Eileen Gray Exhibit

Eileen Gray-inspired rug design

One of our professors had us do a poster and invitation for an exhibit of Eileen Gray‘s works, and a rug design based on hers. Even though this was the last assignment of our monochrome term, our professor invited us to pick a signature colour for the assignment. Myself, I like red.

I did my typesetting and layout in Indesign CS2, since I wanted some precise effects with colours and overlaps that I couldn’t do by hand. The typeface is Futura. The illustrations of Gray’s pieces are all done by hand, as was the assembly. Oh, the scent of rubber cement in the morning. Continue reading

Conté Studies

Kung-fu pose

A small selection of works in conté done in first year. One of my biggest hurdles for going into design was and still is my lack of drawing skills. Every other person in my class seems to be a natural artist. I’m not.1 I can see, and I can imagine, but I have trouble putting that vision on paper well enough to satisfy myself. (Working in any media I can’t erase is petrifying.) I also have trouble with lighting. I can mostly tell when it’s wrong, not predict how to get it right. So when the other girls complained about our graphic presentation teacher marking too easily, and how it wasn’t worth doing good work for her, I wanted to shake them. You could tell from their tone that this stuff was child’s play for them, and that they had no idea how it would feel if drawing were difficult and scary to begin with, and doubly so because it ought to be perfect.

Tonal study of crumpled paper bagSince my opinion of my artwork is usually that it sucks, or at best is flawed — see this problem here and another one there — the professor telling me that it was good for a beginner (a.k.a. “easy marking”) was a really big help. It made it a little less scary to do the next assignment, because it was not going to come back covered in red ink.

Close-up of ear

One success made it slightly easier to try for the next, and you know what? By the end of the year, my drawings sucked a lot less than they used to. Some of them even look good to my ruthless perfectionist eyes. Obviously I needed (and still need) a big helping of confidence along with my drawing lessons, and I’m grateful to our professor for having given me some. After having seen how much I improved in a year and a half, even I have to agree that I can learn how to draw. And eventually, I may stop being scared of markers.


  1. What I am is a natural writer. I always get picked to do the writeups or give the presentations when there’s a group project.

2D Monochrome Graphic Design

Plaid This group of items are from an assignment doing monochrome graphic design. The “lines” item suggested a plaid to me, so that’s what I did. The black stripes are paper, and it was very hard to cut and glue 1/16″ inch strips accurately. I deliberately threw the black/white balance off-center in this one too. Bob kept this for the next CIDA review, so my attempt at asymmetrical balance was clearly working.

The boxes pieces came out better than I would have expected since I have never had much of a feel for abstract art. Like the plaid, it’s off-center and balanced at the same time. Bob kept this one for CIDA too.

It is surprisingly difficult to paint straight lines and sharp corners accurately. I should have borrowed a trick from Candace and masked them off with painter’s tape.

Sketch of seashellBlocksThis marker sketch of a seashell was done as a preliminary stage for the organic pattern, which didn’t come out as well as I would have liked it to.

2007 Entrance Portfolio

red-eyed tree frog (adjusted) Eight items from my 2007 entrance portfolio for Interior Design.

I love the vibrant colours of this tree frog, and the contrast between the smooth watercolours and the texture of the block-printing that forms the background and main lines. I like carving linocuts better than I like drawings, since if I get the block right I can experiment with different colours and papers for little extra work…especially with water-based ink. This print is oil-based ink, thanks to the watercolours, which was very messy to work with. It turns out that baby oil is a better clean-up liquid for it than turpentine.

national gallery garden view (adjusted)This charcoal drawing shows a view through multiple spaces, and is based on my photograph of a garden in the National Gallery. At the time I had no training in perspective drawing, and no experience with charcoal, so you can imagine how much trial and error went into it. I began by drawing an outline of the scene, without tracing the photo, and used a light table to do the toned version on a separate sheet, because I knew it would take me more than one try to get it right. Continue reading

Inverse Peekaboo Bug Test

Treehouse Model: view from ground Whoever it was that said “it takes twice as long as you think it will” was an optimist. Sometimes it takes three times — as this project did. The silver lining for you is that it taught me how not to manage my time, and how to recognize when I need advice in order to stop banging my head on the wall.

We were asked to design, draw and model a 650 sq. ft. house for two people anywhere in the world but North America. Outdoor spaces were encouraged since they didn’t count towards our square footage, but no major functions could be left outdoors. I asked my friend Allison if she and her husband Paul would be my clients, and we promptly had a brainstorming session over tea. She wanted the house to be on New Zealand’s North Island, but didn’t have a specific town in mind. I located it in the Coromandel Peninsula, between Tararu and Whakatete Bay. Allison is a witch, Paul is a shaman and energy healer, and they are both tall, so they both wanted the house to be in harmony with nature, have high ceilings, and have quiet space to meditate in. There were many other desiderata, but these were the most important. Continue reading