Applying art to real life (or Crafting a birthday party)

25 02 2014

So, some of you might be aware that I have two little boys and that my youngest just turned one. I was chatting a few days ago with my friend Pierre Carles and he asked me to document everything in photos for the creative folks like him. So I did, and this post is written specially for him.
As usual I started thinking of a theme, because that helps me focus and choose a palette. For my first child I chose pandas and a palette based on three colors, and we had a lovely party outdoors. Since my little baby’s birthday is in winter, and what a winter we had this year! we had to do everything indoors, and our apartment is smallish, so I would not have a lot of room to play. Because of this, I decided early that I was going to use the food itself as decoration and to bring in some color to the place (we rent, our walls are too white).

So the theme was frogs, my kids love frogs and they are fun, right? And then I thought “hey, frogs and lily pads go together!” so frogs and lily pads it was. I spent some time looking at cupcakes online and deciding on what colors to use. I chose green and light blue (because of the water).

cupcake tower with #1 candle.

cupcake tower with #1 candle.

So, frog cupcakes: my design, easy stuff, I used glace (confectioner sugar and water) and green food coloring, I used green Wilton candy melts for the eyes and candy eyes that I glued with royal icing, I cut a red candy melt in half for the mouths.

Happy frogs (next time I'll get better quality liners)

Happy frogs (next time I’ll get better quality liners)

For the lily pad cupcakes I followed the instructions here, I made my own yellow sugar using these instructions (beware, you do not get edible glitter, just colored sugar!) I used blue icing instead of white, to give a water look, green would have worked for the leaf idea.

These impressed all the moms!

These impressed all the moms!

Then I made flower lily pads with a flower cookie cutter and a large circle cookie cutter, I took a segment off of it. I later decorated them with royal icing, and placed the flower on top of the leaf.

place one cookie on top of the other to give a dimensional effect!

place one cookie on top of the other to give a dimensional effect!

As I was doing all this, my dad was helping blowing balloons, I asked him to make groups of three balloons and use curling ribbon to give a dynamic effect. The added the tableware in matching colors, and voila! The place was ready to party!


The palette was cool, I thought it gave a nice effect in the winter time.


I am by  no means a professional, so things did not look super polished, but the kids loved them!

Updating things a bit

2 02 2014

This blog was a little outdated. The gallery now represents more of my current art, I have taken down very old pieces that do not show the skill or themes I am working on now. The links have also been weeded out and updated. I hope to keep up with this blog a more now. I do still have a lot of things to say, and it seems that I might be starting to get some time to put into it.

Thank you for still being here! Thank you for paying attention to it!

How do I find out who the artist is?

23 07 2013

In my last post the post I wrote last year I mentioned how hard it is for artists when our art is redistributed and our names and websites are cropped off of the image, if an artist is not identified, the piece will bring nothing like “free publicity”, because most people are not psychics and cannot just call to the Universe for a name to show up in dreams… ahem, excuse the sarcasm. Sometimes people would like to add an “art by so and so” but don’t know who to credit the work to. And I know that you, dear reader, would like to do the right thing and provide the right information for the artists you love so much to get the attention they deserve, which could bring them some business, right?

There are a few tools that you can use and I would like to show you some of them here.

Tineye reverse search is a free search engine which you can use either providing the link to the piece or uploading it from your computer. Tineye will crawl the internet trying to find matching images, its power resides in that it not only find the exact same image but it also has an algorithm that recognizes the image even if it has been cropped, copied or the colors modified. The limitation is that it does not reach many sites, many times it does not even find my own DeviantArt gallery for my images. I feel they had a great idea, but somehow they didn’t keep up with the updates and upgrades.Tineye

Google Images Search
You can also Google images now, this is a long awaited function by most of us artists. Just drag the image into the Google search bar, upload an image or paste the URL. The power of Google is that it reaches most everything on the web! It will also suggest similar images, so it can be used for other purposes such as finding an image with a palette that you might like.Gimages


Comparison of results retrieved from Tineye and Google for the same image.

FireFox apps
I like Who Stole My Pictures? the snarky name reflects what we feel about this issue. The power of this tool is that it allows to use several image search engines simultaneously. This is the tool I use all the time. Just download the add on, right click the image and you will find the app in the drop menu. You can edit the searching engines and tailor them to your needs, even open each searching engine in different tabs and compare your results.


Easy peasy! Next time you share images, take a moment and find the artist, we all will gain from it, and we’ll be grateful to you for it! And if you have a favourite image search I did not include, let me know in the comments, I will look into it.

What is up to in my art life right now.

16 10 2012

… Or, what direction I am taking.

I actually think about this quite a bit, where am I going with my art and what I am doing to be where I want to be in the future?

I came to US in 2003 as a grad student and my contract with the Immigration Service was that I was not allowed to work except for the university. I wanted to get my art career started but I really did not want to get in trouble, so I waited until I graduated in 2008 to start doing art commercially. In the mean time, I just tried to learn as much as possible. In May 2008 I graduated and soon after that I started looking for commissions, at the beginning they were small, and even when I knew it is not the best to sell your work for cheap I did not feel I had the level I needed to charge what my friends were charging. This has changed over the years as I am more confident in my skills and I actually have improved a lot.  For a couple of years things worked out really nice, and I was happy to see an increase in pricing and costumer traffic, I did not need to be so active searching for the commissions, because people were actually coming to me! Which left me more time for the artwork itself.

My main job right now. This image was created for the Fortnight challenge at the Sweet Sketch Club:

But then in May 2011 I had my first child, and I decided to be a stay at home mom. Let me make the distinction between “work at home mom” and “stay at home mom”. I have made my main job to take care of and educate my boy, which means that everything else is secondary, this has put art in the back burner. Now, it does not mean that I am not doing art anymore, it means that it has turned into a “When the baby is sleeping or playing alone” deal, which makes time for art much more limited.

I still am open for commissions, but I only consider those that I can do with a relaxed time frame, and I am not actively looking for them. I do not commit myself to tight deadlines because I don’t know if I can reach them and I consider professionalism a very high priority in my work. In the mean time I am doing what I did almost ten years ago: learn as much as I can. I learn different now, I work different now, and I am trying to experiment a lot with my work, aiming for specific goals in palette and compositions.

Also, my priority right now is to keep a strong presence in the art world and even increase it as much as possible. I am working on this blog, started an art Facebook page, I am participating in a couple of collective blogs, and I am licensing my work to PSP Tubes Stop, and hopefully soon another company. Except this blog, all this started this year, as I decided that if I am not going to be doing commissions I better do something to keep mine and other people’s mind engaged with my work. I think the worse you can do in this highly networking era is just to vanish.

February next year everything may change, since a new baby will arrive to our lives, but I will reevaluate then what to do and how to face it. For right now, I am going to keep up at solidifying my work as much as possible.

Applying what I’ve learned in art

25 05 2012

It never really crossed my mind that some day all the art reading, color theory, composition, etc. was going to be useful in an applied setting other than a canvas. Well, I found that when you  need to decorate, art theory comes in quite handy. I did part of my baby’s room decoration following some lessons learned from critique I got from awesome people, and recently I applied some of that knowledge to decorating for my baby’s first birthday.

The first thing I did was to pick a theme, which helped me to define a palette. As we all know the palette can make or ruin the piece by enhancing the mood or by clashing with it. Since Ignacio loves pandas, we chose a panda party and based the colors on that concept, also because it is preferable to focus on a few colors than being all over the place we decided on black and white (panda), green for bamboo and red as contrast. After some discussing with artist friends I noticed that dark green was very Christmasy so I went for a kiwi green, which is also brighter and neutralized a bit the black.
Next step: decide location. We have the blessing of living in a good apartment complex that has a lovely park with a gazebo for us to enjoy, so we decided that the gazebo was going to be our central spot. And then we had to think of the decorations themselves… being on a budget made the choice simple: cheap stuff. You can get a lot of balloons for close to nothing and we also got a few paper fans (at $2/5 pieces) the rest was food 🙂

Decorating the trees with paper fans.

Balloons and paper fans made for a fun yet cheap decoration.

Keeping a black, white, red and green theme. The white was amply provided by the gazebo itself.

Panda cupcakes! Cream cheese for the icing, chocolate melts, chocolate chips for the nose and store bought sugar eyes.

I kept the last cupcake plain and added one red candle.

The inside of the gazebo. We finished the look with a black and white table cloth.

Some flowers to add life!

My year in review and where is my work going

23 01 2012

Last year was the year of low production. I got very few commissions but also didn’t seek for any. I was pregnant, exhausted during the first trimester, throwing up twice a day if I was having a good day and barely able to sit at the computer for more than a few minutes. My clients were just wonderful and patient, very kind and understanding and put up with all this. Come January and I found out that I had a placental condition that sent me to the hospital twice, it was really scary! Since I was put in “house arrest” I could focus on my art a bit more, the stressful circumstances were better because of artwork, at least I had something to do! 🙂 But then Ignacio was born and eight months later we still are not sleeping much! He started sleeping more than an hour at a time over the holidays, so that is great. Some days I actually have a few functional neurons that can get to do something.

Sea Goddess, unfinished (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus 2011

Last year was really a dry year for me and my art (you can also see the lack of blog updates!). The lack of sleep affected how much I actually wanted to work, or how much I could tolerate it, really. Plus the lack of sleep implies that the baby is not sleeping so he is needing me, leaving close to no time for art. However, I think I have improved some. I keep working hard in improving values, composition and have a more interesting palette, I also am trying to improve anatomy and skin tones, and have interesting backgrounds too (as in, look, there actually is a background!).

This year I really want to put more time into my work. Ignacio is sleeping rather well (when he is not teething) up until midnight, so I can fit in a couple of hours of work each evening, I would love to consistently take advantage of them. Also I would like to expand my rather lonely Zazzle store, and I have signed a contract to license my work to PSP TubeStop, I wouldn’t mind having a small but predictable income from smaller venues like those. It would be great to take up on some commission work too, but I have so little time that I feel I need to get paid more than what I was asking for, especially since my time with my husband has become precious, if I am going to take time away from him and my baby, it should be better paid. One more thing I would love to do is to work really hard to help one or two charities I have in mind, I would love to have a sort of ongoing art for charity thing going on, where I could sell or auction my work and donate all the proceedings to them… in that case I don’t mind to work for free, it is my way of thanking God for my life to be blessed with health and love.

Here is a toast to 2012 and the year of the Dragon! I hope it is a wonderful one for all of you!

My art licensed for tubes at PSP Tubes Stop!

11 12 2011

Hi there!

Some time ago I told to myself that I was not going to license my art for tubes. Why do that? Why put your art at risk when it is perfectly safe with the copyright label screaming “don’t reuse me!!”?  Well, yeah… I am doing that right now :) Soon you should be able to find my art in Lisa Cree’s PSP Tubes Stop page. Thing is, I really trust Lisa. She is a friend and she is a very hard-working woman. I trust she will not take my work and rape me with commission prices or redistribute it illegally… or unethically. There are other great artist friends there now, as Jenny Heidewald and Katerina Koukiotis, and I will be happy to share that space with them.

For some time now I have been wanting to diversify a bit and make some income from items not as expensive as commissions but with a more constant flow, and when Lisa contacted me and sent me the contract to review it made sense to give it a try. So, soon my art will be available as a resource for people who feel that they cannot draw themselves but that want to do the right thing and reward the artist for their work instead of ripping it off of the internet, and I respect that so much!

I also wanted to let you all know that Lisa will have two new and unpublished pieces in PSP Tubes Stop, I will publish them later here, but for right now, I am giving her that privilege! If you are curious, go take a look!

I miss you all, I am working hard in some commissions that I cannot show yet, but I am dying to showcase. Till then not much around here!

Take care!!!