Drawing for My Nieghbors

Art & Design

I wanted to thank my neighbors – Gretchen & Robert – for all the kind things they have done for us over the past few years. I decided that the best way for me to do that would be to draw them an illustration of their home or property.

photo used for Gretchen & Robert’s drawing

I first took some photos to draw from & chose this view of the Chesapeake Bay from their back porch.

digital drawing created with the Apple Pencil & the iPad Paper app

The illustration was made with the Paper app by FiftyThree for iPad & my Apple Pencil stylus. I superimposed their two dogs, Lucy & Hunter, into the composition, which was actually my husband’s idea. I think it’s nice touch.

finished 5” x 7” drawing, printed, matted & framed

To finish the gift, I printed it on a thick, glossy card stock, signed it in ink & then matted/framed it. I hope they like it as much as I do!


Birthday Banner

Art & Design, My Life

For my daughter’s 2nd birthday party, I decided to make a banner from scratch using a white plastic table cloth & Sharpie markers.

hand drawn banner

For ideas & inspiration, I referenced the adorable charicatures that adorn Isabelle’s clothing. Carter’s – a popular brand of baby clothes – uses the cutest cartoon characters in their designs. They use illustrations of cherries, rainbows, owls, unicorns, cats & dogs, dinosaurs, clouds, flowers, hearts, stars, planets & various school supplies, just to name a few.

The banner turned out great & everyone loved it. We are definitely going to use it next year & every year after – as long as it holds up!


Poster Design on Display

Art & Design

A few weeks ago I designed a poster for a gallery show & open house for my mom’s artist group, the 5 Chesapeake Chicks. Me, my husband & my daughter went to the event last weekend to support my mom. The poster I create was displayed on an A frame outside the gallery & I wanted to share photos of the final printed design.

5 Chesapeake Chicks Printed Poster



Website Design

Art & Design

If you’ve been following my blog, you would know that my mom is also an artist & has recently began showing/selling her paintings at local galleries. She recently asked me to design business cards for her – you can check out that post HERE. This included creating a logo & a personal brand that I designed around her personality & artwork.

Since then, I have been photographing all of her new & old artwork so I could finish her personal brand by creating a new WordPress website for her. I chose a simple portfolio theme that beautifully displays her work – the Blask Theme.

Elaine Davy Strong Website – About Page

I took the logo I created for her business cards & expanded on that look throughout the site. I wrote a little bio about my mom for the About section. I also added a banner that’s a cropped image of one of her paintings to add a splash of color.

Elaine Davy Strong Website – Acrylic Painting Portfolio Project

Before I imported the images, I edited them all in Photoshop so they would look their best. As they were imported, I included the title of each piece & then I organized her work into 3 categories – Acrylic Painting, Oil Painting, Drawing & Print Making – making each a Portfolio Project.

Elaine Davy Strong Website – Oil Painting Portfolio Project

For the Portfolio Projects, I chose the “Tiled Column Gallery” format. This layout keeps all of the images large enough to view while allowing the viewer to scroll through the work at their own pace.

Elaine Davy Strong Website – Drawing & Print Making Portfolio Project

Finally, I added a decorative header & footer graphic in light grey for some extra ornamentation. I think the website reflects the style of the business cards I had created & really helps cement her personal brand. I think in the end, she would like to sell her work online. So naturally, the next step in this process would be for me to transform this into a working Shopify website. But, for now, I think this website is perfect for my mom & her burgeoning new career.

Vector Illustration

Art & Design

For Art’s 75th birthday (he’s my father-in-law), my husband wanted me to create a vector illustration of a photo he took of him & our daughter Isabelle during their last trip to Florida. Here is the photo:

photo used to create graphic illustration in Adobe Illustrator

Vector illustrations are much easier to create than a free-hand drawing so I knew that I could create a really awesome gift for his birthday. All I had to do is import the photo into Adobe Illustrator & trace it (NOTE: I do not use the “Image Trace” option within Illustrator!). I actually trace the photo by hand in black with the pen tool, shape by shape, overlapping each other until every shape I want to include has been drawn. Then I go back to those black outlined shapes & choose the fill color for each, while making sure each shape is layered correctly within the file. The trickiest part of the whole process is actually choosing the colors. I have to choose a color palette & keep that palette consistent through the whole piece. Here is the final illustration:

vector illustration of Isabelle & her grandpa Art

The last hurdle I had to jump was how to present this as a gift to Art without it being a crude print-out. What I did was find & order a 10″ x 10″ black frame with a white 8″ x 8″ matte on Amazon. Then I used my Epson printer to print a 7″ x 7″ copy of the illustration in the best quality on high gloss paper in the Preview Application. Then I cut that out with a straight edge & Xacto knife & pasted it onto a matte piece of card stock. I signed my name & added the date in pencil underneath. Then I matted the card stock in the white matte & then set the matted art into the frame. Finally, I added the hanging hardware, cleaned the glass & wrapped it. Here is the final product:

finished vector illustration printed, matted & framed for Art’s 75th birthday

I think it turned out great & I think Art was really happy with the gift.

Second Birthday Invitation Design

Art & Design

My daughter is getting ready to turn 2 this May & I’ve just designed the invitations. For the theme, I chose to celebrate the friendship between our house cat Kiley & Isabelle. She just adores that cat & I think Kiley loves her back – even though Isabelle sits on her & pulls her tail! I thought it would be super cute to focus on their relationship, instead of the theme being about cats in general.

invitation design for Isabelle’s second birthday

For the invitations, I took some cute photos I have of the two of them & photoshopped them together into a filmstrip design. To make it more colorful, I added a rainbow gradient to the text. These will be printed on letter sized card stock, 3 to a page & cut into thirds:

layout for printing on letter size paper – 3 to a page

They can be printed at home on letter sized paper or card stock & will fit into standard letter envelopes. This keeps the printing & mailing costs to a minimum. I’ve also designed a back side of the invitation with the party info that will be printed on the reverse.

I also want to make some custom designs for the party decorations as well – maybe a banner or poster or even draw up cartoon versions of Izzy & Kiley ?? – I’m not sure….but I will work on that at a later date – thank god I still have a few months to pull it all together!

Open House Poster Design

Art & Design

My mom is part of a group of local female artists called “5 Chesapeake Chicks” & she wanted me to create a poster design for an upcoming event they are organizing. They will be promoting their work at an open house/meet & greet at “Artworks @7th” gallery in North Beach, MD. We wanted to use one of her recent paintings of seagulls for the design since the 5 Chesapeake Chicks & the gallery are all beach & Maryland themed. Here is the final design:

poster design for “5 Chesapeake Chicks” open house

Bumper Sticker Designs

Art & Design

Not only is my mom an artist, she also devotes her time to saving animals, specifically cats, in our local area. She is a dedicated member of PAWS, the Patuxent Animal Welfare Society, who help foster strays, nurse sick cats to health & also set up adoption events. She even helped build the local pet clinic Calvert Well Pet Clinic.

PAWS is in need of new volunteers to foster cats until they are adopted, so she came to me to come up with some ads. She wanted something colorful & eye catching in the size of bumper stickers to paste at the shelter, the clinic & at the local PetCo where they do their adoption events.

bumper sticker design for animal rescue organization “PAWS”

Mom sent me some photos she took of some of the cats she has fostered to use in the designs. I decided to go with a very simple, yet very bold & legible design. I also thought that if she would like more made, I could do a series of them with different cat photos & different colors, but in the same style. As of now I have only made two designs, one in blue & one in orange.

bumper sticker design for animal rescue organization “PAWS”

I think they turned out great & mom loved them, but I hope they actually help to bring in more volunteers to foster the many cats in need.

Selfie Graphic Illustration

Art & Design

Selfie Graphic Illustration – Adobe Illustrator Vector Drawing

Business Card Design

Art & Design

My mother has asked me to design new business cards for her to affix to the back of her paintings or next to them when hung in a gallery show. She is a wonderful artist & has been producing fabulous paintings that are now being shown in some of the local galleries. Business cards are an easy & professional way to get her name out there.

For the card design, my mom picked her acrylic painting of an autumn forest with the sunlight streaming through the trees & dappled shadows dancing on the ground. It’s a beautiful piece to represent her work as an artist.

mom’s painting of the forest

The biggest challenge I had making this design was to visually balance the small amount of text with the bold, colorful painting. I inserted the painting to the left on the horizontal card layout. I decided to crop out the beveled edges of the frame to give me more room to enlarge the painting within the layout. My mom doesn’t have a logo, so I decided to create one by using her name, Elaine Davy Strong. I found a beautiful scripted font called “P22 Dearest Script” & staggered each word in her name on top of one another so it would fit perfectly in the space to the right of the painting.

For the color palette, I decided to use various shades of gray. Black text can seem boring & colored text can seem garish, so going with gray is a good choice when you don’t want to clash with your image while not using black. I chose a white background for the card so the painting would look its best. (My mom had initially wanted the cards to be grey, but I talked her out if it!) 

I chose a simple seriffed font called “Centurion Old” for the rest of the text. I used larger type (8pt) in italics for the title/medium text & smaller (7pt) regular type for the contact info. But the design still felt like it needed something, so I decided to add some kind of ornamentation.

business card design for mom – front side

Usually, I look for inspiration on the web, but sometimes I like to use ornamental font types, like “Wingdings” or “Webdings”. Designers are constantly creating new & exciting fonts that you can use for free, so it’s worth the time searching/downloading them (check out www.dafont.com if you’re interested!). I scrolled through my fonts in Illustrator & found one called “Floral Ornaments”, which is a perfect fit for my mom because she’s an avid gardener. I ended up combining two ornaments, a flower & leaf, & positioning them to the left of the scripted logo in a lighter grey. Adding this floral motif balanced the composition of the front-side nicely.

I convinced my mom to get double-sided cards, with the backs printed in black & white. VistaPrint only charges an extra $7 for the backs, so she thought it was a great idea.

first design idea for back side of the card

My first idea was to use a faded black & white image of the painting on the front, but mom said that she didn’t want the back of the cards to be so dark that she couldn’t write a note on them when giving the cards out.

So, I went back to the floral motif for inspiration. I pulled a few more floral elements from the “Floral Ornaments” typeface & created this simple design for the back. I used all light gray tones for the graphics, but included lots of white space in the center. Now she can handwrite a note on the back, but still have a two-sided card.

finished design – front & back

We both love how it turned out & I can’t wait to see them printed & displayed next to my mom’s paintings in the next show.

VistaPrint preview of the final design – front & back