Spoonflower Surprise...& sci fi geekery.

On my list of things in 2015 to do was enter a few Spoonflower contests. I was going to check well in advance to see if there were any that grabbed my attention. When I saw 'rockets' I knew that was going to be my first competition.

I really really do love sci fi. The first film I ever watched on a top loading video player was 'The Empire Strikes Back' - heck I didn't even speak much English then, but I was captivated and just understood that Hoth was a secret base. I pretty much watch any sci movies from Flash Gordon ( with Queen soundtrack) to Blade Runner to Intersteller. Maybe its the imagination involved or it just makes me think...I am a bit of a geek in this area.

It also reminds me of being a kid in the early eighties and charging around with my cousins and cheap plastic market bought ray guns ( of course I wanted be Leia with a blaster) So on this nostalgic vibe I made some sketches of vintage tin rocket toys. And I also sought out early imaginings of astronauts and ray guns.

I specifically wanted a vintage colour palette to compliment the older style rockets, and adapted one from a print by Lucienne Day. Again I chickened out and did a simple repeat pulling out different elements from the rocket and adding a numbers countdown.

I was really pleased with the vintage feel I was able to capture. I might here that this is only the third time I've entered Spoonflower - I entered because I liked the subject of rockets and again to become more comfortable with pattern making. So I pretty much fell of my chair when I received an email saying I was in the top 10 ( I was 5th overall) I was  utterly flabbergasted when I received many comments of congratulations from the Spoonflower community. This was not planned - it did not even occur to me that this could happen so I was very very grateful for everyone who voted. I certainly feel more confident about entering future Spoonflower competitions.

Unexpected results from Elizabeth Olwens Skillshare class

For ages I had been meaning to use my free months of classes with Skillshare that a friend had gifted me. And late last year I was invited to join 'In Da House' Facebook group to produce designs based on houses which are trending at the moment. I'm afraid I never did anything about either until two weeks ago. But the two options seemed to fit in quite purposefully when I activated my Skillshare account.

I chose to start with Elizabeth Olwen's Skillshare class as I do lack confidence creating patterns ( I know even now) She's a great teacher with many useful tips which I was able to incorporate when selecting my layout. However I decided to ignore her recommendation NOT to use Livetrace as I felt she was referring to pencil sketches. I pretty much rely on my brush pen or dip pen and ink.

I chose Paris as I have many many fond memories of time spent there over the last 20 years. The streets are so elegant, full of character, and with much attention to detail. You can read more about my process here on the Skillshare site. So I uploaded my final project and thought 'nice project' and didn't expect much feedback. There were a few 'likes' and nice comments so I was pleased anyhow.

However I got rather a shock when it was the featured student project on Skillshare's Instagram feed just a few days later. There were a flurry of more' likes' and more super supportive comments. It gets better... 'Parisian Houses' was then featured on their email as a trending project. I suddenly had new followers on my Instagram, and the numbers have been steadily climbing since.

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All this was certainly unexpected and unplanned. But I'm very grateful for the way its all worked out- even if it could be a fluke.  I feel this could platform could be great for of self promotion. One thing I noticed is there are over 7,000 students enrolled into this class (at time of this bog) but only 157 student projects in the gallery. In fact this seems to be the trend. In the next class I aim to take by Mary Kate McDevitt there are well over 6,00students enrolled but only 50 projects in the class gallery. Why don't people post their projects? Since that is the only way other students and the teachers themselves will understand your process and the finished result. Yes by doing so you would be open to being vulnerable if you don't feel you aren't receive 'likes'. In this instance I choose to be brave and show the Skillshare community and feel I reaped some pretty cool rewards.

Who Inspires Me...? Bloghop

A few weeks back the amazing and lovely, Rachael Schafer asked if I wanted to be part of the ' Whats Inspires Me' blog hop - I was honoured and also rather gobsmaked. Read Rachael's post about myself & Jo Chambers here.

I first met Rachael on Lilla Rogers Make Art That Sells course last autumn. Part of the course was a friendly online community that supported and bounced ideas off each other. We had all come from different backgrounds, careers and experiences and we were all looking to further our creative journeys. I feel Rachael's work reflects her fun loving and blithe nature. Look at these...

...aren't those monkey so gleeful  and having a great time with the giant ice lollies !

...that ship is certainly on a cheerful adventure.

I love this theme..the colours are super happy and joyful.


I am putting together foodie related images that I feel would do well in my portfolio and in a on-line shop I'm aiming to open in a few months. Since taking the MATS course I have realised images/ icons do not necessarily have to be stuck within one market and can actually overlap quite easily & successfully. 


I've been pinning on Pinterest for about 2 years and after a while realised I was just naturally drawn (no pun) to food and travel images. At the time I had a toddler and was pondering if I should change career. I feel very lucky that I stuck to my guns because I just LOVE TO DRAW- simple as that. I've entered two Spoonflower competitions on a whim, one based on fishing, a past time which I've never done, BUT I loved researching the images, and just draw draw draw with pen and ink. I'm now hoping to turn those images into a collection. So although my primary interest is food and travel there is SO much I feel I could turn into art simply because I'm always eager to learn.


Whether the brief is one I set myself or for a competition I usually mull over it for a day or two making mental and actual notes ( I carry a notebook and pen everywhere). I start with a pile of sketches from photos or other reference using pen and ink (it so much easier to scan) I'll see where I'm at after this stage - whether there is a theme or a germ of an idea emerging. Sometimes the sketches go to Ai, but more and more often they are taken to Photoshop for lots of playing around with textures.

Enough about me already. I want to move onto TWO remarkable artists. Each of them has their own unique approach to art. But what strikes me the most is their fearless attitude getting their art out there - I just go along for the ride sometimes.

First off we have the uber talented Wendy Brightbill of A Girl and Her Brush fame. She literally paints her joy, its also therapy for her. Again I met her on MATS last year and she just has not looked back since. Wendy was always breaking through comfort zones and is highly prolific - I've never known anyone work to fast. Added to which is smart and perceptive nature. Take a closer look....

...her examination of colour was featured in Upppercase magazine !!!

....she can combine photos with paint with linework to create gorgeousness

....arn't these animal characters sassy. Wendy had never done characters until a few a months ago - like WOW!!

Now I want to move onto the lovely Harriet Mellor who delights us with fabulous details in all her work. I was lucky enough to meet her on MATS. The funny thing was we would often appear on the same 'page' of Lilla's reviews - similar but different. Harriets work sometimes seems to have a luminosity that gives her art a beautiful depth. Her work is easily recognisable with stunning linework and thoughtfully placed overlapping icons. See what I mean....

...I adore this piece and the similar one featured in They Draw and Cook

...so dreamy and atmospheric - just sheer magic

...what a wonderful idea, colours that pop and beautiful, delightful details


So there we have it. I've throughly enjoyed writing about 3 equally amazing artists, who have had the pleasure of sharing my MATS journey, and now beyond !! They are so creative on many levels, super supportive & caring in different areas and best of all quick to laugh. I do look forward to their blog posts about what inspires them.

My first ever SPOONFLOWER entries

I have been hearing about the Spoonflower weekly competitions for a few years but never attempted to enter as I felt technical repeats were rather beyond me. But many of my fellow MATS mates gave the encouragement to enter. I thought well it'll be a good experience out of my comfort zone and will add to my portfolio - win/win right? Once I decided to take the plunge it turned out the next competition was for Fishing Lures - I had to look that word up!! As always I started with pen & ink sketches of any associated with fishing - that was going to be my take on this subject.

I was able to add scanned in textures and add a slight knocked back linework of rope knots to add to the textural feel. Again another set of colours were used from the Design Seeds site and put through Kular to match the exact colours. I was so ver pleased I managed to get a simple half step repeat to work- phew.

Here are some sketches from the Herb Garden competition that I entered a few weeks later.