Sunday, December 27, 2009

BIG After Christmas Sale

Zazzle has a great sale running today, up to 75% off!!!

15% OFF T-Shirts
10% OFF Mugs
20% OFF Tote Bags
20% OFF Aprons
40% OFF Prints
50% OFF Ties
25% OFF Mousepads
75% OFF Cards, Photo Cards, Invitations
30% OFF Embroidery
25% OFF Business Cards

Use this promo code to get these great savings:


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Alice In Wonderland

I don't know many people that have not been inspired by Alice In Wonderland, there are many movies, games, tv mini series and artwork out there all depicting Alice and her menagerie of characters that travel through Wonderland with her. While watching SyFy channels Alice series I was inspired too, well, sort of.

I have always wanted to design a set of playing cards featuring different fairy tales or animals and I guess the thought hit me the other night. Now most of what has been out there lately has been very dark and goth looking, American McGee's version comes to mind. Now don't get me wrong, I love those versions immensely but since I have been endlessly painting in red, green and white for the holidays I wanted to use color. My mind also tends to live on the dark side of things so that is another reason I shy away from creating darker artwork.

Although people are not a strong point for me to draw or paint I attempted and Alice and Queen of Hearts card. I am not sure why people are so hard for me to depict, perhaps it is because I never really learned or maybe it is just not one of my favorite things to do. I tried to give it an old fashioned card feel, an expressionless face staring off in the distance and I think I achieved that.

I started out making a short list of things that stuck out for me in the story and then cut it down to a few subjects. I lightly sketched the outside of the card with those objects trying to keep Wonderland and Alice's world separate to an extent. I always loved Dinah so I made sure she was in there. The flamingos are a favorite too and of course the Cheshire Cats grin. I tried to fit the Mad Hatter in there but the only thing that made it into the final design was his hat. Add the White Rabbit and his pocket watch, a dancing tea set, and of course the looking glass and I had my outside design.

The harder part was getting Alice and the Queen to align. I drew a grid and that helped but I was having such difficulty with Alice's dress lining up with the Queen's cape so I had no choice but to give Alice a cape too. I thought about making the Queen older but it sort of looked out of place so I made her about Alice's age and I think it worked ok.

This is my first attempt at trying something like this. I would like to do more fairy tales, perhaps I think I might attempt a Mad Hatter/Cheshire Cat card next...hmmm....

Alice Playing Card Bag bag
Alice Playing Card Letterhead letterhead


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

For Pet Lovers

Today I would like to share a charming store with you Miss Myrtie's™ Funny Pet Postcards, Cards & Gifts

Whenever I need a giggle I check in to see what Myrtie and her friends are up to. This delightful store stars Myrtie, a doe-eyed labrador, Bubba and Moses and all of their friends dressed up in cute costumes and ready to make you smile.

What a wonderful gift this would make for a vet, a doctor or nurse. It is also available on several different items like a tote and mousepad. Checkup reminders and business cards are available too.

Meowry Christmas to you. I am sorry, perhaps it is just the silly in me that just loves animals in costumes (even though I do not dare to dress mine for fear of being shredded) All the Christmas cards and gifts in Myrtie's store are precious and the look on the cat's face is priceless

This is my favorite. Cindy's (the human that helps Myrtie) imagination is way out there and I am glad it is. Who would have ever thought of this? I know it would cheer me up if I were sick.

I think perhaps the most important thing about Cindy's and Myrtie's store is the underlying message. Many of their products call attention to adopting animals and 30% of the profits go to ChildFund for clean water.

Take some time out and visit Myrtie, Bubba, Moses, Cindy and friends and put a smile on your face too.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

How to Illustration

I thought perhaps you would like to see one of my illustrations broken down from concept to completion so I chose the newest one I just finished this morning. It is called Sleigh Ride and it came about because I was thinking of my two favorite comic strips, Peanuts and Calvin And Hobbes and remembering two seperate moments in time, one with my family and one with someone who is still very dear to me.

(I would like to appologize about the quality of the photos, My camera battery was dead and I used my cell phone)

While talking to a friend I began to doodle on a scrap piece of paper in ink. Originally I had them on a sleigh, flat along the ground but I was thinking of Calvin's wonderfully imaginatve situations he would put his snow people in (sans decapitated heads) and I began to draw two snowmen hanging on for dear life while riding down a snowy hill. The third one came about as I glanced at a photo of my family. In it was my sister, my mother, my father and me on Splash Mountain in Disney World (it happens to be the last photo we all took together before my parents passed away) My sister and mother had their eyes squeezed shut in slight terror while my dad and I had the biggest grins on our faces. So in went the snowman, arms up, having the time of his life. It needed a little bit more though and as a kid I always laughed when Snoopy took Linus' blanket away and he would go flying in the air or when Charlie Brown would kick the football and miss (though I never found that funny and Lucy has never been a favorite of mine) So in went this poor little fellow that had the unlucky spot of the back of the sleigh, hats flying and everything.

Next step was to lightly sketch it on watercolor paper and ink in the lines with a Sakura pen

Now came in laying down the blue. I chose Cerulean Blue as it has a bit of green to it and makes a perfect shadow color. One of the most frequent mistakes people make is using black for shadows. If you look at snow or most things in general they cast a shadow and sort of reflect the sky and sometimes perhaps the trees. I am not saying that shadows can never be black however it really depends on what is around your subjects

Next step was to start laying down color, What I like to do on occasion is to draw in the shadow areas and bleed them out. This works well for illustrations and I do not always paint this way.

After that I went in and began bleeding the paint with a light wash of color.

I then added detail and here you have the final illustration. I hope it makes you smile, there are quite a bit of memories in here, maybe you can see some of your own as well. Oh and to my friend, now you know what I am doing when I am talking to you then suddenly go silent for a moment, I am sketching away with tongue slightly hanging out the side of my mouth.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Flying Pig Gallery Annex

Today I would like to introduce you to Liza from the Flying Pig Gallery Annex

Liza is a very talented NYC photographer who specializes in Coney Island and sites in and around New York City

I love this card, Winter being one of my favorite times of the year. The shadows and angles hold interest and the detail remains throughout. At times it is very difficult to photograph such extreme contrast but Liza does just that and she does it well.

One thing I never get tired of seeing is the NYC Library Lions. I have walked past them many a time and there they sit always stoic, always watching. Liza captures this perfectly in her photo and made a good choice turning it into a black and white.

Here we have Tille, the funny face of Steeplechase Park, Coney Island. This nostalgic postcard is sure to bring a smile to anyone with fond memories of Coney Island as a kid

If he looks familiar Tillie is also the face of Asbury Park, New Jersey

...and speaking of the perfect gift for Coney Island lovers, this calendar would make anyone happy with a trip down memory lane. Inside Liza captures times gone past and things anew. There are black and white and color photos for you to enjoy.

Of course Liza sells her photos on many gift items like totes, shoes and notecards and T-shirts are available too so go on and take a look, it just may bring up some happy memories


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cyber Monday Sale At Zazzle

I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday with their families and friends and didn't give the poor sales clerks in the stores too much grief. While you are sitting at your desk in work and trying to sneak some shopping in remember Cyber Monday is full of deals and if you missed Zazzle's sale on Friday here is one to use for today:

Zazzle they will be offering FREE SHIPPING all day (11/30)

Just Use Code FREESHIP2DAY and the shipping is on them!

* To qualify for this free shipping offer, one or more Zazzle products must be purchased. Enter promo code FREESHIP2DAY at checkout to receive the free shipping offer. The free shipping offer is for ground shipping to U.S. addresses only. Shipping charges will apply to oversized orders and orders being shipped on an expedited basis or outside the U.S. Offer is valid from November 30, 2009 at 12:00am PT through November 30, 2009 at 11:59pm PT. This promotional offer may not be combined with any other Zazzle promotional or volume discount offers. Offer valid on only.


Monday, November 23, 2009

BIG Sale on Zazzle!

Zazzle's Annual Thanksgiving Postage Sale!

$5 OFF 44¢ postage sheets!

Yes it is here, sale time once again and Zazzle is offering a generous $5.00 off each sheet of $.44 USA Postage Stamps. So stop by and get a head start on your Holiday correspondence.

Need Cards too? Hang on a little while and on Black Friday Zazzle will be offering Cards and Photocards for 55% off PLUS a bonus of FREE SHIPPING on orders over $35.00 (more Black Friday sale details coming soon)

So order your Postage now and come back on Friday to order your matching cards and sticker seals.

Click here for HOLIDAY postage

More from 13 Black Cats Designs:

Pen And Ink Postage - for business and everyday
J'adore Paris Postage - from the City Of Lights
Say It With Color Postage - bright and colorful

*$5 discount applies to any number of sheets of twenty Zazzle Custom Stamps with a denomination of 44 cents. Enter promo code ZAZZLESTAMPS at checkout to receive discount. Offer is valid from November 23, 2009 through November 26, 2009 at 11:59pm PT. Your order must be placed during that time to qualify for this special offer. This promotional offer may not be combined with any other Zazzle promotional or volume discount offers. Offer valid on only.


Friday, November 20, 2009

It's OK Holiday Buttons

It is almost that time of year again when the debate begins on what is the politically correct way of wishing someone a Happy Holiday. Having worked retail I can tell you it is a delicate line you must walk hundreds of times in one day. I personally have been yelled at for wishing someone a Happy Holiday and have received less than friendly retorts back to the point where I would just say "Have a nice day" for fear of getting my head ripped off.

One day a man walked in with a button on his jacket saying that it was OK to wish him a Merry Christmas and I thought it was a wonderful idea so I took a few of my designs and made some of my own (more to follow soon)

Of course you can customize the saying to whatever you wish

It's OK Holiday Buttons


New - Le Chat Noir and A Paris Window

Just released are two new designs in J'adore Paris both in the Parisian Windows & Doors section

First up is Le Chat Noir, a small shop in the Montmartre section of Paris. I decided this photo would look best as a sepia print. In true color the banner is a brilliant blue and I would have left it that way except the fact that the flower pots are empty and it just needed a little something extra.

The second new design is French Super Market. The painting above the banner is what originally drew my attention to the window. It wasn't until I got home that I realized I had caught a bit more. I decided I liked the red banner below and chose to keep it in the final piece.

I will be uploading more photos and artwork in the coming days and possibly weeks so keep checking back to see what is new.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It's Christmas Time

Well maybe not yet but it is coming fast. The one tradition I like about the holidays are cards, no not because I sell them but because I like being able to catch up with people that may have slipped by during the year. It is always nice to get a card in the mail and to know someone is thinking about you. It is such a little thing and doesn't take that much to do. When I send cards out I like to go all the way. A card with a personal greeting inside, a few sentences long usually in colored ink and nicely written in my neatest handwriting. A little rub of some cinnamon to make the card smell nice and finished off with matching postage and a sticker seal then mailed with personalized address stickers I make on my computer. Before I started selling cards myself I used to hand make them and it was a big project, now I order them myself.

Holiday Door Card card
Holiday Door Card

This year I have chosen to send my Holiday Door card. It happens to be a painting of a photograph I took back in the early 90's. It is a real door and yes the house and door are really red. It was a snowy day in Maine and I was passing through a small town when I snapped the photo. I painted it exactly as it was at that particular moment in time. It was very cold that day but the door was inviting.

One of my most popular designs, holiday or otherwise is my Holly Leaves Postage Stamp. I am blown away as to how popular it is so I decided to add to the line and design more cards and an invitation too. They come in several sentiments and can be changed, even the font and color if needed or they can be added to as always.

Christmas Holly Postage Stamp stamp
Christmas Holly Postage Stamp

I do have many designs, perhaps you might like them or maybe you would just like to look around - please feel free. I have also released two new holiday designs. One is Santa's Belly and the other is Nutcracker King.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Lisa Marie Art

Lisa Marie is one very talented artist. Her paintings of cats and their soulful eyes grab you and don't let go. There is a lot of humor in her work that only a cat lover can understand

Can I Sleep With You? Print print
Can I Sleep With You? Print by LisaMarieArt

See what I mean about the eyes? This is enough to melt anyone, maybe even a hard core dog lover. Lisa puts her animals in darling situations and has you feel for these characters. To me this poor little kitty just had a nightmare or perhaps it is a thunderstorm that scared him, either way who could turn him down?

Tight Fit v.3 - Whimsical Cat Magnet magnet
Tight Fit v.3 - Whimsical Cat Magnet by LisaMarieArt

I don't know why but cats like sinks and well, bathtubs and Lisa has plenty of paintings with cats in both. Her it's a Cat's Life Series is sure to make a smile on your face

Waste Not Want Not - Postcard ACEO Art postcard
Waste Not Want Not - Postcard ACEO Art by LisaMarieArt

Although it is very difficult to choose, this is my absolute favorite painting of hers. Perhaps it is because the very first cat I had used to do this in the middle of the night. All would be quiet except the slurping of one grey tabby cat stealing water from the glass on the nightstand.

Cute Festive Penguin Chick Christmas Card card
Cute Festive Penguin Chick Christmas Card by LisaMarieArt

Of course Lisa Marie has much more than just cats, She paints all kinds of animals and all of them are cute. There are polar bears, penguins, foxes, birds and mice. There are even a few dogs too. This is her most recent painting, an adorable little penguin that would make a perfect holiday card.

LisaMarieArt & Illustration webstore is dedicated to selling a wide range of products perfect for animal lovers, cat lovers and art lovers in general. Lisa also sells her original artwork on Etsy and Ebay and has other Zazzle stores.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mouse Country

Today's artist that I would like to introduce you to is Sandi Frunzi of Mouse Country While this is not Sandi's main store it is my favorite. Her primitive country designs are charming and fun to look at and finding out that they are mouse drawn is all the more impressive. Have you ever tried drawing with a mouse? Not easy.

Gingerbread House Holiday Recipe Binder binder
Gingerbread House Holiday Recipe Binder by MouseCountry

What a perfect gift for anyone you know that loves to bake and cook or maybe to keep a collection of holiday recipes that have been handed down through the generations. Sandi has many recipe binders and matching recipe cards to go along.

Bless Internet Friends Mousepad mousepad
Bless Internet Friends Mousepad by MouseCountry

I find this charming mousepad a little ironic. All of us have friends online that we may never have met face to face and to some people that can be a bit cold and distant but this design is very warm and inviting, sort of like the back door friend and it reminds us that friends are friends no matter how they have been met.

Primitive Doll Magnet magnet
Primitive Doll Magnet by MouseCountry

Sandi also adds a bit of photography to her work too. This is a darling little doll that would love a space on your fridge or filing cabinet

Primitive Soap Poster print
Primitive Soap Poster by MouseCountry

This would make a fine framed print in a bathroom and I think it would look lovely in a kitchen too just by cropping off the Bath part. Cropping can easily be done right on Zazzle.

Take a stroll through Mouse Country, you just might be able to smell the cinnamon sticks and logs on the fire as you do.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

DB Visual Arts

Today I would like to feature Denise of DB Visual Arts - an artist and photographer from the mountains of East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. Her cards and gifts are for all occasions including cards with Scripture and inspirational messages.

funny frog bookmark profilecard
funny frog bookmark by dbvisualarts

I would like to start off with this delightful little bookmark. When I first saw it I immediatly thought of Lady Cottington's Book of Pressed Fairies and it made me laugh. I think this is a great incentive for young readers or given out as rewards for good grades

turning blue card for soldier card
turning blue card for soldier by dbvisualarts

I thought this would be a great card to showcase being Veteran's Day is tomorrow. This very simple and nicely designed card is just perfect for a very important event in a soldiers life.

day care,child care, teacher or babysitting profilecard
day care,child care, teacher or babysitting by dbvisualarts

I love this business card! What a bright, cheery, and most important stand out in someones wallet card this is! I can see anyone from a teen babysitter to a professional day care business using this card.

New baby announcement Christmas card
New baby announcement Christmas by dbvisualarts

and finally a wonderful card just perfect for announcing a new baby. What better way to tell everyone about your new addition to the family?

Stop by Denise's store and look at all her wonderful things and great variety she has to offer. I am sure you won't be disappointed at all!

meow ^..^ meow ^..^ meow ^..^ meow ^..^ meow ^..^ meow ^..^ meow ^..^ meow
Respect Copyrights.
No printing, lifting images or downloading without explicit permission from the author of this blog, Nikki Cutro.
©Nikki Cutro and 13 Black Cats Designs. All rights are reserved.