San Francisco’s Chinatown

I used to joke that if I were to design a driving video game set in San Francisco, Chinatown would be the ultimate challenge of the game, the final level to be completed by only the most skilled drivers with zen-like patience and the agility of a cheetah and parking skills of, well, me.

Driving in Chinatown is probably best avoided because of its narrow one-way streets and throngs of pedestrians. But, if you ditch the car and slow down, you can see the texture of the place. It’s a world of vibrant colors and layers of brick, stone, gates, patterned doors, graffiti , stuff to buy and people.

I took these photos very early before most of the shops were open so I could get a clear view of the building facades. Even without the crowds you can see how lively the setting is. Check it out…without a car.

    FP_color2_chinatownFP_window1_graffiti2_grille2_chinatownPeking BazaarFP_brick1_chinatown

FP_brick2_chinatownchinatown pink bagFP_grille5_chinatownFP_color1_chinatownchinatown shit facedFP_color9_chinatownFP_color12_chinatownFP_door3_color7_chinatownFP_graffiti5_chinatownFP_wall1_chinatownFP_tile2_chinatownFP_tile5_chinatownFP_tile6_chinatownFP_tile4_color8_chinatownFP_wall2_brick2_chinatown



Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens (Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, Sussex, England) is a beautiful park which houses the largest collection of  living plants in the world. The beginnings of this collection were from species brought back by the famous naturalist and botanist, Sir Joseph Banks when he traveled with Captain Cook on his first round the world voyage. If you want to add to the magic of the story, check out Elizabeth Gilbert’s “The Signature of All Things” for a wonderful historical fiction on the beginnings of Kew and beyond.

 My last visit to England was in March during one of  the coldest winters in recent memory. The steamy greenhouses were an especially welcome solace during the still freezing early spring.  The palm house is the largest iron and glass structure in the world with ornate Victorian lines that conjure images of decked out ladies with parasols strolling and sketching.

Signs of spring were everywhere. The crocus bulbs exploded from the ground like a colorful carpet surrounded by newly green grass.  Though I am no plant expert, I love the beautiful shapes and smells of  plants and trees as an inspiration for patterns and color. Kew is a wonderful escape and an interesting slice of history. It’s an easy train ride from London for when you need an urban respite!

*blooms photo repeat

Crocuses, Kew Gardens, England

The materials:

matte medium

acrylic gel medium

I started with brushing acrylic gel medium on the white paper and letting it dry before painting. This gives the paper an interesting texture to start with and gives it some dimension too. It can also act as a mask to preserve layers of paint underneath it. The paint on the layers above will not be repelled but it wipes away more easily to reveal what’s below.

painted background

base layer of painting

You can see how the brush strokes are a bit exaggerated by the gel medium. I let this layer dry completely before I painted the flowers too. I like to scan these textures in before I paint on them further in order to build a library to work with for digital projects too.

Leaf Collection Saves the Day

leaf collection

6th grade leaf collection

Last year my Mom was cleaning out her garage and handed me a box of my stuff to sort through. In that box was a leaf collection I made in the 6th grade! I remember taking the still green leaves and encasing them in waxed paper. I also remember the smell of that slightly burning paper and leaves together as if it was yesterday. I’m happy to have such a huge catalog of these beautiful east coast leaves with me today. Thanks Mom!

leaf allover

leaf collection painted

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Moody Pere-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris

I don’t know about you but I love Halloween! And I couldn’t wait to finally post these photos of Pere-Lachaise Cemetery In Paris. It was a visual feast of distressed moss-covered walls, rusting ornate ironwork, cobblestones and SNOW!


crypt door, Pere-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris

Of the thousands to choose from at the cemetery as inspiration (I didn’t even begin to document everything that I found inspiring), I chose this ironwork door for is lovely lines.



crypt, Pere-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris

Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison and a list of other departed celebs buried here are too numerous to name.


Pere-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris


Pere-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris


Pere-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris


FP_cemetery11_paris copy

Pere-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris

Read more for instructions/ materials and more photos…

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Bees in the Presidio

Plants 6 presidio final

flowers & bees from the presidio

Of the million things going on in the Presidio in San Francisco, this is one spot that was really hidden away. A bunch of greenhouses and tools for the gardeners who maintain the park was a magical spot to find.



There was also a giant ball of wax sculpture. Homage to the bees, perhaps.

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Lily pads at the Getty Villa

Come for the art, stay for the gardens! The Getty Villa houses part of the massive J. Paul Getty Collection and some beautiful grounds too. Wind your way up the hill to this intimate setting for viewing art with views of Mailbu beach below. Before the Getty Museum‘s expansion into West LA with the added big, beautiful space up in the hills, the Getty Villa was the only place to see the collection of antiquities and art. You could easily fill an inspiring day at each venue!


lily pad shadows

Check out the shadows on the bottom of the pool!  Incredible! And inexplicable. Any scientists want to explain this to me?

I also really like the patina colored algae on the bottom of the pool with its random dot pattern created from tossed coins.


multicolored lily pads

I couldn’t decide which design I like the best. Please vote!


Lily pad art 1


Lily pad art 2

Read more for instructions/ materials and more photos…

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London Calling: inspiration from the V&A

Taken during a 2010 trip to London, this image of an iron window grille was the catalyst for the Patterns Found blog project. I began documenting found patterns in every landscape. Architecture. Nature. Industry. Far from accidental, this particular piece of ironwork resides at the V&A Museum—a deliberate, beautiful artifact on display. If you can’t get there in person, check out their online database for inspiration. I don’t know of a richer resource for textile design inspiration.

London. It’s dear to me for many reasons. My short residence there in my 20s made me more self-assured and adventurous in all areas of my life. Forging out on my own, I had the pleasure of working in the tea room at the V&A Museum. Not only did I get to experience the culture on a much different level than if I’d been passing through as a tourist, but I was surrounded by incredible textiles, jewelry, costumes, and so much more that this wonderful museum holds in its massive collection. Decades later, with my son in tow for the first time, I returned to London. Seeing the city through his eyes renewed my perspective and helped me rediscover the city, the museum, and the visual contrasts in every corner.

*London grille 2 final1 lores

artwork inspired from ironwork, V&A museum, London 2014

This is the design I created inspired by the photo taken of the grille.

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