Tag Archives: leaves

Little Mice, Making Mischief

At 3 a.m. we awoke with a start to the sound of mayhem coming from the kitchen. My husband arrived first on the scene, and was just in time to see our otherwise lazy cat flying along the counter-top in hot pursuit of a mouse.

Listening for mice in the walls, or maybe just thinking about shadow puppets.

The plural noun for a group of mice is a “mischief.” How appropriate for the mice that share our home. They’ve eaten my favorite rubber spoons, left trails of droppings behind the stove, and shredded a pair of oven mitts for nesting material (eek!). But at least the cat finally got some exercise.

By the time I got to the kitchen the excitement was over. We set some live traps, did our best to decontaminate the scene, and eventually flopped back into bed. I don’t think we slept much. I kept listening for the trap in the kitchen to spring, too far away to hear except in my imagination.

The experience rattled around in my brain for a few months before a Spoonflower neutral pillow contest brought it to the surface. We caught two mice in our live traps, and I released them among the leaves and grasses. Now they’re hanging around in this repeating pattern, no doubt hoping to find my new oven mitts or a tasty spoon.

Would you like to explore with the mice? You can purchase this design on Spoonflower soon, or sign up for my e-newsletter for special info and a free coloring page.

it's definitely you cartoon

When Art Breaks Your Heart

Fall. The colors, the textures, and the chilly nights all make me want to snuggle into the studio a little more deeply. A collection of fall treasures in a terrarium bowl was too romantic to pass up. But my dream of turning a medley of buckeyes and beach glass into fabric for table linens almost broke my heart.

glass bowl with leaves and tree nuts

At first it was golden. I tossed off a composition in record time. I especially loved illustrating the buckeyes. For this project I wanted something looser, richer, and more saturated than colored pencil. I was going to need a new medium. And that’s where things got messy.

graphite sketch

Experimenting with markers both under and over Neocolor II water soluble crayons was exhilarating. And I didn’t just punt. I did my homework, made a color chart. I thought saturation would be more important than “natural” colors. After all, I was designing fabric. Oh, what we tell ourselves in the beginning.

a sample of color swatches

After days at the drafting table I had to admit things weren’t exactly “good” between me and my art. The colors were electric and the values were mostly nonexistent. I was tempted to cut my losses and move onto something else. But after making a value study I decided I really did like the composition. Was I willing to start the illustration again? Sigh. Would it be worth it?

I started over. Finally, I was ready to make a scan and attempt the crazy process of layering the edges for a repeating pattern. What I almost got was an epileptic seizure. I could have cried.

bright fall medley fabric design

In every relationship there comes that moment when you mentally tally the pros and cons. I kept coming back to the beach glass and the overall composition. If I could just tone down the yellows. Pop the greens. Deepen the values.

I would give this relationship/project one more day, and several layers of colored pencil applied carefully, and lovingly, on top of the Neocolors. I also adjusted the scan before starting from scratch on the fabric design. I’m definitely happier with this version. But am I still in love?
detail of fabric design

I’ll let you know when the fabric arrives. Until then, happy fall!
fall medley illustration at the drawing board