July 10, 2014
Uppercase: The Color IssuePosted by Cathy Heck
It’s Uppercase time! We love this magazine. It is one of our favorite flavors of eye candy. Not only does a stack of Uppercase make an excellent tablescape for a studio, but the content inside is delicious.
And this month’s issue, Number 22 is all about COLOR. (As you might guess, I love color almost as much as bacon.)
Below is the excellent cover by Shelley Davies, enticing all artists, and you know you are one, to open the magazine and take a trip down rainbow road.
And, we are delighted that one little stop you might make along the way is an article with my answer to the question sent out to artists, “What Does Colour Mean To You?”
Here is a taste of our studio color from Uppercase:
There are so many more wonderful contributions from other artists in this volume of color. In fact, this special issue is organized by spectrum. Here’s a great little video illustrating the creation of the issue. So, if you are radical about red or obsessed with orange or loyal to lavender, Issue #22 is for you. You can subscribe for your quarterly dose of inspiration here.
And, while you are waiting for your candy to arrive, you might want to pull out your own color medium of choice and make some art. By the way, we consider raspberries and chocolate perfectly suitable art mediums for summertime masterpieces.
June 21, 2014
After Surtex: Walton Ford ExhibitPosted by Ellen Heck
By the kind of serendipity that seemed a credit to New York, we walked into Paul Kasmin Gallery to see Walton Ford’s current show just as he started an artist talk. Standing in front of Tigress, one of three large-scale watercolors that fill the first gallery space, he began with a bit of his own history—how his naturalist, narrative watercolors have evolved over time, and critical thoughts on narrative art in general.
Over the past twenty years, Ford has developed a clear artistic voice by firmly rooting his practice in the well-established canon of natural history illustration and narrative allegory, while also stepping just outside the conventional etiquette of those genres. In the beginning, he said, the process was more formulaic: “take a natural history illustration and subvert it.” Ford tweaks images that we are prepared to see as simply specimens, physically–through scale, and conceptually–through depictions of violence, debauchery, and the juxtaposition of objects and animals that are not usually found in the same picture plane.
But there is more to these works than a mustache on the Mona Lisa. Ford’s compositions are also well-researched. He puts himself into narratives unearthed from medieval bestiaries and arcane fables and permeates his carefully-constructed compositions with the immersive empathy of a method actor. As he is telling us the story behind Tigress, a scene imagined from a Persian manual on kidnapping cubs, my own mother tears up as he describes how the mother tiger is continuously halted in her pursuit. The poachers are instructed to throw glass orbs behind them as they race away on horseback, each one reflecting the mother’s image and confusing her into thinking she sees her babies, until she is lost in an overwhelming accumulation of glass and her own reflections.
On an entirely gossipy note: Vogue claims that Leonardo DiCaprio might have been the purchaser of this particular piece. And for an even juicier article, the WSJ delivers on anecdotes about the artist—though there’s not too much about his art.
Ford then went on to talk more critically about narrative art, specifically about keeping interpretations open. He used two paintings by Pre-Raphaelite William Holman Hunt as examples of stepping on either side of the very thin line between good and bad narrative.
The Awakening Conscience, Ford compared to Norman Rockwell paintings, condemning both for closing all but one door to viewer interpretation. On the other hand, he pointed out that The Scapegoat, by the very same artist, is a masterpiece for communicating emotion, but allowing for endless possibilities when it comes to narrative. Hearing both this and Ford’s own–the real–narrative behind the Tigress, I felt a new appreciation for the piece.
Originally, I had thought the crystal balls were stones, or perhaps cannon balls, and even though I wish, knowing the story, they had been painted with reflections and a real sense of light-refracting glass, I think the strength of the piece rests in Ford’s intimacy with his version of the story. It allows him to portray all the details that mysteriously translate an emotion while leaving doors open for the rest of us.
Another strong ten-foot watercolor in the show was Rhyndacus. This elegantly-composed, satisfyingly enormous, apparently autobiographical allegory was also just plain gorgeous. The press release tells the story behind this one. Here’s a photo of the artist and his work for scale:
And the admirer inspecting the details for more scale:
Admittedly, even though I had read the measurements in Taschen’s monograph of Walton Ford, Pancha Tantra (which was my Christmas present this year and is an excellent art book), the scale took me by surprise. It was impressive—especially from far away. Even better, it is also not just size for the sake of size: Ford’s works are often large because his animals are rendered at a scale of 1:1. The enormous snake by the Rhyndacus river was a 60-foot legend, and tigers and elephants and bears are all huge.
I was glad to be able to see for the first time both the artist and his work. After fantasizing over his book for the last six months, it was a thrill to see the larger-than-life life-sized.
June 18, 2014
Washi WorldPosted by Ellen Heck
Setting up for Surtex is certainly all about cutting, gluing and taping … but, here is another kind of tape we played with when we weren’t taping artwork to our booth walls.
I’ve never known a Heck who didn’t like a craft project. At Anthropologie in Chelsea Market this year (we always have to go—for research purposes of course) the theme was washi tape. There was even a crafting table with rolls of tape and blank boxes and ornament cards to decorate.
Notice a family resemblance?
In particular, we thought this little box with the folded flower top and tiny legs—which unfolds completely flat—was especially intriguing.
It’s all these little great ideas that keep us coming back year after year—for research purposes of course. And maybe a dress. Or two…
June 14, 2014
Another Important Thing About DadsPosted by Cathy Heck
Wishing all those awesome fathers out there a perfect day with some XLarge hugs … or cyber hugs. Happy Father’s Day!
June 9, 2014
Surtex, Part 3: Trends and FriendsPosted by Cathy Heck
“Did you see any new trends?” This is the question we hear most often upon our return from Surtex. The dilemma is that it is difficult for Surtex artists to see new trends, because we are all manning our booths! All day. Every day. Making trends.
However, my boothmates and I did find time for a little trend-spotting during our many treks for water refills. Below are a few of the hot themes and colors that we noticed were either new or back again. Now comes the tricky part. We have to decide if a trend is on the way in … or on the way out … and draw accordingly. Sometimes, we wonder if it might just be safer to get out the Ouija board. (Wait … that was once a trend … Hm. A trend searching for a trend. I might be on to something!)
So here is our official list from Surtex, National Stationery Show and the streets of New York. (Note: All data was gathered without the advice of the Ouija Board.)
The good news is that no matter which trends are in and which are out, there is something at Surtex that never becomes old hat … the new artist friendships that we make every year. Here are a few shapshots from our Surtex neighborhood this year.
We had a beautiful view across the aisle from pink paisleys to purple parrots: Meet our neighbors, Diane Kappa from Seattle, Washington, and Nina Favata from Ridgewood, New Jersey. Next door to Nina lived Rachel Gresham from Nashville, Tennessee and her lovely helper, Jill Raney, while our next door neighbors were Colleen MacDonald and Alanna George of Hot Fudge Studio, which, I must say, is a very delicious name for a company.
And, we were so happy to arrive and see our fun neighbor from last year, Sheila Meehan, who is an artists’ agent and consultant. Sheila is wise and wonderful, and funny, too, which are all very nice traits for a next-door neighbor.
And, finally, the youngest neighbor to visit us was from around the corner … the adorable baby belonging to Ana Davis. And as you know, we love babies! Plus, we thought this outfit coordinated very nicely with our booth decor.
So that’s a wrap for Surtex 2014. We had a great time in our home-away-from-home with so many talented artists and art directors from all over the world. It was a great show.
June 4, 2014
SURTEX 2014: Part 2, Louie Awards, The Oscars of CardsPosted by Cathy Heck
Conversation overheard at the Surtex booth of Cathy Heck Studio
Susan Birnbaum and Tom Vituj of Design Design, Inc: “Congratulations!!”
Cathy , Ellen and Julianna: “Thanks! … um … for what?”
Susan and Tom: “You won a Louie!”
Cathy, Ellen and Julianna: “We did?”
It’s true! … and as you can see looking at the photo above … Ellen and Jules are even walking on a red carpet to go see it! The piece that won was a boxed Christmas card that Ellen designed, called Snow Angels. produced by Design Design. It was also sold as gift wrap, and this year, they will be adding cocktail napkins and hankie packets. Snow Angels was also sold as a fun glittery holiday fabric through David Textiles.
P.S. We know most of you do not want to think, for one minute, about sparkly white snow after this very long winter, so, until next winter, we hope you can enjoy making snow angels on the beach in the warm white sand. Happy summer!
May 30, 2014
SURTEX 2014: Part 1, Stitching Up A BoothPosted by Cathy Heck
Ahhh SURTEX. Our booth this year involved a little stitching. In a big way. We decided to feature our new hand-made eco-hip Made With Love collection, and, as you can see, the walls were covered with giant embroidered characters. And, no, we did not actually sew directly to the 8-foot panels (thanks for asking) … but many visitors wondered, and asked to touch the walls–just to make sure. We felt proud … like the peacock behind us.
So, how did we achieve the booth seen in the photo above? Well, as you might guess, a heck of a lot of stitching. (Please forgive the pun about our own name.)
First, we stitched the pre-show marketing.
Then we stitched the wall panels.
Then we stitched giant ABC blocks to hold our samples, and flags to adorn our flowers, and an owl that said, “What?” We even stitched the logo for our sign. (And, yes, you are correct. It is possible that we were, perhaps, in need of a bit of intervention.)
I can now report, however, that although our usual mediums are paint, pencil and pixels, we loved drawing with thread. And, we could tell that our Surtex visitors could feel the love.
For example, above is an enthusiastic art director who loves our work. Okay, I admit it. Since we rarely have a chance to take a picture when we are meeting with clients, this is actually a pretend enthusiastic buyer, played by Ming Platt, fellow artist and friend. But, we think she did an excellent job portraying the typical exhuberance felt by those viewing our portfolios.
And, then suddenly, like our owl, we were saying, “What?”
Surtex was over. It had come and gone. It was time to move out of our embroidered home-away-from-home and get back to our drawing tables … and sewing chairs. Now the real work will begin–developing favorite collections for our clients, old and new. And after that, we are lucky enough to enjoy knowing that we have created artwork for someone somewhere who will find the sweetest baby book, or the cutest fabric, or the perfect card to give to someone he or she loves. That’s the best part of all.
May 26, 2014
Happy Memorial Day from Cathy Heck StudioPosted by Cathy Heck
A Memorial Day thank you to all of those who have served to keep us safe and free. We are grateful every day.
And, we hope that all of you are enjoying this holiday with family and friends.
From the Heck family and all of the studio critters
May 18, 2014
SURTEX is now!Posted by Cathy Heck
SURTEX is now. Come and see us! And, if you can’t make it to New York, come see us cyberly from our new updated website. We will be sure to report back on new trends and new friends, as well as any dining discoveries we make in between.
May 16, 2014
A Pack of Pachyderms from Cathy Heck StudioPosted by Cathy Heck
This year, at SURTEX, we are featuring our new collection, Made With Love. And, indeed, all of the original art was stitched by hand–a labor of love. And time. The silver lining was, however, that we could stitch the art while enjoying a variety of excellent PBS programs … except Sherlock. (You CANNOT stitch and watch Sherlock with any hope of following his digitally displayed deductive reasoning.)
During SURTEX, we will also be sharing many other collections, which have been created with a variety of media. Sometimes, an art director will ask us, “What medium do you use?” And, our answer might be, “What medium would you like us to use?” We enjoy choosing the perfect material to fit the collection: watercolor or gouache, cut-outs or collage, pencil or pixels–or all of the above. We think it makes the final collection stronger. Plus, it’s more fun.
So, we recruited a few of our studio elephants to help us compile a packet showing the variety of mediums and styles we use in the studio. See some of the samples from our Pack of Pachyderms below.
If you are an art director looking for a painterly elephant of a giraffe in stitches, please come by our booth. We would love to visit. (And if you have to miss the safari party this year, just give us a call when we are back in the studio, and we’ll party digitally.)
Hope to see you at SURTEX. Cathy, Ellen, and JuliannaOlder Posts »