Ready for Takeoff

I'm semi-retired from guestbooks, but this one was too fun not to share.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of creating an airplane-themed guestbook for a world-traveling couple.

I love the newly married couple as the pilot and co-pilot!

Retro fonts and ben-day dots channeled 1960s airline posters.

You never know how guests will actually sign the guestbook once they see it... but it's fun for everyone!

Can you spy the parachuter?


Central Park Boathouse

My lovely friend Hillery posted a gorgeous photo on Instagram, and it sent my mind spinning.

The photo is gorgeous on its own - she could frame it as-is.  But I was looking for inspiration to show stationers how my custom paper illustrations would work, and this hit the perfect note.

Wanna see?

First, I created an illustration in black and white.

Then, at this point, you could color it in lots of ways.  I like to use hand-applied watercolor.  

Some options:

Once you have the image you like... there are so many possibilities!

These images led to a spread in my new retail portfolio... more on that later.

I love creating these paper pieces!  If you're interested in custom, one-of-a-kind artwork for your events or social correspondence... I'm your girl!  

A little of this...

...a little of that.

I've been doing a lot of dabbling since we moved.  The great thing about my new studio setup is that I can work on lots of projects at once.  The bad thing about the new studio setup is... that I can work on lots of projects at once.  

I built this sweet double wall easel:

And to celebrate, I started... a watercolor.  Which doesn't use the wall easel at all.  Oh well!

This watercolor has been AWESOME... the client preferred an autumn setting, and the colors of the leaves REALLY make it pop!

11x17" original watercolor

11x17" original watercolor

While I was working on it, I experimented with several ways to capture the process.

I fiddled with Flipagram:

And then took some progress videos... one was excruciatingly slow, but I used iMovie to condense it from 5 minutes to 41s:

The iMovie quality is better, but this clip of painting is a little more interesting... I think?  I made it using LapseIt, which takes timelapse pictures and turns them into a video... unfortunately, it degrades the quality a little bit.  Or maybe it's just out of focus.  For your viewing pleasure:

Obviously, I'm not a technical expert.  

What do y'all think?  Which one do you like?  Or do you prefer the good-ol-composite photo, like this?

Please do let me know - I'll try to keep things as interesting as possible!

For more in-progress works, follow my Instagram @alysonjohnsoncreative

Ta-ta for now!

Working from Photos

As y'all know, the bulk of my work comes from painting my clients' photos.  Some of the photos are awesome, with great light, a clear composition, and it's easy for me to pick what I like to highlight and create a beautiful painting.  Sometimes, though, I spend as much time trying to piece together what the photo is supposed to represent as I do actually painting!

Before Christmas, I painted a series of small watercolors to commemorate a family's homes over the years.  My client only had one photo that she'd taken herself; the others had to be sourced from Google Maps.  Sometimes this works (see #2!) and sometimes... a LOT changes between the time you lived in the house and when Google took its photo (#3).  I was lucky to have a thoughtful client with such a good memory!

Let's start with Exhibit A:

This first photo has great light and shadows, with nothing obstructing the composition... it's awesome.  She just wanted the car removed.  Easy peasy.

Exhibit B: I used two Google Earth angles to piece together this former home, and my client's memory, and her absolutely amazing/adorable sketch to fill in the landscaping that had changed:

Et voila!  A cleaned-up version of her old house.

Finally, Exhibit C:

This one needed digital triage for me to be able to paint a watercolor from it.  There was no roof to be found, the horizontally striped awnings were gone, every surface had been repainted, the trees weren't the newly-planted baby trees of her memory... so we had to collaborate a lot to make sure I captured the right image.  

I've been working on a number of pieces lately that required a ton of digital TLC.  I am grateful every day for Photoshop, but my goodness, it has opened a Pandora's Box of time-stealing tasks.  I enjoy it, but I'm really not trained in that, so it takes me a long time.  And I don't want to create a bunch of paintings that look like cheesy Photoshop printouts - anyone who's seen my Pinterest board knows I gravitate toward loose, flowy, hyper-colorful stuff.  I think that having such precise photographs is making me a stickler about painting the photograph instead of just painting a painting.  Maybe I should start taking more source photos myself, or just say "no" to bad source photos.  What do you think?

Stick around - there might be some big changes coming for AJC in 2015.