A morning in Brooklyn

Handmade Portraits: Sophie Blackall from Etsy on Vimeo.

Whilst checking out some of the squillions of Etsy films on setting up shop, I stumbled upon this one on the work of Sophie Blackall. It’s such a beautiful, gentle film to watch I was genuinely disappointed that it wasn’t longer. I loved finding out more about the way she works – putting down a detailed monochrome layer of chinese ink and then applying colour washes over the top. I think you can buy the Met poster you see her working on here.

Having been thoroughly inspired I found another Sophie short on Youtube. But even better, it belongs to fifteen short films made for the recent ‘Drawn in Brooklyn’ exhibition at the Brooklyn Library. Each on a different acclaimed childrens book artist, how they work and how they feel about their brilliant, culturally rich neighbourhood.

Such a nice way to spend a Friday morning – in Brooklyn, taking in great illustration and great coffee. Maybe one day I’ll make it back there in person.

Images | Still from ‘Handmade Portraits: Sophie Blackall’, Etsy | The Bridge, Edward Kimber on Flickr |


Man, it’s hard to get that first post out of the way after a blogging hiatus! I’ve been away so much longer than I ever intended – especially given one of my 2012 resolutions was to fatten up this famished blog. Never mind, lets pretend we’re all operating on some ancient, slightly longer calendar… HAPPY NEW YEAR!  : )

Life has been busy busy around here. I’m juggling work on a new online portfolio, printing for my pending Etsy shop and trying to catch the last precious moments of summer between being fried and being soaked.

There’s been a few hiccups, particularly with Gocco supplies. Nehoc have sold out of B5 screens and their inks are dwindling rapidly. I knew Gocco was on it’s way out but I also ‘knew’ that they had supplies for another four years, factoring in panic buying. But apparently panic buying has been completely nuts – which makes complete sense. After all, it’s not just buying in a bit of a hurry, it’s PANIC!!

Like ‘Greased Lightning‘, I ordered inks from Japan, grabbed what screens I could and bought a vault* to keep them in. But after organizing a 24hour armed guard* and cradling a large mug of camomile I realized that the whole thing actually isn’t all that bad. It’ll force me to design very carefully to suit what the Gocco does best and it’ll move me over to other printing methods – which is great because there are so many lovely techniques to try.

Sadly opening my Etsy shop has been a bit delayed but on the bright side printing is now at fever pitch. So thankful that I’m working on a natural subject that makes the most of all of the Gocco happy accidents – loving those dappled leaves.

p.s. Do check out the link, it’s hilarious!

* Truth stretched beyond all recognition  

A Little Rabbit Lost, and a Rosie Monkey Found

What do you do when the littlest loses their special friend?
When she loses her special friend and his body double (oh yes, we bought two)…?

Search high and low for the strangely absent seller.
Find out the company is in receivership.
Find a brown paper bag.
Ring hands. Pace.
Consider making a look alike.
Remember amateur toymaker status.
Ring hands. Pace…
Email Fiona at Hop Skip Jump (aka the cavalry)!

Bless Fiona, she makes the sweetest special friends (and gorgeous books). And she very kindly sent a little extra fabric so I could make Rosie her own matching travellers bag to carry her Belizean passport, tickets, letter from her new friend ‘Little Rabbit’, photo of Sienna (to help recognize her) and an all important  snack.

The look on the birthday girl’s face when she answered the door was priceless!

The last shots show another birthday pressie, ‘Toot and Puddle’, a gorgeous book about best friends with different loves – One little pig who loves to go on adventures and see the world and one who celebrates staying at home. The illustrations by Hollie Hobby are beautiful and the sentiment just right. Who knows maybe Little Rabbit will decide to come home one day.


Whenever I’m working hard I get an overwhelming urge to:

Apparently this week procrastination has been working hard too!
Hope your week was great! x

Post Halloween Hocus-Pocus

I’ve been turning three toddler dresses into preschooler skirts, all without eye of newt or a slippery toad – much to the disappointment of our budding zoologists who’d be more than happy to help me find either.

Feeling pretty chuffed at how well they all turned out and how you can’t tell that the bodice of each dress, which had been well dribbled and gooped on, was ever there at all. Love that! … Is that a wart on the end of my nose!?


In other news – just like magic my stitchy mojo has returned strangely coinciding with the arrival of some gorgeous fabric from Belinda. Part of a stunningly beautiful parcel of Gretchen Mist goodies she sent me just before my blog break. I can’t stop looking at it. It’s so much better in real life than I can capture through the lens. All those sketchy details are lovely and the cloth itself is buttery soft. I’m going to have tough time cutting into it for sure. Hmm … wonder if Belinda has a wart on her nose?!  ; ) 

For more Creative Space hocus-pocus visit here.

Put an owl on it

Recently I was approached by Shivani of My Owl Barn blog to participate in her Owl Lovers 2012 Calendar project. It’s a really sweet idea – 45 international artists submit an illustration, you choose your 12 favs, marry them with a month and Voila!  You have your very own free calendar.

So here is my first ever owl, the ‘sweet as all get out’ Eastern Screech Owl. His feathery coat has the most gorgeous pattern which camouflages insanely well when he is sitting in a hollow of his favorite tree. Some have feathery coats in silvery grey some in rusty brown. But the most surprising thing about him is how small he is. We don’t get these guys in Australia and I guess I imagined he was more of a Harry Potter parcel delivery size owl. In reality he can happily sit on your index finger … Awww!

Along with my snoozing fox he’ll soon be part of a set of four sleepy woodland creatures. Which will go into my Etsy shop set to open Feb 2012. Eep! – dates can be scary things, must write that down on a calendar!

Hello Spring

Spring has truly sprung. All the tell-tale signs are there – I have an awful *SNIFF!* snotty cold and the littlest possum and I have been madly cramming small jam jars with ‘suburban wildflowers’ (ie. a loose term including anything rangy that no one will miss).

I’m grateful for these scrappy little bouquets. I’m no green thumb, I have no lush borders erupting blossom – but I am working on making my foxy card part of a series of four sleepy woodland creatures. So it’s helpful to peer at the intricacies in each flower and steal design ideas from the best source possible. Of course the upside of having a cold is I can stick my nose right in each one; pollen hasn’t a chance of getting up there… Bees, however, are another story.

Hope you’re enjoying the changing seasons wherever you are. Happy Creative Space Thursday!

Let the Rain Kiss You

‘Let the rain kiss you
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops
Let the rain sing you a lullaby…’  ~ Langston Hughes

MOF (Month of Finishings) Exibit A…

This project is recent compared to the other neglect victims on my hit list. I’m determined to get to them all, red face or not. I suspect mostly with. It’s great to feel unswervingly driven and even more inspiring to see what brilliant, creative company I’m in! I plan to enjoy every minute while it lasts.

This little Artist Original is Graphite, watercolour, ink and collage on Lana 100% cotton watercolor paper.
A little experimental for me but a lot of fun, influenced by a great book and a beautiful poem.


Hi there. Somehow a couple of weeks have snuck between posts. It’s all MOF’s fault (aka a Month of Finishings). After my last post I realized that I am completely serious about it. Yikes, that almost sounds responsible…

But I have to tell you about Jane…

It was fantastic! Was there ever any doubt. I decided to leave the novel till after seeing the film to enjoy it in it’s own right. I’m glad I did, it didn’t disappoint. Mia Wasikowska captured all of the complexities of Jane beautifully. Michael Fassbender was the perfect Byronic lead. And the production design was breathtaking. I particularly loved the wonderfully dark night scenes. Not a single hint of blue ‘moonlight’ in the background. Creaky Haddon Hall was swathed in inky black pierced only by a low flickering flame. Lots of long menacing shadows. Perfectly chilling!

At it’s end I was ejected onto a dark empty street dazed and completely satisfied. Itching to somehow capture that oppressive atmosphere on paper. The contrast between the stoic rigidity of society at the time and the wild natural world all around it intrigues me; feeling reflective of the imprisoned passions within the people themselves. It reminds me of Jane Campion’s ‘The Piano’ that way.

The images above were discovered on Flickr. I love the intense colour and atmosphere in each of them. The first is one of a fascinating series of rare Daguerreotypes owned by Rob Stevens. Some of these priceless objects were dug up in flea markets – imagine that!  I love the subjects intense, almost burning, gaze. Such an intriguing portrait.

The two breathtaking landscapes below it are by photographer Irene Suchocki. Do check out her work. Eye Poetry, the name of her site is the most wonderful description of it. Every image has a beautiful narrative quality that I find completely compelling.

I’ll have things to show v.soon thanks to MOF. Sure feels good to say that! What pops up may seem a little all over the place but at least my pile of loose end projects will be shrinking. And now that the spring cleaning bug has bitten that has to be good.

Happy Creative Space!

Images | 6th Plate, Rob Stevens | Spying on a Tree, Irena Suchoki | Il Sentiero, Irena Suchoki | Jane Eyre 2011 Movie Poster detail, Design by BLT & Associates | Jane Eyre, Tiffany Lin | Pencil sketch Alisa Coburn | To view larger or for licencing click on image titles. Images by Rob Stevens and Irena Suchoki are used with kind permission and are subject to copyright.  

Sea Dogs and Cat Burglars

Currently making another foxy brooch as a gift for someone very sweet. The work flow hasn’t really had too much flow about it. It’s been more stitch, stop, stitch, stop. As new brooch ideas pop into mind and I hurry to scribble them down before they evaporate. Stitching turns out to be perfect for daydreaming. Maybe I should do it more often.

Looking at these it occurs to me that I have no trouble what-so-ever with starting a project in a ‘gung ho’, completely enthused kinda way. But finishing something, well that deserves it’s own ticker-tape parade complete with marching bands, epic floats, parade balloons and a speech by the Queen!… Well no, it’s not quite that bad. Maybe this month should be dubbed a month of finishings or MOF for short. A month just to clear the decks. Then next month I can run amok on new random wanderings, Maria Kalman style. I loved this fab TED talk she did, so inspiring!

Speaking of inspiring, don’t forget to pop into Our Creative Spaces. It’s inspiration central!

Waiting for Jane

Spent a good part of the weekend doing boring, but necessary, domestic stuff and househunting but did manage to squeeze in some loose ink sketching. Can’t help noticing my current leanings in this one. Having loved the delicious gothic edge to Black Swan I’m ‘champing at the bit’ to see Jane Eyre; especially after reading this. I even have a babysitter all lined up. I can’t wait! There is endless cinematic beauty in pairing wild dramatic landscapes with human fragility. And nothing better than watching a strong woman weather all that is thrown at her and remain true to herself.

Images | Morning light in the valley, Alkiza | Pressed Flower, Sun in her eyes Tumblr | Geister, Westpark | To view larger or for licencing click on image titles.| Sketched portrait in ink and watercolor on paper,  Alisa Coburn