Make Art That Sells Bootcamp

So this year I have been taking classes. I have a lot of things to write and share but I thought I would start by just sharing where I am right now.

I'm currently enrolled in Lilla Rogers Make Art That Sells Bootcamp course. Bootcamp is a five month long class. Each month we receive a mini assignment to explore and play with. Then on week two we receive our assignment in the form of a brief.

Our first mini assignment was 1920's hairstyles. I began exploring the 1920s pretty deeply that first week. I watched a couple of TV shows, created a Pinterest board, and after a lot of sketching I even did some watercolor pieces. I discovered that I have spent a long time avoiding drawing faces and this assignment forced me to face that fear. 

The brief that we were given to work from was to design an adult coloring book cover. We were given leeway to make the project fun for us, so I turned my project into a color your own desktop calendar. Here is the layout I came up with:

Mulled Wine or Cider

For drink the gentleman had only wine, often diluted with water and mixed with honey, ginger, and cinnamon to sweeten it. Water alone was regarded with justified suspicion. There were no hot drinks except mulled wine at festivities. ~ The Middle Ages by Bishop

Mulled wine, popularized in the Middle Ages, is an ancient drink dating back to the time of Hippocrates who used it as medicine. The more familiar cider is a similar but non alchoholic hot beverage made using the juice of apples (unless you use hard cider).

You can mull it over, but no matter whether you decide to warm yourself with wine or with juice both are made in a similar fashion.

First, you will need some sort of sweetener such as sugar, honey, or even dried fruit like raisins. Captured between the tartness of the drink and sweetness of your sugar is the depth and character of the spices. Their scent wafts to your nose with the steam from the hot drink and you feel warm before even the first sip. There are many spices that you can choose for mulling and there really is no need to follow a recipe ~ cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, mace, and allspice are all likely candidates. Often a bit of citrus in the form of a cloved orange, sliced oranges or lemons or their zest are added for brightness.

Go ahead and pull out the crockpot and mix up a batch of holiday cheer! If you feel like you absolutely need a recipe here is a version from Joy of Cooking which uses a mulled syrup rather than adding the spices directly into the wine:

Mulled Wine

Make a syrup by boiling for 5 minutes:

2 1/2 c. of sugar1 1/4 cups of water4 dozen whole cloves6 sticks cinnamon3 crushed NutmegsPeel of 3 lemons and 2 oranges

Strain the syrup and add to it:

4 cups hot lemon or lime juice

Heat well but do not boil. Add 4 bottles of red wine or Madeira, port or sherry. Serve very hot with slices of lemon or pineapple.

I Do Custom Graphics

Are you looking for custom graphics that express your unique brand?

Are you in need of a few graphic icons to use on your website so that it doesn't look like you just opened it from a can? Have a cute idea for a product for your Etsy shop that you don't have the time or design skills for? Or maybe you just finished a cool app, but it doesn't have any style.

I can help...

As a matter of fact, here are some quick custom graphics that I did just this afternoon for an app!

I'm happy to talk with you about your graphic needs - just send me an email!

How To Remove One Pixel Transparent Borders

So, you've finally mastered creating repeat patterns in Adobe Illustrator and you have this really cute pattern that you want to use as your website background. You save it for web, upload the graphic into your WordPress media folder, and excitedly refresh your page. It's awesome! Wait - what!? Why can you see the repeats? Where is that border coming from around your image - it worked perfectly in Illustrator?!

Read on to find out how to fix your pattern repeats on your website...

It's really helpful if you are an illustrator, graphic designer or surface pattern designer of any kind to have at least basic web design skills. Mine are just that - basic. I rely heavily on Google, Wordpress Forums, w3school and classes on Lynda.com. (It is also helpful to be married to a software developer, although I am trying to do as much as I can on my own.)  When I set up this website I wanted to be able to showcase my repeat patterns as background images and in my header.

But I kept running into a problem - when I uploaded my images to WordPress and set them as my background image I could always see a very faint line where the pattern repeated. After a lot of head scratching I finally discovered that there was a one pixel transparent border that was totally ruining the effect, but I couldn't figure out where it was coming from. The repeats worked perfectly in Illustrator. When I searched online I found other people who were struggling with this same issue but I could not find a clear answer. Since I knew the pattern worked perfectly in Illustrator I assumed this was a problem with borders, margins, or padding in my .css.

It turns out however that it was an Adobe Illustrator issue after all! The border appears when you save your image for web without having your artboard aligned to the pixel grid.

After a couple of hours searching and posting on the WordPress forum I found this article which showed me how to remove one pixel transparent borders from my PNG files. Click over for great screenshots and explanations:

White border around transparent PNG after Illustrator export?

Following the steps in this article fixed my issue. Each time exported my artwork from Adobe Illustrator I was sizing the art board to fit the selected artwork wherever it happened to be located on the the screen. This was causing my art board to not be aligned to the pixel grid and giving me a transparent border in my PNG file.

So now I have a new routine. I make sure the art board is aligned as described in the article and has the same dimensions as my artwork. Then, I use the align tool to align the artwork to the art board before exporting by saving for web.

Voila! No more pesky transparent borders - only seamless repeats!

(Since writing this article not only have my web design skills greatly improved but I decided to go with a cleaner website design and ditched the pattern repeat in the background. 1/30/2017)

Sometimes We Must Begin Again

All beginnings are hard. 'Be patient, David...All beginnings are hard. You cannot swallow all the world at one time.'
I say it to myself today when I stand before a new class at the beginning of a school year or am about to start a new book or research paper: 'All beginnings are hard...Especially a beginning that you make by yourself. That's the hardest beginning of all.'

Abbreviated excerpts from In The Beginning by Chaim Potok.

A New Blog

When I began blogging in 2006, blogging wasn't new but it still seemed fresh. There was something satisfying about creating a space, writing words, sharing pictures and having friends and family comment or reply.  Grandparents loved it and I loved keeping up with my friends who were on this same homeschooling journey that I was on. It was encouraging to read their posts with my cup of tea first thing in the morning. It was so easy to share and the feedback was so positive that I began to share more and more of our lives on the blog. The boys were little and they were cute and the things they did were cute.

But as they got older and we became more 'connected' and people who we didn't know began to find their way to my blog there was this little part of me that cringed. That cringe grew over the years.  I watched other bloggers make up cute names for their children to give them some anonymity but that felt awkward for me. My dear friend Beth of Ebenezer Stories and I began to have this conversation.  As her children grew into adults and began leaving the nest she drew back from talking about them on her blog and even questioned having shared so much when they were children. Now she has grandchildren and she still shares on her blog but it is good to think seriously about these things.

When You Blog You Live Both In and Out of the Frame

At that same time bloggers began to have a conversation with their audience assuring them that they were sharing an edited version of their life.  They "lived outside the frame" and things were messy and life was not as perfect as it seemed on the blog.  I loved how some bloggers like Myquillyn Smith of The Nester and Ann Voskamp of A Holy Experience began to focus on the imperfectness of life.  My friend Kelly Keller of Kelly's Musings started a series I love called Proof of Life which reveals all those crazy things that we are tempted to leave 'outside the frame'. Another blogger that I followed Tonya Peckover of Study In Brown pulled back entirely for a time and that was also right and good.

How Does Technology Affect the Privacy of Our Children?

Along came Picasa and its' uncanny face recognition ability.  It was able to tell the difference between baby pictures of my boys when I often had to use environmental cues to do so.  Then my pediatrician began to ask to scan their palms when we went in for annual exams and I just put the brakes on. I pulled a lot of pictures and some blog posts down which I felt were too personal. By that point I had already changed the kind of posts that I wrote, but honestly - I just wanted a do over. So I stopped posting all together and made my blog private. I knew that if I began to blog again that I would do it differently but I just wasn't sure what that meant.

I still don't have this all figured out. I will be bringing over some posts from my original blog to here. Some of them I will edit. My blog will focus more on my thoughts, my reading, things I make, and my design and illustration work. I now use Facebook for the kinds of posts and pictures that I used to blog about so that grandparents and family and friends feel connected. I probably still tend to overshare there but I often ask the boys if they mind - especially the older ones.

I use Instagram and do post pictures of the boys there. Without realizing it when I began to use Instagram I did not use the boy's names.  That is an intentional choice now. I keep Twitter just for me - I share my silly thoughts and my thoughtful thoughts, sometimes about school, sometimes about family but nothing truly personal - especially about the boys. I want to post as things really are - a similar idea to Kelly's Proof of Life to show that life is not perfect but it is good. It is grace and mercy which carry us through - not our own goodness.

Life is Not Perfect But It is Good

So here in this space and moment I begin again.