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Some bits of summer, right now.
The past few weeks have been full. I turned in final art for Fort Building Time (I'll post more about that as the months go by). Aside from work, most weekends I've been helping to clean and pack up my grandparent's home of sixty plus years. Add in a badly wrenched neck and a mini-blogging hiatus made reasonable sense.
But aside from all that:
*I'm just finishing up this Tommy and Tuppence mystery
. The opening is a bit uneven, but if you stick with it, the pace picks up brilliantly and makes for a fun summer read. Speaking of which, any summer book recomendations?
*And I'm getting ready for a shop update, mostly small watercolor originals (like the above), a few tea towels and an embroidery. I'll post here once that's all ready to go. I've also just sent off for a proof of some new designs and will have those available in my Spoonflower shop
I'm in the home stretch with final artwork for Fort Building Time, so am in full blown mole mode at the moment. Life consists mostly of large quantities of iced coffee, zillions of podcasts and the occasional walk to get said iced coffee. Also, I've lately stumbled on the trick of listening to movie/television soundtracks while working (for times when music with lyrics is distracting). Speaking of which, any soundtrack recommendations?
an obsession with ice cream making. Mint chocolate has been my favorite so far, using this recipe
and substituting 1/2 cup of maple syrup for the sugar. Of course this begs the question, fellow ice cream-ophiles: what's your favorite recipe?
I needed a break from the drafting table this afternoon, so took a couple minutes to mess about with a pattern.
I haven't had a chance to sew much this year, which I miss. But if I did, I'm pretty sure I'd turn the above into a sundress, pronto.
My grandfather passed away last week. While he'd been in declining health, nothing was expected so soon and the news was a shock. Over the past few months, I'd been able to spend more time with my grandparents, giving me a wealth of memories and joy. I feel so very, very lucky to have had him in my life then and still.
As we've been taking care of things, I've been able to collect a few of his work tools. My grandfather was a civilian design engineer for the Navy, close to 30 years. I swear by his Eagle pencils
and a small, homemade T-Square is quickly becoming my go-to for measuring.
And while I miss him profoundly, there's a joy and a connection that comes in giving his tools a new life.
Written by Megan Wagner Lloyd, published by Knopf Books for Young Readers and illustrated by me, it was a joy to illustrate. Thanks so much also to editor Julia Maguire and Nicole Gastonguay for the terrific art direction.
April in a nutshell:
*Tea to celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday, complete with fancy hats, delectables and the host's delightful collection of royal memorabilia.
*More stitching/painting in between deadlines. I'm planning a shop update next month (more, later).
* A trip to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
with friends. Despite the relative proximity, I never make it down to Boston (confession: I'm terrified of city driving). But thanks to the commuter rail out of Newburyport, the Green Line and traveling companions with a better navigational sense than my own, the trip was all smooth sailing.
* New episodes of Grantchester
* And a visit from a brand new nephew. Which makes all in all for a pretty solid thirty days.
The month flew by so fast I think I have jet lag. What, what?
* I've been working on sketches for Fort-Building Time
this winter. Written by Megan Wagner Lloyd (the author of Finding Wild
), it comes out Fall 2017. It's been a delight working on the sketches (getting to relive childhood fort-building memories has been pretty terrific).
* Eclectic Bambino
makes the sweetest clothing for littles, and I was tickled pink to see her using one of my prints on this baby playsuit
* If you're an Uppercase Magazine
reader, keep your eyes peeled! A bookmark with one of my illustrations will be randomly inserted into copies of the next issue. And if you're not a reader, may I suggest picking up a copy, immediately? Uppercase is hands down my favorite creative publication and I can't recommend it highly enough.
* And I knit myself a pair of TARDIS mittens. The pattern is by SpillyJane
and I don't care if it's nigh on April, I will wear these until the temperature makes it unbearable to do so.
A quick painting of the red barn I drive by almost daily.
And if you're local, be sure to take in the Illuminating Tarbell show in Portsmouth. It's a phenomenal look at the American impressionist painter, Edmund Tarbell. Also included is a selection of work by contemporary artists inspired by Tarbell's legacy. Allons-y!
Fleece lined leggings are all that and a bag of chips. Seriously. I got some as a Christmas gift this year and let me tell you, they've made this winter 99.9% more tolerable.
Also, coffee. Always, coffee.
February so far, in a pictorial nutshell.
My first diary was a Peter Rabbit journal with a lock and key that I kept in first grade. I think I only managed to fill up about 15 pages of the 365 available. Flipping through it a few months ago I was appalled at my, shall we say, "creative spelling." But entries about the Tooth Fairy and staying the night at my grandparents still hold up.
As a teenager, I became a more regimented diarist, detailing each day's events in cramped, school-girl script. When I went away to college, I shifted from keeping a diary to writing daily emails home, a way to combat homesickness. And then there was the first awkward attempt at blogging my senior year, a Microsoft Frontpage document (cringe) that I updated daily and is mercifully no longer available on the internet. I remember vaguely writing about miniature marshmallows in cocoa and CD purchases that I will not now publicly admit.
It seems on a weekly basis that articles about THE DEATH OF BLOGGING pop up -- insert disaster sound effects. And while wonderful alternate forms of communication do rise to the surface, there's something about blogging that still seems comforting. I guess in a way, it doesn't feel so very different from that Peter Rabbit diary at the end of the day. Except I'm not reviewing episodes of "Jem and the Holograms." Or should I?
Here's a free Valentine printable (including three different designs) for all your February 14th based needs. Give them to your classmates, pass one out to your letter carrier or send surreptitiously to your secret crush, your call. These look fun as is, but would look even more swell with glitter I bet. Enjoy!
And want more options? Here's a few other designs from the archives:
And a Valentine's themed desktop wallpaper:
Free for personal, classroom and library use only, please. Abigail Halpin, © 2016
February, I like you! Only 29 days and it's light past 4:30 means we're rotating ever closer to the days when I don't have to wear five shirts. I finally gave up and went to the greenhouse last week because I couldn't hack January any longer. A half hour of daffodils and hyacinths was just what the doctor ordered.
Anyhow. Some less Wintry things.
* My Etsy shop is closed temporarily. I'd hoped to open after the holidays, but I'm focusing on some deadlines right now. I'll open again once things ease up -- apologies!
* I have a Valentine's Day printable in the works. I'll have that available by next Monday at the latest.
* Le Concert
is a lovely film. Equally hilarious and heartfelt, it's well worth a watch.
Something I painted this afternoon for the 12 Months of Paint challenge
(this month's theme was blue.) Most of what I'm doing these days are black and white sketches, so it's nice to switch gears for a bit with color.
Back into the swing of things this week: thumbnails, lettering, catching up on Serial's second season
and some pattern making (case in point, above).
The year still feels new and fresh. And cold. Really cold. I'm sitting here with a hat on and a puffy vest because I'm too much of a crank to turn the heat up higher. But hey, I don't have to shovel anything, so it's all good.
Anyhow, I've been mulling over 2016 for the past couple of days, taking the time to figure things out. So an assortment of goals for the next twelve months:
1. Develop a fabric collection.
2. Read 25 books.
3. Finish unfinished things. Quilts, cleaning, running, a childhood dollhouse, etc. Anything that's languished in a back closet or the recesses of my mind is fair game.
4. Work on the graphic novel idea I've been researching for the past two years. I've chucked it a few times over, but the subject doesn't seem to let go. So I'm going to dedicate some scheduled time to that each week.
I have a few other ideas kicking around in my head, a group pop-up shop, embroidery concepts, screen prints, etc. There'll be more "Alfred" updates and book things to mention in the coming months. But for the time being, I'll start with the above and see where the next twelve months lead.
Also, I give up, I'm going to go turn up the heat.
Thanks for the memories, 2015! I'm plunking down with a cup of coffee and my laptop for a minute, to stop and meander through the past twelve months. Every January I have a battle plan in my head, a roadmap of the new year ahead. And invariably by December, I've taken highways and byways unintended, but eventually appreciated. I think Dirk Gently (a.k.a, Douglas Adams) put it best when he said, "I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be."
I started 2015 flying into Washington, D.C, on New Year's Day. San Antonio this past Spring was splendid and ditto for a night spent on an island off the coast of New Hampshire
this past August. And a trip to Los Angeles in September was swell.
I began work on Finding Wild
amidst the most punishing winter I can remember and sent in final artwork just as the leaves started to unfurl. My sister and I launched a graphic novel in weekly installments
-- eight months in and I feel like we're really getting to the good parts. And I experimented, making lots and lots of artwork, trying to get closer to the things I want and need to make.
I'm still mulling over 2016, how to map out the next twelve months. But for now, I'm going to have a glass of champagne, a slice of this cake
and binge on the Twilight Zone marathon. Happy New Year and here's wishing you all the best in the months ahead!
Finishing up a card illustration so that she can go winging her way off to the printer's this week.
Life lately has included illustrating book covers, a Tweed Ride, a whole lot of The Great British Baking Show
(see above) and rose tea. So that's that.
Also, goodbye foliage. You outdid yourself, Mother Nature. Fist bump.
A pattern I'm finishing up at the moment.
If you made it to Salmon Falls Open Studios
this weekend, it was swell to meet and chat. Thanks for coming by! In between visitors, the above embroidery is something I spent some time stitching. Speaking of which, my mother and I are organizing a beginner embroidery class for after the holidays. If you're in the area and interested, feel free to drop me a line
for more information.
And before I forget, Happy (almost) Thanksgiving!
Everything since mid-November has been a bit of a blur, but I think that's true for most of the general public at present. I haven't even managed to haul out the Christmas ornaments, but am hoping to rectify that situation this weekend. Aside from that, what's what?
* I'm finishing up a free holiday gift tag downloadable. I'll have that up here next week.
* I'm completely obsessed with the Limetown
podcast and literally squealed with delight when I realized Serial
launched its second season yesterday.
* I have a Christmas card downloadable
in the shop. Speaking of the shop, I'll have calendar tea towels up tomorrow, Saturday. And the Cyrillic alphabet illustration above is a print I finished up ages ago, but forgot to show here. Head desk.
And that seems to be it, so back to the drafting table. If this was the year 2100 I'd offer you virtual egg nog and sugar cookies, but technology hasn't caught up with my internet dreams yet. Someday.
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Happy, happy holidays! Here's a free gift tag downloadable to celebrate the season.
Fine print: you'll need a PDF reader to open these. Before printing, I recommend fiddling with your printer settings so that it's at its highest output quality (especially if you choose to run these on card stock). Feel free to print as many as you like for personal or educational use. Enjoy!