Wednesday, November 25, 2009

American Duchess Apparel

Did you guys know I started a clothing line? American Duchess Apparel creates graphic tees that interpret the whimsical, natural, and feminine ideals of the past, with a particular focus on the 18th and 19th centuries.

It's getting towards holiday gift-giving time, so here's the flier to let you all know that the online ADA shop is up, running, ready to receive orders:

It's a pretty cool experience as an artist, working up a brand from nothing. I've done all the t-shirt illustration, of course, but also the graphic design on the fliers, labels and tags, and website (and coding too!). The business side - the world of wholesale and garment manufacture - is fascinating as well. I'm hoping to do well enough with graphic tees to release three new designs each season (once I get rolling), and to expand into other kinds of apparel, like jackets and hoodies.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Photo Post-Processing in Photoshop, featuring Avi

You don't have to be a good photographer to end up with a great photo. Well, it certainly helps, but if you don't know what all the little dials on your camera do, there is hope for you yet!

I worked with what I did know - composition and basic lighting knowledge - to snap this picture with my Not-a-DSLR Kodak camera. Popping it into Photoshop, I cropped it to create a more interesting composition, then lightened the bright side of her face, and darkened the other, using the dodge/burn tools. I made sure to keep the eye on the darker side a little lighter. I sharpened some areas, where I wanted the focus to be, and blurred other areas, such as her feet and the background (more). To punch up the color, I upped the contrast and saturation slightly. The last bit was to create the faux "lomo" effect around the edge, using the burn tool.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Black Avies has posted two dogs for adoptions recently. They both look like black versions of Avi! It pains me that I cannot adopt another dog from Taiwan, especially one that is similar in beauty to The Best Dog In The World. So I'm passing the info on to you.

Taiwan dogs like Avi are quite remarkable - they are medium-sized (about 30 lbs) with long, willowy figures, and beautiful faces. They are extremely intelligent, loyal, and loving. Avi has a very soft coat, which somehow has the ability to stay clean. She does not smell at all, not even her breath, and she is not destructive to the house, just her toys.

Of course, I can't guarantee that all Taiwan dogs are like this, but I can guarantee that all of these dogs are loving and loyal and looking for a better life. If you are thinking about adopting a dog, please consider these two, "Inky" and "Nana."

Click Here for INKY
Click Here for NANA.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Avi in Fierce Competition... SHE NEEDS YOUR VOTES!

Hey guys, Avi has gone head-to-head with several other cute pets in "The Cutest Crafting Pet Contest," over at The Dreamstress Blog.

She needs your votes!!! Go take a jaunt over to The Dreamstress and leave your vote in the comments section!

Friday, September 11, 2009

CONTEST! What Should Avi Be For Halloween?

Let's have a contest!

What should Avi be for Halloween!?

To Enter:
Create an image (draw it, color it, compile it in some way) of a costume for Avi. Keep in mind her size and body type, and that she is a very active pup. For pictures of Avi, join the Avi Fan Club on Facebook.
Upload your costume idea to an image host like Photobucket, Flickr, or even your own blog, and then leave a link to your image in the comments section of this post.

There will only be one winner, and the winner will receive an Avi t-shirt or product of their choice from Avi's shop, and will see his or her costume concept created and modelled by the famous "blog dog" herself!

Contest END OCTOBER 1st, 2009: HURRY!!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Gold Rush Days

Couldn't resist posting it. No, not a drawing, but certainly the inspiration for a future one :-)
Taken at Gold Rush Days, Old Downtown Sacramento, September 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009

OWLstravaganza Embroidery Pattern

One day I sketched up a bunch of owls, all in a row, all different shapes and personalities. I cleaned up the linework, vectorized, and turned them into embroidery patterns, hooray! They're for sale on Etsy if you're into hand embroidery. Here are some love pictures, too :-)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Friday, July 24, 2009

Avi On the Bed Again

Inspired by that photo I took and posted a week or so ago.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Avi Play-Play

Avi likes to play play, for real real. Typical Avi play play position involves skyward puppybuns, helicopter-like tail gyrations, and enticing gurgling noises. Opportunistic expressions and pumped-up cuteness factor are also apparent.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The AviWorks

Avi's first experience with fireworks did not go well. We had her swaddled in a blanket in J's lap, where she could bury her nose in his armpit. Poor baby! I feel really bad for putting the glow-stick collar around her neck now...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Avigoddro Artiste

I just returned from a week-long trade show at which I saw myriad showrooms choc full o' fabulous home decor, furniture, giftware, and art. I came back with my sense of style re-fueled, and a curious desire to redecorate my pint-sized one bedroom. Luckily for me, the bedroom part of that one bedroom is actually quite nice, with all the complimenting furniture, the pleasingly bold color palette, and the masculine lines with the girly tidbits.

Back in October of 2008, when we were picking out a puppy to add to our lives, color was a factor. In fact, all things were factors, everything from the expected size and body type, to the flop of ears, length of nose, undeniable cuteness factor, snuggle potential, eye and coat color (J doesn't like two-tone eyes, nor two-tone dogs in general!). It's surprising that the perfect puppy came from Taiwan, and is so much a mutt, with such a long mutt lineage, that she and her exotic pack of feral dogs has become homogenized into something called a "Taiwan Dog." How convenient that they are most common in colors black and white.

All that being said, Avi seems to fit perfectly into the color scheme I've somehow compiled for my home decor. These shots of her bored stiff, stretched out in the middle of the bed (sans bedcovers - in the wash), seemed more like art than dog, especially with the hall light casting just enough warmth into the scene. It's like...puppy glam photography of the 60s with sultry, Mondrianesque overtones....

...or just a couple snapshots with one bored dog.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Lady From My Head

I like this one better than the last. I like the limited palette. No reference, just blobs of pixels pushed around.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Regency Lady Paint Scrib

I should paint more. I miss it. I made a halfway decent oily brush in Photoshop and felt compelled to test it out. This lady is out of my head, and I started the Titian way, just splattering pixels on the canvas and working the shapes up rather than making a detailed line drawing first. I only rendered her face, and even that is maybe too much. I like having texture in my paintings, but have a hard time "keeping" it. I most time render things to DEATH, a leftover habit from art school. I should go back to watercolor (real watercolor) to try'n break that habit. Anywho, I left a lot of this squirrely, and I like it :-)
I bet you guys are happy to see something besides a drawing of Avi the Dog, huh?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Elizabethan Embroidery Pattern of Insanity

Color guide for the embroidery, with the stems of the flowers worked in metallic silver

The linework finished in Adobe Illustrator

The roughly traced and altered sketch

The original gauntlet, a photo from a V&A catalog
I'll count this as art on this here art blog, since it did involve a) drawing, b) Adobe products, and c) color, material, a finished flat image.

Anywho. For those of you who don't know, I'm all about historical costuming, and spend most of my off-work time sewing some such from some century or another. For my Elizabethan costume, I am in need (and want) of gloves for the couple Renaissance Faires that are cool or cold.
Elizabethan gloves are not like modern gloves. The hand part is relatively the same, but Elizabethan versions flare out at the wrist, forming a wide, open gauntlet that was decorated with lace, embroidery, and spangles. The flare was to so that the gloves could be put on over the sleeves, which were always complicated to untie/latch/button/hook, and always tight at the wrist. Under the sleeve was a shirt cuff with pleated or gathered ruffles. This too would have to be undone in order to get a tight-wristed glove on...and then all that re-attached, and then all re-undone if you wanted to take the gloves off! Simply not practical.

With all that gauntlet just sitting there like an open canvas, ladies and specialist began to decorate them with all manner of trimmings and whatnot. Several extant examples of embroidered Elizabethan gloves survive today, and are shockingly complicated and beautiful.

All that being said, I've endeavored to make my own pair. I will do this by adding a gauntlet onto an existing pair of store-bought gloves. The gauntlet will be embroidered by hand, using a polychromatic assortment of flosses, including metallic silver.
Original Elizabethan/Jacobean embroidery. See the spangles and the silver threads?

Yes, this is nuts, BUT it so happens that I will have a lot of idle time between now and the first of August, when I am to wear the gloves. A stupidly long road trip, and a round-trip flight from the West Coast to the Dirty South should provide me ample time to at least make a big dent in the work.

A little about the pattern - the original gauntlet shown in b&w is from the V&A. I hate squirrels, so I replaced them with my trademark owl. The pattern was sketched, then cleaned up in Illustrator, and the color guide done in Photoshop. The design will be embroidered twice, on the top sides of the gauntlets only, on a re-inforced ground of white linen/cotton blend. The circles on the pattern are as yet undecided. Some period examples show these as embroidered "tufts" or little lines to fill the negative space; other examples have them as single silver sequins, which is alluring to me. They could also be pearls or some other lovely bead. We'll have to see, but for now, one thing at a time!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Viral Avi

All of this week and part of last I've had trouble with VIRUSES on my work computer(s). My main comp got infected with a nasty thing called a "rootkit." When I moved to a temporary computer so the first could be cleaned, the virus FOLLOWED me and infected that computer as well! Luckily the third computer I migrated to did not become infected (uh, yet), and now both previously infected computers are back up and running again.

What does this have to do with Avi? Absolutely nothing, but I did sketch this little doodle of her looking NOT AMUSED, as I sat idle, unable to get any of my assignments done, to express my own feelings of discontent at having single-handedly demolished two work computers.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I'm Kyoot!

I sketched this with a real pen, on real paper...then I really scanned it and, well, you know the rest...

I'm thinking of making some Avi t-shirts on Cafepress. Which Avi masterpiece is your favorite?

Friday, June 12, 2009


Apparently someone (or two someones) somewhere in the world HATES Avi. How this is even possible I do not know. Perhaps they are cat people.

Why do I draw these Avi pictures in the first place? Some of you might think, "hey, this used to be an art blog and I used to like to look at her sketches and paintings, but now all that's here are these stupid dog pictures." True, although the blog has not changed. My time restraints, however, have. Now I'm a "workin' stiff." I work from 8:30 am to 5 pm, with a little too much time spent before and after on the commute. By the time I get home, the last thing I want to do is sit in front of my computer and paint something. My creative expression, what is left after pouring myself into my design work every day, is now manifest in my costuming projects.

So why do I draw these silly Avi pictures? Throughout the day I need little breaks. Sometimes it's just to look at something new for awhile, and sometimes it's to sketch something that doesn't have to be precise or rendered. It must also be very quick - I don't have liberty to spend any more than about 10 minutes on a doodle, or else I'd be a very bad employee indeed. These elements, combined with missing my puppy daily, lead to these "less-than-brilliant," always ridiculous scribbles of a dog nobody here has ever met. I spent 4 years at SJSU trying to be precise, rendered, "brilliant" and devoid of ridiculousness, so that's just about enough of that drudgery.

By all means, if you love Avi and like the silly drawings of her, let me know by using the poll at right. If you hate Avi, follow Thumper's advice: "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all," and mosey on to the next blog, por favor.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Avi StringBean

Did you guys see the fabulous poll to the right? Check it out, and let Avlar know how much you love (or revile) her!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Avi the Carpet Crawler

Avi has a couple odd and vastly amusing behaviors. One is that she likes to hide her chewbone in whatever lump of fabric - blanket, t-shirt, my $15/yd silk - happens to be laying around on the carpet, and then "finds it" again. This involves pulling the blanket (lets say) every which way, stringing it across the floor, locating the lump that is the blanket-covered bone, sandwiching it between her puppypaws, and then chewing it....through the blanket. If, on occassion, she finds the bone and it is exposed, she might toss it in the air a couple times before hiding it again.

Sometimes she places the bone on the bed covers, lays down next to it, and proceeds to toss her head into the covers, in what appears to an attempt to knock the bone away from her. However, when the bone does indeed go flying from the bed, she looks after it as if to ask "why did it run away?" A moment spent waiting listlessly for it to return, and she decides to go after it herself. Rinse and repeat.

It, of course, is not always the bone. The Minkus loves to play hide and seek as well, and takes on a whole life of it's own, to Avi. I sometimes think they play together all day long, and hold great philosophical conversations as she gnaws lovingly on its stuffed little foot.
As for the drawing, she's never fully in this position, but she does push herself across the floor, head and shoulders down, in what looks like the best method of itch-scratching ever devised by canine or human alike.

Monday, June 01, 2009

The Real McAvioy

There is an actual dog that goes with all these little drawings I've been doing. Scientific name is Canis Avis. She is a source of never-ending inspiration, cuddles, and love-ups! Despite her uncannily photogenic puppy-features, sometimes she just doesn't have the patience to sit there and look achingly cute while I take a snap, especially when there are birds to be stalked or The Minkus looking at her from across the room. And so I give you Avi of the Penetrating SnarkyPup Glare.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Avi the Rocket Dog

We don't actually strap rockets to her...there's no need to.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Avi and the Minkus

Avi loves soft, fluffy anything. She once had a tiger toy, when she was just a tiny off-the-plane puppy, that lasted a long time, until her razorfangs grew in. Efforts to provide her with cuddley soft toys has ended in piles of polyester and bits of carcass spread around the house, showing up in places like the bed and loads of clean laundry. We quickly discovered, as she tore into the stuffing of her doggie bed, that it was the fluff that enticed her so, and the goal of her interactions with soft toys was to destuff them as quick as caninely possible. Knowing this, I found a toy at Target that was plush, soft, and floppy...minus the stuffing. That's right, a stuffed animal with no stuffing. GENIUS!

Avi, full of glee, quickly ripped out the brains of the new racoon toy, locating the squeeker in record time and demolishing it. Any and all polyester fill that accompanied the squeeker was removed and flung about the livingroom. However, when that was all gone, the toy somehow remained, decapitated, and has remained to this day, relatively IN TACT.

We now have great fun with it - it's good to tug on, nurse on, cuddle with, and nibble. It has been dubbed "MINKUS," since J, despite the striped tail, thought it looked like a mink skin. Minkus is almost as long as Avi, and trails behind her when she triumphantly parades it around the house. It is slept with and tugged upon, and layed lovingly in the lap of myself or J, as an offering of play.
We figure some day Minkus will meet his end, but until such time, I'm happy not to be bending over plucking polyester stuffing out of every corner of my apartment!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Art History Dopplegangers

I've had this one floating around in my head for awhile now (like YEARS). Forgive me for not posting art, but it's art-related, right?

Ever notice how people - your friends, family - seem to have matches? Sometimes you see these dopplegangers walking down the street, they show up on TV, or they pop up in your art history lectures! Have a looksey and enjoy. Are there any MORE famous art-history reincarnations out there? Post in the comments below!

This last one is from Fuschia's 18th Century Dress Project (blog), comparing Miss Jay Alexander (from America's Next Top Model) to Adolf Ludvig Badin, a servant of the Swedish Queen Lovisa Ulrika, from the 18th c.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Return of Avi, The Blog Dog

It's been awhile since I've done anything Avi-related, and what a shame! I've been consumed by my other blogs, but now it's time to come back to these daily doodles (and in this case photo). I am determined now, more than ever, to gather enough drawings, doodles, and Avi-related images to create the book I mentioned ages ago, in an effort to raise money to help dogs in Taiwan, where Avi came from.

Today's little image is about speed. As Avi gets older, she is losing her puppy gawky-ness, and learning how to use her stilts to great advantage. This dog is like a rocket! We take her to the park at least every other day, where she tears from one end to the other at great velocity, turning, darting, and full on racehorse style galloping. It's great fun to watch, as she obviously quite enjoys herself. Her zippiness inspired this little photoshop mash up :-)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Horse Painting in Photoshop

As promised, here's the step-by-step Reeser guide to horse painting in Adobe Photoshop! Before you start, it's important to have reference for lighting on a horse (pick one close to the color of horse you'd like to paint.) I chose this bay mustang because it had great lighting on the skin. You are using this image as a guide for how light hits the form of the horse's muscles, so choose a picture that is easy to "read."
Next, see to your brushes. I am using Photoshop for this painting, but would like it to have the nice "real media" quality you can acheive in Corel Painter. I created a set of 3 brushes to emulate hairy-oily brushes, with one of the brushes only having a few "hairs" in it. I will use the thickest brush for the majority of the painting, and the thinner hair brushes to add texture and particularly to paint in the mane and tail. Too see a tutorial on how to make custom "oily" brushes, click HERE.
Now about the horse. You've already got the sketch, so now it's time to paint. I layed out a color palette directly on the canvas, so I could sample from it. There are light yellows, golds, reddish browns of multiple values, greyish blues in couple values, and a collection of blacks and very dark greys.
Using the gold color and you thickest oily brush, block in the color all over the horse. Don't be careful about this, just slap it on. You're laying down a warm undertone that will help establish depth and a richness of color.

Next, continue with the warm color, using the golden brown, and blocking in basic "darks" according to your picture. Don't worry about getting these areas to their full darkness yet. You're just establishing basic lighting and placement of shadow and form.
Continue establishing your darks with a rich brown, but still leave some of the original yellow and reddish brown showing through. If you need help seeing the darkest shapes on your reference photo, squint at it or blur your eyes. At this point, don't worry about rendering, just the blocky shapes of the shadows and lights. You might be thinking this looks like a mess now, but forge ahead!

Now it's time to start working with your blues. Using blues, instead of black, for your darker shadowed areas lends your subject a life and interest. Blue and orange are compliments, and form a lovely balance and richness for the eye when paired, even in their subtlest forms. Start blending the darkest grey-blue into the shadowed areas.

You may need to adjust the overall color of the horse to match your reference coloration. Mine was not looking red enough, so I added in some richer red-browns, all the while keeping my light golden starting color showing through, and continuing to darken and blend the shadowed areas with blue-grey and darker greys.
With the lay-in of colors complete, begin rendering by smoothing and blending. Continue to build up colors, and don't worry about brushstrokes, sketch lines, and base colors coming through in some places. Keep the edges of the shadows and lights fuzzy - hard lines will make the horse look plastic or flayed.
You will notice that even though the legs of the horse are black, I have still made sure to delineate the planes of the legs by highlighting with the lighter grey-blue and some warmer tones. Even if you can't see the light on the legs in your reference photo, it is important that you include it in your painting, so the legs don't go flat.
You may decide at some point that your body color is too hot or saturate. I desaturated my reds by using the "Hue/Saturation" tool and reducing the reds only.
My darks, particularly on the legs, needed some adjustments, as well as some of the darkest areas under the jaw/cheek of the horse, the belly, and the chest. I worked in some black-black, but in very small amounts.

Once I was happy with the painting on the body of the horse, I blocked in the mane, then switched brushes, to the middle-thickness oily-hair brush, and continued to work with the mane and tail.

Just like the body, I incorporated blues and warmer tones into the mane, and used some straight strokes and some slightly wavy, moving generally in the same direction, but not as one clump. For the finishing touches, I switched brushes again to the thinnest hair brush, with only a few hairs, and swept in some more strokes on the mane and tail, to make it look natural.

For finishing, I used a regular round brush, with opacity and flow on pressure-sensitive, and cleaned up the edges all around the horse, erasing some of the rough linework and stray paint. I liked the look of the sketch showing through the painting in some places, so I left a bit of it. I also rendered the hooves roughly, with clean edges, and painted in the eye.
For a large image, to see the brushstrokes and the rendering, click the finished painting below:
I hope you enjoyed this step-by-step! Please notes and comments in the comments section, or post links to your horse painting!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Horse Painting Step-By-Step

I'm going to do a couple posts on painting horses in Photoshop. Here's the lay-in of the drawing for the horse, performing a pretty dressage pirouette. Of course, before any painting happens at all, it's most important to get the drawing right. This guys' left front leg went through at least 10 redraws to get it to look natural and correct. Bust out your anatomy books and look at photos to get the shapes and lines correct. Sketch in a rough skeleton (not a real one, just some lines and scribbles where the joints go) and some basic shapes to begin....