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Happy March to you all!! So excited to share a fun project I worked on the past few weeks. I had the absolute pleasure of creating an illustration for Houston Landing, a new newspaper in Houston. The illustration accompanied a poem written by Maggie Gordon titled "Twas the Night Before Rodeo: A Very Houston Poem".


As a little backstory, the rodeo is here in Houston for the next few weeks and it quite literally takes the city by storm with concerts, livestock shows, bull-riding, a festival, and last but not least Muttin' Bustin'. Muttin' Bustin' is bull-riding for the littles, but instead of bulls, the kids are riding sheep. And Maggie's poem follows a little girl practicing her mutton-bustin' skills the night before the rodeo. I was so excited creating this illustration - I was told to go cute and imaginative and I truly am really proud of the result. I'm not a Houston native, so the rodeo still is quite foreign to me, but I can 100% appreciate the excitement it brings to the city. Everyone starts buzzing about it when the concert list is dropped and everyone starts talking about their outfits and the food they can't wait to savor. If you'd like to hear Maggie reading the poem, I included a Soundcloud link below.



I thought it would be fun for this post to dive into how I made this painting and just a little behind-the-scenes for the process. So, let's get into it:


Below is the sketch I put together. After reading the poem several times I wrote key pieces for me to include in the sketch. (i.e. 8 sheep, pearl snaps, plaid shirt, hat etc.) Then, I imagined the little girl riding on a sheep with pure joy shouting to the world in excitement. But I wanted to include the other 7 sheep, so I wrapped them around her almost as though they were all flying - similar to reindeer - this is a Houston take on "Twas the Night Before Christmas" after all.



I needed to create multiple size formats of the painting (landscape, square, and portrait). Knowing I needed flexibility I decided to paint my main subject, but then add in the other sheep's details and background separately so that each size could easily be re-formatted. If you create one fully painted piece it can be great, but can also limit you if editing needs to be factored in as was the case here.



Here's a little snapshot of me in my mumu for painting. Fun fact I received this as a joke for my bachelorette party, but it has since become my painting smock.



Of course, I had to film a little timelapse of my main character coming together. (Forgive me now, I forgot to press play when I painted her face).



After painting my main character and the bodies of the other sheep I scanned them into the computer and sent the file to my iPad for touching up and for creating the full scene. You can see below that the paintings have been overlayed onto my sketch.



And from here was playtime - I needed to see what colors worked and what angles played out the best for the scene. I included a timelapse below of all the frantic play on my iPad. It's only 24 seconds long, but you can sense the frequency of change until I landed on a color scheme. I'll be honest, there are times when I feel like I'm cheating when I use my iPad for my work. I'm assuming because it's digital, my art school brain thinks I'm not actually drawing when quite the contrary I'm still 100% drawing. At the same time, it has become such an integral part of my work process, whether for sketching, editing or adding. Especially for projects like this where the artwork has to be editable in case any changes are requested - it is a lifesaver. It's this tricky field of embracing new technology to make things a little easier while still using old techniques on paper.



So there you have it! A behind-the-scenes peek into an editorial illustration for a newspaper. Such a cool and unique project to work on.



 

When I'm not painting...

  • I finished my zombie book from last month....I enjoyed it so much that I nabbed the sequel from the library Zombie, Illinois

  • I also took up reading a separate book from the creator of The Good Place, Mike Schur. It's called How to Be Perfect: The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question - from the title, I think you can gather it has a comedic twist to it.

  • I recently made this challah wreath with rose topping and pistachio cardamom filling from The Rising Life - it was quite an adventure to make but came out so beautiful. I made this for a ladies' brunch and it entailed 48 hours of babysitting from proving the dough, then letting it sit for 24 hours, then prepping, filling, rolling, twisting, stuffing, baking, and topping. I've never had to make anything so involved before and I was a little deranged in the process but I found it to be quite delish in the end!

  • I just started watching You on Netflix - and my goodness I'm behind the curve on this addicting show. Super creepy but gives off major "Dexter" vibes.

  • Last but not least I've been knee-deep in a house project in my hallway. I've been wanting to freshen it up a bit so I added beadboard, paint, and a rug (with a touch of artwork). It's looking lovely so far and should (fingers crossed) be mostly done for the weekend.


Hope you enjoyed this month's cluster of words and pictures. I will see you next month my lovelies.


xoxo

Rachel



It's February 1st, and it's officially the one-year anniversary of this super casual newsletter. I've so enjoyed sending this out each month to keep you updated on my work and personal life, and I'm slowly finding my way with this. Getting comfortable chatting with you and of course, staying consistent (ahem - this could use some work). But here we are officially in the year of the Rabbit! I don't usually get super into the Lunar New year, but after attending a Lunar New Year party I read up on this year's fluffy animal, the rabbit. She's meant to bring all of the calm, slow, and gentle vibes & remind you to self-reflect, rest, and work smarter, not harder. The moment January 1st hit, I was immediately in calm/cozy mode, so reading up on the rabbit was like someone telling me it was okay to be in a restful mindset. I've been reassessing a lot of work aspects and trying to pair down and not overdo it - if that doesn't scream year of the rabbit I don't know what does!


The rabbit was lingering in my mind so much that I ended up doodling one (you may have seen this on social media), and I made sure she had the coziest and calmest of vibes. And as a fun surprise, I decided to turn her into a little cut-out activity so she can hang out on your desk at work or your home just to remind you to take it slow and don't overdo it. Scroll through to see her coming together and download the activity.



It's always so fun to see the progression from sketch to finished piece after the fact. So, after I painted these I scanned them into my computer, did a little editing, and then sent it to my iPad to create the "activity sheet" of course I had to follow along myself so you can see the finished project.





Below is the Year of the Rabbit Activity Sheet to print at home on letter sized card stock, and the link to download this fun lil' babe :)

Hope you enjoy it!









 

Hello friends and Happy May! As you can see, I skipped the April Newsletter for a few reasons. The first was my hubby and I took a trip for a few weeks and the second being I ran out of time. I thought about squeezing one in at the end of the month, but seeing as I would be back in your inbox a few weeks later I decided to wait.


But thank goodness I waited because I'm now able to share some really exciting updates to my shop with you! I started working on some new things to add to the shop earlier this year - I even polled my followers on Instagram - and holy moly it has taken me way longer than anticipated to get this stuff finalized and ordered. But some of it is finally here and ready to be viewed! I officially have 2 enamel pins based on original paintings AND I have coloring page downloads up in my Etsy shop! These were an immense amount of fun to make and really breathed some new life into old designs. I'll let you head to my shop to check out everything, but for now, here are pics of the enamel pins I can't get enough of!






I'm so obsessed with these enamel pins!

If you'd like to shop them you can find them here:


I'll be adding even more new products to my shop (stickers and clip art downloads), but these are still in the works at the moment.


Until next time,

Rachel



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