In Time for Fall..

Whoop whoop. Sleepy Hollow prints are available in my Etsy shop now, just in time for fall. If you’re like me, you like it to feel like autumn year round, so headless horsemen and pumpkins are always in season.

I debated whether to print this on satin luster or fine art paper, and in the end tried both. The shop prints are on satin luster, and it’s amazing to me what a difference it makes. The subtle gradients of the sky, hills and trees in the background just look so beautiful on this paper, whereas the watercolor paper texture of the fine art paper dulled the purples a lot by comparison. Honestly, the colors are luminous on this print. And, as Wild Hearts, 1923 is also printed on satin luster at the same size, they make nice companion prints.

Sleepy Hollow prints are available directly through me via my Etsy shop here, and prints and other goodies are always available through Society6.

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The Boyfriend App: Free Wallpaper Pattern

The Boyfriend App: A Free Pattern by She Can Lift a Horse

In preparation for the release of her debut YA title, The Boyfriend App (out from HarperCollins at the end of this month), I’ve been helping author Katie Sise spruce up her social media outlets with some Boyfriend App inspired art. One such project included designing a pattern that could be used on her Twitter page, and doubles as a free download; a techy tie-in for readers to decorate their own social media, phones, desktops, and tablets with.

The pattern is composed of illustrations that represent key characters: hunter green Converse for shy, sweet Aidan, the Brad Pitt of computer nerds; designer flats for fashion blogger Lindsay; main protagonist Audrey’s lucky rabbit’s foot; the white glove of Nigit Gurung, coke-bottle-glasses-wearing dork turned Michael Jackson fashion plate. Fun to read, fun to draw.

The Boyfriend App: A Free Pattern by She Can Lift a Horse

Grab a wallpaper for yourself. The tile is available in three sizes; small, medium, and large. To use it on your desktop: right click, select “use image as desktop picture”. (if the image doesn’t tile by default, select “tile” from system preferences). Phone and tablet sizes are also listed. Enjoy! :)

Downloads:

Tiles: small | medium | large
iPad / iPad Mini
iPad Retina
iPhone 5 | iPhone 4 | iPhone

Land of Legends

Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is one of my all-time favorite stories. On some basic level, it’s one most American’s know; it’s the story of a headless horseman who chases some doofus-looking guy named Ichabod through the woods. It’s legend has become our own and it’s a staple of the fall nostalgia routine and any decent Halloween movie marathon.

Most of us are probably familiar with the various film adaptations — most notably Disney’s Adventures of Ichabod & Mr. Toad, a 1949 animated musical narrated and sung by Bing Crosby, and the 1999 Tim Burton/Johnny Depp movie — and personally, I enjoy each of them. I love how Disney nails Ichabod’s strange proportions and beak-like nose, and I welcome Burton’s gore, witches, and dreamy, withered sets. Still, the story itself is what I love best, though it’s much quieter and much less about heaving jack-o-lanterns than the films would have you think, as I discovered reading it for myself the first time, standing behind the counter at Books of Wonder on a particularly slow fall afternoon. The text is full of descriptions of people and New England, of Ichabod’s strange visage and massive appetite (“He was a huge feeder, and, though lank, had the dilating powers of an anaconda”; one of my favorite lines), and the quiet, “drowsy, dreamy” Dutch community with it’s atmosphere of whispered rumors. It’s just a little bit about a crazy Hessian riding around with his own decapitated head on the pommel of his saddle, and even less about tossing said head like a mother elfin’ shot-put. The edge-of-your seat rustle of excitement as Ichabod and his scrawny horse Gunpowder navigate the woods at night, startled into the worst kinds of thoughts by the snapping of branches and screech of an owl, is short and comes at the very end. But you need that calm before the storm to really enjoy the chase when it happens, I think. Besides, Irving’s language and observations are so enjoyable; so funny and perfect in their concise understanding of fear and love and idleness, I hardly care what happens at all, really. And so I pick it up at least once a year, every year, around Halloween-time and love it all over again.

A beautiful edition of the book is a must. I’m a big fan of my Arthur Rackham illustrated hardcover Books of Wonder edition with glossy full color plates and tons of black and white drawings throughout. The Rackham illustrations are beautiful in an spooky fairytale way, though not a literal depiction of events for the most part. Instead the art matches the story’s mood, with witches and devilish imps are sketched into the landscape and trees that come alive in monstrous, contorted ways and seem to follow beak-nosed Ichabod about town. They give a definite sense of foreboding… …but why am I talking about Arthur Rackham before sharing my own illustration? That’s not an act I wanna try and follow, and my own interpretation was, in fact, quite literal.

All of this is to say that I love fall, and I love New York and the Hudson River Valley, and Washington Irving, and pumpkins and Halloween, and book covers, and especially this story, so, so much. So I thought I’d have my go at illustrating a poster or hypothetical cover. I sketched and made notes while reading to try to clear my mind of movie images and focus strictly on Irving’s own descriptions, and I based my bridge on this photo of the purported one from the story. And… well, here it is…

Another convulsive kick in the ribs, and old Gunpowder sprang upon the bridge; he thundered over the resounding planks; he gained the opposite side; and now Ichabod cast a look behind to see if his pursuer should vanish, according to rule, in a flash of fire and brimstone. Just then he saw the goblin rising in this stirrups and in the very act of hurling his head at him.

So what am I doing with this bad boy? Well I’m trying to get it on a Threadless t-shirt and I’ll need your help. I’ll post a head’s up when the shirt is open for voting, but in the meantime I welcome you to view my design on the Threadless website, and “like” the beegeezus out of it! The background is slightly altered so to stays within the color budget for printing. You can check it out here.

Dribbblin’

I was invited to joined Dribbble recently. In case you’re not up on your designers-referencing-basketball-terminology, Dribbble is a community for visual artists to uploads snap shots of their work (or “WIP”s, works in progress). The bulk of its members are designers, so as an illustrator posting, I feel a bit like I’ve interrupted a meeting by walking in too loudly, dressed inappropriately. Spilling coffee down the front of my shirt while balancing a cartoonishly tall stack of books, if we want to continue the mental image. Still, it’s nice to be part of the “team” and see new work being developed without the number of updates being too staggering. The “players” are friendly in a way that makes me feel like I’ve wandered into a strange new place where people are kind and constructive. Guess I’ve just grown accustomed to a dumber, meaner internet.

Anyway! I thought, in the spirit of Dribbbling “shots”, I would blog some sneak peeks at work I’m… well… working… on. There’s a portrait, stationery and tea towel designs, and a snippet of an illustration for the next Pinkie Swear story, which you’ll be able to see in it’s entirety Monday morning.

The Gates Markel Family

As a one year anniversary present to her husband, writer-blogger-singer-actress and generally lovely person Lindsey Gates Markel commissioned me to illustrate a portrait of her family, including herself, husband Larry, step son Syd, and kitty cat Izzy. Here’s the final product:

And here’s a look at how we got there…

My sketches start at a fearful level of awful, as witnessed above, but they’re a good way to quickly share ideas and figure out positioning. We decided to go with a combo of the first two sketches to create the third, and from there were able to focus on details like hair and clothing styles, the look of the space, and personal details like the Ani Difranco record, Hunger Games novel, and sunflowers, all of which hold special significance to their family. I felt fortunate that Lindsey was down with putting a crazy-eyed Izzy in the spotlight. (so long as she didn’t block view of Syd’s prized Air Jordans).

Above: a final look at the image pre-coloring and being scrutinized by Izzy herself. <3

Happy anniversary to one of the sweetest, swellest couples out there, and thank you to Lindsey for the pleasure of this commission. Making it personal is what I love to do, so this was a perfect project for me.

90’s Revival Girl

Another photo-illustration hybrid. This one’s called 90’s Revival Girl and it’s an ode to Rookie Mag and my own youngin’ self; black hair dye, 89x alternative radio, The Virgin Suicides, and being stuck in the suburbs. I wish the tiny floral canvas backpacks of yore weren’t seeing a comeback, but you can’t keep a trend down, I suppose.

The background is made of two photos taken near our apartment, where cute 1920’s bungalows and houses with generally fantastic porches abound. And trees. Lots of trees, fortunately.