Today I am interviewing Ann from Doodles and Jots. If you have kids and enjoy art I encourage you to check out her site. She writes and illustrates books for children and her blog is wonderful. She writes about family and art and often has tutorials for craft projects.
Photo Courtesy of Doodle and Jots
Can you tell us a little about who you are and the kind of work that you do?
Thanks Lillian for the invitation to guest post on It’s a Dome Life! My name is Ann and I blog over at Doodles and Jots. Ever since I can remember I wanted to be an artist/illustrator. My mother is a painter and was my first art teacher. I remember her teaching me to blot my watercolor brush, pausing to describe illustrations in picture books, and gushing over my drawings. In high school my artistic interests expanded to include photography and ceramics and later at Rhode Island School of Design I was excited to discover Industrial Design which allowed me to pursue my diverse creative interests. I have been working as a professional product designer for nearly twenty years. The last five, since my second child was born, as a freelancer part-time from home. My early interest in illustration never entirely faded and when my children came along, inspiration was all around me! Between my children’s fascination with nature, our shared love for children’s books, and the innocent way they see the world, I was itching to create! I had several false starts trying to create a children’s book and it wasn’t until I started a blog that I really found the courage to put something out there. Writing and illustrating content for little kids is what I am most excited about but I also share original crafts, educational interests, and practical mom stuff.
What medium do you prefer to work in and why?
I started my blog between freelance projects in the fall of 2011 when I had more time to create but then my product design work started up again and I began looking for shortcuts that would enable me to continue blogging with frequency since I enjoyed it so much. I use PowerPoint a lot to share progress for work so I am pretty fast with it. I started using it to create my art. The simple shapes and drawing tools force me to keep my ideas simple. I can also easily duplicate objects and change them slightly for a sequence or pattern which saves time. When I am finished, I save as PNG and PowerPoint puts each slide, as a separate image, into a folder (so easy)! It is actually kind of funny that I create my illustrations this way since I have always preferred handmade art. I do happen to love very modern graphic art too so I use this as inspiration. I consider myself to still be experimenting and look forward to when I will have a little more time to experiment. For one thing, I love texture. Sometimes I use imported textures to add richness to my images. I would love to create a library of handmade and photographic textures to create collage affects.
Where do you do your work? Can you describe your workspace?
I use the dining room as my office. My kids also use it as a playroom and they have their computers in there too. Between freelance and blogging I spend quite a bit of time in there so it is nice to have my kids with me. For writing I need quiet so I usually write at night but if I am drawing I like the chatter. I have a large drafting table and a filing cabinet full of art supplies for working out craft ideas. It is really my all purpose workspace. I also do household paperwork there. There’s a bulletin board for tacking up school info and projects. I have ample shelving for books. I even have my sewing machine handy but I must admit I have a growing stack repairs on top if it!
When we do projects together we set up at the dining room table which is, of course, in the living room!
Do you have a favorite artist? What attracts you to their work?
As a little kid I loved Disney animation. I remember being so fascinated by a photo showing how they brought in real animals for the animators to draw from! I also loved Beatrix Potter and how she brought animals to life by giving them little homes with cupboards and knitting baskets and putting them in little tailored jackets. For a while Norman Rockwell was my favorite. I was in awe of his skillful detail and how he managed to render people with so much personality. In high school Matisse became my favorite. I still REALLY love his fun and free style. I also love the naïve and graphic compositions of Milton Avery and the simple modern sculpture of Isamu Noguchi. There really are so many! I am also drawn to very minimalist art like that of Ellsworth Kelly.
As I mentioned I am a big fan of children’s book illustration. Some of my favorites are Eloise Wilcons, Leo Lionni, Louis Slobodkin, Lois Elhert, Sally Mavor, Douglas Florian, Melissa Sweet, and Byron Barton.
Photo courtesy of Doodles and Jots
What are you hoping to communicate through your art? How would you describe your work in 3-4 words?
I strive for clever, simple, innocence.
As an artist, is there anything specific that you hope to accomplish?
I would like to write and illustrate children’s books. I am getting good practice on my blog and I love the pace! I get such a rush coming up with an idea and executing it in a couple hours. The feeling of publish nearly every day I imagine is a bit like the feeling an actor gets from a live performance.
As an artist, how do you define success?
Success for me is doing it, enjoying it, and hopefully having someone else like it too. Making money at it would also be nice!
What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you practice? How do you come up with ideas?
I like to get out for walks with my camera. I find nature to be very inspiring and it is when my mind is the most open. Also I have OneNote on my computer, phone, and iPad for jotting down ideas. I forget them if I don’t.
Photo courtesy of Doodles and Jots.
What does being creative mean to you?
Being create, to me, feels a bit like never having to grow up and being able to make my own fun!
What do you think is your biggest strength? What is your biggest weakness?
I thing I am pretty organized which helps me be productive. My weakness is my self doubt. Frankly the fact I had no audience when I started my blog was the reason I had the courage to hit publish!
Are you influenced by any other creative mediums such as music, dance, art, writing or film?
I am absolutely influenced and inspired by lots of other art forms! I enjoy watching the show Sunday Morning on CBS which exposes me to lots of art forms I wouldn’t naturally seek out.
Photo Courtesy of Doodles and Jots.
Do you approach your work within a framework of rules or moral code?
I try to be a good person and a nice person and this guides my work for sure.
What is the most important idea, belief, or dilemma you hope to address through your work? Is there a theme at the core of the work you do?
I believe in being positive. I believe in solving problems. And I believe in enjoying the ride! I think my tagline captures what I hope to accomplish and how I go about it pretty well… Ideas for, diversions from, and celebrations of family life from a creative mom.
Thanks again Lillian!!!
You are so welcome, Ann! Thank you for sharing your work with us. I fell like I learned a lot about your process, especially with your book making. Great post!
Please visit Doodles and Jots and check out Ann’s blog.
Also, visit Doodles and Jots Facebook fan page.
Doodles and Jots for Tots (PDF eBook post & link): Get Ann’s FREE eBook!