People say the internet is both a good and bad thing, and I wholeheartedly agree. However, when it is good……. it is very good. One of the great things about being creative is the endless search for inspiration, and today I did not fall short:



It is rare that I am speechless when it comes to another artist/designer, but this guy’s work is TO DIE FOR!!! What words would I choose to sum up his work?




Fascinating introspective into this artist’s work. I think I am so drawn to his work as I can see a similar passion for line, form and pattern. Looking at his work has given me the idea to invert some of my own work so the dark will become light and vice versa; could these new white lines be enhanced with metallic pen, pencil or stitch? I am extremely excited to explore this new avenue of visual research.

Decided to buy one of his books……WILD GARDENS!!! Absolutely incredible, think I can learn a great deal from this artist.


Well, considering I have never used Photoshop and Illustrator before, and that I am currently undertaking a Digital project, I decided it was about high time that I learn from the ground up; what better way to learn from others who are able to share their skills and best practice.

My first port of call was to visit a wonderfully informative site run by Dylan Mierzwinski:


The first workshop/tutorial I decided to tackle/watch is ‘ILLUSTRATING FLOWERS & ARRANGING BOUQUETS IN PHOTOSHOP’

One thing that struck me about this tutorial was her use of creating a design from a photograph, when she had flowers to inspire her from life. Perhaps her being an illustrator, she likes flat and 2D design work?

Dylan advocates the choice of certain elements within the chosen subject matter:

  1. Size of flowers…..the larger the flower, the larger the focus
  2. Variety……..the variety of different flora will allow a kinetic and interesting juxtaposition to flow
  3. Shape, pattern and line…….vitally important to show a diverse range of structural qualities.
  4. Texture………to avoid the design to look flat and characterless.
  5. Focal point……the area chosen for the highest vital impact.
  6. If using photographs/online images……….describe from multiple sources (do not directly copy)


When drawing a flower pay attention to how the petals/structure interacts with one another; concentrate on line first and foremost. I always think a really good way to begin to understand the form and structure of a flower entails studying it by looking and touching it in various perspectives. My Dad always instructed me to explore an object through touch drawing first; it allows me to ‘see’ with my hands. The eye/brain can misrepresent what it sees due to preconceived ideas, take that away and ‘see’ with your touch, and you can begin to understand the core ingredients of the chosen object.


A Rose midway through bloom. The structural essence is visible to see; one drawing instrument Pencil) was used to convey form and structure.


A Rose decaying; a mixture of dried and still living petals. A range of drawing instruments (pencil, finaliser and charcoal pencil) were used to describe certain characteristics of the flower.


A Rose nearly naked of it’s petals; dried and stiff elements of the sepal and stamen are described with expressive mark-making (pencil, pastel, charcoal pencil, biro). The touch drawings are a wonderful way to express what you ‘see’ without actually looking at the object.

In the ‘DRAWING YOUR BLOOMS’ section, I notice that Dylan is not observing from a natural form/life and is making up the linear and defining patterns of her chosen flower; this does not really reflect the true nature of what is actually being ‘observed’, but I love the fact that she informs me that what is drawn on a blank page does not necessarily translate exactly when manipulating and transferring the image digitally.


Screen Shot 2018-03-18 at 16.06.17Looking at Quick Mask Mode – CTRL+U (DE-SATURATE) Drag Saturation to -100 (OK) Screen Shot 2018-03-18 at 16.07.02Use Lasso tool to ‘frame’. Double Click on Background layer – CTRL+I (INVERSE) Gets rid of everything outside image to keep.Screen Shot 2018-03-18 at 16.08.50CTRL+X To get rid of it. To make sure the black is true black and white is true white press CTRL+L and adjust the bar to make sure there is no grey area.Screen Shot 2018-03-18 at 16.11.40  To make New Doc CTRL+N. Use Lasso tool to frame image and press CTRL+C. Screen Shot 2018-03-18 at 16.15.57 Make sure white is your foreground. Press Q for Quick Mask and layer should turn red for activation.Screen Shot 2018-03-18 at 16.31.06 Press CTRL+V to paste image into new doc, which will shows red due to being still in quick mask mode….so hit Q. Screen Shot 2018-03-18 at 16.32.26Photoshop thought that what was black needed to be removed and save what was white. To remedy this press CTRL+I and choose black as foreground colour. Now press ALT+and then CTRL+D to select. Screen Shot 2018-03-18 at 16.38.04




I am usually pretty good at deconstructing a brief and then being able to reconstruct into my own individual way. However, due to the project taking me into unfamiliar territory, especially with Photoshop and Illustrator, not to mention the fact that I have never come across the hierarchy of pattern collections before, I have struggled with amalgamating my ideas and research into a cohesive whole.

Today, in the ‘Creating a Pattern Collection’ briefing, ran by Sian, I finally began to understand the complexities of creating a coordinating collection. I found it fascinating that there are 3 principle elements of a pattern collection:

HERO: The primary design. The showstopper. The core design. Engaging. Complexity of colour. The Story. Largest in scale.

SECONDARY: The supporting design. Enhances the Hero, but does not detract from it. Strong design. Simplified colour and pattern structure.

BLENDER: The collection glue. Simple style and colour palette. Smaller scale. Incorporates texture and mark-making.


Elisabeth Olwen, Skillshare, (2017), Available at: https://www.skillshare.com/classes/Pattern-Design-II-A-Creative-Look-At-A-Full-Pattern-Collection/1070740680, Accessed: 16 June 2018

380b65a9Elisabeth Olwen, Skillshare, (2017), Available at: https://www.skillshare.com/classes/Pattern-Design-II-A-Creative-Look-At-A-Full-Pattern-Collection/1070740680, Accessed: 16 June 2018


Karen Emelia, Skillshare, 2016, Paisley Gardens. Available at: https://www.skillshare.com/projects/Paisley-Garden/45696 (Accessed: 16 March 2018)

This was a little research I thought prudent to undertake before journeying through my explorative coordinating pattern collection studies. Having recently signed up to Skillshare, and finding such a wonderful treasure trove of tips, hints and professional tutorial from Surface Pattern Designer Elisabeth Olwyn, I would be stupid not to make the most out of this wondrous site.

JOHN DERIANScreen Shot 2018-03-16 at 10.08.04jd-half-1-SS18

Designers Guild & John Derian, S/S 2018, The Rose Swedish Blue. Available at: https://www.designersguild.com/uk/fabric/john-derian/the-rose-swedish-blue-fabric/p25751 (Accessed: 16 March 2018)

I have recently come across the designer John Derian, and can honestly say I am smitten!!!! The discovery came via his collaboration with Designers Guild, which strangely is one of my favourite design companies; a marriage made in heaven.

Looking over this collection, I am reminded of how important observational drawing is when conveying a rich and varied design. I absolutely love the full corollas in bloom (bang on trend with Common Ground/BUSY BLOOM), and adore how they are arranged; bold all-over print, allowing each rose to offset the next. Once far more proficient in Photoshop/Illustrator, I am going to experiment the hell out of my designs!!!!

I think one of the most important aspects I have overseen within this specific area of research has given me invaluable insight into which patterns, colours, textures and shapes look and feel good within the context of Floral/Busy Blooms. My Hero design could be completely observational like this design, but could be supported by a more stylised and linear interpretation of the same subject matter. The collection then can be amalgamated by stripes or mark making patterns. I am so excited to see what I can create/produce/make.


What makes this design so incredibly effective?


I think I would love to explore all these elements within my ongoing creative journey.


Having always had an affinity with Nature, I didn’t quite realise how therapeutic drawing flowers is; a continuous line to create shape, pattern, form and texture soothe my soul. My Dad always has instilled within me the mantra that ‘there is no right or wrong way to draw, but rather an expression of your own self and individuality’.

The last few days have seen me at my most creative and I am struggling to reign in all my ideas, but one of the core ingredients of my success would have to be the ability to deconstruct an idea then reconstruct it in a number of different ways, which is what I have done.

I am not proficient on Photoshop or Illustrator, but have the technical know-how to create repeat patterns and juxtaposition by the good old fashioned way….BY HAND!!!


This exercise was extremely labour intensive; photocopy each image numerous times, ‘cut out’ with my fingers, arrange by eye, and then spray mount and adhere to the sketchbook page. However, I am really proud of my effort. The flowers I I have drawn are: ROSE, IRIS, & HYDRANGEA.

The process of Repeat Patterns is extremely cathartic for me, it feeds my OCD rather nicely, plus it looks great!!

I concentrated deliberately on form, line and shape first and made the conscious decision not to overburden studies with colour until I knew that the design was strong enough to take forward.


Again, playing around with the size of the image can create a wonderfully cohesive and fluid pattern, not to mention its a wonderful way to make sure that the image works well within the overall space.


Experimenting with the stylisation of Roses within a surface pattern context, adding BRUSHO and water, and then strategically placing an acetate replica of the same image over the top, but making sure that the image is slightly off kilter to allow for a 3-D effect. Colours specifically chosen as a nod to WGSN.


I photocopied (A3) my Felt samples (from my Felt workshop @ Art Van Go) and began by creating a ‘busy, colourful and textural collage background. I didn’t want to use colour within my observational Iris drawing, so photocopied it numerous times and cut out each image (time consuming!!!! 2hours!!!), juxtaposing them to create a repeat pattern. I am incredibly pleased with this design and would love to incorporate this somehow into my final coordinating designs.


Now, this was a labour of love!! It involved experimenting with BRUSHO and water in an atomiser. The idea was to create a range (around 4 A4 pieces of paper incorporating the mixing of BRUSHO colours) colour palettes, which when dry could be ripped up and torn to create a highly textures and fluid (Busy) background. Some of my quick Rose & Hydrangea sketches were juxtaposed as a repeat pattern, eventually being embellished with Gold (Pilot Fine-liner). The result is fantastic, and I am really honing my own individual visual handwriting.





Continuing on, I decided to utilise some of the skills I had acquired during my previous floral explorative studies; now was the time to incorporate colour, line and pattern.


This study used a stylised approach to flowers you would see in a garden, specifically within my Mum and Dad’s garden. Poppies have been stylised, and the Forget-Me-Not’s and Viola within the rockery section of the garden have been described with Derwent INKENSE pencils and a Derwent Water Brush, with a particular use of the pencil and brush to create texture. Faber Castel PITT Artist Pens were also used to suggest the quality of grass/fronds/leaves. This was an enjoyable experience in mark-making, but more than that it gave me the confidence to use these new instruments, having never used them before.


Having applied the principle of vibrant and exploratory mark-making with the INKTENSE pencils and FABER CASTELL pens, I decided to draw directly from life. I  picked up a reduced bunch of flowers from Aldi (only a few were still in the land of living, but considering I only paid 5p for them I couldn’t complain) and spent no more than 10minutes on this ‘sketch’. I was really bowled over by how fantastic and descriptive these instruments could be when used in conjunction with each other; a dynamic texture, colour and pattern has been created. A cohesive, fluid mark-making exercise turned out to be really successful.

Creating surface pattern/background with simple INKTENSE pencil shading and Derwent Water Brush. The image on the left is the original design, whilst the image on the right has been enhanced in my Mac ‘Photoshop’ via the Enhance tool. I absolutely love the colour and texture of the design and will experiment with applying some of my designs over the top of it; printing directly onto the surface and cutting out shapes and adhering them to the surface will allow me to explore the possibilities of the proposed final digital design.



Playing around with stylisation and motifs; layering and mark-making. Additionally, I have incorporated a kineticism within these designs which draws the eye all over the page…allowing the viewer to choose favourite elements and interpret patterns, which would be incredibly useful when researching for a future client/s.


Observational studies of one leaf at various different angles. The skill of observational drawing will be essential to me as a practitioner as it will differentiate me between the designers who cannot draw. Drawing is paramount to an artist!! It allows ideas to be conceptualised and carried through to a full and thought out design.


Hand-writing is your own personal style. It’s the bit that sets you are apart. That’s the mark-making you employ, or the medium you use. It can also be affected by the style/ genre you are working within.

It is vitally important to have your own Visual Handwriting, what are you without it?

What is Identity? The characteristics determining who or what a person or thing is.


What is Identity important? Well, it differentiates between me and the next person. Imagine a world in which we all dress the same, look the same, come up the same ideas and create the same designs; not a world in which I want to belong in. But why is it so important to have my own unique visual handwriting? It defines who I am as an artist and is a direct result of how I interpret the world around me.

I decided to conduct a little experiment of my own today. If I copied the work, specifically floral designs of other artists, would the work look identical or would my visual handwriting create a new story?


Is my identity the marks I make in my art? Is it how I interpret the subject matter through my own two eyes? I thoroughly enjoyed drawing this Tulip/Floral arrangement; it allowed me to expand my mark-making repertoire, which in turn will allow me to become a more experienced and creative artist.  Cabinet (Oak, veneered with marquetry of various woods, copper, pewter, tortoiseshell, horn and lapis lazuli), 1680 – Andre-Charles Boulle. 


I was instantly drawn to this design; having spent nearly all of my childhood spring/summer in my garden,orchards or woodlands abroad, the imagery of apple blossom is synonymous with warmth and magical nature adventures with my Dad. Drawing this allowed me to pour some of my happiness into the drawing in the form of adding a little pink and purple, which strangely in the past I would not consider. Apple/Pirus malus en Peer/Pirus communist, 1905, Lithograph – Theo Nieuwenhuis


I did not want to incorporate the colour from this design, but rather tried to encapsulate the essence of the corolla and large petal size (looking at the WGSN Trend forecast from BUSY BLOOMS). For me, the most important aspect of this exercise was learning which of my own preferred techniques could offer the most dress, unique and new take on a traditional process. For example, I would love to see how COLLAGE could transform this linear drawing into a fully rounded and highly textural design.

What medium would I use for the collage? Could I spend a day creating a varied amount of different exploratory mark-making studies? Could these studies serve as the medium I use to deconstruct and then reconstruct this design?

Spending time utilising the visual handwriting of others has been invaluable; not only have I a new found respect for the creative processes of others, but I have also improved upon my own way of working.


All my life I have crippled by the idea that I cannot draw properly, when in fact I could. My Father, Hugh Thomas, an incredible artists in his own right, has always championed the idea that drawing is representative, and that there is no ‘correct’ way in how we visualise our chosen subject matter.

Today I decided to utilise images I have found within an incredible book, RIJKS MUSEUM AMSTERDAM: BLOEMAN FLOWERS, my Mum recently gave me and try to encapsulate the mark-making and patterns found within so many of the floral observational/representational/stylise studies. Initially trepidation turned into elation when I found that I could create these wonderful lines, patterns and textures mandatory to describe flowers.



Yes, these are only simple continuous line drawings, but I feel they encapsulate the essence of a flower. The next step will be to draw directly from life, so a trip to Aldi to buy some flowers is a must.

I think I will concentrate on drawing ROSES, PEONIES and IRISES.

First of all I have given myself a set of guidelines, which I know will improve my drawing and observational skills:

  1. Keep a regular diary. Write down what I want to achieve, and how I want to achieve it.
  2. Make sure I have the correct materials, in good condition.
  3. Keep collecting interesting material, objects true, photographs, typeface and lettering, and fabrics and materials.
  4. Set up directional lighting, especially if I am undertaking work with texture, pattern , shape and form.
  5. Practice mark-making every day, especially curving and flowing lines.
  6. Look carefully at scale, size and underlying structure.
  7. Proportion is vitally important. Plan out your work, and practice it until it becomes second nature.