"slow curves"

As the days tick down to finishing up my Certificate in Graphic Design program and my worries mount... "Where will this next stone on my path take me?"..."will it take me closer to the art career I've been digging for for years or will it feel like another dead end?"... I listened to an interview this morning with David Gray that really shifted something in me. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a huge David Gray fan. He started as a painting major in college and instead gave in to the real love of his life: music. The way he writes a song from the lyrics to the melody to the instruments he uses has always spoken to me on an artist's heart level. His words that sang true to me this morning: 

The artists that I love the most...have slow curves...like George Braque...he stayed on his path...he stuck with it and for thirty, forty..years he’s banging away on the same drum...working within the constraints of one idea...or, Jack Yeates...there’s another example of a painter who suddenly blossomed...this is where the optimism comes in - when the richness of my life, the amount that I’ve been through and the people I’ve seen die and the people I’ve seen born, the amazing experiences and disappointments, triumphs...surely, all this is just going to create a greater potency when you try and make the sound (art, stories, etc...) that you want to make. I don’t see any reason why it should go off, like it’s a young man’s game.
— David Gray, interview on 'Born Optimistic' podcast
chicken .png

One of the most fun projects I am currently working on with a group is to recreate a website for a local sustainable farm. I've done a tiny bit of the coding and been asked to be the illustrator for the project, to give the site a quirky, warm feeling. I am loving this project! 

Be well and just keep painting...singing...playing...being you! 

Link to Born Optimistic podcast

30 Days of Studies and Sketching

Last month I set a goal of making art for thirty days. Not necessarily thirty consecutive days, as school work and life are piled high these days. But, thirty days of sketching or producing something purely for my pleasure. I was beginning to get quite sad and missing time to make some art, play with color, muse about form just for the sake of exploration. I'm through day twenty-three and found myself gravitating back to botanicals. I guess that muse is not dead yet. 

Here are a few - follow along on my Instagram

Gracie Brave has been launched!

Happy 2018 everyone! I am looking forward to a few weeks of break from my graphic design certificate program I am currently enrolled in. I had a great first semester, survived web design with minimal hairs being pulled and made Dean's list! 

Big news for this month is that Gracie Brave has been launched on Amazon by the authors (Pamela Krikke and Kate Eldean). I illustrated Gracie Brave and worked one on one with the authors to bring her to life. It was an interesting project and one I enjoyed a great deal. 

promo Gracie .jpg

Front cover 2018 Calendar small copy.jpg

I have had requests for several years to do a wall calendar and I thought the latest Bugs and Botanicals series would be a perfect opportunity to satisfy my customers. The twelve-month calendar features:

  • Large, 12' square format
  • Printed in full color on heavy card stock matte paper
  • coil-bound with a hole for easy hanging.
  • Features 12 of my favorite images from the 100 Day Challenge project. 
Calendar promo.jpg
Back Cover 2018 Calendar .jpg

Catchin' up

Oy! Best laid plans... yep. This summer hasn't gone as planned. My seasonal allergies have really dampened my energy and reserve. I was on steroids for a few weeks to try and get on top of them and those were the best two weeks of my summer! I haven't been able to do any of my new series, other than the 100 Days of Botanicals and Bugs which has been really helpful and enlightening. So, let me catch you up on some of those pieces I was able to squeeze out of my hands. I also had some client work this summer which has been great as well. 

I will be at Holden Days Community fest this Saturday with some new works like the ones below, "Love Thy Neighbor" series. I will have afordable originals as well as prints of soem fo the botanical and bugs. COme say hello! I'd love to see you. 

Summer focus

Normally, summer is not my favorite season. I don't do well in the heat and my allergies leave me feeling itchy, tired and a bit foggy most of the time. This year, however, I have a reason to welcome it with open arms! I can already feel the schedule of the school year fading away and I'm starting to adjust to the new,  more consistent work schedule in the studio. I will still be navigating the work schedules of my two teenage sons who are not yet driving and the very phrenetic schedule of my new(ish), high energy puppy but this is all an improvement! 

Looking forward to sinking my teeth into my emerging "Caged" series. This series gets its imagery inspiration from vintage botanical and biological illustrations. The energy for this series is fueled by my own angst and thoughts about being a woman in her fifties as I consider all the choices I've made along the way and the things that cage me in one way or another. I will be incorporating hand embroidery into the works, as I have in the previous two series. This time I plan on working on hand dyed fabrics as well as the tissue paper layers I've used in the past. I have been doing research on the history of embroidery and it's parallel to woman's roles in the family and community.  This history will play its own role in the series and what I hope to express in these works. 

 work in progress 

work in progress 

Because most artists these days have to keep many irons in the fire to keep the bills paid, I will also be putting together a marketing package to send out to art agents and directors in the direction of illustration and licensing work. Work on the Gracie Brave book is ongoing and I will be doing some illustration work for the authors this summer as well. 

Happy Summer to all who have teken the time to visit my "desk" today. Be well and stay in touch! 

Botanicals and Bugs and Sometimes, Cages

The 100 Days Project Continues and is going well ... I've loosened up and have played with new color palettes and am finding pure joy in the process! I've started doing research on the history of botanical illustrations as well as the history of embroidery and it's reflection of society and culture. This search and the daily practice of playing with the themes will inform my next series which I hope to really dig in to this summer. Finally, I am researching fellowships and artist residencies to commit a focused block of time to this series, if anyone has any leads - I'd welcome the resource! 

 Days 1-9   

Days 1-9

 

 Days 10-19

Days 10-19

 Days 20-29   

Days 20-29

 

100 Days

I'm taking part in the 100 Days Project by producing sketches and studies of bugs (mostly moths) and botanicals. They can be found on my instagram feed as well as on my Facebook studio page .

These studies and sketches will inform my next wall art series. This new series will explore the mixture of hand embroidery, used in a more free-form/intuitive way than I have used it in my first Beasts series. I've begun to explore the use of embroidering on tea-dyed fabric as well as water soluble substrate material for hand work. My intention is to bring an updated and deeper exploration of the traditional botanical/natural history illustration. 

I continue to work on my children's book illustration portfolio and hope to pull a pitch together for the Gigantic Turnip book. 

Finally, I am researching the possibility of pursuing a Masters in Social Work to support my goals of bringing creativity as a means to healing to audiences that have experienced loss and or trauma. 

 Day 2 of the 100 Days Project 

Day 2 of the 100 Days Project 

 Day 1 of the 100 Day Project 

Day 1 of the 100 Day Project 

 An experimental piece using recycled bed sheet material stretched over wood panel and prepared for waterbed gouache and ink. Embroidery on tea-dyed bed sheet material and water soluble embroidery fabric. 

An experimental piece using recycled bed sheet material stretched over wood panel and prepared for waterbed gouache and ink. Embroidery on tea-dyed bed sheet material and water soluble embroidery fabric. 

 Day 7 

Day 7 

New Gallery !

I am pleased to announce that the newly expanded Worcester Art and Frame Gallery in West Brookfield, MA is now showing  my work ! I have my Beasts II (Heritage Breeds and Heirloom Seeds) series hanging now in addition to some smaller works on paper and cards, also available. There will be a grand opening reception on March 11 if you're local and want to stop by to say hello to some local artists. 

 "Arapawa Goat" Beasts II series 24" square. Mixed media and hand embroidery on wood. 

"Arapawa Goat" Beasts II series 24" square. Mixed media and hand embroidery on wood. 

Let's get this year rolling !

Hello good people ! Whew! Haven't posted here since November ?! Shame on me ! December always gets away from me. Here's the new year upon us already. I have been emerging from the fog of activity related to the holidays as well as to my middle son starting college.  I am just starting to get my footing with my new schedule of driving him back and forth to classes and carving out my studio time. Oh! And we added a new little four legged life to our family. "Jimmy" is a little ball of puppy energy and a real tricky one to train. I've taken on a new teaching position at Tower Hill Botanical Gardens and will be starting with a "Monet's Garden" class with young school age students in the spring. Really looking forward to teaching children again. I taught children ages 3-13 for 11 years in my private art school out of my home. I stopped teaching to get ready for a solo show back in 2011 and really miss being with young artists. Their enthusiasm and strong instincts were the things that got me painting again in 2006 and it's a missing piece in my life. 

I'm working on a big project that unfortunately I can't share here or anywhere else until I get the thumbs up from the client. In the meantime I've been warming up in the studio by doing little concept pieces and throwing them on Instagram

I've been inspired by a Emily Gould's journaling class on Skillshare, where she asked us to write daily by being sparked by the opening sentence, "today I noticed.." 

I also played with some images that suggested to me a particular word. I worked with images first and then thought about what words came to mind when I thought about the composition. I've been working on hand lettering with all these ideas. 

and finally ... I created a little piece for M.L.K. Jr. Day. I love W.E.B. Dubois's words...so much richness in his thoughts and writings. 

Sugar Plum Fairy Hits the Streets

Now that the the Children's Book Illustration course is over and all the Thanksgiving left overs are eaten, I am ready to take on the holiday season! I'm gearing up to participate in an art show this Saturday at the UUCW church and have just announced that I will be hosting an open studio the weekend of December 17-18. 

I am offering my newest card design: a Hanukkah themed card ! 

 Hanukkah cards will be available in my shop December 1st. 

Hanukkah cards will be available in my shop December 1st. 

 

I decided to enter the competition to win a free space in the next round of the Children's Book Illustration course. 

The assignment was to design the front cover of the imaginary book titled, "The Sugar Plum Fairy's Adventure". I truly had so much fun with this assignment! I really tried to relax and have fun and give myself plenty of time to see it with fresh eyes to fine tune and make this the most solid submission to date.  

My plan first thing in the new year is to design a marketing package to send to a small group of art directors and agents. If you are an art agent or art director in the children's book illustration and/or children's markets and would like to receive my newsletter and/or my marketing package please email me @ janemhoughton@gmail.com. Thank you. Here's to the best year yet in 2017 !