Category Archives: my creations

Things that I created myself

I Blinked {and it was November}

rainbow kaleidoscope geometric design

Eeeeep. It’s November. Not even early November. Two weeks until Thanksgiving November.

It’s been a while, I know. I don’t know what happened. Well, actually I do. Life happened. Three of the four people living under this roof having birthdays, family pictures in the forest preserve, hockey games, and making beer in our kitchen happened. Day trips to Apple Fest, Halloween, and raking massive amounts of leaves happened. Sick kids happened. My day job, new weekend painting instructor job, contributing to Indie Gift Box, working on my Etsy shop, and a couple of freelance design projects happened. October was nothing if not FULL. Full, but also really good.

rainbow outline kaleidoscope detail shot

Complaining about being busy is really lame. I admit to doing it (more often than I like to admit)…but yeah, lame. Busy is good. It may be slightly stressful at times, and I do have a tendency to take projects on until I’m half crazy, but at the same time, I love everything I’m doing. I love my crazy home life and my family. I adore my new job being an instructor for a BYOB painting studio (wine and acrylics…what’s not to love?) I love working on slowly expanding my art business. I don’t HAVE to do freelance work or contribute to Indie Gift Box, or have an Etsy shop or a blog. But I do these things because they give me a huge sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. I love creating, and I love sharing it. I’m grateful that I have freelance projects to work on, and I’m glad that I have money coming in.

rainbow outine kaleidoscope art detail image

The important thing, and the thing I kept reminding myself over the last month, is that I do all these things because I want to. They shouldn’t be a huge source of stress in my life. So in October, I let life happen around me, caught my breath, and now that things have slowed down for a minute, here I am. I even had time to make this little rainbow kaleidoscope design, which I’m pretty pleased with. It was so nice to sit in front of the computer and create something for myself, for no other reason than because I wanted to make something. After being unemployed for almost six months, starting two new jobs at basically the same time and adjusting to juggling everything again was a bit of a challenge, but I finally feel like I’m back in control.

So, here we go again…

Autumn Love {and new art}

geometric kaleidoscope shape in autumn colorsIt’s really only been over the last few years that I’ve developed a deep love for autumn.

In the past, I always viewed it as nothing more than a gateway to winter, a precursor to numb fingers, frosty breath, and begging my car to start in ten below temperatures. But as I’ve gotten older, and began to really appreciate the rhythm of the seasons, I’ve begun to love autumn in its own right. I even love the word “autumn.” There’s something so satisfying about the way it rolls off your tongue.

I’m still a bit more infatuated with September (there’s no other month that has such magical sunlight) but this year October is close at its heels. Once a week I have to get up pretty early before work because of my babysitting situation, and this week I couldn’t help notice how breathtaking autumn sunrise it. You truly have every single color popping across your field of vision. The sun creeping up in a pink, purple and baby blue sky, gold and green grass, rust, maroon, orange and red bursts of color on the trees…it truly made me sad that I had to go to work and not spend the day running around the forest preserve with a camera.

But you know what? I kind of did. I realized that there’s a forest preserve just a few miles away from my job, and I have a camera phone. I went on a nice little photography adventure on my lunch break, driving through the trails and snapping photos along the way. If you follow me on Instagram, you can see some of them there. It was a nice little nature retreat in the middle of a busy work day.

There’s so much to be excited about this fall. I’m excited about pumpkin spice lattes, knee-high boots, rainbow trees, Halloween, homemade pot pies, a parade of family and friend’s birthdays, concerts, hockey games, photo shoots in the forest, s’mores around the fire pit, taking on new design projects, and lasagna.

So autumn, even though I’m a bit late to the game, welcome.

Like the design at the top of this post? It’s for sale in my Etsy shop.

Animated Kaleidoscope {new artwork in the shop}

Hello people of the interwebs! It feels like forever since I’ve been in this space. It really has been a crazy last few weeks.

Between my daughter going back to school and all the shopping that goes along with it, as well as two job prospects popping up at the exact same time, interviews, more interviews, getting an offer (!!!), faxing new-hire paperwork, shopping for office appropriate clothes because I managed to only own two pairs of “business casual” pants, as well as needing couple of tattoo-concealing cardigans, plus simply wanting to spend as much time with my family as possible before schedules changed and the bf and I go back to never having the same days off again, then all the brain-overload associated with the first week at a new job…life exploded all over the place. Busy, busy, busy. I haven’t been in front of the computer too much, and that awesome freshly gessoed canvas I was so excited to paint on? Still blank. Although I did come up with a pretty awesome idea of what I want to put on it. That’s the easy part. The hard part is finding a nice chunk of time away from grabby toddler hands to work on it.

I’ve said it before, but sometimes it’s much easier to create things on the computer, where all I need to do to protect it from said grabby toddler is unplug the keyboard. I was messing around, like I do when I can catch a bit of time to myself, (aka naptime) and I came up with this kaleidoscope design. Sometimes I come up with the overall shape of the image first, then play around with color combinations afterward and sometimes I do the opposite and choose a color palette, then compose a design around them. It depends what kind of mood I’m in, I guess. This one must have gone through ten or twenty different variations before I narrowed it down to these four below.

I think the one above might be my favorite. I had a hard time choosing, which is why there are four of them.

Anyway, since I had so many, I thought it would be fun to combine them and create the animated GIF you see at the top of the post. I experimented with animated GIFs here, and they’re actually incredibly easy to create. Check back later this week, and I’ll post a tutorial on how to make one. Super easy and fun, I promise.


If you like these designs, and you want one for yourself, all four prints are now available in my Etsy shop.

pink and purple kaleidoscope spiral art

Infinity Spiral {new kaleidoscope art}

pink and purple kaleidoscope spiral art

You probably know about my crazy love for making insanely detailed kaleidoscope art. This one through, is insane even by my standards. There were several times that it locked up my Mac for over 20 minutes. I got up, grabbed a cup of coffee, ate a string cheese, got the mail, unloaded the dishwasher, cleaned up a bunch of random toys, checked my email on my phone a millions times, poured another cup on coffee (as you can see, I live a really exciting life), and it was STILL locked up in the rainbow pinwheel of death. Illustrator flat out refused to render it in color because it used too much memory. The JPG file for my printer is 25MB! The Photoshop file is 137.2MB!

Am I boring you yet? I just realized that this is probably boring to pretty much everyone but me. The point is, it’s a BIG file. Why so much detail? Because I want the finished product to be a BIG print. Right now I’m offering a version that’s 10″ wide x 20″ across in my shop, but if anyone is interested I can have it printed even larger.

Just for fun, here are some detail shots.

detail shot of pink and purple kaleidoscope spiral art

detail shot of pink and purple kaleidoscope like shapes

extreme detail shot of intricate purple kaleidoscope like circle

Red and Blue Kaleidoscope Art {now in 3-D!}

red and blue three dimensional looking kaleidoscope like circle design

Do you have any old school 3-D glasses at home? The really cool 1950′s style ones? If you do, you should slip them on and let me know if this kaleidoscope art actually looks three dimensional. I’d love to test it myself, but I don’t have any old 3-D glasses lying around my house (although I guess if I was feeling super crafty I could make some…but I’m lazy).

3D glasses

Don’t you love it when you’re creating something with a very specific style in mind, but at the last minute you experiment with something on a whim and your project does a complete 180? It actually happens to me a lot. This particular project was supposed to have all kinds of colorful rainbow edges, but when I experimented with it in Illustrator things weren’t working out the way they were supposed to. I ended up with this distracting stripe-y rainbow pattern going through the design and I hated it. I hope to keep playing with it and post a new version in a week or two, because in my head it’s beautiful (but everyone’s art is gorgeous in their head, right?). We shall see.

Anyway, when the rainbow effect didn’t pan out I tried changing the lines to solid blue, and suddenly it made me think of those 3-D books where the picture is printed in red, and then again in blue in a slightly different placement. I made a couple of quick tweaks and there you go – instant 3-D kaleidoscope artwork!

Playing with Typography {Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker}

typography project illustrating quotes from matt moley motivational speaker sketch

It’s been a while since I worked on a typography project. I hate to get rusty, so what better to practice with than the inspirational words of Matt Foley, motivational speaker?

Oh man, I just had to watch the video again. It never gets old. This sketch has to be one of the all time best things ever to come out of Saturday night live. Chris Farley was so funny it’s ridiculous. And David Spade and Christina Applegate trying to not crack up on camera? Priceless.

Please tell me you’ve seen it. If not, click here…unless you want me to die a little inside.

colorful kaleidoscope like artwork from video demonstration

Creating Kaleidoscope Art {time lapse video}

Don’t you love it when a project that’s been bouncing around your head for a long time finally comes to fruition? For a few months now, I’ve wanted to create a time-lapse video of the process I use for creating kaleidoscope art on my computer. The thing was, I wasn’t really sure how to go about it. After learning about Screenr, a free online service for recording screencasts on your PC or Mac, I got really excited. I had the tool, now I just needed the time (all you parents out their nodding your heads in agreement – can I get a “hell yeah!!!” ?)

Well, the art gods were kind to me yesterday, because my little munchkin took a three hour nap. This turned out to be doubly fortunate, because making the video was a rather slow process. The free version of Screenr only allows for five minutes of recording at a time (you can upgrade to a paid version for $20/month), so I had to work in five minute increments, uploading my video when the five minutes was up and then recording a new file.

I was also worried about how well my five year old Mac would handle a ton of large video files, so I had to limit how much I recorded. I can spend several hours on my more intricate kaleidoscope art, but I didn’t want hours of footage clogging up my desktop. This meant I had to make my image a little less complex than I normally would. After I completed my drawing in 6 five minute segments, I imported the files into imovie and increased the playback speed to 800x the original speed. Half hour hour of video footage down to just under four minutes!

colorful kaleidoscope like artwork from video demonstration

For my first attempt at something like this, I’m pretty happy with the result. It was definitely a learning experience, and something I want to do again in the near future.

Have you ever recorded your creative process? How did it turn out?

Photography Adventure {Lake Geneva}

boats at the dock on lake geneva

This Saturday I drove up to Lake Geneva for a bridal shower, and since I knew it would end relatively early, I brought my DSLR along with the intention of wandering around town and taking some shots. We go up to Lake Geneva a decent amount for family gatherings, but I’ve never really gone into town or explored the lake. Even though we’ve been having record breaking heat in Chicago, it was actually quite a bit more bearable in Wisconsin, and by the time we left the shower it was actually pleasant to be outside for the first time in weeks. It was a perfect night for watching sailboats, strolling around the lake path, checking out amazing lake shore mansions, and eating ice cream. Much more pleasant than my other Lake Geneva experience, which involved my fifth grade class staying up there for a week of outdoor ed…in the middle of February.

victorian house at lake genevasillouette of trees at lake genevastatue of three women against sunsetpurple flowersview of the water at lake genevasailboat on the water at lake genevafancy horse and carriage at lake genevabumble bee on a purple flowersignage for Fat Cat's bar at Lake Genevablack eyed susan flowers at lake genevaangel fountain at Lake Geneva

Been on any good photography adventures lately? Where did you go?

Polka Dots and Hummingbirds {new digital painting}

digital painting of a hovering purple hummingbird

After I finished this owl painting about a week ago I decided it would be fun to do a whole series of different birds against interesting backgrounds. Although I kind of hate birds in an up-close-and-personal situation (you can reference this story about me being attacked by a parrot to understand why), they are really fun to draw. Besides, I love having a series to work on. That way when a project is finished I have a new thing to move on to without needing time to brainstorm.

I think I mentioned this before, but seriously, HURRAY for Photoshop and pen tablets and digital painting! There were many 10-15 minute sessions of work put into this, which would have been a horrible pain if I’d been using actual paint. When I’m painting I always feel like I should have at least a few hours to dedicate, because it’s such a pain to set up and put away everything (does anyone else feel this way? Or am I being dramatic and making it out to be worse than it is? Maybe it’s because I don’t have a dedicated studio and keep all of my art supplies in the garage). When I work in Photoshop and I’m finished, I can simply unplug the keyboard (because my daughter loves to “work” on my computer and has renamed/moved more files than I care to think about) and walk away.

I think that sometimes Photoshop gets a bad rap as an artist’s tool. Because of all the bad Photoshop work out there, a lot of people have the misconception that all you do is make some minor tweaks to an existing image, run a couple filters through it, and call it “art”. Of course, you can do that, but you can also play with it’s huge assortment of brushes and colors and create images from scratch. I have a Wacom Bamboo tablet (which I absolutely adore…so much that I’m asking for a bigger one for Christmas this year), which makes drawing on the screen much more natural and fluid than using a mouse. I can build up colors, smudge, erase, and add layers of patterns and textures…all digitally. Some people think the fact that you can go back in your history to correct mistakes is  “cheating,” but it allows tremendous freedom to experiment without the fear of permanently making a mistake that ruins your piece. To me, it’s not cheating any more than using an eraser is cheating. Photoshop is just another tool to add to my bag of artist’s tricks.

Have you ever used Photoshop or a similar program to “paint”? What do you think of it?

Magic on the Lake {an evening at Navy Pier}

A week ago we were lucky enough to get a babysitter for an entire day (!!!), so BF and I headed to the city to have lunch and drinks with a friend of his from out-of-state. Afterwards, were in the car, about to jump on the highway to drive back, when we stopped ourselves.  What were we doing? We had a night to ourselves, the stifling heat of the day was rapidly dropping, a nice lake breeze was kicking in, and the sun was beginning to dip. We were headed into the absolute best time of day to be in the city, and it would be madness to turn that in for rush hour traffic. The thirty dollars we’d pay in parking to run around and enjoy our night would be worth it’s weight in gold.

We ended up at Navy Pier, which is either an overcrowded tourist trap, or a magical place of sunsets, margaritas, waves and twinkling lights, depending on when you go. On that evening it was the latter. At night it clears out a lot, and we spent some much-needed time relaxing on restaurant patios overseeing the lake, drinks in hand. It was wonderful. I have a thing for boats (seriously, it’s one of my life’s dreams to someday own a boat) and I adore being on the water, so BF bought us tickets to a sunset cruise on the Tall Ship Windy. There’s absolutely nothing better than sitting on the deck of a giant ship with your best friend, sipping a rum and coke, and watching the sun set the sky afire behind the skyline of the greatest city on earth. If you do know of something better keep it to yourself, because I like thinking that I pretty much discovered perfection

I really should start automatically grabbing my DSLR when we go to the city, because I always kick myself later for not having it. We always end up on so many random adventures chock full of amazing photo opportunities. Even though the battery on my phone was dying, I still managed to capture some pretty nice shots.

There are some days that just feel like magic. This was one of them.

Does your city have any “tourist traps” that you absolutely love?