Mixed feelings

I always have mixed feelings about fall.  On the one hand, I love to put on my favorite jacket and marvel at the electric oranges and reds that leaves morph into.  On the other hand, I know it's just a few short weeks away from full on winter....which stretches on for ever and ever.  Dark afternoons, dark mornings, dark emotions.

This piece was done using india ink on watercolor paper.  I'm experimenting more with brushes instead of pens and I'm liking the effects of these Windsor Newton Series 7 brushes.


Kid Dreamer album cover

Here's some of my latest work for Kid Dreamer, a new California based punk band.  Some time ago they had me design their logo and they liked it so much they hit me up to design the album cover for their debut album "Growing".  The album is very much an examination into the heart wrenching, gut turning, undefined slow-motion quality of breaking up, so I figured the best way to describe that would be the distance that grows between people who sleep in the same bed.  The bed sheet design explores some of the unsettling turmoil that drives the wedge between these two people.

Kid Dreamer's 'Growing' is available on the iTunes store.

Kid Dreamer's 'Growing' is available on the iTunes store.


Got to thinking about mental health disorders.  Depression affects A LOT of people (350 million), and the treatments for it are crude at best.  To put this in perspective, cancers of all stripes affect about 35 million people.  Apparently funding for depression related treatments is really low.  How come?

Then I realized at least one reason is that despondent people are 'controlled' in the sense that they're not going to go off and start revolutions and take down regimes.  They're a sector of the population who's behavior is predictably self-destructive and they won't be inspiring dissent against their crooked leaders anytime soon.

So I was inspired to draw this "call to action" style illustration for all of us who battle with despondency.

They Like You Despondent.

Small Talk Show

Just dropped of my piece for an upcoming group show at the LMNL Gallery in Philadelphia.  Come on out this coming Friday, July 3rd at 6 PM to see 15 artists' takes on small talk they've heard around them in bars, shops, on the streets and out their car windows.  

My inspiration came from an unlikely place - the interactions between Amish folk and "modern" passers by that come to buy Amish souvenirs and gawk at the people dressed in last-century garb.  Come on down to see the final product!

Update 7/8/15: Now that the show is up, here's the piece I submitted and a photo montage of all the kids that participated!

Jetpack by Kirsten Harper
"Small Talk" show opening at the LMNL Gallery. 7/2015

Forgive me...

...if I'm not excited about Earth Day.  It's not that I don't like to recycle or plant trees - I'm on board for all manner of waste-reducing and earth-saving measures.  But I can't help but see the irony in getting stoked about environmentalism one day a year when most of us ignore the issue during the other 364.

Kid Dreamer

A few months back I was contacted by a band out of California just getting their start, and naturally they wanted to get right on their logo design. They found me while google image searching and were stoked to stumble upon one of my other lettering projects that they thought complimented their style.  

I was more than happy to oblige and started by listening to some of the unpublished audio samples of the band's work.  Kid Dreamer has a really strong punk sound, so I knew it would have to be a logo that would be both rough and bold at the same time.  I also knew it would need to look spirited and spunky enough for it to stand out among other band logos that they might be placed with.  They liked my hand lettering style which is a little wobbly and intentionally rough, so I started by giving them a few pages of different logo arrangements using some script, some lowercase and some capital letter sketches.

After some back and forth with the sketches, I moved on to refining the design they liked best. I gave them 3 versions.  One solid black and two texture versions to be used depending on what the logo placement needed.  Of course, color treatments for the logo are a whole other can of worms but I'm pleased with how this project turned out!


Urban Homesteading

Last month I was tapped to illustrate the Dispatch article in this Febrary's Grid magazine.  This one focused on making the best use of one's urban outdoor space, the piece having been written by a couple doing their best to grow as much food as possible using their own compost and grey water to tend the plants.  You can read it here (last page)

I came up with several sketches, the following 2 are my favorites:

The art director enjoyed my take on American Gothic, and chose to go with that one for the final. I kind of envisioned that this couple was likely to be a 30something green-minded hipster-ish Philadelphia couple.  But when the art director suggested I use reference of the actual couple I was surprised to find that it was 2 ladies, making the American Gothic re-boot even less traditional than anticipated!


This is a remix of a painting on board and this incarnation has a little more mixed media and playfulness with the color palette.  I call it "Peachy Vista" and it is actually one of a series - the "Dark Coast" mirror image will be posted here soon.

Cricket Magazine

I'm finally getting around to posting some published items from this past summer!  

This is an assignment I was asked to do fo the July/August 2014 edition of Cricket Magazine.  I created a series of 3 illustrations to go with one of the published stories inside.  It was an interesting piece which required me to do a lot of sketches of monkeys until I was satisfied with what I came up with!  The old lady in the drawings is a cranky old neighbor who had a monkey as a pet. 

A Week in Denmark

Fresh off our fabulous week in Scotland we hopped over the North Sea to Copenhagen where we met my aunt and cousin at the airport.

Copenhagen is a bicyclist's utopia.  And we had the luck of showing up during a perfect Danish summer - sunny, no humidity and 70 degree weather.

After the first day in Copenhagen strolling through Tivoli and taking in an outdoor jazz concert, we drove to Fyn where my aunt and uncle on my mother's side have a country farmhouse overlooking the ocean.

The last time we were in Denmark was over Christmas of 2010.  The farm here (called Solbjergaard) is beautiful in the wintertime, but it's no match for this gorgeous summer atmosphere.


In the back yard there is a huge old cherry tree just loaded down with ripe cherries.  We all spent lots of time hanging out underneath it, picking darkest, shiniest cherries we could find.  Torin got to have the epiphany that food comes from trees... in nature.... not out of a container or the refrigerator.  It was cool to see the concept hit home for him!

The sea of wheat fields and pastures around the farm were pretty peaceful and idyllic.  And we were fed delicious food 4, sometimes 5 times a day.

A proper Danish cheese plate.  The Sriracha is something we brought (not typically on a Danish condiment list!)

Boiling down cherries for homemade ice cream.  Several other varieties were made also...

And butter (smør), we ate pounds and pounds of it.

...Ready for the oven.

A delicious paella.

Freshly baked every day...

One day we all packed up and went for a day trip by ferry to a tiny island called Brandsø.  It has dirt roads and no stoplights.  There, we spent a day having afternoon tea, napping in the shade and enjoying a gorgeous summer afternoon at the beach.


Inside Nicholas' father's painting studio

Back at the farm we enjoyed a nice outdoor bonfire where we roasted sausages and dough over the coals.

Much fun was had by all.

A Week in Scotland

On July 2nd, we packed up our suitcase, car seat and 1.5 year old for a trip to visit my father in Scotland.  He's been living there for about a year, working at the International School of Aberdeen.  After a long layover in Frankfurt, we finally touched down at Aberdeen's tiny airport.  Aberdeen is known for its granite buildings... pretty much every building is made of the stuff!  Its a very, um, grey material... so it gives you the impression that the houses are ancient, massive and solid.  Its a good thing that Aberdeen also has a great tradition of gardening, so the summer months are enhanced by gorgeous blooms of every description.

On our first day there, we went down to the cold north sea at the Aberdeen Esplanade and walked along the windswept boardwalks.  Its July, but you still need a hoodie and several layering options incase it rains.

We walked down to Footdee, a little outcropping of small, carefully decorated houses all set around interior courtyard-style promenades (to avoid the blustery ocean winds, I imagine.)  They all had a lot of character!

The next day we visited the stately Crathes castle, complete with pruned hedges, secret gardens and tapestry-adorned rooms.

Torin very much enjoyed getting galloped around the grounds and chasing bunnies.  And one afternoon we stopped by a roadside farmers stand and he got to run in his first wheat field.  Much fun was had by all.

Another day, another castle!  The light at Dunnottar Castle was spectacular as some leaden clouds moved in from the mainland.

We went for a nice drive down the coast to a small fishing village south of Aberdeen called Stone Haven.  There we enjoyed dark beers overlooking the water, and you could really sense that the locals were taking in as much sun and warmth as they could given the long streches of grey that are common here.


In Stone Haven we also

 enjoyed what was named the best fish & chips shop in the whole UK.  It was, infact, delicious. 

We were fed very well throughout the trip, though frequently we inhaled the delicious grub before I could document the dishes...

Clotted cream and scones at the Bridge of Feugh.... mmmmm.

 And the hydrangeas around town were spectacular and varied...

We really enjoyed Scotland.  We will be back... someday.

Love conquers all

Here's an illustration I did for LILIPOH magazine's Spring 2014 issue.  The article was about the power of love/gratitude and its ability to change the world (if only we would let them, I suppose).  You can read the whole article here.  I enjoyed the somewhat abstract elements of creating this piece, and the light effervescent pink against a dark lead-like grey is one of my favorite color contrasts.  


These particular points from the article really resonated with me:

Four ways to cultivate your sacred harmonic heart, and share the “power of the positives”:

1.) Express genuine gratitude from your core! The vibration emitted by heart-felt gratitude promotes resonance, which, in turn, supports coherence. New and positive brain patterns subsequently develop, which our brains seek to match, thus reinforcing additional positive brain patterns to emerge, therefore “increasing the probability of having an optimistic outlook and maintaining emotional stability, even during challenging situations” (McCraty and Childre 2002).

2.) Intentionally cultivate love and compassion! Igniting these emotions within your heart center allows them to spark and spread, thus providing “improved cognitive performance, increased emotional stability, enhanced psychosocial functioning, increased peace [and] self-security, and sustained positive emotions” (McCraty and Childre 2002).

3.) Be wholly present! Do not let daily burdens take you away from the moment-to-moment brilliance that IS your blessed life. With each step, notice your complete, unique, and wonderfully profound self, and fill each second with your sacred breath and personal energy.

4.) Know that the voice of your heart echoes through the universe! What does your heart say, and how does it say it? Be ever mindful of the intentions that you channel through your heart, as their waves are conveyed far and wide. To make our world a more loving, peaceful, and verdant place, this transformation must first resound from deep inside your core. Nurture your own heart, and you will create a bright pathway of love which nourishes the hearts of others.

Philadelphia Magazine Wedding Issue

Late last year I was commissioned to do an illustration for Philadelphia Magazine's bi-annual wedding issue.  The drawing shows up on the last page of the Spring/Summer 2014 edition.  

The article outlines a woman's second mairrage to the same man, and rather than do a traditional rectangular piece I decided on a vignette that could open the page up a little.  

I chose to focus on my guess at the couple's wedding shoes from 1988 and 2013 (a lot has happened style-wise in that time!), and the dance steps tangled in among eachother to show how they had kept involved in eachothers lives despite their split.