MATS Wrap up

Well the flurry that was Make Art That Sells finished a few weeks ago, and here finally is my wrap-up post.

Overall it was a fantastic experience and just looking from the first assignment I submitted in MATS-partA to the last in Part-B I can see how much I have developed, grown and how my eye has improved, especially for things such as patterns which I had never done before.

First assignment - Fabric market (eek!)

One of the areas I feel I grew the most in is the use of colour, especially neutrals, which was stressed a lot in the courses. I think coming from a children's book background I tend to think 'Everything Must Be Bright'! but of course that is not true. In fact having a few neutral colours and just one or two colours that pop give pieces a certain sophistication which I really like.

Ohn's beautiful work and delicate palette

I feel like I put out much better work in MATS-PartB and once I finally get some time, am ready to dive into trying to get more into licensing! I would love to dive into the Paper market most I think - greeting cards, journal covers, stationery, that sort of thing.

Here are the pieces I put forward:

Week 1 - Paper (greeting cards)

Week 2 - Babyware

Week 3 - Scrapbooking

Week 4 - Editorial
Last assignment - Partyware
And 'Bootcamp' continues, which is MATS relaxed - a monthly schedule instead of weekly. I hope I can keep up with it while working on a new book. We will see... Thanks for following along!

Make Art That Sells : Editorial

I'm running a bit behind in my blog posting, so here's a little catch up!

MATS continues and this week it was looking at Editorial Illustration, mostly work for magazines. I have done some editorial work in the past and have to say it isn't my forté. I am not one of those illustrators who comes up with the clever concepts to illustrate difficult topics. But over the course of the week Lilla showed us a lot of her personal work from her many years as an illustrator, and i realised that there is a lot more to editorial than illustrating a headline. (or there was anyway, I'm not sure how healthy the editorial market still is for illustration these days...)

Anyway, I was sort of dreading having to illustrate an article, but was very happy to find our assignment was to illustrate a map!! which I love doing. We were supposed to do a map of our current city/town, but because I already did one of Melbourne for They Draw and Travel (click here to see) I decided to illustrate Montreal instead, my birthplace, and first love :)

I first did a bit of a sketch to figure out which elements I would be including (and also canvassed my Facebook Montreal friends for suggestions, which was very fun and interesting!) I find I can get a bit too detailed with doing maps. I love it, but I'd also like to try doing something a bit freer and more abstract. anyway, here's the sketch.

then I did the background in watercolours.

and added lots of little icons in a few styles:



and stampy...

 and then the lettering.

I put it all together in Photoshop and voila mes amis!

Next week is the last week of the Make Art that Sells class, which is sort of hard to believe! We are focusing on the party paper market (paper plates, cups, wrapping paper, etc)

Make Art That Sells: Scrapbooking

So this 3rd week in the online illustration course I'm doing 'Make Art That Sells' focussed on the Scrapbooking market. I can't say I was terribly excited about this market - even though I often use scrapbooking papers as collage in my work - but in the end I really enjoyed the process of creating this piece and it was one of my better received in the MATS community! So there you go. Open minds, people, open minds...

Our 'mini' assignment this week was to sketch ink bottles, vintage ones to be specific. This was fun. I actually went straight to carving some stamps. I've really enjoyed doing this for previous assignments, love the texture they create and am loving improving my skills with practice. So here is what I did for the 'mini':

Then we got the main assignment which was to create a design for a scrapbooking paper using the theme of 'correspondence', again with a vintage slant. I think the stamps really helped me with that look.

Thinking about how this piece would sit in my portfolio, I decided I wanted to do something that was more of a pattern which could be used in many different markets, as opposed to something suited only to scrapbooking, which might have text like 'my memories' or 'that summer' etc etc.

I went for a 'love letter' correspondence vibe, and when you think looooove, what else do you think but Paris?! So some French crept in there too. I did some more hand-carved stamps, ink work, fun splatters, and some hand-lettering:


I even managed to use a pressed flower I did in university!!

plus a photo I took of the Eiffel tower when I was there a few (ok many) years ago. Here's how it turned out...

As I said, really happy with this one. I even managed to finish early so that I could have the weekend doing easter egg hunts and gardening in the Autumn sunshine. perfect end to the week :)

Next week: Editorial.

Make Art That Sells : Babywear market

This week was all about baby wear - so right up my alley. Cute, fun, whimsical.

Topic: Pirates!!! Lots of fun!

So first I did some sketching and came up with the idea of doing Pirate Pigs! I made it into a bit of a pattern and everything - was all ready to start painting, and then I realised it's not really very 'baby' like. perhaps a bit of an older child with slightly edgier look and swords and everything??

so I quickly had to resketch as the assignment was upon us to do use our sketches to create a pattern for a baby onesie, and went for the all-out-cute factor.

I added in some hand carved stamps (which I am REALLY enjoying doing) and here's how the main pattern turned out:

I made up a placement graphic (a single image that might be used by itself as opposed to a pattern)

 and put it all together with some 'coordinate' patterns. ta dah!!!

and we're already into this week's market: scrapbooking! check back next week for another post.

Make Art That Sells : Paper market

I am back into the swing of Make Art That Sells and already the first week is nearly done! I am very excited about the Paper market which includes greeting cards, journal covers, notepads, etc...

our 'warm-up' exercise was to draw/paint gingerbread houses which were a lot of fun (and somewhat reminiscent of cuckoo clocks!) -- looking at reference, it's amazing the amount of work people put into decorating gingerbread. they are works of art and i don't think i'd want to eat them, they're too beautiful!

then our main assignment was to create a holiday greeting card (i.e.. christmas but non-denominational) at particular dimensions, using gingerbread houses.

here was my process:

for the 'mini' warm-up I sketched here there and everywhere - in a big sketchbook, on the train in my moleskine, and on some craft paper which i quite liked because i could use white for the icing.

Then once we got the main assignment i started doing some compositional sketches. i pretty quickly came up with the idea of gingerBIRD houses which i liked. (But I PROMISE I will not draw birds next week. Can't seem to get away from them!)

At first I had the birdhouses as hanging Xmas bauble-type things

But decided that was trying to combine too many things (gingerbread, birdhouses, bauble) so made them more birdhousey.

Once I had the sketch, the fun part came. This was actually pretty tricky to do traditionally because all the detail for the houses is in white. I decided I wanted to do this in separate layers so I could move things around if I needed. 

So first I did the linework in black, which I later reversed in Photoshop: 
(I was planning on using the smudginess/fingerprints in the background but didn't in the end)

Then came the colour on the craft paper which i liked so much and gave it good 'gingerbreadiness' (wow i'm writing my own dictionary here!)

 I did the birds separately and some black snowflakes to be reversed and used in the background:

as well as some hand-carved stamps of candy canes, stars and circles to be used on the garlands (i changed the colours in Photoshop)

And then I got to assemble it! It all came together pretty easily (for once!) Here was the first try with some text in Photoshop.

not working so well. I decided to change the location of the garland of lights to the bottom of the poles to break them up a bit. I also added some hand-lettered text.

and then submitted! WOHOO! :-)

Always learning…. MATS Bootcamp : March : Jelly Bolt Fabric Pattern

This month's assignment for MATS Bootcamp was to create a pattern design for the Bolt Fabric market. Topic: Jelly!

I can't say I was super excited by this one. I decided to go for a 70s food theme instead, plus a 70s palette along with it.

here are some sketches….

and here's how it ended up….

Once again I am not terribly happy with this. I have been trying to push myself to work a new way - I've been scanning in my drawings, tracing them in Illustrator and adding colour digitally. But I'm realising that this isn't really what is me. I am keen to use my digital skills but I don't think I am going about it the right way.

and here, I was thinking about what OTHER people might like as opposed to what I would like. 70s palette? so not me. Yes it is good to push yourself and try new things, the trick is remaining true to yourself in the process.

MATS Part B is coming up next month. With a new perspective now, I am going to take it on with the style which I love that I have been cultivating for the last 5-10 years, but freshening it up with some new tips from the course. If I'm going to start doing something in a new style, I want it to come organically, as opposed to forcing myself to do something in a way which doesn't quite feel right, or feel like me.

so, as always…. bring it on….!

MATS Bootcamp: Main assignment February : Cuckoo clock iPhone cover

Our assignment for this month was to create art for an iPhone cover.

Somehow in converting my sketches from the mini assignment to the iPhone dimensions, it became more about the birds than the cuckoo clocks. I'd still like to take some of the sketches and turn them into something more - patterns maybe? But here's what I submitted to the Bootcamp gallery for February:

You should DEFINITELY go check out the gallery and see what everyone else has come up with… as usual… Blows Me Away! so much talent!!

Here are some of my faves:

Bootcamp: Glutton for punishment

So I decided to keep the momentum going from MATS, and have signed up for Lilla Rogers' Bootcamp. It is the same premise as MATS where we have a 'mini' assignment to warm up and then a 'main assignment' to conquer, but on a more realistic timeframe: monthly instead of weekly.

and we're already off and running with the Week 1 mini: Cuckoo clocks! fun!!!

I would never really have thought about doing a piece of art with cuckoo clocks in it, so it was really fun to browse images of all the crazy clocks out there in the universe. What I really love about them is they seem to tell a little story.. a bit like a photograph-- a moment in time frozen of a maiden milking a cow or a deer in the forest. 

so I did some sketches...

Canadian scene.. back to my heritage
a few wonky sketches on the train.

and decided I like the Red Riding Hood sketch the best. I did it up in a bit more detail and was hoping to add colour but ran out of time.

cuckooo… grandma….??
I'm not sure how these ideas will be used yet but I'm very excited to find out! Our main assignment is revealed tomorrow… wish me luck!

Happy daze

Just wanted to wish all of you out there a lovely summer daze for the days ahead (or maybe a turkey daze if you are in the Northern hemisphere) I know I am looking forward to a bit of relaxaaaaation over the holidays before things gear up again next year (if relaxing is possible with a toddler!)

Here is something a little different from me this year, a digital illustration a la "Make Art That Sells" class I recently completed.

MATS: Wrap up

The Make Art That Sells experience was quite amazing. It was intense. It was challenging. It was liberating. It was frustrating. It was eye-opening. It was affirming.

Intense: 5 weeks, a mini assignment each Monday, a main assignment on the Wednesday, due on the Sunday. Posts almost each day (sometimes videos of 30minutes+) on the market we were exploring that week. Information overload, but what amazing information.

Challenging: Definitely getting out of the comfort zone. Trying to complete a professional quality illustration in 4 days. Thinking about my art (and myself, my role, what I want my art to be) in new ways.

Frustrating: I felt like I never had enough time in each week and could have kept going for ages on each piece! (This is a good thing I guess. But so is knowing when to stop!) At one point I started to fall behind in class posts and was struggling to catch up. But in the end, I was mostly pretty happy with the pieces I put up. (except was disappointed in myself for the Children's Book week)

Liberating: Trying new things. Things I'd always wanted to try but never given myself the time or the freedom to try them. Having fun doing things I wasn't sure I would like!

Eye-opening: Seeing what all the other amazing artists in my group game up with was truly inspiring (sometimes daunting) but mostly motivating to work hard and achieve a higher level with my own art.

Affirming: This is what I want to do. I think I can do it! Finding some new directions to take my work in.

The class was definitely good push to try new things and discover other avenues to get my art into the world. I look forward to revisiting some of my pieces because I would have loved to have had some extra time to work on them during the class. I also look forward to reviewing some of the class posts because there was SO much amazing information given out, I'm sure I missed some along the way. But I feel like I am armed with all of the necessary info to enter any one of the markets we studied. It's just a matter of making some amazing art and getting it out there!!!

These are the pieces I created during the class:

You can see my posts here: Fabric / Home Decor / Children's Books / Wall Art / Gift

Another wonderful part of the class is the incredible wealth of information from classmates, as well as feedback and support through the Facebook group. Lucky for us, the fb group continues on indefinitely and we still use it as a sounding board and support network.

These are a few of the amazing pieces from some of my classmates: (soooooo much amazing work let me tell you!)

Rebecca Jones

Anna Whitford

Mary Tanana

Linda Tordoff
Kirstie Cookman

Hui Yuan Chang

Hung-yu Chen

And here are some of the other participating artists with blogs who are blogging about the class. Take a click to see incredible art from these talented people!!

Katie Wood -
Anne Waters -
Aisha Khan -
Linda Tordoff  -
Martina Lenhardt -
Melissa Doran -
Jo Chambers -
Son Atwal -
Bari J. -
Eva Marion Seyffarth -
Rachael Schafer -
Danielle McDonald -
Renske de Kinkelder -
Jordan Vinograd Kim -
Emma Schonenbergh -
Aileen Tu -
Sarah Ehlinger -
Jen Burbridge -
Carolina Coto -
Claire Lordon -
Anna Whitford -
Mary Tanana -
Jennifer Wambach -
Victoria Johnson -
Nic Squirrell -
Melinda Hopkirk -
Jennifer Appel -
Wendy Brightbill -
Andrea van Dalen -
Ohn Mar Win -
Jill Byers -
Sarah Gager -
Angie Sandy -
Diane Neukirch -
Larisa Hernandez |ández/166215440228435
Kathy Weller -
Lisa Deighan -
Deb Trevitt -
Tara Lilly -
Nicole Piar -
Stacy Peterson -
Emily Dyer -
Antje MO (Martens-Oberwelland) -

MATS: main assignment - Week 5 - Gift market

This week was all about the Gift market - which could be anything really. From little pouches to pencil cases to jewellery to books to tea towels to magnets. So really wide open, and again a range of art being used.

I have to admit that I skipped the mini assignment this week. We were supposed to take photos or make sketches of some collections we might have around the house - things we collect purposefully or not, such as buttons or flowers or pencils. Well I have a pretty good collection of brushes and other painterly things, but I ran out of time and just decided to see what the final assignment would be.

Our final assignment of the class was to create a design for a "hyper-lush" item such as a zipper pouch. We were encouraged to 'throw everything at it' - layer our little hearts out, and even bring in items from previous weeks if they could work.

I wanted to work mostly digitally for this one... It's been a long time since I've done much digital art (for myself) and definitely not vector, so this was pretty fun. Though I couldn't keep it all computer-based!

I decided to build on the Indian-y theme and came up with the idea of an 'Elephant Tea Party'. To start, I drew out a few mandala-type things and indian motifs which I then scanned in and traced in Illustrator so I could change the colours easily.

And then I just built and built it up and up....
I used some of the patterns (in the corners) from last week
We were encouraged to use photography, but that just wasn't 'me'

getting there...
until I came to this....

At this point I posted it to our class Facebook group for feedback because I still wasn't quite sure. The consensus was to bump up the colours to make it more 'lush', so did that, added a few more details, and here's what I ended up with:

And here's how I presented it for the class:

Very happy with this! (finally!) I feel like I've ended the class on a high note and feeling good after some weeks of not-enough-time posts and not feeling like I was pushing myself enough.

We have a few more 'bonus' information posts to the class in the coming days, and then after that I will do a wrap up post here. Stay tuned....

see last week's assignment in Wall Art

MATS: main assignment Week 4 - Wall Art

This week's assignment for Wall Art was to create a piece of abstract art!! yikes! I'm not sure if I've ever done any pieces of abstract art before.

We were given lots of images for inspiration, and asked which one resonated the most with us. I really loved this one by Jill Ricci, so decided to use it as a starting point for my painting.

I first collected some interesting patterns from my collage paper library....

and got working....

part of the brief was to work with a restricted colour palette. Mine was Blue and Red, so this is what I came up with...

I carved some more stamps to use! I'm having so much fun with custom stamps.

and here's where I got too into making the piece and forgot to take photos! I stamped and painted in acrylics on top of the collage, did some paint splattering, and then added some 'bling' - some turquoise sequins I had picked up at the art supply store earlier.

part of the brief was to include floral elements (tick) and also some text. So I did some more hand lettering, and added it in digitally.

and here's the final piece!

I am very happing with this painting. In fact I think i am happiest with this piece out of all of them from the course. I'm not sure I would want to delve more into this market necessarily, but it was definitely fun to create, so who knows.

Next week is the last week of the course! Hard to believe. I'm actually excited for it to be over and have a bit of time to reflect on everything we've learned, and also to have a chance to catch up because I've been struggling to keep up with all the info each week. so stay tuned!

Next Week: Gift market
Click here to see last week's main assignment in Children's Books

MATS: mini assignment Week 4 - Wall Art

This week we are learning about the Wall Art market which is quite wide and varied - from abstract to baby images and everything in between, it all works.

our assignment this week will be to create a piece of abstract art - yikes! I haven't done anything abstract in...... i don't know if I've ever done anything abstract??

so our mini assignment was quite fun this time around - just to collect some objects and ephemera to stick up and around. I raided the local craft store to find some goodies, not sure what I'll end up using. we were also given a colour scheme to use - mine is red and blue.

so... I'm all set to go! Looking forward to finding out the terms of the main assignment tomorrow night. I think I might use acrylics for this if it suits, should be fun....

MATS: Main assignment Week 3 - Children's Books

Our main assignment this week was to illustrate either the cover or a spread from a text given to us - "The Language of the Birds", a russian folktale.

It's quite a sad story, but we could illustrate the story in any style we liked.

I ended up not using any of the sketching from the mini assignment and went with quite a literal representation, and, sigh..... I can't say I'm very happy with what I came up with. I wanted to start over halfway through but just didn't have the time, so I did what I could but my heart really wan't in it :-(

One thing I was really excited to work on was hand lettering which was part of our mini 'warm-up' assignment. I had a lot of fun doing these:

(might look like penance to some people!) - but I didn't really have time to push myself any further. Same with the colour palette which is something I wanted to work on this week, but didn't! What happened? I think I got bogged down in the details of things - the background, the tree bark, etc. that I didn't leave enough time for other things.

Oh well. Brush it off, and on to the next is all I can say!

if you missed it, see last week's classwork on the Home Decor market

next week is Wall Art

MATS: mini assignment Week 3 - Children's books

OK! Week 3 of 5 is Children's books! woohoo! Home territory. Hoping to feel a bit more comfortable with this one. Although 4 days which includes some 'day job' work and looking after a toddler isn't time to do much of anything, I will soon see what our main assignment is for this week.

But first! The mini assignment for this week, Part 1: Draw Birds.
It's very funny because coming into this class I said to myself "no birds".... EVERYONE does birds, right? (although this class is very much about trends and birds are a 'high trend' animal. I think I tend to run the other way when someone says trend but maybe I shouldn't.) - but I had to laugh because I ended up using birds in my first assignment. and then we have to draw birds this week. ha.

Part 2 of our assignment was to try some hand lettering for the title "The Language of Birds". This is SO exciting because this is one of those things I've been wanting to try but never sat down and gave myself the time.

so... off I went... and for some reason the only bird I wanted to draw was perhaps the most 'overdone' bird of all: The Owl. But I just went there. 

and had fun!! 

I started sketching but then did a few pages of paintbrush and ink, which is so fun, quick, and loose. I think I'd really like to do some more of this.

and this little guy sort of appeared. So, let's see how he will be used in the main assignment.... wish me luck!

Click here for the main assignment this week

Click here for last week's main assignment in Home Decor if you missed it!

MATS: Main assignment Week 2 - Home Decor

This week our assignment was to use our sketches to create a range of crockery. It's quite amazing the type of plates and such that are available at the moment at places like Anthropologie - they are truly works of art. And you get to eat off them!

I found the process a little daunting on this one. I didn't have such a great time with the sketching phase and how would I use these for my final design? I tried some more sketching and painting, but once I got onto the pens I really enjoyed some of the repeating shapes:

I put in a few other swirly elements and some little creatures to add a bit of interest...

I started out by colouring them digitally but then decided I still wanted a bit of a watercolour look to them, so I made some washes and layered them in Photoshop. (I ended up altering some of the colours for the final piece)

I made a pattern for the background in Illustrator which started with bromeliad shapes, and ended in raindrops.

I find that choosing a colour palette is not one of my strengths. I consulted Design Seeds for some inspiration but don't feel like I really pushed myself anywhere new. A challenge for me for next week.

So, I then assembled everything in Photoshop.....

I made a dinner plate and a side plate...

and then still had enough time to to a teacup & saucer. One of the ways to think about creating all this is to make something that you would want to buy yourself. I reckon I would drink from that little teacup!

and here they all are assembled to be presented. 

This assignment was quite challenging, but I am happy with what I turned out in the end (until I saw what everyone else did - wow! some talent!) - trying to see it all as inspiring instead of demoralising!!!

But despite the rocky start I did have a lot of fun with this, and feel like the market is very intriguing as so many different styles and techniques can be used.

Next week: children's books! (hope to feel a bit more comfortable in this assignment!)
(Last week: Fabric)

MATS: mini assignment Week 2 - Home Decor

I was away for the first part of this week so didn't have much time for this week's mini assignment which was to sketch bromeliads. hmmm.... bromeliads? I struggled a bit with this one. I mean, yes, you can find interest in anything if you look closely enough, and I did, but it wouldn't be my first choice of subject matter!

Anyway, here are a few sketches I did. More soon.....

Click here for the Home Decor main assignment

(see last week's main assignment in fabric design if you missed it)

MATS: Main assignment Week 1

Well I made it through the first week of the Make Art That Sells course. It has been so inspiring already, and I feel like I am back at university with the amount of energy I have for this and also the amount of time I have spent drawing and creating in the last week!

Our first week was all about Fabric design. Our assignment was to use our sketches of berries and casseroles from our mini assignment to create a professional level fabric pattern.

I decided I really wanted my pattern to have a traditional hand-created feel, because a lot of modern patterns have a very flat, 'digital' look to them. One technique I've been wanting to try for a while is creating hand-carved stamps, so I figured what better time to try?! I made a few different stamps which was ooooodles of fun...


some spoons and cake stands...

and some leaves...

and then after a conversation with my husband who always has good ideas, I decided to include a few different things, so I did some drawing and painting too...

Then I scanned them all in, along with some scrapbooking paper I have, and arranged them in Photoshop. I didn't really have a plan for how I would do this. Normally I would do a sketch to work from but I decided to let it come together a bit organically. This is the first piece I came up with...

I really like the '4 and 20 blackbirds' reference, but something wasn't feeling 'right'. I'm not sure if it was the colour scheme or the composition. 

So after I put my little boy to bed tonight I had a glass of wine and started over. I started from scratch with mostly the same elements and came up with this:

And this one feels a lot better to me. As I said to hubby "I'm not blowing myself away" but it feels like it sits better. I'm happy to submit this one. Here's what it looks like repeated:

Had sooooo much fun this week. I've enjoyed creating this work and could definitely see doing this as a fun break from watercolour washes to do some more iconic work.

(see my mini assignment for this week here if you missed it)
Next week: Home Decor. Bring it on!!

And we're off... MATS Mini assignment Week 1 - Fabric

I'm so excited to be participating in Lilla Roger's Make Art That Sells e-course for the next 5 weeks. Each week covers a different market for illustration and this first week is fabric lines. The amount of information she has given us already is invaluable, and the amount of inspiration has my head spinning so much that I couldn't sleep last night!!

We are part of an amazing community and there are many talented illustrators across the world who are participating in this course, so I feel very lucky to be a part of it, and am eager to see what everyone comes up with.

I'm also eager to see what I come up with myself! Lilla encourages us to experiment and use lots of different media. I'm excited to try combining my traditional painting with my digital skills, and am also really excited to try some more hand-carved stamps (which I think will work perfectly for this week's challenge doing repeating patterns!)

Each week we get a mini assignment to draw/think about certain images ("icons") and then a main assignment is revealed a few days later.

Our first assignment was to draw berries and casserole dishes, so here is what I have been sketching:

I decided to just do sketches and save colour work for the main assignment. Just playing with shapes to give me some good 'ingredients' for my main piece.  SO FUN!

Looking forward to tackling the main assignment :)