Introducing my latest greeting card, Happy Birthday Sweet Girl. This birthday card was designed for girls ages 2-8 and features a pretty girl fox.Read More
I’m a total Skillshare fan (read addict)! I watch classes about all kinds of topics; some of them far outside my field. This class by Kate Bingman-Burt is all about creating your own ‘zine and I thought it was so much fun. It make me really want to try and get my hands on an old laser copier!Read More
Did you know that blogging is old enough to be making a ‘come back’?! In this blog post I wax eloquent about the early days of blogging and my old blog. I reminisce about the beauty of the blogroll and how through list in our sidebar everyone we were interested in following was at our fingertips and entirely in our own domain rather than that of some corporations algorithm.Read More
Welcome to Creative Friends Friday. This month I’m really excited to introduce you to my friend Carla Stout.
Carla is a collage and jewelry artist and a collector of all the things; but she’s one of those collectors that manages to make things look like they are fresh from a magazine shoot and not an episode of the hoarders. It’s a treat to visit her home because there’s always a new mantle display, or a new wreath on the door, or a new vignette that she has made from bits and bobs that she has found or salvaged.
Carla sees beauty in things that I glance over and it’s not until she’s dragged it home and propped it up by the front door or wound it into a wreath that I even notice. She has gathered and created all of the years that I have known her. She created to make her home beautiful, she created to give handmade gifts that were thoughtfully wrapped. She created jewelry for herself inspired by catalogs like Sundance from which we would only dream of buying something.
But over the last few years I have witnessed a quiet transformation taking place. Her two oldest children graduated from homeschool and began college and her younger daughter has transitioned to a local charter school. And bit by bit her homeschool room has transformed into a studio space. And with that transition I believe that Carla has become to be a bit more bold about calling herself the artist that she has always been.
Carla works in found fabrics and needlework and papers creating handmade books and journal covers. She gathers vintage keys, buttons and beads and crochets them all together with her favorite gem stones into gorgeous necklaces that can alsow be worn as wrap bracelets.
As I write this she is just getting her first business, 210design up and running. 210design, named from Ephesians 2:10, is a "craft and design business with a focus on creating unique jewelry designed to tell a story and inspire wearers and onlookers alike. With a touch of divine inspiration, my designs are meant to encourage and spark conversations that are spiritual in nature."
And all of Carla’s work does just that - it draws you in for a closer look. It begs to be touched and that’s part of the plan behind her designs. She wants to share a story, to give joy to those around her, and awake eyes to the beauty that they glance over everyday.
I would like to invite you to follow Carla's journey as she launches her new business. You can find her on Instagram and watch for updates as she begins her launch.
Just before Christmas I was able to squeeze in a few minutes to visit and catch up with my friend Beth. She was just home from teaching sewing classes at Make Welcome and was beginning to prepare food for all of her children and grandchildren who were soon arriving for the holidays. Beth greeted me at the door fresh from the kitchen with the smell of stir frying veggies. And though were both feeling the busyness of the holidays at Beth's there is always time for a cup of tea. We chatted and sipped while she stirred up more delicious smells from the large cast iron pan simmering on the stove.
When we had finished our tea and were done chatting about skinny Christmas trees and setting up a playroom for the grandchildren who were going to be visiting, we headed in Beth's studio for a quick look at some of the projects she's been working on. Beth has dubbed her studio her 'Sew and Row' room since she recently rearranged to make room for her new rowing machine. I love that because it encapsulates so many things about Beth - her creativity, work ethic, perseverance and good humor. She modeled her new cross back apron for me and showed me the little wool vest that she just finished up for her grandson Levi.
Then she quickly rearranged her quilt wall so I could get a good look at the back of the most recent wedding quilt. Her youngest of six children was recently married and she gave them the quilt top as a wedding gift. During the wedding weekend she set up a table for all of the guests to personalize a quilt square that she's sewing together for the back of the quilt.
Her son Joel is an avid reader and a writer so if you look closely you can see a library card print fabric. And of course there was a special spot for Clara and Levi's drawings for Uncle Joel and Aunt Louise.
Now that Beth's days are not filled with schooling all of her children she has not been content to stay at home and be a 'retired' home school mom. She leads an organization called Make Welcome Refugee Sewing School which she helped found. Make Welcome is a unique refugee artist's cooperative that brings together women from many different cultural backgrounds helping them build community and friendships across language barriers - smiles are universal.
There are several different levels of opportunities at Make Welcome - some classes are a bit more social and for fun and fellowship while others are more serious and entrepreneurial providing students with the skills they need to learn small scale production sewing. All students are provided the opportunity to complete a sewing skill course at the end of which they earn their very own sewing machine.
Over the past year or so Beth has cultivated a partnership with an organization in Charlotte, Project 658, which has provided this group with a much larger and a permanent space to work in. (No more driving around with sewing machines and totes of fabric anymore!) This partnership also brings together other services like counseling, childcare, job skills programs and ESL classes to the same location which simplifies serving her students.
If you would like to contribute to Make Welcome Refugee Sewing School you can do so through the Project 658 website. Click this link and in the designation drop down menu choose Project Support. Then choose Make Welcome Sewing for the project you would like to support. All donations are tax deductible.
Make Welcome Sewing School is a Christian organization whose students come from many different religious backgrounds and traditions but all are Made Welcome!
Good Friday morning, friends! How are you this morning? I'm excited to share something I've been working on for a few weeks with you guys this morning.
Social media is often about me, me, me. (I'm guilty, too.) We work hard to cultivate a beautiful feed, attract our target audience, and grow our businesses and followings. In fact we can work so hard that we forget to be 'social'!
To combat this tendency I'm starting a new series here on Instagram and on my blog called Creative Friends Friday. On the last Friday of every month I will be profiling a friend and fellow artist and or maker in my Instagram feed. I'll be sharing a bit about them and their work, and linking to their accounts. There will also be a longer article that you can find right here on my blog.
I'm using this series to help me hone my storytelling and photography skills for another really big project that I want to begin tackling in 2018. I'm also using this series to share with you some of my really wonderful, creative friends who I think more people should know about!
I'm sure you have creative friends that you would like to recognize, too, right? That's why I'm inviting you to participate in my project. It doesn't have to be elaborate - it can be as simple as sharing a friend's post in your feed and using the hashtag #creativefriendsfriday.
If you do participate please feel free to share these graphics in your feed or on your blog to spread the word!
I have uploaded my latest design into this week's Spoonflower Challenge. The theme this week was Center Stage. We were supposed to "create a repeating pattern inspired by the actors, dancers, musicians and entertainers who are stepping onto the center stage and into the spotlight."
I chose to celebrate the Spaghetti Western with my pattern repeat. Spaghetti Westerns are a subgenre of Western films produced and directed by Italians. Many actors spoke little English and so they are definitely B flicks but they have a bit of a cult following. Actually they helped Clint Eastwood launch his career. His first three films including The Good the Bad and the Ugly were Spaghetti Westerns.
I wanted to introduce quite a bit of humor in my pattern so I chose to draw several western icons in continuous line drawings and make them look like they were drawn with spaghetti noodles. I took all of these motifs and turned them into a half drop pattern. The pattern was well balanced and had a nice feel but it lacked the humor that I was going for - and frankly like plain spaghetti noodles was a bit boring.
So I hit upon the idea of adding cowboys into the pattern. Honestly I wasn't sure I could pull it off - I haven't spent a lot of time drawing human characters - it's definitely something I need to work on. I began each figure with a really simple stick figure template that I designed - each of them beginning in exactly the same way and then trying to 'bend them' into various positions before adding the clothing and details. It worked pretty well. They are so tiny that I was worried about depicting the hands. In the end I settled on LEGO man style hands and I think it worked well!
So I shrunk down all of my little cowboy figures and hid them in the pattern trying to make them interact with one another. The pattern still looked a bit plain, however so I took it one step further. I decided that since they looked like little comic characters anyway I would depict their gunfight as if it were in a comic book. And what better ammunition than meatballs?!
Below is the pattern pretty close to scale. I'm considering revising just a few things and then I will likely release this one for sale in my Spoonflower shop in the coming months.
I'd love to hear your comments and suggestions. Would you be interested in this pattern on fabric? What would you use it for?
I'm very excited to finally announce that you can buy my Sardines the Paleo Superfood Design as a tea towel! I'm working on a better product shot as the lighting in this kitchen made accurate colors difficult. The actual colors are as they appear in the artwork and on the Spoonflower and Roostery mockups. The background of the towel is a very light sky blue.
This is the image from my very happy mail day! I'm doing some color adjustments for the fabric samples but the tea towel colors came out perfectly. I'll post about the fabric and the different colorways that will be available as soon as I get those color correction done.
The tea towel design perfectly fits a fat quarter of the linen cotton canvas - which is how you should order it from Spoonflower if you want to sew your own. If you purchase this particular design on any other weight of fabric the design layout will be off because the fabrics are different widths. I really like the weight of this linen cotton fabric. It has a very good hand for table linens.
I'm putting together a tutorial post to walk you through sewing your towel, but until then here are two very helpful tutorials:
You can also purchase the tea towel already finished from one of Spoonflower's sister company Roostery. Just click on the picture above to go directly to the product!
(This was written in 2012 and polished up and given as a supper talk for the Paideia Fellowship on February 20, 2017. Visit the Charlotte Mason Institute to read the companion article Self Education in the Art Museum.)
After the weaning of my fifth son, my husband; who knew how overwhelmed, weary, and depleted I felt; gifted me a class from one of my favorite knitwear designers. The class was in Atlanta and I decided to ride the train. This gave me the entire weekend to myself. I stayed in a bed and breakfast and planned to spend the majority of my extra day at The High - a Leonardo Da Vinci exhibit was being advertised all over the city. In total I spent only about thirty minutes with Da Vinci - it was some of the smaller gems of the High’s permanent collection which captured my attention.
I suppose that I thought my time away would be just that - a break in which I would not think about the kids, housework, or homeschooling. I was alone; nobody to converse with; and so I was granted a needed perspective to examine my mind and my heart. I suppose it’s no surprise then that the works that spoke to me most that day were all pieces dealing with the subject of motherhood.
All three of the pieces I share with you are located in the Stent Family Wing which contains European art from the 14th to 19th centuries. I spent the first couple of hours that morning after viewing Da Vinci, just wandering through the gallery - examining, thinking, making a few notes and observations. During lunch I looked back over these notes. As I read I held the paintings in my mind’s eye, rearranged the pieces, grouped them and categorized them differently than they were displayed. Three pieces in particular tugged at my heart and I decided after lunch to go and visit each of them again. Why did they call to me so? I had a feeling that the Holy Spirit was teaching me about myself through these works.
The first work was Maternal Love by Hughes Merle. It is a very beautiful painting - a romantic, Utopian depiction of a youthful mother and a cherubic child. The child is captured on that fleeting day between infancy and toddlerhood - rosy cheeks over creamy skin; clean and neatly dressed in the heart of a sylvan forest. The child sits on his mother’s lap and it’s obvious that the title Maternal Love is an apt one - or is it? What unsettles me about this painting?
I gaze at it and imagine the two other pieces displayed one on either side. What’s wrong with this picture? The child’s face is tilted up for his mother’s kiss but neither of them is looking at the other. Both of their gazes look emptily aside into the forest. The mother’s arms encircles the child; her hand clasps his arm as if to keep him or make him stay. One of the child’s hands looks as if it’s ready to push away - wanting down - the tilted cheek asking for her blessing to go, but he is kept; kept by her encircling and clasping.
Maybe it is an innocent desire to keep him from harm or from getting dirty, yet my heart tugs. This fleeting age goes so quickly - gone almost before it arrives and it is natural to want to keep it and treasure it. Why then is her gaze averted? What holds her interest apart from her child? I know that longing - a mother who sees her own youth and desires just as fleeting as the days of her child. A mother who says, “Wait,” and expects him to remain just as he is - unchanged - until her gaze returns. I know this mother who longs for the freedom outside of motherhood. I meet her in the mirror some mornings.
I go again and stand in front of the portrait that Samuel B. Morse painted of his wife and two children; Portrait of Mrs. Morse and Two Children. I sit right down on the tile floor and let myself be schooled by her. How much did Morse understand of what he was saying about his wife when he painted this piece? About her personhood and character? She cannot be mistaken for the sensitive, vacant, romantic mother of Merle.
The setting of Morse’s painting is a noted contrast to Merle’s. Here is a family, in an interior scene reminiscent of a classical structure. Fatherhood is abandoned in Maternal Love but sitting on the hard floor I could feel the presence of Morse even though he is not pictured in the painting. He has painted a column directly behind his wife thus depicting her as steadfast in her role of motherhood. And yet she is not aloof from her children but rather accessible - in their midst - encouraging them to stand and explore on their own. The large expanse of sky which makes up the remainder of the background paints the freedom fostered in her motherhood.
This is reinforced with her gaze - intent on her infant who is trying unsteadily to stand on his own. Even though he is perched atop a pillar, she supports him ever so slightly - only enough to keep him from falling - careful not to hinder his movement. The older child blowing bubbles is confident in her ability to amuse herself. She leans against her mother - perhaps to feel her strength or comfort. She knows she is free to play and explore and her mother’s attention will be there when she returns.
I cross the gallery to the third work; a smallish statue displayed at eye level on a pedestal. A Woman of Boulogne Nursing Her Child by Jules Dalou. This mother holds her babe with the confidence of one who has had a long motherhood. This is not her first child. She holds her breast expertly with a knowing and willing nourishment and provision. A mother not in her youth who knows fully how fleeting and so eternal are all the days of her children.
I love the details of this plaster carving - worn shoes, the sagging of an empty breast, the contentment of a well fed baby looking at his mother’s face with a sweet smile of contentment. I memorize her face, imagine her thoughts, feel her relief at sitting amidst her daily work to nurse her child.
I ride the train home. The miles are slow and I savor my last moments of solitude before I dive headlong back into my own motherhood. Years later and now with a sixth son, the days still rush by. I react instead of act and I remind myself of Mrs. Morse and her column of motherhood. I still occasionally find myself saying, “Wait, wait,” and expecting their time to stand still until my gaze finds them again. I so long to connect day with day the active presence and the setting aside practiced by A Woman of Boulogne.
I daily fail, but these artworks - my own triad of motherhood - have become residents of my imagination. And so even now in my falling short, I fall closer than before I knew these three women.
I haven't purchased a can of sardines in years, but they are on my most current grocery list. They are high in vitamins, omega 3s, calcium and environmentally friendly. Maybe they should be on your list, too?Read More
So I fell behind posting my advent illustrations on the blog. I think I'm going to research posting here directly from Instagram for future illustration series to keep things simple. Below are all the remaining illustrations for this advent challenge.
When I started out on this challenge I imagined that I would have 24 illustrations that would all go together into one collection. It didn't quite turn out that way. I have the possibility of a few collections from these pieces - many need refinement and tuning. A few I will just discard or maybe completely redo. I've made a few notes about each illustration below mostly for my own reference.
I discovered that the Christmas season is a really busy season and it's a huge struggle to complete so many illustrations on such a quick timeline even when I started early. But I'm going to take what I learned and grow next year!
I like like the color combination and the pattern combination in this stocking. I think I should explore this as a stand alone pattern for a Christmas collection.
I really enjoyed working on this gingerbread boy. I'm currently revisiting the baking pattern in the background. If you want to see this background as a fully developed pattern check it out on They Draw and Cook!
This swan is so dainty and so soft and the colors very calming. This illustration is where I began to deviate from the style that tried to carry through this challenge. But it's okay - I discovered something new for me. I think a nice nursery collection could be explored around this piece.
I wanted to do so much more with these mittens but the number of pieces I was working with kept crashing my computer! I will go back to it in the near future as well. This illustration is where I realized that to do a challenge like this I had to work more quickly and simplify my ideas. That doesn't mean I can't explore more later.
This snowflake pattern is pretty straight forward. But for future reference I learned from a friend that snowflakes only have six points.
I got a lot of great feedback from this pair of clogs. I like the color combo here.
This little rocking horse was done on my new iPad Pro completely in Adobe Draw. I did it while traveling. I had my logo saved into a Creative Cloud library and was able to create and post the entire piece while I was mobile.
This church was also done remotely. This was the first illustration in which I realized that a square format did not suit all of my illustrations. There are a couple of illustrations like this which I felt were too far removed from the viewer because of the square composition. I'll note to plan accordingly next time around. Instagram does allow rectangular images to be posted now so that's an option if I desire.
This Santa was also to tall for the frame. I got lovely feedback about the patterns on his outfit, though.
This is my least favorite illustration of the entire challenge. After my 100 Patterns challenge maybe I'll do a hand lettering challenge.
I really like the composition of this illustration as well as the color palette.
This illustration was also drawn on the iPad Pro but in ProCreate this time. I really like these stockings! I had fun being able to achieve subtle shading in this app. Again you can see that my hand lettering weakened the piece.
For this illustration I continued my experiments on the iPad pro. This illustration was done in Adobe Sketch. It's very similar to last years Christmas illustrations which I painted in Photoshop using Kyle's brushes.
I liked all of the pieces of this composition but had a hard time fitting them together into the square format. It turned out okay in the end. This was also done on the iPad Pro.
This candy cane pattern was done using scanned and image traced artwork. Instead of keeping the brown linework like in the first illustrations I chose to use colored linework. It created a very different feel. I think this is a pretty strong pattern for a Christmas collection I'm just not sure what to pair it with. I think it could work well with the snowman. I have a lot of playing around to do, though.
This pattern was by far the most well received. I do like it a lot even though there are lots of small adjustments and finishing touches to be done before it is market ready. One things I really need to do is to simply the number of colors that I used which will be quite a challenge.
The last illustration in this challenge was Christmas village. This little pattern was a lot of fun but it's not very Christmasy as is. I have a lot of finessing and many details to add. I worked really hard to get a repeat that worked. I want to do four versions of this pattern - one for each season.
I hope you are all merry and bright and are enjoying this bit of colder weather!
Can you believe it is already Day 6 of advent? Today is the last day of our co-op classes and tomorrow the boys leave for their annual Christmas trip to their grandparents.
I had fun creating this illustration. I knew that I wanted to do a patchwork tree. I created all of the little patterns that you see here - just super simple geometrics mostly. Nothing worthy of my 100 Patterns Project.
I'm also continuing to play around with my backgrounds for these illustrations. I'm not quite what to do with them sometimes. In this illustration I created my first vector plaid. That was fun and I want to play around with that some more.
In other news this was my first illustration using my brand spanking new iPad Pro. I drew almost the entire illustration using an app called AstroPad. It's still in that awkward stage for me but I know that I'm going to continue working in this way just for the sheer convenience.
I can even sit at the school table with the boys and work while they do their lessons!
I had a fun time with this candle illustration. I duplicated the light pattern around the flame and enlarged it in the background setting the layers to multiply to achieve a more glowing effect. I used the sienna in the background to better illustrate:
'a light shining in the darkness but the darkness does not overcome it'.
It's a good image for these dark advent evenings.
I feel like this illustration came together the easiest of any that I've done so far. That makes sense, right? I've begun to come up with a workflow that is suitable for this style.
I really love the color scheme and folk painting look of this illustration. I began drawing a pear and before I knew it this sweet bird had decided to move in. It made me laugh to think of a partridge in pear rather than in a pear tree. I think she looks more like a Christmas dove, though, don't you?
This illustration looks a bit out of place in the rest of my collection but I still like it. I think a couple of things happened here. There just wasn't a place to include some of the pattern motifs I've been working with (other than on the plate). The other contributing factor is that the brushes used in this illustration are not consistent with the first two illustrations (or the later ones).
I began this illustration in a new document and do not yet have my brushes saved to their own library. So I had to make some new brushes and the settings were different. It was after completing this illustration that I set up the template file that I'm using for the rest of the collection.
I drew this in honor of my friend Shelley Brandt of Figgy Pudding Designs. Merry Christmas, Shelley!
Angel. Day Two of #ItsAdvent 2016 by Amber Lynn BentonRead More
Ornament. Day One of #ItsAdvent 2016 by Amber Lynn BentonRead More
It's just a few short days until Thanksgiving and then the Advent season is upon us!
I've already started rearranging furniture, cleaning, and making room for the tree. The boys annual Christmas visit to their grandparents is planned and maybe - just maybe - this will finally be the year of the Tasha Tudor gingerbread house. I can always dream right? (Especially when it isn't even Thanksgiving yet!)
It's hard to believe that it's been only a year since I carved out this little studio corner in my bedroom and began to take myself seriously as an artist illustrator. Last year I joined in another artist's Advent Instagram challenge and I had a lot of fun. This year I decided that I wanted to do all 25 illustrations for Advent for my portfolio which meant that I needed to begin planning in October!
As I got well into the planning and working I was having such fun that I decided to invite other friends and fellow illustrators to join me. You can use this challenge in whatever way you want - draw handmade Christmas cards or ornaments, create finished pieces for your portfolio, or just have fun while you're cozied up on these dark evenings. (Be sure to use my hashtag #itsadvent or #itsadvent2016 so I can see your work!)
Below is the Advent Challenge Calendar. Feel free to pin and or copy and share the image. I'll be posting this to my Instagram account in just a couple of days. If you want to join in on your own Instagram account just regram the calendar!
I also created an image for Instagram that is unbranded (without my logo) for your to use on your own accounts.
Here's a blog button! (Until I figure out how to do a grab box on Squarespace, though, you'll have to just download the image and then use this posts url -- http://www.amberlynnbenton.com/blog/advent2016illustrationchallenge -- as the hyperlink for your image.)
And here is a pin for your Pinterest boards! I hope your enjoy the challenge and I can't wait to see what you create!
I have a lot of treasured family recipes that have been passed down to me from my Mom and my Nannie. My recipe box is filled with photocopied versions, typed versions, email versions, and my own notepad versions from those quick dinnertime phone calls. But I have very few original copies of their recipes - ones that they wrote out by hand.
The little blue piece of paper in this illustration is one of those treasures. If you would like to read the story of this Third Generation One Egg Cake recipe and see the illustration large scale just follow the link over to the They Draw and Cook website.