2018 Paint Colors of the Year, Benjamin Moore Inspiration, Inktober by Chris V

Octopus News
House Beautiful 2018 Paint Colors of the Year

2018 Paint Colors of the Year

I was so excited to see that the 2018 colors of the year are being announced by paint companies.  PPG Paints chose Black Flame, a Black & Navy combo, as their go to color for next year.  Glidden Paints is using a color called Deep Onyx, reminiscent of a chalk board color and Benjamin Moore, like Sherwin Williams, selected a bright color called Cliente, a deep but vibrant red.  House Beautiful wrote this post earlier this summer to give decorators a head start.  These dark paint colors are being shown with lighter artwork, lamps and furniture.  Fashion designers have followed suit with plenty of dark textile backgrounds and lighter accents like florals and stripes for 2018.  Can't wait to play with these color stories and come up with some new looks for my art!!!


Benjamin Moore Paint Instagram Post

Benjamin Moore Paint Inspiration

I absolutely love this yellow ochre with the charcoal grey Benjamin Moore paint color story.  I'm not sure what they are actually named, but they inspired me to paint the below and create a new video for my YouTube channel.  It's so fascinating how you can find these same colors in fashion, house wares and other industries.  It's fun to connect the dots and know where they originated and in what direction they lead.  I'm motivated to start some mood boards that picture these different sources working toward the same goal.  More on that another time.  In the meantime, I've included the video for you below.  I hope you enjoy it!  

Inktober 2017 in process

Inktober 2017

I'm super enthused to be participating in my first Inktober!!!  Jake Parker, an illustrator from Utah started this initiative in 2009 to bring artists all over the world together during the month of October.  Since then it's gone crazy earning several hashtags like #intober and #inktober 2017.  There is even an Inktober website where you can get learn about the ins and outs plus get inspired with lists of ideas of what to create.  

Some awesome work is being posted this year and the energy is infectious. My new micron pens are working hard and I am experimenting with black ink and water brush techniques for the first time.  I can't wait to see what I learn from this exercise and what other cool stuff emerges from others.  To see some of this amazing art, do some searches on just about any social network using #intober or #inktober 2017.  You can check out some of my new Inktober work in currently on my Instagram and Twitter.  I'd love to hear from you in the Comments below if you are participating, and if so, how it's going for you.  October has never been so eventful!!!

Vegas Strong by Chris V


A Hope-filled Message

No matter how dark things can get, there always seems to be a light that burns brighter. Being based in Las Vegas, I have never witnessed so much love and compassion in this town as I have since last week's tragedy.  In the face of the unthinkable, that is a beautiful thing!  All of us deal with trauma in different ways and many are stepping up to help support others until they can get themselves to a better place, including the victims and their families from out of town.

Our own Andre Agassi, the former tennis champion and also a longtime Las Vegas local, is one such individual. He narrated a wonderful message of hope and strength posted on the LVCVA website that is not only relevant to us in Las Vegas, but to communities everywhere. Here is a link if you would like to hear his inspiring words. This is a living example that apart we do so little, when together we can do so, so much!!! 



Spot-On Artist(s)

The designated phrase Vegas Strong to include the #VegasStrong for those banning together via social networks, is truly going strong! A few local artists have turned to their craft to honor those affected, and are using this phrase as their way of helping the rest of us cope.  This week I would like to focus on a few of those who have put forth their effort to not only create something beautiful in the face of a horrific event, but also raise money for those left behind.

The above skyline with inside the heart is found on a website called Art Box Surprise.  This local online shop's tagline, “Supporting the arts made easy!”, speaks of their initiative to offer original gift boxes filled with artful items made by independent artists.  They also donate $1 for every gift box sold to the schools to support the next generation of artists. They are obviously community minded, so it stands to reason that they donated all processed from their shop sales this week to the LV victims.  Thank you Art Box Surprise!!!


Abbie Illustrations, a cute little Etsy shop, did the art in this week’s cover photo.  Abbie brings a sweet and lighthearted note to her heartwarming this Vegas Strong art print.  She is donating all proceeds of the sales of this item to the cause and has this one set as a featured post on her cover page.  Way to go Abbie!

Another Etsy shop, Designs By Ry, features the above gorgeous Mandela style floral print in the shape of the state of Nevada to include the Vegas Strong hashtag. Ryylee just opened her shop on October 5th.  It looks like she was inspired to help the community through this ordeal with her art. I hope to see more from her in the future!

Art as a Healer

Art has been used as therapy for trauma for quite a while.  It is certainly therapeutic for me in general.  I think we need it now more than ever to cope and express ourselves in a healthy way.  I find it freeing and intangible, which allows me to step outside the box to imaging something new.  Just getting our feelings out on paper or canvas can be such a relief and a comfort to know I have made something of worth.  


Art and Healing.org takes art in a more spiritual direction.  Their mission is to guide those who are lost within themselves to find solace and purpose again through art.  They have published a book with a weekly plan to find healing and self awareness.  What a beautiful endeavor!!!  

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The Foundation for Art and Healing has aggressively gone for the big fish to promote this concept.  Their website hosts a wonderful article by Michelle Obama describing how she used writing in her younger years to expel negative emotion to reach a higher level of thinking.  They launched The UnLoneliness Project to help battle those who had no one to talk to about their issues.  Edythe Hughes, an American fashion model who is also a mental health advocate, attended the event as a speaker.  On the site there is a video included of Dr. Paul Kolker  who noticed that interpreting the art of his patients was as enlightening as a medical diagnosis. This foundation also hosts an online film festival and many other really helpful creative tools to assist the process of healing through art.  Wonderful contribution!!!

The Healing Power of Art & Artists

Renée Phillips began an initiative of the www.manhattanarts.com called The Healing Power of Art & Artists.  This organization is a group of "artists, advocates, and writers dedicated to raising awareness about how art serves as a positive catalyst for enhancing the well-being of individuals, society and the environment. We believe that art has the power to heal, inspire, provoke, challenge and offer hope."  I couldn't have said it better myself.  Above is one of the gorgeous paintings in their online gallery along with some inspiring artist quotes.

Kudos to all of you out there helping to bring heath and wellness to others and to yourselves by sharing, teaching and encouraging the arts!!!  Feel free to add comments below if you have something to contribute to the art and healing cause!  

New YouTube Channel! Ruth Shively Artist, Instagram Stories by Chris V

New YouTube Channel

Octopus Connection has an all new YouTube channel!  There are already a few videos uploaded including this newest speed painting of a runway look from Milan Fashion Week.   I look forward to filling this channel with updates about new projects, tutorials, and maybe some animation possibly in the future. Stay tuned!



Spot-On Artist

This week I am featuring Ruth Shively. She is an American artist currently working in Portland, Oregon. I was very taken with the realism versus the ethereal beauty that I see in her paintings and drawings. Her list of accolades, exhibitions, and commissions is quite impressive.  Her portrait art is gorgeous, but she also seems to have an affinity for fashion. You will see that in her painting called "Channel Girls" below,  as well as several paintings of shoes you can find on her website.


Her style is reminiscent of some of the American impressionist painters during the late 1800's to the early 1900's who achieved stunning detail with rough brushstrokes. Truly inspiring work!



I also posted my very first Instagram Story this week although they have been available for the past year. I put it off for this long because I didn't think I needed another place to share on Instagram. I have to say it was really fun! I wasn't expecting to look forward to sharing my art in progress, new art supplies or anything else in a 24 hour format, but I do! It's a completely different type of sharing than the standard Instagram grid. I would describe it as open, freeing and spontaneous. Quite nice for an artist's vibe. If you haven't tried one yet, I highly recommend it. Here's Instagram's step by step instructions in case it's your first time.

I would love to hear from you about how you are sharing on Instagram Stories in the comments below.

OCEAN THEMED EDITION- Learn Seaside Watercolor Painting, Amanda Tye Art, Ocean Eats by Chris V

Ocean Themed Watercolor Tutorial

I've been working on this class most of the summer. It seems like it took forever, but I think part of the reason is that I didn't want to stop painting ocean themed projects. I felt as though I was back at the beach with the sound of the waves crashing, the feel of the sand beneath my feet, and the sun dancing on the water like 1 million little diamonds. Yup...  it was super addicting!


If you love an ocean experience like me, you'll get a ton of enjoyment out of this one. The class went live this week, and I'm super happy with the result. I ended up with projects that range from beginner, intermediate, to advanced. That way there is something for everyone.  There are six different projects that feature a clean and simple look, textured backgrounds and also a full seascape. So there is lots of technique, color, and fun sea creatures like starfish, seahorse and jellyfish as you'll see in the video. Want to create your very own ocean themed project? Grab your paints and I'll see you at Watercolor Treasures of the Sea



Spot-On Artist- Amanda Tye

Our featured artist of the week is Amanda Tye from Sydney, Australia. I am very taken with her gorgeous and ethereal seascapes.  There is a simplicity to them that captures the serenity of the ocean.   I love that they are large and vast, yet not visually overstimulating. There is a boldness but also a softness to her work that is soothing but uplifting.  Last year, Amanda was selected to take part in a group mural painting project on the beach. She painted live in front of the public along with the other artists.  What an amazing concept! To see more, check out Amanda's website, Instagram and Facebook.  




Under the Sea Graham Crackers

This one is for those of us who like to play with our food. Why do some people think food has to be serious??? Bor-Ring!  I say let's lift the veil of expectations and let the creativity run wild.  Under the Sea Graham Crackers are a perfect example of bringing art and food together. It's a simple recipe  that puts out some mega fun.  Check out this blog post and don't forget to click on the video while you are there to see just how easy it is. A seascape on my graham crackers??? I'm totally on it. 

BULLET JOURNAL ISSUE- Bullet Journal Expert, Handcrafted Journals, Journaling Accessories by Chris V


Spot-On Artist- Ryder Carrol

Journaling, and bullet journaling in particular, has become a new necessity for me. This year things have gotten much more busy and complicated in a good way. So I've turned to a system to help me keep it all together.  One that is more tactile and artistic than my iPhone calendar.  Digital planners are just so... digital. Now there is an option that allows me to combine hand sketches with organization?  Sign me up!!! 

That system was developed by Ryder Carroll. By trade, Ryder is a digital product designer for companies like Adidas, American Express and IBM among others. In my opinion, he is more of an innovator than anything else. Somehow he figured out a way to simplify ideas, lists, and tasks in a timeline format that is super easy to maintain.


He calls it the bullet journal, and his idea has sparked an entire new industry for creative's. It's nothing short of genius.  Ryder has single-handedly revolutionized the way we look at organization juxtaposed with routine in the uber busy lives we lead.  With time going by at lightning speed, I am surely grateful. Here is his YouTube video explaining the entire system in less than three minutes. Thank you for making our lives a little easier Ryder!

Photo from Jot It Down Instagram account. 

Photo from Jot It Down Instagram account. 

The Handcrafted Journal

Jot It Down is a handcrafted leather journal company in Melbourne, Australia. Their aesthetic is lovely, from the website presentation to their Instagram page.  They use high quality blank paper in each journal, and use gorgeous leather covers with embossed messages to polish the look. You can even have your cover customized with a personal message or name. In my opinion there are just not enough journals made with premium blank paper, so I was delighted with this find. They added some really functional features like bookmarks and tear out To Do lists.  JotItDown.com will give you the grand tour of the products available. Their Instagram page, where they share how cool bloggers and other creative's are using their journals, is really worth checking out as well. 



This one is so aptly named. I don't believe I have ever seen a more artistic looking line of bullet journal accessories as I have in Etsy shop Journalspiration.  Shop owner Marie from London, who is a 22 year creative, nailed it with gorgeous watercolor and illustrated stickers, fun fonts stickers, and lots of selection. She created the perfect culmination of beauty and function to give your journal the kick it needs to maintain an inspiring aspect. 


Frankly,  I wish I had thought of this business idea myself. With the bullet journal industry booming and watercolor illustration in high demand, it's a match made in heaven.  Marie shares her pearls of bullet journaling wisdom on her Instagram and YouTube accounts. Take your journal to a whole new level!

COLOR ISSUE- Art & Pantone Color Palettes, FW2017/18 Color Trends, Claire Picard Color Stories by Chris V


Color Trends

Color is truly my happy place. I blissfully painted the above using the Procreate App and Canva.com for the fonts showing my favorites for Fall 2017. So I am very pleased to be publishing an entire newsletter dedicated to color.  With New York Fashion Week in full swing, color is popping on  Twitter and Instagram like bulbs flashing on a camera.. I think I am as intrigued with how different designers use it as I am with color itself. Like different chefs wielding the same ingredients in different ways, designers have such interesting color stories which they combine with shape and form...


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Spot-On Artist- Claire Picard

Spot-On Artist of the week is Claire Picard. She is an artist/designer from the UK who has developed professional color trend forecaster techniques.  I had the pleasure of taking her course on Skillshare and it was life changing.   I have begun to see the world of art and design in a whole new light.  Below is an image of my favorite color story for fall from the journal that I learned to make in Claire's class.


She has an Etsy shop where she sells her gorgeous collage style prints based on the color stories she puts together. They are truly stunning! I can't wait to see her color combos for the holidays. You can follow her Instagram and Pinterest if you would like up to stay up to date on Claire's color ideas. 



The Pantone App

This is my favorite new tool!  I know I featured color palettes with my art before, but this is a new level entirely. Here's my Flamingo Party painting with the Pantone color palette. It's super fun to see at a glance the main colors used and their names, so I can quickly reference them for future use.  Also, it's super useful if I want to create a corresponding product in the same colors.  The app also gives you ideas on blending hues and tones for different color stories. You can check out the app here

FASHION EDITION- Project Runway Fashion Sketches, Copenhagen Fashion Week, Spot-On Artist Sachio Yoshizawa by Chris V


Project Runway Fashion Sketches

In case you didn't know, Project Runway has initiated an art contest from past looks or original fashion designs for anyone willing to share their work. The #ReMakeItWork hashtag in your Twitter or Instagram post will get you entered into the contest. There is a gallery of all the projects that have been submitted so far.  They have even called upon those who are brave enough to turn in their own original fashion designs based on the weekly challenges. A few very lucky entries are featured on the show each week. The above is one of my sketches from Season 16 episode 1 that I am proud to say got a like on my Twitter from the @projectrunway account. Whoa!!! I am so grateful for that! If you love a good design challenge but could do without the weekly bickering, watch the show after it airs and fast forward to the parts you want to see.  Lifetime has weekly episodes that make it easy to view when and where you'd like. I look forward to seeing brilliant fashion design and illustration styles from all over the world as the season progresses. Here's a link to Project Runway Twitter and Instagram. Maybe I'll see your entry on the show? If so, please let me know in the comments below so I can be sure to take a look. Until then, "Make it work people!"



Spot-On Artist- Sachio Yoshizawa

This week I am featuring Japanese artist and graphic animator Sachio Yoshizawa. A video of supermodel Cara Delevingne (who you may remember from last week's newsletter) skateboarding was painstakingly digitally painted, frame by frame, by Sachio for a summer 2017 Chanel handbag campaign, and was posted on YouTube. Sachio did some gorgeous work and portrayed Cara so well. I am an aspiring animator, so I was super impressed with her work on this.


The above is my portrait of Cara via my website. Yes she has inspired me too! Who moves you to create? Feel free to share in the comments section below.



Copenhagen Fashion Week

Denmark's Spring/Summer 2018 Copenhagen Fashion Week took place on August 8 to the 14th. Their amazing fashion designers rocked incredible looks on the runways with rave reviews. Henrik Vibskov was a particular favorite of mine. The above painting was done with the Paper by FiftyThree app and used as a Pinterest post.  It was inspired by the House of Dagmar show on Day 2 of the festivities. You can view all of the runway shows, Copenhagen street fashion, and other stories about what took place on the Copenhagen Fashion Week website. 


OUTER SPACE EDITION- Eclipse Art, Painting the Universe, Cool SciFi Film by Chris V


Eclipse Art

I was so elated to paint after experiencing the NASA photos from the eclipse, and seeing part of a partial eclipse for myself. In fact, I painted this one during the eclipse! I had so much fun sharing this phenomenal event with my friends all over the US. It will not be visible throughout the entire United States again for another 99 years, so many of us truly relished the experience. It was interesting to watch how the other countries took part as well. Many of the ancient native tribes all over the world believed that an eclipse is the sign of new beginnings. Hoping it brings new and wonderful things to you and yours!!!



Painting the Universe

If you'd like to try painting the universe for yourself, I have two Skillshare digital art tutorials that focus on just that.  Part 1 is a tutorial on painting a realistic sky full of stars. Part 2 is much more challenging, with the Pinwheel Galaxy as the subject matter. I had so much fun creating these! I hope you get a chance to check them out and have some fun with it too. Here's a link for those of you who are not Skillshare subscribers, so you can enjoy the class for free. 



SciFi Fun

If you aren't familiar with Cara Delevingne, she is a young British supermodel, and now actress.  Cara has a special charisma that has not gone unnoticed. She has always been adventurous in her modeling roles, but her new movie Valerian, an adaptation from the SciFi book series by Pierre Christin, is pretty awesome. It's really fun to watch Cara in a completely different arena. And really, who lands a role with Clive Owen and Rihanna as a relatively new actress??? It's a fun and lighthearted tale of a battle between good and evil, and incredible example of love and forgiveness. An all around good story with plenty of action and cool special effects.  You can learn more about it here


Scenic Oregon, Spot-On Artist- Peggy Dean, Summer Themed Art by Chris V

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Scenic Oregon

I've been traveling, so I'm going to keep it short this week.  In fact, I had the absolute pleasure of spending some time in Portland and rural Oregon this summer.  The beauty was beyond imagination, and I was very lucky to miss the record high heat wave to experience almost perfect temperatures.  I'm still processing all the cool stuff I did and saw while there. More summer chronicled art coming soon! 


Spot On Artist- Peggy Dean

Our Spot-On Artist this week is Peggy Dean, from Portland, Oregon.  Since I was just there, like yesterday,  I thought I would feature Peggy in honor of the super cool city she hails from. I've been following her for quite a while on Skillshare.com.  Her hand calligraphy classes are all the rage, and I love that she incorporates her gorgeous watercolor paintings. She has even created a class on how to design your own font on the iPad! That one is on the top of my list.  

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She has an Instagram following of over 116K, where she posts little mini tutorials and lots of fun projects. The big news is that Peggy was just featured on the Today Show! Doesn't get much bigger than that. Check out all of Peggy's cool work on her website, ThePigeonLetters.com.


New Summer Themed Art Class

I've been working on an all new Skillshare class with a summer theme.  I'll be using my new Winsor & Newton watercolor paints and a Pentel water brush on Canson paper. This particular painting features some artistry special effects to create a pearl essence finish.  No other spoilers just yet so you'll have to hang in for the published date. You'll be the first to know! 

Spot-On Artist-Minnie Small, Travel Art Set, Time Lapse Painting by Chris V

Spot-On Artist-Minnie Small

I really like the Artist Spotlight and want to keep it going. There are so many super inspiring people out there, that I can't seem to get enough. Since it's here to stay, I decided that it should be called something a bit more unique. So I've decided Spot-On Artist will be its new name, since all of these folks are... well... spot on.  

Featured this week is, Semi Skimmed Min, who is a force of nature. Her unique moniker is testimony to that. I found her on YouTube one day when looking for examples of watercolor painting, and her following is nothing short of extraordinary. Just short of 7 million views on her YouTube channel! She often tests out products for companies like Winsor & Newton, Moleskin, and Strathmore among others. These are not small names in the world of art, so it shows the extensive reach of Minnie Small. Based in London, she shares everything from her travel journals, to new techniques she's trying out, to the supplies that she purchases and why. I've been following her for several months, and learned a lot about how different products work plus some great techniques on capturing scenes. Her videos are fun to watch and her rambling British accent is delightful and engaging. You can also check her out on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr. Then, of course, there is SemiSkimmedMin.com where she sells her art prints. Hats off to you Minnie! 


Travel Art Set

Speaking of Winsor & Newton, I just got this new watercolor tube travel set. Yup, I'm pretty stoked! It's just in time for some summer adventure. It inspired me to bring my travel game up, so I found a lightweight case with tons of pockets for organizing. It seemed just the right size, and after a few switch arounds, I have it just the way I like it. Pencils, sharpener, paintbrush in top left zipper pocket. Gel pens, mechanical pencil, water brushes in lower velcro pocket. Paint set in large center pocket (it's starting to sound like a game of pool…) On the other side, there is some stiff backing. I am...


Procreate Time Lapse 

Oh joy!!! I just discovered I can make videos of my paintings in process on the Procreate app! I have just started using this app to see what all the buzz is about and so far it lives up to its rep, quite nicely. There is a good selection of brushes and the opacity and thickness buttons are easily accessible on the canvas. Plus I can import different paper simulations from another app (I'll be sharing about that one later on). This way I can create really cool looking pieces that look like they have been painted on a canvas, watercolor paper, etc. I look forward to share my first Procreate video soon! 

Art Contest!, Auto Gradient Colors, Artist Spotlight- Judy Koot by Chris V


Art Contest!  You got this... 

I just announced an art contest in Easy Painted Flowers this week, in which the prize will be a $15 Amazon Gift Card.  I've just created tons of new content to add to the class including a bonus video at the end.  Judging will be based on how recognizable your flower is, use of color, and mastery of the technique that you chose.  All you have to do to be entered in the contest is to submit a project by the August 31 deadline. I have included images of additional flowers in the resource files, but you are welcome to paint from real flowers or from your own images. Here's a free link for those of you who are not Skillshare members. Have fun and good luck!



Auto Gradient Colors 

As an old school artist, I often struggle with the modern techniques of digital art. It's something that is super fascinating to me but I am slow to learn… Color gradients have become such a style trend. I have seen this in textiles, paintings, optical lenses; you name it, it's everywhere. There are too many gradients to count, from pinks to purples, from blues to greens, from salmon to yellow, all of them gorgeous. But the problem of how to produce them remains.


Enter Grabient. No, that's not a typo. It's an awesome website that creates gradients for your projects so you don't have to. There is a slider and a color picker, for you to customize your gradients in countless ways. Cool right? You can try it for yourself here.  Enjoy!



Artist Spotlight- Judy Koot

Judy, an artist from the Netherlands, is also a musician and writer. She works under the name Ink Dreamer, which I think is quite a good description. Her style is bold but fanciful, defined yet outside the box. I find it refreshing and charming, and I love that she is always coming up with something new that I would never think of.


She has two Skillshare classes that teach how to produce imaginative characters by following a series of easy steps.  I absolutely loved them, but also appreciate how well presented they are.  To an artist, that means a lot!  You can also see Judy's art on Instagram, Pinterest, and on her website,  InkDreamer.com where you can also access her music and writing links. I can't wait to see what she will dream up next!


Octopus Infographics, DVF Masterclass, Artist Spotlight- Krusidull by Chris V


New Octopus Infographics!

I found yet another stellar tool in Canva this week!!! Is there no end to these people? I was just nosing around to see what kind of apps I could use to start creating my own infographics, and up pops Canva.com. They have an entire section dedicated to icons that you can plug right into your template. Plus there are frames, lines, shapes and other cool features to liven up your design.

The infographic above is one that I whipped up on my first try in about 20 minutes. They are super popular to share on Pinterest, since they get lots of engagement on that platform. All you have to do is come up with some facts and helpful hints about your industry and break them down to simple terms. With this app the visual part is a snap and it's free! I so look forward to making lots more of these!



Diane Von Furstenberg- Masterclass

Last week, I had the pleasure of enrolling in a Masterclass by my favorite designer. That's right, the award winning, super successful Diane von Furstenberg is going to teach ME how to build a brand from her decades of experience. What is Masterclass you ask? It's a series of courses taught by top professionals in their field. But not just any professionals.

For example, how would you like to learn from Shonda Rhimes how she writes her award winning TV series? Or learn performance art from Usher himself? Just over two years old, Masterclass has amassed the likes of Steve Martin, Gordon Ramsay, Dustin Hoffman, Christina Aguilera, Annie Lebowitz, and many many more very established professionals in their field. For just $90.

Above is my illustration and version of Andy Warhol's legendary portrait of Diane done in his multi-toned quad canvases. She has inspired so many people.  If you would like to learn from the best of the best, in the comfort of your home or anywhere you have a computer, then you should check out Masterclass.com. Their YouTube channel is a great introduction to the very beautifully filmed and well presented courses, in case you would like to sample the platform before committing.

I remember when these types of people were untouchable. Cheers to a much smaller world!


Artist Spotlight- Krusidull

Based in Sweden, this artist has inspired me countless times with her fanciful characters and gorgeous use of color. The lighthearted themes of her pattern design are nothing short of cuteness overload. I discovered her on Twitter a few months ago and she continues to wow me with her endless stream of new designs. Below is one of her prints dipicting a Swedish winter wonderland featuring some cute woodland animals playing in the snow.


She has a shop on Society6, Fine Art America and Artflakes, plus a presence on Instagram. You can check out her blog here. Oh and just today I discovered her jewelry shop on Zazzle.com.  The pieces feature her printed illustrations in the coolest way ever. I hope you'll check it out! 

Canva Color Edit, Photo Phenomenons, Artist spotlight- Astrid by Chris V


Canva Color Edit

I know I've posted about Canva.com before, but I recently discovered something that is so cool! They have a tool, called Color Design Wiki, that allows you to choose a color, and then edit it's hue or tone.  So not only can I select one of Canva's great colors, but now I can make it darker or lighter. Or I could select it's analogous, triad, or complementary color.  This allows me to make color choices about my project that are so much more dynamic. 

Case in point, this gorgeous pink called Honeysuckle.  When you click on the color, it pulls up options to customize it, plus some history and cool facts. Another surprise was when I saw the color palettes at the bottom of the page. Each one worked really well with Honeysuckle as a color scape to use in a project.


For each color, several color palettes will be displayed on the bottom of the page. When clicked, you are taken to another page of endless color palettes so you can find just the right one. This feature could inspire other ideas or projects. What a revelation! I already use Canva.com a lot, but I think I'll be using it a lot more now.  : )


Architectural Photography

As I mentioned in last week's newsletter, photography intrigues me so much. It, like fine art, is multifaceted and the options are endless. This is aptly proven by Anna Devis and Daniel Rueda of Valencia Spain, who have created their own niche by using their photos to interact with architecture. Anna, wearing appropriate colored and shaped clothing, poses in the most unexpected places, as Daniel photographs her blending into the cityscape.


Daniel has a website where he showcases his portfolio of architectural images. Anna is an architecture major who features art, design and photography on her blog.  Anna and Daniel's Instagram accounts are a real treat too. These two delightful souls obviously have a very bright future!


Artist Spotlight- Astrid Vos

This week I am proud to present Astrid Vos from Brazil. Her bold strokes and fearless use of color is unforgettable.  She studied fashion then worked in Paris for 13 years. So, staying true to her roots, she is primarily a fashion illustrator, and clearly a bodacious one at that.  

I discovered her on Instagram, and I have been a fan ever since.  A sector of her fashion illustration work is a bit tame, probably upon the request of certain clients, but on her Instagram feed, she goes all out. I particularly love the way she does portraits. It's a very unique and refreshing style. She also has a website featuring a collection of her work. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do! 

Prada Shoe Illustration, Bando.com, Artist Spotlight- Craftic.com by Chris V


Prada Shoe Illustration

Having worked in the fashion industry for over a decade, I continue to be inspired by this art form. So when I saw this Prada shoe ad, I just had to drop everything and sketch it. Then I had to complete the digital painting because I just didn't get enough. After that, I still wasn't satisfied so I gave the flooring a shot. Prada is not normally my go to style, but this embellished pump.... it's total eye candy and nothing short of a work of art. In fact, the entire Spring/Summer 2017 inspiration was an innovative break from the normal one theme to five themes, making it extra dynamic.  This shoe comes from the Pathways theme. You can see more of these beautiful styles for here at Prada.com. You can also read more about the five theme breakaway here on Fashion Gone Rogue and check out the funky, cool Prada 365 video.



 Bando.com Baby!

If you would like a little sunshine and flowers in your day, please visit Bando.com. Their bright and sunny vibe is so refreshing!  Honestly, if I need a little cheering up, I just head on over to their website or their Instagram feed.  I am instantly met with a pop of color and cute typography messages.  They did not have to place the yellow rotating Smiley, front and center, telling me "Hey Girl Hey," but this is Ban.do.com we're talking about here.  

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Their product is equally cheery, and pretty diverse. I love their notebooks, planners, desk accessories, bags, tech stuff and jumpsuits. Yes, I said jumpsuits.  In addition to all the fun officey (really love making up my own words...) items, they have a line of clothing to include t-shirts, shoes scarves, jewelry, sunglasses. Oh and they sell beauty products and homegoods too. Yeah, basically the whole 9 yards. And it's fun!

My favorite part, though, is that you could potentially become a Bando seller. Yup, that's right. They are always looking for fresh art looks for their products.  What makes them different, is that they are also looking for  product crafters. So if you just created a cool something or other, they want to see that too. Just click the Sell on Bando.com link at the bottom of the homepage. For artwork, click Submit Your Artwork. If you are a model, you can submit your portfolio as well with the Model For Us link. Maybe I'll be shopping your stuff or see you on Ban.do.com someday. ;-)


Artist Spotlight- Jen from Craftic.com

Craftic.com is an awesome DIY website put together by Jen, based in NYC. I was so excited when I stumbled upon it, because I really love a good project that is easy to execute. Jen has done an amazing job of doing just that, in DIY categories from lettering to paper crafts to yarn crafts to sewing, and so much more. Plus it's all based on using what you have in your cupboard already, so it encourages sustainability.  Her Instagram, @Crafticland is loaded with images showing all the cool stuff going on in her world. This is the perfect source if you need something fun to do with the kids too. Wishing you some happy crafting!

Sport Art, Photo Mash Ups, Artist Spotlight- Carol Harvey by Chris V

Sport Art

I watch a few sports on TV, not because I'm such a sportsman myself, but because I find it very inspiring. Skilled and hugely talented individuals that can perform feats unimaginable to me, cause me to believe in the impossible. I also find that studying the movement of the human body is such a wonderful exercise as an artist. The annual long distance cycling event, Le Tour de France started this week, which is a 2,200 mile long bike race from Dusseldorf, Germany to Paris, France. Whoa... and I thought riding the the corner was a big deal.  In honor of these dedicated athletes, I wanted to try my hand at an event illustration. Besides, Paris is so dreamy, and I enjoyed capturing L'Arc de Triomphe and the cobblestone street. Most of all though, I loved the challenge of painting the cyclists in motion while disappearing into the distance. I had so much fun, I think I'll work on more sport illustrations going forward. My own version of sports illustrated... who knew???

Artist Spotlight- Carol Harvey

Speaking of French, Carol Harvey, based in Canada, is a language artist, featured in this week's Artist Spotlight. That's not art, you say? Think again. In fact, in the days of Leonardo Divinci and Michelangelo, languages were just as much of an art as sculpting and painting. I don't know what happened to narrow our perception of what an artist is, but to me Carol's mastery of teaching language skills for sure fits the bill. She has a really cool blog called "The Work at Home Classroom" and her "10 Tips for Developing a Personalized Plan for Language-Learning" is super helpful if you need to learn a language and don't know where to start. She also has several step-by-step online French courses on Skillshare.com, featuring a virtual visit to Montreal, and her cute animated intros are awesome. Merci Carol for your wonderful contribution to learning a language!

Photo Mash-Ups

Another art I admire is photography. I have been snapping pictures since I was old enough to hold a camera. Framing a shot, to me, is no less exciting than sketching or illustrating, but I am still far from professional. Therefore, I have a great appreciation for those who have mastered not only this great craft, but the manipulation of it through Photoshop, and other cool programs/apps. A perfect example, is this fun photo mash up series by Stephen McMennamy. He blended photography subject matters together to create a whole new picture, telling a very unique story in the process. In this post, he explains what he calls Combo Photos. His seemingly simple mashup challenges our normal perception of how things are as well as how they could be. The hidden messages are intriguing, and some of the images are downright mind-tweaking. You can check out his website here where you can find even more of his work. Photography has for sure been elevated to a new level!

Calendar Printables Coming Soon, Create Magazine & You?, Nicole Arnold Modern Artist by Chris V

Starfish Calendar July 2017

NEW Octopus Connection Calendars

For some reason, I have always wanted to make calendars. I think it's because I like them so much. I currently have three on my wall, a planner I carry around with me, plus a work calendar. Call it some weird of obsession, but I think it goes with my love for stationary in general. 

Because I am so tech challenged, it really does take me a while to learn to do things that require a program or app.  So I figured using my art to make calendars were a long way off for me yet. And then, lo and behold, I discovered that Canva.com has calendar templates!  I have been using them to make posters, social networking posts, webpages, etc. for about six months, so I'm use to their interface. Now, I'm literally like a Calendar machine. :-)

The next tech challenge? How to make them available to you as free printable downloads…   I'll get back to you guys on that one. Hopefully soon. 

Mini Artomat paintings by Nicole Arnold.

Mini Artomat paintings by Nicole Arnold.

Artist Spotlight- Nicole Arnold

I'm pleased to include Nicole Arnold in this week's Artist Spotlight. Based in North Carolina, she's quite a powerhouse. Besides being a children's book illustrator, teaching modern art on Skillshare, she's also an Artomat artist, has her own blog and newsletter, and was recently featured on Craftic for her gorgeous embellished handbag feather design. Oh, and she's a mother of two.  

Her Modern Art Masters workshops, where she leads students in a step by step study of art by masters like Mondrian, Klimt and Kandinsky, is where I first ran into Nicole.  I was so taken with the connection she had with her students, and her obvious passion for painting modern art. The more I learn about all that she does, the more impressed I am.  Recently, she participated in the Artomat Swap Meet, where she sold her small Artomat machine sized masterpieces. Checkout her Big Cartel shop here, and her Instagram and Twitter to learn more about her.  Go Nicole!


Create Magazine

Did you ever dream of being featured in a magazine? Well, you have an opportunity to do just that, through Create Magazine.  Most magazines don't want a thing to do with the every day artist  like you and me. Create Magazine, however, seems a bit different. They have a monthly Call for Artists, so that they can use your story in their editorials, and even for various gallery shows at times. If that wasn't enough, there is also an Artist Grant that they take applications for. If you are an artist who needs a boost, you may want to at least take a look to see if Create Magazine is a good option for you. You never know... it might take you somewhere you've only imagined!

Color Palettes, "Mini" Travel Journal, More Contest Winners! by Chris V


A Romance with Color Palettes  

While cruising Pinterest recently, I found boards and boards of images paired with matching color sample palettes.  Design seeds and ColorPalettes.net were among many posts, filled with gorgeous photos and palettes to match. Maybe you've seen them too. 


After getting super inspired, I created my own color palettes to match some of my artwork. It's like two art forms in one! Here's a collage of several of my illustrations that I have paired with palettes so far, but I plan to do many more. If you're interested in learning this process, I'll be sharing a free tutorial in a future blog post. Stay tuned!  

Mini road trip doodle car by Steve Simpson.

Mini road trip doodle car by Steve Simpson.

"Mini" Travel Journal

What does Sharpie pen doodling and a Mini Cooper have in common?  Quite a bit according to artist Steve Simpson. After  covering a Mini in white vellum, he proceeded to doodle sketch his experiences of each town he passed through during his European road trip. The idea was to tell the story of his travels on the road car itself. At the end of his trip, you can see in the photo that the Mini is covered with tiny illustrations done with nothing but a Sharpie pen.

The trip is chronicled from the planning stages to completion, which you can read about here.  Wow Steve, I think you've invented a new type of travel journaling!


More Contest Winners!  

Last week I announced Al Diaz as our FirstPrize contest winner in Line Drawing-The Power of Suggestion.   This week, I would like to highlight our Second Prize winner Mira Metzler for her face illustration. She uses this type of sketch for her beauty face charts, since she is a make up artist, as well an accomplished fine artist. 

The beach bucket was done by Jenn Ross, and the cat by Diana Nemesu who were both the Third Prizes winners. All of the contest participants made it so difficult to decide! Each of them worked hard and put out some great work.  Plus several of them submitted more than one sketch including Jenn Ross and Diana Nemesu. If you'd like to take a look at some of the other illustrations, head here to the project gallery of the class. 

I look forward to another contest in my newest class Painting Easy Flowers. (Here are free links for Line Drawing- The Power of Suggestion and Easy Painted Flowers in case you aren't a Skillshare member).  I will be posting details here sometime in July. You guys are always the first to know. ;-)

Paper Fashion, Artomat, Contest Winner! by Chris V

This post contains affiliate links. Fyi, I would never share anything with you I wouldn't recommend to my friends!

Photo from the Paper Fashion Instagram Account

Photo from the Paper Fashion Instagram Account

Artist Spotlight- Katie Rodgers

The Artist Spotlight this week, goes to Katie Rodgers creator of Paper Fashion. Like Jeanette Getrost from the most recent artist spotlight, I have been following Katie's work for several years now. I have a huge respect for the way she has branded herself with something so simple as shadow dancers, as she so affectionately calls them. Also a fashion illustrator, Katie has simply and elegantly romanced her following with ultra girlie watercolor paintings of gowns and ballerina dresses. Now living in NYC, she illustrates for big name fashion brands, and travels the world doing special projects. You can view her Instagram and You Tube videos here.

If you're motivated to learn Katie's process, here's a link to her Skillshare classes. If you're not a Skillshare member, you can receive two months free (they are giving an extra free month right now) when you sign up here. Hope Katie gets you as inspired to create as much as she did for me!



I remember the first time I saw an Artomat machine. The crazy early modern retro robot look stopped me cold. It was placed smack dab in the middle of a sophisticated urban building, so the contrast was unavoidable.  And someone was purchasing from it... I had the feeling I was bumping into an old familiar friend that I couldn't quite place. Then I found out from an online acquaintance, that these were recycled and re-purposed cigarette machines.

At one time, they could be found nearly everywhere; restaurants hotel lobbies, etc. When the law was passed to ban cigarette machines to discourage the youth from gaining easy access, these machines were plucked from their homes, and placed in government graveyards never to be seen again.

Enter  Clark Whittington, a North Carolina bred modern artist who single-handedly revolutionized the use of a, now archaic waste of space. Having studied art at university, he developed a taste for making a statement by creating sculpture with random objects.  That's when he turned one machine, into a outlet for cigarette pack sized art, for sale for $5 per piece. When it became a sensation, he realized he had something.  Now, artists all over the world contribute to Clark's project, making tiny art pieces available to people wherever they are worldwide, from over 100 machines.  And it continues to grow!  You'll be hearing more from me on this fantastic project in the future. For now here is Clark's Artomat website. Super cool stuff! 


And the Winner Is...

Al Diaz has won the contest in Line Drawing-the Power of Suggestion!  Woohoo! Al submitted the most simple sketch with the most powerful artist message completed in black outlines by the suggested deadline. For his piece fittingly called "Kiss" in the above image, he has won a $25 Amazon gift card. I have a feeling we'll be seeing more great things from him in the future. Congrats Al!

Octopus News by Chris V

Art & Typography

Last week I mentioned I might be doing something special with typography and art. I am just in the beginning stages of this, but I just couldn't wait to share. I love creating art so much, but I also love fonts. So this will be the perfect combination for me! The image above is of one of my abstract paintings featuring some hand lettering.

This second image is hand lettering combined with some doodle sketching to complement it. These different styles will lend to various uses for content going forward, and I have a feeling I'm not through discovery these typography+art styles yet. Check these out and more on the Quotes page of my website. Stay tuned for more!! 

Painting of Miu Miu sunglasses by Jeanette Getrost.

Painting of Miu Miu sunglasses by Jeanette Getrost.

Artist Spotlight- Jeanette Getrost

I discovered Jeanette Getrost A couple of years ago while scrolling on Instagram. I find her beautiful work pulls me forward and gives me new inspiration every time I see a new piece. She is an L.A. based fashion illustrator for huge brands like Chanel, Dior, Gucci, etc. I think the reason that she has been such a beacon for me, is that her art looks so flowy and effortless. I love her use of color and how she fills her art board space. There is also an air of mystery, since I never know what she's going to do next. Jeanette is featured on the AbsoluteArt.com as well as her own online Big Cartel shop. I LOVE her Instagram as well. Way to go Jeanette!!!


Okay, so it looks like I'm beginning to have a thing for interactive websites. Honestly though, you really do need to take a look at this amazing Google game called Quick Draw. Google has allowed people from all over the globe, to doodle simple basic items with their finger on their smartphones or tablets. For example, an apple, a notebook, or a calculator, are just a few out of hundreds of items in the library. Each one of these simple black on white line doodles are done in under 20 seconds, and the pattern in which each one is drawn is saved in the program. Then each sketch is stamped with that individual's country and date that it was illustrated.

When one of the doodles is clicked on, a short video will be played of that item being drawn before your eyes. It's literally like being on that person's tablet or phone watching them sketch this item. They come from Sweden, and New Zealand, and the US, and Thailand. There are sketches from everywhere. Do you know what the coolest thing that I noticed was? Even though each one was different, they were all recognizable, although someone who spoke a different language in a different place with a different social structure drew it. It kind of makes the world feel little smaller and more familiar. We need more of that!!!

Want to join the in creating over 50,000,000 doodles worldwide? Get started here!

Octopus News by Chris V


My Journey to Abstract Art

From early on, my art style was that of a realist. Portraits have always been my favorite, as you know from last week's newsletter, but I also loved still lifes and landscapes as well. Therefore, I've always been standoffish regarding abstract styles, since they were an enigma to me.  One that kept haunting me...


Sally's Not the only One with Sea Shells

During my recent internet browsing, I stumbled upon a lovely site filled with shell illustrations. I have always loved shells and their diverse beauty, so I was immediately taken with the stunning representations by several different artists. Particularly this cover image by Kajasa Klaesen, called Beach Treasures, and a Lilly Pulitzer piece at the end.

Why did it not occur to me to sketch or paint shells before? Well, I am now inspired! And ready for a summer trip to the beach. If you'd like a treat, click through and see the other shell illustrations here


Lettering tutorial

Another one of my great loves is typography. You might have guessed that when I shared the Interactive Font Map previously. Having graphic design roots, I can't help but love the choices of different typefaces. 

Fonts continue to evolve and grow just like everything else. To me, it is a legitimate art form. In fact, I once designed a typeface for a local firm for a marketing project I collaborated on. Much to my delight, not only are there wonderful new fonts popping up all over, but they are seen partnered with inspiring quotes. What an unstoppable duo!!!

So I have gladly returned to my love of lettering, by studying some calligraphy and creative lettering processes. It makes for some really fun and playful ways of sharing a message. I have devoted a section on my website to this craft. I will be updating it regularly, so please feel free to stop by every so often to see what's new. If you would like to have some font fun of your own, check out this free tutorial.