Interview by Kati Driscoll
So, Delaware talk - what's your Delaware connection.
I live in Maryland, so I've always thought of Delaware as my friendly neighbor. I have fond memories of visiting the Delaware shore at least once a year with my family since I can remember. When I was younger my dad and I would often drive over to Indian River Inlet just for the day to go fishing. That meant we left the house at 3am or so, but it was always worth it! When I got older I clued my friends into the awesomeness that is Delaware, and we still make the trip every year to hang out at 3R's fishing beach.
What is your preferred medium of choice?
It's a toss up between markers (prismacolor or copics) and gouache paint. I love using all kinds of color, so markers are great when I want to work more quickly or casually and draw with a limited palette. Of course paint has the upper hand if I'm after specific colors that I don't have in my marker collection. Gouache is awesome because you can get really smooth and creamy opaque coverage, but you can also water it down for watercolor effects and transparency.
You are best known for being a prolific pattern maker. What made you choose this subject over others?
I've been drawing patterns since I was little. While my brothers doodled aquariums and hovercrafts, I would fill pieces of paper with color and pattern. I've always liked how visually impressive a pattern can be. Drawing a rainbow is very nice, but drawing a page full of rainbows: wow! When creating a new pattern, there is a good balance between making decisions about color and composition and the repetitive, meditative action of drawing the pattern that just feels right to me.
Do you work in other areas, aside from illustration? Anything you're interested in trying?
I've been dabbling a lot lately with abstract compositions, using color as the driving force. While some of these lean toward patterns, I approach creating them in a different way. It's more about developing an overall balanced composition and variety of strokes than repeating motifs in a deliberate way. I think it would be fun to work on really large abstract paintings. I'm curious about how the process and results would be different from my previous, mostly smaller works.
You are a second year participant. Tell us about your previous Fun-A-Day project and what you have in store for this year:
Last year's project was a no-brainer. I was in the middle of an ongoing personal project: Pattern a Day. So joining in for DE Fun-a-Day was a great reason to work on finished paintings of patterns instead of staying in my sketchbook. Each day I painted a pattern that was somehow inspired by my experiences from the day, and I ended up with a wide variety of colorful painted patterns.
My initial plan for this year was to draw a Plant a Day, but I changed my mind after realizing I was much more enthusiastic about a new series of abstract pattern drawings that I'd started "just for fun". I decided to shift gears and explore this new method further, so I translated those drawings into paintings. For each piece, I start with a colorful background and then paint over it with lines and shapes. There is much more similarity between the individual works I'm creating this year, although each one is a little different in terms of color, composition and details.
What did you enjoy about last year’s project? What challenged you?
I enjoyed the fact that I created a series of finished pieces of art. There is a comfort level for me when working in my sketchbook--not as much pressure for my work to be "good," and my sketchbook is always close at hand. Creating actual paintings that could be hung on a wall for people to enjoy made me feel really accomplished. The biggest challenge I faced was not over-thinking it. I love that most of my patterns are not precisely "perfect." The hand drawn feel is very important to me, but when working on finished artwork, my old perfectionist habits can kick in, and it takes some time and convincing to loosen up again. By the end of the month it was a lot easier to get in the creative flow, so ultimately the daily practice of creating finished paintings in my loose sketchbook style was really valuable to me.
You have a wonderful eye for color. What's your process for selecting a palette for your pieces?
Thank you! I think a lot of my choices have become intuitive after years of playing around with color, but the basics of color theory still play a big part when I'm figuring out what colors to work with. When selecting colors, my mind often wanders back to the color wheel. Say I start out with a purple, when I think about the next color I want to use, I'll consider blues, reds or pinks which are purple's analogous colors. If I choose a pink, and I want to find a nice accent color, I'll consider yellows or greens--both of which are complimentary to purple and pink respectively. While this selection is going on, I'm also considering shades and tints of those colors. Bright colors are fun to work with, but I've found that they can be enhanced by pairing them with dark tones, pastels, or muted colors. I don't usually work with all brights or all pastels. I enjoy unexpected combinations. Sometimes a muddy yellow or pale pink are just what's needed to make the other colors sing.
One technique I've found really helpful is to have a big set of markers, pencils, crayons, paints or even colored papers; the main idea is to have lots of colors available at your fingertips so that you don't have to run through the trial and error of mixing each paint color you think might want to work with. If I can see the colors in front of me, I can quickly try them out together. If I find a combination I like, I can then mix colors with paint, tweaking the hues until they are just right.
Any upcoming projects - large or small - in the works for this year?
My main project is that I'm starting a new blog. It's called Handcrafted Awesome and to start off with, I'll be sharing tutorials and art supply reviews, as well as showcasing the work of other makers and artists who I admire. It's still in the works, but you can read a little more here if interested: http://handcraftedawesome.com/