Monday, July 16, 2012

Pier 6 at Brooklyn Bridge Park

It is another hot day! I took a walk with my hubby to my favorite refreshing spot and played around with my newly acquired phone camera and Instagram.

Love the sand court. Watching the people there made me want to play beach volleyball again...

Friday, April 13, 2012

{ NOW OPEN! } RiekoYamanaka(dot)com

I am excited to announce the launch of my graphic design and illustration portfolio website! It’s been the most challenging project for me by far, but I am very happy to have finally put it together.

The website is built on Cargo Collective, and I customized almost every element by grappling with the codes. Whenever I design anything, legibility and ease of navigation are top priorities; this time it was no different. I went through almost every typeface on Typekit and finally chose Museo Slab for the headings and Prenton for the body text.

Would love to hear your thoughts. Hope you enjoy♥

Friday, February 24, 2012


Four lovely creatures napping together, post Thanksgiving feast. Be careful not to fall asleep around me, because I might whip out my moleskine and sketch you!

I used a Le Pen marker and a mini waterbrush. Wendy Shalen at the Art Students League showed me this technique at her self-portrait workshop—I love this pen because it's dark brown but bleeds purple!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Fairy by the Window

In the guest bedroom of my husband’s grandmother’s house in Minnesota, there sits a beautiful fairy doll by the window. When I showed Grandma this drawing she told me that she has a fairy doll for each of her granddaughters, and that this one belongs to my sister-in-law—love that!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Dr. Sketchy’s in Minneapolis

Back in the fall, my husband and I flew to Minnesota to visit his family. It turns out there was a Dr. Sketchy’s event in Minneapolis that weekend, so I headed over to the 331 Club with my mother-in-law who is also an amazing artist and teacher.

Drawing, and figure drawing in particular, is always a humbling can always find so much to work on. But for this day, I was happy to notice myself getting a little better with the angle of the ankle/foot/shoe area. Love drawing stiletto heels, though I could never wear them!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Ex Libris: A Book Plate

This fall I am taking a class called Illustration as Design as Illustration with Melanie Marder Parks at The School of Visual Arts, where you explore ways to incorporate hand-drawn illustration and lettering into graphic design. Our first assignment was to design a book plate for yourself or as a gift for someone, and here is what I came up with. It is for my husband (who is a professional bookworm), featuring Sam, the beautiful black lab he grew up with.

I drew the illustration and lettering on a bristol board with a Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen. After scanning it and cleaning it up in Photoshop, I printed it on Crane Lettra cardstock.

This assignment made me a huge fan of bookplates. Who knew personalized miniature art adorning the inside cover of your favorite book could make you so happy? I think all booklovers should have one! Here is a great blog for bookplate inspirations.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Brush Pen Portraits

Had fun drawing manager portraits with my Copic Multiliner brush pen at work last month. I have always loved seeing companies use hand drawn illustrations for their staff portraits (some of my favorites include House Industries and Soap Creative)—it instantly generates visual interest and invites the audience to look at them longer. I also think people tend to appear more approachable as hand-drawn portraits than straight photos.
Jens Lischka

Mariam Vieyra

Mark Angel

Wati Seladin

Daniel Heckmann

Friday, October 14, 2011

Lyonel Feininger at the Whitney

It’s a cloudy and humid Friday—my day off! After a morning ballet class and lunch, I took myself out on a trip to the Whitney to see the Lyonel Feininger exhibit, since my illustration teacher told me it was a must-see. It’s always nice to be able to see a comprehensive collection of a single artist in one show—the experience feels more intimate and full of depth.

Feininger was a German-American painter and cartoonist who lived through both World Wars. I loved the turn-of-the-century town scenes that seemed to be a recurrent subject in his work—these cute houses and churches with pointy roofs take me straight back to my favorite European storybooks I read as a kid. The quality of his lines and his color choices create this whimsical yet haunting effect.

It was not too crowded, so I was able to do some thumbnail sketches. My heart skipped a beat when I saw the Wee Willie Winkies World comic strip, which is more than a century old. It was the same image that have appeared in my dreams many times: the little girl with a big rimmed hat with a ribbon overlooking the town from a hill. I am sure the concept has been reproduced countlessly, but still, it was one strange déjàvu.

While I was there I also checked out the Real/Surreal exhibit, which was also fun. The highlight for me was George Tooker’s The Subway, which I remembered from my Pop and Surrealism class last summer. In the past year, inspired by my teachers and fellow artists, I slowly started to catch up on my art history by trying to go to galleries and museums more often, and I have to say, I am really enjoying it. Each trip is full of discovery, and it’s as if a whole new world has opened up to me. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Body Intelligence Flyers

Speech bubbles! I designed these earlier this month for Body Intelligence, my friend Cory Nakasue’s wellness company. Cory wanted a design that is simple, eye-catching, presents the information clearly, and has an fun, neighborhood feel that appeals specifically to the audience in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

In thinking about how to make this flyer stand out amongst others, instead of settling on the cliche of body silhouettes I brainstormed simple images that may appear to have nothing to do with Pilates but still gets the message across. The rickety speech bubbles turned out to be perfect vehicle for that, and I am so happy the client loved the design as well!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane and Cheese Cake

Very happy to be back in Red Hook greeting the sun after Hurricane Irene swept over the East Coast. My hubby and I were lucky enough to spend the otherwise nervewrecking weekend in the comfort of my mom’s apartment and her gracious hospitality. The highlight for me was helping her bake her famous souffle cheese cake. I am now convinced that the best way to pass the time while waiting for the arrival of a hurricane is to bake a fluffy cheese cake (and paint it, then eat it)!

In wake of the all the damage left by Irene, though, I must say I am extremely fortunate to be able to emerge unscathed and write such a nonchalant post like this. My prayers are with all those who are affected.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Savannah Room

Just came back from a mini-break in Ocean Grove, New Jersey—a quaint, charming seaside town with a beautiful beach, kind people, and authentic Victorian architecture everywhere. I just adored the antique oak dresser in the room we stayed in, so here is a sketch in sepia ink and colored pencils.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

{Silly IV} Pencil Sketches

Study of two objects lying around in my living room for no apparent reason. I kind of like how they turned out inside the doodly frames. FYI, the massage balls (for lack of a better name) are a dancer’s best friend and can be made by stuffing an old sock with two tennis balls and tying it shut. They are particularly useful for the paraspinal muscles, glutes, and iliotibial band.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

{Silly IV} One-liner Sketches

One-liners have really grown on me since taking Carla Sonheim's Art of Silliness workshops. Since I can't lift the pen, I end up making lots of loopy movements with my hand, which seems to help me take drawing less seriously, in a good way. I also like the naturally whimsical look it creates.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Alexander McQueen at the Met

Two weeks since my designer friend Angie recommended I go see it, I finally got to check out Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the Met last Saturday. I got there around 10:30am but the line to see the special exhibit was already 2.5 hours long, snaking through various hallways on the second floor. So there was plenty of time to admire what might be my favorite architecture in all of New York... well as Ancient Near Eastern, Cypriot, Islamic, and European art.

The McQueen exhibit itself was exquisite! (instead of attempting to describe it with my limited vocabulary, I'm putting a link to the New York Times review here) He was apparently a true genius with his scissors. I tried to sketch some of my favorites since photographing was prohibited, but it was so crowded in there this turned out to be quite difficult. (Also, it was way past lunch time and I was starting to get hungry...)

Bought two postcards of my favorite pieces at the gift shop. The flower dress on the left from the 2007 Sarabande collection was just unbelievable in person. Nude silk organza embroidered with silk flowers and fresh flowers...!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Beach Panorama

On the beach, I am usually playing in the water or sleeping on the sand... but this day, the water was too cold so I whipped out my watercolor moleskine and started sketching.

The girl reading in the right panel had a cute candy stripe swimsuit on, which matched the parasol the sleeping woman on the left panel was using. I completed the sketch with the sporty script lettering I found on a T-shirt in one of the souvenir stores by the train station.

Friday, July 08, 2011

{Silly IV} Swirls

Another fun one from Carla Sonheim’s Silly IV. You start with the instructor's drawing (the sailboat and the waves) and keep adding as many items on the list provided as you want. I loved the way Carla drew the waves in swirls, so I kept adding more and more swirls and ended up with this. Makes me want to go make some lemonade!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

{Silly IV} Brain Chatter

Here is a fun exercise I did for Carla Sonheim’s Silly IV workshop. I went outside, sat on my apartment steps for 10 minutes, and furiously recorded whatever thoughts that popped into my head. Then I went back to my room and colored the doodle with marker and colored pencil, as fast as I could. I was pretty dumbfounded to see in drawing how much nonsense whirls around in my head... this is everything that one tries to calmly observe and let go during meditation, and yet this chaos is where creativity springs forth. Hm.

P.S. Carla awarded me the “Squeen (silly + queen) of the Day” title for this silliness. Whee!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Vampirella Day at Dr. Sketchy’s

Packed my 9x12 sketchbook and drawing supplies and met up my bestfriend Gayle (she is also a brilliant artist and a phenomenal dancer/choreographer—check her out!) at the Bowery Poetry Club for Dr. Sketchy’s Anti Art School today. Ever since I first heard about Dr. Sketchy’s I have been dying to go to one... I mean, who can resist the combination of figure drawing + burlesque (+ booze for those who drink)?

The theme of the day was “Vampires” and Delysia La Chatte was our lovely model. Personally I find it so much more interesting and sexy to draw people with (some) clothes on. Can’t wait to go back!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


As many of you know, for the past month and a half I have been busy working on Peko Peko, a collaborative cookbook project to raise money for the relief efforts in Japan. Well, I am excited to say that my job as the book designer is pretty much finished, and the book is scheduled to go on sale within the next few weeks! It has been such an honor and pleasure working with Team Peko Peko (Stacie, Rachael, Marc, Ayaka, Ann, Justin, Judy...) and I can't wait to see the fruit of our labor (of pure love♥) in print... woo hoo!

Check out the website to find out more and get a sneak peek at the recipes and gorgeous photos!