101 Florals

My friend Lindsay recently started a new pattern project along with illustrator Llew Mejia called 101 Florals. (You can see tons of awesome patterns in her previous Daily Pattern Project.) I was instantly hooked on 101 Florals, so when I saw that they were having guest illustrators join them each week, I immediately volunteered to be one of them.

There was already a 6 week waiting list when I signed up, but my how time flies! I knew my pattern was due for today, but with my schedule, I didn’t have a chance to start working on it til yesterday.

This week’s theme is cosmos flowers, so I started by sketching a bunch of cosmos leaves, buds and blossoms.

cosmos sketches

I scanned in my sketches and began to layout the pattern.

I haven’t made a repeat pattern in a while, and I forgot how tricky it can be. Composition is really important. Not only do you have to make a nice arrangement of elements within your art board, you also have to think about how the pattern will look when it repeats, so that it will still have balance and that no element or section will stand out too much.

With a tight deadline, I finished up the first pattern and sent it off to Llew as my submission.

cosmos flowers pattern

cosmos flowers pattern, repeated

I like this pattern, but when I started out, I had something else in mind, so I kept working. I created a repeat pattern using my leaf sketches, and then arranged cosmos flowers on top of that pattern in another repeat.

cosmos flowers pattern with leaves

cosmos flowers pattern with leaves, repeated

I liked it so much I sent these over to Llew in the wee small hours of the morning to see if he could use this more complex pattern instead. And he could! So this is the pattern you can see over on the 101 Florals blog.

One of my issues with the first pattern I created was the background color. Don’t get me wrong, I do like it, but I had this sneaking suspicion that it could be better. It’s been on my mind all day, and suddenly I envisioned a dark purple-blue. I tried it out, and I love it!

cosmos flower pattern with a darker background

cosmos flower pattern, repeated with a darker background

The new background color adds that “pizazz” I was looking for. I even decided to change my long-standing geometric patterned twitter background to this floral one!

Every time I make patterns I think about the fact that I should make more patterns. I had a great time making these cosmos inspired repeats, and I’m so happy to be part of Llew and Lindsay’s ongoing project. Make sure to check out the other cosmos patterns on 101 Florals: Llew’s “Cosmic Cosmos Flowers” and Lindsay’s “Cosmos, Inked.”

Painting Experiments

This month I’ve been creating a doodle a day along with several other artists on Instagram (#doodleadayaug). I wasn’t intending to have a theme when I started, but after the first few days, I realized I kept drawing flowers. They are one of my favorite things to draw, so it’s been a fun month!

One doodle in particular inspired me to take the subject a little further.

initial sketches

I enjoyed the sketchy line quality, but felt it could be improved upon with some added color. An idea formulated in my head to do a loose underpainting of color with gouache and then add the sketchy line work on top of it with an acrylic paint marker.

The first step was to print out a quick copy of the original sketch, and transfer each drawing to watercolor paper using graphite transfer paper.

Transferring sketches with graphite paper

I really love the way these taped down sketches look, so I had to share!

Once the doodles were transferred, I painted each one using various colors of gouache. I liked the paintings at this stage, but I felt they were missing something. At this point, I was wondering if the intense black outlines would be “too much,” but I still wanted to go ahead and try out my original idea, just to see what the result would be. One of the thoughts I like to keep in mind when I make art is to not be afraid of “ruining” a painting or drawing by trying something new. True, sometimes ideas don’t translate well, but I figure that if I’ve done something I like once, I can always make it again if I mess up!

all flower paintings, side by side

After seeing the side by side comparison of all the paintings before and after the addition of the black outlines, I’m on the fence about which I like better. I still think that at least some of the paintings without the outlines are missing something, but maybe the black lines are too overpowering?

Taken on their own, I don’t mind most of the outlined versions, but I also wonder if they read as paintings, or just as colored-in drawings. If that’s the case, I could probably achieve this look in a much faster way, maybe using marker or colored pencil instead of paint.

Now that I’ve tried out my idea but am not 100% satisfied with it, I’m planning to redo the paintings to see if I can come up with a result that I really feel is “it”. Instead of outlining with black, I’ll work on adding depth and maybe outlines with more layers/colors of paint. So the experiment will continue!

Do you have a favorite of the above paintings? Do you think the outline works better for one painting more than another? I’d love to hear what you think!

Patterns & Paws: Update 2

I got word a few days ago that Jessica Gowling received Patterns and Paws in the mail again, so now it’s her turn to respond to the pages I started, and add a couple new ones for me to see when she sends it back to me. Are you familiar with our collaboration? If not, check out the two other posts I wrote about previously, or visit Jessica’s blog and see her side of the story.

First up are the spreads that I started and Jessica finished up during her last turn.

patterns & paws vol. 1

patterns & paws vol. 2

Aren’t the birds fun? I love the way the colors and dots match the page I created.

When I first saw the next two spreads, I admit that I was a little mystified.

patterns & paws vol. 1

patterns & paws vol. 2

I thought the shapes and the gray tones matched up well, but the meaning wasn’t clear until I read Jess’s description. Once I read her thought process, I was totally over the moon, and now they are some of my favorite pages in the book! Her explanation is definitely worth a read, so be sure to pop on over and check it out!

When I created the full spread for Jessica to add to, I covered the entire page with a pattern as a sort of challenge. I didn’t expect anything in particular, but I felt we’d been a little too “polite” about the marks we each were making on the previous shared spreads, so mostly I was curious to see what she’d do without any “white space” to work with.

patterns & paws vol. 1

patterns & paws vol. 2

Her additions are totally brilliant in my opinion. While maintaining the symmetry of my pattern, the little paw prints add contrast and motion to an otherwise static image. Suddenly the pages seem like maps or landscapes with animals crisscrossing them in their travels.

At this point I want to mention that I received the book back in record time. I’m notorious for taking months and months to send the books back, but I got the sketchbooks back within just a couple of weeks. I was inspired by Jessica’s lightning fast response, so I kept that in mind and decided to work spontaneously during this turn, and most importantly, not over think it!

I was so inspired by the shared spread that Jess started, that it was no problem to get it done quickly. I saw the pencil drawings and collages and immediately knew I wanted to incorporate text somehow.

patterns & paws vol. 1

patterns & paws vol. 2

I was so inspired by the images of the eagle and the lenticular sticker of the eagle claw that shifts to a human foot, that a couple of phrases literally popped into my head. I was a wee bit hesitant to add words to our until-then wordless sketchbook conversation, but I couldn’t ignore the idea once it was there, so my graphic designer self got a chance to shine. I was pretty excited when I realized that both spreads would have the words “Before You” in the colored boxes! Synchronicity!

In Jessica’s post that introduced the following pages, she made a prediction about what I might be inspired to add, “I predict soft colours and the circular motif to surface in Anika’s response.”

patterns & paws vol. 1

patterns & paws vol. 2

At the time I saw her prediction, I had already created the above two responses, and I thought Jessica might be surprised! Looking at it now, the shapes I created were relatively circular in shape, and the colors might be described as “soft” so maybe Jess was right after all!

The colors and textures Jessica used in the next two spreads reminded me of a rainy day, so I knew I wanted to make my additions relate to water in some way.

patterns & paws vol. 1

patterns & paws vol. 2

Because parts of of the dogs cut off at the center seam of the spread, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to continue the shapes, and incorporate them into my drawings.

The remaining three spreads are those that I started, and will be added to by Jessica during her turn.

I’ve been working with a lot of black and white lately. As a nod to my recent explorations, I created a couple of black and white patterns using chisel and brush tipped markers.

patterns & paws vol. 1

patterns & paws vol. 2

After using only black, I decided to inject a little color into the next pages.

patterns & paws vol. 1

patterns & paws vol. 2

Around this time, I created a step by step “Creative Insight” of my painting process for Joanne Hawker’s blog, and it seemed like the perfect type of image to add to Patterns & Paws. This might just be me, but the top image kinda sorta reminds me of a cat, and the bottom one a bat.

For the last two spreads, I was back to black. I had gotten some acrylic paint markers, and was curious to see how they would look in the sketchbook, and to know how the paper would react.

patterns & paws vol. 1

patterns & paws vol. 2

The answer is: they work great! The lines are a very rich black, unlike felt tip markers that can sometimes look a little washed out. It’ll be fun to see if Jessica decides to keep this a one-color composition, or if she’ll decide to liven it up with color.

I made a long comment on one of Jessica’s Paws & Patterns posts:

To me it’s highly interesting to see the different creative paths we take. Last night I was thinking about how when I start the pages for a particular spread, I might have an idea or two about what you might add to it. When eventually I see your response, I’m surprised EVERY time! That is what is so fantastic about this project. Not only doing it, but thinking about the possibilities about what I could do, what you could do, what I think you could do, what you think I could do, and so on. In the end, something gets put on the pages. So far it always seems to be the PERFECT addition to complete a set of pages while keeping the momentum going and inspiring what will come next.

I still feel the same way! One of the things I love most about this collaboration is the constant discovery, inspiration, and surprise. Any guesses on what Jessica might add to the pages during her turn?