Friday, 6 February 2015

My Creative Process Part 1...


I was recently commissioned to create a header for The Tea Spot
 Some of you will remember them from providing a fabulous prize
 for the giveaway I ran to relaunch the Cuppa With Friends Project late last year
and they were a joy to work with, so when they approached me about creating a header for both their facebook page and twitter feed, I jumped at the chance.
I loved how it came together in the end and it was great to revisit a more complex style of work again, as I haven't worked in this style for quite some time.
So as I get quite a few emails asking me about how I paint in the style of my blog header
I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to share a bit of process with you...
of course once I started writing it took on epic proportions as I got the chatters a bit so I am spreading it across two posts with the second part going up next Tuesday...


So... the whole process started with me going back and revisiting some of the paintings I had done for The Tea Spot previously. I had created a couple of different versions, and was pretty familiar with the stepping mug that was to be included in the design as well as the logo, which for me is always challenging as my handwriting resembles something created by a chicken on acid, so anything font related leads to mild hyperventilation. But I felt pretty comfortable with the shapes after the previous practice so it was a pretty good start. I was sent a list of inclusions of what they would like to see in there, and that they would like it in the style of the header I use here on the blog, but outside of that I had free reign, which is pretty awesome, but at the same time was mildly nausea inducing as there aren't the parameters and things, and my problem is never finding a single idea, but rather culling the five squillion that bombard my brain. Added in there was the teas themselves as they had generously sent me a heap to try, plus lots of ephemera from around the office, so at the beginning I was facing complete overload when it came to inspiration.


The only way to settle the riot of flitting images in my head is to get a few quick sketches down, and while I didn't feel I needed to resketch the Steeping Mug, I did, however need to do at least a quick sketch of the Tuffy steeper, and this little collapsible sucker was a bit of a mind bender with all its rings and levels, and the little holder thing has a bit of a duck face happening, but at this stage I am just getting a sense of the shapes and lines. I also like to list some words that I think will capture the style and mood of it all, and yes this sounds a bit hippy dippy, but it helps to focus my brain. I knew I wanted to highlight the freshness and clean flavours of the teas, the energy of the company, and staff, and to ensure that I reflected their generosity, commitment and support for cancer charities, which of course is very important to me after the last 18 months. 


From this starting point I worked on creating a single page which would be the master for the design on an A2 size piece of paper. I like to have quite a large sheet so that I have room to have all the notes in one place, because I know myself well enough to know that multiple pieces of paper in my studio have a way of disappearing quicker than a mob informer into a witness protection program, so a single master sheet is the best solution. At the top of the page I usually make notes of any inclusions that have to be there, and then I worked out which tea tins I wanted to include, so they would reflect the range but still work together and reflect the mood I was going for. I actually love one of the teas called Meditative Mind, but its dusky pink lid wouldn't have sat as well with the mood, so I stuck with the blues, purples, and green tins, and added the pop of orange from the Mango Tango to add a counterpoint and a bit of interest, and I do love a blue and orange combo more than any other colour combination... blorange just makes me happy....




Once the inclusions and things are sorted at the top of the page, I usually go to the bottom and work across with some thumbnails of some placements and composition. I know what I want to put in there, so it is a matter of working out how they can fit together in a pleasing way without creating a star of the show if you know what I mean. I also needed to consider that both headers have different dimensions, so I needed the final piece to be able to be cropped and still look complete, while the full one needed to not look like it had a bit tacked on. I also gave a bit of a try to including some pinks, but it was pretty clear that colour wise it didn't look as fresh, so I went back to the blues, greens and orange. Making compositional decisions via thumbnails at this stage makes a big difference. Varying directions, shapes, sizes and  colours can be challenging, and you can't always rely on a background to bring it together, and the varying sizes of the two headers made it impossible to run a frame inside it to pull things together, so overlapping is the best solution as it means unity and creates a rhythm to the whole thing... on a good day... on a bad day it looks like someone threw up a whole heap of ideas onto the page... but I had a direction and it was time to dive in. 


I drew up the dimensions across another A3 piece of paper and made sure it was all centred on the page as I was going to paint beyond the edges and then crop it back later, but I was then completely frozen. It looked pretty large and I hadn't exactly hammered down the composition, so I chickened out and painted up this purple tin first. I had decided I wanted to use varied textures so this was the perfect way to dip my toes in before stuffing up the final piece. I find it quite hard to draw onto handmade paper with pencil as my dodgy eyesight makes it hard to see, so it has to be pen and I didn't want to start badly and was feeling uncharacteristically nervous about the whole thing, so I actually pulled out and dusted off the lightbox. Once the sneezing and wheezing bought on from the dust cloud that emerged from the poor thing settled, I drew up the outline of the tin and quite frankly I spent way too long using different pens and colours, not to mention I even pulled out a magnifying glass to attempt to create the font and things, and in the end I just gave up on trying to make it too perfect and got some paint on it. It really does help to get the perfectionist bit out of the way early, and by working on something that will bleed and splodge a bit like you find with handmade paper, even when you are using using acrylic paint like I did with this one, it gets me into the mind set of letting things happen and to be loose and more accepting... to let my natural style come through
So the hardest part, which is the narrowing focus, planning and first painting was behind me, and the first tin had turned out well once I got a bit of paint on there covering up some of the stiffness of the initial drawing, so I was feeling ready to dive in... which I will cover in Tuesday's post... I think you all deserve the chance to go and have a bit of a break and a cuppa if you have made it to the end of such a long post ...
happy painting all... xx

26 comments:

Kristin Dudish said...

Oooh - am I actually first?!?
Love, love, loooove getting a glimpse into your process... So many nuggets of wisdom that we can all can learn from, no matter what style we work in!
And, you've left us with such a cliffhanger... Can't wait for your next post!
xo
Kristin
p.s. Blorange is one of my favorites too

VonnyK said...

Wow, my head is spinning so how did you cope. It's wonderful that you share how it works cos I thought that you just had a thought and kapow at painting was there. I learn so much from you but do we really have to wait until tuesday to find out what happens?? Sigh...

Rita said...

I find this fascinating to see how you work out a complex piece like this. They must have been over the moon with the results!! :)

Neesie said...

Now that's just cruel Trace... talk about a cliff hanger! It's fascinating reading just how you work and how it all comes together. And here's me thinking it was all magic because the results certainly are. But it's quite a process.
I can't wait for the next installment.
xoxo

Nic McLean said...

Wow, such a lot of pre-planning & logical thinking out -I would do well to learn from you as i tend to just start on the main canvas without a thought to composition or thumbnails! It's interesting to read how you go about it and I'll look forward to reading the rest on Tuesday. X

Kate Robertson said...

So wonderful being let into your process of creating. Loved seeing that.

Kate

Paper rainbow said...

I really admire your planning process, thanks so much for the glimpse inside your creative world. Fascinating!!

Giggles said...

Holy cow I am stressed reading about the process.... Commissions are so much time and pressure. Especially the measuring everything out to fit certain banners...wow...you are amazing as is the artwork. So many expectations!It should cost them a million dollars, okay maybe not that much...but some good bones that's for sure!!

I agree with Nessie...I thought it was all Magic...

Hugs Giggles

Carmen said...

Am LOVING this post! Such an insight to seeing how you work - can't wait for next Tuesdays post :D

Geckostone said...

Beautiful work! It was worth all the effort, huh! I love your "squillion ideas" lol, that's totally me too!Happy PPF!

Lynn Richards said...

ooooh, Tracey, I am seriously fascinated by reading and seeing your progress. It brings your work to life and oh my-the work you put in. It's fabulous.
xo

ann @ studiohyde said...

It's good to see your process of creating :-)

TwinkleToes2day said...

I'm typing quietly seeing as how it's nearly 3am with you. Hope you're sleeping well, the temps are a bit sticky aye?
How fascinating Tracey; to read about how you go from one thought to another and the whole comes together in the end (all stories should have happy endings, lol) I had no idea you did so much preparation. Looking forward to the next instalment. Have a great weekend ahead ((hugs)) xx

Tam Hess said...

Great reading and seeing your process. LOVE stuff like that! Thanks for sharing, happy Paint Party Friday :)
Tam

JKW said...

What an interesting and exciting blog post this is. I enjoyed how you fussed about the drawing/placing of it all. And "squillion" oh puleese, I love it. . .I will borrow at some point in my talking to others. Brilliant and creative. Blessings, Janet, PPF

Studio Kaufmann said...

Wow that was so interesting! Like you I have thousands of images fluttering through my head and I have to pin them down quickly. Such a great insight into your process. Love this. Happy PPF

Linda Kunsman said...

Thank you SOOO much Tracey for taking all this time to let us in on the many bitty details that go into your magnificent illustrations! I am thrilled for you to be getting these commissions-especially with the Tea Spot. Since winning one of their mugs and teas from you I have discovered a wonderful company with delicious teas! Looking forward to Tuesday with you :)

Catharina Engberg said...

Oh I think that I too must start planning my paintings a bit more, maybe thumbnails would be a start. Loved the post. Thanks Trace! (I´ll be back for next!)

Jo Murray said...

Just goes to show...nothing is easy....even for you. It's a long and tedious process to do a commissioned work.

My name is Erika. said...

Always love a good page about tea. I love how you show your process and the final results came out beautiful.

Sinderella Studio Designs said...

Wow I loved reading this! I can wait for Tuesdays post although I won't really get to read it until Friday. Crazy work week upcoming. I am printing both posts. I will refer to them often I am sure.

Ilona Heimböckel said...

Great to see your process and thank you for sharing! I didn't read through it all, because I don't get finished visiting all the blogs from PPF if I read every word :/
:-) but I so enjoy seeing your art!
Happy PPF and lovely greetings from
Ilona

peggy gatto said...

Now I understand why your art is so lovely and fresh.
Details make a huge difference and I enjoyed reading your process. Learned a new word too
"squillion'!

Sandra Busby said...

I am so glad you are sharing your process... I've often wondered how you did that wonderful header of yours! And that tin doesn't look in the least bit laboured so we would never know... It looks as lively as all of your work does. They are going to be so happy with it when it's all done! I am so happy that all of these good things are coming your way... You deserve it! Can't wait to see the next stage! :0)

Lisa Graham Art said...

Wonderful post. Thank you for sharing your process Tracey. Your work is really very special.

Jana TangledPen said...

awesome read, awesome sketches... thanks for sharing your process, Tracey! Always good to visit your blog :)