Thursday, January 29, 2009

gina with a cornflower

From the item description:

This original pencil and ink drawing is a diminutive portrait of a fellow passenger on the San Francisco Muni, rendered on the ticket itself.

A couple weeks ago I was in the city, sketching on the train, and this girl with impossibly bright orange hair asked me to draw her. The only loose slip of paper I had on me was the train ticket - and that's how it started.

Gina, the girl in this portrait, had just gotten a new tattoo on her wrist done - a plain, tiny red star - but I kept looking at the tattoo of a cornflower on her neck. She saw me looking at it and took off her jacket so I could see the rest. From under her tank top a veritable riot of different flowers bloomed all over her chest and shoulders. "They go all the way down," she grinned. "What kinds of plants are they?," I asked. She replied, "They're all weeds."

This ticket measures 2" by 5", and the drawing itself is about 3" tall.

It's up in the shop for $30. Given how small these portraits are I thought that was a fair price, but Camden thought I should list them for more.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy New Year! Year of the Ox!

Or, as my dad said in a recent e-mail, "happy REAL New Year."

The illustration above is of the engraving "The Chillingham Bull" by Thomas Bewick, depicting a member of one of the last herds of wild cattle, believed to be descended from wild oxen. I tried doing a Google image search for "Korean ox" but the overwhelming majority of results were pictures pop stars or soup. So.

done: 1 down, 4 more to go.

detail of "The Love Letter," now available as an original painting for $90 and soon to be available as a print.

Last night I said one down, five to go; I worked on a drawing all night before realizing it's turning out to be no good at all. I mean, it's okay, I'm just not really pleased with where it's going. I was hoping for something hazy and muted, that reflected in its line work the victorian engravings and portraits I drew on for image references. Instead it's looking more like a coloring book.

Bah. I'll give it another try, but for now I have to scrap it if I want to get anything else done.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

almost done.

"The Love Letter," gouache on watercolor paper, roughly 6" by 8".

It's so close. I just need to do some final detailing, but it should take about ten or fifteen minutes.

So, tally for tonight: 1 done, 5 more to go.

Sigh. Tomorrow's going to be a long night.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Still sick, but recovering quickly enough that I think I can finish all the pieces I meant to by this weekend.

These are drafts for two of them. It's the first layer of two gouache on paper pieces, which - provided I can finish them entirely by Sunday - I'll be releasing as limited edition giclee prints in the middle of next week.

And I'm almost done with "The Bride." At this point I'm just trying to figure out the last step and debating between leaving it as is and matting it, or turning the borders of the paper into a more intricate papercut. I'll post a couple ideas tomorrow to see what you guys think. Camden likes it the way it is, sort of stark and plain on the page, but I don't know. I can't stop fiddling with it.

Edited to add: Huh. It looks like the scanner washed out the paintings. This might be better photographed.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I've been home sick the past week. I won't bog you down with too many gory details. Suffice to say I haven't really been able to put much up in the shop, other than these journals.

The jackalopes are handpainted in gouache and ink on Moleskine Cahier pocket journals, and listed at $16.

There's also this:

I'd like to get it made into a print, but I'm not quite sure if it's done. Should I add more to the background? Should I bring out the flowers in her hair more?

Friday, January 16, 2009

miniature ghosts

In the course of trimming down large sheets of paper for papercuts, I found myself with all these tiny leftover pieces, many of them conveniently measuring 2.5" by 3.5".

These miniatures will be priced at $15, and the two little guys featured above are available in the shop this very moment.

the fruits of lethargy

Normally I love spending time in the kitchen, but there is a very firm variable that always determines just how much time I spend in the kitchen. It's an inverse proportion: the more dishes are in the sink, the less I want to see them, therefore the less time I want to spend at the stove.

This tomato sauce recipe is one that I turn to often on the days when there are more pots and pans and utensils and plates and glasses and oh my god, I can't even finish that sentence because right now there are more dishes in the sink than are in the cupboard that holds them.

So, this tomato sauce? It's low-stress. I think I first saw it on Orangette, who I think in turn got it from Marcella Hazan. It might be the only tomato sauce I ever make for the rest of my life, because the recipe is as follows:

1. Take a 28 ox. can of whole plum tomatoes, open it, and put it in a large frying pans with fairly high sides. Turn the heat onto medium.

2. Peel and trim a small yellow onion, cut in half, and add to the tomatoes.

3. Add half a stick of butter. Smush the tomatoes with a wooden spoon, bring the whole thing to a lively simmer, then turn the heat to low and let it alone for forty-five minutes, smushing and stirring from time to time. Discard the onion and salt to taste.

And this sauce? It's wonderful. I don't know if it's the low steady heat concentrating and sweetening the taste of the tomatoes, or if it's the silky dairy quality of the butter, or maybe it's the fact that you don't chop the onion and so it's milder than usual, imparting just enough of its translucent savory flavor without any sharpness. All I know is that when I serve this, Camden and I don't really have to do dishes because we've licked the plates sparkling clean.

Just kidding, we totally do the dishes. Because that would be gross.


A few more notes: I made a double batch of sauce this time, which provided enough liquid to cook the whole wheat spaghetti right in the sauce. Even less dishes! Hooray! Also, I can't help myself and always add a couple crushed cloves of garlic at the same time as the onions, and then when the sauce and the pasta finished I minced some parsley, mixed it with some lemon zest, lemon juice, and freshly ground black pepper, and sprinkled the lot over the pasta along with a fluffy pile of grated parmesan.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Yes, yes, manufactured holidays, conspiracy of the greeting card industry, wakka wakka wakka. I don't know, maybe I'm softening in my old age, but where I tended to sneer at Valentine's a few years ago I've grown sort of fond of it now.

Although, full disclosure, Camden and I celebrate Valentines the day after most people do. That's the day all the candy goes on sale.

Both pieces are up and available in the shop. Expect to see more soon!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

new series

"Totem no. i," $40.

Here's the start of a new open-ended series of totem animals. I'm playing around with gouache embellishments.

P.S. I'm so happy with my new scanner. It's a Canoscan 5600F flatbed scanner, about $175 with California tax. It's so fast, and the image quality is leaps and bounds beyond the scanner I had before.

Friday, January 9, 2009


Tomorrow I get a new scanner! God, I'll be surprised if it takes any less than six hours to redo all the photos I've taken for the store, but still, it'll be worth it.

Stay tuned!


The Storque just announced that the administration has launched a beta of tracking and site meter software, to which I say: w00t! I've often been curious to see how people find Pen and Paper, and I think this could be a great tool in attracting more customers and getting a better perspective on how far I can take this little project.

I haven't been posting too many new pieces. I'm working on seriously cleaning and clearing out my nest, which will probably take at least a week. But here's what I've listed in the last week or so:

They range from $30 to $35, with the exception of the little wolf cub, which is $15. I'm especially fond of him, actually. The silhouette itself only stands about an inch high, so with the matting and everything he looks especially diminutive. I think he'd look great in one of those IKEA pinewood frames.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

recipe: french lentil and roast butternut squash salad

I've never really liked anything sweet first thing in the morning. Even fresh fruit has to be preceded by a piece of plain dry toast or something, and my favorite breakfast is just homey Korean fare: a bowl of fresh white rice, some kind of clear savory soup, an assortment of banchan, maybe a piece of fish or a fried egg with sesame oil and soy sauce.

As such, when I work at the yogurt shop on Sunday mornings I never really eat anything until I get home in the afternoon. I'll nibble some toasted nuts and maybe sneak a sample cup of the greek yogurt or something, but for the last year or so Sunday breakfast has always been at three in the afternoon, once I get home from work.

I made this lentil salad last night and put it in the fridge to snack on throughout the coming week, but Camden and I polished off two thirds of it already.


1 small butternut squash
1 medium yellow onion
4 cloves of garlic
2 - 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely minced and set aside; reserve the parsely stems
juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 1/4 cups de Puy lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Peel and cut the butternut into 1" cubes, then halve the onion and cut into large-ish wedges. Coat everything with the olive oil, salt to taste, and roast with two cloves of oiled garlic until everything is tender, about thirty minutes.

While that's roasting, put the rest of the onion, garlic, and reserved parsley stems in a pot of water and bring it to a lively simmer. After it's simmer for ten minutes fish out all the vegetable matter and salt the broth, then add the lentils and cook until done.

Toss the roasted vegetables and the lentils together in a large bowl with the lemon juice and zest, as well as more salt and pepper if needed.

Eat warm or cold.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

my favorite winter salad

Today was a puttering sort of day. I tried to focus and finish a few drawings I started in December but it just wasn't happening. The only thing I managed to do well tonight was dinner.

We have to periodically defrost our sorely outdated freezer. Luckily, at least as far as cleaning goes, the freezer is smaller than two or three of my textbooks and all I found in there were two packs of sausages we bought a while ago at the farmer's market. The boudin blanc I wanted to save for later, so tonight I roasted up the wild boar and apple sausage and served it with a simple lentil salad and roasted potato mash. For a second course, I served this salad.

I think I found the recipe in the New York Times a couple years ago, and since then I've been making it every couple weeks or so. It almost seems ridiculous to call it a recipe. All you have to do is mince a small clove of garlic and mix it up with the juice and zest of a small lemon, salt, freshly ground black pepper, and some olive oil. Then get a good handful of what I like to think of as "softer" winter greens. So: Swiss chard and dinosaur kale are good contenders; their more recalcitrant siblings, like red or green kale and collard greens, are too tough. Wash and pat the leaves dry, remove the ribs, and chiffonade them as thin as you can. Toss the greens with the lemon dressing and let it sit for a bit, five to ten minutes depending on how much tooth you want, then grate a bunch of pecorino or parmesan over the whole mess and mix it up and serve.

It's more substantial than a lettuce salad, because of the heft of the kale, but dressing is bright and lively and keeps it from feeling too hearty. On the rare occasion that Camden can't make it home for dinner I have this on its own, with some candied fruit or some such sweet morsel for dessert.

I listed one more silhouette in the shop, too:

Thursday, January 1, 2009

new pieces and prints

The three silhouettes are all 4" by 6" and are listed at $35; the prints are $5.