'SAMPLE' at the Lighthouse

SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow

SAMPLE was a must-see for me as a fledgling surface pattern designer with a background in textile design - and right on my doorstep too.

The premise of the exhibition was to showcase specially commissioned designs from members of COLLECT SCOTLAND, a platform for Scottish printed textile design, shining a light on this 'hidden discipline'.

(It's considered 'hidden' because it's an industry where designers are not always given credit for their work - a sad fact across many creative disciplines.)

SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow

Huge panels of fabric hung from the ceiling with bold and dramatic prints.

SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow

I loved the Matisse-esque cut-out vibe of this piece:

SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow

And the rough, textured markings of this in a very satisfying monochrome:

SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow

While these mountains - of fire and ice - really drew me in:

SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow

There was a real diversity of work, inspired by 5 key trends identified by COLLECT:

Chiaroscuro, Earthly Paradise, Cut and Paste, Emotional Landscape and Remembered Dreams.

They all sound so inspiring I want to use them myself to spark some ideas. I especially love 'Chiaroscuro' and 'Remembered Dreams' as prompts.

My dreams are very vivid, I always dream in colour and sometimes I even dream in pattern...

SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow

I was drawn too to the colours and the energy in the swan design below; colours I wouldn't normally choose to work with myself. I wonder which theme it was inspired by?

SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow

Meanwhile the organic feel of the black and white 'sample' below has so much timeless energy, reminiscent of rocks and crystals and the inner workings of the world.

Like mountains or worms or a particular type of cloud or striations in the sand when the tide goes out...

SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow

Another really great aspect of the exhibition was to go 'behind the scenes' and see the moodboards and vision that each designer had when first thinking about their collections.

Immersing in other people's process and inspirations is one of my favourite things to do (and I quite fancy getting some of those lovely wooden stands too!)

SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow
SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow
SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow

There were initial sketches and drawings to view, which I also found fascinating and an aspect you don't normally get to see.

Rather you see the final iteration with no comprehension of how many versions there might have been, or how much work was initiated but never reached the final print.

SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow
SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow

Finally, there were places to sit and books to delve and artefacts to ponder and engage with. A nice touch and it made me feel like I was viewing each designer's work in their 'SAMPLE studio'.

SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow
SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow
SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow

The showcase included a retrospective of work previously exhibited at Premiere Vision, Paris; an aspiration of my own for the future.

If you live locally, then SAMPLE is on until 18th June at The Lighthouse, Glasgow. I recommend it.

I didn't manage to capture the designer's names behind each individual design, but all members of COLLECT are profiled on their website.

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!

Halloween 'Ghosts & Ghouls' Colouring Page

The witching hour is here and the spirits from the underworld have been unleashed...take a moment for yourself with my *FREE* Halloween colouring page featuring ghosts, ghouls and vampire bats - spooky! I created this page using my own hand-drawn motifs and first turning them into a simple repeating pattern.

The vampire bat is my favourite:

Halloween Bat, free colouring page download, Dainty Dora's Inspiration Emporium

In fact, I think I've got a soft-spot for bats all of a sudden!

Halloween Bat, free colouring page download, Dainty Dora's Inspiration Emporium

Halloween Pattern, Dainty Dora's Inspiration Emporium

I'd love to see some creative colourings-in so tag me on social...if you dare...and Happy Halloween!

'Boo!' Halloween Pattern, Dainty Dora's Inspiration Emporium

I also have one from the archives to share - my Halloween-themed collage from a few years ago. So intricate and a lot more subtle, but still one of my favs. I love an enchanted forest, don't you?

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

Finding inspiration: shapes, patterns & motifs

Last week I started a new course in pattern design (yes, I'm obsessed!), and the homework was to find simple shapes and motifs in the everyday things around you. Noticing the everyday things around you, really. The idea was to get out and about, away from the computer, observing nature and the great outdoors in real life, sketching and photographing along the way.

Finding inspiration: wild flowers

Each day I excelled at finding the inspiration:

On walks around my town (cracks in the pavement, sunlight dappling a brick wall, fallen leaves)

In my garden (different shaped leaves and petals, holly, snail trails)

Even in the everyday objects of my home - the bristles of my washing up brush for example!

Finding inspiration: washing up brush

I've not yet had a chance to really delve into these inspirations in my sketchbook, save for a few quick studies.

This one below features the stems of a flower I managed to grow, but I'm not even sure what it is?

Finding inspiration: sketching flowers

It was the first time I opened this box of pencils and it felt...like the start of a new chapter in my creativity. That's fitting for autumn isn't it?

And as I head off on a week's writing and art retreat at the Ted Hughes Arvon centre, Lumb Bank, I thought I'd document my 'finds' so far so I don't lose momentum.

While I'm away I intend to spend a lot of time working in my sketchbook, and will also be creating a hand-made book, so all these inspirations will blend into the mix.

I even managed a quick visit to the Kibble Palace at Glasgow's Botanic Gardens - isn't this lady so wistful? I bet she has plenty of inspiration to share!

Finding inspiration at the Kibble Palace, Glasgow

The succulent garden was especially inspiring - all the gorgeous, perfect natural shapes.

Finding inspiration: succulents

And here's my interpretation in watercolour:

Finding inspiration: succulent sketch

I loved that I noticed these patterns that perhaps I wouldn't normally have stopped to photograph. The condensation particularly caught my attention, with the vibrant green of the grass behind the glass.

Finally, a bit of colour in these hydrangea petals as they transform into their autumn shades:

Finding inspiration: hydrangea

The holly leaves in my garden were so pristine and shiny, so I'll definitely be sketching them. The heather has such interesting little flower tips too, a bit like the lavender I picked.

Now I can carry all these thoughts with me as I pack my selection of travelling art supplies.

Updates on my trip next week!

In the meantime, you might want to subscribe to my 'inspiration' newsletter. Check out last week's mail-out all about autumn.

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.

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!

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 design
French Riviera SS17 'Leaping Prawn - with Gradient' surface pattern design
French Riviera SS17 'Pink Ship's Wheel' surface pattern design
Print
French Riviera SS17 'Leaping Prawn' surface pattern design
French 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!