Journal

Honest to gumption.

NickyOvitt_2015JuneCalendar_PunkLyricX continues to be one of my all time favorite bands. I could fill a couple blog posts about them and what they have meant to me over time. Formed in 1977, X was the epitome of all I lusted after in LA punk and lifestyle. Though many great West Coast bands would come through New Mexico on their way East, it was X that I longed for and had punker daydreams of— an over-eyelined, slip-and-boot-kicking, night-tearing, cemetery-haunting, teenager wishing and scheming; “if ONLY I lived in LA.” Their music was the soundtrack to my life for MANY years, especially during dark times and really great times. Like so many of their fans, I feel like their music was made for me, songs that describe my soul.

A video of this song played just last year and full lyrics here plus song as heard on their first album, Los Angeles. Like many women of my generation I was unabashedly obsessed with Exene Cervenka. Her her writing, her activism, her jewelry! More links to check out: X in The Decline of Western Civilization. X played and was interviewed by Dick Clark on American Bandstand, 1982, in 1983, and again in 1985. I think they were Dick’s darlings, watch how playful he was with them!

As what have to be one of the hardest working bands still out there, X still tours extensively (with all original members) and I’ve been lucky to see them still totally rock out in other cities and twice here in Petaluma the Blasters. Here is the  X band website, check out their haunting new sound. Thank you X, for so very many years of great music!

I’ve chosen some favorite short phrases of punk song lyrics to flourishly illustrate these expressions that were of such importance to me and my generation. I’m calling the series #PunkLyric and offering them as free desktop calendar downloads each month. [see full explanation here]

Click image to download for your desktop and please enjoy… and, go discover some new/old music!

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Note: These cannot be used elsewhere or commercially. The artwork is mine and the lyrics are ownership of the original songwriters and bands. Artist and writer Emily McDowell explains the intellectual property copyright limitations for us really well right here.

Petaluma SocialSketch-May SQ

Back by popular demand, the May edition of #SocialSketch! My good friend and talented word smith, Andy Rado created this month’s flyer.

Thanks so much to the support of Courtney, Mike and Aqus Cafe, Petaluma’s 1st ever #SocialSketch was a huge hit! Below are photos from a great April night of sketching and collaboration. More on the movement here.

If you’re near Petaluma on May 18, please come out and sketch with us!

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Career Opportunities— an absolute classic, and of continued relevance. Full lyrics here. Because we love The Clash so much, a video medley from 1977 live in Munich— the year they released their debut studio album, The Clash. The line “I won’t open letter bombs for you” is a reference to a former job of Clash guitarist Mick Jones, opening letters for a British government department to make sure they weren’t rigged with mailbombs.

I’ve chosen some favorite short phrases of punk song lyrics to flourishly illustrate these expressions that were of such importance to me and my generation. I’m calling the series #PunkLyric and offering them as free desktop calendar downloads each month. [see full explanation here]

Click image to download for your desktop and please enjoy… and, go discover some new/old music!

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Note: These cannot be used elsewhere or commercially. The artwork is mine and the lyrics are ownership of the original songwriters and bands. Artist and writer Emily McDowell explains the intellectual property copyright limitations for us really well right here.

It’s fun to see this artist spotlight in the 2015 Speedo Footwear catalog. These kid’s flip flops utilize artwork from the two swim caps I illustated that were inspired by the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

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There is no separation of church and state as long as money buys political power. Full lyrics and listen here.

In honor of tax season I’ve chosen this lyric from Los Angeles punk band, Bad Religion. They first formed in 1979 and many of their anthems relate to social responsibility.

30 years later Bad Religion is one of the best selling punk bands of all time— over 5 million albums sold, with a fantastic fan website listing music and goods for sale as well as tour dates and a legacy timeline. Good for you, Bad Religion! Everybody go on the site and get your holiday album now!

I’ve chosen some favorite short phrases of punk song lyrics to flourishly illustrate these expressions that were of such importance to me and my generation. I’m calling the series #PunkLyric and offering them as free desktop calendar downloads each month. [see full explanation here]

Click image to download for your desktop and please enjoy… and, go discover some new/old music!

……………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Note: These cannot be used elsewhere or commercially. The artwork is mine and the lyrics are ownership of the original songwriters and bands. Artist and writer Emily McDowell explains the intellectual property copyright limitations for us really well right here.

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I’ve been a fan of Courtney Cerruti since finding her all over Instagram. She’s a Bay Area artist, a set designer/stylist/artist coach/social media maven at Creative Bug, and the author of 3 books at Quarry Press. Basically, this chick makes things happen. Right now she’s got a show of her signature “Single Ladies” at Rare Device in San Francisco and is curating and accepting work for a show of matchbook art called Strike Away which will be shown at Paxton Gate Curiosities.

A while back I contacted her about establishing a #SocialSketch chapter in our very creative community of Petaluma. Along with her artist friend, Michael McConnell, Courtney began #SocialSketch as a way of connecting with friends while sharing a drink and a drawing. Collaboration and community are the hallmarks of this movement. The drawings are small and artists are encouraged to sketch on each other’s work and share the results. #SocialSketch is a fabulous gathering idea — especially if you’re used to working alone, or mostly on client ideas, or have trouble arranging a time to see friends, like me. Besides the original San Francisco/Oakland group, Petaluma Social Sketch is the first other California chapter!

Rumor has it Courtney and hopefully Mike will also be at this first event, so come check out the first ever Petaluma #SocialSketch. Deets on the poster above. Spread the word and big thanks to John Crowley and Aqus Cafe for being our enthusiastic host! Come early and have dinner. Sketching starts at 6:30.

 

NickyOvitt_2015MarchCalendar_PunkLyricThis month, it’s two of my favorites in one. The 1979 Gang of Four song Natural’s Not In It, was used beautifully in the 2006 movie Marie Antoinette, directed by Sofia Coppola. A trailer featuring the song is here. Full song lyrics are found here.

I’ve chosen some favorite short phrases of punk song lyrics to flourishly illustrate these expressions that were of such importance to me and my generation. I’m calling the series #PunkLyric and offering them as free desktop calendar downloads each month. [see full explanation here]

Click image to download for your desktop and please enjoy… and, go discover some new/old music!

……………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Note: These cannot be used elsewhere or commercially. The artwork is mine and the lyrics are ownership of the original songwriters and bands. Artist and writer Emily McDowell explains the intellectual property copyright limitations for us really well right here.

Sunday night like so many people around the world we sat down to watch the Oscar Awards. This year our family had not seen many of the nominated films and Ramona’s favorite actress Jennifer Lawrence was missing but none-the-less we enjoyed the tongue-tied hosts welcoming the stars and hearing details about their fashion choices. But it must be said that I really missed Joan and Melissa Rivers. Joan watching from above, no doubt.

Here are some dresses inspired by gowns we saw on the red carpet. The second dress from the left on Ramona’s page is an EMOJI dress. Trend savvy, that one. The croquis are from a book purchased in 2012 at the Gaultier show in San Francisco. Here is a post from that time with more fashion designs by us.

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A little punk rock love song for this month of love. We’ve all been there, right? …Right?

February’s phrase is from the The Stooges’ classic, I Wanna Be Your Dog. This video is from their 2010 UK concert and powerhouse Iggy is 63 years old, YEAH! Note Minuteman co-founder Mike Watt on bass and the jazzy twist this version of the song takes. Full lyrics here, and some interesting tidbits about this 1969 classic from Wikipedia here.

I’ve chosen some favorite short phrases of punk song lyrics to flourishly illustrate these expressions that were of such importance to me and my generation. I’m calling the series #PunkLyric and offering them as free desktop calendar downloads each month. [see full explanation here]

Click image to download for your desktop and please enjoy… and, go discover some new/old music!

……………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Note: These cannot be used elsewhere or commercially. The artwork is mine and the lyrics are ownership of the original songwriters and bands. Artist and writer Emily McDowell explains the intellectual property copyright limitations for us really well right here.

I’ve been an avid reader of local journalist and author, Frances Rivetti since discovering her quite a few years back. She’s one of those people who’s name and good reputation you hear around town and in her case, someone I associate with the foodie crowd. Frances blogs at Southern Sonoma Country Life and writes a regular column for our local paper, The Argus Courier. She has a gift for capturing so well the human interest and local-ness of living in Sonoma County: quality, crafted and community-minded.

This past Spring, Frances contacted me to talk about her first book project. She had seen my Oh Petaluma tea towel and was assembling a local team to help with her Kickstarter book project which launched today!

Please consider supporting this Fog Valley Crush campaign. With Sonoma County stories, history, and recipes from this British transplant’s love for the area, Fog Valley Crush will make an excellent gift for anyone on your holiday list!

Lastly, when a client is someone so very nice, who likes what you do, and who’s dream you also believe in, it makes a project that much more tasty. My glass is raised to you, Frances! Congratulations!

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NickyOvitt_Zacatecas_LetteringLast year I did a lot more lettering— for both paying paying and personal work. These sketches were done on my recent trip to Mexico in November. In the same way that some artists keep a practice of a daily sketchbook, I have begun to letter almost daily. For me, it’s a relaxing way to create with my hands because I need minimal tools and it doesn’t involve the computer. More word work will be posted in my updated portfolio soon.

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Happy New Year, friends!

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As I enjoy my review of 2014 client work and events a personal project that was on the back burner all this past year comes to mind as something that’s ready to see the light of day.

The idea for this lettering work began in late 2013 when again I got to see my all-time favorite band, X play a show here in Petaluma. As hoped, that show was raw, intense, and the anything-is-possible feeling from my youth was re-ignited. In the late 70s and early 80s early punk and hardcore bands like The Clash, X, Gang of Four, Black Flag, T.S.O.L. and The Minutemen were writing songs to inspire, to call attention to social injustice, and to affect change. The poetry of a good punk song represents a DIY culture that proposed we could make a difference if we acted on our beliefs.

I’ve chosen some favorite short phrases of punk song lyrics to flourishly illustrate these expressions that were of such importance to me and my generation. I’m calling the series #PunkLyric Words to live by and I’m offering them as free desktop calendar downloads each month. This month’s phrase is from the Sex Pistols’ classic, God Save the Queen.

Click image to download and please enjoy… and, go discover some new/old music!

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Note: These cannot be used elsewhere or commercially. The artwork is mine and the lyrics are ownership of the original songwriters and bands. Artist and writer Emily McDowell explains the intellectual property copyright limitations for us really well right here.

A bit late for the holiday shopping season, but my 2014 limited-edition tea towels are now here! Fans of our sweet little town can find them in my Etsy shop as well as B St. Mercantile here in Petaluma. Prints of last year’s design are still available at B. St. Mercantile too.

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Busy times in the countdown to the New Year. Have a safe and happy holiday season! Click image to download.

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[Note: Photo collages below are formatted to enlarge when clicked.]

In February I attended the funeral of a good friend’s mom. She was a lovely, artistic lady who had a very full life before a long struggle with cancer claimed her life. Her funeral was held in our beautiful and grand Catholic Church in the center of town, called St. Vincent’s. The similarities of Mary Ann’s life and of my mom’s, Helen, are striking. As I sat there alone and reflected upon family and mortality, I kept wondering, In this life that is so unpredictable and short, what would my mom want from ME before the end?

There in the church pew I wondered: how to make the most of her time, my time, a lifetime. My mom’s own latest struggle with cancer last year kept her in a very sad but necessary place of only living only for today. The unknown future prohibited her from making future plans and “being with the living” as she once described it. All her energies were focused on healing and surviving. Of course!

Soon after that funeral, I asked my mom what she would want my help with. She described an upcoming trip to Mexico that was similar to a trip she took with her mom when she was around my age. With the recent passing of my grandma, my mom now decided to pay it forward and invite me on a similar trip. We had 9 months to plan.

For those of you who know my mom, you know what a fan of traveling she is. The Lucero gene to DO and SEE ALL THE THINGS runs strong in her. She’s an adventurous lover of different, excitement, and mind-expanding experiences! She would go on 5 big trips a year if her body would cooperate but with all she’s been through, she knows it’s not realistic for her to walk solo through crowded, uneven streets to try and keep pace with a busy tour group. As for me, I can admit to loving the part of travel once I’m at the destination, but I am not the best for airports, flying and the limbo of the in-between. However, THIS was what I could do for her, and as many friends said, what a gift— time with your mom alone, you will never forget or regret it! NickyOvitt_MexicoBlog1

My Instagram feed has some of the best photos I took on the trip.

On Nov. 5 we set out on our epic 14-day trip through central colonial Mexico. The tour was organized by the Spanish Colonial Arts Society based in Santa Fe. Our itinerary was: Querétaro (2 nights) > Jalpan (1 night) > San Luis Potosí (2 nights) > Zacatecas (3 nights) > Guanajuato (4 nights) > San Miguel de Allende (1 day) > Mexico City (3 nights) all via chartered coach bus and walking tours. This created a giant 1,035 mile loop on the map through these amazing and ancient places to experience Spanish Colonial cities, churches, art and architecture from the 1500’s and later. Our group numbered 31 and consisted of mostly retired and passionate history, art, architecture fans and collectors from Santa Fe. My mom already knew the guides as well as some of the other people she had traveled or worked with before so that was a bonus.

It took me at least 10 hours of phone calls, emails and organizing to put together the 3 page/3 week calendar for my husband and daughter to follow while I was gone. Carpool, after school dates, lessons, class and school commitments, so much to be recorded and an incredible commitment by my family and close friends to make this happen for my mom and me. I am so thankful.

It would be impossible to describe all that happened during this once-in-a-lifetime trip (and some should be kept as special memories between us only), but some of the things that stood out for me as true highlights and life lessons I’d like to carry with me into 2015 are described here.

LANGUAGE
Overall I feel like so many doors were opened to us because of my mom’s beautiful and fluent Spanish. Spanish was her first language and she’s maintained her skill even though I’d say 95% of her American day-to-day life is in English. Quite often we left the main group to do something in a town that was not on the schedule because of the security we felt by her being bilingual.

CULTURE
My mom and I were immediately struck by the lack of stress on people’s faces. In the evenings families and friends would gather at the local plaza and stroll. Families were enjoying each other’s  company, the community around them and nature. They may have had homework, housework and the business of life to get home to but for the moment, there looked to be nothing more important than enjoying each other’s company and going for a sunset stroll. This cost them nothing but a little time. My mom and I would have coffee and watch the parade of people, enjoying the evening air, holding hands, exchanging kisses and offering smiles and buenas noches to their neighbors. Their faces were not glued to cell phones, they looked up and out at the world around them. Their example was such a breath of fresh air.

The custom of saying buenos días, buenas tardes and buenas noches and de nada became a constant in our days. These phrases felt like a respectful, goodwill offering to a fellow human being. A connection that brings people together if only for a moment. I wondered more than once what would happen if only we could carry on this custom here in the U.S. Not just the usual “good morning” to people we know or want something of. But a buenos días that carries with it the implied REALNESS of: “Hey, I’m wishing you a good day! It is, right?”

NATURE
I was especially enchanted with the importance and maintenance of the gardens in each town’s plaza, church and public area. The natural world is a huge part of daily life in the towns we visited. In San Luis Potosí we must have walked to 10 or more beautiful plazas, often connected to a church. Each unique jardin with a life of it’s own: food and souvenir vendors, street musicians and performers, kissing couples, kids playing and dogs rough housing. The feeling is that to be outside, enjoying nature is not just a relaxing luxury but an important part of your day. It didn’t seem as though people were having to make time time to go to the park, they automatically had a date with the park as part of their day. We enjoyed beautifully manicured trees trimmed and shaped to create giant overhangs of shade, stunningly bright walls of bougainvillea, and a driver pointed out to us a gigantic poinsettia TREE in full bloom.

ART
Although this trip was ALL ABOUT ART this would be the one area I had to let go of. Right away I could see that there was going to be no way to fully absorb all that we would get to see in terms of unique, historical, mind-blowingly precious art. By the end of each day we had experienced visual overload! I also recognize that I have a very limited bit of my brain left for details and facts so I decided to enjoy what I was seeing via the photographs I took, but could not tell you the who/what/when/why of most of it. From town to town in the bus different people would take the microphone and generously share of their expertise in a particular subject. It’s a fascinating way to hear about a place. Looking out the window at the passing Chihuahuan desert listening to stories of the conquerors who traveled this very trail on the Camino Real all the way North to Santa Fe. Our fellow travelers were people who really know their stuff. From the process of getting a statue of a saint’s skin to look realistic, to little known facts about Pancho Villa, to archaeological work with local colleagues, to Mexico’s role in the world silver trade. So much to think about, shared by such thoughtful and educated people. I’m grateful for all they contributed.

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PEOPLE
Here I’ll try my best not to compare the Mexican people we met with Americans in generalizations. Again, because we had the luxury of my mom speaking the language, we enjoyed some of the most heartfelt interactions with people. Thoughtful, helpful and sincere conversations occurred over a simple request or mundane observation.

One of our days in Zacatecas was spent seeking food other than Mexican. We ended up at a beautiful hotel called the Quinto Real that was once a famous bullfighting ring. After our delicious spaghetti lunch we walked across the street to the lush “lovers park” where “2 go in and 3 come out!” and were taking our daily selfie when a young woman asked if we wanted her help taking our picture. That small exchange turned into a lovely evening spent getting to know her and her older sister who were also visiting the town. Our new friends were there to check out school and the younger sister’s English was quite good. They offered to walk us back to our hotel and we obliged; walking arm in arm, 2 by 2 we strolled along, Mexican-style. We discussed the student protest that was happening just ahead of us, education, novios and the contrasts between the United States and Mexico. As I questioned my new friend about why she would want to come back to the U.S. when life in Mexico seemed so bucolic, she noted her other family that were here and the opportunities that seem to come inherently with being in the U.S. I respectfully described how much happier people seemed in Mexico and what a shame it would be to take on the American lifestyle to which she did agree by saying that “In America people live to work and in Mexico we work to live.” We’ve all heard some version of this before but at that very moment she had nailed the feeling what we had been observing and enjoying in Mexico so far.

As described above, we were also in Mexico during protests to call attention to the 43 Mexican students who were mass kidnapped and disappeared in Iguala on September 24. Iguala is only 3 hours from Mexico City and protests of 60,000 people only 2 blocks from our hotel were planned on the Zocalo for the day we were to leave the airport. Some of us chose to spend our last night in Mexico at a hotel attached to the airport just in case (as reportedly would happen) the protesters shut down the airport on Thurs., Nov. 20. This was likely as that day is also Día de la Revolución. During the stress of the unknown and fear for our safety I wrote to my husband about “this horrid event.” Wanting sympathy, wanting to be assured. And this is from the email I received back from Roland:

“I’m not sure what horrible event you mean. If you mean the planned protest, please take a minute to remember why it is happening. 43 people were kidnapped, murdered and their bodies burned, put in trash bags and dumped in a river. Before that some of their compatriots were shot and one had his face cut off. All by, and under the auspices, of the police acting at the behest of the mayor of the town. All very horrible, but the tip of the iceberg of corruption and ties between politicians and drug gangs that has until now left the Mexican people in terror of making any protest for fear of the same thing happening to them. So this protest is ordinary people saying they’ve had enough of living with fear and corruption and being willing to die for change. This protest is human beings at their best.”

A reminder. That my personal inconvenience was one thing, but we are talking about citizens making a life in a country with a long history of corruption and violence. They must endure a military and government that are neither trustworthy or supportive. I’ll never forget standing by the lovers’ park in Zacatecas watching as a huge group of students and other supporters came over a hill chanting in unison. Statements of protest. Calls for responsibility and truth. Sharp whistles saying, “hear us now!” A young woman with a bandana covering identity ran to hand us a flyer. In Spanish, it was a poem calling for answers. She was running ahead of the crowd with such serious intent that her flyers would be taken and word would get out. But her face was covered. She had to fear for her own safety as she spoke up. It was chilling. The differences between our rights and theirs. The desperation of not knowing, wanting answers, living with the obvious criminality and injustice. That woman’s face was burned into my memory. That could be me, or you. Living that reality.

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TRAVELING
After the initial break-in period I really came to enjoy the alluring state of suspension that is the rhythm of traveling. While on this trip life for us got really simple. Not much to worry about, everything you own is all in one suitcase. What to eat? The choices were often quite limited so no need to over think it. Client projects? Phone bills? Everything of my U.S. daily life was on hold— and out of sight, out of mind.

This also applied to my family. For the most part we spoke or emailed every day but it was the first time I’d been away from my daughter for more than 3 nights and she’s 10 years old! At first the pull was very acute and even painful but it started to ease up for both of us as she relied more on Roland and I got to appreciate time with my mind for long uninterrupted periods again. They did fine without me, which was a relief and an eye opener.

I made an unexpected travel bestie and at the end of some days Ann and I would email each other from our hotel rooms about our observations or latest health updates, it was comic relief from the day and so fun to get to know the incredibly interesting folks on the tour like her. So many other really gracious people in our group will always be remembered by me. Both for their generosity towards my mom and me and for their genuine sharing of themselves and their experiences. I hope to visit them in Santa Fe on my next trip to the Southwest!

FAVORITES
You know those moments you won’t ever forget? Like they are seared into your brain as a moment in time like a picture you took yesterday? A moment you know will feel like déjà vu later. A few times my mom and I both recognized when these special events were happening and I think we’d both silently let them happen— knowing how very special it was, about to be stored for forever keeping.

The day we arrived in Zacatecas, my mom really wanted to take the Teléferico (tram) above the town. Even through both our apprehension, we knew we’d want to say we had done this famous ride in this city. We hailed a taxi and were driven to the low point headed towards La Bufa, the bluff that overlooks the town where my mom had been years before on another tour. The little glass box tram that would hold 6 comfortably travels high in the air— the ride is about 10 minutes and the view is incredible. If you think too hard about it, you won’t go, but we deemed it safe and had a thrilling private ride with the operator who spoke very good English and assured us of it’s safety and laughed at our slight squeals of excitement as we climbed higher and saw the entire town’s rooftops and laundry and freeways under us get smaller and smaller. My Instagram has a video of part of the ride.

Upon our arrival in the city of Guanajuato we were greeted by hoards of people on the plaza outside our hotel. It was a 4-day Mexican holiday and everyone was in a party spirit. We took a perch on a park bench to observe the Cervantes players, the street performers, and the Mariachi bands peddle their talents. As we were watching the people 2 young mariachi musicians kept staring at my arm. They started a conversation with my mom about tattoos asking if mine were real (they had not seen a woman with such a large tattoo that was visible). The charmer of the two then asked if we’d like a song— not something my mom would normally want to spend money on but I told her I wanted to pay for a song. They suggested a certain tourist standard to which she inquired about cost and said she’d really rather have a song by Mexican superstar crooner, Juan Gabriel. Suddenly, at least 8 other musicians were there, one even had a harp! A medley of Juan Gabriel heartbreak songs were then played for at least the next 5 minutes and we felt like queens! So romantic! So special! We topped off that night by buying flowers for our room from a street vendor and enjoyed the fragrance of tiger lilies for the next 4 days.

Another favorite was the day we spent with a private driver. It was our last day in Mexico City and we wanted to see as much as possible. A painful altitude-induced migraine had kept me down for our first 12 hours in the city. Our wonderful driver Ricardo arrived at our hotel at 10am and for the next 5 hours he drove us to the places we wanted to see most. Although his car was a nice VW sedan and not marked as a taxi he drove Mexico City road warrior-style with the best of them. I was never able to get a good video of the dance that is the Mexican way of city driving. There are no rules, lanes matter little, and the split-second decision-making and trust in other drivers is mind-boggling. We got to know “Carro” thoughout the day and in his tie and with his professional take-charge way he ushered us though a beautiful mercado in the neighborhood of Coyoacán where we found excellent handmade trinkets and tasted REAL molé you could eat by the spoonful. I had the best tostada of my entire life and washed it down with the freshest coconut juice! We also went to the Frida museum which was like mecca for us. To be at this beautiful blue house where this incredible artist had lived and created, if you believe in spirits, she is still there— as are her ashes. It was purely magical and again, the gardens were divine.

As simple as it sounds, another one of my favorite recurring themes was each evening spent in our room. My mom had told me we probably wouldn’t be going out to eat dinner every night with the group because of the lateness, darkness, and because we wouldn’t need it (she was so right after those big lunches). So we would wind down around 6:00 with our bottled water, Cheetos or leftovers, and enjoy the stillness of our room after a busy day. Often the only sound would be a nearby church bell sounding the time or issuing a call to mass. She would lie in bed with a novel and I would go through photos of the day, do a little Instagramming and we’d “be in the review” as my grandma used to say. We would usually shut the lights out early and were thankful for many restful nights of sleep given all the variations in rooms, beds and environments we experienced.

GIFTS
Although this was not a trip I’d probably seek out on my own it was a huge gift.

My digital and work life can tend to create an addiction to connection and sharing. Combined with my self-imposed stresses to move forward, achieve, grow, make, build, and do, my daily life is more often than I would like to admit a miserable mess of never-ending, self-consuming NOT ENOUGH. I really hope that I can continue to remember the important lessons learned from this rare chance to leave my life for a little while. We are NOT. ALL. THAT. The world is a big and mysterious place with much more important issues than whether I get my next promo postcard print job ordered or not.

By taking this trip I was taken out of the comfort zone of my structured daily life and provided the opportunity to see a-new. My perspective on the world and my life was expanded. My thoughts about others and myself were upturned and reassembled or some were thrown out altogether. By missing my family I gained a much needed re-set and re-appreciation. My admiration and love for my mom grew more than I thought possible. We made memories that I will always carry with me. We shared more than we have in many years. Thank you mom for this gift. You are a gift and by brave example have shown me the value of a life well lived!

POSTSCRIPT: I am pleased to say that at the beginning of this year with an “all clear” from her doctor, my mom has come out of the surviving phase and moved into thriving— she has taken 2 history classes, has plans to return to painting, works in her yard and continues to enjoy many dates with friends.

PS #2: I took over 1,000 photos and did a little sketching on the road. An upcoming post will have the lettering I created with images.

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It’s pie time to give THANKS! I’m back from Mexico and lots to share but for now, a better-late-than-never donkey desktop calendar. Click image to download.

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A year ago this month my mom was visiting and we ended up at the local hospital emergency room. She received the care she needed but during the long stay in the waiting room Ramona and I made busy with one of my favorite games from childhood, exquisite corpse. I have fond memories of my dad carefully folding a piece of paper from his small shirt pocket notepad to begin the collaboration. He, my mom and I would pass the paper around with tiny indicator lines to show where the next drawing should begin.

Inevitably, the suspense would begin to build as my dad would take a very long time with his drawing— this was serious business. What would this 3 part creature look like? Did we all draw a human or something else? Upon opening, the artists are rewarded with a fantastic surprise; the mix of drawing styles, the freaky surrealist advent of a unique collaboration. I wish I still had some of those original drawings.

As Halloween nears, I’m thinking an exquisite corpse just might be a great costume idea.

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MORE exquisite corpse examples:
My collaboration with I DREW THIS
Epic Exquisite Corpse
Artes Magazine ArticleJake and Dinos Chapman
Armitage Dance

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Yesterday I basked. In the glow of friendship. Literally, on my sunny porch steps in the middle of the afternoon, in the middle of an ordinary week, I basked in the heartfelt, sincere gift of a friend who really thought of me. JUST BECAUSE. A friend who just showed up to offer me a gift… of art. JUST BECAUSE. I’ve written about the importance of Cathe Holden in my life before. She’s someone I’m meant to know in this life and we get each other.

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Cathe created this piece. I’m touched beyond words. There is so much to love in here; the exquisite details are enchanting, the concept and craftsmanship are so wonderful. This sweet donkey even has a little glint in his eye and don’t forget the wrapping! The book text talks about George Washington’s donkeys and the stamps are George Washington, the date on the emblem is my birth year! So very personalized and the love she put into this really shows. From the text: “Long ago kings and rich men rode from place to place on donkeys. They were counted as part of a rich man’s wealth. They took part in the wars and in the grand processions after victories.”

And from my research: “George Washington received his donkeys from some notable sources. Royal Gift was a donkey that was gifted to George Washington in 1785 by Charles III, the King of Spain.”

When a friend shows up for you, she is ever more valuable in your life. A True Gift.
Thank you, Cathe Holden!

PS: And to really top it off, TOMORROW I get to spend the entire day at her Inspired Barn making this Luminary house and bottle brush trees! Sign up for her newsletter or a workshop, they are all that!

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Time for pumpkin spiced lattes and other tricky treats. Click image to download this month’s donkey desktop calendar.

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ALT TITLE: LONGEST BLOG POST EVER… (but worth it)

I’ve been invited by one of my very favorite children’s illustrators, Denise Holmes to join this giant artist’s blog hop. I don’t know the history of it but quick research gives me the idea it’s like a many years-long chain letter and you know how we don’t like to break THOSE… right?

First, I get to show off some Denise’s work. She reminded me that we met online on a freelancer board. I remember being so smitten by her drawings of little girls with incredible expressions, sweet scenes of daily life, and her really refined style. I would know Denise’s drawings ANYWHERE! This summer her second book was published called, If I Wrote a Book About You. It’s an award-winning, touching story with a forever mommy message and Denise’s way of combining words in her illustrations is no small feat. She is also a member of Happy Happy Art Collective, sells her illustrations on Etsy and The Ink Nest, and was a semi-finalist in the 2013 Lilla Rogers Global Talent Search. Oh, and I love this cute video she made. Last month I got to meet Denise as she traveled the west coast on an epic trip with her family. I know we’d hang out a lot if she lived nearby, but I’ll take whatever Niseemade I can get!

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Now I answer the requisite questions:

1. What Are You Writing/Working on?
This week I’m finishing some lettering work for packaging/drink labels, designing a friend’s brand and business cards, developing and drawing out new ideas for a 2015 tea towel, hand painting some cards I want to sell at a boutique downtown, and preparing long overdue packages and thank you mail.

2. How Does Your Work Differ from Others in Your Genre?
I guess the pen and ink technique that I use is a bit distinct. There are other blobby line artists but we all have a particular drawing style. I’d say I have a particular style in drawing elements (actual icons or people) but maybe not a signature look to my “characters” as that is somewhat new to me.

3. Why Do You Create?
Probably like a lot of folks I don’t have a perfect answer for that. My gut wants to say: “Because it has to come out!” Before going freelance this last time I used to hear artists say something to that effect and think, “Oh yeah, right.” But maybe now that I’m older and have more to say I can better relate. I’m very interested in the NEED to create. I would watch it in my parents, the endless ideas and shifting direction and focus, but they had incredible curiosity and I think that’s part of where the NEED comes from.

4. What is your creative process?
Think. Drive kid. Draw. Pick up kid. Get on Computer. Drive kid. Just joking! But in my days there is a certain amount I’ve learned to DO in short and concentrated spurts. And some weekends. When I get a project I almost always research what else is out there on the market that covers the same subject. For ideas, but also to avoid any comparisons or see what I don’t like. I have a small library of books that I use often but like most designers now, it’s Google the magic word combo. Then I always sketch out my ideas. Often, they are little thumbnails only I would be able to see any potential in— deciphering and getting my thoughts down to make room in my head for new ones. When I’m happy with an idea I enlarge the sketch to a size I know will work well with my pen and ink and then trace or refine the sketch by drawing it over and over. I will mark the best ones, scan them in the computer and then use Illustrator to fix/finalize and color the illustrations. In process, I like to show sketches to clients I know will be able to imagine where I’m going and who have selected to work with me based on a certain style. Other clients I just show the final product to and it’s a more efficient way to get the idea accepted.

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Next, 2 artists that I’ve been following for a while. I’m pleased to call them my online friends and share their work that makes you feel good: Roxy Marj and Amy Peppler Adams.

Roxy Marj is an artist I stumbled upon a couple years ago and has one of those very deep blogs that will take you down the rabbit hole of distraction for the rest of the afternoon. Roxy enjoys an outdoorsy life in Utah now after graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design. Like Denise, I think Roxy’s style is so incredibly strong. Her folky, native-inspired look is truly original and enchanting— not the least because she sees faces on everything. Her blog is where everything happens. On her blog you’ll find new product announcements, freebies, recipes, DIY and home projects, some philosophy and sincere life lessons. Part of what I really like about Roxy’s writing is that she’s always storytelling… little snippets of her day and chats with her sweet dog, Harley become animated happenings. Maybe this is because she spends a lot of time working alone, like me.

After one of my first real successes as a freelancer, I treated myself to her hand-painted bear blanket that I wrote about here. She also makes a brilliant lion version of this bear blanket using twisted fringe for the mane. In her shop right now are handmade totebags, cushions, banners, prints and accessory cases. Sadly for us, Roxy will be closing her Etsy shop at the end of December, so scoop up her beautiful goods while you can! Here is a link to her Society6 shop where you can find her gorgeous iphone cases. In the new year Roxy will be concentrating on some other important life work and children’s illustration. Roxy’s Instagram is also a good place to see her life. Good luck to you, Roxy! You’ve cheered my day many times… I’m very much looking forward to your next creation!

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Amy Peppler Adams of Penny Candy Handmade uses the tagline, Art  |  Craft  |  Vintage. Seattle-based Amy knows herself well and as a fellow child of the 70s and 80s this appreciation and vintage influence is clear. She’s been an entrepreneur since the age of 10 when she would sell things she made from her garage, like stickers and stationery, to buy penny candy!

I remember seeing Amy’s 2012 winning Spoonflower calendar and thinking just how very incredibly perfect it was, one of those; “wow— wish I had thought of that.” She’s a bit of a Spoonflower superstar with over 449 prints in her shop! I especially love Amy’s sense of color, the unexpected and well-researched themes and lighthearted retro fun in all her work.

Amy is also a co-author of Vintage Scratch & Sniff Sticker Collector’s Guide, a licensed fabric designer for Riley Blake, and sells her designs and goods through Etsy, Society6, and her very extensive Spoonflower shop. Recently, her Geekly Chic line for Riley Blake was chosen to cover the newest Rag and Bone Bindery albums. Her works have been published in Uppercase magazine, the Handmade Sewing book, and featured on some of your favorite lifestyle and design blogs.

Here is Amy’s Instagram link and check out the Penny Candy Handmade blog—it had me hooked early on with the rich resources of DIY crafts and design research and appreciation shares! Amy also sews and she’s been posting some great coin purse tutorials. Lastly, anyone who puts Charles Nelson Riley on their about page has my heart. It’s so nice to be your surface design pal, Amy! Continued success to you!

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The good month of September got even better as our house and my studio were featured in the November issue of Mollie Makes USA— out on stands now.

I am so thankful for this opportunity. Not the least because I took on the task of REALLY cleaning our house for the shoot. Since I wasn’t sure what they would want to focus on, I attacked every corner, cubby, and dust bunny for 2 weeks. It was a great chance to get some stuff out of here, take on little projects I had been wanting to do, and start fresh. During my obsessive revamp, my 10 year old daughter asked why I was working so hard and I explained that basically when she was born, everything stopped— we did only the necessary rearranging and upkeep to keep chugging along in life. This grand attention to the house has created a new slate and even if the magazine had called it off, I would have thanked them for getting me to the task.

There are a lot of other great reads and eye candy in this issue: an interview with Liberty Fabrics designer, Keighley Shepherdly, my buddy Cathe Holden’s Tartlet Tin Pincushion tutorial, and a tour of some cool spots to shop in Portland.

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In sending out promotions for Homestead I was enthusiastically greeted by the support of quilter, teacher, pattern maker, blogger and fabric designer extraordinaire, Pat Sloan. Pat is known as “the voice of quilting” and has been interviewing an incredible range of quilting-related guests since 2011! Her podcast guest list a giant quilting who’s who. Lately, I have enjoyed following Pat on Instagram and she REALLY IS as busy as that sounds— she’s on the road a lot and showing tons of new projects all the time.

Pat was intrigued by the story of Homestead came to be so she has invited me on her show to chat a little about the process of creating the collection. Next Monday, Sept. 15 at 4:00 pm Eastern, 1:00 Pacific time I’ll be speaking with Pat on the American Patchwork and Quilting Radio show. Please tune in live or subscribe to her podcast series and listen to it later. Thanks so much for the opportunity, Pat!

American Patchwork and Quilting Pocast Nicky Ovitt Sept 2014

Give peace a chance. September 21 is International Day of Peace. You can read about the history and planned world events like tree plantings and flashmobs here. Click on image to download this desktop calendar. #peaceday

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It’s a small world… with some big opportunities! My full entry to the 2014 Lilla Rogers’ Global Talent Search. Although I didn’t make it into the top 50, I’m glad I pursued it and really like what I experimented with for this challenge. So, as my great redhead friend Susan says with gusto: “ONWARD!”… and as Lilla says in her video, consider entering next year, the growth will be evident.

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This month, along with a couple juicy lettering and illustration projects in process, I’ve created a piece to submit to the Lilla Rogers Global Talent Search. Lilla is a renowned illustrator, teacher, mentor, author, and artist’s agent studio owner. This contest will earn someone 2 years of representation (!) and a host of licensing and other “prizes.” A connection with Lilla’s well-connected, hip studio with it’s stable of unique and talented artists is a common aspiration for so many of us looking to license work. One of her oft-quoted phrases which sums up her philosophy of creating art for the licensing world is: “PEOPLE BUY YOUR JOY.” I understand this to mean; make from the original expression that we all are and the delight in your work will be evident and enticing.

Last year was Lilla’s first time running the course, Make Art that Sells and the subsequent GTS contest. By all accounts, both were a huge success and growth experience for so many of my artist and illustrator friends. But this time last year my heart and mind were with my mom. I had traveled to New Mexico to cheer her spirits and lift her up from the daily ordeals of chemo treatments so needless to say, my hopes and wishes were of a different nature.

This year my mom is in remission! For quite a few months now! And she’s well and I had the time and desire to enter the Global Talent Search! OH JOY! I’ve been back to prepping my art and website to approach agents in earnest. I don’t know if I’m 100% ready, but more and more I can see where forward movement without perfectionism is what I need to accomplish. Ready or not, maybe I’m ready.

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I really enjoyed the extensive 13-page brief and Lilla is indeed inspiring in her words and art direction of what to consider. The theme for Round 1 of the GTS contest is “Little Terrariums” and the market is wall art—for adult or children. The requirements also specify a hand-lettered word or phrase.

My first wording idea was “Room to Grow” but that’s pretty much the opposite of what’s going on in a terrarium so I nixed that. A few of my initial sketches and inking are here. I knew I wanted to include a little gnome or gnome home and a fairy girl with some cactus illustrations I had been developing for my next fabric line with Clothworks felt the most right— after all, I’m a high desert girl at heart. I took my time developing the concept and changed final details over a few days time as I encouraged myself to imagine it as a piece of art for mass sale. I’m pleased with the final result and it feels monumental to have accomplished this delayed goal.

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The gallery of 999 entries and my final submission goes live on Tuesday, Aug. 26th. 50 artists will be chosen to move to the next round, then culled to the final competitors for assignment 3.

I had so much fun with this project and I know I’ll be in awe of the other entries with their fascinating, varied solutions to the same theme. Below is a sneak peek of my final submission. Good luck to everyone who entered! MAY THE JOY BE WITH YOU!

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One of my early jobs for Speedo was a SMU (special make-up) for Target’s 2014 learn-to-swim kid’s products. This project came in around the holidays of 2012 and my assignment was 20 spot prints— 10 each for boys and girls. In two weeks I created some of my favorite private label work to date— I love designing for the youth market and the team at Speedo is really great to work with. One of my favorite girl’s options was on a black background and I was really rooting the design, but I was reminded that we’re not quite there yet with consumers. I know *I* would buy it, and some of my more stylish mommy friends would too— but this needs to appeal to the larger demographic, so when it came to the final color-ups we stuck with brights.

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The process consisted of research and illustration, idea/sketch approval, color way suggestions and revisions, and the creation of mood boards. I then applied the final designs to product CADS, designed prints, and chose fabrication and stitching details.

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The final choice for girls ended up being this sketchy, doodle-y, floral— colored up in a Lilly Pulitzer-inspired palette. Internal design changes, production requirements, and factory timing can all influence the final outcome so these look a bit different from the last time I saw them, but I’m thrilled with the collection and it was a real thrill to see them at my local Target store! Check back for more job/process updates or follow me on Instagram, which seems to be my preferred social media tool of the moment!

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Back to school time. Are you book smart or barn smart… or both? Click image to download the calendar for your desktop.

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I dunno what will happen for 2015, but for now I’m still on the donkey trail, so to speak. My love for donkey images and art have brought some lovely gifts into my life that I wanted to share.

1 ||  The first you see here being a painting by my incredibly talented friend, Ginny Hautau of Urban Cowgirl Design. Ginny absolutely floored me when this sweet little painting was dropped off after one of our epic coffee chats. The product maker in me is dying for her to get these licensed for wall art or to sell on Sundance! She also has a way with home design— look her up. I was very touched to receive this treasure and feel blessed by her friendship all the time.

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2 ||  You may know my mom is an oil pastel artist and when I visit New Mexico we usually get together with one of  her pastel friends named Sally Prince. When Sally heard about my love of donkeys, she gave me this adorable miniature in sunflowers that I framed for my desk. She also sent me this card with an image from a painting she did a while back. Aren’t these so full of personality?

NickyOvitt_Donkeyblog_SallyPrince3 ||  These next two images are from Katherine Dunn of Apifera Farm in Oregon. She is an accomplished illustrator who runs a farm of rescued “misfit” animals and earlier this year I supported her 2nd Kickstarter campaign to publish another book seen here on the right. It’s a gorgeous publication and I have yet to read it but I’m so happy to have these unique donkeys in my life. The original drawing (with hair bow) has yet to be framed, it was a mother’s day present from my husband who appreciates a good gift hint. Originals like this can be found at Katherine’s Etsy shop.

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4 ||  Choreography! This poster was a present from one of my oldest friends who attends Sundance Film Festival every year. Robin said this award-winning short film was fantastic and she went through some pretty great effort to get me this poster. Not only is she always thinking of what someone else might like for a “prezzie,” she WRAPS said gifts in the most beautiful ways— almost too cool to open. Robin is a prolific collector and master of assemblage. She will be announcing some beautiful assembled art boxes for sale soon so I’ll update you on that when it happens. Her graphic design work and blog can be found at 314Gallery.

5 & 6 ||  These two books were gifts to myself. Our local library has a children’s book sale every few months. If you’ve never read the story of Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, you should request it from your local library— it’s quite philosophical and deep: “Oh how I wish I were my real self again.”

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About 20 days late but Independence is always something to celebrate! Click on the image for this month’s downloadable desktop calendar.

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NickyOvitt_Homestead_Collection1 It doesn’t get more real for me than to have actual strike-offs in my hot little hands. Last week I got to spend a little time with these babies! I’m so thrilled with the color correctness as some of the blues and greens were undoubtedly challenging to mix according to my *paper* color palette. Candice at Clothworks agreed that the factory pretty much nailed it— an uncommon treat to receive in a first pass!

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On Friday I gained a new (updated) respect for photographers and other fabric designers I know who shoot their own product images. SO. NOT. EASY. I was using a borrowed tripod to attempt complimentary or matching perspectives, but the ga-zillion-and-three angle settings and DIY rubberband set-up I had going made me end up free-styling it for now. The strike-off swatches are small but it was so fun to mix/match/arrange like my favorite quilters do. You can see each print and colorway in the in the licensing area of my site here.

In the coming weeks I’ll be sending out Homestead news to quilt and design blogs. And until I learn to sew properly, I also have plans to post some project mockups for fun. Follow me on Instagram to find out when new posts are up.

NickyOvitt_Homestead_Collection33If you haven’t read the story of the Homestead, you can find it here. Thanks to Madeleine & Ellen from The Printed Bolt— you’ve been so encouraging. Thank you to Candice and Joyce at Clothworks— I’m extremely pleased with this partnership and their guidance!

Homestead fabric will be available for purchase from Clothworks this Fall.

Lastly, this collection is inspired by, and dedicated to, ALL hard working women… especially the one who faithfully supports my career and life decisions… my mom.

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Today I am writing a post that I imagined almost a year ago. My fabric dreams have come true and I’m happy to announce that I’m a licensed designer with Clothworks Fabric in Seattle. My first collection is called Homestead. This was a design that I originally conceived for The Printed Bolt’s contest, Repeat(ed.) The challenge was “Tools of the Trade” and my inspiration and design story behind the collection can be found here.

As my first licensing deal, I’ve learned that this process can take quite a bit of time. From compiling the ideas, to creating new non-directional coordinates and reworking colors, to debuting the line at market, and then on to promotion… and we’re not even talking about sales yet! It’s been a great learning experience and I’m hopeful that my local quilt shop, The Quilted Angel will carry a bit of Homestead as that would bring the entire process full circle!

Clothworks has been wonderful to work with and I’m very pleased with how the collection came together. I was also happily surprised to find some sweet projects mocked up appropriate to the Homestead theme. I look forward to sharing some projects of my own real soon, and if you make something with Homestead I would love to see a photo. Until then, oh happy day!

Daddies can teach so many great things! Click to enjoy this month’s downloadable desktop calendar.

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I will admit that much of the week I prefer to exist in a current events blackout. World news and the way it’s reported can be very depressing and cause me to feel so hopeless.

However, as a daily NPR listener, I have been following the plight of the kidnapped schoolgirls and their distraught families in Nigeria. As a mother to a young girl it’s just horrific to imagine.

Illustrators Rebecca Bradley and Janna Morton started an excellent Tumblr project to help bring attention to the story. Women illustrators were invited to create a flower for a missing girl and post it to Blooms of Nigeria. In their words: “But though the stark numbers are powerful, it’s important to remember that each of these girls is an individual, with a family, friends, dreams — and a name. ” I spent much of today lovingly drawing this flower for you, Ladi. Wherever you and your classmates are, my hope is with you today. Bless you, and come home safely to continue your dreams.

If you want to help, you will find excellent suggestions here on Girl Rising. (Girl Rising is also a movie I highly recommend.) #bringbackourgirls

Ah… May! The month of last minute school projects, prepping for summer break and TRADESHOWS! The booth designs, promo card parades and jittery blogs are up and I’m following like a true sports fan!

Since refocusing on my illustration work almost 3 years ago, each year I’ve dreamed of attending Surtex and the National Stationery show in NYC. Add to that, Spring QUILT MARKET is happening in Pittsburg this very same weekend… and I have a fabric line to see! News and peeks of the collection will come later this summer.

With all the online hubbub pulling on my heart strings I asked myself: “Instead of feeling like you’ll never get there, what would you make if you were attending Surtex this year?” And this #SurtexDreaming promo was born… it’s all about intention, baby! And, donkeys!

I’ve added new projects and mock ups to my website. Most work in progress and other fun finds I post on Instagram. If you see something of interest, let’s connect!

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For those of you exhibiting/attending Surtex for the first time, or as a seasoned pro, I wish you  great success and fun! Here are a few folks (and some friends!) you may also want to follow throughout the events:

SURTEX: Elizabeth Olwen  |  Kathy Weller  |  Josephine Kimberling  |  Stephanie Ryan  |  Lauren Minco  |  Brittany Holland  |  Dinara Mirtalipova  |  Denise Holmes  |  Brandi Powell  |  Sarah Hudock  |  Alex Columbo  |  Amy Schimler-Safford  |  Bari J.  |  Ana Davis  |  Happy Happy Art Collective  |  Forest Foundry  |  Dotty Wren  |  Lilla Rogers Studio  |  Pink Light Studio  |  Meehan Design Group  |  Monica Lee, SCW   NATIONAL STATIONERY SHOW: Emily McDowell  |  Claudia Pearson     QUILT MARKET: Penguin & Fish  |  Pat Sloan  |  Jennifer Paganelli    |  Bonnie Christine  |  Cotton + Steel

This month’s calendar brought to you by your biggest fan. Luv your mum! Click to download for your desktop.

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Donkey wants to be a bunny. Happy April Fools Day! Click to download this month’s desktop calendar.NickyOvitt2014_AprilCalendar

Happy to report I’ve been spotting many of the caps I did for Speedo out on the market now. Like this little mer-girl. You can see some of the new designs in my updated projects here.

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I’ve got a few very important donkey related things to share but this one is the most time-sensitive. I’ve been a fan of artist, author and animal lover, Katherine Dunn of Apifera Farm since discovering her artwork on Etsy and posting about my early donkey obsession a while back.

Katherine rescues “misfit” animals and lives a charmingly simple and creative life near Portland, Oregon. She’s got a magical story to tell and her KickStarter project to fund the printing of her third book comes from a deep love and desire to share her personal experience. Please take a few minutes to read her dear and humorous writing— (FAQs too.) Her animals have people names, dreamy things happen and pie is celebrated! And to seal the deal, one of the backer gifts is a copy of the book— what could be better? Don’t delay, support the arts today and let’s help her give it wings!

BRAY BRAY, Katherine! You inspire.

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Art ©Katherine Dunn.

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For tha love of ya! Click to download ye donkeys and shamrocks. NickyOvitt2014_MarchCalendar

Have you ever wanted to say this to your Valentine? Are you the type that takes your love interest hostage? Well whomever or whatever is your sweetheart, plant a big sloppy one on them today. NickyOvitt_BeMine

One of my favorite love songs of all time: Silly Girl by the Descendents

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Since the beginning of the year many people I know, including myself, have had that low-grade whah whah feeling. The holiday and New Year’s hope have lost their shine and now it’s like the day after your wedding. Whah Whah. The party’s over, what now? Add to that a drastic drought here in California and everyone just wants a CHANGE. Stop this doomsday weather!

Our little town enjoys a fairly high standard of living but lately I’ve been seeing more homeless people and also those whom I call travelers. When I was a kid my mom was known to invite a traveler to the house for a bath and hot meal before they headed out on their way again. I have never forgotten a man in Dallas who warmly serenaded us with his guitar one evening after dinner. I was only about 5 and didn’t understand the grown-up talk but it was clear this meant a lot to him. Basic human kindness.

The other day my husband and I were driving somewhere when we saw a tall, bearded man with kind eyes and a leather patchwork jacket on a street corner. He held a sign that said simply: “Poverty.” His expression was almost happy, but he did not seem high and was far from downtrodden. It was just a statement. As often happens, we held out a couple bucks. He took it and thanked us graciously. Then as we pulled the car forward he turned the sign and showed it to us. It read: “Grateful for Everything.” Tears welled up inside me.

Yesterday the weather finally brought rain… a cold, constant flow of much needed miserable weather. Yay, the chain had been broken! It was the perfect day to stay in the warm house with our potato chips and watch the football game. Driving back from the grocery store my husband and I again saw the traveler. He was standing at a different corner and his face, jacket and sign were soaked. Wind and rain swirled around him but again he was smiling. Again we gave him a couple dollars and wished him luck. As we drove away he turned the sign which now read: “Grateful for Rain.”

This stranger has touched me and I am grateful.

Time to show the love. Another downloadable desktop calendar. Do something sweet for your sweet this month, and how about do something kind for someone you don’t know too? xxx

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Gosh golly what happened to the month? I’ve been plugging away at future plans and products. Many client projects will be out on the market this year so I’m excited to see final results! …And I’m still basking in the memory of precious time with my mom and family in New Mexico over Christmas. Here’s a little visual wrap-up.

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1. Indian fabric. Pillowcase at my 94 year old grandma’s house in Santa Fe.
2. Sunrise at Albuquerque airport… nothing like the skies of New Mexico.
3. Plans for this personal lettering project. Loving Instagram.
4. Mom’s pet roadrunner in her front yard! Really, there are two and they live in the cypress trees.
5. Poster for the movie Choreography, a documentary short my friend Robin saw at Sundance.

A downloadable donkey desktop calendar to celebrate the new year. May our 2014 goals be met or at least learned from, may we have time for self and family, and may we carry forth in daily gratitude and peace.

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roxy marj bear blanket

A while back I discovered this incredible artist. I was a bit obsessed as her blog goes way back and she’s pretty prolific in the posting department. You can REALLY get to know her. Roxy Marj (aka RomaWinkel) is much more than an adorable name. Her artwork has so much personality, filled with unusual characters, telling imaginative stories; perfect for children’s books! She shares her keen philosophical mind and I feel like she was given a very different set of eyes. She can also make a charming face from anything.

When I received a long awaited check this summer I purchased this Bear Baby Blanket from her Etsy shop. She also makes a Lion and a Tiger but the Bear was my first choice since my given name used to mean Bear. This is how we’ve displayed the bear in our bedroom. COZY and HAPPY.

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NickyOvitt_paris1I have been blessed with some very long term friendships. Like from Art School days… like when a certain friend used to wear parachute-material genie pants and Boy George was still a big deal. My girl Robin is a gifted and generous friend. I’ve laughed harder with her than anyone I know. We’ve shared secrets, epic trips to Mexico, art, and the art of growing up.

Besides being, or maybe because of being a great assemblage artist, Robin has got a fine eye for design and collecting: her Haight/Asbury home is filled with treasures arranged ever so cleverly. The first time you visit it’s hard to hold a conversation because you want to just explore! She should be featured in Covet Garden, Apt. Therapy or Design*Sponge. So I tell her that… all the time. You might find her there one day.

She is also a champion bargainer and culture queen. I like to say you could drop her in the middle of any foreign country with 10 cents and she’d make friends plus have everything she needed by nightfall.

Robin is always sending fun packages of random stuff for all of us, we just love the surprises and it’s hard to keep up with the thank you cards! These are but a few of the wonderful momentos she picked me up on her recent trip to France. The book translates to: “Play in the Drawing!” …ooh I love that! It looks to be from the early 50s and I adore the inky floral cover pattern. The black catalog is from contemporary decor designer, Angela Adams whom I did not know about before, earthy patterns and mod furniture.

Our family will miss Robin over the holidays but look forward to her next trip to “the country” to see us. Thrifting, yard sales and pedicures await. Word has it this gal has some other surprises to unleash on the world. Get ready… she’s got the goods!

UPDATE: Robin’s site is now live, check it out!

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Florals and Butterflies!

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NickyOvitt_2014DonkeyTowelSummmerThese two towel designs are now available at my Spoonflower shop! You can order them on any fabric but this design is sized for the Kona Cotton fat quarter: 18″ x 21″— you get to sew up/trim as you like. They also make nice wall hangings with some pom pom dress-up.

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SFPapelI’m back-blogging about this wonderful workshop given a while back by my online pal Tiffanie Turner of SF Corner Blog. She’s always posting great art and brilliant recipe/inventions for her ongoing 101 Donut Pan Project. This year she began showing these gorgeous, really giant paper dahlias and peonies. Check that scale with the daisy!
When Tiffanie offered to share her craft at a Makeshift Society workshop I jumped at the chance. The evening was a perfect blend of relaxing girl time and floral fantasy. The idea was to make a holiday head dress which most students did beautifully but I ended up liking my petit bouquet which now lives in a little bubble vase I had at home.
If you ever get a chance to learn from Tiffanie go for it. You can also find her range of paper creations at her SF Papel Etsy store.

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Yesterday was a big one as I finally opened an Etsy shop for my one product; a tea towel that celebrates my town’s rich agricultural heritage as the “Egg Capitol of the World,” with a nod to the urban farming revival. These 100% cotton towels are approximately 20″ x 27″ with a hanging loop on the back. They are very nice quality and I’m packaging them up with some cute details for gifting. Making a product, creating a store and all the technical challenges involved were daunting to my overloaded brain, but today I can happily report: hurdles and self doubt— overcome! Lastly, I’m most proud that 10% of each sale will be donated to Mentor Me Petaluma, a local non-profit that provides mentors for kids! I’ve always wanted to help this organization.

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In other local news, the Petaluma Star website, branding, and a printed piece for the Petaluma Economic and Development Department were launched last week. For the past year I’ve been collaborating with an incredibly talented group of local freelancers from all different disciplines called The Petaluma Design Guild. The PDG was hired by the city to create this work and every Monday afternoon we’ve met, gotten to know each other, had respectful debates, and been assigned tasks. All of which has culminated in this incredible tool kit! It’s been a true labor of love for everyone. For me, it’s also been an unparallelled learning experience. Although I’ve worked at design firms, I’ve never had in-house agency-type experience, nor been a part of such a long-term and involved identity project. A good article can be read here. Follow Petaluma Star news on Facebook here. Today I’m giving a shout out to my most-respected fellow Guilders: YOU ARE ALL STARS TO ME!PetalumaStarWork

timeWell, I probably should not title this entry as such— I lost my original 2+ hours of writing on this topic so I’m resurrecting it now. Upon hearing of the loss, a friend of mine said: “maybe it was not to be,”…  but something still inspires me to write about this topic. I think there may be more of us.

Since this summer I’ve slowly begun to examine my dissatisfaction with my work life (im)balance. In life matters I have never been one to sit still plagued by indecision or frozen by fear. Until a time about 5 years years ago. In 2011 I had been working at the same company for 9 1/2 years. I excelled at the job, had benefits, decent hours and pay. It was SAFE… but I was completely burned out on design. These are some of the thoughts that kept me there: “What if I left and had to work weekends and couldn’t spend as much time with my family?” and “What if I couldn’t afford to buy xyz?” Well, nothing changes if nothing changes. I finally left, and without a solid plan for supporting myself or contributing to my family. However, finally the trust in myself had returned and I was willing to accept whatever presented itself. It was pure faith. Now I work almost every weekend, and yup— I usually can’t afford xyz.

From somewhere I have been blessed with a very strong work ethic— most likely from my mom who is one of the most educated and hardest working people I’ve ever known. So, for better or worse I am driven to succeed. Often way past a reasonable place and into a very uncomfortable area known as THIS MUST HAPPEN. Major plans, lists on paper, lists in my head, small things to research, companies to contact, it’s absolutely mind-boggling. And can be quite disheartening.

My work-week responsibilities include freelance projects, building and promoting my “brand,” and the never-ending tasks of motherhood. I’m fortunate to have wonderful clients and excellent, creative jobs but I am a tyrant of a boss to myself. Never enough, girl! Those lists are looming. I fit in work between driving Ramona and other family duties— it’s the double shift. Much has been written on that topic so I won’t bother— you know what I mean. We moms are running around breathlessly exclaiming: “I’m *SO* BUSY!” You know, the kind of “busy” with the subtext: “And don’t even try to make a plan with me.” Um, guilty.

My fragmented work hours, drive for professional success and habitual comparison have most often resulted in a veil of resentment and misery. I have found myself looking at another artist’s work I admire, and almost before anything else thinking: “Well she must not have a kid.” Or: “Maybe if I had started this earlier or not had a kid I could do all these things so much better/fully.” Sad, huh? Yes, this is a confession.

But the fact is, I DID choose to have a child and I would not trade that incredible gift for anything else in the world. Women friends who have been here remind me: you will not get this back— time with your lovely, perfect daughter is irreplaceable. Thank you, Jeannene. The other fact remains that my work hours ARE limited. But I don’t want my life to be a race or competition. I don’t want to be in a state of feeling continuously behind and lacking in peace of mind.

In the past few months I have taken steps to re-examine and re-rank my priorities. In acknowledging I will not be able to do it all I am occasionally rewarded with a bit of balance and calm. This feeling is fleeting and I am hoping that with more practice it will be the new norm and take over that huge ego-fed dream of MoreMoreMORE. I need to be tolerable to those around me. What good is success if there is no one to share my joys with? This has become a return to gratitude. Appreciating what is. Period.

Our family’s reality is that we are a self-employed, healthy, happy, family living in safety and comfort in a beautiful and privileged part of the world. WE. HAVE. EVERYTHING. WE. NEED. The rest— is grace.

Can you relate? Please share your sanity saving tips with me.
From desperate to hopeful, articles I’ve come across in the last 6 months:

Maxed Out.
Becoming your own number one client.
NOT crazy busy.

++++++ + + please sign up for my mailing list + + ++++++

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Mind you I live in Northern California so much of what I’m about to reveal can be excused by this fact. Lately friends have been hanangling me about my donkey obsession and wanting to know if it is my spirit animal. Well, I dunno about all that, but I do know that they keep popping their furry square noses all up in my bizness. So maybe they are choosing ME to be their totem!

Spirit animal wisdom advises you to remember the animal you had a connection with in your childhood. A little secret: before I was Nicky I was another name. It meant polar bear. It was a VERY hippy name to grow up with and obviously I tired of explaining it. I never related to the bear as he gave me so much grief.

Now as an adult, my little family is involved with horses and the equine bug has bitten us all. A little about the magic of donkeys from this site:Donkey, Power Animal, Symbol of Intelligence, Dedication: The donkey is an indefatigable worker and personifies the qualities of determination and service to others. They have a deep dedication to the universe/All That Is. Donkeys are willing to take on the responsibilities and burdens of others. Mastering the art of saying no, and being accountable for yourself and your own well being is a life lesson. …they trust, respect and listen to their own intuitive senses.” All That Is. I like that.

This Sundance catalog came to the house recently and hubby bought me this beautiful necklace on Etsy too. Here are just a few other nice donkey gifts from Etsy.

1. Donkedermy… feel free to buy me this after you win the lottery.
2. Oregon artist Katherine Dunn is a fellow donkeyphile.
3. Lots of other nice animals at this UK shop where the necklace came from.
4. 1950s pull toy.
5. Lynn’s Fun Creations totem bookmarks.

A while back I posted about a beautiful children’s book sent to me by my friend Lori. As promised, here are some of my favorite spreads. I love the about page; up front and center. Like movie credits before the show. It’s a sweet tale of a little Susan’s imaginative dress-up game and her mom’s playful spirit to play along. Note dad’s hipster cool butterfly chair and pipe! Yup, that’s how they rolled in the 60’s. IsSusanHere1

IsSusanHere7 IsSusanHere2 IsSusanHere3 IsSusanHere4 IsSusanHere5 IsSusanHere6

schooldesign1I know my designer friends will relate to this: sometimes the most fun work is pro-bono. I do a fair amount of graphic work for my daughter’s newly established charter Montessori school and the free-to-do-what-ever-you-want nature of the projects always allows for great freedom— and a very appreciative “customer.”

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”  ― Winston Churchill

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My work for Speedo now showing up online and in stores. This was one of my favorites from the Spring/Summer 2013 collection. ©Speedo. More designs are in my portfolio.

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I so must share this morning’s obsession ASAP. A website called: The Kid Should See This. Although I’ve just scratched the surface, this would have been the PERFECT addition to my (somewhat lacking) childhood education. Thank goodness I’ve now found it… also feeds my space infatuation. This beautiful video by Fabio di Donato is just one of the incredible snippets of what you can find there.

I’m thinking that Ramona should be required encouraged to watch or read one article per day and report back to me. Uh, yeah— use the ipad for some good now! She and I were fascinated by the International Space Station tour given by NASA Commander, Sunita Williams, on her final day before returning to earth. How great is that? Yup, a WOMAN commander! This hair washing in space lesson was also pretty fun.

 

NickyOvitt_DonkeyPresentSo, I’m not sure what started the obsession but possibly it was an attempt to have an equine interest of my own since my daughter has been horseback riding and now (horse) vaulting for 3? years. I’ve come to know (read: be not terrified of) these tall creatures with mysterious thoughts and somewhat unnerving stares. Eyore aside, donkeys have a certain intelligence and calming effect. They are companions to nervous horses and can protect flocks of sheep! Maybe they are not just stubborn but full of gumption! In Sonoma County there is a house with at least 6 mini donkeys in the front yard. Sometimes I park outside the fence and make little cooing and cawing noises at them. Yes, really.

About a year ago I fell in love with this little ceramic donkey at my friend Lori’s etsy shop, yosalvovendo. She lives in Coeur D’alene, Idaho and has wonderful taste— plus the prices are right! Donkey number 1 became my little desk friend. Soon after, I created this tea towel calendar for Spoonflower and they asked to use it as one of their booth giveaways at QuiltCon 2013. Yay, donkey. A few months go by and a friend gives me a donkey pulling a wire wagon. Then I find a friend for donkey 1 at a thrift store in Albuquerque. Donkeys also found their way into my new identity.

Fast forward to last month. Ramona and I went to New Mexico to spend time with my mom. She’s been ill but was well enough for a little tourist trip to Santa Fe and Taos. (This was a very special trip with a happy outcome and I’ll post more about it soon.) So, our family likes to joke. And to keep joking… and you know how tweens really don’t like these long-running, repetitive references? Well, that means we do it more. My husband is the king of (you got it!) beating a dead horse. So, on this little adventure I began to see donkeys. Well, yes– a southwestern icon. So, I started to document all the donkeys I found along our travels. And the jokes became; “Yes, but are there donkeys?” “Seen any donkeys there?” “Oh, not worth it, no donkeys.” You get the picture. It was me joking, and my mom and Ramona rolling their eyes.

So below are just a few of the donkeys we came across. While visiting the incredible Chimayo weaving shop of Irvin and Lisa Trujillo of Centinela Traditional Arts, we were introduced to Lisa’s super sweet donkeys; Bunny (mom) and Skibunny (daughter.) They are standard donkeys and she used to race them with a cart. Lisa also took us to see the mammoth donkeys but they were so overwhelming I wasn’t able to take my eyes away long enough to pull out the camera. I was actually a little afraid for a moment; they have gigantic heads and one was REALLY up in my personal space. In the evenings I had lots of time to myself so I got the Pinterest bug and created this board of donkeydom.

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Now imagine my return to California. I’m happy to be home. Mail, messages, oh, a package! Lots of mail but must open package. And what is there? The most incredible doe-eyed, mohawked donkey from that same sweet friend, Lori. And a note. And a book. And she says she’s enjoyed reading the blog. Someone reads the blog? Are there donkeys? This little guy was such a wonderful welcome home. Donkronicity. I see my a growing drove in my future.

I am thankful to be home, to have lifelong friends who care about me and to have just a tiny little mini obsession that is affordable and makes my family crazy.

NickyOvitt_ yosalvovendo

 

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Desert Mesa by Dr. Helen Lucero  (mom)

It’s been a month (!) since I was eliminated from The Printed Bolt contest so the sting has faded. Although I was disappointed to no longer participate, I have reminded myself that one of the main reasons I entered was to LEARN— a benefit of which I received IN FULL. With each new challenge another way of seeing and designing opened up for me. With each judge score sheet I was encouraged to explore something new or to consider a different aspect of fabric design for quilting that I needed to improve upon. Scale, density, direction and color were common themes with the judges, many of whom are accomplished quilters, so they consider a fabric for their very specific end-uses and cut-ability.

The same week I found out I would not be continuing in the contest, I saw my good friend Cathe at a book signing for Rosette Art, her gorgeous project book for Chronicle Books. Her response to my disappointment in being eliminated; “There’s a reason this is happening, and it’s because there are other great plans for you.” Bless her and I know she didn’t just say it to be nice. What a down to earth and settling comment, the unknown fills me with peace.

A proper thank you to Ellen and Madeline of The Printed Bolt— you’ve created something really wonderful in Repeat(ed) and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to design for the contest. I do hope we meet again. Best of luck to the final four; you’ve all shown great innovation, desire and talent!

Recent themes: There is discovery, there is hard work, there is passion, there is hype… and there is life. The kind I need to show up for. To be there for those who are close and dear to me and suffering.

May we enjoy hopeful days with heaps of perspective.

I’ve finally gotten around to making a mark for myself that I’m much happier with. Most folks I know agree that this is one of the most difficult (and should be one of the most fun), tasks as a designer. Are you loving donkeys yet? You can find more on my Pinterest page.

I’m also very pleased with my new Moo.com stickers. The website has undergone some minor tweaks and NEW CLIENT WORK will be up within the month! Progress, not perfection. Now what can I put my first sticker on?

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Some mod and tribal geometrics… interestingly, all found on the same trip.

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It’s so fun to see how everyone in this contest thinks and their views from all over the world. We’re down to 6 designers. Here is the my latest entry and you can find everyone’s patterns (and vote) here.

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I was inspired by Gennine to make this desktop calendar for you from a recent design I created for “The Farm Show” at the local Heebe Jeebe gallery. Click on image to download large version.

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Yet another great theme and showing by my fellow contestants! Challenge 2 Tools of the Trade was posted today and it’s always fun to see how different designers interpret a theme and make it their own in style. Sometimes I think I like the research aspect of creating a pattern as much as the actual design! As I say in my post, if you want to be alerted when the full collection is finished, sign up on my mailing list to the right!

Challenge 2 TPB_NickyOvitt

 

The last time I was in New Mexico I had one of the best thrift store sessions I’ve had in a long time. Cotton cowboy shirts, knit disco dresses and weirdo underpants— lots to inspire out there! Thought I’d share a few at a time in upcoming posts. Enjoy!

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The Printed Bolt is well underway and I’m happy to report that I’ve made it to round 2 and came in second place! I’m very happy with the feedback I received from the judges and quilt experts. As promised, here are 4 other patterns I developed while creating the main print for Nepalese Dream. Thanks to everyone who signed up for notification to see these. If you’d like to subscribe to my blog it’s on the right hand side bar… I’ve got some fun posts planned.

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Did I get your attention? One category of prints that I see the need to expand upon is florals. Many of my surface pattern friends do almost nothing BUT florals— and they are really lovely… just not my go-to subject. Could this spareness of florals be somehow connected to my shortage of single patterns? As I’ve said before, I think in collections.

Well, good thing for inspiring sites like 101Florals. Designers Lindsay Nohl and Llew Mejia have teamed up to bring us gorgeous weekly florals. I love that they explore different styles and mediums as well as inviting other designers to participate.

Llew gave me my choice of flower so I chose the ever-wild and abundant Naked Lady! AKA Bella Donna Lily, Resurrection Lily or Amaryllis. This common name comes from the lack of leaves which is really a reversal of leaf/flower growth described quite well here. Naked ladies appear like sticks and then grace us with their showy top blossoms around August, the accessory greenery gone months before. In Sonoma County you can find them all along the roadside like weeds. This little mouse is also a nod to the charm of this area… or maybe he’s there for the show.

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Beyond excited this week to announce that I’ve been selected as one of 10 international designers to compete in The Printed Bolt’s 2nd Annual fabric design competition for quilt fabric: Repeat(ed)!!! This was my favorite online Surface Design event last year. The challenges were thoughtful and fun, plus the designers were incredible— so insightful to read about other artists’ process. I’m very honored to be among the new group of talented designers that will embark upon this 2013 creative challenge and who will be advised by a stellar panel of judges. Thank you, Ellen and Madeleine at The Printed Bolt for creating this excellent opportunity!

 

Hello and welcome to the Let’s Fly Blog Hop!

You may have just joined me from the Life and Times blog of the talented Claire Smillie. Claire was the “hostess” of the last blog hop that I participated in and she’s based in South Western England.

The theme for this hop is FLYING (also in reference to our careers) and we were encouraged to use a palette based on Emerald (Pantone’s 2013 color of the year.)

Being from New Mexico where the International Balloon Fiesta is held every year, hot air balloons felt like the natural choice for my main print. During my childhood I spent years watching the balloons silently drift aloft the mesa horizon, landing in parks and open fields, and observing the hardcore balloon culture that rises at the crack of crazy cold/dark to witness a mass ascension. The ornate balloons of early flight have the frivolity I wanted to capture and the two coordinating prints reflect my life now. My Cumulus pattern is a nod to Tibetan Thangka cloud drawing style, textured with fine tatting work. And the third pattern, Terra illustrates what an aerial ride over my adopted hometown in Sonoma County would look like. The winter rains have soaked the lush grasses and fertile farmland, revealing every possible shade of green.

I’ve often thought that I’d like to get an soaring overview of my future path in illustrated design but 2012 brought many new and exciting opportunities— many of which I would never have expected. So, although a lift in the flag waving balloon amongst delicate clouds sounds lovely, I’m content to take the surprising ride of the unknown!

I enjoy a thriving freelance career providing private label and retail clients with graphics and illustrated patterns and prints for a range of products. Spring 2013 will be the debut of some exciting work I’ve been creating for a major swim retailer. Click here to see my pen and ink illustration for surfaces, editorial and advertising. One of my 2013 goals is to license my own inky pattern collections, with a special focus on the sewing fabric market. If you have inquiries about my work or collaborations, please contact me.

Next, head on out to Turin, Italy to see Dawn Clarkson’s version of FLYING. Dawn’s fresh style is a real treat.

This has been another fun project. If you’d like to start of the beginning of this round the world flight, hop over to Gill Eggleston’s blog from France. Lastly, a big huge thanks to Rosie Martinez-Dekker of the Netherland’s Believe Creative Studio for curating this event!

Balloon facts:
+  On the 19th September 1783 Pilatre De Rozier, a scientist, launched the first hot air balloon called ‘Aerostat Reveillon’. The passengers were a sheep, a duck and a rooster and the balloon stayed in the air for a grand total of 15 minutes.
+  The Three Little Bees are some of the most popular balloons at the International Balloon Fiesta Special Shapes Rodeo.
+  I was obsessed with last Fall’s monumental sky jump from more than 24 miles above earth.

Get ready for a trip around the world… IN the world of surface pattern design. Check back here on Thursday, 1/10 to see my new mini collection and enjoy 50+ other designer’s blogs!

 

There is a whole lot to be grateful for at this time of the year and this month I’ve had daily in-your-face reminders. May our hearts be strong and may this world find peace. May we continue to enjoy or cultivate good health.

This is one of the last jobs of my first year back at freelancing. It’s come full circle in that I was contracted by Tom Nayder, the Art Director of the Albuquerque alternative newspaper Weekly Alibi, who took my place in that position so long ago. Weeklies are a fun gig; late night deadlines, making do with few resources and the camaraderie of dedicated folk who care about local arts and entertainment makes a wonderful work family. When Tom was hired (he was from CHIC-KAW-GOH; a real exotic) I remember he wanted nothing more than to be the Art Director there— check! He saved my ass paginating the book… I hate puzzles and he would jolly-like take it from me and fit all those nutty ads in a good place and make it work. Thank you—again.

Unfortunately, after 15 years at the Alibi, last week Tom found out he’s being laid off. Accomplishments: withstood the weekly grind of design for and oversaw production of 760 issues (give or take a few), art directed loads of fantastic covers and rode the roller coaster of weekly publishing and personalities. I’m sure you will be missed, and lord help your co-workers left behind, but there is always something new and great for a talent like yours, dear Tom!

Grateful for new beginnings, mine… and yours.

UK based illustrator Ilona Drew has a wonderful blog called Flick’N’Mix with an ongoing project of exquisite corpse collaborations she’s renamed Head, Hands and Toes. I’m so pleased to have been given the HEAD in this Under the Sea theme. Ilona and illustrator/greeting card designer, Clare Montgomery have finished her to MerPuss perfection. I have fond memories of making these drawings with my very creative parents and have carried this on with my daughter when we’re caught somewhere in need of easy entertainment. Because Halloween is near, also enjoy these macabre and humorous visual and poetic versions created by Surrealist artists from the 1920’s.

Post vacation I’ve got a mountain of work to attend to but I really wanted to enter the Spoonflower 2013 Tea Towel Calendar contest… deadline: TODAY! So I took Donkey’s advise: Someday is not a day of the week. Please visit Spoonflower and vote for my design or buy it and make a tea towel! You can also download a letter-sized version of this calendar to put up on your wall here. Don’t be a stubborn donkey… do it today!

Lastly, check out this video of Miss Ellie. “SHE’S ALL DONKEY!”

 

Although I’m hyped to post about my family’s recent road trip out west, I feel OBLIGATED to write about today’s monumental event. I’ve long been captivated by space, space documentaries and movies, the Nasa program and even the conspiracy theories— come on, the moon landing DOES look like a sound stage, does it not? I’ve also witnessed many major world events live on TV— But THIS… THIS is a day I’m so glad to have been alive for.

Today Felix Baumgartner grabbed his big man Calvins and broke the 52 year old record for space jumping from an absolutely mind-boggling height of 128,000 feet, reaching free-fall speeds of 833 MPH. Big congratulations on your successful jump and so happy you are safe and sound, Mr. Baumgartner!

The other important person in this story is the previous record holder and aviation pioneer, (Retired) US Air Force Colonel Joe Kittinger. I came across Mr. Kittinger’s 1960, 102,800 foot jump while searching for information on YouTube about Felix’s jump that was scheduled to happen while we were in New Mexico. Nine years before humans landed on the moon, this brave man donned an incredibly basic flight suit and jumped from an open-air gondola falling at up to 614 MPH! His right glove pressurization malfunctioned during the ascent, and his hand swelled to twice it’s normal size. He jumped anyway. In today’s jump who did Felix want to be his point of contact for the mission? Mr. Kittinger.

I’m so grateful for these very brave souls with the absolute gumption to explore, challenge themselves and go for their dreams while allowing us watch in awe!

In Felix and Joe’s words:
“I wish the world could see what I see, sometimes you have to go up really high to know how small you really are.” —FB
“…our guardian angel will take care of ya.” —JK

See an atmospheric video of Joe Kittinger’s experience here.
You can find the video of Felix Baumgartner’s jump here.
Yay also to Redbull for sponsoring this progress in space aviation!

What a great thing to come home to! In the mail tonight was the November issue of Mac|Life magazine featuring my itoy products in their CRAVE section. This is very exciting: the photo is HUGE and it’s an honor to have my work exposed in such a prominent publication for all things Mac. If you want to shop all my Society6 designs, click here. Thank you, Mac|Life!

There is no word for the excitement I’m feeling. Today my work has been featured on the well-respected and widely-read Print & Pattern website! Thank you, Marie/Bowie Style. This has been on my to accomplish list since joining the pattern design world almost a year ago to the week! Ramona’s horses is the first pattern shown— I’ve been told horses represent personal power. Feeling like all the ponies are lining up, being a grown up and ready for representation and assignments! Crazy grateful today…

Thanks to Kitty as a Picture for alerting me to the F/W 2012 collection for Oilily kids. The crisp Fall air has come and Oilily has done it again. Their designers can do no wrong, just marvel at these saturated, happy prints!

When I was pregnant with Ramona I went to the Oilily store in Palm Springs and happily spent a crazy amount of cash for this vest that reminded me of Jimi Hendrix. I waited 3 years for her to fit into it and the day we took this picture is forever etched in my mind. I miss my girl at this age, not only because she would let me choose her clothes but her sweetness was intoxicating.

 

I hope you enjoyed the blog and work of Dawn Clarkson at Nice and Fancy from Turin, Italy. Dawn’s pattern designs have a great mid century feel and I love her sketchy illustration work too.

My name is Nicky and you’re visiting my recently debuted portfolio site of pattern and design. I’m so excited to be included in the wonderfully talented group of participating artists in this season’s Blog Hop. For this event I challenged myself to a redesign of a pattern from my Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design course that I had not been satisfied with. The assignment called for a wallpaper pattern to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. My first attempt is here, but I’m much happier with this new one. Other pattern work more indicative of my style is also below. You can see my full range of prints and pattern collections here. Thanks for visiting, please sign the mailing list if you’d like to receive periodic updates.

And now, please head over to Femi Ford’s blog to view her fabulous pattern work— including her her focus on prints for fashion. I’m a long time admirer of Femi’s sophisticated style and technique experimentation!

If you’d like to see the full listing of pattern designers or start at the beginning of the hop, head over to Claire Smillie’s Creativity Rocks. Claire has a fresh and diverse style plus tons of designs available for purchase on product!

 

 

So. Here finally is my website debut blog entry. Since my new career evolution, this website and the ideas for it have been forming in my head for almost a full year. And that’s been a problem. As of this writing, I may have 10 more hours to put into finishing it, but that last push has been overwhelming. Yes, I have had the added distractions of paying work, motherhood and life— but after reading this Christine Kane article I can confirm that my perfectionism is in overdrive. I’m wanting to put something out there with my name on it that’s perfect. Little P voice: “What if all these patterns aren’t large enough to see the details? What if your work just doesn’t measure up? What if you’re  missing some key element to the site?” The last website I had was in 2000 and so much has changed! I’m sick of hearing my own laments. “When you take imperfect action, you learn that there’s no such thing as failure.” The truth is it will never be perfect, so quit trying. The truth is there will always be someone/thing better but to compare is to despair. The truth is start where you are. The truth is that action is more important than perfection. Thank you for visiting and seeing me— imperfections and all.

I’ve been told blogging and social media were made for me. Since the invention of the internet, I’ve always been that friend who peppers you with emails of: “hey, thought of you, great article” or just a link. I AM constantly finding things that amaze and inspire me and so I want someone else to see them too.

SPEAKS TO ME will be a regular feature here in the journal. The name should cover all my miscellaneous finds from very broad interests but I have a feeling this space will mostly feature other artists.

My first find lives in London and is a fellow classmate from the Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design course. Bob Wolf is a successful and versatile illustrator/animator and will soon launch his surface pattern design website. I found him at Love This Show Elevenses the studio name for surface pattern design duo Mids & Wolf. Here’s what the studio says about their site: “We at Love This Show invite you to partake in Elevenses with us whilst perusing our latest finds from around the surface pattern world, weather it be what’s hot on the high street or what inspires us from around the web to the local streets we live on.” What speaks to me most are the series of Plantlife collections you see here. I am in love with the photography, the compilations and titles— plus, that all this beauty was found on the streets. Bob obviously lives in a really cool area. Also check out the “Around the Corner” collections. Lastly: thebobwolf— say no more.

Ramona and I have been working in her Gaultier notebook of fashion designs. While visiting the exhibit of his work in June, I purchased a book of Croquis figures. There are so many cool things like this for kids now! Back in the day, my friends and I used to spend hours drawing fashion girls. I’d borrow my grandma Brownie’s Marie Claire magazine, trace or copy a good body position, and THEN draw on the new clothes. It took a lot of time and the silos were never so wonderfully proportioned as what you see here. Finally my mom asked a fabric store for a discarded McCalls pattern catalog and we cut up the long-legged ladies and used them for paper dolls and fit models. Ramona and I collaborate, but she doesn’t like to draw the faces. However, I think she’s got a particular talent for naming the collections— Drama Mama and Boltz! Yes.

Started this drawing a while back and then realized that with inking you’d never see the details once it was reduced down to a pattern. Maybe this drawing would work as a huge wallpaper pattern but I’ve lost interest. I think I should challenge myself to do something with this. I hear classical music. Any ideas?

My entry and a great range of designs celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee! Such style, such pomp and circumstance. Great Britain sure has had it’s parties this year!

Last weekend I treated myself to a really inspirational and fun overnight in San Francisco with my friend Becky Kelso. She’s a fabulous jewelry designer with all kinds of things in the works. We had both been wanting to see the Jean Paul Gaultier show at the DeYoung. Honestly, I knew it would be good but it absolutely blew me away! I could have stayed in there for the entire day and it must have taken me just a full hour to get over the “talking” mannequins! Gaultier is such a visionary, and to think he’s not much older than I am and his body of work is extraordinary… he could just quit now and be quite happy with what he’s accomplished but you know when you see this man’s work he is absolutely driven and may never be satisfied. Exquisite embellishment, superb craftsmanship, the teeny, tiny sized clothes, his running monologue and the music really created a full picture of the couture world that so few of us may ever see in person. My favorite outfit was this Tibetan hiker ensemble with yak backpack*. (*I’m guessing the fur, but isn’t that fun to say?) We also had lunch at the hip and adorable Outerlands in the Sunset and shopped Hayes Valley and stayed at the Hotel Kabuki. A couple days with a great friend and a brain full of new inspiration is just what I needed! Crazy Grateful.

 

Odyssey Gift Wrap and Sikuli featured.

My final class of the incredibly informative, inspiring and challenging Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design e-course was today. Had I known what resources, creativity and activity this course encompassed I would have paid double to take this class! What will I do in the mornings now? Since November of last year I’ve been so used to waking up and checking the Flickr group, saying hi to fellow students and looking forward to filling my brain with all things pattern. British designer Rachael Taylor and life mover Beth Nicholls are powerhouse women, not to mention nice… and attractive! One of the things I loved most about this class, and that was clearly evident, is that these ladies desire to help others. Their generosity and lust for life are contagious. Grateful does not begin to describe. Thank you ladies, may we meet again!

Yay! Launch of the new Nick’s Cove website featuring my illustrations and layout is live! Dana at Lobstervine Web Design is a genius! Thanks for giving me the opportunity!

One of my design submissions for the wallpapered.com Diamond Jubilee competition. I wish I had allowed more time for this contest. This does not match what was in my head.

Had been meaning to do this for while now. I guess it’s my cheater Pinterest board. Even though I have an account I find it really hard to want to keep yet another online tool going. This board illustrates some of my favorite pattern inspirations. I sure do like me some intricate.

My submission to the Fabric 8, Spoonflower and Robert Kaufman Contest. Pen & ink drawings colored with watercolor paints.

From Cherry, yes… she smiles.

This old, embossed glass pane obscures my laundry room window. So appreciative of it’s delicate personality— I’ve been looking at pattern more closely everywhere!

My daughter and I passed the time with my recovering Aunt Mary by drawing these portraits of each other. I really like her drawing of me on the far right. That’s how I feel.

Been doing some logo work for my friend Ginny of Urban Cowgirl Design. This one will not be used but I like the feel of it.

Found this beautiful wall art at the kitchy-decor Valley Cafe in Suisun City. The owner created it as a study of women’s work and art for her Master’s thesis. Good food too!

You know how you find these swirly, crazy snail tracks in the morning sun? What have they been doing all night? Patterns compliments of nature.

The stars align again. The other night I was yet again fretting about my work situation at home: in the kitchen, on the dining table, all over the bookcase— when I impulsively went onto Craigslist to look for an office space. Right there was a beautiful shared space 1.5 blocks from my house that had just been advertised. Today I found out I was the chosen artist to sublease! My studio mate is a really nice woman and terrific painter. I’m writing this after the fact now so I can post images but I got a great deal on the drawing desk I’ve always wanted from a paint contractor who was going out of business (Craigslist) and other furniture to fill out the space and allow for storage. I’m so excited to have a place to leave my stuff out, get away from the draw of dirty dishes and other housework and separate my home and work life properly. Crazy Grateful.