Blog Hop around the World

It is my turn today for the “blog hop around the world” that has been going around online! Thank you to the lovely Danielle McDonald who has invited me to participate. Danielle is an accomplished artist from New South Wales with a colourful portfolio of art that includes many published book illustrations. Here are some of my favourites by her:

      

Aren’t these beautiful?

You can view more of Danielle’s work on her blog “Red Dog & Jude”.

These are the questions Danielle has posed to me:

Why do I do what I do?

I have loved to draw my whole life – as a child my favourite gifts included pens. Around age 9, I had a phase of drawing pages full of patterned clothes. I actually sent a letter to my favourite clothing company back then, asking what I’d need to do to one day work for them. They did reply but I found the response discouraging, causing me to abandon that dream. Today I find that creating illustrations is such an enjoyable task (but can also be hard work) that I think I understand where the concept of art therapy comes from, hahah!

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Without claiming that nobody else does these things, I tend to draw a lot of detail and try to avoid repetition within a design. I try to minimize gender clichés (trucks, dinosaurs and blue for boys; flowers, fairies and pink for girls etc.). I also aim to be careful with how I portray animals in my illustrations.

How does my creative process work?

Ideally, I am in a ‘visualizing state’ as much as possible. My creativity thrives on having enough time to myself to let ideas evolve. The best ideas and palettes come to me just before falling asleep.

When presented with a theme, it usually takes me just a minute or so to come up with a concrete plan. The hardest part is getting started. Because my plans can be complex and detailed, it can feel a little overwhelming to put down the first drawings. It helps to sketch some of them first before getting serious on the computer. Then, the more I draw, the more everything flows and the easier it gets. I work best sitting at a drawing for a good 8 hours or more per day – that’s when I’m completely absorbed by my task and in that ‘world’ that I’m creating. I need to be in a certain head space to convey in a drawing what I intend to – and no, there are definitely no drugs involved! :)

What am I working on now?

Often I’m working on the next Spoonflower contest. I do try to skip some contests but usually find myself unable to resist. Even the themes I’m least interested in somehow always manage to get me involved.

Enough about me – let me introduce another talented artist, Nicole Piar, who like Danielle I met in Lilla Rogers’ MATS course. Nicole is an experienced surface designer and illustrator whose work has been featured in stores ranging in size from small to very large.

Here are some of my favourite examples of Nicole’s work:

             

If you’d like to see more of Nicole’s work, please visit her blog and website! Nicole will continue the blog hop next Monday, October 6.

Artist Profile: Vincent Desjardins

Vincent Desjardins is an artist who really stands out for me on Spoonflower with his incredibly skillful, and often realistic, illustrations. I remember first being very impressed with his drawing skills in his entry “Dreamtime” for the bedtime contest, depicting the sandman sprinkling “his dream sand over sleeping children, dogs and cats”.

“Bedtime” by Vincent Desjardins

Another entry that blew me away was “Women of Science & Learning Toile de Jouy” for Spoonflower’s women’s day toile du jouy contest, which ended up ranking #2.

“Women of Science and Learning Toile de Jouy” by Vincent Desjardins

Vince also has an extensive selection of beautiful and practical art in his Etsy store.

Born and raised in Southern California, Vincent left in 1993 to live in Washington state for 14 years. He then moved to Bloomington, Indiana in 2007 to join his partner, who was working on his PhD at Indiana University. Although he has grown to love Bloomington, Vince misses the pacific northwest and being close to the ocean. It is his dream to someday move back to the west coast.

“Fairy Tale Woodland” by Vincent Desjardins

How did you come to be an artist?

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve always liked to draw. My mom was an aspiring artist who gave up her dreams of a career in commercial art to raise three kids. Before I was born she had enrolled in the Famous Artists Correspondence School (It’s still in existence, but I think the courses are now online). This school was founded by a lot of famous illustrators of the time, people like Norman Rockwell, Albert Dorne and Al Parker. As a student, she was sent 3 large volumes that were divided into chapters. There were chapters on composition, design, light and shadow, anatomy, color, etc. Each chapter ended with an assignment that the student was supposed to do and then mail to the instructors. They would then receive back a professional critique. Anyway, my mom found that she wasn’t able to complete the course and when I got old enough, she eventually gave the books to me. They were my introduction on how to draw. I was rather sickly as a kid and I used to spend hours going through those books and practicing my skills by copying the art work from them. My mom always encouraged me to draw and paint.”

“Fairy Tale Woodland 2” by Vincent Desjardins

What is your favourite artistic medium / technique?

“I used to enjoy working in watercolor, but for the past 20+ years, I have been doing the majority of my work digitally. After I graduated from the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles in 1981, I got a job doing computer graphics.  It was a brand new field in 1981 and companies, like the one where I got a job, were willing to hire artists and give them on the job training. I was trained on a system called Genigraphics which later evolved into Powerpoint. Now, I do all of my work on a Mac and primarily use Corel Painter or Adobe Illustrator. I still love to sketch traditionally though and try and keep a sketch book handy. I love working with brush pens which give you a beautiful, painterly line.”

“Fairy Tale Woodland 3” by Vincent Desjardins

Do you have a (or several) favourite shape(s) and colour(s)?

“I’m not sure if I have any favorite shapes, other than I like to draw organic, fluid shapes, things like flowers and leaf shapes. As far as colours, I’ve always been partial to blues and greens.”

“Medieval Herb Garden Color 1” by Vincent Desjardins

Are there any subjects you are particularly drawn to?

“As I mentioned in my previous answer, I do enjoy drawing flowers and plants but I also love drawing cute animals like rabbits, dogs and cats. I like to create scenes with a strong sense of light and shadow and I also like to draw places where I would like to be.”

“Transportation” by Vincent Desjardins

What and who inspires you?

“I’m inspired by a lot of things, but especially vintage children’s book illustration. Some of my favorite illustrators are Erik Blegvad, Alice and Martin Provensen, Mary Blair, and Eyvind Earle. Blair and Earle both worked for Disney doing design work for the classic animated films. The patterns in my Fairy Tale Woodland collection in my Spoonflower shop were all inspired by the background paintings that Eyvind Earle created for Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty.”

I am also inspired by things in nature. I enjoy taking photos of flowers in my garden and I often use those photos for reference in my illustrations.”

“The Lost Rabbit” by Vincent Desjardins

Would you mind sharing some of your plans, hopes and dreams for your career as an artist?

“For a long time, my dream has been to illustrate a children’s picture book. There is a lot of great talent and competition out there, so it’s a tough market to break into. When I have the time, I also enjoy writing, so I would love to see one of my own stories get published someday, illustrated by me, of course!”

“Celestial Creatures” by Vincent Desjardins

Vincent Desjardins’ art can be viewed and/or purchased here:

Artist profile: Susan Polston

When I was recently thinking of who I’d like to approach next for my little artist profile, I didn’t have to ponder for long. I’ve been admiring the designs of artist Susan Polston for some time now. A regular participant in Spoonflower’s weekly contests, Susan’s designs are recognizable, playful, rich in texture, with a vintage flair and a painterly quality. Her design “Farm Share” was recently featured on Spoonflower’s blog among only 8 other farm-related prints – considering that Spoonflower is selling at least 910 farm prints as I’m typing, this is no small feat.

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Susan was kind enough to answer some questions about her artist-life:

How did you come to be an artist?

I never thought I would be an artist! In 2007, I suddenly decided that I would like to decorate my house with original art, and finding that I couldn’t afford anything good, I decided that the reasonable thing to do was to paint some myself. I was 33 years old. I bought some paint-by-number kits from Ebay, left them in the closet for another 6 months or so, and then I pulled them out and started painting. I SO did not follow the paint-by-numbers. I do not like to follow directions.

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What is your favourite artistic medium?

I have tried oil, acrylic, and pastel. I also do digital drawings on my tablet. I have to say that there is something about oil and acrylic that bring me to life. I love designing patterns for Spoonflower because it is not messy like painting. I have three children and homeschool two… I draw when the kiddos are doing math problems!

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Do you have a (or several) favourite shape(s) and colour(s)?

I become very happy when I put colors next to each other. For me, it is a very intuitive process. With colors, I always have a feeling that “I just know.”

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Are there any subjects you are particularly drawn to?

In a lot of my drawings and paintings, I find that I enjoy featuring people or animals. I also like to create spaces (holes, windows, doors, rooms).

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What and who inspires you?

Inspiration! Ah, that is a hard one. I like to look at a lot of different things…clothes, furniture, jewelry, architecture, toys, books…etc. I get inspired by other people’s creativity. I love raw materials. I love to tell stories. I admire everyone who does their craft well, be it cooking, farming, or computing. It makes me want to become a better artist when I see others excelling.

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Would you mind sharing some of your plans, hopes and dreams for your career as an artist?

I want to let my art tell a story about myself. I hope that as I grow as a person, I will also grow as an artist. I don’t think life and art can be divorced, and good living begets good creativity. I want to find the right audience for what I do. I want to come to terms with the reality that my work is not for everyone, but that it is for someone very specific. I want my art to set someone else free to do theirs.

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Visit Susan’s Spoonflower shop: http://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/susan_polston

Read Susan’s blog: http://susanpolston.wordpress.com/

Artist Profile: Amy Gale

Dear readers, let me introduce an artist with a great sense of humor, an affinity for monsters and quirky characters, and a joyfulness that shines through in all of her work!

Her name is Amy Gale, and if you frequent Spoonflower’s contests or the “latest favorites” page, no doubt you are familiar with her art.

I had some questions for Amy, which I’m glad she took the time to answer for us:

Amy, how did you come to be an artist?

“I have always loved to draw and my dear mother was kind enough to pass along her artistic ability to me. I remember as a little girl getting out my box of 64 crayola crayons and just going to town with them!”

What is your favourite artistic medium?

“My favorite artistic medium is my colored pencils. I have a few different sets, and just staring at all of the beautiful colors of the pencils totally inspires many fun ideas! Once I start to draw, the ideas usually take form soon thereafter.”

Do you have a favourite shape?

“My favorite shape is definitely the circle. Many of my designs start with a circle and go crazy from there. What is cuter than big round heads and fat little round bodies? That has always been so appealing to me!”

Are there any subjects you are particularly drawn to?

“I am particularily drawn to creatures, monsters and generally the weird side of life…..quirkiness! If given a theme or topic, my mind instantly goes to the irreverent, humorous, or wacky side of things. I come from a long line of very silly people so this is not surprising!”

What and who inspires you?

“I would say nature inspires me greatly. I have a strong love of animals, plants, all things in the natural world. My mother is a big inspiration as well. She can paint, knit, quilt, sew ~ she has always inspired me to create and use my talents ~ has always encouraged my creativity and for that, I am so very grateful.”

Would you mind sharing some of your plans, hopes and dreams for your career as an artist?

“Well, being able to design my own fabrics to sew with was a dream I had, and having accomplished that, that is one item off the bucket list! I would love to open an etsy shop of my own one day as well as possibly write and illustrate a children’s book., as I am basically a big kid in an adult body!”

Thank you, Amy, for letting me feature your work!

Amy’s designs on fabric, giftwrap, decals and wallpaper: http://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/amy_g
Her art prints and on various merchandise: http://society6.com/AmyGale

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