Society6 online store now open

Exciting news! I’ve opened an online store on Society6, and my designs are now available to purchase on actual, real-life things! (if you’re unfamiliar with Society6, I've included a brief description at the bottom of this post)

I’ve uploaded a few of my favourite designs already, and I'll continue to post new work there regularly. A selection of products available with my designs on them is shown below (I love them so much!), and I'm looking forward to adding more soon.

Society6 are known for their unique artists and high quality products. I've already ordered a few items for myself, and I hope you'll check out my store to see if anything tickles your fancy! They have regular sales and special offers, so keep an eye out for those - I always hold out for the free shipping deals :)

Society6 is what’s known as a “print-on-demand” service. Independent artists upload their designs to the website, and choose which products to make them available on. The products are then listed for sale, and manufactured when a customer orders them (i.e. on demand). Society6 handles the payments, production and shipping, and the artist earns a royalty on each product sold with their design.

I'm so thrilled to have taken this step in putting my art out into the world. If you have a favourite design of mine that you'd like to see on a product, please feel free to let me know and I’ll see what I can do!

Daily pattern painting challenge (part 2)

Apologies for the gap between blog posts, I've got so much to catch up on! I've been continuing to work on my portfolio, but haven't managed to write about it here for a while. Let's go back to where I last left off :)

My previous blog post was about a pattern painting challenge I took part in earlier this year through Creativebug. In the first week we focused on traditional patterns. The second week was all about botanical and floral patterns.

 Calico floral pattern, painted in gouache

This was probably my favourite week of the challenge, and it was tough to pick out my top three for this blog post :) I love drawing flowers, but this exercise in painting them was really enjoyable. It was a delight to work in brightly coloured shapes instead of concentrating on linework, and I definitely want to explore it further!

 Tropical flowers pattern, painted in gouache

One of the tricky things about taking part in a class-led creative challenge is finding a way to put your own stamp on the designs. For some patterns I didn't stray too far from the example provided, but in others I really enjoyed exploring my own take on the pattern.

 Wildflowers pattern, painted in gouache

The third week went into shape-based patterns, which I'll write about in a (not too distant) future blog post. Talk soon :)

Daily pattern painting challenge

I'm a bit of a sucker for a creative challenge, but of course there's never be enough time to take part in every one that comes along. For the last couple of years, though, I've really enjoyed doing Lisa Congdon's January creative challenges on Creativebug - so I was looking forward to this year's edition. In 2016 it was a daily drawing challenge, in 2017 it was a creative boot camp, and in 2018 it was a pattern painting challenge. Yay, right up my alley!

 Basketweave pattern, painted in gouache

Each day in January, a new short class / demonstration video by Lisa was released, with a different painted pattern for participants to try their hand at. The medium of choice was gouache, although you could use a different medium if preferred. I was glad to get some further experience with gouache, which I haven't used much. It's a bit like watercolour paint, but more opaque and with a flat finish. The colours can be very intense, or diluted for a softer effect.

 Argyle pattern, painted in gouache

The first week consisted of traditional patterns, some of which are pictured in this blog post. We did gingham, basketweave, scallops, Argyle, chevron, paisley and harlequin patterns. I think a few of them have possibilities for turning into repeating patterns or developing further :)

 Harlequin pattern, painted in gouache


I started the class thinking it would be a great way to stretch my creative muscles again after a bit of a break. It certainly has been that, but it's also been a great way to explore an unfamiliar medium, and to work on my brush technique in a surprisingly rigorous fashion - all those straight lines!

The second week was botanical patterns, which I'll cover in another blog post.

Happy Christmas 2017

Where on earth did 2017 disappear to?? It's Christmas already, I can't believe it!

 Happy Christmas, Merry New Year

It's been a bit quiet here for the last couple of months while I've been busy dealing with other areas of my life, but I'm super excited for 2018, and looking forward to creating and sharing more work with you.

While I've been planning for next year, I've been looking through past projects. Last year I created a series of twenty five Christmas baubles as part of a creative advent challenge. You can see the individual pieces in more detail on my Flickr account, and the finished set is pictured below.

 Set of Christmas baubles - Advent challenge 2016

I'll be spending Christmas day with my partner and sisters. All the presents are ready and waiting to be wrapped. Just a bit more cooking to do and we'll be set. I wish you and your loved ones a very happy day, and a positively wonderful 2018! XOXO

 Christmas bauble 26 - Advent challenge 2016

Creating index card art

For the last few years, I've participated in an annual creativity challenge called Index-Card-a-Day, or ICAD for short. The challenge takes places over June and July each year, and has a great community spirit to it.

The idea is to create every day in a way that is super accessible and not too precious. I love that the lines on the index cards show through the work to remind me that it's a simple exercise in getting creative, not an attempt to create a lasting work of art :)

By the end of the 2016 ICAD challenge, I had completed over a hundred index cards. They've become a terrific library of ideas to revisit later, like a sketchbook or art journal. I also used them as a backdrop for a small exhibition last year, and I loved the way they looked all together.

 Sally Cummings index card collection 2016, photo by Tracy Paterson

I decided to take part again in 2017, but I wanted to do something different to the business card project and previous years' ICAD challenges. So I set myself some rules by splitting the cards into three horizontal sections, and keeping each section bold and simple. I didn't want to get slowed down by spending a lot of time creating complex designs.

 Pile of index cards, ready for creativity to happen

I created 28 index cards this year - a bit less than in previous years, but I'm so glad I participated. All of the cards can be viewed on my Flickr account, and a few of my favourites are pictured below.

 Selection of eight index cards from the 2017 creative challenge

The index card challenge holds a special place in my heart, and I would go so far as to credit it with re-sparking my creativity after many years of dormancy. A daily creativity practice isn't always easy, but it's amazing how that act of doing gets the ideas flowing. Whether you share your work or just keep it to yourself, it's worth it :)

Melbourne Rare Book Week 2017

Last month one of my favourite annual events took place in Melbourne - Rare Book Week :) It's a wonderful series of free events, organised every winter, that celebrates the history of special books and book collections.

There are lots of talks, workshops and exhibitions run over the course of the week by a range of different institutions and libraries around Melbourne. Usually I can only attend evening events, but this year Rare Book Week coincided with my first free week after finishing a work contract, so I dived in and went to as many sessions as I could manage!

I adore books and it's lovely to hear stories of their history and production. I attended sessions on rare illustrated children's books, classic stories that have been given new life as comics and graphic novels, rare books that revealed the early history of Melbourne, novelty books produced in unusual shapes, and artist books from the early twentieth century Parisian art scene.

 A talk at the Melbourne Athenaeum Library for Rare Book Week 2017

I think my favourite event was "Reconstructing Melbourne’s Lost Environments" at the Old Treasury Building Museum, a talk that examined Robert Hoddle’s field notebooks and other sources to uncover clues about Melbourne's natural history before settlement. I learnt about the original locations of waterways, large swamps (nowadays we would call them wetlands) that were filled in, surveys that described the extant flora in different parts of Melbourne, and the fate of Batman's Hill - now flattened underneath Southern Cross train station. I'd love to find out more about this version of Melbourne that is hidden underneath the modern city. It was also a good reminder that today's data is tomorrow's valuable historical resource!

 Old Treasury Building, Melbourne

Yellow starbursts pattern

Oh my, life has been far too busy lately. I've only had time for small bits of art-between-the-gaps, and am aching for more time to work on projects! Soon, soon ...

In the meantime, I thought I'd write about a design I started work on earlier this year. It began as a page in one of my sketchbooks, drawn with a yellow paint pen. The paper and the paint pen didn't get along too well, so the paper has been roughed up pretty good. But I liked the design and the bright yellow colour, so I decided to scan it into my computer and see what I could do with it.

 Yellow starbursts sketchbook drawing

After scanning, I opened the image in Photoshop and tidied it up a bit to flatten out the rough spots. Then I switched to Illustrator and vectorised it (i.e. converted the image from pixels to smooth, graphic lines). I adjusted the settings to give me a clean two-colour rendition of the original hand drawn version.

 Yellow starbursts vectorised in Illustrator

The next step was to turn it into a repeating pattern. This step took a fair bit of playing around - trying to create an even, yet random-looking distribution of the motifs across the pattern. The version that is shown below appeared on the front page of this website when I launched :)

 Yellow starbursts repeating pattern

I'm not entirely sure if it's finished yet. I might try a bit more fiddling with the distribution / tile size so that the repeat is less obvious. I'm also thinking about adding some texture back in for extra interest. I guess that will depend on what I want to use the pattern for ...

I love converting my work into patterns like this, even though the extra steps from the original piece through to a repeat design can sometimes feel arduous! But I'm still learning, and I'm sure it will become easier over time as I create repeating patterns for textiles on a regular basis.

Forty days into #The100DayProject

After forty days straight of creating art on the back of business cards, I recently decided to put a hold on #The100DayProject to give myself some breathing room. I've really enjoyed the challenge, but sometimes the timing just gets in the way. I'm looking forward to picking it up again when the stars align a little better :)

 #The100DayProject 2017 #100daysofbusinesscardart Day 11

Here's a selection of some of my favourite cards from the first forty days:

 #The100DayProject 2017 #100daysofbusinesscardart selection

Daily challenges can be ... well ... challenging, but they are such a great way to build a regular creative practice. The act of creating something every day, no matter how small, really gets the ideas flowing. It's an excellent way to push through creative blocks, try out new techniques, or simply give yourself permission to experiment and play.

All of my business cards so far have been posted on my Instagram account and Flickr.

 #The100DayProject 2017 #100daysofbusinesscardart 40 days

Now I just need to decide whether to do the daily index card challenge in June ... :)

#The100DayProject 2017

I recently decided to take part in #The100DayProject for the second year in a row. If you don't know of it, #The100DayProject is a challenge that takes place on Instagram that involves choosing a creative activity and doing it for 100 consecutive days. This year it runs from 4 April - 12 July.

Last year I kept my project super simple in order to give myself a chance of completing a piece each day while I was also studying. I used a digital ink brush app on my phone to create small expressive drawings.

 #The100DayProject 2016 #100daysofbrushstrokes

This year I thought I would have a bit more time to work on the project, so I chose something a little more hands on. I have a stack of old business cards from previous jobs that I'd hung onto (they make good scrap paper and thread organisers), and I really enjoy working on a small scale - so I decided to use them as mini art canvases.

 #The100DayProject 2017 #100daysofbusinesscardart introduction

There will be no overarching theme, subject matter, colour scheme, or media restrictions. Just whatever I feel like on the day - as long as it's on a business card. I think that a lot of the cards will be prepared in stages, so I might do a bunch of backgrounds on a weekend in order to give me a colourful starting point on days when I have less time.

Of course, within hours (literally) of announcing my project on Instagram, I was contacted about, and subsequently accepted, a short term job in the publishing industry. So I've had a lot less time on my hands than I'd anticipated! However, I get so much out of taking part in creative challenges that I think it's worth it (I'll write more about creative challenges in future). Right now I'm 3 weeks in and doing okay :)

One of my favourite pieces so far is pictured below, but you can see them all on my Instagram account. You can also check out the Instagram hashtag until 12 July to see the latest work that other people are doing (there are some amazing projects happening there!).

 #The100DayProject 2017 #100daysofbusinesscardart Day 13

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Welcome to Sally Cummings Designs

Hello, and welcome to my new website and blog :)

I'm an emerging artist and designer based in Melbourne, Australia. A long-time crafter, I recently turned towards the visual arts to inform my designs. Now I love creating art to use in textile and surface design. I'm also planning to develop embroidery and cross stitch patterns in future.

I create clean and colourful designs that involve a combination of controlled and fluid elements. My work is inspired by the shapes and colours I observe in the world around me. My favourite media include ink, watercolours, acrylics and digital media. A selection of my latest work can be viewed on the website home page and under the Portfolio tab.

 Sketchbooks March 2017

I'll be updating this blog each week with posts about art, design, embroidery, works in progress, inspiration, travel, and daily life. Please subscribe using the form on this page if you would like to receive updates by email (there's also an RSS feed if you prefer).

P.S. If you're here because you followed me on my previous blog, then you've come to the right place - this is the new home of the Sally Sets Forth blog, as well as the Sally Cummings Designs website :)