Cactuses and desert dwellers

It seems every city in the US have started to use their gray utility boxes as canvases for public art. Since being asked to paint one I've been noticing them at almost every street corner! Some corners are more inspiring than others but I've been lucky- mine is right by the Hollywood Palladium.

What you see below is a pretty gouache version of my design on paper (and cleaned up digitally) - the real thing will be painted with house paint on metal.


Part of the inspiration for my design was serendipity- I was developing cactus patterns when transitioning into the project, part was aesthetic -the green and tan colors of the Palladium easily lend themselves to a desert scene, plus the cactus shapes appear to match the streamline moderne/art deco style of the building.

 this is a mock-up, not the real thing!

this is a mock-up, not the real thing!

I was also intrigued by the name, Palladium, which came from the Greek goddess of the arts Pallas Athena, and inspired astronomers in the naming of the asteroid Pallas that's part of a whole belt of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter, stylistically pictured on one side of the box. Just below is a snake and on the other side an owl, both major symbols associated with Athena - and also very likely dwellers to be found in the California desert.


Because Hollywood started out as a cactus desert with a single adobe hut, and despite the big city it is now- thanks to water and the electricity inside the box, let's not forget (as temperatures are about to hit 100F in the next couple days!) we're still very much desert dwellers.

And now for more cactuses on things, check out my latest patterns on Society6 - notice their new products - serving trays and cutting boards! Now's a good time to take advantage of the holiday sale (up to 40% with code HAPPY4TH)- happy 4th of July!

Portraits of Frida Kahlo

Over the past few weeks I've been working on my people skills. Drawing people skills that is ;-). Faces mainly - eyes, hair, expressions, whatever makes a person unique.


With Lilla Rogers and her class "Drawing Faces" I learned, among other things, to better examine the placement and proportions of features by studying photos of current celebrities. And wanting to explore this further I decided to research the life and work of inspirational artists, starting with the fascinating Frida Kahlo. There she is surrounded by cactus and succulent plants in front of her Mexican blue house.


Looking at a number of Frida's paintings (her many self-portraits, The Two Fridas, My Grandparents, my Parents, and Me, Roots, Moses, etc.) it seems clear that an important theme of her work was her identity, both as a self and in relation to another person or encompassing group such as her family and country.

This inspired me to revisit my animal archetypes, which I would love to turn into a deck of tarot-like cards eventually, and where Frida would be an example of both the estranged heron and the swan who fits in.


And why not also consider the actual tarot, because with how she survived her major accident and handled her difficult marriage to Diego Rivera she easily fits as an archetype of the Strength card, flowers in the hair and all!

Wouldn't it be fun to expand this into a set. I could easily imagine Georgia O'Keefe as The Magician, Yayoi Kusama as The Empress/queen of dots, Picasso as The Devil, or Edward Hopper as The Hermit!


Both illustrations of Frida are available as prints in my shop.

Frida's Strength
from 20.00

The Art of Packaging and Paradoxes

I’ve been looking at packaged goods in a whole new way since Uppercase Magazine put out an open call for packaging illustrations. At first it seemed like a quick and easy one, but on second thought, making it fit in my portfolio is a whole other thing.

For a few days I considered every wrapper as I would of a flower or landscape. The perfect solution? RxBars on display at my local coffee shop. Their packaging is just brilliant! And somewhat of a paradox because it prides itself on honesty yet makes us think there's a chef whipping them one by one in small kitchen when for sure they're made in large batches by a processing plant.

Precisely the kind of paradox I love exploring in my work. Even more fun, turning the bars into a metaphor for something else that's hard to break down into a precise recipe: relationships.


Now for another form of artful packaging, here's a marketing animation I completed last month for a real estate management company. They handed me a voice over from which I selected a few words and then created a whole visual narrative about the home buying process (a bit of a paradox too since the bank is the real owner of the house). Here I used photographs as my source material because the client wanted this kind of realistic look.

While we're on the subject of houses, I never showed you the finished painting from January, but now I will cause I just entered it in a couple competitions on Artists Network. Why not, fingers crossed!