Thursday, 28 May 2009
The past few days have been spent, among other things, working a new book with my friend Ana (another Ana!), who lives in Madrid. She did a wonderful job writing and it´s my turn now to make this a book people (young and not so young) will enjoy. So far, I´m loving working on it, researching and basically trying to make the leap from usually very figurative illustration into something less descriptive. Obviously, no pictures of the actual illustrations to be shown yet, not even little preview bits, because I´m still not at that stage. Still, lots of fun.
What are you attracted to? Figurative, descriptive illustrations? Or more abstract or symbolic ones?
Here´s a great post about common prejudices and misconceptions about illustrated books for children (in portuguese).
Unfortunately this is one of the most frequent dialogues a freelancer has with a potential client. It´s hilarious to see it applied to other contexts, isn´t it? Still, it´s so sad to think that some professions are just not well treated and their work is not given its real value.
I believe that designers are, at least in part, responsible for this situation. I know that this is arguable, but there is always someone who agrees to cut his or her pay to get a job. Sometimes by sheer ignorance, sometimes by necessity, but they´re certainly not helping themselves in the long-haul, nor helping the design community.
What´s your take on the subject?
(Sent to me by a friend, via swiss miss.)
Wednesday, 27 May 2009
Thanks to Gaby, who taught me how to sew a zipper onto a knitted fabric, my sweater is now a step closer to being fully completed. A ribbon is missing to cover the zipper´s sides (and my uneven stitches).
There was a knitters meeting last Saturday and, once again, I direct you to Gaby´s blog where she did a great job at telling how nice it was. Apart from the extremely, unseasonably hot weather, the afternoon there was great: I could finally put a face to everyone´s nicks on Ravelry!
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
My younger sister lives in London and always finds the most amazing books to give as a presents. Thanks to her I´ve read titles such as "White Teeth" and, last Christmas, she gave me two books that constitue a high source of inspiration for me, but never got to blog about.
One of those books is "This is for you", by Rob Ryan, a book filled with his amazing papercuts. By stretching the very synthetic language of a papercut (single coloured shapes against a neutral background), the author manages to evoke a fairy-tale ambiance to each and every single piece. He also has a strong sense of composition, putting together harmoniously text and image - all in papercut, of course. I love papercutting, so this book is like a bible to me.
The other book my sister gave me last Christmas is "Colors" by Anne Varichon.
Now, this is a true bible of everything colour related: not only does the author explain the symbolics and meaning related to several colours in different cultures, the author also explains how to make the different pigments by yourself.
On top of all that, the graphic design is flawless, working perfectly to convey the message that is most important: colours have an impact.
These two books are always within reach!
Friday, 22 May 2009
I´m having a lot of fun looking at the illustrations "Cuando Verónica teje" (which translates as "When Verónica knits"), from Valeria Cis, published by Primera Sudamericana. My appreciation for knitting and its possibilities is quite obvious by now, I believe, and that´s probably why I enjoy so much the fact that it can be seen as more than "a grandma thing". A children´s book with a sheep knitting? Love it!
The illustrations are very beautiful and expressive as well as the writing (both by Valeria Cis) and the only thing missing in this book is a nice edition. The cover is soft, the book itself is quite small in format (23cm x 15,5cm), considering that it is a children´s book, of course. It isn´t an inviting object - but it is a lovely work. Congratulations to the author, not so much to congratulate on the publisher´s side, though.
(From the same author, "Diez excusas para no comer vegetales", also very beautifully written and illustrated, belonging to the same collection - "Puercoespín" - but, weirdly enough, with a different format.)
There are some more posts about books coming up. In the meantime, have a nice weekend everyone! It will be a long weekend here, due to a national holiday on Monday, so regular posting will resume on Tuesday.
Para los Argentinos: feliz día de la Patria! (eso fue editado para que quede totalmente argentinizado. De todas formas: feliz 25 de Mayo!)
Thursday, 21 May 2009
One of the landmarks of Sydney, New South Wales and even Australia is the city´s Opera House. You only need to look at it to understand why, of course, as its roofs/sails draw the best-know-and-most-recognized-building-sillouete across the globe. The story, very nicely told here, is a tragic one, involving fear, uncertainty and an architect, Jørn Utzon, that "divorced" himself from the project while it still was under construction.
The guided tour takes us to the backstage of the Opera, to areas where a person attending a show doesn´t usually go. It also takes us to the main opera room and a secondary one, the foyer and the Jørn Utzon room, the only one totally designed by him.
It was definitely one of the highest points (among all the highest points) of the trip - a building not to be missed!
Main venue´s foyer.
Looking out from the foyer.
Roof structure detail.
The toilet. Even the toilet is nice!
Jørn Utzon room, the only one fully designed by the architect. The tapestry´s design is also his.
More photos of the Opera House (and our trip to Australia) here.
Para ler em português, no meu outro blog.
Wednesday, 20 May 2009
Well, I hadn´t, not until we took the (extremely long) flight from Buenos Aires to Sydney. I love air transportation, really, I do, it allows friends and family to come over and allows me to fly to Portugal and see them, and travel, and all that, but flights longer than 12 hours non-stop creep me out.
The flight to Sydney is fourteen hours long but - thank the airplane gods - it´s direct. The previous route included stop overs in Santiago and Auckland, and boy, was it a long journey.
I had never seen Antartida represented this way; for me, it was always a white, funny-shaped strip on the bottom of the map. Seeing it this way was sort of eye opening. We all know the planet is round, but I guess I never really visualized it.
See? Travel is good, it should actually be tax-deductible. Right?
Last weekend was a productive one: I finished Great Ocean Road Sweater´s second sleeve (not at my first attempt, though, but that´s another story) and blocked it. There´s a zipper to be sewn into the opening that it has, but that will be left for after next Saturday, the day of our knitters´ meeting. Gaby offered to teach me how to do it, so I´m looking forward to the weekend.
I also started the Hemlock blanket with a very bulky yarn, the one left over from the Owls sweater. So far I´m enjoying working lace with such a thick yarn; I believe the trouble will come when I need to block it, though... and boy, is it going to need need a very tight blocking!
Tuesday, 19 May 2009
It´s amazing how my attitude towards it has changed since I started my painting classes a little over one year ago. In the beginning, it was a means of meeting people and of practicing drawing, painting, proportions, composition, colour... you name it. A year later, I´m finding myself aiming to solve specific problems I feel I have, like "paint from the inside to the outside". I´m also doing some "homework" prior to going to class, like preparing canvases with a background before having the model posing.
Having painted the background in a very pink tone, it is also fun to realize how helpful it was for me not to have a white canvas, as it helped me avoid the fear of starting and ruining a painting. I call it the white canvas syndrome.
Yesterday we started a series of sessions with a fixed pose, which means the model will hold the same pose for four consecutive sessions. That allows students to really focus on details, proportions, as well as expression. This isn´t my favourite exercise - I like quick poses a lot better -, but I´m definitely enjoying the challenges it brings me. Let´s see how this painting will evolve over the next sessions.
See more pictures here.
Thursday, 14 May 2009
While travelling, tourists normally don´t mix much with locals - for all the obivous reasons, of course. Knitting is an antidote against that, or better still, a pass for tourists to meet locals. And that´s such an enriching experience, specially because there´s always one common language - knitting. Mention yarn, needles, gauge or knitting and purling and there´s some common ground between complete strangers.
That happened to me as well in Sydney. As I mentioned previously, I went to the former Tapestry Craft, now Morris and Sons to buy some yarn and join the knitters´meeting I knew happens every thursday. It was so nice! For two hours, I sort of forgot I was a tourist in Sydney. Apart from the fact that I had to speak english (my usual knitting meetings involve spanish), I felt immediately at home and a connection with everyone else. Obviously everyone is different, but what a common ground we all had there!
(photos kindly taken by Paulo, who came a bit early to pick me up so that he could catch us all for digital posterity)
Guys, thank you so much, I felt so welcome! I hope your knitters retreat was nice! (By the way, Jerry Springer the Opera was a very funny and provocative show and the venue, your Opera House, is... well, I guess I have no words to describe how amazing and beautiful it is.) See you soon, next time maybe in Argentina?
Wednesday, 13 May 2009
I went there on Thursday, the day of their weekly knitters´meeting. First of all, I cannot even begin to describe how nice the shop attendants where. I was thoroughly shown and explained what yarns there were that were australian and came home with yarns that are of australian origin and made abroad. Well, they were so yummy I decided that that would be australian enough for me. Anyway, I wouldn´t be able to find them here in Argentina anyway!
I bought some delicious DK tweed and kid mohair from Jo Sharp... and have absolutely no clue of what I´ll use them for. I´m sure I´ll be able to match them when the appropriate pattern comes along!
I haven´t posted much here about my trip to Australia (I posted in my other blog, though) so I think that the yarn I bough there is a very good (and perfectly reasonable) way to start.
Australia, from what I could read on australian groups on ravelry, suffers from the same "condition" we see here in Argentina: lots of high quality wool is produced only to be exported and transformed overseas, and then imported at prohibitive prices. Basically, I think it´s a shame that this happens to most of it. I have nothing against exporting or importing quality yarns, but it´s a pity that almost all local fibre gets exported. But I digress: what I mean to say is that apart from local artists, who sometimes sell online only, LYS in Australia do not have a lot of australian yarns to sell. Still, the ones available are veeeeeeeeeeery yummy, veeeeeeery tempting and... well, impossible to bring them all home.
In Tasmania we made a very quick stop at Ross, a small town near the road that links Hobart to Launceston, the second city. Ross may be a small town but it is home to the Tasmanian Wool Centre, where I bought (for the sake of accuracy, where someone very sweet and nice bought and gave me as a present!) these wonderful skeins of organic wool.
The colours are beautiful and vibrant - I wonder what I am going to use them for?
Tuesday, 12 May 2009
The last three painting classes were spent doing the exercise I love best: composition of two (sometimes three) quick poses. As I said, I really enjoy it but I was finding that my work was looking all a bit too similar. Then, the question arose in my mind: is this what one may call "personal style" or am I not venturing out of my comfort zone?
So last week I was determined to do this exercise in a different way. Let me explain: I always do the line and do not worry too much about decomposing shapes and volumes into geometric forms. I just lay out the line and then correct it with overlaying lines, if needed. Line, or better still, the contour is the structure I work on, then - and only then - adding filling to this contour, adding volume and matter.
That´s why last week I decided to make an effort to work from the matter out, from the volume out, and if a line was to be needed, then I would add it in the end.
I think this week I was more sucessful than last week, specially on the smaller figure - I really like his arm, actually.
The same happened for the second exercise. This time the model was moving, repeating certain movements but never actually keeping still. The aim of the exercise was to represent movement, however we wanted. Once again, I tried to start from the volume outwards, not from the line inwards.
It´s funny how laws of composition or perception work, because at a certain point I felt the urgent need for lines, for the contour of the moving body.
All in all, these are the exercises that most quickly bring out certain unconscious features of one´s work - that´s why I love them so much. Next monday, though, we´ll start our four week still pose. Which brings me several new challenges.
Monday, 11 May 2009
One of the tasks for the weekend (I actually turned down an invitation to a knitters´meeting for this!) was to hang the paintings I made last February, during the summer painting workshop. They were simple exercises but then I was so happy about them - so was Paulo - that we decided to have them framed. We picked them up a couple of weeks later and they were against a wall, waiting for the day to be hung on a wall.
They´re large (A1 size, I believe) and the three of them almost fill the whole wall, which gives the living room a nice and cosy feeling. I like having them there. As a friend of mine says, we´re putting the sweater on our home. It´s two and half years since we moved into this apartment and it now feels like home.
Este fim-de-semana recusei um convite para um encontro de tricotadeiras para executar uma série de tarefas que estavam pendentes há algum tempo. Nem todas foram cumpridas (hmmm, a roupa de Inverno ainda está dentro de caixas!) mas esta, a de pendurar quadros na parede, foi concluída com sucesso e a nossa casa está finalmente a vestir a sua camisola, como diz uma amiga minha.
Os quadros são grandes, formato A1, suponho eu, e as molduras ficaram muito bem feitas.
Acho que a troca da roupa de Verão para a de Inverno vai ficar para o próximo fim-de-semana... isto se não tiver de ser durante a semana, dado que prometem uma mudança drástica de tempo para amanhã. A ver vamos... mas os quadros já estão na parede!
Friday, 8 May 2009
Last Monday, on my weekly painting class, we had as a task to paint 10 minute poses and compose a page with two of them. My personaly task, however, was to try and experiment doing things that I don´t usually do. One of the changes I wanted to make was to mix more my colours and, therefore, have them less saturated. I don´t believe I succeeded on that one, though, I guess you just can´t fight who you are!
In my second challenge, however, I was slightly more successful, I believe. Usually I need to draw a shape and then start highlighting the brighter and darker areas. This time around, I wanted to avoid the first line and go directly into the mass, into the body. Not so much the shape, but what makes it a shape. I think I still have a long way to go on that one because I didn´t feel specially confident doing it - it was good to get out of my comfort zone, though - and wasn´t particularly thrilled with the results. Still, I liked experimenting with it and will try to do it again next Monday. If, at the time, I am so inclined, of course.
(More photos here.)
In the meantime, do come back here and visit my shop, which is up and running as well.
Thursday, 7 May 2009
I started reading "As Benevolentes" by Jonathan Littel quite some time ago but as it is very visible by its size, it isn´t very easy to read. Well, maybe the size doesn´t actually tell it, but the theme (World War II) is very dense and the same is true for the pages´visual appearance: the author uses no paragraphs, or almost no paragraphs, and that means that you need large amounts of time to get into the subject and read a considerable chunk of text without getting lost. It´s not uninteresting, not at all; it´s just that for the graphic designer in me it is difficult to read. I love white space but don´t know what happened to it in this book. No white space whatsoever, just lines and lines and lines with almost no space between them.
Anyway, the story it tells isn´t a nice one either: the main character was a german army officer during World War II and tells the story through his perspective. He tells about the conflicts the arian philosophy and his homossexuality raised in him. Some parts of the story are very engaging, some are so appalling that it takes time for me to get through them. It´s a very good read, nevertheless, but not for the faint of heart.
Totally the opposite are the books by Malcom Gladwell. I read "Blink" during the weekend and loved it. It´s interesting and I realize that I love that style of writing. I call it "magazine writing" - a term that, I reckon, lots of people might use too. So, to get back to his books, the topics are interesting, the style of writing is very fluid and engaging and the data is presented in a way that makes it easy for me to understand, relate and remember. I´m now well into "The Outliers" and enjoying it almost as much - not just as much because I´m reading a spanish translation, albeit a good one, I always prefer to read the original. But that´s what I had close at hand.
"Mujeres que corren con los lobos" by Clarissa Pinkola Estés is like a referral book to me. I´ve been reading it slowly for months now and I find it to be the best way to assimilate all the information that it contains. It´s been a revelation, so it works best for me to take it in little sips.
Well, last but not least, a mention to what I read during the vacation in Australia: "Eat Pray Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert - I was probably the last woman on earth to have read it but if someone hasn´t yet, then I´ll recommend it - and "Dom Casmurro", by Machado de Assis, one of the classics of brazilian literature, of which I know so little. Both are good and entertaining reads, and both have something to teach too.
Wednesday, 6 May 2009
And this winter I´ll have a couple of new sweaters to show! I have never been a big fan of knitting for myself but somehow this is the second one this season. And it´s not even cold yet, so I wonder.
Anyway, this is the Victoria Yoke Sweater that I started before leaving to Australia. At the time of departure, I had started from the top and reached the point where sleeves and body split. I did the whole body during our long car trips in Australia - continuous stockinette stitch is wonderful for this purpose. I decided to insert some modifications into the pattern, such as making long sleeves instead of elbow-length ones. Now, this means that there´s a lot more of stockinette stitch to go through and we´re not having those long and scenic car trips anymore. Well, watching a movie, perhaps?
Friday, 1 May 2009
After three weeks of absence, last monday I dragged my jetlagged self to painting class for the quick exercises we do every other month, making compositions with quick poses. There are more images of last monday´s work here.
I´m glad to say that I´m almost over with the disturbing weight on my eyelids jetlag produces on me but am definitely looking forward for the long weekend, starting tomorrow, Labour Day. Happy May 1st to everyone!
Depois das três semanas de ausência durante as férias, na segunda-feira passada voltei às aulas de pintura. Apesar de estar a sofrer loucamente do "síndroma sonos trocados", delirei ao saber que íamos fazer um dos meus exercícios favoritos, croquis e composição. Trata-se de pinturas de poses rápidas, criando composições de duas (às vezes três) poses na folha. No final, fazemos uma análise a todos os trabalhos, análise essa que resulta ser muito produtiva em termos de aprendizagem. Mais fotografias do trabalho da última aula aqui.
Para acabar de acertar os sonos, não há melhor que um fim-de-semana prolongado, que começa já amanhã com o feriado do Primeiro de Maio. Bom feriado e bom fim-de-semana!