October 9, 2013

A Garden Flower Faux Pas Corrected

Posted by Cathy Heck


Another segment from a fledgling gardener, who grew up in West Texas, land of high skies and little foliage.

Our apologies. After bragging so much about our amazing Pride of Barbados in the last blog post, our beautiful Plumbago’s feelings were a little bit hurt.  What were we thinking?  She bloomed every bit as proudly as our Pride, but her flowers were soft and blue and delicate.  I guess she just didn’t yell as loudly as Mr. Showoff.  So, today, we officially honor our dear Plumbago with the title, Miss Congeniality 2013.  She greeted every day with a smile during the hot summer drought, with nary a drop of perspiration.  And, she reminded us of Sandra Bullock’s Miss Congeniality, because she occasionally displayed her strong side and was a little rude to flower-eating deer, which is the reason she was able to wear such a beautiful frock this summer.



Plumbagos remind me a little bit of hydrangeas, which are so difficult to grow on our limestone hill. So I like to think of our plumbago as a tough (yet pretty) Texas cowgirl version of a hydrangea. If she could talk, she might say, “It’s hotter than a two-dollar pistol out here, and the poor little tulips are just coyote ugly today, bless their hearts.”

Dearest Plumbago, we hope you will continue to bloom and know that we are so proud of you! (Photos below: Neville, showing his Plumbago pride, and a close-up of our summer superstar.)



September 23, 2013

Goodbye Summer 2013 and a Tribute to the Star of the Garden

Posted by Cathy Heck


Another segment from a fledgling gardener, who grew up in West Texas, land of high skies and little foliage.

After a very hot, dry summer here in Austin, it finally rained … real rain. There were only a couple of short summer showers, but even those seemed to stop about two blocks away from our yard. We could smell it. We could see it. But it did not fall on our flora. However, Friday, the last day of summer, it was wet and gray and delicious for our thirsty plants. They were content.


But before we leave the wonderful, yet dry summertime, for what has already started as a clear crisp autumn, I would like to honor a plant that has been faithful, loyal and true, through thick and thin, hot and hotter. Behold the bold and beautiful Pride of Barbados.

Our hearty Prides were proud. No matter how hot … 102 … 103 … 105, they stood taller and brighter.  They were tough.  They were not sissies.  In fact, you might even say they were show-offs.  Even while the native perennials were lackluster and pitiful, the Pride of Barbadoses were summertime studs.  They were like the popular lifeguards of the garden, and, in fact, drew lots of butterfly beauties to their stand.



So we would like to raise our last glasses of summer punch to honor the Best In Show of Summer 2013. Here’s to the dazzling Pride of Barbados. We are so proud.

And, if you would like this living firecracker to grow in your dry yard, here are some instructions from your trusty Bewildered Gardener: buy it, plant it, ignore it. Good luck! And, happy autumn! CathyHeckStudio_PrideOfBarbados4



September 16, 2013

When Artists Are Sketching For Fun

Posted by Cathy Heck

If you are like we are, you love to see the sketches that artists make just for fun.

The folks at C.R. Gibson enjoy seeing their artists’ week-end work, too, and have posted many wonderful examples on their Instagram pages and blog.  AND, they just happen to make some excellent journals under their Markings brand for all that mark-making. The pages are smooth and heavy and ready for anything from drawings to poetry to grocery lists. (Well, maybe not a grocery list–the back of an envelope is probably a thriftier choice for that.)

Since Ellen and I work on projects together under tight deadlines, we decided to make some drawings together without a deadline. Here is a link to our mother-artist-daughter-artist sketching-from-afar journal pages.


P.S. We know that sometimes a beautiful, clean, empty journal can be a bit intimidating. But here‘s a little trick: Don’t start on the first page. Go straight to the middle somewhere. Oddly, it works!

Hope this inspires you to start sketching … or, maybe to eat your veggies.

Categories: about us

September 12, 2013

A Chartreuse Color Swatch Is On My Roof

Posted by Cathy Heck


I was zipping up the stairway to the studio, when I spied with my little eye this tiny, fluffy, feathered package of chartreuse. Of course, I had to turn on my heel, and run outside to try to capture him/her on film. Fortunately, I can walk directly onto my roof. (The fact that I can do that is, in fact, an issue for parents with a mid-century modern house and small children. But, happily, none of our girls fell off of the roof during their formative years.)

Once I stealthily made my way to the little feathered color swatch, I asked him if I could take his photo for a blog post. (I’m reasonably sure he is a he, as I believe in the bird world, the fellas are the ones who wear the show-off colors.) He happily obliged and I am able to share this example of the purest, most original specimen of chartreuse I have ever seen.


And, I really know chartreuse, because I own a lot of it.  In fact, when shopping with my personal-shopper daughter, she has suggested that I try to take a fashion holiday from the color that seems to accidentally fill my closet.


Before I leave my fine-feathered-friend, can any one out there tell me the name of this little bird? Not his name like Chipper or Chirpy, but rather his species name, like Yellow-crowned Champ or Chartreuse-winged Warbler … just in case I need to describe the color the next time I go shopping. “Why, yes, I am looking for a jacket in something along the lines of a Yellow-Bellied Gnatcatcher.”

For identification purposes, below are some other views of Bob. (I learned his name from his photo release form.) And, speaking of warblers, here is a link to my favorite mini-Dalton-Academy Warbler to put you in a chipper mood.



Categories: about us

August 29, 2013

Summer 2013: Bacon Report

Posted by Cathy Heck


Summer = Bacon. And, actually, for me, Fall, Winter and Spring = Bacon, too. But, for now, I am reporting on summertime bacon happenings. For my anniversary, my sweet husband, who knows me too well, took me to the Salty Sow, (love that name on so many levels) where, I indulged in their very excellent Pork Belly. Marriage vows still strong: “in sickness and in health, in dinner and dessert…” You included that in your vows, right?

Another summer stop for us has been to drop by 24 Diner after our evening bike rides for a slightly lighter dish: Pork Belly Salad. (It’s not exactly a Weight Watchers’ approved power food, but at least we blended it with some exercise.)

But the summertime bacon event we would like to feature today actually comes to us from our guest blogger, Julianna Heck. (The apple-bacon does not fall far from the apple-bacon tree.) Julianna attended the First Annual Bacon Festival in Richmond, Virginia this summer and shares her eyewitness report below. Thank you Julianna for your first-rate bacon journalism.


Sizzling in Richmond  by Guest Blogger, Julianna Heck

We have all had one of those experiences that cartoons so easily portray. You’re in bed and a friendly animated smell cloud reaches your nose and pulls you across the room. Bacon. Mmmm bacon.  The porky greasy goodness of bacon sizzling can bring even the most steadfast vegetarian out from under her sheets directly to the breakfast table.

Now, imagine that same smell-cloud and multiply it by 100.  This is the scent you would have discovered above the Farmer’s Market in downtown Richmond, Virginia one Sunday this summer. The 1st Annual Bacon Festival delivered all sorts of bacon goodies from the extravagant to the classic.

Local restaurants and eateries from around Richmond prepared porky dishes for $3 dollars a plate. The festival was packed and only the most loyal bacon fans stayed…so everyone.

The lines were long, but well worth it when you reached the bacon-covered feeding tables. I indulged in pork belly sliders, fried oysters with bacon remoulade, and my favorite, the mocha maple bacon popsicle. Yes, it looks gross and it sounds gross, but it was quite a delight. It was cold, it was chocolatey, and it was bacony.


After a rather heavy lunch, I needed a light, crisp something to fight the grease that coated my digestive system, so I found a lovely rhubarb lemonade. It was a refreshing exclamation point to the end of a decadent meal.  All in all, the bacon event was a success and I eagerly await next year’s festivities.


Thank you again Julianna for the excellent pork report.  Note: Cathy Heck Studio artists are inspired by everything from soup to nuts to bacon.  Below, Julianna’s bacon repeat pattern. Just think of the delicious dreams you could have wearing some flannel jammies made from this design!



August 23, 2013

Our ABCs of Summer 2013: Animals, Bracelets and Camp

Posted by Cathy Heck

Well, phooey. We just had to let our youngest gal go back to college. Even though it’s her third year, the first few days of the re-empty-nesting are always a little melancholy. But then I just have to remember what a fun summer it was and get back to work.

Fortunately, I was eased into an empty nest, because Margaret was away serving as a camp counselor for the second half of the summer. Margaret loves camp. If you have not had a chance to hear this fun episode on This American Life about the fascinating and wonderful connection some folks have with camp, have a listen. It is spot on!

The minute Margaret finished her summer school session, she began packing her trunk. And although you might think her lifeguard certification is her best counseloring asset, she has mastered a skill which is even more significant … she is an accomplished friendship-bracelet maker, which is very high on the list of counselor cred.


Earlier in the summer, Margaret had become an expert at wrapping floss around plastic bobbins for a studio project. So, before she left for camp, she decided to make her own box of floss, but with more of a camper-friendly neon color palette. We decided that even a homesick little camper would squeal with delight when presented with this box of possibilities!


The cool thing about these boxes (which you can buy at Jo-Ann stores, by the way) is that you can also use them as the holding board for making your bracelets.  Just tape the floss onto the top and go.  Oh, if you don’t have a bracelet-making expert in your house, don’t worry.  There are lots of books and tutorials online.  In fact, here is a great link to 15 different tutorials.


My favorite style is this twisty one below (Lots of Knots), because it’s so easy, but your friends will be very impressed with your bracelet-making prowess. I thought I was just sort of braiding the strands in the order Margaret taught me, and the next thing I knew, I had created this twisted wonder.


And, of course, the very best thing about a friendship bracelet is that you can give it to a friend and you will be loved.  Unless the friend to whom you give it is your dog. See below, Margaret’s beloved Neville posing with the friendship bracelet/collar Margaret brought to him from camp.  We hope your dog is a little more appreciative than ours was.


We hope you are enjoying these last few weeks of summer.  From all of us at Cathy Heck Studio … even Neville, who has already forgotten to look pitiful.


Categories: about us

August 19, 2013

Start at the Very Beginning, A Very Good Place to Start

Posted by Cathy Heck

How much fun to return from vacation and receive notice that an interview was posted while we were away gallivanting about. Patti Gay, a fellow illustrator, writes a blog, Illustrator’s Market, which is chock full of interviews with artists. If you or your little ones ever thought about putting pen to paper to computer to product, her blog is a great place to visit for inspiration. I hope you enjoy our story. Here is a sneak peek photo (below) of me (Cathy) when I was two, helping my mother with her work. I feel like this picture says a thousand words about the importance of letting your children help AND the possible origin of my tidy gene. (Love those well-groomed bangs.) Thanks Mom.

And thank you Patti for including us in your delightful blog.


July 23, 2013

My Lunchtime Sip-and-See for a Future King

Posted by Cathy Heck

What a majestic lunch I had today! While dining on an all-American farm-stand salad, I turned on the television, and found myself in England, where the world was awaiting the first viewing of the new future king of England. I couldn’t believe my excellent choice of lunch hours. Suddenly, from the doors of St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington appeared the happy mom and dad with their brand new baby boy. I almost started crying, and I’m not even related.

It was like watching a fairy tale coming to life. I felt like I had been invited (with the rest of the world) to a Sip-and-See for the new monarch.


Now I am back to work, totally re-inspired, as we finish a new baby book collection to be introduced in January for all the other baby princes and princesses of the world.

(Here is my favorite link by the BBC to the viewing, because the camera is so close to those tiny new fingers stretching out to touch his new kingdom.)

Categories: about us

July 13, 2013

Red, White and Blue-ish

Posted by Cathy Heck

Is your Fourth of July flag still out? Ours, too. So, before we tuck away all of our red, white and blue until the next American holiday, we thought we would share a floral treatment that works very well for any holiday celebrating Uncle Sam.

Here is the reason a patriotic presentation of flowers is so tricky: Mother Nature does not make very many blue flowers. Hydrangeas are more of a baby blue, and the other deep blue flowers like irises or asters are actually violet. So they never really match your blue paper plates, which are true plastic blue.


So here is my trick.  Don’t worry about the blue.  Get lots of red and white, and then some little bits of any semi-blue flower that you can find.  Your guests will be in such a red-white-and-blue state of mind, their brains will tell them that you have created a picture-perfect Americana arrangement.  See arrangement below.  Red, white and blue-ish.


If you have a long table for lots of hot dog consumers, you can make several mini-arrangements and get a very big bang for the buck.  It’s like a row of floral fireworks.  Happy July!


July 3, 2013

Happy 4th of July from Cathy Heck Studio

Posted by Cathy Heck

A holiday greeting created from the Richmond branch of Cathy Heck Studio. Thanks Jules for bringing our little summertime bugs to life. Who knew fireflies could pack such a powerful punch?! Happy 4th of July everybody!

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