December 6, 2013

a matter of time

i don't know much about the theory of relativity, but my perception of the time i spend working/creating seems very relative to me. here's my observation: when you're a work-at-home parent, the time you can spend on work is short. so each project seems to take longer. obviously you're spending the same amount of total time to accomplish a given task, but the increments are so small that time seems to stretch. so you have less time, but spend the same amount of time, and then feel like you're spending more time. how is that for relativity?

i came to this realization recently, when i made this tiny painting for a friend who needed it for a school fundraiser. each picture below was taken on a different day.

day 1: sketch

day 2: color palette

day 3: start painting

day 4

day 5

day 6

day 7: done!

i am still confused about time, though...does it really stretch when you have kids? or does it fly? which one is it? maybe both? neither?

or maybe there's just no such thing as time…hmmm…i don't really care as long as i can make time for painting.

November 10, 2013

i've gotta do what i've gotta do...

warning: this post will be pure and shameless self-promotion (well, the whole concept of a personal blog is self-promotion in a way, but you know what i mean).

if, unlike me, you're the proud owner of a member of  the iPad, iPhone, Kindle, Galaxy families, (or know someone who is), and would like to dress them up for the holidays (or would simply like to know what i am so excited about), you can now check out my collection for the amazing Keka cases.

here are my favorites (all images courtesy of Keka):

do you have a favorite?

i am currently working on new designs, is there something you would like to see?

and in case my designs are not your style, you can check out the collections of fellow designers Esther Cox, Kathryn Pledger, Simi Gauba, Nicole Tamarin, Onneke, Zoe Attwell, among many, many others. it's such a diverse group of designers, there is something for everyone!

end of self-promotion. done.

October 3, 2013

other than pasta

it's been so long that i thought i wouldn't be able to log in. so, what do i have to say for myself? not much, except that i have been absent online, only because i have been present 24/7 offline. i hope you would agree that cultivating my real self (and its little dependents) is more important than embellishing the virtual one. even if "cultivating" means mainly "feeding". somebody's got to do it, and doing it right is a full-time job. having said that, i always try to make some time to make something other than supper. here's what i did lately: my submissions to the bologna children's book fair illustrators' exhibition which i enter every year hoping this will be the year when someone thinks my work is worth showing.

the series is called "rainy days" and it had been on my mind for a while.






are they any good? i like them, otherwise i wouldn't submit and share them, obviously.

i am not sure when i will be back online. hopefully soon. when i make something i like. other than pasta. 

August 16, 2013

the piece of paper that traveled far and wide

dinner is almost ready (leftovers and rice), babies are napping(still), i made coffee (decaf is a poor substitute, but otherwise my baby will go nuts), and i can finally write about what i did earlier today.

years ago, when i was going through yet another "creatively challenged" period, i decided to try painting on paper grocery bags. i cut a piece out and sewed a border around it. i am not sure why i did that, i remember enjoying the meditative state trying to sew a straight line put me in. i made only one of those and had no idea what to paint on it. so my useless exercise in trying something new made me creatively stuck, a level or two below that of being challenged. but i liked the look and feel of that small brown rectangle, and didn't have the heart to throw it away. and i always kept it near me just in case inspiration struck. so the piece of paper was in one of the many boxes that waited with us for my husband's student visa before moving to england. it was in my carry-on bag on the plane to london. it stayed in my sketchbook for a year and a half, returned with us to boston, still in the sketchbook until our daughter was born. it moved from one sketchbook to the next, from one apartment to the other. it's been on my desk between pieces of scrap paper since our son was born. and today as i was getting ready to take a mini-brain-vacation and paint, it stuck its tiny corner out, as if saying "hey!". luckily for the recycled piece of paper, my daughter had hidden my ruler, and i wasn't able to measure and cut the usual small rectangular piece from my bristol pad, so i thought "whatever", and painted this.

bag painting - front

bag painting - back

now the paper is on my wall. i would say that's a few levels above being stuck on my desk.

August 2, 2013

on a negative note...

hmmm...where do i start? i have been feeling overwhelmed and a little stuck and all that stuff. busy, exhausted, and very behind on my to-do list. i feel like i need a vacation. i want to be away from this laptop, inbox, blog, pinterest, facebook, all those virtual accessories that clog my life. i need to reboot my mind. so today i decided to take a break and paint a little.

to watch the paint flow, mix in a drop of water with my brush, look at the paint breathe through those little bubbles, spread the gouache on the soft piece of paper, all of these never fail to clear up my busy brain. i even enjoyed picking up the normally annoying pieces of lint that seem to appear from nowhere. it's not that i am not happy when i work digitally (i need to write about how much i like that some other time), but the lack of physical contact with what i am making feels toxic after a while, and painting acts like detox. it's like reading the news online for months, and then picking up a newspaper at a cafĂ© and realizing how time slows down when you touch a piece of paper.

anyway, above is a snapshot from this morning. it's the concept for the second pattern in fresh!, a collection i had started a few weeks ago and which was still where i had left it, until today.

to end on a negative note (why not?), the surface pattern design project for the kids products i was working on fell through (blogged about it here and here), so that didn't feel very good. on the flip side, i am free now to use those designs anyway and anywhere i want. they are now on my website. there's a positive to every negative.

July 12, 2013

the truth about watermelons

i will try not to apologize for not blogging. i usually apologize for anything, being 2 minutes late, being 2 minutes early, even for being on time! but not today. i have been busy busy busy and something had got to give, and it wasn't going to be feeding my baby, so...

speaking of food, for some obscure reason i have been receiving Rachael Ray cooking magazines i haven't subscribed to, and although i find nothing in there that inspires me to cook,  the other day i saw these beautiful photos in the latest issue:

"get fresh with watermelon", photos by Plamen Petkov

they now live on my wall and have inspired me to start a new collection: fresh! here's the first pattern.


so this week's first lesson is: never underestimate the usefulness of a useless cooking magazine.

lesson two: it turns out watermelon is a vegetable and not a fruit.

at least you did not read this post in vain... (can you discern the subtle apology? i can't help myself, can i?)

June 14, 2013

in which she naps and i dream

the other day when my daughter woke up from her afternoon nap, and i asked her, as usual, "did you have a good nap?", she said "yes", and added, "what did you do?" i told her i worked. but it really didn't feel like work.

i did this:

and next time you napped i did this:

and then you napped many more times, and  i made many more of those, and came up with this, which is still a work in progress, so please keep up the nice and long naps!

so while you were napping, my lovely, and having sweet dreams, i was trying to make my dreams come true. little by little. but sometimes, like now, i wish i could just nap as sweetly as you do.

May 30, 2013

MOYO 4 is here!

...and i am in it! this was such great news to come home to. my ankles hurt  and my eyelids are drooping, so unfortunately i can't read the issue right now (what do ankles have to do with reading, you ask? i say, don't ask) - but i can proudly share the fact that my design (remember the time i thought i was lucky?) was the first runner-up in the MOYO Floral Twist Design Brief. congrats to the winner, Antonija M, second runner-up, fellow designer friend Majo BV, and third runner-up, Rebecca Beck.

below are my entries:

flower bed 

flower people

flower stems
these are from my flower power collection, and they are the first florals i have ever designed. i am glad the judges thought they are "simple and effective". i always strive for simple, bold and playful.

ok, this was old work. next time i will share new work. i am working on it.

May 24, 2013

i don't have time to write this!

i am not sure how much time i have before my baby wakes up - just checked on him and came back - so i have to make this one brief. here i am, drinking tea with one hand- tea bag tea, no time to make real tea - eating mana'eesh with the other- google that if you don't know what it is, no time to go off topic - and typing with both. this week, whenever i have a small window of free time that i can spend awake, i have been drawing these characters for a kids' product i am working on.

i am sure you can guess the theme.

i would like to draw worms. i am tired of owls. today designer Onneke feels fish are the new owl. i love them. i think worms would be great too.

everyone is still asleep . yes! now i can post this and maybe get some rest.

May 17, 2013

what was i thinking?

recently i have been thinking what was i thinking when i was planning to blog regularly, or to blog at all...or to get anything done other than changing diapers, nursing, singing lullabies, rocking, cooking, running around a toddler begging her not to wake the baby, taking pictures, doing the dishes, the laundry, filming my babies, and loving them to death. 

but as i said when i started this blog, i am not fully satisfied with myself unless i am working on a creative project. so there have been days when i have felt empty, but also days like today when i find the time and energy to achieve tangible results and meet deadlines. yes! deadlines! what was i thinking?

i can't share much at this point, but here's a little peak into one of the designs i am developing for a line of kids' products.

i have also been obsessed with worms. but you will have to wait to hear all about those. hopefully a day like this will come by again soon. when i can just listen to the birds, sip tea, blog away, and miss my sleeping babies.

April 25, 2013

red tulips in my city

my thoughts have been scattered lately. it's partly hormonal (if you're new here, i had a baby almost a month ago), partly due to lack of proper, uninterrupted sleep, and partly due to recent events in my beloved cities of boston and cambridge (i am sure you read the news, not just blogs!). so times have been crazy, to say the least, and i need to reorganize myself. so that's what i mainly (and unsuccessfully) tried to do today (in addition to meeting a deadline about which i can't blog yet.)

i also went on a walk to clear up my mind. it was a warm day and red tulips were everywhere.

if you like flowers and florals, you should check out prolific designer Michelle Drew's (who says she would be even more prolific if she could design in her sleep) fun A-Z Flowers Project at Pattern & Co. and you can join in the fun, if you like! i am hoping to do so before she reaches the letter "T", but i am not sure that will happen. i am hoping to get organized first. i am not sure when that will happen. i am also hoping to be able to blog regularly. friday evenings, more specifically.

till then, i am hoping to have a plain, regular, normal week.

April 18, 2013

an unfinished circle

today i woke up to great news. well "waking up to" is a figure of speech here, since i didn't really sleep  - my 3 weeks old son made a lot of noise all night - so the truth is "i switched on my laptop to great news." 

the big news being that one of my main goals for this year was accomplished: studio aliQue was featured on Print and Pattern, which is THE BLOG when it comes to pattern design. you can read the feature here.

exactly one year ago, it is on the Print and Pattern blog that i found out about the online course The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design, offered by Rachael Taylor and Beth Nicholls. thanks to what i learned in that course, my work has now been featured on that same blog where my new journey started. it's as if things have come full circle. although i am not sure this figure of speech is appropriate either, since it sounds like an ending, when things are actually just beginning. 

so here's to unfinished circles and new beginnings!

note: starting next week, i will try to blog on thursday evenings. we'll see how that goes. please don't expect any masterpieces, just making sense and using proper grammar is good enough at this point - it all depends on how many hours of sleep i am allowed by my tiny boss, this funny high-maintenance new little creature in my life.

April 5, 2013

the clouds before the quiet

i have decided to take a mama break for a couple of weeks. this means i will not be blogging regularly, but whenever i have the time, energy, and desire to do so. sorry if this sounds too philosophical, or too clichĂ©, but life goes by so fast and i want to stop and cherish these moments. obviously, all moments are precious, but i want to live these first weeks with my son slowly. i want to watch him get used to this world, and notice how my daughter grows to be a big sister. i don't want to feel (as i have done in the past) that my life is full of joy but i am not there to enjoy it. there is nothing more sad than that schizophrenic state (in which i have been) when you feel like you are happy, but cannot enjoy your happiness, as if you were watching your life as a movie, where good things are happening to an actor who is playing your part. ok, i'll stop here. 

a fact about me - in addition to the fact that i have occasional bouts of philosophical gravity like the one you just witnessed -  is that i don't like unfinished projects. so before taking this little break, i wanted to complete my cloud family. here are the latest members:


Swimmy (hommage to Leo Lionni)

and here's the bunch of them:

cloud family

before i go to live my happiness, i want to share words of wisdom i read in my daughter's first book which was a gift from my mom, called "Awake to Nap" by Nikki McClure. it is an unfinished alphabet book. at the end of the book, there is a note by the author:
I made this book while my infant son napped. I could only cut the pictures while he slept so the pictures are small and quick gleanings from my new life as a mother. The dining room table became my studio. I would put down my pencil as lightly as possible so as not to disturb the baby, hoping for a few more moments of work before I, too, had to take a nap.
The alphabet was never finished intentionally; the naps were too short and life too thrilling to justify going all the way to Z. I no longer had the attention span and neither did my baby. We were too awake.
in a way my mother's gift to my daughter was also a gift to me. a gift that told me to know what's important. i don't always know, but i am learning.

i am looking forward to not seeing you next week. maybe the week after. but please don't take it personally.

April 1, 2013

a growing family

so in case you noticed, i didn't blog on friday. i was busy giving birth to our son, Kami. it didn't take the whole day, by the way, just an hour an a half. but obviously, blogging seemed so irrelevant, even if i had the time and energy to do it.

Kami means "strong wind" in armenian, so today i added Windy to my little but growing cloud family.


life has been busy, the past couple of days, and it will get busier and busier. i do need to take a break, and might not blog as often. i will keep you posted. 

March 27, 2013

today's craving: clouds

today finally felt like the first day of spring was supposed to feel like. we spent it walking, going to the playground, meeting happy people, smiling, and watching the clouds. i have been sketching clouds for weeks without doing anything about them, so i decided to finally start making a digital cloud family.

meet, clockwise from left: Happy, Sunny, Snowy, Daisy, Rainy, and Cloudy. Windy, Swimmy, and Baby are on the way!

little cloud family in the making

not to make my lighthearted post too serious, but i couldn't help thinking about this poem i love, by Charles Baudelaire. it is called "The Stranger" and here's the english translation:

-Tell me, enigmatic man, whom do you love the best? Your father, your mother, your sister, or your brother?
-I have neither father, nor mother, nor sister, nor brother.
-Your friends?
-You are using a word whose meaning remains unknown to me to this very day.
-Your country?
-I do not know under what latitude it lies.
-I would love her gladly, goddess and immortal.
-I hate it as much as you hate God.
-Well then! What do you love, extraordinary stranger?
-I love the clouds ... the passing clouds ... over there ... over there ... the marvelous clouds!

March 25, 2013

random post about random things

today was a "too many different things to do" kind of day, and i kept jumping from one thing to the next, without focusing on each one fully. so i ended up with various creative activities, none of them life changing, but they're all i've got - in addition to paying the bills, my longer than necessary trip to the post office, irrelevant errands and useless phone call to the city hall, among many other time wasting, life sucking but "somebody's gotta do it" kind of chores.  anyway, here's the more exciting stuff that i did:

i worked on coordinates for some of my patterns for a potential client. this is one of them. pretty straight-forward.

indiabound | dots

indiabound | circles

then i researched composting (i am illustrating an environmental newsletter for kids), and i came across the work of Tonwen Jones, an illustrator based in Brighton, UK. i just loved her work! here's a screenshot of her website.

illustrator Tonwen Jones

and for some reason i was dying to try my crayon scribble warm-up technique in photoshop. i never have food cravings, so maybe i'm someone who has creative cravings when pregnant (yes, we're still pregnant here). here's some of the stuff that happened. and i think i like it.

photoshop bird
photoshop flower

thanks for reading.
here's to a more focused day tomorrow!

March 22, 2013

a new ritual

we have this children's book by Kevin Henkes called "A Good Day", where the day starts off badly for everyone involved (the yellow bird looses his favorite feather, the orange fox can't find her mom...), but then everything takes a better turn (the fox finds her mom, the bird forgets about his feather and flies higher than he's ever done before...)

a good day, by kevin henkes

today was that kind of a day, i think. it started with chasing my 2 year old around the house for an hour to get some food into her and get her dressed and ready for daycare. then a couple of hours were spent doing my taxes and looking for a nanny, and when i finally had time to focus on work, i felt drained. i was ready to call it a day, go for a swim, or just take a nap, but procrastinating usually makes everything worse for me. so i decided to follow Lilla Roger's advice in her book "I just Like to Make Things", and start my own ritual.

i just like to make things, by lilla rogers

she writes:
"we all have days when it's hard to get down to business and make some art. you may have a deadline and you're feeling pressure. you may be procrastinating. [...] you know how musicians start with scales to warm up? well, now you're going to make your very own getting-started, get-down-to-work, get-busy ritual."
and that's exactly what i did.

i really enjoy making these scribble drawings with neocolor crayons, where i just lay down color scribbles first, and make a line drawings on top with black. the process is very fast, there is no time to think, it gives me an adrenaline rush. in short, the perfect warm-up exercise for me. so from now on, instead of just making tea and cleaning up my desk before i sit down to work (things i have done for so many years they don't seem to affect my brain in anyway anymore), this will be my ritual. it has all the characteristics that Lilla Rogers says make a good ritual. it is:
"repeatable. short and sweet. concrete and specific. pleasurable. gets you out of a left-brained analytical state of mind to a more sensual right-brained state of mind. involves multiple senses: auditory, tactile, visual."
(yes, i do hear my crayons when i am scribbling.)

although i ended up mostly researching and mind-mapping, with no concrete direction yet (i am working on a dvd cover for a short documentary film for teens), i feel satisfied with my day, since i know i am one step closer to meeting this deadline. plus, when we came home from daycare with my daughter, the first thing she did was run towards my new drawings and say "whoa!" which is the best compliment ever!

so it was a good day, after all.

March 20, 2013

love is a poem (from the sixties)

i was wrong to think i would be able to relax a little after the launch of my website. i soon realized the deadline for the Hallmark Design Competition was here, with the theme being Love. since i didn't have much time to brainstorm, i gave my ideas a first come first served kind of treatment. 

the first concept was inspired by one of my favorite love songs, Le Parapluie (the umbrella) by the great poet/singer/songwriter Georges Brassens. you can listen to it and read the lyrics here. and if you don't speak french,  it's basically about this guy who, on a rainy day, happens to have an umbrella and who accompanies a woman without one. sharing his umbrella makes him feel he is in heaven, and wish "it would rain for forty days and forty nights, like during the Flood."

so my first entry looked like this:

umbrella love

raindrops made me think about another poem i love, by one of my favorite armenian poets, Zareh Khrakhouni, about two raindrops who meet at the end of a gutter and fall in love. 

so my second entry looked like this:

raindrop love

i found translations of some of his poems here. and i was very happy that the one i was thinking about was translated! (unfortunately there are no credits on the website, so i am not able to credit the translator as i would've liked to.)

From the roofs

From the edge of one of the many roofs

A drop of water slides down, meets another and says –

Do you know what?

Do you know what I like most about you –

You don’t look like anyone else …

From the roofs

From the numerous roofs

From the edge of these many roofs

Two drops of water – like all the other drops –

Arrowed by the same rays of the sun

Drunk with a newly opened rainbow

United like a pot of light

Satiated like a heavenly fruit

Fused – heavy

Drop to the earth as limpid tears of happiness

And one says to the other –

Do you know what? Do you know what

I would like most of all

When I drop to the earth next time?

I want to meet another one – exactly like you …

i also came accross this other poem by him about love under an umbrella, and realized he must have written it around the same time Brassens was singing about his gratitude to his umbrella (sometime in the mid-sixties).

IN THE RAIN (excerpt)
One umbrella two hearts –
Under the tapping drops

Palpitating in rhythm

With each other in the rain

One umbrella two loves –

Dripping from the edges

Like limpid teardrops

One umbrella two lives –

Just like accompanying steps

United in this common

Routine rain.

there was no poetry behind my third entry, although metaphors definitely played a role. rain made me think of clouds, and i tried to illustrate two clouds in love. kittens, raindrops, why not clouds?

so this is what my third entry looked like:

cloud love

as another beautiful song from the sixties goes: here comes the sun and i say it's alright...

happy spring!