SURFACE PATTERN DESIGN: Children's decor. Fish aquatic design for bolt fabric, lamps, clothing, wallpaper or stationary. Available for Licensing
, ,

Creative courses – Swallow the lemon and spit out a strawberry

But you recommended a lemon!

On Social media, someone recently voiced their concern about recommending courses. A valid concern. Some require students to invest large sums of money in their education. Illustration and design courses can run into the thousands – as much as $14,000! The larger the fee the larger the risk of people returning to blame you for their financial loss if it doesn’t suit them.

Learning is subjective. All you can offer is your personal experience and state it as such. I always like to begin with something like, For me the benefits where x,y,z ….and I was glad I took the X class but you will have to decide if it fits your needs. Or, this X classes wasn’t a good fit for me but read up on it, it may totally suit you.

Swallow the lemon and spit out a strawberry

I shudder when people bag out tutors on social media (I do see it too often). Most people who teach genuinely want to help others but have to make a living as well. Student concerns are fine, but sarcasm is unwarranted. There are the exceptions to warnings. For example, I was watching a particular video introduction webinar recently to see what other tutors are offering in a particular area I will be teaching soon. I didn’t want mine to duplicate anyone else. I don’t mind amateur video but this was really challenging to watch. Her voice was constantly dropping out. If I were a student I would have been terribly frustrated by this. To add to this there was error in the information as she was sidetracked. These were not edited later – an oversight that could confuse the students. It is always a good idea to share your concern with the tutor or school and give them a chance to respond.

If I were a student and someone asked my opinion, I would respond privately if there were negative concerns. Having contacted the tutor, I’d be equipped with a fair response too.

Remember when recommending others that a starting approach like …In MY experience, or for ME personally may be the clearest way to express your joy or disappointment but in all responses please be kind.

A few design courses I’ve done…

Firstly, none of the following 2 courses where associated to any negative comments I refer to. Both are more affordable than many classes also.

Bonnie Christine on Creative Live

One of the best pattern design courses I have taken was Bonnie Christine’s Creative Live course, Design Surface Patterns From Scratch. The regular price is under $79. It was meaty learning and worth every cent because I had limited experience in several of the areas she taught.

Creative Live has live courses running all the time. You can watch for free or buy to watch as your leisure. The production of the videos are exceptional.

Design Surface Patterns From Scratch with Bonnie Christine
Image credit Bonnie Christine:

Elizabeth Olwen on Skillshare

The very first class I took for pattern design was Elizabeth Olwen’s Pattern Design: Creating Inspiring Repeats. on Skillshare.

I benefited from seeing the blob tool used as a main tool in a pattern design. As I like to freehand and draw, this tool is appealing. The easy to understand instruction on repeat patterns and exporting a tile was valuable to me too.

Elizabeth’s beautiful work can be seen here:

The fishy result: new patterns for licensing!

As a result of the classes and the videos I’ve watched over the past few months I have produced many designs. This is one of my most recent below. Please someone license this for lamps!

Pattern Design: Children's decor. Fish aquatic design for bolt fabric, lamps, clothing, wallpaper or stationary. Available for Licensing
I loved seeing all the great projects submitted after the class today. You can see them here:

I just haven’t wanted to stop long enough since this journey started! This class was the first pattern class I took and in a few short months I have totally immersed myself in surface pattern design, trying to learn as much as I can. I LOVE learning and watching videos but better still is implementing the learning. The blog brush was a breakthrough moment for me – love that brush! I found the repeat pattern teaching in this video easy to follow – thanks Elizabeth!

Until then I had been working in Photoshop, Illustrator was a bit of a mystery to me. I have learned so much through great resources like this and hungry for more!

This is one of three fish designs I have been working on. One has hugs and kisses on it and why I named the collection, Fishy Hugs & Kisses. I wanted to challenge myself to mix the pen tool objects with the contrasting soft blob brush shapes and lines. I am pretty happy with the result.

Pattern Design: Children's decor. Fish aquatic design for bolt fabric, lamps, clothing, wallpaper or stationary. Available for Licensing

Pattern Design: Available for Licensing

Mock ups are also new to me. I had to test this design out on a lamp shade for a children’s room. The only issue I have now is….I want these on lampshades for real!

Pattern Design: Children's decor. Fish aquatic design for bolt fabric, lamps, clothing, wallpaper or stationary. Available for Licensing

Pattern Design:  Available for Licensing

My new creative courses – strawberries welcome!

If you want to get in the front of the queue for information packs on my new courses in Children’s illustration, drawing or creative inspiration (coming soon) click the image below.

Online courses in Children's Picture Book Illustration, Drawing and Creative motivation and inspiration with Kayleen West

Surface design whale and creativity quote.
, , , ,

Overview of a VERY Creative Year!

1000 apologies! I neglected posting in December but at least I backed off at a time your inbox would have been bombarded with Christmas promotions and copious amounts of reading anyway.

But I’m back and charged for 2015! This year is going to ROCK! I can feel it with every part of me and I am READY! Are you?

Authentically makes us buzz

I spent every minute outside paid work, experimenting with my craft in 2014, questioning what was developing and where to go from there. It was a busy and exciting year creatively.

Freelancing, I was blessed with a variety of assignments from toy product design to program covers to interesting logos and adorable picture books.


Illustrating children’s books for a few years has been wonderful but I discovered a desire for additional singular assignments. I really enjoyed doing small series or one off illustrations for jobs. Self-inflicted illustration challenges I committed to last year like Inktober, the 52 week illustration, challenge and the occasional Daily Doodle submission where helpful when I had freedom to be authentic to my own vision.

The many illustrations and sketches produced from the inspiration of the 52 week Illustration Challenge

The many illustrations and sketches produced from the inspiration of the 52 week Illustration Challenge CLICK TO ENLARGE

Producing a book is a marathon task and requires a particular boundary that limits exploration. You need to stay true to the character and style throughout all 25 plus illustrations. It not unlike creating a large body of work for an exhibition that requires the final art pieces to be all part of one series in a particular style. It is a skill and it’s fun, but it is restrictive. As I have consistently produced one picture book after another since late 2012, I need play dates with self- expression.

By the end of a book I am bursting to download what is now in my head and heart if I haven’t had enough in-between work or experimental time. We all need adequate time for risk-taking. As a result, in addition to books, I am looking for opportunities in surface design and editorial illustration this year.

I am also looking at teaching in the near future. (More on that soon!)

My new romance – surface design and patterns

I can’t tell you how it happened but I it happened late last year. In a matter of days I found myself obsessing over the beauty of pattern design and indulging in the fun creating them.

Surface pattern design: Umbredrops

Surface pattern design: Umbredrops

Vintage surface pattern design swatch. Floral

Vintage surface pattern design swatch.

Happy poster print Happy Butterfly. Illustration by Kayleen West

Happy poster print Happy Butterfly. Available as a print here

2014-12-18_ADVENT_snowman-brandedCombined with illustration pattern took on a life of its own. As a consequence my newest book, We Worship God, due for release this year by Xist Publishing, written by Nancy Streza, adopted a hint of pattern in my illustrations.

Children's illustration from ABC Christian picture book, We Worship God - Xist Publishing 2015 release

Children’s illustration from ABC Christian picture book, We Worship God – Xist Publishing 2015 release


Unleashing the authenticity

Sometime we need to stop long enough to align ourselves. January is perfect for this. My family go on a holiday for a couple of weeks and I take a break on my own. This may sound strange but I really need it. I am a step-mum of a very active young tribe and I am very tired by the end of each year. It is hard to get time to reflect seriously enough. Without parental responsibilities (a significant distraction) or too many commitments of any kind, I can catch up on my own thoughts and have time to play unrestricted.

Let’s play – MATS Bootcamp begins…


Surface design: MATS mini assignment: Edwardian Brooches.

Surface design: MATS mini assignment: Edwardian Brooches.

This week launched Lilly Roger’s MATS Bootcamp, the creative briefs being the main attraction – the springboard to begin the year.

The first mini assignment exploring Edwardian Brooches. In my self-indulgence as a faux–bachelor (I made that word up), I have produced dozens of sketches in ink and Illustrator already this week, staying up into the night (and morning) and sleeping past 10am – because I can! I suspect creative ADHD though as the more I create, the more I want to. The ideas keep coming!

Surface design: MATS mini assignment: Edwardian Brooches.

Surface design: MATS mini assignment: Edwardian Brooches.

Surface design: MATS mini assignment: Edwardian Brooches.

Surface design: MATS mini assignment: Edwardian Brooches.

Surface design: MATS mini assignment: Detail of WIP design

Surface design: MATS mini assignment: Edwardian Brooches.

Belated Happy New Year!

Sorry, I didn’t even wish you all a Merry Christmas. I pray you have an awesome 2015 everyone!

Peek into my year summed up:

  • Both Adoptive Father and Celia and Nonna were awarded the seal of approval by the Children’s Literacy Classics
  • My picture book Without Me won an International CLC Silver medal.
  • I finished illustrating a new picture book, We Worship God, an ABC books with the letters hidden in the images and I love it! I am so pleased with the cute illustrations.
  • The art advertising agency, The Art Mob approach me about representing me. They are a new agency and so I have agreed to see how it goes. Hopefully this will bring more editorial work. I am looking for an established agency for my surface designs.
  • I completed every week of the 52 week Illustration Challenge with loads of illustrations to show for it. Many are sketches and some are completed. Some will be valuable to build on for future projects. I fill many sketchbook pages in the process.
  • I completed the Inktober challenge which was a huge advantage as I picked up ink for the first time in years – and LOVE IT! This is an important part of my design work now.
  • I discovered the world of surface pattern design! I have a huge amount of pattern files already. They are waiting to develop or put into a final portfolio. This is high on my TO DO list for this year.

So there it is. I hope my endeavors encourage you in some way to explore creativity yourself more.

Easy steps to zentangle? Doodling for fun.
, , , ,

This is how to draw something AWESOME – easy!

Have you noticed the flood of attractive patterned doodling popping up everywhere? It has been branded as tangles or zentangles. I guess in some places that is a better term than …well…doodle. Doodle here means…well…a boy’s know.

I bet most of you have at one time or another doodled on a scrap piece of paper – most likely whilst on the phone. Have you ever looked at part of it and thought, ‘gee, this little bit here looks…good” ? Doodling can be taken to a new level and not by any great skill either. Anyone can doodle…or tangle.

After posting a tangles inked doodle I did for #INKtober and #illo52weeks,  a fellow artist asked me what was the best way to start with something like this. Fortunately I did take a progress photo. This is my advice for anyone wanting to create something like this. Start small. It is meant to be fun, easy and experimental.

Easy steps to zentangle? Doodling for fun.

  1. Begin with a simple shape or squiggles line. In this I drew one long squiggle with fish in mind as I drew. I overlapped shapes but didn’t lift the pen of the paper until I had the page covered in a squiggle.
  2. Additionally, you can begin by making as many variations of marks on paper as you can. Look at patterns and shapes of items around you and use them for inspiration.
  3. Use your reference sheet and begin filling in the shapes within your squiggle with a different design in each.
  4. After all sections are filled (you can leave some blank if you want – no rules) then look for places where you may want to clean up the line or thicken some in parts.

They are really only simple shapes like lines, circles, squares, triangles etc in various thicknesses collected together – nothing elaborate. This is why ANYONE can do this!

And that is all there is to it. There are plenty of books on the topic that can give you ideas but look around you and try simple shapes from your surroundings. You’ll find plenty when you start. And of course you can do this on any surface like I did on this art doll. There are endless ideas for covering surfaces with this approach. Feel free to post you creations inspired by this post. We would love to see them.

Dyslexia Awareness Week
, , ,

Colour the town purple

Purple parade for Dyslexia awareness

Yesterday below Federation Square, a parade of happy supporters of Dyslexia Awareness Week walked the streets dressed in purple waving purple balloons. I decided dress in purple and support them. With family in tow, we missed the walk as our GSP took us somewhere bizarre! I am such a country girl! I did make it for all the other wonderful happenings. I listened with great interest to the thought- provoking interviews with adults and children who have struggled with sigmas of stupidity through misunderstanding and undiagnosed dyslexia.

I heard how important understanding and resources are to people who struggle with dyslexia and how using the Open Dyslexia font in Celia and Nonna was so needed. Jason Henham, CEO of SPELD Victoria (who provides help and guidance to people with dyslexia and other learning difficulties), thanked me for taking the initiative to include the dyslexic font in a “mainstream” book (Celia and Nonna). I asked him if he knew any mainstream publishers that had adopted the idea and was shocked to hear my book was the first! What a help this will be so so many kids and adults! Hopefully, this will set a president  other publishers will adopt. They are totally supportive of Celia and Nonna and I pray it makes a difference making this first initial step. I wish I could find the person who suggested it in the LinkedIn forum – I’d thank her!

More and more I’m discovering how much we can use our positions to pay it forward in unique ways.

It was wonderful to finally meet the lovely Heidi Gregory from the Melbourne support group. I handed her designs for a logo for them. They are a great support for parents in Melbourne and have an active and very informative Facebook group.They have a new home at Finbar Neighborhood House in Richmond.

Artplay Melbourne: patterns, textures and creative imagery

As a family we enjoyed the day in Melbourne. The event was held next to the community project, Artplay – GO – it is great! It is a collaborative project between artists and children; creative workshops, performances, exhibitions etc. Naturally I was drunk with pattern wine and had to take photos on my phone as we took a walk from the event through Artplay and around Southgate. I kinda wish I had taken my good camera now but I got a few good shots. Here is a taste:

Artplay Melbourne patterns textures and creative imagery

Artplay Melbourne patterns textures and creative imagery


Celia and Nonna. Picture books about grandparent and child.

Celia and Nonna. Picture book with Open Dyslexic font.