Saturday, March 28, 2015

MATS A, Week 4 Wall Art

This week was a very freeing experience for me.  Before this year's Bootcamp and MATS class, I hadn't done a proper painting in forever.  I was a scenic artist for half of my 20's and had painted giant scenic backdrops, kitschy scenic flats, furniture, design illustrations, etc.  And, this week felt like I was taking all that experience, plus a distinct perspective as an adult and I was able to just let it flow.

Here is the final mocked up in a frame...

The assignment called on several specific requirements - choose a pair of colors based on our zodiac sign, use collage, include text.  My sign corresponded to the colors pink & yellow. I was really excited about pink & yellow, but truthfully, I would have been excited no matter what the color combo.  I love getting direction and parameters to work within, and I also love color.  Yay color!

Next we had to collect 2-D and smallish 3-D items that were in our colors, a color scavenger hunt!  My studio is lightyears beyond the mess that it was last year.  I've tossed so much, and even then, I managed to have no shortage of things in these colors.

button collection and swatch for gloves WIP
ancient i-pod and lovely silks
And, once I figured out how I was gonna work, I was off to the races.  I didn't have a large enough canvas so I worked on five little canvases that I would seam together digitally.  Dekopatch, gesso, matte medium, acrylics, markers, pens, post-it notes, paper, rice paper, fabric, buttons, tissue paper, cardboard, and stamps... to name some of the things I used to make this piece.  While things were drying, I rotated the canvases and made linocut plates.  I had a really good flow going, and I was listening to my fave tunes on the ancient i-pod.

lino cut and watercolor dots
The next part, the digital seaming, was a bit more tedious, but it allowed for a kind of freedom that I hadn't had before with paint.  The ability to "undo" is an amazing weight lifted off one's shoulders.  The fear of making the next mark is completely gone, and it was great!

This project was tons of fun, y'all.  Tons.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

MATS A, Week 3 Picture Books

This week was a real eye-opener.  I've illustrated for books before, but never children's books, and that was the big theme this week.  It was exhilarating.  I had so much fun illustrating the goats and then the trolls, but I was left a bit sad afterward.  I want to keep going... I had so many ideas that I didn't get to illustrate for this one!!

Let's get to the meat here... Here's my image.  I think it's fairly easy to figure out which fairytale this particular scene represents, but just in case... it's from "The Three Billy Goats Gruff".  It's when the littlest goat first meets the troll.

During my research phase (all of 30 minutes), I found out that goat farmers don't like calling male goats "billies" and they prefer the intact male goats be called "bucks" or "rams."  There you have it!  And, this story is really, really violent!  I cannot imagine illustrating the traditional story for super young kids.  I left that to my peers and they did some lovely innocent twists on the story.  I took the assignment as-is, and my direction aimed toward a bit older audience (kids maybe 8+ years old).

I thought it would be really cool to do a comic/graphic novel-type hybrid with the picture book and proposed inserting two panels to illustrate the fear and panic of the littlest goat, but my peers thought it took away from my illustration. The leftmost inserts would have been black and white and shown the hooves of the little guy as he first steps onto the bridge. Dramatic!!  I'd love to hear what you think!

I found that my scenic art background came in really handy in this assignment.  It's what I enjoyed the most.  I loved painting the background and creating the forest and the waves.  AAND, I especially loved doing the troll.  So much fun!  His back absesses and hair and six fingers, yellow teeth, etc. etc.  Had I more time to develop my characters I wanted to add a bat and mushrooms, dead animals, etc. to his fur.  So many ideas!

And, for my fellow artist and illustrator friends who are curious about my process...

Here's are a few WIP screenshots...

And the character development phase...

These are the two fave pages of goats.  There were maybe 10 or 12 sheets full of goats. :D

"Friends" or maybe "Three's Company" meets "3 Billy Goats Gruff":

Baby Goats!!

This week's course materials were really great. The interview with Mike Lowery reminded me that illustrators are people.  Yes, I know, I'm an illustrator and also qualify as a person.  But, sometimes we make such a pedestal out of our dreams that we forget the daily steps it took for regular people to get there!  There was also an interview with a Hatchett Book art director which was really great for learning the process by which picture books become a reality.  It sounds lengthy, but I know a thing or two about that (see my knitting designs)!

Aaaand, this week's favorite for me was actually a bonus by Lilla.  She included this really great worksheet about dealing with self-critique and envy.  I'm constantly at odds with myself.  "Is my style good enough? Marketable enough?  Is it even a style?" All these doubts!  It's great to hear I'm not alone.  Although, it would also be great to have actual answers to these questions. HAH!  Whatever the case may be, I look forward to "Wall Art" which is next week's assignment.

Monday, March 16, 2015

MATS A, Week 2: Home Decor

Review of Week 2, MATS Part A which focused on Home Decor.

We started the week with Monday's Mini Assignment which was "go crazy with paisley!"  And I did!
I went ahead and went crazy doing different graphite illustrations on wacky paisley motifs thinking we were going to do bedding or bathroom textiles, maybe even upholstery or a room.  I imagined paisley swamps and bogs and that's where my head was when I started illustrating for this project... some kind of paisley pond world.

And then we got the main assignment: plates.  One of the worksheets that came with this week's assignment had this very important question when thinking about plates: Would you eat off of it?  My stomach had a sinking feeling when I came to that question.  It had never crossed my mind that we'd end up focusing on plates!  Some of my illustrations were not really food friendly... frogs eating flies, hungry anyone?!

It is a tough question, isn't it?  If it's a decorative plate, then no, I wouldn't eat off of it.  But, my utilitarian tendencies wouldn't let it go at that simple solution.  I couldn't just design decorative plates.  I don't own any purely decorative plates, and it was an important aspect of this week's project to be your own customer.  I worked through the designs until I felt that these were a series of plates I could see myself picking up and serving desserts or summer drinks or a festive picnic meal.  I learned this about myself - I am picky.

Here's the progression of one of the plates, the upper right one in the layout.

And then of course, there's the real-life stuff that kind of stressed me out.  We were traveling and we had no internet access, and I bought a hot-spot card to use the city's wi-fi, but it was spotty at best. Little dude was finding everything exciting and did not want to sleep or nap, which made it a bit of a a time crunch. We were at this ridiculous cloister atop a giant hill in a tiny town in Germany, and it was beautiful... but technologically desolate.

Thoughts on Week 2 Course Materials

With this week came a wonderful set of worksheets that had some great questions about this market and specifically plates.  These are the kind of questions that get you un-stuck when you've made progress, but aren't "finished".  I am treasuring them.  They're the "Hey did you think about this or that?" aspect of illustration.  I tend to sketch quickly and get things into the computer and then find myself all self-doubty at some point.  Those questions are invaluable!

The interview this week was with a Crate + Barrel art director and it was interesting to read how she makes decisions on artwork.

So, is the Home Decor market for me?  I think it could be, but I still like the puzzle aspect of bolt fabric better.  Home Decor felt like the ocean to me, and I like knowing where the edges of the pool are when I'm illustrating.  Maybe I'll feel differently depending on the item.

Also, a special shout-out to my fellow MATS-ians.  Thanks for your help pushing me forward this week!  I needed it.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Picante Dirndl

When I was a kid, I loved comics.  I was a big fan of the "what-if" and alternate reality issues that comics would sometimes print.  This idea of "what if's" popped into my head as I posted about this past week's MATS Bolt Fabric Assignment, and it wouldn't let go.

What if... I did make a dirndl out of my own fabric?

I imagine it looking like this!  I used Burda's Dirndl Pattern 8448 as the basis for this visual mock-up.

I think that would be really unique to wear to Oktoberfest 2015!

Please note that I do not have any affiliation with Burda or their patterns, and I do not represent Burda or their parent company in any way.  Just an illustrator and DIY-er here.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

MATS A, Week 1: Bolt Fabric

The first week of MATS (Make Art That Sells) Part A went really, really well.  I was so anxious and scared to begin with, but I felt right at home illustrating the mini, and then later the actual assignment.  My fellow classmates were super supportive, and their work is really great!  It's awesome to see what others are doing and it helps me to figure out what to tweak next.  I see how they handle certain elements within a design and it sparks a solution in me.  Lots of zeitgeist, enthusiasm, feedback, and visual inspiration!

I also like that the turnaround times are short in order to force me not to spin my wheels.  I have the tendency to overthink things if given too much time.  The deadlines of the course plus the unpredictability of the baby's toddler's schedule make for a nice sense of urgency that makes me productive!  This past Thursday night I turned in my final, and here's what it looks like...

This was the layout that I turned in, and I'd like to change certain elements moving forward, but I'm happy with the overall direction I chose.  Our mini theme was "pretty peppers and pyrex" and then the big assignment was "vintage kitchen" as the target niche.  I kind of tweaked the theme to "I love Tex Mex please join me in celebrating my love for enchiladas through the lens of 1972."

As many of you who know me already know, I lived in Texas for a few years and my husband is Texan.  His family live in the southwest and we visit nearly every year.  Here in Germany, Tex-Mex can be found, but it's not the same.  When I visit TX and NM, the food is something I enjoy very, very much (I nearly went with vintage + BBQ!).

Interestingly enough, living in Germany for so long seems to have rubbed off on me.  One of the coordinates ended up looking like one of my favorite traditional dirndl fabrics (the green/white one on the lower right).  I think it would be really cool to have a dirndl with chiles on the bodice or apron!!

Mini: peppers n' pyrex
Original Mood-board

first linocut in over 10 years!

To give you a breakdown of what I was working with, I scanned in my images and isolated roughly 80 to 90 individual icons. Once the additional category of "vintage kitchen" was given, I shopped among them for the most appropriate ones.  I had already digitized them, but not yet colored them.  Next, I added textures, finessed the little details... but there's always more to do.  If anything, I've already learned that.  The details make or break the illustration.

Thoughts on Week 1 Course Materials
I found the break-down of the assignment to be very helpful.  I love the act of chunking the work into tasty morsels, and so the structure of the class suits me well.  Most days we had a post to read, an interview to watch, skills to learn and/or industry tips and tricks to absorb.

The information given in the class materials is really specific and valuable.  This past week there were even additional workshop materials from the Art & Business of Surface Pattern Design course that I considered taking.  I think I'm in the right place because I already have a pretty good understanding of the technical aspects of making a repeat through my background experience with Illustrator and the Creative Live, Skillshare classes from Bonnie Christine and Elizabeth Olwen, and the books I read on pattern design.

But, the interview with an industry professional was invaluable.  So was the style analysis worksheet and Lilla's advice.  In short, I'm so glad to be taking this course.  It's exactly what I needed!