Category Archives: Creative Process

Stop! No, Go!

Sometimes I am so taken with an idea that I have to drop everything and try it because I’m not going to focus on anything else. It all started when I received a lovely green braid from Napa Valley Fibers (I used Deborah’s kits as an excuse to buy a drum carder…tee hee hee… ). I decided the green braid would look so lovely with these other fibers:

Yes, they are that vibrant!

I had this other brilliant idea that I would document this whole process so a) I could share it with you and b) so I would know what I did so I could replicate what I was doing. I kinda played more than I documented. But that’s ok…you’ll get the idea.

I took roughly one arm’s length of each fiber and split them in half lengthwise. I took the one set of the halvsies and ran them in strips/stripes on the carder twice. Once to fluff, second to lightly blend. I came up with this:

Squish the rainbow (batt)! Drool…

Well, I got really excited about this fluffy! It’s soft, smushy, and a rainbow! I love rainbow yarn! I love the color!

But another part of me was super curious…what if I mixed the different colors together? Blue and pink, blue and green, green and yellow, and yellow and pink? What if I did that and made a self striping yarn with long repeats? Ok. I ran each color set separately through the carder three times. I got this:

Color mixing is an art as well as a science. I wish I had blended equal amounts of each color.

I split these batts in half crosswise (the short way), predrafted ’em and started spinning.

It was a little too stoplight-y for me

That’s when I realized I made something that looked like an Excel stoplight chart. I did not like this. What’s not apparent in this photo is how much of the red color there is.

This was intended to be more of a sampling project (ok, a Tour de Fleece withdrawal project) than a yarn design project, so I tried to figure out what I could do without adding more colors.

I’m not a huge fan of tweedy yarns. They’re ok, but I’m really on a self-striping trip now. That Stoplight was nope, though. I took the other half that I hadn’t spun yet and quartered each color. I didn’t want little color bits and a full quarter of each color seemed to be too much. I misjudged the math, so the color repeats weren’t equal. It was ok. I came up with this compromise:

They look like technicolor snakes. I wonder how much wool is stuck to the carpet…

I had been kicking around the idea of plying this with the dark purple you see on the bottom bobbin because I didn’t know what to do with it. It’s all I have and to ply it on itself was likely to be painful (pull skeins and fine singles can be a pain when they tangle).

Kate’s full!

It wasn’t bad. I kinda liked how it was coming out. And I think it was the first time I’d ever made a non-chain three ply yarn. It was trippy trying to figure out how to hold them together and keep the right tension. It was going along fine until…

I didn’t plan that as well as I thought…oops

I took what was left on the middle bobbin and wound it into a tiny pull skein. That was a little painful, trying to manage the two ends of the same ball and keep the tension on the third strand (my foot came in really hand-y. Har har har…).

What fresh hell did I get myself into?

I had a little of the dark purple left, so I plyed it with the little bit of what I call the “Mud Yarn”. I spun up the leftover bits on the carder and made a yarn only a mother could love.

This is why we don’t blend green and pink together…

It was a few yards at most, and it will probably end up in a weaving or something. It looked pretty good with the purple, amazingly.

I know, you’re probably wondering what does the finished yarn look like? I proudly present to you, the Stoplight yarn! Ta-da!

Green! Green! Green! The finished Stoplight Yarn!

I really, really like it now. I’m glad I saw it through. I now have 245 yards of sock/sport yarn that I’m really not sure what I’m going to do with it. Weave it? Knit it? Crochet it? Sell it? I don’t know. If you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them!

Illustrator Work

This is a sampling of my Adobe Illustrator work.

For this project, we had to draw something metal in Illustrator. I used a photo of a stainless steel Lincoln Continental I had taken at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum in Auburn, Indiana. The fact the car was metal (not painted) made it much easier to draw! This was a great way to learn how to use the gradient mesh tool.

Metal Drawing
Metal Drawing

In sticking with the Auburn theme, another project was to take an existing logo and replicate it. My replica is on the left.

Logo Replication
Logo Replication

In this project, we had to hand draw something and make a beer or wine label out of it. The other requirement is that the drawing had to be stippled (i.e. drawn by making a series of dots instead of lines). When I heard about a beer called Careless Whisper IPA by Our Brewing Company in Holland, Michigan, I knew I had my product (I’m a big George Michael fan). Our Brewing doesn’t bottle their beer, so it was fun to have full creative control over the design. I don’t know about you, but when I think of Careless Whisper, I think of the sax line…

Beer Label
Beer Label

Photo Emulation Project

This was for a visual research project in my digital photography class. After selecting a photographer, we had to research him or her then emulate the style of the photographer with our own photos. When I discovered Lee Friedlander, I was sold. He can take the ordinary and make it extraordinary!

This was a fun project for me. All the times I thought I was making mistakes, a famous photographer was making art out of it! Granted, I was making mistakes, but Friedlander gave me a lot of hope and inspiration that I could improve my craft.

The majority of my photos are digital that were brought into Photoshop to try to make them look like black and white film. That is very hard, if not impossible, to replicate. I was also taking a black and white film photography class from the same instructor and she let me use some of those in this project. As for cameras, I used an Olympus VR-320 and a Chinon 35mm with Arista EDU 400 ISO film.


America by Car


This series is what caused me to fall in love with Friedlander’s work. How many times have you taken a picture out of your car window and caught the car in the frame? He didn’t see it as a mistake; he worked with it. I love that he tied his series to the road trip, because I think the road trip is an innocent and unique part of American history. It makes me think of Route 66 and the 50’s and 60’s when the automobile was still relatively new.

I had spent several years commuting between Muskegon and Grand Rapids (120 miles a day at one point) and while it’s boring, there is a certain beauty to the highway.

Jaime's America by Car - I Can't Drive 55
Jaime’s America by Car – I Can’t Drive 55 (digital)

I’ve always been fascinated by what you can catch in your vehicle’s mirrors. You can see the past, present, and future all at the same time.

Jaime's America by Car - Emptiness
Jaime’s America by Car – Emptiness (digital)

This is one of the few film pieces. It was pure serendipity I caught the car in the mirror. Perhaps what is more amazing is that it was probably going around 55 mph.

Jaime's America by Car - On the Move
Jaime’s America by Car – On the Move (film)

The Little Screens


My first reaction to Friedlander’s series was that it was haunting and creepy. An article in my research pointed out something I never thought of. TV’s were still sort of new in the early 60’s. I’m sure they were alien for their time and I think that adds to the haunting quality of them.

This was another serendipitous shot. I turned on the TV to take a picture of it and I captured this woman on the Price is Right. Her appearance was so perfect for the theme.

Jaime's Little Screens - The Price is Right
Jaime’s Little Screens – The Price is Right (digital)

I expanded my Little Screens to include my laptop, as we are now truly attached to our “little screens”.

Jaime's Little Screens - Home Office
Jaime’s Little Screens – Home Office (digital)

My tribute to the movie Poltergeist.

Jaime's Little Screens - They're Back
Jaime’s Little Screens – They’re Back (digital)

The Selfies


Living in an era of the selfie-obsessed, I am intrigued by Friedlander’s self-portraits. Even though he has access to the same technology as every teenager in the world, he doesn’t have the bad camera-phone-in-the-mirror-with-duck-lips shot. He’s creative in the use of his own image; He doesn’t always stage them. He manages to capture himself in the same kind of mundaneness and simplicity he captures his other subjects.

Friedlander looks pretty rough in some of his selfies. My photo was inspired by the look he had in Philadephia PA (he’s sitting shirtless in a chair) and Philadephia (he’s in front of a mirror with his camera). I was a little concerned about taking a shirtless photo of myself (and using it in a class project on top of it!), but I like how it came out.

Jaime's Selfies - The Morning After the Night Before
Jaime’s Selfies – The Morning After the Night Before (digital)

I never thought about using shadows as a subject. I was doing the shoot on Easter when I found a cross marking a pet’s grave. It seemed apropos.

Jaime's Selfies - Easter Rising
Jaime’s Selfies – Easter Rising (film)

This is one of my first shadow selfies. It was just fun to try!

Jaime's Selfies - Rocky Road
Jaime’s Selfies – Rocky Road (digital)

Road Signs


I didn’t do much research into Friedlander’s signs series, but the fact he could take something as mundane as a sign and make it interesting intrigued me. Of course I had to try!

This is the backside of the sign I would use to find my house at night. Exciting, eh?

Jaime's Road Signs - Don't be a Square
Jaime’s Road Signs – Don’t be a Square (digital)

This is one of my favorite photos. The mailboxes are a little more prominent than the road signs, but I love it anyway.

Jaime's Road Signs - Life by the Highway
Jaime’s Road Signs – Life by the Highway (digital)

I have no idea why there’s a stop sign, never mind a shortened stop sign, by this power pole out in the middle of the woods. But it’s very interesting!

Jaime's Road Signs - Short Stop
Jaime’s Road Signs – Short Stop (film)

Layouts

This page showcases some layout work from a few different classes. It includes a newsletter, book cover, and magazine. Laying out text is challenging. It’s important to keep the text legible while keeping the pages attractive and easy to read.


Newsletter


For the newsletter assignment, we had to design a three-page newsletter of our choosing from scratch. Since I’m a bit of a yarn nut, I made one about fiber art. The copy and some of the images are not mine (see credits at the end of this page).

Newsletter Layout 1
Newsletter Layout 1
Newsletter Layout 2
Newsletter Layout 2
Newsletter Layout 3
Newsletter Layout 3

Book Cover


For the book cover assignment, we had to design three coordinating dust jackets. The author and the books could be real or made up. I am a big Neale Donald Walsch fan, so I chose him and made up three books using text from one of his products. The artwork is the same image on each cover; I cropped it and resized it differently for each one.

bk1Book Layout 1
Book Layout 1
Book Layout 2
Book Layout 2
Book Layout 3
Book Layout 3

Magazine


For the magazine assignment, we had to create a four-page spread from a real magazine of our choosing. Still the fiber nut, I chose to replicate pages from Spin Off magazine. We had to research the content before doing the layout, so the copy is a mix of different websites. One of the most challenging parts of the assignment was trying to identify the fonts the original publisher used!

Magazine Layout 1
Magazine Layout 1
Magazine Layout 2
Magazine Layout 2

Credits


Newsletter
Copy: Stacey Budge-Kamison, Franklin Habit, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Scarf Photo: JennyRaye (Ravelry)
Inspiration Point Photo: Jordann (Pinterest)
Sheep image, Ginger Cat Knits ad, and Yay for J: Jaime Shafer

Book Cover
Copy: Neale Donald Walsch
Author Photo: Google Images
Artwork: Robert Burridge

Magazine
Copy and Photos:
Atelier Madam Butterfly
Ravelry
Ask The Bellwether

Digital Painting – Wenceslas Square

I’ve become very intrigued with the idea of creating paintings in Photoshop. The artwork is already digitized and best of all, no mess to clean up! If you’re following Yay on Facebook, you’ve seen some of those experiments. I’m getting a few of them printed up as they are just to see how the resolution and color holds up in reproduction. I really have no idea how to sell something like this since it’s not really a print. That’s a topic for another day.*grin* For now, I’m going to try to document my painting process. If nothing else, it should prove somewhat entertaining…

As far as materials go, I’m using Photoshop CC14 on a Windows 8 laptop. It’s not some super-pimped up box, just a reasonably priced lappy. For a graphics tablet, I found a VisTablet Penpad for $17 on Amazon. It’s not super-pimpy either, but it seems to work well for me. I think drawing tablet hand-eye coordination is going to be difficult no matter what brand it is. That’s a lot harder than it seems! Lastly, I’m using Alex Dukal’s Photoshop brushes. I’m using the AD Aquarellist Brushes and the Cartoonist Brushes. I also own the AD Pencils Garden, but I don’t think I’ll be using any of those.

When I went to Prague, I snapped this photo in Wenseclas Square. I’m the biggest horse’s ass I know, so the shot is perfect. *laughing hysterically* Actually, I love this photo. I love the lighting, I love the composition, I love it! So I fired up Photoshop, and created a new doc that is 15 in x 10.713 in with a 300px resolution. I figured that should allow a pretty large reproduction (like maybe a poster!)

Wenceslas Square, Prague, Czech Republic
Wenceslas Square, Prague, Czech Republic

I don’t know if it’s “cheating” to trace a photo or not. Yes, I can draw, but I really wanted to get started on this project, so I used the tablet to trace the photo. That was plenty of effort in itself, trust me! (That whole hand-eye thing.) I used the 04. AD Wet Strong Line – 40px Aquarellist brush in black to make my sketch. Part of learning how to use the tablet is realizing that pressure controls things like darkness.

Outline sketch
Outline sketch

I love the weekly newsletter from Artist’s Network.tv. Those videos make me think I can paint. In watercolor, even. I’ve never really had much luck in real watercolor, so I’m hoping digital watercolor works out for me. I threw in some sky using 45. AD Liquid Ink – Col Dyn 200px Aquarellist brush in RGB colors: 0, 174, 239.

Adding the sky
Adding the sky

Well, that looked pretty good. Let’s throw in some yellow for the buildings! Same brush, RGB: 255, 255, 0.

Adding the buildings
Adding the buildings

Man, I am feeling like an artiste now! Same brush, RGB: 46, 49, 146.

The road
The road

Still feeling super confident! Add orange! Same brush, RGB: 237, 28, 36.

More color
More color

Let’s just say that’s when things started to go to hell. I started adding more color and doing other fancy artist things, and I found out I was painting on the wrong layer. It wouldn’t have been a big deal except that I wanted to remove the outline layer at some point. I could tuck it below the layers I was painting on, but then I lost that color. Long story short, I tried some salvaging, didn’t like that, went back a few revisions, redid the color, and had no clue what to do next. I couldn’t get the color I wanted, the brushes were either too transparent or too dark.

Feeling like a real horse’s ass for trying this idea, I practiced blending colors using other brushes. I did some cartooning. I wasn’t very happy and my body was hurting from trying to use this stupid tablet stylus and I was cursing why I ever wanted to be an artist. So I went to bed.

I got my weekly Artist’s Network.tv newsletter and I watched this video about Tracey Creighton. I know very little about Tracey, but I love her work! This! This is what I needed! So with a renewed faith in my painting skills, I went back at it. This is where I started today, sans outline. My apologies for not documenting this part very well…there’s lots of colors applied using different brushes trying to achieve what I had in my mind. I am trying to stay with the standard swatches that come with Photoshop, though I have been taking samples of layered colors to get better blends.

More color, no outlines
More color, minus the outlines

I did some crazy painting on Wenseclas and his horse. That’s my focal point. I don’t care about realism. I want color and pop and wow! I used the 41. AD Wet Line 40px Aquarellist brush in various colors and in 100% to 50% opacity.

Detailing Wenceslas
Detailing Wenceslas

I think what intrigued me with Tracey’s technique is when she poured black ink and piped on white paint. It cured a few problems I was having. It got me out of my head and got me to play! In lieu of black ink, I’m using the 09. AD Broken Blotch 15px Cartoonist brush. Ah! I love how this came out!

More details on Wenceslas
More details on Wenceslas

I’m not sure where I’m going next with it, but I wanted to post this before I forgot. I took a piccy of the screen. Trippy! It looks databent (oooo…another idea!)

(This was originally posted on the old Yay for J in an article called, “The Artist Pretending it’s Art”. Since the website deconstruction, that post is no longer available. Also, this painting has not been completed yet. *sad face*)

Artist Crush – Art Scarves

If you have been following me on Facebook and Instagram, you’ve seen a lot more of what I’ve been working on. My plan is to do a series of posts to show more of the process of my projects. It’s both for me to document what I did and for you, in case you want to know what I’ve put into it or if you want to try something yourself. I would love to hear what you think, so don’t hesitate to comment below.

If you know anything about me, you know that I’ll go on a project tear and I develop some serious artist crushes. I’ll get really super obsessed with an another artist’s work and have, have, HAVE to try it. It can be in fiber, on paper, or with pixels (pixels are FREE!). Sometimes I finish it before the next muse shows up, sometimes I don’t. I’ve learned to stop worrying about that and choose smaller projects that stand a chance of being completed.

This is something I finished:

If you love that as much as I do and you’re a weaver, go on and sign up for UrbanGypz’s Art Weaving Beyond the Basics. I’ll wait for you. *grin* I’ve been reading Stacey’s newsletters for quite some time and I had, had, HAD to do this! The weaving bug hit me while The Boyfriend and I were moving. (I saw a pretty weaving video, I unpacked my studio, I became consumed by the wool fumes, had to buy this, really wanted to drop everything and weave, stop judging me.)

Stacey is super awesome, both as an artist and as a teacher. I learned so much watching her demonstrate each technique and even what she was working on for herself. This is either my recipe for success or disaster. I’ll let you decide that for yourself:

Watch Stacey’s free weaving videos. Become obsessed.

Buy UrbanGypz’s Art Weaving Beyond the Basics because I must have all. the. information.

Move house and be forced to wait until much later to watch the rest of the videos.

#homesweethome

A photo posted by Jaime Shafer (@yayforj) on

(By the way, I’m not affiliated with any of the links in this post. I’m just a mildly obsessed fangirl.)

Unpack the yarn and warp that loom!

Time to play with Loomikins! #Weaving

A photo posted by Jaime Shafer (@yayforj) on

For the technical specs of my scarf, the yarn was just remnants of all kinds of yarn I had left over from other projects. I used longer little bits for the warp and tiny little bits in the weft. I used all kinds of yarns too. Cheap wool/acrylic to novelty stuff. There’s handspun and commercial in there. Loomikins is a 24” Ashford rigid heddle loom. I used the 7.5 heddle.

Start weaving and playing with the techniques!

And so it begins… #Weaving

A photo posted by Jaime Shafer (@yayforj) on

The yarn at the top was some left over ruffle yarn. It made for some really interesting texture. Since I’m not an expert weaver by any means, the class was very enlightening. I decided to use every technique she showed in the class. It may have been overkill from a design standpoint, but boy, was that ever FUN! I love how it came out.

Close up 1
Close up 1
Close up 2
Close up 2
Close up 3
Close up 3

To finish it off, get some beads with a hole big enough to stick the yarn through. That seriously blinged it up.

Bling and texture close up
Bling and texture close up

I guess as cliché as it sounds, just have fun with it. You really can’t screw it up that bad. Use a few yards of your better yarn in it. Take a chance and put random colors together. You won’t be able to judge it until you take if off the loom and wet finish it. It’s amazing how it’ll make it come alive. Give it a shot! I think you’ll find it a lot of fun!

(This was originally posted on the old Yay for J in an article called, “Artist Crush – Art Scarves”. Since the website deconstruction, that post is no longer available.)

Political Project

This was an interesting project. The purpose was to create a four page spread on a political topic of our choosing. We had to write a two page paper (who would’ve thought you would have to write a fully MLA cited paper in a graphic design class?) and turn it into a layout using the style of one of the design movements we had been studying. My design won third place in Muskegon Community College’s 50th Annual Student Art and Design Exhibition (a very pleasant surprise!).

Writing the paper was the biggest challenge for me because I’m not big on sharing my political beliefs (I guess I took my mother’s advice to heart about not talking about politics or religion with people) and I hadn’t written a cited paper in decades (kinda forgot how to do that). At the time, we had no idea what we were doing with the papers, we just had to write them.

Originally, was going to write about gay marriage (it was big in news at the time), but as I started writing, it occurred to me that other groups had been facing inequality for a longer period of time. I expanded it to include blacks and women as a contrast to “all men are created equal” as stated in the Declaration of Independence. I tried to write it from a factual standpoint based on law versus an opinionated one. The paper can be read here.

Then we got the design part of the assignment where we had to pick a design movement and create a four page spread using the style of the movement. I really like Russian Constructivism. I have a greater appreciation of it after visiting the Museum of Communism in Prague. The style is simple and powerful. I’m also very influenced by popular music. I love taking bits of lyrics out of songs and using them elsewhere.

I decided to use a Communist-esque propaganda style to cover the inequalities that exist(ed) in US law. Or as I wrote in my design brief:

Concept – Symbolism – equal sign with the lines blurred, unequal scales of justice done in Soviet Constructivism Communist style superimposed over the American ideas of freedom. Communism promised an ideal life, but in reality it was the opposite…use that theme with how the US was founded on freedom, but the American legal system has held people of various groups down.

Before I get accused for being anti-American, that’s not true. While the US is a great country, it’s not a perfect country, particularly if you’re in a minority group (especially when it comes to the law). At the end of the day, I wanted the reader to think about equality instead of discrimination.

For the cover, I took the title from Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines (which I am mildly obsessed with) and took the equals sign from the marriage equality symbol (two lines to be blurred) and made one black and the other white to represent race. Lady Justice was made to look like a stylized black and white photo, shapes were added to mimic Constructivism and the American flag was added to soften the Communist look. Finally, I used a bright rainbow of colors to represent the gay pride movement.

Layout - Political Design 1
Political Design page 1

I also wanted to make the design look like it was printed in the 1930’s-40’s and had yellowed over the years. I wanted it to look old. The rainbow was a little hard to make look old, as you can see in this draft. Evenutally, with the help of my instructor and this website I found the right color palette.

For the text, I went with a traditional Constructivist grid structure. I wanted the reader to be able to skim the text, so I used significant historical years and simple figures to represent black/white, male/female, and gay (lesbian).

Layout - Political Design 2
Political Design page 2
Layout - Political Design 3
Political Design page 3

I wanted a font like Futura for the body copy, but I settled for Century Gothic since I already had it. 🙂 The other font is Molot (which I found online). I wanted it to look impersonal and unfeeling. I kept thinking of a stark office like this:

Communist Office
Office in the Museum of Communism in Prague, Czech Republic (it’s not very visible in this photo, but there are handcuffs attached to the rightmost chair)

I struggled for the design of the last page. After several revisions, I ended up carrying over the colors and American theme from the first page and adding lyrics from Blurred Lines. While the song has nothing to do with equality, I thought these lyrics fit what I was trying to convey:

If you can’t hear what I’m trying to say
If you can’t read from the same page
Maybe I’m going deaf
Maybe I’m going blind
Maybe I’m out of my mind
I hate these Blurred Lines

Layout - Political Design 4
Political Design page 4

I’m very pleased with how the project turned out. I am also happy to say my hard work paid off (literally). My design took third place in MCC’s 50th Annual Student Art and Design Exhibition:
mcc student show 2014

WINNERS! 50th Annual Student Art and Design Exhibition – MCC The Bay Window

Ginger Cat Knits Website Mockup

The purpose of this project was to create a website mockup in Adobe Illustrator for both desktop and mobile. It was to include a page for the following: home, catalog, gallery, product detail, shopping cart, about, and contact. All photography is courtesy of Ginger Cat Knits.

Home Page (Mobile)
Home Page (Mobile)

Home Page (Desktop)
Home Page (Desktop)

Catalog Page (Mobile)
Catalog Page (Mobile)

Catalog Page (Desktop)
Catalog Page (Desktop)

Gallery Page (Mobile)
Gallery Page (Mobile)

Gallery Page (Desktop)
Gallery Page (Desktop)

Product Page (Mobile)
Product Page (Mobile)

Product Page (Desktop)
Product Page (Desktop)

Checkout/Cart Page (Mobile)
Checkout/Cart Page (Mobile)

Checkout/Cart Page (Desktop)
Checkout/Cart Page (Desktop)

About Page (Mobile)
About Page (Mobile)

About Page (Desktop)
About Page (Desktop)

Contact Page (Mobile)
Contact Page (Mobile)

Contact Page (Desktop)
Contact Page (Desktop)