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

 

 

 

Fruit and Veggie Art Challenge: Year End Recap

alphabet art challenge 2018 final review by brenda zapotosky

Today I am bringing you the Year End Recap for the Fruit and Veggie Art Challenge and I am very excited to be wrapping things up!  Actually… this is sort of a Part 1 as I have a follow up post planned… but more on that at the end.  And if this the first time you are hearing about this challenge, you may want to read the orginal challenge announcement HERE.

Let’s begin with a look at all the fruit and veggies I illustrated this past year:

26 fruit and vegetable illustrations by brenda zapotosky

I think it is such a fun and colorful collection!  I love seeing them all together like this.  My design parameters for this challenge were to do a geometric interpretation of the fruit/veg which included simplifying shape lines, segmentation, and using hatch, dots etc. to create texture.  You may notice that all the boards also include a background rectangle(s).  This was not originally planned, but I added it for the asparagus to fill in the white space and liked it so much I decided to make it a standard feature for all the boards!  Overall, I am extremely happy with this collection as a whole.  I already shared favorites and other thoughts in my quarterly recaps so I won’t do that again.  If you missed any of those, they are all linked at the end of this post.

As with last year, one of the goals of this challenge, besides committing myself to creating new art on a regular basis, was to create a library of illustrations that could be used in other ways.  I would definitely consider this aspect a success.  I created three new patterns which incorporated one of more of the fruit/veg and have ideas for a few more in the future.  I have also had a request for a poster version that would include most of the illustrations. This will be similar to the animal art poster I did last year but smaller and probably without the words. You can see that poster in THIS post.

Two patterns I created featured just one illustration:  Geometric Carrots and Geometric Strawberries (which has two different colorways).

carrots and strawberries patterns by brenda zapotosky

I also created a pattern that uses many of the above fruit/veg along with some other ones not part of the alphabet collection.  Geometric Taco Bar was created for a Spoonflower contest.

Geometric Taco Bar Pattern by Brenda Zapotosky

All of these designs can be found as fabric, wallpaper and gift wrap for sale in my Spoonflower shop.  Along with several other geometric food designs from the past.  Here is a link to the entire Geometric Food Collection.

The other major component of this year long challenge was the Letter Prompt lists that I posted at the beginning of each fortnight.  These prompts included an original block letter and a list of fruit/veggie ideas that began with that letter.  Here are all 26 together:

26 fruit and vegetable letter lists by brenda zapotosky

I tried to include 7 options for each letter but as you can see that wasn’t always possible.  I enjoyed learning about different fruit/veg I had not heard of before. The font is an expansion of a slightly more simplified block font I had started a few years ago. (You can see an example of the letters on my Colorful Merry Christmas Text pattern.) I had been adding to it as needed so not all the letters were there. AND I modified the look of most of them and added all the hatching.  It was nice to create a font in increments like this. It made it much less tedious.  I am super happy with the alphabet as a whole:

stripey block font by brenda zapotosky

I definitely plan on making a repeating pattern with these letters.  And I am excited to play with lots of color variations!  Plus, now I have it to use for future projects!  WIN!

Overall I think I can call this year long challenge a success!  Admittedly, I wasn’t always enthusiastic to work on some of them.  And I was definitely happy to reach the end.  But looking back on the library of illustrations and letters I now have I am happy I did it!

And… so did two others!  Yup!  Two fellow artists followed along and completed *most* of the challenge!  Since their work is so different from my own and I knew this blog post would be long to begin with I have decided to give them their own Featured Artist Post. COMING SOON!  (I will link it once it is live).  You are definitely going to want to come back and see their beautiful creations!

And as mentioned above, in case you missed any of the previous posts about this challenge here are all the links:

EDITED:  The bonus Artist Feature post is now up!

Finally there IS a new challenge for this year!  We are still in the middle of letter A so if you feel inspired to join in you still can from the very beginning!  The theme is CITY and you can read all about it HERE. Or you just follow along with me!

Do you have a favorite?  Any fruit or veggie you would like to see as a pattern?  I would LOVE to hear from you in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

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

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

Sewing and Design Meet: Floral Bliss

Sewing and Design Meet Logo

It is time for another installment of Sewing and Design Meet.  Actually it is time for the second installment… I started this series last year and then never did a second one!  Oops!  Hopefully this year, there will be more regular posts for this series.

Today I am sharing about my Floral Bliss design and several projects I sewed with it. I currently have 4 different colorways of the design plus coordinates all available in the Floral Bliss Collection in my Spoonflower Shop.

DESIGN:

This design has a really fun story, since it began as a doodle in a doodle book I kept a long, long time ago.  Here is a look at the original, non-repeating doodle:

Floral Bliss Doodle by Brenda Zapotosky

As you can see, this doodle was not created with a repeating pattern in mind, and thus, there was a lot of work involved in turning it into one.  It was a multi-step process, where I would split the design apart in photoshop, print it out and add more elements by hand, re-scan it, erase elements, digitally tweak etc. Here is just one in-progress look.

Floral Bliss In Progress Pattern Creation by Brenda Zapotosky

At this point you can see the original page outline was still present.  Once I went through all those steps mentioned above (some more than once) and had a repeating tile with all my hand drawn elements, I next started the long process of recreating it as a vector tile in Illustrator.  I did auto-trace it as a first step, but there was a lot of time spent editing and tweaking, etc again in Illustrator.  This is not a fast process!

The original use of this pattern was for a Spoonflower limited palette contest. There was no theme other than the colors: Coral, Mint, Black and White, so it was a perfect opportunity to use an abstract pattern. Here is the look at that colorway of the pattern for the contest:

Floral Bliss Coral and Mint by Brenda Zapotosky
Floral Bliss (Coral and Mint) Design by Brenda Zapotosky

This is one of the most “hearted” designs in my shop.  Because of its popularity and the amount of time invested in the pattern, it made sense to offer it in other color versions as well.  I also added a second, smaller scale version.  I currently offer it in 4 different colorways and 2 different scales!  I have sewn with 3 of those colorways.  Here is a look at the other 3 versions:

Floral Bliss 3 Color Versions by Brenda Zapotosky
Colorways Left to Right:  Pink and Gray, Tropical, Winter Blues

 

 

SEWING:

The first project I made from one 8 x 8 swatch:  A Travel Eye Mask.

Floral Bliss Eye Mask by Brenda Zapotosky

This was made with the Floral Bliss Pink and Gray (Small Scale) version of the design.  I am not 100% sure which fabric type this is… one of the woven cottons.  I created my own sewing pattern by tracing a freebie eye mask that I had (modifying the shape and size a little bit and adding seam allowances). It is backed in raspberry pink flannel with a layer of batting in between and I kept the piece of 1/4″ elastic I used “raw” (which I rather like).  Bonus:  All the extra materials were already in my stash!

The second project I made used the original colorway of the design in the Small Scale again combined with a coordinating Polka Dot:  A Travel Jewelry Pouch.

Floral Bliss Travel Jewelry Pouch 4 views by Brenda Zapotosky

This was a gift for my sister and Floral Bliss was one of the patterns I knew she liked. (She also loves polka dots).  It was quite an ambitious project for me at the time I made it.  It was my first time working with vinyl, had multiple zippers, and a LOT of bias binding.  I actually wrote an entire blog post about this one where you can read all about it in great detail.

The third, and final project so far is an Infinity Scarf.

Floral Bliss Winter Blues Infinity Scarf by Brenda Zapotosky

This scarf features the newest color of the Floral Bliss design, Winter Blues, in the larger scale.  (The small scale version has not been added to my shop yet.)  It is printed on 1/2 yard of Cotton Spandex Jersey.  I don’t like my infinity scarfs to be too voluminous so 1/2 yard is the perfect size for me.  I used Spoonflower’s Fill-A-Yard function to get 1/2 yard of this print and a different print for the other half which I also plan to make a scarf with.

I created this colorway specifically for this project.  I wear a lot of scarves in the wintertime and keep them on even inside, so I like a lot of variety.  This print, at this scale, in these colors will work well with a lot of what is already in my wardrobe and is quite different than my other scarves.  Here it is styled with another recent make of mine, a Lane Raglan by Hey June Handmade sewn up in RK Laguna Knit in Navy.  I think this is the 7th Lane Raglan I have sewn.  It is definitely a TNT (Tried and True) pattern for me!

Floral Bliss Scarf with Lane Raglan Brenda Zapotosky

FINAL THOUGHTS:

I think it is apparent from the above projects that Floral Bliss is a very versatile design!  I sewed these 3 very different projects quite far apart.  It is fun to see that it is a design that I continue to return to and use in different ways.  I have not sewn anything up in the Tropical colorway yet, but there is the chance that I will in the future should the right project come along!  A skirt or dress for summertime would be lovely in that version of the print.

How about you?  Which version is your favorite?

Thanks for reading!

Brenda

 

Alphabet Animal Art Challenge: The final recap!

Alphabet Art Challenge 2017 Final Review by Brenda Zapotosky

Finished!!!!!!!!!!!

That was the elation I felt when I completed the final animal in the Alphabet Animal Art Challenge!  52 weeks, 26 letters, and I created both a prompt list and an animal for ALL of them!  It is quite an accomplishment if I do say so myself, and NOT easy.

I had several reasons/goals/ideas when I first dreamed up this challenge and I am happy to say that I met them (and perhaps even surpassed them!) There is so much to share, in fact, that I hardly know where to begin… (And, if you are just hearing about this challenge for the first time you can read the original post here).

First, the animals!  All 26 of them.  One for every letter of the Alphabet and almost all of them posted within their allotted 2 week time frame!

26 Animal Illustrations by Brenda Zapotosky

It is rather amazing seeing them all together.  Such a wide variety!  The first animal, armadillo, is a bit out of place.  After that first letter, and motivated by a comment from my husband, I decided to go “cuter” with the look of my animals.  I am really glad I did!  I think that I was able to achieve a pretty good consistency of style throughout the year and, scale aside, these animals could work well in combination in addition to solo.  (In fact I plan on tweaking the armadillo to use in a project I have planned). I chose a handful of favorites to create the title art for this post, but honestly, while I definitely have ones I don’t like as much, there is future “potential” for most of these.  One of the great “side effects” of this challenge is that I now have a large library of animal characters ready to use in patterns, greeting cards, and any other sort of art.  In fact, many of them have already been used in these ways, which you will see below.

Next, I wanted to share all the “prompt” posts I did for Instagram.

26 Animal Prompts by Brenda Zapotosky

These were posted every Sunday (except for 1, which got delayed due to some major computer issues I had) to kick off the new letter and give some ideas to get participants started on their next letter. (Of course, after the first quarter most other participants dropped out, but I persevered in sharing the prompts anyways, always in hope of new people joining in!) Each prompt had 7 animals listed. I researched animals and created these letter by letter as the year went along.  You might be surprised to learn that I did NOT check prior to starting the challenge if there even was an animal for every letter of the alphabet.  Honestly, that didn’t matter to me.  I figured there would be an animal for MOST of them and I could always use adjective descriptors for a letter that did not have an animal.  It turned out, however, that every letter DID have an animal!!!  And in fact, I was able to fill all 7 “slots” on my prompt list for every letter (although for Y some of them are “adjective Y” animals)!  It was a bit of work putting together the lists but it was also fun.  I liked looking up the letter and discovering new and interesting animals.

As I mentioned above, I have built up an impressive library of illustrations that I can now use for other design projects.

Surface Pattern Design: I have ideas for patterns for many of the animals I have created, but so far I have only created one seamless pattern.  It features the flamingo and is titled:  Flamingos and Flowers. This design is now available as part of the Floridian Collection in my Spoonflower Shop.

Flamingos and Flowers Pattern Promo by Brenda Zapotosky

Greeting Cards:  I also created several greeting cards, basically on an “as needed” basis as occasions popped up throughout the year.  So far I have created 5 different greeting card designs, 2 of which, the elephant and owl, have 2 different color variations (I chose to only include 1 color version of each card below but you can see the other elephant here and the other owl here).
Animal Greeting Cards by Brenda Zapotosky

I think it would be fun to do some coordinating patterns for these as well.  I am particularly found of the Birthday Owl!

Onto my final thoughts:

  • One of my goals was to force myself to be creative on a regular basis.  This challenge definitely achieved that goal!  There were definitely times when I really did not want to create an animal for a particular letter, but since I committed to the challenge I did.  I am very happy for that.
  • Another goal was to improve my animal drawing skills.  Character design does not come easy to me, so this was a great way for me to grow that skill set.  I think some animals were more successful than others, but even my least favorites gave me good practice.
  • If I am disappointed with any part of the challenge, it was the dropping out of most of the participants after the first quarter.  I totally get it… it was hard for ME to keep up sometimes and I created the challenge!  But I did miss that social aspect of it.

I think that’s it!  It is a little weird to be done with this challenge.  But I am excited to move on to a new subject matter!  I announced the 2018 Alphabet Art Challenge theme a few weeks ago:  Fruits and Vegetables!  It will be a nice change of pace.  I would love for you to join me!

Thanks for reading!  I would love to hear which animal is YOUR favorite!  You can comment below.

Brenda

Alphabet Animal Art Challenge: G-M

Well folks, we have officially reached the halfway point of the Alphabet Animal Art Challenge and it is time for the second recap for the year!  As time has progressed, I have found that participation from other artists is dwindling.  Bummer? Yes.  But… this began first and foremost as a personal challenge to myself and alone or with a crowd, I will continue until the end!  I certainly miss seeing other’s people work inspired by the letter prompts, but I totally get the difficulty of sticking with any challenge for a full year!  Honestly, it has been hard for me for a few of these letters to want to spend the time creating anything, especially when I was uninspired by the choices.  If not for my determination to stick to my goal I might have stopped too!  (Or at least skipped some letters).  But I persevered and am happy I did. Today I am sharing a look at the second batch of animals, G-M, and sharing some designs I created that incorporate animals from both the first and second round of creations.

Letters G-M  There was definitely a lag in excitement when I hit the middle of this batch. Letters I and J were not very inspiring to me.  I came up with the idea to do multiple insects for I, which ended up kind of fun.  But J… the jellyfish you see here was actually just a re-working of an old illustration (and then scaled twice to create 3  different sized ones).  Thankfully the Koala helped me get some of my enthusiasm back!

Alphabet Animals Letters G to M by Brenda Zapotosky

I think my favorite of this batch is the Hedgehog.  I would definitely like to create a pattern for him using a maze of green hedges!

H is for Hedgehog by Brenda Zapotosky

Pattern and Cards:  So far I have incorporated 4 different animals from the challenge into either cards or a pattern.  These include my giraffe from this batch of illustrations and 3 other animals from my first round  (Letters A-F) of illustrations.  I absolutely love that I am building a library of animal illustrations, in my style, that are all ready to be used in other ways.

I created a seamless pattern with my flamingo for the Birds and Blooms Design Challenge on Spoonflower.  I absolutely love the bright, happy palette and am in the process of creating an entire collection around the signature print:  Flamingos and Flowers.

Flamingos and Flowers Pattern Promo by Brenda Zapotosky

The collection is not finished yet, but you can find the first two coordinates of Floridian, as well as the flamingo print available now in my Spoonflower shop.

I also created some greeting cards using my animal art designs too!

Animal Art Greeting Cards by Brenda Zapotosky

The cat card was a birthday card for my husband.  The giraffe card was actually a MOTHER’S day card (my mom loves giraffes) but I kept the greeting on the front generic to give it better flexibility for future use.  I had both a niece and nephew turn 2 in June, so I actually did 2 different colorways of the elephant card.  In my “girl” version (below) the elephant has pink toenails like in the original illustration, although in a brighter shade of pink!

Birthday Elephant Greeting Card Pink by Brenda Zapotosky

These cards were a lot of fun to put together.  I could see an entire line of animal cards along with maybe some matching gift wrap being developed at some point.  For now, I am enjoying creating them as the need arises.

Overall, I will call round 2 a success!  It is quite incredible how many different animals there really are!  I have discovered many “new to me” animals along the way.  Next up is the letter N, which marks the beginning of the second half of the alphabet.  So if you wanted to join me, or jump back in if you started and fell behind, this is a great time to start!!!

And be sure to follow me on Instagram, to see each animal as I finish them and see the reminder posts and animal idea prompts each fortnight!

Thanks for reading!

Brenda

Sewing and Design Meet: Canvas Bags

Canvas Bags group picture by Brenda Zapotosky for Blog

I am thinking of starting a new regular series of blog posts:  Sewing and Design Meet.  A place to showcase those projects where my fabric designer self and my sewing self come together to create a project!  (Or in simpler terms: When I sew stuff with my own fabric designs 🙂 ).

I am kicking off the series with a trio of bags created from 1/2 yard of my Hip Sequential (Cool) design printed on Eco Canvas by Spoonflower.

DESIGN:

A look at the pattern:

Geometric Promo by Brenda Zapotosky

This pattern was actually created during a special Spoonflower design challenge last spring.  The theme for this day of the challenge was geometric and I had a little flash of inspiration! I really liked the idea of solid and divided rectangles slowing getting smaller in width in sequential order. The end pattern worked so well with my existing Hip Geometrics Collection I have since added it in all four collection colorways as well!

SEWING:

When I ordered my fabric, Spoonflower did not yet offer their Fill-A-Yard service so I had to create mine manually by uploading a full yard design file divided into two patterns.  My thought was that 1/2 yard on the wide fabric should be enough for two bags/totes of some kind, although I did not have a specific pattern in mind when I ordered.  I chose Eco-canvas as my substrate as Spoonflower was having an amazing 1/2 price sale on it at the time.  A look at the printed fabric:

Hip Sequential on Eco Canvas by Brenda Zapotosky

I had the fabric for quite a while when I saw a few free tote tutorials by Purl Soho and knew I had found the right bag for this print!  For this pattern I chose the Railroad Tote.  I thought the rectangular shape was a good pairing for the geometric print.  To pair with my fabric I purchased some Kaufman Big Sur Canvas in Solid Gray.  Buying online is usually a bit of a gamble (unless you have purchased the exact product before) so I was quite excited to see how perfectly the canvas I chose matched both this print AND the other pattern, Transit Lines, I had printed with it.

Railroad Tote by Brenda Zapotosky for Blog

I mostly made the tote per instructions.  Since I had plenty of the canvas and I like pockets on my bags I decided to add the pocket to BOTH sides of the tote.  I also changed the finishing order a bit so that I could have the tops of my side seams enclosed in the folded over edge of the top of the bag.  This required a few more steps and was a bit trickier to sew this way, but well worth it for the final result!

I am very happy with how the bag turned out but I would make a few tweaks for the next one.  The side pockets end up being very tall and skinny.  While the look from the outside is quite lovely I would prefer them to be less deep, so next time I would modify them somehow.  I also plan on making it bigger overall.

I had a long skinny piece of this print left over and plenty of the gray canvas so I decided to sew up some zippy pouches with the left overs.  Originally these were supposed to be a bigger and smaller pouch in two different styles and the zippers I purchased for them are 2″ different in length.  However, I did not anticipate that the style of the bigger pouch made it appear smaller and the extensions I added to the smaller pouch would increase its size so much.  In the end they are almost the same size!

Hip Sequential Zippies by Brenda Zapotosky for Blog

For the “larger” pouch (Top bag in the photo) I used another free bag pattern: The Open Wide Zippered Pouch by Noodlehead.  I have used this pattern before and it is a really nifty design!  (Do people still say nifty?)  I can’t remember for sure which size I made but I think it was the smallest one as I am fairly certain I used a 9″ zipper.  I know the pattern calls for 10″, but you really can’t find that easily at any stores by me.  Not sure if I made the bag smaller to compensate, but having made it before I knew that the zip overhangs a lot so there is definitely wiggle room there.

The “smaller” pouch is just a basic rectangle lined zipper pouch using a 7″ zipper.  To give it a little extra flair I added the little canvas loop to the side.  I also chose to add canvas extenders to each side of the zipper so that the ends wouldn’t pull into the sides of the pouch.  I used the technique outlined by my fellow Spoonflower designer and friend Ceri for her cut and sew pouch project: The Hand Strap Clutch.  You can see both details in the photo below.  You can also get a small glimpse of the lining.  For both zipper pouches I used a “textured look” quilting cotton, “Crosshatch Sketch”, that I purchased from Hawthorne Threads.  They no longer have the color I chose:  Fog, but there are several other colors available that might pair well with this print.  There are of course many color match choices in my Spoonflower shop too, including this teal color version of my Hip Shapes design.

Hip Sequential Small Zip Close Up by Brenda Zapotosky for Blog

One last note:  The Eco-Canvas is not as stiff as normal canvas (definitely not as stiff as the Big Sur Canvas I paired it with) and tends to flop around a little.  I highly recommend using interfacing if you want a bit more structure to whatever you are making with it.  I added a very light interfacing to both zippered pouches and really liked the bit of structure it gave.  Unfortunately the inside of the canvas is exposed on the tote so you would have to give it a lining if you wanted to add interfacing there.  I have the other 1/2 yard of my Eco-Canvas left with the other print I chose to use for a second tote and I am currently brainstorming ideas of how I can add lining/double layer to the top pieces, so I can interface that one!  If anyone has any suggestions, I will be making the Everyday Tote with it.

I’ll leave you with a few more views of the bags!

Canvas Bags details by Brenda Zapotosky for Blog

Thanks for reading!

Brenda