May 30 2012

brushes & journal pages

since i’ve been home from china i’ve been trying desperately to live by more of a schedule.
the past year there’s been so much random stuff going on that i felt like i couldn’t make an agenda and expect to keep it.
i’ve fallen into the habit of ‘flying by the seat of my pants’ so to speak.

 part of this new timeline i’m trying to keep is scheduling time everyday to MAKE ART!
it’s funny how hard that is to do.
even when it’s “my job”.

i’ve re-prioritized and listed the things i want to accomplish in my days/weeks/months.
it feels good to be back on track.

now all i have to do is- stick to it!

May 25 2012

girl love & flower

home and getting back into a groove again.

random piece of art.
adding some paint & ink to a quick sketch.

and a sweet flower i found in china.

P.S. you may have noticed that i turned off my comments.
i was getting crazy amounts of spam and i couldn’t take it anymore.
i’m sure there’s a plug-in or something out there that can take care of it.
but for the time being, the comment option will need to remain off.
please feel free to email me anytime at: michelle (@)

have a lovely weekend my friend. xo-m

May 24 2012

china days are done

i’m home now.
my days in china have come to an end.
i’ll return in october to work on our 2013 line.

it was- thank the good Lord, an expedient and productive trip.
15 new clock designs, 2 soap spitters & 6 dangling doodlings.

in addition to work, i was able to capture some fun pictures, which makes me really happy.
like these tea soaked eggs found at the local market.

cute minis at the playground.

we have motorcycles & robots and they have sheep with horns. so funny!

thank you for following along with me.

i’m returning home inspired, refreshed AND a few lbs. lighter. 🙂

May 21 2012


things are finishing up here in the factory.
samples are completed.
pricing is agreed upon.
and home is on the horizon!

the flower i showed you previously- now completed.
these colors are so YUMMY, don’t you think?
the pendulum that accompanies it is super, super cute!
just wait till you see it!

stacks of molds.

the messy process.

i just couldn’t leave you today without a few last food pics.
at least they removed the eyeball on this guy.

scallops with garlic & noodles on top.
these are delish.

a pretty flower found on my jaunt to the farmer’s market.

well, off to catch a plane!
after 9 years of traveling here a few times a year, going home still makes me giddy.


May 20 2012


this is part two of the farmer’s market i encountered here in southern china.
it’s so interesting to see how different cultures exist & function.

the day was already quite warm (in the 80’s), as you can imagine, these next areas didn’t have the best of smells.

these are not pets.
they’re for eating.

same with these.
love all their different colors and markings.

an 80º day, these fish just sitting out on styrofoam boards…
ha! you would not find this in the usa.

grab a bowl and pick what you’d like.

are you getting hungry yet?

i’m sure after this photo you’re already running to the pantry for a bag of chips.
yes, these are fish heads and they are set out on display for sale.

there are also bins with live shrimp, turtles, fish and worms that you can choose from and they will clean and bag it right there for you.

i have so much respect for the way they live.
walking this market made me feel like such a prim.
in the usa we tend to like our food cleaned and packaged up all pretty-like.
perhaps this way is healthier. (minus, of course, the bouts of food poisoning!)
it certainly is fresher!

May 19 2012


today was a better food day!
i’m still guessing i will have lost a little weight from this journey.
although nothing like the 4-5lbs per trip i would lose in the early years of my traveling here!

i didn’t have to go into the factory till after lunch today so i had a little time to play in my art journal.
just messing around with pattern & color.
feels good.

there was also time to visit a farmers market down the road.
i only brought my 50mm fixed lens with me- which makes it hard to show you just how huge this market was.

i have a bunch more pictures to show you tomorrow as i’m running out of time.
some are pretty gross so if you have a timid stomach you may want to skip tomorrow’s post.
hope you’re having a lovely weekend.

May 18 2012


funny, i spoke too soon yesterday.
today’s meals left much to be desired!
i think these are sardines?
the taste wasn’t too bad but not something i’d order on my own.
octopus has never been a favorite of mine.

they tell me this is some sort of curdled blood or something.
i tried this sort of dish on a past trip… only because my 15 yr. old daughter tried it and i couldn’t let her show me up.
all i can say is- no thanks!
the lunch restaurant was in the owners home and ran by their family.
an interesting and kind of cool experience.
this was the view right outside the door.
have you ever seen a tree this mean???
painting is in process.
nothing makes me happier or more inspired than color!
May 17 2012


food, when i first started coming here 9 years ago, scared me.

not initially, because i never considered myself a picky eater
and although i didn’t love chinese food, it didn’t make me want to gag.
but a few meals in and i quickly began to dread each and every meal.
which let me tell you, is very unlike me!
between the beautifully disguised durian, fish eyes in the soup,
snake killed at the table in front of us and then turned into soup,
and much more that i can’t even bring to mind right now.
i decided i really hated the food here.

slowly over the years i’ve had a 180 degree change in my thinking.
and NOT because i now love durian, snake, or fish eyes!
but because i’ve, little by little, found an abundance of dishes that i love.
like the one above which is spicy fish with some sort of bean sprouts.

and tofu! the tofu here is UNBELIEVABLE!
made so many different ways.

one thing that took me by surprise when i first started traveling here… perhaps it was just my naivety.
but that all the food is chinese food!
which means no mexican, italian- you get my drift.
can you imagine?

this is some sort of vegetable noodle.

anyhoo-hoo, thanks for stopping by and joining me on my travels!

one last thing, have you seen wild china???

May 16 2012


the day consisted of more sculpting, mold making, sitting in traffic, eating and lots and lots of decisions.

i really wish i could show you all of my new designs.
unfortunately that will have to wait til july when we introduce them to market.
but, i will cheat and show you a few over the next several days cause i simply can’t help myself!
in every line i try to create at least one piece that i personally would put up in my house.
this piece is “the one” in this season’s line.
usually these pieces are the riskiest and have less broad appeal,
so i have to keep them to a minimum or i will go out of business.
sometimes they’ll surprise me and they’ll actually turn out to be a good seller. rarely.

a few pics from the road…
let me just say that this was a massively busy freeway intersection where cars were traveling close to 60mph or more.
these are some brave people. very brave.

and i complain about taking the trash out!

notice the side sitting gal, and the baby between the front couple.

tomorrow will have to be a food day.
fortunately for me, everything so far has been very edible and identifiable!
which probably makes it boring for you. ha!

May 15 2012


about 20 hours of travel time and i made it here safe and sound.
this is where i really wish i wasn’t such a chicken to take ambien!
i have this repeating vision that i’m going to pee my pants or freak out on the plane like a lunatic.
ohhhh, but it would be so nice to be knocked out cold for 8 of those 16 hours of flying time!

the first day was consumed with sculpting, revisions and mold making.
probably the most exciting part of this process for me.
seeing my two-dimensional art coming to life by someone else’s skilled hands.
i enjoy sculpting myself, and often do on small fun projects.
although, when i’m here, it’s so much quicker for me to just hand it over to the factories masterful sculptors.
not to mention that they’re always trying to shoo me out of their workspace!

some colorful crates outside the factory.

one of my favorites here… tofu!!!

2 days down, 7 to go. 🙂

May 13 2012

a quick post before i go…

it’s design season and lots of new art is in the works.
yes, it’s that time of year again.
i’m sitting in the SF airport waiting for my flight to China.
i plan on blogging lots while i’m there so make sure to come back and visit me.
it can be a bit lonely over there for me so i will be treasuring EACH AND EVERY one of your comments & emails.
really tho, i always do.

this past week i had some very special artist friends come to visit me.
this is regina of creative kismet and katy of  kt40’s blog.
check out their blogs, they’re super talented!
i was honored by their visit.

 we didn’t do much arting, but we did do some adventuring in portland on mississippi street.
of course we had to include lunch at por que no?!

coffee at the freshpot.

 walking and talking and sharing.

my plane is about to board.

May 4 2012

cat & bird painting original art

and here she is in all her grandeur.
this cat has a big heart for her friend “bird”.
they were created to be together; soul mates.

“soul mates”  18″x 24″x 2 1/4″  © michelle allen 2012

you’ll see some of the painting progression in the following photos.

notice that the bird is a different color 3 times!

now off to enjoy dinner and a concert with friends.
happy friday to you. : )

May 3 2012

cat bird art & cupcake clock

another painting finished.
ahhhh. it feels so good to complete things!

more pics tomorrow on this, as it’s late and i’m exhausted.

we’re continuing to have wretched weather here in the NW.
maybe that’s why all the happy colors… medicine for my soul.

i’ve started shooting pictures for our summer catalog.
this cupcake clock is one of our newer additions to the line…

on another note… i’m currently loving  judy wise’s blog posts of her art residency in spain.
everything about it sounds like a total dream!

May 1 2012

instagram -ing my days

i’m completely smitten with instagram and the idea of keeping an ongoing visual journal of my days.
i enjoy thinking about how to make simple shots interesting.
and as funny as it is, i love working within the limitations of instagram.

left to right: doodles • walking the track • editing images • my 11 yr. old
art doll in the making • kale & potato soup my 17 yr. old made • perusing magazines w/my momma • salvaged serving fork
my husband & studio girls unloading a container of allen designs • stag art doll • lex & i heading to indoor • my husband w/a lot on his mind
art doll • jess practicing the rainbow • weekend coffee w/the hubs • thatchers in vancouver 

if you too love instagram, check out curly girl’s scavenger hunt that just started!
also, ashley ann has her “instagram thankful” post up that is super sweet.