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Inspiration for an Artist

Now that I live in the PNW where it often feels like we get more rainy days than clear, I have a deeper appreciation for days when the sun is visible. However, during a recent trip to Utah, where temperatures reached 110 degrees, I found myself drawn to the deep shadows that provided relief from the intense heat. Here in the shadows, I found endless inspiration for an artist.

Natural Bridge at Bryce Canyon - Inspiration for an artist

We hiked several trails around Bryce and Zion national parks, waking up early in the morning to get a good start before the temperatures climbed too high. Even then, the shade was a welcome reprieve from the sun. This view of Natural Bridge at Bryce was a highlight – as well as the hike into the hoodoos at Bryce!

As I hiked back to the trailhead on the first day, I couldn’t help but notice the intricate patterns created by the shadows along the trail. The way the leaves and grasses cast their shadows, and even the delicate silhouette of butterflies in the desert, captivated my attention. I couldn’t resist capturing these moments through my camera lens, attempting to capture the beauty of these shadows, even though my attempts to be inconspicuous were not entirely successful. These shadows became a source of inspiration for my art, reminding me of the beauty and intricacy that can be found in unexpected places.

Zion National Park Inspiration for an artist

Shadows as Inspiration

I’ve found that one of the most intriguing sources of inspiration for an artist can be found in the captivating play of shadows. These elusive, ever-changing shapes caused by a dance between light and objects create some of the most mesmerizing designs. This summer’s collection of shadow photos is the inspiration for a new collection of wallpaper patterns.

Shadow Inspiration for an artist
Shadow Inspiration for an artist

Inspiration for a New Collection

My newest collection, currently titled ‘Deep Shadows’ (subject to change :), is inspired by the contrast between sunny summer days and the cool relief provided by deep shadows. My goal is to capture the sense of adventure – and respite experienced by explorers seeking the occasional break from the heat and sun.

Follow along this summer as I work through the pattern design process:

Embracing the Beauty of Shadows: Observing and recording the intricate patterns formed by shadows on various surfaces to discover a wealth of organic shapes, textures, and lines that serve as the inspiration for an artist.

Capturing the Essence: Whether it’s the delicate cast shadows of tree branches on a sunny afternoon or the dramatic shadows cast by the flowers at dusk, each source offers a unique opportunity for inspiration. These are fleeting moments, so I’ll be photographing and sketching the shadows as I see them.

Shadow Inspiration for an artist
Shadow Inspiration for an artist

Translating Shadows into Patterns

Translating Shadows into Patterns: The transformation of shadow-inspired ideas into tangible patterns can be a little tricky. There are a few steps that I follow for most of my collections:

a) Sketching and Painting: Begin by sketching the shadow patterns you’ve captured, paying attention to the finer details. It’s ok to take a few liberties and use your imagination to emphasize certain elements or abstract the patterns while pulling from the inspiration of the shadows.

Art Process for a Collection - Painted Inspiration
Art Process for a Collection - Painting Inspiration

b) Digitalization: Transfer your hand-drawn sketches into a digital format using design software. This way you can manipulate and refine the patterns with ease after you’ve captured your favorite shadow elements.

c) Add Colors and Textures: Experiment with color palettes and textures to add variety and style into your shadow-inspired patterns. Subtle shades can mimic the softness of certain shadows, while bolder hues might capture the essence of stronger, more defined shadows.

Art Process for a Collection

d) Pattern Repeats: The final and most fun step: creating seamless pattern repeats! This is where the work done so far will come to life and the style will shine!

4. Building the Collection: It’s time to curate the patterns into a cohesive collection and showcase them – and this time I’m hoping to add them to a wall in our guest bedroom. Stay tuned for that (I haven’t hung wallpaper since I was in college…) You can learn more about my process here, and the supplies I love here!

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Hi, I'm Jennie

Artist and designer, adventure lover with a side of homebody and flower gardener.

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