A: I stumbled across this quote that was told to a master painter by his mentor, and it has stuck with me : “One of these days, you’re going to have to get tight and paint loose … “. It reminds me to remain disciplined so that I can build a structure upon which to freely create. This is the trick of being self-employed! I would extend this to any young designer as well; you have to value your artistic development by organizing your life in a way that fosters growth. One thing is to have an idea, another thing is to make it happen; this requires practice, follow through, research and stretching ( mental, and sometimes physical, too ! )
Q: What is on the top shelf or your design inspiration library?
Q: What do you do when you feel a block?
A: Take a walk ! Getting outside, even if it’s not in nature as I would prefer, helps me clear the decks and re-open my senses. I think literally moving through space helps me leave behind whatever I was stuck on or move past whatever block is ahead.
Q: If you could meet any designer or artist and see their studio, who would it be?
Q: How would you describe your design aesthetic? Are you drawn to certain types of colors, shapes or patterns when you are designing?
A: Color is captivating and I respond to it very acutely when I am experiencing a place. When I am drawing, however, I find it very distracting and prefer to remove it from the design process almost entirely. It’s too loaded with emotional implications and I am much more interested in form, texture, scale and balance in my work. I start with lines and shapes first, thinking always of the space around an object and how it relates to things that meet up with it.
I think my aesthetic is very much like a strand of ivy growing up the side of a building – it is at turns organic and flowing, and yet orderly in some underlying way.
A: This collection was based on a drawing my mother and I created collaboratively some years ago. I love my mother for working in this shared drawing space because it invites me to approach art in a way I wouldn’t if left to my own devices. She starts with color and I respond with lines; in time, color becomes the language the two of us share to communicate and transform the image.
I think the main Cultivate print (taken directly from our collaborative work ) presents our shared love of nature and the way our gardens change with the seasons, the weather, the shifting light of day. I pulled out elements of this garden experience to fill out the supporting patterns – the stones of a path, the flow of water or grass or sunlight, the rambling of smaller plants and the profusion of petals. This collage of colors and textures is our way of lovingly preserving that feeling we both have when working with or being on the land.
Q: What is DoodlesparkTM and how did the collaboration with your Mom start?
A: My mother had her second baby when she was 40, 12 years after she had me, so I started college when my brother started kindergarten. When I would return home from school, one of the ways we re-connected as mother and daughter and as siblings was to sit at the table and draw while we talked. We started exchanging drawings in a circle around the table, creating collaborative works that opened conversations and invited togetherness. My mother and I continued this exchange through the mail, each of us adding and changing multiple drawings at a time, making notes on the back as to what we were thinking / feeling at the moment. It fostered a great friendship between the two of us and provided a creative playground for us as artists. We never intended for these drawings to be shown publically, but when I started my paper goods company, Loop, I threw in some of the colorful drawings as a counterpoint to my black and white patterns. The synergy was instantaneous and the partnership evolved.
Bringing these drawings into the fabric arena has been an incredible experience. The work seems to live better on the flowing, flexible cotton format. Sewing and quilting has traditionally been a woman’s work, and sharing our story within this heritage feels great. Now that I am a mom, I feel like it’s part of the legacy of motherhood to make things for my children; that I can do this with fabric I created with my own mother is a gift, truly.
Q: Where do you work on your projects? Do you have a studio?
A: I work from home where I am lucky to have a large studio. It has a drawing table, my desk, some storage, and a corner for my toddler’s toys and activities. I mentioned work/life balance, right?
Q: What is the best part of your job?
A: Freedom! I am very lucky to be in a place where I can choose the projects I want to work on. Staying home mostly full-time with our first child has forced me to edit my work life. I only have time for a few things on my plate at once, so the ideas I choose to develop have to be worthwhile. This makes my life very… full, in good ways and in bad ways. I feel always like I have to be doing something – every minute my son is napping, weekends or otherwise – I feel an obligation to work. The other side of that is a deep feeling of gratitude for the abundance in my life, the ability to share in my son’s early years while still keeping a hand in my own ambitions.
Q: What are you working on right now?
A: I have been working to build a portfolio of patterns for my paper goods company, Loop, and would like to expand our offerings into wallpaper and other home wares. Loop also supplies the paper packaging to a great chocolate company in Brooklyn called Raaka Chocolate, so I am continuing to develop that partnership.
DoodlesparkTM has its sights on more fabric collections and an expanding licensing presence. So at the moment, lots of research and a messy drawing table!
Q: What are your top ten tools?
1. Sakura Micro Pigment drawing pens.
2. #2 HB pencils
3. Aquarelle Arches Hot-pressed 100% cotton Watercolor block paper
4. My Wacom tablet, something I didn’t think I needed until my husband insisted. Now, I simply cannot live without it!!
5. Our professional espresso maker. (see note above. Thank you, Craig.)
6. A profusion of colored pencils. I remember when my mom gave me my first set when I was little. A life changer.
7. Gouache. It has such a velvety texture and superior blendability on the page.
8. The fabric cutting, measuring + sewing supplies my mother-in-law gifted to me after I created my first print-on-demand fabric collection. The sewing machine she passed onto me she used in part to make my wedding dress.
9. Our Blendtec blender (sustenance in the form of shakes and sorbets cannot be under-rated !!)
10. The camera on my iPhone. I can capture my son’s life while at the same time I can build a library of pattern inspiration.
Q: What’s your favorite local fabric store?
A: I live in Philadelphia and Spool is my fabric store of choice. They used to carry a great selection of fresh, modern quilting fabrics; now they are changing their business to offer sewing and quilting classes and workshops.
Q: What’s your favorite color?
A: I love all colors alternately. If I had to choose, I love the blue, green + purple families most.
Q: What projects bring you the most happiness?
A: Successfully completing an intricate hand-drawn pattern in repeat, when I tidy up the edges and tile it without evidence of a seam. Seeing a field of line + form grow off the boundary of the page is very satisfying.
I have to say this Cultivate fabric project is a source of great joy as well. Seeing work my mother and I did purely for the pleasure of sharing creative time together now out there in the world for others to experience is… breath-taking and humbling.
Q: Describe your typical day.
A: I come downstairs around 7am to find my son and my husband having breakfast on our kitchen island, usually laughing about something one of them has done. I make myself an Americano and am thankful. We all trail upstairs while my husband gets ready to leave for work, playing in the ‘mud’ that our son imagines our bedsheets to be. I usually have a morning activity planned for my son and me – a music class, a playdate, an errand / long walk to take – which carries us through lunch toward nap. While he slumbers, I scurry off to address emails, send off orders, spend time sketching or developing a project, etc., fitting as much into the hour or two as I can. Afternoon snack and playtime with Legos, trains, cars; lately he has been very interested in painting himself – literally. Dinner prep starts around 5 so that Marsden can help if he wants. Dinner is always followed by dancing upon my son’s request; what fun it is to jump and flail about with the abandon of a 2 year old! With the boy asleep by 8:30pm, I have about 2 hours to decompress, usually with some homemade sorbet my husband has concocted, another espresso, and some sort of crafty project.
A couple of mornings a week I have some babysitting help, which allows me to dig in deeper to business projects and plans. As I mentioned, it’s a very full day; full in a different way than my professional life was before becoming a mom. Now, I very rarely have something physical to hold up at the end of my day to say, “Look what I accomplished today!” This was been at times a very frustrating adjustment. Now, I have this abstract notion of satisfaction, knowing that I kept afloat the ball of my business while dousing the flames of a 2-year old tantrum!
Q: What’s your earliest memory involving art/design?
A: Gosh, I feel like making things was so much a part of my way of being in the world, it’s hard to isolate a single instance. I do remember being really taken by this coloring book my mom got me when I was little; there weren’t images to color in per se, but rather these geometric patterns, almost kaleidoscopic. As I recall this now, I can see how its influence sublimated through my art later in life.
My mom was / is an art teacher, and she was always bringing home new materials for me to experiment with; watercolors, cres pas, scratch boards, linoleum block prints, sun prints, colored pencils. My dad was / is a music teacher, but built the first three houses I ever lived in – all from sketches he did on graph paper and constructed largely by himself with help from friends and family. I remember making ‘paint’ from mixing the sawdust with water and mud as a small child and later, making furniture from the building scraps.
Q: Who taught you to sew?
A: Both my mother and my mother-in-law – but truth be told, I still can’t really sew! I am in the process of re-learning.
Q: Can you show us any family quilts?
A: Yes! My mother-in-law in quite an accomplished quilter; she participated in the movie How To Make An American Quilt. She has three sons and promised each of them a quilt for their 21st birthdays; my husband the middle of three, now 41, expects his any day now. : ) Goes to show how much love, time + craftsmanship she puts into her work.
1. Favorite sewing tool : I don’t have one yet !
2. Favorite food : I love variety! but relay daily on water, coffee + chocolate.
3. Song that gets stuck in your head the most : Every Wednesday for the 2 years, my son and I have attended music class in West Philadelphia. The opening song, developed by the singer/songwriter who opens his house for an hour to expose little ones to music from Around the World, repeats, “ We are happy, we are happy on this day, ok so clap your hands … “. Impossible to extricate, this often bounces around my skull at midnight when insomnia visits.