I am a day late with my Thoughts and Tipster Thursday post.  I would like to get started with a quote for us to think about. 


I am always thinking and dreaming.  The most important thing for me is to act upon those dreams and do something creative everyday. 

Let us venture into my design world. 

I am asked all the time how did that design come about?  What made you think of that?  Do you always have a plan or subject matter in place before you begin?  Do you design from a set up, from objects in your home, photographs or just go for it.  My response to these questions, are yes and no.  Might not sound like a good answer, but it is accurate.

This method works for me but it does not necessarily mean it will work the same for you.  Hopefully my method might assist you with your creative process.

Before I ever begin designing, I think of a surface that I want to paint on.  I might select a surface I have on hand (I have plenty) or construct something brand new.  Nice to have access to a 24/7 woodworker.  Even though he has a tendency to say to me, “You want what and when?”  I am always thinking different.  A clever new surface makes a new design stand out and I think it is essential to not only think of the design, but its surroundings.  Keep in mind that a different surface will attract student’s and/or customer’s eyes.  Make that surface become a component of the design. 

 Wood Piece

Next I choose a theme that I want to design and it might be a still life, sampler, seasonal, whimsy, or realistic.  My surface always plays into my selection.  If I decide I want to design a seasonal project then the surface might become interchangeable so I know it is important to think ahead. 

Boat Collage

Surface and theme is now selected, let the drawing begin.  A little hint, I generally always have the main object already thought out.  It might be a house, crock, snowman, or lantern (just to name a few) then the design is built around the main object.

For many years I have kept journals full of thumbnail drawings, large sketches, color ideas, quotes or anything else that might lend a hand in my creative process.  I now have 4 jammed packed journals.  I will be creating and painting until I am 100 years old.  Yes I have that much stuff among the pages of these journals. 

Sketches Again All Things Winter

It is not imperative to be perfect when keeping the above journals because it is your reference guide.  It is amazing how just a scribble or comment can spark the best design ever.  Lots of times I get the ideas from these sketches and begin my line drawing.  Before the final line is ever drawn on the paper I have made many changes along the way.  Funny, once you get started with your drawing your creative mind begins to work overtime.  I am forever telling myself, “Stop thinking about it, just do it!”

Pumpkin Patch Sketches

Pumpkin Patch Collage

I almost never draw from a set up.  I might look at things for a reference but really never set objects up in my studio.  Not sure why, but have to admit I have a harder time controlling my perspective.  Yes, I do occasionally draw from a photograph I have taken, but my favorite thing to do is just go for it.  With all the rules out there it might not be the best way, but it has always worked for me. 

I have a huge plastic graph (vertical/horizontal lines) and I place it onto my painting table.  I take a sheet of 8 ½ X 11-in. or 11 x 17-in. copying paper (larger if needed) and tape it down onto the plastic graph.  It is a perfect guide to keep all my lines straight where necessary.  I then trace the shape of the surface I have selected onto my paper.  I find this to be very important to make sure the design fits within all areas.  Many years ago I used to only draw the main object onto the paper and then design as I go, but now I design the entire project (minus all the details) and then transfer it to the surface.  Does not mean that I never alter things along the way and trust me there have been many changes once I start the base coating or painting process.   There is times where things just do not fit or work within the design.  Nothing wrong with that, no one will ever know. 

Plastic Grid

I have to confess the hardest part for me and what I dread the most is the background color/technique and the finishing touches to be done on the main surface (frame, box etc.)  One of the reasons is because I am always thinking different.  It is funny but lots of times I use a very neutral or dark background.  This makes it easier to establish the palette for the design and to select the base coating colors.  Best to think outside the box and I try to move outside my favorite palette of colors.  I keep in mind always; I am designing for you not me.  I like to design a wide variety of subjects.  It makes designing enjoyable. 

Before I proceed to transfer the line drawing to my surface I proof and finalize the entire pattern.  Have to be cautious because one crooked line, distorted object, incorrect perspective and certain elements can throw off the entire design.  Yes, designers are human and errors can be made, but before I sign my name to my work, I take the time to make sure I provide the best line drawing possible. 

Once I am pleased with my line drawing, I proceed to transfer the design to my selected surface.  Now on to my next challenge, the selection of the base coating values.  A very essential step because it is going to set up the feel of the entire project.  I always think medium values when I select my palette.  It gives me a broader range to establish good value changes on all objects.  This is another area that I have been known to change things up if necessary.  As I build my design with paint, sometimes what I thought would work does not.  I have talked about color in a few blog posts and it might be a good idea to re read these posts.  I love color and lots of times I do things through trial and error.  Hey if one thing does not work, I do not give up I just go forward with another idea. 

Starting a couple of years ago, as I paint each step I would stop and take pictures.  The process sounds time consuming but in the long run it saves time.  Once my painting is completed I will then go in and edit my step by step photos and put them in order.  They will become great reference tools. 

I always have the hardest time calling it quits.  I always say, “Oh just one more thing, more details and more color here”.  Without details, my paintings would not be me.  Before I call it quits I do take pictures or place the project onto my printer glass and print out a few copies.  Helps me to determine anything I might have missed and lots of times I can detect areas in a photo that need adjustments.  I paint long hours and lots of times when I have been looking at a painting for an extended amount of time I miss things. 

Raggedy Prim Sampler pic

Lots of times I will set the painting aside for a few days and then revisit it.  If I am happy then I sign it and begin the next step.  I am now ready to put my new painting into a pattern packet.  Come back to visit me and I will share my pattern packet process. 

Thanks my friends for taking the time to read about my design process.  It is because of you that I keep challenging myself.  I appreciate your support and interest in my designs. 

Until next time Paint always with a happy heart…..


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