I made a mini coloring book, y'all! After randomly running across @jayarr.art's page on Instagram while traveling through a rabbit hole some weeks ago, and seeing a post where he had shared a tutorial on it, I HAD to try one for myself... so here it is (click the pdf link below to print).
The seed of a coloring book idea was planted during a family vacation about five years ago when one of my cousins suggested that I create one. I was open to the idea, but didn't have a clue about where to start at the time. Fast forward to now... that same cousin is going to be getting married next month and when I saw that post, I immediately thought of sharing one with her. However, with such a far out deadline and the concept floating in my head daily... an additional person came to mind- someone who was about to celebrate a birthday. That someone was thee Johnny J. Jones- one that I am honored to know and reminded to "give flowers" to loved ones while they're here by. I tested out the little custom coloring pages and loved how it came out, so I then edited it once more to finalize a general version of it with a combination of my usual handlettering and musical lyric-inspired themes.
Please feel free to share with anyone who may want to enjoy a bit of coloring! I hope they find it soothing to fill in the pages and I'd love to see any completed pages!
Have you ever been interested in making your writing look nice and fancy and wondered how to create stylish hand-written letters? Have you ever wanted to learn how to hand letter just for the fun of it? Well, I've been doing one-on-one sessions with a young student whose grandmother wanted introduced to the art of lettering, so I recently decided to record a video series of similar lessons.
When starting, you want to learn your basic terms and strokes first and then find consistency in your practice. The two images below summarize those basic terms and key strokes when lettering in the most popular style, brush script.
Below are three videos, which cover the very beginning - learning your tools and the basics all the way to forming whatever word you want and a PDF packet of sheets you can print and use as you practice along with the videos and beyond.
The image above was created in the Procreate app on an iPad with an Apple Pencil, which has pretty much been my go-to art medium all year. It was inspired by a wonderful "street painting" event I witnessed and got to be a part of this past weekend through my job in celebration of Diwali. During that event, news outlets made the announcement that the ballot counts had determined that Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris had won the race. After days of uncertainty, we finally had a President and Vice President-elect! Anyway, the awesome event, gorgeous day at the park, and news made it a memorable time. Overall, I wanted to create an image that would reflect that. A small video recap of the event can be seen in the video at the end of this post.
It has also been beautiful to witness how much vibrancy newly added bright-colored table and pavement art designs bring to the spaces they are in. Located at Dix Park near the Flowers Field and behind DHHS' Kirby Building, The Secret Garden created by Saralaine Canva (ig: @sarahsface) and unity-themed table art by OG Designs now cause the area to stand out. I was not involved in this at all, but my coworker Trey Roberts connected the artists with Dix Park City of Raleigh staff and put in hours of work to make the installations happen. Photos below show the transformation as these works of art took shape, and some before and after captures. All shots of the areas beforehand and some while in progress were taken by Trey or created by the artist. I snapped all of the shots aligning those captures with the completed work while visiting the pieces.
I love and respect all of the work created by these artists. Special shout out to Candy Carver (ig: @candycarver), a well-known Durham-based Artist I've gotten acquainted with over the years through our shared art community. She painted the two tables on the Big Field at Dix Park. These are in the middle of the same field Dreamville Festival was held at a little more than a year ago. Sarahlaine Canva also painted the pavement in this location, and you can see more of her work at www.sarahlanecalva.com. Don't forget to give all of these artists a follow if you want to keep up with their projects!
"Do you do illustrations for books?" was a question I got early last week, so I wanted to take a trip down memory lane when it comes to creating illustrations. With all that is still going on in the world, I've taken to doing more digital drawing as a familiar coping mechanism lately since mostly moving away from chalk lettering. It had been a while since I drew regularly, but getting back to it has been a relief and something I look forward to daily.
The first book illustration I ever tried was for a book cover design for a project my father published entitled Escape. I remember him giving me a synopsis of what he was writing about and asking me to draw something. At that time, I sketched it on paper with pencil and shared it with him, but the drawing didn't go much further than that. Eventually, and I'm not sure how much later it was... there was a second book that is available online via Amazon/Kindle that I did a watercolor design for and then used as a project to learn how to make vector art using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I wrote about falling in love with that process in one of my first-ever blog posts here seven years ago.
That was only the beginning, and I had no idea that I would create illustrations for three different author's projects some years after that. I haven't seen any of these author's books as finished, printed products yet, unfortunately, but learned a lot with these early illustration works that I still use today. Read on for more about my first few storybook projects!
2016 Illustrations for Kevin Norman's book Golden
I met Kevin while attending a Valentine's event with my good friend Alicia in 2014. The singer Marcus Canty was having a concert at a venue in Fayetteville, and Kev was its host. We became cordial over the years and even casually dated before realizing it wasn't going to work out between us, but were able to collaborate on a few cool projects in that season.
One of those projects was a children's book he wanted to release and he asked me to do the illustrations. It took some months of brainstorming and tweaking, but I completed the designs and sent them to him in June 2016. Since then, I haven't heard anything more about publishing the book, unfortunately, but the illustrations can be viewed in the slideshow below. My process was to 1) sketch, 2) ink the drawing and scan it into the computer, and 3) color and edit in Photoshop, then save save as a PDF.
When I reached out to Brenda Miller Holmes years ago to inquire about getting involved in her project as a volunteer, I never imagined what would come with it or after. I shared a couple of posts in the past that touched on the Durham Civil Rights History Mural Project, one in July 2014 and the other in September 2014. This year, Myra Weise received an Arts About grant from Downtown Durham, Inc. (DDI) to fund a performance event inspired by the mural. Originally, she wanted to have Brenda create the temporary ground work, but being the equity-conscious person she is, Brenda suggested getting another artist involved and recommended me. At first, I wasn't sure if I could deliver what Myra envisioned, but I got more and more excited after meeting with her, getting an overview of the event, and sketching some ideas out on paper. We even met one weekend for a photo shoot to get images for promotional material (pictured below and also taken by Zoe Litaker Photography).
On the day of the event, Myra was busy going through a super long list of logistical tasks that included things like picking up road barricades and chairs and dropping those off along with supplies and setting up, etc. I arrived on site a little after 10 a.m. and began to mark up the parking lot. The goal was for me to lay out the design in the mock up shown that would both serve as a place the community could color in for a couple of hours before the performance as well as the stage space for the dancers to perform within.
Time flew as I started installing the stage's border. I quickly went through a number of the chalk spray paint cans and began to improvise when I was running out. In the home stretch, one of the men featured in the mural stopped by... Walter Riley, who was in town visiting due to a National Lawyer Guild's convention on civil rights (he's an Attorney who's done incredible work; look him up!). We talked for a while and I learned that he, too, is an artist and paints often with oils.
All in all, it was a great experience. I wrapped up and went to work, and when I finished my shift, I came back to see bits of the performance and to check out Derrick Beasley's exhibition inside of the Durham Arts Council building. Some photos from behind the scenes are in the slideshow below as well as two brochures that were handed out during the event that share more information about the mural itself. Thanks for much for reading, and as always... feel free to leave a comment or two!
1. Acrylic Hexagon Hand-painted and Lettered Tiles
I love how these turned out! It was a total experiment, but I am glad to have been trusted enough to take on this project. Photos in the gallery below show the transformation, step-by-step, from what the painting boards looked like when I took them out of the package up until after they were cut, painted, and lettered on! It was my first time cutting acrylic with the tool I used as well> I had to find a video on YouTube to research what to get and how to use it (also posted below). The edges were not as smooth as I hoped it would be at the points when I did cut the boards, so I sanded them a little and then used a heat/wood burning tool I have used in the past to cut pieces of acrylic board for evening it out.
-Acrylic Painting Tiles from Jerry's Artarama
-Plaskolite Acrylic Cutting Tool from Lowe's
-Acrylic Paint by Liquitex Basics in Ivory Black and Artist Loft
-Chalk Markers in white by Marvy Uchida Bistro
-Wood burning/heat tool
-YouTube video resource
2. Balcony Makeover
After bringing home a houseplant from work one day and taking on the challenge to learn how to care for it, I sat on my balcony and stared around thinking I was ready for an upgrade. It had been almost exactly a month since learning I would move into my first apartment, and I couldn't believe the time had passed so swiftly. I enjoyed each month in my new home, and kept busy decorating and settling in over the time. It was now time to settle in the outdoor space. Time to decorate and make it my own... right in time for Summer 2019! That is exactly what I did (photos below); and all of it for under $100.
Outdoor rug... $35 from BJ's
Lantern... $4 from Michael's (was on sale + discounted due to damage)
Flowering shrubs... $12 from Walmart
Hanging flower basket... $16 from Gunter's Greenhouse
Table... $2 from TROSA Thrift Store
Outdoor fabric... $7 from Walmart
Batting... $0 left over from previous project
Bag of potting soil... $2 from Roses
Three cans of spray paint... $12, one from Walmart, Michaels, and Roses
Chairs... $0 given to me from a friend
Railing attachments and baskets... $0 gifted to my job and no one wanted them
Sweat-equity, blisters, and DIY perseverance to get the job done... PRICELESS
My baby nephew's due date was yesterday; and I am joining my family in the wait for the day he actually arrives. My sister-in-law requested some hand-lettered scripture to hang in his nursery some time ago, so I am sharing the behind the scenes of this project as it came together. The materials used were all things we already had and were reused. I am thrilled about that and happy with the results. Check out the transformation in the photos in the slideshow below to see as well as a second transformation project from months ago! I'm actually wearing that piece as I write right now.
1. Plans, Plans, Plans. Hand-lettered Scripture Wall Art
January came and went, and there were a few awesome projects I wrapped up that I wanted to share. Continue reading to check them out!
It's the holiday season, and I declared that this would be the first year in awhile and the first of many... that I would not succumb to the winter blues. This season used to make me feel very down about not celebrating with all of my family the way I used to while growing up or not being where I always imagined being by this time in my life. To help me do that this year, I poured myself into creative projects for myself and others. This blog post documents a few DIY projects that are easy and fun, and perfect for decorating your space for Christmas.
1. Holiday Wreath
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of crafting another front door piece, this time requested by my sister and with the help of my niece on a lovely Friday evening. My sister had seen versions of what she wanted in several stores, but all of their prices were $50 and up. I offered to help, and the picture above is what we created together. She supplied all of the materials, my niece created the design (seen in the photo to the left in action), and I led in the project's execution. We started with a plain wreath, many variously sized and colored ornaments, a bow, scissors, needle and thread, and glue gun with glue sticks. Below, you can see a photo slideshow of how the wreath transformed, step-by-step.
What an exciting time it's been to continue to settle in at home, and make it [for the most part] everything I ever imagined while incorporating my own personal style. During this time, I've also had the chance to step away from social media and better manage my intake of everything going on in the world. It was a much needed break, and allowed me great amounts of time to slow down, refocus, and plan for the future. DIY projects are an awesome way to relax and get creative.
This door decor project was one of my favorite to do during my social media break. Though I am a fan of wreaths, which are commonly hung on doors... the beautiful arrangements whose ring or circular shape is meant to represent eternity are also laid on graves and often seen as related to death. Growing up, I would always hear my Mom say she (or Liberian people in general) didn't use wreaths for decoration on their doors/at home because of this. I was looking for a design that would be just as gorgeous as a wreath, but way different than what you'd typically see hanging on a door or at a funeral.
Within a few minutes of online searching, I found a design that I liked and looked easy enough to replicate. I skimmed through my craft supplies, frames, and outdoor spaces and scavenged for all of the materials I needed (needle, thread, small branches and twigs, faux flowers, pine cone, plexi-glass, frame, ruler wood burner/stencil cutter, chalk markers, sealant, 3M hanging strip, scissors, spray paint, water, a rag and hot glue gun)! After some short, sporadic sessions of putting everything together, I hung up the sign on my front door... for $FREE.99! To seal and weather-proof the piece on the door, I sprayed the chalk ink lettered design with fixative, but that left it with a foggy residue I was not happy with. I ended up testing which spray of the ones I had on-hand were the best on sections of the first piece. Then I redid the lettering on a new cut of the plexi-glass. Of the four sprays that were tested, Krylon's Crystal Clear had the best results. Pictures in the gallery below show a little of this project's behind-the-scenes process. Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you enjoyed and/or feel inspired to create one of your own! Please feel free to leave any questions in the comments section if you have any!
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