5 Steps to Finding Time for the Life you Want

I’m very excited to introduce Alicia Berberich, who is my guest blogger today!

When I recently asked you: What is the biggest challenge you face in your creative practice?, the answer I received the most was: “Time, the lack of time, I have no time!”

Alicia helps moms figure out what they want to do for their next act. Her programs include time management strategies and that makes her the PERFECT blog guest to provide us all with advice on how to find time for the life we want.

So here goes… Take it away, Alicia.

You’ve been dreaming of doing something creative for years, but life gets in the way. Between working, raising kids, your relationship, a social life, something had to give, and it was your dreams. Finding time for what you truly love to do and what feeds your soul is challenging.

There comes a time when you can’t put off your creative dreams any longer. Your inner creative genius starts to get impatient and pushes harder and harder to get out, to be expressed. She has waited a long time, and now it’s her due!

But you feel overwhelmed by the thought of adding another incomplete on your To Do list. How can you possibly eek one more project from your already maxed-out schedule? It feels IMPOSSIBLE.

It’s not your fault that so many things demand your attention. You aren’t taught how to maximize the use of time. It’s like the old method of teaching a child to swim: throw her in the deep end and hope for the best. Some kids swim, some don’t.

How do you structure your time to get what you HAVE to get done as well as what you WANT to do? It is possible to find the time you need to nurture your soul.

This 5-step system will set you up for success.

Step # 1: Know Your Current Situation

To find time for what you love in your already full schedule, you have to know how you are already using your time.

Here is your assignment:

For three days, write down everything you do from the time you get up until you go to bed. Be honest and write down everything:

Got Up

Meditated

Showered

Dressed

Walked the dogs

Mark it all down on a chart so you have a record. Here is a link to a great tool to use. The best is to capture every 15 minutes. You can set your alarm to remind yourself. This is a phenomenal exercise to see how you are actually spending your time.

It may seem tedious. But this step alone will set you free. One client of mine did this and discovered that she spends 90 minutes a day on Facebook and Pinterest. When I asked her beforehand, she estimated that she was spending 30 minutes. That’s a big difference.

Step # 2: Analyze Your Data

Now that you have a record, look at exactly how you are using your time and where gaps exist. Look for items you can eliminate, consolidate, or simplify. When my client Jocelyn did this, she discovered she spent an hour a day “drinking tea”. Once you have the overall picture of exactly how you spend your time, it’s time to make some decisions.

No one is passing judgement on how you use your time. The goal is to know so you can make conscious decisions and create open space to explore your creativity.

Step # 3: The Eisenhower Method

Eisenhower was a brilliant General who understood the importance of planning. He created a simple decision-making model. It clearly identifies the crisis most people are facing today: urgent demands take over and important matters don’t get done until they become urgent.

If you feel like you are constantly putting out fires instead of conducting an orchestra, this is precisely why. Unless you take the time to plan the important matters, they are left until they become critical.

Here is the Eisenhower Method with some examples to help you get started.

 Click the image to download this file.

Click the image to download this file.

Run your To Do list through this model and determine what is urgent versus what is important.

Step # 4: Time Blocking

This is the secret ingredient that makes it all possible.

Time blocking.

Most people stop their planning once they have their To Do list. The secret to success is to plan exactly when you are going to do what you have to do.

You can print out a weekly calendar from your computer or you can go to my website and download a free weekly calendar page.

The goal is to look at your To Do items, and then block off on your calendar exactly when you are going to do them.

Here’s how:

a)    Gather your updated To Do list with the urgent and important tasks on it

b)    On a weekly calendar, block off hard commitments. I block off client appointments, my teaching schedule, when I have to drive the car pool for my kids, when I have to cook dinner, bedtime, etc. This leaves little gaps in my day.

c)     Fill the gaps with your urgent/important items first. For my writing, I need an hour a day. For exercising, I want 45 minutes 4 times a week. Whatever is important for you, write it down so it gets done. Include self-care, doctor appointments, everything. If it doesn’t get scheduled, it doesn’t get done. Include time for your creative endeavors.

d)    Look at what still needs to get done but doesn’t have a spot on the calendar. Make some hard decisions. What can give? For me, I need quiet, predictable time to write. Once my family is up, nothing is predictable. So I get up early and write before anyone else gets up.

e) Figure out when you can do this scheduling. For me, it’s Sunday evening. I plan out the week so I start Monday morning with a strong plan in place.

Step # 5: Rinse and Repeat

The Rinse is CRITICAL. At the end of week, look back over your schedule to see how it went. Give yourself a grade. How did you do following your schedule? What kept you from doing the things you said you were going to do? How can you improve the system for next week?

This backend analysis is key. Don’t skip it.

Then, make your plan for next week. What’s URGENT? What’s IMPORTANT? Time block it out.

This system will change your life. But you have to take responsibility to plan your work and work your plan. This will enable you to find the time you need to explore your creativity.

That’s a wrap! Thank you so much Alicia for sharing these great tips with us. I can’t wait to put them into practice.

If you would like to learn more about Alicia, check out her website: aliciaberberich.com.

And remember, It’s Never Too Late To Create!

xo,

Anne

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The ONE Thing that Energizes Me About Pattern Design

It will come as no surprise that I’m passionate about Pattern Design. But what is the ONE thing that energizes me the most about it?

Let me tell you a story. As I was trying to reinvent myself after getting laid off from a job I’d had for 15 years, I explored all kinds of creative outlets:

·      sketching,

·      inking,

·      painting with acrylic,

·      watercolor,

·      gouache,

·      mixed media, and even

·      book binding

But I didn’t truly #findmypassion until I discovered pattern design. Why is that, exactly?

The ONE thing that keeps me coming back again and again to hone my skills and drives me to share my passion with you is…. Wait for it…. REPETITION.

Repetition comes in many shapes and sizes in pattern design. Here are three:

·      the repetition of one design element over and over again,

·      a pattern where the repetition of several motifs works as a unit, and

·      rhythm that’s created when intervals between repeating elements create a sense of flow

Let me give you some examples.

In this pattern, I’m using one design element, a slightly imperfect line, to create a simple grid pattern. While it's not the exact same line throughout, the repetition is visible.

Wonky-grid-for-blog-post.jpg

In this deer head example, three elements work as a unit: the deer head and the 2 sprigs on either side of it. These elements work together to create a pattern that’s then repeated again and again across the design.

deer-pattern-for-blog-post.jpg

Finally, you can create rhythm by spacing repeating elements in specific ways. There are many more options here depending on what you are trying to achieve. You can space your elements evenly, unevenly, or both. Think of a sandy beach on a windy day where nature creates undulations in the sand. They are beautiful and rhythmic in an inexact and flowing way. This diagonal floral uses this method.

Diagonal-blue-floral-for-blog-post.jpg

For me personally, repetition is also very reassuring and calming. Maybe it’s because I’m a fairly organized person? Some may find repetition really boring but I find it meditative and liberating.

I like to run the same path when I’m exercising. I set aside several hours during the same block of time in the morning for my creative practice. I write this blog on the same day of the week.

What do YOU like most about pattern design? What’s the ONE thing that energizes you about it? I’d love to know. Until next week.

Remember, It’s Never Too Late To Create.

Xo,

Anne

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Getting Started with Adobe Illustrator for Pattern Design

You're interested in learning pattern design? Getting comfortable with Adobe Illustrator is going to be key.

I was completely overwhelmed when I first opened Illustrator. I hadn’t learned a new application for years and didn’t know where to start!

The videos and written tutorials on the Adobe website didn’t make sense to me. 

I wasted hours searching for YouTube videos that might be helpful.

As you embark on this learning journey, having the right mind-set is critical. YOU CAN DO THIS.

Here are my suggestions.

Start Slow

There is so much to learn that it can be overwhelming. Start with the basics and get comfortable:

·      opening a new document,

·      understanding the different tool bars, and

·      setting up your workspace

Be Patient

Think of learning Illustrator like you’re learning a new language. It will be slow going at first. Then, at a certain point, you’ll realize you’ve gotten the hang of it! Things will start to make sense and it won’t seem so foreign anymore.

Learning Methods

Pick the method of learning that works best for you. If you are a visual learner, watch videos. If you learn best by reading, google the Illustrator guide. Read it online, buy a copy or go to your local library and check it out.

Have a Goal

Set a specific goal for yourself. Make it:

·      time-based, or

·      the number of hours per week you'll dedicate to learning, or

·      with a reward attached!

Make Something FUN

Take my From Sketch to Wrapping Paper class. It’s my most popular class and students love it because I walk you step-by-step through how to get started with Illustrator, make your first repeating pattern and you end up with your own unique wrapping paper!

My summer special price of only $10.00 expires on August 31st. Take advantage of this great introductory offer before it disappears!

Watch the introductory video to learn more.

Whatever you decide, get started in some small way TODAY. You'll be one step closer to your goal. Read my blog called Just Start for more encouragement.

To wrap up, it’s the end of the month! Before you go, join my tribe to get access to weekly free and paid content focused on art, creativity and pattern design.

My subscribers get wallpapers for their phone and laptop as well as a downloadable calendar. I put the calendar on my fridge. Super practical.

Here is this month’s design.

SEPT pattern for mailchimp-01.jpg

Remember, It’s Never Too Late To Create.

Xo,

Anne

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Top 7 Tips to Boost Your Creativity

Do you sometimes get stuck in your creative practice? As an entrepreneur and pattern designer, I’m hard at work developing a series of pattern “collections” for my professional portfolio. And sometimes my creative ideas run dry!

Read my recent blog Finding Inspiration for My First Pattern Collection if you’d like to dive deeper into what pattern design collections are all about.

Stay right here if creative blocks happen to you too and if you'd like to learn my favorite tips to bust through those dry spells.

No matter if you are a pattern designer like me or practice art in a different form, it happens to all of us, right?  

I'm excited to share my top 7 tips for boosting your creativity with you. These really work for me. Use them as a "menu" to choose from. Try them all out and see which ones work best for you. 

Tip #1: Go Outside

I love pattern design because it combines drawing and sketching skills with computer skills. However, the amount of time on the computer can add up and we all need to remember to take a break from time to time. 

Step away from your computer or your studio table and take a walk. The fresh air will do you good and don’t forget to take your camera or smartphone with you. You’ll likely see something that catches your eye. Capture it for future inspiration.

As we transition into fall, here are some photos from a recent walk with early fall foliage and the typical late summer fog we get in the Bay Area!

Tip #2: Work in a Different Space

Sitting in a different spot in your studio or simply re-orienting your computer desk can give you a completely different perspective. The light will hit your workspace differently. You’ll be looking out a different window. The view will be different. Everything will feel fresh and new.

If you almost always work in your studio or at your computer desk, move somewhere else. When I’m in a rut, I’ll move from my computer desk upstairs to the breakfast nook in the kitchen. The light is completely different especially in the morning.

Here are a few pictures of recent work as the light streamed through the windows. It’s beautiful. Feel free to just sit in a new space and enjoy the experience of different surroundings for a while.

Tip #3: Try Something New

If you love to paint, try sketching for a change of pace. If you do pattern design, try watercolor painting for a few days. Leaning into something that’s different from what you normally do gets your brain working in new ways. Trying something new is very inspiring.

For example, at the beginning of the year, I took a gouache class online with Lisa Congdon. I’d never used gouache before and bought a really cheap set to get started. It was really fun and here are some of the patterns that I created during the class. 

Exploring new media will help you explore color and scale in new ways. You can apply this new knowledge to your surface pattern design work or regular creative practice.

Tip #4: Always Have a Sketchbook Handy

Ideas and inspiration can strike at any time and in any place. Don't you find that ideas strike while you are in the shower or when you are traveling? Keep a sketchbook nearby so you can capture new ideas at a moment's notice. 

This is especially helpful when you are in a different location for a few days or even for just an afternoon. When your regular routine changes, even slightly, new thoughts, ideas and creative inspiration happen naturally.

Tip #5: Do Something Simple

We put so much pressure on ourselves to create things that are “perfect” all the time. To relieve that pressure, practice something really simple. When was the last time you created a new color palette with your paints?

It's very relaxing to paint each color in a small square horizontally and then create new variations below by adding more water or another color. Your mind can essentially relax and go blank for a while which provides needed rest.

Alternatively, practice drawing something over and over again. This is a great warm-up exercise and you never know where it will lead. Here is a short animation that I created from a whole bunch of really simple apple sketches. 

Tip #6: Turn Your Devices OFF!

We are overloaded all day long with emails, Instagram, Facebook, and various other alerts that pop up on our phones or computer screens. It’s very important to recharge your personal batteries by turning off all this noise.

Explore meditation or just get yourself a cup of tea and take a break. It’s surprising how new ideas will pop up when we sit quietly for a little while. Having that open and empty space for your mind is critical. It's important to do NOTHING periodically but often that's really hard to do! 

Tip #7: Don’t Beat Yourself Up!

This is the recommendation I’m most passionate about. We all have those voices inside our head saying: “I didn’t accomplish anything today” or “I didn’t meet that goal this week” or “That pattern isn’t any good”. Creativity comes in spurts and downtime is just as important as leaning into periods of intense creativity. The ebb and flow is natural!

It's so important not to beat ourselves up and to give ourselves grace when our mind is signaling that it needs a break. The creative ideas WILL return. They are asking for some space and we need to listen.

I hope you’ll try these tips the next time you are feeling stuck. Take that break, go for that walk, try something new and see what works best for you!

I’m currently hard at work preparing to launch my monthly pattern design membership. If you’re interested in learning more, please join the waiting list. I’ll keep you posted with more details as the launch date gets closer.

Join me tomorrow on Facebook for my weekly Wednesday chat at noon PST. I'll be answering a bunch of questions from my tribe about art, creativity and pattern design.

And remember, It’s Never Too Late To Create.

Xo

Anne

Please share this blog with your friends and family. I'd love for them to read it.

Next week is the end of August! If you'd like to get my free wallpapers for phone and desktop, as well as a printable calendar for September, join my email list. I'd love to have you in my tribe!

The Pivotal Moment That Changed Everything For Me

Fasten your seatbelts because this blog post is going to be really raw. I’m finally ready to share the pivotal moment that changed everything in my life and led to my transformation from corporate employee to pattern design entrepreneur.

As some of you know, I spent many years working my way up the corporate ladder at global retailers including Esprit, Gap and Old Navy. Things seemed to be going along just fine but, in early March 2012, during the annual review period at Gap Inc., I got called into my boss’s office and I’ll never forget the words he said: “Your job has been eliminated.”

He went on to describe the exit process and who knows what else. I wasn’t listening anymore because I was in a state of shock. I had always gotten good reviews, raises and bonuses. I’d been given opportunities to move around and try different roles. I was just about to celebrate 15 years with the company.

I remember him telling me to take the rest of the day off and, in a complete daze, I climbed into my car and started the drive home. It was a beautiful day in San Francisco and as I drove along the Embarcadero, my first thought was: “I can’t call my husband in the middle of the day with this news. It will be way too distracting for him.” I called my mom.

Trying to make light of the situation, I think I said something like: “Well, in today’s news, I just got laid off…” I think my mom said: “You’re kidding?!?! That’s not possible…” I don’t remember much about that conversation except that she was completely supportive, saying things would be okay.

Well, things were not okay and I didn’t know how to handle it. It’s hard to describe but I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that this company, where I’d worked for almost 15 years, wasn’t offering me something else. I’d moved around before when a function was re-organized and I had always been offered, or had found, another role where I could be effective, support the company’s goals, deliver results and continue along the corporate career path.

Instead of taking time to rest and reflect after years of constant travel and stress, I was determined to find another role somewhere inside the company. I kept thinking: It’s a huge company. There are lots of jobs. I don't want to leave. There has to be SOMETHING.

I started reaching out to division heads and human resources leaders across the company to:

·      set up informational interviews,

·      let them know I was available, and

·      highlight my accomplishments

They took my meetings, listened, read my resume (or didn’t), nodded and said they’d let me know if something appropriate came up. But nothing did.

One meeting in particular stands out. Soon after my boss terminated me, the company announced that he was getting a huge promotion. His replacement was starting soon and I was eager to meet him. My thinking was that since he was new, he might want to build his own team and there might be a place on it for me.

After walking him through my year-end results and giving him a chance to look over my resume, he looked up and said: “Who did you piss off? With credentials and results like yours, you must have really pissed someone off!” In the moment, I didn’t know how to react. It had never occurred to me that I’d pissed someone off and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out who that might be or why that would be his interpretation. Go figure.  

I didn’t find another job there and struggled to hold a corporate job anywhere for several years afterwards. I was determined to land a corporate job somewhere else in the Bay Area and while I did get hired at several places, nothing stuck. One job that lasted 6 months led to another that lasted 18 months that led to another that lasted a year until I finally gave up.

Here’s where the story changes.

Throughout this period, my husband and teenage son were incredibly supportive. So were my parents and many dear friends. I was depressed and in a continual daze going through the motions in a never-ending series of job interviews. I needed something to help me snap out of it.

The idea of starting my own business was floating around in my head but I didn’t have any idea where to start. As it happened, a former Gap Inc colleague, Jennifer Lee, reached out to talk to me about her Build Your Business the Right-Brain Way book and programs. She had left the company several years earlier to pursue her passion.

It’s a wonderful self-paced course about how to start your own business with a creative mindset. Click on the image above to explore her programs.

At some point in the course, I was introduced to Carla Sonheim, a fabulous, quirky artist based in Seattle who teaches and curates online art classes of all shapes and sizes. I was immediately drawn in by her website, her personality and her class offerings. My husband bought one of her classes for me for Christmas and my new life began!

I’ve never met Carla but I love her dearly and owe her so much. I highly recommend her classes. Click on the image above to visit her website.

My exploration of all kinds of art and creative ventures led from that first class. Most importantly, they brought joy into my life again. I’d wake up smiling, eager to get started on a new project or finish an assignment. Wonderful friendships grew out of connections made inside Facebook groups full of other students taking the same course together. These environments are supportive, encouraging, joyful. This experience completely changed my outlook on the next phase of my life.

Along this journey, I discovered pattern design and I’ve been hooked ever since. Hours spent learning Adobe Illustrator fly by without me even noticing. Diving into the intricacies and infinite possibilities of making a repeating pattern is completely addicting. I don’t want to go to sleep! And I jump out of bed eager to keep working, playing with color, scale and layers.

I’ve discovered a whole world of pattern designers who are eager to support each other and share the joyful possibilities available in this creative career path. Here are images of my newest patterns on pillow shams. The feeling of bringing your designs to life on real products is indescribable!

Wow. Fast forward to now.  I’m full of gratitude as I build my own small business around my passion for pattern design. It took twists and turns to get here but I’ve arrived and I’ve found my calling. I’m eager to share this passion with you in the hopes that it brings you joy and fulfillment as it has me.

I invite you to explore my beginning pattern design class which I’m offering for just $10.00. I want to make learning pattern design accessible to as many people as possible. It’s called From Sketch to Wrapping Paper.

Click on the image below to access a short video where I describe what my students love about this class and my passion for teaching.

I’m currently hard at work preparing to launch my monthly pattern design membership. If you’re interested in learning more, please join the waiting list. I’ll keep you posted with more details as the launch date gets closer.

Join me tomorrow on Facebook for my weekly Wednesday chat at noon PST. We’ll be talking about… you guessed it: Pattern Design!

And remember, It’s Never Too Late To Create.

Xo,

Anne

Please share this blog with your friends and family. I'd love for them to read it.

Finding Inspiration for My First Pattern Collection

Last week we talked about Pattern Design: what it is and why I’m so passionate about it. I’m still participating in the 100-day challenge and my daily creative task is to make a pattern. As you can probably imagine, I’m learning a lot about myself, how to stay motivated and find inspiration to keep going each day. So this topic is very top of mind!

One of my goals during this challenge is to create pattern collections instead of just creating one-off or standalone patterns. We are on day 22 of the challenge and I’m super excited to share that I’ve just completed my first collection.

I’m excited to share my process with you over the next several weeks. We’ll cover everything from gathering inspiration to finalizing color and scale and creating product mockups. Creating patterns is so much fun. I needed help and support when I first got started designing patterns and you may too.

To help you, I've included a free guide called: Top 5 Tips to Getting Started in Pattern Design. Scroll down to see it!

Now, let's jump in and start with what a pattern collection consists of and how to find and gather inspiration.

What is a pattern “collection”?

Surface pattern designers frequently design in collections which are a series of coordinating prints that work well together. Quilters love collections because they can mix and match patterns from a collection to make interesting designs. Fabric companies and sewing enthusiasts also like collections because they enable interesting coordinating details on the cuffs of a blouse, for example. Or on the inside of a shirt collar.

Definitions vary but generally a collection is made up of 8-10 patterns. Within the collection you’ll find:

-       1-2 hero prints; these are the stars of the show; the print that immediately grabs your attention

-       3-4 secondary prints: these act like character actors if we stick with the star analogy or members of supporting cast

-       3-4 blender prints or tertiary prints: these are very simple, yet also beautiful patterns that really bring the entire collection together and blend beautifully with the more colorful or ornate patterns in the collection

A smaller, slightly less involved collection might be a mini-collection that includes:

-       1 hero print

-       3 secondary prints, and

-       2 blender prints

Here is a beautiful example of a collection by Elizabeth Olwen, a pattern designer currently living in Portugal. She is inspired by bold prints from the 1960s that she was surrounded by as a young child. She carries that style forward with a modern twist. I find her style distinctive, recognizable and joyful.

 Elizabeth Olwen's Morning Song Collection. Available at Cloud9 Fabrics.

Elizabeth Olwen's Morning Song Collection. Available at Cloud9 Fabrics.

The last thing I’ll say for now about collections is that individual prints within the collection may be offered in two or more color options. As you can see in the image above, Elizabeth designed several hero and secondary prints and then offers her blender prints in two or even sometimes three different colors.

For example, the small leaf print is offered in orange, dark purple and grey. The number of color options offered may be based on the design brief from the fabric company or left up to the designer’s discretion.

Finding and Gathering Inspiration

Now let’s move on to the first step in the pattern collection creation process: finding and gathering inspiration.

Before I start sketching or painting elements for my patterns, I like to determine a theme or overall story for the collection. This involves gathering photographs, magazine images, objects and other items that inspire me and relate to the theme I’ve picked.

Other places to find inspiration include:

-       Objects in your home that inspire you

-       Doodles in your sketchbook

-       Stories in your journal

-       Photographs on your iPhone

-       Coffee table books with beautiful images that relate to your theme

-       Print and pattern blogs and magazines

Once you’ve found enough, and sometimes this part can get a little overwhelming, it’s fun to create a mood board. A mood board can be a physical board that you attach images to or you can build a digital version.

Create your own Pinterest board with images on it that relate to the theme of your collection. Pin additional images there so you have everything in one place.

Another option is to create a template in Illustrator or another design app and drop copies of your images there.  Include color ideas and key words that support your theme.  Name it to help give you a direction or a clear path as you start down the drawing and sketching process.

Here is just a small snapshot of what popped up when I searched Pinterest for Liberty prints.

I picked Liberty prints as the inspiration for my first pattern collection because I wore them as a child growing up in Paris. Read more about my experiences there. A fond childhood memory is a fabulous vacation spent in Greece with pictures of me and one of my sisters wearing matching Liberty print shirt dresses.

Another key piece of inspiration for this collection comes from a Kate Spade floral blouse that I purchased in her Soho store over 20 years ago. I wore this blouse until it literally tore into pieces. I can't wear it any more but I still have it! 

As a lover of flowers generally, and Liberty prints in particular, this seemed like a natural place for me to start when building my first pattern collection. I knew this theme would give me plenty of creative inspiration.

Creating a mood board is not entirely necessary but it can help keep you focused and bring you back to your original inspiration when you get distracted. It’s a great resource to keep near you as you start the design process. I referenced back to mine often and it always brought a smile to my face along with new energy and determination.

Join me again next week as we move into the drawing and sketching part of the process.

And before you go, download my Top 5 Tips for Getting Started in Pattern Design

Remember, It’s Never Too Late To Create!

Xo,

Anne

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Are You Curious About Surface Pattern Design?

Today I’m excited to share my love of pattern design with you. I discovered this very special niche inside the art and design world while exploring online art classes many years ago and I fell in love with it. The official industry name is surface pattern design.

We are surrounded by patterns on everything we wear, use and own. Pattern designers are the creators behind the patterns on your clothing, home décor items, upholstery and more. I had no idea how many industries exist to support surface pattern designers but they run the gamut from fabric to stationary to furnishings, just to name the big ones.

Once I learned how to make my first pattern, I was completed hooked! I now sell a variety of products with my own patterns on them. It’s a great way to gain passive income and the feeling of seeing and holding real products with your own designs on them is indescribable!

 What is Surface Pattern Design?

Patterns are everywhere: on our clothing, in our homes on pillows, sheets and drapes, and on nearly every product imaginable. Pattern designers are the creative artists behind all those patterns and surface pattern design is an official occupation and career choice for creatives.

Some famous pattern designers include:

  • William Morris, best known for intricate wallpaper designs
  • Emilio Pucci, best known for geometric prints in a kaleidoscope of colors
  • Marimekko, best known for bold, large scale prints, and
  • Orla Kiely, best known for modern, simple geometric prints

Google them to see examples of their work! They have very different and truly unique styles. You'll likely recognizable many of them.

What Equipment is Required?

While most patterns start with hand-drawn or painted artwork, the creation of the “repeat”, which is the pattern design itself that repeats endlessly, is done on the computer.

The equipment you need is:

  • A scanner – I have an HP Officejet 7610
    • alternatively, when you are just starting out, you can use your smartphone
  • A computer – I’m a huge fan of Apple products and use a 27-inch iMac
  • Adobe Illustrator – the application in which you create your patterns
    • Adobe offers free 14-day trials
  • A color printer – I have an HP Color Laser Jet CP2025

How to Make Your First Pattern

You can make a pattern from existing artwork you’ve created including from pencil drawings, ink sketches, watercolor or other paintings.

The basic process involves these key steps:

·      Creating your original artwork

·      Scanning it into the computer

·      Digitizing it – to make it infinitely scalable

·      Choosing a color palette and applying color

·      Creating the “repeat” itself

·      Scaling and recoloring as necessary

Watch this short tutorial where I demonstrate and explain the key steps. It’s a very high-level overview of the process to give you a taste for what’s involved.

What I Love Most About Pattern Design

Once I got the hang of pattern design, I became totally engrossed. Playing with motifs, exploring color options, and changing the scale of my patterns for specific products is incredibly rewarding and fun.

I don’t want to minimize what’s involved in getting started in pattern design. I had never used Adobe Illustrator before and was very intimidated by it initially. But I’m a lifelong learner and I know that if I take something new step-by-step and have patience, I can learn pretty much anything.

Now it’s an incredible thrill to have coffee mugs, notebooks, phone cases, pillows, wrapping paper and many other products with my very own designs on them. A nice bonus is the passive income that I earn from selling these products and other artwork on print-on-demand sites like Society6.

To further hone my skills and get lots of great practice, I’m currently participating in a 100-day challenge. My “task” for 100 days in a row is to create a new pattern every day. I wrote about 100-day challenges in a two part blog post if you'd like to learn more about them.

One of my key goals this year is to create several collections of patterns, publish my portfolio and send it out to fabric companies to explore licensing with them. This is a super daunting goal but if I approach it in my usual way, step-by-step, I hope to succeed!

Here is a small sample of recent patterns I’ve designed.

How to Get Started in Pattern Design

My joy and enthusiasm for this creative practice led me to create a class for beginners called: From Sketch to Wrapping Paper. It’s my most popular class on Skillshare with over 300 students so far.

Here is what they are saying about the class:

 “Anne, I LOVED this class! Thank you for the clear instructions in navigating Adobe Illustrator. Hope to put my work on wrapping paper, etc.” Heidi Segner

“Step-by-step instructions on how to create gift wrap sheets! Lots of good info.” Lyndi Goette

“I love the class. Very detailed AI class for total beginner like me. Thanks so much.” Aida Kazaman

I also highly recommend the surface pattern design classes on Skillshare offered by Bonnie Christine. She is a wonderful teacher and beautiful designer.

To wrap up, it’s the end of the month so my email subscribers will receive their monthly freebies including a phone and laptop wallpaper pattern as well as a printable August calendar featuring this month’s pattern design.

fridge August FREE calendar for 2018-08.jpg

Join my list if you’d like to receive these as well as weekly art inspiration, free tutorials and access to our private Facebook group, Anne’s Art Club.

Remember, It’s Never Too Late To Create!

Xo,

Anne

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Top Three Strategies for Selling Your Artwork Online

Last week I shared the step-by-step process for setting up your own shop on Society6. As one of the most popular POD (print-on-demand) websites, it’s a great place to get started selling your artwork online.

Once your shop is set up, you need to start marketing!

Let’s dive into my top three strategies for generating sales. As a creative entrepreneur, I struggle with the sales and marketing side of my business. I would much prefer to spend all my time creating. However, these three strategies are fairly easy to implement. And they work!

Strategy One: Create Seasonal Collections

Inside Society6, you can create collections. Collections are groups of products that you showcase together.  They work really well to highlight your seasonal offerings, showcase new work, and create gift set ideas.

For example, in June, I created a series of patterns to celebrate the 4th of July. In my month-end blog, I shared free downloadable wrapping sheets with red, white and blue designs.

As part of my 4th of July marketing efforts, I highlighted those specific, seasonal products by putting them into a collection within my Society 6 shop. That makes it easy for customers to focus on items they need for that particular holiday. Beach towels, serving trays, coasters, mugs and tote bags were very popular!

Collections are also a great way to bundle products with matching or coordinating patterns that customers love to purchase as gift sets. At the end of the school year, when parents are searching for great teacher gifts, you might put matching mugs, notebooks and tote bags into a "teacher's gift" collection. 

Watch this short video to learn how to set up a collection inside your account on Society6. 

Strategy Two: Take Advantage of Society6 Sales Events

Society6 offers sales A LOT. Their favorite “go to” sales are:

·      25% off everything

·      Free shipping

·      20% off certain categories

As a Society6 shop owner, you’ll be notified in advance when the next sale is happening. You will also receive a PNG overlay file that you can use on social media to let everyone know the details. 

I recommend preparing a social media post that highlights your newest items and lets your customers know that a sale is happening.

If you enjoy posting on Instagram, make sure you have links in your bio. Update your Society6 link with a catchy name like: Shop Now for 25% OFF! Your link will take customers directly to your shop or directly to a collection that you have created specifically for that sale. With just one click, customers can shop your latest offerings and gain access to the sale code right away.

Creating a sale template for your social media posts is super helpful and makes staying current just a little bit easier. A tutorial on how to create and reuse this template might be great for a future blog post! What do you think?

Strategy Three: Market Your Shop Often

As part of my creative practice, I try to create something new every day. These days I alternate between watercolor work and pattern design.

Once a piece is finished, I start thinking about what products it will look pretty on. And who amongst my customers, friends and family might need something new for an upcoming event or celebration.

My "go to" marketing tactics include:

·      Posting new artwork in the sidebar of my blog (check out my new pattern designs!)

·      Refreshing the “gallery” page on my website (haven't done this is a while...)

·      Posting new work on my social media channels

Posting new artwork in the sidebar of my blog and inside my "gallery" page is fun. It's great to see the progress you are making. And I love having a chronology of sorts when I scroll through older work.

Posting on social media is a whole different matter. As I said at the beginning, I'm not a good sales person and spend 80% of my time creating and only 20% of my time on sales and marketing. The experts say those numbers should be reversed!

However, I try my best and these three strategies work and I find them pretty easy to implement.

Please try them yourself and let me know how they work for you!

Next week is the last week in the month so, if you are on my email list, you’ll receive my monthly freebies for August.

I’m super excited about next month’s design. If you’d like to receive it join my tribe!

Remember, It’s Never Too Late To Create.

Xo,

Anne

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Get Started on Society6 in Three Easy Steps

Have you ever wanted to sell your artwork as art prints or on products such as tabletop or home decor items? If the answer is yes, this blog is for you!

I’m excited to share the step-by-step process to get you started selling your artwork on one of the most popular print-on-demand platforms: Society6.

What’s a print-on-demand site and what's Society6?

Print-on-demand sites are online businesses that sell your artwork on a variety of products. They handle all the printing, production, shipping and returns. You set up your “shop” on the platform, upload your artwork, and select the products you want to sell. You receive royalty payments, which are generally around 10%, based on how many products you sell each month.

They are called “print-on-demand” companies because nothing is produced until the company receives an order. What’s great about this business model for artists and creatives is that, while it might seem like 10% isn’t much in terms of a royalty payment, it is actually quite fair since you don’t need to produce or own any inventory, handle shipments, or manage returns.

Society6 is one of the most popular print-on-demand (POD) companies today and I'll walk you through, step-by-step, how to get started selling your art on this platform.

I've had a shop on Society6 for several years now. However, I remember how challenging it was initially to get everything set up. My goal is to make this a lot easier for you by providing the exact step-by-step process with screenshots to help you along the way.

Let's jump right in! Here are the 3 steps to get you started:

Step One: Create An Account & Set Up Your Profile Page

Creating an account is free and all you need is an email address and a password. Enter society6.com in your browser and when the site appears, look for Join/Login in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.

Here is a screenshot. Join/Login is on the far right, next to the star and the shopping cart icons.

Join:Login.png

Click join/login, enter your email, create a password and click continue.

Once you have an account, it’s important to create your profile.

There are 3 key components to setting up your profile:

  • A cover image: recommended size 1,000 by 100 pixels in JPG or PNG format
  • Your avatar: I use my photo but you can use a version of your logo instead if you prefer
  • Your bio: keep this short, only the first 75 characters will display. Customers can always click “more” to read your full bio.

Spend some timing exploring other artist's profiles before deciding how you want to approach your profile assets. It's both FUN and inspiring to see how each artist approached their profile.

These two recommendations should help you build your profile page:

  1. Use branding elements that are consistent across your website and social media channels. If you have a logo, use it. Keep your bio consistent with the information on your website's "about" page. Use a photo people will recognize from your other channels as well.
  2. Don't spend too much time worrying about creating the perfect banner! Customers will spend 90% of their time looking at the products in your shop. Keep it simple and in line with your brand and design esthetic.

Your banner, photo and a portion of your bio will always appear ABOVE your products. They are essentially a window into your "shop".

Here is what mine looks like:

Step Two: Upload Your Artwork

This is where the fun begins!

Once your profile is set up, click on the black circle icon with two white “eyes” inside. It’s right next to the star and shopping cart icons in the upper right-hand corner of the Society6 home page. The icon looks like this:

S6 menu icon.png

 

Once you click on it, a drop-down menu appears. Select "manage my posts" which is one of the first options. The drop-down menu looks like this:

Screen Shot 2018-07-17 at 4.55.31 PM.png

Once you are in the “manage my posts” screen, click on the “art post” button which is in the upper portion of the page. It looks like this:

S6 art post button.png

After you click the "art post" button, you'll see an "upload your artwork" page which looks like this:

S6 upload your artwork screen.png

Follow these Society6 recommendations for uploading your artwork:

1.     Save your artwork as a PNG or JPG file with a resolution of at least 150 dpi.

2.     The best size to start with is 6500 by 6500 pixels. This size will enable most products.

3.     Some products like leggings and clear phone cases require specific image size or specifications.

Here is a link to the Seller Guide for additional details.

When you are ready, click inside the "upload your artwork" box and select your artwork file from your computer.

Before proceeding, you'll need to select the “I own all rights to this image” box (shown below) which is required by Society6 to protect all of us from copyright infringement. Then click on "go to the next step".

On the next screen you'll enter some key information about your artwork including:

  • title of artwork
  • category
  • tags (up to 20), and
  • a short description

The page where you enter these details looks like this:

Enter info screen.png

Click on "Continue to create products".

Step Three: Select Your Products

Society6 offers over 50 products! They are organized into 9 categories:

·      Wall art

·      Home décor

·      Pillows and bedding

·      Bath

·      Tabletop

·      Stickers & Stationary

·      Tech

·      Apparel, and

·      Bags

You select the products you want to sell by toggling an “on/off” switch below each item. Prices are set by Society6 with one key exception: art prints. Within the wall art category, you can set your own prices for:

·      Art prints

·      Framed art prints, and

·      Canvas prints

My recommendation on pricing for prints is to look at what other artists are charging and stay within that range. You don't actually enter the price into the system, but rather the markup amount, which is added to the base price set by Society6.

To set the markup amount on art prints, click on your art print image. On the next screen, change the markup amount by clicking on the up or down arrows. The markup is the amount you will be paid when a customer purchases a print.

Once you have finished selecting all of the products you’d like to sell, hit PUBLISH!

And that’s it! You now have a “shop” ready to go and can begin earning passive income from your artwork. 

If reading through this step-by-step process was a bit overwhelming, pop over to Skillshare and watch my class called: Create & Sell Mixed Media Art Prints. The class covers both a mixed media technique for creating floral bouquets and how to set up your shop on Society6.

It includes video lessons where I demonstrate each of the steps outlined here to get you started on Society6. You may find it a lot easier to watch the videos than to read the instructions even with all the screenshots I've provided.

If you join Skillshare through my private link, you get 2 months FREE!

Next week I’ll share more tips including how to:

  • create “collections”,
  • take advantage of Society6 sales, and
  • market your shop and your products

I can't wait to see your shop and learn more about what products are selling best for you.

Here are some of my most popular art prints.

Explore my shop and see what’s on sale today.

Remember, It’s Never Too Late to Create!

Xo,

Anne

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Reykjavik, London and Enniscorthy, oh my!

I’m back from a fabulous two-and-a-half-week vacation in Iceland, England and Ireland. It was amazing so I've decided to do something a little different this week by sharing a travel blog of our adventures!

While I didn't do any of my own art during this trip, art in its many forms was front and center throughout. Art was well represented through plays, museums, beautiful special exhibits, gorgeous scenery and delicious food!

REYKAJVIK

Although it was cold and rainy while we were there, even in the middle of their summer, we enjoyed a walking tour of the city and several longer tours during our very short stay. Waterfalls, a glacier, a black sandy beach and incredible caves are only a small sample of the beautiful scenery.

Here are a few pictures that give you a sense of the beauty and volcanic nature of the environment.

We were only In Reykjavik long enough for one dinner but my husband found an incredible restaurant called Nostra that was delicious. 

We didn't make it to the Blue Lagoon which is apparently a very popular attraction. I guess that means we will have to go back to Iceland again sometime!

LONDON

After Reykajvik, we spent a full week in London and the weather was A-MAZ-ING! It was actually hot, in the mid-80s, with clear, blue skies.

We love Shakespeare and went to see four plays at The Globe Theater. The Globe is wonderful because you can buy “groundling” tickets and stand right at the edge of the stage just like theater goers did in Shakespeare’s day. We saw Hamlet, As You Like It, Two Noble Kinsmen and The Winter’s Tale.

Hamlet was wonderful, in part because Hamlet was played with great dexterity by Michelle Terry who is also the new artistic director. We had never seen Two Noble Kinsmen before so that was also a real treat. My husband's goal of seeing Shakespeare's entire cannon is now one step closer!

We visited both the Tate Modern, which had a special Picasso exhibit, and the Tate Britain, which had a fabulous special exhibit called Monet and Architecture. The Monet exhibit was a very interesting take on his work through the lens of the buildings in his paintings. 

It was beautifully curated with separate rooms at the end highlighting his Rouen Cathedral series, the Waterloo Bridge & House of Parliament series and finally his San Giorgio Maggiore and The Grand Canal, Venice series. 

Here are pictures of London at sunset and Shakespeare's Globe Theater.

We were lucky to be in London for Christo’s installation of The London Mastaba, which consists of 7500 horizontally stacked barrels floating in Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park. My son and I walked all the way around the lake in order to get views of it from every possible angle.

I took a short video although it doesn’t really do the structure or the surroundings justice. But look at that blue, cloudless sky!

There is, of course, delicious food in London. These are three of our favorite places:

St. John which specializes in pork

Monmouth Kitchen which offers a delightful mix of Italian and Peruvian small plates, and

Frog by Adam Handling which is a bit pretentious but serves both delicious food and wonderful wine parings.

DUBLIN, ENNISCORTHY, WEXFORD, AND KILKENNY

After London, we gathered for a week with fourteen members of our family in a beautiful reconstructed mini-castle outside of Enniscorthy in south eastern Ireland.

The castle is about two hours outside of Dublin so we all gathered in Dublin first. We spent a lovely day exploring Dublin before driving out to the countryside.

The mini-castle was amazing and the owners own and operate a working dairy farm right next door. They have only remodeled half of the original structure which you can see in these pictures. The weather was also perfect with blue skies alternating with white puffy clouds. We did not get a drop of rain!

This area of Ireland is beautiful, pastoral and devoid of tourists. Most tourists go to the western part of Ireland to visit Galway and the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare.  Few people visit the eastern part of the island even though it offers beautiful rolling hills, charming small towns and great food.

We alternated between cooking in and eating out. There were many great choices in nearby towns including Wexford and Kilkenny. We had a wonderful meal at La Cote, which has a Michelin star, and features fresh seafood. And my son’s favorite place was Green Acres where he had a spectacular Irish brisket.

As I mentioned at the outset, I didn’t do any art while we were away. I had packed my small watercolor set and I also had my iPad Pro and Apple Pencil with me. However, our days and nights were full of scenic adventures, family time, great museums and delicious meals.

All of the "culture" we experienced throughout the trip was rejuvenating. And it's wonderful to take a short break periodically to rest and recharge our creative batteries.

I'm excited to be home and to jump back into my creative practice.

Remember, It’s Never Too Late To Create.

Xo,

Anne

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Watercolor Flowers: My Newest Skillshare Class

I’m so excited to blog about my newest Skillshare class: Watercolor Flowers. If you’ve been reading my blog for the past month or so, you know I’ve been doing a TON of watercolor work and am experiencing a renewed love for this medium.

I was inspired to create this class by Yao Cheng, a beautiful watercolor artist in Ohio. She was classically trained in the arts and spent time in Asia learning Chinese painting techniques. You can check out her lovely work on her website Yao Cheng Design.

In my blog 5 Reasons to Give Watercolor a Try, I mentioned that I was following her 31 days of painting flowers class on creativebug.com.

Our styles are totally different. And I cannot even begin to compare my work with hers. She is a classically trained artist with a beautiful, elegant style. I’m a self-taught watercolorist and am constantly learning and developing my skills.

I’m not sure why, but I don’t sketch before I start painting. Maybe it's because I’m a neat freak, something I mentioned in that same blog post! It bothers me that you can’t completely erase pencil marks once you have applied watercolor, or other paint. As a result, I don’t sketch first, I just jump right in!

Because I don’t have an outline to follow, I often use my initial brush strokes to outline the shape I’m painting. I’ll then add internal details and apply other watercolor techniques, such as wet on wet or color mixing, once my outline is in place.

My favorite coffee table book that is full of gorgeous flowers that inspire my watercolor work, is Caroline Roehm’s Flowers published in 2012. The photography is spectacular and every flower featured in the book is represented in several varieties and a range of colors. There a link to the book in the sidebar area.

Flowers book.jpg

I’m super excited that Skillshare decided to feature my class in their Fine Art section this month. I do not consider myself a fine art professional. When describing what I do, I always say: I’m an artist with a little “a”!

I’d love for you to explore this class. You can watch the introductory video and if you decide to join Skillshare after watching it, you’ll get 2 months FREE!

If you are already one of my students on Skillshare, THANK YOU! One of the odd things about how Skillshare works is that teachers don’t get access to anyone’s email or contact information. I do my best to connect with students through the discussion area that’s available below each class but not everyone uses that. And it’s not the same as direct email contact.

If you’d like to join my email list, please join here. You’ll receive weekly art inspiration, free tutorials, monthly freebies and direct access to me through our private Facebook group, Anne’s Art Club.

I hope to see you inside Anne’s Art Club or in another one of my classes soon!

Remember, It’s Never Too Late To Create.

Xo,

Anne

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Take a line for a Walk

I live in the beautiful town of Mill Valley, a short drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, north of San Francisco. I’m very fortunate that just a few blocks from my house is a gorgeous co-working space called The Hivery. I taught my first live creative workshop there last week and it was a BLAST! I’m still so excited by how it went that I have to share it with you this week.

All of the photos in this blog were taken by my friend and spectacularly talented photographer: Kim Thompson Steel.

web_Anne_CreativityCircle_005.jpg

I discovered The Hivery several years ago and it’s one of the most spectacular environments to work in. Even more importantly, it’s a community of vibrant, kind, encouraging women who are all working towards or on their “What’s Next” to create meaningful, happy careers and families. Incredible partnerships and collaborations happen there all the time and I'll tell you about several of mine in future blogs!

The founder and CEO, Grace Kraaijvanger, and her team recently decided to launch a new series of creative workshops called Creativity Circles. These take place on the first Thursday of every month from 12:30 to 1:45pm in the beautiful Creative Studio. I was honored to be asked to kick off the very first one this past week!

web_Anne_CreativityCircle_099.jpg

As I wrote in my blog a few weeks ago, I’m a huge fan of Paul Klee. One of his basic art lessons, that he taught at Bauhaus in the 1920s, was called: Take a Line for a Walk.  You can learn more about his teaching style and approach in his book: Pedagogical Sketchbook, which became his semi-official textbook.

Creating a workshop around this idea seemed like a great place to start!

I was also inspired by one of my favorite online teachers: Diane Culhane. She is a wonderful ceramic artist, painter and art educator living in West Seattle.  Her latest book is called: If You Can Doodle, You Can Paint. Taking a line for a walk is a technique she uses in her doodles.

My goals for the workshop were for students to:

·      Have fun

·      Enjoy time and space to create

·      Meet other creatives in a safe and encouraging environment

We kicked off the workshop at 12:30 and I was delighted that several people I actually knew showed up! That put me at ease right away.

After a quick introduction to Paul Klee’s work and his use of line, form and color, we dove right in.

Participants began by making marks with black ink on kraft paper, moving from straight lines to curved lines to representational shapes.

One of the most rewarding parts of teaching is learning from students and seeing how they interpret each exercise in their own unique way. One student in particular, my friend Tracey Pettis, who has a beautiful business called Fresh Portraits brought a photo of Jimmy Hendrick with her and did these exercises based on his portrait.

web_Anne_CreativityCircle_083.jpg

After the class wrapped up, I had the opportunity to showcase my “pop up” shop with my most current designs on wrapping paper, notebooks, mugs,  tote bags and greeting cards. It was perfect timing because most schools are finally out and parents need teacher’s gifts! Click HERE for my most current designs or email me directly at anne@annelafollette.com to order.

Most importantly, we all had a great time, enjoyed each other's company, explored our creativity for an hour and had fun. I’ll close with this delightful picture of the whole group.

web_Anne_CreativityCircle_094.jpg

Remember, It’s Never Too Late To Create!

Xo,

Anne

P.S. I just hit "publish" on my newest Skillshare class: Watercolor Flowers. Check out the intro video and get 2 months FREE!

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Three DIY Gift Ideas for Dad

Father’s Day usually sneaks up on me for some reason. This year, however, I’ve been brainstorming DIY ideas well in advance of Sunday, June 17th.

Here are three ideas that are fun, easy to do, and will make him feel special on his special day.

Make A Handmade Card

My husband, Tom, is an avid bicyclist. In the past, I’ve purchased cards with bikes on them for various occasions but this year I decided to make my own. I love sketching bikes and had several drawings to choose from.

I decided to go with the blue and red more old-fashioned bike and here is a short video showing you how I made his actual card using Adobe Illustrator.

 

Download a free copy of my blue bike illustration HERE. It's my gift to you. I hope you enjoy using it on a Father's Day card or for another happy occasion.

Create a Sweet Little Packet

To ensure that all the special Dads in my family have something to open on Father's Day, and without breaking the bank, I made a sweet little packet using a fold called the regency fold.

Sticking with the bicycle theme, I created a simple bicycle pattern for my wrapping paper.

 My simple bike pattern

My simple bike pattern

Then I folded it into a regency fold. I'll include a quote, a small piece of artwork, or a short poem inside.  Watch my short video demonstrating how to make a regency fold. 

Make A Yummy Dinner!

One of our favorite family recipes is Tagliatelle Contadina with Silvano.  I tried this recipe for the first time many years ago after it appeared in one of Martha Stewart's magazines. It's really easy and since we are only a family of three, there are plenty of left overs!

Try it this Father's Day and let me know if everyone enjoyed it!

Tagliatelle Contadina with Silvano.png

I hope you all have a wonderful week and that one or more of these ideas is helpful as you start to prepare for Father's Day.

Remember, It's Never Too Late To Create!

xo,

Anne

Month-End FREEBIES & Five Techniques I Learned From Paul Klee

As we wrap up the month of May, I've been busy creating my June freebies for my email subscribers. At the end of every month, I send them a new wallpaper pattern for their phone and desktop or laptop computer as well as a printable calendar. My copy of the calendar goes on the fridge!

If you are not on my list but would like to join and receive these freebies, JOIN HERE.

This citrus pattern was inspired by the recent hot weather and sipping tall lemonades in the afternoon sun.

In our Facebook LIVE session last week, inside Anne's Art Club, we talked about a watercolor technique used by Paul Klee, one of my favorite artists. Here's a link to the FB LIVE session in case you missed it.

I love studying painters whose work I admire. Exploring their work helps me discover new techniques that I can try to apply, in some small way, in my own work.

After the live session, I realized that I learned a lot more from him than just the layering technique we talked about. Here are five techniques I learned from studying his work.

Give these a try in your watercolor practice!

GRIDS

Paul Klee is famous for his grids. He created his first one in 1914 after returning from a trip to Tunisia. He painted his last one the year he died in 1940.

One of the very appealing things I find about his work is that you can find glimpses of grids, or the use of geometric shapes, throughout his work. 

His grids are hand-drawn which gives them a bit of wonkiness. They look simple but are actually quite challenging to make. Or at least my practice attempts don't look very interesting or complex! The whole effect changes quite dramatically if you use a ruler instead of drawing your lines by hand. Try a few yourself!

 WikiMedia Commons image from Paul Klee's Temporis Collection

WikiMedia Commons image from Paul Klee's Temporis Collection

WARM/COOL COLORS

Klee was very inspired by color and color theory and became one of the great teachers of color theory of his time. He famously said: "Color and I are one. I am a painter." 

One of his color techniques is using warm colors in the interior portion of a piece while surrounding those warm colors with cool colors. Or doing the opposite. 

This is a HUGE area of study and it's a lot of fun to experiment using these guidelines. See what interesting combinations you come up with!

POP COLORS

Klee also creates interest by using a pop color in his grids. Sometimes that's by using white to lighten a piece and draw the eye to a specific area of the grid. Sometimes it's a deep, vibrant red! What pop color appeals to you most? 

NARROW COLOR PALETTE

Even when he uses a narrow color palette, his application of layers of those colors creates endless tones and combinations. This is where the layering technique comes into play. A fun exercise to do is pick 3 colors to work with. Once your first layer is completely dry, apply a second layer of some (or all) of those colors. Apply them in interesting ways to create new color combinations.

PATIENCE

The entire process of creating these grid paintings takes a lot of patience. From thinking through a grid layout, to picking the color palette, applying the warm/cool layout and finally the layering technique is mesmerizing and meditative at the same time. My favorite online teacher, Carla Sonheim, recommends listening to Mozart or Beethoven while you paint these!

Here are three of my practice attempts completed several years ago.

I'm excited to give them a try again. And I hope you will too. I'd love to see them in our private Facebook group.

If you need some help getting started with watercolor, check out my Skillshare class: BEGINNING WATERCOLOR. If you join Skillshare through my PRIVATE LINK, you'll get 2 months FREE!

Read my blog from a few weeks ago where I share my top 5 reasons to give watercolor a try. I love this medium and encourage you to give it a try!

See you again next week.

And remember, It's Never too Late to Create!

xo,

Anne

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What I Learned From My First FREE 5-Day Challenge

Challenges seem to be a “thing” right now.  I listened to a great podcast by Amy Porterfield where she interviewed Zach Spuckler, a Facebook ad expert who runs challenges fairly often. That inspired me to run my own!

I kicked it off in a blog post last month called FREE TRAINING! Create Your First Video in Just 5 Days.

The goal of most free challenges is to:

·      grow your email list,

·      provide valuable free content,

·      engage with participants every day of the challenge,

·      have FUN, and

·      offer something at the end (a paid course or membership)  

My main goal was to learn all the technical aspects of what’s involved since I had never done one before. And there are a LOT of components to learn. These include:

·      creating FB ads,

·      setting up an email sequence,

·      recording daily video trainings,

·      creating additional training cheat sheets,

·      leading daily Facebook LIVE sessions, and

·      creating a “next steps” sales sequence to my paid course

Wow. I’m exhausted just reading that list!

But I knew I would learn much more by creating a challenge myself than by participating in more of them, so I jumped into action.

The challenge, Create Your First Video in Just 5 Days, focused on teaching students how to create a video using just two things: your iPhone and iMovie, a free app for the iPhone.

I picked this topic because I LOVE to make videos myself and taught myself how to make them. What’s possible today using only your iPhone and one app is pretty incredible!

I was very excited to see what students would create and post inside our private Facebook group.

Here's a recent one of mine. I make these nearly every day!

 

Providing value to my email subscribers is incredibly important to me as I grow my business. And engaging with them directly as often as possible is FUN! 

I planned to offer my paid course,  Mastering iMovie on your Mac, at the end of the challenge. But I had zero expectations around selling it.

I wanted students to come away with a fun and engaging experience, having learned new skills, and having gotten a taste for my teaching approach and supportive style and personality.

So, what did I learn?

PLANNING

Give yourself enough prep time! I put undue pressure on myself by picking an arbitrary date in May with only about 2 weeks to prepare.

This was great in one sense because I was forcing myself to get everything done. But it didn’t really allow enough time for one key element: filling the challenge!

In the two weeks leading up to the challenge, I spent 80% of my time building all the content:

·      recording the video trainings

·      creating a pretty workbook and daily PDF training documents

·      writing all the email sequences

·      scripting and recording the FB video ad

And only 20% of my time trying to fill the course through three marketing channels:

·      Facebook ads

·      Email marketing, and

·      Organic traffic (Instagram & Pinterest)

My initial goal was to get 200 sign ups and I reached a total of 90. That’s still AWESOME and I’m super happy about it. If I invited 90 people over to my house they wouldn’t fit! However, next time, I’ll reverse those percentages.

FB LIVES

The Facebook live sessions were the most fun for me while also being the scariest part of the challenge. I was LIVE inside our private Facebook group every day for 5 days straight!

I’m not a big “in front of the camera” kinda girl so this really took me out of my comfort zone every day.

There were several people who were SUPER SUPPORTIVE in these live sessions (you know who you are!) and I am so thankful they joined live and engaged with me.

It feels really awkward talking to your laptop camera! When comments and questions come through, and you realize people are actually there, it’s a whole lot easier.

I still need to gain more experience talking to the camera while also reading and responding to comments as they pop up.

CONTENT & OPEN RATES

I provided the training content to students in three ways:

1.     via email each morning,

2.     in a daily video training, and

3.     in the daily FB LIVE sessions

There was also a comprehensive workbook with step by step instructions covering the entire 5-days of content and daily assignment PDFs. These were available on the training site as free downloads. 

IMG_6871.jpg

 

Open rates stayed pretty steady throughout the challenge at about 35-40%. I’m not sure there is much to take away from this since my sample size was small.

I included an assessment for the course on day five and need to circle back to all participants to encourage them to answer the 3 short questions I asked:

1.     Rate the class (great, good, only okay)

2.     What was most valuable (email assignments, video trainings, Facebook lives)

3.     Did you make a video (yes, almost, no)

I’d LOVE to get feedback because I know there is always room for improvement!

WRAP UP

The weekend “selling” period when I was telling students about my paid course, Mastering iMovie on your Mac, coincided with Mother’s Day weekend. My original plan was to send 6 emails over Friday, Saturday and Sunday but I just couldn’t stomach that. And I didn’t think my audience would appreciate it either.

I sent three and supplemented them with an impromptu FB live on Saturday to answer some great questions about Mastering iMovie on your Mac that students had asked. That was a fun Q&A!

My last email went out mid-day Sunday. I offered a limited time discount on Mastering iMovie on your Mac that expired at midnight that night. Learning how to schedule emails was key since I was having 10 people over for dinner on Mother’s Day and needed to focus on that!

In conclusion, I’m very happy with everything I learned from the entire experience. It was never about the money I might make from selling my paid course. It was about learning all these new- to-me online marketing tools, providing value to the students in the course and enjoying the beautiful videos they made and shared during the challenge!

I hope these tips help you if you decide to run a challenge of your own. My best wishes for a successful one if you do!

Remember, It’s Never Too Late To Create.

Xo,

Anne

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Top 5 Reasons to Try Watercolor

I have a renewed sense of energy around my watercolor practice right now. Let me tell you why and share my top 5 reasons to give watercolor a try!

Sometimes I forget that I’m paying for a monthly membership to Creativebug. When I remember, I jump onto the site to see if there is a class I might want to take. I totally lucked out earlier this month while searching through the “dailies”. “Dailies” are what Creativebug calls daily challenges.

I found an old class by Yao Cheng, a watercolor artist who lives in Ohio. The class involves painting watercolor flowers for 31 days.

These classes are fun because the videos are super short, usually between 5 - 8 minutes, and the instructors quickly demonstrate the task for the day.

I’ve been following along for the last 10 days or so. Here is what I have created so far.

All of these are available as Art Prints in my Society 6 shop.

I used several of these pieces to create beautiful, unique Mother’s Day cards for all the Moms around me last week. I love to make handmade cards and it's especially sweet if I can include some of my own artwork in the process.

I hope you read and enjoyed last week's blog where I shared a free tutorial on how to make these cards and included a free download of one of my watercolor florals for you to use.

 Personalized Mother's Day Cards

Personalized Mother's Day Cards

If you have been following my blog, you’ll know that I’m also participating in the 100 Day Project right now. We’re at day 40, or thereabouts. I started the challenge with a daily commitment of doing 20 minutes of sketching.

That morphed, about a week into the challenge, into watercolor work and short videos of my work in progress. I’ve included a popular one that’s received over 100 views on my IG account.  You can follow me @annelafolletteart.

I used to find watercolor super intimidating but here are the top 5 reasons to try it!

Portability

Okay. It’s very “me” to start with something practical. Watercolor is super portable which means you can take it with you everywhere. All you need is a small sketchbook filled with watercolor paper, a few brushes, a small set of tubes or a small pan set and a small jar of water.

Winsor & Newton has lovely tiny watercolor pan sets in specific color ranges that are already designed to work together. I’m currently using a tiny set with 12 colors and it’s the cutest thing. It’s only 5 by 2.5 inches!

I alternate between a 5 by 5 square sketchbook or a 5 by 7 version. Both are easy to carry and hardly take up any space at all. My go to brushes are size 12 and size 6 rounds that give me plenty of flexibility.

Variety of Color

With just a small number of colors, you can create an amazing variety of color. One of the warm-up exercises I do with students is to create 5 different shades using just one color.

Sketch out 5 long rectangles in pen or pencil on a piece of watercolor paper and pick a color. Fill each rectangle with a different shade of that color by adding more and more water to your brush. Start with the darkest shade by adding a lot of pigment to your brush. Then dip your brush into water to dilute the color slightly for the next shade. Keep dipping into the water to dilute the color further until you achieve the lightest shade to fill the last rectangle.

Mixing colors allows an infinite variety of color options which just reinforces the fact that you don’t need a ton to start with.

For example, I paint florals a lot. I’m always experimenting with different shades of greens for the stems and leaves by adding yellows for lighter hues or a touch of black for a deeper shade.

Different Zone of Creativity

I believe that the act of painting takes you into a different sphere of creativity than other creative exercises. When I’m painting, my level of concentration is different. It’s hard to explain and I wouldn’t say it’s a deeper level of concentration, necessarily. It’s just different.

Maybe the coordination required with the brush and the variety of strokes has something to do with it. Or perhaps it’s the combination of applying the colors and the color choices themselves. I’m not sure but I love the sense of timelessness that occurs when I’m painting.

I’d love to hear what you think about this particular topic!

Play time for YOU

Taking time for yourself is SO IMPORTANT. Setting up and getting started on a watercolor project takes no time at all. It's accessible and fun and grants you space to play. Just grab your supplies and a jar of water and you are ready to jump in.

I love the simplicity and ease of set up because there are virtually no barriers to just “doing”. And for me, it’s really PLAY TIME because I’m never trying to replicate something exactly. In my floral work, I’m using my imagination as much as any reference, if I have a reference at all.

Also, since I’m a neat freak, I appreciate how easy it is to clean up! I work at my kitchen table and need to put everything away so the table is neat and tidy before dinnertime. Watercolor clean up takes no time at all – a simple rinse of the brushes and water jar and you're DONE!

Happy Surprises

Most of all, I love the “happy surprises” that happen with watercolor. Sometimes I’ll find myself in the middle of a piece and I’ll be thinking: “gees, this is awful. It’s not turning out at all the way I expected.” But then, I’ll add one more element, or an area where I mixed colors will continue to expand and bloom and all of a sudden something totally new appears that was unexpected.

Or I’ll stop working on a piece, not completely satisfied with how it turned out. I’ll come back when it’s completely dry and be happily surprised with the final result. I really never know what the end result will be and the surprise factor is a delight for me!

I hope my top 5 reasons encourage YOU to try watercolor or pick it up again if you haven’t done much watercolor work recently. It’s a joyful adventure each and every time.

Finally, if you’d like some help to get you started, I teach Beginning Watercolor on Skillshare. Just click HERE or on BEGINNING WATERCOLOR to access my private link to the class. You’ll receive 2 FREE months of membership if you join Skillshare through my private link.

Remember, It’s Never Too Late To Create.

xo,

Anne

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What are you struggling with most in your art practice right now? Email me at anne@annelafollette.com and let me know!

Happy Mother's Day

I decided, for a change of pace, to create a VLOG this week in celebration of Mother’s Day.

It's an overview of a day in the life of my creative practice.

Let's jump in!

I started the day today painting a watercolor goldenrod. I’m taking a wonderful class on Creativebug.com called Daily Painting Challenge: 31 Flowers to Paint with Yao Cheng. It’s fabulous.

Here's a short video of my painting process making today's flower.

Since Mother’s Day is this Sunday, my morning painting practice inspired me to create a hand-made Mother’s Day card. That prompted the idea to include a free tutorial for you so you can make one too!

Click on the image of my goldenrod below to access it. It's my gift to you.

Feel free to use it in your Mother’s Day card or for another occasion.

If you have your own artwork, please follow along in the tutorial and place your artwork on the card instead!

 Watercolor Goldenrod

Watercolor Goldenrod

Here is today's VLOG with my Mother's Day's greeting followed by the free tutorial. ENJOY!

In the video, I mention one of my favorite resources: Teela Cunningham of Every-Tuesday.com. She teaches font-making, graphic design and offers free tutorials on her website and YouTube channel nearly every Tuesday. 

Download Kickstart Your Art Journey for a complete list of my favorite online art resources, what I love about them and how much each one costs.  

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mom’s out there. And a very special Happy Mother’s Day to my own wonderful Mom, Ellen!!

Remember, It’s Never too Late to Create!

Xo,

Anne

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Need Some Art Inspiration Right Now?

It’s May! It’s beautiful outside. I love the month of May and am so excited to be here with you again today.

Do you need some art inspiration right now? We are nearly half-way through the year. Sometimes, at this point, my creativity lags because I’ve busted through a bunch of the big goals I set out for myself back in January.

When I feel stuck, I have a three-part system that I use that works for me every time and I want to share it with you.

IDEA # ONE: TRY SOMETHING NEW

Often, when I hit a rough patch in my creative journey, trying something new is exactly what I need. I love to learn new things. That sense of experimentation, freshness, exploration, and freedom helps me get my groove back.

I will often gravitate to something outside my comfort zone. Urban sketching perhaps or even a book binding class! This means I’ll have no expectations and be able to approach each lesson as a complete beginner. I'll simply enjoy the experience and see what happens.

Here are two resources that I’m exploring right now:

·      Sketchbook Revival, an online workshop with Karen Abend. This workshop is FREE and Karen interviews two artists each day who share tips and inspiration around their sketchbook practice. The content so far has been AMAZING!

·      Sketchbook Skool, founded by Danny Gregory and Koosje Koene, offers paid courses in the $29 to $99 range. Check out their FREE YouTube channel: Sketchbook Skool Draw Tip Tuesday for fun, quirky tutorials on Tuesdays.

Koosje Koene narrates the Draw Tip Tuesday lessons on YouTube and, for the most part, her tutorials are short and approachable! Here is a little watercolor pear that I did after watching her Watercolor trick tutorial today.

 A little pear watercolor...

A little pear watercolor...

IDEA # TWO: RE-FOCUS (or GO DEEPER)

I received an iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil for my birthday back in December. I was so excited to get it! It’s another beautiful product from Apple but initially I had a hard time figuring out how to incorporate it into my workflow.

I knew from friends and colleagues that one of the best apps to use on it is called Procreate but I didn’t know how to use that. As a Skillshare teacher, I have access to thousands of classes for the $15.00 a month membership fee. Sometimes I forget what an incredible resource that is. Here is a link to my most popular class: From Sketch to Wrapping Paper.

Here are two classes on Procreate that I absolutely LOVE:

·      Introduction to Procreate: Illustrating on the iPad Pro with Procreate by Brooke Glaser, Illustrator and Children’s Designer

·      Art Made Easy: Draw and Paint with the iPad Pro by Gabrielle Brickey, Portrait Artist

Procreate has a fun time-lapse feature that allows you to show your work in progress and then your final product. I sketched this spring wreath in Procreate a few days ago and love watching the time-lapse. It's only 28 seconds!

IDEA # THREE:  TAKE A SHORT BREAK!

If you’ve been reading my blogs, you know that I recently finished my first 100-day challenge. It started on January 1st and wrapped up on April 10th.  It was a fabulous experience and I recap it in back-to-back blog posts that I published on April 10 and April 17. 

I jumped right into another one called The 100 Day Project and frankly, I needed a break! Getting into the habit of sketching everyday was wonderful. That desire is still very strong inside me but I have to give myself grace, periodically.

Just so long as I don’t beat myself up and jump back in after a few days, I’m cool with it. A short break can be refreshing and allow us that space that we need once in a while.

Here are two things I do when I’m taking a break:

·      Go on an Artist Date – one of my favorite things to do that I learned from Julia Cameron’s book: The Artist Way. I describe what it is in this blog post.

·      Get some exercise – just going outside for a walk or a hike helps tremendously.

I do a lot of work at the computer:

o   This blog every week

o   The weekly email to my subscribers

o   My pattern and product design work

o   Uploading my art prints to Society6

o   Watching online art classes

o   Creating my own online art classes

We all have to step away from the computer and reconnect with nature and the outdoors to recharge our batteries.

These are the art inspiration ideas that are helping me right now. I hope one or more of them helps you too!

And don’t forget, if you want to learn how to make a video using just your iPhone and the app iMovie, join my FREE TRAINING: Create Your First Video in Just 5 Days. 

It starts on Monday, May 7th and is only available for a limited time so grab your seat.

And remember, It’s Never Too Late To Create.

xo,

Anne

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