Sunday, December 14, 2014

Studio Sunday


Contemplating how to draw.  This is the biggest question I am asking myself right now (other than have I finished all my Christmas shopping)!  LOL  It's not a question of learning how to draw because I have proven to myself on numerous occasions that I am capable of actually drawing/sketching.  This was a sketch that I had done while taking an on-line drawing class with Misty Mawn back a few years ago.  


So the question I am asking myself is how do I want to draw?  How do I want the look and feel of my drawings to appear?  It's not a question of drawing everyday and eventually getting better and possibly developing a drawing style.  It is thinking way too much ahead of the process to draw with intention a specific style that I want to portray.  I guess it's like forcing myself into a style that I want to adopt before I even practice that style to see if it works for me.  It's crazy, I know.  I have a bad habit of trying to anticipate the end result so I can eliminate anything that doesn't apply in the build process.  This is because of my database building experience. LOL


So I frequently find myself in the bookstore looking at the art and drawing books trying to find an example of how I want to intentionally draw.  This week, I finally found a book that I could reference with various styles of drawing.  I love fashion but I will never be a fashion designer.  In this book I purchased, Illustration Now Fashion by Julius Weidemann, there are a number of examples of illustration styles that really intrigued me.


One technique is illustrating with black ink and adding watercolor in areas but not all over.  Obviously, this is my first pass at this but I can see the potential from it.  The style that I am not trying to replicate is realism.  Sometimes I begin to draw realistically like in the swans above, but that is not my aim.  I want to achieve more of a mysterious look.  A style that shows you lines and color without completely defining the image itself but providing enough of an inference that it is clear what that image is or what it portrays.  Something more minimalist.


Hand-drawn images are trending right now but I find that some look like they were drawn by 5-year-olds.  That is definitely not my goal.  This week I will continue going through my new book and experimenting with different styles hoping to find a comfortable place that I can continue to develop.  In the meantime, I'm loving the texture created from my designs cut as stencils and applied with Tim Holtz Distress Stains and the rough-around-the-edges look.



This last image is my attempt to draw a horse that I could use in a collection I am thinking about.  Of course, the image looks to realistic for me LOL and I'm going back to the drawing board on that one!  I give myself a B for effort but that one is going in the drawings box under the desk.


I hope you are all enjoying your weekend and you are taking extra time to relax between all the holiday stuff!  11 days left!  Ugh  :)

Margaret



Sunday, December 7, 2014

Studio Sunday

Happy Holidays!  Well, between on-line shopping and one full day at the stores, I think I am done!  Now I can get back to business LOL.  More than once I have mentioned that I am not a "doodler" by nature and that is my biggest challenge as a surface pattern designer.  I don't consider the lack of the skill a detriment to my designing, however, the more techniques you have that you can add to the toolbox, the more diversified your designs can be.


I definitely want to break out of this box but it is more challenging for me than people may see.  The other major challenge for me as a surface pattern designer is my complete lack of interest in designing for holidays.  Some artists love to design for Christmas, Easter, Halloween, etc., but not me.  No cute icons; bunnies in baskets, toys and stockings, monsters and costumes.  A part of that is that the color combinations don't inspire me.  Black and orange is not really my thing and every time I see purple and yellow, I think Easter.  


So where am I going with this?  Well, I'm kind of kicking myself in the rear here to get my pencils going, to stretch a little and explore the mark making.  My strength is working with shapes as you can see from the designs above.  When I was challenged to make holiday designs, this is what I came up with.  I was thinking recycled kraft paper backgrounds with simple shapes to create a feeling of the season through color.  (Yes, I did doodle the tree at the top and thought it definitely worked well for this purpose.)
  

Somewhere I need to find a balance in the creation of shape with just enough detail to change the designs up a little.  I'm still finding where that place is for me and how it might change or modify my current design style.


Of course I will continue exploring shape to build patterns and create design elements and ornamentation as it is truly my nature.  I would buy the wrapping paper below, would you?  



I think some of the time I compare my style to others who do have the more illustrative background and who do it really well which is unrealistic because our styles are so different.  It just makes me think I need to incorporate more of that look and feel into my own work.  I did stretch a little below to create my partridge in a pear tree.  But again, its a simple, low detail look which can work in a lot of areas as well.


So off the holiday designs and back to the fun stuff!  Since shopping took over the day yesterday, I haven't done anything in the studio so thought I would just share some more designs I've created.  The design below has a gradient background and there has been some digital manipulation of the texture inside of the image shapes but when you look at this up close, it is such a dreamy design.  It doesn't currently have a home in a collection but is ripe for a jumping off point.


The same with this design below.  I really want to print this up but want to work some more on the repeat as it seems quite boring.  When you see this one up close, it has a very batik look to it and I love the way the blending modes are working for me here.  The icon itself has 3 pieces to it which are all working together to create the look.  Yummy!



This set below is part of a collection I created that I will be possibly re-working for May.  I've been looking at trends for 2016 and it seems that the boho look will morph into a more gypsy-like look so I have been thinking of ways already to build new imagery and patterns into an existing collection to really expand it and create a more interesting collection.  I'll share more on that as I work on it.


So there we are!  I'll be digging into gypsy today and forcing some pen to paper activities so stay tuned for some reveal next week!  Have a fabulous weekend and I hope you can get all of your holiday shopping completed so you can get back to your studios for more creative fun!!!

Margaret




Sunday, November 30, 2014

Studio Sunday


Welcome to Sunday, November 30, 2014.  I say it this way because I really can't believe that tomorrow is December 1st.  This year has been filled with incredible experiences, many new acquaintances, newly-formed friendships, creativity and wonderful family times.  My nieces and nephews are growing up so quickly and it is fascinating to watch but, at the same time, it's making me feel really old. LOL


As the new year ramps up, I will be once again working intently on new designs and collections to take to Surtex in May.  I've been having a blast experimenting with designs cut as stencils and playing messy to explore how the paper results convert to digital.  This piece above includes a few new stencils that I used Tim Holtz's Distress Stains on.  I love those colors and the more delicate appearance of the stains.  From this design, I took a triangle shape slice and created a hexagon shape that I repeated and joined together.   


Is it just me, or is this a beautiful pattern?  Ohhhh yeah!  I want some of this fabric for sure!  Looking at the full image below, it almost appears like it is a crocheted afghan.  I really LUV, LUV, LUV this one and I am thinking that I will intentionally build a collection using my stencils and Distress Stains because of the uneven and distressed look and feel taken right off the paper.



This design plays tricks on your eyes.  It really is straight but the direction of the pattern makes you feel like the entire repeat is tipping to the right.  I pulled this design together from copies of fun foam stamps that I had previously created last year.  It is really fun to revisit old stuff that I have in my files and to create something new with it.


The next couple of designs were created using the second image below.  I love how the section that I chose from this image contained those spray dots and the end result looks like there is actually lace in the design from that section.


The original was orange and blue but I changed it up with the hue and saturation adjustments as well as reducing the saturation of the color which lends itself to that soft and subtle feel.  I created two different repeats from this index card and the quality of the print is so good you can actually see the texture of the gesso through the inks.  


The white areas have the dots in them and it really does look like lace when you see it in full resolution.


The last image is a fun one using a Luna moth image I created.  I'm loving how the blue in the moon and the dots in the wings of the moth appear to glow against the black night background.  I'm still thinking of a final design but for now, it's just fun to look at.


Now to gather all the wish lists and get some shopping done!  Have a wonderful day and keep on creating!

Margaret


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Studio Sunday

The sun is out, blue skies and I have my second cup of coffee in front of me!  That's a great Sunday morning!  I managed to do some doodling on index cards this week.  I figure the index cards are small and cheap and I can easily scan them so I decided to use these to create more designs "from the corner" so I can flip and mirror them and continue developing the designs.  This is part of the first one I worked with and it was definitely a success!

I took one part of the final design element and created a stencil with it and yesterday sprayed and flipped the stencil for some totally messy and yummy results.  You can see the general design of the stencil in the two prints below.  A friend of mine gave me her source for acetate that she found on-line so I  am elated that now my stencils are more permanent and because it is acetate, the ink stays on top allowing you to flip and print.  Perfect!  Here is a link to the Dura-Lar acetate on Amazon.  It is priced very reasonably.


On the two index cards below, I stenciled traditionally on the image on the left and then used Tim Holtz Distress Stain to get that inky messy stencil look on the right.  (try to ignore the washi tape) LOL.


Below, I used the full image to create a wallpaper that you see here.  I'm really happy with the final full element and I think it will be a great addition to a new collection I'll be working on for Surtex.  It feels like a home dec design and I can see it on everything from sofas, rugs, wallpaper, curtains, and it sure would make a fabulous background for wall art with a little added distress!


And, of course, what would design play be without a little layered digital design play.  I layered the full design with a collage piece that I had done on paper and played with all of the blending modes and hue and saturation and came up with this!  I know it is probably a little intense but this plays right into my plan for fabric design my way that I hope to have put together for Spoonflower printing soon!  This design is so saturated with color it's like you could pick it up and squeeze the inks right out of it!  YUM, YUM, YUM!!!


Ok, toning things way down, there was a second doodle design that I had created that I have pulled all of the pieces apart to come up with new design elements.  I created a stencil out of the background design.  It's cool and looks like water drops connected and moving downward and really creates a simple, uncomplicated design.  The top images are other pieces from the main design.


It's still a work in process but you can see where that design could go.  Of course, I cut the stencil and what I ended up with were those connected beads that I was able to use as masks additionally to ink and flip.  This is just a little sample as I didn't have time to embellish this one.  I laid the masks down and sprayed over them then lifted those masks and flipped them into the same area squishing all the ink around under them.


Hope you are all having a wonderful weekend and I'm hoping all those in the Buffalo, NY area are safe and warm!

Margaret


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!!!

Margaret



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!!!

Margaret

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 Joggles.com 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!!!

Margaret