Friday, March 16, 2018

Studio Tour

It's "March Meet the Maker" (evidentially) and so I thought it would be fun to give you a tour of my studio and tell you about a few things that make my workspace fun and inspiring.

I use my second bedroom as my home studio. It overlooks Lake Union in Seattle, WA. Sounds include seaplanes flying over, boat horns blowing when the Fremont bridge is being raised, and rain against my window because it rains a lot here.

Some artists prefer going to an actual studio to work because they are more productive. I like the idea of doing that, but I'm a bit of a hermit and enjoy waking up and immediately going to work rather than having to commute somewhere. Who knows, maybe I'll change my mind in the future? However, I do miss having studio mates.

I get beautiful natural light in my studio and apartment because we have skylights and north facing windows. When photographing my artwork, I prefer it to be overcast because the lighting in my studio is soft and perfectly white.

My desk is usually covered with a week or two worth of art projects. Because it's my own art space, I let the chaos build up until one day I decide to tidy up. But realistically it's hard for me to keep it perfectly clean.

My only studio mate is my cat, Willow. She's a 5-year-old black and white domestic cat. Sometimes she'll come and keep me company by sitting next to me on my bench while I work, or if she's bored and wants attention she will walk all over my artwork. I learned to never leave water unattended:p.

I have a Mason and Hamlin upright grand piano that we hauled all the from Utah (and we currently live on the third floor with no elevator so that tells you how much I love it). It was a treasure that Andrew and I hunted for together and I just couldn't leave it home. It's a lot of fun to have it in my studio because when I need a break from my art I go and dink around on the keys. Andrew also plays the piano and sometimes we play duets together. Right now Andrew is learning Debussy's Images 2 and I'm learning and trying to memorize Rachmaninov Prelude Op. 23 No. 4 in D Major.

I've started to collect pencil sharpeners. The one on the left is a model T car from the 1950's but is terrible at sharpening my pencils. The one on the right is a ship sharpener that Andrew found for me while we were in Salem and it sharpens very well.

For the last few years, I've used my piano bench as my desk chair, but I decided I needed something with back support and found this comfy velvet blush chair. I'm not much of a pink person but it was such a fun color that I couldn't resist.

 I can't paint my walls in my apartment so I scattered gold dots all over my studio to make it more whimsical, (but I really have my eye set on whale wallpaper). Since I'm a children's book illustrator it's ok for my studio to look like a kids room right? Also, isn't this sailboat kite fun? Andrew and I sail on Lake Union during the summer so I thought this was a great find for my studio.

What do I usually wear to work? Since my studio floats above a hallway below there's no insulation and so during the winter, my studio gets so cold! Sometimes in the morning, the temperature says 48 degrees (yikes), so I usually wear yoga pants and sweatshirts. 
When I'm working with paint, I throw on paint clothes and this fabulous apron that I've had since I was 9 years old. My older brother made it for me (he was quite the sewer in his 7th grade home ec class). The head is a little small but as you can tell it's been well loved. I like the bright fuschia 90's fabric he used from my mom's pile of leftover fabric.

Anyways....I hope you enjoyed the tour of my studio.

xo, Tessa

Monday, February 5, 2018

Happiness Stop-Motion

I've been looking forward to writing this post since March of last year. Work got a little busy, but I found a little break in my schedule so I could finally share a unique and fun collaboration I got to work on.

If you follow me on Instagram you know that I create stop-motion animations out of paper from time to time. They are a blast to create, but lots of time and love goes into each of those clips. 

I learned this unique skill from my friend, Holly Richins. She taught me how to create stop-motion animations and I'm so grateful she did!

Last year in March, Holly asked if I could help her with a special project. Her sweet Aunt Debbie was (and still is, unfortunately) battling cancer. Debbie wanted to make something special dedicated to her children and grandchildren that illustrated her perspective on the key to happiness, and what she had been learning throughout her life and especially during her incredibly difficult trial.

So Holly and I took Debbie's own tale of the parable of the currant bush (by Hugh B Brown) and made it come to life through stop-motion.

Here's a small behind the scenes preview:

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Designing the set was so delightful.  I wanted to make the images bright, beautiful, and a little whimsical.  I left a white border around the images which made them feel more like set pieces for a stage, and it made it easier to cut out which was a plus. 

Everything was painted using watercolor or gouache and I used colored pencils to give added texture.

I gave the gardener hinges so he could bend, move, and prune.

Stop motion set.

Creative Mess.

The set up where we placed the phone to keep it steady so we could take the photos.

Once the set was assembled it was time to film. This process is much easier and faster if you have two people helping: one person to move the objects (which takes a steady hand) and one person to take the photos (which also takes a steady hand).

* * * * * * 

The message of the video is inspiring to anyone going through a tough time in his or her life. We don't always see the big picture, especially when life is hard, but God does.

When we realize that there is meaning and purpose behind ALL of the difficult things that happen in our life, then it helps the tough moments seem a little bit easier to bear. We are able to grow from the trial and become a stronger us.

I don't know Debbie personally, but I am so happy that I got to illustrate her beautiful story. She is a strong woman filled with faith and light. Creating this project reminded me that art has the power to bring two strangers together and make them feel like old friends. 

***I hope you enjoy!***

Happiness from Holly Richins Productions on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

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