Fruit and Veggie Art Challenge: N-S

It is time for the 3rd “Quarter” Recap for the 2018 Fruit and Veggie Art Challenge!  Letters N thru S were an interesting group and I am beginning to see some of the limitations of my “geometric” design criteria. Before I jump into my thoughts on this group let me share my 6 fruit and veggie creations for this portion of the challenge:

N thru S Fruit and Veggies by Brenda Zapotosky

Overall I really like this group.

You may notice that the pear and quince are quite similar.  This was completely intentional.  I thought since their shapes are so similar AND they are in season around the same time that it would be nice to have them “go” together.  While I already have a Geometric Apple pattern in my shop, I think I would like to do a new apple that matches the style of the pear and quince and create a pattern using all of them.

Also, I had an interesting creative process with a few of these.  I recently created a new pattern, Geometric Taco Bar, that includes a variety of fruit/veg, including both the onion and the radish.  The letter “O” fell during the time that I was making the pattern so it was created for both at the same time.  As for the radish, that was created for the pattern first, but I did not feel compelled to do another “R” fruit/veg when it arrived, so I simply composed a board featuring the Radish.

Geometric Taco Bar was created for a Spoonflower Design Challenge and is available in my shop!

Geometric Taco Bar Pattern by Brenda Zapotosky
Geometric Taco Bar is available as gift wrap, wallpaper, and fabric.

I also included both the Jalapeno and Iceberg Lettuce which were created earlier in the Challenge (adding in slices of each).  I love this pattern.

It is hard to pick a favorite in this group.  I am actually more prone to pick a least favorite:  The nectarine!  It is difficult to differentiate between the specific varieties of round fruits especially in the geometric style I have chosen.  I like the cut view of the nectarine better and do think it captures the essence pretty well.  This difficulty is one of the limitations I was referring to at the start of this post.  I am also finding that even in the “non-circle” fruit/veg that there are a lot of similar looking shapes.  For example, radishes, beets and turnips, when drawn in the geometric style are also hard to differentiate.  The same would hold true with leafy greens.  Hopefully enough unique shapes will present themselves as I complete the challenge.

One fun aspect of this group is that half of them have been included in surface patterns! The onion and radish are both part of the Geometric Taco bar design.  Additionally, I love the strawberry so much I already created a pattern for it!  This pattern will be added to my shop very soon. So that is 3/6.  And, as I have already mentioned, I hope to create a pattern using both the pear and quince together. One of my favorite aspect of this challenge is a library of illustrations to use in other applications.

Speaking of the strawberries, I wanted to share a look at the pattern!  I have ordered the swatches, so it will be in my shop soon.  But I do want to say it COULD CHANGE.  I often tweak designs after seeing them printed, so this is how it will tentatively look.

Geometric Strawberries Classic Pattern by Brenda Zapotosky

This is the Classic colorway.  I also created a Pinky colorway too! I’ll update this post when they are available in my shop.

And that’s a wrap!  Looking forward, I expect this final batch of letters to be challenging.  For the most part I do not look at the options for a letter until I make the prompt list, so there is a chance that I will be surprised, but I think the options for everything but “T” to be very limited.  Follow me on Instagram if you want to see each letter (and the prompts as I create them).

As always, thanks for reading!

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: A-F

It is here!  The first blog recap of the 2018 Fruit and Veggie Art Challenge!  6 letters and 12 weeks completed!  Wow.  This new theme has been quite fun and overall, for me at least, easier than the Alphabet Animal Art Challenge from last year. If this is the first time you are learning about the 2018 Alphabet Art Challenge I recommend reading this blog post first.

Also, a side note:  I have been struggling with what simple word to use when writing about my illustrations.  I have settled on the generic combo fruit/veg to try to make things as simple as possible 🙂

Let’s start with a look at the first 6 illustrations I created:

A thru F Fruit and Veggies by Brenda Zapotosky

4 Veggies and 2 Fruits so far.  As I shared in the original blog post for this year’s theme, in addition to the Alphabet Fruits and Veggies I am also giving them all a “geometric” flare.  I am absolutely loving this twist on the theme as it frees me from trying to exactly recreate the fruit/veg I have chosen and gives me a bit of creative flexibility.  It is quite fun to choose my fruit/veg then think through the best way to geometrically create it.  In addition to the fruit/veg itself each illustration has a rectangle and hatching as part of the composition.  I added this for the first item, asparagus, to fill in the blank space and liked it so much I decided to make it a standard element for all the illustrations.  I think my favorite illustration this round is the Fennel, it was such a perfect fit for my geometric style.  Here is a closer look:

F is for Fennel by Brenda Zapotosky

I also really like the carrot.  In fact, I have already made it into a repeating pattern and added it to my Spoonflower Shop!  I think this Geometric Carrots print would be especially fun for the kitchen!

Geometric Carrots Pattern by Brenda Zapotosky Outlined

 

I anticipate more patterns in the future and probably a few that incorporate more than one fruit/veg. Those will probably come closer to the end or after the challenge once I have an entire collection.

Probably the biggest challenge I have encountered so far is fitting the fruit/veg well on my template.  I really liked the framed square I used for the Alphabet Animal Art Challenge and definitely wanted to keep the square format for this year too, however, so far the fruit/vegs have been much more vertical than the animals. Had I thought of this before starting I might have tweaked the format of the squares.  This is another good reason to incorporate the background rectangles and sticks as they help to fill the space.

Like last year, I extended an invitation for other artists to join me in the challenge. Not sure if fruit/veg are less appealing than animals, or that others found it too difficulat to stick to a year long challenge, but participation is down from last year.  (Actually last year started strong and then eventually everyone except myself dropped out).  3 other artists started the year with me.  I wanted to give them a shout out because I loved that they joined in.  And since there are less options with fruit/veg there were often repeat picks which I think is quite fun.  You can see all our creations on Instagram via the hashtag for the challenge:  #2018fruitandveggieartchallenge.  You can also check out all of the artist’s individual feeds:  onecreativechameleon, deevlasak, and jillbyersdesign

Jill from jillbyersdesign is the only artist that has also completed every letter and I wanted to give her a special mention!  She is also using a consistent design style and I absolutely LOVE how her collection is coming together!!!  Her style is so different from mine which is super fun.  Painting is NOT my strength, but I have done it enough to really appreciate the gift in others.  Jill definitely has the gift.  Here are her first 6 fruit/veg paintings!

Jill Byers A-F

So gorgeous, right?  I highly recommend giving her a follow on Instagram.  You can also find more of her work on her website and in her own Spoonflower shop (which is how we “met” in the first place!)

Speaking of other participants… you could still join in if you wanted!  I think that the fruit/veg are so much faster to create you could easily catch up at this point.  Or simply start at the latest letter:  G!  I even create a prompt list for each letter to give you ideas.  Find the latest one here.

I think that about covers it all.  I would love to hear which fruit/veg is your favorite!  Or any other comments you may have 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Brenda

Sewing and Design Meet: Transit Lines

Sewing and Design Meet Logo

It is time for another edition of Sewing and Design Meet!  This time I am sharing about my Transit Lines design and the tote bag I made with it. This design is part of the City Collection which can be found in my Spoonflower shop.

DESIGN:

Transit Lines by Brenda Zapotosky

When putting together a new collection I don’t often sit down and sketch out ideas for coordinates but for CITY I actually did.  My original idea for the Transit Lines design was to have criss-crossing lines going in many directions, similar to a subway map.  However, as I started drawing it in Illustrator I really loved the look of just the horizontal lines with the thickened bars and decided to take it in that direction instead.  I love how the pattern is a versatile stripe and yet, when paired with its title, can easily (I think) invoke images of the city site that inspired it.  Whether you interpret the thick bars as trains or stations is up to you!  I also really love the color palette I decided on for this print: mostly neutral but with pops of color.

FABRIC: 

Transit Lines on Eco Canvas by Brenda Zapotosky BLOG

A few years ago Spoonflower had an awesome and rare 50% off sale on Eco Canvas and I ordered a couple of yards.  One yard I divided into (2) 1/2 yard pieces with the intention to make a tote bag with each of them, although at the time I did not have a specific pattern picked out.  I ended up choosing free tote patterns from Purl Soho for both of the totes.  I have a previous blog post about the first one I made, the Railroad Tote, and some zipper pouches I made with the extras.  I chose the Everyday Tote for the Transit lines design as I thought the more horizontal shape would suit it well.

The Eco Canvas has pluses and minuses for me personally.  On the plus side: It washes and sews well and colors are bright and vibran.  On the minus side: It is  much softer and drapier than other canvases which is something I do not like.  But I think this is really just a personal preference. I gave the Railroad Tote to my mom and she loves that soft quality.  When making the zipper pouches I decided to interface the Eco Canvas portions and I was much happier with the structure.  So for the Everyday Tote I knew I wanted to interface those pieces.  I needed to do some construction changes to accommodate this (Along with a bunch of other construction changes) which I detail below.

SEWING:

There were a lot of steps to making this bag, including some extra ones that came along with my changes, but otherwise it was straight forward and easy to sew.  I didn’t take a lot of in-progress photos (my sewing space is not photo friendly) and it was difficult to get a good overall look of the bag.  Here is the best one:

Transit Lines Tote by Brenda Zapotosky 3

As mentioned above, I made several construction changes when sewing up this bag.  I knew I wanted to interface the Eco Canvas pieces and since the bag isn’t lined, I needed to underline at least those portions so that the interfacing was not exposed.  After contemplating solutions for this, I decided to also change how the bag panels were sewn.  Per the instructions, you cut two full side pieces from what eventually becomes the “upper” fabric, and then cut bottom panels of the “lower” fabric which go over top the first fabric on just the bottom portion.  There are some good reasons to sew the bag this way.  It ensures you aren’t relying on a horizontal seam to hold the top and bottom half of the bag together and it creates a nice double layer for the bag base.  But, it meant that 1/2 of my good patterned fabric was going to be covered which I wasn’t crazy about.  So, I decided to instead cut both pieces at half height and let the seam where the bias “piping” detail is connect them together.  Since the bag side pieces were already cut, I chose to cut one in half height wise and that determined the height of my bag (and preserved a nice FQ sized piece of the Transit Lines for a future project!).  I sewed the top and bottom halves together with the accent bias “piping” in between.  I then UNDERLINED the entire height of the bag sides with a coordinating quilting cotton that I had leftover from the previous Eco Canvas projects.  I quilted this to the bag panels which helped provide the extra stability I lost when I changed the construction.  The quilting, despite using a walking foot AND having design lines to follow, is kind of wonky… Quilting is not my forte!  Despite the lackluster quilting, I absolutely love the end result inside the bag.  I think the quilted underlining really gives the bag a high quality look!

Transit Lines Tote by Brenda Zapotosky 1

Other changes I made:

  • I flip flopped from the directions which fabric I used for the front and back of the pocket so that I could enjoy more of the print.  I also made the pocket wider since there was plenty of room to do so.
  • I changed the order of sewing so that the folded over top hem of the bag was sewn last.  I did this on my Railroad Tote too.  By saving it until last the tops of the side seams are concealed instead of exposed.
  • Longer straps.  I like to wear my bag over my shoulder and longer straps make it more comfortable when I do.

I chose to use 2 different colors of bias tape instead of one and I am very happy with the results.  On areas where I wanted the trim and finishing to stand out (like on the exterior seam or around the top of the tote fold over hem) I used black.  To finish all the interior seams I used white.

Transit Lines Tote by Brenda Zapotosky 5

Transit Lines Tote by Brenda Zapotosky 4

Transit Lines Tote by Brenda Zapotosky 6
DETAILS! Pretty details are one of the “perks” of sewing your own!  Like rotating the print to be vertical on the pocket.

The webbing I used for the straps (linked at the end) is a bit industrial.  It works ok… especially since the Eco Canvas is also a synthetic, but I wouldn’t get it again.  I purchased a large roll of it and have a lot leftover, so it will probably pop up in another project at some point. It was a really good deal though, and should be pretty durable (I hope).

I was hoping that this bag would work as my music bag and I am happy to report that it works perfectly!  My previous bag was a freebie tote that I got when I worked in Architecture.  It was rather ugly and advertised a window company that I am not even a big fan of (otherwise I might have posted a “before” photo).  I love having my new “chic” bag that is me-made and features one of my own designs!  It holds all my music, books, and misc. with room to spare! (And even packed can sling over my shoulder!)

Transit Lines Tote by Brenda Zapotosky 2

DETAILS SUMMARY:

(I have seen others do a summary like this and think it is a fun way to provide quick access info all in one place. I will probably make it a regular feature of my sewing posts.)  

Pattern:  Free Everyday Tote from Purl Soho

Fabrics:

Notions:

  • Pellon Interfacing, Lightweight, Fusible (I can’t remember the exact #)
  • 1 package each white and black bias tape
  • HipGirl 1 1/4″ Black Polypro Webbing
  • Sewing label designed by me and printed by Spoonflower

That about wraps it up!  If I missed a detail that you would like to know about feel free to ask in the comments!

Thanks for Reading!

Brenda