New Literary Portraits, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Franz Kafka and H.P Lovecraft

Wow, time sure has flown by. It's time to rip off my band aid of procrastination and get writing again. So sorry, it has been so long.

In the last 6 months, I have been finishing up a book project and working on a bunch of new portraits. In case you missed them in the shop, here are a few of my favorites.  I hope you like them!

F. Scott Fitzgerald!

F. Scott Fitzgerald is best known for works the "Great Gatsby", The Beautiful and Damned" "Tender is the Night" and "This Side of Paradise" as well as many short stories. As a reader, Fitzgerald opened my eyes to the incredible hidden world of the 1920's. He will always be an inspiration to me and I am so happy to paint his portrait.

He is available here in the shop!

Next up Franz Kafka!

Kafka is another favorite writer. He brings out the goth in me. Kafka is most know for his stories, "The Trial", "The Metamorphosis" and "The Castle". Kafka is regarded by critics as one of the most influential writers in the 20th Century and he is beloved around the world.

I drew him here with a homage to the Dung Beetle wrapped around his neck.

 He is available here in the shop!

Last but not least, Say hello to the incredible and strange H.P. Lovecraft!

Lovecraft is such a inspiration to me, although I came to know him later in my literary life. I love the way this mind works, digging deeply into the psychology and heart of reader. His life was full of tragedy which influenced the way the wrote. Although he became most known after his death, I couldn't imagine the world of horror with out him.  Below is my illustrated ode:

Isn't his little Cthulhu cute? You can find them both in my shop here!

Now that I am officially blogging again, I promise not to take so much time between post!

Thanks for reading!

My Illustrated Ode to Arthur Rimbaud

Here's my latest Literary Portrait.

Rimbaud has always been one of my favorite poets, he was a true, Enfant Terrible.  The I was so excited to create a portrait of him with all his teenage angst. He was truly a wild one! Sadly, he did all of his incredible writing between between the age of 17 and 20, after that he seemed to fall of the face of the earth. He traveled extensively throughout the world, working at very non-writing jobs such as an accountant, mason and coffee exporter.  Rimbaud abandoned his life of the libertine,  never recording any of his any dark dreams or surreal verses again.

He remains one of my literary heroes...

I hope you all enjoy my portrait of him. 

Rimaud as a sketch

“I turned silences and nights into words. What was unutterable, I wrote down. I made the whirling world stand still.”
Arthur Rimbaud, A Season in Hell/The Drunken Boat  

Debra Styer, Arthur Rimbaud Soleil et chair ("Sun and Flesh"), 2015

“A poet makes himself a visionary through a long, boundless, and systematized disorganization of all the senses. All forms of love, of suffering, of madness; he searches himself, he exhausts within himself all poisons, and preserves their quintessences. Unspeakable torment, where he will need the greatest faith, a superhuman strength, where he becomes all men the great invalid, the great criminal, the great accursed--and the Supreme Scientist! For he attains the unknown! Because he has cultivated his soul, already rich, more than anyone! He attains the unknown, and if, demented, he finally loses the understanding of his visions, he will at least have seen them! So what if he is destroyed in his ecstatic flight through things unheard of, unnameable: other horrible workers will come; they will begin at the horizons where the first one has fallen!”
Arthur Rimbaud

Add caption
Arthur Rimbaud, age 17.
“By being too sensitive I have wasted my life.”
Arthur Rimbaud

If you would like to learn more about Rimbaud, I highly recommend the book, "Time of the Assassins, A Study of Rimbaud" by Henry Miller. It is one of my all time favorite books. 

So here's to the young rebel in all of us....and here's to Arthur Rimbaud. 

A limited edition print of my original watercolor painting of Rimbaud is now available in here my etsy shop! 

p.s. Who should I paint next? Who is your favorite writer?


Victorian Goth Love...The Brothers Grimm and Bram Stoker

Here are my latest illustrations for my Writers Portraits series. This series is a ode to my literary heroes of the (mostly) Victorian Era. These authors help us all celebrate our inner goth hearts and souls.

First off,  say a hearty hello to the Brothers Grimm!

The Brothers Grimm brought German and Eastern European folk tales to the world. Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm dedicated their lives to researching and rewriting some of the most macabre and spooky tales the world has ever known. Without their hard work, I wonder what kinds of stories we would be telling around the campfire and scaring our kids to death.

Debra Styer, A Moonlit Tale of Grimm, 2015

Grimm Sketch...Wilhelm on the left, Jacob on the right

Brother Grimm Print
Look into their eyes...Closeup

The next portrait is of the incredible Irish novelist, Bram Stoker. Stoker, of course, is best known for being the creator of Dracula. Like the Grimm Brothers, Bram had a love of German folklore. Count Dracula is one of the most wicked yet loved literary characters of all time. Could you imagine a world without Vampires? Thank you for all the nightmares,  Mr. Stoker.

Debra Styer, Bram Stoker and the Vampire's Kiss,  2015

Bram Stoker Print

Bram Stoker Sketch
The original illustrations were hand painted in layers with watercolor and gouache over my graphite drawings.

The Brothers Grimm print and the Bram Stoker prints are now available in the shop.

Who should I paint next?

Goodbye 2014/ Hello to an Amazing 2015!

Hello Everyone. Sorry it's been so quiet around here lately. But that's all about to change.
It's that time of the year...

My both at the SFEtsy Indie Holiday Emporium 2014
 2014 was a pretty whirlwind year for me. I made so many changes. I took some pretty scary steps this year, but looking back, I feel pretty good about them . Here's a bit of a look back in my year.
  1.  I managed to have two solo art shows.  One at a vintage clothing store, The Mysterious Rack, and at Farley's cafe. It was really amazing to create such a huge amount of new work. I've put some of the new portraits here in my Etsy shop if you would like to check them out. I will be adding more original work soon.
  2. I had my best art fair ever this November. Thanks so much SFEtsy! I'm still learning about the art fair world but am less scared of it now.
  3. As some of you know, I started working 3 days a week at New Bohemia Signs. It's been a pretty interesting adjustment from working for myself for 4 years. But man, it was something I really needed.   
  4. I was really excited to receive a mentioned on this blog post about my custom portraits. Thanks Cool Moms!
I suppose the last day of the year is the time for's my plans for 2015! I am so ready for a new year of challenges and successes!
  1. First off, redo my artist website!Well, I will confirm that I working on it! I'm building a brand new one from scratch and pretty excited about it. It is time to take myself much more serious as an professional artist and illustrator.
  2. Get back to writing more on the blog...ooops.
  3. Get involved with more artist groups. I love being one of the leaders in SFEtsy, and plan on getting more involved. I've also joined the Academy of Handmade.
  4. Getting published. Getting my work out there in the real world. Etsy has been great, but I have to keep reminding myself that it is a small world there, and I need to expand.
  5. Adding more work to my shop...weekly.
  6. Finally finish the book I've been working on the last couple of years. Get it published (we are self publishing)...printed...and make it real. 
  7. Get into more galleries and shops. Bonus: To get into larger art galleries beyond where I am now. 
  8. Learn how to hand lettering!
  9. Find some kind of healthy exersise that I enjoy. The last month or so my health has not been the best. (Mostly just a string of really bad colds). Being sick really reminded me that I need to find ways to take care of myself and stay strong.
  10. Read more books and turn off the internet more.  
Well that about wraps it up. I suppose I will call these plans not resolutions. They might have better luck being accomplished that way. But alas, here's to a awesome 2015 to all of you. May all your plans be successful, and this year be filled with new and exciting surprises for us all!

New Paintings...The Tiny Show!

I have a couple of new watercolor paintings for the upcoming Tiny Show at Studio Gallery in San Francisco.

In a little ode to my wonderful city of San Francisco, here are the first two illustrations in my new series of "Infamous San Franciscans".  I hope you like them.

First up, is Lola Montez (Marie Dolores Eliza Rosanna Gilbert), a young dancer and actress from Ireland, who made herself out to be a famous Spanish dancer and went on the steal men's hearts all over the world. She was even a mistress to a king, and would become Countess of Landsfeld.

Debra Styer, Lola Montez, 2014

Southworth & Hawes, Lola Montez, c. 1850


My second illustrated portrait is Emperor Norton (Joshua Abraham Norton). After moving to San Francisco and losing everything, he gets angered by the rules of the land and declares himself, Emperor of the United States.
At the peremptory request and desire of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I, Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, and now for the last 9 years and 10 months past of S. F., Cal., declare and proclaim myself Emperor of these U. S.; and in virtue of the authority thereby in me vested, do hereby order and direct the representatives of the different States of the Union to assemble in Musical Hall, of this city, on the 1st day of Feb. next, then and there to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring, and thereby cause confidence to exist, both at home and abroad, in our stability and integrity.
—NORTON I, Emperor of the United States.
Emperor Norton's reign lasted for 21 years...

The Emperor...Unframed

The San Francisco legend...Emperor Norton c. 1850
Debra Styer, Emperor Norton, 2014
Want to see these two tiny portraits in person?

The Tiny Show opens this Friday, November 14th.
1641 Pacific Ave (Between Polk & Van Ness)
San Francisco

Opening Reception: Sunday, November 16th 1-6pm

New Illustration...Getting a Bit Batty for Halloween!

There is something so great about the ending of summer and upcoming autumn months. The fall is my favorite time of year and I am ready to for the cooler days and the changing color of the leaves. The energy in the air changes, it is time to get back to work and get serious.

That being said I am also mentally getting myself ready for Halloween. I know it is a bit early but I LOVE this time of year and I am creating some new work in honor of the upcoming spooky holiday...and "Everyday is Halloween", right?

So I would like to introduce you all to Herman! He a sweet little brown bat that pays a bit of a homage to all the tiny bats I grew up with that lived around my families barn. I imagine little Herman zooming around the night skies looking for new friends to fill his heart and perhaps a bug or two to fill his tummy.

This cutie is now available in the shop!

I hope you all like him!

New Writers Portrait Illustration: Miss Emily Bronte!

Here's my latest painting in my Writers Portrait series, the lovely Emily Bronte! She is best know for writing one the classics of English literature, the heartbreaking book, Wuthering Heights!

Debra Styer, Emily Bronte and her Wuthering Heights, 2014

When painting her, I imagined her standing amongst the windswept moors features at the center of her book. She is hand painted with watercolor and gouache on illustration board. It was pretty interesting to try to get a good likeness because all the portraits of Emily are different. But I feel that my painting managed to capture a good glimpse of her. What do you think?

In reality, Emily Bronte died young, at age 30, of tuberculosis, and sadly didn't have much a love life of her own (that we know about anyway). But she managed to created two of the most passionate, yet sad, characters ever created. Heathcliff and Catherine will remain one of the worlds most beloved romantic, and tortured, couples in literature.

You can find my Emily Bronte portrait in my shop!

Hope you like her! Who should I paint next?

An Anniversary: Celebrating Four Years as Bluehour Studio

I'm so happy to be celebrating my illustration career anniversary! It seems hard to believe it's already 4 years since I quit my job and founded bluehour studio. So much has happened in these last few years. And I am happy to say, I'm feeling pretty good about it all.
Feel like dancing?

I'm so happy to be celebrating my illustration career anniversary! It seems hard to believe it's already 4 years since I quit my job and founded bluehour studio. So much has happened in these last few years. And I am happy to say, I'm feeling pretty good about it all.

Bluehour Studio started as a dream. I wasn't sure how to go about starting an career in illustration. Especially since, it had been 15 years since I graduated from art school. (Yikes, what the hell had I been doing all my life?) I was so scared to take a chance but equally scared if I didn't. In all honesty, I knew that I had to make the jump and quit my dead end job selling tickets and memberships at a museum or I would just let the artist dream fade away...

So on July 1st 2010, I quit my day job not knowing what I was going to do. And I'm not going to lie, it was really hard. There were a lot of tears. It took about a year to find some sort of direction. I tried new things, stumbled a bit and procrastinated a lot. I made so many lists and goals. I failed and was lost amongst a sea of millions of other hopeful artists, just trying to be found.

But, I think the most important thing I did was start my Etsy shop. Finally, I was able to show my work to the world. I joined my local Etsy team, SFEtsy, and got to meet some amazingly supportive and like minded folks. Through them, I battled my shyness and lack of confidence, and starting doing craft shows and group art shows. I was able to get myself out there and in a few local shops and online.

Nothing is perfect, I still need to figure out how to make a living with my art and being a resident of San Francisco makes it even harder. So, in order to make ends meet, I started working for my husband's  his sign shop in May and am feeling much better about my world.

As you may know, I've also been collaborating on my first book. It is a true learning experience and I will be so happy share it all with you when it's done. It should be published and out in the world by early 2015.

Cheers to the first 4 years!!! Here's to the next!
In other news...

I am the July featured artist at Farley's Coffee on Potrero Hill in San Francisco. There are 13 new paintings up. Stop by an see the show!

Farley's Coffee
1315 18th St
San Francisco, CA

Laura, age 8, hopeful rider of the Orphan Train

Owen, age 27, San Francisco Gold Miner

Selina, 18 months, hoping for a family to love her

So now I must ask, what are you celebrating this summer?

New Artwork: The Wish

Here's my latest Edwardian inspired illustration, "The Wish".

As a kid I lived on a small farm where we had fields of dandelions, I couldn't help myself making wishes and then blowing the seeds into the wind. I have a pretty amazing life, I guess my wishes did come true!

I have to wonder, do kids still do this?

I am also absolutely in love with the beautiful white lawn dresses the girls wore in the early 1900's and loved being able to include one in my drawings.
Debra Styer, The Wish, 2014

If you want to check out some amazing lawn dresses, I highly recommend checking out one of my all time favorite films, Peter Weir's 1975 masterpiece, "A Picnic at Hanging Rock". First of all, the film takes place in 1900, and the sets and costumes design are amazing. Secondly, it is based on a true story that blends a perfect amount of of mystery and spookiness. It is truly a breathtaking film to watch...

"The Wish" is now available in the shop!

New Writers Portrait Illustration: Lewis Carroll Portrait

Here is my latest portrait for my illustrated watercolor series, "The Writers Project". Say hello to Lewis Carroll, one of my all time favorite writers. I was always in love with his writing as a teenager and as I grew older, I found a deep love of his photography.
 “There is a place, like no place on earth. A land full of wonder, mystery, and danger. Some say, to survive it, you need to be as mad as a hatter. Which, luckily, I am.” 
Lewis Carroll
Lewis Carroll and the Cheshire Cat

Lewis Carroll byOscar Gustav Rejlander, 1863

Lewis is now available in the shop here.

In other news, I've started working at my husbands' sign shop part time. And I must admit, I think it will be really good for me. As a freelance illustrator, I spend a lot of time by working by myself. I think you really need to have the right personality be able do that well. I given my freelance illustration world  almost four years of my life trying to make it work, and I think it does to some point, but now I am ready to get back to working and being around people. I truly am a people person. I think I have learned enough to be able to balance my illustration career with my job.

Quick question...Is anyone else more successful at getting work done when they have less time to procrastinate?'s to more work, excepting new challenges and finding a better balance in my life.

On Making Custom Portrait Illustration...Love/Make Wedding Expo

This weekend was a first. I took part of a Wedding Expo called Love/Make put on by The Bold Italic. I teamed out with a few folks from my  SFEtsy team and showed off my custom portraits for the first time to a hopefully appreciative audience.

I think it went well. The space was filled with newly engaged folks that seems to be floating around on air a bit. I talked to a bunch of them, and gave out business cards and info. Now it's time to wait. I wonder if I will get any orders from this. Who knows. Some people weren't getting married for quite some time. Everyone seemed to be in a dream world, I think the flowing wine and Champagne helped a bit too.

All in all, not a bad day, I got to hang out with friends and check out all things wedding. It's pretty amazing how much stuff is available for your special day...

Here's my spot at the wedding expo!

Custom Portrait (detail)

Forever Yours!
As for my contribution. My sample portrait was based mostly on my own lovely relationship. I used one of my own wedding photos to work on the faces and get a extra sweetness in our expressions. And I think it came out pretty cute.

Ok, a question for all of you? Would you ever get a portrait painted to celebrate your wedding or anniversary? I'm asking as a way to figure out the whole wedding world. What do people really want? I know that it's probably not where I'm heading with my artwork but it is still an interesting place to investigate as an illustrator. There are just so many possibilities...

 If you like this portrait or something like it, you can find out more in my shop!

New Work! New Ladies & Gents Victorian Portraits!

I just finished a couple of new Victorian Portraits! Having so much fun adding new work to my shop. These two were really fun to create. I have been enjoying creating new worlds and stories for each of my characters.

Howdy Sailor...

Say hello to Patrick! He is a sweet guy that is tired of spending his life upon the waves of the high seas. He left his ship behind after years of loneliness and hoping he might find his perfect lady to discover a happy life and new world on land.

This is Eva with her cutie pie daughter, Elsie. She faces a life on her own, after her husband left her suddenly and has never returned. She wants to challenge her fate and start a search to meet a wonderful gent and to maybe add some love and happiness to her life.

These two are both looking for love and are part of my series, The Ladies and Gents Victorian Dating
 Service. They are both available in the shop, here and here.

New Work, Meet the Beetle Boy

It's the new year and I have plenty of brand spanking new ideas flowing around in my head. This year I want to work on a children's book. Something for the tomboy in all of us. I grew up spending my days walking in the woods and discovering all the cool creepy crawly things. I've already created one character for the book Abby, The Moth Girl.  Now, I wanted to introduce to my newest illustration and character, George, The Beetle Boy.

Pretty cute, huh? It's so fun to sit here dreaming up all the adventures that Beetle Boy and Moth Girl will get in. Woo Hoo!  I'm so excited to start another project. Of course, I'm still finishing up the other book but I'm going to let this I love just thinking about it.

Also, if you are interested, George, The Beetle Boy is available in the shop!

Hope you like him!

Happy New Year from Bluehour Studio!

Debbie Styer 2013
 2013 was a strange year. Full of triumphs and disappointments. My business was pretty steady and I got into a few new shops this year but really need to focus and get myself out there in order to survive and thrive as an artist. My biggest disappointment? The holiday season. Truthfully, it was a pretty harsh reality check this season. I suppose I need to figure out how to sell illustration when customers are more interested in buying hand knitted scarves...Anyone have any ideas? My head is still spinning....

So, of course, It's that time of year and I'm sitting here thinking of all big changes I'll make happen in the next 12 months. The New Year is filled with such promise. It is a great time to reflect, get rid of what is not working and start again with a clean slate. I'm getting so excited to get going! Here's to an amazing 2014!!!

  1. Redo portfolio site! I need to add some of the illustrations from the book I've been working on.
  2. Finish that book! My deadline is April 1st!
  3. Create a hand written typeface for the book!
  4. Find part time job. This is pretty crucial to my well being!
  5. Get more involved with The Makeshift Society.
  6. Get more involved with my SFEtsy family. Help out more!
  7. Introduce myself to more magazine and blogs. Get published!
  8. Make more art! (At least 2 pieces a week!)
  9. Experiment with new projects!
  10. Make a new jewelry collection!
  11. Apply to City Arts Gallery!
  12. Less Etsy, more Gallery! (Of, course I will still be adding more work to my shop, but I think I need to get my work out there in the real world, where people can appreciate it up close)
  13. Start working on larger, more complex editorial pieces. 
  14. More walks, more cafes (basically get the hell out of the house more)
  15. Daily Journal writing... I'm restarting The Firestarter Sessions book!
  16. Get my work into more stores. 
  17. Start visualizing what my Big Picture looks like, instead of being bogged down by the little things!
  18. Exercise, move...get more energy to do more stuff!
  19. Make more connections, collaborate on projects!
  20. Redo this blog! Write more, post more, connect to others work.
  21. Keep learning and pushing forward!
  22. Bring camera with me always, take more photos, capture more references for illustrations.
  23. More mini vacations! 
  24. Get more organized!
A thought...I going to print this list! Carry it with me. Post it on the wall! Don't forget it!

What is on your list? 
Now imagine yourself with all the things DONE! Feels pretty good doesn't it! Yep!
Here's to You! May you have an amazing 2014!

The Wonderful Oscar Wilde, A New Writer's Portrait.

 I love to introduce you to the lovely Oscar Wilde. Oscar is one of my favorite writers. I just love the way his mind worked. His life was so creative, his work was ground breaking, yet his life ended pretty tragic and lonely.

Oscar is my latest illustration for my "Writer's Portraits" series.

One of most prized possessions is a 1916 copy of "The Prose of Oscar Wilde". Here's the story of how I got it.

When I was student in Boston, I worked in this small art gallery in Harvard Square, in Cambridge, MA.  Everyday I worked, I was greeted by these two sweet brothers from Ireland, Noel and Steven. They would hang out outside the gallery with all the other homeless men. (I was a small town girl and I was told I should be afraid of people like this). But as I got to know them, I loved their positive attitudes and their stories, we also talked a lot about books and our mutual love of good literature. We got to be pretty close and a day didn't seem right until I saw them and knew they were ok.

At a certain point, and a cold New England winter, they wanted to go home. I had the opportunity to help, but I was scared.  Their mom was going to send them money but she needed a bank account to send it to. So I let them use mine. I know that it was only a little thing, but it was one of those trust in the universe things. They were able to go home and start their life over. I was actually able to help someone...

As a thank you, they gave me this book... It was a old copy and they had it rebound for me. Noel and Steven were so proud to give this to me. Here's what they wrote...

“Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”
Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist
Oscar Wilde by Napolean Sarony, 1882
They connected me forever to Oscar Wilde. And the book itself is amazing. You should all give it a good read. It was about twenty years ago when I got that book, and I wonder what happened to those "irish brothers". Maybe someday, our paths will cross again, until then I envision the best for you all.

 Oscar is now available here in my shop!