Tuesday, January 27, 2015

introduction to lettering

Hello everyone! I'm Megan of Makewells, and I'm quite thrilled to be contributing to Alisa's blog today. She asked if I'd share some tips on hand lettering, one of my favorite things to do. I don't consider myself to be an "expert letterer"; however, after about three years of truly investing my time in developing the skill, I have some tips and tricks that work for me. So I'm excited to share a few of these things with you.

But, first, I just want to talk briefly about what hand lettering is: put simply, it's the art of drawing lettersThat is a key thing to remember no matter where you are in your hand lettering skill set. We aren't talking about typography (the art of arranging type) or technical calligraphy.

One way to think of the difference between calligraphy and lettering is that calligraphy is based on penmanship, or writing letters, while lettering is based on draftsmanship, or drawing them. So to improve your lettering skills, essentially you are looking to improve your drawing skills. 

Getting started with hand lettering is easy (and cheap!). All you need is your basic drawing supplies: pencils, an eraser, paper, tracing paper, and a straight edge. And none of these need to be fancy. Most of my sketches are done with a mechanical pencil in my sketchbook or on basic copy paper. You can invest in lined or gridded paper, though I prefer to draw my own guides using a straight edge. 

As you become more skilled at lettering, you can add to your collection of drawing tools and surfaces. I'll be sharing some of my favorites in my next post. But, for now, that simple set of supplies I mentioned above is all you need.

When getting started lettering, it's important to get to know a few basic types of letters. I've highlighted three of these below:

From the three types of letters above, there are infinite ways to draw the 26 letters in the alphabet (52 if you think upper and lowercase)!

And that is what I love so much about lettering: there are endless possibilities. Not only can each letter be drawn an infinite amount of ways, but the combining of letters to form words, and words to form phrases, opens up a world of creative interpretation that could go on forever. 

Which leads me to my favorite go-to practice exercise. 

I know it sounds like a lot, but I believe so much in this exercise. Not only are you getting valuable practice drawing each letter, but you are also stretching your creativity to find innovative ways to interpret them. 

I have pages and pages in my sketchbooks dedicated to letters - which serve just as much as practice in the moment, as inspiration when I'm creating work in the future. 
I chose the letter A, but you can choose to start with any letter you'd like.

One way to discover the many variations of a single letter is by utilizing tracing paper. Draw the main body of your letter on white paper. Then, using the tracing paper, trace that same letter, varying a small detail each time. 

Below are some simple variations you can try.

Have fun practicing - you will be surprised how easy it is to come up with 100 variations! 

If you do complete the exercise, post your photos on Instagram so we can see. Use #redefinecreativelettering - we can't wait to see what you guys come up with!

Makewells Instagram: www.instagram.com/makewells

Monday, January 26, 2015

creating with a kid: paint with your feet

We spend a lot of time outside but this time of year on the Oregon Coast can get a little bleak with days and days of rain. And while I have all kinds of fun and creative projects to keep Lucy busy and inspired, I save few of the really special (and messy projects) for days (like the grumpy ones) when everyone needs something extra special to work on! One of those special projects is painting with our feet and let me say that letting your three year old paint with their feet is not for the faint of heart but it is a really fun way to get creative and let loose with your kids. 

This is the kind of activity that requires a little set up and clean up time. Even though I am the queen of making a mess I still lay down paper or a drop cloth before we dive into painting. 

TIP: This is also a great outdoor activity for warm days and much easier when it comes time to clean up! 

You can paint on just about anything large enough to walk on- paper (I like butcher paper or brown painter's paper), fabric, canvas or even cardboard. Paper surfaces can get slick with paint (it's easier to slip around) while canvas and fabric are less slippery.

I love using my bare feet but Lucy is not into it yet so we grab a pair of summer shoes (that can be washed) and let her go crazy with them on. 

TIP- You can also get really creative with putting different things on your feet- bubble wrap, socks or anything that will create unique pattern or texture on the surface.

We start by dumping acrylic paint onto the surface- this step might be Lucy's favorite because she seems to love having the control and ownership dumping out all those bottles of paint.

Then I let her go crazy in all that paint- walking, marching, stomping and dancing! 

More paint is dumped and more craziness is had!

And don't think painting with your feet is just for kids...this kind of project is for anyone, any age especially those who might need to blow off some steam or let loose!


If you or your child is not comfortable getting dirty or messy with your feet, at least try using your hands to apply paint! This is a great way to get yourself accustomed to what it feels like to use your body.

Blast your favorite music! Using your body to paint is all about expression and movement and having music on will make it even more fun.

Embrace expression and abstraction! Painting with your body is more about the experience and painting in an abstract way. Try to forget about things looking and feeling perfect and instead give yourself permission to get lost in the process and the mess.

Just let go, enjoy the moment and forget about the giant mess that is happening. The worst case scenario is that you have some cleaning to do when everything is over! 

You can read my entire series of "creating with a kid" posts HERE

Thursday, January 22, 2015

love on SALE!

I've got a fresh batch of my Heart to Art Remix for Demdaco love scarves and love pouches in shop. I think they make the perfect Valentine's Day gift or any time gift and from now until February 14th I've got them marked down! Head on over to the shop HERE for a little SALE on love!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

office statement wall

While I have a great studio space where I host classes and work on all kinds of creative (and messy) projects, my home office is actually where a lot of the magic happens for me. And by magic, I mean hours upon hours spent in front of a computer screen editing photos, writing and editing video and online class content. At this point in my life I really love working from home but sitting in an office, in front of a computer can feel anything BUT inspiring so I am always changing things up to keep things feeling more creative and less office-like. So with the new year, I got busy cleaning and organizing my office. Just as I was finishing up, I felt like there was something missing and I got that familiar hankering to paint a wall- you know how I love to paint a wall!

I knew right away that I wanted to paint a mandala inspired design. A mandala is actually really easy to create because it is simply a series of repeating designs in a circle. I don't get too crazy with measuring things out, I just start with a circle (I usually trace something round) and then go for it! 

When I am painting a wall with a lot of pattern and line work I like to use acrylic paint mixed with a little bit of water. 

Since our walls have texture on them it keeps things from lines being really clean and perfect but I just work go ahead and embrace it.

I kept building and building the embellishments until the entires section of the wall was filled.

The wall adds just the perfect amount of creativity (for me) and my work space and the best part is that it's just paint! When or if I ever want a change I can paint over it!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

kid's art journal

Something I get asked all the time is what do we do with all of that art that Lucy makes. Let me first say that I've kept everything that she has drawn and painted. Her art is precious to me, just as precious as photos because it is a history of her growth and all those little stages she has gone through (scribbling, dots, lines, circles, color choices, faces, etc). As an artist, it has been amazing- like one of the most amazing things I've ever seen- to watch creativity develop in a tiny person and I cherish each and every scribble. With that said, we have three years worth of art organized in files and boxes. One of the most important things that I do is scan or photograph a lot of that art so that I also have a digital copy but lately I have been sorting her art and binding it into books or art journals.

These bound journals have been a great way to begin organizing all that art and keeping track of Lucy's creative history and development. Over the holidays we created a huge journal from Lucy's art as a gift for my parents. They are the most difficult people to shop for so this collection of art was the perfect gift.

The best part of this project was getting Lucy involved in selecting art and making art for the book. Together we spent weeks digging through boxes of her art, picking out favorites and even making new art. 
We included art from all her creative stages.
I added photos here and there but I didn't want this to be a photo album or scrapbook so I kept most pages simple with one photo and the rest art and threw in a few spreads full of photos.

The result is a beautiful art journal with over 40 pages of Lucy's art. Needless to say, it was a HUGE hit. 

Something about collecting and binding all that art makes everything feel and look so much more special and it is really fun to flip through all those colorful pages and see her growth. 

Speaking of art journals, I've got another batch in the shop HERE and a couple of those journals are really large (11 x 14), have 40 pages and doodles all over the front and back.


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