Mugs!

As you all know, I have a little shop on print-on-demand site Redbubble.com, and recently they added mugs to their lineup of products. I ordered some for myself (well, to give as gifts and one for myself!) and I’m, again, pleased with the printing quality. The price is also, surprisingly, only as much as a tote bag.

MUG Ocarina Pic

Above is my Pop-Art Ocarina Tilted Pattern

MUG matchsticks

Mug Matchsticks 2

Above is my Many Matchsticks pattern.

Never thought I’d ever see any of my work on a coffee mug, but I must admit that I like the result! As more of a “fine” artist, I also love that I get to indulge my more design, graphics oriented ideas and inclinations through my store here.

 

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Monotyping

Monotypes are a medium that I have been playing with off and on for a few years. For those who don’t know, a monotype is a kind of print that, rather than being made using a printing matrix (like woodcuts), instead involves basically painting a non-textured plate with inks. The plate is then placed with a piece of paper and run through a printing press, producing a one-time, unique printed image. It’s basically the closest printmaking comes to painting, and is probably the least structured or technical form of it. I personally don’t own a printing press (the small ones run in the thousands of dollars,) but a good friend who is kind enough to let me into her studio every once in a while lets me use hers. Here are some pieces from the most recent session:

Doe Eyes Monotype_Grey_MeganKoth (582x800)

 

The above was the first one I made. I wanted to see how my recent “Doe Eyes” series would translate from watercolor to printmaking. I basically painted some pretty straightforward, normal eyes and lips and decided to let the press add the more unique, abstracted aspects to the image. This one didn’t satisfy me in that the end result looked too “normal,” so I decided to really glob the ink on in the following prints:

Doe Eyes Monotype_Tongue 2_Megan Koth_WEB

I added too much ink to the lips, and the run through the press made a really happy accident by creating this tongue effect. Miley Cyrus would love them.

Doe Eyes Monotype_Tongue Ghost_Megan Koth_WEB

Above is the “ghost” print made from the same plate. It’s made by running the same plate through the press again. The ink residue left over makes a lighter, ghost-like version of the first print. I often favor the ghost prints over the others.

Maybe someday I’ll have a great studio space and enough money saved up to buy my own press and do these more regularly, because they’re so fun. It’s often exhilarating to see the image that the press will give you. My tendency with painting faces is always to make them look controlled and clean- I have a hard time abstracting them. With monotyping, I can paint a pretty structured image and then let the press create the abstract elements for me!

Filling the Silence: Part Deux

Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint

Being an artist who spends many hours alone working in the studio, sometimes I want to fill the silence that accompanies, but I don’t really want to jam to some tunes. Listening to podcasts, I’ve found, fixes this. They’re long, not usually super sturctured, and you can usually fade in and out of listening to them while working. Podcasts also just often end up creating a really interesting vibe to work under.

Janet Varney’s JV Club podcast is amazing. You may know Janet from FX’s You’re the Worst, or as the voice of Korra in Legend of Korra, or just from many things on Nerdist.com (which JV Club is hosted by.) She has a fabulous radio voice, for one, and she interviews many great comedians and actors about their awkward teenage years. And every episode ends with a game of M.A.S.H. Awesome. Listening to really funny, talented, successful people parse through their teenage fumbles and embarrassments is, of course, an entertaining and affirming experience.

Another podcast I’ve been listening to a lot lately is comedian Paul Gilmartin’s The Mental Illness Happy Hour. I’m lucky enough not to seriously struggle with any mental illnesses, but the podcast is great in that the guests own struggles end up being incredibly relatable even if you’re not a sufferer of their particular illness or have personally experienced their trauma. As the homepage says and the entire podcast affirms, “you are not alone.” It’s like an unofficial, often hilarious, sometimes deeply sad, therapy session for both the guest and listener. I’ve definitely been listening only to later be brought to tears at my canvas. The episode with Ashly Burch is particularly gut-wrenching.

Podcasts are kind of an odd thing. They’re sort of old-fashioned, in a way. They’re so low-tech. We have thousands of HD movie channels at our fingertips, access to millions of artists on spotify, and yet, a lot of people just want to sit down and listen to an audio recording of some people having a conversation. That’s pretty cool. And I totally get it. That stripped-down format allows you to really learn about the participants in a way that feels more intimate than even a televised interview. I can’t get enough!

Watercolor Revisited

I’m beginning to notice a pattern wherein during the times when I don’t quite know what to paint with my “core” work, i.e my oil paintings, I frequently retreat to fiddling around with watercolor. Although, like a lot of painters whose preference is to work in oils, watercolor’s unpredictability and permanence tends to frustrate me. However, over the years of working off and on with the medium, I’ve started to get more comfortable. Not to mention, I work small and on pretty inexpensive (none of that 300lb stuff) paper, so I’m okay with it not turning out great every time and simply being happy when it does.

Previously, I’ve only been interested in non-objective forays into watercolor. Recently, however, I’ve become interested in portraiture. Stylized, of course.

Face 1 Megan Koth SCAN (569x800)

Doe Eyes, watercolor on hot press. By Megan Koth. Prints, etc. available from my store.

Doe Eyes 3_Sml_Megan Koth

Doe Eyes III, watercolor on hot press. By Megan Koth. Prints, etc available from my store.

Sometimes, it can be beneficial to use a medium that you’re not all that invested in. Although it doesn’t always work out, during the times that it does, the results can be refreshingly interesting.

 

My Foray into Redbubble (cont.)

I wrote recently about some products I ordered from my shop on print-on-demand site Redbubble. The site had a 15% off promotion recently (sadly, it’s ended now) so I decided to order some more of my products to survey the quality once again (this time I had to pay for everything, boo.) I’m pretty relieved to say that I am pleased with the quality of both products!

The first thing I bought was this throw pillow with one of my watercolor grid patterns printed on it:

Pillow composite (1000x581)

 The pillow and painting for comparison

The printing came out really true to the colors, and at a great resolution as well! The pillow material itself is pretty soft and sturdy. However, since this is a throw pillow, it’s more for decoration than actually lying on to sleep (and it’s dry/spot clean only because of the printing.)

The other thing I got was this tote!

Totes COmposite

     Closeup this time is of the actual tote, not the original painting.

I was a bit afraid that it was gonna be one of those terrible cheapo, super thin totes that get given away for promotional reasons, or that you see for 99 cents at the grocery checkout. I was pleasantly surprised that it was made of a sturdy and thick material- a little thicker than the typical artist canvas. The printing also came out really nice and clear! I got this design partially because, it being a watercolor painting (which are notoriously hard to photograph,) I was concerned with the picture quality. I’m relieved to see that it turned out so crisp!

Overall, my feelings are that Redbubble products are good quality. However, the catch is that they are kind of pricey. For instance, my pillow, with the cover and insert and shipping, came to a bit over $30. Obviously, there are cheaper places to get throw pillows (hello, Ikea!) but here, you’re more directly supporting an individual artist and their work, at a much cheaper cost than buying original art. Overall, I’m just having fun with the whole thing, which is really the important part.

You can visit my shop here!

Artbook of the Day: The Art of Kiki’s Delivery Service

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Ah, Kiki’s Delivery Service. Along with My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki is certainly my favorite childhood movie. I remember seeing a commercial for it either on TV or on a VHS (remember those?) and immediately demanding that we go out and rent it from the video store (remember those?!) My parents would let my sister and I take turns choosing a movie, and every time (to my sister’s annoyance) I chose Kiki– until, of course, my parents just bought me the VHS for my birthday since they’d already paid the cost of the movie many times over in rental fees by then.

So, naturally I own the Art of Kiki’s Delivery Service book from Viz. It’s filled with beautiful concept work, sketches, and commentary from director Hayao Miyazaki and others on the development of the film.

Art of Kiki (5)

I totally recognized the above painting from its fully realized use in the film:

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There are also some interesting early explorations of Kiki’s appearance:

Art of Kiki (6)

This drawing was one of my faves:

Art of Kiki (1)

Looking back, I can see why Kiki intrigued me so much. The fully realized female characters (including the protagonist,) the story of being on one’s own for the first time and finding one’s independence, and the fact that the whole “teen witch” thing is really just a metaphor for being an artist. Kiki has a seemingly innate talent for flying on her broomstick, but gets into a funk and loses her ability. She confides in her artist friend Ursula, and realizes that she needs to find “her own inspiration” to fly. Of course, she eventually finds this inspiration and gets her “powers” back in the end through self-discovery and an act of bravery. I think it’s great that a “kids” movie explored something so complex. And it’s no surprise, being an artist myself now, that I was drawn to such a story!

My Foray Into Redbubble

Recently I joined print-on-demand website Redbubble, (and I was even featured on the homepage!) I’ve been pleased with my experience thus far.

Basically, the gist of RedBubble is that you join (for free) and can upload your artwork to be sold and printed on a variety of products (prints, totes, tees, whatever you want to offer.) Then, when someone orders one of your designs, it is then printed and shipped to the customer. Overall, the website seems to make most of its sales through tee shirts. You seem to get what you put in. If you really want to make money there, you have to market it yourself (which I’m too lazy to do, really. Er, I guess that’s what I’m doing right here…) I think it’s a good tool to have if you ever want to order any prints of your own work, or to have somewhere to send people who are interested in your work, but who can’t afford originals. For instance, the family member who’s always asking you to “paint something” for them.

I think they felt sorry for me not having sold anything, because recently a representative of theirs was nice enough to randomly send me a voucher for $50 so I could buy some designs for myself (which was super awesome of them to do.) It took me a while to decide, but I eventually settled on getting a phone case (because I needed one, and wanted to see how the printing came out) and a tee (because they offer a baseball tee- my favorite kind! Never enough love for the baseball tee.)

This is the design I got on the cell phone:

Posies Phone composite_MeganKoth

I was really impressed with the printing quality- I was a bit worried about how a watercolor painting would show up, but it came out crisp.

I also ordered a version of my ocarina painting on a baseball tee:

Ocarina Tee and pic_Megan Koth

I was really pleased with the printing quality on the tee as well!

The only downside I suppose is that the products are a bit pricey- no $10 tee bargains here. my baseball tee runs at $28.64, and that’s before shipping. But you are getting a quality product, not to mention, something really unique and quite literally made for you and at your request (“printed on demand.”)

Overall, I don’t expect to get rich through this, but it’s a fun thing I think for artists to invest some time into, if just to get your stuff on some nice products, and to have a place to refer friends who want something of yours but aren’t ready to take the plunge on an original work just yet.

You can visit my RedBubble store here!

Artbook of the Day: The Art of Princess Mononoke

Art of Mononoke (7)

I’ve cultivated an impressive, and to my knowledge, complete, collection of all of the fabulously hefty Viz artbooks on Hayao Miyazaki’s films. However, the artbook for my favorite Miyazaki film, Princess Mononoke, long eluded me because it was never released to the US. That gaping hole in my life was finally filled when my wonderful sister brought me home a copy after travelling to Japan, purchased from the Ghibli museum no less!

Art of Mononoke (2)

I of course love all of Miyazaki’s films, but I consider Mononoke to be his masterpiece. It just tackles so much from environmentalism, war and pacifism, human brutality, and just… life. Being alive. Heavy stuff, but it’s all told in such a masterful and natural way that I can’t help but choose it as my favorite.

The book obviously has gorgeous images of the hand-painted backgrounds featured in the film…

Art of Mononoke (3)

 

Art of Mononoke (4)

… While also, of course, featuring things like character sketches and other preliminary images:

Art of Mononoke (6)

The only downside to me is that it’s all in Japanese, and my 3 years of studying the language in high school has pretty much dissipated by now. But it’s fine, the images are the real meat of it anyways.

In making Mononoke, Miyazaki has said that he had “started to think about what a villain really was… It was hard to make a villain that really deserved to be defeated; at least, I couldn’t do it.” And it’s true. There is no pure “good” and “evil” in his world- only people with differing motivations. It is this sophisticated and nuanced view of humanity that makes Mononoke a timeless classic.

 

***All Images are my own crappy ones taken of the book

How Artists do Selfies

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Ah, the oft derided “selfie.” Those crazy kids these days with their shallow documentation of their own appearances! No one remembers that the (much longer!) process of immortalizing ones appearance in art is a longstanding, and respected, tradition!

Probably anyone who’s ever pursued art in some capacity has (maybe begrudgingly) had to face (get it?!) the challenge of depicting their own likeness from a mirror. Whenever I was given such an assignment, I seem to remember most of my classmates moaning and groaning while I was at least mildly excited. It just always seemed to me like such a cool, “artist” thing to do, to sit down and paint your own portrait.

Artist self-portraits are also great because you’re basically seeing the face, more or less, that you make when working.

SelfPort_MeganKoth (771x1000)Self portrait by Megan Koth, Oil on Canvas, 18×24″, 2014. 

Apparently, I look pretty stern while working!

However, I understand how it can be scary. The portrait assignment is kind of the perfect challenge for students because it’s a great way of getting them to paint something from life that they actually feel personally invested in. It’s hard to get invested in getting a crumpled paper bag or some random kitchen utensils right (we had some pretty terrible still life setups,) but their own face? Now that’s something a student isn’t likely to want to mess up. There’s also a unique personal intimacy that comes with painting a great self-portrait. I mean, you have to look at your own appearance at a level you never had before- noticing every detail, including every “flaw.” I can see how the latter would make some uncomfortable, and that probably explains a lot of students lack of enthusiasm for the assignment. But I’ve found over the years that painting myself has made me more accepting of the “flaws.” In that way, the self-portrait can end up being much more than just an assignment, but a process of self-discovery and acceptance. Or, if you’re not an artist and just wanna take a picture of yourself because you look fly as hell today, you can do that too.

 

Hilarious top “Mona Lisa” image courtesy of Sangerous on Imgur

Back to Watercolor

Lately I’ve been back to doing a lot of small, quick abstract watercolor paintings. I think I need this to wind down after months of working on super structured and planned oil paintings in school. It feels good to let loose for a bit with a low cost, low risk medium. If a painting doesn’t work out, I have no problem throwing it away and starting a new one (something much more difficult to do after investing in a canvas painting.)

Untitled 2_Megan Koth (562x800)

 Untitled, Watercolor and crayon on paper, Megan Koth, 07/2014

I’ve been enjoying using mixed media, like pencil, stamps, and crayon, to add texture and visual interest.

Untitled 1_Megan Koth (552x800)

Untitled, Watercolor, graphite, and crayon on paper, Megan Koth, 07/2014

And I even managed to stumble upon some abstract flowers! Totally unlike me, but I like how they turned out nonetheless.

Red Flowers Watercolor2_MeganKoth (800x576)

Red Posies, Megan Koth.  Prints and more of this available at my Redbubble store!

Doing these little watercolors has always been a kind of palette cleanser for me to do between big paintings. I see it as the painting equivalent of doing stretches before a big race.