Tuesday, November 22, 2016

For Your Holiday Shopping - Art News from Melasdesign

Howdy folks. The holidays are approaching, with Thanksgiving breathing down our necks. While you're letting that Turkey settle, or are taking care of shopping for gift giving, take a few to peruse my artwork made since last blog post. This time I've sampled my favorite product images from my shops (Melasdesign) on Society6 and RedBubble (for wall art, home decor, phone cases, tshirts, fashion, accessories and paper goods, among other things), and also I'm sharing new originals on Etsy. I've been having a good time with all sorts of media, mixing a good deal of holiday musts in with whatever my imagination led me to. 

Church at Auvers a la Mela
Church at Auvers a la Mela

This is an original acrylic painting derivative work of Van Gogh's Church at Auvers. I decided to abstract it a little more by taking a view that is more close up than the original painting. The actual painting is available in my Etsy shop here.

These two original acrylic on paper paintings are also available on Etsy:

Cafe Terrace at Night a la Mela
Cafe Terrace at Night a la Mela
Where Joyce and I Differ
Where Joyce and I Differ

First I'll share my personal favorite designs of the period in my art to print shops under Melasdesign on Society6 and RedBubble.

Five Gerbers
Five Gerbers

This photoshop collage was a combination of a Gerber Daisy painting I made and photographs I shot at my favorite thrift store. So glad they let me stick around! 

Cups and Spoons

Cups and Spoons

I felt like drawing from models, and my tablet was out of order, so I took pencil and paper in hand and came up with this colorful ode to caffeine past, digitized after I Sharpied it.

Now onto my holiday selections of the year. One is a celebration of an Autumnal feast table by candle light. The others are my take on traditional holiday themes, along with a winter color themed pattern. 

Christmas Wreaths 16

Yuletide Peace
Yuletide Peace
Autumn Table
Autumn Table
Squiggly Candy Canes for Christmas
Squiggly Candy Canes for Christmas

Earth and Water Pattern
Earth and Water

Then there was my little Stop the Hate campaign in light of factions of both sides' behavior during the election.
This is not Normal
This is Not Normal - John Oliver Quote
Stop the Hate
Stop the Hate

Stop the Hate
Stop the Hate

Than a few designs that were just because.

Fall Trees Under Blue Sky
Fall Trees Under Blue Sky
Shibori Sue
Shibori Sue

Now time for the break. Looking forward to posting shibori scarves and more 2D work in my next blog! Until then, be kind to one another.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

My Own Art Gallery

I've been surfing around the art-to-print sites Society6.com and RedBubble.com and have come to one conclusion: a great deal of the art that is making big profits there is fairly lifeless. Don't get me wrong - it doesn't mean the artists are bad. Many things are precisely executed with skill that no doubt came from years of development. I just feel that a lot of the main sellers are unabashedly commercial, and so concentrating on being slick and following trends that any life the artwork might've had got beaten out before it was even conceived as an idea. (Don't even get me started on the stuff that looks like it belongs on a box of Kleenex.) It reminds me of when my favorite professor in college, James Crable, advised me not to go into graphic design, because graphic designers have "the weight of the world on their shoulders." Is this what art is really about? Is it about a product? Is it about being so slick that it seems artificial?

In the process of selling on these sites and after having had an admittedly bad run-in with someone paid to teach artistic convention, I have discovered something about myself. I am an outsider artist at heart. I attribute the direction of the spirit of my artwork to such artists as Philadelphia's prolific mosaic-meister Isaiah Zagar and those who get featured at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. I remember being fascinated by the Watts Towers when introduced them in 6th grade. To the other societally admired extreme, Van Gogh, who threw all caution to the wind with his art, is always an inspiration. All these people do what they do, because they simply must.

So I've started doing one little thing as a small protest of the commercial art world, and I hope you will join me on my trek. Each week I pick a few keywords and scour the sites mentioned above and pin a few prints that I feel have a spark of life in them to my "Art for Sale" board on Pinterest. I will also add my new work as it is made, with no insinuated comparison as to the quality of my work compared to those I have pinned. In a way I'm just showing what I personally would show if I had a gallery that dared to be different.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Melasdesign Halloween Collection 2016 - A Year for Witches and Patterns

It's Fall, my favorite time of year, and Halloween nears. I've been busy with digital drawing and Photoshop making new items for my Halloween Collection to enliven your wardrobe and style your house for the season, with the perfect travel mugs for drinking that Pumpkin Spice Latte. This year I decided for a stripped down approach to my designs, concentrating more on form and pattern than filled in detail. I even delved into pastels for Halloween, a little something different for the season, because such a color scheme has hit the stores hard. As usual, I had fun, and I hope it shows. I prefer witches and skulls over zombies, but did fit one undead in on the radial black and orange pattern. Especially exciting to me are the all over prints from RedBubble, but then again, I am a textile designer at heart. All merch is print to item, featuring men and women's fashion, home decor, wallart, phone and computer cases, drinkware, bags, tapestries and rugs.

Here are the main links to my Halloween section overviews for new and past designs in each of my shops:

Each design can be found on most items, but I have spotlighted my favorite merch below. For links to individual items, just click the captions.

Skulls in Your Face
Witch Cat Pumpkin Woodcut Halloween Design with Candy Corn Stripes
Zombie Black Cat Bat Spider Ghost Pumpkin
Eat Your Heart Out

Pumpkin Black Hearts Pattern Pastel Background

Witch Cat Pumpkin Woodcut Halloween Design

Skulls Pastel Pattern

Witch Cat Pumpkin Woodcut Halloween Design

Pumpkin Black Hearts Halloween Pattern Pastel Background Chiffon Top

Zombie Black Cat Bat Spider Ghost Pumpkin

Skulls in Your Face Shower Curtain

Pumpkin Black Hearts Halloween Pattern Red Background

Pumpkin Black Hearts Halloween Pattern Purple Background iPhone

Zombie Black Cat Bat Spider Ghost Pumpkin Mosaic

Witch Cat Pumpkin Woodcut Halloween Design

Pumpkin Black Hearts Halloween Pattern Purple Background Rug

Witch Pumpkin Cat Woodcut Print Striped Pattern Duvet

All designs copyright Melasdesign with original artwork by Susan Phillips Hicks, with exclusive printing rights to CafePress, RedBubble, Society6 and DesignbyHumans.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Somewhere, Summertime

Welcome to Summer, folks. It's broiling outside and I am very thankful for the air conditioner ('ave St. Celsius' as my mom used to say). Folks are hitting the beach and enjoying open air festivals. I am staying at home in the AC, as per doctor's orders. Having Myasthenia Gravis is not at all practical if you want to have a social life in the Summer. SO, I've been hunkered down in my humble abode, hoping the AC won't conk out and enjoying the respite of the community's rather large pool. 

Felting has been pushed to the background for the season, and 2D art has taken the major role. And yes, the felting break is also medically necessary, because this felter messed her shoulder up in a big way over the last year. Why am I so short???? ;) Thankfully it can be taken care of with physical therapy only, but it's been quite painful. I haven't been advised to quit altogether, but a break is in due order. I am thankful at these times to be a varied artist who has something to fall back on with which to let the creative juices flow. Enough about me. On to my work. 

One thing I love to participate in are auctions for the animal rescue charity SCAT, Inc. If you are into pet charities, they have an auction coming up soon. Follow their Facebook Page and get in on the bidding. Each pet portrait I create for hire includes at donation to SCAT. My latest pet portrait is "Catrina in the Sink." I had been wanting to do a cat in a sink for a long time, so I was really happy when the client offered such a photo. Now all I need is a cat in a box and I'll have another subject checked off of my bucket list. 

Catrina in the Sink

You may have noticed that I changed my portrait offerings from "cat portraits" to "pet portraits." I have started drawing dogs as well as cats as subjects. This was a big decision on my part, because I am a huge dog lover and was basically afraid that I wouldn't do the beautiful soul of a dog justice in my portrayals. Well, others tell me it's working out, and I have been pretty pleased too. The following are portraits I've done, from my own dog Elsa and her fellow Alexandrian Jack the Rat Terrier to dogs I know by one degree of separation. As far as Hypno Doggie goes, I would probably only do this with my own dog, unless requested. It's pretty tongue in cheek and echoes her frame of mind whenever she sees food. All of these are available in my shops (see left hand column links). What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Hypno Doggie

Hunter the Bashful Vizsla
Jack Dreams of Osprey

That's Quite a Dawg

Then came June, and I was lucky enough to go see one of my Besties in Connecticut. It was the time of the Strawberry Moon Solstice, so I took tablet in hand and jotted this Miroesque design down:
Strawberry Moon Over New Haven
Then I had the stars on the brain. When letting my thoughts wander, this design came to me. A bit mystic, a bit Monty Python.
Meteor Shower

Update 7/27/16: Those designs are all available in my shops, including my new Society6 account, where my drawing Moka Pot Joy was selected to be a featured print!

Lastly, I have done some felting. I have had bubbles on the mind. Each nuno-felted scarf has shibori dyed silk with circles of colored wool. Each is available in my Etsy shop. These scarves are good year round, because the silk used is super lightweight gauze. 

The Meander Scarf

The Bubbles Scarf

Next up: a curly haired dog at the very least, and of course much more! And a big thank you to everyone who has supported me over the past year. I have had customers from all over the US and also the UK, Germany and Australia. With any luck, momentum will keep on building. That's it for now. Until we meet again, stay in touch with my other social media outlets.

Monday, May 16, 2016


I'm back in the saddle again and bursting with creativity. I'm ever more comfortable with my own efforts, doing things on my own terms, and feedback from the public is slowly starting to build. First I'll touch upon my newest work and then I'll get down to praise and acceptance.

In the realm of fiber, I've veered away from class assignments (only because I couldn't chase family members down for size measurements) and done a few things I've always wanted to do. Each was a new challenge that built upon my previous years of experience.

First off, I made a cat cave. Since the kitties concerned are very large, I started with a layout that was about as big as a manhole cover. Wool, of course, shrinks. I used a secret mixture (shhhh) of Merino and rough wool, composing the top layers in such a way as to keep the rough wool from taking over the definition of the design. The design was inspired by the mosaic work on beautiful felt coats by Nadin Smo, combined with my longtime fascination with making geometric square designs.

The big question was as to whether the cats would like wool or not. Turns out they do! The first thing they did was sit on top of the vessel which I had decisively made into a bulbous cocoon form, requiring much beating with a vessel tool. That's a cat for you. Turns out the kitties needed an even bigger hole, which is easily taken care of. They've shown great curiosity in entering. Patience, kitties, patience.

cat cave
The Bulbous Cat Cave - Nice and 3D

Cat on Cat Cave
Initial Appreciation of Cat Cave

Next I've worked on interchangeable covers for my NobuBag. The flap attaches by velcro and the company sells many covers, which are nifty in their own right. I have used it as an opportunity to make my own covers. The following is a nuno-felted cover made from a cotton gauze scarf (yayy, thrift store!) with skulls over purple hued Merino wools, featuring a cut-away technique. The second set is nuno-felted silk, merino and rough wool. If you've ever heard of shaving wool, this cover was a hairy beast! The silk is a combination of an Etsy find and some silk I dyed myself.

customized Nobu Bag
Customized Nobu Bag Front

Nobu Bag Back
Cutomized Nobu Bag Back

Nobu Bag
First Customized Nobu Bag Cover

The next project, which needs to be sewn still, is a sheep curl pillow. I've had the curls for 2 years, but never could quite get my nerve up. Turns out that I love the project. It's somehow quite meditative to lay out the curls, one at a time, row by row. One curl was so perfect that I almost wanted to go congratulate the sheep. Good work! Since it was my first time I didn't know how densely I could lay the curls in and allow for shrinkage. The effect is partially separated rows, but I like it. Kind of like corduroy curls. The most wonderful thing is that the curls really don't felt together into a big clump. *That* is why I sat on the curls for so long. I couldn't get my head around it. It blows my mind. Then again, sheep don't felt on humid days, so it's only logical. This is to be made into a pillow. I'll post a pic later, or better yet, follow my Instagram account Melasdesign.

Wool curls
Wensleydale Curls - Soft and Fluffy

Next up my drawings. One is a bright and colorful ode to the Mokapot coffee brewer. The best way to get a coffee that tastes like Europe! Then, an image I'd had on the back burner for decades until now when I have apparently decided I can draw. Then a meditational flower. All three images are available in my Redbubble.com and CafePress shops.

Moka Pot Joy Drawing
Moka Pot Joy
UPDATE 7/27/16: Moka Pot Joy was selected to be a featured print at my latest sales portal Society6. Quite an honor!

Free Thinker Drawing
Free Thinker - Available in Yellow and Rainbow (Pride) Versions

Transformation Flower
Transformation Flower

On to laud and honor. Somebody else seems to have decided I can draw too. I got 2nd place out of some 44 entries in the RedBubble group All About, All About Drawing challenge for my drawing Calvin the Courageous. This was indeed a fair contest, because I didn't tell a soul I had entered, so every vote was unbiased. Also below, enjoy my latest commission work, Jack Karten. If you want your own cat portrait, visit http:/melasdesign.com for portfolio and ordering details. This, along with the sales that brighten my inbox fairly regularly now, make me feel like going where my heart leads me really is the way to go. A big thanks to my fans and followers.

Cat Portrait by Melasdesign
Jack Karten - Commissioned Cat Portrait with Proceeds Benefitting the Animal Welfare Charity, SCAT, Inc.

Lastly: How did I "decide I could draw"? I've always first and foremost thought of myself as a textile/fiber artist. Drawing was never something I took too seriously, and when I did put pencil to paper or brush to canvas, I definitely leaned towards abstract work. Then I could concentrate on color and let that be interpreted freely without the bias of having a specific form connected to it. Then the magical tool came along - one I had always dreamt of, but which was super unaffordable until as of late. I got a tablet computer with a drawing program. The interesting thing is, it's not that I depend on erasing. I really don't erase much. My drawing is what it always was, but I have the confidence that one stray line won't be the end of the world, letting me work more intuitively and freely. Combine that and my former propensity for working with Photoshop, getting used to layers and transparencies, well, it was a great fit. The method I have used for my cat portraits has caused me to see my models more accurately and I can finally make truly representative depictions.