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Modern Miss Kitty: My Latest Skillshare Project

Modern Miss Kitty

To explain this project, I have to explain a little bit about myself first…

*I read a lot.  

*I’m obsessed with narrative art.  I like to feel as if I have walked in on something when I’m looking at an art piece.  If you were in my head, you would hear the story that I tell myself about such art pieces.

*Vintage furniture pieces are all over my house.

*I don’t have a cat, but my husband did once before we were married.  That cat was the fanciest cat I have ever known.

*Jane Austen novels are among my favorites, and I feel like a proper Austen house would be covered in toile.  Maybe not my interpretation of toile, but toile nonetheless. 

 

Ok…so now that you know a little bit more about me, I can explain my project.

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Miss Kitty is a modern cat.  She appreciates the finer things in life like sleeping masks, bubble baths, macaron towers, and chesterfield couches to lounge on while she takes her tea.  This interpretation of a toile pattern lets you glimpse a day in the life of Miss Kitty.

Scene 1: Miss Kitty Wakes Up

Miss Kitty has nothing but the best when it comes to king size beds and Egyptian cotton.  Her sleep mask is essential to obtain the necessary amount of beauty rest required for such a modern kitty.

Scene 2: Bubbles Are A Must

No bath is complete without bubbles.  Miss Kitty insists upon it.  Oh, and fresh flowers are the only scent she can tolerate after waking…  Well, besides cake.  The scent of cake is acceptable, too.

Scene 3: Hello, Gorgeous

After her bath, Miss Kitty saunters to her vanity where a macaron tower is available for her tasting pleasure.  She enjoys a sample after eyeing her gorgeous self in the mirror.

Scene 4: Miss Kitty Takes Her Tea

Tea is best served hot and while lounging on a velvet Chesterfield couch.  You didn’t know that?  Miss Kitty is glad she could enlighten you…

 

My Process:

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I am totally in love with Janet Hill’s quirky, narrative style.  Her use of bright colors and exciting stories are right up my alley.  Like I said earlier, my house is full of vintage furniture.  I have a velvet wingback chair that my husband truly does not understand, but it will follow me wherever I go until it dies or I do.  Preferably, I will go first…

Miss Kitty’s story developed in my head.  I wish I could tell you what I was doing that made me think of it, but I can’t…  When you read as much fiction as I do, sometimes stories just come out of nowhere.

Sketches:

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While the sketches in a traditional toile are waaay more detailed than my own, I used a smidge of the line work that was taught in this course.  I think sketching Miss Kitty’s sleep mask was my favorite.  : )

Patterns + Colorways:

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This is a loose interpretation of a toile, but I had a great time coming up with it.  I like that the traditional toile pattern is often narrative, so I felt it provided me with a great opportunity to tell Miss Kitty’s story.  I hope you enjoyed it!

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Where to find me:

Instagram: @frannieandfrankie

Blog: madebyjosie.com 

Etsy Store: Frannie + Frankie

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Crafting a Signature Style

“A signature style is incredibly important,” they say…

Great!  Where do I get one of those?  Oh, that’s not something you can buy?  [Insert balloon deflating noise here]…

Give me a book, show me a video, and I can learn how to do that thing.  Ask me to come up with a signature style for myself, and I freeze.  How do I know what my signature style is?  I imagine if you have decided to start down an artistic journey, you may have asked yourself this same question.  That feeling of trying to define yourself through your work isn’t always easy for everyone.  It is not easy for me.   Looking at the work of successful surface pattern designers, I often find myself discouraged.  Their work is so lovely, so cohesive and expressive of their personalities.  Mine sometimes looks as if a third grader made it.  At nearly thirty, that stings a bit.  But… because I believe self deprecation only gets you nowhere, I aim to start taking steps towards finding my own style.

**IMPORTANT NOTE: This is a work in progress.  This is not me sharing how I already developed my personal style because I still feel like I am defining it.  This is how I plan to go about doing so.  The goal is that by taking these steps, I will start to see a signature style emerge.  I’ll be sure to let you know if it works!  OR you can work right along with me and see how it turns out for you.**

Here’s how I plan to go about it…

Read.

Amazon and Barnes & Noble, just go ahead and take all my money.  I love Austin Kleon’s book “Steal Like an Artist.”  So often I feel like there is no way I can come up with something original that hasn’t been done a million times before.  If you pay attention to patterns on things, you have probably seen a certain style of flower all over everything.  Anna Rifle Bond, you amazing woman.  It seems like literally everyone with hands wants to copy your style.  One of the more important lessons in Kleon’s book is that there isn’t anything new, but as an artist, you should draw inspiration from several sources rather than just one.  Through this process you learn to create something that is unique to you.

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Book List:

  • Steal Like an Artist – Austin Kleon
  • Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Color for Designers – Jim Krause (Thanks for the recommendation, Dylan M!)
  • Patterns: Inside the Design Library – Peter Koepke

 

 

Graphic Organize.

Ok, this is the teacher and visual learner coming out in me.  I guess as I start this artsy process, I should start using more artsy words like “moodboard.”  I love Pinterest, but I am also a tactile learner, so my intention is to create a physical board full of all the sources of inspiration I find through my research.  My board will include photos, names, word studies, colors, feelings, etc.  When I step back and look at the board, I want to be able to connect what it is I love about the sources I gathered so I can start to define the “me” in each of them.  I also think Wit & Delight’s Skillshare course has a lot of good information on developing your brand.

Sharpen My Skills.

I don’t believe I will be able to create a signature style without learning more about the process of surface pattern design.  I can see something in my head, but if I don’t have the skills to create that digitally, I’m stuck.  Skillshare is my best friend for this.  Right now, I am LOVING Dylan Mierzwinski’s collection of classes.  Bonnie Christine’s “Roost Tribe” is also a continual source of information for me.  I really can’t thank these women enough for sharing what they know!

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#100dayproject.

Actually put pen to paper, so to speak, every day and make something.  Like Bonnie Christine says in one of her classes: make a point to do one thing every day that will bring you closer to your goal.  I won’t find my style if I don’t get sketching and working daily in Illustrator.  I will be sharing my #100dayproject on Instagram (@frannieandfrankie) if you want to follow along!

Now.  To get started…

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November Desktop Background

There is something about the fall colors that bring me a sense of peace and rest.  I was reading a quote the other day that reminded me that it is ok to be tired.  Because right now, I am.  Thankfully, the school year is about to come up on a few breaks that will allow me some rest.  I hope you enjoy the background!

“If you’re tired, learn to rest, not to quit.”

 

Click here to download Fall Floral desktop background.

Etsy Shop Open: Meet Frannie + Frankie!

Frannie-+-Frankie-LogoWell…  I decided to open an Etsy shop using my designs!  I’d like to introduce Frannie + Frankie: Modern baby blankets and accessories!  Right now, you can make custom orders for organic cotton gauze swaddle blankets in a few of my designs.  Pretty soon I will be adding washcloth options as well as head wraps.

Stay up to date with new listings and inspirations through Facebook (@frannieandfrankie) and Instagram (@frannieandfrankie)!  I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me!

Like The Noonday

Remember how I said fear doesn’t get to drive?  Well I started a new adventure today.  I have been researching a company called Noonday Collection recently and have decided to join this fascinating fair trade company.  I know I’m not very good at sales (I’ve tried before…), but I am really excited to help support a cause that I feel strongly about.  If you would, please take a second to watch a couple videos about what Noonday Collection does, and I think you will see why I made the decision to join other like-minded women on this journey.

If you’re interested in hosting a trunk show or maybe becoming an ambassador yourself, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

Noonday Collection – Our Story from Noonday Collection on Vimeo.

#NoondayStyle in the Making: Metropolitan Earrings from Noonday Collection on Vimeo.

Ambassador Trips 2018 from Noonday Collection on Vimeo.

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Photo and video credits: Noonday Collection

Fear Doesn’t Get to Drive

Just because you have never done something before doesn’t mean you can’t.  I believe in that statement.  Whether it is taking on a new job, trying out a new hobby, or speaking in front of a crowd of people.  The school year has kicked off for this counselor, and I hope to encourage my students to take a few risks.  I like doing things I have never done before.  I’m not always good at it, especially not right away.  There is something that clicks in me when I am faced with a new challenge.  You could call it stubbornness or maybe determination.  I think the point is that I want to say I tried.  I want to be the kind of person that isn’t afraid to work hard, fail at something, and try again.  I want to be the kind of person that looks at something new as an opportunity to learn and change rather than to fear.

Granted, this is continually a work in progress.  Fearing change is natural to me, as I am sure it is to many of you.  I love the way Elizabeth Gilbert addresses fear in her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.

Dearest Fear:  Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together.  I understand you’ll be joining us, because you always do.  I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life, and that you take your job seriously.  Apparently your job is to induce complete panic whenever I’m about to do anything interesting – and, may I say, you are superb at your job.  So by all means, keep doing your job, if you feel you must.  But I will also be doing my job on this road trip, which is to work hard and stay focused.  And Creativity will be doing its job, which is to remain stimulating and inspiring.  There’s plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way.  I recognize and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still – your suggestions will never be followed.  You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote.  You’re not allowed to touch the road maps; you’re not allowed to suggest detours; you’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature.  Dude, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio.  But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.

-Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

So…I’ve decided to try something new.  Something that is really scary for me.  I’ve always enjoyed art, though I’ve never been formally trained.  I’ve been teaching myself Adobe Illustrator in order to connect it to my love of fabric and design.  I look at everything that is out there in the graphic design world, and I think there is no way what I do measures up to that.  And I could stop there.  I could shrink from even trying, and I could especially shrink from sharing anything I make with other people.  Daily, as a middle school counselor, I am reminded how mean people can be.  I’d like to say adults are better, but they aren’t always.

So, I make myself put things out there for others to see, and I decided to take it a step further and let people vote on my work if they so choose.  I entered my first design challenge with Spoonflower this month, the theme of which is Swedish Folk Art.  My design, Ida’s Flowers, comes from reading a Hans Christian Andersen story called Little Ida’s Flowers.  Yes, I know Andersen is Danish and that’s not the same thing…  While the story may not be theme accurate, I did try to put my spin on some traditional Swedish folk art and illustrate a story in the process.

Voting opened on August 10th and closes on August 15th.  If you happen to like my design, I would very much appreciate you sending a vote my way.  You can vote for as many amazing designs as you would like.  Thank you!!

 Click here to vote!

Just Going For It – Desktop Background

The words artist and designer seem so huge to me.  Like in order to fulfill one of those roles, you have to be comparative in talent to Monet or Chanel.  Sure, I like to sketch and come up with fabric patterns in my spare time, but I don’t consider myself a designer.  This hesitant feeling and lack of confidence in my work has prevented me from even ordering a few yards of my own designs from Spoonflower.  Nothing ever seemed finished or worthy of being printed.  I was even asked by someone if I would put my designs on Spoonflower, and my response was that I wanted to wait until I had a whole collection of works that I was really proud of.

Just a few days ago, I remembered that the beauty of Spoonflower and other printing sites like it is that you don’t have to be a “designer” to anyone else but yourself.  No one else has to like or share my work for it to be valid.  It is mine, and I enjoy creating it.  So I finally ordered my first few yards of fabric with my own design.  The design was born out of walking through the Catedral de Sevilla in Spain.  The cathedral is bursting with gorgeous patterns, and when we were there, the courtyard was full of orange trees with vivid fruits everywhere.  In my little idea book, I quickly painted a small orange to remind me of my experience in Spain.  I can’t wait to see the fabric I had printed, and I wanted to share the pattern with you as a desktop background.  My point is that if there is something creative you are wanting to do (that obviously isn’t hurting anyone), but you are lacking the confidence, just go for it.  Enjoy!

 

Click to download Plaza de Orange desktop background

 

Bourbon Plum Butter

When we moved to California, we were lucky to find the perfect little starter house for us.  It came with a plum tree, or as I came to learn, a pluot tree.  These lovely little fruits are in season right now, so naturally, this last week’s menu has been saturated with pluot recipes.  I whipped up a pluot and sweet cherry torte for a pot luck, muddled up a few in some drinks, and finally used the remainder of our bounty in a breakfast butter.  The butter is slow cooked to create a beautiful deep red color.  It would be a perfect addition to your next brunch served on toasted crostinis with goat cheese.  Enjoy! -Josie

Ingredients:

Roughly 1lb. of pluots

1/2 c sugar

1/2 c water

1/4 t cardamom

1/4 t cinnamon

1 oz bourbon

Method:

  1. Pit pluots and cut into 1 inch pieces leaving the skin on.  Place into a medium, non-reactive saucepan.  Add sugar and water to pan with fruit.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook until fruit is very soft, 10-15 minutes.  Remove from heat and transfer mixture to a food processor or blender.  Puree fruit mixture until smooth.
  2. Rinse saucepan and return fruit puree to pan.  Stir in cardamom, cinnamon, and bourbon.  Cook over low heat for roughly 45 minutes to an hour or until mixture is thick enough to spread, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Yields: 10-12 oz

*Note: If you prefer a sweeter taste, add another quarter cup of sugar.  Pluots can be tart.  Regular plums can also be used in place of pluots.

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Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Gems of the Pacific Northwest

One of the really incredible things about living in Sacramento is how close you are to so many different climates and scenery.  Within roughly two hours you can be at the beach, the mountains, a forest, or the desert if you so desire.  If you hop on a plane, you can be in Washington in the same amount of time.  And I must say, it is one hundred percent worth it.

Josh and I went up to the Olympic National Park for this birthday weekend, and it was spectacular.  It helped that the area was experiencing relief from the ever present rain that weekend.  The sun was out and the weather was absolutely perfect.  We decided to rent a car and take a little road trip around the perimeter of the park so we could see a good portion of it on our short weekend trip.  We made a few stops along the way, which I am eager to share with you.

Stop #1: Port Angeles

I love being around water.  On it, in it, whatever.  Though we didn’t have a lot of time to spend there, I loved the minutes we did.  I would definitely enjoy getting to know this spot a little more at another time.  Take some time at Lake Crescent on your way out of Port Angeles.  The water is so still and the reflections are incredible.  Sometimes it was hard to tell if something was actually a reflection or not!

Stop #2: Forks

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Even though this was my husband’s birthday trip, we spent a little more time here than we normally would have because of me.  Yes, I read the Twilight series, and yes, I enjoyed it.  Don’t lie…you did too.

Stop#3: Hoh Rainforest

Maybe more importantly than Twilight, Forks leads into the main point of our trip, which was to take a small backpacking trip in the Hoh Rainforest.  This place was incredible!  I am by no means a seasoned backpacker, and I loved every minute of this trek.  Definitely a great way to start out in backpacking if you are interested.  We camped at 5 Mile Island.  A tree sort of fell on the facilities at the campground and the next bathrooms were 7 more miles down the trail.  I’m not thrilled the whole going in the woods thing, but the overall experience of being in such a beautiful place made it worth the discomfort of being without a potty.

Stop #4: Ruby Beach

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A quick stop for us, but totally worth it.  After climbing over an enormous maze of driftwood, we took a stroll along the shores of the northwest coastline.

Stop #5: Seabrook

We sort of stumbled upon this little resort town on our drive and were super pleased that we did.  Seabrook, Washington is a cute little spot begging to be on someone’s Instagram.  We stopped here for lunch at Frontager’s Pizza Co.  It was so Pinterest perfect on the inside, but that doesn’t always mean you are going to have good food.  Thankfully, Frontager’s delivered.  I recommend getting the goat cheese pizza.  SO YUMMY!

Stop #6: Aberdeen

Ok, at first glance Aberdeen, Washington might not seem like much, but as we discovered, it is home to one of the best restaurants I’ve been to in a long time.  We walked in to Rediviva with no expectations and were completely blown away.  We had a great conversation with the owner, Andy, and come to find out he also owns the pizza place in Seabrook we ate at earlier!  This place was gorgeous on the inside and we ordered dishes that were common to the Pacific Northwest.  I had the sturgeon and my husband had steelhead.  Both dishes were sublime.  Perfectly cooked, seasoned, and paired with fresh vegetables and various sides.  To top off his birthday weekend, we indulged in the beignets drizzled in a bourbon sauce that was to die for.  Everything was perfect.  Highly, highly recommend this place.

Stop #7: Seattle

Our last stop on our quick tour was a brief afternoon in Seattle.  We walked down to Pike’s Place Market and had chowder and grilled salmon from Jack’s Fish Place.  It isn’t fancy, but the chowder was really good and you didn’t have to wait forever to be served.  It also had the charm of being right in the thick of the market, which, due to the fantastic weather that day, was bustling.  Other than food, I recommend taking in all the gorgeous fresh flowers the market has to offer.  The bouquets they put together are breathtaking.

Then, if you’re a fabric junkie like me, you absolutely have to go to Drygoods Designs in Pioneer Square.  This shop is so lovely with its artfully curated fabrics and unique collection of sewing patterns and books.  They offer a wide range of Rifle Paper Co. goods, obviously including their fabrics.  If you have the time, you should look into taking a sewing class from them.  It is on my bucket list if I’m ever in Seattle for longer than a couple days.  The sample projects lining the wall look amazing!

 

 

*All photos taken with the iPhone 7 and edited with VSCO app