Paper Poppies

Earlier this spring, I had the pleasure of teaming up with my art director/illustrator friend Elena Viltovskaia, on a rather pretty project.

Roohi Qureshi of Leaves of Trees was preparing to launch her official shop opening and needed a fresh window dressing to help celebrate the occasion. Winter’s stronghold was finally loosening and so we all agreed that a bright burst of blooms was well in order. Poppies seemed like the right flower for the job!

Process shot of making paper poppies, petals

Elena and I researched how to make large paper flowers that were structurally sound. Most online tutorials suggested creating accordion-style folds for each petal, but it looked a bit distracting and not true to the poppy’s form. After some experimenting, we found a way to keep the petals smooth but curved by overlapping them one by one and using staples to retain their domed tension.

elena_paperpoppy_construction

Elena and I are quite happy with the resulting crisp, graphic look of the poppies and have been told there’s a little marimekko-ness to them, which is a huge compliment! We hope to collaborate on more paper floral creations in the future.

paper poppy, poppies, window display, leaves of trees

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paperpoppies_waiting

paper poppy window display, leaves of trees

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Our Paper Poppy window display will be up for the remainder of the summer. I highly recommend coming by and sampling the many natural lipbalms, deodorants, lotions and argon oil products Leaves of Trees has to offer. The shop is located at 177 Queen Street East, Toronto. http://www.leavesoftrees.com

Thanks goes to @fio_85 and @makerscartel for these two window shots!

Solitary Bee House

Bees are a hot topic right now, and rightly so.

Bee populations are falling at an alarming rate, which isn’t cool when you consider how essential they are to our food system. The use of pesticides and monocultures of commodity crops (like wheat and corn) that sterilize the landscape of biodiversity are just two of the contributing factors to their disappearance.

Agapostemon, Solitary Bee

Last summer I attended a Pollinators workshop put on by the good people at TheStop.org. The presenter that day was artist and bee enthusiast, Stephen Humphrey. He explained the differences between solitary and communal bees and how important it was to encourage their presence in our yards through the help of bee houses and by growing native plants.

I was especially delighted to learn that a certain emerald wasp-like insect I had photographed in my garden (see above) was in fact a species of solitary bee called Agapostemon. In fact, it’s one of Stephen’s favourite species and it’s not hard to see why. They’re absolutely gorgeous!

Stephen is part of an ecologically-minded artist’s group called Resonating Bodies. I recommend checking out their bee house installations!

paper cut bee illustration solitary bee house

Flash forward 6 months later, and there I was, illustrating solitary bees for the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s kid’s publication, WILD. (Thanks to AD, Steve Balaban)

Bee_Bungalow

The step by step guide teaches kids how to make their own bee house out of the simplest of materials: drilling holes into pieces of wood. Here’s another way of making a bee house I spotted at Toronto Blooms, using clustered bamboo sticks.

bamboo_beehouse2

The construction of bee houses combined with the replanting of native wildflowers is one small step we can all take to help improve our bee numbers.

I plan on making one for my backyard and I’ll be sure to post an update on how it turns out!

GCBC Season Opener Show

There was this time in little league when my entire team caught lice from sharing the same batting helmet. Lesson learned, my mom rushed out and bought me my very own baseball helmet…only for it to collect dust in the garage because I had switched over to soccer the following year.

I was 6 years old when I played in that league and so my memories are few. Other than the head lice fiasco, the only thing that really stands out is our coach and his pre-game mantra: “If we win we get ice cream and if we lose, we still get ice cream.”

There’s a lot of comfort in a simple phrase like that, no matter how old you are.

(I was really happy to be part of this year’s Season Opener show, put on by Garrison Creek Bat Co. Below are some process shots of my bat submission titled: Sweet Deal.)

blog_icecreambat_final blog_icecreambat_preview blog_icecreambat_process1 blog_icecreambat_process3 blog_icecreambat_process4 blog_icecreambat_process5 blog_icecreambat_process6

Still Life

Here’s an illustration that didn’t require much research thanks to all of the references already laid out in front of me. I pretty much created a still life of my desk.

My immortalized desktop can be found in the April issue of Spider Magazine, accompanying instructions on how to make a magazine holder out of an old cereal box and paper scraps. I remember making something similar to this as a kid, and I’m pretty sure it had mostly unicorns plastered all over it.

magasine holder craft, Spider magazin, paper collage illustratione

Pockets Warhol

Ever wonder what happened to Darwin the baby Japanese Macaque, famously known as the Ikea monkey? Well, he’s since shed his fashionable coat and is now living life more monkey-like at the Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary. The sanctuary cares for over 20 monkeys, ranging from Marmosets, Lemurs, Squirrel Monkeys (my favourite), Spider Monkeys, Capuchin monkeys, Macaques, to Baboons.

Last fall, I had the pleasure of illustrating an article about Story Book Farm for the CWF’s kid’s magazine WILD. The article shed light on a special Macaque named Pockets Warhol who has an affinity for making art. His finger paintings have quite the following, and are auctioned off to help raise money for the farm.

pockets warhol painting monkey

Pockets relies on his assistant to lay down a canvas and squeeze out droplets of paint, but the rest is up to him. I wanted show off his distinct finger strokes in my illustration, so I first made the blank canvas with paper and then over-layed one of his actual paintings in photoshop. You could say I, too, was his assistant in this case!

Scrapbooked Cat

I’ve always shied away from using scrapbooking paper in my illustrations. I made the assumption long ago that using mass-produced, store-bought patterns would dilute my style of all it’s uniqueness. And so, working around this, I found ways to make my own patterned/textured paper using paints and stamps.

Last weak I loosened my pride a bit, and gave into experimenting with some available scrapbooking sheets. Using my boyfriend’s Balinese cat as my subject, I set out to recreate her transitional fur colouring using only the paper at hand. The tiny printed patterns proved very useful in this challenge, and I’m very happy with the results.

What I previously thought would dilute actually enhanced.

Toy_scraps

Toy_process

Toy_photo

And here’s a photo of the lovely lady herself. Toy is her name. She enjoys climbing up ladders, watching movies on your lap and eating the occasional piece of bacon now and then. She loathes the vacuum cleaner. (Photo Credit: Kevin C. W. Wong)

Year of the Otter

Last year around this time, I was finishing up the final artwork for Sizing Up Winter. The cover features a river otter slipping down a snowy slope into an icy pond, which is meant to be a close up of one of the inside spreads (pictured below).

sizing up winter otters in pond sliding swimming childrens book owlkids

It was a struggle to recreate the river otter’s likeness. Their colouring and proportions have to be just so, or else they end up looking more like seals or bears or groundhogs, even. After a handful of revisions and tweaks to the cover otter’s face and body, I was finally satisfied and all was completed and sent to the publisher.

I was far from done illustrating otters as you’ll see.

otter face closeup paper collage

Soon after, I found myself working on a third otter piece. This time it was a gift for my boyfriend, Kevin. Inspired by one of his otter drawings, I set out to recreate a similarly lush seaweed setting by recycling some paper greenery from a past project involving two goldfish (you can view it here).

It was pretty clear by now that I secretly enjoyed the trial and error process of recreating  this puzzle of an animal.

framed otter art succulent dragonfly paper collage illustration

The drawing I was referring to (pictured below) is titled Twists & Turns, and is one of many beautifully detailed napkin and coffee sleeve drawings that Kevin posts and writes about on his blog: http://kevindrawingonnapkins.com/

kevindrawingonnapkins_otter

otter process drawing sketchesA couple months later, and I was back on the otter track. I began working with Crush on another animation project, this time for Seattle’s Woodland Zoo.

My job was to stylize each of the featured zoo animals, giving them a simplified, geometrical, Charley Harper sort of look. Among the long list of animals to be drawn was the Asian Otter.

“Oh goody”, I remember thinking, as I was quite confident in the otter department by then. It was the quickest turn-around drawing I had ever made, and for good reason I guess. The lion cubs were another story!

Crush designer, Jullian Ablaza, would later transform each of my drawings into beautifully rendered vectorized art. (You can see an example of our process to the right.) Jullian did an amazing job with palette and pattern, and inspired me to consider using a little adobe illustrator in my future art projects (a skill I hadn’t quite mastered yet).

As well as designing some of the animals, animator Yoho Hang Yue, really brought everything to life! You can see for yourself in the final Woodland Zoo piece below.

So if 2013 was the year of the otter, I wonder what’s in store for 2014?


Hello

My name is Ashley Barron and I'm a Toronto based illustrator. This is my online show & tell of new artwork and anything else I find inspiring. Thanks for taking a look :)

my website:

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