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Friday, February 28, 2014

Heading back to the drawing board...

I don’t know how many of you knew this tidbit, but I was working as an illustrator for 10 years prior to collaborating with Lianne and starting our wonderful joint venture called Swirly Designs.
A big chunk my work was working with magazines on editorial illustrations. What I really enjoyed about working as an illustrator was collaborating with the art directors and working together. Every project was so different it was exciting to research and learn about unfamiliar topics.  
Jumping ahead 20+ years later… I have been getting the urge lately to revisit my illustration roots again. To what extent still not sure yet. My true joy and focus right now is with Swirly, but I love creating and designs with my hands. Here is a sampling of some of my earlier work.
The top tow editorial illustrations were created early 2000 when I did everything by hand. When you made a mistake or a bad color choice you had to start all over again.  I used a Rapidograph technical pen for the line work, adding a base painting of watercolor then added rich color and shading with colored pencils.  The two small images are digital. It made sense to embrace the digital age and start taking my illustrations onto the computer.
The process of working with the art director from copy to sketches to mock-up cover layouts to color to printed piece. Trade magazine cover The Pet Aisle June 2004
This is another digital editorial piece I created back in the day.
So when I heard about this MATS (Making Art That Sells) Bootcamp online course that artist rep Lilla Rogers was offering, I could not miss this opportunity to help me get back in the game. I've never taken an online course before, so I had my concerns. Would I have the time to really focus on the class assignments? Would my rusty computer skills work against me? The course runs for 6 months (Feb-July) and so far I’m very happy to say it’s been a fantastic, rejuvenating, eye opening experience for me and it’s only been one month. 

The course works something like this: The first Monday of the month you get a “mini” assignment and then the following Monday you get your “big” assignment, which you have two weeks to complete and then post to a gallery where everyone can view it. Week three, Lilla shares a surprise tip or advice. You  also get access to a private Facebook group where you can share and connect with your classmates. I really had to force myself to stay away from the group until I had all my ideas /concepts/finish pieces ready so I would not be influenced or swayed by the talented pool of work already growing in the group.

The mini assignment was to research/sketch cuckoo clocks. Not knowing the big assignment yet, you are able to just have fun and play and experiment with your style. As soon as I started sketching my cuckoo clocks they took a holiday theme...hmm how did that happen!
The "big" assignment was now to take your cuckoo clock sketches and incorporate them onto a cell phone case. I was a little torn about the direction I wanted to go in. Do I treat it like another Swirly and create it and sculpt it out of clay? Or do I revisit my illustration roots that I haven’t worked on, in about 8+ years? Reminding myself ....this should be fun..fun..fun! And plus Lianne seeing me start to stress over this, helped me put things into perspective and realize why I’m doing this again.
Once I settled on a style, I decided to create a Merry Time Cuckoo Clock. Going back to working on the computer again actually is not that different than working in clay for me. I found out very quickly that if you don’t have good sketches of your ideas, with color break downs, you end up wasting a lot of time working in circles and getting very frustrated. So I had to step back, figure out  my direction, then I started to enjoy the process again... even though it was taking me longer. Every time Lianne would check in on me she would roll her eyes and bite her tongue about how I do everything on the computer the wrong way and should really use the more keyboard shortcuts!      

After working into the wee hours (I think I was up til 3:30am) here is my finished piece that was submitted:
Lilla's tip in this round was about using color. She challenged us to try incorporate a particular color palette into our illustration. To my surprise my illustration palette was very close to hers. (great minds think alike!) So I decided to challenge myself again and work on a second version playing with color. I like the yellow version, but ultimately I decided that  blue would be more marketable for this assignment.
 Go check out mine and see 350+ other artists who participated in this Cuckoo Clock Cell phone assignment at Lilla Rogers website here. 
Thanks for letting me share and taking you on my creative journey.
~ Paul 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Be Our Swirly Valentine

Happy Valentine's Day to all of our Swirly friends. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Holiday How-to Valentine: Sweet Treat Jar

Love is in full swing here in the Swirly studio. 
As Valentine's Day approaches, our work space is adorned with all things lovely! A palette of reds and pinks, the scent of fresh paints and the aroma of yummy sweets greet us each day.

In our first of 2014 how-to series with Sculpey, we created this
really "tweet" Valentine Sweet Treat Jar.  Find the how-to here.
 We are tickled pink to be collaborating once again this year with the wonderful folks at Polyform Products creating holiday inspired clay projects. 
We have built up a nice collection of how-to projects over the past 4 years, so we thought we needed a good way to keep all these project together under one name. We came up with  Sculpey & Swirly Holiday How-to projects
We have added this logo to the side of the blog, so when you click on it your will
see all of our past Holiday how-tos.
How cute are these? We used baby jars which come in various heights but 
the widths are all pretty much standard. Our kids enjoyed a lot of baby apple sauce for this project. ;-)
Once you get the basic steps down from the how-to, you can really create whatever you want as far as colors and subject matter and colors go.
Wouldn't these make perfect baby shower favors or bridal shower gifts?   
If you like this project and want to keep seeing Swirly Designs create more holiday inspired how-tos, be sure to visit Polyform Products facebook page and share your thoughts. You can also visit the Swirly Designs facebook page and share your feedback and pictures of your finished Sweet Treat Jars.
Have a Swirly Valentine
This project is for personal, non-commercial use ONLY.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Somerset Holiday & Celebrations 2013

Even thou this magazine was released back in early September, it's one you can refer back to all year long, since it has how-to projects for many holidays and celebrations through out the year.
We are especially overjoyed to have had contributed two holiday themed projects: a Halloween project and a Valentine's one for the 2013 issue of Somerset Holidays & Celebrations.
If you were busy running around for the holidays like a lot of us and missed this issue on newsstands, you can pick up a copy online here.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Swirly Valentine Collection 2014

Happy Valentine's Day! ~ Thanks again to everyone who order and making Swirly Designs part of your Valentine's celebration this year.
Your continued dedication and support for our handmade ornaments is so greatly appreciated. 
Enjoy a few beauty shots from this years handmade Valentine's collection.

Friday, February 7, 2014

A Valentine Treat For You!

Win your own Valentine Sweet Treat Jar. 
To enter visit and leave a comment on the giveaway post on
Swirly Designs Facebook page before Sunday 2/9 at 11:59 pm.
To double your chances enter on the
 Polyform Products Facebook page.

You can find the How-to of this project on the sculpey website!
A random winner will be chosen and announced on 
Monday, February 10, 2014
Your Treat Jar will be sent to you just in time for Valentine’s Day! 
Good Luck!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Feeling the LOVE....

Feeling the Love today. 
You guys truly amaze us with your continued enthusiasm towards our work and for that we want to say a heartfelt thank you. 
xoxo Lianne & Paul

Swirly 2014 Valentine's Collection

Happy Tuesday! Our very limited 2014 Valentine's handmade ornament collection is live today at 9am EST.  We hope you get a chance to check out these Lovely Swirly Designs:)
xoxo Lianne & Paul
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