Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer Art, Paris Accord, Fantasy, Selective Color, and Motivation

Welcome to Summer. After a chilly holiday weekend, now the pools are filled. People are hitting the highways to go to the beach. School is out (or almost!), and everyone's thinking about Summer fun. My palette has made a shift to bright, rainbow colors, for fun Summer clothing and beach towels. 

First up is "Splash." Kids are swimming and the scene around the pool is decidedly bright. I love seeing people enjoying themselves. I decided to try to encapsulate the joy in a drawing, and this is the result. This designs makes up my favorite beach towel design yet, found on S6.


Splash by Susan Phillips Hicks of Melasdesign

Keeping the vivid color scheme, I felt so moved as to create a piece in answer to Trump having the US exit from the Paris Accord. We are dependent on nature for life. He thinks life only has to do with money (and ratings). My idea was to make a design that harkened to the hippie era, with a slogan from then that rings true again: "Love Your Mother." The flowers are entangled with vines in a bunch to represent the entanglement of humans with the ecosystem. 

With Text: RedBubble

Love Your Mother by Susan Phillips Hicks of Melasdesign

Going backwards chronologically, my dear husband, on our anniversary, presented me with so many roses I felt like I had won the Kentucky Derby. I took the opportunity to have a photo shoot. I toned the colors down a bit and went for a more typically commercial style. Sometimes I do that just to remind myself that I *can*, even if I don't usually choose to. So, Sweetie, thank you. I love you beyond all else, even the dog. ;) This is called "Anniversary 8 Fade." 


Anniversary 8 Fade by Susan Phillips Hicks of Melasdesign

Another Summer design is "Spider Eye Mandala," created in 4 eye popping color schemes, plus one painterly piece. My personal favorite is the pink background, but the design has been getting attention across the board. I think it's perfect for textiles. It's more or less a stream of consciousness radial pattern. Kind of psychedelic, but definitely Mela. 

Mandalas: S6 / RedBubble
Spider Eye Splat: S6 / RedBubble

Spider Eye Mandala and Spider Eye Splat by Susan Phillips Hicks of Melasdesign

Spider Eye Mandala and Spider Eye Splat by Susan Phillips Hicks of Melasdesign

Now the latest in my series of monsters: "Zen No Akuma" or Zen Demon. The Kabuki inspired beast guards the spiritual passageway to Mount Fuji. Only true Zen Archers may pass. A crane soars over accompanying the spirit of a past Archer on to the next plane. Such things are best done at sunrise, at this specific arch, which once served as an entrance to a Zen Temple. Only the arch remains, but the past monks spirited the Zen Demon to life to ward away unclean souls. 


Zen No Akuma by Susan Phillips Hicks of Melasdesign

Back even earlier, I created "Pictures of Matchstick Men," mainly as an experiment of new brushes and selective color. 

Pictures of Matchstick Men by Susan Phillips Hicks of Melasdesign


And lastly, it's Summer!!!!! Turn off the TV, computer, and phone, and enjoy each other and life. 


Live Beyond the Screen by Susan Phillips Hicks of Melasdesign
Next month has a little something different in store. Look forward to a series of drawings that explore my life experiences and dreams. The subject matter will definitely be different! Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A Cat, Monsters with Stories, Architectural Abstract, and Bold Statements.

It's blog time again. What a month. I had the world's longest case of the flu, followed up by an overpowering sinus infection and antibiotics. It definitely shaped my work this month. I was laggardly in finishing a commission series, but finally had a five day pause in between maladies where I could work at full power. Then I decided to do monsters. This started, because I was having fever nightmares. I decided to combat their ills by making light-hearted monsters of my own. This also ties in to my wish to some day get it together enough to make children's storybook illustrations. This is just an experiment, with general plot lines, but you might as well start trying your hand at your wish somehow, right? So these are what happened with the small amount of energy I had to spare.

The Favorite Cat

The final in my last series of cat portraits. This is Indigo, the sweetheart of the bunch. This closes off the series with tie-in motifs of flowers, and silhouettes. See the last few blog entries for the other cats in the series. 

The Favorite Cat by Melasdesign


This month found me making monsters. I got my hand on some new drawing apps and decided to do something frivolous and full of fantasy. I had always wanted to make monsters and I am a big fan of other monster makers, so it was time. This beastie is a behemoth in the ranks of Godzilla. Even the mountains and storm won't hold him back from making waste of the towering buildings below him. It's what I call "Bad Night," made after a bad night. Read further for more beasties!

Bad Night by Melasdesign

This is "Cathedral Deconstruction." It started as a few brush strokes in black on white paper and ended up as this. The design reminds me of looking straight up at the dome of a cathedral. I wanted this design to be soft and not as bold as my usual work. S6 just put out floor pillows, which was happy timing for this work.



Cathedral Deconstruction by Melasdesign


I've been distressed by how much television, reality television, and dubious news outlets have shaped the behavior of current society in the US. Even the President is relying first and foremost on television shows for policy that could effect the whole world. People seem to be increasingly losing the ability to realize that television. is. not. real. Aside from that, the couch potato phenomenon isn't helping things either. People are giving up their own lives to live vicariously through a fictional other. TVs are babysitters, and an easy way out, rather than real, human, one on one time. So this is my little protest. There are also two other designs on CafePress without the stripes. 



Do More Than Watch TV - Motivation from Melasdesign


Here you have the photomontage "The Rainbow Finder." One afternoon last month there was the most beautiful rainbow to be seen from my home. It lasted and lasted. It occurred to me to get shots of it. Photographing rainbows is hard, and I couldn't use the image as a solo shot, so I made something entirely new using the photos I caught that day. 


Rainbow Finder by Melasdesign


Enter the fearsome Doodlethwumpus. He has been known to slay many a gallant knight in the halls of his medieval castle. He earned his name from the awkward sound he makes when he walks, or more appropriately thwumps around. In all actuality, he's a kind beast, but he doesn't like armor, so most knights are out of luck. This breeds great misperception in the populace, so more and more knights get sent in. Their fate is either to get charred, stabbed, or strangled by the plumes on his tail. He does have a secret though. In the back of his castle is a wondrous garden, with flowers, a pond, and all sorts of colorful animals. The children of the town love to sneak in at night, and it doesn't bother this beast one bit. He quite likes seeing the kids be joyful, and just hopes they don't grow up to wear armor.


The Doodlethwumpus by Melasdesign



I decided to let my imagination run some more with the drawing "Big Bang as Seen From Afar." I wanted to put my own spin on a Dr. Seussish world that's definitely alien. Protozoic shapes make the tops of the stretching trees. Purple land growth extends from the trail of slime left by the drawing's main character. The Lampra is just slugging along as our universe is formed in the distance. All tentacles are extended in surprise with the great blast echoing behind him. The humongous explosion became the stuff of myth in the Lampra culture. There were many stories about alien invaders, but they all got written off as crackpot ravings.


Big Bang as Seen From Afar by Melasdesign

Let me introduce the Bobblegrinder - the latest in my series of imaginary beasties. The Bobblegrinder is a rover on a distant desert planet. Part organic being and part machine, his spiky exterior helps in trekking through the rocky terrain and also serves to defend from oncoming threats. Its single eye surveys the landscape, ever ready to spy any incoming ships to the planet Dingbart. The other residents of the planet are admittedly a bit Zen for aliens, and are known for their beautiful stone stacking in the barren landscape.


The Bobblegrinder by Melasdesign

Finishing off with some protest art. I have been appalled and amazed at the lack of humanity in the GOP leadership, reflected by the ingenious healthcare proposal so bad that even their own party wouldn't back it due to the uproar. Way to go, fellas. I can't wait for the day when you are old and sick and everyone turns their back on you.... but wait!!! That won't happen, because you are filthy rich, and thus impenetrable. I have no words for such a lack of compassion.


Republican Healthcare Proposal by Melasdesign


That was about it for protest this month, because so much bad happened that I couldn't even bring myself to make satirical art out of it (*ahem* [paraphrase] "It's not like Hitler used gas on his own people"....). See the other protest art I had already brought myself to make here



Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Spring born of Winter

This month's artwork is an observation of the seasons changing, with Spring hitting while the Winter we didn't have much of still tries to hold on with grasping claws. While everyone is raring at the bit for warm weather, I'm wondering why we didn't get more snow here in Alexandria. Suffice to say, I have taken advantage of the good weather with some day trips, dog park visits and even a concert or two. The following encapsulates the active experience and mood of this time. 

Off Season is a digital abstract work which celebrates a recent balmy February (!!) day in Ocean City, Maryland. The rides loom in the distance like the shadow of a distant memory of Summer, but with the thought that the best Summer is yet to come. The beach remains, frequented by more dogs than people, and even in February, kids are allowed to be kids there. It is at once dreamy and typical of Winter light. For me, the Boardwalk is a sentimental place. I look forward to returning when the Ferris Wheel is open, and I get to see kids experiencing the same age old joy. 

Off Season

Off Season, Ocean City, Maryland artwork from Susan Phillips Hicks



For more Ocean City, Maryland, how could I pass up a photo op of the Ocean Gallery landmark on the boardwalk? Once you've seen this place, you never quite forget it. There is lots of art, and barely any room to move. Just like the exterior walls, which are so filled with signage that a bird couldn't even roost. You have to admire the quirky advertising, and confident, affable pronouncements about the product inside. I hear they have their own reality show now too. Sign of the times.

Art That Rocks

Abstract Art from Ocean Gallery in Ocean City by Susan Phillips Hicks



Getting away from abstract and into fantasy, Spring is coming and love will be in the air. The perfect time to finally do justice to a drawing that's been sitting in my drawer for ten years. I call it "The Lovelorn Dragon." I had always wanted to draw my own dragon, and this one seems to have plenty of personality. This was one of those designs where inspiration hit, and it was kind of a one shot deal. As much as I admire fantasy artists, I am not the usual creature maker. This guy just kind of happened without me even expecting it. 

Lovelorn Dragon

Lovelorn Dragon artwork by Susan Phillips Hicks on Society6 and RedBubble merch


Next, it was a dark and stormy night.... So might begin the tale of this image. The huddled masses requested nature and trees, but what with me being a bit macabre at times, I had to make it a spooky tree with a moody storm. I prefer trees in Winter, and the more gnarled, the better. This drawing is reminiscent of recent storms.

Gnarled Tree and Lightning

Silhouette of a bare tree in a storm in drawing by Susan Phillips Hicks of Melasdesign.


At long last, it’s Spring, but there’s still snow on the ground. The flowers are pushing through, but the leaves are bare. So how about a floral pic with a background that still hints at Winter? This art plays with pattern, without being a pattern, and is loosely symmetrical without a mirror image. I decided I'd play around with some more simple forms, echoing the coffee cups and wine glasses of last month's work. 

Cascade Flowers

Flowers in vases in a stylized drawing from Susan Phillips Hicks of Melasdesign.



The last two sets boil down to me taking suitable advantage of my camera at a Caspian gig. I was blown away by their show. The light show was bombastic and a great compliment to the Wall of Beard music. I took a few pics and magicked this up. If you ever get a chance to see them live, do. It's an experience.


Caspian Limelight

Abstract art of Caspian light show from Susan Phillips HIcks of Melasdesign.



Caspian 80s Version

Abstract art of Caspian light show on Society6 and Redbubble merch from Susan Phillips Hicks of Melasdesign.









Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Cats and Dogs, Luck, Coffee and Tea, Wine Lovers, XOXOs and Abstract Silver

Blog time again. This blog is being published automatically, because today (publish date) is a Day without Women, so I am not technically here.

It's been a month for keeping my head down and watching the news as little as possible. I'm trying to concentrate on adding pretty things to the world while my political commentaries of the last period are selling (yayy!). I'm now at cats 3 and 4 out of a series of five. Meet Summertime and Tasha (below).  I've been keeping a flower motive going throughout the series and got really creative with Tasha's portrait, so that kitty remained the focus of the picture with human being second up. Challenges of the portraits: old pictures, human faces and fluff. I do my best to make the prettiest picture I can, no matter what the original photo quality is, but there's just nothing for the fact that printed pictures age, making details vague and colors faded. That's a good time to get around to having a portrait made! Drawing humans is not my thing. It always befuddles me that I can make a cat portrait and have it be accurate to the millimeter... really so that you have to look twice to see which is the photo and which is the drawing, but give me a person to draw and my abilities of observation go completely on the fritz! It makes no sense to me, but it's how it is. SO, I left cat mom in silhouette. Lastly, fluff. I worked on dear Summertime, and had everything just so. I sent the proof out and was informed that I had made her gain a lot of weight. Lesson learned here: the face and positioning were perfect, but when I checked, yes, the outer perimeter of Summertime had, erm, expanded. Made note to self to smudge from outer edge *in* and not vice versa in the future lest kitty need a meeting with Richard Simmons (aka here as the eraser).


Summertime the Poofy Cat

Tasha and the Flower Goddess


My husband and I are avid movie-goers. ..... at least we were. I think we "movied" ourselves out. With the exception of a few gems like Jim Jarmusch's "Patterson"  (GO SEE IT!!!!! The heroine is my evil twin!) and "Hidden Figures" (mainstream, but enjoyable and informative), we haven't found a whole lot drawing us to the cinema. We've resorted to lowly TV watching... and that without a dish or cable. Thank goodness for streaming. One show we've enjoyed is a Hulu original called Shut Eye. It involves the seedy world of Fortune Tellers and the mafia surrounding them. This is probably the only way you could get me to watch a mafia themed program. I've always had an interest in the esoteric, and I *love* a Hamsa design, so I gave it a whirl. I admittedly was also trying my hand at how "graphic designy" I could get. Designs with circle masks are everywhere right now. I was challenging myself by adopting a style and making it my own. Then there's what I think of as the "80's version," which can be seen in the towel in the center below. It reminds me of being at a concert with lasers.

Lucky Hamsa Zodiac Designs

Lucky Zodiac Hamsa Art from Melasdesign

Then there's my love of coffee, mugs and tea cups. Caffeine inspires me! The object was to keep the design simple and light hearted. I like it when homes have art in the kitchen, and I had that in mind when I made these drawings. As a result, I am happy with the prints available as well as items for outside of the kitchen. Oh! And there's a nifty t-shirt available, sans background. I wanted to make a design that would be suitable for coffee and tea drinkers alike, and I have a weakness for interesting cups. Beyond that, it was just the continued color joy of Melasdesign. Lastly, I did bow to the coffee drinkers, since that is usually my preference. Black and white line art is set off by marching brown coffee beans.

Tea Cups and Coffee Mugs Spectrum
and
Coffee Beans and Mugs

Tea Cups and Coffee Mugs Spectrum and Coffee Mugs and Beans Artwork by Melasdesign
Here's yet another experiment of following trends. Geometrical shapes are quite popular at the moment, as are muted colors. I added dogs (Pit Bulls, Labrador, mutt) captured during a great day at the dog park. I think the result is unique, and people are loving the Pitties (as they should!).

Dogs and Flowers
S6 - RedBubble

Dogs and Flowers by Melasdesign


Dogs and Flowers by Melasdesign

Then at some point recently, I was feeling really icky and absolutely not like promoting artwork. The post-Valentine's Day lull had hit online and I felt like I was getting ADD trying to keep up with social media. I had gotten such great reactions from the coffee mug piece that I decided to go for wine, in all it's beautiful colors, but eeeeeesh! I felt like I just couldn't take any of it. ... and to think, I blamed it on the percussive, loud nature of the Adrian Belew concert I was lucky enough to see last week. LOL I had never felt so attacked by music! It was great, but exhausting. Then 2 days later, I saw Jesca Hoop (my musical idol), whose music is totally not aggressive, and the next day I could hardly get out of bed. What is all this art doing to me????? Turns out I had the flu. ;) So, I stuck to my idea, but kept it super simple. It's been a month of experimentation. 

Wine and Grapes
S6 - RedBubble

Wine and Grapes Artwork by Melasdesign

Another thing I've been seeing a lot of is fun mouths in art. I started drawing colorful lips, and this is where my mind took me. It kind of reminds me of a childrens' shape game in spirit, for when love is cartoonish and playful. This finds me getting completely out of my comfort zone color-wise.

Hugs and Kisses XOXO

Hugs and Kisses XOXO by Melasdesign


And for the last group, I took photos of some jewelry I made using PMC Metal Clay. I love the sculptural elements of the pieces and decided I just had to use them in a photomanipulation. I've always thought Milagros Hearts are gorgeous and jumped at the opportunity to make one for my husband. The other piece is an enticing shape made of tubes of different sizes place both parallel and at surprising angles to each other. My fave of the group is the beach towel shown below.... You know they have Summer stuff in the stores already? So much fun!

Milagros Heart Falling
S6 - RedBubble

Milagros Heart Falling by Melasdesign

Tubular Abstract

Tubular Abstract by Melasdesign


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Cats, Political Angst, Neutral Zone and Beauty for It's Own Sake


Here it is, February, and I'm blogging again. I've been busy. It's been a pretty varied month. I've been being pulled in three directions:

Cats Here
Current Events / Political Angst Here
Politics Free Zone Here
and Meaningless Beauty Here


First off, I had some very special kitties to draw. Let me introduce you to Tinkerbell and Cherokee.

Tinkerbell pet portrait   


Cherokee Cat Portrait

These lovely ladies were a joy to draw. For whatever reason, I found myself doing a lot more drawing in Photoshop than in previous portraits. I start in ArtFlow, which is a lovely drawing app for the tablet computer. I also had to bid my 4 year old copy of Photoshop good-bye in favor of Photoshop CC. No, I'm not a fan of cloud based subscription software. I find it money grabbing and somehow slightly evil. ;) And the cloud???? I don't like not having stuff on my own hard drive!!!! That aside, I'm enjoying Photoshop CC. It's nice to have everything working correctly again, because in the end, the old version certainly wasn't! Imagine my surprise when I flattened and saved a PSD to a PNG of the Tinkerbell file, and when I opened the PNG, Photoshop had zapped her whiskers so they were coming out of her eyes, like tears bursting forth. 

If you are interested in a pet portrait of your own, please go to: http://melasdesign.com/shop/4589939505

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POLITICAL ANGST

Then there were things that simply had to be addressed. These things were the direct result of the state of the nation in 2017. I will admit it. I have been stressed, but I know a lot of other people are too. I look at a leader who is dead set on destroying the liberty of many of my friends, neighbors, and people I rely on in everyday life as a customer, not to mention being at the throat of at least 2 demographics I fit into myself. Add to this the fact that I spent a good deal of my college years studying German history and then living in the land that Hitler put through hell, yes, I'm a wee bit angst ridden. The similarities are terrifying.

People are being pitted against one another - people who previously got along just fine. POTUS is acting *completely* illegally in so many ways. I'll stop now, because I could write a book. Let's just boil it down to me trying to handle this how I can: Calling my representatives almost every day, and protesting. 

"Unity"

I made this one, entitled "Unity" in the week of the inauguration in honor of the Women's March on Washington and MLK Day: 

Unity



"Alternate Facts"

The first anti-Trump design was inspired by the first thing Trump did in office: He ordered the FDA and the USDA to censor any "outward facing" information, be it study results, evidence of what they are doing, or otherwise. It's *only* the department that regulates safety of food and drugs that we consume for survival.

Alternate Facts


Alternate Facts mug

"We Don't Need That Fascist Groove Thang"

The next design is a more light hearted design with lyrics from the 80's hit by Heaven 17. "Brothers, Sisters, We don't need that fascist groove thang." The words are true today, and then some. 

We don't need that fascist groove thang mug



 We don't need that fascist groove thang tshirt


For more liberal political leanings, check this collection out: http://www.cafepress.com/melasdesign1/14358260

"Dark Matter / Thought Process"

Then my general visual representation of the current state of the nation: 

thought process
Thought Process
dark matter
Dark Matter

〰〰〰

POLITICS FREE ZONE

Then, there is something else *everyone* could use. I've made a series of designs available on posters, mugs, and t-shirts with the words "Politics Free Zone" - This is in hopes of giving people a peaceful place to meet, where we get along the way we used to, before the general craziness in all camps started. 

Politics Free Zone mug


〰〰〰

MEANINGLESS BEAUTY

And lastly, I've tried to squeeze in some plain eye candy in the midst of all the chaos as of late.


"I Love You Letter Punches Abstract"

My husband brought me a set of old letter punches, and I thought they were too visually appealing not to use in some artwork. Please enjoy "I Love You Letter Punches Abstract" and "I Love You Letter Punches Abstract Pink."


I Love You Letter Punches Abstract



I Love You Letter Punches Abstract iphoneI Love You Letter Punches Abstract




"Landscape with Three Trees."

Then, a bit of color joy in a gray season.


Landscape with Three Trees

On Society6 for prints, bedroom, bath, stationery, iphone: https://society6.com/product/landscape-with-three-trees_print?curator=melasdesign 


Landscape with Three Trees


"Signal Blocked."


Signal LostSignal Lost



"Unicorn Found a la Mela."

This is a derivative work of the medieval tapestry "Unicorn Found," as painted in acrylic and photomanipulated by me.

Unicorn Found a la Mela


Unicorn Found a la Mela


"Random Musings"

It's also really fun on beach and hand towels, throw blankets, or just as a print, as composed: https://society6.com/product/unicorn-found-a-la-mela228924_print?curator=melasdesign



Random Musings

The next piece "Random Musings" was inspired by all the graphics I've been seeing on Society6 that feature a grid layout of circles with flat designs in them - no depth, no shadows. My version (in this case only) turned out not to be quite as colorful as the pieces that inspired it.
Random Musings


And last, but not least,

"Santa Fe Sunset" 

My eyes were celebrating as I made this color explosion.


Santa Fe Sunset Fashion Top


Santa Fe Sunset


There you have it. I have more cats in my future and hopefully less turbulent times for all. If you want a little beauty in your life, remember indie artists. Be kind to one another.