Wednesday, April 30, 2008

4 Towers New York City Skyline

4 Towers New York City SkylineThe four towers from left to right.

The Trump Parc, 106 Central Park South (59th street) on the south west corner of 6th avenue (Avenue of the Americas)
When it was erected in 1930 as the Barbizon Plaza Hotel, this structure was noted for its flamboyant and unusual top. Trump Parc :: New York City Apartments

Next is the CitySpire Center, it is the tallest mixed-use skyscraper in New York City, located 142 West 56th Street. Finished in 1987, it is 75 stories high, with a total of 359,000 square feet of area. The building is owned by Tishman Speyer Properties.

Designed by Helmut Jahn, it is the 9th tallest building in New York City and the 38th tallest in the United States. CitySpire Center

Next up the Metropolitan Tower which is a 77-story, residential skyscraper at 142 west 57th street. The building has 235 apartment units. It is described as postmodern because it features setbacks and triangular shapes, dark glass and a sculpted base. Metropolitan Tower (New York)

Forth is Carnegie Hall Tower is a 60-story skyscraper located at 152 west 57th street, the tower was built in an architectural style in harmony with its neighbor Carnegie Hall, a New York landmark. This design won an Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects in 1994. Carnegie Hall Tower

Image License: I, (sookietex) the creator of this work, hereby release it into the public domain. This applies worldwide. In case this is not legally possible, I grant any entity the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law.

If This image is subject to copyright in your jurisdiction, i (sookietex) the copyright holder have irrevocably released all rights to it, allowing it to be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, used, modified, built upon, or otherwise exploited in any way by anyone for any purpose, commercial or non-commercial, with or without attribution of the author, as if in the public domain

Text License: Parts of this article are licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia articles CitySpire Center, Metropolitan Tower (New York) and Carnegie Hall Tower

13 down and 7 to go...


Thank you all so much
for all the lovely comments on this bird series,
you have truly made my day!

As soon as I'm set up in the new house
I'll have some new prints available
from this series on the shop.

Which one is your favorite?

Pantone Color

Color is a an important topic in digital illustration, so I decided to add a new color category in the blog. I'll begin with a simple guide to pantone colors from's blog, you can check the original article by clicking on the link below. The next posting in this category will be dedicated to the color libraries and swatches in Adobe Illustrator."Pantone was founded in 1962 as a small business that manufactured color cards for cosmetics companies. Since their humble beginning, Pantone has become a mainstay for color in the design world. The Pantone Matching System allows colors to be “matched” when they reach the production stages. They also assert that their lists of color numbers and pigment values are the intellectual property of Pantone and free use of the list is not allowed, which is controversial and could be said to cause problems, especially for open source uses. Controversy aside, the world leader in color hasn’t stopped with just their matching system and has started to move into taking over the ‘universe’ of color as well with the launch of Pantone Universe." Full text

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Ken Riley: The Importance of Drawing

Having learned that Riley drew comic book art during his earliest professional years, and remembering his statement, "I think with a pencil - in terms of line, and my paintings are essentially drawings", it made sense to me that we should devote one day this week to focus on Ken Riley's black and white line art.

The pieces above and below, excerpted from Frederic Whitaker's article in the June 1958 issue of American Artist magazine, are described as being "charcoal on a toned ground" (above) and "charcoal with grey and white gouache accents" (below).

I suspect the three pieces below from 1960 were similarly drawn in charcoal.

Whitaker writes, "There may be important artists who can't draw, but... drawing demonstrates two capabilities, that of analyzing what is seen or thought, and that of recording it, and these two faculties in combination constitute the very foundation upon which art production is based. The importance of draughstmanship was instilled in Riley personally by Thomas Hart Benton."

All of this is greatly impacted as well by an understanding of the nature of composition - and Ken Riley's vituosity at composing a picture is handily demonstrated in our final example below. Riley reinforces the importance of drawing to his working method when he says, "I make a number of thumbnail compositions in pencil. As I have said before, I think best in terms of line. After the line comes the masses. Design, which after all is an abstract matter unrelated to the appearance of reality, is the most important part of any picture [bold type mine] and this I seek to define with the lines and solid shapes."

My Ken Riley Flickr set.

Beadmaker Interview Julie Picarello, Yellow House Designs

What is your personal name, business name, website and location?
Julie Picarello :: Yellow House Designs :: El Dorado, California

What kind of beads do you make? What kinds of processes do you use?
What is your favorite beadmaking technique?

I design focal art beads in polymer clay, using a loose adaptation of the Japanese ‘Mokume Gane’ metalworking technique. One of my favorite parts of the process is developing custom color palettes for each series of beads. I also love to find unique metal accents for the clay – vintage watch parts, snaps, model railroad parts, metal washers etc., and incorporating them in fun ways.

How did you get into beadmaking?
What are some of the important things you do for your business?

It’s funny – I’m not much of a jewelry wearer myself, but I’ve always loved the look of unusual, funky, hip jewelry…just on other people, LOL! I love the fact that the pieces I design are truly OOAK (one of a kind)– I can’t duplicate an exact piece even if I try, and to me, that makes every single bead and piece of jewelry special.

What is your workspace like and how do you work in your studio?
What is a typical day like?

I turned my breakfast nook into my studio…I love it as it has a door onto the deck and big bay windows, so I can see the oak trees and the sky as I work. I don’t have a fixed schedule, but I’m usually in there before eating breakfast!

How do you stay inspired and motivated?

Hmmm…I think the better question may be how to keep from being over-motivated! Everything I see is food for inspiration…the colors, the shape, the material. I keep an eye on the ground for beat up pieces of metal and I’m constantly sketching new design ideas. The problem is finding the time to actually do everything I dream up!

What type of beads and jewelry designs do you feel best compliment
your art beads? Do you design your own jewelry too?

I love the contrast of polymer beads in elegant, sophisticated color palettes paired with metal & found objects, trade beads, bone & wood. I also enjoy incorporating vintage chain and wire-wrap accents to create neckpieces and earrings.

What beady plans do you have for the future?
Do you have new designs or ideas you will be exploring soon?

Writing…magazine articles and maybe a book. I’ve been promising to do this for the past two years! I’m also giving a lot more workshops this coming year, which I absolutely love. Teaching people how to create beautiful polymer beads is almost as enjoyable as creating them myself.

If you have a discount code you would like to give our readers,
please list it here, including the expiration date:

I usually have a hard time keeping inventory on my website, but I take special orders if people want specific color schemes and/or bead shapes that they don’t see in the shop. Be sure to mention the code “artbead” for a 20% discount through May 31, 2008.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Journal pages

I'm still having Internet woes...
but I wanted to share something with you guys.
These are a couple of pages from my green journal.

Eskimo mother carrying a child

Eskimo mother carrying a childDigital ID: ppmsc 02280 Source: digital file from original.

Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsc-02280 (digital file from original)
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA.Retrieve higher resolution JPEG version (84 kilobytes) Retrieve uncompressed archival TIFF version (16 megabytes)

TITLE: Eskimo mother carrying a child on her back. CALL NUMBER: LOT 11453-2, no. 8 [P&P] Check for an online group record (may link to related items) No known restrictions on reproduction.
REPRODUCTION NUMBER: LC-DIG-ppmsc-02280 (digital file from original) RIGHTS INFORMATION: No known restrictions on publication. MEDIUM: 1 photographic print. CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1916(?)

NOTES: Title transcribed from caption accompanying item. Forms part of: Frank and Frances Carpenter collection (Library of Congress). Gift; Mrs. W. Chapin Huntington; 1951.

REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. DIGITAL ID: (digital file from original) ppmsc 02280 loc.pnp/ppmsc.02280 CONTROL #: 99615027

Credit Line: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, LC-DIG-ppmsc-02280]

MARC Record Line 540 - No known restrictions on publication.

Ken Riley: In the Beginning

The piece below, from October 1948, is from Ken Riley's first year as a regular contributor to the Saturday Evening Post.

In this early work, done when Riley was not quite 30 years old and quite different from his later, more personalized technique, we can perhaps see the influence of the young artist's three most revered mentors: Thomas Hart Benton, whom Riley studied under at the Kansas City Art Institute, Frank Vincent Dumond, with whom Riley later studied by day at New York's Art Students' League and Harvey Dunn, Riley's instructor at the Grand Central Art School, where he concurrently took evening classes.

Next came W.W. II, in which Riley served in the Coast Guard according to author Frederic Whitaker in his article in the June 1958 issue of American Artist magazine. "Riley was assigned to the project of making permanent art records for the archives.... During this period, he designed the special commemorative postage stamp issued in tribute to the Coast Guard's contribution to the war effort. Near the war's end, Riley was transferred to the Washington area to augment the Coast Guard's treasury of painted historical records. One work of this period was a mural for the New London Coast Guard Academy."

Whitaker writes, "Its interesting that one of Riley's first commercial connections [after the war] found him drawing for a comics magazine."

Interesting indeed! Because just the other night I was reading the current issue of Alter Ego magazine, and what should I find in Jim Amash's excellent interview with Joe Simon, but the following:

Simon and his creative/business partner, the legendary Jack "King" Kirby were 'packaging' comics for Harvey Publications, that is, employing all the creative talent required to produce an entire comic book for the publisher. When Jim Amash asks Simon to tell him "about some of the people who worked for you", Simon responds, "Kenneth Riley was a great oil painter. He was a star up in Washington, DC, painting murals. What we had there was the combat art group. The guys would go out on trips and make sketches, and they'd cut to headquarters in Washington, DC, and paint them... Ken was the best of them all."

Isn't that cool? Could it be possible that Ken Riley and Jack Kirby worked in the same studio on the same comic books back in the mid 1940's? I contacted Jim who has passed my message along to Mr. Simon - and with any luck we may yet find out.

Not long after his brief stint in comics, Riley began his long association with The Saturday Evening Post. Below is the first piece he did, from the January 17, 1948 issue, taken here from the book, "Illustrating for the Saturday Evening Post".

Already we can see what Whitaker means when he writes, "Riley is a master of depicting character. He creates his folk with the volume and variety and with the facility, conviction, and accuracy of a Dickens."

Speaking on his own behalf, Riley said, "I think with a pencil - in terms of line, and my paintings are essentially drawings. I cannot lay too much emphasis on the importance of draughtsmanship."

"I do not refer simply to a knowledge of anatomy and the ability to register it on paper, for after all anatomical rendering is a static business, but I think rather of the faculty of reproducing on paper or canvas the life within the figure, its swing, movement, direction, and spirit."

"This calls for draughtsmanship."

My Ken Riley Flickr set.

Bead Scoop - Glass Disks

A bead I need way more of: Wavy Spirals from Serena's Beadery!

I was gifted with a few of these from FabFibers while on the Bead Cruise last year. So when I was designing my class project for the next Bead Cruise, this one was just begging to be included. It's makes the bracelet and now I must have more!
Serena offers more colors than you can shake a beaded stick at and the price is great, ranging from $8 - $15 for a set of 10!

Monday, April 28, 2008


Once upon a time, an artist was born in a shabby apartment in a bleak part of NY City. He grew up playing in vacant lots littered with junk. He watched neighbors beating their wives in the street. Once a drunk died in front of him on the sidewalk. The boy learned at a young age to call Jews "kikes" and Italians "wops." Sometimes he watched from the roof of his apartment as street gangs battled below. For amusement, he would spit on pedestrians walking by. Quitting school (he was always a poor student) he leased a spare room in a whore house.

That artist was Norman Rockwell.

Was Rockwell's sweet vision of small town America nothing but a cynical charade?

I don't think so.

We each perceive the world through our own personal filter. Sometimes artists employ a more active filter than others; perhaps it's a natural defense to their chronic poverty and lack of success with the opposite sex. Below, some artists have fun with the disparity between reality and their artistic vision:



Saul Steinberg

Personally, I don't think think Rockwell was trying to con his audience. His art had less to do with the illusion of reality than the reality of illusion.

New York City carriage horses in Central Park

New York City carriage horses in Central Park at 72d street traverse, April 26, 2008.

Carriages can be found all year round lined up along Central Park South between 5th and 6th Avenues. Horse-Drawn Carriages

I, (sookietex) the creator of this work, hereby release it into the public domain. This applies worldwide. In case this is not legally possible, I grant any entity the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law.

If This image is subject to copyright in your jurisdiction, i (sookietex) the copyright holder have irrevocably released all rights to it, allowing it to be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, used, modified, built upon, or otherwise exploited in any way by anyone for any purpose, commercial or non-commercial, with or without attribution of the author, as if in the public domain

Fresh Vector Brushes

A fresh looking brush set for Adobe Illustrator from . Ckech it out, I found other interesting resources and tutorials. To download the brushes use this link

Ken Riley: "Confirmed Noodler"

Early in his article in the June 1958 issue of American Artist magazine, author Frederic Whitaker writes, "we overlook the probability that no great artist ever set out to contrive a unique technical style. More likely, the great ones simply strove for perfection alone, guided, of course, by personal convictions. The individuality of their work became manifest as a natural, unforced result."

To contradict this presumption, Whitaker then gives us the example of "a young artist [Ken Riley] who avoids the lure of easy fame, who acknowledges that anything of value must be earned by effort, and who still wins through outstanding achievement."

Of course I couldn't agree more. Ken Riley has always been a favourite of mine, and its apparent, I think, that he brings a tremendous amount of thoughtful consideration and hard work to his art.

This is obvious in his beautifully designed compositions (Whitaker says Riley goes so far as to mathematically calculate the balance of his compositions)...

... but foremost in my mind, is Riley's wonderous and unique approach to colour.

I've always been captivated by the myriad of colours that Riley invests in even the most mundane of objects in a typical painting. You can spend a great deal of time pouring over the nooks and crannies of one of his illustrations...

... then pull back to focus on the larger composition and marvel at how he has made this vast kaleidoscope of coloured bits come together and absolutely sing.

Regarding his painting technique, Riley admits in the article, "I'm a confirmed 'noodler'."

But he justifies his approach with a sound philosophy:

"In contrast to yesteryear, readers now are provided a plenitude of excellent illustrative photography which they can compare with painted illustrations. This well-informed public understands the difference between the two - realizing the special requirements of painted illustration and appreciating the illustrator's contribution to their enjoyment and edification."

This week, let's join Frederic Whitaker in hailing Ken Riley, a "graphic craftsman"... whose work shows "a little genius, imagination, emotion and personality."

My Ken Riley Flickr set.

Featured Designer of the Week - Lorelei Eurto

AprABS Youthful Spirit
Originally uploaded by Lorelei1141
Each Monday we feature the Designer of the Week. One of our editors will pick their favorite from the Monthly Challenge entries.

Melanie of Earthenwood Studio picked Lorelei's nest necklace noting, "I love the way this necklace reflects the first inklings of spring..the grey and dark branches left from winter, with little signs of life and color just peeking up. The pearl "eggs" in the nest cage, the beautiful bird, the is all well conceptualized and gorgeous!"

Our theme for April is Youthful Spirit and Lorelei's necklace sings of the youthful renewal of the season.

To see more of Lorelei's jewelry visit her etsy shop and blog.

Want to be next week's featured designer? Take a moment to enter April's monthly challenge!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Renaissance Era Costumes

India AND Olmec (MesoAmerica)
India AND Olmec* (Mesoamerica)


Assyria, Arabia, Croatia
Assyria, Arabia, Croatia

Assyria, Arabia, Croatia a
Assyria, Arabia, Croatia


Italian costumes

Northern Greece, Ethiopia and Tatar people national costumes
Northern Greece, Ethiopia and Ta(r)tar* people


Russia, Poland, Finland, Lapland, Croatia
Russia, Poland, Finland, Lapland, Croatia

Russia, Poland, Finland, Moscow, Lapland, Croatia (a)
Russia, Poland, Finland, Moscow, Lapland, Croatia

The Orient
The Orient


Turkey a


Greece, Tartar peoples, Iraq, Saracen peoples
Greece, Ta(r)tar peoples, Iraq, Saracen* peoples

'Kostüme der Männer und Frauen in Augsburg und Nürnberg, Deutschland, Europa, Orient und Afrika - BSB Cod.icon. 341' at Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek contains around three hundred hand-painted national costumes produced in the 16th century.

The anonymous manuscript was probabaly created in Augsburg and seems to be one of a very few similar works from around the same time period. There are a couple of scanned pages attached to Cod.icon 341 in German (one, two) with some contextual background - that I can't read of course - but that's about the extent of online references.

The captions above are the rough chapter - country - translations with a little modernising and, in the interests of avoiding any unintended international incidents, should probably be taken with a grain of salt. All the images above were extensively background cleaned which was totally a waste of time. If your model chooses to match red boots with a green and pink silk-lined cape, it's an exercise in futility believing that that ensemble can be saved by any amount of tweaking at the margins. [via Marion McNealy]