traditional and digital media - how I fell in love with both

By Bryony Clarkson

Those of you that are familiar with the work I have been producing over the past few years will know that I am a massive fan of traditional media, especially paper collage, as a way of creating my designs. I LOVE the hands-on process of cutting and sticking the bits of paper, the flexibility to move the design around before I glue it in place and the ability to add scribble details with pens and pencils. Very often, a design will emerge that is very different from one that I set out to make, and I love that too. It all helps my drawing to evolve and gives it a distinctive style that is all mine. 

So when I was required to travel away from home and pack light, recently I had a work dilemma. I couldn't take a full on studio of boxes of paper, scissors, pencils and glue, so I was forced to think differently. My solution was the iPad Pro with digital pencil. 

I was already familiar with photoshop, as I use it to edit my collage work, so using the Procreate app feels pretty intuitive. It works on the same principle of layers and there is a great range of brushes that are very adaptable. It is super easy to carry around and I find that I can work for a long time without needing to recharge the battery. 

Here is one of the early pieces that I made, just to test out the brushes and mark making available. 

Once I had got to grips with my favourite brushes, I quickly got straight into designing. My process is to sketch straight onto the iPad screen and then create a layer in which I block out the basic shapes in colour, followed by adding layers with markmaring and details. I love the clarity of colour that I can get on the screen and the flexibility to make changes to the design by editing layers. 

I have been working on a series of festive designs for the upcoming season, and when I look back at them, I can see elements of my own style coming through that chimes well with my traditional work, like a handwriting that carries through all of my work.

So what next? Well, I won't be working purely digital, as I sometimes miss the hands-on nature of traditional work, but I think that the ideal for me will be to combine the two processes in one design - scanned collages with digital detailing. Watch this space, once I am back to my studio...! 

 

 

The concept of beauty and my quest for perfection!

 

Bonjour (Hello!) 

My name is Laurence Lavallée or Flo. I am a new member at Finch and Foxgloves. I am so pleased to be part of this amazing group of artistes. 

Who is Flo?

Quick introduction: I started calling myself an artist only last year but I have been working on building my illustration and pattern skills for 3 years. Mum of 2, I lived in Manchester in the United of Kingdom for 10 years before moving back to the motherland, Montréal in Canada last May.

This big move was the best time to declutter not only the household but my life in general. Starting fresh and taking my art career seriously was also at the top of the list.

Because most of our personal items were shipped by boat, we were living for 3 months with the bare minimum and I have to admit I loved it. It just forces you to be resourceful. Fewer objects-toys-clothes-dishes = less mess = less cleaning!

However all my art materials, sewing machine, paint and papers were on the boat. I only brought with me a couple of ink pens and a very limited watercolour palette. Plus for 3 months I was computer-less…meaning I was lost. 

I put my positive pants on and I started to draw and paint everyday. At first, I was very uncomfortable as I alway finish my art on the computer so I can modify and erase mistake and make it perfect. I was getting very frustrated because I was constantly trying to achieve perfection so I could post on my social network beautiful and finished drawings. Maybe it’s my background in Architecture that was dictating this quest for perfection, no wobbly lines and the perfect symmetry.

Series of 3 Portraits: experimenting with ink and watercolours...no computer!

Series of 3 Portraits: experimenting with ink and watercolours...no computer!

I started to question myself: why do I want everything to be perfect? 

Is it more beautiful? 

What is my definition of beauty? 

As a matter of fact, I define a beautiful person as somebody who has charm, whose little imperfections makes them different and quirky, somebody who has a unique style and who has a magical and contagious smile. So if this represents beauty to me, I should than apply the same rules to my art. What a revelation! I felt like a heavy weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I felt free! No more worry, no more thinking when drawing, just letting myself go. Leaving the word perfection at the door when creating opened a new world, and I am now happy to say I finally found my voice and a style which I am comfortable with! Being ME through my art and forgetting about perfection was the missing puzzle on my quest to find MY style and for the first time I feel comfortable drawing a wobbly line!  

Here are 3 sketches embracing my imperfections...

People buy your joy! as Lilla Rogers said. That means if you enjoy the process of creation then your art will shine! I am ready to make my art shine!

- Laurence (aka Flo)

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

 

Illustrating Children's Books with Lilla Rogers

Hello! My name's Nataša Kaiser and today I want to tell you about my experience as a student in Lilla Rogers' very first online class about illustrating children's books.

Since I heard the rumor about an upcoming MATS class "Illustrating Children's Books" I wanted to be a part of it. I have taken various MATS classes until now and loved them all, one of the best parts is getting to be part of a wonderful artists community (and by the way that was also how I first got to know most of my fellow finches!). Not to mention the huge amount of information and insights about the market you get – really a lot to take in and absorb.

Illustrating for children has always been one of my big passions and most of the kid's books I've bought for my daughter I actually bought because I admire their art and simply wanted to own them (my daughter didn't mind me spending money on these books though).

So, the #matskidbook class is structured in 5 assignments over the course of five weeks. There are three different texts to choose from, in this class the texts were "The Owl and the Pussycat", "The Gigantic Turnip" and "Ada Lovelace" (written by Zoë Tucker, who is the Art Director at Lilla's side, giving all the specific insides about the market). I chose "The gigantic Turnip".

First week is about character development: The task is to determin the main character of the story and visualize it.  The second week is about facial expressions and illustrating emotions. The third week we were dealing with our characters in different poses. Week four just ended today and the topic was "environment". Next and sadly last week will be dedicated to cover design and as such will also include some lettering exercises, which I'm really looking forward to! Alongside all the infos, videos, inspirational texts and images and artist's interviews we get a sketchbook prompt each day to get us into the habit of regular drawing.

Some sketchbook prompts of the first week were accessories for our characters e.g.:

Accessories like hats, glasses or boots…

Accessories like hats, glasses or boots…

More hats. Another great thing about the sketchbook prompts is that you get to experiment with different techniques – if you wish. I was playing with oilpastels and watercolor on the right side of this page (on the left is ink and watercolor, which I do more often).

More hats. Another great thing about the sketchbook prompts is that you get to experiment with different techniques – if you wish. I was playing with oilpastels and watercolor on the right side of this page (on the left is ink and watercolor, which I do more often).

I think it's so interesting how you really get to know your characters over time and by drawing them over and over. I feel like I can really see the development from week one to week four. The exploration of facial expressions and poses in particular fills them with life and the more you draw the same figure the more believable it becomes.

 

Final for week one

Final for week one

expressions old man

expressions old man

expressions old woman

expressions old woman

expressions turnip

expressions turnip

My final for week 2: facial expressions / emotions of my main characters.

My final for week 2: facial expressions / emotions of my main characters.

In week three we were on vacation in denmark. I was thinking about what poses to draw and my first idea was to illustrate some of the characters pulling the turnip. I had our friends posing for some reference pictures and even our dog became a photo model:

Eventually I decided to show the old man and woman as a couple in different poses for this assignment – but I'm looking forward to putting these reference images to good use at a later point in time.

My final for week 3: The main characters in different poses. By this time I felt that I know my characters so well I wanted to give them names. So please say hello to Paul and Alma :-)

My final for week 3: The main characters in different poses. By this time I felt that I know my characters so well I wanted to give them names. So please say hello to Paul and Alma :-)

This week (4) was all about the environment in which the story is taking place. The story about the gigantic turnip is an old russian folktale. My ancestors are from slovenia (former Yugoslavia) and as a child I spent all of my holidays there. My grandparents had a small farm in the picturesque slovenian countryside and I remember many details of the farmlife, that seemed pretty romantic to me as a child. My grandma used to plant and sow and also to harvest according to the moon calendar. That inspired me to draw the old man planting the turnip during a full moon's night. That might be the reaon why it eventually grew so enormous:

My double page spread shows a sequence of images from the turnip being planted to growing enormously big during the turn of one day – just for the fun of painting different daytimes.

My double page spread shows a sequence of images from the turnip being planted to growing enormously big during the turn of one day – just for the fun of painting different daytimes.

This class has been both very challenging and a whole heap of fun until now and I'm a bit sad that it's coming to an end next week. But there is still all of the material in the classroom to download and go through again, which I will certainly do. If you're interested in learning while connecting to a whole lot of great artists and shamelessly neglecting your household and other social life for the short period of five weeks I highly recommend enrolling in "Make Art that sells – Illustrating Children's Books". Have fun!

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

You can never have enough florals

Hi it’s Lisa Kirkbride here, showing a piece I produced recently for Lilla Rogers Make Art that Sells Bootcamp. Due to the “pre-Surtex" and “post-Surtex" effect, I didn’t manage to take part in many of the assignments this year but I couldn’t resist the final project - Florals - and if anyone hadn’t noticed from my social media feeds - I LOVE florals! A LOT!

The assignment was to produce a journal with a particular flower, in my case Zinnia - first task - what is a Zinnia? As much as I love florals, a lot of mine are from my imagination and a little bit kookie, so I needed to do a bit of research. Apparently Zinnia’s thrive in an environment of monsoon rain, interspersed with hot sun and high humidity - not typical UK weather (at least the latter conditions).

I started with some sketches which I took into Illustrator via Adobe Capture from my iPad. It's a really cool app - you scan your image (basically take a picture of it) and it converts your hand drawn lines into vector lines, removing any gradients of the paper and imports the images as vector into your CC Library ready to use. I then started playing with colours and scale and assembled my flowers with some foliage and smaller flowers to add variety and contrast.

Finally I added the hand lettering and some simplistic bird silhouettes in a contrasting colour. Once I was happy with the result I mocked up my finished design onto a Journal. I played around with the scale of the image but felt it worked best when bursting out of the edges of the cover. Like this...

Job done! In addition, I couldn’t resist creating a greetings card and patterns too. We were enjoying a mini heatwave in the UK at the time so a deckchair felt like a must!

Fiesta! My working Process by Bryony Clarkson

Hi Today I am going to give you a bit of insight into my process of working. My previous career was as an Embroidery Designer for fashion and Interiors and I used to use a lot of appliqué to create my designs on Fabric, adding stitched lines for detail and expression. I now work in a very similar way, but with paper rather than fabric. 

I have a vast collection of coloured papers in my studio - that is my paintbox. I store them in big plastic boxes and an old map chest, coded into colours and types, so that's it's easy to delve through and find what I need. My papers are collected from everywhere - some I buy, but others are salvaged from old books, magazines, packaging and maps. 

When I first have an idea for a piece of work, I reach for my sketchbook and scribble down the ideas as pencil drawings. That way I don't loose track of my ideas until I have the time to work them up properly. I always use the same sketchbooks - Daler Rowney Ebony series. i love the quality of the paper and they are quite robust.

Cactus 1.jpg

Once I get down to work, the first thing is to choose a colour palette. I do this by snipping bits of paper and putting them together into a colour range, which I will often name, in case I want to come back and use it another time. 

Then I start cutting! I don't draw on the paper first, I just cut, thinking about the quality of the cut and the type of shape I want to make.

Then I build up layers to create each individual icon. Line details are added with a finalise pen - black or white - or sometimes coloured pencil. Once I am happy with each icon, I arrange them onto a page and stick them down, adding further background details around them. 

The finished collage is then scanned into photoshop, where I can clean the image up and make any further changes, such as whitening up or changing the background colour or, if it's a pattern, creating a repeat.

And - Ole!! - the piece is finished!

After Surtex is before Surtex – or: how to keep making portfolio pieces

Hi there! Today it's me, Nataša Kaiser, writing about getting back to the creative habits after the big Surtex adventure. Finally the dust has settled and things are getting back to normal. The weeks before Surtex of course were fully packed with planning and preparation. We tried to be equiped as good as possible and to provide for all contingencies. Making art was badly neglected as well as terribly missed.

So, finally back in the studio and at the drawing table and after all the follow-up-work I'm happy to be drawing again and to be working on creative projects. I started with some doodeling and idea sketching for the children's book portion of my portfolio:

This image started out as a doodle on the iPad and playing around in the Procreate App. Later I turned the Book Titel into a Birthday Card with only a few changes.

This image started out as a doodle on the iPad and playing around in the Procreate App. Later I turned the Book Titel into a Birthday Card with only a few changes.

And beside of that the Finch&Foxglove collective decided to do an (almost) weekly drawing project. It is my task to pick the topics and announce them in our team calendar, so each of us is aware of the topic and gets the chance to participate and contribute. On fridays the illustrations are then uploaded to social media (Instagram, FB and Twitter) with the #foliofriday. If you're curious what we're making: watch out for it!

Considering ideas and theme-inspiration we received some helpful wishlists from clients at Surtex. There's always a big need for the usual subjects like "holiday" (christmas, easter,…), "birthday", "wedding", "babyshower" and so on and so forth. But some clients have really specific wishes on their lists and some subjects were totally new to me. For example: I had no idea (and I beg your pardon if this seems ignorant) what a "Saltbox" might be – I'm not from the U.S., so I had to look that one up. I learned, that "Saltboxes" are small houses/barns with a certain shape – and they make good motifs for gardenflags and doormats!

Further we can design greeting cards for every single relitive there is on earth, as well as for all live events and occassions, that don't come to mind in first place when thinking about greeting cards (e.g. "Quinceañera, "Boss's Day" or "Christmas From Pet"). We're looking forward to filling up our portfolios with fun stuff and we would love it if you keep an eye on our #foliofriday!

Something we all care about is some good food (and some finches even like to cook!). So we decided to make a recipe illustration every four weeks. We started out with the first course last friday, which was an appetizer. You can find our food and recipe illustrations on www.theydrawandtheycook.com

Looking for a something delicious with a little summer vibe I found inspiration in this Goat Cheese and Mango Quesadillas recipe:

Thanks for stopping by!

COUNTDOWN TO SURTEX...

Well in less than 24 hrs I'll be hopping on a plane to NYC to meet fellow finches, some for the first time, for our first ever show at Surtex (15-17 May Jacob K.Javits Convention Centre). Today I am finishing some last minute jobs, making lists, packing (& probably repacking) and delivering my daughter, and her 2 guinea pigs, to grandparents in anticipation of our early start tomorrow. So excited to be exhibiting and I'm preparing myself for total visual overload!!!

If you're attending pop by and say hello at #booth 543 - we'd love to see you!

Lisa Kirkbride is an illustrator and designer based in the UK. 

Happiness...it's the pits!

Courtney Beth Keller here, and I'm going to share my newest pattern with you, but first I'll give a little insight into my inspiration for this one. This one is for you, dog lovers!

In the summer of 2015, I was on a hike with my son, then 4, and our dog, a mama pit-mix named Pinky who I'd rescued when I lived in Austin Texas. She collapsed on our hike, and sadly passed away. We were lucky that our local Fire Department was doing training on the trail, and helped us with the immediate situation, but my son and I were devastated as it was unexpected. Pinky had just had an A+ health review at her last vet appointment - we were in shock. Driving home from the hike without her was awful.

After about a month, I began looking at rescue dogs online. We visited a pet store that was holding an adoption event with some rescues, but when we got there they were all very young, and none seemed like a good fit. The woman in charge mentioned that she had another female rescue who was about a year old and VERY good with children. She hadn't brought her along though because she is deaf. She asked if we were interested in a deaf dog, and I asked a few questions - mainly wondering how deaf dogs might behave with children and how hard it would be to communicate. She assured us that this was a very intelligent dog, really sweet and well behaved. I figured it wouldn't hurt to meet her and see, maybe start a new adventure. My son and I waited while she drove and picked her up, brought her back - the little pup was named Nelly and she looked like the younger sister of our dog Pinky. My son said "Mom, this is our dog!". We brought her home, and in the months since, we have taken training classes to help us learn to sign, and realized she is no different from any other dog - except she doesn't know when you call her, so she can't go off-leash outside the yard. I'm proud to say she earned her AKC's Canine Good Citizen Certificate and blue ribbon! Go Nell! 

Here's our little sweetheart Nelly, and the pattern she inspired, in process and printed out and envisioned on a hoodie. I'm also sharing a snippet of my original sketchbook drawing: 

Here are two photos of Nelly next to a photo of our dog Pinky (on the right, or at the bottom if you're viewing on mobile), so you can see the similarities. The girl at the pet shop had no idea she was introducing us to a mini-me version of the dog we were mourning the loss of! 

If you'd like to see more of my patterns, I have many on Spoonflower, and a few available as pillows on Etsy!  You can also follow me on Instagram

I'd love to hear your feedback - or tell me about your favorite dog! 

Hello Flamingo

It started with a visit to the zoo... 

I've been really inspired as of late with the animals at our nearby zoo here in Santa Barbara.  It's one of the places where my kid is really engaged and focused, and it allows me some time to think as I stroll him around its winding paths.  I guess that's why much of my latest work has been zoo-inspired!

Adriana Bergstrom is an illustrator and designer working from Santa Barbara, California. She will be exhibiting with Finch & Foxglove this May at Surtex in NYC.  Do stop by booth #543!

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

 

Star Wars, doodles & vases

Hi I’m Lisa Kirkbride, one of the UK finches based in the north east of England. I'm taking over the blog today to share my process.

I love vibrant colours, graphic shapes and pattern so I thought I'd show you a piece I have just completed for my Surtex portfolio which ticks all these boxes.

This pattern started with some repetitive vase doodles I did one night whilst my husband introduced my daughter Lily (11) to the Star Wars films – starting at the beginning or the middle film depending how you look at it - I had plenty of time to draw! I love to doodle with Sharpies or Graphik pens and I created this pretty, interlocking vase design which I thought would make a great pattern for gift wrap or stationery.

I scanned my sketch and used it as a guide to trace over in Adobe Illustrator using my Wacom Cintiq (my favourite toy!). The Cintiq allows you to draw directly onto the screen with a Wacom pen which feels fairly close to drawing on paper. I spent some time looking at colour trends and palettes and then selected a range of colours I was happy with and started to create all the quirky, interlocking vases.

Working on layers, and the limited palette, the pattern started to take shape.

When I felt the design was complete, I tested the repeat to make sure the pattern looked balanced and I made a few adjustments to rectify any problem areas. I also experimented with some different background colours to see if I could give the pattern a bit more "pop".

... And ta dah! -  the final design. The pattern took a couple weeks as I dipped in and out of it but I'm really pleased with the result. I'll now look at how I will apply it to mocked up products and most likely create some co-ordinates to complement it. I hope you enjoyed reading about my process.