Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Montana, How I Love You - Part Deux

Let me count the ways:

#2) You know that snow should happen unexpectedly and magically.When it is over it should disappear without a trace.
This morning we awoke to rain, wait - scratch that. This looks like snow. Yes, this is definitely snow. Without anyone but my little party to run, frolic and jump in it, it stayed pretty, puffy and perfect.

#3) Compound interest. -- A couple of days ago I mentioned to my kid sister that her hair could probably use a trim. She told me to mind my own business. In the dead of night she crept from her bed and cut it in front of the bathroom mirror. In the morning she blamed me for this ripe bit of insanity. It's nice to know I've still got it. My influence would never stretch this far from New York.

4) There are bunnies!!!!
listening to right this second: "Give it to Me" -- Timbaland

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Montana, How I Love You

Let me count the ways:

#1) Your bugs are kind of cute... They do not make me want to run away screaming ala Psycho.

Unlike the majority of specimens I have come across in one New York City, your bugs all seem to have a job.Your insects celebrate thrift and purpose. I for one am tired of the dead beat bugs NYC side, their only occupation seems to be freaking me out and scaring me to death.

listening to right this second: "Untouched" -- The Veronicas

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sun Jumping

Montana wild fires turned the sun nuclear pink on Saturday.
This is livestock country in this here parts.
I caught a glimpse of this cow clearing the sun.
Milk cows are notoriously daring.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Miracle in My Kitchen

There weren't loaves, but there were fish. Or more specifically, a fish. At times I've wondered what I would do if I were ever faced by a wild, unexplainable once in a lifetime event. Now I know. I would, in this order:

  1. run and grab my Nikon
  2. do some shutterbugging
  3. create new surface design to document the tremendous occasion
  4. Hit my most visable public forum to chat it up - Hence our current post here at She Sure is Sketchy.
Friday in my frantic struggle to get out of New York, I spilled a spot of orange juice on the counter. It wasn't a lot of orange juice and I had to pack. I made an executive decision, leaving it on the counter, I decided I'd clean it up after I yanked my carry-on's zipper into submission.

When I came back to sponge up the spot, it had taken a hint from it's nearest neighbor, my favorite fishy glass. The little juice spot had taken the form of a bright juice guppy! I kid you not, this is a serious phenomenon and it happened in my little bitty kitchen in the heart of Brooklyn on a sunny September afternoon in the year 2009.

Sadly, the cookies accompanying the fish in this photo did not feed the starving masses. Those lucky few who did partake of them claimed they were a marvel in their own right. I am rock steady in my faith of the miraculous, never-changing perfect nature of homemade anything made with my dearest love, my new Cuisinart food processor. So, the cookie goodness was expected and unsurprising, albeit appreciated. If you're looking for your own small wonder here's the haps:

Shortbread Jelly Jam cookies
(as baked on the day of the Miracle of the Goldfish)

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • Interior scrapings of 1/2 split vanilla bean, preferably Tahitian
  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • fruit preserves, any flavor - i am partial to apricot and raspberry
  • sometimes I take this opportunity to add a touch of cardamom to the mix - but I do that with everything

1. Using the dough blade, In the bowl of a food processor, combine butter, sugar and salt and cream on medium speed until blended, about 2 minutes. Add the egg yolks one at a time. Blend in the vanilla bean scrapings and the extract. If you need to scrape down the bowl you should do it.

2. Turn the mixer off and add the flour. Turn the processor on until the flour is completely blended in. Remove the dough from the bowl. Working on parchment or wax paper, form dough into 4 logs 10 inches long and 1 1/4 inches in diameter; wrap and chill.

3. Preheat the oven to 325°F.

4. Cut a log into twenty 1/2-inch rounds. arrange them 2 inches apart on all sides on a parchment-lined or nonstick cookie sheet or sheets.With the back side of a spoon make a little jelly-jam sized well in the surface of each of the cookies. Fill the wells with jelly-jam, about a teaspoon per cookie if you are feeling stingy, more if you are benevolent and willing to help a miracle along.

5. Bake 15 to 20 minutes. Remove to a wire rack, you know the drill.

6. Bask in the glow of adoring fans.

My kitchen - A miracle mecca.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Simply Sweet

Here's a lovely surprise...considering my post yesterday,
today's Illustration Friday prompt couldn't be more appropriate! Score.
I know the goals I outlined yesterday were to keep things simple but I still want these to be spectacular. This is just a first pass that I knocked out as soon as I opened my email and saw this week's email from Penelope.
Check back later this week to see how these evolve.
I'm spending the next week and a half in Montana where I'll be working on some pretty exciting new art, hopefully I won't have to keep all of it under wraps.

I keep thinking of that line in 'An Officer and A Gentleman' where Tom Cruise says,
" He was leaving for the rest of his life, and he hadn't called a soul and he hadn't packed a thing. Can you explain that?"

If it were me, Jack could have easily said "because she was stupid!!! She went to bed when she was tired and she thought she'd pack when she woke up.... but of course she wasn't thinking straight because she had to be at work at nine. What a retard! She was stupid!!!!"

Anyway, my plane leaves at 7:30. Let's hope I'll be on it.
Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sweet and Simple

I'm working on a new activity at job-job. This month I made a math movie about patterns. It's funny, I spend so much of my career doing surface design. I just never break it down to this simple and beautiful idea that's based in the simplest math; math that you learn when you're in kindergarten. These are going in our geometry unit.
I had to make our activities for this movie as simple as possible.
It is important that the kids can draw in what's missing themselves.

My instructions were as follows:
"Draw simple shapes: Cat, Dog, Mouse, Blank, Dog, Mouse, Cat, Dog, Mouse......"

This one might be my favorite. I'm going to let this new way of thinking about pattern bleed into my normal artsy life. I'm sure you'll see this reflected in my surface design in the very near future.

Yeah, like when do I ever think about keeping a butterfly "as simple as possible"?!
I love this little gal! (Oh and incase you couldn't tell -- It's National Punctuation day, seriously!)
3rd graders at Auburn Elementary School (Auburn, MI)
These kids know how to properly celebrate a holiday.
(I'd use an exclamation point, but you know you're supposed to use those sparingly.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Note on Collecting:

So you want to support the arts, you just don't know where to start? Here, I'll help.
This painting is my favorite in my collection. I personally think that everyone in the world should own an original by this artist.
Wait, Amber! How do we get that kind of art?! We
want art by that artist on our walls! Well you're in luck.

You can buy this art:

I'm frequently asked how my parents approve of my choice to become an artist and illustrator.

Recently, on a date with Dr. Jeff, I was told,
"Amber, you could have been a doctor or something stable and dependable." Nice.
Ooooooooh....Minus 10 points Dr.Jeff. tut, tut.My personal collection of Salvador Alvarez originals will never be complete.
These are paintings my dad recently finished on the art sabbatical he's wrapping up in Germany.

I was trained classically growing up. As a teenager I was fantastically capable of never appreciating what I had (duh): a stay-at-home-dad/live-in-private-art-instructor with a studio overlooking a deep blue Pacific Ocean.

(case in point, this picture is of me and my brother and sister playing in our 'front yard'.
It's taken from our living room)

My foundation year at Pratt here in NYC made me realize my unique experience - painting with sable brushes and Winsor & Newton inks on Arches paper before I could name my colors was actually something rare! Who'd of thunk?

( collaboration - a father daughter painting we did when i was eight months old)

When I got to college I was actually surprised at kids who didn't know the difference between hot and cold pressed paper.

I love these new paintings of the Mackenbach roadside. They are so subtle and somehow bold. I have no idea how to capture that kind of feeling. Our art is so different.

As a teenager, I used to truly worry that my dad wouldn't ever understand my kind of art.

I was afraid that my dream - you know the life I'm living now:
animator, fashion illustrator, surface designer, children's book illustrator
would be seen as a deviance from the noble profession of true fine art. When I close my eyes and I picture a 'real artist' I see a solitary figure and an easel in big open space.

I grew up being told "not to draw like a girl". You've heard of throwing like a girl? Well when you're sixteen and your hair is in braids and you'd rather be at the beach but instead you're drafting a hill of cardboard boxes as part of your formal training - you can most definitely "draw like a girl." It means don't be timid, don't be whiny, don't be scared, don't draw too faintly, be confidant, be strong.

When my Pratt life-drawing class required we anonymously tack up our figure drawings for our first crit my professor continued to point to my rendering and say "You can see in his drawing that________" When I went to claim my work afterward my professor was shocked. "This is your drawing?"

I ran home ( skipping half the way and probably stopping to pick a flower and feed the squirrels) and called my dad first thing. This proof that I didn't draw like a girl felt like that moment when Charlie finds the golden ticket in his Wonka Bar.

If you know anything about She Sure is Sketchy you know that the everything done here is made by one little Brooklynite unabashedly drawing like a girl without a shade of apology. I'm forever thankful to my dad and to Pratt for giving me the skills I needed to find myself as an artist.

Once I realized that the only thing I wanted to do was "draw like a girl" life just got so easy.

Since arriving in New York City nine years ago with nothing but a duffel bag and a wild set of bangs to show for myself, I've had a few perfect days with clear triumphs and life-changing milestones in my ever stretching career. One of the best came last year on the phone with my dad when he casually said
"Your work is just so strong."

So yes, I could have been a doctor, but so could my dad. If he had, I (and you) wouldn't have bangin' art like this to put on your walls:

Stop by Sal Paints Live - he's new to the world of blogging so go say 'Hi'.
You can inquire about pricing by emailing Check out the studies and sketches offered up at his new Etsy Store. The prices there are made for young collectors.

More of his art can be seen at

OK, this post is long and gushy and totally something only a girl would write.
But seriously, isn't my dad the coolest?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Infinite Abyss

One of my most horrid jobs in my entire life was a way too long stint working for a major fashion label. I'm a firm believer in the idea that everything happens for a reason. I was sure the reason I was working on 7th Ave was so that I would know what it would feel like if I ever did anything bad enough to land me in Hell.

One afternoon my boss turned to me and said,
"You need to hand in a line of girl's pajamas by the end of the week."
Deep panic set in. Instead I said
"yeah, I'll do that when I get in tomorrow."
I sprinted down 34th Street and called Sandra. She was used to working for angels of darkness. She taught me a one evening crash course on making repeat patterns. I went in the next day and designed some really questionable pjs.

So that's why I had to work there. It introduced me to the infinite possibilities that come from infinite patterns.
Here's some art that stretches on forever................
Oh and incidently, that first pair of pjs? My first surface design working on 7th? Yeah, that's right.
All designs (except the devils of course -- those belong to Lucifer) are available for licenscing through
listening to right this second: "I Don't Believe You." -- P!nk

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Grass-hop Hip-Hop

The topic of the week over at SFG is 'Pink'. I'd resigned myself to designing some cute piggies when the Duchess of Justice IMd this to me. Upon explaining her thought process it would seem I was sent this mainly because I am a nerd.


-- I was enthralled.
What's a girl to do?
Of course I googled "pink grasshoppers" and came up with a slew of these babies. Oh come on, like any self-respecting nerd would skip that step!!This week has been pretty grand, I was swept off to a divine LES dance party at
(warning: this link is loud! mute your computers if you're somewhere square) bOb Bar.
I got home torn between a late night of cricket drawing or a late night of hip-hop sketches.
Cricket or Hip-Hop?
I reached above my head, grabbed the ball-chain attached to the often aphotic
bulb that resides there and yanked.
Tah dah!
Grass Hop
Hip Hop
Check it:
I'll P!nk them up tomorrow.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Step into My Studio

Welcome #1 - to my thought process...
When I was barely green and fresh out of college I was lucky enough to work on an intimate five person design team for the first season of Pinky Dinky Doo.
I rarely pull out this old portfolio, but thought I'd show you a bit about what I'm talking about.

Here's BeckyBot - a babysitter robot of course!
If you look closely you can see what she's made out of, well other than hard work and a teenage dedication to the watching of young children.

Her head is a trashcan that I cut and modified and colored to fit just so. Her wrist cuffs are the seal on a light bulb. Her legs are from a fire place mantle and her body's a salad bowl.

Did I mention that I freaking loved this gig? because did I ever!
If my dust bunnies were this cute, I wouldn't ever sweep.(Let's be honest, they aren't and I don't.)

Welcome #2 - to my newest project

I'm at the beginning of concepts for a new childrens book I'll be doing in an evolved style that has it's roots in this idea of photo collage.

The front door of this house is a huge and important factor for this new book, luckily I live in the most picturesque bit of Brooklyn a girl could hope to habitat.

Welcome #3 - to my neighborhood
These were all taken within a three block radius from my bit of brownstone.
Which do you think is most welcoming?

P.S. One of these doors is mine! - 3 points to anyone who can guess which.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Digital Stamps

At one point in my career I was the founding designer and illustrator for a rubber stamp company. I recently had the opportunity to reflect on the experience. I miss creating stamps but not for the reasons you'd think.

I miss the collaboration that came when stamp artists took my images and added to them, coloring, cutting, designing and them making them their own.
I loved seeing the million directions they could take an image and I thrilled at seeing my illustrations used by other artists to create new art.

So I'm starting my own company! It has a ways to go. I'm still in the process of putting it together - bit by bit. Barbara Streisand has been being pumped into my studio on a fairly regular basis. we'll be launchingOctober 15th. 2009

We'll be counting down on a weekly basis over the next month. Make sure to stop by for our freebies. Today I'm offering up this new digital stamp for your talented and creative use. Please remember that all images on She Sure is Sketchy are never to be used without permission. This stamp can be downloaded here for all your stampy needs.

If you're a stamper and you decide to use this image please leave me a comment and a note to your blog where you post your project! I'd love to see what you're up to.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The New Girl

As a children's illustrator I am always thankful that I can remember what it felt like to be a little kid. There are a few pivotal days that I call to mind when it comes to my early education. In the third grade I transferred from Ben Parker to Puohala Elementary School. Walking into the classroom and taking a seat was honestly harder than my first day at Scholastic, my junior year of college. This illustration is an homage to those kind of days, when you have to be strong, even though you are very little.You can see "The New Girl" in its entirety at Watercolor Wednesdays.


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