Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Here's one for the dog days of summer. My artist friend, Katie, is always photographing dogs at our Sunday gig at the Ottawa Farmers' Market and some of them make it into her paintings (check her out at plasticmasters.blogspot.com).
Karen's happy puppy design, which we've printed on baby gear, from hats & bibs to long johns. From a series featuring crowns & the crowned.
Monday, July 30, 2007
Cute bees on a cute T. What else can you say? Karen's smiley bees fit nicely on this hand-dyed baby t-shirt (size 6 months). We also print them on onesies and print a single bee on our baby long johns (& we've printed them on baby hats as well). More than once we've printed these guys on adult t-shirts at the request of our bee lovin' customers.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
From the archives. I haven't printed my fish design for a number of years, but I 'm thinking of bringing it back. For the original I made a hand cut stencil and then printed the design onto paper using an inked up plastic bag to give it an interesting texture.
I was inspired by the works of M.C. Escher and the play between positive and negative images. Several years after making the design, a customer drew my attention to a great children's book called Swimmy (1963 Caldecott honor book), by Leo Lionni. In the story many small red fish swim together in the shape of one big fish. Together, they chase away the big fish that threaten them.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Who knows where the idea came for this--Karen thought it'd be a fun image to print on baby clothes, and then the next thing we knew, she was pregnant and taking East Coast Fiddle Lessons. Her original of this design is a paper-cut done with an X-acto knife. Here the mermaid is pictured on one of our 100% cotton baby long johns. We also print this design on youth and adult t-shirts.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Friday, July 20, 2007
The original for this design was a black and white gouache painting. I wanted to do musicians because of our involvement with music festivals and our own love for music. I was thinking of Picasso's Three Musicians, which of course looks nothing like this, but that's what got me going. I wanted to include an accordion, because I was playing accordion myself in a fledgling band and you don't see a lot accordions in band images. I was trying to stay away from the more common musical instruments. I turned the drummer on his head because I thought it was more visually interesting and because it seemed to suit the unconventional personalities of a lot of drummers. To use a hockey analogy, I think of drummers as the goalies of the music world.
I had made a cycling design which was quite popular (see blog archive "bicyclist), however the "cruiser" style bike and the cat in the basket did not suit the more hardened cyclist. Rather than the image of leisure that the other design conveys, I started playing with the idea of a character that was more focussed on the sport of mountain biking and the devil-may-care attitude that goes along with it. I didn't plan on making a fire-breathing character; that came out of the act of drawing, as is often the case. As I was working, I was thinking about sport cliches, like "inner fire" and "feel the burn" and this is what evolved. I am a lover of bikes and have collected an odd assortment of bikes and parts over the years and I'm sure this is a subject I will revisit.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
The year I made this design we were very busy. We were doing festivals and craftshows every weekend, most of them a full day drive in both directions and then dyeing and printing shirts like mad during the week. Since we started our business we kissed our summers goodbye because that is when we really had to work our tails off to compensate for the slower times of the year. My favorite trips were along the northern routes and everytime we drove by a body of water I imagined myself slipping into a canoe and paddling off into the sunset. The figure is raising the paddle in the air as if to say "hurray! I'm here. This is where I want to be". Since making this design I have learned from avid canoests that this position, with the arms pumping up and down means "Stop. Possible danger ahead. Wait for the all clear signal." In my t-shirt designs I have tried to simplify the human form as much as possible (this figure doesn't even have a neck!). I always joke about the primitive style really working for me, but the truth is, the simple silhouetted figures allow the viewer to put themselves into the picture, whether young or old, male or female, at least this is what I hope to achieve.
The idea of a pyramid of people with veggies in their bellies was suggested to me by my partner. Where these characters with the wacky hairdo's came from is beyond me (again, that's art for ya!), although more than one person has suggested that the bottom middle figure might be a self portrait. For the original design, I cut the figures from black paper and then cut out a bunch of random fruits and veggies. I wasn't sure what to do with the top figure, but I put some of the extra veggie cut-outs up there and voila! A juggler. I have sometimes printed just the top juggling figure on little t-shirts and baby outfits. While the theme of this design is veggie lovin' folk, it embodies health, fun and happiness. We have sold this shirt to vegetarians, gymnasts, market vendors, jugglers, and yes, even meat-eaters!
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
One of my guilty pleasures is collage. I love taking existing images and changing the context. This particular collage, entitled "Corporate Art Centre" was made at a very large, expensive, long, slow craft show in the big city (I think Dec. 2001). I was so bored I went to the lobby and collected a few brochures and this is what I came up with. As you can see I was feeling like small craft was being corrupted by big business. Sorry, it's a bit difficult to read; the word bubbles are made with white-out tape and a particularly lousy ball point pen. Click on the image to enlarge.
Monday, July 16, 2007
The Gardener is one of a series of designs I made using black paper and scissors. Cutting out the bold black shapes and laying them on white paper was immediately satisfying and I liked the freedom of moving the shapes around to achieve the desired effect. It reminded me of making felt-board stories as a kid. This method also lends itself very well to the silkscreen technique.
This print is a favorite of gardeners, and is also appreciated for its nurturing theme. When I made it I was remembering Voltaire's Candide that we studied in french class in high school, and the quotation: "Il faut cultiver notre jardin". (I'd better look that up. High school was a long time ago.)
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Over the years we have sold at many folk festivals and hand drumming has been a big part of them. The first time I really experienced the power of hand drumming was years ago at a workshop at the Blue Skies festival near Perth, ON. With all those people drumming in unison, you really feel the beat in your soul. This image came out of that experience and also from meeting a lot of groovy people who hauled out thier djembes every summer and carried them from place to place during the festival season. People usually call this "the crazy drummer guy". The design seems to appeal not just to drummers, but to anyone who likes to cut loose once in a while. I did the original of this as a guache painting. It was unintentional, but the two small eyes are sometimes seen as one cyclops eye. Once you notice this it is hard to see it any other way. Even though I created this image, I was surprised when it was first pointed out to me. I look at this as a "happy accident" that adds to its appeal.
This was one of my first t-shirt designs and is still one of my favorites. The figure itself is quite weird looking to me even now, but it captures movement and that late summerday feeling when the sun is so bright that everything is in silhouette and partially obscured. I really enjoy watching people discover this design; it unfolds like a story. First they see the bike, then the dog and then they laugh when they see the cat in the basket. Is the dog chasing the cat? the bike?, or is it just following along? Everybody brings their own narrative and I often get to hear their cycling stories, which I love. I have a real affinity for this design because for most of my life the bike has been my main means of transport and I have carried everything, from lumber to my market display to my kids by bike. I own a car now, but for me, my bicycle is the great escape from the world of cars. I believe it is still the best, most efficient and healthiest invention in the world of transportation. Convince me otherwise.
Friday, July 13, 2007
The idea for this design was inspired by Matisse, however it is a universal image. After I made it, a lot of people called it "circle of friends" and associated it with the Mexican sculpture of people standing in a circle. I think you were supposed to light a candle in the centre of the circle. Matisse's painting seems to me more reverent or perhaps tribal and the negative space inside the circle almost appears as a skewed heart. Mine looks more like five people doing a community "snoopy" dance. It's a happy image that evokes friendship and celebration. One woman in the By Ward Market in Ottawa thought it was a potato and someone else thought it was a crab. That's art for ya!
This tank top with the
Circle Dancers is modelled
by my friend and renaissance
man Bruce, the motorcyclin',
guitar pickin', harmonica blowin',
photograph takin' chiropractor
and member of the world's coolest
family. Shot on location in
1998 on the beautiful
Southern tip of St. John, USVI.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
My original idea for this design was based on the Henri Matisse painting The Dance in which the figures are holding hands and dancing in a circle. On this t-shirt the dancers are continued on the back of the shirt to complete the circle. Matisse was inspired by images on Greek vases and peasant dances as well as African sculpture. It is a universal image that speaks to a lot of people on different levels. My stick figures are primitive and that seems to work just fine with this sort of design. As an aside, for years my partner thought the second figure from the left had a funny pony tail sticking up from the top of its head--"hey", I said, a little hurt, "that's an arm!" There you have it. Primitive. It has been one of our most successful designs.
Last saturday the whole family was invited to a birthday party for one of my son's school chums. His mother had asked if I could bring a green t-shirt to mail to her father for his birthday. When we got there, we discovered that one of her son's gifts was our green pine tree shirt given by a family friend who didn't know the connection. Happy Birthday Bodhi!
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
This is my latest design, printed on the fly just before the Fanfayr show on the Kingston waterfront on Canada Day weekend. I snapped this shot because it looked particularly nice on this blue shirt. I had set that shirt aside after dyeing it and it seemed to be waiting for these geese because it was so sky-like. I sold it right away at the show to a fellow vendor and collector of our shirts. Thanks Robert!
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Since sept '06 we have been selling regularly at the New Ottawa Farmers' Market, which is open every sunday from 8 am to 3pm from May to October. This is a great place to come to buy local goods directly from those who produce them. The current issue of Ottawa Magazine has a two page spread on the Market. Here is a picture of part of our display from that article.