Saturday, June 29, 2013

MATS Week 4 - Wall Decor

This week in Lilla Roger's Make Art That Sells course, we covered Wall Decor, and were given the assignment to create one or two abstract collage-style wall paintings, geared towards the 25-45 year old female customer - we had to use some sort of floral motif, and also include at least one word.

I challenged myself this week - even more than the restrictions of the assignment - by not using the computer AT ALL for this. It was wonderful to paint and glue and cut and draw and make a huge huge mess in my studio - wonderful and freeing and sloppy and lovely and also in a way, a giant relief to get back to my roots, back to basics.

I'll be doing this again.

I struggled with what words or phrase or quote to incorporate... I really can't stand inspirational quotes - they make me gag. So it was hard to find something that didn't make me want to shove a pencil in my eye.... in the end, I figured it would be good to stick with the theme of this entire class for me : change, progress, journey, growth, etc. You can see what I chose in the photos below.

As for color, we were assigned a limited palette of two colors, and I had yellow and blue. I was grateful for these limitations, because going so far out of my comfort zone with traditional mediums was enough of a challenge for me. If I had to do it over again, I'd go a little lighter, with more neutrals or white.....

The mediums and materials I use in my two pieces: 12x12 canvas, acrylic, pen and ink, watercolor, various yellow and blue papers, vellum, tissue paper, thumbtacks and..... I used bees wax!! I've always been in awe of artwork that incorporates it - such a lovely texture and feeling. I'll definitely be doing that again and again in pieces to come. This assignment has inspired me to get away from the computer (well, the whole class has) - and let myself PLAY with art. I'm back, baby!

This is the piece I submitted for class.

Close up

And another close up

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Collecting bits of this and that...

With this week's mini exercise, I kicked myself over and over again for getting rid of so much STUFF in the move last month, as we were instructed to gather papers, textures, bit of this and that, and random  things to collage with later in the week. Assigned colors by astrological sign, this Sagittarius collected yellow and blue items. I raided my studio, and my newly inherited sewing machine and kit from my grandma, who passed away a few months ago. I haven't had time to go through it yet, so it was a JOY to sit down and dig through all her buttons and thread, machine parts and doilies.

Monday, June 24, 2013

MATS week 3 assignment - cranky grumpy ornery snail

Last week's focus for Make Art That Sells was on the children's book market, and our assignment was to create a cover or a double page spread for the Hans Christian Andersen tale "The Snail and The Rose Tree", based on our snail sketches from earlier in the week, and hand-drawn lettering.

My double page spread

The story is pretty bleak - it features an ornery, selfish, dark, mean snail, who cares for no one, puts down those around him, and never changes. A lot of people in the class didn't care for how dark and bleak the message was, but I enjoyed it. I liked drawing a crotchety snail, and I wanted to show with color, how gray and depressing his outlook was. I had a great time drawing the type, and will definitely try that again in future pieces.

I tried again the scan-on-my-sketches-and-use-Live-Trace technique that I did back in week 1 for bolt fabric, and I really like the sketchiness of my snail character. I added color and texure and pattern in Illustrator - and that was a big deal for me, since I normally NEVER use texture in my work, only flat shapes. Its opened up a whole new world!

Overall, I like my piece. It conveys what I wanted it to convey, and I branched out with texture. As I was finishing it though, I wished I had done it in traditional mediums - either pen and ink with some collage or paint, or pastel or something.... I wish I had left more white space, and really focused more on the bleakness of the snail. It was hard to juggle how much life and color of the rose tree to show, in correlation with the grayness of the snail's life... And I wished I had used funkier colors - I'm still having so much trouble branching away from my usual palette - aurgh! (Though its a lot more neutral and gray colors than I normally use.) This is one assignment that I think I will do again after the class is over.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Snails... mad, sad, nerdy, sporty and everything in-between

This week's mini exercise finds me sketching snails and playing with hand drawn type... And I'm having a lot of fun!

Friday, June 14, 2013

MATS Week 2 Assignment - Tabletop!

This week in my back-to-school adventure brought us to the world of home decor, with the week's big assignment focusing on table top and plates. We were instructed to use the sketches from earlier in the week of seed pods, leaves and unusual flowers, and create 2-4 plates. So far I've done 2, and since I'm going out of town for the weekend, I guess I'll be stopping at that amount.

As I write this, I am exhausted! I've spent a marathon day today, cranking out this artwork (though I started it several days ago, and have been working a little each evening, today was the main stuff.) My head hurts, I'm thirsty, but I'm excited about the results. I PAINTED!!! WHOOO HOOOOOO. This was one of my goals for this course - to break away from completely vector art and get back to traditional mediums. I played to gouache, and incorporated pen and ink, scanned them all in, and layered them together in Photoshop. Hooray for texture, hooray for dirty paintbrushes, hooray for breaking out of my comfort zone!

Actually, it wasn't quite as painful as I had anticipated - in fact, I really really enjoyed it, and I'm excited to keep playing in the upcoming weeks. Whats next? Who knows! Maybe I'll bring back cut paper from my college days, maybe I'll dig out the acrylics again - the sky's the limit.

This one is the one I submitted for class.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Seed pods and bud doodles

Week 2 of Make Art That Sells finds me doodling seed pods, flower buds and leaves. I broke out the gouache paint for some of them - wow its been years. I'm a little embarrassed to say a few of my gouache tubes had dried up since I last used them.... I'm thinking for this week's assignment I will go strictly traditional medium..... well, we'll see.....

Saturday, June 8, 2013

MATS - Week 1 Assignment

Phew! I'm throwing in the towel and calling this week's assignment DONE. The concentration this week was on Bolt Fabric, and we were given the assignment of creating 2 vintage kitchen patterns (with coordinates) using the mushroom and pyrex sketches from earlier in the week. My goal for this course is to break out of my usual standard cutsie art and get more sophisticated and textured, experiment and GROW as an artist. I almost always go immediately for flat shapes, bright colors, and I found it was SO HARD to break away from that. I definitely want to get away from the computer for some/a lot of this course, but because this week is Bolt Fabric, I knew the computer would be my best bet. The sketching exercises earlier this week were so much fun and amazing, and I was jazzed to start the patterns, because I thought 'hey no problem, I already do a ton of fabric, so this will be a breeze to put together, I'll just concentrate on the more-sophisticated part" - I daydreamed I'd do it all in Photoshop - scan in my sketches, easily add amazing texture - it would be perfect, the sun would shine and the birds would sing my name, the art would be that good.

Um, no.

oh, I tried. I scanned in my sketches, and played in Photoshop - I am pretty good at Photoshop, but my go-to program is Illustrator, which I know like the back of my hand. I have to actually think when I use Photoshop...oh dear. And it was stressful, and I wasn't having fun. My sketches didn't look nice when brought into the computer, I was struggling with a vintage color palette, I couldn't get the textures to look how I wanted them to. Sigh. I wasn't having fun. So I stopped, and went back to Illustrator. I knew I wanted to keep the lovely breath-filled alive feeling of my sketches, of the line work - so I used  Live Trace... this is something that I NEVER do. I always scan in my pencil sketches for each project and then use the pen tool to draw over them - thus creating a beautiful, almost-perfect-but-definitely-from-my-hand icon. Not this time. This time, I thought, Vita you are GROWING UP.

And I struggled some more. There are so many variables you can change and adjust with Live Trace, that is was time-consuming to find something I was happy with. But I stuck with it, and reminded myself that this struggle was GOOD for me. I need this uncomfortableness. I don't have to be amazing at everything, it is a learning process. I reminded myself that I normally LOVE the art-creating process of a project (oh how I identified with Lilla's video from yesterday - I love love the process more than the satisfaction of the finished piece). Good Vita, embrace the pain.

The first piece I created was the mushroom/vegetable piece and I really struggled with the colors. NO MORE CUTSIE VITA. I kept second-guessing myself and thinking holy cow you are terrible. Then some parts weren't completely awful. And that beet, oh my god that beet, so damn nice. Ok I thought, not the greatest, but it's good enough.

And so I took a short break, and then jumped into the second piece, the kitchen items and pyrex. For this one I had a much clearer picture in my mind of what I wanted it to look like, and that helped A LOT. I gave myself a break and went with slightly sweeter colors. I started with one bowl, and loved the look of the icon on a light background, and found my joy again. FINALLY. This once came together less-painfully, thought I admit I was second guessing myself a lot with this one as well.

So after a good night's sleep (hey, it was a 16 hour work day for me...ugh) I got up and put a little bit more time into it this morning. And yes, finally, I am happy with it. They aren't perfect, and there is a lot to improve on, but it was a good first-attempt. Baby steps. I'm excited to keep going with this course and see what comes next.

Which one did I turn in? The one that made me find my joy again, Kitchen Items....
(click on each one to see it larger)

 First piece : Mushrooms and Vegetables

Second piece: Kitchen Items

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

More mushrooms and some pyrex

More for Making Art That Sells... I'm looking forward to tomorrow's assignment.

MATS - mushrooms

School has begun! Our first mini exercise from yesterday, in the Make Art That Sells course from Lilla Rogers, was to sketch mushrooms and vintage pyrex casserole dishes. Here's my attempt at mushrooms... I'm still working on the pyrex ones....

Pencil sketches and ink sketches - some tight, some rough, some loose, some smudged... 

A few done in watercolor and black ink.
Jimmy Thunder said they all looked psychedelic, which is not my thing, so that's a little disappointing... I was hoping for colorful and playful.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A former train station, a tradeshow, an e-course and a funeral : My crazy life

Things around here have been a little nutty for the past month or so...maybe more. My partner-in-crime, Jimmy Thunder, and I found the sweetest little home in the next town over, and decided it was time to move in together - hooray! It is a 200 year old little farm house, that used to be a train station, and sits directly next to a railroad track, that yes, is still in use. (The train that runs by is a freight train, is very small and extremely slow, and has no set schedule. We've noticed that it comes by about once or twice a week. No big deal at all.)
See, I told you it was next to a railroad track. But how freaking adorable is it? C'mon!

For the first time in my adult life, I have a little yard, very few neighbors, and am surrounded by pastures full of horses, cows and chickens. It is lovely. The move was tough and stressful (I had lived in my condo for 8 years, and holy moly it's easy to accumulate a lot of stuff) - not only on me but also on Sam the dog, who had only ever lived in my condo his whole life, and suddenly is faced with a brand new place. The result: doggie diarrhea for a week. It's finally getting better. My poor boy is very sensitive.

To add to the stress level of moving, my remaining grandmother passed away the day before I moved. I won't get into it too much, but it was expected and wanted, as she was very very ill and in a lot of pain. I'm so glad she's found peace finally. I lost my other grandmother earlier this year in January and now am without any grandparents at all. It's sad and strange not to have them around anymore, but I am so grateful to have had 3 of them in my life well into my 30's. And I've learned that I'm going to live forever - all 3 of them reached their 90's. Yowzers. I miss them a lot.

So to continue on with my tale, ONE WEEK after moving into this sweet little house, we left for Surtex. Yes, that's right - I moved a week before the major tradeshow of the year.... I must have lost my mind. For the first time Jimmy Thunder (JT) came with me, and helped me out at my booth. I am so glad he was there - for emotional support, for physical support (he's nice and tall) and for his great sense of humor and enthusiasm. What a sweetie.

Why am I looking off to the left? I don't know. At least JT looks great. He was a champ that week.

Plus I could go to the ladies room whenever I needed and not worry about leaving my booth. Let me tell you, that feeling is wonderful.

Surtex was great this year, but I feel like I say that every year. I was busy busy Sunday and Monday, and pretty dead on Tuesday. That seems to be the norm in my experience, but I've heard others say the opposite, with Tuesday being their busiest. Thats just the how the game goes. I was in booth 435 this year - an inline 10x10, 2nd row from the left of the show, sort of near the front/middle. I liked the location a lot - traffic flow was good. I've learned to take what I can from Surtex, expect nothing, smile and chat the whole time, catch up with clients, potential clients, and other artist friends, and enjoy myself. I try to not put too much pressure on myself, but that's easier said than done. 

Now that I'm back home, follow-up has begun (as well as a lot of unpacking from the move.... the house is looking better and no longer resembles an episode of Hoarders, though we are far from done.) I want to finish up the follow-up as soon as I can because this upcoming Monday, I am going BACK TO SCHOOL!

Lilla Roger's brand new e-course, Make Art That Sells begins on Monday, and I am so excited to go along for this crazy ride! I've been feeling for awhile now that my artwork has become stagnant and I'm hoping that this course will be the giant kick in the butt that I so desperately need. I want to PLAY with my art, EXPLORE new and old mediums, GET OUT of my own head and get out of my own way, and just LEARN, soak up all the visuals and tips and life lessons that come my way, and hopefully at the end of this summer (and the end of this fall, with the 2nd part of the course) I will come out the other side a better version of ME. I'm excited and nervous, a little bit anxious, and a lot bit hopeful. BRING IT ON. Wait, I need to clean my studio a little bit more this weekend before beginning. Thankfully I have a couple days to go. Phew.

I'll be posting here on my blog my adventures in this class - come along for the journey!