Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I like to draw bicycles

I am sort of obsessed with bicycles. I love to ride bicycles. I enjoy reading about bicycles. But I am particularly obsessed with drawing bicycles.

Bikes are hard to draw, for reals. I host an annual 'Cute Girls on Bicycles' (this year we had a dude!) at Dr Sketchy's Anti-Art School in San Francisco. The bikey folk show up along with the regulars, and about halfway through the event the arteests are usually complaining about the bikes. We tend to have the muscle memory to draw the figure but drawing bikes can be a much more difficult mix of angles and geometry. I love it, well I love it when my drawings look good.

I thought it would be nice to post my bike drawings from over the years. I think it was five or so years ago that I started bike commuting and quickly became obsessed with these beautiful and elegant machines. They all have such personality and lovely lines. The drawings in this post go back to 2009, I'll start with the most recent.


This is from last week's trip to Japan, I feel like after the initial study I nailed most of the angles. It gets easier every time.

This Monaco feels like a mid 80s frame. I drew this while at my friend Diane Olivier's art workshop in the south of France this summer. We usually stop by a vide granier (village yard sale) to see what goodies there are to draw. Usually there are fun French bicycles including Peugeots and heavy old lugged frames with cool panniers, but this year I only found this one. I sold this to my friend Catherine Mackey.

05.17.11 Sarah Murder
Hello Sarah Murder! I did this drawing at Dr Sketchy's in May. We had 4 models posing with bicycles. Sarah did an epic two minute track stand for the warmup gestures. This is not it, that drawing consists of mostly scribble and panic. Two minutes is not enough time to render a figure and bike.

Populaire poster
The Box Dog Pelican went into the sketchbook as soon as I got it home in February, because I am a woman obsessed. This drawing was featured in the SF Randonneurs' Populaire poster. Thanks Ely of Ruth Works SF for putting out the call for art, and for designing the poster. Sidenote, Ely and I share an interest in sewing and we had a fun time sewing bags together recently. I sold this color original as well.

Pelican #1
See? Obsessed.

04.23.10 Rivendell
And this is what happened when the Rivendell Sam Hillborne came home in 2010.

07.06.09 Italy bikes and Pietra Santo 06.24.09 France Lezignan market day
2009 travel sketchbooks, France and Italy.

I'm starting to see people and objects as shapes when I draw them. I think this is a good thing, it means the part of my brain that thinks it knows what something looks like is turning off a bit and the real 'seeing' is happening. It feels like my hand just knows what shape to draw. It's cool.

My interests in bicycles are changing as well. First I was really into lugs, then I wanted a faster distance (Rando) bike, and I am beginning to get interested in fixed geared or single speed bicycles. The more I read about the simple elegance and fun of fixed geared bicycles, the more I want to ride them.

I have to admit that I'm also slightly influenced by Velouria of Lovely Bicycle. I figure that if she can ride that unbelievable Mercian, I can do it too. :)

Sort of off topic, but I'm reading the Steve Jobs biography and I'm at the part of the book where he and Jony Ives designed the first iMac and Jony added a handle, which was a manufacturing nightmare, but Steve approved it right away. It wasn't a portable computer necessarily, the handle was there to invite people to touch the machine, because at the time most people were scared to touch computers. It added a sense of play. I think that's beautiful.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Moe Moe...Nya Nya!

I've been trying to explain the concept of 'moe moe' to people for the last couple of days, but it's difficult so I thought I would try to explain it here.

Going to the Maid café in Akihabara kind of blew my mind, but in a good way. I really enjoyed it and it was fun, but it definitely left me thinking about this concept of 'love' or 'protectiveness' of the little girl Manga stereotype going on in Japan. Supposedly it's non-sexual?, and it is VERY interesting.

From the Wikipedia article:
"Moe (萌え?, pronounced [moe]) is a Japanese slang word. It means "a rarefied pseudo-love for certain fictional characters (in anime, manga, and the like) and their related embodiments."[1] Patrick W. Galbraith[2] notes that it is a pun derived from a Japanese word that literally means "budding," as with a plant that is about to flower, and thus it can also be used to mean "budding" as with a preadolescent girl.[3] Since the word is also a homonym for "burning" pronounced moe (燃え?), there is also speculation that the word stems from the burning passion felt for the characters.[4] The word has come to be used to mean one particular kind of "adorable", one specific type of "cute", mainly as applied to fictional characters. 
The word is occasionally spelled Moé, and was originally related to a strong interest in a particular type or style of character in video games, anime or manga. "Moe!" is also used within anime fandom as an interjection[citation needed]. Girls who are moe are called moekko (萌えっ娘?) from the honorific "娘" meaning "female child"."

This is a flyer from a Maid Café:
Nya Nya Cafe

And this is us having a silly, ridiculously good time at MaiDreamin: MaidDreamin
With our hands, we are making the 'nya nya' or I think 'meow meow' sign. Holy effing crap it was fun.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fall colors

November is the perfect time to visit Kyoto. Because it was just starting to get cold at night, the Japanese maples were turning amazing shades of red, orange and purple. The leaves at the tops of the trees are exposed to the light and cold, so they turn red first.

Kotu-In Zen Temple

Kenzo Sato's photo of Kotu-Zen Temple
Bill and I enjoying the temple. Photo by our wonderful guide, Kenzo Sato.

Japanese maple leaves study
Japanese maple leaves study.

Maple trees
The trees outside of the ryokan.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bikes in Japan

I had many opportunities to enjoy the bicycles in Japan.

One morning I wandered through the Nishiki market in Kyoto and got to draw this lovely old lugged porteur. There was a label on it somewhere that had 'Swallow Cycle' and the head badge is 'Art Flex' and 'Ary' with a bicycle wheel on it.

I felt like I was in the way while drawing this one, the people running the stall were popping in and out around me, probably confused at why this crazy Westerner wanted to draw this old bike. She's a beaut. Like all bikes in Japan, this was locked only to itself, not to an immovable object. It boggles my mind, but that is how it's done.

Handsome Bill and I hired a wonderful guide, Kenzo Sato, and he took us for a cycle tour around Kyoto on our Mama Charlies. Since mostly grocery shopping ladies ride this style of city bike,  that's what the locals call this frame style with the baskets in front.

Photos by our wonderful guide, Kenzo Sato Photos by our wonderful guide, Kenzo Sato
Hello Imperial Palace!

Mama Charlie bicycles
More Mama Charlies.

Kenzo was a fantastic guide, I'm so so glad we hired him. He helped us get used to the subway, he took us to the Maid café, and to many beautiful temples. He also took me to a special Kimono fabric 'store', which is actually a house not a commercial store. It was a unique experience, I know that I would have never had found this place on my own.

Japanese Whip, AKA the Mama Charlie
Had to take a fashion shot of my Japanese whip, yo.

Friday, November 25, 2011


FUGU, originally uploaded by Alice Stribling.
We wandered through the Nishiki market while in Kyoto and I had to draw this puffer fish.

While I was drawing, the fish would twitch and open it's mouth because it was so fresh. It was both creepy and fascinating!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Colette Patterns Fall 2011 Sewing challenge

So far I've made two items, the Ginger skirt in denim and my snakeskin a-line dress. I'm really loving this challenge!

Here is the snakeskin dress.