We Are The Contributors

We Are The Contributors is a cool new creative community that hosts collaborative projects. Some of their goals are to create and showcase art projects inspired by a theme while growing their creative community. I love that the work created can be ANYTHING–visual art, music, poetry, an essay–you name it! I also love the fact that they are focused on including people from different backgrounds and communities across the internet.

I first heard about WATC through Jaime Derringer who participated in their first project with the theme “The Armory Show”. I was really impressed by the work that was created in Project #1 so when I saw the invitation to sign up if you wanted to be considered for future projects, I jumped at the chance! Happily I got an email inviting me to create something for Project #2: Beginnings.

Almost immediately I knew I would work with painting for my submission, as it would reflect the beginning of my effort to paint more this year. By the time I zeroed in on the specifics of what I would create, I realized it would be a whole series of paintings that would each individually represent a beginning of a painting, and as a group represent the beginning of my resolve to paint more in 2014.

Submission for the We Are The Contributors Project #2: Beginnings

I wrote up a description of my thought process about creating the series of paintings that you can read over on the project page.

Now that I’ve had a chance to reflect on the works I created, I realize that these initial paintings are about jumping in, getting something down on the page, and building the momentum. I worked quickly on each piece. I didn’t over think it and I didn’t judge any of it as “good” or “bad”. I was immersed in the process, laying the groundwork to be able to move forward with energy and enthusiasm.

I’ve only shared 9 of the 32 works I created, and I’m looking forward to sharing many, if not all, of the other paintings in their beginning stages as well as along the way as I develop them further.

If you think you might be interested in participating in a future WATC project, don’t be shy! Find the link to sign up on the WATC home page or check out their blog for mini projects that they host via instagram and are open to anyone to participate.

By now the new year is well under way. What are you beginning, or what have you recently begun? Even if you started something a month or two ago, I’d love to know about any new territory you are exploring, what new art medium you’re giving a try, or if you’ve started a long term project for 2014.

Chocolate Easter Bunny Foil Collage for Glue It Tuesday

Last week I saw Aimee from Artsyville’s announcement for a new feature on her blog, “Glue it Tuesday,” and I knew it was an activity I could really get into.

I’ve been interested in collage for years, but my early attempts were less than successful. I would carefully cut out people, flowers, and other objects from magazines, and then try to come up with arrangements that were clever, thoughtful, or good looking. Each attempt fell flat (to say the least), so eventually I stopped trying, and instead just enjoyed other collage artists’ works.

More recently I made my first positive strides with collage, pursuing a more abstract style. The best example of this is the collaged sketchbook I put together for the Sketchbook Project, Limited Edition. I worked intuitively, arranging shapes into balanced compositions that sometimes felt clever, thoughtful, and good looking!

I’m excited about this opportunity to explore the medium more and plan have my own Glue it Tuesdays here on my blog.

On Aimee’s intro post, I commented that I’ve been collecting thrift store books to collage with, and at first I thought I would use those for today’s collage. But then I ate part of a chocolate easter bunny. I noticed how pretty the little scraps of foil were, laying where they fell on the table, and I thought it would be fun to arrange them and glue them down.

easter bunny

So that’s what I did! I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to capture the shiny texture of the foil, but my scanner did a pretty good job.

I must say, the feeling of gluing down foil is very satisfying. If you’ve never done it, I highly recommend trying it out.

Next week I’ll probably work with paper of some sort. Although, I suppose I could buy a couple more chocolate easter bunnies in the name of art, right?

Be sure to visit Artsyville to see what Aimee created this week and to find links to other Glue it Tuesday creations.

Pattern a Day Februrary

In my post about the February Commit to Create Challenge (FCCC) that I took part in with Kari Maxwell and others, I mentioned that part way through the month I separated that challenge from my daily patterns. Initially I thought the two challenges would dovetail together perfectly, but partway through the month, I realized it wasn’t working as well, so I went with the flow and pursued 2 challenges a day. Therefore, this month I have a mix of designs: some inspired by the daily prompts from the FCCC and some that had other sources of inspiration.

During the first few days of the month, I easily came up with patterns that were inspired by the daily prompts.

Day 1 pattern Splash It!
Inspired by Day 1 “Splash It” of the FCCC.

On day 2 the prompt was “Stamp It,” and I had to smile since I spent all January “Stamping It” but this was actually great because it gave me the excuse to try out one more idea that was lingering from the previous month.

Day 2 Stamp It

I created day 16’s pattern in preparation of the FCCC prompt “Tear It”.

day 16 pattern a day february

After the pattern was drawn, I tore up the page into little pieces and rearranged them into a collage.

day 16 tear it

Early in the month I explored various media, but by the end of February I was mostly using zig writers to make my patterns. That didn’t stifle my creativity, however, and I came up with quite a few cute ideas!

day 19 pattern a day february

Day 22 pattern a day February.

day 26 pattern a day february

The strawberries are probably my favorite pattern from this month. I just love that they each have their own personality.

Check out the flickr set to see the full collection of patterns I created in February.

February Commit to Create Challenge

When I got ready to start my daily pattern challenge for the month of February, I was contacted by Kari Maxwell who invited me to play along with her February Commit to Create Challenge class. She sent out daily prompts throughout the month, and thought it would be fun if I could be the guest artist in February. It was great timing as I was looking for something different to do that month.

When I agreed I imagined that I would be using her prompts as the starting point for my daily patterns. The month started out as planned, but as the days went on, several of the prompts inspired other ideas that weren’t as easy to apply to a pattern. I embraced the unexpected and let the challenges split when needed.

A few favorite patterns that were directly inspired by Kari’s challenge that I also used for my daily pattern challenge include the prompts, “throw it,” “list it,” and “twist it”.

Day 4 throw it pattern

day 4 list it pattern

day 12 pattern a day february

For the prompts, “string it,” and “arrange it” I explored other ideas, although I was able to create patterns inspired by those creations.

day 5 string it

day 6 pattern a day february
pattern inspired by “string it”.

day 6 arrange it

day 7 pattern a day february
pattern inspired by “arrange it”.

Prompts including and “trace it” and “bind it” really stood on their own.

day 13 trace it

day 15 bind it

I love the unexpected, so I had a lot of fun this month letting my creative process unfold and go where it wanted. Kari’s prompts, feedback and encouragement, plus the interaction with the other participants in the challenge had me looking forward to each day to see what the theme would be and how everyone would interpret it differently.

Kari is a big proponent of the power of creating on a consistent basis, which is the focus of her ongoing class series “Create Everyday.” Be sure to stop by Kari’s blog and check out those classes, as well as her artist interviews and thoughtful writing!

Let’s Make Patterns in February!

Did February sneak up on any one else? I realized the month was changing yesterday, and was totally surprised! So this post is coming a day late, but also just in time to start a month of daily patterns in February!

Let's Make Patterns in February!

In months past I’ve focused on a particular medium, but I am changing it up a bit in February.

Kari Maxwell emailed me yesterday and invited me to be the guest artist for her February Creative Commitment Challenge. I couldn’t say no! My plan is to incorporate her daily prompts into my patterns in some way. She’s doing 20 prompts throughout the month. There will be some wiggle room since several days won’t have a topic, but that will give me the opportunity to explore in detail those that I particularly like.

As for this month’s medium, I’ll be drawing with fine tipped markers–both zig writers and prismacolor fine liners as needed. Since I’ll be creating patterns based on Kari’s prompts, I will also incorporate other media as inspired. I’m curious to see how the patterns from February will look as a group. Will there be harmony, even if I use very different materials from day to day? Will each pattern make more sense on it’s own? I won’t be able to answer these questions til the end of the month, but I’m looking forward to the process and the insights that await!

I would LOVE for you to join me this month and make a pattern every day. Any medium at any size is great–tailor this challenge to suit you, your schedule, and what you want to accomplish. There are very few set in stone rules, besides the obvious: make patterns. Even if you can’t get a pattern done every single day, I’d love to have you join the fun when you can!

If you’re curious about Kari’s class, there is still time to sign up, and it would be extra fun to have you join, either creating patterns, or just creating!

If you make patterns this month, be sure to tag your images with #patternadayfeb and/or #letsmakepatterns. Also add your images to the flickr group.

Looking forward to another month of lovely patterns!

Pattern a Day December Round Up!

What a whirlwind December was! It was a busy month, but in the end, I was surprised by how easy it was to make a pattern everyday. And I wasn’t the only one! A bunch of other awesome creatives joined in and contributed a huge variety of colorful patterns to the mix. I thought it would be fun to share a few patterns from group that came together in December.

Sarah Rowe shared a beautiful variety of textures and colors using watercolor, marker, and even some collage!


Minerva wins the award for the cutest patterns! Aren’t they adorable?


Julie Tillman contributed a variety of styles of patterns in December. I love the donuts!


Natalie Davies delivered some awesome bright colors and fun patterns. I also love that she shared the markers and pens she used for each pattern in her photos!


Tammy from Daisy Yellow was an enthusiastic participant in the pattern challenge, using watercolor for her patterns.


Tricia from Daring Hue gave the challenge a second try in December, and this time she made one every day!

Pattern A Day Challenge - December 7-8

Barbara Wanhill’s patterns were all inspired from events that happened during her day.

Dec 6

Jeannine Saylor drew, stamped, and painted her nature inspired patterns.


Carin Cullen created layers of texture as well as pattern.


Rachel Kinbar had a really unique approach to pattern making, and it was always fun to see what she shared.


Carlene Taylor Simmons drew some awesome patterns with marker and pen.

Part of today's #letsmakepatterns #patternadaydec

Connie Hozvicka from Dirty Footprints Studio drew a few mandala style patterns.


D. Schuyler created colorful, geometric patterns, among others.



Rachel from Staunch Studio created a daily pattern on her iPad!

December pattern no. 14 Trying out the paper app.

Becky Canham went with a holiday theme for the month of December, which really helped me to get into the holiday spirit!


I hadn’t planned for it to become a group project, but I’m happy it did! When I started creating daily patterns, it was something I did on my own as a way to get me doing what I love every day. Little by little it has caught on, and it’s exciting to see so many beautiful patterns everyday, especially in December since I chose to do only black and white patterns.

If you’re on instagram, check out the #patternadaydec tag to see even more awesome patterns from last month, and #patternadayjan to see this month’s ongoing daily patterns. There is also a Pattern a Day group on flickr where you can see even more patterns!

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.”

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?

Ideas Matter | Actions Count

I just posted my second submission to the Positive Inking tumblr!

I’m really happy about how this one turned out. My friend Alyssa shared a life changing tutorial with me about how to separate black line work from the background in Photoshop. I created a Photoshop Action of her method and put it to good use.

ideas matter, actions count

I first drew lots and lots of versions of “Ideas Matter”.

I arranged them into an all over background pattern, and colored them to match my current manicure (plus a yellow-orange).

skittles manicure compared to classic black nails of a dog paw

I then drew a few versions of “Actions Count” with a brush I dipped in ink. When I was happy with the lettering, I let it dry, scanned it in, did the magic Photoshop Action and dropped it on top of the Ideas Matter background.

I thought an animation would be cute for this illustration to show how the ideas can pile up but that actions should be at the forefront.

Not only did I create the black version that I submitted, but I also created and considered a version with a white background.

animated illustration of ideas matter, actions count

I decided to use the black background version as the final because it has a little more impact, but I do appreciated the addition of the dark blue in the version above, so I thought I’d share it here!

Positive Inking

A little over a week ago my friend Alyssa Nassner invited me to join a new tumblr blog she was starting called Positive Inking. The project is based around the idea of Daily Affirmations for artists.

Alyssa wrote to me:
I think we all get the point in our days/careers/goals where we feel washed out, not confident, or like we’ve failed. This blog is about those moments, but instead of dwelling on them – I’m asking artists (and myself) to look at the positive! We’ll be sharing motivational illustrations, goals, and advice for ourselves, and one another in a fun type-and-illustration driven way!

I loved the idea and immediately got to work, sketching pages and pages of ideas. Seriously. pages. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I sketched, and doodled, and scribbled for a few hours and came up with all kinds of ideas. I’m looking forward to eventually finishing them all up!

With my nieces and nephew at my house last week for Anicamp : Summer 2012, I was inspired by their constant activity and curiosity. They delighted in everything they did from digging in the dirt, to creating a fabric collage, to picking blackberries and discovering a nest full of baby robins.

It was so much fun to be around the constant activity, and I recognized how different the schedule was from my day-to-day life in which I spend a whole lotta time with a computer on my lap. I was inspired by their curiosity to illustrate an animated .gif!

animated gif of the words "be curious have adventures"

My positive message is to be curious! Get out from behind the computer screen, go outside and have adventures. If you’re anything like me, you’ll feel happier, refreshed and more inspired.

If you haven’t already, go check out Positive Inking and see some of the good advice other artists have been posting. Maybe you’ll see a message that is just right for you!