All Business, But Having Fun

Welcome to March, everyone. This is always an exciting month, because SPRING. For me, January and February get to be so gray and depressing with all the cold and wintery days. Going from February to March, however, brings promise of warmer weather, snow melting, and birds chirping—even though you might just be facing another month of winter, especially if you live in a place like my hometown in New England where snowstorms are still not uncommon in March. But still, it's almost over, and that makes me happy.

I was pleased with the results of my floral pattern project that I worked on last month. It really got me focusing on creating art, learning new things, honing my skills, and building my portfolio. In the past, those opportunities often got lost in the daily grind of my then office job, and now freelance client work (not to mention my two little ones who are so good at distracting me). By having an assignment, even though self-imposed, I found that I was more apt to set aside time to create something for myself almost every day, even when I was swamped with other things to do. And I didn't just use that time to work on the floral patterns. I sketched more, learned from online tutorials, read articles, and browsed Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration. It was like a part of my brain was always thinking about what I wanted to make, do, and learn next, and I want to keep that momentum going.

Now, with a new month comes a new theme and project. Last month was about color and florals. March will be something completely different. I've decided that this month's theme will be...


Did you cringe? Eyes glaze over? Feel the urge to go back to Pinterest? If you didn't, you're a rare breed of artist. Approximately 99%* of creatives have a hard time with handling business matters (that's why we're artists). I certainly do. That being said, I'm not going to write extensive articles on how to keep track of your taxes or write contracts, because TBH, I'm still figuring all that out myself. This month will be more of a reflection of my freelancing experience so far, with a few common sense tips thrown in.

*Not a real statistic, but probably accurate.

My monthly project is way more exciting, though. I thought it would fun to change things up and do something I don't normally do—FAN ART. There are several reasons I chose this as my project:

  • I am a huge nerd at heart, and I love to look at pieces of fan art that other artists have done.
  • It would be a cool challenge to figure out how I would create fan art in my own style.
  • I'd love to incorporate my love of pattern design and hand lettering.
  • I can give some attention to other areas I don't often venture into, such as drawing characters or scenes.

So, something way different than the usual flowers, though I'll probably find a way to work those in anyway, haha.

To give you a taste of what's to come, here's a little preview. I saw The Black Panther on opening weekend and absolutely loved it! There is so much great design work in it, too.


I'm not exactly sure what the final outcome of this project will be, maybe a poster of some sort. I'll just start out with sketches like I did last month and see where it goes. If you'd like to follow along, or share your own, use the hashtag #sturkartchallenge2018 on Instagram (@nicolejonessturk).

Sincerely, Nicole

February 2018 Project Results - Floral Patterns

Last day of February! I really enjoyed working on my floral patterns this month. I picked three of my favorites and created a mini collection of finished pieces.

Here are the original sketches. I united the three different ideas into one color palette, which is based on Pantone's Floral Fantasies theme.


And here are the final patterns, created as vector art in Illustrator.


Here are some alternate versions with simpler one and two color palettes.


Thanks for following along with me! It was nice to accomplish something for myself that I can now add to my portfolio. I'm loving my monthly personal project idea so far! Stay tuned for something new in March...

Sincerely, Nicole


Pantone - Ultra Violet

This Month's Theme is...COLOR

Beyond Basic Color Theory—Four Things More Important Than the Color Wheel

How I Find My Colors

The Pantone Color of the Year: Ultra Violet

This year's "Color of the Year" according to Pantone, a leading color resource for designers, is Ultra Violet (Pantone 18-3838). It is a blue-based purple hue that is inspired by the night sky.


Some of the words Pantone uses in association with Ultra Violet include:

  • complex
  • contemplative
  • cosmos
  • limitless
  • unconventional
  • experimentation
  • meditation
  • reflection

I would definitely encourage you to check out Pantone's full description on their website. Ultra Violet is definitely a color that can inspire me, given my preference for deep, vivid colors. I love how Pantone seeks to make it a symbol of unlimited possibilities. Definitely motivating for artists!

As I mentioned in my previous post, if you go to their website, Pantone offers some suggested color palettes that include Ultra Violet. I used a couple of these in some of my floral pattern sketches as part of my monthly project.


What do you think of Pantone's Color of the Year? Does it inspire you? Do you feel differently after reading Pantone's description? I'd love to know your thoughts!

Sincerely, Nicole


Pantone - Ultra Violet

This Month's Theme is...COLOR

Beyond Basic Color Theory—Four Things More Important Than the Color Wheel

How I Find My Colors


February 2018 Floral Patterns, Part 1

Well, I'm halfway through the month of February, and so far I've managed to take time to sketch a floral pattern every day. (Read more about my project here.) If you're not following along on Instagram, here is a summary of what I've done up to this point.

What do you think? Do you have any favorites? Please, let me know!

Sincerely, Nicole


This Month's Theme is . . . COLOR

@nicolejonessturk on Instagram

Where I Find My Colors

Now that I've discussed how to create an effective color palette, let me also mention that there's another way easier method—just use a color palette that already exists! When I'm working on a new design, I don't always develop my color scheme from scratch. I am constantly finding color inspiration and building a library of swatches and palettes that I can pull from when I need it. If I already have one on hand that would work great for my project, I take it and tweak it to fit my needs.

Color Palette Resources

There are numerous resources out there for finding color palettes. These are just a few that I use myself on a regular basis:


Is there no greater design resource? I mean, really, this one of my top places to find ideas for ANYTHING—art, cooking, crafts, home, and more. Nothing could be easier than typing "color palettes" into the search bar and seeing what pops up. You can get lost for hours pinning away.

Websites and apps

There are a number of websites and mobile apps tailored just for creating and discovering colors. You can view the palettes created by members of the community, or create your own. I've linked to a list of good sites and apps below.

Other art, patterns, photos

Use the above mentioned mobile apps and your camera phone to pull colors from physical items, such as photos, artwork, fabric swatches, or nature.


Pantone is a standard color resource for designers and always a good place to start. They offer a number of products and resources for designers, including their own palettes that you can download for use in Adobe applications, such as Photoshop or Illustrator. (Psst... Stay tuned for more on my take on 2017's Pantone Color of the Year, Ultra Violet.)

Color Palette Inspiration

For some instant inspiration, here are some favorite color schemes I like that I've come across lately:

I feel that I tend to lean towards deep, saturated colors, especially jewel tones.


I'm also a sucker for anything with pink or red, my favorite colors. Pink and green tends to be my default color combination when I'm sketching florals.


Autumn hues make me happy because they remind me of my favorite time of year.


I love to see bright pops of color in more desaturated palettes.


Examples in My Work

Spoonflower occasionally uses a limited palette to inspire one of their weekly design challenges. Here are a couple that I've participated in.


This last design was created for the current design challenge. It's open to public voting on February 15th and closes on the 20th. (VOTE HERE)

I hope you are excited to get out there and explore all the color around you. Till next time!

Sincerely, Nicole


This Month's Theme is...COLOR

Beyond Basic Color Theory—Four Things More Important Than the Color Wheel

My Pinterest COLOR board

Web and mobile app resources

12 Best Color Scheme Generator Web Apps for Designers (Designmodo)


Browse color palettes online:



Color Palettes