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eloise narrigan is sweet with an edge.
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1. February to November

Okay, time to to admit it. I've been cheating on Blogger. I have a Tumblr.

It's here!

You should follow it! I still find the whole thing slightly baffling (and the lack of attribution makes me crazy) but it's quick and easy to update and, well, that's where I am. So change your bookmarks and quit thinking mean thoughts about what a neglectful blogger I am (even though, yeah, I am).

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2. Happy New Year?

Yes, Blog, I know that it's February. I'm working on February projects, but I wanted to post an old(ish) one, from just before Christmas, now that there is no risk of my ruining the surprise.

I love love love to do private commissions, especially with people's pets and inside jokes, so when Evan emailed me after Brunch and Buy to paint his and his girlfriend's two dogs and a Thompson's gazelle in a hot air balloon, well. If we chat in real life, I probably told you about this already.

Here's the painting:

My goal this year is to carry the loose watercolor magic that (usually) happens in my small paintings to bigger, more complex pieces. It happened some with Pom Pom (the Pomeranian, obviously) but other areas didn't come so easily. That said, this piece was unadulterated fun, and Evan was a fabulous client.

Bonus! Here's a sketch for a February project that I like a lot:
Hopefully this will be a poster before March. And that puffin is now an egret.

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3. Adapting to Fall

Today is awesome. It's a "freelance day," a day where I work on client assignments, the administrative things associated with freelancing, and portfolio projects. I usually get a couple of these each week, but this one is special, and not because I worked in my pajamas until 1pm. This is the first November 22nd since moving to Boston where I've gotten to work on my own art the whole day. I have a long way to go before I'll be the illustrator I want to be, but this feels really good.

Here's the first finished comic I've done in, I think, three years. It was time consuming--seven times the drawing of those cute paintings I've been doing for sales--but it's going to have such a good home in my portfolio, and drawing, inking, and coloring this guy was just a lark.

So: "Jessie Makes Jam:"

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4. B Season

Objective achieved, maybe! I've been busy since the last blog post, preparing for back-to-back holiday sales on December 3rd and December 4th (YIKES). I'll be in Longmeadow, MA for the third annual Brunch & Buy:

This is a super fun, intimate sale. It's in my parent's (cool, mod style) house, and includes some fabulous Western Mass artists who are, I can testify, amazing craftspersons and fab people. Plus there's a ton of food, and champagne. Tell your Western Mass friends!After the sale I'm hopping a bus and going back to Boston for Bazaar Bizarre! Erica Henderson and I are sharing a both! We're buying banners, we're dressing up, and we're preparing to just rock out all day.I've been doing these little paintings (each is 4.75" by 6.75") in batches for the last few weeks. I'm hoping to have another ten before Double Sale Weekend. If you see one and want me to bring it or save it for you, drop me a line.
Construction equipment puns!

This one is called "Mew Blood," unless someone things of a better name...

The phrase "Small Business Owner" is inexplicably enchanting to me when applied to an aardvark.

I think the rest of these are pretty self-explanatory.

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5. Look Out!

I'm trying to procrastinate less and produce more, so this is a quickie post with a bunch of images.Last Saturday I shared a table with the lovely Erica Henderson at the fall Alumni Sale. And you know what that means?Small paintings! And animal-themed free association. For once I planned ahead, and didn't try to create and package a bunch of art 12 hours before the sale. My next goal is to do these paintings and get them up here before the next sales.Next sales, you ask? It looks like I'll be doing Brunch N Buy in Longmeadow on Saturday, December 3rd and then Bazaar Bizarre Boston (also with awesome Erica. We're making banners.) on Sunday December 4th. Cue crazed laughter.Anyhow, paintings! Most of these sold, but I'll be making new ones, and probably repainting a few that were particularly fun. (I'm looking at you, gardening badger.)

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6. Something Old, Something New

Here are two pieces that are already on the website, but represent a bit of a jump for me, creatively.

I'm recognizing that I work best when I give myself a few constraints. For my Alumni Sale paintings, I think, "What's a weird animal, and a fitting or fittingly unfitting thing they could do?" (Okay, sometimes it only makes sense to me, but it's a usefuly questions.) I was entirely thwarted by the advice to make a book dummy from a classic fairy tale (everyone will tell you to do that) but the idea of doing a nursery rhyme was really freeing. (More on that soon, I promise.)

Lately, my default parameter is "Why not make this an alphabet?" This isn't always an ideal approach, not just because I don't always want to do 26 of something. Plus, how many words start with X, really?*

I've managed two of these, anyway, the first being "A Bichon frise teaches Ballet to a Beaver, a Bunny, and a Baracuda."

I am ridiculously happy with this piece. I intentionally limited the palette (cerulean is the only blue) and I'm really happy with the vignette edges, among other things. This and the next piece are both on Fabriano watercolor paper, and I think I prefer it to my regular Arches.

"Peccaries Parade in Pompadours and Ponchos, Packing a Pineapple Pinata, Piggy bank, and the Parade Princess."

I'm less utterly charmed by this piece (not: cerulean blue isn't actually the answer to everything) but it was fun. I think the format, which is wildly inappropriate for my website, might mean that this works well as a repeat. We'll see.

Finally, an all new painting. I made this card for an entirely lovely wedding a couple weeks ago. I was really happy I had time to make this (and go to the wedding!), and when two separate speeches mentioned the couple's affinity for wacky cards, I was pretty relieved.

Inside, the card says, "You're going to build an incredible life together." Get it?

*By the way, I hate workarounds, especially in alphabets but also generally. When I was little I had a video that showed an alphabet of animal clips. When they got to X, why just showed an ox, and flipped the word horizontally. Even at age 5, I felt like that was a cop out.

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7. Twist and Shout

You know when you put something off so long that the problem solves itself? And by that I mean, melds with another problem so you just have one big problem? I meant to do a little post about my newly revamped website, and also to post on this poor, dusty blog more than once every six weeks.

In any case, I made a new front page image, based on that earlier painting and folding in illustration with design:

I'm super happy with how he came out, and have been circling the piece since, trying to figure out how to build off of it.

Okay, first problem/thing I procrastinated about solved! The other thing I wanted to talk about went live yesterday.

I have a new story in Twist Collective!

I've taken to describing this assignment as Illustrator Bait. It's a three-part narrative with a lonely peasant girl and magic and hand lettering and knitting. Take a look, but kindly click on the above link to see the pieces in context and read Daryl Brower's lovely story:

What was especially nice about this job was how smoothly I worked, compared to the last story I did for Twist Collective. Straight out of school, I was so nervous about messing up the paintings that I worked them half to death. I also managed to schedule a three-day interview the week before they were due, so I was both panicked and exhausted. On the (very) plus side, my fee for that job and the money I made selling the paintings paid for first, last, and deposit on the apartment I'm still living in today.

Alright, posting completed! In a fit of productive procrastination, I also reinvigorated my Etsy shop (yes, again), so the paintings are for sale there, among posters, notebooks, and cards. As usual, tell your rich friends.

Until next time (October?)!

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8. Blog ALL The Things

(If you don't know what the title of this post refers to, read this, and then her whole blog. Actually, read my post first, because nothing can possibly compare to Hyperbole and a Half. I'll post another link at the bottom instead.)

My time away from the bog has been really productive. I went to Surtex in mid May and I've been thinking about my work since then. While I would love to illustrate picture books and text books, I think my work lends itself naturally to a younger audience than I've been aiming for. (I should say: a younger audience and their parents.) I've been admiring board books (like the Little Pea/Hoot/Oink set I have) and counting and alphabet books, and wondering how I could reshape my portfolio to showcase that kind of work. I've also been working on various client projects, so until a week ago, I'd only had time to ponder, rather than paint.

Luckily, a deadline came along! In five days I banged out these twelve little paintings (about 4" by 6") for a craft sale I was in this weekend. The sale was pretty subdued, but I'm really happy with the work, and I think that they're going to lead me somewhere interesting.

Enough text! Pictures!

Beach Urchin

Narwhal and Friend

Manta Ray Bans (I am soo proud of that one!)

K is for Koala (and Kite)

W is for Wombat (and Wig)

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9. A Measure of Consistency

If you happened to talk to me during the last two weeks of March, I didn't hesitate to tell you exactly what I was working on. An application for...well, I'd rather not jinx it. Rest assured, I cranked out some work, and everything is safe at it's destination, and I'm not going to think about it for a couple of months.

A large chunk of the work I produced were these three pieces, showing a character in a variety of settings and perspectives and palettes and emotional states. There are a lot of publishers tho request this kind of thing, and I'm happy that I have a set ready to go.

In my sleep-deprived, work-addled state last month (which is much better now, thank you) I feel like I figured out some important things about my work. I still like complex, even crowded compositions (is it obvious?) but I also like complex (crowded) emotions. My boy here isn't happy, sad, and mad, he's impatient and bored, lost and small and uneasy, relieved and embarrassed and excited.

Deep thoughts! On a shallower note, my goal for the week is to give my website a facelift. It's been almost 3 years of blue (and lightbox) and I'm going for something cleaner. Not sterile, mind you. Just cleaner.

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10. Pattern Recognition

A couple months ago I picked up Colette & Blue as a new client and have done two collections for them (with more on the way). This is the first time since that fateful licensing class at RISD that I've created unified collections of fabric, and I think the themes (and color restrictions) have been incredibly helpful.

My first collection, for kids, was frog and duck and rainy-day themed. These haven't sold yet (and creating the collection was, at times, a real challenge) but I learned a lot and they make me smile, especially the retro looking off-white one. Plus, coordinates!

And this is a Valentine's collection...for next Valentines, of course. Last I heard, all but two of these have been sold (to big stores! Stores I've heard of! And been in)! I was giddy for whole days after I heard.

This collection went much faster, and I think I'm learning a lot about good work habits for developing repeats. I'm also thinking about them more creatively...for me, at least. The pattern in the top left corner started as real live crayon and ballpoint doodles, and I'm going to be exploring more "real" media in my repeats in the future.

Speaking of fabric, I landed a lovely new day job, at the lovely new yarn and fabric store in my neighborhood. Stop by JP Knit & Stitch; I promise to enable you!

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11. Springtime!

I'm finally getting around to posting a piece I did during one of our freezing rain/hail/snowball blizzards. I used sunny colors, and it seems to have worked, because it's 60 degrees outside. But before I go dance around Jamaica Plain Pond and remind myself what sunlight feels like, I'll post this piece.

Especially now that the weather is warming up (12 hours of this and it's like winter never happened!), I wish more than ever that sewing was as portable as knitting. As it is, there's barely room in my studio for a machine or to lay out pattern pieces, let alone on the T or a waiting room.

Thanks to Providence for modeling some background buildings and rugged sidewalks.

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12. Frogged

In knitting, sometimes you have to undo a large chunk of a project (or the whole project). This is called frogging (because you rip-it, ha ha ha). So, drawing knitting and adorable amphibians? Just my thing.

Fun fact: the half a sweater I used for the reference photo? Yeah, I had to frog about 7 inches of yoke. I should probably use this power to my advantage and draw someone signing a book contract.

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13. Snowed further In

The MEGAstorm of 2011 has already hit, so I'm having a surprise freelance day, tying up loose ends (mostly tax-related fun) and digging into some long and short-term projects.

I didn't make many specific resolutions this year, but chief among them is to break into publishing. I want more work in magazines, in text books, and I want to start inching towards real, live picture books.

To that end, I've sent out a stack of mailers:

Here's the original illustration, combining all the things I feel confident with (color, oddball animals, pattern, and line weight):

I really enjoyed doing a holiday themed mailer. I think it will be a good introduction as I continue to send cards and portfolios throughout the year.

So, anyone else feeling like they're off to a good start on their resolutions?

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14. A regular thing

This summer, I started illustrating a column in The Bay called Just Add Water! I haven't been to Providence except for the Alumni Sale since then, so I still haven't seen my illustrations in print, but they are online here! (Just Add Water is on page 50 in the latest issue.)

It's a lot of fun to work on editorial assignments, especially because I tend to illustrate things pretty literally. Great for a textbook, but not great for an article about emotions, or green boating practices.

These have been a blast, and Art Director Alli Coate is a pleasure to work with.

June's illustration, about green boating practices.

July's illustration, about a father and daughter sharing a beer on the dock.

August's illustration, about a pickup truck loaded with beach gear all summer.

September's illustration, about the danger of motorboat wakes to sailboats.

October's illustration, about using your boat as a platform to drink and relax.

November's illustration, about magical fairies that come to winterize your boat!

15. Snowed In

Last month I posted a page of animal sketches on Facebook:

That's half of what became a pretty massive project. I drew 26 animals and then traced them in Illustrator. And then spent way too long fussing with fonts and white space.

The result is a poster (or, maybe, tea towel) in four colorways:

Orange Line:


Garden Party:

and Classroom:

I made a print of Ink for my aunt for Xmas, and I have to say it looks fabulous and a bit Scandinavian in a birch frame. Prints available at my Etsy shop, for those who like that sort of thing.

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16. Providence Monthly Stories

More editorial work, this time for Providence Monthly.

These were four vignettes about Providence nightlife, including salsa dancing and Scrabble nights!

(The only beer in my fridge was a lone bottle of Harpoon, so I used that as reference. The labels are so nicely designed!)

This was for a piece on Sound Session, a music festival in Providence every summer. The festival is always fun, but there was some drama in managing it this year, so I depicted the "aftermath." Drawing the Providence skyline was quite fun, and made me a little nostalgic for RISD.

And this is a companion spot for the same article. I also had a sketch of a squirrel in a Mardi Gras mask, but I think the idea of a pigeon at a rave (or right afterward) is distinctly winning.

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17. A Winter's Night

I'm bundled up in my semi-heated apartment, doing a bit of digital housekeeping after two major craft sales. I've also updated the snot out of my Etsy shop, including writing some rather punchy descriptions. Won't you take a peek?

For the Alumni Sale and Brunch and Buy, I wanted to have more watercolor paintings, so I whipped up eight. Five are from a slowly-emerging alphabet series. The other three seemed right for the season. They're all about 5 by 7 inches in watercolor and ink, and this time I scanned them *after* I'd titled them.

(Sold!) I really dig the color of this acorn. Sometimes it's tough to get away from brown, especially with rodents.

(Sold!) This dachshund started with a ketchup-and-mustard colored sweater, but while painting late at night it began to remind me of (groan) Freddy Krueger. Luckily my lovely tablemate pointed out that those are actually Gryffindor colors, and he became a Harry Potter pup (unofficially, of course).

(Sold!) I love this little guy. I might make a few more (in different sweaters, of course).

The first alphabet piece, somewhat inspired by my previous peccary painting. I'm also really digging green and pink as a color scheme.

(Sold!) I pulled out an elementary school watercolor trick for this one: salt!

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18. And we're back?

I've had a long sabbatical from the blog, but for a pretty good reason. My faithful Powerbook has been failing slowly and agonizingly over the last two months. Despite a friend's herculean repair efforts, I had to mooch off of Josh's computer while I prepared to replace the my laptop.

And replace it I did, with a 21.5" iMac. It's huge, it's shiny, and it's FAST. And I've used it to watch almost all of Season 2 of Parks and Recreation since it arrived. (Video was one of the capabilities ol' Powerbook had given up long ago.)

But I HAVE been making art! In preparation for the Fall RISD Alumni Sale, I made a few original paintings, and almost all of them sold. I'll definitely be cranking out some more for December 4th and 5th, when I'll be at the Holiday Alumni Sale and the Brunch & Buy, respectively.

So, finally, some watercolor work!

The Sweatery Sheep (sold!)

Crouching Tiger (sold!)

Kangaroo Rat I (still available!)

Kangaroo Rat II (still available!) (Oooh he's so cute I can barely stand it.)

Carousel Horse (sold! To a little girl who loves carousels!)

Llama in Alpaca (still available!)

Scarlet Ibis (sold!)

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19. Woof?

As evidence that I really have been making art--seriously, no kidding!--a new illustration! I've been doing a few pieces to fill out my portfolio, and recently finished this:

It's an additional digital piece, and a spot illustration, and one featuring a boy (instead of a [very white] girl), AND it's a dog (instead of a cat or an anteater).

I was inspired by Josh Chodorow for this piece; I'm not above rooting though a few childhood memories (and photos) for source material. But it's done with love.

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20. Vectors are your friends!

I did a t-shirt design about a month ago for a potential client that produces custom apparel for sororities. We couldn't work things out logistically this season, but I had a blast producing an illustration in illustrator and creating some hand-drawn text. Working with the color limit (five, plus the color of the shirt) was also a great challenge.

The front (which would be about 3 inches across, on the left chest:

And the back:

Cute birds! And patterns! Surprising, right?

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21. Updated

It's warm and springy here in Boston, and I'm getting ready for the Spring Alumni Sale at RISD. (May First! Benefit Street! Be there!)

The word I hear most at sales is "cute," and it's meant as a compliment. I'm never going to be the edgiest illustrator in my graduating class, and I'm coming to terms with this. For the sale, I've made some new paintings, intent on being as adorable as possible.

Kitten sketches!



And winter:

...and winter again:

I wound up redrawing this one after I printed the first sketch and traced it onto watercolor paper. I scraped the whole composition and went back to thumbnails. The kitteny actions stayed the same, but they got hot chocolate.

I'm really happy with the final paintings. (No in-progress photos here. As usual, these pieces had an extended and awkward adolescence.) I used regular watercolors as usual, and did the linework with Pelikan Opaque Watercolors. The set I have has a great range of colors, although I do wish that the yellows were more opaque. Anyhow, kittens!

Kittens frolicking among the flowers:
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22. Make Me a Star!

Well, you don't have to...

I've decided to start entering Spoonflower's Fabric of the Week contests as a way to explore textile design and "get into the mix." Here's my entry for this week:

(It's called "Yellow Check, Please" and my user name is, creatively, eloisenarrigan.)

And here's a link to the Spoonflower blog. If you feel so moved, you can click on that grid of fabrick designs (or scroll down a tiny bit and click the link that says "VOTE FOR SUMMER FLOWER FABRICS") and vote for all the (restricted palette!) patterns that tickle your fancy. You can only vote once per computer, so don't feel obligated to sit there all day clicking just for me.

Now, onward, to more textile design!

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23. More Fabric Designs

This was my entry for last week's Spoonflower contest. The challenge was cut paper, and I spent a lot of time on a design that looked truly terrible when I put it in repeat. On Tuesday night (fabrics show up on Thursdays, but the deadline is always on...yes...Tuesday) I scrapped the whole thing and played around until I came up with this:

The contest is over now, but I placed 10th (out of 106 entries) with 331 votes!

This week's challenge theme was "desert." (I double checked--twice--to make sure it wasn't "dessert.") I wanted a bright yellow fabric, without a doubt, and something with some open space and texture. I drew a bit of inspiration from Japanese novelty prints; there are a bunch that have a little vignette surrounded by a very subtle repeat. As my subject, I chose the cutest desert creature possible.

This is my kangaroo rat fabric. Josh informed me that the kangaroo rat plays a big part in Dune, so this pattern is called "Muad'Dib Noms Some Seeds."

If you are inclined, you can vote for the desert fabric designs here. I'm going to do my best to keep posting my entries and results here and on Facebook. This has been a great way to keep my creative juices flowing, and I'm going to do my best to keep up with it!

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24. Blending In

Last week's results are in, and this week's contest is up! I came in #29 (out of 119) with 174 votes. Yay!

Here's my design for this week's Spoonflower contest. The theme is "camouflage" (which I really, really cannot spell reliably). It was a challenge to get beyond just camo, and the mood and cliche that usually goes along with that. My solution (as usual, it seems) was to go for a cute animal, albeit a cold-blooded one this time.

You can vote here, among 122 designs, if inclined.

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25. Next Time, On Top Fabric Design...

I placed lucky number 13 in the camo contest (with 250 votes!) I'm trying to keep in mind that this is a great exercise for me, and winning doesn't matter at all...but it's still fun to place in the top twenty!

This week's prompt is "Surrealism, using fruit as a subject" which was pretty challenging at first. I am not a big fan of Surrealism, but I do love the party game of making exquisite corpses!

Fun fact: the fabric works as a normal repeat and as a half-drop OR brick repeat! Exciting!

Vote among the 84 (low, this time!) entries here.

PS: I have been making illustrations, too! They'll be up soon, I swear.

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