Indigo Botanicals

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been about two months since I’ve written anything! The past few months have been pretty crazy actually and have simply flown by – most days I have no idea what week it is, whether I’m working tomorrow or sometimes where I am. But, through all that, I have actually managed to do a bit of creating in between the crazy!

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At the museum I work in, there has been a live Natural Dyeing project where people from all over the world have sent in skeins of yarn dyed using all kinds of plants, bark, roots, seeds, etc. Some of the results are truly spectacular and I have really enjoyed watching it grow. Have a look at their Instagram to see what incredible colours have been created!

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This exhibition really inspired me to try working with just Indigo as a starting point. I love blue and white – I wear a hella lot of navy and dark blues, so indigo had a natural pull for me. This also seemed like a really good way for me to experiment with using more wet, tangible mediums in my pattern design, as often I take my sketches straight to the computer for final artwork and colouring. I am really enjoying the process of using watercolour and inks to create motifs, and though it’s certainly far from perfect, I feel like this collection is definitely helping me expand my style and give me more confidence in using different media to design!

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Hope you enjoy the results so far!

Zoë xoxo

Paintly Patterns

Whew I’m glad February is over – although it went quickly this month felt like a slog. Getting sick with a horrible flu, super gloomy weather, work feeling like a grind…but I am determined that March is going to be full of bright and better things! Having spring flowers popping up all over the place is definitely helping my mood as well 🙂

So what have I been doing? Well I learnt to knit! So far I’ve completed one slightly wonky scarf and I’m halfway through creating some slightly wonkier fingerless gloves! Let the craft revolution commence!!

More importantly though, I’ve been thinking about how I can incorporate some more illustrative style into my pattern work. I really like drawing by hand, and although that’s how all of my patterns start, I feel like a lot of that unique, hand drawn style is lost once I put it into Illustrator. Not that there’s anything wrong with the patterns I’ve created, I still like them, but it would be nice to have a more painterly feel to my creations. So I challenged myself to create a complete pattern purely from hand-inked and/or watercoloured drawings alone.

I started with this pen drawing of bunches of hydrangeas using my navy Muji pen…

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I didn’t really have a clear direction of what I was going to do, I was kind of just trying things and seeing what happened. I decided to wash over the drawing with water and see if the pen would bleed a bit, adding some tone. TOTALLY WORKED!

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The lines stayed really clearly defined, but the water allowed just enough pigment to flow over the drawing and I was able to create some really nice highlights and shadows. WIN! Totally going and buying some more Muji pens next time I get the chance!

I then scanned my hydrangea doodles into Photoshop and started to play. Usually patterns are way easier to create in Illustrator as each motif is simpler to manipulate and move around inside a pattern block. However, I wanted to use my original line work and use some transperancy in order to build up my pattern, so Photoshop was my best option. For added texture and colour I also scanned in a watercolour wash of hydreagea-inspired colour which I could layer underneath some of the line-drawings.

And so…Voila!

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The finished pattern! I’m pretty pleased – it’s possibly not my most refined piece ever, but for a first experiment in Photoshop-created, hand-drawn-only, pattern creation, it’s not at all bad 😀

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

New Year’s not-really resolutions

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!! Do you have any New Year’s resolutions? I’m not really a big resolution sort of person – the one’s like ‘I’m going to get fit’ or ‘I’ll stop eating sugar’ – I tend to believe they don’t last much longer than a week into January, despite my good intentions. But I do have a few life goals I want to challenge myself to achieve this year.

  1. Draw more. I was getting really good at drawing something every day about a year ago, and then…I stopped. How come good habits are so easy to break and bad ones a basically impossible to get rid of?!
  2. Get out more. This one covers two things. First, the more people I talk to the more I realise how little I’ve seen of the area in which I live now: I really need to explore all that Brighton and Sussex has to offer! Secondly, meet new people. Although my list of acquaintances has definitely grown in the last few months, I still feel so new in Brighton, so it would be great to get to know more people.
  3. Do more fairs. Late last year I had a stall at the Etsy Christmas market and it was a fantastic experience. I had been put off fairs a bit previously because the ones I chose were so quiet and poorly advertised, but now my mind has definitely been changed! It also will motivate me to keep the momentum up with pushing my buiness and creating new things, which can only be good!
  4. Be good to myself. May sound obvious but it’s something I have never been very good at – I’m the type of person who historically has just kept my head down and put my needs last. It’s been a slow build but I am definitely much more positive and happier within myself than I was a few years ago, but I still have space to improve.
  5. Eat less sugar – whom am I kidding, I’ve already failed this one!

 

Christmas Paper cuts

Life has been pretty full leading up to Christmas. I took part in the Brighton Etsy Made Local Christmas Market, which was a fantastic experience! As a last minute ploy to decorate my stand I started making little paper cut decorations. I hadn’t really done any papercutting since I made an anniversary present for my aunt and uncle, mainly because it takes soooooo loooooooooong. But I’ve been thinking for a while that it would be a create Christmas project.

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They turned out so beautiful, I HAD TO CONTINUE!! They were actually one of the most commented things on my stand. Suddenly all my various Secret Santas were getting paper cut decorations for their gifts.

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I see lots of paper cutting in my future. And possibly a die-cut machine, so that my hand doesn’t hurt so much.

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Artist Crush: Andrea Lauren

I first came across this amazing lady on Spoonflower, falling in love with her geometric, animal inspired patterns.

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Andrea Lauren’s Llama print

But what I love most are her intricate linocut prints! They’re simply gorgeous, I love the way she layers colours, and she gives a great insight into her process through her Instagram pictures.

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Andrea Lauren print

Isn’t that gorgeous?! It certainly makes me want to try my own hand at linocut, though I think it will take me quite some time before I can create something this detailed!

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Andrea Lauren print

Check out more of her work at http://www.inkprintrepeat.com/

Fun with Brush Pens

I have wireless again!!! The last few internet-less weeks have felt looooong – but I guess it did give me time to focus on other things (well other than stealing internet from the pub over the road…) – like drawing! I’ve had this Japanese brushpen for a little while now and haven’t really used it much, so I thought I’d try it out with a bit of doodle – I like the illustrated list thing.

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FUN!! So fun. This may be my new favourite way to draw things now. The lines just have so much character, everything kinda looks like it’s dancing!

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Yum breakfast! I coloured my vegetable design and made it into a pattern…

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…but to be honest I think it looks just as fun in black and white.

What do you think? Any suggestions as to what I should draw next? Any thoughts appreciated!

My Creative Block is a Dog

I can’t believe it’s only been two weeks since I moved into my new home –  already I’m starting to feel settled. The box mountains surrounding my mattress are slowly getting smaller as I find small but ingenius ways to store all my stuff (shoe-rack under-desk art-supply shelving: hella yeah!) – and for the first time in about three years I have been able to set up my piano again, which I am so excited about!

I’ve been blessed with three charming housemates. I’ve managed to work out how the heating works. I’m even getting used to the sound of passing trains over the viaduct outside my bedroom window.

But still there’s a problem.

And that is I am feeling completely creatively dead.

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I keep thinking, it should be fine right? Sure there are still a few piles of teacups and odd things on my desk that haven’t found a proper home, and my room is still slightly chaotic, but that shouldn’t make a difference, should it? Yet somehow it does.

Creativity is a tempestuous beast. She’s a minx. One day she will fill you with inspired thought and you feel completely elated with how brilliant your imagination is… and the next day everything you’ve done before looks like poop, and you can stare at a page for hours with your mind a total, numbing blank. Creativity is so darned impetuous it needs to be petted and fussed over and coaxed into being, which I think means that any upheaval, even if it’s a positive change, is still such a shock to creative flow that it needs a lot of time to recalibrate and be comfortable again with its new surroundings. I’m making it sound like creativity is a very anxious and delicate old lapdog, with a weak stomach and neurotic tendencies, which is probably an apt description.

So what should I do? I have decided to beat it at it’s own game: by being mundane.

That doesn’t sound like much of a plan but apparently doing mundane tasks like cleaning, dusting, general tidying or walking to the shops allows your brain to switch its focus from the activity and rely on muscle memory to complete the task, letting your mind to wander off and be creative (Science!). So although my days don’t sound very interesting at the moment (ie. this morning I did the vaccuming and mopped the kitchen floor – woohoo!) I still feel like I have achieved something creatively, because I’m allowing my brain to resettle in it’s new environment and find its happy place. I am, essentially, petting the crazy lapdog and telling it that it’s okay, this place is safe for you to do your thing.

Go nuts.

 

An exciting new collaboration

I have a few exciting announcements to make since I last posted… Firstly I will be having a stall in at the Brighton Etsy Christmas Fair! The competition is really stiff so I’m pretty honoured to be selected! It’ll be happening at the Brighton Dome on the 3rd December, so I hope to see some of you there!

More excitingly I have started a new collaboration with the talented people at ArtsCase! They are an iPhone accessories company that work with a range of fantastic artists and designers to create really unique and good quality products. I am thrilled to say that I will be joining their team of creatives! They’ve even written up a nice little bio introducting me, here. Even better, as a special welcome present, they’re giving 30% off all cases featuring my artwork, take a look here! I can’t wait till I get one myself, it’s really satisfying seeing stuff I’ve drawn on a real thing and not just in my sketchbook! (That and also because I keep dropping my currently caseless iPhone 5 and it’s reaaaaally starting to show!)

And now for my third exciting piece of news: I’m moving house! I have been living with relatives for a while now, who have kindly been letting me inhabit their spare rooms, but finally can now say I am able to move into my own space. At the moment my room is becoming piled ever higher with boxes of books (not an understatement – the majority of my boxes are purely books…) and I am scouring the internet for cheap wardrobes and furniture.

So let the new adventures begin! Thank you to everyone for all your support so far, onward to the future! 😀

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