Dec. 29th, 2010

exchangediary: illustration of a girl in a red bathing suit at the seaside (Jen Corace: Seaside)
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So, today my boyfriend brought home one of my holds from the library: My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales, a collection of contemporary retellings of fairy tales edited by Kate Bernheimer. The collection features stories by some of my favorite writers (including Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum, Joyce Carol Oats, and Francine Prose), but what really caught my eye was the book's cover: a simple but eerie illustration of a girl's braid emerging from a cauldron accentuated by bold, beautiful, hand-drawn typography. The cover was illustrated and lettered by Julie Morstad, who also happens to be responsible for the beautiful artwork for Neko Case's Fox Confessor Brings the Flood album.

So, without further ado, here's a selection of favorites from Julie's online portfolio. 18 images under the cut. )

If you like what you see, Julie sells archival quality prints via a Big Cartel shop.
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Do you ever think about outsider art? I didn't used to, but when I'm depressed I go to the Art and Architecture library and linger in the basement trying to find something that will make me feel whole again and, in some ways, the work of Henry Darger comes close.

I could tell you about Darger, but it's complicated and Wikipedia does it better. But I wanted to share his illustrations with you because they make my heart swell in the most unbearable of ways.

More of Darger's work is under the cut. )

If you like what you see, definitely be sure to check out the documentary In the Realms of the Unreal.
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Catherine Campbell draws the things that I love the most: sad girls, rabbits, and foxes. Her illustrations, collages, and needle + thread works are a great blend of children's books, fashion sketches, & classroom doodling. For more of her work check out her online portfolio & if you want to buy a piece or two of hers, she has an Etsy shop with some really moderately priced prints.

More of CC's work )
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On the way home from school, my roommate and I were talking about our favorite childhood books. I was always reading when I was younger (and I still read a lot now, though because I'm juggling work and school, it's a little harder for me to make the time.) I was surprised to find out that Karen and I had a lot of the same favorite books and my talk with her inspired me to post about kids books here & to reread some of my old favorites.

When I was growing up, my mom let me read her copies of the Edith & Mr. Bear books by Dare Wright. I loved that they had photographs instead of illustrations, it made everything seem so real and wonderful. Dare actually lived near where I grew up & she wrote & photographed all of the Edith & Mr. Bear books on her own. There's a great biography of her called The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll: The Search for Dare Wright by Jean Nathan. (The photo at the top of this post is a portrait of Dare scanned from The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll, isn't she beautiful?) I scanned some more portraits of Dare from The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll they're under the cut )

I can't remember how old I was when I first read The Little House in the Big Woods, but I do remember reading the title out loud and embarrassingly misreading it as The Little House in the Big Words. i grew up in the suburbs with parents who worked full time, so the world that Wilder wrote about in the Little House books might as well have been a complete and total fantasy to me. It all sounded so quaint & wonderful and I still remember the silliest little details: Laura's corncob doll, eating maple syrup on snow, putting butter in tiny molds shaped like strawberries. My roommate & I bought an atlas & charted out a roadtrip route that would take us through each one of Wilder's childhood homes. Who knows, maybe some day we'll actually t take that journey.

I've probably read A Wrinkle in Time a zillion times. At Least. Growing up, and even know, I loved the story of Meg Murray and her younger brother, Charles Wallace, and their search for their missing father. I think, what I mostly loved, was that Meg was bookish and unpopular and awkward, but absolutely brilliant and brave at the same time. I didn't read a lot of fantasy or sci-fi growing up, but something about L'Engles Murray family drew me in and I've read bunches of books about them - A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, An Acceptable Time, even the biblical Many Waters (starring Meg's twin brothers, Sandy and Dennys.)

When Karen and I were driving home, one of the few books that we had in common was Avi's The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, the story of a young, rich girl who's traveling alone & becomes swept up in a mutiny on a merchant vessel. I told Karen, "Everything I learned about boats and pirates, I learned from Charlotte Doyle." Which is true. And probably means that I don't have very much accurate knowledge regarding boats or pirates. But I do know what a round robin is!

Growing up, and I'm not even kidding, it was my absolute dream to spend the night in an empty museum. Because of this, it's probably no surprise that one of my all-time favorite childhood books is about a brother and sister who run away and live in the museum. From the Mixed-Up Files... is a fabulous book about mysteries and art and runaway kids figuring out where they belong. I will probably always love it.

Zilpha Keatley Snyder was pretty much my favorite author growing up. I named my first zine, Headless Cupid, after her YA novel The Headless Cupid & still long to have a tree house like Libby from Libby on Wednesday. Her books often blend an air of the occult with mystery & the normalities of adolescence. I reread her books all of the time & so many of them have a close place in my heart. Particularly the two pictured above & the recently reissued, The Changeling, which my mom read out loud to me before I could read on my own.

What about you? Do you have favorite kids' books? What are they?

Mary Blair

Dec. 29th, 2010 02:51 pm
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Gosh, it's been a long time since I've posted! I didn't meant to leave you all behind, life has just been extra-busy lately. I went on winter break, reconnected with old friends (and new loves), came back to school, starting taking a really inspirational writing course, blogging publicly, riding my bike more, & taking more photos. My wrist is inflamed and achey from all of the writing I've been doing, but the days are getting warmer and longer and I'm excited to start posting in here today!

So, in celebration of spring and fun and new beginnings, here are some illustrations from Mary Blair, one of my favorite children's book illustrators.

Illustrations are under the cut )


Dec. 29th, 2010 02:54 pm
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Welcome new members! Thank you so much for joining up. It's hard for me to believe that there are 154 of us now! I'll have to plan something special soon. For now, have a look at these beautiful matchbook labels from Eastern European countries. I picked out a few of my favorites, but there are hundreds organized here on Flickr.

Eight more! )
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It's a rainy Monday here in Oxford, so I thought I'd cheer myself up by looking for new artists/illustrators on Flickr & luckily enough, I stumbled upon Marianne Goldin. Her work is heartfelt and eclectic and some of my favorite pieces are under the cut. )
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Hey everyone,

It's a grey and dreary day here, but Suzanne Carlsen's work has really brightened my morning. I love tiny, secretive objects and Suzanne's work combines the functional and wearable with the childlike and mysterious. She embroiders tiny pencils, sailboats, cellphones, bicycles and other objects onto miniature banners, crests, cufflinks, medals, and rings.

Suzanne's website does a great job of describing the mission of her work when they say,
Most important in her work is the existence of unanticipated stories or images—told in hidden pop-up books, illustrations on the reverse side of a piece, movable pieces and refashioned objects. These create a secret in which the wearer can rejoice and share with others. Precious and evocative, Suzanne’s work can be ‘read’ in myriad ways, always personal. Her themes, often reminiscent of childhood and play, speak to the simple pleasures of living: beauty, happiness and memory.
There are 14 more images of Suzanne's work under the cut )

I hope you're all doing well (I have some more posts planned for this week, so expect more illustrations and some music too!)



Kris Chau

Dec. 29th, 2010 02:56 pm
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I'm going to be honest, I really like skateboarding. I know, some people think that skateboarding is best left to rebellious 14 year old boys who want to smash the state after study hall, but it's fun and liberating and a good way to get the 4 blocks from my house to the library without breaking a sweat. Plus, I can carry my skateboard under my arm and you just can't do that with a bike. Anyway, this isn't a post about skateboards, this is a post about Kris Chau. While looking for a new deck, I saw the above beauty and was blown away, so I just had to check out Kris' website for more work and, you guys, I was blown away. There are certain motifs that I love in illustration - rabbits, foxes, bikes, wistful looking girls - and Kris does them all and she does them so well.

So, here's a selection of my favorite images from Kris' site. This is a very image heavy post (over 20 images), so it's not very dial-up friendly. Sorry! Believe me, it was hard enough to limit myself to 25 or so pictures. Please check out Kris' site for more.

20+ more! )

If you're interested in getting one of Kris' decks, check out Foundation Skateboards.

I really loved Kris' work, so I made a few quick icons of some of my favorite pieces:

If you take an icon, please credit
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I'm a sucker for bright colors, cute things, collages, & 3D pieces, so Lisa Congdon's shadowboxes are right up my alley. I selected a few of my favorites, but you should really check out her Flickr page for more work, she also does beautiful collages & illustrations.

Shadowboxes galore )

Lisa also has a website with info on where to purchase her artwork.

The survey code in this post was corrupt, so I moved the survey to this post. If you've already completed the survey, I would appreciate it if you would take the time to fill in your answers once more. Thanks!
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A raccoon in a suit! If there's one thing I love, it's animals in clothing. As a child I loved Beatrix Potter's illustrations of garden animals in finery & now Ryan of Berkley Illustration has made it possible for me to carry that obsession over into my adulthood (not that I ever outgrew Beatrix Potter). Ryan's prints of animals in various classy getups typically run for just $7 at his Etsy shop. Etsy also profiled Ryan & Lucy (the business half of Berkley). Plus, Ryan and Lucy have an amazing blog that's updated pretty regularly (Lucy's weekly reviews of Ryan's action figures are probably my favorite posts).

There are 10 more of Ryan's animal portraits under the cut )

I also made the above illustrations into icons. Remember, these images belong to Ryan. If you take these for your personal use, please credit

Jen Gotch

Dec. 29th, 2010 03:00 pm
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Jen Gotch (Flickr, Blogger) has done this amazing series of scribbled on Polaroids. I think a lot of people might think, What's so great about scribbled on pictures?, but I think there's a lot of great things about them. I think what I really like is the idea of injecting commentary into an image: merging thoughts and words and visuals. At first, the act of writing seems concrete, like you're adding a definitive tag to the photo, but I think it really just opens it up more & adds another blurry level of meaning.

Here's how Jen describes the inspiration behind her project:
It started very innocently. I was just trying to take a self portrait, and when I saw what my face looked like I said to myself (out loud) "I don't like my face today." So I grabbed a sharpie and scribbled it out. "There, much better. Hmmmmm. This feels kind of good." Ok, let me stop you right there. I don't hate myself, or my face for that matter, I just didn't like it yesterday. It happens, right? Then I remembered that I had another photo of myself where I didn't like the way my mouth looked, so I scribbled on that one, too. And then it hit me. Finally, something to do with all those "reject" polaroids I've been holding onto for years. The ones that got jammed in the camera, or yellowed in certain places, or the ones where I just didn't like my face. So I dug them up and just started writing the first thing that came to my mind. As if I was explaining the photo to someone else. Well, I couldn't stop. I even dipped into a couple of non-rejects. And, since I wasn't liking my face, I took some more self portraits and scribbled on them. Defacing is fun, and it brings some emotion to photos that weren't very, well, emotional. I hope you like what I have done so far.

When Andrew came home last night and saw what I was doing he said,
"Why did you draw all over your face?"
I said,
"I didn't like, uh, you wouldn't understand."
He probably would understand, but I think he likes my face everyday (as husbands should), so maybe he wouldn't.

My friend Chris emailed me. I think he thought I might be suicidal because of how blue I have been feeling. I told him that wasn't the case, I was just inspired. He's a good friend.
There are more of Jen's photos under the cut )

I also made these images into icons. If you take any icons, please credit [community profile] oursecret & Jen Gotch in your keywords/comments.

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