Thursday, 27 June 2013

Repeating Patterns for Painters - #4, Ogee or Diamond Repeat

In earlier posts we’ve looked at the various ways to categorise patterns. We then moved on to learn how to create simple block repeats from your paintings in Photoshop, including the slightly more complex ones that need some tidying up at the end to hide the ‘seam’. 

Last month I gave instructions for half-drop and brick repeats and now we’re going to see how to make my favourite kind of repeat, the Diamond or Ogee Repeat. I was very frustrated by the lack of information on the internet when I wanted to make an ogee repeat. But eventually I found a way that works beautifully, using the instructions for a diamond repeat.

An ogee is simply a traditional shape for use in patterns, a bit like a diamond that has been squeezed at each end and rounded in the middle. It’s a shape that has featured in traditional architectural mouldings and so on for many years. The first time I ever heard the word was when an architect used it to describe the shape of the new guttering we would need in the refurbishment of our Edwardian home!

I used a pair of compasses to make my ogee shape but you may find these instructions helpful if accuracy is not important to you. You will need to be reasonably accurate though or these instructions for making the repeats won’t work! So here is a LINK to the nice, clear instructions I used, plus a couple of examples of ogees in architecture. (You'll soon be noticing ogee-shapes everywhere you look!)

Here we go –

1. You will need to start with a motif that is either ogee-shaped or diamond-shaped. Scan, clean/tidy up and make the background transparent:

2. Layers > Duplicate > Hide the new layer by clicking on the eye at the side in the layers palette. (I have coloured my duplicate deep pink to make it easier to see what I've done.)

3. Write down the image dimensions in pixels.

4. Making sure you're working with the original,  un-hidden copy of the motif:

                                Filter > Other > Offset – check ‘wrap around’.

5. Halve the dimensions and enter the figures in the boxes > OK.

6. Now comes the magic!

Unhide the duplicate you made by clicking on the eye.

7. Layer > flatten.

8. Adjust image size if too big for repeat..

9. Edit > Define Pattern.

10. New file > Edit > Fill – choose the pattern you’ve just defined. Ta-dah!

One of the reasons I like this kind of repeat is that, by its very nature, it results in an evenly balanced pattern, with a slight diagonal movement in each direction - easy on the eye!

It's not too hard to see the Ogee shapes in this pattern
But although it's hard to see the Ogee shape in this one, I assure you  it's there!

To make it easier to see the way the pattern works, some of the patterns I've shown are hand-drawn and scanned into Photoshop rather than painted patterns. But, of course, the same principle applies whatever medium you use.

I hope you'll find these instructions useful - learning to make an ogee- or diamond-shaped repeat, certainly opened up lots of possibilities for me!

to download a .pdf of this post, 
condensed into 4 pages
 in case you want to print it out.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Surfacing Pattern Designers Showcase: Stitches and 'Also Ran's

With the arrival of summer, such as it is, everyone is getting busier and only a few people have had time to contribute their patterns to this showcase.

So, instead, I have set up a group Pinterest Board where you can browse a selection of patterns, some of them for sale on products, others linking back to portfolio websites, so that you can get a broader picture of the work of designers you like.

But here are this month's contributions to the 'Stitches' theme in alphabetical order of first name:

Judy Adamson

Pretty Pink Applique Flowers

This one, made from a handpainted paper collage, with the 'stitches' added in coloured pen, started out as a greeting card design, . I'm working on a collection based on this motif and hope it will soon be on show on the group Pinterest board.

Mel Pope

What Dreams are Made From
Mel says: I interpreted stitches as sewing stitches, so I have gone along a hand made theme, going back to a simplistic style the stitches are irregular and random to give it a more handmade/personal feel. 

Wendy Flynn

I also suggested that designers might like to contribute any pattern they'd entered for a competition but hadn't won. 

So here's one from -

Lisa Rivas

Lisa says: I had submitted this pattern: 'Candlemas I' to a dress contest a few months ago, read more here:

I'd like to add a big THANK YOU to all who have taken part in this series of Showcases - I know how busy you all are!

And 'Thank You', too, to all who have stopped by and  encouraged us with your comments! 

Don't forget, there is a lot more to see on our 'Surfacing Pattern Designers' group Pinterest board:

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Albertine- My Birthday Rose

Albertine Rambling Rose

Shortly before I was born, my family of 8 had been bombed out of their home in East Cowes, in the Isle of Wight. Being wartime, even the house they moved into needed plaster ceilings and window panes replaced. And the work was going on around my mother, even as I was making my way into the world! 

I expect it was something to do with that 'war-time spirit' we hear of and I'm not sure it would happen today, but apparently, on my arrival, the builders picked a posy of flowers from the garden for my mother. It consisted of blue love-in-a-mist, white border carnations and pink roses. For many years, while I was away at boarding school, my mother would send me - by Royal Mail! - a bunch of those same flowers on my birthday, the stems wrapped in damp cotton wool (before the days of kitchen roll!) and a new invention, aluminium foil, all contained in another new invention - a plastic bag. Miraculously, they arrived in pretty good condition!

So nowadays I always hope to be able to pick those flowers from my garden for my birthday.

I have never managed to identify the pink rose and the nearest I've found is the Albertine that I love! With the bright, almost orange-pink colour of its buds and its unique and beautiful scent, it has to be my absolute favourite!

This year I had almost accepted that my Albertine would not be out on my birthday. For one thing, a friend cut it back very severely in May, in readiness for my cavity wall insulation in July. But apart from that, this has been the coldest spring for fifty years and everything in my garden has been late flowering.

But, right on cue, a bud I'd been keeping an eye on, opened out on Sunday! It was so high up that my very tall son had to use a pair of even taller steps to reach it, but that didn't matter. The one little Albertine rose was there in time for my birthday!

Here it is, in watercolour, on a Commemorative Wedding Mug:

And, in combination with Lavender and Mock Orange Blossom from my garden, in a repeating pattern on a Kindle Cover:

I'm sure those won't be the only patterns I design around my Albertine rose! So watch this space . . .

Sunday, 9 June 2013

My New Portfolio Website - Posh and Painterly!

A couple of months ago, my family asked me what I wanted to do for my 70th birthday. When I replied, ‘Launch my portfolio website' I think they were a bit surprised. It wasn't quite what they had in mind.

At the time I was working really hard, preparing patterns to showcase on my website. And, according to the timeline I’d worked out when the Surface Pattern Course ended in February, I was due to have everything ready, website and all, by . . . June 9th, my birthday!

Well, it’s been quite a close-run thing, first of all going through, choosing and editing pattern collections and then going through them again, watermarking and finding names for them – and inevitably finding a few more things to edit.

As for the website itself, that was quite a nightmare and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, not to mention the tearing my hair out!

But, with more than a little help from my friends, it finally came together. And on a great wave of confidence, I embarked upon updating my social networking pages, including this blog, to tie in with  the website, as you may have already noticed!

So now it’s time for a fanfare and maybe a drum-roll too. Because here it is –


my new 
'Posh and Painterly' Portfolio website!

Click Here


Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Read about Colombian Designer, MaJoBV, in this month's e-Interview!

This month's e-interview is with another designer from Colombia, but MaJoBV is living in Milan -

FB page:

First things first, I asked MaJo when she realised she was an artist -
It wasn't an actual aha moment... I just felt it. I remembered being very little (a toddler) and telling my mom and dad I would live in Paris and be a Fashion Designer when I grew up. My dad would then make fun of me and not really treat me seriously (he still isn't used to the idea of me being away from home). I don't live in Paris but I live in Milan... Another fashion, design and art capital of the world :D

Have you had formal art/design/illustration training, MaJo?
Yes I have. I did 4 out of 5 years of Industrial design in Bogota before moving to Milan to graduate from Fashion & Textile Design. I've also done several short courses related to design, art and crafts. Some of the most important I've done are Textile Portfolio and Draping in Central Saint Martins and the ABSPD course. I also learnt a lot from a short and very tailor made to my needs course I took in Textile Support: a very nice school in Pavia (about 30min away from Milan) that belongs to a great Textile Master I assisted a couple of years ago in a summer course at my university.  She taught me about screen printing, weaving and using a knitting machine.

What was the most important thing you learnt from it?
Mmm... This one is a very hard question. I think I've learnt tons of all of my studying and working experiences, but I guess all of the skills I've learnt I've condensed them in my own design methodology which is based on concepts. That's it... the thing that really stuck with me is the fact that I can't design unless I have purpose, a concept, and idea to work on. I can't just turn the music on and doodle... I wish that worked but it doesn't.

What is the most important thing you have learnt on your journey as an artist and from whom did you learnt it?
I'm my worst critic, in every aspect. I come from two very successful and perfectionist parents, so my biggest fear is to not live up to them (although they don't pressure me or anything). Lately though, I've started to let go my need for perfection and I've also come to accept that there is beauty in my imperfect work :)

Which artists/designers/illustrators inspire you?
I find inspiration in many designers... there's always something to admire from others work, but Orla Kiely, Helen Dardik and Jillian Phillips always surprise me :D

Where do you sell your work?
You can buy my designs on products online at:

Spoonflower  - fabric, cut-n-sew patterns, wallpaper, decals &  giftwrap

Envelop  - home cotton basics & tote bags

Artscase  - smartphone cases

MaJoBV Digitals - digital stationary and clipart 

Society6 - artprints, tech-gadget accessories, and other

Pattern Design - jpg and vector patterns

Do you have regular contact with other artists? 
I'm part of beautiful and supportive online community of Surface Pattern Designers... I wish I could personally meet them all because they are all fantastic and have played an essential part in my professional and personal journey in the past year.

Do you have a favourite quote, art-related or otherwise?
It depends on the period I'm living: currently this one has given me lots of hope:

"You're sowing seeds. Things take time, but you'll reap the harvest later." - Lilla Rogers

Today a fellow designer showed me this other quote that fits perfectly with my current mood: "Original minds are not distinguished by being the first to see a new thing, but instead by seeing the old, familiar thing that is over-looked as something new." - Friedrich Nietzsche

And finally, what are your plans for the future?
To keep working on licensing my designs all over the world and developing my brand and product line.

I've also recently partnered with Skillshare to teach Reign Repeats: create perfect repeat patterns in Adobe Illustrator with the support of Spoonflower. I'm looking forward to share my design process and all I know about repeats and Illustrator with the people that enroll. (I've attached a promo to the course in case you'd like to include it (I would appreciate it) - the link to the course is:

Thank you, MaJo, for a truly inspiring interview! 

And I'm sure that 'Reign REPEATS' will provide a fantastic opportunity for anyone looking to learn how use Adobe Illustrator to make perfect and professional repeats. If you think that you, or someone you know, might be interested in taking this course -

to find out more about MaJo's e-course,