Pattern a Day December 2014

I haven’t played with crayons in any serious way since I was a kid. One day I was hanging out over at my brother’s house and started doodling with my niece’s Crayolas.

Crayon Drawing

What fun! When I posted the above photo to instagram I got a great suggestion from Tammy (@gypsy999) who hosts the blog Daisy Yellow. She thought I might enjoy using Neocolor Wax Artist Crayons. Boy was she right!

Day 30 Pattern a Day December

I ordered a selection of Neocolor IIs which are the water soluble variety (they also make Neocolor Is which are not water soluble) and decided to use them for the first time when drawing patterns in December. I didn’t actually take advantage of their water soluble nature during this month, since I had so much fun simply drawing with them!

Day 31 Pattern a Day December

Working with neocolors was very freeing. The color is super saturated and goes on the page easily. I found that my marks could be really expressive and the color and texture was rich and consistent.

Day 27 Pattern a Day December

I also played around with scale, drawing some tiny shapes scattered over the page and also some that had larger elements to make a bold statement.

Day 24 Pattern a Day December

Day 12 Pattern a Day December

This was a great month of patterns in which I tried out a lot of new ideas and color combinations. After using these amazing crayons everyday for a month, I’m definitely hooked!

Pattern a Day November

In December I wrote a post about the show I was in at Light Grey Art Lab. I created a composition of glass bottles for their 6 Degrees show, and in the process I discovered a fun style where I painted gouache over pencil lines.

I was inspired to keep exploring the possibilities of this technique when I started my November patterns.

Day 29 Pattern a Day November

The main thing I learned this month is that pencil lines smear! I had to get the color on the paper quick, preferably only brushing over the pencil once, otherwise it might lift up. You can see what I mean in the image below. I painted the darkest teal shape first, and the color was a lot more opaque than I expected.

Day 3 Pattern a Day November

I had to carefully lift it off as much as I could, and the result is that some of the pencil lines were lifted off the page as well.

As the month went by I got better about being quick with the paint and had fun exploring a wide variety of subjects for the patterns.

Day 8 Pattern a Day November

Day 10 Pattern a Day November

Despite a few challenges, I came up with a nice variety of patterns, and by the end of the month it was a lot easier getting successful results.

Pattern a Day October

After creating patterns for over a year, it’s funny that I never realized that most of the patterns I created were on white backgrounds. I became aware of that fact before October, so I thought it would be the perfect challenge for me.

It really was a challenge, but wow, what a great one!

On the first few days I worked with looser brush strokes and tried out watercolor washes for the background.

Day 1 Pattern a Day October

Eventually my brushwork got more precise, and I decided to work with opaque gouache backgrounds, although I sometimes used several tones of the same color to create a textured surface.

Day 11 Pattern a Day October

Many of the patterns I created this month used abstract shapes, but I also included recognizable objects in a several patterns which was a lot of fun.

Day 18 Pattern a Day October

Day 25 Pattern a Day October

Even within the parameters of working on colorful backgrounds with refined brushwork, I was able to explore bold strokes of color that filled the page as well as delicate marks scattered over the surface.

Day 23 Pattern a Day October

Day 24 Pattern a Day October

I really hit my stride this month and created a number of patterns that I was very happy with. I still plan to experiment with different media in the future, but I’m sure that painting patterns will always be part of my repertoire. Also, now that I’ve gotten comfortable with working on colorful backgrounds, you’ll definitely see more of them from me in the future!

Pattern a Day September

I wasn’t 100% sure I would continue making patterns in September. I officially finished up a year of daily patterns at the end of August, and I thought it might be time for a change. However, I found I couldn’t stop!

I decided to loosen up the challenge a bit and let September be a month of “anything goes.” As a result, I made patterns with ink and a brush, marker, watercolor, worked within 2 different sketchbooks and even some loose papers. The result was a wide variety of styles of patterns.

Some patterns were structured repeating icons, like rows of houses or colorful shapes.

Day 4 Pattern a Day September

Day 9 Pattern a Day September

Some patterns were a scatter of repeating elements.

Day 23 Pattern a Day September

Other patterns were more like abstract compositions with an overall pattern-y feel.

Day 30 Pattern a Day September

Day 19 Pattern a Day September

After trying out such a variety of pattern styles and media, the whole challenge felt refreshed. I ended the month with lot of creative energy and new ideas. It’s pretty cool to know that even after a year of creating patterns daily, I still enjoy it so much that continuing has become a natural part of my life.

Pattern a Day August

When I started August’s patterns, my main goal was to spend more time working on the individual patterns. I had chosen quick and easy challenges in June and July, so I was feeling a pull toward a more time consuming pursuit. Plus, this month would officially conclude one whole year of making daily patterns, so I wanted to go out with a bang!

Day 4 Pattern a Day August

Day 16 Pattern a Day August

June’s challenge in which I started with black and white doodles and created colorful digital patterns had me thinking a lot about how much color can change the look and feel of a design. That gave me the idea to double up and create two versions of the same pattern each day: one black and white, and one in whatever colors I was inspired to use.

Day 18 Pattern a Day August

Day 29 Pattern a Day August

This was a really fun month for me. Not only was my creativity stretched by coming up with a new pattern each day, but I also got the meditative benefits by repeating each pattern a second time.

Day 10 Pattern a Day August

Day 31 Pattern a Day August

A great way to end a year of daily patterns!

Pattern a Day July

In July I decided to join Tammy Garcia from Daisy Yellow for her Index Card a Day (ICAD) challenge. ICAD runs for two months in which time you can make any kind of art on an index card. I combined ICAD with my pattern a day challenge and drew patterns with zig markers on index cards.

Day 5 ICAD and Pattern a Day July

I love this way of working so much! Maybe it’s because index cards are so small or so cheap, but whatever the reason, it’s like the pressure’s off. This freed me up to create “whatever I want.” I guess I’m always free to create “whatever I want,” but a lot of times I’m hopeful that the end result will look good, and I think that subconsciously has an impact on what and how I create.

When using index cards, I found that I was off the hook of having a “good” final image. If I didn’t like the outcome, I could always make another one, or keep drawing and experiment with adding layers of lines and color.

Day 11 ICAD and Pattern a Day July

Layering in this way is a new technique for me, and I find the possibilities here are pretty exciting. I’m looking forward to exploring more index card art in the future!

Pattern a Day June

I’m really excited to finally share these patterns. Because of the craziness of my schedule in June, it was all I could do to simply make the patterns; too much to share them daily, so here is your first glimpse! (unless you saw the sneak peek because you follow me on Flickr!)

In June I approached the daily patterns a little differently from previous months. I knew it was going to be a super busy time filled with trips, family visits, and deadlines, so early on in the month, I filled several pages with icons and marks made with black ink and a brush.

black and white icons for Pattern a Day June

I scanned in the pages and had them ready to pull shapes from as I made digital repeating patterns everyday.

Pattern a Day June

Pattern a Day June

I was surprised by how challenging choosing digital color is for me. Selecting color with a color picker is not the same experience as mixing paint or working with a limited number of marker colors. I often found myself hitting a wall. I might be happy with the first few colors, but just couldn’t figure out what the fourth or fifth color should be. Early on in the month, I would just go with something even if it didn’t feel “perfect,” but I did notice that it got easier as the days went by. There is still room for improvement, but it is pretty cool to notice how much more comfortable I became picking color digitally in just a month!

I hope you’ll take a moment to check out all of June’s patterns over on Flickr.

Have you tried working with digital color? Do you have one great tip that might make my life easier when creating a harmonious digital color palette? I’d love to know what you think!

Bottles for Light Grey Art Lab’s 6 Degrees Show

Several weeks ago I saw a call for art at Light Grey Art Lab. The show is called 6 Degrees, and it’s an, “exhibition and project celebrating the work and cultures of artists from around the globe–a show about the power of the collective voice”. To be considered for the show, I had to submit a portfolio site for review.

I’ve wanted to participate in one of LGAL’s group shows ever since I took a couple of workshops with them back in 2012. This one seemed perfect for me, so I put together a portfolio site on Cargo, submitted the link for consideration, and crossed my fingers.

I was so happy to see my name a few weeks later listed among the accepted artists!

I was asked to, “think of your surroundings and the environments, people and places that make your world special,” and base my piece for the show on those ideas. I gave it a lot of thought and the process lead me through the macro and micro environments in which I live.

I’m from the US, but what does it mean to be from Maryland? What’s the distinction about being from Gaithersburg? What is it like to live in my neighborhood? How is the street I live on unique? What about my house and yard? That lead me to one more general question: how do I interact with my environment, wherever I might be–whether at home exploring the back yard, running errands in a nearby town, or checking out museums in DC.

I realized: I’m a collector. No matter what environment I’m in, I go into noticing mode. I collect images with a camera, and I gather treasures that I find, both natural and manmade. Collecting ideas and items is my way of registering the inspiring details I encounter day to day that might otherwise be forgotten.

Since the theme of the postcards ultimately was to be about me, I got to thinking about my immediate environment where I spend the most time–my yard, my house, my street, and the nearby creek.

Initially I planned to create a still life sourced from some of my collections gathered in my surroundings–bottles found by the creek, feathers I come across on neighborhood walks, flowers from the garden, or one of my many potted plants. As I started gathering items together, I focused more and more on my collection of bottles.

bottle collection

I’ve found all of these bottles (and more) down by the creek. There is an old farm dump down there, and I can always count on finding a few glass treasures when I go exploring, especially after we get a lot of rain. My most prized bottles are the blue one, the old ink pot, and the small milk jar. I’m still amazed at the variety of bottles I can find so close to home!

But I digress. To get started, I decided to do a few loose sketches of the various bottles in my sketchbook.

bottles sketch

I had an idea to do washes of color over the bottles as a nod to the translucent colors of the glass. I chose colors that were inspired by real bottle colors, but since most of the actual bottles are clear, I took creative license and used the colors at full strength.

Although I had intended this to be the first step in an entirely different process, I really liked the result of this initial experiment, so I chose to pursue the idea further.

I found these initial sketchy drawings quite charming, but I decided to redraw the bottles twice more. While still maintaining the spontaneous line quality, I drew the bottles more carefully and included more details.

bottle drawing with more detail

I drew them once more in a looser style, though still somewhat more refined than the the original sketches.

bottle drawing, looser

Then I had two versions to work with. Both similar and both good!

I went ahead and painted both versions with the gouache wash technique I tried in my sketchbook.

both versions: refined on left, looser on right

Still both similar and good! How to choose?

Ultimately it came down to the size at which the art was going to be displayed. We had to get postcards printed of our art which would be displayed at the show. I chose to go with the standard 4×6 inch size because anything bigger requires the same stamp as an envelope! Since the final size is on the small side, I chose to use the looser of the two drawings for the final piece. Since the lines were bolder and less detailed, it actually made a better impact at postcard size.

final bottles for Light Grey Art Lab 6 Degrees Show

I got the cards printed at Overnight Prints on uncoated stock, and they turned out beautifully!

bottle postcards

I signed and numbered all 100 cards, bundled them up and shipped them off to Minneapolis. The show opened December 6th and is on display through January 17th, so if you happen to be in the area, do stop by and check out all the awesome postcard sized art work.

If you won’t get a chance to see the art in person, check out the show’s online page where you can see all the cards! You can also purchase larger prints of any of the postcard art on Light Grey’s site. I’m offering the print of my “Bottle Collection” at 13×19 inches for $30, and there are also a limited number of postcards available for just $6. Here’s a link to the listing for my “Bottle Collection” card and print, and another link to the main LGAL shop.

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.

Pattern a Day January

In January I created daily patterns using stamps that I carved during the month. This was the first time I made stamps, and I was surprised and pleased by how easy it was.

Starting out the month I used the two block printing inks that I had on hand: black and hot pink. They were well over a year old (and truthfully probably closer to two or three years old!), so their consistency was sticky. Watering them down helped, and I worked with them for several days. Despite the limitations of using only two colors of imperfect ink, I achieved some interesting results by layering and working with different consistencies of ink.

Day 4 Pattern a Day January

Day 8 Pattern a Day January

Day 11 Pattern a Day January

After several days, I was itching to try some other colors! I hadn’t had a chance to go to the art supply store to get actually block printing ink, so luckily I had the idea to use what I had on hand: gouache. The consistency was probably not ideal for “official” block printing, but I liked it! I had to make sure that the layer of paint I spread out was very thin, but more often than not the results were good!

Day 18 Pattern a Day January

day 22 pattern a day january

Day 17 Pattern a Day January

day 23 pattern a day january

As you can see in the images above, I explored several different techniques for printing including repeats, overlapping layers, and what I call “painting” with the block.

Creating blocks for printing and working with them throughout the month was a great introduction to the medium. I even used the stamps I created for my 2013 Sketchbook Project which I’ve already written about. Since January I haven’t done too much more with stamps, although they did make an appearance in one of my patterns in February. In the long run I’m sure it will be a great new tool to incorporate into my creative practice!

See the rest of the patterns I created in January, including sever “extras” on flickr.