Kids Trends Class at Design Garden

I'm really excited to have signed up for Sabina's (from Design Garden Classes) Kids Trends class. Sabina will be teaching the workshop with Denise Holmes and I know it will be a most excellent class. The great thing about Sabina's class is that if you participate, you will end up with projects that you can monetize or put into use right away. Plus, having access to the student gallery means having a treasure-trove of eye candy and inspiration.

Make Art That Sells Bootcamp: May

The May assignment was to create a tarot card, specifically the one that corresponds to our birth sign. Mine is temperance. These are my unfinished sketches.

Make Art That Sells Bootcamp: April

The April mini assignment was to draw lumberjacks.

I thought it might be fun to hang an ax on antlers and why not throw a random sock and hat on there as well?

The main assignment was to crate a lumberjack themed ornament, illustrated or real. This was the design I liked and chose to stitch. I decided to create a set of finished ornaments.

The above was my finished assignment, as well as the image for the etsy pattern for the ornaments on etsy.

Lilla Rogers Studio Global Talent Search 2015

Lilla Rogers Studio has a big competition every year where many artists submit a concept based on a brief she sends out. This year, Lilla threw in a fun twist and it really spoke to me and I loved the inspiration provided. One big reason why the competition is tempting to participate in is Lilla seems to be so much more than an agent. She not only is an artist, but she is a teacher, a mentor, and she brings the best out in artists and is a really cool person to boot.

I won't be showing my submission until the 50 are chosen to move on. Instead, I will show what I chose to draw from for my concept. I pulled together some of my favorite things and what inspires me. I asked myself who I am and tried to infuse myself into the project.

This is a little close-up snippet of my submission.

These are a few of the books in my art room. I love books on old ornament, vintage type and lettering, textiles, mythology, religious-inspired art, Uppercase magazines. (Lilla's book is there, too. I discovered the book before I signed up for her first Make Art That Sells class.) The little pillow I made some years ago when I was inspired by milagro hearts and Mexican paper cutting.

Old engravings of botanicals.

A new set of tiny travel watercolors I wanted to try out.

First time using tiny watercolors. I drew from the old flower engravings (see previous picture).

Minerals and science-related engravings.

Vintage type and lettering. I've always loved overly ornamented lettering and circus type.

Old drawings of hands, especially ones with a lot of lines and words.

Hearts afire, milagro hearts, and all sorts of religion or spirituality-infused art.

Beautifully illustrated tarot cards, such as this pack I've had since, well, a long while now.

Asian ornament, especially Chinese and Japanese. I've always been drawn to kimonos, and cheongsam dresses and Mandarin collars. I married my husband in a vintage red cheongsam dress I bought on ebay for $25.

Here is my last snippet for now, with ink drawings and watercolors. I'm looking forward to seeing the 50 chosen next Friday. For some reason I'm not anxious about moving on this time. I had a chance last year, and I stumbled in the 2nd round and was confused about what direction or style to go in. I spent the better part of the year pondering about my style. I gave myself the time to be lost, confused, doubtful, (and about drowned in the whirlpool of comparisonitis), and time to explore and time to be with my kids. I'm in a different place this year and that's a good thing for me no matter what happens today, tomorrow, or next week.

Mouse Camp in Stores Now

Let's not look at how long it has been since I last posted. No, really. I'm posting today because I wanted to share that my Mouse Camp collection with Windham Fabrics is available in stores and online. This collection came into being during an assignment in one of Lilla Rogers' Make Art that Sells classes. Sometime later, some patterns of mine, which included a couple from Mouse Camp, were printed in the lovely Uppercase Magazine and I was contacted by Windham Fabrics to create a full collection. The process was fun and they were incredibly wonderful to work with.

A lovely photo from Hawthorne Threads (they have the entire line for sale on their site).

A lovely photo from Hawthorne Threads (they have the entire line for sale on their site).

Tick Tock

I'm listening to Catching Fire, the second book of the Hunger Games series (which I've read twice and listened to twice), and I'm at the part where Wiress keeps repeating, "Tick Tock" to the other tributes in the games. I don't know about you, but I love to listen to books while I work.

This week, I worked on a clock-themed scrapbooking assignment for Lilla Rogers' Make Art That Sells e-course. I found it relaxing to do my drawings in fountain pen and ink and cut out some tissue bits and made watercolor blobs.

Cowboys and Cowgirls

Week 2 of Make Art that Sells had us drawing cowboys and cowgirls.

I initially made some ink sketches for the mini.

I further explored more sketches, this time in pencil.

Here was my final assignment submission, with a spattering of icons that could be moved around or made into a repeat. For the sponged vector texture, I used Dustin Lee's Vector Supply brushes for the first time. I had bought them awhile back, but hadn't had an opportunity to use them. They helped me get my illustration done quickly in Illustrator without having to go into Photoshop to add texture like I often do.

Make Art that Sells: Part B, Part Deux

It is once again Make Art that Sells season and I happen to be taking part b again. Our assignment was to create a holiday greeting card that included a penguins and igloos. I was off to a rusty start on the mini, but was able to do some sketches that spoke to me in the end.

I included penguin tracks, a snow-covered igloo, a happy snowman, and fishing poles by the door. 

This snowman was especially happy and I ended up including him in the final card.


Initially, I was thinking about king penguins and wanted him to have a crown, but I felt the warm knit hats would be nicer. And yes, that's a fish popsicle. I love the little penguin as he reminds me of my youngest son whose arm stretches up high to reach my hand when we walk.

And here is the finished card. I like to think the snowman is waving goodbye to the penguins and his hat is a little wobbly in the wind.

Life is a Circus

Round 2 submissions for the Global Talent Search are now posted. I have mixed feelings about my submission, but there's no point in crying over how I would have done it differently if I were working with a client, if I was doing work for fun, if I had a more specific request, or if I could ask a question or two. Knowing what could be on the other side of winning such an enormous and monumental contest messes with your head, big time.

The creative brief we received was to create a personified animal character for a young child's t-shirt. We could add additional things such as a pattern, a lunchbox, etc.


I could sum up the duration of my creative process for this as "around and around she goes". I spent the majority of my time until almost the last minute doing a completely handmade, inky, collaged design, and then had doubts about it working for the printing process. Perhaps it really didn't matter in this instance and I hindered myself. Regardless, though, I took my sketches and knuckled down to get it done in Illustrator. I knew that quitting wasn't even an option and I told myself that it was OK to stumble sometimes. I'll keep going and do better next time.

My first idea was to do a fun little sloth riding a skateboard. I thought he would look cute with an old hockey helmet and take on a 70's vibe. I learned a lot about sloths in my research. Did you know they're related to armadillos and anteaters, and that they loooove to eat hibiscus flowers? Plus, there are some really adorable National Geographic baby sloth movies. Those little tiny pajamas are so cute...

Exploring faces. I wanted to capture the sweet smile sloths always have. I mean, truly, they always look like they're smiling.

A couple of rough sketches of  him on a skateboard. I played with the idea of having shoes or maybe just cut off socks, as they're nails are incredibly long.

I also explored another idea, which was a hippo on a tightrope. And I couldn't resist a little mouse as the ringmaster. Then, I researched circus wagons and created my own, adding a little Art Nouveau inspired flowers and details.

Some circusy lettering. I was also inspired by Mexican folk art a little bit in my concept and I was thinking about cut paper when I sketched this.

Some random flower sketches I actually did before sketching the hippo. I liked the fan look of the flowers and it inspired the fan the hippo is holding.

Pen and ink drawing. I made many many sketches in pastels, ink, and tissue bits. I later incorporated rough pastel bits into the final.

Some pen and ink and the rough pastel bits I later added.

My rough idea for the mockup of the elements. I really enjoy this stage.

I found the quote, "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone" (from Neale Donald Walsch) on Pinterest the other day and it made me think of this contest. The prospect of winning (even though remote) is exciting, and yet scary. When I made my first round submission, I put myself out there trying a new style that I've been working on. Regardless of what happens with this round and this contest, I'm looking forward to moving forward and discovering where I can go with my style, and to continue to push out of my comfort zone.

To check out the glorious and wonderful illustrations by all of the artists, view them here and vote for the People's Choice Award.

Global Talent Search Results

It's quite surreal that I find myself writing that I've made it into the next round for Lilla Rogers Global Talent Search. I was up late last night and I couldn't resist peeking over at Lilla's blog, wondering whether the winners were posted yet. I wasn't thinking at all that my piece would be on there, and when I quickly scrolled through, I didn't see it. I took some breaths and felt sad a bit, but knew that it was OK and went to the top to look through the amazing illustrations more slowly.

Needless to say, I was shocked, humbled, and grateful that Lilla and her team saw something in my work they liked and chose to move me forward to the next round.

Enjoy looking at all the winners here and all of the beautiful submissions in the gallery here.

Blog Hop With a Difference (and Global Talent Search)

My fabulous new artsy friend, Kate Mason, with whom I share a love for online art courses, such as Lilla Rogers Make Art that Sells, tagged me to take part in a Blog Hop With A Difference, where fellow creatives share their creative process.

What am I working on right now?

1. Lilla Rogers Global Talent Search

Close-up of a tiny preview of my submission. Quite a 180 from last year's, which you can see below.

Close-up of a tiny preview of my submission. Quite a 180 from last year's, which you can see below.

I just finished up creating and submitting a wall art piece with the theme of little terrariums for Lilla Rogers Global Talent Search. As I’ve been exploring working in traditional media lately, I was driven to go handmade this year rather than the vector concept I did last year. I loved my playground journal from last year, and I still love vector design, but I enjoy working with this ink, collage, and watercolor style as well. Last year, I wouldn't have had the nerve to try something like this. Lately, I see these opportunities as a time to experiment. The chances of winning a competition like this are so slim to none, that it's best to simply enjoy the process. I've included sketches and bits from my creative process for the project below.

Sketch for last year's Global Talent Search

Sketch for last year's Global Talent Search

Sketch for last year's Global Talent Search

Sketch for last year's Global Talent Search

Sketch for last year's Global Talent Search

Sketch for last year's Global Talent Search

Last year's concept for the Global Talent Search.

Last year's concept for the Global Talent Search.

Sketch I developed for illustration below

Sketch I developed for illustration below

A piece I did based on the second round of the Global Talent Search project (which I wasn't a part of, but still wanted to participate in in my own way).

A piece I did based on the second round of the Global Talent Search project (which I wasn't a part of, but still wanted to participate in in my own way).

2. Felt Christmas ornament patterns based on Christmas cards I did for Make Art That Sells: Part B

3. Collections for licensing

4. My first fabric collection for Windham Fabrics will be in stores October 1st, and I’m so excited to get my hands on it.

Sketches for this year's Global Talent Search submission

Sketches for this year's Global Talent Search submission

How long does it take to create a project?

Since I spend a goodly amount of time with my kids during the day, I work at night. During intensive projects, I might put a late hour in here or there, but I don’t do that too often. I love working on creative projects, but I also find it necessary to daydream and pursue all sorts of interests that pop up.

I’m not sure how to define in hours how long it takes me to work on something. I work fast, but since having kids, I work in little clumps. (Lilla talks about managing time wisely and working in clumps in the Make Art That Sells A & B classes.) Mostly it depends on deadlines, which I enjoy, even if sometimes they cause a little cursing. Having a deadline and knowing someone is counting on me means it’s going to get done. Somehow during my MATS classes, I found time to get projects done. I could snag an hour while the kids played to get all the watercolors and inks done and then at night assemble it. For years, I didn’t believe I could work in the evenings and be with my kids during the day. After practice and doing intensive projects, somehow, miraculously, I found I could juggle both. The key seems to be about narrowing down tasks and focusing more. More time does not always mean more productivity. I make do with less or take time where I can wrestle it away from something else.

Sketches for this year's Global Talent Search submission.

Sketches for this year's Global Talent Search submission.

What are my fave things I love to create with at the moment?

My mom and step-father brought back a beautiful twisted glass fountain pen and ink from Italy some years ago. Only in the past several months have I tried it out. The ink is sepia (with a touch of violet) in color and translucent. I love how it bleeds and looks aged. Also, I’ve been using just one color of my mom’s watercolors from when she went to art school, Payne’s Gray. The gray is actually a deep blue, or a moody ocean blue. I enjoy working in a monochromatic fashion and then later adding color in Photoshop. The process allows me great flexibility and a client or whoever can tweak things easily later.

My favorite pen (black and white twisted glass) and ink (tiny bottle with wax-covered top)

My favorite pen (black and white twisted glass) and ink (tiny bottle with wax-covered top)

How does my creative process work?

My process seems to vary depending on the style and project. Initially, it starts with understanding the project and the customer. Then, I have fun with jotting down words first, and any ideas and brainstorming that might occur to me. Next, the research. I look for images that support my ideas. It could be colors that feel right for the project, an image that reflects the mood, something that represents a specific design period, and especially related subject matter to use for sketching. Then I sketch my ideas and composition thumbnails. When I work in vector in Illustrator, I like to have everything sketched out so I can concentrate on executing the concept rather than filling in any blanks as I go along.

Recently, I’ve deviated a bit in my process when I do the watercolor, ink, and collage style, as I did for some MATS projects and the Global Talent Search concept. Like in Lilla’s mini projects, I draw all sorts of things and later see what resonates with me. If I like an ink sketch, I might pull out my light tablet and on a new sheet of paper over my sketch, I’ll make a paper collage or watercolor. Later, I combine the pieces in Photoshop.

How do I become inspired and stay inspired?

Some wreath sketches I made inspired by Art Deco and Art Nouveau.

Some wreath sketches I made inspired by Art Deco and Art Nouveau.

Often, I’m inspired by what I want to learn about. If I want to learn more about a subject matter or design period, I can’t help but explore it in illustration or design. Also, I have to give credit to all the amazing classes I’ve taken for the past year and a bit. It all started last year with Lilla Rogers Make Art That Sells course and Design Garden's Trends and Vector Graphics classes. They've been life-changing for me and have given me hope that I can do what I love and also enjoy my family life at the same time. I don't have to sacrifice one for the other.

Next week, I'll post my final piece for the Global Talent Search with the link for all the wonderful (999!) wall art submissions for the contest.

If you are so inclined, please join in on this Blog Hop With a Difference! Give a shout out to me if you decide to play along. I can't wait to see your creative process and learn about what moves you to create!

A moment of zen

This month wrapped up the very last assignment for Lilla Rogers Make Art That Sells Bootcamp class. We were tasked with creating a piece of art concerning our favorite beverage. There were no restrictions on size, style, medium, or market. The only request was that we make something we would want for ourselves or to give to a friend. My beverage of choice was tea. Every morning, I like to start my day with tea.


Looking back over the past several months, I've noticed that I've stepped away from doing strictly vector art. I know this has been a direct result of taking the Make Art That Sells courses and experimenting with getting my hands dirty with ink, watercolor, and such. I've quite enjoyed taking a vacation from working over my pencil sketches with Adobe Illustrator's pen tool.

I enjoyed this month's assignment so much, I made a series of illustrations of various types of teas. Oh, what will I do now that Bootcamp is over? Actually, I'm signed up for another round of Make Art That Sells in the Fall; it doesn't have to end! Plus, yesterday, I registered for Lilla's Global Talent Search as well. If you're an artist, won't you join me? There's still a little time to enter.

Make Art That Sells Bootcamp: June

Yet another month has gone by, and I'm happy to write that I enjoyed working on another bootcamp assignment. The mini was all things nautical, especially ships in a bottle, and whales, and the final assignment was for wall art.

I was drawn to the idea of a sailor at night, perhaps dreaming and thinking of home, but enjoying the stars and the sky and the waves. It makes me wonder where a sailor feels most at home: at sea or on shore at home? In the end, I submitted the eyes open version to the gallery, but my favorite is the eyes closed version. I can't wait to be working on a collection of these.

I combined ink, watercolor, public domain textures (Japanese fabric, bookcovers, and wood), as well as a scanned wood canvas background I made.

Make Art That Sells: May Bootcamp

May's assignment from Lilla Rogers' Make Art That Sells Bootcamp this month was an editorial illustration for an article on meditation. The mini on the other hand was all about drawing dolls, even Lilla's Ken doll. Funny, but I kept seeing my husband in Ken, even in other classmates' drawings. Scroll down for a laugh at my Ken. =)

Because I was incredibly short on time for the assignment, I challenged myself to complete it anyway, with a few hours to concept, sketch, quickly ink and watercolor, and then scan and assemble it in the computer. It was hard for me to post this concept in the gallery as it isn't a style I have much experience with. But it came to me in a pinch, and came naturally, and I love it. Even if no one ends up liking it, I don't care. I do. Does it look like me and that I made this? Quite often, someone tells me they can tell when a piece is mine, be it paint or pixel, but I don't see that as clearly because I'm experimenting a lot of the time. I'm not ready to settle down and hit repeat again and again on what works yet. I still want to grow. Unless someone in the biz tells me that one direction will garner more results. Then I'd go with it and run with it until my legs give out.

My rough pencil idea.

I decided the flower at the bottom looked like legs and other things, so I took them and the circle above out.

Some ink bits and refined (and spelled properly) lettering.

And now for some funny ink sketches of Lilla's dolls. See there, that's my husband on the right.


Part of the mini challenge was using different materials, and so I gave watercolor pencils a whirl. I've had them for many years and haven't used them. Why on Earth not? Doesn't Ken look sweet? And the colors are wild.

And now some pencil sketches. I kind of like how the upper left three turned out. I tried to portray their eyes like flowers and keep their features more geometric. Some of their features inspired my final illustration.

Ink drawings from dolls this time. And that about wraps it up.

Trends Workshop with Design Garden

If you've been following my blog, you might remember when I reviewed the Hand Drawn Vector Graphics class with Design Garden. Earlier this year, I took another great class with Sabina, Trends Workshop. This class greatly inspired me to dive deeper into surface pattern design, and I even submitted some of my class assignments to Uppercase Magazine's Surface Pattern Design Guide issue.

This trends class was more intense and produced more projects in the four weeks that it ran than Sabina's foundational class, Hand Drawn Vector Graphics. Please note that I took the live class rather than the self-study option that is offered now. If you want a lengthy review, here's a breakdown of the four weeks, or scroll down for the pictures. ;)

  • Week 1: Trends Class Intro and Borders and Brushes
    • Lecture video that goes over the class structure; trends in general and how to use them to make your work different, stand out, and be aware and current; the trends provided in class via pdf; and the design sets you'll make in class
    • You get a big juicy ebook pdf of selected trends to pull from, some inside info on what certain customers look for when buying clip art, as well as clip art subject matter suggestions and color ideas for each trend
    • A video tutorial in Illustrator where Sabina shows how to make pattern borders and brushes
    • The first assignment pdf (to complete a clip art set) which helps guide you through all the steps to create your set, including research and mixing trends and influences
  • Week 2: Patterns
    • A tutorial video on making patterns using the old school method as well as using Adobe Illustrator's new pattern tool
    • Assignment 2 pdf, to make a clip art set with patterns
    • Bonus material (shh, it's a secret) for those that finish assignments and post progress with classmates
    • A Q&A session where the assignment, trends, and any questions are discussed, and a recorded video of the chat
  • Week 3: Wreaths
    • A video tutorial showing Sabina's method of making a wreath, step-by-step. She even shows her initial reference sketches and inked drawings before she draws her wreath concept and creates it in Illustrator.
    • Assignment 3 pdf, to make a clip art set with a wreath focus
    • Bonus material earned from finished assignments and progress posts
    • A Q&A session and a recorded video posted soon after
  • Week 4: Diverse Set
    • A wonderful video showing Sabina design process while she creates a clip art set (clip art, wreath, brushes, and pattern), from the initial research and mood board phase, to sketches, through to completion on the computer
    • Assignment 4 pdf
    • Testimonial on credly for those that have fully participated in the class
    • A Q&A session and recorded video

I've got to say one of the best things about Sabina's class is that she asks you to do your research properly and take a deliberate and design-centered approach. If you have experience with graphic design, or want to know more about graphic design, sell art to graphic designers, or how to merge illustration work with design, her classes are probably unlike anything out there and would definitely appeal to you.

One thing I greatly recommend while taking the class is to jot down notes while watching the videos. There isn't as much typed out content as in the Foundational Class. Instead, there are videos to watch, great assignment pdfs (with some useful reference links and information) that you can use as a guide for future projects, and a trend pdf. Something like Evernote might be useful to store your pdfs and class notes in a specific notebook.

To see some of my work from the class, please scroll down to see selected sketches, inked drawings, and some finished art. =)

This pattern made it into Uppercase Magazine's Surface Pattern Design Guide!

This pattern made it into Uppercase Magazine's Surface Pattern Design Guide!

Some various pencil sketches.

On a wonderful side note, Sabina asked me if I was interested in selling some patterns and such on The Ink Nest, her fabulous online shop for clip art and patterns. I will post more on that when it comes to fruition! I hope you enjoyed the review.

Coming to a Fabric Store Near You

I have great news I've been wanting to share. Last month I signed an exclusive contract with the wonderful Windham Fabrics (after they saw my work in the Surface Pattern Design Guide in Uppercase Magazine) and one of the collections I've been working on is something I created during Lilla Rogers' Make Art That Sells, Part B! I can't wait to see this fabric become a reality. Needless to say, I'm feeling very very grateful and excited. =)

Because I couldn't help myself

Since I took Part A & B of the Make Art that Sells ecourse, a wonderful offer was presented to previous students to take it again at a greatly discounted price. I had already signed up for the stellar class that would be during the same time from Rachael Taylor and Beth Kempton, Module 4: Building Your Portfolio (more on that in a bit), but I couldn't resist the siren call of more fun assignments. I worked very fast in the class this time around so I could juggle the other class and other projects.

This second time around with Part A, I took the opportunity to experiment with adding more handmade elements and textures. Being familiar with the content of the class and assignments, I felt less pressure or cramped for time; it was simply a joyful experience.

Children's Books


A tiny rough thumbnail and larger sketch to scan and work off of.


I left out the smiling sun as it ended up competing with the focal point - the fox.

Bolt Fabric


Pen and ink drawings


Pyrex and other kitchen tools


A style variation in vector for the same theme

Pencil sketches

After a suggestion from Zoe Ingram in the class, I did a quick mix-up of the two concepts. It needs some tweaking, but I like where it's going!

Home Decor

I received very valuable feedback on these plates from Lilla that I'm looking forward to implementing, such as changing up and varying the amount of art on the plates and making them a bit more diverse.

Pen and ink


Wall Art

I used all handmade parts for these two pieces, including pen and ink, watercolor, tissue, lace, and painted wood panel. Everything was assembled in Photoshop.

Ink drawings

Tissue collage of Earth

Some ink and watercolor bits

Part B of the course starts later this year in October. There's still time to sign up! I definitely recommend it. Great opportunities can happen as a result, not including the best benefit - making great art for your portfolio.