What I've Been Working On (April 2020)
by Anne Kostecki
It really feels like this past month has gone by so slowly. I'm sure a lot of you would agree. I saw a meme that described March as lasting over 700 months. Some days feel like that. I have a very routine life right now: since I can't go anywhere, I do the same things every day: make breakfast (for the family), clean, work out, do laundry, play/read to Clara, shower, eat lunch, put her to bed, work as much as I can, then she wakes up 2 hours later, entertain her, cook dinner, clean up, go for a walk, assist my husband in taking care of her, putting her to bed, then "free time"! I'm often too tired to do much, being pregnant and all. Running up and down the stairs, cleaning, folding laundry, cooking, organizing, and so on can be a lot. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be a single mother, or having 3+ children at home, or not being able to afford necessities. I know that there are a lot of people who are in worse situations than I am, and I'm really hoping that they're doing ok.
So, I finished Susan Chiang's Paint With Me Challenge early on in the month. I liked this month's reference photo - it was a mountain scene overlooking a lake. I worked from the top to the bottom: starting with the blue-green sky, then filling in the sunset mountains, dark trees, and reflection. Reflections can be tricky. My trick is to line up all of the vertical information from left to right, then mentally flip the image in my head as I paint. This one took me about 2 or 3 work days. My work days are anywhere from 2-5 hours usually.
My next set of challenges are from Dick Blick and Arteza, both of which are art supply companies that were running "at home" challenges for artists to draw/paint something using their products. To be honest, my entries weren't specifically for the challenge...I painted a pink moon for the big "Pink Supermoon" that happened earlier this month. I was so excited to see that my Pink Moon actually won Blick's challenge, and I got a $100 gift card! Which I immediately spent on new paintbrushes. And then for Earth Day, I wanted to paint the Earth (in two steps...one on a white background, and then with added space backdrop). I had no idea that Arteza would choose it for their vote-off art challenge, and was even MORE shocked that I made it through 3 rounds of elimination into the final round! I did lose ultimately, but the competing artist did an amazing job, and I was just happy to be considered. Both art challenges really help me boost followers this month. I received over 109 new followers, many of which came from these features!
This month, I had to amend a previous event invitation for a May event that was no longer happening due to COVID-19. I actually did a bit of copywriting for the invitation expressing regret in the event cancellation, and my client was super happy with that. And, since I printed with SmartPress, they did an amazing thing and didn't charge me for the reprints! They are doing a great thing by helping out designers who are forced to reprint items for events that have been postponed or cancelled. There was also a promotion for 20% off your orders placed in April, which I used for my next project.
I was so excited to design a birth announcement for my first nephew. I had designed his parents' wedding stationery, including the ketubah, a Jewish wedding contract. On it, I had drawn a Renaissance-inspired Italian filigree pattern. For this announcement, I used the linework from the ketubah as inspiration for a delicate filigree pattern surrounding the border of the card. I paired the design with simple, understated, yet sophisticated. After choosing two Pantone blues, and I designed a matching envelope with a return address. After receiving the printed version, I have to say the only thing I’m unhappy with is that the filigree pattern is very very light. It’s probably my fault, and the stroke on the filigree was too thin. But it still looks great!
One more back burner projects i’m working on is a logo for my dad’s home brewery. He wants a buffalo head with ornate script of “Herbst” our last name. So far, I’ve drawn 2 buffalo heads, and he’s chosen one. I drew some lettering, but I haven’t vectorized it yet. That will have to wait until after the first weeks of May, because I think I’ll be fulfilling orders and working on Minted.
So this month is all about holiday: religious, non-religious, foil, non-foil, corporate, photo, non-photo. I started this month with a plan based on info Minted had given: that religious holiday would be the first challenge. So I started painting an advent wreath. Then, I saw the challenge announced changed to the big ones: holiday photo foil and non-foil. The religious challenge was pushed back later. So I put that painting aside, and decided to rework a holiday branch design I had made months ago in Procreate.
Wow, that design challenged me. I had no idea what to do with the typography. After messing around with it for three nights, I decided to keep it understated. Instead of trying to force type on angles in the corners, I just wrote “merry everything” and a simple sign-off. I’m cool with it now. But I have to tell you…the challenge is going until May 19, and there are already well over 1000 entries. Yikes. Sometimes I wonder if it’s even worth my effort to try… but I would really love to have just one holiday card for sale at Minted. It looks like there are much fewer entries on the foil challenge, so I am going to try that next.
I also had painted a holiday tree under a blanket of heavy snow. This was quite a challenge to paint, and now I’m not sure what to do design-wise. If nothing else, I’m planning on using the design for a client who requested a holiday card this year. I hope it works for something!
The last thing I worked on for Minted was a painted botanical wreath. This was designed from a reference image of lots of unusual holiday plants, and I drew a wreath from those leaves. This painting took me quite a long time…since I didn’t have a reference photo to work from, I had some guessing to do with light and shadow. I think it can be useful…I’m going to work with it in the future.
This month featured a lot of prep for my two virtual art fairs. I had to do a complete inventory of everything for sale, which meant counting every single print and card. I know, I know - I should have done that already. It’s been hard keeping track of everything since I use Square when I’m at art fairs, and I’ve had random orders of my card sets, and I honestly did not have one place where I kept inventory. It didn’t take that long to count them, actually. I have almost everything I need, except I only had 7 of my Garden Roses notebooks, and I have a feeling those will sell quick for Mother’s Day. So I ordered 50 more this week, and they won’t be here until May 8. I’m hoping that they come earlier!
Next up was my virtual filming with my host for Procure at Home. I assembled my products, did my hair and makeup, and actually wore something that wasn’t leggings. I was nervous at first, but Betsy (my host) was fantastic and really complimented my products and me! We got to know each other and then talked about my story and the products. We went a bit over on time, but I think that’s going to be ok. Our segment airs this Sunday, May 3 between 12-4! I hope you will tune in.
For Laumeier’s art fair, I had some paperwork to do, a product spreadsheet with photos, and now they’re interested in doing a video interview! So I will need to make myself up again. I get so nervous doing video stuff, especially since I’m pregnant. I’m just puffier everywhere. This video interview will be shorter I think, and just about me/the process. I’ve been writing so many artist statements these last few months, I just have to pull out one of them and use that as a base.
So this month I finally got to try out my Nicker Poster Colors and really dig into them. I wanted to try painting some colorful skies, so I found some crazy interesting reference photos, and painted away. Little did I know that they would be such a hit! I’m getting great responses on social media. I think I might make these prints too. A Mintee friend of mine suggested entering the Everyday Mother cover design contest, so I entered one! I have until Monday to submit two more designs. I have one in the works, and a backup third too. I’m hoping and praying I can nab a win here! This would be a big honor!
I’m really happy with these skies. I will definitely paint more in the future. If you have any great photos, please email them to me if you’d like me to paint them.
I got a new iPhone - the 11 Pro! With the fancy camera! It's so much better than my iPhone 8, which had a terrible battery life. I definitely baby this phone because it was so expensive though. Every time my daughter picks it up, I wince and take it from her. She loves dropping things hard on the floor.
I have new paintbrushes and paint! My big ticket wish list item is to get a bigger scanner. But that's super expensive, and will come after I win the lottery.
We also got another ultrasound today! The baby is doing great, everything looks normal and healthy. My next appointment will be virtual, and then after that I'll have my dreaded glucose test. I have to be careful about the lifting stay-at-home orders and such, since we don't know anything about pregnant women exposed to COVID-19. I'm not in a rush to go anywhere or do anything yet, although I'd love to just be able to go to a restaurant with friends or go shopping or not have to wear a mask anywhere. I hope you're out there staying sane and healthy.