Saturday, December 27, 2014

Taking Billie's Cat to the next level.

I am not a cat person, but I can not deny I love Billie's Kitty Cat illustration! So much so, I made it into a regular repeat! 
cat fabric pattern
Billie's  Kitty Cat on Spoonfower 
I am playing with this really simple but beautiful motif and taking it even further!  I want to use it to make a collection of simple fun quirky designs. Can't wait to show off the results of a little bit of free form experiment.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Gift Exchange

Well the Holidays are here and like every year I leave everything to the last minute... If I am honest it is because I am am kinda Bah Hum Bug... I don't like big fancy holidays. I like to stick close to home and do things that I/We love as a family. I am not huge about running all over town, driving here and there and then there is the commercial pressure to buy buy buy.... But the one thing I do enjoy is the gift exchange.

Hubs and I get one name each, but more realistically I get two names.  Jeff is usually paralyzed with fear about getting me a gift (remember how I said I am kinda bah hum bug- doesn't mean I don't like pressies) so it is up to me to do the gift exchange. I usually make something, it's my style, so people either love that they get me or hate it... depends on how crafty they are.

The kids are usually left out of the exchange, everyone wants to buy as many cute things as possible for them so it is generally agreed that my kids and the cousins are off limits.  But mine are getting older so I wanted to include them in a small way. So somewhere in the 12th hour I decided that we needed to print our own fabric using stamps that the kids designed. She did a cat, and he did a evergreen tree... then I decided that we needed pompoms, because I've never sewn with them before.  The end result infinity scarves with a festive twist (don't the pompoms look like snowballs?).

Walking Tree Infinity Scarf
Cat Infinity Scarf

Monday, December 22, 2014

Why I will no Longer work for Free

Why I will no longer work for free...  What I am talking about is giving my intellectual property away for free under the guise of 'exposure'. As creatives we hear it all the time. The emails I get almost always start off  with "We Love your photo of X it really captures what we want to say in our Magazine/Publication X, we would love to feature/print it..." We'll give you full credit. Take for example an excerpt of a recent email sent to me from the people of Pensacola Home and Garden

I've had interest from several publishers for this particular photo, it was for a Sriracha Devilled Eggs recipe (on my old blog) that highlighted a SilkScreen print I made in response to being homesick.

To be honest a I sent a rather curt No, 

Another time I had a large food and wine event ask me to donate handmade hand printed canvas bags (like these ones, but with kitchen utensils on them) to their event as swag bags for their participants. It was huge, they charged the general public $$ to hob nob with celebrity chefs, they had seminars, cooking demonstrations, sellers, buyers etc. I replied with a 'that sounds fantastic however I can not give you the bags for free, I broke down what it would cost to make them time, supplies etc, I did not ask for the full retail cost but a fee that would help cover the start up costs'.  I never got a response... not even a thank you for taking the time to respond.

Here is the thing, every time a creative, artists, crafter, designer etc gives their work away for free and I am not talking about donations for good causes, we are devaluing our work saying that it is not worth the same as 'working artists paid commissions'. My time is worth X, materials cost X, I spent 4yrs and my own money on my Art University degree. I may have children and can not afford to work on my career full time but the time and talent I  do give is 101%. 

I hope to rejoin the workforce as an artist one day and be paid for my creative intellectual property, but as a working artist why would anyone pay me for work that I once gave away for free? Am I not undermining  the future me and current working artists? Why would professional companies pay working artists when there is legion of free labour just looking for a little bit of exposure? 

So that is why I will no longer work for free... 

I have had a lot more brazen requests for free work, images, time etc, this woman was just the straw that broke the camels back...

Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Finds

This Weeks Friday Finds are some great vintage reference books found in a funky fun local used book shop.  At $2 each I could not resist this classic illustrations and funky quirky motifs. They Both deal with the same subject but use it in a completely different manner

Vintage reference books for the artist by meganhcarroll
Fun Vintage Reference books for the Artist  
Beautiful Classic Illustrations 
photo by meganhcarroll
Fun Motif Ideas 
photo by meganhcarroll
Motif Ideas in Use.
  Decorative Plant and Flower Studies for the Artist and the Craftsmen, is a beautifully illustrated book by  J.Food of many different types of plants, flowers, and trees. It was originally published in 1906 but this republication was printed in 1982. The original had beautiful colour plates and that was sadly omitted in the current publication (Second photo from the top). 

Flowers and Designs to Copy is a fun retro book full of charming paining and images to copy! Yes Copy! As a graphic artist I think this gives me free reign to go wild appropriating motifs and ideas. Some of Lola Ader's  suggestions for use are cupboard panels, decoupage and TV Trays... 

I can't wait to start playing around with them... and though I will not copy them directly- you may see some elements from both books pop into my work!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Monday Sneak Peek

Sneak Peek 
What do we think of this for a nice spring design?
I haven't figured out colours or background yet, just playing around with pattern.

And what would I put it on? 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Finds

I have a favourite shop and I have to show incredible restraint when there.... but some times I give in and I am usually right about it... So please Husband forgive me. 
Here are my Friday Finds!

Owl Photo by meganhcarroll

Midcentury Modern Bar cart, photo by meganhcarroll

Deer Antlers photo by meganhcarroll

If you are ever in Bellingham WA check out Penny Lane Antique Mall! I walked away with the mid-century modern bar cart.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I love making creative whims!

I love making stuff and therefore am always happy to support my daughters creative whims... because really who am I to talk? Macrame, knitting, sewing, felting, printmaking, painting, ceramics,  illustrationfabric dying etc? well I've tried it all (most)... some have stuck and I continue to grow those skills and others (to my husband's relief) I have dumped... One thing I am happy to support is origami, it is more of Miss B's thing than mine, but I appreciate the tactility, folding and construction of taking a plain unassuming piece of paper and turning it into a thing. So perusing the internet one day looking for lettering examples I found a paper alphabet that intrigued me enough to file away in the back of brain/pinterest to use as reference. And this is what I did with it....

Alphabet by meganhcarroll
This is for a Spoonflower competition- Calligraphy... Would love it is you checked it out, maybe even vote for it...

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Gather Free Printable Wednesday

The word Gather was floating around in my head and this is what I am came up with....

Gather by MeganHCarroll

If you would like your own Printable version click on the bird.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I am not normally a sentimental person...

I am not normally a sentimental person but...

While watching an online class* (on November 10th) and doodling I guess I was subconsciously thinking about November 11th...  Growing up it was always observed with a poppy and a poem. Today I will wear my Poppy....

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.

 *for those that are curious I was watching a pattern design class (why the poppies are repeated) taught by Molly Hatch on Creative live.... Well worth the time to check out!!!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Have you Hugged Your Chicken Today!!!!

We had a very exciting night.... 
Someone (me) forgot to secure the chicken coop.

hug your chicken by MeganHCarroll
Hug Your Chicken
We woke to a terrifying sound, a cross between a small child and a cat screaming, but muffled. It was 3 am and it took a few minutes to register that it was an animal in distress.  With in moments my husband and I were out in the yard looking towards the chicken coop as three of our four birds walked the plank to safety... What ever the sound was, was no longer coming from the coop, in fact it was quiet, too quiet. Then we saw a large grey fat body, striped tail and a smattering of feathers. Our hearts sank. I cursed myself and kept reassuring my girls who were now huddled underneath a board. 

But the question remained what to do with the remaining birds with the big fat raccoon hanging out on top of the coop roof? My husband threw stones at the fence hoping to startle it, that just made it advance, it had its eyes on the three hens, probably trying to figure out which one to pick off first.  So my husband found the biggest rock he could and hurled it at the intruder. With  reluctance the bandit ambled off. 
Shovel in hand (we had now armed ourselves with yard tools) we threw open the coop door. We didn't know what to expect, violent murder scene, more beady eyes? But nothing. The coop was empty. Thinking that it had already made off with one of the birds we bundled our girls up and returned them to the coop, blocking both entrances with heavy bricks... All was calm for now, Jeff canvased the hood to make sure we were not abandoning an injured bird but there was no sound. Whatever had been done was done and it was silent.

We admitted defeat and our (mine) negligence and crawled back into bed. Sad, sad that an animal in our care was carelessly treated and sad that we were going to have to tell our children. What were we going to tell our children? It took a long time to go back to sleep and once, when we almost were there was another large bang and shuffling in the backyard... instantly awake again Jeff checked the yard and sure enough the raccoons were back (2 of them) checking on the bricks that were luckily holding their places. Reluctantly we fell asleep, dreaming of hens and racoons.

Some time around 6:30 as it was getting light we heard our remaining girls making their morning sounds, they sounded loud and mad and I was envisioning them hollering at me to let them out of the coop of death and mourning their lost comrade. We also heard the pitter patter of feet (more like thump thump- my children are not graceful) running from room to room doing what ever kids do when they are trying to be quiet. 

They were totally unaware of what happened during the night. As my husband I were getting dressed to face the day we started to have the preliminary conversation of how/what is the best way to tell them.  When I looked outside towards the coop and there pecking and clucking next to the door was our fourth bird... Dora.

is a PDF if you would like to download it...
Let me know if you do!!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

We all Have Rituals.... How do you Measure Your days?

We all have rituals and mine is coffee in bed, made by my husband of course....
There are very few mornings that go by when this does not happen... He is traveling (and I have to make it myself) or we are both travelling and he goes to the nearest coffee shop. I am truly both spoiled and lucky.
But aside from that...
For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,        50
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
  So how should I presume?
T.S. Eliot
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

                     As for measuring my life out with coffee spoons this is a true thing.  So many 
life events revolve, change and slip away but I can attach them to this one ritual.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Other Woman

My Husband and I with our two children moved in our family home just over 2yrs ago. 
We had just left a very toxic relationship with out old
landlord and were ready to buy. We found a sweet little craftsman house
built in 1902 on a very nice street in a great neighbourhood.
We were beyond excited to have our own home again. Something that we could treat like home base; we are not the most settle people.

The new King Bed that inspired it all!
The house was perfect, it needed a new roof and and exterior paint job right away but the inside was done nicely and could wait. Well we waited two years. Two years of living with peach painted interior, camel coloured trim and brass and gold fixtures.

You could tell the other woman of the house had a style that was her own and things were thoughtfully done so why fix what wasn't broken? But it was broken, we were living a lie, the house was not our house, it was still hers... Slowly piece by piece, room by room I am becoming the woman of the house and injecting my own style into it.

A note on my style- I spend way too much time in hotels and that totally comes through in my personal taste...

Friday, October 17, 2014

My Kids want Halloween Cards!!!

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween by meganhcarroll

Here is what I have so far... 
 Do you think I should do more?

Happy Halloween Free Printable

I worked up the Happy Halloween card I made for my kids, adding special touches and giving it  spook-tacular details.
While making it I day dreamed of a Halloween party for my kids!!! Yes I said (to myself- because I talk to myself all the time) we are going to do this!!! We are going to have a Halloween party (still talking to myself).
I am going to use the Happy Halloween Card to send to my kids friends... I still give out cards. Evites are handy but I like the real thing, I love something tangible. Tomorrow my daughter and I will find a printer... and hopefully by Monday we can have some cards sent out to friends & family.

Happy Halloween by meganhcarroll

Click here for the printable version of this, use it for cards or seasonal posters!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The More you use it, the more you have....

"You can't use up creativity,
the more you use it, the more you have"
Maya Angelou

What started out as a single drawing, kinda a doodle in the top right hand corner of my sketchbook as I was researching midcentury modern design motifs is starting to take on a life of it's own.

I asked the question in my last blog post "can you see it evolving?"

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Simple motif goes through a transformation. Work in process

I Didn't post yesterday, one thing led to another, led to another and my day was done... 
I did sneak in some drawing here and there and came up with this simple little tulip motif.
I have been working on it in illustrator today, playing with live trace,
building it with shapes and with the pattern maker.


tuip motif by meganhcarroll
original Motif
Adapted from a mid century modern design motif.
by meganhcarroll
live trace
As you can see not very nice.
re-worked with the pen tool and shapes.
But What about a pattern?
Can you imagine? Originally I was thinking about using it a border for an illustration I am working on but as I play and yes by playing I also mean learning I can see how to take it beyond just a simple motif.

tulip motif pattern by meganhcarroll
Love the 70's garish colours!
I love repeating patterns that start with a simple motif, that gets expanded  and turned into an evolving complex idea.
I keep seeing whale tales, fish scales and  scalloped edges!
Can you see it evolving?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Home Turf and Gimme Shelter.

I was back on my home turf this weekend. Husband and I were able to get a little weekend
getaway in (why I was so late posting Saturday). Every time we are in Vancouver we make sure to grab breakfast from Granville island, even if that means going there on a Sunday. Get there early enough you can usually find parking,  get your coffee and grab a pastry in a decent amount
of time. 

photo by meganhcarroll art at ECU
Do you see what is taking shelter with the frame of the photo?
When we are on the 'island' (what was once our home), I with husband on tow (he likened my art supply buying habit as a black hole) visit Opus (I needed new pens),  and then head over to Emily Carr University of Art and Design- my old school. We both love walking through the Concourse Gallery. A space for rotating works by the students and faculty. The title of the most recent show was Gimme Shelter.
There was a large tent like structure, a couch made out of chicken wire and stones (that reminded me of the time my classmates and I attempted to cover a couch in large ceramic slabs covered in thorns), photo essays and simple wire sculptures, all beautifully done.

But the one I loved most was this piece pictured above. I loved that it was a simple shape repeated and that from every direction it changed and that you could view through it and then over it
and your perception changed.

I would love to know the name of this artist, I feel strongly about citing and giving credit where credit is due but none of the plinths, photos, or sculptures has names on them. Was this an over site? or was this part of the theme? Vancouver is a city where Shelter is on every citizens mind yet though it has a shared common concern it is also a very anonymous city. Hmm... I wonder?!

Someday my husband and I would love to move back to Vancouver, we still refer to it as home but our question is and always has been shelter... We want it to be not only a city we find Shelter but one in which we live and thrive.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Better late than never....

I've been trying to post once a day to keep me accountable,
but not only that, to keep me inspired.
Thinking constantly about what it is I love and what 
I want to do is keeping me engaged with my creative
So even though this post is late, 
it is better than never.

I wanted to do a quick share of an upcoming project
with my beach combing finds yesterday....
There may be a little Macramé action going on.

Ps... Truth be told I am drinking wine and eating good food,
on a mini getaway with my husband 
(shh don't tell him I am blogging). 

I am posting this in between decadent meals
at wildly hip restaurants!!!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Quick Look into my Sketchbook - Midcentury Rambler

What's in your sketchbook? 
I'll show you mine
if you show me yours!

Midcentury Rambler.

midcentury rambler by meganhcarroll

Just a little idea that I am working on. This weekend. Hope to show you
more through the upcoming weeks.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Do Something

I am Not sure if this is a quote, but it is something I wrote this morning
to remind me to just Do Something even if it is just putting one 
foot in front of the other.

Stepping Stone by

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

"You need Help!" (with) Repeat Patterns.

I recently updated my illustrator going from CS5 to the Creative Cloud CS6 version. For the purpose of pattern and surface design I thought I had CS5 pretty well handled...  I could make repeat patterns, draw, live trace etc but then entered the Pattern Tool?! I am both in awe of it and and little scared of it. 

simple flower pattern by meganhcarroll

It Reminded me of a children's story book I use to read to my kids... Today I Will Fly by Mo Williams. The protagonist Piggie exclaims to his friend Gerald an Elephant "I can Fly".... Gerald always the downer says to Piggie.... "You can not fly, You will not fly Today, You will not fly tomorrow YOU WILL NEVER FLY.".... and looking at the new version of CS6 that is kinda how I felt... my inner critic whispering in my ear you Can Not Do This, You can Never Do this!...Gerald in a dismissive- this will never happen kind of way, says to Piggie "You Need Help". And that is What Piggie did, she got help and was able to fly with the aid of her friend a Duck that carried her through the air and over Gerald's head! Gerald was astounded and exclaimed- "You did it, You Flew" and Piggie (quick witted) said "No, I got Help".

simple flower pattern fill by meganhcarroll

Where am I going with this story and what does it have to do with Illustrator? Rather than using the Illustrator how to videos which are great but require a whole bunch of previous experience- I am self taught so my knowledge is geared more for simple illustration and surface and pattern design I turned to experts in the field. I follow a lot of aspiring and talented experienced designers in different forums and groups and someone linked to a free class from Pattern Observer The Ultimate Guide to Repeats. I shoved my fear and self doubt to the side and got help. The help came in the form of simple suggestions and tips... and much to my amazement and excitement I made a simple repeat using the pattern tool... So maybe I Can Do This...

simple flower pattern colour by meganhcarroll

The Three swatches show my progression using the pattern tool to create a simple repeat. As you can see I used the same motif several ways... I love the simplicity of the the first two, the third (not my favourite) was playing around with colour and texture just to see what could be done....

The Self critic will rear its ugly head again, I know that, but it helps know there there is large community that both support me and others like me... There are answers out there, you just have to know when to ask for help. As for where to and from whom, what are your resources?!

Have a Lovely Day!

Monday, October 6, 2014

In my Sketchbook inspiration for print and pattern.

In my Sketchbook, ideas for print and pattern. 
One of the best sources of inspiration can be found in your everyday life.

This summer we added a pond to our back yard with a few Lilly pads, 
lotus flowers and large fancy Gold fish.

The Best time of day was sitting around the pond in the evening, floating candles watching our fish catch the tiny bugs that would inspect the water.
Scrappy Carp Card
  You can find my fish illustrations on simple blank cards in the Scrappy Carp Etsy shop.

Looking for your own inspiration?
Tomorrow I will be starting a new class... Seven Days of Paper Love!
Join me and share what you create!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

I am an..... Artist

I am an Artist

I am an artist by Megan H Carroll

This is a proclamation. I don't say this very often though it is probably known by those that know me but what about those that don't? How do I introduce myself? How do I answer that question: "what do you do?"
Up until know I have been saying "well you know (because first comes the excuses), I have kids, I am married... I am a stay at home mum... I do laundry, make meals... and I sew, and I umm... um make art?!" As if it were question, not an ownership.
 Last night was my town's Art Walk. Artists open their studio spaces to the public, local businesses stay open late hang art on their walls to create a rich community vibe. It has to be said my hero of a husband took the kids to a comic book shop (also open late) so that I could wonder.. I first checked out some studios above the Spark Museum- a museum dedicated to radio, that took about 30 minutes or so and I was feeling antsy, like I had to get back to the family (part of my problem about defining myself- who am I if I am not a mother?). The comic book shop was across street and as I was waited for the red the light I checked my phone once more- Husband said:
"Take your time, kids are having fun." 
I suddenly veered left and went into a shop with a thoughtfully scripted sign, it wasn't flashy, it was elegant and simple Red Barn Jewelry... I took the time to go in and I was so glad that I did. I was met with beautiful jewelry and fascinating people. After actually asking questions and being probably annoying I finally said I AM AN ARTIST! I owned the title and even gave away a card.