Friday, February 20, 2015


Hey, Guys!  Back again to speak about more bunnies as we enter the season of Spring.  Well, Spring has not really "sprung" here in Milan yet, but looking forward to it after these last cold weeks.

OK, I have 2 sets of bunnies to show you from the Woodland Line.  The first set is more from the Western culture, while the second set has a more of an Eastern flavor.  The Western set started with these small sketches of bunnies.

I wanted to find a simple shape that could still be recognizable as a bunny, and although my first couple attempts on the left may fit the bill for bunnies, I couldn't see them as anything but shapes.  I guess they would be OK for a design, graphic and all.  But kind of wanted more character.  I always want the little guys to be able to perform.  Then, I came up with that little guy on the right.  So, using that as a direction, I gave it a few more shots and came up with these.

I had an idea that these guys would be texting on their mobile devices.  So, I had come up with some texting phrases commonly used to put above their heads.  At first the texting didn't really form a conversation between the bunnies... and I thought that was OK.  But my husband thought they should be texting to each other... which is much funnier as they are right next to each other while texting!  It was a little challenging to come up with some short texting phrases that would amount to a conversation, but I managed and it all seemed to work out in the end. The scene kind of reminds me of family gatherings in the States these days. 

Now for the second set.  As pandas are inspired by my nieces in LA, bunnies come from my niece in Hawaii.  Anyone familiar with Sister Stamps knows my little niece with her best friend, Daba (her stuffed bunny), and I can't draw these little guys without thinking of her.  I decided to make a set of these cute rabbits to use against the washi paper designs that I am working on to go as backgrounds for various characters.  Washi paper being inherently Japanese, I wanted a set of bunnies that would match the paper designs better.  So, I got to work on these couple of sketches.

I thought the little guy on the right would work as he looked kind of Asian to me.  The other guy seemed a little too detailed for what I had in mind.  So, going with the sketchy look again, like with the "2 bears" design, I fashioned a set of 7 rabbits.  Why 7?  Well, in Japanese culture, it is safer to go with an odd number than even (and it's just better design, right?).  4 is considered bad luck because it is associated with death, and 9 is associated with torture (even though that's an odd number), so... couldn't go with that!  7 seems to be considered a lucky number, and "good fortune" was the kanji I had planned to use for the design so it all kind of fit together.  Bunnies, good luck, and the number 7.  What more could anyone ask?

Now, I thought I would throw in the designs I had done for the products as it shows the washi that I worked hard and long for in the background.  The problem with all these products is all the different specs for the design, and I found that for the most part, because everything is so specific, I have to redesign the image almost every time to adapt them to another product.  More in the backgrounds than the characters, but still... it is almost repainting the washi again for every design... and that's so that it looks right on the product but still looks like the original washi that was designed.  Whew!

OK, so at first I thought "panels", because for some reason, that seemed Japanese to me.  I think I am actually associating the rectangular shape to that of Chinese painting instead, but oh well.  Anyway, they seemed to turn out OK and I think if you like to absorb yourself in the pattern of the washi, these are fine.

But then, I thought "brush stroke"!  So, I wanted to see if I could get a more interesting result using a brush stroke effect.  You know, you think doing a brush stroke would be easy.  It's not.  Or maybe it's just me being picky,  but I don't know how many times I hit that "apple z" button.  So after laboring over it for many hours, I managed to come up with several options.

This first one was kind of fun, whimsical and a bit lyrical... but a little too much for being on a bowl.  It started looking forced and just too much.  After all, Asian brush art is more about simplicity.  So, I tried simple and straighter.

But now, it seemed a little too close to what I had before.  Just a straight strip of color.  Why the heck change it if you don't see any difference, right?  Well, it's good to hit the 2 extremes before arriving to a happy medium. 

I was satisfied with this result.  It had enough movement as well as remaining simple.  The mug version of the brush stroke is a little more wild, but thought it still was simple enough to work.  Kind of liked how the bunnies would disappear a little against the white too, playing with the positive and negative spaces.

OK, that's it for now.  I know... long post, right?  Well, it's over... finally.  Thanks for dropping by for show and tell, and hope you had fun!

Monday, February 16, 2015

The White Rabbit

Hey Everyone!  As we get ready for "quaresima" or lent, I thought I would go back a bit and share the white rabbit again in preparation for Easter.  I already posted him on the Denishima Designs page on FB. But now I thought of just showing the images.

As mentioned in that post, the drawing of the white rabbit started what became the Alice Line.  This version of the classic bunny just kind of popped up in my head and I had to try it out.  I always think how interesting it is to come up with a drawing that looks like you had done it as a quick 5-second sketch, when in actuality, as some artists know... it can take hours... sometimes days to get something resembling anything that you don't mind putting out there.  Of course, there are some artists actually capable of whipping out a beautiful drawing in no time at all, but I'm not one of them.

Thinking about those super skilled artist, it comes to mind a story that one of my art history professors had told us about a Chinese brush painter.  A patron commissions a painting from this artist (I think it was of a tree... let's say it was a tree).  After some time, the patron checks in with the artist about the status of the work and the painter repeatedly tells the client that it is not yet ready. Months turn to years, as the patron continues to check in occasionally on the progress of the painting. Finally, he demands that the artist present him with his request immediately, so the painter takes out a brush and proceeds to paint a beautiful tree.  The client is pleased but asks why the artist made him wait so long if he is able to do such work in no time at all.  The painter replies that it was because it took that long to become skilled enough to paint the tree in the manner that was required.

Anyway, just wanted to share how the ol' guy turned out in the end.  I had featured just the drawing with the swatch of color as in the design on the Denishima page, but here I thought I would also share the painted version, which soon will be released on a few products on Zazzle.

First, here is the initial pencil sketch.

And now the version with the text.  I thought of this saying first... but now thinking of changing it to "it's never 2 L8!"   I thought it might be a better message... more positive?

And then the painted version.

Well, that's it for now.  Will be posting again soon with more bunnies to get ready for Easter!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Woodland and the 2 Bears

OK, guys.   In this post, I'll talk a little about the Woodland Line for Denishima Designs.  Warning:  if "cute" is not your thing, you can just skip all of this now.  It's not even "cute" with an edge.  No edge.  Just "cute".  Now's your chance... go!  Run!  Scappa!

OK, now that all those with cuteness aversion have left, we can now revel freely in this sugar-coated post.  Yes, indeed, "cute" will have to be tolerated to continue... so here we go.  Woodland is just a line of art made to celebrate animals.... mainly cute animals.  Sometimes I do try to add a little humor  to keep it interesting.  It is a line actually inspired by my nieces, who of course, all love animals, and I basically think about what image would please them when I'm working on it.   I do tend to focus on the animals the girls love the most so you could say that, in essence, this line is dedicated to them. 

The first design in this line to talk about is the "hello! 2 bears" image that features both a panda (which I realize is not really a bear) and a regular brown bear.  They are both greeting each other, but the panda is speaking in Chinese, saying "Ni hao" and the brown bear is speaking in English.

I got the idea from a quick sketch I had done of this bear.

I thought it was kind of funny... and then began thinking about 2 bears meeting each other... and then I started thinking about all the ethnic mixes we have in the world.  My family has a few... and Chinese, being one of them, became the perfect fit for what I had in mind.  I decided to go with a quick sketch look to the character and keep  the unrefined feel of the image.  A panda.... my LA nieces love the panda!  After coloring him, I merely flopped him (love the computer!) and then adjusted his color to be the brown bear.  Is that cheating?  a little, but you artists out there know that any short cut you can take will buy some rest in the end, right?  Also, I thought it essential that the bears be exactly a mirror image of each other as part of the message... that even though we all seem different on the outside, we are more similar than we realize.  This represents the coming together of the different cultures in my family.  The Asian side, and the Europeans create quite a mix!  But together, we are all family, no matter where we come from.

And there it is, the first in a whole line of "cute".    Hope you enjoyed the sharing session!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Denishima Designs and the Cheshire Cat

Wow, it's been a long time, right? Thought this blog was dead? Well, me too! But as they say, "life finds a way", so there may be a faint pulse in the ol' blog yet.

Decided that I might talk about some of the things I'm working on for Denishima Designs. Yes, that's how I called my new e-store on Zazzle – by the way, here's the address right away, go take a look! It's kind of a fun project to do, and I think it may inspire me to remain a little more faithful to this blog and not be so distracted by life.

I had started out with the Alice Line, which is just an interpretation of the famous Alice stories we know from childhood. It had been just an outlet for me, drawing the characters I love... but then turned into this fun adaptation when adding text to it. I am thinking of releasing the line with no text as well, for those who just prefer the image itself. After all, a picture's worth... well, in this day and age... not as much as it used to be.

The Woodland Line followed closely after and it is proving to be another fun venue. I am using this line to focus on my love of animals, and have brought elements of the cultures that inspire my everyday life. So, you may find a lot of Asian influences, as well as European. Of course, coming from the States has its imprint on me as well, so everything is laced with elements of home.

In addition to these lines, I am currently working on products using the Sister Stamps images I had created together with my sister, Jenny. This line is particularly close to my heart as it brings into the foreground all the things I love about where I've come from... Hawaii. With the blending of Asian and Hawaiian cultures, this is something I am looking forward to sharing with everyone.

And now back to Alice...

So, I had started with the White Rabbit and I introduced him on my Denishima Designs Facebook page – please visit and like it! – but now we're on to the Cheshire. But I may revisit the White Rabbit when I present the painted version. Anyway,... the Cheshire.

As I mentioned on FB, I enjoyed the presence of the Cheshire in the Alice story, and oddly gained a sense of security from that character. Even though in this drawing I represented him as very large and a bit overbearing, and that gives him a kind of menacing quality, the layout suggests a cradling effect of the scene. Alice looks upon him with curiosity and a little wariness, bit is not afraid. The Cheshire is more mischievous and although may be intimidating at first, is nothing to fear... and actually can be a comfort in this insane land. Below, I wanted to share a few images regarding this illustration. The original sketch... the one with added text, a swatch of color... and the final paint.

When a friend of mine saw this graphic version, the response was: "Ooooo, scary!" Huh. I never thought of it as scary, but when I took another look, I could understand how it can seem creepy, ya?

I guess I ended up capitalizing on that and even pushed the eeriness a little for the paint. Hee hee.

Well, I am glad I am back to writing on my blog, and I hope you are too! Till next post... CIAO!