from tie-dye to goddesses, to alpaca to ice cream cones, coin replicas to tiny branches. You are guaranteed to find something you love! Buttons make great clasps, but don't forget since you are ordering directly from the artist Tari can create her designs in numerous configurations. She can make any design into a pendant with a hole at the top or a loop. Branch toggle buttons - surely you have a fall design in mind that calls for a tiny branch clasp! I also love Tari's leaf designs. I'm smitten!

30 Days hath September

Butterfly collection
Oh how I wish it had many more days! It flew by so fast.
This is my growing butterfly collection.
New arrangement
New art arrangement on the north wall of our studio/school.

*I haven't forgotten about the last installment of my video painting the flying birdie, I will post it this coming Friday.

Cover Story: Good Housekeeping

For illustrators today; how would you like to be the cover artist of a nationally circulated magazine with several million monthly readers? That would be a nice feather in your cap, wouldn't it?

Now consider this: how would you like to be the cover artist of that same magazine every month for nearly 12 years?

That was the case for Alex Ross, who illustrated nearly every cover of every issue of Good Housekeeping from 1942 to 1954 - an assignment that must surely be without precedent anywhere at any time in the annals of illustration history.

Considering the importance of magazines during that era as a primary source of information and entertainment, you can appreciate the magnitude of having been responsible for creating all that high profile artwork.

Now imagine what it would have been like to be the little girl who modeled for all those covers seen by millions of Americans every month from coast to coast.

That was the case for Alex Ross' daughter, Wendy, with whom I have been corresponding over the last few months. She described to me how her dad came to enjoy such an extraordinary assignment:

"His first big break came on April 19th, 1942 (the day I was born), when one of his illustrations was chosen from a roomful of contestants to be a Good Housekeeping cover. He called me his "good-luck charm," and I was the little girl (or sometimes even the little boy) on about 90% of the covers from 1942 until 1954. The editor of Good Housekeeping at the time was Herb Mayes. He and dad became life-long friends, and he was commissioned to do 130 more covers over the next dozen years at around $2,000 a piece."

In the coming months Wendy and I will be collaborating on a thorough examination of her dad's career, something I am really looking forward to, since Alex Ross has always been one of the mid-century illustrators whose work I have most admired.

Consider this just a small sample of what's to come.

* My Alex Ross Flickr set.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Meteor Crater Arizona

Meteor Crater ArizonaMeteor Crater is one of the youngest and best-preserved impact craters on Earth. The crater formed roughly 50,000 years ago when a 30-meter-wide, iron-rich meteor weighing 100,000 tons struck the Arizona desert at an estimated 20 kilometers per second.
High Resolution Image. The resulting explosion exceeded the combined force of today's nuclear arsenals and created a 1.1-kilometer-wide, 200-meter-deep crater.

Meteor Crater is a simple crater since it has no central peak or rim terraces. The crater formed in layered Paleozoic age sedimentary rocks, some of which are exposed in the nearby Grand Canyon. These rocks have been uplifted and in some cases overturned at the crater's raised rim. Debris sliding and subsequent erosion have partially filled the bottom of the crater with minor amounts of rim material and sediment.

The heavily cratered history of the Moon indicates that Earth also experienced many impact events early in its history. The processes of erosion and plate tectonics have combined to erase nearly all Earth's craters. To date, only about 150 impact craters have been identified on Earth, and most of those are severely eroded or buried by later rock units. The origin of this classic, simple meteorite impact crater was long the subject of controversy.

The discovery of fragments of the Canyon Diablo meteorite, including fragments within the breccia deposits that partially fill the structure, and a range of shock metamorphic features in the target sandstone proved its impact origin. Target rocks include Paleozoic carbonates and sandstones; these rocks were overturned just outside the rim during ejection. The hummocky deposits just beyond the rim are remnants of the ejecta blanket. This aerial view shows the dramatic expression of the crater in the arid landscape. The crater is named for Daniel Moreau Barringer, a mining entrepeneur who championed an impact origin for the crater early in the 20th.

Image Credit: D. Roddy (U.S. Geological Survey), Lunar and Planetary Institute. USGS-authored or produced data and information are considered to be in the U.S. public domain.

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Oblique aerial photograph looking northwest of Meteor Crater, Arizona; photo by David J. Roddy, USGS, Branch of Astrogeology. USGS Open-File Report 2005-1190, Figure 001. ID. Project Apollo (1960-1973) 001. pap00001

Turkish Costumes

Turkish Costumes j

Turkish Costumes

Turkish Costumes a

Turkish Costumes b

Turkish Costumes c

Turkish Costumes d

Turkish Costumes e

Turkish Costumes f

Turkish Costumes g

Turkish Costumes h

Turkish Costumes i

Turkish Costumes k

Turkish Costumes l

Turkish Costumes m

{click through to the full size images: touched up slightly}

This 17th century album, simply entitled 'Turkish Costumes', is hosted by the Digital Library of Poland [thumbnail page]

There are more than one hundred figures depicted -- probably a cross-section of Constantinople middle to upper class occupations -- in Ottoman/Turkish garb with original illustration titles in Arabic script. Later Turkish and French handwriting provide translations (presumably) of the occupation names.

I haven't really had a good look through these but SCA have compiled a selection of links related to Ottoman costumes.

Previously, in general: costumes.

Cover Story: Fortune magazine

Hopefully this won't rile up the gang of crusty curmudgeons who commented yesterday, but in my opinion, some of the best, most forward-reaching magazine covers of the 50's were those commissioned by Fortune magazine's AD, Leo Lionni. I have the greatest admiration for Lionni. I think the man was a genius.

Leonni was at the centre of one of the most heated debates this blog has ever seen, back in February, when I showed a simple, child-like drawing he did in 1940 that won an Award of Distinctive Merit from the New York Art Director's Club.

Without revisiting that debate in detail, I'd just like to emphasize that, during a time when literal representation in illustration was king, the publishers and editors of the leading business magazine in America trusted Lionni to choose these and many other similar illustrations month after month for the covers of a magazine that (one could safely say) was being read by the most influential, powerful and conservative audience of the day.

These pieces would probably fit comfortably in the Museum of Modern Art, even today. But make no mistake: they are commercial art - commissioned for the purpose of selling a product - Fortune magazine - to the consumer, and it was Lionni's job to provide the kind of visuals that would increase sales. If he had failed he would have been replaced, but in fact he was Fortune's AD for well over a decade and only left in 1959 because he chose to quit the magazine business and pursue children's book illustration.

Whether you love or hate this kind of avant-garde approach to illustration, the fact remains that this magazine must have popped off the news stand. It was a great way to put a fresh face on the often dull topics of business and politics. Try doing a Google Image Search for "Fortune magazine' and see where we are sixty years later.

Photo after photo after photo of businessmen and politicians staring at the viewer. Very exciting. Ugh.

Art directors could learn a lot from a close study of what Leo Lionni accomplished half a century ago, in far less liberal times.

This guy had big balls and knew how to use them. ADs today need to grow a pair. The end.

They're here!

The cosmos are here!
The beautiful cosmos have arrived.
September Pages
& with them, inspiration for my late September journal pages.

Trimmings- The Way of the Ribbon

Looking for something new and unique to use in your beading projects? Why not check out the local ribbon and trimmings store? On my recent trip to London, I stumbled upon a cute little Trimmings shop called V.V. Rouleaux, where I was drowning in a sea of color and inspiration. Rows upon rows of ribbon, cording, lace, leather, suede, embroidered ribbon, and felt. Downstairs I found fabrics, and trimmings for curtains with poms poms, and cotton cording, plaid ribbons, silk, organza.

Mixed media jewelry is popular right now, and there is no better way to add a bit of softness to your designs than with ribbon. You can use cord end caps, like these....

These silver Crimp ends can be found at Lilys Offering

Or use wire to attached the ribbons to jumprings like this....

The possibilities are endless!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cover Story: Sports Illustrated

Take a look at the typical magazine rack these days and you'll probably notice something missing: illustration.

Someone used to say you could gauge the condition of the illustration market by what was on the cover of Time magazine. If Time was using illustration then most other magazines would follow suit and thus illustration assignments in general would experience an up tick. If Time was on a photo cover jag, then the illustration market would experience a downturn. Well, I dunno what Time is doing these days, but if their cover was once some sort of illustration 'canary in a coal mine', then I'd have to say that bird is dead.

These days in magazine covers its "photo or bust" - and preferably a photo of some celebrity's bust! You have to wonder what the point is. How is your publication supposed to stand out on the stands if your cover shows the same thing everybody else is showing month after month after month? What kind of marketing strategy is that?

This week, let's take a look at the days when magazines actually considered illustration a viable (perhaps even superior) alternative to photography. If a few creatives with some clout in print media happen to be reading this week and wake up to what they've been missing, there might even be some Time left for the illustration business.

* This week's topic arose because Charlie Allen (who has already so generously shared a wealth of Bernie Fuchs images with us from his files in recent weeks) sent the three Fuchs SI covers you see here today. Many thanks, Charlie!

* And speaking of Charlie, his latest CAWS is up a day early this week. If you didn't visit last week to see Charlie's amazing marine paintings, be sure to drop by Charlie Allen's Blog right now for some more gorgeous, eye-popping artwork, presented extra-large so you can better appreciate the details.

* My Bernie Fuchs Flickr set.

Autumn leaves intervention

Autumn leaves
Found these on my walk with Turbo and gave them some TLC with my brushes and some paint.
I love the Fall! It's the season I am most inspired by.

Featured Designer of The Week-The Color of Dreams

Each Monday we feature the Designer of the Week. One of our editors pick their favorite from the Monthly Challenge entries.

This week I picked The Color of Dreams Entry.

Patricia's necklace captures the same movement that Kandinsky's paintings. Even though it was made with polymer clay, it looks as though paint was thrown onto the pendant. It's really beautiful.

To see more of Patricia's work you can visit her Etsy Shop.
Want to see your work here next week? Enter our monthly challenge today!

Written by
Jennifer Heynen

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Here's how it goes:

There are details that hum and details that sing. There are details that accumulate like silt when the artist isn't paying enough attention, and smother the picture.

Then there are details where artists with impeccable technique find refuge from questions of meaning and purpose.


There are details that are diamantiferous...


all the way down to the subatomic level....

Then there are details so insanely disproportionate that we can only attribute them to the addiction to drawing (an addiction that has so far bested every methadone program offered by art schools).


Of course, we forgive the excessive details in Renaissance art; those details were created in an era of new excitement for empirical facts and the physical world, after artists awakened from the long medieval fixation on the afterlife. Renaissance artists were entitled to their painstaking focus on the natural world, but you'd better have an equally good excuse if you want to get away with the same level of detail today.

There are details which are just a playground for scamps.

Then there are sly details, the ones that seduce the artist with his own skill. Be on your guard, for these are the most dangerous details of all!


There are details that envelop you in a warm bath, and there are details that shimmer like phosphorescence in the sea at night and swirl around you, drawing you deeper into the picture to the place where mermaids whisper that answers do exist.

On those rare occasions when an artist exercises restraint, the few carefully selected details can acquire supernatural power. The single line of a stocking can inspire you to leave a bookstore and go hunting for your wife.

Sometimes detail gets lucky and is given a starring role in a picture, as when an artist merges the background with the foreground, making the center of the picture everywhere at once.


Once upon a time, laborious detail was the cheapest and safest way to make sure a viewer valued a picture. Even if the art was no good, viewers were subconsciously flattered that the artist was willing to trade so many hours of his life to entertain them. But the muse became indignant that so many of her supplicants were abandoning her for the god of manual labor, so she invented photoshop. Now even the lure of cheap flattery is gone.


Scientists report that fully 17% of the artistic details in the known universe are attributable to cowardice; there are artists who add detail to hedge their bets, believing that it is safer to draw lots of little lines than one big one. But artists who believe they can escape accountability by blurring their choices with three or four lines where one would suffice are wrong. The fatal flaw with their theory is what the economists call diminishing marginal utility: with each additional superfluous line the artist invests a little less thought or judgment (and adds less value to the picture).

So many lines-- hundreds of millions of them throughout history-- are conceived in hope, only to end up as part of an endurance test for crow quill pens. One can only ponder the wasted potential, the disappointed ambitions of these lines whose lives were stripped of individuality, personality, and any other trait that might have redeemed them. It is, my friends, a holocaust of mind numbing proportions. But who will hear their cry?