funny birds + metal + week 1 of the MATS Home Decor Class

Hello! I've been pulling some late nights recently for the MATS Home Decor class I am taking, which is taught by two amazing ladies... Margo Tantau (vp of creative at midwest-cbk) & Lilla Rogers (art agent extraordinaire). The class teaches us about creating collections using 5 of the main substrates used for the Home Decor market. (They are metal, fabric, wood, ceramic & glass.) We were also given some excellent trend boards to choose from for the duration of the class. I chose one with a more muted palette for a change + a challenge. :)

For our first week we were to focus on metal and "birds" were to be our inspiration / assignment. Initially, I started sketching offline and digitally...

and then i made a big giant mess of painting and monoprints... this one is one of my favoritess...

mono print by barb chotiner

And then I sought to combine my drawings and prints... And i quickly realized that i had 2 styles going on. One which skewed towards kids/adult kids and another which was quieter, moodier and so I ended up splitting it into 2 collections.

The funkier one...



and then a more subtle upscale / adult collection...



I was really torn which way to finish. (Since in the end, i could only finish up one to submit for  a "final.") In the class/community facebook group (another bonus with the class!) each board had its "fans" so to speak but i felt like the adult one was getting more comments. 

I ended up working quite a bit more on the wall art and creating a horizontal scene of majestic herons and flying swallows. I used metallic bronze ink and scanned in some branched from my home which had been blown down by a harsh rain storm the night before.

Below is my final piece. In the end, i loved some of my quirky birds - especially the guy on the clock - so I included them as a smaller, perhaps secondary collection. 


I am LOVING this class and how it is making me think about the home decor market. There is so much possibility. And all I want to do is go to this store (Abode) in the UK, or to Terrain - which is only 30 min away...

And on we go to week no. 2... fabric! 

geo garden pop

On Saturday, I took the day to play (with Jessica Swifts Pattern Camp) and came up with 2 new fun pattern designs. (and I've got another 3 in progress.) I've had a few folks on fb + instagram already asking me where these will be available for purchase. 

I'm calling this series GEO GARDEN POP. Here is Design #1...

And here is design #2...

And for the first time in a long while, I created an inspirational mood board before I begun. I am always amazed at how helpful it is to have this when I begin my process.

Here is a sneak peek of my mood board and the sketches I created.

penguin posse!

Well, I am back for yet another round of MATS. Here is my PENGUIN POSSE themed holiday card (though - non holiday specific).

penguin trio - art by Barb Chotiner

Since time was limited last week, I did some pencil sketching and then decided to draw and paint directly in Photoshop. (I only had a day to complete since I was flying south (literally) for a long wedding weekend.) While I did miss getting my paints out and getting messy... It was surprisingly fun to work this way.

This week's theme is cowboys/cowgirls. Debating if i should work this way again... 

MATS Bootcamp February: Cuckoo Cuckoo

If you have read my blog, you will find that last year I was a very enthusiastic student of Lilla Rogers' Making Art the Sells class. I made some amazing art works in two different 5 week sessions. Well, Lilla is back. And this time it's with an assignment "Bootcamp".

Bootcamp is six months of 5 different projects. Each month brings a new assignment. The February assignment/theme was cuckoo clocks. We were then to present our final artwork as a design for an iPhone case. You should see the AMAZING designs that people have created. (And on Feb. 25 you will be able to see - as there will be a live gallery with all the 400+ participants. Looks like mine is on page 5!)

This month in particular has been a very busy one (for me) with work assignments, deadlines, power outages, snow storms, school closings, babysitters quitting via text message, interviewing new babysitters, planning my daughters 3rd birthday party, and new clients (yay!). That being said, I did not get to spend a great deal of time on my "homework." I did however end up with a piece thats a bit different than my usual take on things and I really am pleasantly surprised with the finished piece. I wish I could work at 1 PM the way I work at 1 AM.  

Its is not a typical cuckoo clock. At the time of the assignment I was reading and then inspired by this article in New York Magazine about the photographer Andrew Garn who photographed 5,000 pigeons. The photographs were breathtaking and beautiful. My pigeons are a bit more rustic. New York City is my first love and I decided to make a sketchy "cuckoo" themed homage to my old hometown...

cuckoo #bootcamp / #makingartthatsells

cuckoo #bootcamp / #makingartthatsells


Happy Halloween! So… Week 3 of my MATS class brings me to the wide world of scrapbooking. Shown here are hand drawn and inked drawings which could be used for stickers elements and patterns for complimentary coordinating card stock. Say cheese! (but not cheesy!) :)

barbara chotiner | art for scrapbook collection - featuring retro camera / typewriter art

happy trails to you

How AMAZING would it be to have your own artwork licensed and printed onto kids clothing... a.k.a children's apparel? I think it would be pretty darn sweet. This is one of my goals/dreams as well as a favorite market of mine. I love perusing through (& saving) the Tea and Boden and Garnet Hill catalogs when we get them in the mail. I also love DPAM which my friend who travels to Paris quite a bit has turned me on to. And, while there are no more Olily shops in the states anymore, (boo) I still have quite a few of their old catalogs saved as well. 

Our theme in my MATS class this week was "camping". I created a little world of camping animals (& miscellaneous props) on an water and land adventure. I featured feathers and fireflies. I drew a TON and printed some background textures. Due to some other work deadlines, I did not have as much time as i liked to spend on this but I am pleased at the final. Would love to hear your thoughts!

PS who wants some s'mores??? 

"camp it up" artwork for children's apparel |  by bz designstuff

"camp it up" artwork for children's apparel |  by bz designstuff

lushy drawings

Hi - so on the final weeks of MATS class, we were to be inspired by our collections. I decided to raid the buddy bins of my 2 & 4 year olds and draw their plush little (stuffed animal) buddies. I can't tell you how excited they were to see "peaches", "flamingo", "seal" & others. Unfortunately I forgot to draw "Bora Bora" (he's a shark) but i'm sure he will make it into the next mock up! :)

I also decided this week to purely draw and not use my monoprints as I have been in doing previous weeks...

Be sure to click on the photo to see the detailed & process drawings.