I often speak of my friends and colleagues in the art community. Thanks to platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, as well as this forum here on WordPress, we are fortunate enough to be able to meet others that have interests that are similar to our own. For me as a designer, this not only includes becoming friends with customers, but also teachers and other designers as well. I always feel very grateful to live in such a time, where someone who lives in another country or even halfway around the world can become a friend.
As friends, we tend to look out for each other. I can’t express how much it has helped me when I am designing to bounce ideas off of one friend or another – just to see what they think of it. I long ago realized that I have a very limited window to the world around me, and I found that asking others their thoughts on what I may be working on not only gives another perspective on the project, but also expands my own vision, as I feel the more we know about what others like or are looking for in projects, the better we are able to make something with a broad appeal.
This approach isn’t always pertinent to what I create, however. When I am painting something more for myself (i.e. something that I am doing for my own artistic growth or creativity) I tend to block out what others think quite a bit and try to rely on my own thoughts and feelings regarding what I am making. After all, it is my own creativity and feelings that I am trying to express, and while some may not understand it, this type of art is what I consider an expression of myself, and therefore not really up for debate.
But when I am creating for a pattern or a new kit, I welcome the input from others, as the end goal in creating the project is to have it appeal to as many as I can, and once again – I believe that the perspectives from others is very helpful in my achieving that. That is why I enjoy giving glimpses of what I am currently creating. I love hearing the anticipation from those who are watching and it does wonders to encourage me when I come across stopping blocks or the ideas aren’t flowing to the paper as freely as I would like. It gives me a sense of accountability that once I put something out on the block for those to see, I need to see it through to the finish and not abandon it along the way. It is the kind of game we play with ourselves as designers who work alone, and for many of us, it is the life blood that keeps us going. I don’t think it is about ego (maybe part of it is, but I am truly not sure) but we seem to need that encouragement and those ‘cheerleaders’ to help us keep moving forward. It not only makes us more productive, but also makes our job a lot more fun.
With that said, I will get on with my post . . .
Last week, I showed you all the beginnings of the third storefront that I am designing for my North Star Village series for decorative painters. This is an ongoing project of patterns and kits that painters can create and build on to suit their tastes. Each building is full of fun details and each pattern has complete step-by-step instructions as well as loads of photos so that painters can successfully recreate the storefront over and over again. In other words, they aren’t one-off art pieces and because of the amount of detail, I need to really think things through and document the process I use to paint things very carefully.
Each building in the series comes in two sizes – small and large. I do this because I realize that everyone doesn’t always have the room for the larger pieces and I wanted to give that option. Typically, when I design the pieces, I paint the smaller version first to ensure that things are able to be painted at the smaller scale, which can be a bit more difficult. This version takes longer because this is where I adjust and change things that may not come out just as I like or look pleasing. Things aren’t always painted in a specific order in this version because of these changes, depending on whether or not they work. Most of the time they are OK, but there are always minor changes, it seems.
The second time I paint, I do so with the larger building(s) and it goes much more quickly. I have the finished small piece in front of me so the end goal is much clearer to me and it is far easier to fill in the steps in a logical order so that others can follow suit. (PS – I do this with most of my projects. It is just the way I design). I also take the step-by-step photos during this round, as again – it is easy to follow a point ‘a’ to point ‘b’ order and makes the patterns easy to produce – even for more complicated projects.
So I showed my progress last week on my Bakery. It was just the bare bones of the store at that point and I had just finished the sign. Soon afterword, one of my colleagues sent me an email and brought it to my attention that the word “Macaroon” that I was using for the name of the store (The Pink Macaroon) was in the wrong context. Seeing the cookies that I displayed with the sign did not coincide with the way that I spelled the word “Macaroon”. In fact, the resulting cookie that is named a “Macaroon” looks like this:
The cookie that I was showing was the French “Macaron” that looks like this:
While this may seem like a small detail to most, those of you who know me know that it would have bothered me tremendously if I had found out later and it was not brought to my attention. I did actually do some research on this cookie, as I initially was considering using the French name for the bakery: “Le Macaron Rose”. I had thought that the spelling of “Macaron” was the French spelling (it is!) and that the English translation for this cookie was spelled “Macaroon”, but I was incorrect on that issue. I was very grateful to my friend for pointing this out to me – especially at the early stage of the project that I am at where changing things wasn’t much of an issue. Had I gone through and published the patterns and then found out, I would have been much more troubled.
So I spent yesterday re-painting the sign with the correct spelling:
It didn’t take very long and since I had created a macaron Christmas tree to sit as an overlay at the side of the door, I was very grateful that she had caught the error.
Besides the sign and the tree, I had placed a pink macaron on the plate that each of the nutcracker guards were holding. It would have been a bit embarrassing for me to have everything ready to go and have the mistake acknowledged at that point. It saved me a lot of headaches.
I spent the rest of the day sketching out the rest of the sweets that I plan to paint in the storefront window. While this doesn’t seem like a big deal, it really took me several hours trying to decide what to add in and how to put it. I don’t want everything to be lined up like soldiers and I want a good variety of colors and textures and treats. The end result doesn’t look like much in the sketches, but I know when I begin to add things in, the little bakery will come to life. You can see the difference in the bread basket already.
It will be exciting to see each element added in. I hope that it will continue to come out as nice as it has already. After the windows are filled, I have an idea for the door that I want to do, but I want to see how everything else looks first. I want to achieve the goal of the store being filled with details without it looking too cluttered. I think I met that goal with the first two buildings and want to continue to do so as I move forward.
Today will be a shop day for me. I have orders that came in this week and I need to cut and sand them so I can ship on Monday. If I can finish them up today and tomorrow, I will be back at this and hopefully finish up soon.
I am very grateful for the enthusiasm that I have heard from my customers on this series. I am using DecoArt acrylic paint and mediums to paint it, which make it something that just about every one can paint, as they are widely available everywhere. You can see the other two buildings in previous blogs or on my Tole Painting Designs website. You can even see some videos of my projects on my YouTube Channel. I haven’t decided which elements I will make videos for on this piece yet. That will come soon.
So that is about it for today. I hope you like seeing the little preview of what is to come with this design. I have been thinking about it for several months now and as I see it coming to life, I become more and more excited. I hope you are as well.
Until next time . . .