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).

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.

Nov 092013
 

Gypsy Rooster

This week in Make Art That Sells, Lilla’s assignment for us is to design party paper, specifically a paper plate and napkin, using Ukrainian and Bavarian folk art as inspiration. I had so much fun doing the research for this! (You can take a look at some of things I found on my Pinterest board.)

As always, we start off with minis:

© Joanne Hus

© Joanne Hus

I liked the feeling I was getting, especially with the bird. Then I remembered some roosters I had drawn a long time ago and had an idea: what if I were to redraw one of them with this folk art in mind? Here’s the result of that experiment:

© Joanne Hus

© Joanne Hus

I really liked the feeling of this. Then I remembered some floral borders I had doodled in a notebook. (I keep this notebook in my bag all the time, along with some pens. It gives me something constructive to do when I have any downtime, like when I’m standing in line, riding the train, or waiting for a friend to show up.)

© Joanne Hus

© Joanne Hus

I did a sketch in black and white, and seriously considered using a simple black and white palette for my final:

© Joanne Hus

© Joanne Hus

When I went back to my inspiration board, I had to use the folk colors. So rich!

And here’s the final:

Gypsy Rooster

© Joanne Hus

 

Isn’t he a handsome fellow? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Oct 272013
 

scrapbooking page with road trip theme

Make Art That Sells is such a great class! I love how it stretches me to try new things, consider new markets. This week is a prime example: our assignment is to design a scrapbooking page, using typewriters and/or vintage cameras as our theme. I’ve never been into scrapbooking and this market didn’t really appeal to me, so to be honest, I didn’t think I would be able to get into this assignment at all. But that’s the cool thing about being a pro: you never say, “I don’t feel like it!”; you do the job you were hired to do, and bring your A game. And the funny thing is, once I approached this assignment like a pro, I was able to come up with the concept of someone scrapbooking about their road trip, and then the ideas just flowed.

I started thinking of phrases and images that someone might use to paste onto their photos. Having a story in mind really helped (that’s another of Lilla’s tips: tell stories with you art). Then I went totally nuts: I drew a lot more than I could possibly use in the 8″ x 10″ format, and that was a great problem to have.

First, I put all the icons together in a black and white layout. (This is something I’ve learned from my many years of designing logos; if it doesn’t work in black and white, color won’t fix it.)

scrapbooking sketch

Next, I challenged myself to use a palette made up of colors I am rarely drawn to. Again, using one of Lilla’s tips, I looked at a spread in a furniture catalog featuring a color scheme I would never have dreamed up myself. I kept referring to the photo for direction in how much of each color to use, and it was remarkably helpful.

Road Trip scrapbooking design

I was very pleased with the design and the vibe, but I have learned to always schedule in an extra day to “sleep on it.” Sure enough, the next day it occurred to me that it would make sense to include the suggestion of a roadmap in the background. It really helps to tie everything together.

Road Trip Memories

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Oct 202013
 

Li'l Acorn, baby and children's pattern design. © Joanne Hus

 

This week in MATS, we are designing fabric for baby and children’s wear, and the theme is camping! How fun is that? I love the work process that Lilla is teaching us: mini, where we do research, create lots of icons, and play with color and technique; then the main assignment where we pull it all together.

While doing my research, I remembered how when I was a kid I thought acorns were wearing little hats. Had to play with that! I love how sweet their faces came out. Got the inspiration for the color palette from a food ad, another tip from Lilla. (You can find great color palettes anywhere—advertisements, vintage books, the view from your window, even stuff on your desk.)

So what do you think? Are these cute enough? Let me know in the comments, or share this below:

Oct 132013
 

Retro Holiday, © Joanne Hus

It may be October, but we’re all about winter holidays here in MATS!

Week 1, our assignment from Lilla Rogers is to create a holiday card using retro ornaments and/or candy. I was surprised to find in my research that many ornaments from the 1960s used pink and light blue, so I made a point of letting that inspire my palette. I also wanted to use more texture than I usually do, so I painted a background in acrylic and scanned it in. I experimented with making the vector shapes look more like cut paper. I like the contrast of the brushwork with the flat shapes.

What do you think? Who do you know would love to get this card in their mailbox?

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