Acrylic Breakthrough!

Illustration board!!!  2 simple words that have made ALL the difference!  I saw some students from another teacher’s color theory class and their work looked so nice.  “Is that acrylics?” I asked.  “Yes, we have to use illustration board for everything in Diane’s class!”  They were complaining.  They should try watercolor paper!!!  Diane is a painter, though, and she would know the creative angst cheap watercolor paper and Liquitex acrylics would send an artist into!

So… I purchased that expensive illustration board and went to town on this week’s project.  What an amazing difference – the experience does not compare. 

No…I still do NOT love acrylics, but I certainly gained a lot more pleasure working these color combinations within geometric shapes than I would have had on watercolor paper. 

This project was about combining color to create different visual effects on a single geometric design (the black and white line drawing in the photo.)  I chose a quilt pattern called “Tumbling Blocks” which can be made to look so many different ways.

Teacher took one look and said, “wow.”  However…she is so quiet I have absolutely no idea what that meant.  I thought maybe I had done it wrong.  But she said it was fine.  I am assuming it was more an expression of suprise (probably at the illustrator board).  She is a quilter and would definately recognize the pattern(s). 

Web Design Final

Finally… I ended the online web design class on a great note:  100% on my final.  That is because the teacher was grading to a rubric and not on creativity.  What a relief!  I did not have time to mess with creativity and doing it on notepad takes some extra work.  I am told the ground class is allowed to use Dreamweaver and are able to spend more time on the creative aspects, but 5.5 weeks with a full class load does not allow for that.

The teacher told me she hoped I would continue with web design.  🙂  A great thing to hear when that is your major!  I fell in love with the whole idea of .css (style sheets) and clean code.  It fits perfectly with my technical writing training and my love for crisp business communications.  (I know…I know…I am not so crisp with personal communication, as this blog illustrates!  I do assure you that my business writing is very crisp – years working on government regulated documentation will do that to you!)   

I would call this a “thumbnail” version of my eventual website for Squangles, meaning it is a very, very roughed out idea.  Squangles is the business Charlotte and I are working on together.  It is in its beginning stages and we have big ideas, but I need to get through the next year or two of college.  I have much bigger plans for this site once I understand how to work tables, etc.  Here are a couple of pages:

The Poet

Front Cover of a Comic book

This one was harder than I thought.  Maybe because I was in a hurry as I wanted to spend Sat. with my family on the farm.  Seems like any time you are in a hurry, things conspire to slow you down!

We were learning “live trace” and “live paint” in this exercise.  I hand drew outlines of the cat and the castle, scanned them into the computer, did a “live trace” in Adobe Illustrator, then did the clean-up and “live paint” work. 

I learned that  I am not real crazy about live trace.  If I had 20 more hours I might have been able to get him to look the way I wanted, but the tediousness was a bit much for my creative soul.  He is what he is. I am thinking that in the future I would probably use the pen tool for this type of work, but I can see how live trace could be handy for certain projects.  I also think I am still old school enough to want to do my art work by hand (draw, paint – you know… all that wonderful, messy, glorious tactile stuff.)

Criteria:  Illustrate a fairy tale on a comic book cover using live trace/live paint.

I chose to simulate a 1960’s comic book cover.  (The teacher tried to tell me several times that the UPC was not on the front cover and I reminded him each time that this was 1960s!  The teacher was not even born yet, so I do realize that it is probably hard to remember a time when UPCs were not on the front of comic book covers.  [Ok…that was a bit tongue in cheek…but really now!])

Again… another 90% but no reason as to why (one student laughed at me for being bothered by that.)  Steve (teacher) did say he thought it looked like “Tom and Jerry”.  Sheesh… I told him I was trying to mimic that time frame and drawing style (although this is not Tom or Jerry.)  I hit all the stated requirements and did my own drawings from my head right in class (which he saw), but again it just wasn’t enough. 

It is a frustrating thing when you can’t get the teacher to tell you what it will take to please him/her, but I think this is my quarter to learn to “accept the situation.”  However, I am not used to this sort of thing happening, since as a consultant I usually obtain all the requirements up front in order to bring the client the “wow” factor. 

Somehow I get the feeling I am missing something and I haven’t figured out how to get him to tell me what that might be. 

I will keep trying.  I have a few more weeks yet.

Family Time!!!

Our family gathered the first week of November so I ditched some of the homework requirements (such as posting for my online class) to meet up with them on Monday and again on Sat. 

The TN family came up for the full week (it is hunting season), then half the week the Ohio Yeske’s came over.  For the weekend the Garvins from PA joined us.

Monday night we had a noisy and rambunctious Thanksgiving meal.  On Sat. we celebrated Mom’s birthday and the guys hit her farm/household To Do list and cleaned the place up nicely! 

I took lots of photos and held the babies.  Even with 5 of them in their 2-year-old “testing Mommy” stage, we had a real pleasurable time of it.  I so appreciate my family and the grace God has extended to us with healthy kids and the fact that my siblings and their spouses enjoy spending time visiting and work on projects with each other.  I am learning what a rarity that is the more I talk with the students at school.

Me and just a few of the kids.

Another Logo

Another logo?!  Only this one was done in acrylics and let me tell you, it was a pain!  I can not get Liquitex acrylics to behave.  You know… stay in the lines, cover the paper consistently, etc.

This is a simple logo of the 4 personality trait symbols: circle, square, triangle, and squiggle.  From the color wheel we had to pick and use triad colors:

triad colors

I was just attempting to get the project done in order to spend time with the family, so this is really uninspired.  It does contain all the personality trait symbols though: Circle/Square/Squiggle/ and me… a triangle!

Still got a 100% on it because I met the criteria.  Not happy about the watercolor paper/acrylic paints execution!  Ugh! 


Uninspired logo

Logos Galore – In Illustrator

What was with all the logos?  Funny how the teachers talk differently about how to create one!!!

Beth Remsburg was all about simplifying to the minimum. 

Steve Williams wanted it to really tell him something about the company (he docked my grade because of that!)

Anne Nickolson did not care what we did as she was not grading on the design, rather on the color combinations.

Here are my Illustrator logos and stationery for Squangles, the company Charlotte and I are playing around with right now.  I created these on Halloween night sitting at a one-on-one agility training Charlotte was taking with a national champion and trainer!!  It got me out of the house and the doorbell.

Criteria (that I knew about) was that they were to all be different concepts.

Sidenote:  Squangles is a children’s products company and Charlotte and I are waiting until I go through a bit more schooling before we do further planning, what we will focus on, and whether to formally launch it, etc.  Our first product was the children’s book.  Then I began adding her poetry to my children’s furniture (now ensconced in two doctor’s offices and various households around the country.)  We have played around with the idea of t-shirt designs also. 

Steve wanted me to put a less ambiguous logo (i.e. a book or chair or something concrete) with the Squangles name and docked my grade for that reason.   Even after a discussion with him, I am not so sure I agree.  That sort of locks us in.

I think I will wait until my corporate identity class to set up my logo.  In the meantime, I will play around with it. 

My intention here was to explore something that has a children’s business look and feel.


Square and Triangle (our personality identifiers)


My puppy


Sailing the Sea of Imagination


Purple swoosh (squiggle) with circle/triangle/square

Design a Bag Clip Logo

This was a 2 week long assignment.  Remember, we are learning about our own creative process in this class and how to create even if we are not “inspired”.  I think this was a very good one for that lesson!

The teacher let us pull the item out of a bag.  She held my selection up to the complaining class and asked, “Does anyone think they have one that is more challenging than this?”  Everyone shut up and then she looked at me and said, “I know you are up to it.” 

Oh brother!  Seriously…who wants to hear that from their teacher? Not that I mind a challenge…but make it a fun one!  However, sometimes teachers have more faith in you than you do in yourself!  But wow was this project boring!  I had to reach back to the previous week’s notes and try to really absorb step number one in the design process:  1. Accept the Situation.

That aside…here is the bag or paper clippy:

bag clip

From that point, we spent one week “ideating” –  a fancy way of saying taking pot shots in the dark and hoping one of those are lucky enough to be a workable idea.

We did some mind mapping (Lainey and I went to breakfast to do this activity.)  We brainstormed and we drew thumbnails.  A lot of work that convinced me that I am NOT a graphic artist.  I just don’t love it enough.

The following week we got onto Illustrator and created the final pieces.  The pictogram was pretty easy.  The ideogram (very abstract) was more difficult.  I had the background but could not figure out how to manage the white space.  Beth (amazingly cool teacher… I am such a fan) suggested the lines which loosely represent papers stacked (or clipped.)  Ok…print it, mount it…done! 

Bag clip logos

Left is black and white / right is 2 color

One thing I have learned… if a teacher suggests something (and you don’t have a tremendously better idea), go with it no matter what you think!!!  She loved it, I got a 100%, so we are all happy. 

And why does that not bother me?  Because this is a business school (in reality) and she is my “client”.  If the client is happy, go with it.  This is not a fine arts school where I have to fight for my individuality and make a point of it in spite of the teacher.  This is about pleasing the customer (in this case, the teachers). 

I think I can get that after 15 years in consulting!

Credentials of a Color Theory Teacher

Anne Nickolson is my Color Theory teacher.

She never talks much about paints so one day after class I asked her, “What is your medium?” and she answered “Textiles” and sent me her web site.

I was absolutely blown away.  She is a quilter of great magnitude and has shown in 12 countries!!!  She is also extremely shy or quiet or something because she won’t talk about her work.  Check out the Commissions section!!!  Open the Tree of Life (located at Methodist Hospital).

And I know she has more than this…this is just a single body of work she collected into one website.  Makes for a gorgeous site!  I would like to sit down and talk with her… but she just is not a talker.  Funny for a teacher, eh?  I pay money to get a chance to go see the work of quilters of her calibre, but have never talked to any… and here she is my teacher!!!  But won’t talk!

How frustrating is that?!  Very!

Color Theory – Various Combinations

This was one boring week.  Not the least was this project which took a full day to complete.  Why?  Because we had to mix our own paints and had to use a specific mixture of color combinations (complements, split complements, and the brown is a mix of 2 complements.)

Let’s just leave it at:

  • I don’t like acrylics because they dry very quickly
  • I don’t like acrylics on watercolor paper because it does not allow for a smooth line
  • I don’t like acrylics because blending is very difficult
  • I don’t like acrylics because they are globby if you want to cover the white (and then they dry and leave little white speckles…not sure what is going on with that!)
  • I don’t like acrylics because you can not achieve a smooth line
  • I don’t like acrylics

Using specific color combinations

Extra, Extra…read all about it!

My next Illustrator project (#3) got a 100!  I really got into it and the class said mine looked the most like a real front page of a newspaper.  Finally! 

The loose premise for my newspaper was my favorite humor site… the home of those wonderful LOL cats!

They were my initial inspiration, but my own cats (and dogs) were the real inspiration.  Ideas just kept rolling.  A few stories came off the internet, tweaked by me, but some were my own invention.  It was fun and I plan on printing it off and sending it to my nieces and nephews.

Every tiny detail was attended to… including the “obituaries” reference being changed to “Rainbow Bridge” and the weather raining “mice and men.”  Did I say I had fun with this?  The sports references were fun to do also… the cats vs. the dogs who were making a comeback because of their new dental hygiene routine (based on the fun photo I had of Charlotte brushing Bailey’s teeth.)

The Cats Paw Press