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Friday, 18 November 2016

Illustrating Children's Books e-course

I had a very busy October as I took a wonderful e-course "Illustrating Children's Books" with Make Art That Sells with top art agent Lilla Rogers and children's book art director Zoë Tucker. This 5-week intensive class covered different areas of illustrating picture books from facial expressions and poses all the way to cover design. After five weeks of working with the course assignments and other commissions I was exhausted, but very happy.


Before the course started we had to choose one of three texts to work with. I chose a text written by Zoë Tucker. It was a story about the life of Ada Lovelace, an English mathematician who is often regarded as the first computer programmer. "Ada Lovelace and the Number Crunching Machine" was my choice over a traditional folk tale and Edward Lear, as I love a bit of research!


The course was packed with information about pretty much everything. I was familiar with illustrating children's books, but now all that knowledge was presented in a fresh, inspiring way. The teachers Lilla and Zoe were fantastic and encouraging.



My main character Ada evolved quite a bit over the five weeks. I enjoyed the "Expressions" week the most, maybe because it was a good reminder of how many other facial expressions there are than just smiling, happy ones! Also "Poses" week was a very useful one to remind me of the power of exaggeration.






Since the course finished I've felt a lot more confident about my work. It was an intense five week period. It's taken a while to catch up with the rest of my life! We even got our first snow during the course, really early this year (now it's gone...).


Ada's friend, fellow inventor Mr Babbage in my neighbourhood forest!



Week 4: "Environments"

Over the five weeks I had a chance to properly experiment with new techniques, mixing traditional media with Photoshop. Now I just worry that I forget all the things I learned. The cover did require some serious help from my studio partner, PS wiz spouse. All those masks can get a bit confusing at the best of times! With my patience, well...


Week 5: "Cover"

Anyone interested on the course, I give it five golden stars!


Monday, 10 October 2016

Creative autumn greetings !


This autumn has been quite busy, hence the silence here. Here are some highlights I wanted to share with you.

The photos below are from Gudrun Sjödén store in Helsinki. I was there on a Friday afternoon in September drawing 15 minute portraits of the customers as a part of the Gudrun Sjödén's culture week.


Drawing an illustrator colleague Maija Hurme, no pressure!



Then I had a wonderful day with Make in in Design team at Marimekko Factory tour in Helsinki and Sketch Doodle Draw event in the city centre. It was such a pleasure to meet Rachael Taylor and her crew. I'm taking Module 3 of her Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design course at the moment.


Me with the amazing Make it in Design team

At the Marimekko factory

And I took part in the pattern bombing challenge on Instagram with Make it in Design School. My hippie car with my botanical pattern received an honorary mention too.








There was also one weekend of intensive dance training at SVOLI Convention for dance, gymnastics and fitness instructors. But I carried my sketchbook with me...



I'm also participating in "Illustrating Children's Books" course by Make Art That Sells. These drawings are based on daily sketchbook prompts. I'm enjoying both of my courses and working on an illustration project that requires a lot of time until the end of the year.





Friday, 26 August 2016

Exhibition opening action!

Yesterday evening was great fun with my exhibition opening at Annantalo Arts Centre. This exhibition includes gouache illustrations from all four "Elsa ja Lauri" picture books I've made with the author Kerttu Ruuska.




It was the Night of the Arts in Helsinki, so the whole city was packed with happenings, performances, exhibitions, events and late night shopping. I was lucky to have the opening event that same night at Children's Café situated inside Annantalo Arts Centre in the middle of the city centre.
We had prepared a "detective" assignment for the children. They had to find the missing items for Elsa's and Lauri's suitcase before they were due to leave for the airport (as they do in one of the books). The items were all in my paintings, and the search was intense! We gave away small prizes too. And of course, there was a possibility of making paper airplanes, my son's favourite hobby!




Friday, 12 August 2016

NEW WEBSITE ! !

Oh yes, it has taken me embarrassingly long time to get my website sorted...This week I signed up with Wix to build it myself. Hhmmm...it was super easy. I had tried with Squarespace earlier and was totally lost with it. I got discouraged for months. But I suppose you have to find what works for you and Wix did it for me. So I proudly present:

http://www.nadjasarell.com/

You're most welcome to check it out! What a week!

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Summer greetings!

Rainy day sketching, searching for colour


Colour explosion, marker sketching for fun


My sketchbook bird enjoying life by the lake


Me and my sketchbook birds at Kiasma, Museum of Contemporary Art



Collage illustration for a new Finnish band Liljankukka


Artwork for the wonderful designer Gudrun Sjödén on her birthday




Me and my birds visited Stockholm and Yayoi Kusama's Exhibition. DOTS!!



I had a lovely holiday break, though the weather could have been a bit better... Back in the studio now. I had to spend a whole day yesterday tidying it up so that I'm ready to start making a new mess. And I had my birthday present, Wacom drawing tablet waiting for me (yay!). No I just need to figure out how to use it. That's going to be interesting...

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Vicuñas and summer holidays!

Tomorrow I start my summer holiday. Actually I should be packing this very moment! But I wanted to write a post before I switch off my computer.
Here is something I have worked on for MATS Bootcamp's June's assignment. The theme was vicuñas, beautiful animals of the Andes. The brief was to make a character sheet or spread of a picture book. Here is my final piece I really loved working on.



And here are some sketches, bits and pieces from the beginning toward the final illustrations.







 After pencil sketches I put on some colour in my A3 sketchbook. That was fun!



I reworked the character sketches because I really liked the vicuña riding a bicycle and dancing tango...The story started to evolve.




Then I put it all on a double spread with some text I came up with, added some extra bits such as "cheering" cacti to make it more interesting and made a hand-painted pattern for the background. And hurray, I was finished!








Tuesday, 31 May 2016

My new online shop


This week I've opened my first online shop via Finnish Printmotor platform. This is something I have planned to do for ages, so I'm happy about getting it finally out there! The first products I designed are posters and tote bags. Printmotor ships worldwide and it's really easy to use. It is quite a new company and a natural  choice as the products are printed in Finland. Hopefully they will expand their range of products later.



 





Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Educational illustrations

Here are a couple of my illustrations for a speech therapy company Kipinäkeskus that commissioned me to illustrate new material for their use and for sale. This was a really great project to do, though very demanding too. In educational material the illustrator has to take even the smallest of the client's requests into account and make the picture appealing for children. There is always a lot of detail that has to be accurately presented.
I had an extensive list of words, especially verbs, to illustrate. The two kindergarten images had a total of 70 people! I don't use computer that much, but these illustrations I coloured in PS. It always surprises me, how quick and easy it is compared to actually painting everything as an original artwork. For me, the most demanding task was to follow the perspective...



Thursday, 5 May 2016

Friendship Day stamp design competition

I thought I share my process of creating my postage stamp designs for a competition organized by Posti Group together with Kuvittajat, Association of Finnish Illustrators and Grafia, Association of Finnish Communication Designers. The theme was Finnish version of Valentine's Day, the Friendship Day. The job was to design five stamps around this theme. I came third in the competition, which I was so happy about as these illustrations were made with a lot of thought and love!
My idea was to illustrate animals and children posing in a school photo shoot in a "BFF" kind of a way. I chose animals that are related to each other even when they are different species, whether they are domestic or wild animals. I wanted to make a point that despite the cultural differences, you can be friends with each other. But I also wanted to illustrate happy, joyful friends, sweet characters with a bit of humour too. I chose to go for a retro colour palette and simple, graphic shapes for the characters.

I started with some small thumbnails in a sketchbook, simplified my characters, just played around. Then I did the actual illustrations with black ink on A3 paper, one for each (really big!). Like these here below:






Then I scanned the illustrations and played with the colour palette on my computer. I had some very strange colour versions, some were ok...




And when I had decided the colours, the final designs were fine-tuned and turned into vector illustrations. So this is how they looked like in the end!