HAPPY 2014!

Happy new year, my friends! May your 2014 be full of blessings, good health, friendships, love, and peace! Happy 2014! XOXO

PS: Sorry I haven't been too active on my blog. I am mostly on my Facebook page nowadays, so come see me there. :)

New wooden doodle bowls for 2013 Hallmarket

I have been busy! Our yearly Hallmarket art fair is coming up tomorrow! On top of prints, brooches and interchangeable necklaces, I made a batch of new decorative wooden doodle bowls. Originally I wasn't planning on making any new bowls this year because these vintage wooden bowls are getting really hard to find locally, and even if I do see them, they are too expensive. But I got lucky one day in the beginning of September and ran into quite a few of these bowls in some local shops with reasonable price, so I bought them all. It's a lengthy process turning them into colorful doodle bowls. I painted the base colors, distressed them with my special antiquing technique, drew on them, then gave them a couple of coats of clear varnish. You can see them all in my Flickr album.

If you are in town and plan to come to Hallamrket tomorrow, there is a possibility that the event might be moved to Sunday due to the weather. Please check the official Facebook page in the morning before heading out. Either way, I hope to see you this weekend if you can make it. : )

New Book and a Giveaway

I am so honored to be one of the contributors for Jenny Doh's latest book Craft-A-Doodle, published by Lark Crafts. I worked with Jenny on her Creative Lettering book, so last year when she invited me to work with her again on this doodle book, I gladly said yes. There are 18 artists in this book and each artist contributes his/her unique doodle exercises for the readers to try (there are 75 exercises in this book!) It's a lot of fun! If you love to draw and doodle, or if you'd like to try, you should definitely check this book out.

(I am so glad to see my doodles being used on the cover, the book spine, and the inside cover!) 

I am going to give away a free copy of Craft-A-Doodle to one lucky reader. The giveaway is hosted on my Facebook fan page, so you need to go there in order to have your name included in the draw. It is the first post on my wall when you go there, and all you need to do is to like the image, share it on your own Facebook wall, and then leave a comment under my photo so I can have your name listed. I will sign the book with a doodle to go with it, and if you are the lucky winner (picked randomly), I will send it your way no matter where you live (I will pay the postage).

The giveaway ends this Saturday 8/10 at 1a.m., so make sure you go to my page and leave your comment under my photo before it ends. Good luck! :)

Final week at Lilla Rogers School

Finally, here we are, our last week at Lilla school. This final assignment was definitely unexpected to a lot of us. (By now you probably can already tell, our Ms. Lilla is indeed full of surprise!) Just read on.

For week 5, Lilla covered the gift market, and our Monday mini exercise was all about collections. We were asked to take photos, draw, or scan the stuff that we have been collecting. This is not too difficult because I am pretty much a hoarder when it comes to stuff (LOL). My favorite things to collect are folk art objects. Whenever I go to an antique market, I am always on the look out for sweet folk art toys, paintings, ceramics, or sculptures, especially if the theme is animals, religious/saints, circus/carnival, day of the dead skulls, or Mexican luchadores (stretchy pants, anybody?) I mean, how can you say no to this face?

And my paper mache lion, one of my favorite find at the flea market, ever!

I also doodled a couple of my small Mexican themed objects (they are all in my office at work).

It was so much fun to see all the photos of stuff that my classmates collect! But up to this point, we didn't have a clue what the actual assignment was going to be. Then Wednesday came, and we found out our final assignment was to design a "hyper lush" zipper pouch using our own collections. We could do as much or as little as we want, but we were encouraged to go all out, go crazy, and have fun, in our own style. We could also bring back elements we did for the previous 4 weeks and use them in this assignment if they fit.

I was really challenged at first. My style is usually cleaner and more structured, so this one really got me. But since this is the final assignment, I wanted to use this chance to push myself once again. So not to overwhelm myself, I played with background first, using some of my ink drawings and a flower photo I took in my yard.

Then I thought of the kitty I painted last week for my 2nd collage (I didn't submit that one to our class pool). I thought she might work really well with this hyper colorful background, so I brought her over, and I like her with this background so much better! Here is my final twin kitties zipper pouch design:

I didn't forget about my folk art toys, either. To honor my little muses, I did another pouch design, mixing photos with some of my doodles. I had to admit I was laughing pretty hard when I was designing this one; it was so different than the stuff I normally would do, but I had a blast! It's kind of weird, huh? But I am sure there is a market for it, haha!

So here it, the final week. I feel so fortunate to be in the same class with so many amazing artists. I am really going to miss school, but not for too long, because I signed up for part B of the class starting in October. If you'd like to join us in October, please click here to find out more about the class. I hope you have fun reading my class posts. One thing Lilla keeps stressing throughout the whole course is "People buy your joy!" That has always been my goal since the very beginning, to create artworks that make people happy. I hope you can feel my joy, too! :)

Week 4 at Lilla Rogers School

Can't believe it's already the end of week 4 at Lilla's school; where did the time go? One more week then we will be done (until October that is, because I signed up for Part B of the course, too.) Again, I am completely wowed by my classmates this week, especially by all the talented painters in the class. For week 4, Lilla covered this market:

I didn't really know what to expect for this week, especially when our Monday exercise didn't even involve any kind of drawing. Lilla just simply wanted us to go on a scavenger hunt in our homes. We were told to gather stuff according to the colors for our astrology signs (so that's red & orange for me) plus unlimited amount of neutral colors, and these are the stuff we can use to create our wall art piece later. I don't really collect small stuff but surprisingly still managed to find bunch of little items (plus the thought that I really need to have a garage sale).

On Wednesday we received our assignment, and it was to create an abstract collage wall art piece for shops like Anthropologie or Urban Outfitters. We can do whatever we want, but it needs to have all these elements: words, floral motifs, some kind of traditional media and geometric/organic motifs. We are told to create something that we like and not worry about the clients. We could work digitally but we were really encouraged to explore paint and work with our hands. So that's what I determined to do for this week, not to use my computer at all. I know I am not as comfortable with paint as many artists in my class, and that's exactly why I wanted to push myself.

So I went to our local Urban Outfitters for some inspirations (plus a little shopping), and this is what inspired my piece later:

And here is what I did. First, I just played with the layout using some wooden discs/squares and a diecut chipboard I found in my house, plus some wood veneers cut into shapes. (Also, some watercolor bits I did from week 2 also got cut up and used in the collage.) The base is a 10"x10" wooden board.

Then slowly I colored some of the pieces and added patterns or drawings. I admit I didn't totally stick to the colors assigned to me. I love colors too much and couldn't help but adding some extra ones.

Spraying a couple coats of clear varnish to all the pieces before final assembly.

And here is the final piece. I made a simple distressed strip frame for it.

I finished my piece on Saturday morning and submitted to our group. With no more deadline pressure, I decided to make another piece and just had fun with it (plus my desk was already a giant mess so why not add to it?) I put down layers and layers of paint, distressed them, glued a piece of old pattern paper and a piece of red ric rac I found in my house, and put on some more paint. I had a blast!

Then I decide to paint a kitty on my board. It was based on a vintage kitty string holder like this one. Painting vintage kitchen item was fun; I might try to paint a few more later.

So that's it, week 4. It was definitely an adventure for me with all the painting and no computer at all.  At the end, I am really glad that I made something tangible which I can hold in my hands.

Week 3 at Lilla Rogers School

First of all, let me begin this post by giving a shout out to all my classmates at Lilla Rogers School. Seriously, this past week has been a huge challenge for a lot of us, but you all worked so hard like a champion, and I am so humbled browsing all the works that you did. You guys ROCK!!! :)

So without further due, let me show you what I did this week. For the third week at school, Lilla covered this market:

This is a market a lot of illustrators are either very interested in, or are really intimidated by. I have done a few books for Hallmark, but those are all in-house jobs and I don't really have a lot of external experience in this market, so I am just as anxious as a lot of people in the class about this week's assignment. But as you've already known from my past posts, Lilla gives us a mini exercise on each Monday to ease us into the actual assignment given on Wednesday, and on this past Monday, we were told to draw snails. Yes, snails. I am sure a lot of us were expecting to be asked to draw something like bears, pigs, kids... after all, it's for children's books, but I don't think any of us was expecting to be drawing snails. But that's what's so great about this little exercise. A snail is not that hard to draw, comparing to most animals, plus they have no arms or legs, so it's a bit more challenging to show their characters and emotions.

So as usual, we were encouraged to draw as many snails as we could between Monday and Wednesday, without worrying about the actual homework. We were also asked to do some hand lettering for this phrase: "The Snail and the Rose Tree". Here are my unedited snail doodles. The first one are pencil sketches, and the second one were done with a brush tip pen.

After I was done with all the snail doodles, I picked my favorite little guy and sent him in Photoshop for a quick study in styling and coloring. I also did the hand lettering on the phrase, so I put them together and pretended I was making a book cover, just to see how it might look like.

 (Did you notice the water color texture I used on the snail's body and in the tree? It was from the watercolor experiment I did last week. See, nothing gets wasted.)

So, Wednesday came, and lo and behold, what was the assignment? You guessed it! The assignment was to do either a book cover or a double-page spread for a story titled "The Snail and the Rose Tree". Yay, right? But wait, here is the curve ball: it's an actual fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen, and it's not a happy story at all! (If you are so inclined to read the story, here it is.) I actually really love the story after reading it, but none of my happy little smiley snail doodles would work for the assignment now. I still thought parts of my book cover sketch could work, however it definitely needed some tweaking to fit the darker mood of the story.

Looked like a simple tweak, but it took me two nights of work to get it right. I went back and forth between a green background and a red background, and finally settled with the red one. After I submitted this one to our class's Flickr pool, I wanted to do another one that's a little more lighthearted. I did a quick rough sketch to show my classmates to see what they think, and they liked it. Here are the rough sketch and the finished piece.

This second version took me even longer than my first one; there were a lot of back and forth in editing, changing colors, and styling of the tree. I also had the hardest time making decision on which one to submit as my final. My designer self likes the first red cover I did, but my illustrator self would rather be doing a whole book in the style of my second cover, so that tells me something. At the end, I made the switch and chose my second cover as my final piece, and I am really happy about it.

Man, that was a long post, isn't it? I hope I haven't lost your interest. If you would like to see other beautiful covers or spreads done by my fabulous classmates, I have picked some of my favorite ones and they are under my Flickr's Favorites. Go browse and be wowed. Enjoy! :)