Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Art opening this Friday

Just a few days until the opening! I've dropped off the paintings and I'm crossing my fingers that the prints I ordered will arrive in time. If you're in the Seattle area and plan to attend the Fremont art walk, stop by and say hi!

When: Friday, June 5, 2009, 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Where: Frame Up Studios, 3515 Fremont Ave N, Seattle (map)

If you want to see what else is happening at the Fremont art walk, here's their blog: http://fremontfirstfriday.blogspot.com/

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Cool French Adobe CS4 commercial

I fell in love with this French commercial for Adobe CS4. Sweet, surreal, with a dash of Alice in Wonderland. I must be the target demographic :-)

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Illustration Friday: Contagious

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Upcoming show: Sredni Vashtar

(click to see the bigger image / clic pour voir l'image en plus grand)
Sredni Vashtar
In my last post I mentioned that I'm working on a show so here's a sneak peak... I just finished designing the promo materials and I'm doing my best to ignore the matting board and stack of frames that are waiting for me. Bleh.

VF: Bon, comme j'ai dit l'autre jour, j'ai une expo qui arrive alors voici un petit aperçu, vu que je viens de finir les maquettes de mes cartons de promo. Là tout de suite faudrait que je me mette à encadrer... je vais aller finir le Nutella pour me donner du courage, tiens...

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Saturday, May 02, 2009

Illustration Friday: Hierarchy

My upcoming show is approaching way too fast and I'm racing against the clock to finish things up, so I didn't have time to make something new for IF this week. I think this one fits the theme nicely though; no doubt this little girl knows her place in the pecking order.

VF: Mon expo arrive à grands pas et je ne suis pas vraiment en avance sur ce qu'il me reste à faire; alors excusez m'sieurs dames, cette semaine je ressors un vieux machin du placard à barbouille au lieu d'en faire un tout neuf. Je pense qu'il ne colle pas mal au thème; aucune ambiguité question hiérarchie, mon petit personnage sait très exactement où elle se place.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Illustration Friday: Theater

This has to be the fastest I've whipped up an illustration in a long time! I actually scribbled a little pencil doodle while on hold with tech support this afternoon, then I scanned it in and painted it in Photoshop after dinner. I'm still pretty new to digital painting and can't imagine going 100% digital, but it's fun to try and I think it's growing on me.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Pause button / Interruption momentanée des programmes

No time for Illustration Friday this week, I'm off to hang out under palm trees with the Easter bunny. Happy Easter everyone and see you in a week or two!

V.F.: Pas de barbouillage cette semaine, j'ai rencart sous les palmiers avec le lapin de Pâques. Il va pas avoir l'air con en paréo, lui. Allez, joyeuses Pâques les zamis et à dans une semaine ou deux si j'ai pas trop la flemme.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Cherry blossoms / Le temps des cerises (ou presque)

Last weekend we went to see the blooming Yoshino cherry trees at the UW. These 30 trees lining the liberal arts quadrangle are somewhat of a local landmark and draw huge crowds of blossom viewers in the spring. It's our local Sakura festival, I suppose. Sadly their lifespan is limited and they are declining; hopefully they will get replaced with something equally graceful.
More photos here: http://depts.washington.edu/mediarel/galleries/cherryblossoms/

V.F.: Ce weekend, on a fait un tour sur le campus de l'université de Washington pour voir les cerisiers Yoshino en fleurs. 30 cerisiers longent le square entouré par les bâtiments de la fac de lettres et sont un peu une curiosité locale; ils attirent toujours les foules au printemps. C'est donc un peu le mini-Sakura Festival du coin. Ils ont malheureusement une espérance de vie limitée et sont sur le déclin; on espère que leurs remplaçants seront à la hauteur!
Pour plus de photos: http://depts.washington.edu/mediarel/galleries/cherryblossoms/

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Saturday, April 04, 2009

Illustration Friday: Talisman

Pink bunny or lucky underwear: never go to a job interview without your talisman.

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Friday, April 03, 2009

Easter preview

The Easter bunny outdid himself and brought me a care package all the way from France! French Easter candy is definitely one of the things I miss from home (along with socialized medicine, but we won't go there).

Pâtisseries typically sell fancy Easter confections: large, hollow chocolate eggs, chickens, rabbits or bells (more on bells later), wrapped in ribbons and filled with smaller candy: little marzipan vegetables (I've always liked the little cauliflowers best!); "friture" (little chocolates shaped like fish, shrimp, mussels...); pastel-colored fondant eggs; little praliné eggs... They traditionally come in distinctive pastel, illustrated cardboard boxes.

So why the bell motif? In France, Catholic tradition oblige, it is church bells on their way to Rome that bring candy, not the Easter bunny. I've been told many times that flying bells that drop candy don't make sense, but personally I don't see how bunnies carrying little baskets make any more sense ;)

V.F.: Bon ben je traduis pas hein, tout le monde sait ce que c'est les oeufs de Pâques, ce qui va dedans, ce qui va autour... Merci les cloches, qui sauront se reconnaître!

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award

Many thanks to the talented Eva for giving me this award! Check out her blog if you don't know it already, her work is a delight. It is now my turn to pass the award to other bloggers and share things I love. So here we go, 7 things I love...
  1. My family and old friends, and picking up right where we left even if we haven't seen each other for a while.
  2. Cooking something nice and enjoying it over the course of a long, leisurely meal and good conversation.
  3. Getting lost in art supplies stores and losing track of time.
  4. Reading. I can't go to sleep, no matter how late it is, unless I've read at least a couple of pages.
  5. Goes with #4... books. Made with paper, that is. I'm no technophobe, far from it, and I will read news online, but I can't get into the whole e-book thing.
  6. Waking up to the sound of rain, warm in my bed and knowing I don't have to get up for a while!
  7. Coming home after a trip.
... and 7 blogs I'd like to give the award to:
[Note to the selected bloggers: You're off the hook if you already got the award or if tagging isn't your thing, I just like your work and blogs :) ]

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Face transformer

Brought to you by the venerable University of St. Andrews: the face transformer (http://morph.cs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Transformer/), an online thingy that lets you upload your photo and visualize your face aged, as painted by Modigliani, as someone of the opposite gender, etc. Here's a sampling of the results... I'd make one cute dude, if I do say so myself.
The original photo, as a man, as a Botticelli, and as Asian:
VF: Voilà un programme créé par les gentils geeks de l'Université de St. Andrews, un truc rigolo qui permet de manipuler sa photo et de se vieillir, se transformer en mec ou en Vénus Botticellienne. Voilà ce que ça donne sur moi - oué enfin moi ya 3-4 ans disons, on va dire que j'avais pas de photo récente de face ;-) Et ben je dis que moi en garçon, on dirait le fils de Patrick Juvet et Björn Ulvaeus (mais si, le blond qu'était dans Abba). Enfin je dis ça, je dis rien...

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Illustration Friday: Poise

I don't think it shows too much, but I'm trying my hand at slightly different things... I wanted to try and paint faster and a bit more spontaneously than usual, so I drew this one directly on illustration board with acrylic, then did a bit of digital doodling. Usually I sketch and plan meticulously, and hardly do anything other than trim in Photoshop.I think I'll continue working on it, add more highlights on the face, and maybe redo the background to make the pattern stand out some more.

Anyway, I'm not sure if she's poised or just uncomfortable :)

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Illustration Friday: Subtract

I made this for I.F.. I think I'll probably rework it, I'm not so happy about the contrasts; especially the stuffed animal's face, which blends too much in the background.

V.F.: Je viens de faire ça pour Illustration Friday, je suis à moitié contente du truc; les contrastes ne sont pas formidables, en particulier le visage de la peluche qui ne se détache pas bien du fond.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Three's a charm? / Et de trois...

Still plugging away at my new series, and this one has been giving me a bit of trouble; I'm on the third iteration, no less. I think this last one's finally a keeper, although it still needs some work. Note to self: stop attempting to paint without music. #3, brought to you by Deerhunter's Cryptograms and Microcastle...

VF: Lentement mais sûrement(?), je continue d'avancer sur ma nouvelle série. Je coinçais méchamment sur cette image, il a fallu que je la refasse 3 fois, rien que ça. Je crois que je vais garder le troisième jet, mais y'a encore du boulot pour que ce soit présentable. Enfin bon, comme quoi peindre sans musique, ben ça marche pô pour moi. On dit merci aux grands garçons de Deerhunter qui ont réussi a me décoller la pulpe avec Cryptograms et Microcastle...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Almond green tea madeleines / Madeleines matcha-amande

This is the kind of recipe that I like: quick, easy, full of buttery goodness, helps me pretend I'm a French culinary goddess.

VF: Voilà le genre de recette que j'aime... déjà y'a du beurre, ensuite c'est simple, c'est rapide et comme ça un peu de gueule, ça aide à perpétuer le mythe de la française qui sait ce qu'elle fait en cuisine.

Ingredients (6-8 madeleines):
1 egg white
3 1/2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1 1/2 tbsp ground almonds
3 tbsp confectioner's sugar
1 tsp matcha powder
1 blanc d'oeuf
50 g de beurre
15 g de farine
20 g de poudre d'amandes
40 g de sucre glace
1 cuiller à café de matcha en poudre

(conversion: http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/gram_calc.htm)

Elbow grease /
Huile de coude
  1. Preheat the oven to 325° F
  2. sift together the dry ingredients
  3. Melt butter in a pan until slightly golden
  4. Mix in the egg white with the dry ingredients.
  5. Mix in the melted butter
  6. When the batter is homogenous, pour it in the greased madeleine mould
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes
  1. Préchauffer le four à 170° C
  2. Tamiser les ingrédients secs
  3. Faites dorer le beurre à la poêle
  4. Ajouter le blanc d'oeuf et bien mélanger
  5. Ajouter le beurre fondu et bien mélanger
  6. Quand la pâte est bien homogène, verser dans le moule à madeleines beurré
  7. Faire cuire de 12 à 15 minutes
Largely inspired by French cooking magazine Elle A Table. It's lovely for a foofy afternoon tea or brunch, and the flavor of matcha goes well with a lot of things e.g. red currants, chestnut cream, white chocolate...

VF: Pomp
é sur une recette de financiers de Elle A Table (si si, il a toujours 2-3 mois de retard mais je le trouve ici!). C'est délicieux pour un thé ou un brunch, et le parfum du matcha se marie bien avec plein de choses, en particulier groseilles, crème de marrons ou chocolat blanc.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Today E.K., purveyor of hope and ammunition for aspiring hipsters looking to fit in with the cool kids, compiled a list of sculptors worth checking out. So check it out! I'm adding a small selection of my own here.

VF: E.K. offre en général des cours de rattrapage de it trucs pour avoir l'air moins boulet avec vos copains qui sont trop haïpe. Aujourd'hui il a pondu un billet rien que pour moua ici (en anglais), avec des vrais morceaux de sculpteur dedans. Du coup j'en rajoute quelques-uns ici, des sculpteurs que j'aime bien, faudrait pas que je sois en reste.

Do Ho Suh
image credit: designboom.com
bio credit: pbs.org

Do-Ho Suh was born in Seoul, Korea in 1962. His sculptures continually question the identity of the individual in today’s increasingly transnational, global society. I was lucky enough to see his work twice in Seattle - all I can say is that photos don't do justice to the scale and grace of his work.

VF: Do-Ho Suh est un artiste coréen. Ses sculptures remettent en question l'identité de l'individu dans la société actuelle, de plus en plus globalisée et transnationale. J'ai eu la chance de voir ses oeuvres à Seattle deux fois, et franchement les photos ont du mal
à rendre l'échelle et l'allure du travail.

Tricia Cline
image credit: triciacline.com

bio credit: bettchergallery.com

A self-taught American artist, Tricia Cline has been sculpting the female and animal form for over 20 years. Her small, highly detailed porcelain clay sculptures are complex metaphors describing our relationship to animals and to ourselves as…Animals.

VF: Tricia Cline est une artiste américaine autodidacte qui sculpte depuis plus de 20 ans formes féminines et animales. Ses sculptures de terre glaise, petites et riches en détails, sont de complexes métaphores qui décrivent nos relations envers les animaux et envers nous-mêmes, en tant qu'animaux.

Charles Krafft
image credit: re-title.com
bio credit: RoqLaRue

A self taught American painter and ceramicist, Krafft is now best known for his notorious Disasterware™ plates, porcelain weaponry, and SPONE™ reliquaries made of human bone china.

VF: Charles Krafft est un peintre et céramiste américain autodidacte, connu pour ses porcelaines décalées: armes et munitions, lapinous à grenade etc dans un style classique facon Delft. Il fait aussi des reliquaires, c'est-à-dire des poteries faites avec les cendres de mémé. Un poil morbide quand même.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Shiny objects / Ouh, ça brille

Cute silver and glass pendants seen on http://www.smallthingsdesigns.com/; lovely clean, simple design. I'm not sure if I want to wear them or just look at them...

En VF: Z'avez compris, ça brille, c'est jouli, j'en veux, c'est des pendentifs en argent et pâte de verre, et ça s'achète sur un site Etatsunien qui ne fait pas dans l'international. Donc effectivement pourquoi traduire hein, on s'en fout un peu; ben bicose j'ai décidé de faire mes billets dans les 2 langues, et qu'il faut bien commencer quelque part. Alors autant que ce soit avec un truc court, des fois que je me foule un neurone.

Bon, ben ze end pour aujourd'hui, c'est pas tout
ça mais j'ai caté.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Flourless chocolate cake for dummies

Today I tried the chocolate "cake in a cup" recipe from the endlessly entertaining Papilles Et Pupilles blog. I was a little dubious because you cook it in a microwave, which I'm not a big fan of. Anyway, I tried it - and it was so easy and scrumptious that I'm shamelessly lifting her recipe and posting it here. The original recipe (in French, and much more humorous than mine!) is here.

Ingredients (makes 2 cupcake-sized individual cakes):
  • 1 egg
  • 40g sugar (4 tablespoons)
  • 25g cocoa powder (2 tablespoons)
  • 20g ground hazelnuts (2 tablespoons)
  • 25g vegetable oil e.g. canola (4 tablespoons)
  • milk (1 tablespoon)
  • I ran out of unsweetened cocoa powder and used an aztec chocolate mix (with chile and cinammon); that was a happy accident and turned out delicious.
  • I didn't have hazelnuts and replaced them with unsalted pistachios. I ground them with the sugar so that they wouldn't turn into a paste in the food processor. That turned out very well, too.
  1. Mix the dry ingredients together
  2. Mix in the egg, oil and milk
  3. Grease a couple of cups or ramekins
  4. Pour the batter in, not all the way to the top as the cakes will rise
  5. Put in the microwave for 2 minutes or so. It's a good idea to check the cake after 1 minute 1/2: if it's still soggy, put it back in for 30 more seconds. Don't overcook it as it will get dry.
  6. Eat it while it's still warm
That's it! It's virtually impossible to screw up, takes 10 minutes tops from start to stomach, and it's disturbingly delicious (and I am way way way picky when it comes to desserts...)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Progress shot

Nibbling my way through my next series... I usually work on one painting at a time and finish it before starting on the next one. For some reason this time I can't focus and have several in various stages of undoneness. The June deadline still seems pretty far away, but I just know it will creep up on me... (Yes, I know, my studio desk looks, um, "lived in"...)

I see deer people... all the time

Ok, I have to ask: what is it with the antlers? Not exactly a new phenomenon, but a bafflingly enduring one: the deer girl. Just google "deer girl" or "antlers girl" and start counting the paintings/drawings. Let's face it, it's been done to death; I've seen it on t-shirts, shopping bags, even children's books and horror flicks:

I guess trends, in art as in anything else, aren't exactly something new or to be puzzled by; the Pre-Raphaelites in their day were pretty obsessed with Ophelia and produced prodigious quantities of Ophelias pre-water, in water, floating, sitting, blond, red-haired...

I'm sure there are plenty of other trends (hey, kokeshi are starting to proliferate...); I find the antlers one particularly amusing though, because the only symbolism I'm aware of for wearing horns/antlers is the
French one, where it means that your significant other is being unfaithful:

The obscenely talented Mark Ryden just opened his Snow Yak show. Could this be the start of a new trend? Can't wait to see the yak t-shirts and tattoos that one's going to generate...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Bonne fête to me

Who cares about February 13 when the big fluffy day is tomorrow, right? Well I kinda do. You see, February 13th is my fête, aka the Feast of Saint Beatrice. That's right, Beatrice has a day named after her, like Patrick and Valentine. Henri, Robert and many others also do, for that matter; they just didn't have the right connections at Hallmark I guess.

The fête is a day that is supposed to honor the memory of a particular saint, whichever gruesome way they got to meet their maker; but like many French traditions, it is largely secular nowadays despite being rooted in religion.
I've heard it described as a second birthday; it's a bit like that I guess.

Typically friends, family and coworkers will say "bonne fête!" to you; maybe you'll get a card, or flowers, or a little sumthinsumthin'. Florist web sites often have a fête reminder or let you look up fête dates; and after the evening news, the weather forecast guy typically announces whose fête it is tomorrow. Woe to who forgets!

Interestingly, I've noticed an anti-Valentine trend on French sites recently, and encouragements to boycott Valentine's Day and celebrate Saint Beatrice instead. I say bring it on!

Here's a French site that lists the names to celebrate each day of the year: http://www.saint-dicton.com/mois/fevrier.php
. Makes me glad I wasn't named Adeltrude

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Edible idioms

Clotilde from the Chocolate and Zucchini blog has been doing an interesting series of posts on food-related French idiomatic expressions... there are many of these, and they usually designate things that have nothing to do with eating! A few examples from her
"Edible idiom" archive:
Beyond the translation, she's actually explaining the origin of these expressions; it's a fun read. I'm a bit of a language geek and love how idioms reflect a culture, history and way of thinking. Not surprising that food would be ubiquitous in French!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Lego NYC

Seen in the NY Times: An illustrator, Christoph Niemann, recreated snippets of New York City with Lego. Very humorous and clever.

His regular portfolio is on http://www.christophniemann.com/; the gentleman has created a number of illustrations for the New Yorker.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Yu Jinyoung: Hidden inner worlds come to light

For some reason, sculpture is usually not as interesting to me as much as 2D art forms (must be all the bronze leaping salmon you just can't escape in the Pacific Northwest...).
So it is rare that sculpture really catches my eye; but the amazing work from this Korean artist blew me away:

(image from Union Gallery)

(Image from artnet)

You can see more pictures here, and the artist statement here.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

How did that work out for you?

Seen downtown Seattle. Someone knows how to talk to the ladies.

Move over, groundhog

Last night I made crêpes. Yup, yesterday might have been Groundhog Day in the US, but it was Chandeleur in France, aka Candlemas. Shame on me, it had slipped my mind until I read Anne's post (in French), just in the nick of time. Bad French girl, bad.

Cultural interlude:

Like most French holidays, Chandeleur stems from an obscure religious origin and turned along the way into an occasion to eat something with butter in it.

"Chandeleur" comes from the Latin Festa Candelarum, meaning Feast of candles. Meaning that at some point, blessed candles charged with religious symbolism (Christ, light of the world etc) used to be involved.

The origin of crêpes and their association with the holiday is unclear; round and golden like the sun that starts coming back in February everywhere but in Seattle? Given out to pilgrims by a gourmet 5th century pope? Using flour to guarantee a bountiful wheat harvest?

Anyway, the tradition of making crêpes still holds today; when I was in Kindergarten we'd make them at school. Some people (like my great-aunt) still flip their crêpes with a gold coin in their hand, to ensure prosperity in the coming year. Looks like it's been working fine for my great-aunt, maybe I should start doing it.

To make crêpes, you will need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups milk, or 1 cup milk + 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar (optional)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil or melted butter
  • 2 tbsp rum or Grand Marnier (you can skip it but it tastes much better if you don't)
There's no vegan version that I know of. If there is such a thing, I'd rather not find out, thank you.

Useful rule of thumb:

  • proportions work out to be about 3 spoons of flour per egg
  • 1 spoon of flour = 1 crêpe

How to:
  1. Put the eggs, sugars and flour in a mixing bowl. Whisk them together if you need the exercise, but use a blender if you want to avoid lumps
  2. Whisk the milk/water in progressively
  3. Stir in the alcohol and the melted butter
  4. Lightly grease a crêpe pan with an oiled paper towel. You can use a regular pan, but you'll be greatly increasing your odds of making fugly crêpes, especially if it's not non-stick.
  5. Heat the pan on medium-high (it needs to be hotter than for pancakes; crêpes cook fast)
  6. When your pan is hot, thinly coat the bottom with a ladle of batter
  7. When the edges look cooked and start lifting from the pan, slide a spatula under the crêpe and turn it over. You can also flip it, but this only works if there are no witnesses.
  8. Cook for 10-15 seconds
  9. Serve warm with an assortment of toppings: preserves, powdered sugar, chestnut cream, Nutella...
If there's a French person around, don't talk about Nutella unless you're prepared to spend the next hour listening to how Nutella in the US tastes different from Nutella in Europe, and how Costco hasn't carried it in almost 3 months.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Bling and tentacles

This weekend I stopped by the Kimberly Baker store, where she was having a big sale. I snagged this necklace, which I'd had my eye on for quite some time. Forgive the crappy photo, which doesn't do it justice:

More tentacled goodness, by Audrey Kawasaki:

by Camille Rose Garcia:

A fun cushion from Binth:

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Illustration Friday: Flawed

Reginald almost looked like a regular little boy.
There was one small flaw
, but the neighbors were far too polite to comment on it.

Weekend means doodle time

I envy people who keep a tidy desk when they work. At any given time, mine looks like some deranged muse threw up crayons all over it. Oh well.

Anyway, I'm back to being elbow-deep in muse puke; after a month's break, I've started plugging away at my next show. I've chosen to finally illustrate a short story that has been on my mind for a long, long time; I've never illustrated a story start to finish, so this is an interesting exercise.

I've read that story many times over the years, so I'm illustrating from memory rather than following the text. I started by trying to follow the text, but I found this method works better for me - helps me sift the key elements and focus on transcribing the atmosphere. But for all I know this is how illustrators work... so much for my big self-discovery!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Illustration Friday: Pale

This is another of the series I made for a show themed after the 7 deadly sins.
This one was sloth; there's definitely some unhealthy pallor going on here.