MATS Home Decor Weeks 3 + 4


whoa. how do nearly 5 weeks go by so fast?! Week 3 for the Home Decor class focused on glass and pattern. Here's where I landed:
This was the hardest week for me so far. I really enjoy how some of the pieces turned out (pink jug, smokey plate). There are times when you just know you need to go back to the paint/paper again rather than trying to force something in photoshop- and this week I just didn't have the time to start again. Ah well. Week 4 was all about hand lettering and ceramics. I was so excited for ceramics week but I was also traveling the entire time. I took my travel watercolor kit, wacom, laptop, and camera to San Fransisco and was able to work during Juniper's naps. She also had a fever for one of our days- so I got some extra work time in. First some progress shots:
For some time I've wanted to do some illustrations involving foreign words that we don't have english words for. In retrospect- these would make better spot illos or cards rather than something you eat off of or use to serve lemonade. But still- i loosened up and just had a bit more fun with the whole assignment: 
Here's a round-up of all my weeks so far:
I've definitely learned something new each week and pushed myself in new ways. The whole course has been pretty fantastic for experimenting and creating loads of new work! 

MATS Home Decor Weeks 1 + 2


When I heard about the newest Make Art That Sells course about designing a home decor collection- i had to sign up. I'm two weeks in and I'm trilled that I did! It's making my brain work in different ways- rather than just creating the illustrations- i get to think about specific products that could be made with my art on it! Week one focused on metal with birds- here's what I came up with:
This one came together so fluidly- birds+triangles+bird sounds+a few flowers all with a fairly limited color palette. Week 2 was fabric with flowers week. I knew I wanted to push myself and show MORE! I started here:
I was feeling happy about this one- light and airy, very neutral. But then I got a push from Lilla to consider varying the density of my patterns. I realized I had illustrated a lot of stem-y botanicals and didn't have much counterpoint to the airy/neutral side. So we went to this:

Getting better...I like how the lettering in the dark grey tea towel relates to week one. But I was still hating on my table lamps and rick rack. So here is where I landed next:

Since there are quite a few different bits and pieces in this- my goal was that you could pick any 3 and they would relate in some way. I love how the hanging lamp turned out- very neutral but dense. Probably the most fun thing was thinking about trims and pom poms and MEGA pom poms! But this version was a bit too busy- like there were one or two too many elements. So i tweaked and nudged till i got this:

and now i'll step fully away. (at least for a few hours) ;)

Thinking about versatility


Before all these Make Art That Sells courses I'd never really thought about the overall versatility of my artwork. What Lilla preaches is "Icons, icons, icons!"- so that individual bits of art can be reused on a variety of products and in many different ways. Learning this and seeing that even my hand-painted work is basically layers of icons ready to be dismantled and rearranged is pretty thrilling. I wanted to show the last two bootcamp assignments and how I've altered them to be used in more than one way.

First is the patterned sea life plate. Here is what I submitted for bootcamp, followed by a new landing illo for my website and a repeat pattern that will be up on Spoonflower soon.

Then we have an editorial assignment about digital nomads for June's bootcamp, followed by a Facebook header, and a pattern for my Spoonflower shop (i'm still waiting on samples for these patterns before they will be available for sale).

So there you have it- trying out being as versatile as possible while still being myself. (also- if you can't tell- i think i'm kinda obsessed with these muted colors with pops of dark coral and mustard) 

I'm failing at #The100DayProject and it's ok by me


Let me just preface this by saying that I think The 100 Day Project is wonderful. Creativity is definitely a muscle that needs to be worked. If you don't use it, you loose it. And committing to anything for an extended amount of time (especially beyond 30 days) creates habits. I didn't floss regularly for years- and then all of a sudden i just did it everyday. Now it's been 5 years and i can count on my hands the number of days i've missed flossing. (Enough about my dental hygiene- back to art.) One day I will do something like #The100DayProject and be "successful." This time around I failed pretty quick and I'm ok with that. It didn't make me a failure. It taught me about the valley (stick with me).

I began #The100DayProject by picking something that i wanted to improve on- warming up by doing a little drawing or painting before diving into working on a project. My intentions were good- I was excited and then I was sick one day and super busy the next- so I stockpiled a few warmups to show on instagram. And then it happened. I went into the valley. The creative black hole. The art void.

Sounds pretty dark and gloomy doesn't it? It can be and it definitely has been in the past. For me, the valley appears after having a few weeks of intense creative highs. New work, new success, crazy productivity! Wheeeeeee! But up ahead is the valley. When I see it coming I can prepare and am usually only in it for 2-3 days. If I don't see it- i find myself a bit caught off guard and that can add some extra time of wondering what the heck is going on.

So what happens in the valley? The bad: self doubt, ugly inner critic, jealousy, basically all that nasty stuff that derails creativity and overall happiness. The good: reflection, brainstorming, rest. The key is recognizing and embracing it. Using it for good can take many forms:
-Taking long walks and just thinking
-Reading magazines and books
-Listening to podcasts (The Accidental Creative is wonderful for the valley)
-Doing busy work or organization in your studio
-Playing with or learning a new medium
-Writing blog posts about the valley ;)
-Making lists. Lists of cute animals (otters!), lists of dream clients (Hygee & West!), lists of funny sounding body parts (medulla oblongata!). You get the picture.

This year it's been all about learning about myself as an artist- what I like most, what i'm best at, where I want to be in 5 years, etc. Learning about the valley, being able to see it coming a mile away, and using it for good has allowed those peak creativity-productivity times reach even new heights.

But what really brings on the valley? Does it line up with lunar cycles? Does it show up faster after eating ice cream? Will it always be there after meeting a big deadline? I think it's different for everyone and it can change without warning. Sometimes after a big project I am rip roaring and ready to go for the next one; sometimes I need to rest in the valley for a few days. Meditating and starting a (mostly) daily yoga routine (check out Yoga with Adriene) has really helped me tune into knowing when the valley is calling. And now that I know there is good work to be done there (see list above)- I'm totally down with hanging out in the valley. Plus- have you google-imaged "valley"? Yeah- it's pretty awesome. Even the dark and scary ones make me feel like "dude- if I went through that valley- i'd come out the other side pretty darn bad-ass!" (And probably feeling like i could take on anything- cue creativity-productivity!)

So that's that. This time around my version of #The100DayProject might take more like 132 days- and if that's "failing"- then that's ok with me. Oh, and if you ever find yourself in a valley and need a fellow creative/friend to show you around- feel free to give me a shout!

Poster Contest (guess what...I won!!)


April's Make Art That Sells Bootcamp assignment was to design a poster for their live Global Art Gathering happening this summer in Brighton, England. It was a slow start for me- I spent a few days just in my brain- letting it all stew. The thought process went something like this:

-maybe i should make a simple grid of icons 
-what could i do to make this more fun?
-tattoos? tattoo man? 
-wait?! is the "tattoed man" over-done? (check in with fellow illustrator, hubs, googles)
-tattoo LADY would be bad ass. 
-tattoo lady in swimsuit (not striped) with tats that nod at the event (mer-lilla, MATS house, folk-craft influences, Brighton landmark), trends (owl, pineapple), traditional tattoos (bird, lettering), and communicate event messages through hand-lettering. 

I then created a few roughs and even re-did most of the hand lettered tattoos a few times. Once I started going I knew I had a potentially really great idea and so I needed to make sure the execution was equally excellent. I chose to keep with the fonts that they gave us for the event (though we didn't have to- and were encouraged to explore hand lettering). I felt like it kept the whole poster on-brand and allowed both the info and the illo to stand out. They didn't get mushed together. The whole design took 2.5 days to make. I had a few other projects for the month that I needed to get done (and I work well when I just throw myself at a singular illustration for a few days). 

Once the bootcamp gallery was uploaded I knew that there could be a number of winners. So much talent and a variety of styles- so many of which would have made great posters! (I highly recommend checking them all out!)

When I got the email about winning I freaked out for 5 minutes and then continued to freak for the rest of the day. (who am i kidding?! I'm still freaking out!) I get to skype with the lovely Lilla Rogers for an hour AND have my poster all over Brighton! You can read their post about it here

MATS B - Round-up


Welp- here are all the Make Art That Sells part B assignments. Kinda fun to have them all together and realize just how much work I created in five weeks. I was also working on a few commissioned pieces during that time- but I think my favorite non-MATS piece i did was my llama pattern!

MATS B Week 5 - Party Paper


It was a bittersweet end to a fantastic course. This last week I went on vacation starting Wednesday so I had to have all my painted bits done really early in the week. I then brought my laptop and tablet to Arizona where I worked on my piece with palm trees, cacti, and love birds in the background. Not too shabby. I knew most people would be focusing on birds and flowers with the Bavarian/Ukrainian Folk theme- so I went with fish. Folky fish. A "Folk-sea" if you will. :)
I was happy with how it turned out given my vacationing circumstances. Also- since creating art with icons makes your work really versatile- you can easily turn bits from this into:
A little illustration for a card or print. Or into:

A cute fish pattern! 

I think that was the biggest takeaway from MATS- as Lilla says "icons, icons, icons." And it's true- when your work is versatile- the possibilities for different gigs is endless. Now it's time to get back to work and keep on crackin'!

MATS B Week 4 - Editorial

Good gracious- i'm so far behind on my blogging. Time to catch-up! Week 4 in Make Art that Sells B was one of my favorite (and arguably most successful) weeks yet. I knew it would be a map assignment and I was kind of dreading that I needed to do a map of Dubuque, Iowa. Then I found out that we could do a map of where we lived OR a favorite place. I could do Yosemite or Bloomington, IN, or somewhere else! But then I thought about it- and realized that illustrating Dubuque was a good opportunity to really look at our new city and challenge myself. (Thankfully Dubuque does have a lot of interesting old buildings, a river, and a noticeable german/irish Catholic influence). Here's what I made:
I adore how it turned out! It was so fun to draw such a variety of icons- from a nun and trout to an eagle and trolley!

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