Monday, July 30, 2012

wit and whistle

Hive print

Speaking of incredibly affordable art, Amanda Wright of Wit and Whistle makes terrific little prints in muted colors on speckly cardstock. I'd frame and mat them just as she has—or, for contrast, use more ornate but tarnished silver frames.

Technicolor print
Dragon scales print
(this 5x7 is only $10)
White roses print

Friday, July 27, 2012

rachel castle on design*sponge

I would like to buy that bubblegum pink painting, please

Rachel Castle makes bright, simple, perfectly conceived and executed prints, paintings, linens, and embroidery. I've admired her work for a while, and Design*Sponge featured her this week as part of its studio-visit series. The glimpse into her working life makes her seem as appealing and cheerful as her artwork. Besides, anybody who namechecks the Pogues and Moleskine notebooks *and* loves art-gallery bookstores is just fine in my book.

Pink Jacobsen chair, turquoise stool, big round lantern
Tubes of paint, brushes, ruler: the joy of nice art supplies
Like the best doodles ever

Thursday, July 26, 2012

kate miss prints

Magic Hour Road 8x10

Kate Miss has been through some things this year. Her boyfriend fought cancer (and is now in remission). They got engaged. They moved house and studio. Good and bad, she's documented it all on her lovely blog and kept making art and jewelry all the while. And she's just opened up an online shop dedicated to her photo prints, which are beautiful in an ethereal, misty, Southern California kind of way. Best of all, they're really, really reasonably priced, starting at $12 for a 5x7 print. (A couple of these would be a great way to start an art collection.) She's so talented, and seems so sweet and earnest, I almost feel like paying more.
Desert Palms 8x10
Daisy 8x10
Marigold Sofa 8x10
Half-Light Window 5x7

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

tea collection

Finn Flora dress

Tea's back-to-school collection of girls' clothes is one of its best in a while. Stylized flowers, stripes, and dots: can't go wrong.

Fresh Finn Stripe dress
Adorable Dots dress

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

looking at art with kids

I wish my kids liked art museums more. DC has great art museums, many of them free and not far from where we live. And it's a shame we don't take advantage of them more often. When Charlie and Tessa were younger, a visit to the National Gallery was on regular rotation. Watch the Calder mobiles make fun shadows, guys! Look at the pretty lady in the Ingres portrait! Done? OK, let's ride the moving sidewalk through Leo Villareal's light show, then get a gelato and buy something beautiful, artsy, and overpriced in the children's bookshop. Nice weather and we'd hit the sculpture garden.

These days, my kids have their own opinion about weekend activities. Art museums don't place high on the list. They like what's on the walls in our house, especially in their rooms. But looking at static pictures on walls, in a place where your parents shush you and guards fuss when you get too close to the artwork? That's a harder sell. Which is why "Suprasensorial" at the Hirshhorn was perfect a few weeks ago. In one piece, blue plastic strings hang from the ceiling, and you're *supposed* to touch it, run through it, twist it around your little sister. In another installation, empty white-painted rooms are saturated with lights of different colors. The very act of putting silly disposable slippers over your shoes (to protect the floors, which are scuffed anyway) tells you that you're entering a work of art; then you walk around the rooms, enjoying the light on the walls and floors and your body. The rest of the exhibit didn't go over as well, but these two pieces were fun and participatory and actually made us all think—a little bit anyway.

Now if only I can convince them that Diebenkorn at the Corcoran (pretty and evocative but ultimately just pictures on walls) will be a good time.

Monday, July 23, 2012

elyse harrison

Sky blue bird

Elyse Harrison has been teaching art to my kids for a couple of years. Her beautiful sea-green building is a Bethesda institution, a former vacuum-cleaner shop that now houses her husband's architecture studio and Elyse's gallery and studio (and a Bang & Olufsen showroom on the ground floor). Her bird sculptures incorporate objects like egg beaters, metal clips, and Beatles lyric sheets, and the effect is completely charming: deceptively simple, childlike in the best possible way. It's what makes her such a good art teacher: the ability to access ideas and inspiration, plus the focus to make something coherent out of them. It's why I need someone like Elyse to teach my kids, not just me at the kitchen table. She's got great ideas and patience—not just a drawer full of art supplies.

Jane's bird
Silver flower bird

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Boat print by Patrick Hruby
My good friend Heather (who knows much about books and art) recommended the book-related prints by Nobrow, an independent-minded British publisher of graphic art, illustration, and comics. I was happy to find the work of Blexbolex again; Nobrow offers a print of this graphic novel's cover:

This appealing blue grid comes straight from another graphic novel:

British birds print by Jon McNaught

This queens litho will soon be found in all the hippest dorm rooms:

Queens by Katja Spitzer

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

summer reading

A little break from the visual art:

1. "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed is as good as you've heard. This reviewer compared the book—a woman's experience hiking the Pacific Crest Trail—to the best Jon Krakauer writing, and I'd agree: It's like a first-person "Into the Wild," told by a woman who doesn't have a death wish but is just really really messed up. And then, in the most compelling and funny and moving way, she gets un-messed-up, despite a too-big pack (baggage!) and too-small boots. As with the best confessional nonfiction, she's like a friend you miss when you finish the book.

2. Diane Keaton could have written a standard Hollywood memoir; she's certainly got the material for one. "Then Again" is a stranger and better book, I think; though she leaves out or skims over huge parts of her life (Warren Beatty!), she weaves her own memories with passages about her mother's life, as well as some of her mother's letters and journal entries. Turns out they were kindred souls, but her mother was simply born too early to enjoy a fulfilling creative life like her daughter has.

3. Mindy Kaling's "Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me" could have been just a Tina Fey ripoff. (Both women write, produce, and act in beloved NBC comedies.) Indeed, just like on "Bossypants," she's even got the embarrassing childhood photo on the back cover. But damn if that photo isn't hilarious—as is her entire book. It's also sweet and spot on. I love her grooming advice for men: wear a pea coat and Chuck Taylors, and let all the women out of an elevator first.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Insect by Sara Singh

So this whole accessible art thing really seems to be taking off online. has just updated its giant, customize-your-own site. (I'll write about it as soon as I can figure it out.) I'm sure I checked out Stampa months ago—and I can't figure out why I didn't take more notice then. Choosing among its relatively small roster of eight artists is unintimidating. They share a simplicity and straightforwardness, which always works for me. Check out Sara Singh's watercolor and ink insects (above) and strappy shoes:

Last Dance

Britt Browne uses gorgeous indigo blue in her organic, planty prints:
Palm Frond

And I have to love the color in Bill Brown's luggage tags:


Note: Starting at $200 for a framed 8x10 print, these aren't exactly big-money purchases, but I wouldn't call them super affordable either.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

elizabeth graeber on etsy

Bird screen print

Elizabeth Graeber's drawings remind me of Maira Kalman's—everyday objects and quirky (or regular) people, rendered simply—but they've got a charm all their own. The pantry items from her lovely Food on Paper series would be perfect in a kitchen or dining room (obviously). And her Etsy offerings—portraits of famous and ordinary folks, birds, and household goods—would improve any room in the house.

Half & half print
Edward Henry O'Hare print
(from a series of people with airports named for them)

Ice skates print
Corn on the cob print

Monday, July 2, 2012

needle and felt on etsy

Golden barn owl

This isn't art for your walls. But indulge me: the tiny animals from Etsy shop Needle and Felt are not only adorable, they're made from the artist's own sheep. I can't think of a kid who wouldn't love these; even Charlie, my nine-year-old gun lover, would go crazy for this panda:

Panda with nest


Come to think of it, the photos of these would look great on a kid's wall: a simple, clean, modern take on an animal theme. Hmmm....