Global Talent Search - Little Terrariums Wall art

So there about 12 hours before the top 50 artists names are revealed for Lilla Roger's Global Talent Search - the eventual winner will have 2 years representation at her agency. I have a slim chance, one of the 999 who submitted a piece for this first round.

If I'm honest I was nervous about this brief and didn't look at it for several days because I was panicked by it. The little terrarium part of the brief was fine, the wall art aspect was trickier for me. However Lilla had kindly provided within her PDF some top tips for creating wall art that sells & images for inspiration.

Plan A went like this -I was initially drawn to the more modern hanging versions but realised at the sketch stage mine looked like Christmas baubles with bits of greenery sticking out

Plan B - my son found inside his fortune cookie the phrase...'every flower blooms in its own sweet time' I thought that was a sign but soon realised it just wasn't going to work either.

Plan C - paint a scene from The Eden Project in Cornwall where I visited the week before on my summer hols. The only problem here is my skill level on canvas did not match my imagination.

Time was ticking by pretty rapidly. Looking back over my notes I'd jotted down the invention of the terrarium was for the transportation of exotic plant specimens (such as ferns and orchids) from far flung places like Asia and South America during in the 19th Century back to England. The botanists who collected these plants can only be described as intrepid explorers going into unchartered territories for the sake of a beautiful plant.

So we had Plan D in the making. I want to point out that I'm just drawn to tropical plants and monsoonal countries - it must be in my genes being from Burma. My grandma kept 4 or 5 dozen orchids in her garden when I lived with her in Yangon so I have a particular fondness for them too. Using some of the pics I'd taken at Eden I started with my standard pen & ink sketches.

Working with the origins of the terrarium I wanted to convey the exploration aspect of finding all these tropical plants that would be placed inside. I've trekked through rainforests in Thailand and Malaysia and even these days there is still an element of adventure in these lush humid climes (don't get me started on leeches though)

There were many moments of second guessing but I'm becoming better with these bouts of self doubt. I feel for the first time ever I have a piece of art I am incredibly pleased with. So what ever happens tomorrow I've already created a win/win situation for myself which is certainly a positive outcome.

Baby Apparel WEEK 2 Make Art That Sells

From the slight wobble I had in month 1 of Bootcamp when we were asked to design bolt fabric I decided to go easy on myself and ignore the word 'pattern'. Lilla has stated over and over again that a technical repeat is not necessary these days. With that in mind I just enjoyed the mini for this week. We were asked to draw anything associated with pirates. There was a very lengthy debate about the skull and crossbones motif, whether it was appropriate.

Another aha moment between part A and B is my realisation that the linework or playing around during the mini can and should be incorporated into the finished art. OK that sounds pretty obvious but back in October it was clear as mud to me since I didn't know what the heck was going on. This would make working on the actual assignment so much easier than my experience had been last year! I also could resist paying with some butterfly fish as they are my favourites, despite not being kitted out with eyepatches.


I was very pleased with what i was able to achieve this week and had so much fun with experimenting with character. I was able to learn from Lilla's review that perhaps I had too many secondary colours and not enough neutrals - thats been my downfall in the past. And also creating a super cute character is very much a art form that requires a bit more practice on my part. I'm thinking perhaps the mouths maybe less weird with a suggestive line. Finally I'd like to rework my co-ordinates to give better 'value' so to speak where I bring in unused icons.

Paper Week - MATS part B

So with anticipation, excitement and a little bit of nervousness, part B of Make Art That Sells finally came round. I felt more prepared mentally and physically this time round, as I knew what to expect, so stocked my freezer accordingly.

Monday's mini was to draw gingerbread houses. Keeping in mind what makes these houses so distinctive - starting with candy or gum drops dotted around or totally covering the roof in some cases. I always enjoy this first day and got friendly with Pinterest. There was so much to explore and I became fascinated with some of the folksy type icing thats found on gingerbread houses and cookies that are sometimes used as decorations.

There were huge hints before the assignment brief that I would be based on a winter holiday theme. I already knew wanted to create a winter landscape, but hesitated to begin with because the house would not be the main attraction. Since doing several Skillshare courses I've gained much confidence with exploring character work - and I felt this would be a great opportunity to apply what I've learnt. What happened afterwards was a sheer labour of love. My PS file just grew and grew as I added clipping masks upon layers, upon layers, of textures. My greatest hurdle was making all the different elements pop by making sure there was enough contrast. 

I was so very pleased with the end results.  Also in week one of MATS A I was a dreadful mess and felt overwhelmed with the weight of expectation I placed on myself. This time I was a lot easier on myself and understood the power of a deadline and timekeeping. See I'm still learning - learning is good.

JELLYtastic - MARCH Bootcamp

This months assignment started with a mini project to draw jelly moulds, and any associated desserts, and kitcheny stuff ( if we wanted) I left it quite late to start because of greetings cards commitments but had a blast researching the weird and wonderful world of gelatine based foods on Pinterest. I used my trusted brush pen to explore all kinds of translucent beauties.

jelly low OMW

I did have to fight back a small wave of panic when it was revealed the brief was for bolt fabric. I tried to concentrate on Lilla's slogan that 'people buy your joy' and pushed ahead with trying to capture the jelly colours. My 4 year old decided I needed help and joined me in some painterly textures. I was able to use a clipping mask to achieve a really great effect. I'm pretty new to Photoshop so I did find layers & changing hues etc all very frustrating at times.

Week 3 of the course Lilla surprised us with a 'Nougat' colour palette of dusky pinks & neutrals. And a little exercise to create 50 Shades of Taupe !! I've got to be honest this just threw me off course. I just could not see a way through with my icons the way they were - I abandoned them for a few days. I decided on a different path, stick to the basics and enjoy the process rather than getting caught up in making a technical repeat. I was also determined to use some of the new palette and let go of the need for super brights.

Jellytastic OMW

This only the second time I've ever designed for bolt fabric so I'm pretty proud of myself. I'd like to make it into a repeat and mock them up on an apron -just to see if I'd actually wear it! This was a very challenging assignment but I did keep going back to 'finding my joy' core and working from there as its a good place for a flow of ideas. And just keeping the faith that a solution will present itself.

We have a weeks grace before I join MATS B. I have filled up my freezer and plan a mass laundry-thon based on what caused the most domestic headaches last time. I'm learning all the time from the many challenges that MATS and motherhood present.


This is my first proper post in the blog as part of my FIRST EVER website.

The last 3 weeks have just zoomed by. I almost forgot I had signed up to Lilla's Bootcamp many moons ago - but then the excitement started creeping up as the FB group was revealed. So many of my MATS mates were taking part it, like the start of a new term. And so many other wonderful people were taking part. I have to say I was in awe at some of the talent.

Lilla revealed on the first Monday were were to take a detailed look at cuckoo clocks. From the lil bird inside, decoration, clock face and basically anything decorative or of interest to us. Unlike MATS when there was 7 days to complete an assignment we had 21 days so I thought there would be less pressure......uummmm in a way.

I would say the same emotions I felt, sometimes lack of direction, sometimes terror as I posted on FB were still present. But it was all s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d out over the 3 weeks which was great as I now had a pile of other exciting work to content with. In week 2 Lilla revealed the brief was to design a phone case using the images from our first week's mini.

I liked the mock Tudor vibe that appeared on some of the clocks and found myself looking at informal grids and triangle arrangements - especially roofs ( getting geeky I know) Lilla surprised us in week 3 with a super 'on trend' colour palette that I found very close to one I had chosen already ( yey getting better with colour) I combined this with a new found technique ( for me anyhow) for importing line work from Illustrator to Photoshop then adding texture.

I was SO pleased with what I had achieved that I breath a sigh of relief. However as the week wore on and more and more folks were posting their designs I REALLY started to doubt that what I'd done was enough. Sure I had done what I wanted, and it wasn't a literally representation of a clock- more of a dissected version. I even sketched up a alternative and asked the FB group. It was half and half, some said do this new version others told me to listen to my gut. Well my intuative gut won the day - the design stayed as it was.