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Connecting the dots with Paint to Pattern.

Have you ever been on that seesaw of ‘I’ve accomplished a lot in my career’ but ‘I haven’t accomplished nearly enough’? I can tell you that I feel that a lot. Yes, a lot, because I still want to do so much more! Because there is just so much more to discover!!! And discover, I did. It’s funny how you can stumble upon something that can change your whole motivation. So, here I was bewitched and befuddled and up to my ears in paint and pattern.

If you’ve been following my recent meanderings, you’ll know I’ve fallen in love with surface design. There’s something really fascinating about creating an artwork that can be applied to just about anything. It’s so rewarding to turn your sketch into a full color design than turn that into a pattern. But I’ll be honest, I’ve always categorized myself as a painter. I’ve always been a painter and I love it, especially portraits… but that doesn’t mean I’m not also a surface designer. I was, however, having trouble bridging the two stylistically. A realistic soft pastel painting isn’t easily translatable into a vectorized image. I didn’t want to end up creating patterns that looked as thought they were created by a completely different artists, because, let’s face it, an artist’s work should look like their work. So, of course, panic sent in. “Oh no! Am I crazy?’ Why not just stick to what you know? Why head off into a completely different direction now? Just do it for fun you idiot!” This is no exaggeration. It was panic central here in my studio because I couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

What I’ve realized, after hyperventilating, is that I’ve always been a surface designer, I just didn’t know it. All these notebooks scattered around are full of little drawings. Not scenes, or full images, but bits. Bits here, bits there. Scattered ideas that when scanned in, colored and put together, make some pretty awesome pattern designs. And all of my portraits and paintings are part of those inspiration bits come to life. So over the last few weeks of creating a little this and a little that my two loves become one. Creating patterns inspired by my fine art paintings suddenly made sense to me. And I love that I can expand on the original piece and tell more of it’s story. As a fine artist, people see my work and ask me about the meaning, inspirations, etc. But with my pattern designs, I can elaborate on all the details of that original painting with a a whole collection of visuals to complete the story.

One of the first patterns I created was ‘Wings and Curls’ and it was completely inspired by my portrait of ‘Petronella’ – If you don’t know me – I’m obsessed with redheads. LOVE! Especially love painting red hair. So ‘Curls and Wing’s came quickly from a stylized pencil sketch I did of a tendril of Petronella’s hair. Very art nouveau – one of my favorite styles. But I didn’t realize that it ‘is’ in my style because I created it. The painting and the patterns connect in color, shape and overall feel…at least, I think they do. In fact, the more I looked at them side by side, the more I liked the thought of creating with an entire space in mind, vs. just what would live inside of a picture frame. I’ve always loved design and creating a beautiful room. Even a little diy. So why not create with the idea of coordinating the elements of a room? Paintings, prints, pillows, papers, etc. that all work together. And if you didn’t catch those links, they all go to products with “Wings & Curls” on my Society6 shop.

Et Voila! I’m still artistically sane, thank goodness. But the moral of the story is…If you really find something you love, you can always find a way to make it work. I never throw in the towel, now I just design a new one. 😉

2 Comments

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    philip Logwood mckenney
    May 8, 2020 at 1:44 am

    Very interesting, Melanie that the pattern came from maybe your favorite part of doing the portrait. It’s great isn’t it that there’s no telling what new direction can come unexpectedly? But you’ve got to jump in to ever find it! Phil

    Reply
    • Melanie Stimmell Van Latum
      Melanie Stimmell Van Latum
      May 8, 2020 at 7:59 pm

      Hi Phil,
      It’s very true. I wasn’t expecting to like this but I love it – and the fact that I can make more things I like from that first thing is amazing. I’m sure things for you are similar now that you’ve found your niche. Have you considered writing a blog? Maybe a post per painting/print? You have a lot to say and I always enjoy reading your posts.

      Reply

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