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A Valentine’s Day Card and a past career

valentineEMcKennasmw
When my daughter was born fifteen years ago, I left my Art Director job to stay home. I did a little freelance work, but focused on starting a custom invitation and announcement business. Since I didn’t draw and paint the way I do now, the business was part work and part creative outlet. For a while I really enjoyed it, and created some beautiful things. I produced everything myself – trimming and folding, and often added hand details – bows, buttons, layered paper, etc.

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At this point in the industry there were some websites out there, but nothing like the explosion that was to come. I did this on the side, while taking care of my three little kids, from 2000-2007/8. Over time I realized I was spending a lot of time – because it was custom work – designing, finding paper, etc. And I didn’t necessarily get paid for all of it – there was only so much I could charge (that people were willing to spend). It no longer felt like a creative outlet. And by this point, I was taking drawing and painting classes.

The way to make money was to offer a few designs to pick from – and then just fill the orders. But as a designer, what was the fun in that? At the same time, that I was losing interest in the business, the economy shifted. People were not willing to spend money on invitations. Also, the internet was exploding with cute, affordable designs. I toyed with the idea of opening my own online shop. In the end I didn’t, because there was so much competition, and I was burned out.

I started working part-time in an office (email marketing). I found it a nice break from the three little kids at home, and it was much much easier to separate work and home. I spent several years working, outside the house, as a Graphic Designer, dabbling in freelance work from home, and the occasional invitation. I now work exclusively for myself, directly for clients, offering Graphic Design (print/web), and Marketing (social media/email).

What is so amazing, is all that has happened since 2007. Randomly, on Twitter I found Thortful. Thortful is an app, that allows you to upload a card design – make it available to others and/or print it for yourself. They are new, and are just cards. (They are based in the U.K., so I’m wondering what shipping to the U.S. will be.)

Of course there are so many other sites that allow you to upload your designs and purchase and/or sell them on stuff. The one I’ve know the longest is cafepress.com. In the last few years, I’ve learned of society6.com, zazzle.com, redbubble.com, spoonflower.com. Many of these sites have their own twist. I’d love to know, do you have a recommendation?

I’m not sure as a designer, which gives you the best chance of actually making money – again there seems to be a lot of competition. I wonder if there are people out there who make a chunk of their living off these type of sites. It is nice, that you don’t have to handle the production. That you can outsource it without producing large quantities (that you don’t need/might not sell.) You can focus on being a designer. What an amazing world we live in. And what’s coming next?! 

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14 Days of Valentine’s Day Art

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Last year I got into the spirit of Valentine’s Day and created art every day, for 14 days, within that theme. I posted my creations on Instagram. It was a great learning experience, as I learned to dig deeper into a theme – once the obvious ideas were out of the way. I really fell in love with Instagram and it’s power to motivate me.

My display of last year’s “Valentine’s Day” work:
valentinesdaymantle

Currently I’m working on a 100 day project. I’m painting the beach. So this year’s Valentine’s Day art looks like this:

Beach Heart painting

Learn more about my beach heart here.

19 Books for Creatives


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Valentine’s Day Patterns

squarewrap
Last February I designed my second pattern, ever, in the Valentine’s Day theme. As I continued throughout the year, designing more patterns, my style evolved and my techniques changed. I wanted to design another pattern, this year, in the same theme, to see how I would approach it differently. Even though last year’s design was created with hand drawn elements – it was painted digitally.

Last year’s pattern:
valentine2015sm
Learn more about that process here.

This year I painted, in watercolor, several squares in pinks and reds. I thought it would be interesting to arrange them as tiles. The squares would be uneven and irregular because they were hand painted. Then (separately) I painted several hearts and the word love. In Photoshop, I arranged the watercolor squares, and “knocked” the hearts and words out of the squares, and created a repeating pattern.

The original artwork:
heartssquares

This year’s Valentine’s Day Pattern:
redpinksquaresfinal

I got extremely enthusiastic about my design and, even though I haven’t purchased a single Valentine’s Day gift, I ordered a roll of gift wrap from Spoonflower.com. I either have to start shopping for things to wrap, or start crafting. Hmmm, I have some ideas!


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My 12 Surface Designs – one a month this year!

I’m really proud, and happy, that I followed through on my goal to start creating surface designs. I designed the first one in January, and decided to commit to “1 Surface Design a Month.” That goal, and the end of the month deadline, really pushed me to put in the work.

12 Surface Designs
January – Art Supplies

artpatternrepeat

February – Valentine’s Day
valentine'sdaypattern
March – Gardening
gardeningrepeatfinal2
April – Dahlias
dahliapatternv2
May – Sandcastles
sandcastleEM
June – Echinacea
echinaceapattern

July – Shells
shellspattern

August – Ice Cream Cones
watercoloricecreamcones

September- Feathers
featherspattern1

October – Leaves
leavespatterncolor

November – Nutcrackers
nutcrackersrepeating
December – Toy Soldiers
toysoldiers2_5inchhigh

I’m always asking you, “What’s your favorite?” And I would love to hear, but I’ll also tell you my favorites.

I really liked when I started using the technique of creating the ink lines and watercolor backgrounds separately and then merging them in Photoshop. I started this with the shell pattern. I think the watercolor really adds a depth that you can’t get with Photoshop brushes. I started this technique with the shells, and continued it with the leaves – which is my favorite design in this style.

My other technique is drawing the elements in my sketchbook and adding color in Photoshop. My favorite design, using this technique, is the Toy Soldiers. They are just so cute!

Will I be continuing with surface design in 2016? Absolutely! As you know, I’ve made the Nutcracker and Toy Soldier patterns available on Spoonflower, where you can have them printed as fabric or gift wrap. It is really interesting to see the designs printed and to think about how it will be used. It makes you think about the design, and what works and doesn’t. It’s a different perspective than just seeing it flat on the computer screen.

In the new year, I’ll be adding a few of the other “12 designs” onto Spoonflower. And I plan to continue designing one new one a month!


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Valentine’s Day Mantle

valentinesdaymantle
I’ve been having fun the last couple of weeks creating art with Valentine’s Day in mind. I challenged myself to post my creations on Instagram for 14 days in a row. If you’ve been following, let me know which one you liked the best.

It’s been great, working within the same theme – coming up with different ideas and using different mediums. I’ve used watercolor, watercolor and ink, scanned doodles from my sketchbook and painted them in Photoshop, created a pattern, and a linocut. One more to go! Hmmmm.

My daughter’s art teacher gives them one word and they can execute it anyway they’d like. I love seeing her creations. It must be fun to be in the class and see how other people interpret the word. Their words have included – bounce, sticky, and bump. For “bump” my daughter drew a pregnant woman (focus on the bump) with a crib in the background. I thought it was very creative. Maybe I can sneak into the class!

I’m planning on another themed Instagram challenge – March 1 – 17th. The theme is St. Patrick’s Day (of course). Join me in the fun by including #mcrstpatricksday in your Instagram post. Join me for a day or all 17. It will be fun!

Have a happy Valentine’s Day!


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Striking while the iron is hot.

cupid-1
It is an amazing feeling when you are “into” a project and the creative ideas are flowing and you’re excited and inspired and motivated. I’m always better off “striking while the iron is hot” and working on a project when the inspiration first hits me. If I wait, sometimes the spark is gone. The enthusiasm dies down and it’s hard to motivate myself to work on the project.

When I’m in the “creative mode” I can move from one project to another and get things done, while new ideas are popping up, and it’s great! I’m on fire! Other times, I spend days thinking, “I should sit down and paint something.” For some reason, it is hard to sit down and do it, and gets harder as the days go by. Once I do sit down, and start, it all seems to come flowing back.

I also feel this way about blogging. I’ll be on a roll with ideas and posting, and then a couple of days go by and I start to question myself – “What should I post? I can’t post that!” I get kind of shy and start thinking, “Maybe I shouldn’t share that mistake.” Sometimes I have to remind myself that I’ve made a commitment (to myself) to be honest about my successes and failures. The best medicine, again, is to sit down and share and get the ball rolling again.

Cupid was a Sharpie doodle in my sketchbook that I scanned and painted in Photoshop. Follow me on Instagram to see my other Valentine’s Day inspired posts!


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“Valentine’s Day Love” Pattern

valentine'sdaypattern
I’m in the heart/love frame of mind this week, as I am posting a new Valentine’s Day inspired photo to Instagram, every day from February 1st – the 14th! (@mycreativeresolution) So, it’s no surprise that my digital pattern of the month is also Valentine’s Day inspired.

I’m getting into creating art in Photoshop, especially with doodles that originate in my sketchbook. The process is a lot quicker than I thought it would be. And the amount of different textured brushes is awesome. Where have I been?!

I’m excited to continue trying new brushes – last month I used a watercolor brush for my January pattern. This month I used the Soft Oil Pastel brush. I wanted the background to have texture – but that can be an issue when you repeat the pattern because irregularities won’t line up. I used a fade so that it wouldn’t be an issue, but I’d like to learn more about the technicalities of creating repeating patterns.

It’s ironic that two of the things I’ve been working on so far this year, are so different! Linocut seems like an old craft, and digital illustration is on the other end of the spectrum! Time will tell how things shake out and in what form I continue to work.

It’s been so fun, I may have to do another pattern before February is over!

Here is the pattern without the repeat:
valpatternnorepeat


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I don’t LOVE mistakes

lovemistake
Ironically the first thing I wrote in my last linocut post was “Mirror image. The design prints the reverse of what it is on the block. I keep forgetting this!” and I still forgot! And this time it was text – so you can’t ignore the mistake. Sometimes when I make a mistake this bad I learn my lesson. Let’s hope!

On a happier note…I’ve decided to challenge myself to post, on Instagram, my Valentine’s Day artwork and photos, every day from February 1st through the 14th. So please join me on Instagram (mycreativeresolution) to see what I’m working on! Let me know you found me originally on WordPress. I promise not to include anything you need to hold up to the mirror! 🙂


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Painting without a plan

loveflowers
While I’m sad that vacation is over, it is nice to have some quiet time to paint. What amazes me about these three paintings, is that I had no preconceived ideas until I sat down to paint – I just went with it. All three were done yesterday and they are all so different!

The first one I painted was the flowers in the container. I looked around my patio and picked the container just as I started painting.
flowerscontainer

The second painting was the hearts. I started painting the background, decided to leave the dry areas dry and filled one of them with a heart. Then I started adding more hearts and the word love. It is my favorite of the day – and I have no idea where it came from!

The third painting is the watercolor background with the ink flowers. I decided as I was painting – to make a colorful background and add ink to it. As I chatted with an old friend on the phone – I added the flower doodles. I looked around my yard for inspiration.

I am excited for another quiet day and more painting!