Gift {MATS Week 5}

Well, we have finally made it to the last week of Make Art That Sells part 1. What a whirlwind this has been!

Week 5 focused on the Gift market. Imagine this - you're in a coffee shop and there is a rack next to the register that is full of adorable water bottles and reusable tote bags. Can you picture it? Yup - those are the kind of items included in the gift market. 

Our mini assignment was to photograph our collections. Sounds like fun! If you have cool collections, that is. As a kid, I had lots of collections - panda bears, New Kids on the Block trading cards, seashells, marbles, etc. But as I grew older, every time I moved, my collections slowly disappeared. With this assignment, I took stock of my adult collections and couldn't come up with much. Lots of fabric, of course, some art books and handmade plush from my Plush Team friends, but that was about it.

Hmm. I decided to take a walk around my house and see if there were any themes. I have been acquiring several cool vintage tins that I've been upcycling into planters. And I can't stop buying old chairs (much to Stephen's dismay...). But my most prominent "collection" I could find ended up being my potted plants! Once I started actually taking inventory, I realized I have a LOT. So I decided that would be my theme. Here's a handful from around the house:

Our main assignment ended up being designing a zipper pouch based on our collections. Lilla also showed us a couple trends for inspiration - photo realism, hyper-lush, and ink blot patterns. Hopefully we'd be able to integrate some of these ideas into our pouch.

I decided in lieu of photographing my plants and collaging them, I would do colorful stylized paintings and collage those instead. I had fun playing with super saturated colors and vibrating color combinations. Here are my little gouache studies:

I then brought them into photo shop and started piling them all together. With the idea of "hyper-lush" in mind, I knew I had to keep the colors bold and throw my typical editing out the window. "More!" I kept telling myself. "More! More! More!". At the end of my first attempt, this is what I had:

Oh my. Though it was kinda cool, it propelled me WAY out of my comfort zone. I think it met the assignment parameters quite well, but it really didn't feel like me. So I decided to start over with the ink blot idea in mind.

Ink blotting is basically mirroring to create an even grander image. I took all of my individual plant elements and started mirroring away. But something was still missing. I remembered a doodle I had done recently of "Bloom Where You're Planted", and thought that might be a good focal point for the pouch. That way it would be almost as if the girl (me?) would be growing out of the jungle I created.

Here is my final image. It's still hyper lush, but there is some breathing room in the white space, and the jungle lady is much more indicative of my style. Done!

Phew! Even though class is over, we still have one more assignment for the Global Talent Search with Lilla Rogers. This one I'm extra excited about. I'll be back to share more details!

Thanks for following me along through my journey. It was an exhausting 5 weeks, but I am so happy I did it. For those of you interested in Part B of the course, you can find all the info here.

Oh! And if you're interested in some of my classmate's interpretation of the assignment, find them here, here, here, here, and here. It's good stuff, I tell ya!

Back to School {MATS 01}

Today I am so excited to share my newest artistic endeavor - I'm going back to school! 

I've been refocusing my creative efforts over the last year to focus on my first love, illustration. That meant a few things:

• I have been slowing down Fuzzies production. Yes, I still make them, but mostly
  custom orders.

• I haven't been pursuing graphic design opportunities.
• I created a new, illustration-only portfolio website.
• I'm incorporating a LOT more drawing into my daily routine. Daily Doodles, baby!
• I'm marketing myself as an Illustrator first, Designer second.
• Design projects now have a more illustrated feel.
• I am educating myself on the ins and outs of the Illustration industry. 

Last week I began a new online class - taught by Lilla Rogers, a world-renowned illustration agent - Make Art That Sells is a 10-week course giving us "in-depth insight into ten of the most lucrative markets for art, from home décor, gifts and bolt fabric to papergoods, baby apparel and children’s books."

Week 1 focused on the Bolt Fabric market - right up my alley! 

Early in the week we were given a mini assignment to draw mushrooms and vintage pyrex. Here are my mushrooms:

I started out with pen and ink, and fairly realistic interpretations. Then i decided I needed to loosen up a bit and take to the gouache and do some more stylistic mushrooms, focusing on basic shapes and patterns, and using a limited color palette.

Next up, vintage pyrex. I was in heaven doing the research for this one!

Again, first the pen and ink drawings to get a feel for the shapes and designs, then onto the whimsical gouache version. I love those colors!

We were then asked to apply our mushroom and pyrex icons into a retro-kitchen themed fabric design. Here are my two final versions:

The first one basically took my gouache pyrex paintings and laid it out into a repeat pattern. The colors are super bright and the coordinates utilize some of the pyrex designs made into a pattern. Someone in class suggested this would make a good oilcloth design, and I couldn't agree more!

The second incorporated my stylized mushrooms and combined them with some vintage casseroles and kitchen goods - utensils, salt & pepper, bowls and herbs. I chose a palette that was a throwback to the 60's - mint green and bubblegum pink punctuate the muted teal background. 

I am thrilled with how the designs turned out - already I am gaining some solid portfolio pieces, which was one of the goals of taking this course. It was great to get assignments, something I really miss about school, and drawing things that are out of my usual arsenal of subject matter.

And I have to say - what a wonderful group of classmates! Everyone is so supportive, motivating and positive, and I am so excited to meet and get to know these wonderful people! They are EXTREMELY talented, and though it's hard not to be intimidated by their skills, I try to channel it to push me harder, which is exactly what I need to succeed in this industry!

I can already tell this is going to be a long ten weeks, considering last week I was already staying up way too late in order to meet deadlines. But sometimes a little sacrifice is necessary to push me to the next level. 

Thanks for sticking with me through this long post! I am hoping to do a weekly recap of my experience, so I will be back.

Hooray for school!

LOVE Pouches {Shop}

Earlier this Spring, in preparation for Gallery Night, I made some new screen printed products : LOVE pouches. And now I am excited to say that they are finally listed in my Etsy Shop!

Utilizing my LOVE type from the Valentine's Day cards, these bright and fresh bags are sure to bring some happiness into your life. Pairing funky colors and vintage fabric lining, they are a whimsical approach to your typical pencil cases or cosmetic bags.

Each pouch as two different colored sides : sky blue/grass green; bright red/hot pink; coral/mustard; mint green/plum purple - you can switch it up just by flipping it over! 

Head on over to the Bluestar Ink shop to get your hands on one of these fabulous pouches!

House Project {Dining Room Chairs}

Well hello there!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Ours was fantastic - spent some time at the Farmer's Market, hung out with our old friends, played in the pool and worked in the garden. Great weekends make it even harder to go back to work on Monday! 

You know what else I FINALLY completed? A house project! My first project in our new house, which we've lived in for almost a year. Wow - how sad is that? My to-do list is long, but unfortunately the home projects don't take priority. 

Last year, shortly after we moved in, I found a beautiful Lane wood table on Craigslist. We had a hodgepodge of chairs that would work for the time being, but they weren't a cool, funky mix of chairs like this or this. So for the next several months I kept my eyes peeled for a set of 6 chairs on Craigslist. I had been collecting a lot of great room inspiration on here on Pinterest, but apparently 6 chairs in good condition at a somewhat reasonable price is hard to come by. Finally, the post came - hooray! Upon seeing them in person I thought the wood stain was a pretty close match, so they came home with me.

They looked really nice by our table, but that floral fabric had to go. I could barely look at it. Once I removed it, though, I was met with a lovely surprise - the underlying fabric was pretty sweet! I wish it had been a different color, though, because it kinda blended in with the wood dining set and the wood floors. But I definitely appreciated the idea of it!

I found some pretty blue fabric at The Sewcial Lounge and decided Saturday to take the plunge and reupholster these chairs. I've never done anything like this, but it seemed pretty simple - and it was! Other than the fact I got some bloody knuckles from removing the staples, of course. And I cannot be happier with how they turned out:

It is amazing what a little fabric and elbow grease can do - it completely transformed the room! 

And since we're on the subject of the dining room, here are a few more corners. I'm still in the process of hanging things on walls, so it's still a bit sparse, but you get the idea. In case you're wondering, the "We're All Normal..." poster is by The Little Friends of Printmaking. I have no idea who designed the Wilco badge poster.

I just found that little cart at a garage sale last week, and though I love it, it's a little beat up. I think I'm going to tackle refinishing it. Have any of you had any experience re-painting metal?

I still have a long way to go on our house, but I'm glad I can finally say I've accomplished something!


New in the Shop {Runts!}

Happy Hump Day!

Remember when I posted about Madison Gallery Night? Well, I had a few new Fuzzy Runts left over after the show, and I just put them up in my Etsy Shop

Do you need a baby shower gift? Or maybe you just want some more sunshine in your life. Whatever the excuse, you may need to check out the new additions - they're pretty fab, if I do say so myself! You can find them here.

Meet Abigail, Dalton, Baird and Carla!

I will share my experiences with Gallery Night soon, I promise!

Until next time,

New Project {BOM Quilt}


As the windows are open and the warm breeze is flowing in to my studio, I am trying to focus on work. It is hard, considering it is mid-March in Wisconsin, when the average temps are about 45°F, and today the high is almost 80°F. It is absolutely lovely! And today is not a fluke - we are having about 10 days in a row of way-above normal temperatures. Ahhhhhhh!

But, the work still needs to be done, right? Today I want to share a fun project I started a few months ago. As you may know, I am about 2/3 done with my Home Ec project list. Progress has slowed to a halt, unfortunately, because the last projects are the most complex, therefore they take the longest to complete. And I just don't have time to work on them. The last project on the list was a quilt, and I am SO, SO excited to work on it! My goal was to finish it by Winter 2011...ha! That didn't happen.

So when I discovered the wonderful, colorful blog of fellow Madisonite, Jeni, I couldn't have been happier to see her introduce the Block of the Month quilting club with the start of 2012. I figured I don't have time for a WHOLE quilt, but I probably could handle one block a month, right?!?

This soon-to-be-made finished quilt will be a bit smaller, so I thought it would be perfect for Stella's new twin sized bed. I picked out some bright fabrics that would complement her current decor:

The yellow apple fabric second from the top was the inspiration for all of the others. And guess what - I had all of these fabrics already in my stash! (See, Stephen? THAT is why I need to have all of this fabric! I didn't even need to go shopping!!)

Jeni's instructions are fantastic. I have never quilted before, so I hadn't had experience with some of the basic steps. Thankfully, she breaks it down even further and links to those basic skills. Perfect! 

Here are my first two blocks: January and February:

According to Jeni, January's block is a variation of the Sawtooth Star. And February is called Flying Geese. For February, I decided to use a vintage Big Bird pillowcase with big yellow feathers in honor of the bird-theme...

So far, I'm really enjoying the project. I am discovering it is a absolute necessity to be EXACT, which is a true test of my measuring skills. And Stella is loving the fact that I am making a blanket for her. Though I wonder if she'll have the patience to wait around for almost a year until she can use it!

This post reminds me - I should probably start March one of these days!


New Bluestar Product

Hello again!

Are you finding lots of wonderful goodies this Cyber Monday? Before you fulfill EVERYTHING on your list, I wanted to quick share with you the newest Bluestar products that just hit my shops this weekend.

First off, the new 2012 wall calendar. This 11 x 17 calendar features my new "Sitting Lotus" illustration in pale yellow, blue and teal. It is printed on the heavy-duty Arches watercolor paper and comes ready to hang with a white grosgrain ribbon. Calendar can be found here.

I love this new tote! I upcycled some vintage drapes to create these whimsical new totes. My new floral illustration is screen printed across the front. These bags are lined with coordinating floral fabric, complete with 2 pockets for all of your incidentals. Do you like pom poms? There is an option with, and one without.

Holiday cards, woot, woot! I decided to take a more simplistic, graphic approach when designing these cards. Each 8-pack assortment features 2 reindeer, 2 snowmen, 2 trees and 2 retro ornaments screen printed onto either white or Kraft cardstock. Coordinating envelopes, (red, white, tiffany blue, magenta) are also included. The white pack can be found here, and the Kraft pack can be found here.

Here we have the new floral illustration again, this time screen printed onto thick, 100lb French Pop-Tone paper. Printed on 5 colors: magenta, aqua, green, red and purple. Just a simple print to brighten any room!

Finally, lots of my personal illustrations have made it into the shop as prints! These include some of the Daily Animal Doodles, along with other fun illustrations I've created over the last year or so. All are printed on 8.5 x 11 creamy Epson Ultra Premium matte paper with a white border for easy framing. Print shop can be found here.

And last, but not least, the newest Fuzzies! Meet Valentino, Galama, Wanda, Tringo, Yasu, Jemizee and Zazu. All can be found in the Bluestar Fuzzies shop. And, I've finally listed the 3 circus Fuzzies who were featured in STUFFED Magazine. Fuzzies make great gifts for the kiddos on your list!

In case you missed it there are special Cyber Monday deals happening in both my shops today only!

Bluestar Fuzzies : 20% off your purchase using the coupon code CYBERMONDAY20 at checkout.

Bluestar Ink: A free print of YOUR CHOICE with any purchase. This includes screen prints! Just note your choice at checkout.

Thanks again!
Now I'm going to go check out the sweet Cyber Monday deals floating around the Interweb...

It's Thrifty Thursday!


Did you know that today is Thrifty Thursday? Starting today, and for the next several Thursdays, members of the Etsy Plush Team will be adding new "thrifty" plush to the Etsy shop. This means the plush are made from thrifted, recycled, upcycled or scrap materials. How fun is that? And they're good for the environment, if you're in to that sort of thing.

To kick things off, I contributed a couple items to the shop:

Meet Gobb and Kipi. They're wee ones, just 7 in. and 6 in. tall, respectively. Made from thrifted materials and stuffed with fabric scraps, they're perfect for squeezing.

You can find them in the Plush Team Shop, along with a lot of other plushy goodness.


Drawing Buttons

This morning, while going through all of my favorite blogs, I came across Leigh-Ann's latest post about drawing. She went through her collection of buttons, laid out a few, and took a stab at drawing them. Even though she says she's not very good at drawing, I really like how hers turned out!

Then she offered all of her readers a chance to draw her subject matter. Though I have lots of projects on my plate, I can never pass up a good drawing opportunity! And I loved her selection of buttons, so what better way to experience them, then to draw them, right?

Here is her wonderful photo:

 And here is my drawing of her wonderful buttons:

What a fun way to spend a Sunday morning, when I am supposed to be working...thank you so much for the lovely diversion, Leigh-Ann! :-)

Fabric Score!

In preparation for our upcoming Home Ec class, I needed to stock up on some vintage fabric. My favorite thrift store is about 50 miles away, so needless to say, I don't get there very often. This week I decided the trek was worth my while. And boy, was I right! Look at this score:

 The motherload

I don't know if you heard it, but there was a "da da-da dum" when the photo was revealed. 

I thought I hit the jackpot. In fact, I actually felt guilty for practically cleaning them out of fabric. Everywhere I looked there was potential. I was a kid in a candy shop.

Unfortunately, as I unloaded my cartful of fabric onto the checkout counter, their register decided to break. Bad timing. But I didn't care. I would have waited all day for these treasures. (Though I'm not sure the ever-lengthening line behind me would have been so understanding).

Here are some close-ups:

Now, all I need is the supplies list and I'll be able to start sorting these into potential projects. 


Lots o' Patterns

I've been all over the place the last few days with projects. Just as I think I'm catching up, finding some breathing room, a new wave of revisions - or even new projects - come rolling in. I'm trying hard not to get too overwhelmed. I feel I've been doing a good job setting mini goals for myself, doing a little bit of this, a little bit of that every day.

For one of my clients, I have been building up some vintage-inspired patterns. Fun! Basically, I've been using old textiles as my inspiration, and sometimes I integrate a more modern color scheme. Here is a taste of some of the patterns:
That's all for now. My computer sounds like it's going to take off, so I think it's time to put us both to sleep. We definitely need the rest.