Blue Stars And Bright Moons, Delving Into Creating Seamless Repeats.

2015 was a year of working on learning some new skills and improving rusty ones.

One of those skills i wanted to improve was my textile designing and pattern repeats.I decided to teach myself the different techniques for seamless repeats, refresh myself on pattern repeat terminology, and get back into the habit of creating full collections.

I invested in textiles design books and online courses to improve my knowledge where my pattern cutting and fashion design background was lacking.  I found them illuminating and set upon practicing what I was learning.

I decided that my first stop should be to learn how to create seamless repeats using the traditional pen and paper method, and then digitize and clean up after.  This proved to be a slightly more challenging lesson than anticipated.

The method is simple you start with your piece of paper or velum that is either perfectly square or rectangle and you begin your pattern design from the center working outwards. Before getting to the outer edges (how close I go generally depends on my design elements) you cut the paper in half horizontally and then carefully line up the two outer horizontal edges together as if they were the center of the paper and secure them in place. Once secure you then work on those now blank areas that are in the center of your paper.  After that you repeat the process again vertically.   Once your tile is filled up as you intend with pattern details you can scan the paper and edit using image editing software and test the repeats for breaks or unwanted channels and lines.

This process in itself isn’t too tricky.  I found the most difficult part was lining up the paper halves so that when pieced back together they didn’t have breaks or miss alignments in the repeats.   My first three attempts had lines that didn’t meet perfectly and I had to resort to using a software image editing program to edit them back to meeting up perfectly after scanning them.

If you want to read a book that covers this method, I have enjoyed my kindle copy of A field guide to fabric design by Kim Kight.

Spoonflower had announced a contest themed for moon phases back in September and I was itching to enter.  I love the moon and stars and general space themes.  I decided that I was going to use the paper cutting method to create my entry.

For the design idea I had in mind I decided to create it in three layers, mostly for ease of creating more variations but also because I thought it might simplify things when trying this method for the first time.

I broke down those three layers into three elements of my design.

Abstracts swirls to represent space,

creating a swirls seamless repeat pattern using the paper method.

Creating a swirly seamless repeat pattern using the paper method.

Geometric stars,

Geometric stars tile on paper.

Geometric stars tile on paper.

And the moon.

Geometric moon drawing.

Geometric moon drawing.

I had the most trouble with matching up my swirls after cutting the paper and re-taping.  In the end I resorted to using a software app for creating those swirls as after 3 attempts on paper I kept miss-aligning the swirl lines and was quickly running out of time to submit before the contest started.

Four paper tile patterns.

Four paper tile patterns.

Once I was confident in my basic repeat line ups in each layer repeat, I took my digitised tiles,  cleaned them up and edited them to the same size ratio as my digitally created tile for the swirls was different proportions to my paper created repeats.  A lot of my lines lost some bulk in the clean up process so I did some touch ups with the brush pen to re draw any broken lines in the same colour as the pen lines.  Otherwise I think I did really well on the moon and stars paper repeats considering it was my first time using the paper and cut method.

When I finished each layer I was able to create three repeat pattern variations with them and fill them in with my chosen colour palette.

Space swirls blue tile.

Space swirls blue tile.

Starry sky monochrome textile pattern.

Starry sky monochrome textile pattern.

Blue stars, bright moons.

Blue stars, bright moons.


In order to create a full collection I have created different colour ways for each repeat that pull from the same colour palette.

A different colour way of the starry night sky.

A different colour way of the starry night sky.

A yellow moon colour way of Blue stars and bright moons.

A yellow moon colour way of Blue stars and bright moons.

I have also created some co ordinate patterns from smaller more concise design elements in the main designs.

Starry night Kaleidoscope.

Starry night Kaleidoscope.

Moon flowers.

Moon flowers.

Luna Love in Blue textiles collection.

Luna Love in Blue textiles collection.

The ultimate goal for this project was to learn a new skill, perfect old ones and create a full collection of seamless repeat patterns for textiles that consisted of a properly edited colour palette, and matching focal and co-ordinate prints.  Which overall I think I achieved and I am happy with the result.

Oh and as for the contest entry, I got a lot of compliments and likes and even though I didn’t win, I enjoyed creating the design.


mummy and me art collaboration in progress, Italian Greyhound dog sketch. How to create an art collaboration with a toddler

How to create an art collaboration with a toddler, even when you don’t intend to!

This how to create an art collaboration with a toddler instructional article is brought to you by, “I am always a mothering, even when I am drawing”, “I was only distracted for a zero tenth of a second”, “lighting fast toddler hands” and “how do I salvage this?”.

I will start this post off by saying I am a typical creative.  Not only do i have multiple project going on and unfinished at any given time, as well as a ton more more running through my head, I am also my worst critic.  I also draw in my daughters presence, always, as I keep her full time whilst working from home.   And that’s how this story started months ago.

I was drawing a cat in impressionist form, or at least I was trying to (I don’t even remember why I was drawing a cat, though as it’s one of my daughters favorite animals it may have been for her benefit) and I wasn’t happy with what I had so far. It just looked wrong rather than an impressionist style cat.  At the same time I was sitting with my daughter who was three in our living room.

I was a little distracted with everything being that my mind was being pulled in multiple directions (daughter, drawing not going the way it should, other members of family, rest of my surroundings).  I put the drawing down on my lap with the pencil resting on top, whilst fielding “can I help you draw the cat?” whilst finding a distraction for my daughter, when the inevitable happened.   My daughter evoked one of her super speed toddler powers, grabbed the pencil and “helped” me draw.  Within a blink of an eye it was done, I don’t even think I had time to put down the object I had just picked up to distract her with.  I’d say I was frustrated or slightly annoyed.  But in truth, despite the fact I knew that those pencil scribbles were done with such a heavy hand that no amount of rubbing out would remove the deep trench marks, I really wasn’t.

Truthfully I hated it a little less, though it may have been that biased mothers love of everything their child creates (yes sometimes you do just a smidgen of a second feel bad wiping away the artwork your precious angel decorated the walls with whilst seething that they chose that as a canvas and not some of the scrap paper).

That all said I still didn’t want to waste the art materials and hours that I had struggled to draw that darn cat. Even more so since I hated it a little less now.  I wracked my brain for ideas to salvage it.  Frankly trying to rub out the pencil scribbles didn’t appeal as I knew it wouldn’t work all that well, so I decided to incorporate them.   And the best idea I could come up with was to keep them as part of the line drawing of the sketch and let them dictate colour placement.

Mommy and Me art project, Art Deco cat drawing in progress.

An actual improvement. The accidental mummy and me cat drawing collaboration in progress.

I am by no means the first, last or only artist to collaborate with their children, on purpose or otherwise.  In fact not very long after I had started salvaging this cat drawing by incorporating S’s scribbles, I came across a post on Facebook about the talented illustrator and graphic artist Mica Angela Hendricks who is Busy Mockingbird.  Detailing her art collaborations with her own daughter.

The more colour  I added to our accidental mummy and me cat collaboration, the more I liked it and the more apparent it was that S really did help.  So I decided to try and replicate the effect and process again with a new picture and this time I would take photographic evidence of each step by step progress.  And it worked.

So here for your viewing pleasure is a step by step guide (with pictures) to creating an art collaboration with your toddler, even if you really don’t mean to.
  • Step one . Draw something.  It’s very important that you own this drawing, act like it’s yours, this help for the next to steps. Its also better if you do this in eye sight of your intended collaborator (read toddler/small child)
Mummy and Me Art, Italian Greyhound Sketch In Progress

Italian Greyhound Sketch in progress. Pencil on paper, early stages.

  • Step two.  Collaborator notices you drawing and the questions ensue.  “What are you       doing?”, “Why?”, “What are you drawing?” “Why?”
  • Step three.  If all goes well in the first two steps, this step should be where you field the question “Can I help?”.  If it’s not forth coming you can always jump the gun and ask them to help. Though I find from experience with my three year old, she finds more passion in things they are not allowed to do.  “please eat your favorite mac n cheese?”…. “NO!” “Don’t put that yucky tasting thing in your mouth!”…. ***put’s it in mouth.  “No you can’t help with this drawing darling, this is mummies special work just by her , but thank you!”……leads to step four.
  • Step 4.  Collaborator (toddler/small child) engages their lightning speed super powers and grabs drawing instrument that you stupidly left in their reach (yes it doesn’t matter that it’s in your lap/hand/up higher than you thought they could reach.  Silly, silly you).  Collaborator (toddler/small child) re-engages their lighting speed super powers and “helps” you draw.
mummy and me art collaboration in progress, Italian Greyhound dog sketch.  How to create an art collaboration with a toddler

Tiara and converse optional, helping mummy draw an Italian Greyhound.

mummy and me Italian Greyhound sketch in progress

The more scribbles the better. Well as long as you can still see the main drawing underneath.

  • Step 5.  The salvaging of the artwork, or more better put colouring in  the artwork.  This is where you get to have fun with your colour mediums.  For this I broke out my oil paint based sharpies.  I was careful not to go over S’s scribble lines that I wanted to keep.  I chose a select number of main colours for the body of the dogs and cat, and black to go over my line drawing and scribble lines by S.
    Italian Greyhound, mummy and me art in progress

    How good are you at keeping between the lines?

    This is where you need to revisit your childhood colouring in skills and keep between the lines of both your line drawing and your collaborator’s scribbles.  fill in the different areas of your drawing that were created by the scribbles  with your choice of main body colours.  I alternated between gold and silver, creating a patchwork Art Deco effect.

  • Step 6.  Tracing over the lines and scribbles.  Very carefully I took a black oil based marker and traced both my line drawing and S’s scribbles that I was keeping.
    mummy and me Italian greyhound drawing. Work in progress

    Tracing the lines and scribbles, in black marker.


  • Stage 7.  This is the grand finally, erase the messy pencil marks that are leftover and went over, tidy up and missed marks in the marker pens, sit back and admire your finished artwork.
    mummy and me Art Deco Italian Greyhound Portrait.

    The finished collaboration. Our mummy and me Art Deco Italian Greyhound Portrait.


And rinse, repeat and create an art collaboration with your toddler…..

Art Deco Cat art, mummy and me art

Art Deco Kitty, Finished Mummy And Me Art


and repeat …

Art Deco mummy and me italian greyhound, mummy and me drawing.

Another Italian Greyhound in progress.

Italian Greyhound mommy and me artwork.

Finished dog on a pillow. S and I are on a roll.


and repeat…

Italian Greyhound Mommy and me art in progress

Who’s line drawing is better? Mine or S’s?

Gone Shopping, Italian Greyhound Dog art with bag, mommy and me art

All done with a Deco feel.

Now you have read this how-to create an art collaboration with a toddler, do you think you might create some mummy (or daddy) and me art yourself? If you do share your makes on our Facebook page. The link is in the footer our our website. or better yet leave a comment on this post.


Good New Iris, Floriography Inkblot Art.

I’ve been quiet lately on the posting news front as well as new blog posts.  This is mostly in part because I started a project that I expected to take no more than a week and that snowballed into a bigger job than I thought it was going to be.   I decided to do a bit of virtual house keeping, and no doubt some of you have noticed a few changes on this website, with new additions and tweaks here and there.  Unfortunately I am still not finished.  But you can expect a new blog addition to this website in the next few weeks focusing on my fabric design.  Hopefully I shall be finished with the majority of my virtual house keeping by the end of the next two weeks, unless more things pop up that I hadn’t thought of.

One of the changes I wanted to make was a featured image for my news page.   It’s been my to-do list for a long while. I kept changing my mind as to an appropriate image.  I finally a month or two ago settled on an idea and instead of changing my mind it stuck. Simple to the point and with meaning.

What imagery could convey news you ask? That’s pretty much what I was struggling with for a long time too.  But then whilst I was looking through my floriography dictionary, I came across the entry for iris flowers, blue ones to be exact.  A beautiful flower that I not only loved enough to consider for my wedding bouquet (unfortunately they didn’t happen due to the florist couldn’t find any at his supplier that morning of good enough quality, though my bouquet was still beautiful none the less) but also in my favorite colour.

The symbology made sense. It also made sense to call on my floriography inkblot artwork for another element of my website seen as I already had incorporated the medium and style for my logo. It was decided, hopefully no more changing  of my mind.

So this posts artwork is a floriography inkblot piece on the blue iris.  I call it “Good News Iris” for the floriography meaning of blue iris flowers which is good news..  Inspiration was it’s meaning and intended purpose.

I used blue finger paint and green food dye dissolved in water to create to create the inkblots on watercolour paper stock as I was at the time making salt and watercolour art with my daughter S and that’s the paint mediums we were using for that.  Which just goes to show you don’t need to use professional mediums to make something look good, and weird experimentation’s can result in some beautiful outcomes.  Over the inkblots I drew by hand the Iris details, first in pencil and secondly in gold oil based sharpie pen. Then finished it off with gold gel pen for the hand written floriography and my two signatures.

And this is the final piece.

"Good News Iris" Floriography Inkblot artwork of a blue Iris. The blue iris can mean good news.

“Good News Iris”
Floriography Inkblot artwork of a blue Iris. The blue iris can mean good news.

So there you have it…. my new news page icon.  Now don’t forget to check out my news feed page for babble, I mean good news from me between posts.  Now it has a featured image there’s no excuse to miss the page.

As I always do with most of my art I shall be making “Good News iris” available in my POD stores, should you wish to own your own piece of good news. Just follow anyone of my various store links to check whats available.


Koi Carp

There’s an aquarium store near us that have a large indoor pond just inside their door. In which they keep large beautiful koi fish.  It’s the sort of set up that most fish lovers would love but I am sure would cost a bomb or two to achieve your own, not considering the upkeep, maintenance and space.  I don’t think I have seen too many of these since I moved over here if any apart from the one at this store.  My 3 yr old daughter likes the fish but what she really loves is that if you go to the till the other side of the door you can buy a pre-measured out little pot of fish food for a dollar and feed the koi.  The excitement and thrashing that ensues from the feeding frenzy, as their big mouths open to gulp down the tiny pellets gets giggles and raucous laughter from S.  So every once in a while we visit the aquarium store so she can feed the fish.

We have actually been doing this a while, yet it hadn’t made it to this blog yet.

But I have recently been trying to reorganize my digital devices which I use for my art.  Even when I hand draw or paint with traditional medium I still use technology to scan it, finish it or tidy it up and enlarge, before I share on this blog. Other times I use it to actually make art from scratch with my different apps and programs I have.  But I am pretty bad at transferring and deleting things and so it’s gotten to the point of clean up and tidy up or not be able to do anything more.  Digital memory is limited it seems more than my memory on a Monday morning, during a caffeine ban.  One of my favorite and go-to creative apps is the Art Rage for IPad app, which was struggling to process the simplest of tasks thanks to the multiple large as possible multi-layer works it had saved all waiting to be transferred or finished.  I can no longer ignore spring cleaning my digital files and work. So I have been trying to do it here and there, especially when it comes to inside the apps, which I found have quite a few pieces not finished.

And then I saw a fish, an unfinished fish, a whole lot of effort put in already fish, but no where near finished.


A fish in need, Koi in progress long forgotten.

A fish in need, Koi in progress long forgotten.

And then I remembered our walks to feed the fish and S’s squeals of laughter and happiness.  And that this fish has been waiting for more detail since 2013, poor poor lonely forgotten fish.

How could I leave it for so long languishing, with all the memories it represents? Clearly I had lost momentum during the creative process, probably from loosing my nerve.  I tend to get scared about ruining a piece and back off for a breather.  This breather apparently took a year.  Well I clearly couldn’t leave it any longer.  So I pushed through the uncertainty about what direction to take it and started making progress.

Close up of the nose details in progress.

Close up of the nose details in progress.


In Progress Koi Carp close to being finished. Screen shot of the work in the Art Rage app which I am creating it in.

In Progress Koi Carp close to being finished. Screen shot of the work in the Art Rage app which I am creating it in.

I was surprised how little time it took to finish considering how long it took me to get to the point in which i found it. I came to the conclusion that it’s my dithering and lack in confidence in my directional choices that make it such a long creational process.  The minute I chose to ignore those little voices and just go with the flow it seemed to speed up.

But as always I had a last minute wobble with the eye colour.

Screen shot of Koi Carp in progress within the app. With lighter blue eyes.

Screen shot of Koi Carp in progress within the app. With lighter blue eyes.

I realized whilst on screen the darker blue version was striking, but in print the lighter blue would stand out more.  So I decided to make both versions. Why not? This is the benefit of digital art. you can create different versions of things with simple tweaks quite easily without having to start over on a canvas or board.

So here they are my two versions of the same fish.

Dark blue eyed koi carp.

Dark blue eyed koi carp.

And with a lighter touch.

Koi Carp version two with lighter blue eyes.

Koi Carp version two with lighter blue eyes.

I think it works. I am glad I didn’t go whole hog on the water swirls, as I think that the plain black areas of the water add a nice touch and stop the water from overwhelming the koi.  I have to admit it makes a nice mirrored fabric print design.

And more so I have something finished to represent all those memories of S and her screams of laughter and giggles whilst feeding the fish.

I think it’s probably time we take another walk back to feed the fishes.



Oh that flirtatious little dandelion.

It’s Valentine’s Day coming up and I bet when you think of flowers and romance you envision red roses.

But there’s another unappreciated plant that would also fit the romantic flowers category, though when I tell you what that plant is you might not believe me.

If anything this plant probably brings to mind childhood play times in the grass, fairies, wishes, free snacks for pet rabbits and if you are like my husband, sheer loathing.  As the designated person in charge of the grassy areas on our property, this plant is a thorn in his side. To be pulled and discarded at first sight.  It’s not something he wants in his garden (not that the dandelions care about those wishes), no doubt any romantic connotation is far from his mind when he sees one.  But if you look up the symbolic meanings of this plant, then you might be in for a surprise.  For something so supposedly unwanted, the results sure are poetic and beautiful.

There’s more than one meaning for this plant, and I shall focus on only one for this post.  One that is quite appropriate for a certain popular day that’s coming up, Coquetry.  The definition of coquetry is “a flirtatious manor or flirtatious behavior”.  And by plant I mean a very well known garden weed.  This fluffy little guy.

That flirtatious little dandelion puff n our garden... It's floriography meaning is coquetry.

That flirtatious little dandelion puff n our garden… It’s floriography meaning is coquetry.

Yup that’s right I am talking about the dandelion.  Dandelions are flirty.  Bet that’s not something you would have ever thought before reading this.  And if we are really honest, a lot lot cheaper than the Valentine’s Day standard of red roses.  But somehow I don’t think my husband will take up giving me dandelions as tokens of affection.  And the real thing whilst quite pretty once gone to seed is quite quite delicate.  One breath, or sneeze and you’ve got a bare stem.

This little, delicate and fun garden weed, with its surprising floriography meaning inspired me.  So I broke out the green ink again.

drawing in green ink, with a dropper. This is how my inkblot art starts.

drawing in green ink, with a dropper. This is how my inkblot art starts.

 And I started making some green grass inkblots.

Fresh green inkblots before the details of the flower have been added.

Fresh green inkblots before the details of the flower have been added.

 This time I went with silver pen instead of gold like the roses.  I felt the silver suited the green and the dandelion puff much more.

Close up of the silver details being added.

Close up of the silver details being added.

 After a few stolen work minutes here and there I finally had something finished.

Coquetry Floriography Inkblot of the Dandelion. Finished piece.

Coquetry Floriography Inkblot of the Dandelion. Finished piece.

I am pretty happy with how it came out.  It even looks good in a white frame.

Originals of two floriography inkblots featuring Dandelion/Coquetry (left in frame) and Ivy/friendship (right)

Originals of two floriography inkblots featuring Dandelion/Coquetry (left in frame) and Ivy/friendship (right)

 And as I have enjoyed creating these inkblots, and learning about floriography so much, I am going to set you all the challenge to join me.

Lets blow up our social media with beautiful flowers, plants, and beautiful sentiments.  We can fill the internet with secret messages and learn about floriography together.

I want you to share pictures of a plant or flower in your feeds be it facebook, twitter, Google+, Tsu, Pinterest, or even Instagram. It can be a photo or even a picture you drew or created.  Along with the flower or plant’s name, it’s floriography meaning and the tag #FloriographyInkblotInspiredMe so we can all see see it. Come on lets communicate through flowers and plants on the internet. It will make a pretty change in our news feeds from the usual image content we see and share, and you might find some of the meanings surprising.

I’m looking forward to seeing what you share.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. May your days be filled with coquetry and love.