Thursday, January 22, 2015

MATS Bootcamp #1

Our first Make Art That Sells (MATS) Assignment Bootcamp (whooh mouthful!) assignment was to brainstorm with Edwardian Brooches...and then, we were to turn our musings into a journal cover.

This is what I came up with for the assignment:

Here's how I got there...

We got our Mini Brief and after preliminary research, I started sketching like crazy.
sketching like crazy!

ballpoint pen crazy sketches
You can probably already see which direction I chose to follow in the end, but at first I didn't know.  I went in a couple of directions at once. I wasn't sure which idea would work, and I brought some of the sketches onto my tracing table.  Other sketches I painted over, others I traced with felt-tip pen, but I scanned everything first -- just in case it didn't work out.

In the end, I felt I needed to pick a style.  My sketches went generally into three styles:
1) swoopy intricate
2) crunchy colorful painty
3) slightly naive line-art

I went with "swoopy intricate" and then I created two moodboards: an observational one from the research and a style guide to help reign in my madness.

FYI: These mood-boards were from a template from a really helpful Skillshare class with Elizabeth Olwen.  The class really helped me with workflow and technical tips with Illustrator.  I can highly recommend it if you're looking to figure out how to make a repeating pattern in Illustrator.

I focused mainly on plants, flowers, and birds... although I really wanted to try insects I just had to focus.  I really could have worked on it forever.  This is the trap I set for myself.  Infinite possibilities and I just drown.

Anyway, the mood-boards set me on my course and my ship sailed here next.

I played with hundreds of variations with the brooch widgets until I saw a classmate's background treatment, and it clicked for me.  That's what I was missing.  Context!  So, I added textures to the background.  Tweaked the elements some more, and even started a whole new artboard where I tried something completely different, and then cleaned things up for the final mock-up layout.  And, that's how I got to the journal cover and accessories I turned in.

It's been a while since I felt like I was doing something super exciting while I was illustrating.  I still get excited about knitting design, but it had been a while in the illustration department.  Reflecting upon the first MATS Assignment Bootcamp 2015 assignment, that's what I felt.  I felt energized about drawing.  I'm elated that the Assignment Bootcamp community is turning out to be more awe-inspiring and supportive than I could have ever imagined.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A New Year's Post

Each year, I start by looking back at the previous year and making goals for the year ahead.  This year is no different in that sense. I started by reviewing the work I had made, etc. but, I feel like I am in such a different head-space than I was a year ago.  Everything has changed.  My eyes have a razor-sharp focus on the prize, and the stakes feel so much higher now that I have a baby.

Last January, when I made my list for 2014 I was well into my pregnancy, but I could only imagine my future as a mom in a really vague way.  Here were last year's goals:
1) make some art:  get back into pen and ink, finish digital illustration commissions
2) make some things with yarn: finish hand-knit projects, use machine to stash bust
3) make some things with fabric: continue on the quilting and sewing goodness track
4) blog more efficiently and step away from the internet traps (facebook and cheesy news sites) 
With that nesting energy, I made things like there was no tomorrow.  I hit all of my goals - made some art, knit by hand and by machine, quilted baby F's zig-zag quilt, and blogged more efficiently.  I think I was kind of scared that there wouldn't be time after the baby came.  My fear of having no time to do anything was somewhat justified.  Luckily, I think F is very healthy and pretty independent, so that affords me snippets of time to work here and there when he's playing or napping.

Clockwise from top left: Mitered Detail Cardigan, Ottobre Nursing Top,
Wind & Storm Pullover (now lost at sea!!), Ottobre Kids, Laren Mitts, and the cover of Knit Now

Clockwise from top left: my entry for an artist's book collaboration, Ottobre kids, "playful" hand lettering, quilted zip bags, steeked fairisle vest, knit baby romper from Deramores, and Oktoberfest dirndl skirt & apron
Now I'm looking forward to 2015, and that same innate sense of urgency that came with pregnancy remains in my system.  Maybe it's the hormones? Whatever it is, I feel like I must create right now -- now or never!!  Yes, it's that dramatic a feeling.

Anyway, without further ado... my goals for the coming year:
  • Find my personal illustrative style, and figure out how/where to sell my art work.
  • Sew a few new non-maternity knit tops for myself.
  • Make another quilt.
  • Create another font.
  • Knit a bit.
  • Be a good mom.  (!!!)
Kind of a mixed bag of goals, right?
That last goal is so huge, it threatens to take over my brain. So, in the spirit of getting things done, I break down each goal into action-oriented tasks.  In terms of motherhood, what that means for me, is that I just take it one day at a time.

Happy 2015, everyone!  May it be a great year.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

WIP: Prepping for Fairisle February!

This past month, I've been working on a fairisle pattern and accompanying hand-out for a class I'm teaching on traditional fairisle techniques.  I've taught the class twice before, but I was taking over someone else's class after they were too sick to teach.  The orginal instructor had chosen a very thin yarn to do the colorwork, but now that I'm teaching it again I asked to switch to a thicker yarn.  Here is where Rowan Fine Tweed steps in.  It's pre-felted, slubby, thick/thin colorful yarn, and best of all, it's tweedy!!  I love tweedy yarns.

I'm getting back into the knitted swing of things, and warming up by writing a new fairisle pattern replete with oodles of simple motifs and steeks!

So far, here's my progress with this little vest...

First my swatch using the least used colors (two of the contrasting colors)...

Then once I configured my numbers, I designed the schematic for the vest and cast-on.  Since this one is steeked, I cast on in the round with extra steek sts at the center front...

Halfway through, I realized my row gauge had relaxed and I re-configured my numbers to be sure that the lengths would work out.

Then, after washing/blocking, I steeked the center sts! 

 The tweedy felted yarn won't just unravel, so I knew it would be okay to knit from the steeked edges.  I'll post photos when I get the photos onto the computer...

...and if you're in Munich in February, and are interested in learning fairisle techniques, be sure to sign up for my class at die Mercerie!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Change of Pace

I'm writing from Texas today.  We're on the second leg of a pretty long tour of the U.S. while we introduce our baby boy to the extended family.  This long trip is forcing me to explore other facets of my work, and I think it's to my benefit.  Since my sewing and knitting machines stayed in Germany, I've focused more on knitting, illustration, and fonts...

In the knitting world, I'm working on a fairisle design for babies.  Here's my swatch:

If you're in Munich in February, I'll be teaching a class on fairisle knitting at the local yarn shop (contact me for details if you're interested!).

I've also been taking online classes on surface pattern design.  My most recent class was through CreativeLive and was the Pattern Design: From Hand to Screen to Surface with Molly Hatch. It was a refresher course for me since I remember learning one of these techniques when I did ceramics at University of Miami.  We learned some of these techniques when we were making tiles... like physical tiles from clay!  It's great to know that these age-old techniques can be translated to digital form.

Here's the rough from the class...

And a more refined version I worked on via Photoshop:

And, in the fonts world, I've been learning more about kerning.  It's a weakness of mine.  When I first ventured into typography and designing fonts, I didn't know much about kerning and it shows in my early fonts.  So, my goal whilst traveling is to re-kern my old fonts.  Wish me luck!  It's quite a tedious task to say the least.