Category Archives: creative process

Summer 2017 Greeting Card Collection Design Process

Hey there, friend!

My Summer 2017 Greeting Card Collection launched a few weeks ago, and I wanted to share with you some of the design processes.

I created this Croc & Bird We Belong Together design originally in my pottery class.

I made a mug that turned out really lopsided, so I painted an image that wrapped around the whole mug with underglazes.

Once I painted the croc and bird image on the mug, I loved it so much that I made a small watercolor painting on paper and added the sweet message “We belong together.” with the brush.

For the greeting card (and also art print!) I decided to go with the much simpler handwriting so the text won’t compete with the clean and simple image of the croc and the bird.

It’s a perfect card for a wedding, anniversary, or to send to a good friend you haven’t seen for a while.

You can get the Croc & Bird greeting card here, and the 8×10 art print here.

I painted these cats high-fiving each other on a whim for my daily paining. The image just came in to my head, and I had to put it on the paper 😀

These cats are so excited for your accomplishment and ready to celebrate!

You can send this card to your friend who just got a new job, or anyone who has worked really hard for their goals.

You can order your Cats High Five card here.

I saw these lovely reddish orange flowers on the sidewalk during one of my afternoon walks around the neighborhood.

They were so brilliant and perfect – I had to stop and snap a picture so I could paint them when I got home.

The bright red color screams love and passion to me, so I turned it into a simple love greeting card.

It’ll make a gorgeous companion to your wedding gift, or you can surprise your sweetheart with a love note 🙂

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UPPERCASE Magazine Feature & Design Process

 

Hello hello!

I’ve been on my mini sabbatical this week but wanted to share that my “Vintage Chicken Garden Seattle Greeting Card” design was featured in the latest issue of UPPERCASE magazine! Hooray!

UPPERCASE is an internationally distributed publication for art, design, and creativity, and I was so excited when Janine contacted me to say my work was picked!

When I was working on this artwork for the open call, I was thinking of all the things I love about Seattle.

There are so many great things about the city: nature, food, people, and gorgeous weather in summer (although I don’t really mind the rain, either ;))

When I close my eyes and go to my happy place, this is where I go – beautiful gardens with lots of flowers, vegetables, and chickens!

It’s not about the touristy places for me but the people’s backyard gardens and community gardens, where we can get our hands dirty and nurture plants that nurture us in return.

My initial concept sketch

Since the assignment was to create an art for vintage-inspired souvenir postcard, I created a Pinterest board for Japanese vintage postcards for inspiration.

I’m not conscious of it most of the time, but my art is often influenced by Japanese designs (duh!)

 

They’re so simple and beautiful ❤

I sometimes get insecure that my art is much too simple, but rather than fighting it to make it look like someone else’s art, I decided that’s my strength and embrace it! 

After looking at pretty designs I pinned (many of them block printed art), I was inspired to create my piece by block printing.

But I quickly realized I was running out of time 😀 so I went with a very simple line drawing, which I then colored digitally for a flat, crisp look reminiscent of block printed art.

My Vintage Chicken Garden Seattle artwork is now available on Etsy! You can get your greeting card here and the 8×10 giclee art print here.

I also suggest you subscribe to UPPERCASE magazine here or find it at your local book store if you haven’t gotten one already.

I love to support small independent businesses, and the magazine is always full of inspiring art and stories ❤

Enjoy!

xo

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

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On being a beginner

I’ve been taking a pottery class at a local community college since January.

And, I LOVE it.

Growing up in Japan, I’ve always loved pottery and wanted to learn. My husband gave me the class for Christmas last year, and it’s turned out to be one of the best gifts yet!

Black poppy tiny dishes

First of all, I appreciate having a creative outlet that’s not related to my business.

When I’m playing with the clay in the pottery studio on Tuesdays, I’m there to enjoy myself and create whatever I feel like creating. It doesn’t matter if it looks wonky. I don’t have to wonder if it’s going to sell.

For a few hours, I can focus on the joy of simply creating for the sake of creating, which sadly, gets buried under a pile of business tasks in my day-to-day.

Tiny bowls. I use the ones with line drawings for nuts, chips, dips, etc.

When I’m making my pottery pieces, I feel like a total beginner. 

When I’m hand-building a cup, 95% of the time it flairs out and becomes a bowl. 2 out of 3 mugs I made has cracks where I attached the side to the bottom piece.

My tall cups are definitely not round when you look at them from the top, and it’s not level when you look at them from the side. None of my pieces are even in thickness.

More wonky bowls and cups!

I see the beautiful pieces my instructor and more seasoned students (some of the students have been in the class for 15+ years!!) make and get so inspired.

Some of them make stunning wheel-thrown bowls and cups while others make complicated and unique sculpture pieces. They’d come to the studio with a big bag stuffed with their own tools, brushes, and bottles of special glazes etc. (All I bring to the class is my brushes to paint underglazes on :D)

Throughout the quarter, we do a critique every time our pieces come out of the kiln.

Although I love all of my pieces, including the flaws and wonkiness, I feel a little embarrassed to see my pieces on the table among more sophisticated pieces other students had made. 

Being a beginner allows me to be humble and reminds me to be patient. It reminds me that only way to get better is to make less-than-great work many, many, many times.

Poster by Nikki Hampson

You may have seen this Ira Glass quote about imperfection. It’s a classic and such a good reminder for any creatives learning something new!

Being a beginner also allows me to be less precious with my work.

I don’t know what I’m doing, so I’m less afraid to make a mistake (or don’t know if I’m making a mistake…:D) It’s like I have a permission to be more experimental and playful, which I tend to forget when I’m doing my “work” work.

And, when I make something for myself purely for the joy of it, it often resonates well with my audience, too.

Cats & dog bowls. Underglazed and fired once.

This is another lesson for me – Sometimes I think too much about what other people may want from me when I create my illustration work, and I’m no longer listening to my intuition about what I want to create.

I have to remind myself that people can tell when I create something from the place of joy and delight, and that’s what speaks to them the most.

I’m continuing to take the class this quarter and can’t wait to make more wonky pottery pieces!

Fellow artists and makers – do you have a creative hobby that’s not related to your regular work? 

Tell me in the comment! 🙂

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

Flowers & Snails!

Most of my work is born out of simply playing around.

I wrote about how creative play time is importatnt to artists in this post a while back.

I’ve just released a new line of greeting cards, and most of my designs have come from my 30-minute daily paintings!

Let me show you some examples.

Blue Bouquet Sympathy Card

You may know I’ve been really into painting in blues lately.

Blue is one of my favorite colors, and using just one color challenges me creatively. I really like the feel of my blue paintings, so I’m continuing with that until I get too tired of it. (I learned this technique from Lisa Congdon’s Creative Boot Camp on Creativebug.)

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Sympathy cards are so nice – even if you don’t know what to say or the “right” thing to say, you can still let your friend know you’re thinking about them.

That’s really the best thing anyone can do anyway – to let them know you’re there for them when they’re having a hard time.

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I felt this blue bouquet painting would be perfect for sympathy card because it’s calming and peaceful. I added my simple hand-lettered message, “I’m so sorry.”

Blue Handlettered Thank You Card

A couple of weeks ago, I did a survey with my newsletter subscribers asking them why they like my art.

Their responses were so nice and kind, and I was reminded again how lucky I am to have people who support and encourage me to do what I love!

So I dedicated one of my paintings to people like you –  who like and support my art!

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Of course, as soon as I made this painting, I knew I had to turn it into a thank you card. I try to express my gratitude as often as I can, and sending someone a handwritten thank you card feels extra special ❤

01_blue-thank-you-card-product-photo_1000pxParty Snail Birthday Card

This snail painting was from one of August Wren’t 30-Day Painting Challenge on Creativebug. I’d never thought of painting snails before! I guess I just see them eating our plants in our garden so never really had positive feelings towards them 😀

But when I painted them, I thought they were so cute and really loved them. They just seem so happy!

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So I painted the party hats separately and created a design for a new birthday card! Aren’t they adorable??

01_snail-party-birthday-card_1000pxGouache Bouquet Birthday Card

I painted colorful bouquets with gouache (an opaque watercolor) for several days for my daily painting back in December. Flowers are one of my favorite things to draw/paint – I just can’t get enough of them!

So I designed a birthday card with my flower paintings. Flowers never go out of style, don’t you think?

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My 30-minute daily painting practice forces me to be loose and quick. I’m learning to express my voice without thinking too much or trying to be perfect.

It’s helping me to clarify what I want to say through my creations : art is fun and should make you happy!

How do you get ideas for your work? Do you get a lot of inspirations from your creative play time, too?

xo Yuko

p.s. You can follow my daily paintings on Instagram (@honeyberrystudios) with a hashtag #yukosdailypainting

p.p.s. I’m gonna be on a sabbatical this coming week, so there won’t be a blog post next Sunday! I’ll see you in a couple of weeks 🙂

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

Behind the Scenes: 30-Minute Daily Painting Challenge

I’ve been painting every day for 30 minutes since mid November of last year.

I started my daily challenge to invigorate my creative practice and keep those creative muscles strong and flexible. (You can read more about my motivation here.)

I’m on my day 114 today (!) and wanted to share my process and how I find my inspirations every day. Enjoy!

When I Paint:

I reserve my mornings to writing, whether it’s a blog article, newsletter, or marketing copies, and other admin tasks like doing the finances and researching new retail shops to reach out to for my greeting cards etc. Mornings are the best time for me to think and do work that requires focus.

So, I schedule a 30-minute chunk on my calendar to paint every day after lunch. It’s a good activity to transition from the admin work, and by the time lunch rolls around, I’m a bit out of focus anyway, so it helps to get my hands and the creative part of my brain working then.

If I know I’ll be out of the office or otherwise busy during my usual painting time (like I’ve been taking a pottery class on Tuesday morning – early afternoon), I’ll go ahead and work on my painting in the morning before I get out of the door. I’d rather finish the painting earlier than later. You never know what’s gonna happen while you’re out or how long your other tasks would take, and I don’t want to be thinking about “oh I still need to do my painting today” all day. Sometimes it means I have to get up 30 minutes early to make sure I have enough time to create my painting.

Having the 30-minute restriction is both great and hard. It’s great because it forces me to rely on my intuition more than my mind. And it helps me to not be super perfectionist about it – it’s all about completing a piece in 30-minutes than making something that’s “perfect.” I just heard Elizabeth Gilbert say in this show (<– you MUST watch or listen to this by the way!) “Done is better than good.” Ain’t that the truth??

The time restriction also makes it less stressful because there is always so much stuff to do, and setting aside 30 minutes a day doesn’t feel so overwhelming.

On the other hand, it’s hard because I have to stop even if I don’t feel the work is “perfect” when my timer goes off. It gave me a great anxiety at first because I really didn’t know how much I could get done in 30 minutes. What if it looks terrible!?

But as I do this longer, I’ve been learning to gauge the time better and know what to focus on. For example, I try to prioritize getting the overall composition, colors, and shapes right than worrying about the tiny details. I’ve also gotten better at painting loosely and quickly.

What to Paint:

You might remember I did a similar 365 day challenge back in 2014-2015 called “Happiness is,” where I created a drawing about happiness every day.

Happiness is practicing gratitude every day.

But this time I don’t have a particular theme – it can be something personal, like how I’m feeling or what I did that day. I get inspired by nature and food often, so things I saw on my walk or food I ate could show up in my art.

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Florals are a natural go-to, and I never get tired of painting them! I enjoy painting stylized flowers and plants from imagination more than painting from references.

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Some days I go from one subject to another totally unrelated subject , and sometimes I keep painting the same or similar things for several days. For example, I painted a series of dogs in sweaters for a while ❤

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For the months of January, I followed along August Wren’s 30-day painting challenge on Creativebug. It was fun to learn from her creative process and painting techqniques, and I found some of the prompts challenging just because I’d never thought about painting them! It’s good to stretch and go out of your comfort zone like that! I love her loose painting style and her gentle teaching style too.

Many of the paintings here are from Jennifer's painting challenge!
Many of the paintings here are from Jennifer’s painting challenge!

In February, I watched another Creativebug class by Lisa Congdon and her Creative Boot Camp was awesome! I particularly enjoyed her monochromatic painting technique using only one color and tried painting using just blue. I was immediately hooked by this particular technique and kept painting in blues for many days!

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And when I got a little tired of painting still life, I started painting abstract works in blue.

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I had also created a random list of subjects to paint for when I don’t have an inspiration. I cut up tiny pieces of paper and just wrote down random things I might draw, like hats and pickles. And when I ran out of ideas for my list, I asked my husband, Dave, to pitch in. He’s a creative thinker and gave me so many random ideas I would’ve never thought of myself! Some of his suggestions were “lederhosen” and “avocado sandwich ” 😀 And then I put the pieces of the paper in a bag, and on days I have no idea what to draw or just  want to switch gears, I can pull out a topic and paint!

Materials I use:

For paints, I use Sakura Koi watercolor field sketch kit even if I’m at home – it’s so easy to set up – you just open up the palette and everything is there!

sakura-koi-watercolor

 

I used them in combination with random assortment of other watercolor and gouache paints (mostly by Winsor and Newton), some were given by friends and some I bought along the way. I just use the palette that comes with the Koi watercolor set to mix the colors (I often mix watercolor and gouache together). My palette tends to stay pretty messy… 😀 and when I need a new fresh surface, I just wipe the area clean with wet paper towel.

As far as papers go, I use the Strathmore paper mixed media pad series 400 in size 11″x14″. They’re thick smooth paper with just enough texture. I started using them last summer and immediately fell in love! They’re not the cheapest paper, but I just like how nice it feels to paint on them, and colors show so brilliantly. I cut the paper in quater so that makes each paper 5.5″x7″, which is pretty small, and I find that size just right for my 30-minute painting (not to mention stretching your  $$!)

At first I was painting on a slightly larger paper and quickly realized it was hard to fill the page in 30 minutes! And I was feeling more nervous about not filling the page than focusing on what I was actually painting, so I switched to the smaller paper, and that’s working pretty well for me.

I use a few different watercolor brushes  – #1 for a finer detail, #4 for detail and small to medium-ish area and #7 for more thicker line or a larger area (I believe I got them at Blick.) I was using the waterbrush pen that came with the Sakura Koi set and still do when I do a quick sketch on the couch, but I like having the different sized brushes and the natural  brush materials paint really nicely. I also use the wider flat brush if I’m painting the background or a larger area. It’s so much quicker!!

I also started using a hair dryer a few weeks ago to shorten the drying time, and it totally changed my life!!! 😀 It’s especially helpful when I want to layer with wet watercolor and don’t want them to bleed. It saves me SO MUCH TIME and allows me to work in more details in just 30 minutes. I don’t think I can paint without it ever again… 😀


I hope you enjoyed learning my creative process! And if you want to purchase any of my small original paintings, go back to my last post and learn all about it 🙂

Have a creative day!

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

 

Creating fun patterns with my daily paintings

I’ve been making 30-minute paintings every day since mid-November of last year.

(You can learn more about it here.)

Having a daily painting practice has been great after not making art consistently for a while. I look forward to my time to paint every day, and it’s definitely strengthening my creative muscle!

One day I was picturing a serene wintery forest scene and painted trees in a simple blue/green/pink-ish color palette.

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This painting put me in a Christmasy mood, and I liked it a lot, so I kept painting similar images for the next few days.

Sometimes it’s hard to come up with subjects to paint, so when I get an inspiration, I like to explore and play with it over and over. 

After I finised 4 of these little forest paintings, I made a tile and really liked the effects. They created a fun pattern together even though it was not my intention to create a pattern at first.

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I enjoyed creating a bigger piece by combining 4 small paintings, so I worked on 2 more similar patterns with pomegranates and oranges.

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Fun pomegranates!
Did Santa bring you oranges for Christmas??
Did Santa bring you oranges for Christmas??

For these two patterns, I did intend to create a tile with the 4 paintings, so that’s why they match up pretty well.

When I first started my 30-minute painting challenge, I quickly discovered 30 minutes go by very fast!

I get a little overwhelmed when I work on a bigger piece anyway, so I enjoyed creating smaller, manageable paintings and then putting them together to create a larger piece. It also encouraged me to stretch my imagination further when painting the same subject with a fresh perspective each day.

I’m sure I’ll be working on these tiled patterns more in the future! After all, I need to come up with so many things to paint to keep my daily challenge going, and when I work on these tiles, I don’t have to think of new things to paint every single day 😀

If you have any suggestions on what I should paint, let me know in the comments! I’m always looking for different ideas.

Happy creating 🙂

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

Art Foam Stamp Making Project!

I’ve been teaching block printing workshops in Seattle since last spring.

I love teaching the class and get so inspired by all the beautiful student work!! Here is a fun picture from my last workshop… 🙂

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I’ve been thinking about offering a workshop that’s similar but a little more accessible.

Though block printing tools and materials I use for the class are super easy to handle (no linocut or wood block because they’re tough for beginners), I think some students are still intimidated by the idea of carving a block.

So I picked up this gorgeous book by Andrea Lauren recently to learn about stamp making using art foam sheet, which requires no carving.

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First of all, this books is beautiful! Her work is amazing and often very intricate – but she shares step-by-step instructions on how to create your own stamps and blocks in a very user-friendly way.

I became interested in the art foam stamp making because it requires no carving and is great for beginners or those who just want to experiment with block printing.

So as soon as I got my book, I created my own stamps using art foam sheets and documented the process for you!

1. Sketch your design for the stamps.

I wanted to design something pretty to print on an A2 size greeting card (4.25″ x 5.5″), so I drew the frame that’s the size of the card in my sketchbook first. Bold and simple designs work really well for block printing and definitely easier for beginners.

I really liked one of my watercolor painting of camellias, so I sketched the design based on the artwork using a pencil.

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2. Trace the design with pencil on a tracing paper.

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3. Transfer the image on to the art foam sheet surface.

Put the tracing paper down with pencil side facing the art foam sheet. (I grabbed this art foam at a craft store.) The pack of art foams I got came in variety of colors, and I just used this blue one.

On the hindsight, I probably should’ve used a lighter colored foam sheet because it was hard to see the pencil lines on the blue sheet.

These art foam sheets are handy because it’s got adhesive on the back, and it makes it really easy to mount the pieces on the board later.

To transfer the image, you rub the tracing paper from the back with a spoon or a bone folder. Be careful not to make an indent on the foam sheet because that will show up when you start printing.

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4. I MADE A MISTAKE HERE – You’re supposed to do step 5 first before cutting all the pieces out 😀

But I wasn’t following Andrea’s instructions carefully and cut all the pieces apart before adding the lines and details. It’s easier to add lines (essentially drawing on the foam sheet) when everything is on one sheet.

Anyway, do that first, and then you can cut out the pieces with scissors or an exacto knife.

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5. Add lines and details to your stamps.

So make sure you do this first before cutting all the pieces out. As you can see, it’s not the end of the world if you reverse the process, but it’s definitely easier if you do the detailing before cutting them apart.

To add indented lines, you go over your drawing on the foam sheet using a tool with a sharp tip – in this project, I used a skewer. You can also use knitting needles, dried-up ball point pen, and other tools for making an indent on a foam surface.

When printing, the indented lines will not get inked and the flat surface will get the ink. Again, be careful not to make a mark with your fingers/nails where not intended. If you do, it will show up in your prints. When accident happens, though, I try to be flexible and incorporate it into my design somehow 🙂

These foam pieces look cool just by themselves, don’t they?

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6. Mount your stamp pieces on a piece of plexiglass.

I got a piece of acrylic sheet at an art supply store and cut them down using my exacto trimmer – it sort of worked but totally shattered the edges of the plates and aren’t very pretty!!

(I later ordered this cutting tool from Hyde and hope it does a better job.)

You place the plexiglass cut to size (mine is 5.5″ w x 4.25″ h) over your design and peel the backing from the sheet and stick them on to the plate.

By mounting the pieces on to the plexiglass, it makes it easier to print the same design over and over, and you’re able to apply even pressure on to your stamps when printing.

Again, be careful not to make an indent on your foam pieces while sticking them on to the plexiglass.

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Since I wanted to print my design in two colors (one color for flowers and another for the leaves), I’m creating a separate plate for just the leaves. I didn’t quite like the layout of my original drawing, so I’m shifting some leaves around here.

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7. Two plates with the foam pieces are done!

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8. Here is the test print I made using stamp pads.

To ink the plates, I lay the stamps on the table and coat the foam sheet surface evenly using the stamp pads.

Then I pick up the mounted stamps, lay the plate down straight on to the paper and apply pressure using the palm of my hand. I marked the corners of my plate on the paper so it’s easy to match up the two plates.

I used the red ink for the flowers and navy blue for the leaves. Pretty, yes ?

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You can wash, pat dry and fine tune any of the details on the foam and print more until you’re happy with the result.

It was a pretty quick project. It probably took me about an hour or an hour and a half from start to finish? And clean-up is pretty easy as there was no paint rollers or plates to clean up!

I want to experiment and create more fun stamps to play with! 🙂 Hope you’ll give it a try!

p.s. I’m offering a foam stamp making workshop on February 4th in Seattle. If you’re curious, head on over to my website and learn more 🙂

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

 

 

“Year of the Rooster” Holiday Card Behind the Scenes Creative Process

I’ve been designing a special New Year’s greeting card for the past couple of years in addition to more traditional Christmas-y holiday greeting cards.

And I’ve always created a design around the Chinese Zodiac animals.

2015 was the Year of the Sheep
2015 was the Year of the Sheep
2016 was the Year of the Monkey!
2016 was the Year of the Monkey!

New Year’s Day is the biggest holiday in Japan and I have a fond memory of celebrating it with my family from January 1st through the 3rd. There would be lots of traditional New Year’s food my mom and grandma had prepared, and we’d go to the shrines to pray for a healthful year.

This is not exactly what they made... but you get the point!
This is not exactly what they made… but you get the point!

We’d send New Year’s greeting cards to our family and friends in December, and as long as you send it out before Christmas, they’d deliver them right in the morning of January 1st. I always looked forward to sorting through a big stack of them to see my friends’ cards and enjoyed reading their messages.

Designing a Chinese zodiac animal New Year’s card has become sort of a tradition for me. And it seems to be popular with customers who want something a little different for the holidays as well.

OK, so 2017 is the Year of the Rooster!

And these are the roosters who took the main stage of my New Year’s greeting card 🙂

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Fun and colorful roosters!
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This guy may be my favorite 🙂
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Roosters have such fancy hairdo!
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and pretty outfit.

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The most fun thing about these roosters is they all seem to have such personality! They make me chuckle 🙂

First step of my creative process was I did a Google image search of roosters and browsed a gallery of pretty and exciting looking roosters. They’re so much more interesting than hens to look at 😀

My style is not a photorealistic one, so after I study my reference materials, I typically draw from imagination and memory. I also don’t sketch with pencils first for most of my designs because I like the un-planned wonky look better.

I wanted it to be bright and fun and also wanted to work in a color palette I hadn’t chosen for my other stationery products for the season. Yellow, teal, and orange seemed like a fun color combo!

I used Sakura Koi Watercolor Field Sketch set with various gouache and watercolor paints I had.
I used Sakura Koi Watercolor Field Sketch set with various gouache and watercolor paints I had.

I started with drawing different parts of the roosters with one color, and switched to a different color and kept adding on to them rather than completing one rooster at a time. Less cleaning of the brush that way :D, and it’s easier to see the overall balance.

What’s cool about painting with gouache (it’s basically an opaque watercolor) is once they dry, you can add lines and patterns with another color and have it really stand out!

Once I felt the watercolor/gouache drawing was done, I let them dry completely and added some lines with my favorite Pigma Micron pen. I like how the black line pulls everything together at the end.

Micron pen, you're the one for me <3
Micron pen, you’re the one for me ❤

And then I scan my drawings and the hand-written “Happy New Year 2017” message in to Photoshop to clean up and design the layout.

Voilà! Here is your 2017 Year of the Rooster greeting card 🙂

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I love how they turned out! Aren’t they fun??

(I use StationeryHQ for printing my greeting cards. Their products are high quality and services are great. I recently switched to 100% recycled paper as well.)

If you’re looking for a holiday greeting card that’s a little different (or something to delight a chicken aficionado in your life), try these Year of the Rooster cards 🙂 You can order yours here!

Hope you enjoyed the behind the scenes peek today. I’ll see you soon!

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

Creative Process: Mindfulness Calendar Illustrations

I showed you a sneak preview of my 2017 Mindfulness & Gratitude wall calendar a couple of weeks ago in this post.

Let me take you on a behind-the-scenes tour and show you my creative process today.

I started creating illustrations about mindfulness and gratitude after I came back from the 10-day silent meditation retreat earlier this summer. It was deeply healing and I wanted to make art about it as a reminder of that experience. (You can read about my reflections here.)

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May all beings be happy, peaceful, and liberated.
live like you have everything you need meditation watercolor drawing
Live like you have everything you need.

Once I started to make a few of these drawings, I thought, why not create more and make a calendar that encourages people to live mindfully every day? 

What does “living mindfully” mean to me? It means that I can hit a pause button in my mind when I’m in a stressful situation and think “oh, this situation is stressful.” I remind myself that whatever is going on is only temporary, and I bring my focus back on my breathing. It helps me stay calm and respond to a situation more thoughtfully rather than reacting.

Of course, I’m a regular human being and not a Tibetan monk :D, so I still react to situations.

I get mad when someone cuts me off in the traffic (without the turning signal on even!!). I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night worrying about how my business isn’t where it should be and can’t get back to sleep. I get so jealous when my husband devours slices of super cheesy, gluten-and-carb-filled pizza or a big piece of custardy Bosc pear tart with a scoop (or two) vanilla ice cream and does not gain an ounce.

Believe me, I’m not above it all!

But I try. Every day is a new beginning and you can only try, right?

For the calendar, I created 12 new drawings with watercolor, gouache, and pen on paper.

Many of the drawings are inspired by nature and seasons. I also incorporated some everyday objects like these tea cups and pots:

 

I also hand-wrote positive messages for each calendar page to encourage mindful living.

I gathered these simple quotes and sayings from the instructions of the meditation practice or advices my wise friends gave me in the past. I also included some of the things I tell myself when I’m feeling off-centered.

its-ok-if-only-thing-you-did-was-breathe-wip_lores
It’s OK if the only thing you did today was breathe.
there-is-enough-for-everyone-wip_lores
There is enough for everyone. I worked on this illustration on my parents’ dining table while I was in Hokkaido, Japan.
you-can-always-start-again-wip_1000px
You can always start again.
you-can-always-start-again-wip-cu_1000px
Close-up.

Then I scan my hand drawn art in to Photoshop to edit and design the layout for the calendar pages.

Working away on a tiny table at an airbnb we stayed at :D
Working away on a tiny dining table at an airbnb we stayed at 😀

Here is a couple more sample pages for you 🙂

It's OK if the only thing you did today was breathe.
It’s OK if the only thing you did today was breathe.
You can always start again.
You can always start again.
Be gentle with yourself.
Be gentle with yourself.

Do you know someone who can use a little positivity boost? This calendar makes a great gift for the holidays, and it will be available on my Etsy shop early November!

Be happy,

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot