Alphabet City Art Challenge: Year End Recap

Alphabet City Art Challenge Final Review by Brenda Zapotosky

It is time for the Year End Recap for the Alphabet CITY Art Challenge!  I’ll share my overall thoughts at the end.  But first let’s start by looking at the illustrations!

26 Alphabet City Illustrations by Brenda Zapotosky

What a great mix!  I love the variety in the group as a whole.  It is a great collection overall!

It is interesting seeing the variating and color distribution of the title stripes since I just sort of picked colors randomly as I went (Trying to use the three color options evening but not really paying attention to how the final mix would look).  When I created the Clock Tower I loved how title stripe was layered behind the clock tower (out of neccessity).  I hoped to have more boards like this but if never really worked out again.

One thing I love about the this group that wasn’t true with the previous two challenges is the consistancy of color!  I began with a set color palette already in place from my CITY Collection.  It was this Collection that also inspired the overall look and scale of the illustrations and I love that I now have many more buildings to add to all the existing ones I originally created for my Around the Town design:

Around the Town Promo by Brenda Zapotosky

There a large number of illustrations that do not incorporate with these because of scale, or view, or “levels” (like the subway).  But there are many that do.  When it worked, I was consistant with door height etc so that all the “regular” scale ones CAN work together.  In the course of the Challenge I did create a few street view illustrations here is a reminder of what they look like:

2 CITY Street Views by Brenda Zapotosky

It is impossible for me to pick a favorite out of the group or even a top 3.  Instead you can read about more about my thoughts on the groupings of illustrations in the 3 previous Recaps (linked at the end of this post).

Also part of the Challenge were the CITY Blocks I created for each letter.  Here is a look at them all together:

26 CITY Letter Blocks by Brenda Zapotosky

The look of these were inspried by the original CITY Collection Logo.  All letters are my own original font:

CITY Original Lettering by Brenda Zapotosky Online

I love this font overall and definitely plan on using it in the future.  I will probably need to do a few tweaks.  I did not like the “B” when I created it… and I still don’t!  But I never got around to editing it.

Unlike the previous challenges I have not created any new patterns or cards featuring these illustrations.  I do have a project planned for them AND the font!  A very exciting one in fact.  But it is something I am keeping secret for the moment.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Overall I think this challenge was easier to execute than the others since architecture is already a strength of mine.  And I really enjoy drawing buildings and built spaces so it was mostly fun.  But having to stick to the alphabet was not always enjoyable. And of course there is the deadline of the 2 week time frame…

So for 2020 I have decided that there will not be an alphabet challenge.  While it is a great way to motivate me to create new art pieces on a regular basis, the alphabet component is too constraining.  Also… this has been an Instagram centered challenge and with all the algorythym changes the posts just aren’t getting much engagement.  This wouldn’t be such an issue if these posts were spread across multiple platforms.  But if the main place I am sharing the art isn’t showing the art to many people, then I am mostly just creating for myself.  With that in mind… I think my design time will be better spent elsewhere.

To those have been following along and liking etc for the past year (or longer) BIG THANKS!  To those just reading about this challenge here are the previous posts so you can catch up!

And that’s a wrap!  After 3 straight years of Alphabet Challenges I look forward to a change!  I hope you will follow along with me on Instagram as I share more new work this year (including a NEW, non-alphabet challenge I will be doing monthly).

THANKS for Reading!  And feel free to comment below.  I love hearing your thoughts!

Brenda

Alphabet City Art Challenge: S-Z

Alphabet City Art Challenge Blog Post S thru Z_CITY S thru Z

It is time for the 3rd (but not final) recap of the Alphabet City Art Challenge!  I have decided to dedicate a post to the last group of letters and then do a full year recap.  If this is your first time hearing about this Challenge you can read the Introduction Post and the First Recap and Second Recap to catch up!

As usual I will start with a look at all 8 illustrations that make up this group:

City Illustration Boxes S thru Z by Brenda ZapotoskyI want to note that I did change one illustration since posting it on IG.  I revised the Visitors Center which used to have a “TI” on its sign.  I thought “TI” was a universal term for tourist information, but it turns out it is not… So I switched it to a generic star.  Ha ha!  If you want to see the original you can find it HERE.

I am really happy with this group of illustrations.  Some of the more difficult letters are part of this batch and not only did I find something to draw for each letter, they aren’t just filling a slot, they are nice choices!

I did have to be creative with the letter “X”.  For that one I decided just to go with something that had a “X” in it.  And expressway sounds like it starts with “X”!  Good enough!  Actually it is one of my favorites of the group!

X is for Expressway by Brenda Zapotosky

It was nice to create an illustration in plan view and I just love the energy and activity of the cars.  Plus I love how bold the colors look, especially since it fills up so much of the presentation square!

Another favorite of mine is the Yacht club:

Y is for Yacht Club by Brenda Zapotosky

As a person who loves to sail and has a partiality for the nautical it makes sense that I like this one.  But also the colors and unique building design are things I like too.  Interestingly, the idea I had in my head for this one was very different.  Originally I was going to pick WHARF for the letter W.  I actually picked it way before I even reached W.  But as I got near the end I realized there were more options for W than Y and that a Yacht Club could be very similar to a Wharf.  I envisioned LOTS of boats docked (which for wharf would have worked well) but when it actually came to draw this one I was more drawn to the idea of a nautical themed building.  I did slip in one boat!  And as a disclaimer:  I know that the sail most likely would NOT be up when docked… I did it for the visual effect.  We can pretend they got caught in the rain and wanted to dry out the sail!

The subway is another favorite.  Again, it was nice drawing a different view, this time a cross section… one of my favorite construction views from back in my architecture days.

S is for Subway by Brenda Zapotosky

A lot of time was invested for all that detail too!

Finally I want to give a mention to a special detail for the Zoo.  When thinking of how I could illustrate a sprawling place like a Zoo I decided to focus on just the front entry.  To give it a unique Zoo look I decide to add some animal silhouettes!  To create these I started with a few animals from a previous challenge:  The 2017 Alphabet Animal Art Challenge.   Unfortunately, while I love the idea of a simple monochrome outline, especially when envisioning a real wall, they do not stand out as much as I would like.

Z is for Zoo by Brenda Zapotosky

I also wish I could have come up with a better way to depict the “zoo in the background” that you glimpse through the gate.  But I do like the color embellishments along the top of the wall and the ticket booth.

Overall I think this group was a strong finish to the challenge!

Finally, as with the rest of the Challenge I also created a letter block for each of the 8 letters in this batch.  Here is a look at them all together:

City Letter Boxes S thru Z by Brenda Zapotosky

Stay tuned for final recap that will discuss the entire years worth of illustrations!  Coming Soon!

Thanks for reading!

Brenda

Alphabet City Art Challenge: J – R

Alphabet City Art Challenge Blog Post J thru R

It is time for the second recap for the Alphabet City Art Challenge.  This time I am sharing the illustrations I created for letters J thru R.  If you are new to learning about this art challenge you can read the original blog post HERE.  And you can find the first recap HERE.

Ok! Let’s start with a look at the 9 illustrations in this group:

City Illustration Boxes J thru R by Brenda Zapotosky

 

This is an interesting group.  There were some challenging letters in the mix, not only in terms of finding an appropriate city sight to illustrate (i.e. koi pond, quilt shop) but also in creating a building that could distinctly convey a certain sight without using specific branding (i.e. jazz club, post office, restaurant).  It would be an interesting to see if I had posted all of these illustrations without the titles if people would be able to name what they depicted.  Obviously the Jazz Club has the word JAZZ on it and the post office has an envelope so that would help. These features were added specifically to help convey their function.  I think the newsstand is probably the only one that is obviously apparent. (Even the lunch truck could be mistaken for an ice cream truck etc.)

N is for Newsstand by Brenda Zapotosky

 

The newsstand is one of my favorites of this batch too.  It was fun to create something other than a building and to create something at a scale big enough to show some detail.  I really enjoyed “filling the shelves” of this kiosk.

I also really like the Quilt Shop:

Q is for Quilt Shop by Brenda Zapotosky

I LOVE the quilted components I was able to incorporate and how their colors really pop in contrast to the gray building.

As I did with my first recap I put together a couple of “street views” so you could see the buildings interacting with one another.

CITY Street View 2 by Brenda Zapotosky

I really like seeing them in relationship to one another.  The modern Art Museum and classical Opera House don’t initially seem like an obvious pairing, but I think within the contest of an “Arts District” they could work!

I have also continued to post a letter block on the Monday of each new week period.  Here is the collection of letters J-R:

City Letter Boxes J thru R by Brenda Zapotosky

I really like seeing them all together in a grid like this.  Since it is difficult to continue to come up with new silhouettes, after the letter “M” I started over and reused the same blocks, but I mirrored them to give them a little variety and then made tweaks as needed to work well for the new letter.  So the letter “N” started with a mirrored version of the “A” block and so on.

And that wraps about another batch of alphabet city sights!  I anticipate a few challenges with the last batch of letters, but I already have at least one idea that I am super excited about!  Be sure to follow me on Instagram to see each illustration when they get posted.

And feel free to comment on this post!  I love hearing from my readers.

Thanks!

Brenda

Alphabet City Art Challenge: A-I

Alphabet City Art Challenge Blog Post A thru I

Time for the First Recap in the 2019 Alphabet City Art Challenge!  This year, I have decided to three recaps instead of four, so this first post will look at the illustrations I created for letters A thru I.  If you missed what the challenge is all about you can read the announcement blog post HERE.

Let’s start with a look at the 9 Illustrations I did for the first round, as they were presented as square, framed art.

City Illustration Boxes A thru I by Brenda Zapotosky

Overall I think this is a fun mix.  I have been intentionally switching up the colors so that there is a variety and looking at them all grouped together like this, I am very happy with the overall feel of the collection so far.  Whenever possible I have been keeping the scale of the buildings similar as well.  So, for example, for all the buildings with doors, all the doors are the same height. This was done so that I could easily combine them together in future compositions.  Just for fun, I arranged the buildings in two “street” views so you can see how they look.  (I had to change up the Gas Station colors a tad to make it work).

CITY Street View 1 by Brenda Zapotosky

 

As with past challenges, I did not “research” ahead of time if there would be a good pick for every letter.  I am mostly choosing each subject as I reach that letter (I did/do have some pre-picked ideas for a few of the letters).  Embassy was the biggest “surprise” so far, as it took me a while to come up with that idea (and I almost chose something else before it came to me).  It was one of the trickiest to create too, especially the curved entryway.

E is for Embassy by Brenda Zapotosky

My overall favorite is the Clock Tower.  It isn’t the most elaborate or even creative of the illustrations but I really love the overall feel of the composition.  The title for this one had to moved up to fit everything and I love how the building interacts with it.  Hopefully a few more illustrations down the line can also be arranged in a creative way.  Also… it makes me think of Italy.

C is for Clock Tower by Brenda Zapotosky

Somewhat surprisingly, the most “hearted” illustration so far has been the Gas Station.  Now I know that there are a lot of factors that can influence hearts, including when the artwork is posted and what hashtags it has…. So it could be that I just picked a “hot list” of hashtags.  Still, it is a pretty fun one.  Lots of little details.

G is for Gas Station by Brenda Zapotosky

So far I have not created any other art or patterns that incorporate any of these illustrations.  I already have the CITY COLLECTION in my Spoonflower Shop that features many city inspired designs, so I don’t have any specific plans to create more surface patterns.  As part of that collection, I have my Around the Town design that already includes many City buildings, which has added an extra challenge as I am trying to not repeat any of those and it includes many ubiquitous buildings.

That wraps it up for the illustrations, but I did want to talk about the letters/titles too.

I mixed things up this year and instead of using “A is for xxx” etc. to title my illustrations (like in past years) I chose to just put the word I was illustrating.  And the lettering for those words, is all original by me.  I like this clean look, but I do wonder if people who stumble upon the illustrations without knowing about the challenge miss out on the alphabet connection. Also new this year:  I have not been posting idea prompt lists.  Instead I have been simply posting the letter for the 2 weeks on their designated Mondays.  Here are the 9 posts so far:

City Letter Boxes A thru I by Brenda Zapotosky

I had already established the style of the letters with the CITY Collection title art, and I have been creating new letters as I have needed them (for either the letter prompts or in the illustration titles). The cityscape used also began with the CITY Collection title art, I have simply been mixing up the details for each letter.

Ok.  I think that covers everything. I hope you enjoyed this first recap.  If you aren’t already, be sure to Follow Me on Instagram to see each new Letter Prompt and Illustration as I post them.  And feel free to comment below!

Thanks for reading!

Brenda

 

 

 

Artist Feature: 2018 Fruit and Veggie Art Challenge

Today we are back with the final installment in the 2018 Fruit and Veggie Art Challenge Series:  A special “Artist Feature” spotlighting the other two artists who participated in the challenge.  I am so thrilled to have had two others complete this challenge with me.  It was so interesting to see their picks for each letter (sometimes we were the same, others we were different). Their interpretations of the subjects themselves as well as the presentations were outstanding.  Two very talented gals here!

First up is Jill.  You can follow her at jillbyersdesign

Jill is a fellow designer on Spoonflower which was how we “met”.  Last year she started the Animal Art Challenge, but did not make it through to the end.  I am so delighted that this year she did!  Jill painted of all her subjects with oil on square canvases with a unique cropped view.  They make quite a stunning collection:

A-P

She painted these all from real life, which meant she was sometimes out of order due to availability.  This is the reason U hasn’t made it to the grid yet.  She posted a photo of ugli fruit which she now has. So it is coming soon!  Be sure to follow her to see it when it is finished.

I asked Jill to share a few thoughts about the challenge. Here is what she said:

I set a few rules for myself when I started this project. I wanted to have the actual fruit or vegetable in hand, I wanted all of the compositions to be square and cropped and I wanted them to be 8″x8″ oil on canvas. My self imposed rules were pretty easy to stick to. I really enjoyed creating the compositions and working with oils. Having the actual fruit/vegetable in hand proved to be a challenge though. Dragon Fruit, Kohlrabi, Quince and Ugli Fruit where not in season when it was time to paint those letters so I had to occasionally skip a letter and then go back to it.

I love so many of them but some of my favorites are the Avocados, Beets, Eggplant, Leeks, Mushrooms, Onion, Papaya, Quince, Radish, Xigua (Watermelon). I had so much fun painting the carrots that I painted two versions. I thought that I would maybe do that again with another letter but time never allowed for that.

There are only two that I would have done differently. I would like to redo the Nectarine composition and I wish that I had sliced the Watermelon Radish thinner so that the slices would have been more transparent.

It was a great year long project. When I look at them collectively, I can see how my painting style changed throughout the year. I feel like every time I pick up a paintbrush I learn something new and this project taught me a lot.

Here is a closer look at some of the favorites Jill mentioned above:

A

Jill has decided to take a break from the Alphabet Challenge this year.  While I understand (completing all 26 letters was definitely a great endeavor) she will be missed!

Next up is Anastasia.  You can follow her at:  al_donzza

Anastasia was new to the alphabet art challenge this year and I so delighted that she joined in!  She also used paints: watercolors.  Her loose, sketchy style is so stunning.  Sometimes they included text sometimes not.  Here is a look of a few of her favorite paintings.  It is a nice example of the variety of her presentations:

al 2 images

al 1 image

Anastasia was also kind enough to send me some thoughts.  English is not her first language so the following is not a direct quote (I did some editing per her request).  As a side note… I absolutely LOVE that she is from a totally different part of the world!!!  Super awesome how the online world can bring together artists from all over!  Language barriers don’t matter much in the visual world anyways!  Here is the essence of her thoughts:

It was a great pleasure to participate in this challenge.

Honestly, I’m not a REAL artist, as other participants, and it was a great lesson to me as I discovered that I have my own style. (However my works were very different: different materials and techniques).

I saw that other participants did have a distinct style, something that I did not think I had.   However, by the end I realized that I do have my own style!  That was exciting to realize.

And I saw a huge progress between my “A” and “Z”. A one year long exercise like this, is a time frame to see things like progress and style.

Such great observations, although I would have to disagree with her sentiment that she is not a REAL artist!  Perhaps she is not pursuing art professionally, but she is ABSOLUTELY a real artist, and a very good one too!

She sent me this look at a few of the paintings she framed:

al framed art

Anastasia IS participating in this year’s challenge:  The Alphabet City Art Challenge.  She has already posted for the first two letters and they are amazing!  You can follow the challenge hashtag to see everything that we (and hopefully others!) will be posting. It is not too late to join in!  You can even skip letter A if you don’t want to play catch up.

Well folks.  THAT is a wrap.  If you missed any of the Recaps for the 2018 Fruit and Veggie Art Challenge links to them all can be found at the end of this POST.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing the artwork in this series both of myself and others and that you continue to follow along in 2019 as we explore the CITY theme!

And one last THANK YOU to Jill and Anastasia for joining in last year and for sharing their incredible work!

Brenda

Fruit and Veggie Art Challenge: T-Z

Happy New Year friends!  January is going to be a busy time on my blog so get set for a flurry (relatively speaking) of posts! We begin with the “fourth quarter” recap of the 2018 Fruit and Veggie Art Challenge, letters T thru Z.  There will also be a final year end recap but I wanted to give some thoughts on the last batch of letters and illustrations before contemplating the year as a whole.

First a look at the 7 fruit/veg I created for the final quarter of the alphabet:

T thru Z Fruit and Veggies by Brenda Zapotosky

Overall I quite like this group.  Despite the fact that there were less options for many of these letters I was able to find something interesting to illustrate for each.  It is actually quite difficult to pick a favorite.  I will call it a tie between the Turnip and the Ulluco.

T is for Turnip by Brenda Zapotosky

Interestingly, I was hesitant to choose turnip since I drew radishes for R and I thought they might be too similar.  But it was an enjoyable challenge to determine the differences and make the turnip its own unique thing.  Here is a side by side view.  (PS: The identical frame colors was not planned!)

Radish and Turnip by Brenda Zapotosky

The letter U was one of the more challenging one in terms of choices, making my love for the finished illustration all the more sweeter!

U is for Ulluco by Brenda Zapotosky

I love the look of the vegetables; the colors used for them, the background and frame; and just the overall composition.  It is too bad this would probably not be very marketable as a pattern, etc.

Choosing a favorite is difficult but choosing a LEAST favorite is not!  Yam is the “winner” of that unfortunate prize.  To be honest, I think my geometric rendition is fairly good in terms of representation… I just don’t like it!  It sort of looks like a hairy rectangle to me!!!!  In real life they are sort of “hairy” so again… rather accurate. You will NOT be seeing a Yam pattern in my Spoonflower Shop!  Ha ha ha

Y is for Yam by Brenda Zapotosky

However, you probably WILL be seeing a Watermelon one!  I see the most potential with this one either alone or incorporated in a more elaborate print.  Perhaps something picnic themed.  I have nothing in the works yet… maybe closer to summertime.

W is for Watermelon by Brenda Zapotosky

That about wraps it up!  Overall I would say it was a strong finish to the year long challenge!  Up next will be the entire year recap.  In the meantime, in case you missed it, the 2019 Alphabet Art Challenge has officially begun.  The theme is CITY and you can read all about it HERE.

I hope you enjoyed this in-depth look at the final set.  Do you have a favorite?  I would LOVE to know which!

Thanks for reading!

Brenda

Announcing the 2019 Alphabet Art Challenge!

It is that time of the year again friends.  Time to announce the theme for next year’s Alphabet Art Challenge.  I have to be honest… I seriously considered NOT doing a 2019 challenge.  They are a lot of work and sometimes the obligation to create something was more annoying than fun.  I am hoping with a little reworking of my task parameters it will be a bit easier this time around.  This will be the third year I am hosting this challenge.  You can read about the original 2017 Animal Challenge HERE and last year’s 2018 Fruit and Veggie Challenge HERE.

Ok.  Without further ado the 2019 theme is: CITY!!!

REVISED Alphabet City Art Challenge Title by Brenda Zapotosky

One of the reasons I decided to do a 2019 challenge is this theme.  I already have a CITY Collection in my Spoonflower Shop and I want to use this year of illustrations to grow that collection of patterns and expand into other coordinating works including greeting cards.  For those who may not know, my field of study was actually Architecture and I have found that designs of mine that incorporate buildings etc tend to do well.  I would like to play on this strength but also still challenge myself.  I think this challenge will do both.  For each letter of the alphabet I will create something CITY related.  This could be a building:  bank, library, skyscraper etc.  But I am not limiting it to only buildings.  ANYTHING that can be found in a city is fair game.  (And let’s face it, creativity will probably be required for some of the letters!).

One big change I will making for this year’s challenge is that I will NOT be posting a list of prompts for each letter.  My original reason for doing the lists was to give others ideas of what they could create for each letter.  And while these lists DO get a surprising amount of likes on Instagram, those likes do not translate into others actually participating in the challenge.  And since I don’t need the lists myself, eliminating them will take off one of the burdens from past challenges.  I do plan on posting a LETTER on each start day as a reminder of the start of the next 2-week period (more on that below).  For the 2018 challenge I decided to create a letter for each week.  I hope to do the same this year, although I haven’t decided exactly what I want the font collection to look like.

Stylistically I will be keeping with the already established look of the existing City Collection and only use the colors in its palette.  I actually enjoy working with a limited palette… I like having limitations!

This is my Around the Town design.  It is a good example of the style and colors you can expect to see from me this challenge!

Around the Town Promo by Brenda Zapotosky

HOW THE CHALLENGE WORKS:

Now for the official “rules” for this Challenge.  There are 52 weeks and 26 letters, so that means 1 letter for every 2 weeks.  Even though 2019 starts on a Tuesday, I have decided to keep Monday as the starting day for each new letter.  And in order to not delay a full week, Monday Dec 31 will actually kick off the letter “A”. On each Monday when a new letter begins I will post a reminder on Instagram with the letter for that 2-week period.

As it was for past years, this is JUST FOR FUN!  There are not any prizes for participating.  You can use any type of medium you like to create your art.  And if you are late to join in or miss a letter or 2, that is totally fine!  Depending on participation I will try to share other artist’s work who are regular contributors to the hashtag.  So if you want to be included don’t forget to use the official tag:  #alphabetcityartchallenge on all the pieces you create!

That’s it!  I have one more creation left to finish for the 2018 Fruit and Veggie Challenge and then there will be recaps for both the last quarter and the entire year coming to the blog in January.

In the meantime you can check out the hashtag:  #2018fruitandveggieartchallenge to see all the that has been posted this year by myself and others! (There have been 3 of us posting to it regularly). And (if you are not already) I recommend following me on Instagram so you are sure to see all the posts that are to come!

If you have any questions feel free to ask!

Happy Almost New Year!

Brenda

UPDATE: Alphabet Animal Art Challenge – 6 months later

Alphabet Animal Update Title

With the end of June it has officially been six months since the 2017 Art Challenge:  Alphabet Animals has come to a close.  I wanted to do an update since I have used those animals I created in quite a lot of new designs!  One of the goals of the Challenge was to create a library of illustrations I could use in various ways and in that goal I have had much success!  So today I want to share all the creations that I have made since the challenge ended.  If you are hearing about this challenge for the first time you can read the final blog post recap and see ALL the animals.  You can also see the other designs I created last year.

SURFACE PATTERNS

I’ll start with surface patterns.  All these have been created this year, so after the close of the challenge.  Since in many cases I ended up tweaking the animal illustrations I will share a look at the original animal and the pattern side by side!

All of the patterns I have created this year with animals so far have been created specifically for Spoonflower Design Challenges (although one did not end up being entered as you will soon learn).

Modern Farmhouse

Quail Illustration by Brenda Zapotosky

As you can see for this pattern the quail is playing a supporting role. I removed its top plume and did some recoloring to make it more “generic bird” versus a quail specifically.  I really love how it fits in so well with the other farmhouse images I created.  Modern Farmhouse is available in my Spoonflower shop.

Elephants and Polka Dots

Elephant Illustration by Brenda Zapotosky

For the “Endangered Species” Design Challenge I chose to feature my elephant illustration.  I didn’t make many changes to this character.  I changed the toe nail color to white and made the line weights for the facial features a little thicker.  (And overall color changes of course).  Since my elephant already had a unique polka dot detail I decided to build upon that for the pattern.  I actually created 4 different colorways of this design.  The Taupe colorway one you see here is the version that was entered in the contest.  You can find it and the 3 other colorways in my Animal Fun Collection.  This was actually the second time this elephant was selected from the library.  Last year I created a greeting card featuring the elephant!

Hedges and Hedgehogs

Hedgehogl Illustration by Brenda Zapotosky

The idea for this pattern was in my head almost immediately after creating the original hedgehog so I was very excited when the “Animals by Land” Design Challenge was posted giving me the perfect excuse to create it!  I kept the hedgehog mostly the same but tweaked the facial features again on this one, the most noticeable being that I gave it a round eye.  I think it is cuter that way!  The hedges got a bit more colorful too!  Find Hedges and Hedgehogs in my Spoonflower shop!

Mostly Happy X-Ray Tetras

X Ray Tetra Illustration by Brenda Zapotosky

Last but not least is my X-Ray Tetra.  For this one, I kept the pattern simple since there is already a lot of detail in the fish itself.  I did play with adding some polka dots, but I didn’t like them.  I did, however, do a fun little switch-up!  As the title suggests, not ALL these tetras are smiling… I added some frowny ones to the mix and reversed their coloring in places to make them just a bit more distinctive.  This design was created with a contest in mind but was never entered because I got the THEME wrong!!!  I thought it was Animals by/in/of WATER since the previous two contests were Land and Air… but for this one Spoonflower mixed it up and themed it “Animals of the OCEAN”.  Technically tetras are not ocean fish (which I learned through research, I am not a fish expert!) and I did not feel right entering this design.  Oh well… at least it gave me the motivation to create it since this was also a pattern idea I had in my head for a while!  Mostly Happy X-Ray Tetras is also available in my Spoonflower shop.

GREETING CARD

I have created one new card since the close of the challenge.  I have a niece and nephew who both turned 3 in June (cousins, not twins) and I thought the koala was a good pick since it was already holding onto to something making it easy to swap in the number 3. I also changed the hat to a party hat. I left the koala itself the same (even the position of the arms worked as is for the number 3!)

Koala Illustration by Brenda Zapotosky

I was there when my niece opened her card and upon seeing it she recognized it as a koala!  Granted she had recently seen a show that had koalas, but still, it made me really happy to know that my characterization was accurate enough for her to name the animal specifically!  I call that success.  The koala cards joins several other animal cards I created last year which you can find on my Cards and Gift Wrap page.

ARTWORK

The biggest thing (literally) that I created with the animal illustrations is a poster that incorporates ALL of them!  As I mentioned above my niece and nephew turned 3 and I decided that for their gifts I would create this poster.  It was actually quite a bit of work to pull it all together and fit them in a logical way and adding in all the text circles, title, etc.

Alphabet Animals Poster by Brenda Zapotosky SM

In addition to removing all the “props” that were originally paired with I also did some minor re-scaling, both enlarging and reducing scales of some of the animals to get them to work better as an ensemble.  Other than that all the animals except one stayed the same as the original in look and color (all the tweaks I made for the patterns came later).  The one animal that DID get changed was the armadillo since that was my very first illustration and it did not have the same “cute” look that I started with letter B.  Here is the “Before” and “After”.

Armadillo Illustration by Brenda Zapotosky

It was actually my husband who suggested I make them “cuter” after seeing the first animal, armadillo.  I am so happy he did, because it definitely enhances my already slightly cartoon-ish interpretations.  And I am glad I changed up the armadillo for the poster!

It is definitely a bit of a gamble to give the gift of art.  Especially BIG ART that is intended to be hung in someone’s house.  I took that chance because I thought my niece and nephew as well as their parents would like the gift.  And because I expected these to be hung in the kids’ rooms and not the main house.  I am so happy to report that gifts were well received AND have both already been hung!  Here is a look at the posters “in the wild”.

Posters in the Wild

I printed these posters at a standard 20″ x 30″ but sized the poster border proportions to work with a favorite IKEA frame line that I love (Its similar sized frame is 19.75″ x 27.5″). (Seriously, almost every wall frame in my house is from this line).  For the smaller frame on the left (which I framed) I trimmed it to fit the slightly smaller proportioned frame.  My sister opted for the same IKEA frame but with bigger dimensions so it has a mat (on the right).  It is fun to see the two looks side by side.

My husband’s reaction to seeing the poster for the first time was that I should sell them!  After selling greeting cards for a number of years I decided that being a producer really wasn’t for me.  I have been focused for the last several years solely on designing and selling my work where someone else does all the work.  However, these posters, which I am extremely pleased with, have me actually considering maybe selling (on a VERY limited basis) again.  It is just an idea at this point.  I would probably sell them both wholesale and retail if I did.  If you are a retailer or an individual and would be interested please let me know!  If there seems to be enough interest I would start investigating larger quantity printing!

And that about wraps it up!  I anticipate using more of these animals in future design projects.  Do you have a favorite you’d like to see used in something?  I’d love to know!

Thanks for reading!

Brenda

Fruit and Veggie Art Challenge: G-M

We have officially reached the 1/2 way point in this year’s Fruit and Vegetable themed Art Challenge!  It has been a fruitful (ha ha) challenge thus far, and even though the selection is a bit leaner than with the Animal themed challenge from last year, I have managed to find a good subject for every letter! But before we dive in to the works… If this is the first time learning about this challenge you can read more about it here.

OK!  Onto the good stuff! Let’s start with a look at the 7 fruit/veg I drew for this portion of the challenge:

G thru M Fruit and Veggies by Brenda Zapotosky

Overall I like this batch a lot.  I was able to find a good mix of round and non-round fruit/veg to draw and all of them are commonly known.  I think those are the two biggest challenges.  I love discovering new-to-me varieties of fruit and veggies when I put together the letter prompts, but since I am drawing these in the hopes of future uses, choosing more commonly known fruit/veg is the better choice.  Plus, since I am choosing to do geometric versions, having the fruit/veg already be known helps them remain recognizable.  The other challenge is that so many fruit/veg are ROUND… often they are more distinguishable cut than whole (like the honeydew) especially if I am doing stylized versions.  A geometric, minimal detail round fruit or veggie could end up looking like a solid oval or circle!

Interestingly my favorite of this batch is an “oval” fruit… the kiwi!  Here is a closer look:

K is for Kiwi by Brenda Zapotosky

Obviously I used a “cut” view to make it more interesting.  I love how with the geometric stylization a common fruit takes on a beautiful “abstract” look.  I am considering making a pattern with this one. I might not even make it a kiwi pattern!  I think with some re-coloring it could simply be a geometric design element!

Speaking of patterns.  I have not created any new repeating patterns (or any other art pieces) with any of these fruit/veg or ones from the first batch (my only “extra” so far is my Geometric Carrots design which I shared in the last recap).  This is partially because an opportunity has not yet occurred to give me a chance to do so (like a Spoonflower contest or a new card need).  But also, I think that patterns that incorporate multiple fruit/veg or have the fruit/veg combined with non-food elements, etc. will probably be the way that I will most likely use them.  I expect at the END of the challenge that I will take the new produce library as a whole and work them into a pattern(s).

COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION:

Another aspect of this challenge that I have been encouraging is participation from other artists.  You may recall that in my first recap I shared the work of Jill Byers.  I am happy to report that Jill has been continuing with the challenge and that there has been another artist, Al Donzza, who has joined and also been posting for every letter.  Since we all chose the Jalapeno for our “J” letter, I thought it would be fun to see all three together.  I absolutely love how different are our interpretations can be of the of the same subject.

First up is my jalapeno, which is obviously in keeping with my geometric theme.  I chose to hatch this one and I am quite happy with how it looks.  I did struggle with the composition of this art board though.  I think the jalapeno will work better in a repeating pattern, maybe with a few other variations thrown in.

J is for Jalapeno by Brenda Zapotosky

Next up is the gorgeous oil paint version by Jill Byers which is so drastically different from mine.  I love how Jill has chosen to compose all her canvases so that the subjects disappear off the sides of the canvas.  It adds a unique perspective which complements her realistic style and makes it more interesting!  You can see all of Jill’s paintings grouped together here.  It is an amazing collection!

Avocados
Jalapeno painting by Jill Byers

Next up is the work of Al Donzza who has also been doing paintings but in a totally different style and medium: Watercolors!  I love the vibrancy of Al’s work and the “action” worked into a usually static subject!  These red jalapenos really pop!

Al Donzza Jalapeno
Jalapeno painting by Al Donzza

I find it interesting that we all included two jalapenos in our compositions.  But that of course, is where the similarities end!

I hope you have enjoyed this review of the second quarter of Alphabet Illustrations.  If you have been thinking about joining in it is not too late!  I would love to have you take part!  I post a letter prompt every two weeks as a reminder of the start of the next letter and help get the creative juices flowing! And don’t forget to include the hashtag for the challenge with your posts:  #2018fruitandveggieartchallenge

Thanks for reading!

Brenda