Sunday, November 16, 2014

Studio Sunday

And here we are again!  We definitely have some winter temps here in Boston and the morning frost seems to be constant now so I guess we are moving into it for sure!  I have nothing new to report in the studio as I have a guest visiting this weekend and time is precious.

At the end of last weekend, I was experimenting with a few of my designs in quilt-like patterns.  Something I am keeping in mind as I design for Surtex 2015 this coming May is the ability for my designs to be easily translated to fabric and quilts.  I'm going to be incorporating many different elements in my designs to show at Surtex that are more product-driven.  This means as I design, I will be thinking in the process with how a design is going to be applied to a product.

So while thinking about how a collection of designs would translate to a quilt I came up with this design.  The funny thing is, this could be a coordinate design in of itself to the collection.  One of the looks I am going for is collage-like and digitally enhanced which is what I usually do to my digital designs.

The image above was thinking of how a quilt might look using the separate fabrics pieced in an arrow design.  I was inspired by the "Shattered Chevrons Quilt on page 59 in the Improvising Tradition book I mentioned last week.  I was happy with how the individual fabrics worked together and would really like your opinion!!!

This image is one of my collections that I debuted at Surtex 2014 earlier this year.  You can see in the top design, there is definitely paper collage turned digital as the basis for the background and that design really inspired the rest of the collection.  This collection is similar to another collection in that the colors are different and coordinates are switched out.  These products below are examples of how these designs would play out on a product.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and make it creative!!!


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Studio Sunday

Welcome to Sunday!!  I only had a semi productive day yesterday in the studio and for some reason I just couldn't get going on the paper and paint stuff.  My best time to be open and concentrate is in the morning and I had to get showered and rush out to do an errand so that kind of messed with my morning time and set the pace for the rest of the day.  Fortunately, digital play works anytime!  LOL

The image that I posted last weekend I started working with in a repeat pattern.  Sometimes this works well right away and sometimes it takes a little more manipulation to create a more realistic and workable pattern.  The image above is my first shot at playing with the design in repeat.  I added some tiles to the design and I do like the way it turned out but you can see how a lot of the actual elements are joined as they were mirrored on the edges and this detracts from the overall look and feel. 

I had blended the original image with another which brought in the brighter pinks along the edges so I'm going to remove that part and see what happens.   One of the things that I started playing with were combining elements using a half shape to form the design.  I think this is a very useful technique especially when you combine and flip the shapes to build vertical repeats or horizontal repeats which I will be trying later on.

But to give you an example, I used half of a right triangle and half of a circle to group elements that I can then mirror to create grouped elements.  Sometimes they look great when trimmed and flipped and sometimes they don't.  The black and white cluster looks somewhat whacky but I could have spent more time on it and added stems to fill in the bottom right corner of the triangle.  These are not the best images for this sample but I'm sure you understand what I mean.

Using the carnation looking brushes, I built up the flowers on the edge of the half circle first then flipped the design, added a central image and leaves separately.  I would remove the circle outline when I have filled in the the entire ring but it looks balanced without much effort.  Below is a great example of using the half triangle technique.  You can keep the elements away from the left edge if you don't want them to meet and connect and that is what I did here.

Up close, this design is YUMMY!!!  So much texture from the under layer that was taken from a section of one of my gelli and stencil prints on paper.  The original colors are on the second image with the beautiful blues and greens.  Additionally, without planning, when I laid these two repeating designs together, the pink dots came together perfectly at the center of this design!  One of those unpredictable benefits!!!!

Of course I want all of these designs in fabric!!!  I've been looking at modern quilting books and patterns because I'm really thinking about making a couple using my digital designs.  One book is Improvising Tradition by Alexandra Ledgerwood.  Really simple and stunning designs that look fairly easy to a non-traditional quilter! LOL

Another really cute book is Tula Pink's 100 Modern Quilt Blocks.  Love this one!!!  Her fabric designs are gorgeous and the quilt blocks simply adorable!!!  My last design is an additional design that I am creating to go along with 5-7 other designs which I want to incorporate into a collection.  When this finally comes together, I think it will be incredible and I promise to share!! 

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, stay warm and keep on creating!!!


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Studio Sunday and Margaret's Surface Pattern Design Journal

Wow!  It's November already!  Today is that one day out of the year that we "gain" an hour after turning the clocks back and I know there is a lot one can do in an hour!  I've got lots of design exploration to share but no stitching this week.  I still haven't gotten my sewing machine out but I will be clearing a spot on my coffee table (yes, coffee table) to set up my machine.

First things first, I brought home this great book from the bookstore Friday night and I just started reading it last night.  What a cool resource for understanding how I consider as decorative elements came to exist within the cultures that they are characteristic of.  The book is "Designa, Technical Secrets of the Traditional Visual Arts" and it is published by Wooden Books-Bloomsbury and I guess this is a collection of what were previously released separate books.  It includes the 6 books including Celtic Pattern, Islamic design, Curves, Perspective, Symmetry and The Golden Section all written by different authors.  This book was $20.00 at Barnes & Nobel, cheaper on Amazon, and I think it will be worth every penny!

I was psyched to find this book as I continue to build my portfolio of surface pattern design and the technical build examples of how these designs were constructed is the perfect prompt to keep improving on my designs.  My designs are generally 10-20% hand-drawn and 80-90% digitally manipulated.  I'm going to try to incorporate more drawing on top of a digitally created draft paper so I can technically set the circles and other shapes up symmetrically before I begin drawing in details.  This is a huge personal challenge of mine and I can't wait to get started!

As a part of us growing as artists, we are always self-reflecting on our personal style.  We are always stopping to take a look a our creations and artwork searching for those elements that make our art look different from everyone else's.  It's much more than a competition thing or an attempt to keep up with what other artists around us are creating.  

I re-discovered myself this weekend.  Yes I did!  Honestly, the draw for me recently was exactly what I stated above.  I have been soaking in all the beautiful artwork, journal pages, quilts, etc. trying to reconnect with everything I was doing before my redirect down the surface pattern design path because I've been feeling like I've faded out of the mainstream.

Well, if royalty statements from Interweave/FW Media are any indication, that is not the case.  However, not blogging, not sharing my process, and fearing putting my designs out in the public forum have kept me shut off from my roots and I recognize how important that part of my creative process really is.  So, beginning today, I am beginning "Margaret's Surface Pattern Design Journal" in which I will create journal pages my way which is without faces, writing, or any imagery that is not created by me only. 

And I am going to share my process.  I may even include videos!  I plan on including the use of stencils that I have designed for and StencilGirlProducts as I consider them an important example of my design style that can be mixed with designs I create going forward.  

The above and below images are good examples of my design process.  I have a lot of tools at my fingertips right now which include a color printer, scanner, eClips 2 personal cutting machine, and Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.  That's quite a selection and I use them all!

My process is all about exploring pattern.  When I use the word "explore" I mean EXPLORE.  Whether a mark or image is created on paper first or digitally, I continue manipulating each and every element to create more and different elements, break them apart and push each element continually exploring color and shape.  

If you think about it, my creative process is much like a tree.  There may be one rooted element I create and as I manipulate and explore the patterns I can develop from it, this element begins to branch out into more main branches and more smaller branches until I can't go any further with an element (or I get bored with it LOL)!  Because I enjoy experimentation with cutting my own designs in stencils or shapes and layering them with other digitally manipulated design elements, my Surface Pattern Design Journal will consist of pages where paint, cut paper, drawing, digital design and stencils all come together in a collage on the page.

I am loving this digital design above which began from the very beginning with a very organic but simple hand drawing, manipulated digitally where I then extracted pieces that I created a very Art Nouveau looking design.  I then cut the design on eClips 2 and used it to stencil and spray with.  Then I scanned it into the computer and further manipulated the color and blending modes.

You know how I love to re-use and re-purpose my designs!  The image below was created by copying many of the Gelli prints I made that I could use to create collage from to re-incorporate into my designs.  You can see on this one I have used the design I created above in orange and green to stencil over the collage and then manipulated it a little more in Photoshop.

Sooner or later, some of these designs will make it to fabric and I can't wait to see what happens when I incorporate stitch!  Spoonflower, here I come!

Do something special with the extra hour you have today and keep on creating!!!


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Studio Sunday

Happy Sunday!  I've got my second cup of coffee and I'm ready to share all of my studio fun from the week (mostly Saturday LOL).  I almost got some stitching done last night but fatigue caught up with me at 8:00 pm and I would have had to set up my sewing machine which is still in a box from the July move.  So one of the things I was playing with was a new paper towel fiber art piece.

This piece above I created in 2012 after teaching an on-line workshop on  I had been playing with making my own art stamps from sticky-back foam and thought it might be cool to print on dyed paper towels I had.  A lot of the pieces I have collected were originally created in a workshop I took from Traci Bautista back in 2005 near Seattle.  I think it was the first time Teesha and Tracy Moore had ever run the "Art Fiber Fest" retreat.  It was fantastic!!!!  I got to take workshops with Traci Bautista, Lisa Engelbrecht and DJ Pettitt.  

Anyway...I decided to pull out some of my stash of paper towels along with some new ones resulting from recent ink and spray play.  Using a piece of cotton muslin, I applied full sheets of Steam a' Seam Lite and laid out my collage and fused it down.  I did iron the paper towels first.  Next, I stenciled on top of the layout using my "Spin" stencil from and let that dry.  Now I'm ready to top it with a piece of soft tulle and a layer of batting and begin free-motion stitching.  I think I will leave the edges frayed but we will see.

I'm not a heavy embellisher by nature so I will incorporate some hand stitching and light beading on top as well.  This will be a good project to take to work and relax with during lunch.  Below, you can see a selection of used paper towels from my stash.  They are just saturated with color and make you want to dive in!!!

While I was playing with stencils this week, I pullout out my very used "Shooting Stars" stencil which was still covered in spray ink from the last use (there are benefits to not cleaning your tools LOL).  I took the stencil, sprayed it with water and flipped it onto a piece of cardstock and this is what happened!  That's a lot of color!!!

So, of course I couldn't stop there!  I had to take the image and create a repeat pattern with it in Photoshop!  You can see all of the watercolor effects from it and I LOVE it !!!!

Then I played with the Hue/Saturation and changed it up a bit.  I do love the subtleness of the shades below as well.  We'll see where this design lands!  

And lastly, I created more collages using copies of my Gelli printed and painted papers and came up with this look.  Yummy but I haven't explored this one yet in repeat but you know that will happen!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and keep on creating!!!


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Studio Sunday

I've got my nice hot cup of coffee with Pumpkin Spice creamer to really give this morning a fall feel.  Yummy!  It is just as beautiful as last weekend only a little cooler.  I have a bad habit now of watching CNN every night and it's truly a downer but it inspired my collage here.  I didn't want to write on the page yet so I just added my thoughts digitally until I'm ready to make it permanent.

I'm having a blast playing with little pieces.  Envelopes, index cards and stencil remains, and Gelli printing.  I thought this little envelope which I sprayed using Dylusions through my stencil "Sunshine" at would be perfect for this layout.  I'm really loving the white space in the background as well.  You can see there is tons of texture as I've been mixing the sprays with acrylic paint and the Tim Holtz Distress Inks.

Here are more small pieces that I've been playing with and plan to incorporate into some sort of journal, I'm just not sure what format yet.  The purple one I have used my "Spin" stencil at and an edge of my "Framed" stencil at  I love the abstract look of this and plan to build out a blended digital version of this as well.

On the one below, I used my "Sunshine" stencil again and the next is just a beautiful mess.  That one will show up in a digital version as well.

The last stencil version I played with here is using my "Grid A1" stencil from  I sprayed, stenciled and reverse printed on top of an already messy background but I love how this stencil easily blends into the background and that funky texture from the reverse spray print shown in the lower left corner.

And finally...the pièce de résistance!

Here is another one of my digital collages using my gelli prints and other elements I already designed blended together to create a seamless repeat pattern.  The section above includes dark grey poppies originating from my own photographs.  I thought they looked cool on the paper print but I am still working on the full design below.  Although there are some visible straight edges, I still like the way it turned out and I might add some additional subtle elements to draw they eye away from those.  It's a WIP!  I have desaturated the colors here but I can pump up the teals and blues as much as I want.  This design may make it to fabric very soon!  I can definitely see it in a silk scarf!

Today's another day.  Tomorrow's the start of another week and November is almost upon us.  Where does the time go?????  Stay creative and See you next week!


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Studio Sunday

It's beautiful here today!  Blue skies, leaves falling from the trees in sensational autumnal colors and I'm warm and cozy looking at it all from my windows.  There are a lot of pine trees here and right now the entire yard is covered with those pine needles and it has created a beautiful soft bed of burnt umber on top of the green grass.


Yesterday was all about self-expression through art dolls, well sort of.  I made cloth dolls at one point in my life and have never really gotten over how much fun they are and have thought many times about creating them again.  Well, the closest I came yesterday was a 2D doll.  LOL  Yup, weird looking to say the least but there is a whole emotional dump that occurred while I was drawing her out.  It was therapeutic to see myself as I was feeling.  So here she is hahahahaha

Ok, back to other stuff...  but first let me say if you have access to Pinterest and you search for "art dolls" plan to spend an hour looking at all the amazing creatures, incredible sculpted faces and eyes that connect with you in an instant!!!

From one of the digital papers I created last week, I used the eclips2 to cut out a stencil design from the paper.  It was in muted tones and it inspired me to create the layout above totally inspired by a glimpse of winter and a layer of fresh snow.  This week I created a number of collages using copies of all my mono printed papers and once again played with the results digitally.  

I love this look above so of course I had to print it out and play with it.  I turned this and another into these two envelopes below that I edged with the silver Sharpie paint pen.  I can't tell you how much I want to create a fabric layout and print it through Spoonflower!  I want this in a really big repeat like 18 inches so you can actually see all of the texture from the paint and the beautiful hues of blue and purple.  It would make an awesome quilt or even smaller pillows that I could embellish with hand stitch or free-motion stitching and beading.  And, and.....

As you can see, I get totally excited.  How about a set of dishes!  I WANT THESE!!!  First I'll keep working on them a little :)

It's all a part of the process!  Have a great week!


Sunday, October 5, 2014


Wow what a week!  Now today is the last day of vacation (boo) and wouldn't you know I'm awake at 4:00 a.m. thinking about tons of new ideas I want to try!  It's probably that fear of running out of time that will push me forward today.  I should put a pad of paper and a pen next to my bed so I can throw some ideas down and then continue sleeping until a normal hour as this could be how my weekends might go moving forward.  

So I mentioned before that I am having fun cutting my own new stencil designs to work with in the studio.  I'm experimenting with some mandala building and layering these are so much fun!  I purchased the 8" Gelli Plate and I have been using that as well as my large plate to see what I like the best.  I love the look of random monoprinting and layering the stencil prints and ghost prints and then enhancing with all my new fun tools!

My favorites include the Tim Holtz Distress Ink Pads, Sharpie Waterbased Paint Pens, Stabilo Aquarellable pencils and Golden Fluid Acrylic Paints.  I am ready to ditch all of my cheap craft paints as it is so obvious how lackluster they are compared to the fluid acrylics.  The Distress Ink Pads are awesome to use for applying in a watercolor and brush fashion.  You can layer them just like watercolors, however, I'm not so sure they are permanent.

As usual, no floor space is exempt from drying prints and stencils.  Once the cardstock stencils get covered in enough paint, I can't wait to use them directly on other projects.  This has to be one of the messiest worktables ever!  I am constantly looking for things that get buried under additional layers as the day goes on.  

 Of course, I can't NOT play digitally to see what fun stuff I can come up with through that process as well!  Don't these look yummy!!!!  I'll be printing those out to use in new collages. I can't decide which one I like the best but I'm in the mood for some muted colors like the 2nd one.

Oh boy, I know I could make this into fabric!!!  Repeat pattern HERE I COME!!!  There may be an art quilt somewhere in my future!!  I have the worst desire to sew right now, but I'm holding off (mostly because all the table top space is already covered!)  

Well, I've got big ideas brewing and only nights and weekends to put them together going forward.  I'll try to get as much done as I can today to take advantage of my last vacation day!

Have a wonderful week!