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?

Patterns & Paws: Update 1

After many weeks… well, ok, after many months, I finally finished up my second round with the Patterns & Paws sketchbooks that I first posted about waaaaaay back in September. If you don’t know already, Patterns & Paws is a collaborative project I’m doing with fellow artist, Jessica Gowling (@jessicagowling on twitter). If you’re not familiar with the ins and outs of this project, it does have a few “rules” that we both follow about the order and placement of our art within the two sketchbooks. You can find out all about the project in Jessica’s thorough introduction on her blog.

I think the holidays got in the way a bit, not to mention a lot of freelance web design that came my way, but excuses aside I finally managed to finish up my turn and send the books back to 100 Mile House, BC to reunite with Jessica. I would also like to mention that my tardy reply had nothing to do with lack of inspiration. Jessica added some real gems to the books that left me overflowing with ideas.

First I want to share the pages that Jessica completed after I’d started off the spreads.

Patterns & Paws Vol. 1:

patterns & paws vol. 1

patterns & paws vol. 1

patterns & paws vol. 1

Patterns & Paws Vol. 2:

patterns & paws vol. 2

patterns & paws vol. 2

patterns & paws vol. 2

Aren’t her additions awesome!? I was so excited to see how my drawings inspired what she chose to add. Each spread was such a delightful surprise to discover.

The next images show the pages she started for me to complete. When I got the sketchbooks, I worked on these pages first, taking inspiration from Jessica’s compositions.

Patterns & Paws Vol. 1:
patterns & paws vol. 1

Patterns & Paws Vol. 2:
patterns & paws vol. 2

Jessica started off these spreads by creating a checkered pattern filled with various fur and skin textures. I immediately knew I wanted to somehow weave an image through the “open” squares, and since her textures reminded me of little critters, my mind eventually wandered to snakes eating those little creatures, and an idea was born. I actually did quite a bit of sketching to work out the composition of this one since I really wanted the illusion that the snakes were under the pattern to work. The colors of the snakes were inspired by the washi tape Jessica framed the pages with.

Patterns & Paws Vol 1:
patterns & paws vol. 1

Patterns & Paws Vol. 2:
patterns & paws vol. 2

I was super inspired by these pages. I love the collage-iness, the stamps, the inkiness, and the colors. I initially intended to use rice paper for the collaged elements. When I drew on the rice paper, I laid it on top of grid paper to use as a guide. The ink bled right through the rice paper, and I was delighted to discover the blotchy drawings on the grid paper. They harmonized so much better with Jessica’s collage that I didn’t give the rice paper a second thought. The shapes I used were inspired by the environments of the deer and walrus, as seen in the stamps. I added colored lines to connect the shapes which created a greater sense of atmosphere and helped balance the left and right pages with each other.

Patterns & Paws Vol 1:
patterns & paws vol. 1

Patterns & Paws Vol. 2:
patterns & paws vol. 2

It’s hard to say that one set of pages is a favorite, but boy do I love these. I’m going through a significant gray phase in my art lately, so when I saw Jessica’s monochromatic pencil drawings with a bit of collage, I knew I wanted to capture the feeling of her drawing while maintaining the simple palette. I painted radiating patterns with gray gouache. I worked intuitively, not sketching beforehand. Well, I admit, I had done a few similar paintings before this, but each always turns out so differently. I was really excited about the added element of surprise as I focused on the feeling of Jessica’s drawings while I painted, instead of thinking about form or composition. The end result are two spreads that harmonize incredibly well. I feel happy and soothed every time I see these.

Lastly, here are the pages that I’ve started for Jessica to soak up and find inspiration from.

Patterns & Paws Vol. 1:
patterns & paws vol. 1

Patterns & Paws Vol. 2:
collab-7a

Finally I had a chance to use rice paper! I drew graphite lines on the translucent rice paper sheet and used it as a background frame for the colorful blob prints. I made the prints by adding little globs of gouache to the surface of some card stock and smushing another sheet on top of it. Voila! Two prints! They are mirror images of each other, but I flipped one upside down, just cause.

Patterns & Paws Vol. 1:
patterns & paws vol. 1

Patterns & Paws Vol. 2:
collab-8a

It’s no secret that I love triangles and lines. I had these images in my head for a while, and I sketched some of them out in a separate sketchbook. I chose a couple that I liked particularly well as a starting point. I first drew the shapes in the Patterns & Paws books with pencil, then went over the lines with pen, and finally added the line texture with pen as needed.

Patterns & Paws Vol. 1:
patterns & paws vol. 1

Patterns & Paws Vol. 2:
collab-9a

These final two spreads are the pages where Jessica and I both create in the same space. On the previous similar spreads, we both left a lot of space for the other to work with. While these were all successful pages, I wanted to push things in a different direction. As you can see in the images above, I created two drawings that pretty much cover up both pages. I’m hoping it’ll push Jessica to cover over parts of my drawing, or just find a new way to interact with what I gave her! I’m very interested to see what she’ll add!

A little birdie told me that Patterns & Paws may already be on its way back to me, so I won’t have to wait long to see how this project continues to evolve.

Do you have a favorite spread so far? Is there an, as yet, incomplete set of pages you’re particularly interested to see complete?

I’ll share more as soon as there’s more to show!

Patterns & Paws: Collaboration with Jessica Gowling

I have always been interested in the idea of collaborating. Not with the enemy, but with other artists. It just seemed like such a cool concept to work with another person to create something unique & unexpected, but I never really knew how to go about it since I’d never done one before.

Then along comes the ever so talented Jessica Gowling. I met Jessica on twitter months ago, and shortly thereafter we started exchanging mail art. Much to my delight, one day she invited me to work on a collaborative project with her!

Well, when I say invite, it was more like, “I’m sending you a project for the two of us to work on, and I’m not telling you what it is so it will be a surprise, and you better say yes!”.

Haha! How could I refuse?

Seriously though, I was super excited at the prospect of working on my first ever collaboration, but I was also really flattered that such a talent would single me out for something like this.

We had to wait for what seemed like eons for me to finally get the project. I didn’t even know what I was going to be getting in the mail since it was a secret. We were both worried it had gotten lost on its journey, but it turns out there was a postal snafu, and after they kept if for about a month, they sent it back to Jessica because it was missing mere pennies in postage.

Once it was sorted out, and I got it in hand, I was amazed by the drawings and the print she’d started off the project with. I was also really impressed that this was going to be an ongoing collaboration–such a great idea. I love the fact that it will continue to evolve with each exchange, and that we can both look forward to being surprised and inspired in new ways each time!

The pattern we’re following for filling in the sketchbook is as follows:

Jessica starts off the collab with paws on the first 2 spreads on the RIGHT pages only.
Anika fills in patterns on the LEFT pages of the first two spreads, taking inspiration from Jessica’s images that are on the RIGHT.
Anika fills in patterns on the LEFT pages of the next two spreads, which can be anything, leaving the RIGHT side blank. When Jessica gets the sketchbooks back, she will fill in the empty 2 RIGHT pages with images inspired by the patterns on the LEFT.
Anika fills in the following spread on both RIGHT & LEFT sides. Jessica will also add to this spread on both RIGHT & LEFT to create an intermingled collaborative spread.
Jessica will then fill in the RIGHT pages of the following 2 spreads with paws, leaving the LEFT page blank for Anika to fill in.
Jessica will then skip 2 spreads, and on the 3rd spread add paws to the RIGHT & LEFT pages for the next mixed collaborative spread, and so on.

Probably sounds complicated right? Well, it’s really not! Take a look at the images below, and maybe that will give you a better idea about how things are arranged.

First up is Volume 1 of Patterns and Paws, which I believe is the volume I’ll be keeping.

My creative process usually involves taking in inspiration and letting it simmer for a few days, but it wasn’t long before I had my first ideas, and the rest flowed easily from there.

patterns & paws vol. 1 cover

patterns & paws vol. 1
Isn’t the chipmunk Jessica drew the cutest? When creating this pattern I thought about directional movement, gathering, piles, and nooks and crannies.

patterns & paws vol. 1
This “paw print” is one of my favorite prints of Jessica’s, and I was super excited that she included it for the second spread. I really love the shape made by the paws, and I also love the dimensional quality of the print framed on the page. I decided to work with collage using thick bristol that really pops out from the surface, and created a very abstract interpretation of the shapes of the paws. Do you see it?

patterns & paws vol. 1
This was the first spread where I could do whatever I wanted. I think initially I’d planned to paint this design with gouache, but I was so engrossed in the process that I started using colored pencils before I remembered my original intention. As it turns out, I really like the texture of the pencils, especially for the lines that are hanging down and taper slightly at the ends. This is based on a motif of swooping lines that I’ve created before, but the variety of colors, and the use of colored pencils add a new feeling to this pattern.

patterns & paws vol. 1
This is a new style of pattern that I created for the collab. Is it wrong to admit that I’m kind of in love with this idea and pattern? Because I am! After completing the previous spread of swooping organic lines, I wanted to do something a little more geometric, while maintaining a hand drawn feel. In a way it’s a simple drawing, but I find the slight variations in color and thickness of the lines work together to create a really appealing design.

patterns & paws vol. 1
I found this spread to be a challenge. I actually had the idea for this pattern and its shape in my minds eye, but had to do a bit of sketching outside this book to work out the details. Because I knew Jessica will be adding paws to this spread, I thought it was important to maintain some whitespace for her to work with. After seeing some work by Anna Jane Searle, and a comment Jessica made about it, I realized I could have filled the page with pattern, because Jessica would still have the opportunity to alter it by drawing, painting or collaging over whatever I created. Learning as I go! The concepts I had in mind when creating this pattern were mountains, caves, slow growth, endurance, cycles, formations, crystalline structures, energy and flow. I’m really interested to see what Jessica will add to this!

Next up is Volume 2, which Jessica will be keeping, if I have it right.

patterns & paws vol. 2 cover

patterns & paws vol. 2
The first spread is similar in that Jessica created another pencil drawing, but the composition and the feeling is quite different and features a marmot instead of a chipmunk. I created a pattern that was loosely based on the composition of the drawing, while keeping in mind these concepts: connection, same and different, approach, warning, surrounded, unexpected, and continuation.

patterns & paws vol. 2
I used the same basic idea for this spread as for the one in Vol. 1. As you can see, the orientation of the paws is flipped, so I flipped my composition as well to relate to the shape of the paws.

patterns & paws vol. 2
I also used the same idea for a swooping pattern on this page, but I’ll mention that I chose colors intuitively for the individual volumes.

patterns & paws vol. 2
I approached the same idea for a pattern here as well, although the colors are different, and each of the three designs are a little more substantial than the similar spread in Vol. 1. Why? I’m not sure, it just felt like that’s how it was supposed to be!

patterns & paws vol. 2
I used the same idea for both collaborative spreads as well, but again chose colors as I was working, for a result that has quite a different feeling.

So there you have the first round of my very first collaborative project! Isn’t it exciting and awesome?!

If you have a little more time & want some more info about this collab, I highly recommend checking out the very first post about it that Jessica wrote after I’d finally received the sketchbooks in the mail. She took actual photos of the sketchbooks, and also discusses the originating idea for this collaboration intelligently, so it gives you a good idea of what the books look like and the intention of the project. Plus you can see the other goodies she sent along with the project!

Currently Jessica has the sketchbooks and is no doubt coming up with awesome art to add. I’ll be posting about this project as it progresses, and I hope you’ll follow along!

**edit** Since posting this, Jessica has also created a post for this stage of the collaboration on her blog. She again photographed the books side by side, which offers a unique view of how the books relate to each other. I also just think it’s fun to see the corresponding pages/diptychs next to each other.