Thursday, June 23, 2011

Welcome Week 2011 Poster

This is the second time I was able to do some hand lettering for a Graduate College project. Last year I was able to do so for the first time, for the same event. I think I will make it a regular thing for this event. It allows me to get away from the computer for a while and practice some lettering.

The one below was done for a small ad that we will be placing in the Sower Magazine that will be published in July. I took a photo of the water color lettering that I had pinned up on my bulletin board at work, and with my iphone, no less! I think it looks pretty cool for an iphone shot.

Most of the process went pretty smoothly, but here are a few shots of the process where I am working on color and playing with the scripted "Welcome" lettering. (The first two are pretty horrendous, but oh well)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mira Sol Creative Logo | Part III

The logo design saga continues...but hopefully not for long (although, I could probably tweak it until the end of time). I think I have finally refined the logo to a point where I feel it conveys a classic feel, yet feels really fun, which is what I've been wanting to convey as that is my personality and style, in a nutshell.

For the sake of further revealing the logo design process, I am displaying one that retains the original eye/sun shape that I was working with. With this one, I decided to hand-letter my own "M" and insert it into the "pupil" of the eye/sun graphic and use it as a simple logo, without the title "Mira Sol Creative", which I actually really like.

But the other day, I was just thinking about how difficult it could be to have it printed on the recycled business card paper that I found and I just am not sure how it would turn out. The lines may bleed together, which would be no bueno. So I was toying with the idea of something more solid, easier to print and easier to paint, when I created the sort of pinwheel shape below.
The new eye/sun shape was inspired by the pinwheels I have spinning around in my front flower beds that I love so much. I thought it was super fun, so I went with it and I have to say, I am really happy with how it turned out. Although I really like the complexity of the interlocking lines the first shape created, I think the second one is good now, of course, I am a bit torn. I think there are more pros than cons with the new one though and am sort of leaning towards that one. But I've been looking at them so long that I could be wrong. What do YOU see? Does one look more like an eye/sun than the other? Any other thoughts or ideas? One that you are just partial to, even if you are unsure why? I want to hear it all! 

PS: With either design, I will probably change colors in the future to fit or match whatever application I plan to use the logo for so the colors you see do not necessarily have to be the set-in-stone colors.

As always, your time and opinion is greatly valued and appreciated!

Mira Sol

If you are interested in how I got to this point, check out Part I and II of the process, via the links below:

Mira Sol Creative Logo | Part I
Mira Sol Creative Logo | Part II

Friday, June 17, 2011

All Signs Point to Sign Painting

photo via
A couple of years ago, I was asked to paint a sign for a non-profit organization (which never happened due to a change in directors), which I accepted. At that point, I hadn't really thought of sign painting being something that could possibly be revived to a point that one could make it a career, but I sure liked the idea of getting to finally get away from the computer for a change, especially since I am first and foremost an artist who yearns for the tactile experience of creating. I knew I could design a sign for the org. but I had no idea how I would go about actually painting it, especially what kind of paint to use that would stand-up against the test of time. So, I decided to do some research and see what others had done in the past, before the dawn of computers. To my complete and utter joy, I stumbled across New Bohemia Signs' website, a very much alive and thriving sign painting company in San Francisco. I immediately fell in love. When I found New Bohemia and started learning of other active sign painters,  it was like this light bulb went on and something just finally clicked and I finally found the balance between graphic design and fine art; my happy place.

Besides NBS' amazing work, I think it was an interview with the owner, Damon Styer I read that got me the most fired up, and that ultimately convinced me I had been on the right path all along. In a nutshell, it was the idea of keeping the art of the hand-painted sign alive because of the beauty and quality of something produced with a personal touch and human element in a sea of mass-produced, impersonal crap. Ultimately, it was the “fight against the homogenization of our culture” that I needed to be a part of, especially since that was what I had been trying to do since the day I stepped foot into my first design class.

From the moment I began design school in 2001, I struggled with whether or not I would be able to stick with it as the need to be in a studio painting or creating things by hand grew stronger and stronger. Luckily, I still had a place of refuge in my painting, drawing and screen-printing classes. So much so, that I was criticized by my design teachers and told that I "needed to get my priorities straight". Needless to say, I was extremely worried that they were right and I had no idea how I would continue on the design path and earn my degree if I couldn't be granted the freedom to create with my hands. Regardless, deep down, I knew that I was doing the right thing by continuing to rebel against the computer, so I did. But, I made sure that I did so by trying to find a way to tie the two together and find that balance so that I could prove my design instructors wrong. I remember that it was during this time, probably around 2003, while taking a painting course, that I came across the work of Margaret Kilgallen, a painter (who died at a sickeningly too young of an age) whose work was greatly influenced by folk art and the dying art of sign painting. Margaret was like this beacon of hope for me. She was my idol and my inspiration and influenced me to embrace my design training by incorporating graphic elements and symbols to communicate visually through my art. After all, I was majoring in Visual Communication (although, with the way I was ridiculed, I could have sworn I was majoring in advertising)! I was now on a mission; a mission to create fine art that communicated a message for social and political change. In 2005, when Senior Capstone came along, the walls were adorned with product promos, and clever advertising campaigns, while the tiny corner I occupied was covered in satirical sociopolitical commentary on consumer culture, despising the very thing that surrounded my work in that room. Regardless of the obvious rebellion hanging on the wall, I graduated!

Now it was time to really prove those design professors wrong by finding a design job that would allow me to serve my community and society for the better without having to sell things/stuff to people that they don't need. I applied for various positions such as a children’s book cover designer, Colorado parks and recreation services sign designer and installer and The Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History’s exhibition signage designer. While nothing was panning out, I began to wonder if everyone else was right. Perhaps I was too idealistic. Perhaps there was no hope for someone in today’s society to make a living doing something honest and pure. But I didn’t give in that easily. Instead of taking the easy way out by applying to some large ad. agency, I decided to take a position as the receptionist of the Graduate College at the University of Oklahoma so I could be financially secure while I searched for my niche in the design world. 

To keep my creative juices flowing in an 8-5 receptionist position, monotonously filing GRE score after GRE score, answering phone calls with the same questions day after day, I began redesigning the Graduate College’s brochure (it was put together by a former staff member in Microsoft  Publisher). The assistant Dean at the time saw what I was doing and immediately realized the need for good design within the Graduate College. To my delight, I was one day called into the assistant Dean’s office and asked if I wanted a full-time position in the Graduate College that would allow me to design more things for them, with more pay and a cubicle instead of the front desk. Of course I jumped at this chance as I was having no luck finding anything else, no matter where I was looking. Of course, I would still have to perform administrative duties along with the minimal design projects they would assign but at least I wouldn’t have to deal with the constant ringing of the phone, influx of whiny students and piles of tedious paperwork. I was one step closer to realizing my full potential as a designer.

After a while, the Graduate College began new initiatives to improve the graduate experience at OU as well as to increase awareness of the Graduate College on campus, and to ultimately increase the value of graduate education in the minds of various populations. In order to do so, it was necessary to establish a visual identity and to work on building our brand’s equity.  The more initiatives the Dean came up with, the more value my position held. Over time, I weeded out all of the monotonous administrative work and now I have fully grown into the Visual Communications Design Specialist of the Graduate College. 

All of that to say, even though I haven't actualized my full potential, I proved that I was right in keeping course and proving to past professors that I would find my niche in the design world, despite what they thought to be true. It is clear to me that I have been on the right path and that path has lead me to a certain junction, where the signs are clearly pointing to the direction of sign painting.

Sign painting seems to be the perfect balance between both worlds that I love, graphic design and the art of the human hand. As for New Bohemia Signs, I’ve been stalking them online ever since I discovered them. In fact, while in San Francisco for a conference with some coworkers, I actually had the most extraordinary pleasure to meet Damon Styers in person. I was so nervous to walk into that shop; my coworkers forced me to step inside. They didn’t understand that, to me this was like meeting my idol and not walking into just any old shop. Of course, I’ve been thinking about all of the things I could have asked while there but didn’t because I was so nervous. But at least I still got to step foot inside the shop. I did a bit of a scavenger sign hunting in the area as well. Finding a sign painted by them was like finding gold to me (and in some cases, literally as I spied many a gold leaf in windows as well) My coworkers probably got a bit annoyed at the level of excitement I would reach each time I found one. I think you get the picture; I am obsessed.

To this day, I continue to be on a mission to "fight against the homogenization of our culture" and funny enough, I noticed that more and more people are jumping on board. In fact, a New York Times article about the rejuvenation of the craft, featuring Damon Styer of New Bohemia Signs was published today. It seems like anytime I get passionate about something, it becomes really popular. I'm not saying that I caused it, I'm just saying, I think the idea has been floating around in the ether for sometime now and those that are meant to are reaching out and grabbing it. I just hope some of them happen to live in the same town I do.

Here's to the fight against the homogenization of our culture! Long live authenticity!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Weekdaily Sketch: Ring

Watercolor Drawing Commission

Besides being busy finishing up the watercolor drawing I've been working on for a coworker, most of Norman lost power last night from a brutal storm, so I have neglected the Weekdaily sketches this week. I'll post some later today, as long as I get power back in my house. In the meantime, I wanted to share the drawing/painting of the house I've been working on for a coworker, that he has since given to his wife as an anniversary gift.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Weekdaily Sketch(es): Tubular & Sunday

I was super busy yesterday and was up late working, which is why I completely forgot to post a sketch. That'll happen a lot, I'm certain of it. But I will make up for it by posting a two for one.

Not sure what inspired this, but I know that I was drawing a lot of tubular looking things like this at the time.
This was a baby avocado plant that died shortly after this. Glad I sketched it. It was really cute and I admired it a lot. I obviously drew this on a relaxing Sunday, watching the people in my neighborhood leaving for church.

As a side note, I promise to start sketching more and posting those instead of old ones soon. I promise that to myself more than anyone. I need the practice. But I've been working on a drawing/watercolor for someone (I think I mentioned in a previous post) that I have promised to have done by tomorrow so with regular work, I haven't had time to draw whatever I feel like. But I'll be posting the process pictures of the drawing/painting as well as some other stuff I've been working on very soon!

Have a magical weekend!

Mira Sol

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Weekdaily Sketch: Garlic

Kind of a late post, considering I have 30 minutes left to spare before the day turns into tomorrow.
This is a sketch of a sliced clove of garlic. I really liked the shapes/form the slices made so I documented it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Weekdaily Sketch: Room with a View

This is a sketch from 2006. I actually remember sketching this view to the kitchen from my couch in the living room of my apartment. I moved to this apartment with my dear friend, Angela right after we graduated in 2005. Oh, memories...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Daily Sketch: Chair

Happy Monday! Did I mention that on the weekends I try not to come near my computer unless absolutely necessary? So Daily Sketch is really Weekdaily Sketch...or something. 

I've been busy painting a poster advertising an event the Graduate College is hosting, drawing/painting from a picture of a coworker's house that he will give to his wife as an anniversary gift, gardening, and being generally domestic, so I didn't do a daily sketch. Instead, today's sketch is from 2008, sketched in that semi-old sketchbook I mentioned in the first Daily Sketch.

Not the most accurately proportioned drawing of a chair but I like that. I also like the simplicity of it being pure black ink with a few white highlights. And there you have it. Daily Sketch posted.

Mira Sol

Friday, June 3, 2011

Daily Sketch: Hope

I've noticed the daily-sketch and daily-photo as blog posts type of trend lately...and I have to say, I really like it. I think it is a great way to keep the creative juices flowing and you just never know what you're gonna get, which is great. I also really enjoy looking at other people's sketches and photos, so I thought I'd contribute to that which I love. I've had multiple ideas for daily-themed posts recently and have jotted them down to initiate later, when the time is just right.

As I sat here today, waiting on some things to scan, I started to organize things and found a semi-old sketchbook. I had forgotten all about the sketches I did so looking at them was like, "wow, I did that? Funny, I don't really remember doing that." That's why I love doing stuff like that, especially reading through old journals or diaries and reminiscently looking at old photos. Oh how I pine for nostalgia.

All that to say, I found a sketch I did that I vaguely remember doing but don't recall what inspired it, and I like it. I decided to call it, "hope". I also decided that I would start a daily sketch-book/journal post and that this sketch of "hope" will be the induction piece, if you will.

Mira Sol

Home Improvement Project: Foundation, Floor & Landscaping Part II

If you missed my first (of many, trust me) home improvement post that began ever-so appropriately with the foundation repair (I added a splash of color by introducing my backyard landscaping project, too), it may help to better understand this post by checking out the first! You can do that here
This post is less destructive than the first because the giant, gaping holes in my floor are no longer there and there is now beautiful, gleaming, brand new white oak wood flooring installed. Actually, as I type, the floors are complete, stain and all but I haven't had a chance to take pictures of that yet, so, I decided to go ahead and post the floors before the stain and then I'll post the completed "after" pictures a little later.

Here are a few pictures of the freshly installed white oak floors sans stain. Looked pretty nice even without the stain but I think it is too light and didn't harmonize with the living room walls very well.

This first picture looks like the entrance way to the quarantine station where "they" kept E.T.
Before picture. 

 This is one of my spare bedrooms.

Even though my knotty pine walls make my house a bit dark, I requested a darker stain because I wanted to match the dark brown/reddish knots in the walls and provide some nice contrast. I ended up choosing the first one, "Rosewood" because it had a bit of red tint to it, which seemed to work well with the red tint in the dark brown knots of the wood walls. I have to admit, I was extremely worried it would be too dark but I couldn't think of a better option so I committed and I must say, I am extremely happy with the final results.

Stay tuned for the final floors! Only thing is, I still don't have a kitchen floor. Right now, there is just the sub-floor exposed. I am not 100% what I will do with it yet as there is still a hump in my floor that the foundation repair didn't fix, so I am not sure what will work. I've been hearing that there is a self-leveling concrete that levels out such spaces. I thought that I wouldn't be able to do ceramic tile, which is what I want, but before I thought that would be possible, I started toying with the idea of linoleum tiles, checkered to look like this:

Moving on to the landscaping, my stress therapy...

I pretty much dug up my entire backyard. Like I said before, it was nothing but dirt before because it is so shady back there that no grass would grow. But I really am kind of happy about this because it allowed me to start the cottage garden I've always dreamed about. Anyway, this first photo is of all the treasures I found while digging in my yard. This is actually only some of them. I used quite a bit of the larger stones I found to line my garden bed borders. I felt like a kid again pretending to be an archaeologist (that is what I wanted to be when I grew least for a couple of years anyway).

I ended up having to install a few border fences as it turns out that my dog does not particularly like the way the pea gravel from the paths feel on her feet so she started running through the beds. I was using a cheap wire fence for the other beds, hoping that as the plants established themselves and grew a lot larger next year, that I could remove it once they did. But I decided to install this cute white picket-looking fence around this border. I think it doesn't look half bad, really. And it works, so that is good!

These next few pictures are of my front yard, just for good measure. I've been planting away in the front this year as well, so it felt like neglect to leave that out.

Some ceramic pieces I made that I didn't intend to be anything more than just to test glazes. But they look cool as yard art! This is at the base of one of my trees

These last two are of some planters that actually were designed to be placed in a wall at the entrance of my house. I'll post photos of them installed when I take photos of the final floors, with furniture, etc. I took these right after I planted these succulents, which I am in love with!!! 

Whew, I've been busy...
I think next year I'll build some raised beds for my back alleyway and grow veggies...the fun never ends!

Has anybody else been home improving or gardening lately? Care to share some ideas?