Monday, August 25, 2014

Wedding Invitations: Steampunk Style

I'm taking a brief break from telling you about my road trip to talk about the second set of invitations I did this summer. When I first met with the couple, they told me their theme was steampunk. I had only the vaguest idea what steampunk was, so of course, my first step was to google, what is steampunk? Well, if you are ever trying to do research on steampunk, it seems that everyone has their own idea what steampunk should be. From my image research and the many blogs/websites I read, my conclusion was this: industrial elements meet Victorian fashion. From there, I looked at one of the bride's Pinterest page to get a better idea of what they were thinking when they decided on this theme for their wedding. Then it was image research time. I downloaded a bunch of images of gears, watches, skeleton keys, bikes, and carnations (a flower they mentioned in our design meeting) and got to work.
First, I sketched everything out as separate elements in my sketchbook. After I sketched the elements, I took tracing paper and used a brown pen to ink them.

The pieces. My sketches
Then everything got scanned into Photoshop and I played with scale and placement of each individual element. I came up with several different compositions for them to choose from. Then I played with fonts and picked a couple that seemed to fit with the art and theme.
Then I had an aha! moment. I would take a ponchette envelope to put the invite in, and stamp gears on each flap, so that when you opened the invitation, it was like the gears were turning to open it. I learned how to use easy cut while I was in school, but hadn't done a project using it since then. It was fun revisiting this technique. To make the gears, first I traced the different size flaps into my sketchbook. Then I drew a gear on each. I transferred this to the easy cut block by using graphite scribbled on the back of the paper. (I know,really advanced, but the transfer paper wasn't working). Actually carving the stamps took a really long time. Especially because I had to redo the longer gear. Originally, I had to do it on two small pieces of easy cut board because I didn't have a big enough piece to do it on one, and I wanted to show the brides how it would look. So that took extra time but it was worth the effort not to have a line down the middle of every gear.
Then came stamping the envelopes. The flaps would alternate silver and gold so as to incorporate more metal finishes in the piece. I was pleasantly surprised by the time this took to get them all stamped. It took a couple hours, but I thought it would take me a day. They covered the floor of my art room while they were drying.

The first stamp. I was so nervous! But it worked really well!
A close up
All of the envelopes drying on my floor. I couldn't walk anywhere!

Then it was assembly time. This also went faster then I expected. I glued the invites in, placed the postcard response card in, and that was that.
Time to glue!

The final product:
The outside
TA DA! What was inside
The back of the envelope
A closer look at the invitation

I also designed some stationary for the brides' personal use. I got to use both my new printer and my new paper cutter for this, so that was fun! It also made me realize that I could offer more stationary options when I do open that section of my etsy store.

Overall, I was really happy with this project. I feel that it was something I had never done before, and that I was still able to execute it well, even though it wasn't flowers! (Although I did manage to squeeze some flowers in there). The couple was very happy with them, and so I felt that I had accomplished what I had set out to do!
If you or anyone you know would like custom designed invitations, please contact me at:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Road Trip Part 1: San Diego!

Hello again!
It's time to tell you all a bit more about my trip! After the wedding, we decided to stay for a few days in San Diego so we could see the sights there. The first day, we went to Balboa Park. What a beautiful park! Balboa Park is where the zoo and a lot of museums are in San Diego.
First, we went to the art museum. Every time my sister and I travel to a new city, I drag her along to the art museum. (She likes museums too, but I do limit myself to 2 hours in a museum so she doesn’t get bored out of her mind!). The museum was nice. I think it was a bit overpriced for it’s size, but I am a Jersey girl and spoiled by the MET.  It was pretty small, you wouldn’t need two hours to see the entire museum. Granted, we only ever look at the exhibits we are interested in, and that didn’t take long.  There was an exhibit of Joaquin Sorolla’s paintings and drawings that I really liked. He was an artist I hadn’t heard of before, so it was worth going just to be introduced to some new art that inspired me. He drew on location in gouache, and his drawings of New York were amazing. He really managed to capture the busy bustle of it with just a few loose strokes. I loved them, but of course, I wasn’t allowed to take pictures in the exhibit and they didn’t have any postcards of the art I liked. His paintings were beautiful too.

Me! In front of the art museum
 After that exhibit though, we were done at the museum and made our way across the park to hear the organ concert. That was a lot of fun. They literally have a giant organ in the park, and at 2 o’clock on Sundays they have a concert! We sat there for a bit, but really you could hear it from anywhere in the park. I wanted to draw because everyone was using umbrella’s to keep off the sun, and it looked really funny!
The organ. It was so cool!
A quick sketch of the organ concert.
We did go to the Japanese Tea Garden, The Model Railroad museum, and the Botanical Building, but really the park in and of itself would have been fun to just go hang out in.

The Botanical Building. The Buildings were so cool!
The next day we went to the zoo. My sister loves pandas, so our first stop was the panda exhibit. They were both asleep! I love red pandas though, and they were awake. They were also super fun to watch! We decided to come back to the pandas so that Elizabeth could see them awake.
It’s a nice zoo, but a little confusing to navigate. We were trying to see the tiger, and all we could find were monkeys! However, we did eventually find the tiger, and it was asleep. It was really hot that day, so a lot of the animals were either asleep, or not in their enclosures. I did get to see a lot of koalas though! They were all asleep too, but at least they were in trees so we got to see them. When we went back to see the pandas, they were awake and moving around so that was good. My favorite was still seeing the red pandas actually awake, and seeing koalas for the first time.
It was a beautiful zoo, but again, I do still like the zoo in Washington D.C. ! (I guess you just can’t get the east coast out of me).
Some gorgeous shots by Elizabeth: (All the photos in this post were taken by my sister Elizabeth, unless they are drawings or she is in them. I will be using many of these for reference for drawings, and they are beautiful, so I figured I would share them so you could all enjoy them too!):

Elizabeth going to see the pandas! In her panda shirt, of course
I love red pandas!
My drawing of the red panda in the travel journal we kept
Pandas! Elizabeth had so many pictures of the pandas it was hard to choose one!
a cute little monkey
sleepy koala
One of the many elephants
Me and a new friend ;) 
The next day we started our road trip. Which you will hear about in another post!
It’s time for me to get back to work on some art projects that have been neglected since I’ve been away.

Look for some new posts again soon!

Friday, August 8, 2014

A Wedding: Starting the Roadtrip

Hello again!

Yes, I know it's been awhile, but I have so much to write about now, I think I can post more within the next couple months. I just have felt so inspired in the last couple of weeks I am not even sure where to begin! I guess I should start at the beginning of the road trip in California I just did.

Let's start with the wedding I went to 2 weeks ago. (I can't believe it's already been 2 weeks! Time sure does fly when you are having fun!) Two of my closest friends tied the knot on July 26th in San Diego. My sister and I traveled together to the wedding. We got in the day before, but because we had had a CRAZY week before, were so exhausted all we could do was take out our wedding clothes and crash. Of course, because of the time difference, we woke up at 5 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep. The wedding was at 12:00, so we had a lot of time to get ready!

One of our friends met us at the hotel so that we could get ready together, but we still had so much time to kill. It was the first time I had ever been ready early for a wedding. We made our way to the church and actually managed to get there just in time, even though we were ready early. (It took us some time to figure out the gps).

The wedding was beautiful. The bride looked gorgeous, and the groom didn't look too nervous. It was the first wedding I have been to that I am really good friends with both bride and groom, and it was so exciting. I am so happy for them!

The reception was at a vineyard nearby, and it was lovely. I didn't take many pictures because the camera just couldn't capture the prettiness of the interior. You really needed to see it all at once. The dinner was delicious, the toasts were heartfelt with just the right amount of humor and tears, and the dancing was so fun! We didn't know many people there, but we still had a blast.
My sister and I with the bride and groom
We were also huge fans of this orange tree outside the vineyard.

All in all it was one of the most fun weddings I have ever been to.

Wait, you say, where is the art?? No worries, I am getting to it!
I was really happy to be able to do the invitations for my friends. They were so easy to work with, and so understanding about timing, etc. I think it helped that my friend Cathie is a graphic designer, so she knew a lot about how this kind of stuff works.
When I started designing, I was a little lost for ideas. They were having the reception at a vineyard that looked like a castle, her colors were a wine color and hydrangea blue, but they didn't want anything too flowery. I didn't want it to be corny, which I though trying to do a castle idea might become. Then I got the idea to do a vine, like a grapevine, but instead of having grapes, I would do polka dots in a more graphic design kind of way.
I was really happy with the result:
The final invite...or so I thought
Then came printing. I took them to the printer I usually use, and...the color was NOT right. Not even close. I panicked. This had never happened to me in all the times I had used this printer. They were so helpful and let me sit at their computer for an hour trying to fix the colors, but the printer was calibrated incorrectly, so everything I did came out too yellow, too grey, too purple. I couldn't figure it out. I called the bride with dread to tell her we were going to have to change the design, and she was super ok with it! I was so afraid she would freak out (and she would have had every right to), but she was so calm and understanding, and even offered some suggestions (The benefit of designing for someone who has dealt with this stuff before!).
So I had to change the color. It still took me about half an hour at the printer to make it right, but this time I was able to get it close. 
The full invitation

The main card

the rsvp. It was a postcard. They came up with the wording and I loved it!
The other cards
Honestly, once I had glued and glittered and assembled all the invitations, I was really very happy with the color change. It made the invitations look much more elegant, and they were so pretty. So I guess all the stressful hours were worth it! The bride and groom were very happy, so I was very happy. 

Unfortunately, I can't use the printer again because I can't do that to a bride and groom again. I love supporting small business, so I am upset I won't be able to use them again, but....I did get a new printer! Now I will be printing invitations myself. I got a printer I can print 5x7 cards on, and a nice paper cutter, so I won't be spending hours and hours again cutting things. It was probably good that this happened, because I needed a new printer anyway, and now I will be producing and monitoring the quality all myself. My next purchase will be a nice camera so I can take better pictures for this blog!

It was really fun to do these invitations, and a really fun wedding!
Be on the lookout for more blog posts about my trip!

Friday, May 16, 2014

An Update and a Peek at my Process

Hello All!
It's been a loooooong time since I updated my blog because I have been keeping really busy! I have been working on two sets of wedding invitations, one of which is done, the other is about half way done. I am starting to design yet another set, and working on some commissions and some personal projects. I also am still doing some graphic design work for a home linens company. So I've been keeping super busy!
That being said, I thought it was about time I did another post about my process. This fall, I had a commission to paint a piece as a wedding gift. It took a lot longer than I thought it would, but I was really happy with the result!

First, I started with the reference the client gave me for the project. They had already been to the wedding, so they had taken pictures of the bouquets for me.
The reference. There wasn't much to go off of, but I did at least have an idea for color
From there, I made some REALLY rough sketches to send to the client. I knew the client very well, so I knew she'd be able to work from these. I also offered to send her clearer sketches, but she got a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do. From these rough sketches, I did a final sketch, then transferred it to watercolor paper to paint! I love my lightbox, it has made my life so much easier. (And the best part? It was a garage sale find!)

Before I start painting, I always do a rough color composition in photoshop to give myself a general map for the painting:
As you can see, I just put the general colors in, outlining two of the flowers at the top and giving them shadows so I know that the direction I want to take the painting in will work
Then it's time to start the painting!
I have all my paints ready, my brushes, and the painting taped onto my drafting table. I also work with my sketch next to me so I know where the shadows and hi-lights need to go. The color comp I leave up on my computer screen to follow.
I paint these like a paint by number. (Did any one else love these as a kid?) First I painted the light grey background. Then, I mix the shadow, base color, and hi-light for a flower. (I typically use gouache to paint all my pieces). Then I start with all the hi-lights of a certain color, than the midtone, then finish with the shadows. After I have done this for all the flowers, I do the white outlines:
As you can see, I paint it color by color until all my guidelines are filled in! It's a very exact way of painting, but it works really well for me. It's also really fun to see the painting come together piece by piece!
The finished painting with the original sketch. Time to take the tape off!
Here is the finished piece:
I loved painting this piece because the colors were so fun! The client was happy, and I believe the bride was too!
If you would like to commission a piece for a wedding, contact me via my etsy store or at

Also, a reminder that you can now follow me on facebook and on instagram! (anneappertillustration)

Now, back to work on everything else I have to do!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Everyone! 2013 really flew by. I can't believe it's already 2014!
2013 was a pretty good year. I made a LOT of wedding invitations for two weddings, put another calendar together, took a textile design class and a bookbinding class, started/finished some commissioned pieces, and received a couple of work opportunities that I  can't share yet but will in the future. There were some down times where I did not feel creative or productive, and there were times where I was painting like a maniac. I did not get as far as I had hoped, I would have liked to get even more work done, but there is always this year to work even harder. Most importantly, I feel I learned a lot about myself as an artist and about my process so I hope this will help me have my most productive year yet!
I probably shouldn't post resolutions here, since last year that failed miserably, but I have a good feeling about 2014 so what the heck. I really do want to post here more often so that you can all keep up to date with my  process and what I am working on. It's hard when I have jobs that consume all my time (like wedding invitations) where I can't post the information until after the event, but I am going to try my hardest to keep doing other work at the same time so as not to get in a creative rut again this year.
I also want to get back to doing more children's illustrations as there was a sad lack of these in 2013. Children's illustration was what got me applying to art schools in the first place when I started out, so I really want to get back to my roots (so to speak). I have some sketches and some ideas that I started in 2013 that I am excited to pursue in 2014. Hopefully, you will be seeing some of those here on the blog.
I don't know if anyone reads this outside of my facebook friends, but I just wanted to say I have two new places you can follow me and my creative process! I published my facebook page this weekend and also have an instagram account. Look for me there as anneappertillustration and follow my soon to be daily posts (another new year's resolution).
I am off to a good start for 2014: This weekend I cleaned up my studio so I can actually get some painting done in 2014,  put together a new office chair so I don't have to worry about slicing my hand on my old one, published my facebook page, worked on a commissioned painting (which I will post when I can), worked on a graphic design project which I can hopefully tell you about in the future, and worked on a crocheting project that I meant to start last year. Yes I know crocheting isn't technically art related, but I find being crafty helps me get into my creative zone and jump starts my process. Therefore, I will be looking to do more of this kind of project in 2014 as well.
Sorry for the lack of art in this post and all the vague project mentions that I can't actually share yet. The next one will have some art in it and soon I will be able to tell you more about the projects I am working on. (Including 2 sets of wedding invitations!)
Here's to a productive and creative year for us all!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Another Wedding Project

This is another belated post, but while I am working on my calendar, I thought I would get you ready for more flowers. Also, since this project was a gift and I know the person now has it, I feel comfortable blogging about it.
The wedding thing seems to be taking off for me. This summer, I did a project for a friend that also had to do with weddings (on top of all the wedding invitations I made!).  She loved the paintings I did for my 2013 calendar, and asked if I could do a painting for her to give as a wedding present to a friend. Of course I said yes. At first I was just going to do a flower painting for her, but then came up with what I thought was a brilliant idea: I would draw the date of her wedding, with the flowers forming the dates, like a trellis of sorts. My friend loved this idea so I went ahead and sent her some sketches.The bride's favorite flowers are johnny jump ups (or at least this is what I was told) and her bridesmaid dresses were a lovely lilac color, so this formed the basis for the painting.
 This was a much bigger painting then I had done for awhile, so I miscalculated the time it would take me but I was very happy with the result.

The colors!

starting to paint the flowers

it was a slow process

halfway there!

flowers are done!
stems done
numbers and letters done, now just the leaves
now to outline everything

finished! time to take the tape off

the finished painting (the colors are a little bit more accurate in the other pictures.)

The leaves make up their wedding date and their monogram.
Although a pain in the neck at times (and I do mean that literally, I must hold my head in the same position for a long time when I paint),  this was a good project, and another that I hope to put on my etsy store for people to see and order their own versions. (I am currently working on a similar project which I hope to post in the next couple of weeks) I thought this was such a nice way to remember such a beautiful and important day!
And now, back to feverishly painting my calendar!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Textile Design Class: Black and White

One of the things I decided to do to keep myself busy this fall is take a class. I chose an online textile design class and so far it's been really good. Our first set of assignments dealt with creating black and white designs. First we had to come up with a concept page. This was basically a page of images that inspired our design process. We were also allowed to make a Pinterest board. So, of course, being me, I did both.
Pinterest board
my concept page
As you can see, my main inspiration was wrought iron. I liked how this combined both a delicate and graphic look often achieved in black and white designs. I also used nature inspired images, and lace. From this concept page, we had to come up with at least 5 motifs. For some reason in my head, I thought these had to be square, so this is what I came up with.

my motifs
Of course, I had to edit these when it came to designing the prints. There is only so much you can do with squares. We had to submit as the final project five different layouts: a basic set design ( think tiles) a half drop design ( tiles that are offset instead of perfectly lined up)  a tossed design (basically exactly what it sounds like, you, "toss" your motifs somewhat randomly on the page), a border with a field ( design that has a border) and a stripe layout.

basic set design
half drop design
tossed non-directional design
border with a field design
stripe layout
I was actually pretty pleased with the result. Designing patterns is so much fun! I'm also learning a lot about Photoshop that will come in handy for my own work.

I definitely would recommend taking a textile design class. I find taking classes outside my field really inspires my work within my own field, and helps get the creative juices flowing. You come up with more ideas just because you are learning to think differently!

I've been working slowly but surely on calendar 2014 (updates and calendars following soon!), and some other commissioned projects that I can't post now, but will as soon as they are in the hands of the rightful owner. I'm also trying to start participating in Illustration Friday again, so be on the lookout for those posts too!