New Art! Floral Fruit Bat

A quick update with some new art I've been working on, in a new medium. I hated gouache in art school, but I think I'm a convert now. I love how crisply it goes on and the finish when it dries-- there's none of the plastic-y acrylic feel. I think I'll be working in gouache more regularly! 

Floral fruit bat is available in my Society6 shop.

Materials: Holbein Acryla Gouache, Crescent illustration board

2016 Tea Towel Calendar - Spoonflower

In the interest of creating more art outside of work, I've been participating in Spoonflower's weekly fabric contests. The different themes are good inspiration, and I'm learning about surface design in the process.

This week's theme is Tea Towel Calendars. I don't believe in astrology myself, but I love constellations and zodiac as a theme. Best of all, this week's challenge can do double duty as Christmas gifts for the year. Hope you guys like calendars. ;)

If you have a Spoonflower account, take a look at the entries and vote for your favorites!

Watercolor Pet Portraits -- Complete!

I've been wanting to hang some portraits of our two cats and Greyhound, so I decided to paint 'em. 


Freya is a weirdo who only likes food, and staring at me. (Seriously. Everytime I turn my head she is right there. Staring.) She also comes off as kind of....dumb, so that was an important aspect to capture. Poor Freya.

Freya Watercolor Portrait

How's the likeness?

I asked Matt what shirt Freya would wear, and he said "A hot dog shirt. She loves hot dogs!" It turned out he was talking about the dog, which made a lot more sense. 

I asked Matt what shirt Freya would wear, and he said "A hot dog shirt. She loves hot dogs!" It turned out he was talking about the dog, which made a lot more sense. 


Juno is fat, fluffy, and attached to Matt. She's actually not that fat, but her fur makes her look like a chub. She also looks eternally stern, but gives 0 craps about anything. This is the first portrait I did, and I was unhappy with the way some of it came out. Luckily I had two more chances to improve on them!

Juno is definitely Matt's cat, but the one time she does like to be near me is when I'm in the office. For some reason, dangling over the back of the computer chair is her favorite spot. 

Juno is definitely Matt's cat, but the one time she does like to be near me is when I'm in the office. For some reason, dangling over the back of the computer chair is her favorite spot. 


I think Petra's is my favorite portrait-- it was fun to paint her brindle markings and ridiculous Greyhound nose. (and Batman PJs are obviously the best!)

Petra Watercolor Pet Portrait
Petra the Greyhound

 I was going to hang them in the stairwell, but I like them so much that now I want to hang them somewhere more visible. Only problem is my walls are already covered with piles of art. I'll post an update once I've found some thrift store frames and a suitable hanging spot!

One frame down. Two to go~

One frame down. Two to go~

Fun with fanart - Vintage Butterfly Pokemon

I've been pretty into scientific nature bookplates lately (I'm always into Pokemon), and thought interpreting the butterfly Pokemon in this style would be a fun way to get off the computer and work traditionally for a bit. I'm happy with how they came out-- especially Venomoth and Dustox!

Prints available in my Society6 shop.
Also selling the originals here!

Here they are individually, and a progress shot.

Dustox WIP

Dustox WIP

Give your chairs a makeover with custom Zazzle fabric!

Upholster a chair (or anything) with Zazzle custom fabric!

I'm obsessed with Mexican Otomi prints. Traditional Otomi patterns are intricate embroideries featuring super colorful animals and flowers. I've been looking to incorporate one into my decor for a while now, but at upwards of $300 for a good size piece the prospects weren't looking good.

Otomi fabric is completely hand embroidered.  So. Beautiful.

Otomi fabric is completely hand embroidered. So. Beautiful.



After coming up empty in a search for affordable cotton-printed alternatives, I decided to make use of my artsy skills and Zazzle's custom fabric printing to whip up my own Otomi pattern. This way, I could include my favorite animals (think fruit bats, sphinxes, and cats!) and make it completely one-of-a-kind.

We just got our first grown-up dining table, and fabric would be the perfect way to update the bleh dining chairs that came with our old Goodwill table. So with a plan and a project in mind, I got started.

This is our old pressed wood dining table. Sad.

This is our old pressed wood dining table. Sad.

Referencing a bunch of animals in the Otomi style, I drew versions of my favorite characters and organized them into a repeat in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

The finished repeat.

The finished repeat.

Check out Julia Rothman's guide on how to make a complex repeat here! Or, if making art isn't your thing, you can purchase my Otomi fabric or any other Zazzle fabric on the site.

After bringing the pattern into Zazzle's custom fabric creator, I got stuck on picking a repeat size.... it was way too small at one size, but seemed huge the next size up. Going for bold over tiny, I picked the bigger repeat. Other than that quirk, uploading the pattern on Zazzle was super easy.

Zazzle's "Cotton Twill" weight of fabric was perfect, since I'd be using it to upholster seating and wanted it to hold up to all the butts sitting on it. For four chairs, I placed an order for 2 yards and hoped for the best.

The fabric arrived in about a week and looked great!


It was a nice weight for seating, and had a quality print and hand. My one wish is that the colors had come out a bit brighter in person. The pinks skewed a little red and the darkest blues and purples looked similar to each other. Dark printing vs. screen is pretty normal, and I don't think anyone would notice without seeing my original art, so I was OK with it.

With fabric in hand, it was time to get started on the chairs!

The chair before spray painting. I forgot to take a shot directly after painting-- oops!

The chair before spray painting. I forgot to take a shot directly after painting-- oops!

To sit with the new table, I wanted a darker, less red finish. After unscrewing the seats (make sure you remember which chair goes with which seat) and priming with a thin coat of spray primer, I used some Krylon Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint I had on hand to spray over the old, gross finish. In a couple coats, the chairs looked brand new!

To reupholster the seats, I laid them on the fabric and cut about 3 inches around, to allow enough fabric to fold over and staple. I was careful to have the fabric pattern face the same direction for all chairs, and to pick parts of the pattern that would feature all my creatures.

I cut ~3 inches around the chair. (I removed the chevron fabric on the first chair, but got lazy and left in on for the rest. It didn't seem to make much difference, but if my fabric were more sheer I would have lined it with a white fabric first)

I cut ~3 inches around the chair. (I removed the chevron fabric on the first chair, but got lazy and left in on for the rest. It didn't seem to make much difference, but if my fabric were more sheer I would have lined it with a white fabric first)

Upholstering is really easy. To start, pull the fabric taut and staple once in the center of each side. Pull in the corners and staple each corner once. 

Then, just work your way from the middle and staple like crazy, being sure the fabric is taut and straight as you go.

The corners are just slightly trickier. Fold each side in a way that minimizes visible lumps from the front. When it looks good, staple away, and trim any excess.

After upholstering the seats, I just screwed them back on to the chairs. Make sure to match the right seat with the right chair, in case the screw holes don't quite match up. (I learned that the hard way...)


Made-over chairs with our new dining table! 

Made-over chairs with our new dining table! 

I am so happy with my dining chairs. They fit in wonderfully with our new table without being super matchy, and it's fun knowing that the fabric is personal to me rather than being mass-produced. Even if you don't want to make your own fabric, painting and upholstering chairs is a really easy project, and browsing designs on Zazzle or Spoonflower can score you some super unique fabric of your own.

Good luck! :)

Products featured in this post:
(Referral purchases go toward art supplies and cat food!)

  1. Otomi Large-Scale Fabric - Zazzle (also available on Spoonflower)
  2. Krylon Oil-Rubbed Bronze spray paint - Amazon


Why is the best print company ever

UPDATE July 2015: This review has been very popular, and since I've been using iprintfromhome for quite a while now I wanted to share a quick update to say that iprintfromhome is still working for me as great as ever! I've been ordering my holiday cards from them every year (I cut them myself) and the quality and service has still been perfect. 

iprintfromhome samples

the giclee print dilemma

I just want to take a (long) moment to gush about my new favorite print company ever. I’ve been agonizing over producing quality prints to feel like a true professional, and finally wanted to try Giclee since: everyone pees their pants over it, it’s archival, it’s lightfast, etc. Well, after checking out a few sites, I was disheartened by what seemed like a poopload of hassle for every Giclee printer: Setup fees, having to ship artwork to scan, minimum orders, etc. My purse is not exactly bulging with money, so that wasn’t going to work. I wanted to be able to offer ALL my artwork as prints, and I certainly couldn’t afford all those fees for each piece!

my order with

Then I found iprintfromhome via. Etsy. It seemed like everyone had a crush on them, so I decided to go see what the ruckus was all about. “iprintfromhome” wasn’t the most professional-sounding name, so at first I was a little cynical. But I must say I had a wonderful experience after all!

Their site is very easy to navigate, and everything is clearly laid out. They have “Photographic” prints, and “Fine Art” (Giclee) prints. The photographic prints are very affordable at $2.00 for an 8×10, while the Giclee are considerably more at $10 for an 8×10. However, there are no set-up fees, no minimum orders or any other bogus fees, and they do have discounts if you order more than one print. All the other Giclee printers I found charged at least $25 for one print, in addition to the setup cost. Even better, First Class shipping is only $3, and from what I can tell that’s for any size order!

Just to test out their quality and compare, I ordered:

  • 4×6 Matte Photographic Print on Kodak Endura paper – $.30
  • 4×6 Lustre Photographic Print on Kodak Endura paper – $.30
  • 4×6 Giclee Art Print on Somerset Velvet paper – $5.00

the service

I was immediately impressed by the fact that a real live person called me just to basically say “Hi” and make sure I didn’t have any questions or concerns. Maybe I’m just unlucky, but nobody ever does that for me! There weren’t even any hidden promotions involved– it seemed they just really wanted to make sure I was all set.

The shipping was also excellent. The site says it can take 3 business days to produce Giclee prints, but mine seemed to be on the way after only a day or two, and though I chose the cheapest shipping option, it took a total of 5 days from clicking “Order” to having them in my hand. The packaging was excellent. Everything was packed in a sturdy envelope with an additional sheet of cardboard backing, and the individial items were in their own protective envelopes with plenty of information about my prints attached. They even added a border to my image so it didn’t sit on the page funny (I had left it up to them to decide when I ordered) and wrote a letter explaining that they noticed I had an art print and they thought it would look nicest with a border. Compare that to Zazzle who apparently couldn’t even look at a calendar and tell what side was up before adding the spiral binding (grrr.. that’s another story!)

In ADDITION to this, they included a free sample pack and monitor calibration kit, to make sure my future prints matched their printers as closely as possible.

the prints

Yes, yes, I know, finally to the important part! Well.. the prints are beautifulHere’s what I thought of each.

Photographic Prints: The photographic prints caught my image’s colors perfectly. They were vibrant, crisp, and had none of that extreme contrast and saturation that laser prints tend to give. However, I really would recommend them for photographs, which is why it is called a “Photographic” print. The back of the paper is printed with the Kodak Endura logo, and it just doesn’t seem very artsy. The prints were lovely, but the photo paper didn’t feel very “natural” at all. Even the matte was fairly glossy, which I imagine would bring out the colors of a photograph beautifully. But I would not make my art prints with their Photographic Print service.

Giclee Prints: Now we’re talking! I have nothing bad to say about the Giclee print I ordered. I find it really hard to tell the different between this print and my original painting, even without using their calibration tool. It is printed on a watercolor-type paper (Somerset Velvet) and touching it feels like you are touching someone’s work of art. The colors are vivid without being overly saturated or contrast-y (heh), and they add a 1 inch border around the piece to either trim it how you like or to have a border for framing. By this I mean that my 4×6 print actually arrived on 6×8 paper. I took advantage of this by hand-tearing the border to give it a deckled watercolor edge, which adds to the artistic quality even more. Awesome!

in conclusion…

I’m hooked! One could argue that those other Giclee printers have drum scanners, setup fees and high costs because it results in a better print, and perhaps they are right. But when I look at a print and can barely even tell the difference between it and my original, then that seems like fine enough quality to me. Any more would be splitting hairs, wouldn’t it? However, since they DON’T scan your image for you, it’s your responsibility to get a quality scan. If your scan sucks, then your print will–most likely–suck.

Since I can order one print at a time with no hassle besides uploading my image, I plan to order prints on demand as people purchase them from my Etsy shop. This way I won’t have to keep any inventory or break the bank, but people can still receive very high quality prints. Hoorah!

If you want to check them out: