Botanical Art Show

Saw a show of Botanical art at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. Below are my favorites.

Designing on a Grid

I recently began a 100 day project called "100 Days of Hand Stamped Fabric". Every day I carve a rubber stamp, print it on graph paper in a repeating pattern, and finally, print it on fabric. Whether I'm stamping directly on graph paper, or on fabric with the faint lines of the graph paper showing through from beneath, the placement of my stamp is guided by a grid.

This project is not my first use of the grid in my artwork. Initially I was inspired by the painter Adolph Gottlieb. It was several years after graduating RISD. I was living in NYC, working in publishing, and attempting to build my freelance illustration career on the side. At that time, I was working towards developing my visual style. I began an early morning routine in which I'd wake up, make myself a coffee and pick an art book off one of my bookshelves. Then I'd spend an hour looking the artist's work. If there was some element of the art that I loved, I'd make note of it so I could experiment with it in my own work. That particular morning I picked Gottlieb. 

In many of Gottlieb's paintings I'd noticed that he'd used a grid to compartmentalize the space. Within each compartment was a some type of sign, symbol, or design. I was immediately drawn to these images. First off, aesthetically I was attracted to his use of:

1. A limited color palette

2. Two dimensional space

3. Flat, textural color

These elements struck me as bold and modern. I remember feeling so inspired and intrigued....

 Vigil, 1948

Vigil, 1948

 The Seer, 1950

The Seer, 1950

 T, 1950

T, 1950


Additionally, I was captivated by:

4. The mysterious signs and symbols

5. The assembling of individual elements into one image

6. His use of a grid-like layout to compose the space

As my hour with Gottlieb's book of paintings drew to close, I'd made note of my observations to come back to them at a later time.

Several days or weeks later, while working on an illustration to use as a self-promotion, I incorporated several of these stylistic elements into my design process.  My illustrative style had already made use of the first three elements listed above, but the image below was my first to make use of symbols to represent the idea and/or feeling I was trying to convey, as well as the use of a grid to organize them into a cohesive whole.


Designing on a grid was somewhat of a breakthrough for me. After releasing this image as a self-promotion, I received more calls and assignments than I had from previous promos. This allowed me to dedicate all of my time to my freelance illustration business (rather than work in publishing as I had been, and illustrating on the side in my free time).

This series of paintings that I'd felt such an affinity to are referred to as Gottlieb's Pictograph paintings. You can see more of them on my Pinterest board "Art on the Grid" (along with some other works of art that make use of the grid.) If you'd like to read more about the artist, The Adolph & Esther Gottlieb Foundation is a good place to start.

Another resource I just found, artsy,  offers Gottlieb's work to purchase (for those who have wads of extra cash lying around), but they also have some of his works on grids which I hadn't seen before.... 

My 100 Day Project Exhibit


For the month of March I'm showing my illustrations in our town's public library (along with my sister's beautiful oil paintings which are hanging in the next room!) If you're in the area of Glen Rock, NJ, stop by! If not, no worries, I've included my art shpiel below...




The 100 Day Project is “…intended to awaken, nurture and sustain your creative spirit through the cultivation of small daily acts for 100 days.”

Have you heard of The 100 Day Project? It’s an online challenge that anyone can take part in.

Several months ago I began my own 100 day project. For my small daily act, I decided I would create a cut-paper illustration. I limited myself to the use of one sheet of black origami paper and two pens - one white and one black. Subject matter was left open, to be decided on a daily basis.

I started the project with several goals in mind:

  • I wanted to establish a habit of making artwork every day.
  • I wanted to explore the use of limited art materials over an extended period of time.
  • I wanted to develop a visual language with a cohesive style.

I am now close to finishing my project (will be done mid-March), and am happy to say that I (mostly) accomplished these goals. 

  • I’ve established an ‘art habit’ - although it’s not every day, I make artwork most days, which is much more than I did before starting the project.
  • I’ve stayed within the limits of the art materials I set out to explore, using only black origami paper and two pens (with only a small amount of cheating - at times I used more than one sheet of the black paper, and for a period of time I added the use of kraft paper, just for fun).
  • Over time, I developed a visual language (a collection of icons and symbols I feel an affinity with) and I believe a cohesive style emerged. I ended up favoring bold, simple shapes of cut-paper combined with a spare white line with which to add detail.

What you see here are a collection of ten images from my 100 Day Project, digitally reproduced. Not only are these some of my favorite illustrations from the series, they also represent the range of subject matter I tend to be drawn toward, which includes plant-life, animals, architecture, Judaism and African art. 

If you’d like to see the entire collection of images from start to finish, they can be found on my Instagram account:


Vicky Katzman is an artist and illustrator living in Glen Rock, NJ. She earned her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, after which she began her career as a freelance illustrator. She currently enjoys designing and making quilts, teaching art, and creating illustrations (on a regular basis, using only black origami paper and white pen!)


I bought the frames online and am happy with their quality and overall appearance. I think the simple style suits the work. 

Post Humous Portraiture and Epitaphs at the American Folk Art Museum

In search of some quilt inspiration, I decided to visit the American Folk Art Museum in NYC. I hadn't been in many years, in fact, the last time I was there it was located next to the MOMA. Turns out the new space is much smaller than the last, and there were only two exhibits on display. Also, I was wrong to assume that they'd have quilts on display!

The first exhibit I saw was called Securing the Shadow: Posthumous Portraiture in America. It was extremely depressing, but somehow I was compelled to keep looking. The portraits were mainly of children, rendered as they would have been in life. What I found most interesting were the various toys, objects and flowers they were pictured with, and attempting to interpret their meanings (before reading the accompanying description). Some of the paintings for instance, had a piece of dangling cut thread or unspooled thread. In my mind, I've always associated thread with repair and healing, but in these paintings it represented a life cut short.  

The second exhibit was the epitaph project. It was basically a singular blackboard in the shape of a tombstone with some chalk set nearby. Visitors were invited to write their own epitaph, which I did after viewing the posthumous portraits of children. Even without a post-viewing heavy heart, I would have written this....


It's just the first thing that sprang into my mind.  

After that I NEEDED to go to the gift shop. Had to perk myself up, plus, I never miss a museum gift shop - I look forward to them almost as much as the exhibits themselves. Bought myself a little book called The Language and Sentiment of Flowers. Originally published in Victorian times, it's a dictionary (more like a listing) of flowers and their meaning. In those stuffy times, rather than speak their feelings, suitors gave flower arrangements which the women would then interpret - all through the use of this book. (Looks like we're coming full circle with the use of emojis.) Although I'm all for expressing yourself with words, as an illustrator I can't resist the idea of a visual language.... may have to work this into my illustration somehow!


The language and sentiment of flowers interior.jpg

'Jerusalem' at the Met

If you don't have a chance to check out this exhibit at the Met in Manhattan before it closes on January 8th, I'll share with you some of my faves. Briefly, the show focuses on a broad range of artworks representing a large variety of faiths, created in Jerusalem between the years 1000-1400. I LOVE illuminated manuscripts, so that's about all you'll see here, but the Met's website has a collection of images from the show if you'd like to see more of an overview.

Sea Urchins

Found some sea urchins today in Sanibel, Florida. I realized the one pictured below was alive when it moved his 'teeth' ever so slightly. Returned it safely to the ocean and later found another without the animal inside. Water color paintings below are inspired by the topside, spikeless. 


Watercolor Painting a Day - Day 5

This is the 5th day of my "watercolor-a-day" challenge, the theme of which is 'inspired by architecture'... but this painting has a second source of inspiration.

I was in temple services the other day for Yom Kippur, and one of my boys was bored out of his mind. I searched through my pocketbook for something he could entertain himself with, and found our High Holiday Pass (a small rectangular piece of paper).. In the past, he would fold origami for hours at a time, so I thought he might enjoy playing around with it. He made some sort of expanded pocket that looks a bit like the one below (which I came home and folded out of graph paper). I was inspired by his little paper folding because it brought to mind those amazing models that architects make of their building designs. I liked the idea of using graph paper (rather than our temple pass) because the lines help define the form. 

Tomorrow I'd like to do the same sort of thing, but with the addition of house parts like doors, windows, stairs - all that good stuff.


 Day 5

Day 5

Hanneford Circus

Flashback 10 years... I took these photos at the Hanneford Circus in White Plains, NY. At the time I was living in beautiful Katonah, NY. My kids were just 2 years and almost 1 year old. I was into art quilting and woodcut.

Here's a 3-color woodcut I made which was directly inspired by one of the photos I took at the circus, look for it above!

 E is for Elephant

E is for Elephant