DDW, Clif Bar CykelScramble & Geographer

June - October, 2015

What a busy and fun Summer.  I can not thank the folks at DDW.com enough for letting me work as a Production Designer under direction of Shin Eguchi. Shin is a master at Packaging Production and I learned so much from him while freelancing this past summer. Slugging dielines and creating packaging mechanicals for the Senior Designers was a highly detailed and meticulous craft. Shin really does it with finesse. I also spent many days photographing, cleaning up imagery and creating graphics for major account packaging audits and presentations in Keynote and Powerpoint. Oh, and the mockups and comps, how could I forget those. : ) The best part about DDW was that they are a highly professional but very laid back agency. I respected everyone who worked there and the Presido location can not be beat. I spent many days, taking in the history and great vistas of the Presidio, learning about the cafes and restaurants there, the George Lucas  Campus, Crissy Field and the Disney Museum. I even attended a couple "Off the Grid" events. I highly recommend the DDW team if you are looking for sustainable packaging and branding updates.
A photo posted by Colleen Proppé (@cproppe) on

I went on to work for a smaller agency in SOMA, designing two Powerpoint templates for a CEO Summit that took place at the beginning of October. I enjoyed biking to the ferry and biking to SOMA for a few days.

In September, Clif Bar put on an amazing event in Marin at the Marin County Fairgrounds. It was an obstacle race course for bike teams, aptly named "CykelScramble".

I really wished I had entered the races with a team of 4, but this year, my sons and I rode the 6 miles there by bike to enjoy the day as spectators. They had two bands at the event, and one of them was San Francisco-based, Geographer. I had never heard of this band, so I checked them out online and pretty much fell in love with their music right away. Their current album is "Ghost Modern". I was so excited by this band that I followed them on Instagram and created a graphic of the lead singer from one of his Instagram posts.
Design created for fun during Geographer music tour to East Coast, 2015. (Journey to the East is a book by Herman Hesse). Let's just say, I'm not a teenager, and I never had celebrity crushes as a kid. My only person I loved on tv was Lindsay Wagner, aka the Bionic Woman. But, #ClifBar invited @geographermusic to their #Cykelscramble event, and I started listening to this incredible voice with layers of electronic keys, strings, guitar... it's really beautiful, and I am in love with this band. Thank you, Mike, Joyce, Duncan, Cody and Clif Bar. Keep up the great work! (Graphic created by me with Adobe Shapes and Illustrator, inspired by a video posted here on IG by the band) #graphicdesign #posterart #bandart #geographer #music #artists #bands #voice #journeytotheeast #design #print #screen #poster #fanart #portrait #sunglasses #faces #beards #AdobeShape #AdobeCapture #AdobeIllustrator #sfbayarea #sanfrancisco #illustration
A photo posted by Colleen Proppé (@cproppe) on

Michael Deni's voice is so beautiful there is no way to truly describe it but to tell you to just listen. I tried to describe it as a cross between the Icelandic band, Sigur Ros and the coyotes howling in the hills of Marin at night... there is an amazing sense of longing in the music. The lyrics are poetic and inspired me to swim in Bolinas with out a wetsuit recently, which was awesome, and to get back to my painting. (actually, that was also because of the book Mike recommended by Herman Hesse, "Journey to the East". Upon reading this, I took the message to heart, that artists must create their imaginations). Truly, I am so grateful for Mike's amazing ability to share teaching moments with their fans. Not only a Geographer, but a fine teacher.

I revisited one of my bike paintings I started when I had Google Glass as a beta tester, and was able to finally finish this painting this week. It is for sale, so email me if you are interested.

Although I always have plenty of my own projects going on at home, I am still looking for great work in the Bay Area. Have a 1 or 2 month need in Production Art during the holidays, or need a full-time Packaging Production Artist indefinitely? Give me a call. Thanks so much, and don't forget to check out Geographer !


Flower Piano at SF Botanical Garden
Excerpts Recorded July 19, 2015

This is a compilation of excerpts of piano music and people enjoying
San Francisco Botanical Garden during the Flower Piano exhibit
July 19, 2015
*Please change settings to HD 720 for best viewing!*

Thank you to the SF Botanical Garden for this wonderful, interactive exhibit. Sorry about adds. My sons and I chose a piece by Philip Glass and Chick Corea Tri to use for Intro and a segway here, and because these are copyright songs, you may have to click the X to turn off an add during this video. We bought the songs on iTunes, and you can find them here:

Philip Glass: The Complete Piano Etudes, Etude No. 2

Chick Corea Tri: Trilogy, Song 6- Fingerprints

In the spirit of free pianos in the garden, we hope that Mr. Glass and Mr. Corea will approve our video to be shared freely. We also hope many more people get out to the Botanical Garden and become members there. It is an amazing place that my sons appreciate every time we visit. Enjoy the music!

The Many Channels of Me: How Twitter Has Helped me Grow, Learn and Support My Community

May 2015
As most of you know, I am a cycling advocate and love bicycles.  I am not fast nor do I race anymore, but I love everything about bicycles that allows us to be independent, healthy and see life a little slower.  Hearing a woodpecker as you ride through dense trees on Lucas Valley Road, or getting to soar along the road at China Camp while a bird soars right along with you... these are vivid moments of true bliss and being in tune with nature.  This past weekend, I rode in the Tour de Marin ride to support Marin County Bike Coalition. Prior to this, I volunteered at the Calpark Tunnel for Bike to Work Day. During both of these events, I photographed and shared my photos on Twitter from my accounts @sfbikegal and @cproppe .
Someone from the Bike Council asked me what it was I had... Do you have a blog?  "No", I said.  "It is just a Twitter account." Which brought me to realize that over the past year, I share more media on Twitter and Facebook than I really do by blog.  Why is this?  What is the difference?  What do we get from the immediacy of social media that we do not get from a blog, and what benefits do blogs have that we do not have from Tweeting?  To answer this, I have to explain the different channels I Tweet from and why.

These four different channels on Twitter work to make me happy and give back to my communities in different ways, but I am passionate about each of these topics.

@sfbikegal is a place where I share my love of bikes, cycling, and my art that features bikes

@cproppe is my personal Twitter account, where I share a mix of everything I see online and in life, much related to art, photography, education, my kids and my outings and Marin and Bay Area news

@greenpitcher is an account and blog called "The Green Pitcher" where I share what I read and learn about sustainability, green living, green art and sometimes cycling because it is a form of green transportation. Some of my organic posts from "Art on the Farm" also overlap into this category, as do posts about my art if if supports Marin Organic.
@artonthefarm is the account for a plein air and photography art group that I have participated with since 2005. They were started by a Marin Organic farmer in Bolinas, Alan Mart, who wanted to have a place where everyone could get out and be inspired on the land and create something while also giving back a percentage to Marin Organic. I started assisting with their blog in 2007. Currently only an active Twitter account, I post updates that support Marin Organic, organic farming and living. There is a hope that this group will start up again in the future, but we are taking a break at the moment.
Why do you need 4 different accounts?

Since we Tweet short bits frequently, it is much easier to only share about a single topic in a channel than to share everything, all the time.  It allows people who enjoy cycling to only follow me on the bike account and not have to hear about my entire life on another Twitter account.  It allows me to create lists of people that care about cycling and direct my messages only to that group.  I will be more likely to get responses from a group of 400 cycling advocates about a cycling question than I would on my own personal account.  The key is to follow all the cycling enthusiasts and groups on that one account and begin to engage and respond to them.  This is where you find you will learn more about cycling yourself, and find out what you need to know from other advocates.  It also allows me to share my bike related art with people who will more likely appreciate it. I learned about the group "Art Crank" and the Bike Art Poster Show they do each year.

Bike Poster History Minute from ARTCRANK on Vimeo.

You can also win contests online, just by tweeting a favorite photo on Instagram and Twitter. I won a bike from Clif Bar's contest by sharing a photo hiking with my son while we were eating Clif Mojo Bars. @ClifBar and @PublicBikes are great on Twitter and Instagram for cycling inspiration in the Bay Area and beyond.
The same is true for @greenpitcher and my other accounts.  By filtering what I share and who I follow, I can learn a lot about this topic from online media very quickly and with precision.

I can do a Twitter Search for "organic" and post things I find that day that are interesting on @artonthefarm.  I can follow organic companies and share their tweets of interest.  I can search for "bike art" and Retweet those findings to the bike channel.  The one thing I always do is research things and read them before I retweet them.  I won't retweet things I have not read myself.

What is the downside to all this online tweeting and filtering and having different channels?

Well, to be honest, there is less writing going on.  I haven't spent time on my blogs as much because I am online all the time with Twitter accounts.  However, it has been a more connected time.  I have actually gotten to meet and interact with so many more people on Twitter than I ever did from my blogs.  There is a group of us in Marin that go to "tweetups", which are really just a night out for dinner or a Birthday celebration for one of our local friends.  We have really become friends online, from Twitter.  It's extremely gratifying.  This is not something I found from my blog writing.  The blog is more of a diary and tool for writing longer pieces about life.  Truly, a wonderful writer's tool.  I am here today, writing about Twitter and why I haven't blogged as much.  Obviously, this longer explanation on a blog is here because the format of a blog allows for a longer explanation and moment of deeper thought.

Are Blogger and Twitter both needed?

Absolutely.  I find all of these tools incredibly useful.  My art and life has been archived on a blog for almost a decade now.  If I ever want to write a book or turn this into a book for my kids, it will be doable.

What am I doing now?

My goals have changed in my life over the past two years, and I will say I learned a lot online to help me get here.  My career has moved back into digital design(which I have done since 1990) and Production Art for Organic Foods. I have studied packaging design at Academy of Art University, How University, Lynda.com and am updating my skills as needed with Typography on Skillshare.  The online tools out there for an artist or designer are truly incredible.
Life is possible online, but we still need to learn how to "be" in the real world. How to work with people and communicate with others. This is important too. On the fine art side, I have been working on a children's book about Mt. Tam and Coyotes, and it is still in progress, but I hope to finish it by the end of the year.
It's not the prime focus now, but I plan to complete it for my sons. I am enjoying co-parenting my sons with their father.  We have learned how to work together by being with our sons apart. Although we still reside in the same home, we split up and don't do things together as a family. Their father will take them one weekend, I will have them the next, and so on.  It works better this way, with very little drama, and we both feel good about who we share our time with, although these are very different groups of people.

In general, living my life online opened me up to many different people and places I could go outside of my relationship that had value, even when my own relationship did not. I believe the online path to real world change is significant, and truly a miracle for many of us who perhaps saw no other path out of our difficult lives. Being online actually does open up more paths than you can imagine.  Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn have saved me over these passed years, as has Blogger. Each avenue has allowed me to travel, learn, grow and meet just the right people I needed to.

What a difference a couple years can make.  Who knows what we will see in 2020?  I am keeping my mind wide open for the possibilities.

Artist, Georgia Annwell, Remembered

Sunday, January 11, 2015
Georgia's Life and Sunset over Mt. Tamalpais  1/11/15 (C.Proppé photo)

Today I attended the memorial for Marin artist, Georgia Annwell.  I met Georgia when I worked at the Marin Arts Council in 2010.  At this point in her life, she was a senior artist and she took the Whistlestop bus to exhibit her art as well as gallery sit at the gallery on 4th Street.  She loved to participate in the shows and get out with people.  She was kind, positive and always smiling.  She exhibited in over 150 shows in just 6 years, from age 69-75.  She also created the three part video documentary series, "Senior Artists of Marin" at the Community Media Center of Marin.  They have just announced that they will name their art gallery after Georgia in memory of her.
View Georgia's "Senior Artists of Marin" videos here:
Video Part 1: Georgia's Portrait Exhibit and Kick off of the Series
Video Part 2: Interviews with Artists in the CMCM Marin TV Studio
Video Part 3:  Georgia Interviews Artists in their Studios

Georgia's life was full, as she was a Nurse, Teacher, Architect and Painter. (Read more here via Marin IJ )Georgia's memorial was well attended and speakers included her dear friends, Kevin Hassell, Dallas Mathers, Lynn Harris, Velda Draper, many nurses she worked with, church members and artists.  Velda read from Georgia's writing, and I want to share her thoughts here, as they truly speak to me at this point in my art career, where I am trying to move away from copying reality and add emotion and individual character to my work.  Georgia wrote:

"Great art challenges not only the viewer, but also the artists who create it.  Most artists paint what they know and do it to the best of their ability.  A few artists take on creative work that challenges their knowledge and reveals their inabilities.  However, when they do overcome this kind of challenge, they realize that the rewards are huge.  Artists who need ongoing reassurance that they are on the right track may miss the opportunity to reach past their comfort zone to experience the thrill of pleasing themselves with a painting that shares the truth of their view of the world." 

- Georgia Anwell

Georgia & Mesa dressed in circus attire for Open Studios at AWD 2012

When I get to a place where I can paint again, I endeavor to work towards this goal of challenging myself by expressing and sharing my thoughts through paint, not just what I see.  I want to thank Georgia for her kindness and the legacy she left of senior artists of Marin.  I left tonight witnessing the most colorful sunset, that only a painter could have dreamed up.  What a fitting natural expression of a creative life that reminds us all to keep learning, growing and painting.  Thank you, Georgia!
Sunset on the Night of Georgia's memorial 1/11/15 (photo: C.Proppé)

Sunset 1/11/15 (photo: C.Proppé)