Costa Rica Watercolor Painting

Hello! I have a new painting to share with you. It was a gift for my husband’s birthday this weekend, and now that he has unwrapped it, I can share it with you!

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I chose a viewpoint from a restaurant we visited on the road. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant (or even where we were, exactly) but the restaurant had a huge, wooden porch with this view surrounding it. I usually prefer to sketch lightly in pencil first, but I didn’t think this would work well for this painting. Pencil tends to bleed into light watercolor washes, and it can ruin the color work. So I took a risk and lightly painted the outline in light green, because I needed to have some basic idea of where all of the foliage would go. The view was panoramic, and the horizontal orientation of the painting was not exactly the right dimensions for the picture, so I had to change some elements.

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I started adding in more details from right to left. It was especially difficult painting in the high contrasts of light and dark. Dark shadows in watercolor tend to look muddy, and it’s never easy for me to figure out the right balance for them.

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For all of the intense labor I put into the landscape, I was so exhausted by the time I got to the sky, that I painted it as loosely as possible. The irony of course, is that I think the sky looks the best! I always find that the less I “care” about how I’m painting, the better it turns out. It is not easy to kick back and just paint “carelessly,” because there is a certain level of unconscious focus that needs to occur. I can’t explain it, and people have various names for it, like “in the zone,” “meditation,” “in flow,” etc. I prefer to say “unconscious focus.”

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Now that I’m looking at it, I see how compressed the landscape looks. It’s more exaggerated than I thought it would be, but that is not necessarily bad. It has a lusciousness to it, I suppose, even though now I’m looking at all of the flaws. It’s always difficult for me to say “it’s done!” but this one is done!

-A.

Australia Watercolors

Hi all. I’m resurrecting a project from my past – some watercolor paintings inspired by my honeymoon in Australia. I finished one, but not quite the other. You can probably guess which on is incomplete!

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This is a painting of the farmland of Malanda. It was one of our favorite spots. Completely beautiful and idyllic, with rolling hills, lush greenery, and plenty of cows.

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Yes, this is the incomplete one! This was a riverbed in Queensland, on a hiking trail we visited. It had a particularly blue-green color to the water, and the rocks with smooth and white with deep gray shadows. It was quite secluded, except for the flies.

I may or may not finish the second painting…I’m busy working on a birthday watercolor for someone special’s birthday!

-A.

All About Apples!

Hello friends! For some reason, apples have become a favorite subject of mine. I had a few work projects that involved apple illustrations, and I had some ideas for fabric prints with painted apples. I have a few different versions I have been working on, and all are very different from one another.

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One of my projects involved drawing a woodcut-style apple for a logo. I was inspired by 17th century German woodcuts.

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Another iteration from this project involved a different version of this apple.

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And for my personal project, I wanted to design a fabric print of 4 different apple varieties. I have a Golden Delicious, a Pink Lady, a Granny Smith, and a Fuji. My personal favorite for eating is a Granny Smith.

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I hope to have time to clean up these paintings and design a print. I’d love to have aprons, oven mitts, potholders, or tablecloths with this design!

-A.

Asian Nature Motifs

Hello friends. I’ve got a little sneak peek for you! I’m working on some new t-shirt designs, and one of them includes Asian-inspired nature motifs. I drew a tree, clouds, and waves. I’m going to be honest, I was inspired to draw the clouds from the opening sequence of Disney’s Mulan (do you remember the ink drawing at the opening sequence?). I found some ancient illustrations of waves and trees and drew my own versions.

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I’ll show you the finished products when they have been printed. So far, so good!

-A.

Chalkboard Lettering

Hello and happy Friday! It has been quite a long time since I have posted new work. I do have something I can blame for this: graduate school. The last year has been manic; I have taken full course loads for each semester, and I have only short breaks between semesters. This has sadly left me very little time to do artwork, let alone any freelance work. Unfortunately, I’ve had to turn away freelance work, which is something I really do not like to do. I’m hoping I can have some time in my last year of grad school to do some freelance work. If not, well, it will have to wait until summer 2017 (when I graduate)!

I had the opportunity to do some quick chalkboard lettering for work. I designed a “grab a prop” sign for a photo setup on campus, and I designed a sign that illustrates what my department does (for student orientation). It was a fun opportunity, and I hope I have more chances to do this in the future!

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One fun fact about chalkboard lettering: it is very difficult to add any sort of detail with a blunt piece of chalk. I also spent a significant amount of time huffing and puffing all of the chalk dust that accumulated on the work space. But, I discovered how helpful it is to blend colors with your fingertips – it was like being a kid all over again!

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I will be back soon with more recent work!

-Anne

Valentine’s Day Card: Moon & Stars

Every year, I try to do a little personal Valentine’s Day card on time. It almost never works out. I always start too late on them, and barely finish them in time for the holiday. I’m lucky if I’m able to send a handful. I have my ideas and sketches done way ahead of time, I just can’t get them finished, printed and mailed. So this year I’m doing something a little different.

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I’m going to design a card just to give to my sweetheart. My husband is not mushy or sentimental, and I don’t think he would really like the “you’re the peanut butter to my jelly,” offbeat Valentine’s Day cards. Over the years I have seen some interesting valentines, but a lot of them are what he would describe as “twee hipster silliness,” and I would have to agree. It’s difficult to find a valentine that is short and sweet, funny or actually heartfelt. Sometimes modern cards feel too forced, awkward, or “ironic.” So this year, I’m taking an inside joke from the both of us and turning it on its head.

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So when we first started dating, I jokingly asked my husband, “How much do you love me? More than the moon and the stars?” And he laughed and said that was an absurd question, because he didn’t really have feelings for the moon and the stars. It became a sort of “romantic comedy” absurd phrase we’d say when we were joking around. I decided to letter “I love you more than the moon and the stars,” and to make it really sweeping and romantic. The funny thing is, it could actually be romantic, and I can see an audience looking at that and saying, “Oh wow, that’s exactly how I feel.” I actually love the moon and stars, and think it could look very beautiful. But when I give this card to him, I think he will chuckle. He will know how much I love him, but he’ll appreciate the sweeping look of the letters and know it’s supposed to be a bit tongue-in-cheek.

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I used gold and silver metallic Sharpies in the final version. I attempted to use colored Sharpies (yellow, pink and blue) but it did not look right at all. I ended up doing 4 different versions. Maybe someday I’ll vectorize this and actually make it look good, but this is what I could do for today! Anyway, Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you can find the perfect card, because that is a rare treat!
-A.K.

New sketchbook!

Hello! So, there isn’t that much new in the design/art world for me. Except that I got a new sketchbook. I had to buy a new one after my last one fell apart at the binding. It may have been from repeatedly shoving it in my backpack, but the notebook wasn’t really built to last. Anyway, I’m fairly picky when I choose a sketchbook: the paper should be white (not yellow), thick enough that I can’t see pen lines through the other side, good binding, plain cover, easily lays flat, and it needs to be the perfect size to fit into my purse. After I found the right one, I had to begin the arduous process of transferring my important sketches from my old sketchbook to my new one.

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My new sketchbook has a lot of my future wedding collection sketches. I have a lot of themes I’d chosen, and 2-4 designs per theme. I’ve only really designed 2 of my collection so far, but I’m hoping once I have more breaks during school I’ll be able to work on it more. I also have sketches of my future pricing guide, and some branding projects I started. I’m still waiting for some inspiration to strike me so that I can name my new blog, and then design branding for it. I really can’t wait to get started on it, but I definitely need the perfect name!

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New sketchbooks are exciting because of all of the blank pages I can fill! I need to keep my resolution and continue to draw every day if I can. I spent most of yesterday drawing and I loved it. I can’t share the illustration yet, because it’s a surprise present, but I will share it later on!

-A.K.

New Brush Font

Hello! I’m diligently working on some infographics, and decided I wanted to use a very specific brush font. So, on Sunday, I played around with my Sumi black ink and bamboo brush and designed a quick font.

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I’m going to scan them in and make sure all of the letters are the way I want them. It was really fun and spontaneous to do this little project, and I’m hoping I can have more creative bursts this year. I still need a name for this font…Let me know if you have any ideas! Since this is for a food/taste related subject, I like Acerbic, Savour, and Tincture. I purposefully used the British spelling of “savor,” because I think it looks more elegant. 🙂

-A.K.

2015: A New Year

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I’ve seen quite a number of blog posts about the new year, and what people plan on doing with it. I’ve read a few, and a lot of them are more of the same: achieve some small business goals, “focus, balance, breathe…,” spend more time following a new passion or any number of vaguely positive things. I usually don’t really participate in new year’s resolutions because I don’t like waiting until an event, like January 1st, to come around before I decide to make a change. If I want to make a change or a goal, I usually prefer to make a plan immediately, because I lack patience and I often busy myself with work at any time of the day. I also don’t like feeling like I’m jumping on some productivity bandwagon that may be destined to fail, because more often than not, resolutions are forgotten or given up by February. I want goals that stick!

But after reading a few posts on resolutions, goals, and ways to keep up motivation throughout the year, I decided to think about the things I am hoping to achieve. I love writing down my to do list and crossing things off, so I am hoping to apply this behavior to achieve some greater goals this year. More than anything, I want to grow my freelance business and expand my portfolio. This is always my top goal, even if I feel like I am failing at it from time to time. I know I have the time to devote to this goal, it’s just the everyday things that I tend to use as excuses to procrastinate that seem to “get in the way.” I spend a lot of time doing lots of little things. I tend to sign up for extra responsibilities when I really shouldn’t (don’t we all do this as modern women? I feel like we are expected to do everything all the time. But that’s another conversation). So I have lots of little goals that I’m hoping all tie together into one “resolution.” Here they are:

1. Draw or illustrate something at least once every other day!
I miss just drawing or sketching for fun. It’s a great way to relax, practice, and figure out my style. I rarely do this anymore, and instead fill my day with reading articles or wasting time online. I want to prioritize drawing time and drastically reduce aimless internet time!

2. Be featured on a big design blog at least once this year.
I submit all of my latest work, even if I’m not proud of it, to different design blogs hoping I will be featured. I want to get the word out there about my work more. The first step to this is, of course, creating better work to submit! And that begins with drawing more, and creating more personal work. A lot of my recent work is not “feature worthy,” unfortunately, and I want that to change. I need to push myself creatively, even if I have work that is extremely limited and may not be something I am proud of.

3. Practice Spanish at least once a week.
My husband and I are most likely going to Spain in March, and I would love to be more conversational in Spanish. I am rusty at best, and I know learning a new language would be fun and something I can add to my resume. Win!

4. Start that (other) blog I have been meaning to…
I have been meaning to start a certain blog for quite some time now. I have a lot of interest and passion in this area, but I haven’t quite nailed down all of the details of the blog. Specifically, I need a good name for it! I have been wracking my brains for months to no avail. Once I have the name, I will unveil the blog and you all will be the first to know!

I have other resolutions, but I don’t know if it’s realistic for me to keep going. If I’m doing good on these goals, I may add later goals later in the year. This may be crazy, but what’s life without a little crazy?

-A.K.

Holiday Card Wrap-Up 2014

I know, I know: I am way late in the game on this! I can promise you I meant to post this on December 19th, before I left for the holiday break. I even had all of my photos edited and ready to go. But holiday madness being what it is, I just did not get this post ready in time. So here I am, on January 6th, posting about my two holiday cards I designed for the year. Please enjoy them anyway! I am hoping with the new year I will become more organized and keep this blog going at least on a semi weekly basis.

My first client card of the season was for my dear friend Heather Yeager. Instead of sending out birth announcements in the fall and then a separate holiday card right after, she decided she wanted a birth announcement/holiday card combination. I thought it was a great idea, because I had seen some very adorable cards like this and was excited by the opportunity to design something new. Heather is a talented photographer, and provided me with the photo of her newborn baby Penelope to use for the card. I designed the baby’s full name in calligraphy, and then decided to add snowflakes and “my first noel” to signal that this was a birth announcement as well as a holiday card. To match the baby clothing, I used unexpected, yet feminine pinks and purples. She was delighted with the result!

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For my holiday card, I knew I wanted to do some hand lettering, but I really didn’t have any other ideas for a while. I wanted to include a photo of my husband and I from our trip to Europe this summer, but I did not necessarily want an overly European holiday card. I chose a photo we took at the Hotel Sacher in Vienna, Austria, because it had incredible lighting at the interior of the building was stunning. From there, I designed a thick, festive “season’s greetings” lettering motif, and decided to add checkered snowflakes to the edges of the card. I was very happy with the result, but this reminded me that I need to keep working on my hand lettering technique. I also seem to run out of time to actually finesse the curves in Adobe Illustrator. And, me being me, I took on the extra task of doing red ink calligraphy for each and every envelope. The result was beautiful, but there were definitely some late nights furious cleaning my calligraphy pens so that I could go to bed!

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This is going to be a more organized year for me. I’ve got my resolution(s) set, and I will be posting about them hopefully later this week! Thanks for looking and I wish you a happy, healthy, and harmonious new year!

-A.K.