MATS Week 4 - Wall Art


I am in disbelief that four weeks have already gone by. Last week was wall art- I challenged myself to stay away from my typical process of paint/scan/photoshop collage/edit/add detail. I wanted to do it all by hand. I found last week fun, invigorating, agonizing, and difficult. For some reason- even though this was supposed to be our "free and easy" week- I really struggled. We each had a color scheme based on our bday (mine was blue/green), we needed it to be square, abstract, include some floral imagery, and a word or phrase. We were also encouraged to use collage elements. To me this felt like more "restrictions" than the previous week's "illustrate Tortoise & Hare, use hand-lettering" assignment. But I can see how many people found the wall art more enjoyable.

I'll show you what I ended up with- and then the steps that got me there...
There are many layers of gesso on this bad-boy- but I actually really like how it turned out. Although it feels different than my other work- it still has aspects of it that resonate with the other pieces. One of the hardest things for me was choosing a word. I didn't want to go super-inspirational and I didn't want to go too obscure. "Forage" fell perfectly in the middle between "Discover" and "Paidia & Ludus" (hub's suggestion). 

I started three canvases at once- all covered in a patchwork of green/blue inky squares. Here are parts of the two that did not make the cut:

There are elements in each that I like- but I'm so pleased with the minimal imagery and maximal texture I was able to get in my finished piece. I'm currently in the home stretch of week 5- can't wait to show you how this Make Art That Sells part A ends up!

Also- if you haven't seen my website update (full of new work)- check it out HERE!

MATS week 3 - Children's Books


I was probably most nervous for this week of Lilla Rogers's Make Art That Sells course. First of all, I haven't drawn characters (aside from my chipmunk cheek animals) in a long time (really ever?!). I also don't really do scenes. Characters + scenes = children's book. Anyhoo, coming off feeling great about last week's assignment- I decided to push my fears aside, create an illustration that felt like "me" and that I would be drawn to on a book shelf. The first part of the assignment was creating a tortoise character. I did a few pages of sketches/paintings- and felt like I landed upon something with these guys:
I really liked their texture, awkwardness, and googly eyes. For some reason I didn't want a green tortoise. I knew that for the final illo I wanted the colors to be informed by the scene/season. After doing these I felt like they belonged in a desert. The assignment was to illustrate the cover or a spread of The Tortoise and the Hare incorporating some hand lettering. Once I had them in the desert- I knew I wanted my lettering to be more "western" styled. Here's how my final turned out:
I love this color palatte! I experimented with some different textures/brushes in photoshop and really enjoy the result. I was able to complete this with a few days to spare (I worked hard early on because I felt a cold coming on and really wanted to just rest up this weekend). But in my experience work begets work- so I took the extra time I had and worked up this little pattern...
I think I have conquered my fear of characters (the googly eyes were key is this!). This idea of space cats was just floating aimlessly around my brain earlier in the week- so I had to follow through with it. The hubs thinks it would make a great sheet set and i have to agree. 

MATS Week 2 - Home Decor


Week two - BAM! Man this is flying by! This week's home decor inspiration came in the form of suzanis. These are gorgeous embroidered textiles from Uzbekistan. Right away I thought I really wanted to do something celestial. This changed to doing the zodiac- which eventually led to whistling goats. So how did I get from point A to point G? I was working hard on making the zodiac work- but it felt like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole- and the results were not feeling fun, quirky, or effortless. So i took a deep breath and simply changed direction...

NOT AT ALL!! More like I freaked out, stayed up way too late scouring the interwebs, and made furious doodles in my sketchbook. I was not going to be able to sleep unless I had a new direction. Then I met this dude:
How could I not be inspired by mr. Markhor the wild goat of Uzbekistan?! I quickly began doing some large/medium/small ink paintings of forms inspired by suzanis. I wanted the large ones to feel very loose and have a real "inky" quality to them. From the get-go I envisioned my plates being sold as dessert plates in Anthropologie- they do not shy away from quirky, hand-painted work. Here's what I ended up submitting: 
While I was first making these I had the plants and markhors different colors but once I unified them with the blue everything else fell into place. 

Since I didn't want to have these plates on my website (I kinda feel like unless they are actually made into plates- they should be presented as an illustration- therefore could be used for different applications) I merged them together and created this:
now someone could look at it and see wallpaper, fabric, plate, or any other application. Thank you whistling markhor for making this week's assignment really enjoyable!

MATS Week 1 - Bolt Fabric


Ok- so week one is done. We focused on the bolt fabric market- which to be honest I had never considered for myself. I even went into the week thinking "well- i'm more interested in wallpaper- so that's what I'll design my pattern for." Thankfully I got that thought out of my head or else i would have missed out on really learning about this exciting and fun market. The week started out with sketching root veggies and pyrex. Not being terrible excited about the shapes of pyrex casseroles- i focused on root veggies and pyrex patterns. here's some of that preliminary work:
As you can see- the icons on the left were the ones I narrowed in on for the final pattern. I felt like I needed to figure out my color scheme before refining the pattern itself- so I did a few rough color-way studies:
At this point in the week I was approached for a small (5 spots) illo job and we decided to travel to chicago for the weekend. I was feeling pressured to just finish up the main pattern and coordinates so I worked hard on wed/thurs to get to this:
I love how dramatic the colors are- it really stands out. I'm not sure if it would appeal to customers looking for kitchen fabric- but I do enjoy the play between bold shapes/delicate lines. It also would fit into my portfolio- so that feels nice. In looking back now and after listening to Lilla's final lesson I would change up the coordinate patterns and make those more special/hand illustrated (though I do like the geometric against the illustrations).

Anyhoo- I had a few free hours on Saturday to do some work so I took those veggies and turned them into their own separate recipe illustration:
kinda fun eh? 

Overall thoughts on Make Art That Sells so far? I think it's great. There is so much inspiring talent, so much encouragement and support, and a ton of enriching information. I'm so thankful I worked really hard the two weeks before MATS to get into my making art groove, re-look through and edit my website, and hone in on what makes my art mine. Looking forward to next week!

Make Art That Sells


ahk! I'm like a nervous 3rd grader the week before school starts (who am i kidding?!- i was nervous/excited EVERY school year). Next week I am starting up Lilla Rogers's Make Art That Sells (Part A) online course. It's a big investment in both time (5 weeks for part A and 5 weeks for part B) and money. It was not an easy decision to sign up for the class- but I'm at a spot with my art where I need some directed assignments and I want to find out the best way to put my art out there for specific markets. The way the course is set up is that each week focuses on a different kind of illustration market (surface design, wall art, children's books, etc.). I've been so fortunate to not have to do much to go after the jobs I've gotten- people have found me. But I also realize that this might not last forever and I don't want to be sitting around, making art, and not knowing how to present it to specific markets. So in I go!

One of my main concerns going in is that I'll come out of this course with 10 strong pieces that don't feel like Katie Vernon. I've been doing loads of sketching/painting/playing this past week to work out my art muscles and try to figure out what that aesthetic is (more on that in another post).

Thankfully the other week I met with Emily Balsley - a fellow illustrator and kindred spirit in Madison who went through MATS A+B and survived. She had an overall great experience with it, met a wonderful online community of artists through it, and has done great things with what she learned. Yay Emily!

Anyhoo- I'm going to be blogging weekly about the course/my process/finished pieces. So stay tuned!

(the ship illustration above is a combination of various illustrations/sketches that I've done over the past 5 years- it was fun/challenging to try to piece them together)

White + Black + Gold


I just spent many a hour gold leafing this year's batch of Season Calendars. Most of them are headed to the sweet NYC shop Catbird- but I will have about 25 for sale in my etsy shop (they'll be up on Monday- so act fast). This is the third year for this calendar and I still love it- simple, unique, and GOLD! There's something about gold leaf that makes everything more awesome. Although it's a mess to work with- it's ultra-satisfying to see something that's hum-drum black and white turn into wham-bam-glam- white, black and gold (W-B-G)! I'd say the only negative for gold is that a scan or photograph doesn't do it justice.

I guess all this gold leafing rubbed off on me- the other day i was doing some painting exercise (gotta keep the muscle going!) with just black ink and before i knew it a gold paint pen was in my hand and taking over! W-B-G!

2015 Calendars in shop!


If you follow me on instagram (thekatiev) - you'll have seen snippets of these over the last few weeks. They are finally done! I've used herbs, plants, and colors that promote specific positive outcomes and intertwined them all in lovely "Healing Wreaths." I'm very please with how they turned out and haven't picked a favorite yet. 

These 11x14 wall calendars are available right now in my etsy shop ($25)- and prints without the calendar will be up soon. 

moving forward


I've been working on a few pieces for a show at Gather back in Bloomington. The theme is "Home" and I was crazy-inspired by the nests of sociable weaver birds. The structure itself as well as its function is incredible. I envisioned a very simple ink painting with a few details. While I was picking up paper I noticed some wood boards that looked interesting and decided to grab a few to try them out. Instead of ink I went with acrylic/gouache/pencil- materials i used back in undergrad. It was enjoyable going back to them- but they weren't creating the feel i wanted. I continued to push forward and layer and layer until i really just had some blobs on wood boards. Here's the blobular evidence:

Although I could have just sent these to the gallery and been done with it- I realized i was missing an opportunity to move my work/portfolio forward. I've loved working with acrylic ink and am at a point with my website where things are all starting to almost feel happy-cohesive. So here are the new versions of the sociable weaver nests- the first two are each 5x7s and the last one is 11x14. If you're in Bloomington this fall- make sure to pencil in October 3rd to see the group show at Gather and check out these arts in person (so much prettier!)... 

I love giving up some control with how the ink moves around and mixes with the main shape and then re-introducing some control/restraint with the smaller details. Hooray for moving forward! 

KV All rights reserved © Blog Milk Powered by Blogger