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Surface Pattern

Posted on November 10, 2016

Wraptious Cushion Design Competition

Presenting three of my surface pattern designs currently available as *limited edition* cushions for sale in the Wraptious Cushion Design Competition (running until Sunday).

The designs are printed on Vegan Suede with a choice of colour for the backing, hidden zip and offered either ‘cover only’ or with a choice of insert.

Every Facebook like = 1 point in the competition, while a purchase is worth 50 points. View and purchase via Wraptious.

'Fierce Leopard' Pattern Design in the Wraptious Cushion Competition

'Squirrel's Wardrobe' Pattern Design in the Wraptious Cushion Competition

See the original drawings behind this ‘Squirrel’s Wardrobe’ acorn design.

'Oh So Autumn Leaves' Pattern Design in the Wraptious Cushion Competition

Do you have a favourite?

Although they don’t necessarily work as a collection, I wanted to showcase the designs I’m most proud of and that I thought would work best on cushions, giving them each a chance to capture people’s hearts and imagination.

Seeing my designs professionally ‘mocked-up’ and for sale is an exciting opportunity for exposure and it transforms a digital file into something tangible and real that I can imagine in someones home (including my own). Isn’t that every designer’s dream?

You can view more of my designs available as art prints/cards, framed prints, metal prints, mugs, laptop/phone cases, and more on Society6 – I bought a shower curtain in my ‘Big Love‘ design and it’s lush!

'BIG LOVE' shower curtain, Society6

Wraptious offers free UK delivery on all orders.

Cushions available until Sunday 13th November 2016 – now extended until Christmas!


Posted on October 17, 2016

Acorns, acorns, everywhere

In responding to a themed call-out last week via Pattern Camp for pattern designs featuring or inspired by ‘ACORNS’, I’ve become a little obsessed with them the last few days, like a squirrel scavenging, well…acorns.

ACORN, noun: the fruit of the oak, a smooth oval nut in a rough cup-like base

My first step was to create my motifs, and I chose to use ink for the first time. (If there is anything I’ve learnt about creativity, it’s that experimentation is A GOOD THING.)

I was really pleased with the results of the ink, which allowed a level of precision and intricacy which I hadn’t anticipated.

'ACORNS' surface pattern design motif in ink

I enjoyed layering up the colour, starting with a pale grey wash, building up the intensity and adding in finer details with the tip of my brush.

Turns out I love ink!

Next, I used watercolour pencils to draw some similar acorns but this time in colour.

As a final touch, I outlined them in gold pen.

Golden acorns are the best kind aren’t they?

'ACORNS' surface pattern design motif in watercolour

Both sets of acorn motifs made pretty patterns and I’m pleased with the results. But I want to make more.

One comment I loved on this black and white version was how ‘sophisticated’ it made something as simple as acorns look – and I agree, so I’m stealing that (squirreling it?) and calling this pattern ‘SOPHISTICATED ACORNS’:

' SOPHISTICATED ACORNS' surface pattern design, simple repeat

I also liked these alternate versions: the autumnal colours of SAGE and BRIGHT RED for different backgrounds, the faded look, the shiny MAHOGANY BROWN. It’s just a shame the colour bled through the non-enclosed spaces that were white #backtothedrawingboard

These are simple repeats using a ‘scatter’ technique, which is fine, but…

For the coloured acorns, I thought I’d get a bit fancy and try a half-drop repeat.

A bit more technical, I always get confused half-way through, but you can do so much more with a half-drop, and dare I say it, make even more sophisticated acorns:

'ACORNS' surface pattern design, half-drop repeat

It was OK plain, but then I added this orange background – which I’m calling ‘burnt sienna’ (great colour, amazing connotations).

I toned down the acorns and feel this combination really makes them ‘pop’. It feels the most autumnal, too.

'ACORNS' surface pattern design (burnt sienna), half-drop repeat

I love the way this pattern has a ‘rope’ effect, like banisters on the stairs.

I can see this working for thanksgiving or Christmas, but especially – and this is particularly sophisticated – in a squirrel’s pantry!

What do you think?

'ACORNS' surface pattern design (burnt sienna), half-drop repeat

I could have made the background a bit more detailed, rather than so plain, but that’s for another day; I’m not that fancy yet.

I’ll leave you with these lyrics from this song, which has a really lovely message

Be like the squirrel girl, be like the squirrel”, Little Acorns, The White Stripes


Posted on September 19, 2016

‘You Cut Me To The Quick’ ‘GREEN’ Collage

Through The Collage Club, of which I am an avid supporter (if sporadic contributor), I heard about the call out for GREEN themed collages.

I did a GREEN collage a few years ago, which my local council featured in their newsletter (I used elements of their printed newsletter – oh the irony), but this time I took it a step further.

It didn’t need to be ‘green’ in colour but you had to explain how the finished collage would meet the theme brief of GREEN.

In my head I saw a steep rainforest of green trees with dotted lines intersecting them, like a blueprint for destruction (a green print would be more apt here).

It sounds like a negative image, and indeed, the culling of trees and the destruction of natural habitats for endangered animals is not a happy subject, but it’s a subject I’m passionate about and having this image fired me up to create.

I started with a quick watercolour of simple triangular shapes representing trees, adding in pencil marks and patterns once the watercolour was dry.

Watercolour & collage forest

Next, I layered ripped papers, some featuring handwriting (like words of the law, like an agreement with nature?), to make a more cohesive forest.

I then photographed the page to manipulate digitally.

As I worked, more ideas came to me and I was inspired to layer a photograph of a glorious orange sunset over the forest.

I positioned it so the sun was visible and allowed the forest to show through. The thinking behind this was of ‘the sun coming down on the forest’ if it was set for destruction.

Mmm, still quite bleak. But it’s an important message because this stuff is really happening.

Sunset through trees, winter in ScotlandSunset through trees, winter in Scotland

Next, I started hacking into my beautiful, serene image with ‘digital scissors’, leaving empty spaces where the trees used to be.

This created jagged edges and sharp lines that ‘go against the grain’ of nature (like destruction), and I left them because they are the essence of my point, the prism of my view.

I still think the image is rather beautiful in a haphazard way, if a little…’busy’. But then destruction sites tend to be busy, don’t they?

Finally, I added a few pairs of scissors and crude broken lines marking out the areas to be cut, destroyed, taken out, burnt away.

'Cut Me to the Quick' collage

Effective? I called it ‘You Cut Me To The Quick‘.

Read more


Posted on September 9, 2016

How to stand out in surface pattern design

How can you stand out in surface pattern design?

It’s a big question, and one I’ve been pondering daily since my lovely friend Romana of The Creatory alerted me to this competition in UPPERCASE Magazine.

I’ve been talking a lot about patterns recently and how I’ve been sucked into the vortex of designing: it’s addictive and incredible and it doesn’t just start and end with one pattern.

It encompasses defining a palette, sourcing motifs, working to a theme or a trend or a brief or a style…

And that’s the crux of it. I feel too ‘fledgling’ to have a recognisable style.

This video featuring UPPERCASE Editor and Designer Janine Vangool, explains some key pointers as well as naming some of the different style footprints a designer might work to:

Big & bold, floral & chintzy, graphic, geometric, linear, minimalist, illustrative, cutesy, block colours, not scared of black…

Yet there are elements I love in all of these styles. I’m multi-passionate – what can I say? Here’s my 6 top-take-outs from the video:

How to stand out in Surface Pattern Design

I’m quite bold in my personal style and that filters through to the way I dress, the colours I’m drawn to and my choice of internal decor.

But I love minimalist geometric work too. And illustrative design. And I’m not scared of black: on me, on my walls, in pattern.

Black & White Leaf Repeating Pattern, Rebecca JohnstoneIn my mind I want to do something different; marry incongruous elements that juxtapose each other to stand out against the ditsy florals and the abstract colour blocks.

I want to draw on dark forces like folklore and The Brothers’ Grimm fairy tales to weave a story through my patterns and project my ‘inner world’ into the ‘outside world’. It’s a lot to consider.

UPPERCASE magazine markets itself as for ‘the creative and the curious’, and that’s definitely me. And it got me wondering:

Are creative people everywhere asking the same questions of themselves, over and over, trying to find their niche, their style, their oeuvre? Are they keeping themselves awake at night with their creative curiosity, just like me? I think the answer is ‘yes’.

There’s a lot of work to be done, and this new focus for my creativity has given me a lot to think about in discovering my design footprint and in doing so, discovering and revealing another layer of myself.

For now, I’ve been focusing on a perennial (yet seasonal) favourite: autumn leaves. I can’t believe the year has spun us round to September already, but as the leaves begin to fall, I’ll be documenting them through my patterns.

Sign up for monthly inspiration from Dainty Dora’s Inspiration Emporium. Check out the debut mail-out here.


Posted on August 20, 2016

Psychedelic Forest

I’ve been working a lot on digital pattern design recently, and part of that has meant manipulating my watercolour and acrylic art digitally.

It’s something I had never really thought of doing before, beyond the usual cropping and touching up of an image to post online.

But then…the patterns.

I present: ‘Psychedelic Forest’

Psychedelic Forest: a digital collageI painted the watercolour forest while chatting on the phone, pencilled over it and added a bit of collage. A bit of fun on a sunny evening. (It was a long conversation!)

Then I was working on some new patterns for the Make it in Design Summer School 2016, and accidentally filled the background of the scanned image. Well, that’s changed everything.

I’d buy it from myself if I could. I know you’re not meant to say that about your own work but I love the drama and the colour, the vibrant, vivid colour, and the naive, hand-drawn elements.

It’s the art print of my mind right now.

Psychedelic: “hallucinations and apparent expansion of consciousness” – exactly.

If it was a real place I’d go. I wonder what adventures I’d find in the ‘Psychedelic Forest‘?

Happy (inspirational) Saturday!


Posted on August 10, 2016

Designing the French Riviera S/S 2017

For the last week I’ve been obsessively designing patterns for the Make it in Design ‘Beginner’ Summer School. It’s been so much fun!

The brief was for simple, stylised designs for multiple applications across fashion and home.

The colour palette was provided as Pantone colour samples and I used these by colour matching them in Photoshop/Illustrator using the eyedropper tool (I haven’t worked out how to load Pantone palettes yet).

My first thoughts were of palm trees, ship’s wheels, sunsets and prawns. A heady mix for the French Riviera jetset!?

Palm Tree Line Drawing

I’d forgotten how tricksy Illustrator is. Why can’t you move between artboards and still have the colour selected? #firstworldissues

I managed to learn a few new Illustrator skills in the process. Like adding gradients (a key element in the design brief), and isolating different elements of an image-traced live-paint group to change colours.

After playing about with the below design for a while, I couldn’t decide which version I liked best – thoughts?

 

Then I had to remind myself: gradients don’t repeat, but they still look nice for a single placement.

I can see this design on a beach towel, face cloth, napkins, plates (especially picnic plates!), t-shirts, a beach bag. Loads of possibilities.

The limited palette really helped me to focus on the designs, and re-use colours where I would normally have gone for more of an obvious impact. I think it’s proven to me how much cohesion it creates too. That’s particularly true with the pink ship’s wheel design below. I created it in another colour way (not shown here), and had fun playing with scale.

Here’s a few of my other favourite designs for this brief:

French Riviera SS17 'Graph Prawn' surface pattern designFrench Riviera SS17 'Leaping Prawn - with Gradient' surface pattern designFrench Riviera SS17 'Pink Ship's Wheel' surface pattern designPrintFrench Riviera SS17 'Leaping Prawn' surface pattern designFrench Riviera SS17 'Sunset Palm' surface pattern design

Most of the designs are simple grid repeat vector patterns, but the ‘Graph Prawn’ is a single ‘placement’ design. He’s cheeky isn’t he?

Which one is your favourite? I’d love to know.

***Update, Update 15.08.16***

So excited to find out that I WON one of the ’20 ways to draw…‘ books for sharing my pattern-progress on Instagram. Taking this as a sign to focus more on my patterns and design work!


Posted on February 10, 2015

Patterns in the mould

So we had a crack in our chimney a few years back, and it resulted in dampness appearing on the chimney wall inside. Eurgh.

Images in the Mould

It was one of only two walls in the whole house that we’d opted for wallpaper rather than paint. The wallpaper was cream with birds of paradise and exotic flowers etched out in silver. It was beautiful and delicate with a calming repetition.

Until the dampness bubbled under, slowly, over a period of weeks and months, leaving dark shadows in the cream, like sharks cruising a shoreline.

We left the wallpaper because we couldn’t bear to tear it down.

Images in the Mould Images in the Mould

Recently I realised I had no choice but to rip the wallpaper away. Read more


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