Tuesday, 29 October 2013

WEEK 3 - Childrens Picture Books

As explained in post below I was very much looking forward to this week. I always harboured a wish to illustrate a picture book from an early age. Once again Lilla provided us with loads in inspiration & insight into this field. The mini brief was asking us to draw many birds with various expressions and develop them into a character.

The second half was to work on some hand type that read 'The Language of the Birds'  Again another area I really find enjoyable, and got quite carried away late one evening.

Well it turns out the story we would be basing our assignment on was a Russian folk story about Ivan who is taught wait for it...the language of the birds...by a magical bird after he saves her chicks. Then Ivan has a eventful journey to a new land where he ends up marrying the kings daughter after helping out with some irksome crows.

I had many ideas for layouts and which parts of the story I could illustrate, and did become very bogged down with it all. Lilla came to the rescue with a post on FB. She wanted us to interpret this story however we wished, and make it 'easy' for ourselves. We also had to be mindful of the deadline ( if we wanted to post in Flikr) and having spent a huge amount mental & physical energy on weeks 1&2 I decided to just step back a bit, and just ENJOY the JOY of this process and use it as an springboard.

I have decided that a few days produce client ready pieces is a tall order for me. I have time enough after MATS to go back and tweak, and explore more styles and techniques. And there will be other courses I'll be taking in 2014 to help me achieve my goals ( thats another post)

Back to Ivan - ummm character work for kids was always a challenge. So it was time for Pinterest- I looked at everything from early Disney to 1960's book covers. I think I drew Ivan about 20 times, with dots for eyes? with freckles?  with a neckerchief ?..and what sort of folkys outfit should he wear?

Towards the end I did seriously SERIOUSLY doubt my layout - maybe there were too many birds or the colours were too much? And I called into question what my hand type was really trying to convey. I tried to push them to one side and just remembered I did have lots of fun and had been kinder to myself. Further more I was here to learn by letting go of what I thought I 'SHOULD' do. I do adore my book cover and am already thinking of layouts for this story.

Children's Picture books & me

I had been looking forward to this the most in this half of Lilla's course...picture books are very close to my heart. It goes like this....

I'm 8 years old and reading in a prefab shed that serves as an extra class room for my school. Although its really reserved as a boot camp for kids who find reading, writing and comprehension very challenging. Having immigrated to the UK aged 5 I still found following lessons in class tough, and spent a few hours each week in that musty prefab.

However I have discovered the great trick of scanning the faces & body language of the picture book characters and hoping the words match! I ended up reading picture books for many many years to catch up with my classmates. They would be on Famous 5 and I was pouring over The Hungry Catapiller. Whilst improving my reading skills they also bought great delight. Picture books with humorous characters, fairy tales, strange animals, strange lands, there was so much to choose from- thats why I simply adore them. I tried to channel that inner child when working on this weeks assignment.

Monday, 21 October 2013

These are Octobers best sellers...

I recently worked on single fruit images to Shutterstock, something I've been been meaning to do for ages. They've been selling well, with oranges and passion fruit doing the rounds, and very popular in China ?!

And surprisingly these tomatoes and this particular Thanksgiving image.

WEEK 2 Home Decor.., finding my way forward with drawing

I was really looking forward to this module, and I was not disappointed. It was another very intense week but also incredibly fun. With the starting point of bromeliads as a mini assignment, I explored these funky succulents further. There were so may shapes, with spikey and almost geometric elements. And the colours stunning - so much to get into.

The home decor assignment was to design a series of plates. I was concerned the examples in Lillas overview were very painterly- something I have a resistance to ( but that's another blog) I feel drawing has always been my strength, however I was uncertain if this would enough to pull me through. It wasn't until I viewed Lillas about 'finding joy' that I believed I could tap into my sheer gleeful happiness when drawing. Also I just adore orchids, my grandma kept hundreds of the ( in Burma ) and I have a few in my kitchen.

As I drew them I came to 'understand' the lines dots and markings towards the middle of each flower head. I feel this was a mini breakthrough because I find it a challenge to 'abstract' a drawing or develop them further. Yet I became fascinated by these markings and doodled a page of abstract marks inspired by these orchids. Then I started 'seeing' in feathers too, inspired by birds of paradise. I was so enamoured by these new found dots and lines they featured in the background of my plate designs.

Dream home decor job...a half forgotten joy

Lilla starts each module with a generous overview of the market we'll be concentrating on that week. Also in the home decor overview she mentioned to pursue anything that interests you, as that genuine joy will come through in your work. And its all part of what makes me, ME & unique, which of course is incredibly important. It set me thinking down this path...

I'm a Advanced Open Water diver & I love tropical fish & I'm proud of it.

My other half though I was crazy when I announced I wanted to learn to dive off a tiny in Malaysia - I can barely swim! However I was totally hooked. That first dive was so colourful, vibrant, & the vast array of wondrous new stuff that was out of this world almost blew my mind. Maybe it was the weightlessness or the yoga like mindful breathing that also contributed to this passion.

My BCD, wetsuit & weights are long gone but I often think about the cobolt clear waters & dazzling fish. A dream home decor assignment would be a collection based on tropical fish studies. I just had to quickly doodle butterfly fish - so my different markings, and funky eye masks, some look mournful, some look cheeky ooohh...

Almost forgot...this were I was at...

I wanted to post this pic of a greetings card designed for Magi. Rather unusually they sent me a sample. I feel its nice enough but it doesn't fill me with joyous emotions.

In fact I gave away a HUGE box of my old greeting card samples to my friends to pass round amongst themselves as I have no need for them. They served a purpose and they were part of my learning but I'm now making way for new energies and influences by decluttering.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013


The whirlwind that was week 1 of the Make Art That Sells has abated slightly while we await the week 2 brief.

When I posted my finished design on Facebook ( and on Flikr ) I wrote 'Challenging is an understatement...' Having no prior experience of textiles or fabric design this opened up a whole new world of opportunities, a chance to try something new..right?! I felt there was a huge gap, a gulf even between my doodles or pen and ink work ( that I loving produced during the mini exercise)  and what was expected from manufacturers seeking a super bolt fabric design.

I couldn't get my head round translating my line work into 'icon's that were needed to make up the bulk of the design. Sure the pyrex dishes were retro & funky but about the berries. I was under the assumption ( rightly or wrongly) that linework for fabric design had to be stylised and almost abstract. I hit a road block on the Friday, two days before the deadline - I was feeling the fear. 

Now it gets kooky. I meditated on what I should do. I thought very long and hard about times in my life when I was excited to create art. I had to travel back quite a way. An image of the print room at my old uni sprang to mind...ok print room, silk screens, etching, collograph, monoprints.....that was it. I used the mirror of a old bathroom cabinet to print off, the shapes of the pyrex dishes and lil blobs for the berry shapes. I hadn't been gleefully happy with a paintbrush in hand for years.

Almost every image I had was scanned and then traced in Illustrator. Then I had a small break through - the linework placed on top of the monoprints looked marvellous. Although playing with the layout was like some mad suduku game, which bit fits where to complete the challenge.

I'd like to add that I was still doodling for Shutterstock in the evenings, and helping my kids with homework, wiping the cooker & faces etc. until they were in bed. Time management has to be more of a priority next week.

So I finally uploaded late Saturday evening, after playing with the colours and co-ordinates one last time. The relief was immense, but I was also wildly elated. The amount of times I had to wrestle and knock down that negative self talk that cropped up at inopportune moments. I was also rather proud that I had put something out there that wasn't a doodle. 

Having the Facebook group was a fascinating experience. I hadn't worked in a studio since my eldest was born. The Facebook MATS community was so supportive and enthusiastic it was a revelation after years of working from home away from my creative friends.

 It remains to be seen if my design fits the bill for the bolt fabric market. However the main thing is how far I have travelled creatively, I feel there could be some mile stones in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

BOLT FABRIC Make Art that Sells - week 1

So here we are. On Friday I signed into the MATS Facebook group & introduced myself. I felt a bit awkward about posting an image but I though what the heck I'm here to improve and expand and explore...& beyond

There was much anticipation on Monday morning when I got back from the school run. To begin with was some wonderful guiding info about the bolt fabric industry and some insights into the different image categories that sells. This was really useful for someone like me as I only had a basic knowledge gleaned from my surface pattern friends

 The mini assignment this week as to explore and draw berries and retro Pyrex dishes. Fabulous I thought - permission to draw for my pleasure - with a purpose though.

I went out with my camera and took pics and gathered berries I found in the green spaces around my  house. I had SO much fun doing this and spent almost the entire day just with my berries using (ols school) pen and ink, coloured pencils and oil pastel at one point. I knew at some point I wanted to render the berries in my brush pen and explore there shapes further. 

I was lucky enough to have two retro pyrex dishes of my own but there was a wealth of images online. I love love reto and spent the evening looking at all the patterns and shapes. 

All this time there were messages & uploads on Facebook with sketches and doodles of what other on the course were doing almost in real time. That was a fantastic feeling knowing that we were all in this together. I was amazingly inspired by the diversity ranges of styles and experiences.

Alas my Shutterstock work was calling me and I had to bid a fond farewell for the day....

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Its about to start...Make Art That Sells group 2

Yipppppyayayay. It seems like I've been waiting to start this course for ever. When it was launched earlier this year ( May ? ) I didn't feel the time was quite right, emotionally, spiritually or financially. MATS was my goal, so I dug my heels in and found a solution that would work around the kids and finances. And here I am...I'm so excited I'm literally jumping around. Learn more about the course HERE

Today I had some images that I felt would inspire me on the walls of my work space, which is different from my Mac space. All the things that get piled up in that room are now in the garage for the next 5 weeks. I've printed out all the paperwork, filled in the mini questionaire. Also handwritten a note to myself that I AM CONFIDENT/ TALENTED/SMART/ ENOUGH. 

So I have all my lovely inks, pens paints, masses of papers lined up just waiting in anticipation for the Mini Assignment for Bolt Fabric.  I'll be posting more about what I get up to on this magical journey...hope I've packed enough underwear!