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  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,


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 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, 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 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 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  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 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 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,, Artist Spotlight- 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 You can also read more about the five theme breakaway here on Fashion Gone Rogue and check out the funky, cool Prada 365 video.


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If you would like a little sunshine and flowers in your day, please visit 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 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 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 someday. ;-)


Artist Spotlight- Jen from 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, 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 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 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 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.

Octopus News! by Chris V

My portrait of the actress Jennifer Lawrence.

My portrait of the actress Jennifer Lawrence.

Portrait Study

I have always wanted to be good at portraits since I started sketching as a little girl. To draw inanimate objects, landscapes or cityscapes is one thing, but to capture the essence of someone's spirit and personality is the ultimate challenge to me. So I have practiced them most of my life. I am rarely happy with my sketches of people, since it is the hardest for me and I am truly my own worst critic. Recently though, I have made some inroads by experimenting with a more playful style. I've always taken my sketching very seriously and perhaps I was putting myself under too much pressure. Granted, I still have a long way to go, but I do feel as though I'm gaining some ground after decades of attempts. I'll be posting more of these in my social media and on my website homepage. If you'd like to see my other work, here's a link to the portrait page.  I hope to be doing custom portraits sometime soon!

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Artist Spotlight- Ohn Mar Win

This talented and courageous artist based in Europe, has been a huge inspiration to me, so I really wanted to share a little bit about her. In 2014 she only dreamt of being a commercial artist. Now she is an illustrator for They Draw and Cook, and designs various packaging for food companies plus does various other projects. Not only does she teach her art process, but she also shares her method for manifesting her goals. I have dabbled in a bit of her goal setting techniques and I am pretty impressed. Her Pinterest page is a real treat, and her website gives some great examples of her commercial work. She is a continuing contributor of delightful creations on They Draw and where they have her listed as an Artist for Hire. You can also find a find her on if you are a member. She shares her secrets there for creating beautiful art and a fruitful life. I think of her as one of my biggest art heroes! I look forward to feature more of my favorite artists in upcoming newsletters. ;-)


Skillshare Gratitude!

I could not believe when I checked my Skillshare stats the other day, that I have over 1000 students in all of my classes combined. So thanks to the moon and back to those of you who are enrolled in one or more of my courses and/or left me a review. If you would like to join Skillshare this weekend, and take advantage of unlimited courses by professionals from all over the world, you can save 25% off! (Ends Monday, May 29th).  I am having a blast making art tutorials and can't wait to make my next one. Hint: It may have something to do with June weddings...

Octopus News by Chris V

The Art Jewelry Scrunchie Collection.  Each piece handmade by Chris at Octopus Connection.

Octopus Connect Art Jewelry

I am getting ready to launch my line of art jewelry on It was previously marketed as cdesign jewelry on, but I felt I was neglecting my other loves, like fine art, digital art, fashion design, sculpting, and the list goes on. I am rebranding the jewelry so it works on my new website, streamlining it and taking new product photography shots to prepare for the launch this summer. The new name is now Art Jewelry by Octopus Connection. You'll be the  first to know when it is live! 

Photo of one of my abstract digital paintings done in the Art Set app. 

Summer Art Exhibitions

Summer is fast approaching. If you're planning a trip or a staycation, you might be looking for some fun things to do. Well, it seems there are no shortage of art exhibitions.  If you have kids or... don't, what a great way to spend a few hours getting out of your zone and into the world seen through the eyes of others. Whatever your situation, this is fantastic news for art lovers who just can't get enough culture. You might even find some cool interactive art that is getting more and more popular. Just keep your eyes peeled (today's meaning: conduct some google searches) and you're sure to find something interesting and beautiful to view wherever you are.  Here are a few links to get you started.  Like the Nationwide Guide to Art Exhibitions listing exhibits going on in major cities across the US.  This is an article featuring Art in 2017: major events and museum openings, going on now through the end of the year, around the globe. San Francisco's Asian Art Museum Exhibit Schedule is chock full of cool happenings as well as Art Radar, posting events all over Asia all the way into next year.  If you get to view some great exhibits, feel free to shoot me an email.  I would love to hear about your adventures!


New Art Class

Yay!!!  My newest art class, Painting Easy Flowers, is now published. It's a 20 minute course inspired by the beautiful spring flowers I see blooming everywhere I go lately.   The class takes you through three different ways to paint flowers quickly and easily. That way, if one technique isn't your thing, you have two more to try out.  I have included resource files of the photos I used in all three projects, plus several more photos that would work well with any given techniques shown in the class to help you with subject matter.  If you find another subject matter you prefer, by all means, use it!  This is all about you being inspired after all.  Of course, this class is free to you as my readers! Here's the link if you would like to check it out. 


Contest Extended!

A quick reminder that the Contest for the Line Drawing- The Power of Suggestion, has been extended to June 15. If you are not yet enrolled in this class, here is a free link for you to join and have the chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card. There are only a half a dozen people entered currently so your chances of winner are good!  All you have to do is submit a line drawing project using the minimalist techniques I teach in the class. Once you do that, you are automatically entered. If you have any questions on the project please reach out to me in the Community section of the class. There's no such thing as a dumb question! I am here to help. Here's a free link to join, and wishing you happy sketching!

Octopus News by Chris V

Uniq Cube

To me the universe is a giant abstract painting.  I have gleaned so much inspiration from the stars, planets, nebulae and it never ceases to fascinate me.  I even devoted two Skillshare classes to this subject; Painting the Universe- The Pinwheel Galaxy and Painting the Universe- The Stars.  These are free links just for you to check them out if you so desire.  I am using an iPad and regular stylus, but if you don't have one, you are welcome to follow along with canvas or paper and paint, as the principles still apply.  On this journey of painting the universe, I have learned many amazing science facts.  Trust me, I am no scientist, but I still find some of the concepts so interesting.  Did you know the Pinwheel Galaxy is 21 million light years away?  How does someone even measure that???  Along the way, I have found some interesting artifacts too.  Like the Uniq Cube, a learning tool to help you see our constellations at a glance.  If you are interested in the universe, this is such a fun thing to have, or gift to pass on to someone else.  Here's a link in case you want to see the product video and check it out in more detail.  Pretty cool stuff.


Line Drawing Contest

A couple of weeks ago, I announced a contest in my newest Skillshare class Line Drawing- The Power of Suggestion to end May 30th. I'm really happy with the result so far.  We have seen the addition of 4 projects and more students asking questions so they can also submit one as well. In this process though, I discovered that I need to add a video explaining more of my method for simplifying my sketches. What was obvious to me, is not so clear to other students. So I am currently working away on this new video that I hope to post in the next week. In the meantime, I will extend the contest however long it takes me to get the video published. If you haven't signed up for the class yet, and you would like a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card, here's a free link just for my newsletter subscribers. Hope to see you there! ;-) 


Interactive Font Map

Speaking of nteractive, I stumbled upon this Interactive Font Map and got lost for at least 20 minutes. I love fonts, lettering and calligraphy, so I was literally in wonderland! 😍  As you press on letter with your finger, the map tells you the name of the Font which you can promptly go look up and use in your next project. A creative's dream research tool!!! If you too would like to "play" here's the link to the map here. 

Octopus News by Chris V


Free Gift! 

I am so grateful that you have subscribed to my newsletter! As a show of my gratitude, I will be sharing a free gift with you each week in May.  I am so inspired by the wonderful weather this time of year, I have been capturing some outdoor scenes. This week I am including a painting I did while in the park. I hope you enjoy it! If you would like to see any other artwork themes please let me know and I will try to incorporate them in the future. Wishing you a great week! 


The Contest is On 

Last week, I mentioned a possible contest to celebrate my newest art class, Line Drawing- The Power of Suggestion. Well folks, it's official. The contest will start on May 1st and and end May 31st. The illustration with the boldest lines, and most simplicity in portraying the subject matter, will win a $25 Amazon gift card. If you have questions about your project, I will be available to help in the Community section of the class, or you can email me directly at All projects must be submitted by May 1st, 12am PST. Here's a free link to enroll if you haven't already. And good luck!!! 


Luna Bazaar

I truly enjoy spotlighting other artist/designrs. I think it's because I am so grateful for the inspiration they provide. It doesn't exactly grow on trees... you know? So this week, I am featuring Luna Bazaar. I discovered them when I needed some quick paper props for a project a couple of years ago. They came through for me with flying colors, and I have been a fan ever since. Their product is really fun, but the visual presentation is what I'm so impressed with. I follow them on Instagram and subscribe to their newsletter, and I honestly can't wait until it arrives! I get about 150 emails per day, so I'm usually the one dodging any messages that I can get away with. But Luna Bazaar is the star in my inbox! This week they are showcasing their Cinco de Mayo looks, from wall hangings to candle holders. You can check it out here. 



Octopus News by Chris V

130+ Enrollments in my Newest Art Class!

A few weeks ago, I created a new art class on Skillshare. It's a 20 minute step-by-step tutorial called Line Drawing- The Power of Suggestion.  This class takes you from a basic sketch, to artwork with powerful, bold black minimalistic outlines.  The community messaging page allows me to answer any questions you have and respond to your comments, so you have all the support you need along the way.  This is definitely my most favorite class to date, and I couldn't be more grateful for the 130+ students who have enrolled in the class so far!  To celebrate, I plan to host a contest featuring an Amazon gift card for a prize.  To sweeten the deal, I am offering a few free enrollments in case you'd like to join the contest. Cant wait to see you there!!!


Earth Day Inspiration

I hope you had a happy Earth Day yesterday!  I was proud to be able to support our planet by posting this illustration and contributing a donation to the Earth Day Network.  I have about four art apps, each for different effects.  For this project, I used my 53Paper app which gave me an animated, ethereal look that I love.  It's an amazing interface that allows you to create your own custom colors with the color mixer, or pull colors from a photo.  They sell their own stylus made just for the app, but I find that an Apple Pencel or a regular stylus works just fine.  Aside from the background, I used the watercolor brush tool, so it was very simple.  If you are not familiar with 53Paper, this link will give you a bit more insight.  Check it out here on my Instagram.  


Crushing on Gradients

Have you noticed these gorgeous multicolored gradients popping up all over the place? I'm kind of obsessed right now!  This technique has opened up a variety of options for artists and designers.  I have not dipped my toe into the color gradient pool as of yet, but I am working my way that direction. There is a fantastic blog post on Blog.SpoonGraphics that shows some amazing examples of the use of gradients in for a variety of design uses.  Yasmina Creates has a fantastic watercolor painting class on this very subject. Her fun and easy techniques have earned her quite a following and I'm becoming a fan myself. You can check it out here if you are a Skillshare member. If not, the above is a wonderful example of her stunning use of color. 


Octopus News by Chris V

Maison in Space!

I am so happy to announce that My newest project is a collaboration with the uber talented musician Maison Guidry.  He is mainly known for his extraordinary drums, but also plays just about every other instrument you can think of. And he plays them well. He loves aviation and space, thus one day told me of a vision he had of some artwork showing him riding a rocket. After a bit of research on Flash Gordon, and his favorite drumming clothes, here is the result. I had so much fun doing this, and I'm super stoked about a possible second collaboration in the works. You'll be the first to know!  

Here are Maison's Instagram, Facebook fan page, and website if you want to check them out.     

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Digital Easter Egg Hunt?

Yes, I know Easter is over... but I couldn't resist the urge to share this clever work by Eleana Gkogka.  She created a digital Easter Egg hunt that was featured on Dribble.  So fun!  The idea is the find as many egg shapes in this illustration as possible.  I admire those who can take a basic concept and evolve it so it works in the present, and Eleana has done that, by bringing the Easter Egg hunt to the digital arena. Try to find as many eggs as possible in the above image.  Pro tip by Eleana:  There are more than you might think!


Blooper Alert!!!

Okay... so I made a blooper in last week's newsletter in my article about the #100dayproject, which I mistakenly called the #100daychallenge (it's now been edited, but just setting the record straight in case it threw you off while reading the original post).  Didn't want you to have issues finding all of the fantastic art being created under this hashtag.  It's day 15 already, and the beautiful work is abounding.  You can check it out here on Instagram and Twitter.

Octopus News by Chris V


Since early last year, I have committed to create art regularly again.  It's been quite cathartic and I want to keep it going.  Since I still didn't yet have a rhythm, I missed the #100daychallenge on Instagram.  It was just too overwhelming at the time, but I wanted to shoot for the following year.  It's now day #4 and I am happy to say that I am keeping up so far.  : )  It's a huge undertaking along with all else I am involved with, but I see it as a worth discipline and I am enthused.  You can check out my Instagram feed here:  @octopusconnection

Spring Office Supplies! So... I got pretty darn excited about this set of pens I just found by Fringe Studio.  Do I need more pens?  Nope... but they were inspiring!  I love the spring pastel colors, the vintage style oxidized metal and the packaging is colorful and fun.  Pens you say?  What's so exciting about that?  Pens in themselves are just pens, but these really made my day.  And that folks, is the epitome of the life of an artist/designer.  Getting practical about these little choices can really stunt your creativity, especially if they speak to you.  One thing leads to another, you know?  I mean, just look how I was able to pair them with some of my other office tools!

Spring Office Supplies!

So... I got pretty darn excited about this set of pens I just found by Fringe Studio.  Do I need more pens?  Nope... but they were inspiring!  I love the spring pastel colors, the vintage style oxidized metal and the packaging is colorful and fun.  Pens you say?  What's so exciting about that?  Pens in themselves are just pens, but these really made my day.  And that folks, is the epitome of the life of an artist/designer.  Getting practical about these little choices can really stunt your creativity, especially if they speak to you.  One thing leads to another, you know?  I mean, just look how I was able to pair them with some of my other office tools!

I did a bit of research to see what Fringe Studio is all about and what else they have to offer. I was not disappointed!  What a gorgeous set of offerings, like notebooks, pencil cases, mugs, etc.  Currently they are a wholesale company, so the products are only available at retailers like Nordstrom, and Barnes & Noble.  They even have a line of artsy pet supplies.  Check it out for yourself!

I did a bit of research to see what Fringe Studio is all about and what else they have to offer. I was not disappointed!  What a gorgeous set of offerings, like notebooks, pencil cases, mugs, etc.  Currently they are a wholesale company, so the products are only available at retailers like Nordstrom, and Barnes & Noble.  They even have a line of artsy pet supplies.  Check it out for yourself! Some other artists I have been pretty impressed with are a sister duo from the Netherlands at  "Humade is about creating products with a bespoke and individual character."  I love their style and clean looks.  Gieke and Lotte are killing it with some ultra cool products that I haven't seen anywhere else.  They have made this website an art form to include furniture, iron on metallic decals, and a modern form of an ancient Japanese technique of repairing broken china with gold and resin.  How cool is that!

Some other artists I have been pretty impressed with are a sister duo from the Netherlands at  "Humade is about creating products with a bespoke and individual character."  I love their style and clean looks.  Gieke and Lotte are killing it with some ultra cool products that I haven't seen anywhere else.  They have made this website an art form to include furniture, iron on metallic decals, and a modern form of an ancient Japanese technique of repairing broken china with gold and resin.  How cool is that!  

Octopus News by Chris V

New Art Class!

I am super excited to have published my newest art tutorial on today!  It's called Line Drawing- The Power of Suggestion where I feature three different subject matters in three different mediums.  Watch as I take you step by step through the process of choosing subject matter, gathering basic materials, sketching and creating drama and simplicity with bold black lines.  It's easier than you think!  Click this link to join for free for a limited time!  


Twitter Pride!

Woohoo!  My new Twitter account @OctopusConnect1 is over 200 followers and growing fast!  Considering I am no Twitter expert, and this account is only a few weeks old, I am really happy with this.  I have to thank a few Tweeters who have been supportive and inspiring.  Like the people at @recurpost  who have been great with engagement, training and whose free Twitter/Facebook posting app has made this journey much easier.  I am loving content and engagement from @Krusidull2 ‏ whose beautiful art is sold at I also want to send a shout out to @sloppysuccess ‏ who is providing excellent content ideas, writing tips, and images for a new blogger like myself.  You guys rock!  : )


Starbucks Does it Again!

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So... I was never a huge Starbucks fan until they started using art on their packaging, ad campaigns, typefaces and menu boards (and since they wouldn't stop making my favorite Hazelnut Mocha Latte so delicious).  For me it's all about the visuals, and Starbucks is kicking booty when it comes to gorgeous visuals.  Why are the other coffee/tea companies not getting this???  Now, they have done it again by creating new Spring themed coffee cups.  I am loving the colors they chose, and how can I not, when I realize my coffee cup matches my office stapler!!!  Okay, so I'm way geeking out on the color match, but, as an artist, this is the stuff I live for.  And as if that wasn't enough, check out this artist @Whitney-Joan, who is repurposing these cups in her own unique way.  Wish I'd though of it!!!