When I first read about this design challenge, I immediately thought of a couple of destinations: the Grampians, a three-hour drive from the city, with its beautiful mountains and scenery or down the Mornington Peninsula for the clear beaches and endless blue skies. But hang on, that would have been a great day out sans baby, but with a one year old in tow I had to be a little more realistic. So I chose somewhere a little closer to home.
Just a hop, skip & a jump (or a 15-minute drive) from the city, is the Collingwood Children’s Farm. It also happened to be the day that the Farmer’s Market was on, something that occurs only once a month. So while my daughter was entertained by the chooks roaming freely, as well as the horses and sheep, I was able to explore the market and surrounding area.
Even though the place is not far from the city, once you’re inside you do feel as though you’re in the middle of nowhere. I loved looking at the foliage and flowers as I walked through the Children’s Farm and took many snaps as inspiration for designing some motifs. I also took a leisurely walk around the different stalls, selling organic fruits and vegetables, nuts, honey, eggs and more. I particularly liked one stall with its variety of squashes; so much so, I incorporated them into my final print.
After sampling some of the delights the market had to offer, I was able to go home, get out my sketchpad and just start drawing. Using the photos I had taken to get me started I drew some plants, flowers, fruits and vegetables. I wanted a hand drawn look that reflected my style, as well as nature and organic. Once I had drawn a few motifs that I was happy with, I scanned these into the computer and traced them into Illustrator. Then I can see the design starting to come together. I also find it’s helpful to select a colour palette early on and sticking with it; otherwise I find the colours easily distract me if they are not quite right and I can’t work on the repeat. I picked some neutral and earthy colours, which reminded me of the surroundings.
I spent a bit of time playing around with positioning of the motifs. I wanted a visually appealing pattern where you eye flowed easily through the design. It’s a little bit of trial and error; I usually bring the repeat into Photoshop and use the Paint Bucket tool to see the pattern on a large canvas size. It helps me to judge where the gaps are or what things don’t look quite right and require adjusting.
I think the hardest part is to know when to stop! I think you can overwork a design and I often find myself wanting to keep making little tweaks, but once I felt happy with the pattern, I made myself stop! The 3 solid coordinates were taken from colours in the original print.
Overall, I had a wonderful day out and it’s been great to share the ‘story’ behind the print. It’s encouraged me to follow a similar process for other patterns I work on, rather than just drawing straight onto the computer.