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Pixel Scrapper June 2021 – “Mixed Media”

It’s Memorial Day weekend here in the US, which means May is coming rapidly to an end, and there will be a new blog train at Pixel Scrapper/DigitalScrapbook.com. This month’s palette is full of bright cheerful colors, summery and playful. I ended up going in a very mixed-media direction with it; all but a handful of frames and ribbons are things I photographed and extracted, or hand-drew in ArtRage. That includes the brushes I created the mixed-media papers with; they started out as black ink either brushed or stamped onto white paper and scanned in, then isolated in Photoshop and turned into brushes.

My Crazy Busy Awesome Life

Life’s been pretty busy for me lately; those mixed-media brushes are just the tip of the iceberg! I also participated in my first 36 Days of Type and completed it on May 9th; the uppercase and numbers I drew for it will be hitting the shop sometime this month as alpha templates. I got my second jab on May 8th, so I’m now fully vaccinated; this is a good thing, because the people I live with are still convinced that the pandemic is a hoax and have refused to wear masks all the way through, as well as turning down the vaccine and asking me not to get it either. (This is despite them having multiple high-risk factors for severe illness, one of them having bad enough health as it is that he’d probably die from it; I’ve reached the point of saving my breath for people who might actually be open to listening, and am focusing on protecting my own health.) And yet they gripe about all the doctors’ offices and some local cities wanting them to mask up (this state hasn’t hit 50% vaccinated yet, and probably won’t for a while unless the schools start requiring it for in-person classes, because the supposed adults are refusing it in large numbers); in the next breath, they’re wondering “when things can get back to normal.” It’s like they refuse to see that the two are linked, despite all of the other spurious links they see connecting 5G with mind control and wildfires with Jewish space lasers. *headdesks repeatedly*

Also on May 7th and 8th, I was able to attend a virtual type design conference; over the course of Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, there were 15 different lectures on topics ranging from the bumps of the pandemic to designing typefaces for a language you don’t speak, and on a design-oriented book club started in Brazil that’s swelled to 3000 members during the pandemic. “Typeseeing” tours of places like Athens, Greece; Montevideo, Uruguay; Barcelona, Spain; and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam were wonderful for seeing what signage is like in those places, and very useful in sparking new type design ideas for me. I also got to learn from some of the big-name established type designers and make a few contacts in the field; I’ve got an invite to bring a specimen sheet of a typeface to one of them for a critique, too, which is HUGE for improving my knowledge and skills in future.

I’ve also attended two series of talks at Design Cuts recently; it seems like they hold a two-day themed event every month with half a dozen free live classes. April’s was on typography, and May’s was on lettering, so they were both very much in line with what I’ve been working on over the last year. The videos of all of those classes are available in Design Cuts’ Learning Hub, if you’re interested in them. They’ve got a huge list of videos to select from, so if you’re looking to expand on your design skills or learn some new techniques, it’s another free source to learn from pros. They’ve also got a regular Thursday series of events between the larger month-end ones; there was a recent Thursday talk on creating scrapbook-style text by Anna Aspnes, whose name you might recognize from the digiscrap world.

I’ve been working on my hand-lettering skills as well in a daily sketchbook practice, trying to fight the tremors that have been developing due to nerve damage from all of the lupus flareups I’ve had in the last couple of years, and posting the results on Instagram. I know they’re not perfect, and I’m sure others can spot the mistakes as well, but I’m not doing it for the people who want to see perfection; for me, it’s about maintaining or improving my fine motor control, and about being honest about my struggles. If I wanted the lettering to be perfect, I could just do it in Illustrator where I can edit the points all day long, but that would just be contributing to the “only show a perfect life on social media” thing; I believe that’s almost as toxic to self-image for an average person as those anorexic models being held up as beauty standards in the fashion magazines and blogs. Daily practice at drawing type with pens is another project I’ve been working on; I use TypeCooker to generate a set of random parameters for the day’s alphabet, which helps keep me working on all of the foundational hands. And I’ve got a short Zoom class I’ll be taking on copperplate calligraphy later this week, too.

I’m still working on making a big addition to the character set for RHK Minimal, adding support for the rest of the Latin-based and Cyrillic languages as well as Greek. The current issue is a technical difficulty with exporting a TTF; I think I’m going to have to email the developer and ask if he can figure out why it’s not exporting correctly.

I still don’t leave the house often unless I have appointments, but there are several coming up; on the 3rd, I’m seeing my eye doctor and looking forward to getting a new prescription for eyeglasses since my current ones are 3 years old. On the 7th, I’ve got a rheumatology appointment (and may be able to convince him to up my immunosuppressant now that the pandemic is starting to slow) and my annual gynecology checkup (including mammogram). I’m glad to be able to get those taken care of; the well-woman visit was due a couple months before the pandemic hit, but we were in the middle of starting to move out of state at that point, though that move ended up being called off at the last minute when the sellers took the house off the market because of the pandemic.

This Month’s Blog Train

Anyway, back to the reason you’re here: the blog train! As I mentioned, I chose to use this month’s palette to create a bright, bold mixed media kit. The papers pack has 18 of them for you, in 3 different styles: 6 with mixed-media marks all over them, 6 with large paint patches which could work as mats for photos, and the last 6 are mostly solid with colorful edges. I haven’t included any simple patterns or true solids, but I know you’ve got lots of those in your stash, and possibly some from the other stops on this blog train as well.

The elements set includes a variety of frames, a couple of torn photos with clipping masks, some paint, some doodles, a few ribbons, some speech bubbles, and a head with a messy bun.
Kit Preview

It shouldn’t surprise any of you, given how type- and lettering-focused I’ve been over the last couple of months, that I’ve included a lot of word art that I lettered in ArtRage. There are 27 pieces here, mostly single words with a few quotes, focusing on the perfectly imperfect nature of life and humans. Naturally, I also included a couple of words that could be used for LGBT+ Pride, since that’s usually in June in the US.
word art preview

And I’ve got an alpha for you as well; graffiti’s really been enjoying a moment this year, and so I’ve created an alpha based on my recollection of the marker graffiti popular on Minneapolis’ North Side and around the university back in the late 1990s when I first lived in the Twin Cities. I’ll eventually turn it into a font, but this alpha is from the initial character drawings.
alpha preview

Downloads

Papers
Elements
Word Art
Alpha

Don’t forget to swing back to the main thread at Pixel Scrapper and pick up all of the other stops on this train to build a massive coordinated collection!

40 Responses

  1. Kelly Wardlow

    Oh Holly, this is absolutely amazing. You can see all the hard work you put in it. My favorite part is the way you mixed bold colors on the papers. You have a great artistic eye!

  2. Anne MacLellan

    Thank you for the wonderful kits. I love your word art. It’s good to see your designs again & good news about your vaccination status. I’ve taken a break from designing myself for a while due to healing a frozen shoulder. As well, I’m also now fully vaccinated due being a caregiver for my mom in long term care. Toronto has been a hotspot but the vaccination drives are going very well (almost 65% partially vaccinated) & now because of better supply (Canada’s dependent on other countries for supply), we’re now starting to ramp up second doses.

  3. Robynne

    This kit looks wonderful but I have a problem. I am unable to download the Papers kit. I’m thinking that it might be too big. I have downloaded your Elements, Wordart and Alpha with no problems, so its not at my end.

    Thanks.

    Robynne

    • Holly Wolf

      The papers kit is 64.7MB, which isn’t very big, and it’s showing about 50 successful downloads already. I’ve had a couple of friends test it from the UK and Washington state, and they had no problems downloading it. It may well be something in the middle between the server and your computer–a network router glitch, your ISP, or something. All I can suggest is trying it again at a different time of day when your local net traffic is usually low.

      • Robynne

        Just to let you know that it took me 11 days but I have finally been able to download the papers kit. Thank you.

  4. JANET ALBERT

    Thank you for all of the hard work you are so willing to share. Stay well and enjoy all your intellectual adventures.
    Also, thank you for sharing your busy like with us who are stuck at home living vicariously though others like you. (talking for myself here).

    • Holly Wolf

      I’ve been stuck at home for most of the last decade; I’ve just gotten good at Skype/Discord/Zoom, etc., over the years, which has really helped me weather this pandemic fairly well. Following people who are established names in a field I’m deeply interested in has led me to finding out about all of these interesting free classes, which is helping me grow as an artist and keep myself busy.

      But the first thing I had to do when I ended up on disability was shift my thinking from “I’m stuck at home with no money to do anything fun” to “I get to stay at home and learn about anything that takes my fancy today, and talk to my friends/family over IMs/video/voice calls!” At that point, it became not an issue of stuck at home and bored, but of too many things to do everything I wanted to…and that’s kept me busy since 2007, and I still have subjects I haven’t even touched yet. I’ve taught myself photography, composition, Photoshop, scrapbook design, drawing, dog training, hand-lettering, yoga, Indian cooking, making puff pastry desserts from scratch; I’ve learned how to use colored pencils at an advanced level and oil pastels, watercolors, and alcohol markers at a beginner level; and I’m learning type design, calligraphy, and acrylic painting. I’ve also picked up enough medical knowledge along the way to be able to talk with my doctors at a level where they’re not afraid to throw medical terms into the conversation, or talk about the latest research published about my conditions, and learned basic wheelchair skills when my back got bad enough to require me to use one for my safety. It’s a very full life for someone who might leave the house twice a week (once for doctors appointments and once for a grocery run)!

  5. Ronelle Capelli

    Thank you. I would love to have the elements and PP but I can’t download them. I down loaded the Alpha and word art without a hitch. I can’t figure it out. I’ve tried all day long to download them. But whether I get them or not, I appreciate all you work.

  6. Sharon Weil

    What an amazing contribution for the blog train! I appreciate all the hard work you put into this, and am amazed by both your attitude and determination to make the best of the life you have. Good for you!

  7. Shannon

    What an amazing kit, Holly! Those papers are gorgeous, and you’ve us so many cool elements to play with! I’m also a sucker for alphas, so thank you for that. 🙂
    What a relief it must be for you to be fully vaccinated! Looking forward to my second shot – it’s booked for August, but hoping to get it earlier – it’s been a struggle for many people here in Ontario, especially in the less populated areas.
    Wishing you the best.

  8. RB

    Many Many Thanks for Generosity Holly Geat Kit. Have Downloaded Fine Not A Problem.Hope Your Well Take care Stay Safe RB:)x

  9. Mary K

    Holly, thanks for sharing your creative gift! It’s something to just have some fun with and feel creative ourselves. Wonderful!

  10. Marty

    This is a gorgeous contribution! Wow, and thank you!! For those who had trouble downloading, I switched from my default unarchiver “Archive Utility” to “The Unarchiver” for these zip files. I went to file and open with.

  11. Laurie

    What an amazing kit for us, thank you so much for creating it. You are very generous!

  12. Lynette

    I’m so sad. I wanted to thank you for your amazing gift, but though others obviously have successfully downloaded, I can’t. All for zip files only open into an unending string of new zip files. Your work is gorgeous and thank you even though I can’t get your gift.

    • Holly Wolf

      I use 7-Zip to pack and unpack my ZIP files; it’s freely available at https://www.7-zip.org and can pack/unpack .ZIP, .RAR, and its native .7z formats, plus several others. I’ve been using it since before I started designing, so it’s not a new program or anything, but I started using it because Windows’ built-in extractor couldn’t handle half the files I downloaded at the time. It can also compress the ZIP files better than Windows can, which is helpful to keep download sizes smaller. Try downloading 7-Zip–I know it’ll open the files, but I also think it might become your new favorite program for all compressed file types!

  13. Lorri

    Thanks for this beautiful and large contribution! I can’t wait to use your work.

  14. Terri

    I am having trouble getting my downloads. Either they don’t completely load or I’m getting a message on my Mac that it can’t decompress the zip files. Most of the Blog Train is downloading without issue, but there have been about 4 that haven’t. I love your work, I want to make this work!

    Terri

    • Holly Wolf

      The not completely downloading is generally an internet issue somewhere between the server and your home, most often in the connection between your ISP’s local routers and your home. Most browsers will give you an option to resume the download, or you can retry.

      As far as not decompressing on Mac, that’s an issue that might be my fault; I tried using a higher compression rate and block size this month than I have in the past, and if it’s causing issues, I’ll have to swap those settings back to the previous ones that weren’t creating problems. I’ve had a crazy busy week creatively–40 workshops plus a type design lecture, on top of 4 doctors’ appointments, so it’s taken me a bit to get back here to see comments. I’ve already got the archives redone and will be uploading over the course of the day.

      [UPDATE: The net connection held and they’re all uploaded at a different compression rate; please let me know if these are being decompressed by your Mac properly! I’m willing to swap out those ZIPs again if needed.

  15. Anna Kurbes Montgolf

    So talented and motivated! Thank you again for sharing (thoughts and kits!) It’s so inspiring!

  16. Kelly

    Holly, I love your kit. I’m a big fan of doodly graphics. I’m sorry to hear about your trials with those who deny vaccination and masks. 🙁 But I’m happy you got vaccinated. Your art journey is inspiring <3.

  17. Kelly

    Holly, I love your kit. I’m a big fan of doodly graphics. I’m sorry to hear about your trials with those who deny vaccination and masks. 🙁 But I’m happy you got vaccinated. Your art journey is inspiring <3.

  18. Faith A

    WOW! not only am I REALLY impressed with the papers etc, but the fact you are ill with Lupus, which I know to be a debilitating illness, but what you have achieved by NOT being bored is astonishing. Well done you and thank you for this fabulous kit.

  19. Annelie

    Thank you so much for this amazing kit! I love the mixedmedia style, and all the word art. I love the “not perfect” wordart style, it feels more real and personal. Thanks for sharing about your life and challenges. I feel less alone. Also living a life at home with chronic illness and many challenges. Thank you so much for everything.

  20. BCRocks

    Thank-You, Holly, for this incredible gift. I marvel at the variety of your creative gifts & am totally grateful for you sharing them so freely with all of us.
    Blessed Be.

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