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 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!
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:
If you've been reading along you know that almost two years ago I decided to dust off my art skills and try to return to some freelance graphic work. I spent the majority of that year relearning and mastering Adobe Illustrator and becoming familiar with Photoshop and LightRoom. I was also determined to learn how to use my camera and do some simple video editing. At the end of that year I had not only dusted off my skills but had grown in my design capabilities. I began doing some custom graphics work - mainly logo and identity work. It was good to be working again, but I wanted to do something a bit more creative.
I had always wanted to learn to design fabric. As a little girl I would lay under my great grandmother's flour sack quilts and study all of their patterns. Before all the boys were born I used to follow designers like Kaffe Fassett and Susan Singer Sargent mainly because I couldn't get enough of their colors. I began drawing designs by hand with markers and exploring different ideas for collections, but I didn't know how to create the repeats. I did get access to a technical book via interlibrary loan but it was hard to learn just from a book - especially when I could only keep it for such a short period of time.
Then along came all of my boys, a couple of moves, and then the decision to homeschool and all of my art just got shoved in a box. Last year I dusted off that box and began pulling out all of my work. I discovered Creativebug and SkillShare and sites like Make It In Design and Make Art That Sells. In short, I found an entire community of artists with dreams just like mine. I saw many artists who are not only creating designs for fabric, but for a whole host of other products and markets.
I began taking every class I could and I learned multiple ways to create repeat patterns. But the patterns I made were a bit stiff and and I had no idea where to go with my style. One line from Bonnie Christine's Intro To Surface Pattern Design echoed in my mind - "That year I made hundreds of patterns." That seemed like a good solution - just make pattern after pattern and see where that would lead me. So sometime in December I decided that I would make 100 patterns. I began the project in a rather amorphous way and I didn't really have a way to keep track of and count my patterns.
So now I am attempting to keep track of each of my patterns on my website and be consistent to number them when I post them on FaceBook and Instagram. To meet this goal I am only counting technical repeats not 'surface designs' that don't repeat. It's going to take me a little time to format and catalog the images for all of the patterns I have done thus far but keep checking in and I'll post an update when it is current.
(You can view the gallery by clicking the image above or the blog button to the right.)
Today I rewarded myself for all of the hard technical and graphic design work that I've been doing lately with just a little bit of play. I wanted to do a quick pattern without having to do very much drawing and I wanted to work with some of the techniques I have learned in Bonnie Christine's Skillshare classes.
My patterns still don't have the flow that I would really like them to have. The only way to get there is to make pattern after pattern. In fact my current goal is to make one hundred patterns! I am well on my way and in the upcoming days I'll be doing a blog post for each one and creating a special page to collect them in.
So what kind of pattern could I make without drawing? When I was at the UNCC garden back in December I picked up some beautiful oak leaves and brought them home to scan. I had seen several artists use scans of real objects in some greeting card artwork and I thought I might give that a try.
I brought the scans into illustrator and used them as a guide to practice drawing shapes with the blob brush. I quickly had some nice organic shapes to play with. Just as I did with Firethorn I made this pattern using the pattern maker tool in Illustrator. I did everything all in one color - I find that I can focus more on the flow of the pattern if I'm not distracted by color.
When I had the pattern working then I began to play around with color. I decided to emulate Victoria Johnson and treat pink as a neutral. I love the yellow browns against the pink. I put the muted purple or mauve color into the blog header because I'm trying to find my way with color. I am striving for a bit of surprise with color - something that might make you look twice....not quite jarring but just a bit unpredictable.
Thanks so much for your encouragement through Instagram and FaceBook. I am so very happy with this new SquareSpace website. I feel like it's a simple and clean aesthetic and I can just focus on my art.
I wonder how many patterns I can make this week?
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:
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.