Sunday, June 30, 2013

Week 4 at Lilla Rogers School

Can't believe it's already the end of week 4 at Lilla's school; where did the time go? One more week then we will be done (until October that is, because I signed up for Part B of the course, too.) Again, I am completely wowed by my classmates this week, especially by all the talented painters in the class. For week 4, Lilla covered this market:
 Wall Art Lettering
I didn't really know what to expect for this week, especially when our Monday exercise didn't even involve any kind of drawing. Lilla just simply wanted us to go on a scavenger hunt in our homes. We were told to gather stuff according to the colors for our astrology signs (so that's red & orange for me) plus unlimited amount of neutral colors, and these are the stuff we can use to create our wall art piece later. I don't really collect small stuff but surprisingly still managed to find bunch of little items (plus the thought that I really need to have a garage sale).

On Wednesday we received our assignment, and it was to create an abstract collage wall art piece for shops like Anthropologie or Urban Outfitters. We can do whatever we want, but it needs to have all these elements: words, floral motifs, some kind of traditional media and geometric/organic motifs. We are told to create something that we like and not worry about the clients. We could work digitally but we were really encouraged to explore paint and work with our hands. So that's what I determined to do for this week, not to use my computer at all. I know I am not as comfortable with paint as many artists in my class, and that's exactly why I wanted to push myself.

So I went to our local Urban Outfitters for some inspirations (plus a little shopping), and this is what inspired my piece later:

inspiration: Urban Outfitters Display

And here is what I did. First, I just played with the layout using some wooden discs/squares and a diecut chipboard I found in my house, plus some wood veneers cut into shapes. (Also, some watercolor bits I did from week 2 also got cut up and used in the collage.) The base is a 10"x10" wooden board.

Patchwork Collage WIP

Then slowly I colored some of the pieces and added patterns or drawings. I admit I didn't totally stick to the colors assigned to me. I love colors too much and couldn't help but adding some extra ones.

Patchwork Collage WIP

Patchwork Collage WIP

Spraying a couple coats of clear varnish to all the pieces before final assembly.

Patchwork Collage WIP

And here is the final piece. I made a simple distressed strip frame for it.


 I finished my piece on Saturday morning and submitted to our group. With no more deadline pressure, I decided to make another piece and just had fun with it (plus my desk was already a giant mess so why not add to it?) I put down layers and layers of paint, distressed them, glued a piece of old pattern paper and a piece of red ric rac I found in my house, and put on some more paint. I had a blast!
 Collage #2 WIP

Then I decide to paint a kitty on my board. It was based on a vintage kitty string holder like this one. Painting vintage kitchen item was fun; I might try to paint a few more later.

Kitty wants a new dress!

So that's it, week 4. It was definitely an adventure for me with all the painting and no computer at all.  At the end, I am really glad that I made something tangible which I can hold in my hands.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Week 3 at Lilla Rogers School

First of all, let me begin this post by giving a shout out to all my classmates at Lilla Rogers School. Seriously, this past week has been a huge challenge for a lot of us, but you all worked so hard like a champion, and I am so humbled browsing all the works that you did. You guys ROCK!!! :)

So without further due, let me show you what I did this week. For the third week at school, Lilla covered this market:


This is a market a lot of illustrators are either very interested in, or are really intimidated by. I have done a few little books for Hallmark, but those are all in-house jobs and I don't really have a lot of external experience in this market, so I am just as anxious as a lot of people in the class about this week's assignment. But as you've already known from my past posts, Lilla gives us a mini exercise on each Monday to ease us into the actual assignment given on Wednesday, and on this past Monday, we were told to draw snails. Yes, snails. I am sure a lot of us were expecting to be asked to draw something like bears, pigs, kids... after all, it's for children's books, but I don't think any of us was expecting to be drawing snails. But that's what's so great about this little exercise. A snail is not that hard to draw, comparing to most animals, plus they have no arms or legs, so it's a bit more challenging to show their characters and emotions.

So as usual, we were encouraged to draw as many snails as we could between Monday and Wednesday, without worrying about the actual homework. We were also asked to do some hand lettering for this phrase: "The Snail and the Rose Tree". Here are my unedited snail doodles. The first one are pencil sketches, and the second one were done with a brush tip pen.



After I was done with all the snail doodles, I picked my favorite little guy and sent him in Photoshop for a quick study in styling and coloring. I also did the hand lettering on the phrase, so I put them together and pretended I was making a book cover, just to see how it might look like.

 Snail Styling Study

(Did you notice the water color texture I used on the snail's body and in the tree? It was from the watercolor experiment I did last week. See, nothing gets wasted.)

So, Wednesday came, and lo and behold, what was the assignment? You guessed it! The assignment was to do either a book cover or a double-page spread for a story titled "The Snail and the Rose Tree". Yay, right? But wait, here is the curve ball: it's an actual fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen, and it's not a happy story at all! (If you are so inclined to read the story, here it is.) I actually really love the story after reading it, but none of my happy little smiley snail doodles would work for the assignment now. I still thought parts of my book cover sketch could work, however it definitely needed some tweaking to fit the darker mood of the story.


Looked like a simple tweak, but it took me two nights of work to get it right. I went back and forth between a green background and a red background, and finally settled with the red one. After I submitted this one to our class's Flickr pool, I wanted to do another one that's a little more lighthearted. I did a quick rough sketch to show my classmates to see what they think, and they liked it. Here are the rough sketch and the finished piece.



This second version took me even longer than my first one; there were a lot of back and forth in editing, changing colors, and styling of the tree. I also had the hardest time making decision on which one to submit as my final. My designer self likes the first red cover I did, but my illustrator self would rather be doing a whole book in the style of my second cover, so that tells me something. At the end, I made the switch and chose my second cover as my final piece, and I am really happy about it.

Man, that was a long post, isn't it? I hope I haven't lost your interest. If you would like to see other beautiful covers or spreads done by my fabulous classmates, I have picked some of my favorite ones and they are under my Flickr's Favorites. Go browse and be wowed. Enjoy! :)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Week 2 at Lilla Rogers School

Where should I start? Even though I've only been in Lilla's class for two weeks, I have grown so much, and I am sure my classmates all feel the same way about themselves, too. I spent as much time as I could everyday on my second week assignment, and let me tell you, it was a lot of work. I totally feel like I am back at art school, but I am so happy, and I feel giddy when I work on the assignment. I love Lilla's approach; each week she breaks down the assignment for us so we wouldn't feel overwhelmed. On each Monday we get our mini exercise, and on Wednesday we get our real assignment. But because of Monday's mini exercise, by the time Wednesday comes we'll have enough materials to use to complete our homework. It's genius!

Let me show you what I have done this past week. For week two, Lilla covered the home decor market. On Monday and Tuesday, without knowing what the actual assignment would be, I did bunch of drawings using black India ink with my brush and bamboo dip pen, since our mini exercise was to draw lots of pods.

Studio - Week 2 at Lilla 

One reason I did everything in black was because I planned to color them later in Photoshop so I was not too concerned about colors at this point.

3 Flowers Linework Sketch

And another reason is, even though I love conventional artworks, I am never comfortable with brush and paint myself. When I saw my classmates' work-in-progress, I drooled! OH MY! There are so many painters in this class and they post the most gorgeous floral sketches on our Facebook wall (we have a closed Facebook group where we are encouraged to share with everybody our work-in-progress photos and feedback for each other, another reason why I LOVE this class). So, as much as I was admiring all the beautiful watercolor and gauche artworks my classmates did, I wasn't brave enough to do it myself at this point, silly me, right?

On Wednesday we got our actual assignment, and it was to design a collection of floral ceramic plates (2-4 pieces per collection). Using my ink drawings from Monday and Tuesday, as well as some butterflies drawings I did for week 1's assignment, I came up with these three designs:


I am pretty happy with my collection, though I still wish I could've come up with something more painterly and beautiful like many of my classmates' works. So after I finished my last plate design this afternoon, with a 50% off coupon in my hand (a surprise gift that showed up in my email today), I headed to Michaels and got myself some watercolors. I went back home and started to lay down colors on paper, without worrying too much, just played, layers after layers. It was really relaxing, actually! I then scanned the watercolors into Photoshop and combined them with my ink drawings from week 1 & 2, and this little piece just sort of happened on its own; it was like magic...

Watercolor Flowers

I guess I don't have to be so afraid of paint after all. A lesson learned and an unexpected mini break-through, at the end of week two. :) 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

One more set of pattern

I couldn't shake the urge to create one more set of pattern after I finished my first week's assignment at Lilla School. I kept wanting to do a cluster design that is simpler and more straightforward, so I came up with a third design. It's quite different from my two previous sets, more appropriate for kids I think, and I had a lot of fun picking icons from my brush doodles and coloring them in Illustrator.

Chuncky Colored Doodles Pattern, partial details

Chuncky Colored Doodles Pattern

What a busy week! I can't wait to see what next week's class will bring. : )

Saturday, June 8, 2013

First week at Lilla Rogers School

Yay! I survived the first week of Make Art That Sells class by Lilla Rogers! This class is intense (especially for a person who has a full time job), but in a very good way. I have over 400 classmates, and most of them are professional working artists. That alone is amazing, because I learn so much just by seeing what other people do toward the same brief, and everyone is just so unbelievably supportive, helpful, and warm toward each other. If the remaining 9 weeks of the course is like the first week, then I am sure we are all going to grow beyond our imagination. I will try my best to record my thoughts and share what I did for the class along the process.

For the first week, Lilla covered the bolt fabric market. Every Monday we are given a little exercise to do, and on Wednesday we will be given a real assignment which we have until Sunday afternoon to complete and submit our final piece. Our mini exercise for this week was this:


Yes, we were to draw mushrooms and vintage casserole dishes, and I probably doodled more than 150 little sketches, mushrooms and casserole dishes combined. Drawing from real life can be challenging, but what I learned from this process is that by the time I hit the 50th mushroom, my hand started to loosen up a bit and the style started to come out.


On Wednesday, we were given the actual assignment - to design two different retro kitchen themed fabric patterns. We were also encouraged to design a few coordinated patterns to go with the main ones. I did two pretty different patterns using elements I doodled during Monday and Tuesday. It's fun to see how two designs can look so different from each other using similar elements. Here is a more detailed shot of my first pattern, which is a grid and it's made up with both hand-drawn doodles and vector images:


And the repeated pattern with its coordinated designs:

Here is the detail of my second pattern, using only hand-drawn icons:


And the full pattern in repeat, with its coordinated designs:
 Retro Kitchen - Doodle Icons Pattern

Do you like them? Do you prefer one over the other?

Here are some of my thoughts along the way, not just about the class, but about the creative process in general:
1. Draw, draw, and draw more! There is no shortcut to good design. You have to draw a lot.
2. Experiment. Push yourself and work outside of your comfort zone.
3. Nothing gets wasted, even if you end up using only one element out of 100 sketches. All the hard work you put in will become part of you.
4. Stay positive. Negativity hurts your spirit and hinders the creativity.
5. Surround yourself with supportive people. And don't be stingy with your encouragement toward other people.
6. And, if you have knowledge to share, share it!

That's it for this week. Hope you are all enjoying a nice weekend. Stay creative! :)