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.