Painted Pages workshop , the joy of painting

painted pages workshop process

Last month I took a painting class called Painted Pages workshop with Sarah Ahearn Bellemare. I was so in love with Sarah's book that I signed up for the class right away when she launched her first online class. The class is really in different and more relaxing pace compared with the intensive course of Make Art That Sells I took previously. It should be like that. I don't think there should be a word 'rush' in traditional painting and Sarah did a good job of leading us to a relaxing and fun atmosphere :)

While I was taking this class, a friend who worked mainly in digital illustration also worked on her painting project. She said that she struggled so much as this was not in her field. She was amazed to see me so relaxed with the painting. This is because I know I have never been good at traditional painting. I took a lot of classes in college, colored pencil, water color and acrylic and finished all of them with some mediocre pieces. I enjoyed it but I don't think I have any potential in this art field.

I didn't do any more painting until I took Make Art That Sells class and had to do wall painting. I was so frustrated with this painting at first. But when I finally let go the feeling of wanting to be perfect, I found that I really enjoyed the process.

To me, painting turns out to be not just art, it is a method of meditation and self-exploration. When I am in front of a blank canvas, I feel calm and focused. Like designing, painting is about problem-solving. The difference is, in design, mostly you solve problems to send out a clear, visualized message while in painting you don't need to do that exactly. There is a vast space for imagination for both painter and viewer. I guess that makes me feel more relaxed :)

Below is my painting process I did for the class. I had light green color in mind when I first started and tried to work through it.

painted pages workshop process

Then I used my favorite coffee filter paper. Cut out shapes and played with them.

painted pages workshop process

And here my final. I confess that I don't like this final much and plan to start it over. I enjoy the time though and already excited to be in front of a blank white canvas again :)

painted pages workshop process

I dream of having a nice lovely paintings for my MerryDay shop one day but for now, as I'm still learning and improving, I think I will have it just for my 'play time' :)

Thanks for coming. I hope you have a merry colorful day today :)

painted pages workshop process


Behind the Lines and Colors : Love is Being Together


Tell me how do you define 'Love'?...

This 'Love is Being Together' card is one of my Love is...collection. The illustration came from a sketching I did one Saturday afternoon. I especially love this piece as it has a bit of my personal story here.

My husband and I went out together for over 9 years before we finally got married last year, a month after our 10th year anniversary. Before I met him I lived my life reading romantic novels in which handsome guy did sweet things to his love. They met, fell in love and got married. Then when I finally found my guy, love was not just that. It's really a matter of accepting each other and maintaining the relationship. It needed some adjustment for both of us and, luckily, it didn't  take us too much effort. I guess that's another aspect of love, to be comfortable enough to be around each other 24 hours.

Then, when we finally got married, I realized even more  that Love is just really being together. It's not about gifts, sweet words or anniversary celebration, it's just being together in Saturday afternoon. Me reading quietly and him browsing the internet beside me. It's really just that :) 

merry day love is being together

I actually drew this sketch without thinking but when I looked at it again, the words came to me. It also makes me smile every time I look at it because the 'being together' doesn't just mean me and my husband. It includes our large dog and my little bear. Both are stuffed dolls :) and they are here :

my big dog and little bear
I know we are grown-ups and having dolls in the house may seem ridiculous for some. But they really are cute little (and large) things called home to me.

That is the behind the story of this card. If you are interested, it's available on my shop here :

I really enjoy talking about my work process and ideas behind my design. If you like reading it too, I plan to write about it weekly. As you might notice, I already have the name of this blog series, 'Behind the Lines and Colors'. You can read my previous posts in the series here:

These card designs are all about love. I'm curious, how do you define your love? Are there any objects or stories that make you connect to the lovely word? Please share :)

Thanks for coming  and have a merry reading!


Fruit Sketching and a story in magazine

Sketches of my new drawing collection. Today I work on the keywords of fruit, orchard, flowers and birds. When I sketch or brainstorm, I usually have some books or magazine beside me. Colors, layout design, shapes on printed pages always inspire me to find new fresh ideas. Sometimes text and stories help me too.

I was thinking about fruit ideas while browsing pages in Frankie magazine and came across an article about a woman who collected photo shots of roadside produce stands signage. One sign said 'Please pay here. Your honesty is appreciated' and another one said 'If you choose to steal my produce, I hope you choke'. It's quite funny but really made me think...

I'm trying to create a set of design based on Thankful theme with keywords of fruit and flowers. Somehow the story above intrigues me but I'm not quite sure how to translate what I feel inside into a drawing yet.

This may be too difficult, too abstract to work on or I may come up with some great ideas tomorrow. We will see.

I love when I have constant focus on my work. Hope I can keep it on :)


Sunday Sketch, 365 days I draw (day 128-129) and Inspire Me Sunday (stationery!)


My Sunday Sketches today are also for 365 days I draw as usual. The topic of day 128 is order for the top and day 129, refer for the bottom. The drawings done on my newly-bought sketchbook from Chronicle called One Sketch a Day : a visual journal. I saw this book from my most favorite artist's blog, Stephanie Fizer and immediately wanted to own one.

one sketch a day sketchbook

Sometimes I feel really silly to buy things on a whim, especially stationery stuffs. I already have a dozen of sketchbooks waiting for me to fill in but it seems that every time I see ones on shop shelf I still want more and they are just plain black-cover ones. This blue sketchbook does look fancier than my usual sketchbooks and it definitely has value added with the inviting title of 'One Sketch a Day : a visual journal'. But it's really just the outer look. Although I find that the paper is quite thin and not as in good quality as in my usual sketchbooks, I love it anyway. I guess it's not just the beautiful cover, it has something to do with the feeling of owning it. It's like when you are always drawn to stationery shop and want to buy something even when you already have everything at home.

The other day I came across this article about Why I love Stationery and thought I would share some of my stationery inspire today. Hope you like the links here :)

• Just got this beautiful issue of Uppercase magazine. This one focuses on stationery love :)

• I think I have known this beautiful stationery shop for a long time but somehow it just slipped from my mind until now :) Lagom design

• Always love Present and Correct and have just read an interesting interview --Neal Whittington of Preasent & Correct on The Design Files.

• My favorite Quill and Fox

• I still have a dozen of Canson sketchbooks for spare but beginning to love more-expensive Derwent hard back sketchbook too

• Latest found Mr. Boddington's Studio

By the way, have you seen my little art project From Paris to Bangkok yet? I'm quite excited with this project and hope it can inspire something in you too :)

Thanks for coming and have a merry drawing day :D


Coralie and me : from Paris to Bangkok 1, an art collaboration

Last month I got a message from Coralie, a French girl who loves illustration and design. I was happy to hear that she had been following my work for some time and even more excited when asked if I would be interested to do an art collaboration with her. I was actually having a good time with my art-swap group I was lucky to connect with a few months ago and so eager to connect with more people who have the same art interest. A lot of artists I follow all said that to be always creatively energized you have to be among those who are like minded and have the same passion. My chance to join in Make Art That Sells class student group, my art-swap friends and to meet Coralie really proves that.

Coralie and I didn't know what we would do at first. Then since we both work in graphic design and could draw digitally, we agreed to try a digital drawing project. The idea came from a book called Photoshop Secrets of the Pros I found years ago. I was not really a fan of Photoshop but the term 'Photoshop Tennis' in the book quite intrigued me. To put it simple, photoshop tennis is like digital art game. One artist creates an image file and sends to the other artist who will edit the file and send back to the first artist who will edit it again. They will send and edit back and forth until they are satisfied with the work. This could be played by only two people or in a group.

So, we borrow the tennis idea and started with a very simple drawing of my bird here :


Then Coralie added a cute setting of a tree branch.


Then I added the bird's details and a little yellow dot :)


These are what we have done so far. Since this little project is supposed to be fun and should not be a labour in our busy days, we agree to spend only 30 minutes max on each layer. Try to be spontaneous and have fun with it :)

While I'm writing this, Coralie just sent me the latest layer and I can't wait to open the file and see what beauty she added. This is a really fun project. I have always been thankful for whoever invented the internet. Without it, it's really impossible to create art between Paris and Bangkok and you would never know me, Coralie and this project :)

Coralie has also put up a page especially for this little project called From Paris to Bangkok. She has got a slide on and it looks quite exciting :D Don't forget to walk around and see her drawings and graphic works too.

I'm really curious to see how a simple pink bird image will look at the end. If you are curious like me, I'll update the progress on this blog from time to time and hope you will come back to see our creative journey :)

Thanks for dropping by, have a merry day :)


Behind the Lines and Colors : Mr. Giraffe and the Merry Girl mini love card


I have noticed lately that my 'I'll be with you, no matter how far' mini card gets more favorite on Etsy and I have already shipped out some of them to new customers. This really heartens my spirit as, although I have been working on my Etsy for a couple of years already, I'm still really a newbie in selling my art.

I am especially excited with this card sales because it means that my idea behind the design is working.


This drawing of little Merry girl having a date with Mr. Giraffe is one of my Love is... drawing collection which focuses on animals, something that I needed to practice drawing. The idea was to simply practice drawing a giraffe at first and then I wanted to have something to play with the height of the animal.  Then I thought of the ladder and the girl climbing up to kiss the giraffe. The idea was similar to what I had drawn for my 365 days I draw project here.


So, I put a different story to this design. I made up a scene of Merry Girl having a glass of soda pop with her date, Mr. Giraffe. How could she be with her tall boyfriend? She needed a ladder so I drew one. Then the design still looked too blank. How about some lettering? This was when the concept of long distance relationship popped in my head. I thought of the phase 'no matter how far' and tried different fonts and ended up hand lettering it myself. I incorporated the lettering to the ladder making it as one of the ladder's steps. The black cat and the '...or how hard' was then added to make it cuter. I thought I finished.

But not yet. The illustration was in portrait format which would look too small in a standard 4x6 greeting card. Since I printed all cards by myself using a nice Epson ink jet, I had to figure how to make things fit in A4 paper sheet. I thought of long card 4 by 11 inches but the image looked awkward and didn't really fit in. Different folding might be key. I tried cutting A4 sheet in half and folding it down in accordion way. It looked nice but I didn't want to have too many folding creases on my image. So I moved the image to the lower part of the paper and added the final touch of 'I'll be with you' in the blue bubble to complete the story of long distance relationship :)

I really enjoyed the creative juice that flowing during the process. It really gave myself more confidence when I launched it out on facebook and got good feedbacks on this piece. It also made me realize that the design format, the size and shape of paper were also important in making a successful work.

Hope you enjoy my work process. This card is available on my MerryDay shop. You can look at the details of this card here :

Mini love card - I'll be with you no matter how far


Work in progress : Bird sketches and letter set design

work in progress : secret garden

Further sketches for my current design project 'the secret garden' I already posted bird study on this blog. Now I'm adding characters and story. I'm thinking about a whole set of stationery design and already have a rough comp of letter set. The hardest part for me right now is that I was hardly at home last week and this week will be quite busy too. I'm always wondering how those artists with children could produce their art regularly. I don't have any kids and I seem to have a hard time finding a long proper hour to work on my creation each day. I think it will be something I have to figure out everyday.

Here a sneak peek of the letter set. I'm thinking I need to share more of my work in progress. It should be another way to push me to work harder to keep this blog going the same pace with my work and the other way around--posting work process may help push me to get the work finalized more quickly :)

Have a merry Monday!

work in progress : secret garden


Sunday Sketch. 365 days I draw and Inspire me Sunday


My Sunday Sketch and also for my 365 days I draw, the topic is BULK. This could be great to develop it into a card for my MerryDay shop :)

And here's what inspire me today. It's all about blogging :)

• I'm reading several books at the moment. One of them is insightful and entertaining Blog Inc. by Oh Joy!

• a simple designed I Love You Blogs and Coffee wall art

• It seems that I'm always trying to blog regularly. Somehow it's really important for me to record my thoughts and especially my work on this blog. So, I try to write down what I have already posted and what I will want to post in a small notebook. I don't want to make it sound too tense but this blog planner printable set may be helpful for you.

• Just love this simple sketchy doodle blog banner on Etsy

• I have just finished reading The Happiness Project and have found that the author's daily's blogging is also helpful and enjoyable :)

Thanks for coming and have a merry Sunday!


Keep calm and merry on and my self-exploration


I have been reading a lot lately. Both books and blogs. Most of them focus on illustration, design, creativity and art business. I have begun to be addicted to reading artists' lives/behind-the-scene since I took Creative Courage class, in which several insightful artists' interviews were provided. Before that I basically browsed blogs by pictures as in leisure time. Long English-written posts always got overlooked. Until I got serious about my dream.

I remember my very first dream came to me when I was a little kid drawing repeatedly similar big-eyed dolls imitated from several sets of paper dolls I collected. The dream was to be a fashion designer. Then being a kid who didn't think much, I forgot about it and drew less. I just lived my life reading books, studying languages which I knew I liked but not really knew exactly what I would want to do with them. I got in a university majoring in English and selected Spanish as minor, still not sure what I would work after the uni.

Then one day in an English poetry class, I suddenly felt like the big white ceiling of the classroom was pushing down on me. I felt suffocated. I began to get sleepy in classes and question why we had to interpret some old poetry so seriously (maybe the poet might just want to express their emotion purely, with no serious meanings?)

I still liked books, loved to learn more languages. It's just that I couldn't see myself working in the field. Not sure how I came up with the idea of working as a graphic designer. Maybe it's a combination of two things that I love, drawing and reading. After graduation, I took another degree in graphic design then worked as a freelance book designer and now I think I'm becoming a stationery designer.

Why do I suddenly talk about all of this? I don't know. It seems that I have developed some kind of self-exploration lately. Before Make Art That Sells class, I was lucky to work in the field that I liked but they were all clients' works. I hardly had my own design, my own projects. Now I become more acute of what I like and dislike, what I want to do and don't want to. I have said no to some job offer and really focused on my MerryDay, my own stationery brand.

I am taking a risk but, strangely, I think I'm happier than when I knew exactly how much I would be paid for my freelance projects...

This year is my learning year. I take e-classes, read several books and blogs about art business and artists behind the scenes and give myself more time to work on my illustration/stationery design. My next drawing collection should be unique and wonderful enough to make more people recognize my MerryDay.

Am I too ambitious? Can I make it happen or will I be still be blogging this same thing next year? I don't know but the latest Etsy order I have just got today tells me that it's no use to worry about what have not come yet. The only thing I can do right now is keep working :)

Keep calm and merry on, that's what I'm saying now :)

Thanks for coming. Again, I wish you a merry day :D


MerryDay playground journal cover Global Talent Search submission

playground journal cover

Here is my journal cover designed for Lilla Rogers studio's Global Talent Search.  I don't usually participate in any design contest that requires a fee to enter. However, as a student of Make Art That Sells class, I was automatically eligible to join in the contest. I didn't expect myself to win from the beginning. This doesn't mean that  I gave up right from the start or I didn't think I was good enough. It's just that, after 5 weeks with Lilla's class reviews, I kind of had a glimpse of what she liked and what she felt so-so and I didn't think my work fell in the first.

Then, why did I still enter? This is because I viewed it as an extra assignment to accomplish (Lilla actually said this to prevent us from getting too tensed with the competition). It's challenging to work on a piece that has a real client, in this case Lilla herself and Paperchase. It would be great if I could get to the next round and if I couldn't, I still had this good piece for my portfolio :)

In this first round, we were assigned to work on a journal cover in the theme of 'playground'.  I started it by sketching things that related to the theme, swing tire, jungle gym, sand box, horse on spring etc. I'd like to add my merry characters in it too and then a whimsical idea of combining the playground theme with tea time bakery just popped in my head. Why tea time bakery?, I'm not sure, maybe because I associated fun in playground with kids and kids like dessert and sweet candies. I always like combining unrelated things together and transform it into new aspect. Just as I did with the tea cup and kettle as the see-saw in playground :)

Then, I tried to think more of bakery/playground theme. So came the candies swing, the strawberry Pocky jungle gym, the donut swing and berries tart sandbox. I really enjoyed working on each elements. I have to admit though that although I said I didn't care if I would win or not, I think when you work very hard, you just can't help hoping. However, at the back of my mind, I still thought that this would not be what Lilla would fancy.

Lilla always emphasized that good artwork had to read well in small size, meaning if you reduce the work into stamp size, the work should still be catching and attractive. This means you need to have strong contrast, great characters and compositions and stunning colors. I tried doing that but just as I said in the previous post, people really see things differently. I thought my journal popped up when reduced small but maybe it's not in other people's view? I don't know. It's really a matter of point of view.

Anyway, I didn't get through to the next round and I'm ok with it. This piece may not be the best ( I think there's still something that can be improved) but it is good enough and the most important thing is that I really enjoyed doing it and really happy to receive good feedbacks when I shared it in the class group. Besides, I already have a ton of ideas to make stationery items based on this design for my MerryDay shop. It's not a waste of time at all :)

So, this post is officially the end of Make Art That Sells class part A. I'm moving on to another e-course posts. This one is more relaxing and more play. The class is Painted Pages workshop.

You think I'm crazy girl addicted to taking e-courses? Yes, I think I am :) I have just realized recently that while I am learning new things from the classes, I'm also exploring my inner self spiritually too. I'm not sure if I will be able to express myself properly but I think it's an interesting and exciting topic to blog about. Let's see what I will have for the next posts.

Thanks for joining in my creative journey. It will never end and I hope you enjoy it along the way :)

Have a merry day :D


MerryDay Goes to School : what I think about Make Art That Sells Class (part 2)

secret garden plate design detail

Continuing from the previous post about what I think about Make Art That Sells Class, the big question I got from the beginning of the class is :

Do I think the class worth the money?

I have always had positive thoughts for e-classes both before and after class. My rule in life is that you have to accept the result of your own decisions. If the result is good, you are right and lucky. If it's not, it's not worth the time to fuss about what already passed. Learn the lessons and move on, that's what I always tell myself. Like I said in the previous post : Life is getting shorter :)

So, I already thought the class worth the money right from the beginning. Then while the class was progressing I was more confirmed. There are two majors points for this confirmation :

• The class REALLY brought me to focus on my dream path. 
Sometimes you know what your dream is but you just don't know exactly how you will reach your dream. I feel that this class sets practical guidelines for me. Each week we had a specific topic and we started the week with 'mini-exercise' on Monday, which was to draw/paint/experiment anything relating to the topic. Then we set out to do the week's assignment on Wednesday and the deadline for the work would be on Sunday.

One of my friends said that anyone could tell you to draw a lot and set your own guidelines but I think it's not just that. I agree that I can come up with my own commitment to draw everyday and to complete an artwork a week but the hardest part is 'to do it successfully'. This commitment needs to be in an inspiring environment. This leads to my other major point, the student group.

• Being among those who have the same passion really helps you grow in creative journey.
Being a freelancer, I have always worked by myself. My best friend to consult about design or technical issues was the internet and going through creative blocks or depression alone was not really fun. So, I'm so glad to find that fellow students in this class are so generous and supportive. We went through 5 weeks of tough assignments, anxiety and creative blocks together so it's like there's a bond among us, which I think it's hard to find in this virtual world.  Even when the class ended, we are still connecting, sharing and growing into some other sub-topic groups. I realized that this kind of connection is something I have been looking for and now I find it and it becomes one of the reason why I think this class, which brings us together, worth the money :)

There's also one important point for those who are considering taking the next session of this class : we didn't get one-on-one feedback from Lilla in this class. Due to the large amount of students in the class, each week Lilla would pick only15-20 art pieces to review. This is a major point discussed among those who were in class and those who were not. Some of the students are still a bit upset with not getting personal feedbacks and some who are interested in taking the class are hesitating.

As for me, I thought the class would have limited seats and it surprised me a bit that they kept promoting the course even when there were already a lot of students. I didn't expect to have personal feedbacks from Lilla though. I may think differently from others. I just think that getting feedbacks from one person doesn't really help you grow much, especially if that person doesn't have the same taste with you. Even if she or he has the same taste or same style, it's likely that you will become attached to that person and the attempt to please her or him will have a chance to ruin your own style.

I said this from my personal experience. I admired some teachers in my college time and it took me some years of struggling to realize that I was all wrong. The best way to improve your works is to listen to your own like and dislike plus feedbacks from other people, a lot of people, not just one person. Art is a matter of taste. You cannot satisfy the whole world as people really think and see things differently.

That's why I say that being in the student group with different points of view is really worthwhile :)

I think this is all my thought about Make Art That Sells class. In all, taking this class is one of my best decisions and I'm looking forward to learn more in part B which will start this October :)

There's one more thing relating to this course. I participated in Lilla's Global Search Talent. I didn't get in the next round but maybe you still will be interested to see my design?

I will write about it soon. Thanks for coming. Hope this post is helpful for someone.
Have a merry day :D


MerryDay Goes to School : worries, distractions and what I think about Make Art That Sells Class


Life always has unforeseen interruptions. Last week I was very excited with my carefully laid-out plan for my future business. This week I spend all of my time at hospital taking care of my parents who get sick at the same time. It scares me a bit. It's inevitable fact that old age comes with sickness. My parents are quite old right now and I am already in thirty-something. A woman who decides to go back to the very first stage of building up her new career path, which will take years to accomplish. Life's getting shorter everyday and I wonder if I can make it happen at the end...

But that's only one of million things in life that I'm worried about. I'm glad that I have aged and learned enough to know you should not add worries to worries.

I have just read Noreen's post of Winston Churchill - 6 Things to Do. The very first is "Focus on what you are doing right now." and someone commented on this post with "80% of what we worry about doesn't come true."---Two statements that I need to focus :)

So, enough with my worries and distractions, I'm coming back to focus on my illustration and design work skill now.

Above is a compilation of all my assignment done in Make Art That Sells class (Click to see the larger image here). Things haven't changes in term of design and style but I think there's a lot of improvement in details and background, which I used to consider as my drawback. I generally drew my subject in kind of stand alone format---no background and not a lot of details and sometimes didn't even have a story. So doing more details and building stories and backgrounds is what I intended to improve from the very first week of the class.

This comes to my main topic for this post : what do I think about Make Art That Sells class?  It's the question I have been asked often. To answer it properly, let me start with the question of "What did I expect from this class?" first.

Before starting this class, I expected that :

• I would learn more about art business in general.

• I would learn about how to use my art in different products.

• I would get to know more people (and get people know more about me).

• I would improve my skill in illustration and design (doing more details, backgrounds and stories)

Then when the class finished, I found that :

• I think I learn more of art business, not in specific details but I have a glimpse of what art business is like and how I can learn more about it.

• I definitely learn more about how to use my art in different products and markets. Lilla had planed this course neatly by categorizing each week into different markets and she did wonderful job in giving us details of how each market worked, how to get your work into that kind of market (although this requires personal talent and hard work too) and there were tons of beautiful art samples to keep us excited and inspired.

• I'm not sure if fellow students know more about me but I certainly get to know more people and being with those who are also in creative journey really helps me focus and stay on my track. I have to say that the class student group is the best supportive art community and I am glad I'm a part of it :)

• I think my skill in design and illustration has been improved, not technically but in term of thinking and implementing more details which is exactly what I want to improve.

This post is getting long now. I think I'm going to break it into 2 posts. The next post will be about the big question "do I think this class worth the money?"

Thanks for coming. Have a merry day :)

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