Brownstone Pattern

I grew up in a suburb of Chicago, and always loved the Chicago brownstone style homes. For this blog post, I decided to do a mini process blog, and share the beginning to end process of making a pattern. I'll keep it brief but if you have any questions please post them in the comments and I'll check back to answer. 

First, I always start out with my sketchbook. I'll begin by just jotting down my concept and a few visuals. I then collect reference material. For this particular pattern, I knew I wanted it to be loosely-drawn and simplified, so I wasn't as concerned with details as I was with the overall shape and style of each house. 

For this project, I limited my drawing time and used one pen for all the details. Here's a few of the sketches I did before scanning my blackline drawings into the computer to digitize and colorize. 

When I begin working with color, I typically do it in Adobe Illustrator. I like to work at a brisk pace so I see results quickly. Part of what I love about Illustrator is how efficiently I can make things happen, and finally get to the point where I play around with pattern and layout. Which is obviously the BEST part. :)

Here are some of my in-progress colorizing:

The final fun step for this piece was to work with textures and paint in Photoshop. I cropped the pattern down to a size I love, and began painting and adding depth and texture to the houses, so no two look the same. The end-use of a pattern sometimes means that I don't do this step - but when I've created it for fun, I can paint to my heart's content. Here is the final brownstone pattern painted, and envisioned as a pair of gift bags. 

Brownstone Pattern ©2016 courtney beth keller 

Brownstone Pattern ©2016 courtney beth keller

Harvest Time! (Or What to Do When You're Stuck)

AdrianaB_800pxOCT.jpg

We all have those days when we feel like we cannot make anything new, or that our work is not working... those are symptoms of Artist's Block. And it is not a permanent condition, I promise!

November happens to be the perfect time to refill your creative cup in my opinion. It's the seasonal harvest time and you can harvest the fruits of all that art you've labored over throughout the year. It's the time to tap into past work and refine it 'til it's finished.

I love doodling and painting throughout the year. I try and make art every day, but some of it gets lost in the mix and I can't get to finishing it right away. For example, these leaves were painted in September, and I finally took the time to isolate all the icons, and imagine them as a Home Décor Autumn Table Set.

Then, there's the deep kind of harvesting, where you dig REALLY deep into your work. I do this when I've totally lost momentum, and am much too close to my current work to figure out where to go with it. I don't know about you, but I have these waves of super-productive art- making, and then I pick just a few from those sessions to refine. Some of those I didn't pick at first, I forget that I drew! So, here's where keeping a sketchbook, or posting regularly on Instagram comes in handy... I just look deep into my stacks of drawings, or my post history to see old sketches that look interesting to me.

Examples...See this rough dipping pen illustration in the gallery below? I drew it last year, and last month was the perfect time to finish it! See the rough watercolor? I finished up the leaves, added hand-lettering, and made a wreath!

And then there's burnout! You want to avoid getting to this point by giving yourself a break now and then (and also recognizing the signs of impending burnout in your demeanor). Know yourself and know your world

  • Leave your studio.
  • Take a walk or a jog.
  • Look at something totally different - a movie, performance, museum, the sky outside, the inside of your eyelids.
  • Make something different - knit, sew, cook, or just do something completely different.
  • Maybe you're the type of person who gets sensory overload. Try a bit of sensory deprivation for a bit to let things percolate. Then take a nap or just close your eyes for a bit (meditate), take a shower, or bath, or a swim.
  • Try a new art medium.
  • Talk to someone.

I hope these tips and tricks help you out when you're having a hard time making art. Sometimes artists just need a break from making. That's okay too. Don't forget you're not alone in this business of art-making. Every artist and creative struggles with these things.

-Adriana

 

A Cheery Sunny Tea Set

Hello Reader! It's Adriana writing today with a blog post on one of my recent projects...

 

Project Brief: Design a cheery tea set for a Sunny client. 1x tea cup, 1x saucer, 1x napkin

layout sketch and hand-lettering tests

layout sketch and hand-lettering tests

The brief called for the design of a teacup, saucer, and napkin... but who could resist not designing the entire set?! Not I! I love tea! 

What should it have on each piece? I'm not a big fan of the cabbage rose and, teensy, frilly flower on my tea sets as many traditional ones are decorated.  And lately, I've been really enjoying working with traditional printmaking methods especially linocut. I made a bunch of patterns and arrangements using stamps I made on my own, and some I took into the digital realm and began testing repeats that way. I was really excited to use my recent patterns on something I'd love to own and see every day. I'm a big fan of tea and the paraphernalia that comes with drinking it.

So I set about sketching and came up with a concept that I'd love to have in my own home. The sketch gave me a general idea of how I'd present my work, and then I set about testing colors.

My first tests with pink...

My first tests with pink...

Oh, I was so unhappy with this color combo! It's not me at all! I'd never buy it. After asking my fellow finches why I hated this so much, they reminded me I don't usually use pink in this way... and they're right, this is not really my shade of pink, nor do I own any pink tableware or pair it with sunshine yellow. Out went the pink!

Once the bright aqua and seafoam green went in, I was gelling. The work just came together so quickly. I knew I had to have sugar tongs and a sugar container, a little creamer, too! Lastly, I went to work balancing the tea-set. I wanted to have a nice mix and match tea set and napkins that could work in many different combinations. So the second saucer carried the more intense color, and the mugs match. The tea tray got a nice under-pattern and texture to match. Each piece had texture, shading, and depth added to create a finished look for presentation.

The final submission and complete tea-set.

The final submission and complete tea-set.

And there you have it! Tea for two... a cuppa for me and one for you!

Happy steeping!

-Adriana

Neverland

Hello!  This is Mara Penny, I'm back to share the beginning of my journey as I create a home decor line.  I'm taking Lilla Rogers and Margo Tantau's, Creating Collections for Home Decor, class and we just finished up our first week.  This will be the second time I've taken this course so I felt confident enough to bust out of the mold and forge my own path.

I have two elementary school aged kids.  A boy and a girl.  They share a room.  It's not great.  I'm definitely not a matchy-matchy theme girl but I do like things to go together.  That doesn't really happen in their room.  I'm creating this home decor line to address these problems.  I realize that I just said that I'm not crazy for themes but in this case I need a unifying idea.  I adore J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan books.  There's a lot going on them.  You'll find pirates, mermaids, Indians, fairies, talking stars, beasts, magic, mischief and grand adventures.  There's something for everyone!

We tackled metal in our first week.  When Peter first visits the Darlings' nursery his shadow accidentally detaches from him, this inspired me to create golden silhouettes of my children floating above a sea of black cast iron.  In another Peter Pan book, J.M. Barrie describes human parents writing descriptions of their desired children on folded paper boats or thrush's nests and sending them down the river.  In response the corresponding birds fly back over the river to the parents-to-be and transform into human children. I just love this imagery. I created a golden cast bronze nest for children to leave their teeth for the tooth fairy and a cast iron cloisonne bird bank because it would be rad!

You can follow along on my website for the next four weeks as I create more pieces from different substrates for my Neverland Collection!  Hope to see you there!

xo, mara