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….!

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!

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)

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 :)

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all the mamas out there! This is my first mother's day as a mum, and how lovely it is. I've already gotten lots of kisses and cuddles from my little one, what more could I ask for.

It is a complete joy and a privilege to be illustrating a mother's day book at the moment (out next year) - Above is a little snippetty sketch from one of the scenes.

Enjoy the day!

Hiccups / IF: Capable

These guys are certainly capable of driving this train!

This is an illustration I did for the background of a poster for the Winter Kids Festival happening here in Melbourne in July.

Sometimes, a project goes incredibly smoothly. An idea springs into your head, you sketch it with perfection, and it gets approved in a flash. Other times, you have a few hiccups along the way.

Last year I did some illustration work for the Northcote Kids Festival which was a lot of fun - I got to see my illustrations displayed across 2m high billboards! Quite the thrill. So when they asked me to do some more work for them, this time for the Winter Kids Festival, I was of course very excited.

The great thing about these festivals is thst the imagery is very whimsical - which I love but don't often have the chance to do. I came up with the following sketch which I was super happy with:

Unfortunately, the festival organiser was not super happy with it. Because it is being held at the Newport Substation, an old train station, he wanted it to involve a train (even though my brief was for a boat). OK, fair enough. I did two more (very quick photoshopped) sketches with trains:

But they decided they would prefer to have a more side on view. So, sketch #4:

...which was accepted. To me, this is the least interesting! It doesn't have the movement and energy the others do. But, that is the business of illustration. You don't always get your way. I added a bit more movement into the final, and luckily, I'm happy with the way it turned out! It hasn't been designed into a poster yet, but it will be fun to see my artwork on those big billboards again....

Sketches for my secret home

Here is an illustration I did recently for a kids theatre show called 'My Secret Home' by Curious Legends Theatre Company. I'm very happy with the way it turned out.

I thought I would show you a little bit of the sketching process behind this illo. The theatre piece is essentially about a boy's love of books and adventure. I was working with the director of Curious Legends Theatre Company, and his idea was to have the characters jumping out of the book. So here are some initial sketches:

so here is the more 'final' rough sketch I did because it's what he wanted:

and here is the sketch that I wanted... Even though the other sketches were more active, I felt that this one captured the cosy feeling of safety a child has in their self-made fort.

So as you can see, my first choice won out in this case. But it doesn't always happen that way! I was happy when he agreed with me in the end, but I think either one could have worked well.

I did the shading on the animals with graphite as opposed to coloured pencils which I used on the boy, to make them less intense so that they fade into the background more. I really had a great time doing this piece!

The Greats

I went to see the European Masters exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria today. It is a collection that is travelling from the Stadel museum in Frankfurt, so many of the artists were German or had lived and/or painted in Germany at some point (Franz Marc, Uhde, Beckmann..) and a lot of French too (Monet, Degas, Rousseau..)

Here are a few sketchies I did:

(one of my favourites from the whole exhibition)

next week, the Tim Burton exhibition.... can't wait!


I am excited to report that I have finished the rough sketches/layouts for my current book. Just some scanning and a bit of touching up, then they will be off on Monday!

I have to say that I am having the BEST TIME with this book. It has been so much fun, so free. It's just sublime to interpret and bring my ideas to a text that isn't completely straight forward, and allows some room for humour and interesting perspectives.

Once I've 'officially' sent off the roughs I'll post some more about my process of illustrating this book (without giving anything away of course!) Until then if you were curious you can check out some posts (starting here) that I did when illustrating my previous book Surprise!

more soon...

Roughs, finished (again)

Well I finally finished the roughs for my 4-book series, again. (If you remember, I had to redraw the entire series because the original characters, elephants, were deemed 'unsellable' by the publisher's marketing team)

so, once elephants, they have magically anthropomorphized (OK, I know that's not actually a word but can you think of a better one?) all the way into humans.

Starting on all the final paintings now, but also looking forward to a bit of a break over this, the season of silly...... hope you get one too!

Good News!

I am happy to announce that I have been contracted to illustrate a series of 4 board books! The publisher must remain nameless for now, but I am very excited for many reasons:
• it's a publisher I haven't worked with before
• they're board books so for really little kids which is the age I love illustrating for most (also board books have no gutter, meaning the pages lay flat so there is no 'loss' of space in the middle where the pages are bound)
• the books are all about being healthy, so they've got a really good focus
• the characters are animals! I've always preferred drawing animals than humans, but the last few books I've done have been people, so I'm really excited to get back to drawing animals again. Soooo.... let me introduce you to my main characters, twin elephants Ethan and Emily:

I've been asked to change their ears a bit as they are too round, but other than that, these are the little guys I'll be having fun with for the next few months!

21 days creative exercise: Days 20-21

How did it get to be Day 21 already? That doesn't seem right. well looking back it looks like I skipped days 13-15 (not for any superstitious reasoning or anything, I just did!) - so maybe I should go to at least day 24.

Anyway here is Day 20:
I did a little series of sketches of a girl and her dinosaur (on post-its again!) - playing with perspectives again. yes i know he is one weird lookin dino!
"up! up!"
up looking down
down looking up

Day 21: This is one of my favourites of the whole 21 days I think! I went to my first ever meditation class the other night, and as we were trying to 'clear our minds' the instructor said if a thought came into your mind, that was okay, and just to let it float by like a log on a river or a cloud in the sky.
I thought, wouldn't it be great if we could do that, just send all our negative thoughts and feelings floating away, and I guess I had paper boats on a river in my mind because I just can't stop thinking of flossy-p's beautiful painting... (if you don't know flossy-p or haven't seen this painting you must, it's gorgeous)

okay, three more days to go... :)

21 days creative exercise: Days 17-19

Here are a few scribbly sketches I did (on post-its!) of a few ideas:

Day 17: "I am an island" - I look forward to painting this one...

Day 18: Thinking about 'Electricity' for I-F .. green electricity!

Day 19: This is today's endeavour - my friends just had their baby so now that I know the baby's name (clay) I could finish this up :) It's ink on brown paper with collaged japanese washi paper. Now on to some work!

21 days creative exercise: Days 10-12

Instead of painting my header, I decided to stay with the idea of using my 15 minutes every day for sketching. (but nothing too impressive here I'm afraid!)

Day 10: I find I sit for the first 5 minutes trying to figure out what to draw. I've been trying to push quirky strange angles in my illos a bit more so this was an uninspired attempt to do a bit more of that.

Day 11: I got inspired by Alicia's perspective sketches so thought I'd try some myself. Here's Jack & the beanstalk bird's eye view...

Day 12: snail's eye view.

OK, off to do some painting now! :)