Inspired by Long Skinny Paper

My friend Liz Nugent recently gave me the coolest pad of paper. I just love it. The paper quality isn’t the best and there are lines across it (which I tend to avoid), but it sparked a bunch of creative ideas for both me and Liz because: It’s really long and skinny.

I couldn’t wait to let my mind wander and doodles some shapes.

Watercolor Doodles

Here are several drawings of dragons by Liz on the same paper:

Artwork by Liz Nugent

Aren’t they the cutest!? Here are some plants by Liz too:

Artwork by Liz Nugent

If you’re curious, the dimensions of the paper are 1.75″ x 11″. It’s amazing how such a simple change, like using an unusual sized paper can inspire so many new ideas. Now I’m thinking of all those scraps I’ve tossed over the years from cutting down paper. If only I’d known! I’ll certainly be keeping them in the future.

Liz is a wonderful illustrator who I’m honored to call a friend. If you want to check out more of her work, please visit Liz’s website or say hi to Liz on twitter!

Rethinking Embedding Instagram Photos

If you read my post from yesterday, you’ll know I was excited to find out that you can embed photos directly from instagram.

As with many things, even if you can, it’s good to find out if you should.

My friend Robyn emailed me with some really important feedback. While browsing her Feedly feed, she noticed that when she saw my post, she couldn’t see the image. Since I specifically talked about including an image, she knew it was probably there, so she clicked over to my site. I was curious, so I checked my Bloglovin feed, and also noticed that no photo showed up in the preview. For anyone who follows me with Feedly, Bloglovin, and probably other RSS feeds, they might not have the same incentive to click through without seeing a preview of the image in their feed.

For me this is a deal breaker, so for now I’ll stick to uploading photos to Flickr and linking them from there.

Here’s the same image from yesterday, linked from Flickr, in case you missed it:

Doodles on Watercolor

It looks a lot better than the embedded instagram photo anyway!

It’s good to try out new things, but it’s even better to find out what really works best! Thank you Robyn!

Embedding Instagram Photos

Today’s internet meanderings led me to find out that you can embed Instagram images into a website or blog (click here for simpler directions)! I’ve been embedding images from Flickr for a long time, and I’m excited about being able to do this for Instagram as well, especially since I’ve been thinking about featuring other instagram accounts/photos that inspire me.

Here’s a recent watercolor doodle from Instagram:

A photo posted by Anika Starmer (@aisforanika) on

I don’t know how long this feature has been available, but it was a great discovery for me. Although I don’t think I’ll regularly use this tool to share my own photos (not crazy about the border and the text around the image), I think it’s perfect for featuring other Instagram users since their account will be automatically linked and the “follow” button is included.

There is an option that allows you to either include or leave out the caption, which I also appreciate. It’s good to have a choice!

Are you as excited about this capability as I am? Do you think you might embed some IG photos on your blog or site?

Inktober 2014

For the last 17 days I’ve been drawing one floral pattern a day for #inktober. Although I was aware of Inktober last year when a few friends participated, I was in the thick of my daily pattern project and decided to challenge myself to paint on colorful backgrounds. So, this is the first time I’ve participated in this fun project that was started in 2009 by Jake Parker.

I decided to use one brush pen for the month, and I have to say, I’m really loving it. Sometimes limitations are just what you need to stretch creativity into a different direction. I’ve been enjoying the variety of lines and marks I can draw with just this one tool.

Bold or dainty strokes:

inktober day 4

inktober day 2

Controlled detail or expressive shapes:

inktober day 9

inktober day 10

The expressive quality of the line can be so lovely when using a brush pen. It’s also been eye opening to work with both thick and thin lines:

inktober day 15

I’m tagging all my drawings with #inktoberpatterns to make it a little easier to find. If you care to join in, there’s still about a half a month to go!

Index Card a Day 2014: Part 2

I did it! I successfully completed one piece of index card art per day in June and July!

Actually I finished many more than the official 61, so I might have to do an “extras” post on top of this one. Here are a few of my favorites from the second half of the challenge.

Day 49 ICAD

Day 41 ICAD

ICAD Day 32

Day 45 ICAD

When I started this challenge, I took it on as something fun and easy to do. I wasn’t expecting that it would be a creative boost for me on top of the fun and easy part. Because index cards are such a small surface to work on, when I had extra time, I would put more effort into that day’s card. Even when I had something that could pass as a finished piece, I often felt like taking the card a step further. Because of this, I created layers of texture with paint, markers and pens, or added detailed embellishment with pencil or pen. I even dabbled with collage.

I’ve started applying the new creative ideas from the cards I made to some recent larger paintings, and it’s really moving my work in an exciting new direction. Already can’t wait for next year!

Index Card a Day 2014

Last year I participated in the last half of Index Card a Day (ICAD) while I was in the thick of my daily pattern project. I decided to combine the challenges for the month of July, and I had a lot of fun making patterns with markers on simple index cards. ICAD is hosted by Tammy from Daisy Yellow and runs every year in June and July, and this year I decided to join in for the whole run.

It’s already been a little over a month, and I thought it would be fun to share the cards I made in June.

All ICADs made in June

Part of what made ICAD such an attractive challenge to join last year was that I really needed something low-key after a super busy June. I kept it simple and only used a set of Zig Writer markers for all the cards. Since I wasn’t strictly focusing on patterns this year, I took a fresh approach to the challenge: “anything goes”. So far I’ve used acrylic paint, gouache, watercolor, sharpie pens, prismacolor fine liners, acrylic paint markers, ball point pens and pencils. I’ve explored a variety of styles, techniques and subject matter. There has been plenty of experimentation leading to several creative and exciting “aha! moments”.

There is still a little less than a month of the challenge left. If you are interested in making some index card art, you can join any time. Find more information on the ICAD section of Tammy’s blog or check out the #icad2014 tag on instagram or twitter!

Line and Shape Doodles

Here are a few recent line and shape doodles that I’ve sketched. I started by doodling mostly lines with a black sharpie pen.

Line Doodle with black pen

I continued in a similar style with a couple colored pencils, while incorporating more shapes as well as line.

Line Doodle with colored pencil

Next I did a more intricate version of the line and shape doodle using fine line Zig Writer markers.

Line Doodle with Fine Line Markers

After taking a break from creating and sharing on social media for the last couple months, it was very satisfying to draw these. Plus, they really feel like “me,” and I already have a few new ideas from the process of creating them.

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.