Jun 302014
 
© Copyright Joanne Hus

© Copyright Joanne Hus

On June 22, Elizabeth Gilbert shared a brilliant post on her Facebook page entitled “WISDOM & AGE & WOMEN.” Like so many, I was blown away by it. It also reminded me of something my younger self had written 13 years ago (not nearly so brilliantly as Ms. Gilbert), inspired by some tulips:

I shot these tulips when they were perfect. I’m still waiting for the film. But now that they are faded, they’ve acquired a very different, and still very attractive quality. The dried petals and leaves seem to dance. They are filled with a different kind of grace, one filled with much more character and distinction. Perhaps this can be a metaphor for ourselves. We assume we are “better,” more “attractive,” more “perfect” when we are young and show no signs of our living, but maybe the forms we take as we age are at least as interesting as our more nubile selves. The flower ages gracefully; we fight our own fading, and twist ourselves into unnatural forms.

—from my sketchbook, 7 February 2001

Interestingly enough at the time, I took a quick snapshot of the more “perfect” tulips, but felt compelled to draw the faded ones (above).

Jun 132014
 
© Copyright Joanne Hus

© Copyright Joanne Hus

Lately, I’ve been reading several books about the power of positive thinking. As I was falling asleep the other night, after spending a few hours reading and thinking about the power of our thoughts, the image of a garden popped into my head.

The next morning, it came to me that my mind is a garden. I have a kitchen garden for my livelihood. This is where I grow my income: commissions, business ideas, creative projects of many varieties. I have rows for art, illustration, fiction, essays, design, licensing, and so on. I have a cutting garden of a huge variety of blooms to share with the people in my life. This is where I nurture my relationships with family, friends, the world at large.

Like any garden, the garden of my mind takes effort. I have to plant the seeds: picture what I want in vivid detail, experience the feelings I would have if these things were already in my life. I have to water my garden: come up with a written plan, take action. I have to weed my garden: cast out all negative thought, worry, doubt, and fear. And I have to have faith that the sun and the rain will be provided in the right measure: trust that the right influences have already been put into motion in my life so that I will have a good harvest.

I like this image a lot. It helps me to remember to take care of the only things that are truly in my power—my thoughts and my actions. It also reminds me that by guarding my thoughts and taking action, I am making space for the good things to grow in my life.

So what would happen if I expected the garden to yield a good harvest without focused effort on my part? Well, first of all, the weeds of doubt and fear would start to grow. The good plants might struggle and maybe even yield some fruit, but the harvest would be far less than if I had tended my garden. If I then used that disappointing harvest as an excuse not to make any effort at all, the weeds of doubt and fear would take over, choking off every good thing.

But seeing my mind as the most wonderful and powerful garden inspires me to acquire a green thumb. I carefully tend each plant. I ruthlessly pull up each weed and cast it into the fire.

You, too, have a garden. If we each do our part, our gardens will yield ten-fold, a hundred-fold. And together, we can share that good harvest with the rest of the world.

May 052014
 
Zipper pouch design by Joanne Hus featuring watercolor, frangipani, sea grapes, and Taino petroglyphs.

Copyright © Joanne Hus.

Can’t believe this was our last assignment for MATS Part A! Good thing Bootcamp started again today! (More on that next time.)

This was the week of the Lush Zipper Pouch, and we got to work with collections of things. I decided to go with imagery from Puerto Rico, where I lived for 13 years. Lately, I’ve been feeling the need to draw stuff from that time in my life, so this was the perfect assignment to indulge that impulse. I got to draw some of the amazing flora, like frangipani and sea grapes, as well as some petroglyphs left behind by the Taíno people. Here are some of the drawings from the mini I did with my Micron pen on paper:

Copyright © Joanne Hus.

Copyright © Joanne Hus.

Copyright © Joanne Hus.

Copyright © Joanne Hus.

Copyright © Joanne Hus.

Copyright © Joanne Hus.

In keeping with going back to my earlier experiences, I decided to do a watercolor for the main background image. (I studied watercolor painting for many years, most notably with Ann Toulmin-Rothe, who was a brilliant teacher.) The colors are based on frangipani flowers:

Joanne-Hus-watercolor

Copyright © Joanne Hus.

One of the design suggestions Lilla gave was for mirror image, so I cropped out an area I liked and reflected it across both axes. I ended up with an almost Rorschach-test type of background:

Copyright © Joanne Hus.

Copyright © Joanne Hus.

Next, I added the drawings as vector images and several areas of transparent flat color which I drew with the pencil tool in Illustrator. These latter I multiplied so that the watercolor would still show through. I worked on only one side, then reflected that to create the symmetrical design:

Copyright © Joanne Hus.

Copyright © Joanne Hus.

Of course, no assignment is complete until it’s put into a presentation. I included several other drawings of petroglyphs which a client might want to license for other products. I also included a repeat border inspired by the sun petroglyph, then added a name for the design, which I hand-lettered:

Zipper pouch design presentation.

Copyright © Joanne Hus.

That’s the whole process! I had to get this turned around quickly, as I had been busy with client projects this week. Got it done in just two days from start to finish!

So what do you think? Please share your feedback in the comments.

Apr 182014
 
Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

This week in Make Art That Sells we’re focusing on children’s books. A great way to create portfolio pieces to show publishers is to illustrate a fairy tale or classic fable, and for this assignment Lilla has chosen Aesop’s fable, The Fox and the Crow (see full text at the end of this post).

The first thing to do is design characters:

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Next, the world these characters would live in. I thought it might be fun to reimagine Aesop as a Mexican folk tale. Gave me a great excuse to use Mexican folk art, in particular alebrije painted wood carvings, as my inspiration. Lots of flowers, vegetation, and maybe some corn plants:

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

I like to work out the values in a black and white sketch before I work with color:

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

One of the many wonderful things about MATS is the amazing community of our classmates. They are ready with thoughtful feedback as well as supportive words. When I posted this sketch in our private Facebook group, one of my classmates suggested I flop the crow so that she’s facing the fox. Great suggestion! The next step was to add color. I used some Mexican pottery as inspiration for my color palette. I love alebrije figurines, but the colors tend to be a bit garish! I also took inspiration from a Mexican folk painting of a Tree of Life that had a rich red background:

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

On the right track, but referring to my alebrije inspiration once more, I noticed that the artisans commonly use an overall dot pattern in their backgrounds. I also separated the cheese drawing from the crow drawing so that I could color the cheese more naturally. Then I put some white highlights on the large blue flower to better balance the composition:

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

And here is the full text of the fable:

The Fox and The Crow

Aesop

A Fox once saw a Crow fly off with a piece of cheese in its beak and settle on a branch of a tree.

“That’s for me, as I am a Fox,” said Master Reynard, and he walked up to the foot of the tree.

“Good day, Mistress Crow,” he cried. “How well you are looking today: how glossy your feathers; how bright your eye. I feel sure your voice must surpass that of other birds, just as your figure does; let me hear but one song from you that I may greet you as the Queen of Birds.”

The Crow lifted up her head and began to caw her best, but the moment she opened her mouth the piece of cheese fell to the ground, only to be snapped up by Master Fox.

“That will do,” said he. “That was all I wanted. In exchange for your cheese I will give you a piece of advice for the future: “Do not trust flatterers.”

 

Apr 132014
 
Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

This week’s assignment in Make Art That Sells is to design a set of up to four plates using succulents as the inspiration. What fun! I decided to experiment with a different technique than my usual Micron pens in my sketchbook, and broke out my stencil brushes and India ink, working on cold pressed watercolor paper:

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

I drew some more leaves and spines with my trusty Micron pen for contrast:

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

 

Cacti remind me of the desert of course, so I looked up rock formations in the desert Southwest USA and drew an abstraction:

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

First I started off with a black and white design. I used a rock/slate background to evoke the desert inspiration:

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

I really liked the feel of the B&W palette, especially since it makes the food served on it look great. But the plates at the bottom were a bit lost. I experimented with a different layout and background, and added a fourth plate design:

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Later I found out that the plates were to have a summer theme. I didn’t really want to let go of the B&W palette, but decided to keep an open mind. I realized as I worked with the color palette that the stone-inspired line drawing wasn’t really working with the other plate designs. I discarded that plate and designed another one that went better with the other three. Since I was working with flat colors, I also included swatches:

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

This layout was the one I submitted to the class Flickr group, but I’ll be keeping the black and white version for my portfolio as well. What do you think? Wouldn’t these plates be great for a summer garden party? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Apr 102014
 
Copyright © Joanne Hus Studios

Copyright © Joanne Hus Studios

Got an offer I couldn’t refuse: taking MATS parts A & B with Lilla and Beth for a bargain price (offered to students who had taken Parts A & B last year, and are currently enrolled in MATS Assignment Bootcamp). I love the opportunity to build my portfolio with some structure and guidance.

This week, we did bolt fabric based on a vintage casserole dishes and tropical fruits theme. While doing my research, I thought of Carmen Miranda and her over-the-top tropical fruit headdresses. Who could resist? Not me! Here are the preliminary sketches:

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Along with the fruit, I thought it might be nice to include some florals. Passion flowers and hibiscus remind me so much of my days in Puerto Rico, so I did some sketches of those. And passion fruit, known as parcha in PR, has an amazing tart flavor. Makes a refreshing beverage.

Loved the sketches, but wasn’t too keen on the name Carmen Pyranda, so I changed it:

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Added color, made some coordinates, and put it all together in a presentation:

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Had such a fun time with this! Definitely want to do more tropical themes. Having lived in the tropics for most of my young adulthood, it really speaks to me.

So, what do you think? I’d love to get your feedback in the comments.

Mar 232014
 
Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

This month in Make Art That Sells Assignment Bootcamp, the brief was all about Jello/gelatin, or as they call them in the UK, jellies. What a huge variety of responses we got! Everything from gelatin hats, to gelatin dresses, to gelatin animals and everything in between. Another part of the assignment was to use a “nougat” palette. Not something I’m generally drawn to, but that’s the whole point of Bootcamp for me: to encourage me to develop images, concepts, and approaches that I might not think of on my own, and to stretch as an artist.

I will admit that I found this assignment challenging, as did a lot of my classmates. But pushing beyond the initial response was an integral part of this assignment for me, and I’m really glad for the opportunity to expand my sources of inspiration.

Here are the first icons I did for the mini:

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

I tried working up a color version:

orange-gelatin

Copyright © Joanne Hus

It has a nice retro-funky vibe to it, but I was having a hard time picturing it as part of a surface pattern design. I was looking to do something a bit less literal. I found that I was much more interested in the pans and molds themselves than the resulting jellies, so I sketched those out:

I decided to work up something based on these molds. I also toyed with the idea of adding some textures to them:

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

These seemed to detract from what the design wanted to be. Ultimately, I decided to make the main pattern fairly simple and play with transparency to give it more depth. Then I did a couple of coordinates based on the main pattern.

Next up was to figure out a clever name for the collection and do the hand lettering for the presentation. Someone in our online group mentioned that she could picture the design as a silk chiffon, and that’s what gave me the idea for the collection’s name. Can you tell I had a blast doing the lettering?

raspberry chiffon 1

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Putting everything together:

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

I experimented with a new layout for the presentation as well, leaving out the beechwood background I have been using for a while. I had such fun working on this! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

And be sure to check out the class gallery here! It goes live on March 25.

Mar 102014
 

Today around the world, several dozen artists are participating in the PaperLove Blog Hop, a celebration of all things paper. Each of us will share what it is we love about paper.

Where do I begin? There’s so much I love about paper!

I could talk about things like my favorite stationery and art supply stores, the incomparable fragrance of a new book, the incomparable fragrance of an old book, the joy of cold-pressed 100% rag watercolor paper, printmaking, drawing from life, doodling in a sketchbook, and so on. Believe me, I love them all! But I thought I’d share something with you that perhaps you didn’t know about this illustrator/designer/artist: I also write fiction.

My preferred working method has evolved over the years. Back in the days before computers, I would write the draft longhand, with a ballpoint pen, on college ruled paper:

notebook

Later, I thought I should integrate my writing self and my artist self, so I took to writing fiction longhand in my sketchbook, with a fountain pen:

sketchbook

Then, I would transcribe the longhand onto my computer:

computer

Later, I found a wonderful bit of software called Scrivener, which is made for long-form writing of any kind: novels, non-fiction, short stories, screenplays, etc. (If you also are a writer, I highly recommend you get this software. It’ll make your life so much easier!)

At one point, I got into the habit of writing directly on the computer. I’d write maybe 250 words on a good day (pitiful, I know). But I thought that was my limit. Until one day quite recently I decided to just write longhand and see how far I’d get. To my great astonishment, I’d write 400 words, 50o words, even 780 words in one early morning session! And it just flowed. So now I’m back to writing longhand, with a ballpoint pen, in a college ruled notebook:

notebook

Want to read others’ stories about why they love paper so much? Just click on the participant links below, and you’ll see a whole world of paper:

paperlovebloghop_200

Participants:
Majo Bautista / Tona Bell / Louise Best / Cathy Bluteau / Jennifer Bomgardner / Giova Brusa / Lindsay Buck / Beka Buckley / Joanna Caskie / Jonathan Chapman (Mr Yen) / Halle Cisco / Sarah Clare / Cathryn Clarge / Dawn Clarkson / Rhiannon Connelly / Jenny D’Fuego / Molly Dhiman / Ian Dudley / Ayisatu Emore / Akmal Farid / Monika Forsberg / Claire Fritz-Domeney / Louise Gale / Chrissy Gaskell / Julie Hamilton / Emma Hawman / Rachel Hazell / Holly Helgeson / Claudine Hellmuth / Kim Henkel / Sarah Hoffman / Joanne Hus / Paula Joerling / Beth Kempton / Julie Kirk / Eos Koch / Katie LaClair / Kristy Lankford / Michelle Manolov / Doreen Marts / Rosie Martinez-Dekker / Tori Mears / Maria Mederios / Lise Meijer / Debbie Miller / MaryJane Mitchell / Suzy Naidoo / Grace Noel / Hannah Nunn / Camilla Olsson / Jo Packham / Rachelle Panagarry / Monette Pangan / Melanie Paul / Nicole Piar / Jen Pitta / Liz Plummer / Julie Reed / Michelle Reynolds / Lisa Rivas / Angee Robertson / Natalie Ryan / Aisling Ryan / Elisabet Sapena / Kyrrha Sevco / Jamie Sprague / Elizabeth Steele / Terri Stephens / Juniper Stokes / Mary Tanana / Maike Thoma / Linda Tieu / Gabrielle Treanor / Tammy Tutterow / Deborah Velasquez / Jordan Vinograd Kim / Cat Whipple / Brooke Witt / Katie Wood / Amelia Woodbridge

The PaperLove Blog Hop is a celebration of all things paper! Follow the links to discover more bloggers who love paper and use it to inspire and delight. And if you want to explore a whole world of paper, and stretch your paper passion further with a host of creative projects, why not join the innovative new online course PaperLove (starts March 31). Led by book artist Rachel Hazell, PaperLove is a five week creative adventure for paper lovers. Find out more here.

Feb 272014
 
Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

I couldn’t get enough of Make Art That Sells, so when Lilla Rogers made Assignment Bootcamp available, I jumped right on it. We get one assignment per month, instead of one per week as in MATS. While not as intensive as MATS, it’s a great opportunity to make more art that sells with brilliant direction from Lilla. This month in Bootcamp, Lilla gave us a whimsical assignment based on cuckoo clocks. What fun!

As always, we start off with the mini. I decided to give the assignment my own little twist. While doing my research, the pinecone weights on a traditional cuckoo clock reminded me of pineapples. From there it was just a short jump to thinking of the years I spent living in Puerto Rico, and my concept was born: a Caribbean cuckoo clock!

Here are some of my sketches:

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

After the mini, Lilla gave us the full assignment brief: design a phone case with a cuckoo clock theme! She also provided us with some wonderful mood boards, from which I got my initial color palette:

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

The following week, Lilla released a lesson on creating color palettes which was really useful. I used this new palette on the final version of my design:

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

One of the many reasons I love MATS so much is the online community where we get to share our works in progress, ask advice, and get tons of artistic support. My MATS mates all agreed that the second color way was much stronger, so that’s what I uploaded to the online gallery. You can see all the terrific art we made on the February Bootcamp online gallery (my design is on page 2). And if you want a phone case like this for your very own, you’re in luck: just go to my shop on Society6!

A lot of my MATS mates wanted to know how to convert their line art to vector art, so I created a PDF tutorial, which you can download here.

This coming Monday, we get our next assignment. Can’t wait to see what Lilla has up her sleeve this time!

Jan 172014
 

A House in the Sky, Amanda Lindhout & Sara Corbett

This is the seventh year that Fairfield Public Library (my favorite client!) has held One Book One Town. Each year, the librarians select a book that the residents of Fairfield can read together and then share their thoughts and experiences. Several events are planned, including panel discussions, film screenings, book groups and more, culminating with an author presentation on March 26, 2014.

Previous selections have included Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson; The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick; Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea; Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer; The Watch That Ends the Night by Allan Wolf; and Wonder by R. J. Palacio. This year’s selection is A House in the Sky, by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett. It’s a memoir about Lindhout’s experiences as a journalist who along with her photojournalist companion was kidnapped and held captive in Somalia for 15 months. Her captors were particularly cruel to her because she was a woman, and she suffered unspeakable abuse. Remarkably, this memoir is not simply a chronicle of horror, but rather demonstrates how Lindhout used her remarkable inner strength to survive and even more astonishingly, how her compassion helped her to forgive her tormentors. It’s an extraordinary book, and I applaud our librarians for choosing what may be considered a controversial book.

One of the biggest challenges of designing the poster for this book was how to speak about both the suffering and the triumph of compassion and inner strength. What made it even more challenging was the book’s cover design, which I think is brilliant. How could I possibly improve on this?

Cover design by Tal Goretsky.

Cover design by Tal Goretsky.

I knew I would want to incorporate the sky, and captivity, and freedom. The first design I came up with spoke to all these elements:

Copyright © Joanne Hus

Copyright © Joanne Hus

The client liked the concept, but felt that it needed to indicate that this takes place in the Middle East. Here’s my initial response:

OBOT-2014-poster-sketch-v2

Copyright © Joanne Hus

I liked the feeling of a sandstorm this has, but it wasn’t specific enough. I decided to incorporate an architectural element that would indicate location a bit better. I also was informed that the co-author would be participating in the author presentation, so I needed to include her name as well:

OBOT-2014-poster

 

The client loved it! I’m really looking forward to hearing Lindhout’s and Corbett’s presentation on March 26. I highly recommend that you read this book. And if you’ll be near Fairfield, CT on March 26, be sure to register for this event. It promises to be truly inspiring.

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