Monday, September 18, 2017

The Big E!!!

It's finally here - on Friday the Big E began!  (I've mentioned it before, but just as a reminder, The Big E is a huge New England fair.  It's basically a state fair with rides, food, games, vendors, and animals - only for SIX states.)  My neighbor David, and his wife Jackie, had been going in everyday to put their booth together and they did a great job.  Here's David and me right before the doors opened.


It's a very bright and peppy booth.  Lots of people have been coming by to see what The YOUniverse is all about.  (Below) Jackie and David talk to some interested people.


The Big E is from 10am - 10pm Monday thru Sunday for 16 days.  I worked the first day to give them pointers.  They are both therapists, so the people they work with are already looking for help.  It's a different vibe at a fair.  People are curious but they need to be invited into the booth, invited to touch the product.  Usually I'd get them in and start things off and then pass it off to the therapists to go over the nitty gritty.  Jackie and David are troupers and are learning as they go.  By the end of it, they'll be pros.

I've had a great time helping David with the wall design, logos, T-shirts, brochures, animation, and signs.  If you'd like to learn more about The YOUniverse, you can find its webpage here.

Now I have to run and take some artwork to a restaurant.
Have a great day and thanks so much for stopping in!


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Bunnies & Berries - Designing A Fabric

Some of you may know that I've recently gotten into fabric design.  It started in the Spring when I posted a pick of a watercolor I did featuring a bee and some green sprigs.  Someone said, "That would make a nice fabric." And I thought, You know what? It would!  So I created a repeating pattern and put it up on Spoonflower.  Only the thing was, it was extremely challenging to create a repeating pattern.  And I definitely did it the back door, stumble-towards-success way. Meaning, there was a better way to do it but I didn't know how.

Well, I recently learned how!  I took an online class called How to Create a Half Drop Repeat Pattern Using Smart Objects by Mel Armstrong on Skillshare.  (In case you want to learn too.) It's a great course if you have Photoshop and want to get into fabric design.

I wanted to create a fabric that would go with my other fabrics this season - the colors being black, white, and red. I decided to paint some grey bunnies, leaves, and red berries. I paint each piece separately. Here are a couple of the bunnies.


Then I scanned everything into Photoshop, cleaned the images, and created a square tile pattern, like this.


I repeated the pattern (like laying tiles on a floor) meeting each edge with another edge, until I filled the screen.  This is what my Photoshop screen looked like.


When I was happy with it, I was able to create a rectangle that would cut everything at a repeatable place. See how one bunny is decapitated at the top, but it's head and back pick up at the bottom?


This fabric is called Bunnies & Berries.  It will be available on the Spoonflower website soon.  And soon I will have an actual yard of printed cotton to make into a new batch of pillows.  Yee!

Thanks so much for stopping in!
Have a great week!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Big E Challenges

Hello people!  As per usual, I will start off with an apology of not blogging more regularly.  I'm just not as into it as I used to be.  But I will still strive for once a week.

Lately I have been busy with a different kind of project.  I am designing gobs of things for my friend's Big E booth.

What's The Big E? you ask.  The Big E is a huge multi-state fair here in New England.  There are rides and games and booths and art stuff and big houses dedicated to the goods of all the New England States (ex. Go to The Maine House and you can get lobster rolls.)  And there are a ton of vendors.  The fair last about 2 weeks, I think, and thousands upon thousands of people come through.  It's very popular.

My friend David Cantor is a family therapist and he designed a therapy tool called The YOUniverse a few years back.  This is what it looks like.


He's been trying to get into the Big E for awhile now, but this year his proposal was finally accepted. Without much more than a few months notice, he needed to order a ton of his products, put together a booth design, and all that goes with it: brochures, rack cards, bags, receipts, nitty gritty.

I have been helping him with all that.

The first thing - which was kind of a big deal for me - was designing his walls.


This is one of two walls.  The other is an extension of this one, not a repeat.  But it was windy out and we didn't want them to fall and get dirty, so we just erected this one.

I can tell you guys - I was pretty nervous when we went to pick them up.  I have never designed anything for this size, or to be printed on this kind if fabric.  We didn't know if the colors would be darker or washed out, or what.  (And they were not cheap.) But the worry was for nothing - the walls came out great!  The colors are right on the money, and the lines are crisp.  It's a simple design, but a lot of decisions go into a simple design, so it was a lot of work all the same.

Then, David wanted a short animated movie for the booth.  I only know how to do stop-motion, so I've been spending the last three weeks working up a storyboard, making pieces, and then creating the movie.


This photo gives you a peek of the set up in my basement.  I have the background paper, the moveable pieces of paper, the camera, three light sources, the computer, all the other pieces in files to stay organized, and lots of duct tape.

Stop motion is a long process.  It would be best to do in a couple hours a day, but I didn't want to keep that set-up in the basement all week, so I shot it in a day.  7:30 - 4:00.  With a 30 minute lunch and a couple breaks.  The end result is 3 minutes and 10 seconds long.

Want to see it?  Here it is.


(In case you're wondering, the music is called "Cute" and it was purchased by a site called BenSound, which sells copyright free music for use in videos such as this.  We got very lucky in that we found the perfect clip and it was basically the same length as the movie.)

There's still more to do.  I'm designing a brochure next. And then rack cards.  I'm learning a lot of Photoshop along the way and definitely challenging myself.  Once the booth is up at the Big E, I'll take more pics.

Thanks again for stopping in.  It it much appreciated!
Have a great week!

Best,
Julie


Monday, August 14, 2017

Trip to Michigan

Apologies for falling off the grid.  We went on vacation.  I make it a point to never post vacation pics while I'm on vacation because it's basically broadcasting to everyone, "Hey - I'm not home!  Come rob my house!"  So I wait until I'm back.  But now I'm gonna lay some photos on ya!

We went to Michigan, the upper left part of the mitten, on Lake Michigan.  The weather was glorious!  High 70's.  It might not have been the greatest for swimming, but it was ideal for everything else.

The cabin is right on the Betsie River, and right across from the river is a dead tree where a bald eagle likes to hang out - and we got to see him!  Thanks to an awesome zoom lens, I got a good shot.  But I assure you, he was not close.  Isn't he gorgeous?


One day, we took a nice little walk along the Betsie.  Here's a shot of Magoo with his Nana Pam. Pam is great with plants, so she was pointing out all the different kinds of ferns there were along the way.  To me, they were all just ferns.  Shows what I know!
 

One of the highlights of the trip was going to the Silver Lake Sand Dunes.  We had intended to rent a dune buggy and drive them, but it turned out to be a very popular activity and we hadn't made reservations.  So we walked the dunes instead - and it was GREAT!  The cool weather and breeze made it an ideal day to walk on the sand.  It was so smooth and warm on the feet.  We really had a great time.





There's a lovely little town called Frankfort by the cabin.  We ate asian cuisine at The Fusion, visited the super fun shops (we all got Frankfort sweatshirts because of the cooler temps) and made our way out to Lake Michigan.  Here's the lighthouse.


And here's our sweatshirts.  Stylin!


We had a great vacation.  It was SUPER RELAXING! And we're really psyched that the grocery store in Benzonia has a great natural foods selection.

I'll leave you with a selfie of Magoo and I, because it turned out kinda cute!


Thanks for stopping in.  Hope you are all having a lovely summer as well!


Monday, July 17, 2017

Art Camp: Asian Exploration

The theme of last week's art camp was Asian Exploration.  We had a smaller group of only 7 campers, but it was okay because they were on the young side.  Usually we get 5 and 6-year-olds, but last week there were three 4-year olds.  4-year-olds are charming and cute, but they need a lot more help.  So the smaller number of campers combined with the younger age all evened out pretty well.

One day we learned Chinese brush painting.  This is a great lesson to start off the week because the campers learn a bit of brush technique.


Look at this adorable cat!


Another day we mixed collage and origami to make kimonos.



Printmaking can be a bit of a challenge with younger campers.  For starters, they sometimes have a more difficult time pressing deeply into the foam.  But because there were so few of them, my assistant Grace and I were able to make sure everyone had good, deep impressions.  And it's so much fun to pull prints!



On our final day we painted monkeys.  Some do better than others handling the wet watercolors, but all of their monkeys were lively and charming!



What a wonderful week!  This week the theme is African Adventure.  I'll post the pics when the week is through.

Thanks so much for stopping in!
Have a great week -
Julie

Monday, July 3, 2017

Art Camp: Creating Creatures

The West Hartford Art League's summer art camp program has begun.  This past week we kicked it off with a new theme: Creating Creatures!  I read stories and did art projects about mythical and imaginary creatures such as mermaids, dragons, and unicorns.  Here are some pics.


On Day 1, I read the campers a story about the Loch Ness Monster and we made collage sea serpents. This is the kind of project I love because it's a lovely combination of lesson and freedom.  I always try to find a way for the kids to have some choice and to make their projects their own.


On Day 2, we made clay monsters.  This is the first time I've worked with polymer clay with campers.  Since there's no oven in the School House, I had to take the projects home to bake.  But we had success!  All the monsters made it home and back without catastrophe and the kids did a great job with the clay.


Day 3 was mermaids & mermen.  This project took longer than I'd anticipated, so we had to finish it on Day 4, but that's okay.  It's all part of the process when I do new projects.  I assess the time things take and make tweaks for next year.


Look at that sweet mermaid!


Day 4 was Dragon Eggs.  This was a project that I found on Pinterest and it looked really cool.  But, in retrospect, I think this is a better craft for older kids.  The prep for this was time consuming since I have to paint bases on all the plastic eggs and cut and paint holders so they wouldn't roll.  Then, if you really want the egg to look good, you need to be able to work with hot glue and paint some texture.  My campers weren't ready for that, but they did a great job with metallic paint and glitter glue.


Day 5 was Unicorn Day.  This was a mixed media project.  I taught them how to draw a unicorn, then we covered that unicorn in tissue paper squares.  We cut it.  Pasted it to another sheet of white paper. And then finished it off by drawing rainbow manes and tails.  So we had pencil drawing, cutting, collage, and some marker work.  They did a fantastic job with it!


Here I am with most of my crew.  They were awesome and it was a wonderful first week!


Thanks so much for stopping in!
Hope you're all having a great summer!
Julie

Friday, June 16, 2017

PBJ: The Waiting Game


I am currently waiting to hear from my agent.  He is probably currently waiting to hear from editors to which we have sent book projects.  It's frustrating, but it's part of the job.


This is an image of me waiting for a Skype visit.  Skype visits are both awesome and frustrating.  They are awesome because I don't have to travel and I don't have to lose a whole day and I get to connect with students who are far away.  But I don't charge for 30 minute Skype visits, so I get tremendously frustrated when I have made sure that I am there at the appointed time, but the class isn't ready for me.  My time is being wasted.  But what can I do but wait?

This isn't meant to be a whiny post about Skype visits, but rather another glimpse into this profession.  There's a lot of waiting.

If my agent sends out a project, he might have to wait two weeks-to-two months to hear back from an editor (probably depending on how well he knows the editor.)  But if I were to send out my project sans agent, I could be waiting 6 months-to-a year, and that's if they even bother to get back to me.

Do you know why?  Because I'm not J. K. Rowling.  That's why.

Believe me, J. K. Rowling's agent gets back to her lickity split!

So what do I do while I wait?  Well, if it's a Skype visit I check in and wait for ten minutes.  If they're not ready for me within ten minutes - See Ya!  For anything else, I pull out another project and get to work.  It's always good for me to have a few projects in development so I can jump from one story to another if one is with my critique group, my agent, or simply giving me a hard time.

Just keep busy.
Just keep working.
Don't lose momentum, or your work habits.

Hopefully I'll hear from my agent soon.

Thanks for stopping in.
Have a great weekend!