April 11, 2014

Springtime in the Studio: Circle of Life

Posted by Cathy Heck

Well, I think this might be my very first sad blog story. But it’s not completely sad … it’s all mixed up, happy and sad. Like life.

It all started with this … the exciting new nest that was built in a planter right next to the walkway to our front door.

CathyHeckStudio_SpringtimeBirds1 Every time I headed out the door, the mom bird would zoom out of the nest and race to the driveway, chirping loudly, as if she was saying, “There isn’t anything over there in that planter right by your front door–all the good wildlife is over here near your car.”

I would smile and nod and pretend like I didn’t know about the nest that had FIVE whole eggs in it. Yes, I peeked inside. Every. Time. I. Walked. By.

Then, one day, I heard some tiny little cheeps, even though the mom bird was yelling at me from the garage. So I raced to get my camera, and there they were … five little birds. Clearly, they thought I was their mom coming back with some excellent worms.

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This daily reminder of new life and new possibilities gave a little pep to my step each time I passed by.

But, then, one day, as I walked by, the mom didn’t race out, and she didn’t chirp me toward the garage, and the babies just stared at me. “We are pretty sure you are not our mother.”

And, I thought, “Uh oh.” When Jim came home, I said I hadn’t seen the mom all day. And he said that he was afraid of that. That morning, a bird, that Jim suspected was the mom, had miscalculated and thought our window was the sky, and, well … Jim had had to bury her in our little garden graveyard for birds who think our windows are the sky.

We thought about taking the nest, complete with baby birds, to the science department (with some worms from the bait stand, of course), but then we saw a grown-up bird who seemed to be feeding the orphans. So we decided to let nature do its thing. But, after a few days, there were no more peeps and no movement. Things were just looking … well, dead. It made me feel so sad every time I walked past. I don’t know why it affected me so … but it did.

So, it was decided that when Jim came home from work, he would pull out the whole nest, and bury it in the garden graveyard. We tried to make ourselves feel better by telling ourselves that it was just the circle of life. But we still felt gloomy.

Then, that very day, as I slowly shuffled down the walkway to pick up my mail, I heard a little flutter. What? No way! There were two little fluffy birds, who had pushed their way out of the nest. “Oh my gosh. Two are alive!” (Unfortunately, the others were not, R.I.P.) But, still, I felt so much better.

At first the two strong survivors just sat there. (I think they look a bit angry in this photo … and I can understand why they would. They had experienced a very rough childhood.)

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As they sat there just huffing and puffing, I was worried, “Who is going to teach them to fly?” But they gathered their courage and the first one put her foot out to begin the first flight … and fell straight down to the ground. Hopped up. Began to flit and flitter, until she was flying. Her sibling followed suit and off they went into the wild blue yonder … well, really just into the tree next to our yard. Apparently they have to travel branch to branch for awhile before they can conquer the wild blue yonder.

So, as you can imagine, there were lots of ups and downs on the walkway to and from Cathy Heck Studio last week. But, the skies are looking blue, and we are busy making new art for Spring 2015 … some of it might even include a bird, or two! Happy springtime.

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Categories: about us

March 29, 2014

Inspiration Break: Lunch With A Zebra

Posted by Cathy Heck

Our weekend blogger, Julianna, reports today from studio east in Norfolk, Virginia, where she recently took an inspiration excursion to the zoo.

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I had lunch with a zebra this week. Well, that was an odd sentence … but it’s true! I really did have lunch with a zebra, and a tiger, and several giraffes, and even an elephant. When the weather is nice, there is nothing quite like going to the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk for a little lunch and a light stroll. We usually make some sandwiches, fill our backpacks and head off to see the animals. I have been to the Norfolk zoo about 50 times, so really, I am just eating lunch with my friends.

In addition to our lunches, I always pack my sketchbook, because there is nothing quite like drawing a zebra while looking at a zebra.

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March 20, 2014

First Day of Spring 2014: Fashion Report

Posted by Cathy Heck

On this, the first day of spring, in many places across the land, the spring flowers peeked out of the winter soil … and then ran back in to get their jackets … except for Crocus, who loves a springtime fashion event whether rain or shine or snow. She couldn’t wait to show off her 2014 resort wear sporting a skimpy Pantone 18-3224 Radiant-Orchid bikini.

Happy First Day of Spring. And to our northern friends, we hope things are finally thawing in your neck of the woods. And, if these are the only flowers you see today, we hope that they put you into a springtime mood and inspire you to do a little happy dance just knowing that spring will indeed finally arrive, like always, full of possibility … and flip flops.

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March 17, 2014

Just In Case You Forgot To Wear Green to the Office Today

Posted by Cathy Heck

When I forget to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day, I just say it’s on my underwear. I know that’s a little green lie, but when your office is in your home, your co-workers might be five years old, and the idea of being allowed to pinch mom is just too appealing … all … day … long. (My co-workers are no longer little, but we did have five-year olds on staff for a very long time.)

So if you still have little colleagues, feel free to use my underwear-decor excuse. However, if you are afraid it’s bad luck to lie on St. Patrick’s Day, here are some slivers of green from the leprechans at the Cathy Heck Studios in Texas, Virginia and California.

To avoid a pinch, you can just reach up and touch your screen, saying, “You can’t pinch me, I’m wearing my green in pixels today.” That counts, right? I mean it IS 2014.

Enjoy a pinchless St. Pat’s, and we hope you receive some excellent iLuck today and throughout the year.

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Note: We do not have a new puppy … this is a #memory monday photo of Neville when he was but a wee lad, before he realized that he would have to spend the rest of his life dressing up as everyone from the Easter bunny to Neville O’Heck.

Wishing a safe and happy St. Patrick’s Day to all!

 

March 14, 2014

Eggs: ‘Tis the Season for Fresh and New

Posted by Cathy Heck

A few days ago, a dear friend brought me these beautiful farm-fresh eggs to brighten my day. Not only did they bring a smile … but also an excellent springtime color story.

Cath: “Thank you and wow, let me just save these colors before we turn them into Kiki’s Delicious Deviled Eggs.”

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Then, the very next day, this flannel fabric strike-off (above) arrived in our studio west for corrections and review. We would love to tell you that the eggs above were the inspiration for the Humpties below, but these drawings were completed months ago. So, perhaps this is actually a case of reverse-inspiration … or maybe scrambled déja vu.

In any case, they both are examples of happy new things to come. Hope you are having a little hint of springtime in your neck of the woods.

P.S. You can enjoy these soft flannels all over again in the late spring when they hit the market as part of our upcoming collection, Nursery Rhyme Kingdom, coming out with David Textiles.

P.P.S. Here’s the recipe for Kiki’s Delicious Deviled Eggs, and don’t worry, these are just as delicious with eggs of a more subtle color story.

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Note: Kiki was Greek, and added Cavender’s to everything, but if you don’t have any on hand, these are still tasty, just not so Greek. From time to time, we have also added a tiny bit of lemon juice for a little extra zing.  As you can see, this is one of those recipes that is slightly different every time you make it. But always delicious.

 

Categories: about us

March 6, 2014

New Hilltop Garden Bunny Collection with Pottery Barn

Posted by Ellen Heck

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Now that Fat Tuesday is behind us, it’s time to start planning for Easter brunch, and the decor surrounding it.

We have one more exciting collection debut this spring with Pottery Barn – Hilltop Garden. It’s actually an expansion of last year’s bunny themed group, with some additional pillows, a set of ceramic plates, a welcome mat, and various table linens.

Visit Pottery Barn’s BLOG, Inside & Out, to read a fun little behind the design feature on the group here. Happy spring!

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March 4, 2014

Delicious Memories of New Orleans on Fat Tuesday

Posted by Cathy Heck

Today is Fat Tuesday. Not only are you allowed to eat all things fat today, but it is encouraged. You gotta love a day like that.

As you know, I am a big fan of bac_ _. But when this fine porcine fellow showed up on our blog, I thought maybe I should try to think of some alternate fats this year. This should not be a problem, because I am also an admirer of all things buttered. Bring on the dairy.

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I recommend starting your day of debauchery with a nice big slice of your last King Cake of the season … buttered, of course. We lived in New Orleans when Ellen was a little girl, and we loved every delicious minute of it. Not only did we catch millions of Mardi Gras beads to stock our dress-up box for the next 20 years, but we ate plenty of fat on Fat Tuesday … and maybe on other days.

Below is a photo of Ellen post-parade. Her sisters had not arrived yet, so she had an overflowing box of beads. In fact, when the next two Hecklettes did arrive, we had a lifetime supply of beads for every occasion in need of adornment.

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From all of us at Cathy Heck Studio, we hope your Fat Tuesday is filled with friends, family, shiny beads, and the fat of your choosing … even if it’s you-know-what.

 

February 28, 2014

Printmaking Class at the Rusty Barn

Posted by Cathy Heck

Our printmaking-in-heaven class in Santa Barbara is over and Ellen and I are back in our respective studios–renewed, rejuvenated and remembering the fun. The Rusty Barn was an amazing place to make art. And, Ellen was a thoughtful teacher for the Combination Woodcut and Drypoint Workshop held last weekend for a group of talented artists. Here is the story of our three-day printarama from the perspective of the mom-student and daughter-teacher.

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AN INTERVIEW WITH EACH OTHER

Cathy: Ellen, I know it’s probably hard to choose, but who would you say was your favorite student?

Ellen: Well, Mom … it was definitely you.

Cathy: Are you just saying that because I brought you some Peeps?

Ellen: No, you really did listen carefully, and follow instructions … most of the time.

Photo below: Cathy pulls a woodblock print … mostly following directions–my print is sideways and on back of paper. This does not happen again. Learning from mistakes is a silver lining.

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Ellen: Mom, can you tell us what you learned about printmaking in pictures and words?

Cathy: I will be delighted to share. First, the teacher (Ellen) asked us to introduce ourselves and tell a bit of our art histories. I was definitely the least experienced in printmaking, but I had come to the class with enthusiasm and some new tools. (More about my tools later.)

Photo below: Some of us working at one of the inking tables in the bright and cheerful art barn.

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Cathy: First we learned how to use our drypoint tools to etch a copper plate. We also learned that the soon-to-be-extinct phone book page is an excellent tool for wiping down the copper before printing.

Photo below left: Ellen demonstrates copper plate prep with a smile. Below right: My plate becoming shiny bright from the K section of the Santa Barbara phone book.

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Ellen: Mom, you really picked up where you left off thirty years ago with the drypoint tools … how did you like the new experience of woodblock printing?

Cathy: Not my favorite. I was definitely more comfortable carving into copper than into wood. I will go ahead and admit right here that when I started the woodcutting stage, my wood splintered all over the place. I quickly called the teacher: “Ellen, I don’t think I can be a woodcutter.” Ellen said, “Let me see your tools. Oh dear, Mom, I think you accidentally bought jewelry carving tools.” I replied, “Uh-oh.” Ellen gently assured me: “But don’t worry. I can set you up with some proper tools.” (Whew! It’s good to know the teacher.)

Here are some photos below of my painstaking and painful wood carving attempt. (And these are even with the correct tools!) I realized after the last wood curl that I had not been making the proper rocking motion needed for pleasurable wood carving zen. I was more of a wood hacker than wood carver. I can assure you that I will not be quitting my day job!

Photo below left: chopped eggplant. Photo below right: the textbook method for NOT cutting wood to avoid gouging other hand. (Fortunately I had not gouged my hand … knock on woodblock.) Lower photo: Inking the wood block.

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Ellen: Although you were sort of fighting your woodblock, didn’t you have fun with the final surprise prints?

Cathy: I did! I love that about printmaking. No matter how much one tries to control the line, the plates and inks add their own artistic marks. It was a collaboration between me and my materials … the artist, the smooth copper plate, the jiggety line of the drypoint tool, and the stubborn wood block that would not mind me. Plus, remembering to write backwards!

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Cathy: I think my favorite print of the day was the one with all of our practice marks and your excellent cupcake for demonstrating all the different phases. What did you think of that one?

Ellen: I know. That’s what is so great about printmaking … even a sample print might turn out to be a masterpiece!

Photos below: Our sample piece upon which all of the artists practiced using different tools and pressures. The final print demonstrates that removing or softening lines (with burnishing) can be as important as creating them.

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Cathy: What was your favorite part of teaching the three-day print workshop?

Ellen: There were so many favorite parts. I loved getting to meet new artists (now friends) and watch them successfully engage with this uncommon combination of printmedia. The variety of responses to this technique was inspirational, and I know I learned a lot. It was also great to be able to spend quality time with Leslie Lewis Sigler, who was responsible for introducing me to Holli Harmon and Mary Ince, and who was a huge part of Cathy Heck Studio back in the days before the Heck sisters joined up.

Photo lower left: Ellen cheers on Leslie as she examines her first reveal. Lower right: Ellen bonding with Bruiser, who was not supposed to receive treats. (We are pretty sure Ellen accidentally gave some snacks to this cute studio pup. Lower photo: Ellen standing between new friends, Mary Ince and Holli Harmon, who are the artists-in-residence of the wonderful Rusty Barn studio.

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Cathy and Ellen: Thank you to everyone who participated in the art learning, art making and art sharing.  We loved every minute.

 

 

February 21, 2014

Printmaking Thirty Years Later

Posted by Cathy Heck

I am so excited to be heading to California to take a printmaking class from a printmaker that I know, Ellen Heck, the co-author of this very blog. Yes, the mom-artist will be learning from the daughter-artist.

Ellen is teaching a Combination Woodcut and Drypoint Workshop at The Rusty Barn in Santa Barbara. And, I was lucky enough to be accepted. (I think it might have been hard for them to turn down the mom.)

Interestingly, 30 years ago, almost exactly, I was taking my first printmaking class at the School of Visual Arts in New York in the evenings, after my day job as a freelance illustrator. When I finished the first session, I asked my teacher this, “Um, I just learned that I am pregnant. Should I take the next session, since it involves chemicals?” Teacher: “Um, no.” So, happily for that baby, who was Ellen by the way, I did not print away her brain cells. (Note: I am happy to report that printmaking has come a long way, and the use of chemicals today is far less toxic.)

And, if you are a mom, you might guess that I did not have a chance to take another printmaking class until … now. Thus, below is my first etching (1983) and (with the exception of a few more class projects) my last.

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For our first project at SVA, we just drew what we could see. I made an etching of my shoe. (I loved those Tretorns. I wore different versions for years.) For my new class, I can’t decide what to draw. Should I continue my shoe saga? Birds? Flowers? Food? Food could be good. Ellen suggested a self-portrait, but I keep thinking about the sound I make when I accidentally turn my phone camera toward myself, “Aaaaah.” It’s just so startling.

No matter what I decide to draw, I am definitely prepared. Here are my supplies ready to go: various knives and chisels, pencils, erasers, brayers, and even the very apron that I used in New York (the red one) … the white one is from one of our trade shows–I knew it would come in handy one day. I am also taking one Peep for the teacher. I’m not trying to bribe her, but I know she likes Peeps and if she happens to give me some special attention, well, so be it.

So California, here I come, with chisels and knives … and, yes, I’m pretty sure that my luggage will be inspected. If they don’t confiscate my new tools, I will send an update with my etching/woodcutting/snacking progress. I will also let you know if my teacher gives me an A.

 

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February 19, 2014

The Bewildered Gardener: Clockwork Camellias

Posted by Cathy Heck

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As you know, I am an accidental gardener.  Thus, every single year, on February 15ish, when our camellia bush puts on the show dog, I am simply amazed. It’s like clockwork. All the other flowering shrubs are still getting their beauty sleeps, and yet the camellia thinks it’s time to say, “HELLO DAAHLING!” (I think that’s how she might say it, if she could talk.)

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And, it’s possible that our show-off Southern florabelle must know she has a fan club.  Of all of our Pinterest pins, this one (shown below) has been re-pinned the most. We have even had a bride-to-be contact us to find out the way she could replicate these for her wedding. We were proud.

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If you would like to receive some excellent camellia decor cred, you can try this treatment above: stemless wine goblets (from Target $9.99) + camellia blooms + water = perfect. And, perfectly easy. Plus, when they have gone to camellia heaven, you can use your wine goblets for … well, wine … perhaps a rosé in honor of the flowers that christened them.

If your blooms are a bit smaller, as ours are this year, you can put several in one bowl. I picked these three today. They are happily floating together emanating just a faint scent … and hint of springtime to come.

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