I let my blog go by the wayside, I am sorry but now I am back.
I want to start by apologizing for not posting any blog updates for a long long time. Life got busy, my health was not the best and I chose to work on a new type of artistic project that I had never done before, hoping it would sell better than my Zazzle artwork had been. But that was something I had never done before. A huge learning curve that I do admit I was able to get help and advice on from many many lovely people, but I also had to teach myself some parts. That project took years to complete. I also realized that the more that I focused on blogging and promotion the less new art was completed. The more balls I attempted to juggle (family, health, art creation, blogging, promotion and the new project) the more of them I kept dropping. I realized something had to give. I chose to take a pause on the blogging for a while to see if I could get my project finished. And that project look a long long time. I did other work projects too on the smaller scale. Family life changed as I got pregnant again and spent most of that year on bed rest, loosing most of that year for any chances to complete that project. Then I had a 7 yr old and a new baby. Life was messy and all over the place and then and most of us, myself included found ourselves remote schooling our kids in a pandemic. I was juggling more and dropping even more. I wasn’t sure if I would ever catch up. Eventually though I managed to finish the last few pages of that project and with a toddler and 9 yr old at my feet I finally finished that years long project earlier this year. I am proud of myself that I finished it. A little regretful it took so long. Time will tell if it was worth it. The project I will save for another post. For now though I am hopeful I can try to pick up my blog again, and promote my work more.
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 swirly seamless repeat pattern using the paper method.
Geometric stars tile on paper.
And the moon.
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.
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.
Starry sky monochrome textile pattern.
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 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.
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.
I am just taking a break from my usual blog content (A new art post per my usual style will be coming shortly. So don’t worry, I have already written the title) to share with you a website and new post by a fellow artist and friend. Leah G is a talented artist and cartoonist. She does some particularly great work in the Japanese Kawaii style. She is also a great blogger, who writes some great buying advice, trending advice and reviews, finding some great ideas for any manor of intended recipient. Just recently Leah has started reviewing specific artists, their art and their Zazzle stores. Iam proud to be the second artist she has reviewed. Not only did I receive some lovely compliments but also some great tips and constructive advice I plan on taking to heart for self improvement. Do please check out her blog post about my store titled “Zazzle Review- Inspired Me Studio- Trending Line Art Decor And Accessories”. I am Beyond thrilled to here my line art style is trending right now! So do please check it out as well as her other reviews and gift ideas!
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.
An actual improvement. The accidental mummy and me cat drawing collaboration in progress.
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)
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.
Tiara and converse optional, helping mummy draw an Italian Greyhound.
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.
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.
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.
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 Kitty, Finished Mummy And Me Art
and repeat …
Another Italian Greyhound in progress.
Finished dog on a pillow. S and I are on a roll.
Who’s line drawing is better? Mine or S’s?
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.
A lot of people have pets. I am no exception. I have always had pets except for when I married my husband… marrying into a family with very bad dander issues my husband and I chose not to have any for a while. Then last year I decided to get a pet, a particular pet. Most of the people who have pets have the cute and fluffy kind, not me (though I do like the cute and fluffy and traditionally would opt for those types of pets). They are beautiful, albeit in an exotic way and perhaps in some eyes cute. Though to many they are not their cup of tea. I also think they have their own cuteness. But again there are a few who don’t share my view. But there are many out there who surprisingly do share my point of view. In fact my current choice of pet is actually more popular than you might think. I currently take part in online world wide communities relating to my pets and their care that are in the 1000’s strong. From all parts of the world, sharing advice and knowledge on the care and upkeep of these beautiful pets ranging from the absolutely exotic species to the more common and hardy.
I currently have ten of them, and It all started with two oothecas, or as they are often referred to as ooths. One in each tank. A spike of warm weather and bam we had 200 or so tiny babies. If it’s not completely obvious by now an ootheca is an insect egg case. The eggs were laid in a type of foam that hardens around them to protect the eggs. As the eggs hatch the babies work their way out of the ooth.
Ootheca raised on a makeshift tripod/cradle with newly hatched Baby Praying Mantises. At this point they were a matter of hours old if that.
Close up of some of the babies, a little darker in colour. These has had the chance to harden up their exoskeleton.
Yes there was a lot of babies.
By this point you have probably Identified the insect… yes those are praying mantises. teeny tiny baby praying mantises. Hundreds of them in fact.
Each ootheca had the potential to produce as many as 200 per ooth and I had two. I estimate (no I didn’t count them) that I may have had at least 100 or more from each hatch/ooth.
However they have a high mortality rate so the numbers quickly dropped though at first there was very easily good healthy number for quite a while. I now have ten adults left out of the most likely 200 plus that hatched.
This mantis species is Tenodera Sinensis or more commonly known as the Chinese mantis. There are over 2,400 species in the mantodea order, with a huge variety of looks and sizes. One exceptionally large and unique looking species is the Giant African Stick Mantis, also known as Cat Eye Mantis (Heterochaeta) of which I would love to own one day. Another which some what smaller yet, exceptionally pretty to look at is the Orchid Mantis (Hymenopus coronatus).
Praying mantises are predatory insects, earning the pray part of their name from the resting stance of their raptors which when tucked under their front look like they are praying. They hunt live prey which mostly consists of other insects that are smaller than themselves but have been known to take on prey either much bigger than themselves or even more surprisingly lizards and birds. There has been more than one account of one of the larger species of mantis taking on hummingbirds and lizards. I have even seen accounts of pet mantises striking the glass enclosures of much larger pets from other keepers in the hobby. Though it’s important to note that what types of feeder insects are safe to give will vary in different species. Some species in their natural habitat mostly hunt flying prey. And in captivity some of those species have been known to get sick when fed crickets.
The way mantises grow and develop from hatching to adult is like many insects. They grow in multiple stages/ sizes as nymphs until adulthood. Each stage till adult is known as a particular instar or sometimes in the mantis keeping hobby is abbreviated as L1, l2, and so on. Between each stage they molt their old exoskeleton. It can take a few minutes to an hour or so but preferably not too long so as not to harden and dry in the old exoskeleton and get stuck. Once freshly molted they are now bigger, more developed and at their new instar. Initially their new exoskeleton is soft and must harden, sometimes their colour becomes darker or more muted once hardened. The molting process and hardening up afterwards is a delicate and dangerous time for a mantis. Miss-molts are a real possibility and can be deadly. They are also very vulnerable to predators (other predatory insects and even others of their own kind),
Female Chinese Mantis called Awesome Sauce, molting to pre sub adult. Sixth Instar.
In the above photo you can see my favorite mantis molting to pre-sub adult. At that point when the photo was taken she was mostly finished and had already started to dry and go back to her dark colour. She was just hanging from her butt from her old molt. They require hanging upside down so as to make use of gravity to get out of their old exoskeleton. failure to hang results in a miss molt. when has been deadly for some of my mantises. there are many other causes for miss molts though. They tend to from my observations break the skin on the back of the head/neck first and continue from there. The following photo shows two different exoskeletons after the molts. Both were female Chinese mantises molting to the same instar. though a week apart. The size difference fascinates me.
Two Sheds side by side. Same instar and species but two different females
One of my males miss-molted to sub adult getting his raptors stuck. Luckily for him it hasn’t proved fatal but has cost him both raptors and one eye in adulthood. Bellow you can see how his raptors were hooking over his eyes instead of resting perfectly. They rubbed and damaged what was otherwise perfect eyes and he lost one in the next molt. Sometimes if they have enough molts left they can fix many things with subsequent molts such as a missing limb or damaged raptors. Unfortunately he has to be hand fed as the next molt was his last and he was unable to heal the damage.
Sub adult male Chinese mantis with deformed raptors after a miss molt.
Generally mantises go through anywhere from 6 – 10 molts. How many will vary depending on species and even sex. For some amantis species the males molt fewer times than females to get to adulthood. Some species are an exception with males and females molting the same number of times. Some larger species taken more molts than others to get to fully grown.
Other notable growth differences is that praying mantises do not hatch with wings. They start growing wing buds at pre-sub and then come adulthood they get their beautiful wings. The difference is staggering.
My favorite female Chinese Mantis Awesome Sauce Molting to adult.
Closer inspection of Awesome Sauce molting to adult. Check out those tucked in wings where once were teeny tiny wing buds. They look like napkins folded into triangles.
Those little triangles for wings that have replaced the tiny wing buds… Remember those when you see the next stage.
Now she is free of her old molt it’s time for her to hang from her raptors and unfurl and pump those wings out.
Still pumping out those wings. I find it impressive and fascinating to see the difference.
I am still trying to get my head around how they were so nicely tucked away. At this point they look like pale green lace. But as she hardens and her colour gets darker and darker the colour of the wings change just like her body. The top wings will gain a darker green, brown with an almost metallic/pearlescent look with a racing stripe along their edge of lime green.
You may have noted in the above paragraphs that I have a favorite. She is the female Chinese mantis molting to adult in the above pictures. Being the largest and first of this year hatches to make it to adult, as well as my first ever successful attempt to raise a mantis to adult. She is entertaining to watch and quite beautiful to look at. She earned her moniker by her impressive growth and hardiness. Although it did come at a few small costs which I wasn’t two thrilled about, such as two siblings, despite being very well fed with prey in the tank just before I was able to separate them to separate enclosures.
Female Chinese (Tenodera Sinensis) Praying Mantis, named Awesome Sauce
She has inspired me so much so that she has managed to creep into my art. I like to design fabric prints and patterns, I find the continuity of the designs quite therapeutic. A couple of months ago I wanted to do a continuous fabric print that was feminine and beautiful. Part of me was leaning towards the old liberty’s staple of pretty fabric prints, which was often floral and organic subjects. But I didn’t want to create something so obvious. I wanted a subject that caught the eye and surprised you to see on a dress or drapes. Something unique.
Then I remembered who was sitting in her tank to my left. Little old Awesome Sauce, with her lime green racing stripe wings and pinky brown big eyes. And I thought why not? She is pretty, unique, and likes to hang out on flora which you usually find on fabric.
So I began drawing on my tablet using a ornament app that automatically repeats my pen strokes in a repeat pattern.
The raw unedited black and white grass leaves pattern before I worked Awesome Sauce in.
Then I worked Awesome Sauce into the pattern.
After Awesome Sauce made her way into the pattern, but prior to clean up and editing.
After I was happy with Awesome Sauces presence in the pattern I exported the pattern tile to another app for clean up. The above pattern is actually multiple tiles in a seamless repeat. Can you figure out where each individual tile begins and ends? You will find the answer in the following images.
Once I had cleaned up the Line drawing tile I then opened it up in Art Rage to give it some colour. Being a fabric pattern I knew I wanted a varied colour palette. Some artwork I just do one design option as I am often more art orientated when I create those artworks. But for this art I weas designing for a fabric from the start and with those you usually have a set colour palette and variants of one or more designs with in that that all complement each other. So I knew I wanted to do more than one version of Awesome Sauces pattern. I decided to be inspired by awesome sauces colours. She has a great camouflage that complements and blends into the greens and browns of her intended habitat. To vary the look of the print i decided to also variate how much colour was added to where on the print. I make three different tile layers each time adding more colour than the last and I used the watercolour paint effect to bring colour and life to the print.
My first variation I utilized the boldness of the black and white line drawing and helped it pop by setting it over a deep green background. (If you buy this pattern variant on Zazzle the green background is customisable just like all the other versions with white backgrounds.
This mantis pattern is Awesome Sauce. Black and White line drawing pattern of a female Chinese praying mantis (Tenodera Sinensis) resting upside down on a contiguous grass leaves print. Set over a green background.
I really like how the green helps the black and white drawing pop in a modern and bold manor.
For my next variant I chose to make Awesome Sauce stand out from the rest of the pattern. I chose to paint her in a digitial watercolour effect to give her not just colour but some dimension.
Awesome Sauce the mantis fabric pattern, semi colour filled variant.
My third variation I decided to bring the leaves forward too, so as to compliment Awesome Sauce. So filled them with colour again using the digital watercolour painting effect in Art Rage.
This is the full colour variant of my praying mantis pattern. Green and brown praying mantis resting on green grass leaves.
I think I successfully managed to create three complimentary variations of the same print. No doubt I shall add to the collection with more complimentary prints and their variations. The aim will be to have a collection of fifteen prints in total, including the variations.
Of course once I had finished the patterns I just had to order some Spoonflower samples to see it in person. Especially as it had been a while since I had ordered any new proofs for sale.
The three fabric samples of the praying mantis prints
And then they arrived. And they were even more Awesome than I expected them to be….
Close up of some of the Black and white line drawn praying mantis print on green background. Printed on basic cotton ultra.
Close up inspection of the semi colour print.
Awesome Sauce’s likeness was looking pretty good.
Close up of the full colour variant.
Seeing them in person got me all excited for the possible uses of this print. Imagining all the dresses, bed linen, shower curtains and more.
And of course I had to show Awesome Sauce her awesome fabric prints! It would have been rude not to!
At first she took a defense stance and tried to hide like grass on it.
Eventually she relaxed And chilled…. perhaps the leaves made her feel at home.
I think she seems to match the colours pretty well.
I think she approves.
And now I have finished this post I think I shall go hide my credit cards, this project may end up with me spending more than I make if I am not careful. Or perhaps I shall go make a dress pattern that deserves the Awesome Sauce print.
If you would like to see how good it looks as wallpaper and fabric check out my Spoonflower shop. Alternatively It’s available at Both Red Bubble and Society 6, as a variety of customisable fabric and products at Zazzle.