A Day at the Zoo

polar bear by kate austin

polar bear by kate austin

A while back we went on a little family field trip to the metro toronto zoo. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about zoos. I love animals and it’s amazing to see lions and giraffes without travelling all the way to the Serengetti BUT on the other hand, I love animals and I would MUCH rather travel to the Serengetti and see them roaming free (from a safe distance!) than locked up in cages. But anyway, we went and had a great day. We took some pictures and did some sketching… here’s a little ink polar bear coming up for air- I think she might pop up in a pattern soon too!

Studio Peek

my studio wall of inspiration and work in progress

my studio wall of inspiration and work in progress

Today I thought I’d share a little peek into my work space. I decided it was time to refresh the wall in front of my work table – I wanted to have a look at some of the ink paintings I’ve been working on, and also my new postcards from Sou Sou of artwork by Katsuji Wakisaka. I also put up my new little marimekko gift cards- I love how they’re printed on the front and back with bright and graphic images. The envelopes were really nice too- patterned in bold colours on the inside, white on the outside. The fabulous pencil sketch of a moose is by my 7 yr old, as is the lily pad lake drawing beside it- both inspired by our trip to Algonquin (we saw a moose!) I also took a pic of my messy work table… sigh.

my messy worktable and fabulous apron- thrifted- it's an inuit screen print!

my messy worktable and fabulous apron- thrifted- it’s an inuit screen print!

I’m loving having a set up for painting- I just skiddle up here whenever I have a moment and pick up a paintbrush- it’s working for me. However the whole concept of cleaning up and organazizing is not really happening at the moment.. one day! Check out my amazing work apron… I got it years ago at a thrift shop- it’s a screen printed inuit image by Nanogak! I have held onto it for all these years and kept it so pristine, but now I think– I should give it some life! And you know if it gets a little paint on it, c’est la vie. Also check out my new mug… LOVE this unikko colorway from this summer. Mmm tea. Now back to work!

Bike Bag!

handlebar bag in Park fabric by kate austin designs

handlebar bag in Park fabric by kate austin designs

Today I got a wee bit crafty for our neighbour’s fourth birthday party. I have a pretty strict no plastic garbage birthday present policy- if it can be homemade, more the better! So I remembered this great handlebar bag- good for bikes and scooters- that a friend of ours had made for her kids and nieces and nephews (she made 8 for the kids, and maybe more for the adults- she is a total superstar). I thought they were so cute and handy- and have been meaning to make them for the whole family ever since I saw them last summer, or was it the summer before.. eeps! Anyways the time had come, so I chose this fabric from my surtex booth panels and found the excellent instructions online here at sew mama sew and got stitching! I am so excited it worked out so well– I changed the pattern a bit so there’s a flap instead of just a velcro opening, and I added a magnet closure for the flap. I really hope our neighbour still loves the colour purple- but if he doesn’t I happen to know this would look pretty great on his mama’s bike too.

Open bike handlebar bag in  "park" fabric by kate austin designs

Open bike handlebar bag in “park” fabric by kate austin designs

Bike bag in "park" fabric by kate austin designs

Bike bag in “park” fabric by kate austin designs



Lake of Two Rivers, Algonquin Park

This was my view last week and I’m not going to lie to you: I wish I was still there right now!! There’s something about a lake surrounded by woods with gorgeous canadian shield rocks poking out everywhere that soothes this savage breast and blisses me right out. There have been quite a few lakes I have gotten to know well over the years- William’s lake outside of Halifax was a regular haunt of mine in art school. That lake was an hour on a city bus ($1!), through some woods into paradise. Icy cool water down deep, warm calm water up top. A huge sun-baked rock to lie on after a big swim over to it. Total solitude. Another memorable lake was at our friend’s place on the road to Peggy’s Cove, also in NS. That lake- whose name escapes me at the moment- was mirror-like and so fresh- and the scene of many hilarious adventures in inflatable dinghies with cocktails on board, floating through water lilies and duck colonies. That lake was the inspiration for this pattern- lying there gazing up at the blue sky and fluffy clouds, with rocks and trees around and reflected in the water– perfect in endless repetition…If only!!!


Lake by kate austin

I’d love this in wallpaper, or a duvet cover- or both! And as a skirt so I could have my lakes with me always, wherever I go.

What Colour Means to Me

Uppercase magazine issue 22

Uppercase magazine issue 22


Hello! I’m back from a lovely time in the wilds of Algonquin park- more on this later. While I was away I got word that my piece on COLOUR and what it means to me was chosen for the current issue of Uppercase Magazine, #22. And what an issue it looks to be- I cant wait to get my copy in the mail!! There’s some great preview tidbits here including a video with lots of tantalizing and colorful pictures. My piece along with my photo of bright and fuzzy yarns is in the top right corner of the above spread… pretty nifty! This magazine is so great- it’s really hefty and jam-packed with awesome art, craft, and design goodness. I am a subscriber, and I recommend it to all!!!!

Inky bliss


I have this book about an artist whose work I admire and adore, Katsuji Wakisaka. It’s mostly in Japanese so I mostly look at the pictures– which are incredibly inspiring even without text. There’s one section of the book called “10,000 postcards to His Wife” that is pretty amazing- and recently got me wanting to do something similar. The photos of stacks of little painted postcards are so tantalizing– I’m not sure I’ll get to 10,000 but it sure feels amazing to be painting again. I’m using my absolute fave, India ink, the blackest black. I’m using inks for colour too- I love their shiny finish and the gorgeous saturated colour. Here are some from this week- I really love that turnip!




Cafe work


That is, working in a cafe- my local, lovely manic coffee where I can sit for hours and put stamps on postcards, draw in my sketchbook, read, dream, plan and dream some more. Today I thought i would share some of my books I’m bringing along for inspiration and information. I brought Marion Tuu’luq for her incredible appliquéd and stitched blankets with images of Inuit life in Canada. I brought a little condensed Modern Art overview- the Klee paintings alone set the wheels of my design mind into overdrive. I also have my instructional printed textile book- good to peruse for things to keep in mind while I’m working. And last but kind of the opposite of least I have my trusty books of photos I’ve taken- I started collecting them in business card format, sorting them into themes that I find recur and totally inspire and inform my pattern design. I’m all packed up ready to hop on my bike, grab a tea and get working!!