This past weekend, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to New York City and attend a three-day Fabric Design Workshop led by the amazing designers Heather Ross and Anna Maria Horner. (I’ve mentioned AMH several times on here before, you might remember me meeting her at Quilt Market last year).

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Three days of insight into the fabric design and manufacturing industry, peeks into the design process of Heather and Anna Maria, looks at their sketches and fabrics, great conversations, learning a different design process, and exploring the awesome city of New York. Above Anna Maria is showing us an example of her original sketch and then her final pattern (Eucalyptus from Pretty Potent).

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Again, another sketch to final pattern example. This one is Small Gathering from Folk Song. I was so happy that she showed this particular example, as this fabric was actually quite influential to my own story. When I was prepping for my freshman dorm room at Tulane, I bought this fabric (in her Good Folks collection in the sea colorway) to make a pillowcase for my bedding. That fabric ended up being the jumping off point for my dorm decor. It was while I was living in that dorm room that I realized I had a passion for design and that I wanted to be a designer. Not long after that that I read an article in Country Living about Anna Maria Horner and saw this sketch on her bulletin board in the photo of the article and realized she was the designer of my pillow fabric. I had always been a collector and lover of fabric, but hadn’t before thought much about the design process or the designers behind them. That article and AMH’s fabrics started my desire to learn more about this elusive industry and made me want to design fabric of my own!

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I also love the sweet illustrative style of Heather Ross’s work and I loved getting to learn about her process as well. In the photo above, she is showing the class how to build repeats in Photoshop using one of my designs as an example. Loved seeing the subtle differences in the colors she chose, verses the jewel tones I was originally using.

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I really love how the final pattern came out. It is a different style than my other work (much more sketchy and hand-drawn looking), but I really love it! As I said before, the original colors I used were jewel toned, as they usually are, and in Heather’s demo, she changed the colors to these. I loved seeing my work re-colored and in a new light. These aren’t colors that I typically would have chosen, but I love how they work together. It has me looking at colors differently now! Anna Maria also gave several talks about her color theories in her work and I loved hearing her perspective.

From AMH & HR on Instagram:

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hrinsta1For this course, we learned how to design pattern repeats in Photoshop. At first I was a little wary of that (I like using Illustrator for pattern design), but in the end, I actually really loved learning this process and the different look it gives the artwork. Although I do really like the flexibility of designing in Illustrator, I might give this Photoshop design thing a try more often! (Photoshop was the first Adobe product I starting using, way back in grade school!)

The class met in the same building as Heather’s studio, on Fulton street in the Financial District in Lower Manhattan. It was only a few blocks from the new Freedom Tower/One World Trade Center, and was an awesome area to get to explore a bit. We walked over to Chinatown one day for soup dumplings for lunch.

I was in class most of the time we were in NYC, but I got the chance to explore a few other places in the evenings. This was my third time visiting NYC, so I didn’t try to squeeze in a lot. I really wanted to make a trip to MoMA, but alas, it wasn’t open late enough for me to make it after class. It was Drew’s first time in NYC and he explored craft beer/coffee/food places during the day while I was in class.

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Chinatown, the East River Ferry (we stayed in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn), Flatiron Building, Times Square, The High Line (so awesome!), Chelsea Flea, ABC Carpet and Home (so amazing! floors and floors of amazing furniture, bedding, awesome rugs, etc…). I’ve had a great time every time I’ve visited NYC, but this time I really fell in love with New York! The weather was amazing, I mastered riding the subway, and I came to appreciate the determined energy about the city and the fact that so much is all at your fingertips. It was a really awesome trip.

I’m so glad Heather and Anna Maria put this class together and I’m so grateful for them opening up their careers to give us advice and insight. I came to New York with a mini portfolio of designs and I left with a different perspective and new direction and ideas for my work. This class made me grateful for my art degree and left me wanting to draw/paint/sketch/block print and in general put a little more art into my design work.

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Interested in taking a similar workshop? Heather is hosting another Fabric Design workshop this fall! Details can be found on the workshops page of her website, here. Anna Maria also hosts different workshops at her shop, Craft South, in Nashville. Find more info on her workshops and classes, here.

Ceramics Class

April 30, 2015

My senior year of college, I took a hand-building ceramics class because I was required to take a 3-dimensional art class for my art major. That class made me fall in love with ceramics. Don’t get me wrong, I love painting and I love digital design, but there is something so nice and rewarding about creating a 3D object with your own two hands, whether for art or function. The fact that it can often be functional is also really nice. I only have so much wall space for paintings, but can always use cups, bowls, mugs, vases, and platters (or gift them!).

Anyway, the class I took in college was a hand-building class (not wheel-throwing), so I made several platters, but mostly art pieces instead of functional ones. I made a giant artichoke (you can see it on my living room bookshelves in our house tour, here), a miniature replica of my childhood home, and a few other pieces. Unfortunately, I took the class my senior year and didn’t have a chance to continue into ceramics more than that.

Signing up for another ceramics class has been on my list of things to do for several years and this year I finally made it happen. Well actually, a friend of mine, Christina, who has an extensive ceramics background, made it happen. She wanted to get back into ceramics again and asked if I wanted to join her.

We signed up at a local studio (Earth and Fire Studio) for two hours one night a week, for two months.

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During this studio time, I decided to learn how to work on the wheel. It takes a while to get it down, but I’m so happy with the 11 pieces I made in the last couple months!

None of them are perfect (which I kind-of love), but they are all functional! The first pieces I threw are the short, fat ones (that light pink one in the back and the white speckled one in front) and then as I got better I was able to make bigger, thinner, pieces like the mugs and bowls.

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Ceramics is such a process. Cutting and wedging the clay, working on the wheel, letting things set-up and get leather-hard, carving, trimming, making and attaching handles, bisque firing, glazing, final firing. I think it is really neat how ceramics relies on all the elements – earth, water, air, and fire.

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I’m so glad I took the time to learn this new skill and to spend time with a friend while doing it. I wish I had more time and energy to keep doing it! I’ll be back again sometime!  In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying drinking my morning tea out of a nice ceramic mug I made myself!

Art Studio Inspiration Wall

September 25, 2014

One of the things I learned in art school is that, as a creative professional, it is important to surround yourself with work (specifically by other artists/creative persons) that inspires you. Your work becomes better by looking at other artist’s work and thinking through their processes, studying their compositions, color combinations, flow, brush marks, lines, movement, etc. I love using Pinterest and Instagram to follow and pin work of artists I love, but I find that it is most helpful to have that inspiration close at hand (in physical rather than digital form) in my studio/office space.

When I was in college, I turned an old thrift store ornate frame I had into a inspiration board (see here in my Tulane studio and again here, here, and here in my home studio). I loved having my inspirations close by, but it was a really small surface area and I was constantly having to pick my favorites to put on it. For a while I’ve wanted to build something a little bigger than that, but I just hadn’t decided on what. Should this one be another fabric-covered cork board or should I look into a large piece of metal to make a magnetic one? I was talking through my ideas with Drew one evening and he was all like, “Don’t you have a bunch of washi tape? Why don’t you just tape them to the wall?” Well hello, genius!

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I had an empty wall in my studio just sitting there waiting for all these beautiful photos!

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Washi tape is great for this because it holds the images up nicely, but is also easily removable without damaging any walls. I love that the tape can add a little extra color/pattern to it all as well.

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My placement got a little crooked but I don’t care. That is the imperfect beauty of it. The only bad part is that the only wall space I had for this was next to my desk area, which is across the room from my painting studio area. I wish I could have these right next to me when I paint, instead of across the room, but this solution is still better than what I had before. Plus, I still have extra space to expand with more inspiration in the future. No more having to pick favorites!

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Aren’t all of these pieces just gorgeous? I have a few paintings and prints by these artists, but I wish I could buy them all!

Since there are so many images, it is too hard to list sources in a clearly labeled and legible way on here, so if you want to know what artist a particular painting on here is by, check out my “art” board on Pinterest, which includes the photos and links to the artists, or comment about which one you are wondering about and I’ll give you the info. They are all fabulous artists so go check out their websites and follow them on Instagram or through their blogs!

What inspires you? What are your favorite artists?

P.S. These inspiration images are for inspiration only! Never copy another artist’s work and make sure you keep track of the artists that you are inspired by to give them proper credit.

As you may remember from my mention in this post, I was part of an art exhibition in New Orleans this past June. It was sponsored by RAW Artists and you can see my RAW profile here. It was a long and crowded evening downtown with a variety of art and entertainment. There were visual/fine artists, jewelry artisans, music performances, fashion shows, and performance art. It was an interesting evening, but I’m happy I had the chance to participate.

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The best part of the show was that it really pushed me to create new work. The top nine paintings on fabric/canvas were new for this show. The only ones I’d shown before were the small framed ones from my BA Exhibition. It was also great to have this show as a push to work on updating my branding.

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Lots of family and friends either came out to the show or expressed their support which really means a lot! If you weren’t able to make it, watch the video below to hear a little more about my inspiration or read my artist statement below.

 My artist statement:

I have always had a love for art, a desire to create, and a passion for making things beautiful.

“I AM GOING TO MAKE EVERYTHING AROUND ME BEAUTIFUL — THAT WILL BE MY LIFE.”    —ELSIE DE WOLFE

As both a person and an artist, the world of my childhood—growing up in the country surrounded by nature—has always been my biggest inspiration. The organic forms, deep, complex colors, rich contrast—the ever-changing landscape is endless inspiration to me. I grew up in rural Southern Illinois on land that has been passed down through my family for generations. Before I started school, I spent every day with my grandmother, who encouraged my love of watercolor painting and being creative and who established the foundation for my personality and moral beliefs. My grandpa wrote stories, fished every day, and grew a huge garden that I helped him harvest. I loved snapping off the ripe asparagus, helping my grandma cook, and feeling the country breeze while laying in the hammock in their backyard. Just down the road was my own house, where I climbed trees and ran through the creek with my sisters and brother, helped my dad work in the yard and feed our chickens, and helped my mom plant flowers and herbs, cook and bake. Throughout my childhood, my mom imparted to me her creative knowledge—sewing, hand embroidery, cross-stitch, smocking, machine embroidery, knitting, crocheting, and basket weaving. This home-made, home-grown, down-to-earth, appreciate-the-simple-beauty upbringing encouraged me to develop a simple and creative life that I still strive to maintain.

“IF I WERE CALLED UPON TO DEFINE BRIEFLY THE WORD “ART,” I SHOULD CALL IT THE REPRODUCTION OF WHAT THE SENSES PERCEIVE IN NATURE, SEEN THROUGH THE VEIL OF THE SOUL.” —PAUL CEZANNE

Living in New Orleans over the last several years and finally having a space to call my own has also given great influence to my work. There is no other city like New Orleans with its rich history, abundant nature, brightly colored houses rich with architectural detail, and vibrant color combinations. I’m so intrigued by the color harmonies found in the world around me, particularly those that can be soothing and exciting at the same time.  I’ve always associated certain colors with particular things—days, people, memories—and I enjoy exploring those connections through my work. My first love has always been painting, but I enjoy mixing mediums and incorporating drawing, pastel, fabric, sewing, embroidery, quilting and pattern into my work, exploring how those elements can intertwine with paint to create images. One of my aesthetic and conceptual goals is to somehow marry all these different elements—mixed mediums, neutral and bright color combinations, the contrast of subtle and bold, thick and thin brushstrokes, paint drips, pattern, lines, shapes, nature and the domestic world—into a quilt of sorts, all parts orchestrated together to create an abstract moment of beauty, a complex image made up of simple parts.

“THE MAIN THING IS TO BE MOVED, TO LOVE, TO HOPE, TO TREMBLE, TO LIVE.” —AUGUSTE RODIN

As pretty as most of my inspiration is, not all areas of life are picture perfect. Often the greatest and most meaningful moments of our lives are also seeped with sadness, hurt, sorrow and loss. My art aims to tell these stories and explore these personal histories—the good, the bad, the beautiful and the I’d-rather-forget—illustrating the struggle, but choosing to see the good in those memories, moments, periods and people, choosing the kind word over the bitter one, letting the good overshadow the bad, living a positive and uplifting life despite the circumstances, seeing the beauty in the imperfect, and focusing on a heart of gratitude for the beautiful imperfections in these moments and in our lives. I want to take those moments and turn them into something both beautiful and tangible, to inspire and uplift through the expressive form of grace, the way only art can do.

If you want to check out more of my artwork, you can visit my portfolio website, here.

If you follow me on social media, such as Instagram, then you’ve probably seen me posting a lot of photos and updates lately about painting, my art exhibition coming up, and my art branding re-design. In just under two weeks, I’ll be exhibiting my art in a RAW artist exhibition in New Orleans. It should be a really fun event, so if you live in the New Orleans area, you should really think about coming! You can find out more information about the show and the artists participating, here, and you can see my profile and buy tickets from me, here.  To get ready for the show, I gave my art portfolio website and branding a little update, which you can check out online, here.

caitlin-branding-lookTo see more of my artwork, visit my art portfolio, here.

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