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

'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'.

Today the list of successful contributors was released, and I wasn't in the line-up. I'm not surprised or disappointed because the image I created relies a lot on digital elements and is more of a 'statement' than a beautiful 'finished' scene.

I wanted to share it anyway, and also shout out my lovely #creativesister Karen Lynch, a fellow Collage Club creative who is in the line-up - yay!

Check out who else made the cut.

Oh, and then I made a repeating pattern with the original watercolour. I like this pattern much more than the collage, and I've produced it in multiple colour-ways:

'Green Forest' & 'Autumn Forest'

'Green Forest' Repeating Pattern 'Autumn Forest' Repeating Forest

My inspirational message for the day?

No creative work or effort is EVER wasted.

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!

Mountains of Pattern

Last month I learnt how to make digital patterns, and then DIY got in the way. But as I slowly work my way back to creativity, I've found myself obsessed all over again with mountains. Last year I made a book called 'My Experience with Mountains' featuring the glorious hulks of snow-capped landscape that I'd witnessed on a trip to Glencoe.

Mountains take your breath away and provide (creative) perspective. They are giant and almighty making every problem seem less, reduced, inconsequential next to the majesty of a mountain. And they're free to enjoy. Immovable. Permanent (earthquakes notwithstanding), unique, in abundance. A feature of our world; a natural beauty.

So I've started experimenting with ideas and creating patterns to complement all I have to say about mountains: the marriage of art and words in mountains.

Doodling and scribbling. Looking up co-ordinates and plotting out colour-ways. Mountain mists and mountain tracks.

I'm drawn at the moment to winter white, mauve, lilac, misty blue, purple.

'Mountain Tracks'

And I've started a little Pinterest board to save my mountains of pattern inspiration:

https://www.pinterest.com/daintydora/mountains/

What are your thoughts on mountains? Which mountain ranges are within your grasp? I'd love to visit the Andes and the Pyrenees...