Paintings to patterns: the learning curve

My work as an artist entails a variety of skills that work in parallel to painting, such as photography and digital photo editing. Now that I’m creating textile products with my paintings, that skill set is broadening even more.  I love a challenge, but paradoxically hate the learning curve of acquiring a new skill because I want to instantaneously be a pro at every new task. This is why mastering turning my original paintings into repeatable patterns for fabric production has been a humbling experience.

Clearly, the internet is at fault for misleading me to believe that making swatches of pattern would be simple. After watching some YouTube videos and reading a few instructional guides, I was convinced it would be a snap. Four weeks later, I had become a hugely unpleasant human with eye spasms from staring at my computer screen, and hardly anything to show for it. Throwing in the towel, I called (possibly cried) for help.


My first phone-a-friend was to Pattern People. By the time I had called them, I actually had made significant progress with one pattern from my “Bugs on Baby Blue” series of four 6″x6″ paintings.


I’ll spare you the technicalities, so suffice it to say the hang up was getting my pattern “key” (sort of like the object of a tessellation) to line up correctly. You can see in this screen shot that I was very close to a clean swatch of pattern, but that tiny bit of misalignment made a blurry mess. I felt somewhat consoled when Claudia from Pattern People emailed me saying “wow, this was a complicated one!” Apparently, I prefer take on the most difficult projects first.

After my Pattern People lesson, my good friend and Photoshop guru Evette Gabriel came over to sit down with me and gently tell me what else I was doing wrong. I mourned the loss of many hours spent on patterns I suddenly realized had to be redone and moved on (deep breath).


Here’s the light at the end of the tunnel – I made a full recovery from this experience and the end result was a simplified version of the pattern utilizing one of the four paintings. Better yet, the fabric has been printed AND sewn into scarves. Yes, scarves. That’s right, now I’m learning how to sew because I figured the only way to overcome my hatred for learning curves is to drown in them. Fortunately, my sewing machine seems to like me infinitely better than Photoshop does.

These scarves are one of many I’ll be posting to a new shop page on my website most likely after the Three Rivers Arts Festival, circa mid-June. Alternatively, you can buy them at the Arts Festival, along with the original artwork. Your patronage will make all of this hard work worth it!

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