World Wide Artist Blog Hop

I’m honored to have been invited to join the World Wide Artist Blog Hop by Nelleke Verhoeff who is the creator behind the wonderful shop Red Cheeks Factory. Here’s the link to her blog post, thank you Nelleke!

Today I will share some of Nelleke’s enchanting work, answer some questions about my own creative process, and introduce you to two talented artists friends who inspire me: Lindsay Gardner and Simone Downey.

Nelleke Verhoeff

Nelleke Verhoeff is an artist / illustrator based in Rotterdam, Holland I met in Lilla Rogers e-course Make Art That Sells. Her work is very imaginative and unexpected. Throughout the class I always looked forward to what she was going to come up with for the assignments. I love her fantasy world and all the fun characters that come out of it. She mixes painting, drawing, collages and digital techniques in a very artful way.  Below is a spread that Nelleke did for a children’s book assignment in the MATS class, about the Fox and the Crow. It’s magical!

A couple weeks ago I ordered a print from Nelleke to offer my dad for his birthday. He used to love to play the piano when he was home from work, and I loved hearing it. Look at the quirky shapes, the pianist’s expression, and the wonderful textures in this print, called “In Concert”. I’m sure my dad will be very happy. In the package decorated with fun doodles she also included a card for me and one to give him, how sweet! You can find Nelleke on FacebookEtsy, and check out also her patterns on Spoonflower.

Some questions about my work and process

 As part of the blog hop around the world, artists are invited to answer a few questions about their work and process. It's a big program, but I'm going to try and answer as briefly as I can!

1. What am I working on?
2. How does my work differ from other work in its genre?
3. Why do I create what I do?
4. How does my creative process work?

1. What I am working on?

There's a long list of things I want to explore like making patterns, gel monoprints, practice painting with watercolor, but at the moment I am focused on my passion project which is creating little illustrated stories I call animal fables. I've always had an intuitive sense about people but a couple years ago, completely by accident, I decided to express this interest with little symbolic drawings and started to compile different personality types inspired by people around me (or myself). I give them a name and write a few words in the form of a haiku to complement the drawing.

At some point into my journey I began adding an opposite to each drawing, intrigued by the concept that opposites are in reality two inseparable sides of the same coin and that when we reject one side it results in an internal conflict. For example if you're someone who tend to observe and stay silent you may be rejecting the side of you that wants to speak up. That's the story of the observer and messenger, shown below.  

I made 12 of these pairs so far (that's half of them below) and currently in the process of going through each one, adding textures, new colors, and changing up the old words with a fun story for the drawing. Working through one pair a week I hope to be done with these sometimes in October.

Besides that I plan to complete my collage animation project, set up an Etsy shop to sell my prints and learn the fundamentals of starting a business as an artist. This coming Monday I'm beginning the 6 weeks course Work/Art/Play with Amy Ng. All this is quite a change from the corporate job I left just a few weeks ago! I'm going through a bit of an adjustment setting my own hours and priorities but loving it :).

2. How does my work differ from other work in its genre?

With some surprise I've heard a few people say that I have a unique style. It's not something I tried to develop, so I guess it just happened. Maybe it's because making art has for a long time been something I did on the side, without formal instructions or guidance. I like to figure things out on my own and sometimes that leads me to unexpected ideas and processes. 

3. Why do I create what I do?

That's a good question... I'd say it's because I'm curious. I read recently that if you don't know what your passion is, to follow your curiosity and it will lead you to it. That's what happened with my fables project. I started because was just curious about people. In retrospect I see that this project is the perfect way to combine all my interests: art, psychology, writing and solving puzzles.

I hear a lot of artists say they create art because they love it, they can't live without it, and I have a bit of envy because it seems to comes so easily and joyfully to them. That's not  always the case for me. How can put this... Making art is sometimes a bit like exercise. It's hard to start, and there's always a bit of a painful period to go through at the beginning. But I know it's good for me and I need to do it, and I want to cause it feel great afterwards! 

4. How does my creative process work?

I look at a lot of different sources, preferably things that are not directly related to the subject I'm working on. I like the challenge of mixing things that don't necessarily belong together. For example a terrarium and a house, succulents and hot air balloons, or beverages and a forest

Starting with sketches, I'll scan them in and either transfer them to vectors or trace the vectors over the sketch in Illustrator. For my fables I carve the sketch in a block then scan it in and convert the lines in a pixel form. In all cases I typically end up in Photoshop to add colors and textures. Working with the blend mode and scale of the textures I can achieve many different effects. 

Inspiration

Next I'm going to introduce two artists that are very inspiring. I met both of them during the MATS A class from Lilla Rogers given last spring.

Lindsay Gardner

Lindsay is an artist from Michigan, now based in San Francisco. She has an MFA in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute and works primarily in watercolor. Her work is absolutely beautiful. I love the refined character of her illustrations as well as the juxtaposition of organic and geometric elements found in much of her compositions.

Lindsay's terrarium piece shown above was short listed among a thousand illustrations in Lilla Rogers Global Talent Search. It's easy to see why! The moose below is the character she submitted for the second round of the contest. We'll find out the results Wednesday (good luck Lindsay!). UPDATE: Yay, Lindsay's moose was selected as the top 6 finalists, big CONGRATS!!

I like the nordic imagery in Lindsay's paintings, having grown up in the same kind of climate it brings back heartwarming memories. Her abstract work is also very interesting. I'm drawn to the simple shapes mixed with varied textures and the symbolism, making me wonder what stories are hiding behind.

You can find more of Lindsay's work on her website, www.lindsaygardnerart.com.

Simone Downey

Simone is an Australian artist with a multimedia background in video and website design. She creates children's illustrations with cute characters anyone would agree are totally unique. I can relate to Simone's story as she said she stumbled upon her passion by accident after a journey in experimenting with creativity and was not a huge drawer/illustrator before doing this. She learned fast because despite describing herself as a "relatively new artist" she is quite successful, with a large fan base and her work having appeared in the movie "What Maisy knew" (I recommend watching, it's a very touching story). Below is her terrarium piece for Lilla Rogers's Global Talent Search. Adorable! Simone's work was also selected as one of the 50 among 999 submissions to be short listed for the next round of the contest. Good luck to you too Simone!

I love Simone's delicate shapes and color palette which compliment her charming characters very well. It's interesting how she mixes different animals in one character. Below are examples of her abstract art, which has the same characteristic Simone style with an artful mix of subtle colors, shape and textures. 

You can find more of Simone's work on her website, Facebook and Pinterest.

Next week, we'll read about Lindsay and Simone's current work, process and inspiration on their own blog as they carry on the blog hop. Can't wait!