Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Summer Fabric Designs: Crickets and Fireflies

After a few months away from Spoonflower, I finally got back into it this summer.  I've been entering many of the weekly contests, which has been great practice and a lot of fun. 

Two of my summer designs were for the crickets and fireflies contests, and here are my designs.


I have to say that I was really happy with how each of these designs turned out; however they didn't do too great in the contests.  Go figure.  I can never predict which designs will make it to the top.  I usually vote for about half of them and the other half is always a complete surprise.  Therefore, I have to remember to design things I am happy with and know that not everyone will love it. 

I tried something a little different with my fireflies design.  I colored in the fireflies freehand using the brush tool.  I like how it looks imperfect, like they are doodles in a child's coloring book, making it a great design to decorate a kid's room with. 

The great thing about Spoonflower now is that you can also buy wallpaper, wall decals, and wrapping paper!  Wouldn't these be fun to wrap a child's birthday gift in? 

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Friday, September 13, 2013

I'm Still Here

Hi everyone!

Life has been busy over the past year since I started this blog.  It's been the best year of my life thanks to the decision I made to quit my job and go back to school for design.  I've met new people, had some great teachers, learned gobs of new things, and created like a mad woman.  And it will be continuing for another year.

This semester, I'm taking 3 art classes- life drawing, digital drawing, and art history; and 2 web design classes- HTML and Dreamweaver, and Flash.  It's been a crazy start to the year!  I have no doubt that I'll continue to learn at least a handful of new things every day.

Lately my mind has been going crazy with plans for the future.  I have a new idea at least once a week.  Business ideas, specialty areas, websites I want to create, freelancing, new techniques to try... the list goes on and on.  My husband hears me say all the time "Andy, guess what..." and then I get all serious and excited with probably this crazed look in my eyes like an animal that's been in a cage for the last decade and now is finally free to roam around.  I guess I'm nuts; but in a good way.

A fun project I have in the works right now in my digital drawing class:

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Abstract Pastel Drawing

School update!
One of our drawing projects this semester was to take a still life and abstract it.  We first drew the still life realistically (mine had a pedestal, grapes in a small pot, two flowers in a large bottle, a leafy plant in a pot, flourescent lights and poles in the background, and lots of tall leafy greens in the foreground). We then studied the objects and broke them down into basic shapes.  Then we did some sketches and chose one to be our final drawing while focusing on shapes, lines, overall composition, and a split complimentary color scheme.
We could decide to what extent the abstraction was (mine was on the far end of the spectrum), what colors to use, how the objects would be arranged, if we wanted it to be flat or have dimension, and if the space would be realistic or ambiguous. 
Here's about halfway through, as I was getting my basic colors in place:
I gave some objects some sort of dimension with some highlights, and I wanted my space to be ambiguous- so I tried to have my objects "fall into" each other, overlap in odd ways, and not make a lot of sense. 
Close to being done, with some colors that have yet to be blended & some spaces yet to fill in:

I really like how it turned out!  It has been, by far, my favorite drawing to complete.  The process was enjoyable from beginning to end.  I think abstraction is my thing. 

And here's some details with just a few of the many many many things my amazing drawing teacher has taught me! 

I love you, school!

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Saturday, April 13, 2013

For the U.S. History Teachers teaching the Great Depression

A big part of what I think about on a daily basis, is how to use my new graphic design skills to

a) help people
b) make myself happy
c) be successful possibly working from home
d) incorporate my teaching skills

I created this Great Depression info sheet for my sister, who is a seriously awesome new teacher.  I asked her to try out this idea with her class to see if anyone liked it, and to see if it was helpful.  So I thought I'd post it here in case it can be helpful to any History teachers out there in the world! 

I know FDR looks pretty weird, but you know... any attention grabber with high schoolers is probably a good thing. 

Fingers are crossed that if you click on the image, you'll be able to print it full quality.  But if not, please let me know and I will gladly email you a high quality PDF.

Happy weekend!

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Abstract Pastel Self Portrait

Art teachers must love to have students draw self portraits, because this is my third one in my first year of school. 

If you missed my first two, here's my digital portraits here, and my painted/ stamped one here.

This one, we did with soft pastels, and it had to be abstract using complementary colors.

We were asked to take time studying our face in the mirror, and thinking about the planes of our face and what basic shapes each feature looked like.  Some of my shapes were just too weird... I hated making my nose like a triangle or rectangle, and even the basic circles for eyes were not doin' it for me.  I tried a couple close-eyed versions, and turning my nose to the side in profile, and that was better. 

So here are some of my sketches along with my first try which I didn't love. 

And here's the final version along with some close ups!

I blended everything on the face, smoothed the streaks in the hair to make them less dramatic, added some highlights and left the background streaky with a smorgasbord of lines.

What do you think?  Kinda creepy, right? 

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Friday, February 22, 2013

that one time i drew the unclothed mannequins

Here they are in all their glory.

Snicker, snicker... giggle, giggle... tee hee hee...

But in all honesty, I am so proud of this one (Though PLEASE ignore that horrible bottle!  I mean come on, Emma, ugh.)  I am incredibly happy with how much I've learned and grown in a few short months. 

I was nervous to draw "humans" because I haven't taken the life drawing class yet, but I ended up loving it.  My favorite part is the speckled front mannequin, I like the dimension I think I was able to give her, especially in the collarbone area and head.  I also like the left side of the drapery and the antlers. 

In other news:  this is my 100th post!  Perfect.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

the saga of the pastels

I mentioned in my last post that I've been struggling somewhat with using soft pastels in drawing class. 

Well, here's how it all started. 

I spent a whole day doing this drawing, my first pastel drawing, and then about 10 minutes after finishing and cleaning up, I was hit with the worst stomach flu ever of my life.  I then spent the next two days feeling sorry for myself and for my also-sick husband.  And I began associating my horrible nausea with my pastel drawing; therefore scarring me for life. 

Seriously, I couldn't even look at my art supplies or those cups or reindeer or any part of that still life for days.  When I had to go to drawing class 3 days later, I was practically horrified. 

But alas, me and pastels are working on our relationship, and I think it's about back to 100% okay with each other. 

Sooooooo, back to this assignment.  We had to set up a still life with an analagous color scheme and draw it using pastels, with some parts realistic and some parts abstract.  We could pretty much decide how it would all work together, but it was practice for our next 3 big in-class pastel drawings, which are to be realistic, then abstract, then non-representational. 

Here's how the drawing went.  I decided to simplify and abstract the tulips, ornaments, and apples.

And a side by side for my mom :)

I'm happy with how it turned out, but ARRRGGHH that was a bad day!!!

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Illustration Friday- WOOL

This week's illustration topic was wool!  Fun!  I couldn't wait to try out something new, and here's how it ended up. 

I love the look of a mix of traditional and digital techniques, and I've really been wanting to play with it more to see what I can come up with.  So here's how I got this particular look.

We've been working with soft pastels in drawing class, so I thought I'd give them a try this week to draw some sheep.  To be honest, I've been struggling with them for some reason, so any chance to use them more is a good thing.  Then I added a streaky sky with my watercolor pencils.  And here's the image I started with:

Not too pretty yet.  But I knew I was going to just use it to play around digitally, so it didn't have to look great or finished at this point.  So first I scanned it and deepened the colors a bit in Photoshop.  Then I took it into Illustrator and tried the different live trace settings to see how I could get it to look. 

I ended up liking parts of the Color 6, Simple Trace, and Comic Book versions, so I saved each of them and then took everything back into Photoshop.

That's when I got to have fun, cut apart the images, use the parts I liked & delete what I didn't like, mess with the layer modes, rearrange, flip, duplicate parts, change the colors, and basically collage everything into my final image!

How do you think it turned out? 

You can go check out all the other "wool" themed illustrations at Illustration Friday!

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Illustration Friday- Wheels


As soon as I saw last week's topic of wheels, this image almost immediately came to mind after deciding to go with pinwheels.  Isn't he cute?  I sort of think he's my husband as a kid. 

The stomach flu chewed us up and spit us out earlier this week, but I had to get this entry in just at the buzzer!

Happy weekend, everyone!

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Illustration Friday- Wings

I've been seeing some bloggers and artists mentioning the website Illustration Friday and I thought I'd go see what it was all about. 

It's a fun weekly art challenge that anyone can participate in.  Each week there is a theme, and you can draw, paint, create, doodle, etc. your interpretation of the theme, and then link up your image for all to see! 

I think this is a good chance for me to try new techniques and topics that I may not do for myself or for school work, and it will be a good way for me to learn more and experiment without any pressure to make it 'perfect.'

This week's topic was WINGS.

I drew this in ink in my little 7x7 sketchbook, and I didn't even plan it out right and it ran off the page, hence the obvious break in the page right at the swan's head. 

Then I scanned it, painted it loosely in Photoshop and then ran the sponge filter on the paint layer. 

It's actually based off of a bird called the whooper swan I found in an article in National Geographic magazine.  The pictures were so beautiful; the swans are really plain bright white with black feet, and the setting was a snow covered wonderland. 

Are there any other art/ drawing challenges I should know about? 

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Australian Animals Fabric + Contest

This week's Spoonflower contest is all about the amazingly loveable animals of Australia!  I had so much fun designing this fabric and I love the way it turned out.  Today I thought I'd share my design process.
I tend to get an immediate picture in my head when I first start a design, whether it be fabric for Spoonflower, a print or card for Etsy, or a project for school.  But once I have an idea to start with, it may change depending on how it looks once I start sketching things out and arranging them on the computer.
I'm lucky to be in a graphic design program that is part of what I believe is a solid art program.  My teachers believe in learning traditional art methods as well as the Adobe programs.  Even though it is just a two year program, it includes three semesters of drawing, as well as separate 2-D and 3-D design classes, in addition to many others.  My graphic design teacher also emphasizes sketching several thumbnail ideas before beginning work on the computer, which I love.
For this fabric, I knew I wanted to include animal silhouettes, so I began by sketching the animals I chose.  Absolutely nothing fancy.  

I scanned in my sketchbook pages, darkened the lines using Levels in Photoshop, and then placed the images in Illustrator so I could trace the outlines, fill in the shapes, and fix up anything that didn't look quite right.

I have to admit, I was sort of impressed with myself at this point.  It was like "ohmygoshthosearesocuteANDYCOMELOOKATMYANIMALS!!"  God bless him for looking every single time I asked him to :)  And I hope I'm not totally immature and annoying for getting excited about making something I think looks good.  But look at the funny kookaburra with the big head!  And the tough little cute ferocious tasmanian devil!

Next up was the fun part- arranging everything!  Here's where I played with colors, created my color palette, mixed up the sizes, duplicated shapes, added the circles and background, and made sure it looked visually balanced and would repeat well as a fabric design. 

At this point, I am sort of thinking about composition and design elements that I've learned in school, but a lot of it is also just my natural instinct, and what looks right to me.  I spend a lot of time making small adjustments, scooching objects a hair this way or that, changing colors, scaling things up or down, looking at the spaces between objects, etc. until I'm satisfied with how it looks to me.

I did some things in this fabric that I think give it depth and interest, such as overlapping the shapes in the foreground and adding the on-purpose unevenly spaced horizontal and vertical lines in the background.  It was amazing how much adding those stripes changed the way the whole design looked!

Here's how the design repeats at the size of a fat quarter for you sewers and quilters out there.

I think it's my favorite fabric creation so far!  What do you think? 
If you like it, please go vote in the contest!
Is your creative process anything like mine, or completely different?

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

This update brought to you by...

Hello from little Pep Pep!

I've brought out the "big camera" as I call it and have started practicing with it again because I'm in a digital photography class this semester!

We have not one, but TWO local professional photographers who are team teaching it; and I feel like I have just won the lottery!  Not many people get this opportunity, I don't think. 

Classes are going well, and this semester will be different because I have two classes that are not art related.  One is business math and one is computers.  I'm actually excited for the math class because unlike a lot of people, I really like math.  In fact, it was my first college major!  Ha...  me and my majors have been around the block a time or two.  But me and math didn't last too long once I sobbed my sorry way through Calculus II. 

You guys, I am trying so hard to find time to blog, but after taking some time off around the holidays, I'm slow getting back into it.  I've been brainstorming what it is I REALLY want to say, show, and talk about.  Is it school?  Design?  My career change?  Literacy?  Daily life?  DIY Projects?  I'm trying to figure it out, but I hope to be back more regularly soon. 

Is there any type of post you like the best?  Should I have a focus, or just do what I feel like from day to day? 

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New Thank You Cards in Boju Designs!

Remember this ink drawing I did when I was snowed in over Christmas break?

I really liked it, but I didn't know if it would work well just as a print to frame, so I decided to try note cards!


I had so much fun coloring these digitally in Illustrator, and it was so satisfying to see something that I had hand-drawn come to life on the computer.  I decided to go with four different crops and four different color schemes and include one of each in the set. 

You can check them out in my shop here.

What do you think?  I already have some other ideas for cards filling my brain, but I'm curious, what would you like to see as a card?

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Friday, January 4, 2013

Snake Scale Chevron Fabric

Hi everyone!

I was so excited to be able to design a new fabric over Christmas break and enter it in the current Spoonflower contest: Year of the Snake.

I knew I wanted it to be abstract, and once I had the scales placed, I played with different color patterns.  I started with vertical wavy stripes, but then switched to a chevron pattern and really loved the way it looked.  I'm also really happy with the fun colors.

Here's the screen shot of the fabric from my shop, a fat quarter size.

What do you think?

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