Lilla Rogers gave me a C+…in my dream! – MATS Week 3 review: Children’s Book Cover

Another week has gone by and yielded another 150 or so pieces of art in the current MATS (part A) course. It is an impressive sight to behold each Sunday evening in our Flickr group pool!

I put myself under extra pressure this week to do well, which must have prompted my strange dream the other night: I was a highschool student again and getting ready to go to school in the morning. Lilla, my high school art teacher, was waiting for me in the apartment I used to live in at the time, as she was taking me to school. Before the drive, I asked her what grade she would give my latest MATS project. She replied “a C+”. I was crushed and asked her why, to which she gave me a few reasons; the only one I can remember was something about the font. I felt devastated and, during the ride, decided to skip school for that day. I was going to sneak away as she entered the ‘teacher’s area’ of the school. Then I woke up. It sounds absurd now but the dream stayed with me for an hour or two that morning. I guess this show how important this course and my work is to me.

This week, the topic was to create a children’s book cover, specifically for the russian folk tale “The Language of the Birds”. The story involves a young man, his parents, a sad nightingale, a bird with its babies, and a king, in essence. We were given the choice between designing the front cover or a double page from inside the book. I went with the cover:


Since I am keen on using texture more in my work, I applied 2 kinds of textures in different colours over each item. I had no idea that textures can be so large in size – due to the many vector points involved. The one I applied on the sun was so gigantic (with many dense vector points) that even simply selecting the sun brought about the ‘rainbow wheel’ I dread so much – which lasted for about 25 seconds each time I touched the sun. Multiply that by about 50 times! Moving or copying/pasting the entire image at the very end (into a new file) took almost eternity. Not really something I look forward to when working with textures. If anyone who reads this knows of ways around this issue, I’d be grateful for your insights.

And now on to the current week: Wall Decor. For now, we are to gather paper, fabric, buttons or other little bits for a collage later on. We’ll find out what for exactly on Wednesday. For this we are assigned 2 colours based on our astrological signs; red and yellow in my case. My favourite combo would have been red and orange or orange and yellow, but I don’t mind most colours. Although this sounds like fun, using these items in a piece for wall art puts me a bit outside of my ‘comfort zone’. I would have loved to make digital art as usual, but at the same time I’m glad that Lilla exposes us to different media. After all, I can make digital art until I’m blue in the face after this course. Or maybe I’ll fall in love with this type of collaging.

MATS week 3 – assignment # 2 review & thoughts on plate subject matter

Week 3 of Lilla Rogers’ MATS course has just begun and, as every Tuesday, today we were presented with her very pleasant and uplifting review of selected assignment # 2 submissions. I was holding my breath for being in that pool again while trying not to hope too much. I’m still getting a feel for some aspects of this course, including the system by which Lilla chooses designs to discuss. Perhaps she will let as many participants as possible have their turn. Or maybe it’s really all about which pieces shed the most light on good design. The only recurrent artist so far to be discussed is Daniel Roode, winner of the 2nd prize of this year’s contest hosted by Lilla. No doubt, a lot can be learned from him, being one of her artists.

I worked many hours on this assignment, and I was a little disappointed to learn from the review that characters are taboo on plates. The same goes for type or hand-lettering, which I didn’t know before. The theme here was bromeliads, but we were allowed to branch out to similar flowers in addition. Aiming for a well-rounded, thought-out design, I drew little fairy-like characters in pictures that matched quotes about flowers and love on the edges of the plates. Due to limited space, I didn’t hand-letter but used a script font instead. Each plate has a different background pattern, matching one icon in the main image. The review made me reconsider my background behind the plates, as its mood does not exactly match that on the plates, but I thought it would make a nice contrast. I envisioned a child sitting at a table with this grey gingham tablecloth, in a stern, rigid kitchen setting, with his mother telling him to finish his food. The plates would provide the playful contrast to this, a pleasant distraction for the child.

For now, our task is to design a unique bird character for use in assignment # 3, to be revealed tomorrow. I have been working on a chicken but I’m considering giving her a bird friend…I’ll see. In any case, I’m quite certain that next assignment will involve drawing the cover of a children’s book with our bird character(s). And since I’m currently working on a book already (albeit a cookbook), that subject couldn’t come at a better time!