Here is what I learned:
Although I don't consider myself an illustrator, I invested in a set of fine tip Micron pens and a pad of marker paper, and began to illustrate for the first time since college (that's over 20 years ago, my friends). I scanned in my work and translated it into vector art in Adobe Illustrator. For people who don't know what vector art is: I would say it's a tedious process of turning line art into shapes that can be filled with color.
Those feathers, florals and butterfly wings were pen strokes that had to be converted into solid fields on the computer screen, then assigned colors. I did that!!
I created icons using a variety of methods. Watercolor:
That's delphinium and different brushstroke flowers that I made into a pattern. I did that!!!
Hand lettering, to be used as a graphic element:
And even a wooden chopstick, dipped in ink:
That wasn't actually an assignment; I was just experimenting with different line qualities. The blueberry and leaf shapes, though, ended up being designed into a carved wooden base of a lamp, for my final project.
The class was over the top -- in the kind of way you imagined walking into Wonka's Chocolate Factory when you were a kid, if it were a real thing. I'm in denial or going through withdrawal, without my Monday assignment. It would be crazy-making to keep up the pace, but there are so many techniques, so many substrates to design for, so many ideas that I could easily continue working. My portfolio would be amazing. But without the camaraderie of the other artists, and the fabulous instructors to nudge us along, life will now slow to a more manageable pace. Phew, I'm ready for that!
I learned that challenges are wonderful, but they also have a dark side for a slightly competitive personality like me. There's a fine line between admiring and supporting, and then letting your mind go to the "I'll never aspire to that level of work" internal conversation. I have to keep reminding myself that I'm new to this; I need to rack up many more hours of art to land upon a recognizable style, and be in that crowd. But, I'm not far from having the confidence to show my newfound commercial art skills to potential buyers.
Heartfelt gratitude goes out to Lilla and Margo. To say they are supportive is an understatement. I give them credit for wanting to teach what they know and bring new artists into the fold. If you are interested in learning more, go to makeartthatsells.com and browse the juicy creativeness.