Wouldn’t It Be Fun…?

Earlier this month, as part of Joy Ting’s “daily practice” with watercolor — Color Play: Watercolor — I did an overall “leaf doodle” design.  This is the sort of art project I have problems with, although I’m getting better. The idea, you can quickly see, is to cover the entire page with various leaves. I’ve also done similar projects using a variety of different flowers.

Although this looks like a simple project, it actually involves several different aspects of art:

  • At least some drawing skill is required. Even though the leaves or flowers aren’t meant to be too realistic, we need to have the ability to get the shapes approximately right.
  • We need some understanding of color schemes in order to create a pleasing piece.
  • We also need a little knowledge about the medium we’re using.

In addition, there are some design principles involved.

  • How do we lay-out all the different shapes and sizes in a good composition?
  • How much “white space” do we need?
  • Will we need any sort of background?

In doing these sorts of projects over the years, I’ve stumbled especially over those last few questions — the ones about design. I do think my studies of Denman Ross and his Theory of Pure Design have been very helpful for me. I might not always make the right choices, but at least I do give thought to the principles he teaches about harmony, balance, and rhythm.

Still, it’s always awkward for me to look at a blank sheet and think about filling the entire page with leaves, flowers, or anything else!

One recent attempt is from last April. It is from another of Joy Ting’s “daily practice” classes at Creative Bug, this one using oil pastels. I thoroughly enjoyed this 30-day course.

Here was one “overall design” with leaves. My oil pastel techniques aren’t too good yet, and you can see here that my attempts at blending resulted in a lot of muddy color. Note: The colors you’re seeing are not too accurate. The background is not red but much more orange.

Leaf Design — Oil Pastels 5 x 7

I was much happier with a second attempt. This was also done in oil pastels with the addition of colored pencil to give the leaves a bit more definition.  This is a small piece, and it looks much better than it does in the scan. Again, the colors aren’t quite accurate.



Autumn Leaves – Oil Pastels 4 x 6

Both of these “autumn” paintings were done on smaller sheets of paper, and here’s the deal. The more paper I have to cover, the more unsure I am of what to do.

This third “overall leaf design” is much more summery. This is the recent one from the “watercolor” daily practice.

Summer Leaves – Watercolor – 9 x 12

For me, this was much more successful for a number of reasons. I do like the colors, and even if the leaves aren’t expertly drawn, they’re all right. The proportions don’t feel too “off”. I think the placement is reasonably well-balanced, and you’ll see that I even created a bit of a “focal point” with the use of the yellow hue. I’ve also added a loose background wash, and I’ve learned to “doodle in” a few embellishments. That helps me solve the problem of “What do I do with all the left-over white space?” You’ll notice I used a similar technique with dots in my “Bowl of Cherries” project.

After doing this project, I set it aside. It was close to my computer and I saw it often while in the studio. I really do like the bright, summery feel about this doodle — that’s what I call all of these — and my imagination kicked into gear.

Wouldn’t it be fun to have a beach bag with this colorful print? 

Of course I immediately started discounting the idea. I’m not a textile designer. This isn’t intended to be a repeating print. Oh, it would just never work. It’s all a crazy idea.

But is it really so crazy? Off I went on a search to see what I could find.

My first stop was a site called PAOM. The acronym stands for “Print All Over Me”, and you can upload images to quickly design clothes, bags, and other items such as pillows. So, now, take a look at this tote bag:

Note: The “design tabs — those purple spots” are still visible here, but even so you can get a good idea of what a tote bag like this would look like.

Here’s a second tote:

I’m starting to see a lot of fun possibilities here!

And take a look at this pillow! I can truly see this pillow on a lounge chaise on someone’s patio, can’t you?

I really like this pillow!

Many of you know that I once wanted to be a fashion designer, so of course I’m intrigued by sites like PAOM that can turn art into clothing. There are also plans to offer a fabric service where designs can be turned into textiles. Oh, my, wouldn’t this be fun?

There are other sites, too. Zazzle is one of most popular, although I found it difficult to create any “mock-ups” there. I tried to use my “Summer Leaves” for a coffee mug design, but I wasn’t too successful.

Of course, maybe a summer image isn’t quite right for a mug of hot coffee, tea, or chocolate!

But maybe something bright and bold would be fun.


OK, I’ll admit, maybe coffee mugs aren’t exactly my thing. It’s still fun to play around, and I’m just getting started! Now I want to go back through all the drawings and paintings I have around my studio and look at them in new ways. Some of those odd-looking abstracts I’ve done might be interesting on pillows, blankets, or even shoes! Yes, there’s actually sites where you can submit art for shoes. One is BucketFeet, and it’s part of Threadless. Another site is Printful. For what it’s worth, I found the Printful site extremely hard to navigate.

Another recent “cover the page” project was this one — I call it “Fantasy Flowers”.

Wouldn’t it be fun to have this as a jumpsuit:

OK, maybe not, but it certainly is fun to play with ideas. I know there are many websites that offer these services — in the past I’ve created a few things, but never using my own, original art work.

Using online design editors like this do require a bit of know-how, and I don’t really have it. The best I can do is play around and try out different features. Here, as an example, I’ve taken my “fantasy flowers” design and made it into small tiles which I’ve then offset to create this scarf.

Fantasy Flowrers — Tiled and Offset

Definitely I will have hours and hours of fun with websites like these, and definitely I am intrigued by the idea of learning more and creating clothing and accessories — as well as other products — from my original art. Not that I plan to make a business out of it. I’m not at a point in my life where I would want to invest the requisite time, money, and effort into a project like that.

But still… wouldn’t it be fun?

I could see myself wearing a chiffon maxi dress like this — created from an alcohol ink image:

And I’d definitely wear a T-shirt with one of my acrylic pourings for the design… oops, I didn’t save that image, but it’s all right. You can see that I could stay here all day “designing” clothes and accessories. It is fun. And art can be practical. I’m sure the next time I create some “overall design” — such as the leaves and flowers that inspired me here — I’ll be thinking about what I could do with it.

And, those of you who use “art-to-product” sites, please let me know which sites you like, which are the easiest to use, and which ones seem most popular with shoppers. Not that I intend to set up shop any time soon, but yes, I can’t help but think… wouldn’t it be fun!




  1. Hi! It’s been a while since I comment on your blog, but I still get updates from your blog on my inbox. I heard good things about RedBubble. Not only stickers and t-shirts, but also pillows, face masks, and other everyday items. Have you considered greeting cards too for some of your artworks?


  2. Hello Judith, your art would definitely make for wonderful design/pattern on objects/clothing. Its nice to visualize what that would look like. Cool ideas! Utilizing my art on clothing always crossed my mind..


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