MATS Bootcamp Recap

Another recap!  It's the end of the MATS Assignment Bootcamp unfortunately, and our last assignment was an editorial illustration.  We were given an article about digital nomad-ism and it felt pretty close to home.

I am definitely a digital nomad.  I spend lots of my time traveling back and forth from Germany to the U.S., but also to other parts of the European continent while still maintaining contact with clients and working on personal projects.  I related so much to the advice in the article... it's all about wi-fi and connectivity.

Traveling has been a constant in our lives, but now we're looking at repatriation as a reality.  We'll be moving back to the U.S. in the autumn and I simultaneously eagerly await the next chapter in our lives while mourning the separation from my long-time friends.  It's not our first goodbye to Munich (remember that Amsterdam 6 month dream sequence back in 2011?), and hopefully it won't be goodbye forever.

So where are we headed?  We're going to sunny California!  Don't worry, I'll be writing when I get there, but I'll first be stopping by my mom's place in Florida while we figure out where we'll be living in California.
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Back to the MATS Bootcamp re-cap!

May brought us the crustacean sensation theme as I called it...
I was really pleased with the background pattern and came out with a stoneware plate or tray that I'd buy.

April was the Global Art Gathering poster.  I'm so glad I got to see Brighton in real life... I'd draw the dome differently now that I've seen it in person.  At the moment, it looks a bit like our American capitol buildings. I am still happy I did some painting, though.  The loose style came very naturally to me when used paint and collage.

March we worked on MATS Part A so Bootcamp was on  hiatus.

February we painted on wood.  We were riffing off of Lilla's plate collection and I had been drawn to a central character with foliage.  I'm loving the ladybug character, but I think I could push the whole thing a bit further in one painterly direction with more texture.  Something's missing and I don't know if it's just the mock-up or what.

I took February's assignment further and mocked up some plates too with some of my preliminary designs...

And January we worked on a journal cover. I feel like I've come a long way since our first assignment.  I was so nervous, and I clearly overworked the design now that I can see it with a fresh eye.  I enjoyed every minute of it, though!

Poster for the Global Art Gathering in Brighton

I decided to get painterly again!

And it was fun.

For those process-lovers...

I started out with marker and quick-sketched lots of different concepts.  Here are my faves:

At first, I started drawing in Illustrator, but most people in the MATS Bootcamp were going digital right away, and I couldn't get the kind of texture in the marks that I wanted.  And I felt like I couldn't really get that kind of energy using just vector imaging.  So, I went painterly.  I was so happy to get painting!  I adjoined 4 square canvases and painted them as if they were one.  I used paper, paint, ink, fabric, and all kinds of pens. 

See the seams where the canvases met?
Then, I sliced them apart with an exacto blade and scanned them individual at a very high resolution.  I then took it to Photoshop where I painted and patched the seams, collaged some more, and then added the text.  And there you have it!

So what's the poster about?  Well, it's a real event happening in Brighton, and I'm super excited to be going!  It includes speakers and networking, and best of all... it's in Brighton!  I cannot wait to visit the city.  I've heard such great things, and can't wait to see for myself! You can find out more information about the Global Art Gathering here.

Friends at Camp

As a member of 2015's MATS Bootcamp, I've met lots of lovely people.  Some of them wanted to do a blog-share type thing as many of them are just starting blogs, re-booting their careers, and/or starting new careers.  I'm re-booting my illustration work, and thought it would be a nice thing to do.  I was nominated by Melissa Iwai for a Liebster Award which functions as a kind of internet chain letter, but with the intention of spreading the word on small blogs and the people behind them.  The Liebster Award asks that the recipient share 11 random facts about themselves, answer 11 questions, and nominate 11 other blogs with less than 200 followers.

11 Random Facts About Me

1.  I'm really short, but people who haven't met me in person often think I'm tall.

2.  My favorite dessert is Tiramisu.  This happened as a result of a neighbor telling me he tries it at every restaurant that offers it on the menu... and then I was hooked, too.

3.  Although coffee ice-cream is my favorite flavor of ice-cream, I don't drink coffee.

4. People are often confused about my accent when they hear me speak English, Spanish, or German.  It seems like people hear an accent in each language, but no one seems to correctly guess my origins. That's most places except my hometown of Miami, where others have a similar Cuban-American accent.

5.  I really love dancing.  I did Irish Dance for 3 years before the baby came, and have done all kinds of different dances - tap, jazz, swing, cheerleading, and even Mexican Folkloric ballet (see photo above).

6.  I'm kind of a silly person.  Okay, I'm just silly and I love bright, saturated colors.

me wearing everyone's hats, purses, and accessories at Oktoberfest
7.  I can type really fast (65-70 wpm).

8. My hair has been just about every length from pixie-cut-short to waist-length.

9.  I love making dumplings of all kinds (gyoza, bao, shumai, etc.).

10. I was filmed for a deodorant commercial, but it wasn't picked up and it never saw the light of day.

11. I love using ellipses... and ellipses ().

Melissa's 11 Questions:

1.  What are your art goals for 2015?
I would like to make more marketable art.  This includes trying to master pattern repeats, source packing materials for shipping my work, and opening an online shop of some kind.  I'd love to see my work on fabric especially.  It would be a real thrill to see my work in someone's quilt or on their clothing.

2.  What medium do you use?
I use pen, ink, color pencils, watercolors, acrylic, pretty much any mark-making tool within grabbing distance... and Illustrator.

3.  What is your process of late for creating a piece of art from concept to finish?
I research> sketch > refine > sketch > select > refine > finalize > publish on blog and intermittently share images of my process on various social media outlets.

4.  How did you come to be an artist? Did you do other things before this?  How did you know you wanted to become one?
I have been so many things while still illustrating.  I've been a classroom teacher, scenic artist, prop painter, knitting pattern designer, in-house illustrator, and so many little random jobs in between.  I knew I wanted to do something creative, and I've always loved working with my hands.

5.  Have you traveled much?  What is your favorite city, town, or place and why?
I have traveled a lot and have lived in a lot of different places across the U.S. and in the EU.  Fave places - Santa Fe, Innsbruck, and Park Güell (Barcelona).  All 3 places are surreal. They're real places that feel like a story book or fantasy become reality.

6.  What do you do when you get frustrated with your work?
Back in my theatre days, I used to angry-cry.  It's a term a friend of mine came up with to describe me when I was in set design during technical rehearsals and things went badly wrong.  These days, though, I don't angry-cry very often.  Usually, when I sense that something is stymieing my progress, I switch gears and work on something different and then come back to it with fresh eyes.  Often, I will switch from digital to hand illustration or vice-versa to keep things fresh.  My time is better spent taking a break than bulldozing a project into submission.

7.  How do you manage your time -- that is, how do you carve out time in your life to do your art?
I use Google calendar a lot.  It's on my phone and I also use the project management software Asana to help me manage my time.  I'm a full-time illustrator & designer, so I divide my time between designing for knits or graphics, and illustrating.  My baby is at home with me, so I try and work in chunks of time working around his daily routine (and non-routine).

8.  What is something you are grateful for?
I'm grateful for my relatively good health and that of my family.

9.  What is an inspiring quote that you'd like the share?
"The secret to getting ahead is getting started." --Mark Twain

10.  What is the best art tip/advice you've been given?
One of my friends told me to "Stop waiting for the perfect time.  There is no perfect time." And, they were/are right!  There's something to be said about timing, but waiting for the perfect moment to start following your dreams is a trap.

11.   What would you tell a child who says they want to become an artist when they grow up?
Do it.  Draw, draw, draw.  Paint, paint, paint.  Make, make, make.

11 Artists from the MATS Bootcamp:

Nadine G. Messier

11 Questions for the next takers:

1.  What are your art goals for 2015?
2.  What medium do you use?
3.  How do you keep your projects and paper-flow organized?
4.  When did you realize you wanted to be an artist?
5.  If you could see your work anywhere in this world, where would that be?
6.  Where do you like to work?
7.  What are your favorite resources for learning new skills?
8.  Do you follow any other art or illustration sites?
9.  Are there any quotes or words of inspiration that you keep close when you work?  What are they?
10.  What do you do when you can't figure out the solution to a problem in your work?
11.  What advice would you give to someone who wanted to be an artist?

MATS Bootcamp #2 February Assignment

Wow, this month has been huge! We're well over halfway through February, and I feel like there's just so much creative juice burstin' out of me with these assignments.  It didn't happen instantly, though.  Our mini assignment was to create a scenic plate.  I had lots of ideas for plates and analyzed the given inspirational plates to see what it was about them that I liked.  I drew lots that I'd love to see on holiday plates or a breakfast bowl of some kind.

And then, sleight of hand, Lilla and her team of magicians turned that mini into the real assignment which is wall-art on wood... oh, and please use real paint.  C'mon, be a good sport!

Did I ever tell you guys I used to be a scenic artist?  I was.  In addition to Printmaking/Illustration, I studied Set Design and Theatrical Production as an undergrad and I worked at a couple of theatres painting backdrops and props.  I have painted a lot of things in my life, but it feels like another alternate-reality version of myself that did that work.  The last time I used any opaque paint in my own work was well over ten years ago.  Argh!  I can do this! Why was I so hesitant?

For some weird reason, I had a kind of aversion to using acrylic in my own work.  In my mind, as I painted these most recent MATS assignments, I recalled painting super cheesy assignments for learning grey-scale and color theory.  The awkward re-working of straight lines and forced photo-realistic depictions of things.  Ugh.  I remember one particularly silly illustration where the goal was transformation, and I did a pair of scissors > lobster.  I think I'd like to attempt that one again.  Ah well.  Eventually, I took to the acrylic with a love-to-hate-it kind of relish. :)  Why not embrace the discomfort?

Here's what I turned in...

And, here are the rest of the work on wood I painted!

Side Note: If you're in Germany and are looking for these wood plaque type rounds, they're called "holzscheibe" and you can find them at florist's shops (online in my case).

MATS Mantra Competition

This piece was a competition piece for MATS (make art that sells) mantra.  The goal was to encompass the feeling you get when you're taking a MATS course.  And, although I didn't win the big prize, I was able to use Illustrator in a new way for me.

See, I've been trying to nail down my style, and I absolutely love working digitally, but it lacks the grittiness and texture of my hand-illustrated and painted work.  So I've been trying to merge the two elements somehow (flat color + texture).

Here is what I came up with:

And this is how I got there:

I started out with pencil and ink sketches.  I had about 30 different thumbnails, and picked the heart-sun one because it was the most visually engaging.  

I refined the image, traced it into Illustrator, and using a light-table I used overlays to play around with text.

Here is the image before I added text, texture, gradients, etc.

I almost stopped there... but it needed texture!!  You can see the hand-written text below.  I had several versions of each snippet of text.  Lots of versions of everything!

And finally, I went in and "texturized" the background.  It was a weird feeling to paint the background with texture and grit, but I think it works for this piece.  And, even though I didn't win the big prize, I did win a free entry into MATS Global Talent Search!  Woot!!