my creative resolution

Continuing my creative journey into 2015!


“Draw, Paint, Create” Pattern

Wouldn’t this be great on pajamas?! This pattern (my January pattern) is in honor of my creative resolution. I scanned some of my doodles, created the pattern in Photoshop, and painted it with one of the digital watercolor brushes. Creating this pattern hits upon several of my goals for 2015, which include doodling, creating patterns, and digital brushes. Three birds with one stone! My revised goal is to create a pattern a month.

I still have mixed feelings about using the computer to create my patterns. As a Graphic Designer, it feels less like fun creative time and a little more like work. But there are certain things, styles, etc. that I want to try, and the computer is the way to achieve these things. I do love that the pattern is hand drawn illustrations and I’m having fun learning things in Photoshop I’ve never used, like the watercolor brushes.

Click here to see the prior post on this subject and my sketchbook. Stay tuned for Febraury’s pattern – I’m very excited about it!

Here is the pattern without the repeat.


The Winter Sky and Bare Trees

I’m somewhat obsessed with the Winter sky – the different colors at sunrise, sunset, the clouds throughout the day. All of this shown through the bare branches of the trees. I love how the bare brown trees have a bluish tint to them.

A sunset from my window:
Another pretty sky.

The start of the painting – watercolor.
Letting it drip.

Adding the ink to the trees. I was hesitant to even do it, but the painting didn’t look complete without it and I wanted to follow through on my vision.
inkingtrees baretrees2


Learning Lino – A Different Way of Thinking

As I worked on my second linocut, I realized that with block printing it’s a totally different way of thinking, than painting or drawing. It’s also exciting (and hard) that you don’t really know what you are going to get, until you do that first print.

Here’s what I was thinking about as I carved my second linocut:

  • Mirror image. The design prints the reverse of what it is on the block. I keep forgetting this!
  • Positive and negative. Parts of the design are either printed or not. There is no in between. I sometimes forget which is which, and what I’m supposed to carve! I had to write myself a note (“Carve the blue”). The tricky part is when objects in your design meet. You have to work out what prints and what doesn’t, so the design makes sense.
  • Plan. It’s better to plan exactly what gets carved away and what prints before carving.
  • Blade sizes. Wispy little lines don’t exactly translate to carving blades. You almost have to plan the design in terms of what is “carvable.”
  • How deep to carve? I’m still figuring this out. In my first linocut, I didn’t go deep enough, but there was a nice surprising texture throughout.
  • Paint colors. I tried using a blend, but when I rolled the brayer a couple of times it mixed it into a muddy army brown. Printing more than one color is more interesting, but I think you have to print each color separately.
  • Colored paper. An easy way to introduce another color. It’s fun seeing a print on different papers.
  • Press paper on lino or lino on paper? That is the question. I saw a couple of videos that put the paper on top of the lino block and burnished. Then I got a recommendation to press the lino onto the paper.* Like stamping. This time I tried both, and I found that peeling the paper off the lino is easier than picking up the lino block without smudging. Maybe it depends on the size of the lino block?
  • Workspace. As I learn the block printing process, I’m learning how to organize my workspace – what is working and what isn’t. Spreading the paint on a piece of taped down palette paper is working great – and it’s easy to clean up!

acorn1 acorn2 acorn3

*I appreciate any advice on block printing. Your expertise and experience is welcome! Thank you to bluechickenninja for recommending pressing the lino down onto the paper, in my last post: My First Linocut!


Watercolor Brushes in Photoshop

I’ve been doodling in different themes lately, in the hopes of making patterns out of these doodles. I decided to add to my resolution, to create one pattern this year, and instead I’ve committed to creating one pattern each month!

I knew it was inevitable that I’d be bringing these ink sketches into Photoshop to color them. I have been using Photoshop for twenty years, but I’ve been using it as a Graphic Designer, not as an Illustrator. I decided I needed to learn more about Photoshop from an Illustrator’s perspective.

I found a great tutorial by on youtube, which shows how to create watercolors in Photoshop, using one of the Watercolor Brushes. I didn’t even know there were Watercolor Brushes!

I practiced with the Photoshop Watercolor Brushes, to create a design for an invitation I’m working on. I scanned my Illustration and painted it in Photoshop. Using the technique from the video is so much faster than I would have thought! And I love the look – it’s less “digital” than what I previously would have created in Photoshop.

I’m really excited to apply this technique to my pattern for January, which, in honor of My Creative Resolution, is “draw, paint, create!”


My First Linocut!

Finally I sat down and carved my first linocut. I’ve been thinking about it for a month! The other day I said, “I’m doing it tomorrow.” It’s amazing – when you make a date with yourself and commit, you follow through. I had been putting it off, sketching ideas for the design, until I realized the design didn’t really matter – it was about trying out the tools and learning the process.

I sketched an idea I had in pencil, directly onto the “Speedy Ball Easy Cut” block. It took me a few minutes to figure out how to attach the carving blade to the handle, but I got it. I was surprised at how easy it was to carve. Hence the name – Easy Cut! I thought it would be much harder. I only nicked myself once.

I carved around the trees first. For the owl I used a thinner blade to add texture (to show the feathers). I messed up with the beak when I momentarily spaced on what I was supposed to carve off – the negative space. But again, this is a learning process.

I used the back of the block, because I wanted two colors. I transferred the eye shapes over to the back with tracing paper – although they mostly fell within the moon. These fine details didn’t really print in the end. And I did it wrong – it should have been the mirror image of the eyes and moon. Imagine my surprise when the moon ended up on the left instead of the right. There were other mistakes: I should have wiped the carving before printing. I didn’t carve deep enough, but this led to a happy accident because I liked the texture it added and the yellow throught the print.

Before starting with the paint I watched this video to get an idea what to do. I didn’t even know what a brayer was! I made a slideshow to show you my steps. I can’t wait to do another one!

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But where am I going?

Armed with a list of all the things I want to try (and do) in 2015 and with a year of My Creative Resolution under my belt, I was feeling good. Until I started thinking, “Where am I going? Where is all of this leading? Am I just randomly jumping from project to project?”

The book “Making Art A Practice: How To Be The Artist You Are” by Cat Bennett came along at the perfect time. Here are several quotes that were so spot on, Cat Bennett could have been writing them just for me!

“Here is where we are right now, so we go from here. We begin with one small step…It’s in doing the work that we see the next step.”

“It’s well worth our time to make work without a goal or end product in mind.”

“Try things. Learn what you need to know, and who you are too. Skills open us up to more ideas and possibilities.”

To me it all meant – calm down and continue what you are doing. Continue being creative, continuing exploring new things. Before reading the book, I planned on looking through my work from last year, and years prior, to look for common elements in subject and style. (To convince myself I wasn’t working randomly!) The book elaborated on this and suggests “looking for connections throughout your work in theme, point of view, materials, etc., and noticing variations and change points.”

I’m excited to analyze my old stuff and to share it with you! And to continue one step at a time.


Cutting away the mistake

and I cut my first mat too!
Mom’s painting is finally done. I’ve been struggling with it since Thanksgiving, when she requested it. I love the beach and feel so inspired by it, but I often struggle with trying to paint it. She requested a landscape. Sometimes I think I’m more of a “zoom in” and paint the details type of person. When things are so far back – you can’t even see the details. My attempts at beach paintings often look a little flat and boring. But she asked for it, so what could I say?

I decided this time I’d add ink to the painting and try to incorporate my “still developing” style. I was so nervous to add the first ink marks! You can’t get rid of them or cover them up, the way you can with watercolor. Another challenge for me – perspective! The photo I chose was perfect for my mom, but the perspective was a challenge for me. After I added the lamppost, I knew I’d messed up. It was way too tall. To be honest, if the painting wasn’t for my mom, I would have ditched it.

But I persevered. I pulled it out every so often and continued working on it. I already bought a frame. This week I measured the frame and decided to cut the painting and get rid of the too tall lamppost. In doing that, I’d need a custom mat. About 3 months ago, inspired by the Frugal Crafter, I bought mat board and a mat cutter. It was the first time I’d seen a tool that wasn’t an expensive table top cutter. The Logan 2000, has a line that you line up to prevent you from cutting past the corners. Since I already have a cutting mat and a straight edge, and am used to trimming with an exacto knife, it seemed perfect for me.

Isn’t it amazing how something sits for months and then in two days, you’ve completed the job. (It only took 2 days, because on the first day I mistakenly thought the Logan 2000 didn’t come with the blades. I was so disappointed! Eventually I realized I had everything I needed.) I found it a little hard, especially the corners, but I was happy with the outcome! I think with practice it will get easier.

I posted Mom’s painting on Instagram (mycreativeresolution) to see if she’ll notice. I hope she likes it! Wait, breaking news: She saw it and she likes it! :) And it feels good to be done and to finally have used my new cutter!

My Steps:

See the start of this painting in the post “Pressure and Painting,” and the middle in the post “Mom’s present has entered the ugly phase. Can it recover?”

Cutting off the lamppost.

Figuring out the correct height of the lamppost, before drawing a new one.

Logan 2000
logan1 logan2


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