Monday, February 28, 2011

"Where we blog from" on Ill seen Ill said

My livingroom

My Frieda Kahlo action figure by artist Suzie Smith

Today Jane Flanagan of ill seen ill said featured a few pics of my livingroom as part of her 'Where we blog from' series. You can take a look here.

Press: Canadian Originals

Writer Joyce Mcfarlane interviewed me last week for Canadian originals: a blog which celebrates Canadian artists + designers. You can read it here.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

New Work: Birdcage pattern

New Birdcage pattern Lime + blue colourway

A peek behind the process

I first do lots of sketches by hand
The first few are always too stiff + perfect
It takes a while (+ music + coffee) to loosen up

Loosening up

Bird sketches which I had on file.

Then I scan my fave sketches into the computer and put the drawing together in Photoshop

Next step is to choose colour

For inspiration I go into my ongoing colour file that I keep on my desktop.
In this case I chose a fabric that I had photographed while at Anthropologie last week.
(Yes secret revealed!)
I thought the combo of lime, blue + taupe was just gorgeous plus it had a real retro look which I was after.

I make up a swatch of the colours

And then used them to colour my illustrations.
* Note: I slighty altered my technique today by opaquely colouring in over the linework of the birds and some of the cage. This gives the illustration a more vintage look as this technique was often used in the 1950s.

After completing 5 birds this way I used the cut + paste keys in Photshop to create a repeat pattern. I then added a light tan colour underneath.

Here are 2 more colourways.

Girly pink and red.

Retro orange + blue.

Inspiration: Hillman Curtis

Hillman Curtis speaking at The Film Society at Lincoln Center

Good advice.

I was feeling really stuck earlier today so I watched this wonderful Creative Morning video with web designer turned filmmaker Hillman Curtis.

Hillman explained that when he was in a serious rut he got some advice to "Fall in love with Master." In his case the Master was Richard Avedon. Through the process of seriously studying the photographer's body of work he was able to get unstuck, discover his voice and begin a brand new career in filmmaking.

I find his openess with the creative process + his modesty to be inspirational + endearing. Plus it must be said that the guy is seriously hot.

Trip to the Junction

On the weekend I took a trip to the Junction with my friend Valerie.

First stop: A visit to Reclamation Post and Beam
A salvage shop which offers architectural details + fixtures gathered at auction houses, demolitions, estate sales and on country jaunts! Amazing one of a kind finds.
2869 Dundas St West

Valerie thought this black and white gable would add some much needed character to a modern concrete loft!

I think maybe I need this pine cupboard circa 1890

Then over to Smash
2880 Dundas Street West

These old windows would make amazing room dividers

Valerie with old stocking lasts

Brunch at the beet cafe afterwards.
2945 Dundas Street West.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Inspiration: Biz Stone Cofounder of Twitter

Great interview on Fresh Air with the cofounder of Twitter Biz Stone. I found his description of Twitter's creation very interesting. He explained that he + cofounder Jack Dorsey were supposed to be working on their podcast company Odeo but were uninspired and felt the need to 'scratch an itch'. This description fit nicely into one of my theories of work: that often the most exciting projects for creative folks are the ones they aren't supposed to be doing!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Inspiration: Q + A with Sandra Shamas

Susan Cole interviewed the wonderful writer/comedian Sandra Shamas at the Drake a couple weeks ago. I wasn't able to make it so was very happy to see that NOW magazine had taped it. She has long been an inspiration. You can watch it here.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

New Alphabet Wallpaper Designs

All Designs are based on the alphabet above which I created in 2006

A mock up of the reversed out Black + White alphabet wallpaper.
A perfect backdrop in the home of a graphic designer or writer!

Red + White Alphabet

Orange + White alphabet

Here are some wallpaper designs I've been working on. They are still in the prototype stage ie. You can't order them yet! Let me know your favourite colour combo.
All work is @ copyright Alanna Cavanagh 2011.
Please do not reproduce without permission. Thanks!

Inspiration: Living Etc magazine + Fornasetti

Isn't this studio/office amazing?
I love how the utilitarian furniture is contrasted with the very whimsical Fornasetti pieces.
And don't you think everyone should have some storms clouds + a naked roman lady looking over them as they work!

While working on some pattern samples yesterday I went through a big stack of Living etc magazines for inspiration. In the January 2011 issue there's an amazing piece on the home of Barnaba Fornasetti (the son who took over the design house after the death of his father Piero)
The photos took my breath away and went right up on my inspiration board!

Little Home Reno update + Some thoughts on Colour

We started with this....

and now it's lookin' like this

I know i know... it looks like my last bedroom!
Walls are Ben Moore Chelsea grey
Pillow by Judy Ross

Ok so it has been ages since I posted a reno update so here's a peek at what's been going on Chez Alanna. I put in two walls to create a private bedroom and a large vestibule. Painted the bedroom Ben Moore Chelsea grey as usual and got a new bed! Next step is to get an upholstered headboard which I'm hoping will pull the room together.

Isn't this stunnning?! LOVE the mustard headboard.

I was gonna go very neutral with the headboard in a nice grey in felt or linen but after seeing the beautiful photo above i'm inspired to do the headboard in a fun colour that will really pop off the grey walls. Am thinking either a mustard as in the Judy Ross pillow or my all time favourite colour: limey chartreuse.

*Dear Readers - Your feedback is most welcome in this serious matter.*
(Please note the irony of that statement)

Now that's a grey!
Photo from the marion house book

Colour note: The Chelsea grey is ok but am now wishing I'd gone with a more dark slatey grey like in the dreamy photo above. I think the paint might be Farrow and Ball's Down Pipe.
Looks much better huh?
I say Learn from my mistakes Dear Readers!

ps. I very much wish I didn't have a mind that obsessed about colour so much... but alas I do.

and pss. I found the bathroom photo on a great new blog The Marion House Book which is written by an Exhibit/ Interior designer and fellow West - Ender Emma Reddington. Emma has really great style - reminiscent of what one finds in the British Decor mags like Living etc + Elle Decor UK plus... she loves greys + blacks! Highly recommended.
(Thanks Kim for turning me onto Emma!)

Inspiration: Anthropologie

Close up
Took a field trip to Anthropologie yesterday. Very inspired by the giant paper flowers on the second floor. Am thinking it'd be fun to make some of these for my apt! What a great way to bring a sense of whimsy to a place.

Looking at these animal masks also gave me a craving to do some paper mache. I think getting covered with flour + newspaper would be a welcome antidote to spending so much time in front of the computer.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Did you make what you wanted to make?

Watched this Creative morning video with Andrew Zukerman last week.
Loved his line "It doesn't matter how many books you got published, or how many hits you got in You tube.. the question is "Did you make what you wanted to make?"

Monday, February 14, 2011

Big Orange Scissor print is available

Big Orange Scissors print in the home of Liz + Steve
Photo by Michael Graydon for Wish Magazine

Several folks have inquired about the Big Orange scissors print from the Style at Home Booth so here is the info:
The print measures 29.5" X 42" and is hand screened on BFK Rives paper from France.
From a 2nd Edition of 30
Signed and Numbered
Available unframed for 895.00
I ship worldwide via Fed Ex.

What does the scissors mean?

I love scissors because they are a very simple tool with a lot of creative power! The image therefore represents the ability + celebration of making things - particularly within limited resources.
When I was young my mom was incredibly supportive of my zany "art making ways" and always kept me well supplied in crayons, markers + scissors so the print is also a homage to her.

Big Orange Scissors framed in black in my friend Kim's house

Friday, February 11, 2011

Yay Egypt: Mubarak steps down

Was such an historic day today... felt wrong to write about wallpaper or linen headboards. (Have no fear I'll be writing about that tomorrow!)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

Inspiration: Textile designer Lourdes Sánchez

I love how the colours bleed

Love these dottie dottie dots.

Very Paul Klee-ish

What stunning colours in this IKAT pattern

Bull's Eye Rug designed for West Elm

I'm working on some surface design samples this week so have been researching textile designers.

One favourite I've discovered recently is Lourdes Sánchez . I spotted the very colourful rug she designed for West Elm on the back page of the catalogue and immediately needed to know more about her. She is a Cuban born artist and textile designer who grew up in Queens + New Jersey. She works in hand painted watercolour media which gives her designs a beautiful fluidity. There is incredible variety within her textile line: including designs with dots, stripes, ikat patterns, and vintage florals. Her client list includes Crate and Barrel, Graphique de France, Clinique and Diane Von Furstenberg.

(Would love to know more about her creative process. Have added her to my list of people I'd like to interview for uppercase magazine!)

ps. I think it's really great that West Elm does so many collaborations. It gives the artists great exposure and adds a juiciness to the company. Have noticed that many other shops including Anthropologie + J. Crew are following this model.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Press: Covet Garden Blog

Photography by Tracy Shumate

The new Covet Garden issue is out and it is stunning! It features the soulful home of set buyer Alex Hooper and design director Paul van Dongen. Beautiful photos with tons of mood + texture (as usual!) by Tracy Shumate. Thanks to Alex + Paul for listing me as one of their favourite artists on the new Covet Garden Blog. Means a lot coming from styley guys like you. xxx

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Behind an Illustration

As promised here is a peek at the process behind the Style at Home mural.

1. Margot Austin requests a fanciful image with a "Dorothy Draper-meets-Alice-in-Wonderland" vibe. The piece must be created using colours in the Style at Home Beautitone paint series. Suggests the Anthropologie catalogue for inspiration.

2. The Anthropologie catalogue is hugely inspiring. Filled with wonderous images which combine photographs of the models with Victorian toys, overscale props, whimsical chickens and sheep! Really amazing.
(FYI The Design cognescenti suspect that Tim Walker is behind the catalogue)

Am now inspired to combine my illustration with some Victorian Advertising cuts for an extra surreal dimension.

3. Research Dorothy Draper. This is one of the hotels she designed.
See this blog post.

4. After doing lots of sketches I scan my drawings plus some images from a catalogue of 19C Advertising cuts and put the image together in Photoshop.
Above is one of several sketches sent.
I liked the little Victorian man with the bowler hat chatting to the peacock. :-)

5. The team chooses this sketch but requests that I change the chandelier to a George Nelson bubble lamp and the old chair to an Arne Jacobson Egg Chair for a fun new + old mix.

6. I carry out the revisions plus also add a clock because I am a perfectionist.
This revision is approved. Ready to move onto colour.

7. I scan in all the paint chips. I then use the eye dropper in Photoshop to grab the hue and bring it into my illustration.

I chose to use a limited palette of blues + greens because this usually gives a more sophisticated look. The paint chip names are Wasabi, Pool, Trinity Blazer and Viburnum.

10. The team liked the 'colour family' but asked for me to switch around some colours.
Above is the Final approved image.

11. I then converted the file from RGB to CMYK and sent it off to the printer Pierre at Mural Unique where he did a great job of scaling it to 12.6 feet X 10 feet and then printing it out onto wallpaper strips.

12. Ta da.