Q: When we visited your instagram, we noticed that you're in the midst of #the100dayproject. Can you begin by telling us a little bit about what that is?
A: #The100DayProject is the brainchild of artist/designer/writer Elle Luna of The Great Discontent. It launched on April 6, 2015, but anyone can jump in at any point. Elle describes it as “a celebration of process that encourages everyone to participate in 100 days of making. The great surrender is the process; showing up day after day is the goal. For The 100-Day Project, it’s not about fetishizing finished products—it’s about the process.”
I read that description and knew it was something I needed to do for two reasons. First, I have a poor track record of sticking to anything for a long period of time. I always have the best intentions, but then something new pops up and I wander off in a new direction. Secondly, I wanted to get in the habit of working quickly on vector patterns by finishing a pattern a day without getting lost trying to achieve perfection. I decided to give it a go, and to publicly share the process each day so that if I missed a day it would be noticed and I’d feel guilty about not following through.
A: Absolutely nothing! Last year, I decided to learn Illustrator. After 10+ years happily using Photoshop and a few terrifying attempts trying to use the pen tool in Illustrator, I really didn’t see the point, until I happened upon “recolor artwork.” I was hooked. I wanted to bring everything I’d ever made in Photoshop into Illustrator and recolor it. This motif was one of the first things I made. I had no end result in mind, I was just trying to figure out how to make shapes.
Once I had two simple shapes I figured out how to use the rotate, reflect and scale tools. And then discovered alt>shift> drag. So I flipped, scaled, rotated and copied. It ended up like this.
I was interested in how layering and overlapping the shapes created something that didn’t look much like the original two shapes. I didn’t think much of it, stuck it in a file, and didn’t expect I’d ever do anything with it.
A: I’ve learned a lot!!! I struggle with staying loose through the entire art making process, whether it’s painting or drafting patterns on the computer. My work starts out being very free and expressive, but as soon as I think I know where I want it to go it starts getting tight.
I have a quote taped up above my workspace: "Ms. Gilot clearly was a competent painter, but whereas, with Picasso, it seems that every painting is an adventure, every mark or stroke the registration of a thought or impulse in real time, her works resemble dutifully completed assignments for a class in how to paint like Picasso."
Please don’t think I compare myself in any way to Francoise Gilot! But when I read those words I felt like they described my work practice a bit more truly than I’d like - “dutifully completing assignments.”
So, my primary intention for this project was to develop a daily practice of creating work that I didn’t hover over and work to death. My favorite part of making art, when it’s a good day, is the magic that appears on the canvas, kind of like a gift. Every day in the studio is your birthday, you never know what’s going to appear.
Q: The little motif that is on this journey with you was created in Adobe Illustrator, in a effort to learn more about that software. Any favorite tools so far? Have you discovered a tool in AI that has particularly surprised or delighted you?
A: These days I work almost exclusively in Illustrator. Any frustrations I had about not being able to do things “the Photoshop way” were pretty well overcome when I discovered the Astute Graphics plug-ins. Mirror Me is a great way to do quick sketches and generate ideas. The Smart Remove Brush is great for cleaning up sketches you’ve scanned and imported. And Dynamic Sketch is a much more intuitive way to draw in Illustrator.
A: I started out in the simplest way possible and just put it in a half drop repeat. This is still one of my favorites.
When I discovered the Mirror Me tool from Astute Graphics I was able to get much more intricate.
I played around with gradients and explored creating a sense of glowing light.
I also experimented with different methods of creating the appearance of texture.
A: That list is long and always changing! At the moment I’m in the midst of figuring out how to dye with indigo. It’s a magical process and I’ve even planted indigo in my yard. Yesterday was my third harvest of the season. I’m studying Shibori techniques and have photographed my dyed pieces and printed them on fabric for cushions, drapes and lampshades.
After taking a couple of classes to learn encaustic techniques, I’m in the process of reconfiguring my workspace to set up a hot plate and take that further.
And I’ve always got some knitting, embroidery or stitching project in work. My processes are intertwined. I find myself trying to recreate a texture in Illustrator that I happened upon in knitting project. And I photograph my encaustic paintings and manipulate them on the computer.
Q: What inspirations have come into play with your #the100dayproject?
A: In addition to trying to get looser in my process, I wanted to to use this project as a daily practice that I could blog about. As much as I love social media and meeting people online from around the world it can be difficult to really get to know someone in the few words that social media allows. I wanted to use my blog to increase those connections, and tell the story behind my work. I thought this project would be a good vehicle to get into a habit of daily posting on my blog.
In April, when the project began, the monthly theme on Patternmash was Azulejo. As I looked into those tile traditions I fell in love! In the beginning I did quite a bit of research on both the history and traditions of Azulejo tile work. I decided to name each pattern after a Portuguese city and poured over images of the cities in search of design elements. They were easy to find - in tile work, architectural details, pottery, etc. This pattern was inspired
by the town of Ferro, Portugal and a tile mural found on an
abandoned rail station there. I didn’t want to be literal, I just
wanted to express a sense of the design aesthetic.
A big thanks to Carlyn for agreeing to share her journey with us!
And congratulations upon completing the project!
For more of Carlyn's #The 100Day Project, visit her blog.